Archive for September, 2009

Mayor Rescinds Support for 12-Lane Bridge

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

SIX MONTHS AFTER Mayor Sam Adams led city council in voting for the largest, most expensive possible option for replacing the I-5 bridge to Vancouver—a $4.2 billion bridge up to 12 lanes wide—Adams is back where his green allies want him. Last Friday, September 18, the mayor officially rescinded his support for a 12-lane Columbia River Crossing (CRC).

“I think every aspect of this bridge has to shrink, including the number of lanes,” says Adams, who thinks the bridge should be between six to eight lanes rather than the previously planned 10 to 12. Adams explains his downsizing attitude as a response to “significant change in the fiscal and political context on this project” since he signed off on it in late February.

A delegation from Adams’ office went to Washington, DC, in April to ask about getting $400 million in federal funding to support the cost of the bridge. “But the message we’ve gotten is that the project is far too expensive,” says Catherine Ciarlo, Adams’ transportation director.

The mayor primarily cited the protests of anti-toll Vancouverites in his decision to advocate for a smaller bridge last week. Lowering the cost of the project could lower the price of tolls on the new bridge and minimize the anti-toll debate now overshadowing the Vancouver mayor’s race [“Political Tolls,” News, Sept 17].

“I do not get involved in [Vancouver’s] internal politics,” says Adams. “But I want them to know that their partner south of the river will not support a project without tolls.”

Local groups fighting the controversial design view Adams’ policy shift as a big victory.

“Adams has a major impact,” says Mara Gross of Coalition for a Livable Future, which argues that the 12-lane bridge will increase sprawl, car travel, and air pollution. “This will force us to have an actual conversation about what we can afford and what is good for the region and the environment.”

“I’m glad he’s come to his senses,” agrees Portland Transport blogger and transportation activist Chris Smith.

Though city council has already had its say on the bridge as a group, Adams personally sits on the CRC Project Sponsors Council—a group of Oregon and Washington bigwigs who oversee the bridge’s design. While other members of the project sponsors council say they are still undecided on how big the bridge should be, co-member and Metro Council President David Bragdon has been forthright with his criticism.

“I’ve always been very skeptical of the 12 lanes, which I think was an overreach by Oregon and Washington’s state highway departments which live in the 1950s,” says Bragdon. “The design was based on very, very questionable demand figures which they manipulated to promote the biggest possible bridge and then ran a big propaganda effort for.”

Oregon and Washington have so far collectively spent over $131 million on planning the bridge, in the past year focusing exclusively on the 12-lane option. But both the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Washington State Department of Transportation disagree with Bragdon’s characterization of the process.

“We’re not trying to rig this. We are revisiting the bridge: what it looks like, how it operates, how much it costs,” says ODOT’s Matt Garrett, who also sits on the project sponsors council with Adams and Bragdon and says it is now possible that the number of lanes on the bridge could be cut. “Big, noisy, healthy conversations still need to take place, but I think that’s good. And that’s what Oregonians and Washingtonians want,” he says.

Oregon politicians demanded more discussion on the bridge in early September, when three state representatives penned an Oregonian editorial titled, “Where’s the Debate?”

State Representative Brian Clem, who wrote the piece along with Portland Democrat Jules Kopel Bailey and Ontario Republican Cliff Bentz, says he felt “railroaded” by bridge backers after Governor Ted Kulongoski added $30 million for the CRC’s ongoing design back into his transportation package after the legislature’s transportation committee had decided to cut it. “I think there’s been an almost by design maneuvering to get this thing done without having a public debate in the legislature,” says Clem.

The CRC is now aiming to hammer out a financial plan this winter. Check for updates.

