Green Tech Companies in Boulder Area

Boulder, Colorado leads the way in high tech startup companies according to a recently released study from the New Engine/Kaufmann Foundation. Three of these tech companies based in the Boulder area provide energy saving services that most organizations could benefit from immediately.

tendril  Tendril offers smart energy technologies for both energy providers and consumers. Businesses may monitor and control energy usage in a variety of ways using Tendril’s efficient Cloud based technology. It is much easier to conserve and reduce energy when a company has more control and knowledge.

green garageGreen Garage services vehicles so that businesses and consumers save money and decrease their environmental impact. They go beyond traditional auto maintenance by offering technologies including nitrogen tire fills and silicon based windshield wipers. With a fleet maintenance program and employee discount offers, Green Garage offers businesses with vehicle fleets a real eco-friendly and money saving alternative.

Boulder Hybrid Conversions  converts Prius automobiles into plug-in electric hybrids, boulder hybrid conversionswhich curtails gas consumption. Colorado taxpayers get a generous tax rebate that increases the financial attractiveness of this innovative conservation technique. Eco-officiency converted their Prius hybrid to add a 10kw battery pack and was thrilled with the service of Boulder Hybrid as well as the reduced visits to the gas station.

For more information on how we help you navigate and implement energy conservation options contact us.

Consider Renewable Energy for Your Small Business

solar-power-generatorWith the cost of fuel rising higher each year, many companies have started to look towards renewable energy to reduce expenses. However, many of the smaller enterprises are often lagging behind in adapting to greener energy resources because of the associated costs to invest in renewable energy.

Cheaper Than You Think

One of the most common let-offs for many small businesses when trying to switch to renewable energy sources is the purported high cost. Technological innovations in recent years have resulted in reduction of the cost of renewable energy systems. Also, more investment and partnership opportunities for small businesses. Clean Energy Collective, a community-owned solar program, is one of those organizations making renewable energy cost effective for small businesses.

Small businesses can buy wind energy to support renewable energy programs without the cost of building the infrastructure. There is also a host of rebate programs available through Xcel Energy that can defray costs for energy conservation efforts.

Choosing the Right Renewable Energy Systemwindturbines2

Of course, all of these would be useless if you don’t choose the right energy system for your particular needs. Here, knowing the kinds of renewable energy resources available in your given area will definitely help a lot in selecting the actual system. The Colorado Renewable Energy Society provides a clear and short overview of the types of energy resources available for small business enterprises.

Contact us and learn more on how you can effectively use renewable energy for your business needs.

Energy Produced from Footsteps: New Innovation Of Pavegen Floor Tiles

pavegen tileIf you have ever seen those street scenes of New York City in the movies, you can really see how a product such as Pavegen, a simple rubber tile with a spring-like action which generates energy when stepped on, is a brilliant concept when it comes to harnessing human energy power.  Just imagine all the different places that could take advantage of people walking, jumping, dancing or just waiting in line, to harvest the kinetic energy generated by their stepping on Pavegen tiles.  These are the innovations that are possible for the future of sustainability energy solutions.

Affordable

The creation of these energy producing rubber tiles is affordable to begin with but with more large scale, and attention grabbing installations, the cost will continue to be attractive.  As people become familiar with the product and understand how much potential there is for application in business environments, the mass-production and subsequent drop in cost is inevitable.

Interactive

The initial applications were in schools where foot traffic throughout the day is fairly constant.  After all, these kids of today are our energy consumers of tomorrow.  They embraced the technology and even had fun with the interactive aspects of the product.  People really responded to the way the tiles light up.  In fact, they went out of their way to take time to generate power through play as seen in this video.

Applications

The goal is to create clean and pavegen conceptreliable off-grid energy that can be used to power various applications such as charging stations or lighting solutions. With enough power generated you could feasibly power an entire building. In an airport, for example, the heavy foot traffic could generate enough energy to power all the electric signage in the area.

Clean Energy

Kinetic energy is totally clean and sustainable and with new technology it has meant that the power generated can be used immediately stored in batteries.  In this way the energy can be more directly focused for optimum usage.

Green building options continue to be forefront in planning as we move into the future.  The Pavegen floor tile is an exciting solution that is worth watching as the site installations continue to grow and produce.  It is definitely one of the more exciting products we have seen recently.

