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WATCH: Vice’s Garbage Island

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Check out this video series, “Garbage Island”, that takes an in-depth look at what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The videos come courtesy of Vice, part of their Toxic Series.

Parts 2 and 3 below:

What did you think of the series? Tweet us @greenerideal and let us know.

Solar Panels Take To The Skies

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Environmental architect Joseph Cory has designed a new way to make the most of the sun’s rays: by launching helium-filled, solar-panel-wrapped balloons into the sky, that will then transfer the absorbed energy to a power storage facility on the ground. It’s estimated that one or two balloons would be able to power a home, whereas strings of balloons (pictured above) would be able to generate enough energy to power apartments or other building complexes.

Inhabitat reports that the balloons are ideal for emergency situations, when generators aren’t sufficient for energy production, because of their quick set-up and high power returns. The entry-level balloons are estimated to cost $4,000, which is very reasonable compared to the same amount of energy being produced by a solar field costing nearly $10,000.

The balloons are unlikely to start popping up in cities or suburban areas anytime soon, but don’t be surprised if they begin popping up in deserts or other remote locations. Personally, I think they would be a pretty great visual attraction when you’re looking to the ground on a long flight.

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EcoBroker Makes Real Estate Green

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Green mortgages, energy efficiency, renewable energy options, eco-friendly materials, and different heating and cooling options are just a few topics an EcoBroker will be certified to deal with. So next purchase, renovation, building project, or general inquiry about homeowner environmental issues, contact your local EcoBroker and find the help that you need with a guaranteed certification.

EcoBroker

Parducci Wine Cellars Goes Green

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winery grapes

Although using the word “green” to describe a winery is redundant, Parducci Wine Cellars in California’s Mendocino County have been using environmentally friendly business practices to ensure that the wine they produce leaves a positive impact on the Earth, as well as the people who drink it.

The winery uses both solar and wind energy to power their business, and use sustainable farming techniques (such as bio-diesel tractors) as well as “Earth friendly packaging”. Their business practices have been significant enough to gain a Green-E certification, and strive to keep all of the winery’s production 100% green.

Transparent Solar Cells In The Near Future

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Other than cost, one of the biggest problems in getting consumers to adopt solar technologies on the outside of their homes is the inevitable unsightly appearance of a roof or backyard littered with solar panels. Last week we ran a story about a new technology that will allow for thinner solar “sheets” to be used to counter this problem, but going one step further is a new development by the Queensland University of Technology that will allow for transparent solar cells to be embedded into standard window glass. Not only would this technology allow for solar cells to be used without being an eyesore, but they could potentially generate enough energy to power an entire home.

Canada’s Logging Will Drastically Worsen Climate Problems

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Liberia logging

Greenpeace is calling for a restriction to be placed on Canada’s logging business immediately after a recent report from the University of Toronto. The report finds that cutting down the trees that have drawn large amounts of carbon out of the air will release a “carbon bomb” and potentially speed up the effects of global warming. While the trees are drawing carbon out of the air, the forests are known as “carbon sinks”, but when they begin to be destroyed for logging, large amounts of carbon (on par with burning fossil fuels) are being released, and the forests then become a “carbon source”.

Much of the carbon release comes from the soil that is upturned by machinery during the logging process, and the speed at which the carbon is released once the logging begins is cause for concern. However, according to Greenpeace officials, Canada’s boreal forest can still be preserved, and we can avoid destroying any more of our natural resources if we increase awareness about the issue.

Although the Canadian Forest Products Association claims that the process of logging will become carbon neutral by 2015, Greenpeace is skeptical that this is even possible, and that effects of the process might not be measured until years after the logging is completed.To find out more about this issue, or to help protect Canada’s forests, visit Greenpeace today.

World’s Largest “Green” Building Awarded in Vegas

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At an award ceremony being held today, The Palazzo Las Vegas will be deemed the world’s largest “green” building by the U.S. Green Building Council, and will receive a certificate declaring its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). This is Las Vegas’ first eco-friendly building, and sets the standards for future construction of hotels and casinos in the area. For a city that is known to be lit up 24 hours a day, the LEED certification for the Palazzo stands out among its neighbours. The building takes advantage of water conservation, energy savings, and alternative modes of transportation for its guests.

