clear the air

Add Carbon Offset To Your Grocery List

A Norway shopping mall is offering customers carbon offsets for purchase on its shelves. John Acher from Reuters reports that the Stroemmen Storsenter shopping centre outside Oslo began selling the certificates on Saturday, at 165 Norwegian crowns (US$30.58) per tonne for shoppers to pick up with their weekly groceries.In one weekend, more than 300 Carbon Emissions Reductions (CERs) had been sold, and store managers were considering stocking up with more.

The store, partnering with CO2focus (a carbon management firm in Norway, is hoping to make sustainability more accessible to its consumers and is not receiving any return from the sales. “Many people want to buy reductions, but until we started this in the shopping mall, they haven’t known where to get them, but now they are available to everybody,” said Ole Herredsvela, the shopping centre’s technical manager.

Read more from Reuters.

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Nokia’s Green Mobile Phone

Nokia has unveiled ReMade, a revolutionary mobile phone made of 100% recycled materials.

The idea behind the “ReMade” concept was to see if it was possible to create a device made from nothing new. It has been designed using recycled materials that avoid the need for natural resources, reduce landfill, and allow for more energy efficient production.

It is made out of metals from recycled aluminum cans, plastics from drink bottles form the chassis, and its rubber key mats are provided by old car tyres. Inside the phone are new more environmentally friendly technologies such as printed electronics, and the graphics used on the display save energy without compromising on style.

Remade is a concept that explores potential new ideas for the future, and is part of Nokia’s ongoing work looking at how it can help people make more sustainable choices. It is designed to help inspire and stimulate discussion on how mobile devices might be made in the future.

Nokia has been leading the way in its environmental endeavours, where 65-80% of its phones can be recycled and use the latest technology to promote energy efficiency.

Simon Turner

“Visualising” Energy Use In Your Home

Household energy monitors have been around for some time. A few new entries into the space, however, add a splash of colour and style to make understanding energy consumption more intuitive.

Wattson, first of all, is a sleek, aesthetically pleasing device that shows homeowners through both numbers and colours how much energy they are using in their home. Consumers begin by attaching to their electricity meter or fuse box a transmitter device, which can measure both single and 3-phase systems. That, in turn, beams information directly to the freestanding wattson device elsewhere in the house, where it instantly displays current usage.

Wattson’s LED display can represent energy use in euros, dollars, yen or pounds, while its pulsing, coloured light also reflects the amount of electricity being used, ranging from cool blue for small amounts to red for high energy consumption. The wireless wattson display is portable, and when appliances are switched on or off, it indicates how much energy they use.

Homeowners can store up to 4 weeks of energy-use history on the device and download it for analysis on software that comes included; a forthcoming community feature will let wattson owners compare their usage. Wattson was listed in Stuff Magazine’s “Cool List” of the top 10 gadgets of 2007. It is priced at GBP 149.50 from UK-based DIY KYOTO.

The Home Joule, meanwhile, resembles a nightlight and plugs into any outlet in a home. The device displays not just energy usage, broadcast wirelessly by the consumer’s energy meter, but also the real-time cost of energy, which comes wirelessly from the energy company. The colour of light emitted by the device represents the costs of the moment, with yellow and red light indicating expensive energy costs, while green means energy is cheaper. The idea is that consumers can then modify their consumption accordingly, switching off discretionary appliances at peak times of the day. The Home Joule is from Ambient Devices and is currently available only to customers of Consumer Powerline’s demand-response program.

Finally, though not truly an energy monitor, we can’t resist mentioning Ambient‘s beautiful Energy Orb, which also emits different colours of light to represent pricing information. This time, however, the device emitting the light is an egg-shaped orb that plugs into an outlet. The Energy Orb has been adopted by Pacific Gas & Electric and other US energy companies, and is priced at USD 149.99.

With energy prices heading nowhere but up, so, too, will demand for devices like these. One to get in on early, especially outside the US!


Battery-Powered Trucks

In London, Electruc distributes the French-built Mega Multitruck, which is designed for inner-city use. With speeds up to 30mph and a range of up to 60 miles, the Mega Multitruck can handle payloads from 300kg to 530kg, depending on body type.

The Mega Multitruck charges from a standard 13amp (3 pin) socket, and five body types are available, including modifications for espresso carts or mobile fruit stalls. As with electric cars, the Mega trucks are exempt from congestion charges and road tax, and they are eligible for free parking in many London boroughs. Pricing starts at GBP 45 per week, based on a 60-month contract; average yearly running costs are just GBP 215, or between 2p and 3p per mile, Electruc says.