Be prepared for farm tanks to receive biodiesel blended fuel

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

September 29, 2009

Oregon Department of Agriculture,

September 23, 2009… As Oregon’s biodiesel renewable fuel standard takes effect, agricultural producers throughout Oregon will receive biodiesel-blended fuel from their suppliers for their farm tanks. ODA encourages farmers and ranchers to take a few simple precautions as they begin to store and use the fuel.  The Oregon Legislature passed a bill during the 2009 session to accelerate the deadline for the 2% biodiesel renewable fuel standard. The standard has already taken effect in nine northwest Oregon counties and will take effect in the rest of Oregon after October 1.

ODA’s Measurement Standards Division has notified fuel distributors and retailers of the deadlines for the standard and that dealers must ensure their tanks and distribution systems are properly prepared to avoid any problems with the introduction of biodiesel into the fuel.

To help ensure quality and minimize problems, in-state produced biodiesel is required to have been tested and received a Certificate of Analysis (COA) on each batch or production lot of biodiesel prior to blending with diesel fuel. In addition, imported biodiesel must have a COA on each batch or production lot after entry into Oregon and prior to blending with diesel fuel.

ODA will also periodically test B100 biodiesel at the receiving terminal prior to it being blended with the standard diesel fuel. The program helps ensure the parent products– the biodiesel and the diesel itself– meet specifications prior to the blending and helps prevent problems at the consumer level.

Most consumers should not notice a difference in vehicle fuel economy or performance with the addition of two percent biodiesel to their fuel. Agricultural fuel users can help prevent problems by taking the following precautions:

•      Clean your diesel storage tank to remove water and other contaminants prior to adding biodiesel-blended fuel to the tank. Biodiesel is a natural solvent and can loosen and detach materials deposited in your storage tanks. It can also absorb water.

•      Keep extra filters on hand for your diesel fuel tank pump and for your farm equipment during the first few weeks using the blended fuel.

Another potential concern with biodiesel, especially in the winter, is that it can gel at higher temperatures than the standard diesel. However, this shouldn’t be a problem at the two percent blend level. It may raise the gelling point very slightly, but it shouldn’t be noticeable to consumers. Biodiesel blends of five percent or less must meet the same national fuel quality requirements as straight diesel, and even straight diesel fuel is treated in the colder months to prevent gelling.

For more information about the renewable fuel standards, contact Stephanie Page at the Oregon Department of Agriculture at (503) 986-4565.

Stephanie Page
Renewable Energy Specialist
PH (503) 986-4565
FX (503) 986-4750

Portland Open Studios 2009

Monday, September 28th, 2009

This month, ecoShuttle is combining two of my favorite things, art and sustainability. We are partnering with Portland Open Studios to bring you a tour of professional art studios in Portland. If you’ve never done the tour before, you should and if you have, you should do it again. I had a blast last fall touring artists’ workspaces. It’s so interesting to see how people work, especially with different types of media and subject.


Kinder Morgan Annouce Commercial Transportation of Biodiesel through Oregon Pipeline

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

North Bergen, New Jersey 9/23/2009 04:05 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE: KMP) had announced the beginning of commercial transportation of blended 2% biodiesel (B2) through its 115 mile Oregon Pipeline which run from Portland to Eugene. A test of moving B2 through the pipeline was successfully completed. The pipeline will help diesel fuel suppliers through Oregon meet the states mandate on biodiesel.


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The first batch of 100,000 barrels of B2 was created using a blending system to inject B99 into ultra low sulfur diesel. Kinder Morgan has recently begun several renewable fuel projects in its Pacific Northwest facilities. In the Southeast the company’s, Plantation Pipe Line Company, became the first in the U.S. to transport biodiesel for commercial purposes.


About Kinder Morgan

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE:KMP) is a leading pipeline transportation and energy storage company in North America. KMP owns an interest in or operates more than 28,000 miles of pipelines and 170 terminals. Its pipelines transport natural gas, gasoline, crude oil, CO2 and other products, and its terminals store petroleum products and chemicals and handle bulk materials like coal and petroleum coke. KMP is also the leading provider of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery projects in North America. One of the largest publicly traded pipeline limited partnerships in America, KMP has an enterprise value of approximately $25 billion.