The specific details of the Palazzo’s award winning environmental building are the following:

  • Artificial turf, drip irrigation and moisture sensors in planted areas result in over a 75% reduction in irrigation needs.
  • Swimming pools at The Palazzo are heated with an expansive solar pool heating system. In the summer, the excess solar energy not needed for the pools is directed to the hotel’s hot water system, reducing the need to heat water for guest suites.
  • Air conditioning controls in guest suites that automatically setback by several degrees when guests are not present and reset to the desired temperature upon return.
  • Team member service areas equipped with lighting occupancy sensors that shut off lights when no one is in the area.
  • Interior plumbing fixtures use 37% less water than conventional buildings as a result of water-efficient showerheads, high efficiency toilets and low-flow lavatory faucet aerators.
  • Moisture sensors monitor real time, site specific air temperature, humidity, rainfall and other factors to provide daily watering cycle
  • adjustment.
  • A waste recycling program implemented from demolition through completion diverted over 70% of waste from the landfill.
  • The building’s structural steel averaged 95% recycled content, while the concrete averaged a 26% recycled content rate.

Maybe in this case, what happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas.

Image courtesy of Wynn

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Diesel Electric Hybrid SUV to be Unveiled Next Week

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On April 14th at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Indian automaker Mahindra will unveil a diesel electric hybrid of its popular SUV, the Scorpio. This is great news for drivers who enjoy a big vehicle, but feel like they should be driving something with reduced emissions. The new Scorpio model is a result of Mahindra joining forces with FEV, a developer of advanced vehicle technologies. Although the vehicle will be unveiled in the U.S. later next week, the first test market will be in Asia, with widespread distribution to follow shortly after.

The specifications of the new Scorpio model are as follows:

— Diesel-electric parallel hybrid vehicle with four major functions:
– Start-stop
– Electric launch
– Torque augmentation
– Regenerative braking
– Seamless but enhanced driving experience
— 2.2 Liter, I-4, second generation diesel common rail engine with 85 kW
and 270 Nm ratings
— 6-speed automatic transmission
— 30 kW (peak) motor with max torque of 270 Nm (peak) and a max speed
8500 rpm
— 288V, 8.4 Ah NiMH battery
— Quick cold start with e-motor assist

If you happen to be at the 2008 SAE World Congress in Detroit next week, definitely take a look at what the future holds in eco-friendly SUVs at the Mahindra and FEV display.

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WWF Releases New Report on Environmental Transportation

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This week, a new report from the World Wildlife Federation takes a closer look at the effect that fossil-fuel powered vehicles are having on the environment, and how enormous the difference will be if we all move to driving plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles. While it’s considered common knowledge that fossil fuel powered vehicles are big time polluters, this official report holds a significant amount of authority in determining policies and environmental standards to be met in the future. Although the WWF aims for more biking, walking, and use of public transportation, they offer results from studies that show the use of electric cars can be far less detrimental than current modes of transportation.

In addition to being powered by electricity, WWF Director General James Leape also says that vehicles need to become more aerodynamic, in order to reduce the amount of fuel that is used to run them. This would be a major source of focus when developing electric cars, because of the necessity to make the power last longer. Another reason why the focus should be placed on electric cars, according to WWF reps, is that it can take advantage of utilities that we already have, and will not be as cost-heavy as introducing ethanol or hydrogen based pumps to power our vehicles.

This report is meant to speed up the commercialization of electric vehicles, or at least those with higher efficiency rates than are currently being spotted on the roads. Even if it’s something that you think you’ve read before, the study now confirms the need to change our transportation system, and the first step is changing public opinion. So spread the word, or make your next car an electric one.

Photo courtesy of musiquegirl

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Climate Savers Computing Initiative Targets Desktop PC Energy Consumption

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desktop computer

Although we may think that one of the biggest polluters that we use is our vehicles, it might surprise you to know that your computer is not far behind.

According to Climate Savers Computing Initiative, desktop PCs waste half of the energy that is sent to it, which means the production of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions to create the power, and higher electricity bills for something that’s not even being used! They estimate that 11 million participants can remove the equivalent of 11 million cars off the road by 2010.

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