Recommended Sustainability Apps to Track and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

carbontracker_appThere are apps that are designed to measure business and individual carbon footprint from daily activities. These apps not only identify the environmental costs of your business activity, they also suggest ways to reduce your energy usage and other activities that you can do at home or work to reduce your carbon footprint.  Here are some recommended carbon tracking apps for business and individuals:

  • Carbon Track by SAP gives users an estimate of the CO2 emissions associated with key business activities such as travel, electricity  usage, and waste disposal and helps them understand their environmental impact.  For example, users can calculate the environmental impact of their next business trip and compare the CO2 emissions of different forms of travel.
  • Carbon Tracker by Softzilla is an iphone app that helps businesses measure carbon with certain business activities such as with different modes of transportation, switching off different types of office equipment and carbon effects of business waste.
  • Green Outlet is similar to Carbon Track but is designed for residential use.  Green Outlet helps homeowners discover which of their household appliances use the most electricity, predict their monthly electricity bill, and make informed decisions about their electricity use.  The app will also alert users when they have exceeded US guidelines for recommended carbon usage and connects users to options for purchasing carbon offsets.
  • Green You can help individuals take steps toward greener living.  Users begin by entering basic information about topics such as transportation, food, and housing to calculate their carbon footprint.  The app then helps users identify specific actions they can take for greener living.  The app tracks progress over time.

Contact us for more information on how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint and improve your environmental impact.

Sustainability Assessments: World-Wide or Within Your Company…It All Matters

World Leaders, environmental experts, and social and economic dignitaries attended the Rio+20 Conference held in Rio de Janiero this past June, producing a 49 page document entitled The Future We Want , detailing insights from the past, and outlining the future focus of Sustainability practices for our World. The Conference, officially known as The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), was the third in a series of United Nations collaborative assessments of the future of our planet.

In Rio in 1992, the Conference was called The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED); ten years later, in 2002, in Johannesburg, World Leaders and invested participants attended The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Sustainable development takes care of the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations, focusing on economic development, social development and environmental protection.

In June, the attendees committed to “working together for a world that is equitable, just, and inclusive, to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development, and environmental protection to thereby benefit all.”

Are we any better off twenty years later? Have there been actual improvements to our World, achieved by the practice of green conservation, sustainable construction, and fair practice? Have we fed the poor and eliminated our need for fossil fuels? According to Rio 20+, “we” are working on it although not as far along as originally hoped.

We can see the activity around us: less plastic in throw-away water bottles, emission controls, re-cycling initiatives and practices, celebrity concerts to aid impoverished nations, and non-profit foundation hands-on training to eradicate hunger through sustainable farming and conservation practices. But the conference concluded that there have been set backs to past initiatives due to unrest, natural disasters, economic, food and energy crises around the globe. The following concerns were determined as primary focus points, in order to go forward:

  • Eradicating Poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today, an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.
  • Reaffirmation of the Rio Principles and Johannesburg Past Action Plans, including inter alia, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Assessing the progress, as we strive toward the goals.
  • Mainstreaming sustainable development, by integrating economic, social, and environmental links.
  • Education toward the changing of unsustainable patterns of consumption and productivity in poorer regions, protecting and managing their natural resources, where their economy is usually based.
  • Re-assessing as new challenges emerge.

Sustainability assessments are not only the responsibility of World Leaders, Foundations, Celebrities, and Large Corporations. Individuals, in their daily life, and small to mid-sized businesses must make an effort to assess what they have done or need to do within their own environment to protect the future of our planet. There will be an eventual “tipping point” when even more will be accomplished, if we all do our part.

You can read the complete Rio+20 document in the link above, and contact us at eco-officiency for further planning ideas about what you or your business can do. We can help you assess the situation where you are, and achieve your sustainability goals.

It begins with a small step in the right direction.

A Green Business Operations Can Start at Anytime or Age

“Did you know that each person [on the planet] throws out four and a half pounds of trash a day?” he told NBC 7 News. “Now multiply that by 3.8 billion people. How many pounds is that?”

These words were spoken by a 12 year-old by the name of Sam Klein, who started his own recycling business. He earns up to $200 for each box of ink cartridges he recycles and donates the proceeds to charities in his home town of St. Louis, Missouri.

This is one way to make a difference. Looking to create a green business operation is another. What can you do? There are very easy and simple options that are available. Here are some ideas;

Paper: Purchase 100% recycled paper for every day printing. Did all of those pages that were tossed need to be printed? Proofread those documents electronically before they are printed.

Re-use printer cartridges: Purchase recycled ink-jet and laser printer cartridges. There can be a sizable savings if your turn them in when purchasing new ones at certain office stores.

