Archive for June, 2010

Blumenauer bill would boost geothermal energy development

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Portland Business Journal – by Matthew Kish Business Journal managing editor

Congressman Earl Blumenauer has introduced a bill that would give a significant boost to geothermal energy developers, a critical part of Oregon’s green economy.

The Portland Democrat’s bill, H.R. 5612, would give a 30 percent tax credit for investments in geothermal energy projects.

Geothermal energy is produced when extreme underground temperatures heat water to produce steam, much like a conventional boiler.

It becomes renewable when production facilities, which run the steam through a turbine, reinject the water back into the ground so it can reheat.

“We are literally standing on one of the best solutions to the energy equation, which is the natural heat of the earth,” Blumenauer said in a news release. “The United States has more geothermal capacity than any other country, and by harnessing this heat we can generate clean, homegrown energy that won’t spill into the oceans or exacerbate global warming.”

Oregon ended 2009 ranked third in total U.S. geothermal capacity under development, with 13 projects at various stages of development that together could yield 370 megawatts, according to a January report by the Geothermal Energy Association, a Washington, D.C., trade group. That’s roughly enough to power 370,000 homes.


mkish@bizjournals.com | 503-219-3414

Read more: Blumenauer bill would boost geothermal energy development – Portland Business Journal

Blues and Birthdays

Monday, June 28th, 2010

To celebrate our third birthday we’re selling discounted seats for our birthday Falls and Fireworks tour! $25 gets you a seat on the bus, leaving from downtown Portland and touring the gorge the morning of the Fourth. You’ll be back in time for lunch and some great music on the waterfront. The bus will be stocked with snacks and beverages from local companies for your enjoyment free of charge.

To purchase your tickets, please email ecoRider@ecoshuttle.net and indicate “Falls and Fireworks tour” in the subject line. Please include your contact information and the number of seats you’d like to purchase in the body of your email.

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FTC to toughen anti-greenwashing rules

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

by Lee van der Voo
Sustainable Business Oregon

ftc regulations greenwashing

Purveyors of green goods and services can expect increased pressure to avoid greenwashing in 2010, following a push by the Federal Trade Commission to retool its guidelines on environmental marketing claims.

That’s good news for green businesses eager to cleanse the marketplace of snake oil sales, increasingly common in an era of growing consumer interest in sustainable products.

The effort by the FTC to retool its Green Guides in 2010, however, also puts businesses on notice that inaccurate claims about environmental benefits could lead to trouble.

The FTC’s Green Guides are intended to serve as guidelines for businesses that make claims of environmental benefit in their marketing. The guides were last updated in 1998. The next update is expected to be complete by the end of the year, following a public comment period. Changes will expand the FTC’s reach from recycled, degradable and ozone-safe products to more sophisticated offerings like carbon offsets, renewable energy certificates, green packaging, textiles, building products and buildings themselves.

Though the Green Guides are advisory and not enforceable by law, their revision bolsters the FTC’s ability to take action against greenwashing as unfair or deceptive advertising, both prohibited by the FTC Act.

That could lead to trouble for businesses in Oregon that make false claims of environmental benefit just to lure business, according to Tony Green, director of communications and policy for the Oregon Department of Justice.

“It will make it easier for us, if the FTC toughens up its guidelines, to go after somebody who claims to meet them if in fact they aren’t,” Green said.

The FTC has signaled an intent to take similar action nationally since beginning the review of the Green Guides in 2008.

In August 2009, for example, the agency sued four clothing manufacturers — Sami Designs and its subsidiaries and The M Group Inc. — to bar them from claiming their rayon garments were made from bamboo in an eco-friendly way and contained antimicrobial properties. Six months later, the agency warned 78 retailers including Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart against selling similarly marketed products.

Also in 2009, the FTC sued Kmart Corp., Tender Corp., and Dyna-E International with making false claims that their paper products were “biodegradable.”

For companies already focused on sustainable business, they have little to fear from the Green Guides update if their claims of environmental benefit are true, according to Deborah Morrison, a distinguished professor of advertising at the University of Oregon. For those companies, the updated Green Guides offers greater benefits to building a responsible and ecologically friendly brand.

“The brands around them will be called out more often and try to find the wiggle room again and again,” she said, adding that tighter regulations will combine with increased consumer scrutiny to create a tougher environment for false environmental claims.

“I don’t know if we’re getting more honest but we’re getting more critical. We have more people, new tools, more agencies and effort and support for thinking about this area,” she said.

Among those tools is the Greenwashing Index, created by Morrison and colleague Kim Sheenan through a partnership with the University of Oregon and the Texas-based advertising firm EnviroMedia Social Marketing three years ago.

The web site allows consumers to post and rate advertising for purportedly green products, like green webhosting, battery-powered lawnmowers and green cleaning products.

Morrison said the site helps writers and advertisers work with clients on what sells to green-minded consumers and what doesn’t. For those stoking a green image, she said, the best campaign is an honest, straightforward one that provides truthful details about what an environmentally responsible brand does.

ecoShuttle Presents Galactic!

Monday, June 21st, 2010

On the Fourth of July, 2007, ecoShuttle launched it’s maiden voyage providing transportation for the bands at Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival. Over the last three years, we’ve developed an amazing relationship with WBF and have had the opportunity to drive Isaac Hayes, the Neville Brothers, and more. This year we are absolutely stoked to provide transportation for this year’s Blues Fest as a Presenting Sponsor for one of our favorite bands, Galactic!

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New Portland magazine aims at low-car audience

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

by Lee van der Voo
Sustainable Business Oregon

Portland Afoot — a self-described 10-minute newsmagazine aimed at an audience that espouses buses, bikes and the low-car life — hit the streets last week with its first monthly issue.