10 Green Activities to Experience in Portland Oregon in the Fall

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

September 18, 2009

Being that I’m an Oregon local and being that Autumn is my favorite season, I thought we’d take an insiders look at what’s green and fun in my neck of the woods during the fall. Portland Oregon is an amazing place to visit anytime of the year, but in the Fall it’s spectacular; trees galore and they’re all on fire with colors. Not only that but we’ve got it all – urban space, rural places, and we’ve been named one of the greenest cities in America again and again. You’ve got nothing to lose, and only awesome eco-experiences to gain by traveling to Portland.


On November 14, 2009 the Junk To Funk Recycled Fashion Show is happening. This is a super cool showcase for wearable art made by artists who creatively use ‘trash’ in an eclectic, inspiring and humorous production. PLUS this event is at the Crystal Ballroom – a must see historic registry music and arts venue in Portland.


Travel Portland put together an amazing eco-pub crawl for visitors that will introduce you to local eco-brew and local and fresh minded pub grub. This pub crawl winds through two southeast Portland neighborhoods and ends just across the Hawthorne Bridge from downtown. It’s totally manageable by bus too – and no worries, buses here run late.

START at Hopworks Urban Brewery (one of my absolute favorite pdx eco-brew pubs) and have some amazing food to kick off the night like locally harvested salads, cage free chicken wings and organic celery, pizza with homemade organic roma tomato sauce, and more! Of course have some organic beer to accompany your dinner.

Then make your way round to the Night Light Lounge, Imbibe, Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, and end the night at Roots Organic Brewing. For a full rundown of this eco-friendly pub crawl see the latest Portland Travel Magazine.


Sign on for a “Car-less Vacation” package at the eco-friendly Hotel Monaco. Why bring the car? The “Car-less Vacation” package offers you discounts and special perks just for leaving your car at home, and honestly, you won’t need it. You can save gas and money because Portland Oregon has some of the best public transportation around. We’ve got buses a plenty, the MAX which goes all over the place now, and plenty of places that rent bikes. Plus PDX is a totally walking friendly city.


Portland is known for its amazing public transportation system and for being a walkable city. The new guide book; Walk There! 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver, helps you take advantage of these facts. Save money, save gas, save your waistline. Every Walk There! route begins and ends near a bus or MAX stop and will lead you on 50 explorations of newly acquired urban natural areas, scenic parks, historic neighborhoods and fascinating main streets. The pocket sized book contains detailed maps and route descriptions too. This is the real way to see Portland.

NOTE: Fall weather in pdx is temperamental – it may be beautiful and clear, it may be raining. Real locals rarely carry umbrellas, so bring a rain jacket and water proof shoes if you want to walk the city like a local.


Portland has many outdoor nature adventures to experience, right in the city. Such as…

  • Washington Park (shown above) which comes complete with breathtaking views of the city, a play area for the kids, the famous International Rose Test Garden, home to 10,000 rosebushes, and nearby is the Portland Japanese Garden and the Hoyt Arboretum, a diverse collection of trees and other plants from around the world.
  • Forest Park, a 5,100-acre urban forest that includes 70 miles of tree lined trails.

For more ideas visit Portland public parks.


You can’t come to Portland and not experience coffee – we consider that a crime here. Make sure to get some sustainable brew, in a reusable mug from…

Organic and Fair Trade coffee is served up all over pdx in all sorts of places though – trust me, even without a long list you’ll find some brew.


Portland is within a day’s reach (or less) of tons of amazing nature spots to explore. Rent an eco-friendly car or check out Zipcar – in pdx they offer free state park passes with some cars. Some day trip ideas…

  • Multnomah Falls – just a half hour outside of pdx, this 611 foot waterfall is a must see and a beautiful drive too.
  • Columbia River Gorge & Mount Hood drive – Amazing scenery and awesome places to get out and explore.
  • Take a fun and delicious eco-wine tour of the Willamette Valley.
  • Visit the Oregon Coast – the coast residing along Highway 101, depending on where you’d like to go (there are 363 miles of rugged Oregon coastlines) is about 1.5 hours away, but a beautiful drive and well worth it especially in the Fall.