Lights: Are the lights turned off in rooms that are not being used? Merely turning off the lights when not in use (especially at night) can save a company between 10-15% of their utility bill. Consider adding stickers to the light switches to remind staff to turn off the lights or purchase sensor lights that will turn off automatically.

Energy: Save energy and turn off computers, monitors, and printers overnight. Assign one person each week that will check the office before leaving to make sure all equipment is turned off. This not only makes it happen but starts building accountability and responsibility among all the staff.

eco-officiency has an assessment tool developed in Excel that will help you explore all the areas where you can make your business a greener environment.

There is a good feeling that comes when employees know they are making a difference for the environment. By coming together in the office as a team, they develop a sense of accomplishment that you can be sure is shared with their families. This environmental effort just may carry over into their home life, if it did not exist there already.

Contact us and we will work with you to create a green environment for your business.

LED Lights: The Good and the Bad

More and more companies (as well as homes) are converting lights to the LED bulb (LED stands for Light Emitting Diode) for their benefits. These light bulbs offer similar light with substantially less power, saving between 50-90% of

lighting energy costs. LED’s are extremely durable and require very little maintenance once installed. Although expensive, they also last a very long time

up to 12-25 years depending on use and therefore are considered more cost-effective over the full life cycle of an LED. LED’s have also been touted as superior to CFL’s because they last longer, are more efficient and don’t contain mercury. If a CFL breaks and the mercury is exposed it is considered a hazardous waste issue.

However, LED’s aren’t all good and have waste challenges. They do contain lead, arsenic and a few other s

ubstances known to be dangerous. They are not a health hazard in a home or office encased, but if they do break it is important to treat them like hazardous waste. Currently LED’s can be disposed of in regular landfills and are not considered hazardous waste legally. However, because of the toxic contents it is strongly recommended when disposing of LED’s to treat them similar to hazardous waste. (To learn more visit E-magazine article, Dark Side of LED Light bulbs)

For more information on LED lighting visit these websites;

  • LED Lighting Facts: A program of the U.S. Department of Energy that provides information on LED products and performance rating.
  • LED’s Magazine: A magazine dedicated to LED lighting information.
  • LED Journal: Provides an online resource guide, a buyer’s guide, industry directory and other resources on LED lighting.
  • Energy Efficient Lighting: LED reference information provided by EarthEasy, a green product online retailer, which provides basic information for the consumer including an overview of benefits, terminology, and how to choose an LED.

Measuring Your Success with Sustainability

As companies start sustainability initiatives, how will they know they are successful? One of the ways is to develop a metrics plan to measure the improvement. The complexity comes in what data do you track and measure. Data is not always available and/or time consuming to collect, track and maintain for limited staff resources.

Here are some options to consider in three of the more common areas for companies:

Energy

  • % of total KWH energy reductions (via utility bill)
  • # of energy star equipment or appliances purchased or used

Purchasing and Supply Chain

  • % of recycled or post-consumer waste products purchased
  • % of local based products or vendors used
  • % of revenue of total purchases used with sustainable vendors
  • # of vendors who ‘sustainable’

Transportation

  • # of bus passes (used and/or purchased)
  • # of miles driven to and from work for all staff
  • % of products purchased within (# of miles) of company location
  • # of employees who use alternative transportation (days per year)

For more information, the International Sustainability Indicators is an organization that provides information to measure progress toward sustainability for communities and companies.

Sustainable Innovation

YERT – Your Environmental Road Trip, is a film that entailed a year long road trip in the U.S. showing  unique and innovate ways to approach environmental sustainability. The film features some incredible innovations.  Check out this short preview of some of the innovations.

One of the more practical and large scale ideas is the Solar Roadways project that is working to pave roads with solar panels that you can drive on. Check out this short four minute video on their idea to increase solar energy and guarantee power to outlying areas in our country.

How much water does a single Google search use?

Who knew that a simple Google search related to water usage? Well the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) examined the relationship between water and energy and showed just how much a Google search requires.

In their report, “Where Water Meets Watts”, they cite that a single Google search requires a half a milliliter of water in energy. With over 300 million searches worldwide that adds up to over 150,000 liters of water per day to produce enough electrical power.

The IEEE also developed an interactive map that shows the relationship between energy and water and how it relates to each communities supply. The map shows population access to clean water and electricity along with the prognosis provided by IEEE. It hopes the map will encourage global awareness of the situation of water and energy use.

To calculate and learn more about your water consumption habits visit Water Footprint.