Michael Andersen, Portland Afoot

Michael Andersen, Portland Afoot

According to its publisher and editor, 29-year-old Michael Andersen, that’s good news for the 500,000 people predicted to be car-free in Portland in 20 years, and the hundreds of companies currently tasked with reducing the number of people that drive to work alone.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality requires companies with 100 employees or more to reduce the number of people that drive alone to work through its Employee Commute Options program. The rules currently affect 819 work sites in Oregon. Most use carpool programs, telecommuting, transit pass subsidies, compressed workweeks, awards and other promotions to reduce pollution created by employee car trips.

While much effort is spent on encouraging those new bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians, Andersen notes very little time is spent on retaining alternative commuters, an issue he calls “an under-appreciated problem” in the environmental community.

“You feel helpless or alone when you’re confronted with problems about the transit system,” said Andersen, who notes that approximately one-third of low-car commuters simply give up after a year, flustered with difficulties and a lack of ability to find information and influence change.

Portland Afoot cover image

Thus, Portland Afoot is geared to create community around the low-car lifestyle. Car-free for half of his adult life, Andersen says he has a keen grasp of what Portlanders want to know about alternative transit and how much time they’ll spend learning.

At just 5.5 by 8.5 inches, Portland Afoot folds out into just one 11 by 17 sheet of paper, boiling content down to highlights. The first issue offers an overview of not-to-be missed stories and their online URLs, along with a preview of cycle-friendly Pedalpalooza, rankings of Portland bus lines, and a quick personal story about a commuter.

The uncertainty of the media publishing industry means profit is anything but guaranteed. Fortunately, Portland Afood is published by the Oregon nonprofit Portland in the Round, led by a board of five that includes former city council candidate and Portland planning commissioner Chris Smith, host of PortlandTransport.com, and Carrie Pederson, the Rider’s Club coordinator for Ride Connection. The product is a flagship for what Andersen hopes will become a broad selection of niche products targeting neglected audiences both in print and on the Internet.

Portland Afoot is bolstered by a Twitter feed and a wiki news site at PortlandAfoot.org, where readers can play a role in tracking issues affecting the low-car community. Andersen contributes resource pages to the web site to help bring new readers quickly up to speed on complex issues.

“I think this is hopefully an idea that, if it works, can be stolen by other media outlets around the country,” said Andersen.

Andersen is distributing the first 1,000 copies of Portland Afoot free to those with interest. He’s also looking for businesses to test the product among alternative commuters in their employ and plans to recruit ad sponsors to support corporate distribution.

So far several advertisers have come calling on the magazine, including transit-savvy real estate agents, attorneys with specialties in bike law, and other green businesses eager to reach the magazine’s first 90 subscribers.

Those subscribers pay $14 a year ($5 a year for the first 200 subscribers using the “charter200” code at the website, subscribers outside the Portland Metro pay $20) to have Portland Afoot mailed to their home.

Subscriptions fund the magazine’s printing and production time. Ad sales fund Andersen’s efforts while donations, including grants, are aimed at growth.

Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo@gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.

Prague Invests in Eco Hotel

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

With the popular trend that is emerging around the world for greener living and trying to be as eco conscious as possible recent moves made by the hotel industry have led to a number of establishments being classed as ‘green’. And now, in the heart of Czech Republic, even those travelling on a modest budget can benefit from the city’s newest eco hotel; Mosaic House.

As Eastern European cities continue to become increasingly popular with British tourists as an exciting destination to explore, it seems that Prague has taken the time to invest in what modern day travellers are looking for. Well located for a number of Prague’s most historic and cultural offerings, the Mosaic House offers private rooms and dorm bunks. Suiting those on various budgets the eco conscious are welcomed with an array of green practices to keep their global exploration as carbon neutral as possible.

With direct flights to Prague easily found from London airports such as Stansted and Luton as well regional airports including Manchester, tourists can enjoy the city and new hotel for a modest price. Incorporating solar water heating, computer controlled room temperatures and the first greywater recycling unit in the country into the hotels design occupants are treated to luxury standards without the carbon price tag. Meanwhile both showers and toilet include water saving features, whilst much of the furniture within the rooms have been locally sourced. And with the hotels restaurant donating used oil from the deep fryer to biodiesel shuttle buses, after an exciting trip to the city even the airport bus journey is eco-friendly.

Posted by James, 15 June 2010 12:39

Rogue now selling Portland State IPA

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

By John Foyston, Special to The Oregonian

June 01, 2010, 2:35PM

22oz_PSU.jpgView full sizeIt just makes sense that Portland State University would have its own beer, and thanks to Rogue Ales, you can now buy  Portland State IPA in 22-ounce bottles with the legend, “Think local, buy local, learn local (ly).”

“It’s a fun way to illustrate PSU’s commitment to sustainability,” said PSU President Wim Wiewel,  “as well as our efforts to engage the community and develop mutually beneficial partnerships.”

In 2008, PSU dedicated a $25 million gift from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation  to strengthening its role as a national leader in sustainability education. Funds help support research into sustainable  food chains, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and green business practices.

“I don’t understand half the stuff they’re doing,” said Rogue CEO Jack Joyce, “but I do know that they’re teaching people to think local — local transportation and local products that are locally grown, locally produced, and locally sold. They call it being sustainable, but we just call it common sense, because we’re part of the community — we think buying local, using alternative transportation and just being a good neighbor are absolutely essential.”

Portland State IPA
can be purchased in retail locations around Portland including the Rogue Ales Distillery and Public House, 1339 N.W. Flanders St. PSU receives no royalties from the sale 

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