For other amazing Portland day (and some longer trips) check out the Oregon American Byways site.


Portland is a green shopping mecca, and while it’s not very green to shop til you drop, a little window shopping and a few key green purchases won’t kill you (or the planet). Some ideas…

  • Portland is home to the famed Greenloop – everyone’s fave green fashion place. There are also plenty of smaller shops carrying green clothing (think hemp and organics) that can be found in the general Hawthorn and Belmont neighborhood areas.
  • Powell’s Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Right downtown and within easy walking distance of everything cool, this book store takes up an entire city block and houses over 3,500 different sections and the largest array of used books you’ve ever seen. A must see for folks looking to keep books out of landfills by buying used.
  • Other notable green or used shops include Jackpot Records, Red Light Clothing Exchange, Lizard Lounge, Ecohaus, Global Exchange, Mirador Community Store, and so much more – see the pdx ReDirect Guide for more green shops.


Heathman Hotel’s Volunteer-Vacation, is a hotel stay and preservation experience in one. The Heathman’s Volunteer-Vacation connects you with the Forest Park Conservancy, a group dedicated to maintaining the trails and natural habitat of Forest Park. Volunteers do things like remove invasive species, clean-up, National Trails Day events, “Discovery Hikes” and more. You’ll get hands-on volunteer experience that focuses on the environment, educational forest tours, and get to help green up an important Portland area. They also offer a Go Green hotel package.

How to book

  1. Book any rate at the Heathman Hotel
  2. After you have reserved your room, call the Heathman at 503.241.4100, provide your confirmation number and ask to add on the Forest Park Volunteer-Vacation. The cost of the volunteer experience is $100/reservation, 100 percent of which will be donated to the Forest Park Conservancy.


Fall is great for kiddos in Oregon – there’s plenty to do and see that combines eco-friendly and / or nature activities, but in a package kids will enjoy. Such as…

The Oregon Zoo – different than many zoos with tons of walking trails, a conservation focus, an immense amount of trees, and of course animals. Plus if you’re here for Halloween, the zoo offers spooky kid fun galore. That’s my son at the zoo above – I assure you he was having a good time; no matter how “thrilled” he looks (not a camera fan).

The MAiZE at the Pumpkin Patch -kids will enjoy the huge mazes plus…

IF you’ll be here asap check out the Green Sprouts festival happening on September 26th! It’ll be totally fun and green for your kids.

Of course we’ve got toys a plenty, but two of the coolest green toy shops are…

  • Spielwerk Toys
  • Polliwog – I LOVE this shop – everything green for the younger set; clothing, toys, books, carriers, and more.

[images via Travel Portland, stock.xchng, The MAiZE, & Jennifer Chait]

States send mixed message on texting and driving

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Fiddling with your iPhone behind the wheel can get you fined across much of the nation. But many states are more than happy to tweet you with up-to-the-minute directions on how to steer clear of a traffic jam.

It is a mixed signal that some safety experts and politicians say could be dangerous.

At least 22 states that ban texting while driving offer some type of service that allows motorists to get information about traffic tie-ups, road conditions or emergencies via Twitter.

“You shouldn’t be fiddling around with any kind of electronic gadget in your car while driving,” said Minnesota state Rep. Frank Hornstein, who helped write his state’s no-texting-while-driving law.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have banned all texting while driving, and eight others prohibit texting by younger drivers only, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Many of these laws essentially bar people from fooling with their smart phones in any way behind the wheel; in some cases, just reading from a mobile device is against the law.

Some supporters of text-messaging bans say that states that provide traffic information via Twitter are undermining these laws.

“I would guess that the states wouldn’t intend to be sending a mixed message, but it sounds like it could be a mixed message,” said Judie Stone, president of the Washington-based Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

State transportation officials say they are not encouraging people to get online behind the wheel. They say drivers should read their tweets before hitting the road.

In Washington state, for example, where citizens and transportation officials can exchange messages about the latest traffic, the feed includes regular reminders not to use the service while driving. “Know before you go,” said one feed this week.

Drivers should “check our Web site before leaving. If you’re at your office, before you leave and there’s an issue on the roadway, it might alter your travel plans home,” said Randy Ort, spokesman for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

The Arkansas ban on texting while driving goes into effect Oct. 1; this week, the state became the latest to provide road conditions via Twitter, the microblogging service that lets people read and send messages of 140 characters or fewer.

Other places offering traffic information via Twitter include: California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

The apparent conflict results from two arms of government with seemingly good intentions: transportation departments that want to help motorists cope with traffic, and legislatures that are worried about the deadly consequences of distracted driving.

While Washington state lets motorists tweet about traffic conditions, in most states the flow of information is one-way — from state officials to drivers. Some states, such as New York and Indiana, send lots of up-to-the-minute information. Others just tweet intermittently, or reserve Twitter for emergencies. Mississippi, for example, intends to use its service during hurricane evacuations.

Maine has employed Twitter only to update drivers on an interstate highway project in the Portland area. Nebraska plans to use Twitter during winter weather emergencies. Oregon officials notify drivers about emergency road closings only.

“We don’t want people reading their tweets while they’re driving,” said Sally Ridenour, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

In Washington state, the 6,200 users can also request estimated travel times, mountain pass reports and waiting times at the Canadian border. Some users apparently just want to chat.

“Got home, got changed, now heading back to seattle for the Mariners game. Keep the roads clear for me on I90 (at)WSDOT :-),” one user posted in late August. The reply from transit officials? “No promises, but we will do our best 🙂 Enjoy the game!”

Others want to know why traffic isn’t moving. “wsdot any idea what’s going on westbound on 520? it’s worse than rush hour..,” a user posted. Within a few minutes, officials responded: “Yes! There is a disabled vehicle just east of Lk Wash Blvd blocking right lane.”

That kind of exchange, if conducted by drivers behind the wheel, troubles some safety experts.

“If you’re sitting there and trying to update the world on the congestion you’re in, you could be part of a collision,” said Fairley Mahlum, spokeswoman for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Did it really matter that you needed to tell everyone and their brother what the situation is? It’s just not really not worth it.”

The dangers of texting and driving are well documented. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found in July that when truck drivers texted, their risk of a collision was 23 times greater. Dialing a cell phone and using or reaching for an electronic device raised the risk of collision about six times in cars and trucks.

A 17-year-old Eureka, Ill., high school student was killed in June when she drove off the road while sending a message to friends. A train wreck in California last year left 25 people dead, including the train operator, who was texting at the time.

Seattle resident Aaron Woo often checks traffic conditions on his phone using the Twitter feed from the state’s transportation department — sometimes, he said, while driving.

“I try not to use my phone at certain miles per hour,” the 25-year-old said. “I try to be smart when I’m using my phone when I’m driving.”

Washington resident Eric Zinn said he, too, checks the Twitter traffic updates on his phone, though usually not when he is driving.

Does he worry other people will be doing it behind the wheel?

“They’re too busy eating doughnuts and shaving their eyebrows and screaming at their kids,” he said. “There’s plenty of things to keep you distracted.”

Associated Press writers Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minn., David Lieb in Jefferson City, Mo., Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Miss., and Curtis Woodward in Olympia, Wash., and Manuel Valdes in Seattle contributed to this report.

How to Hold an Eco-Friendly Wedding

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Eco-friendly weddings, ethical weddings, green weddings or socially conscious weddings

, whatever terminology one uses, studies show that more and more bridal couples are planning weddings that respect the preservation and sustainability of the earth.

For many engaged couples and their families, the idea of a green wedding, however, is a little altruistic. Many people believe that doing their part is so infinitely minute in the total scheme of the universe that holding an eco-friendly wedding would be a severe burden for little foreseeable results. And it might be agreed that carrying out a successful green wedding is an enormous task fraught with much determination and endless concessions. But this article will present very simple ways in which all couples can contribute to the safe longevity of the planet.

One of the biggest challenges in planning a green wedding is the choice of wedding specialist. If the budget allows and the couple has decided to hire a wedding consultant, the first question that must be asked is “Do you use eco-friendly vendors and suppliers?” Regardless of whether the consultant comes highly recommended, if she is not willing or not able to participate in your green bridal wishes, then simply move on.

Having found the appropriate wedding planning expert, the couple and the consultant next discuss to what extent the wedding should be considered eco-friendly. For example:

  • Will the apparel be of sustainable and natural resources?
  • What supplies will be replaced by environmentally friendly items?
  • Will the meal be vegetarian or will meat be allowed?
  • What criteria will be used to determine whether a vendor is eco-friendly acceptable

All of the hashed-out details and budget should be stated in a contract and decided upon in the beginning to avoid confusion and ill will as the planning process advances. Here are a few details that might be part of the eco-friendly wedding planning package.

Wedding Tosses – Instead of throwing confetti, which is not only ecologically dangerous, but also dangerous to people when tread upon, look for vendors who offer fresh petals in paper sleeves or fabric pouches.

Serving Ware – Stay away from plastic plates, forks, spoons and knives. Instead purchase biodegradable utensils that have been made with corn or potato starch.

Wedding Favors – Look for wedding favors that respect the environment and do not encourage guests to contribute to huge landfills. Choose items that the guests will use or that will not be thrown away. For example, a hand-made picture frame with the happy couple’s engagement photo or a tree that can be planted in the guest’s backyard. Disposable cameras, on the other hand, are a no-no when it comes to eco-friendly weddings as very few end up in recycling facilities.

Personalized Stationery – Customarily, all wedding reception tables showcased beautifully printed personalized napkins, matchbooks and wedding favor gift tags. Not only is the process expensive leading to a higher budget, but also the printing itself is in most cases harmful. Nowadays, since most people do not appreciate matchbooks and since the napkins are thrown away, a suggestion would be to forego the personal messages and use plain white recycled napkins. Going one step further, one may order linen napkins with the tablecloths. And for the tag on the wedding favors, look for rice paper or some type of recyclable material.

Transportation – While it is very difficult to get away from the use of cars in today’s society, there are a couple ways to conserve energy and avoid polluting the air on one’s wedding day. If the budget permits, hire a horse and carriage or order a larger limousine so that everyone fits in one vehicle rather than using several vehicles. Another idea, which would be appreciated by the guests for convenience, is hiring a shuttle bus to carry the out-of-town guests from the hotel to the church to the reception hall and back to the hotel. The guests will not be required to rent vehicles and there will be fewer vehicles on the road.

Indeed, there are many ways in which a couple might contribute to the preservation of the earth. Whether it is done in a small way or a big all-out effort, there is one last point that should guide the wedding decision making process. In order to produce successfully, a green wedding, one must review a couple questions:

  • Does the specific item provide a useful purpose in the wedding ceremony or reception?
  • Is the purpose of the item purely for show?
  • Can the item be replaced with a more appropriate eco-friendly item or can it be removed from the wedding outright?
  • Are the relevant family members and bridal party on board with the concept?

Suggested wedding planning information:

One of the most important parts of planning a wedding is the bride’s ensemble. Her bridal jewelry selections are extremely important and this stunning collection of stylish pearls would make her bridal jewelry selection perfect.

For more on Eco Wedding Trends, you might like to take a look at these Hot Wedding Trends.

Chicago ranks No. 1 in green buildings

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Cityhall Mayor Richard M. Daley famously wants to make Chicago the greenest city in America. By one measure, he’s done it.

Chicago now has more certified green buildings than any other city in the country, according to figures I received yesterday from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The council reports that 88 projects in Chicago have earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Portland, Or. was next with 73 LEED buildings and Seattle third with 63.

New York was 7th with 46 and Los Angeles 9th with 40.

The only small city in the top ten was Grand Rapids, Mich., which ranked 8th with 44.

Projects gain LEED certification by scoring points in a system devised by the council. Points are awarded for a variety of features, including enegy-saving building systems, water conservation and proximity to public transportation. Architects and others have criticized the system, however, and a recent New York Times story detailed how some LEED buildings do not live up to their green billing.

In late 2007, Chicago had 27 LEED-certified buildings, ranking behind Portland and Seattle.

The rankings are current through the end of August, according to Ashley Katz, a spokeswoman for the council. Through mid-September, Chicago has 92 LEED-certified buildings, she said.

Among Chicago’s LEED-rated buildings are the McCormick Place West Building and the city’s new FBI Building.

Daley has been a vocal advocate of green architecture. Years ago, Chicago’s City Hall was outfitted with a lushly-planted green roof (above). The city requires new public buildings to achieve LEED certification. In addition, public and private projects receiving city assistance must either have a green roof or pursue green building certification.

Daley has also been criticized for his environmental record, however, most notably over the failed blue bag recycling program.

Chicago also ranked high in the category of projects registered for LEED certification. Registered projects are not completed but are either in a conceptual phase or under construction. Their developers register with the council with the intent of gaining certification upon completion, Katz explained.

In the registered ranking, New York City was first with 550 and Chicago second with 499.

The council also ranks states by registered projects. California easily leads with 3449, followed by New York with 1546. Illinois was sixth with 936.

Following are the top 10 U.S. cities, ranked by LEED certified buildings:

1. Chicago–88.

2. Portland, Or.–73.

3. Seattle–63.

4. Washington, D.C.–57.

5. Atlanta–53.

6. San Francisco–50.

7. New York City–46.

8. Grand Rapids, Mich.–44.

9. Los Angeles–40.

10. Boston–38.

Arizona Project Uses Algae to Turn Coal Pollution Into Biofuel

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Written by Nick Chambers, Editor

Published on September 17th, 2009

Posted in Algae, Carbon Emissions



Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electricity provider, has secured $70.5 million in stimulus funds to expand an innovative project that turns carbon dioxide emissions from a coal power plant into biofuel using algae. While part of the funds will be used to scale up the algae processing portion, some of the funds will also be used to investigate the potential benefits of turning the coal into a gas prior to burning it for power.

The concept of creating two products — electricity and fuel — from the same process is known as cogeneration. In this case, the cogeneration also helps to reduce environmental pollution. It’s an idea that has been gathering support as a way to make coal less polluting while finding an additional revenue source to pay for the pollution control itself. In fact, a while back I reported on a similar pilot project in Oregon.

Apparently, Arizona Public Service was able to convince the government that by combining the pollution-to-algae-fuel and coal-gasification research into one project, it was worthy of receiving such a large grant. It’s only the second stimulus research grant that has gone towards a carbon capture project, with the first being a project that compresses carbon dioxide for storage underground.

The project is being hosted at the 995-megawatt Cholla Power Plant in northeastern Arizona. Early results indicate that the algae are able to capture 70 metric tons of carbon dioxide per pond acre per year.

Personally I think we should wean ourselves off coal completely, but given that the US has huge reserves of the stuff and the political heirarchy is probably unwilling to go that route, we’re likely stuck with using coal for quite some time. So, if you can’t beat ‘em, make ‘em pollute less, right? While projects like this ultimately represent a crutch and a band-aid, they are still necessary to fix the climate crisis if we refuse to get off fossil fuels entirely.

ecoShuttle On TV

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

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