On the other side of the Atlantic, California-based ZAP (which stands for Zero Air Pollution) sells a range of electric vehicles, including both cars and trucks. The company’s 3-wheel Xebra Electric Truck, for example, offers speeds up to 40mph and a range of 25 miles per charge. Both flatbed and dump-truck styles are available, as are left- and right-hand steering. The suggested retail price is USD 12,500, and operating costs are between 1 and 3 cents per mile. This fall, Zap will also begin selling the Zap Truck XL, a 4-wheel vehicle with a payload of 770 lbs, maximum speed of 25mph and a range of 30 miles. Estimated MSRP is USD 18,500, and operating costs are about 3 cents per mile.

With their financial and environmental advantages, demand for vehicles like these will only increase. Transportation entrepreneurs: time to make “emission-free” your mantra!


Make friends on the internet whilst being a friend to the Earth
February 14, 2008, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Global | Tags: , , ,

People band together online to date, discuss politics or lose weight. Now a US website called Greenopolis has created a community whose members help each other live in a more earth-friendly manner.

After registering on Greenopolis, which is still in beta, visitors complete an online survey that analyses their daily activities to determine how ‘green’ their lifestyle is. Based on the survey findings users receive a coloured badge, which shows other members just how much of a friend to the earth they really are. Orange badge holders need to clean up their environmental act, and solid green badge holders are on the right track.

By participating on the site, users are awarded points, which are displayed for other members to see (sometimes, peer pressure can be used for good). More points—and corresponding changes in badge colour—show that they’re becoming more environmentally responsible. Plus, when the site officially debuts, points can be used to receive discounts on sustainable products. Greenopolis founders also want to make the badges portable, so that members can post them on their blogs and social network pages.

As a concept, Greenopolis’ point system also seems highly portable. It’s easy to imagine similar website helping diabetics better manage their disease or kids improve their exercise habits. (Related: Doing the green thing.)


 Simon Turner

Antarctica: The Ticking Time Bomb

antarctica.jpgEven if a fraction melted, Antarctica could damage nations from Bangladesh to Tuvalu in the Pacific and cities from Shanghai to New York. It has enough ice to raise sea levels by 57 meters (187 ft) if it melted, over thousands of years.

A year after the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected sea level rises by 2100 of about 20 to 80 cms (8-32 inches), a Reuters poll of 10 of the world’s top climatologists showed none think that range is alarmist.

Six experts stuck by the projections, saying the response of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland was still unclear, and four other experts, including one of the authors of the IPCC report, projected gains could be 1 or even 2 meters by 2100.

Some island nations, such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, are building defenses costing millions of dollars and want to know how high to build. 

Antarctica may accumulate more ice this century because of warming, blamed by the IPCC mainly on human use of fossil fuels, rather than slide faster into the sea.The crux of this problem is that we are moving into an era where we are observing changes in the climate system that have never before been seen in human history.  Ice sheets fall into that category.

Quite simply, at this time we don’t have a good upper-range estimate of ‘how much sea- level rise and how fast’. Among worrying scenarios is the chance Antarctica will slide faster into the sea, perhaps if a ring of sea ice melts away in warmer oceans. Or melt water might flow under the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, and act a lubricant to speed a slide.But glaciers can slow down as well as speed up.

Most of the projected sea-level rise by 2100 will be because water in the oceans expands as it warms, with little being added by the ice sheets.

Simon Turner

Your Green Grass Could Save The World

Grass WITH new research showing that the world’s forests are absorbing less man-made carbon dioxide each year, two Australian scientists said some plants could store CO2 for thousands of years.

Grasses such as wheat and sorghum can store large amounts of carbon in microscopic balls of silica, called phytoliths, that form around a plant’s cells as they draw the mineral from the soil, a report in the latest issue of New Scientist says.

When a plant dies, the phytoliths, or plantstones, enter the soil and lock in the carbon for potentially thousands of years, said the Southern Cross University agricultural scientists Leigh Sullivan and Jeff Parr. The next step would be to see if plants that best store carbon in plantstones have higher or lower crop yields and quality.

Strains could be bred to better produce plantstones and farmers could potentially claim carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol, the report said.

The forestry industry is already heavily involved in carbon storage but storing carbon in plantstones could become more widespread because farmers could also still earn income by selling the crops for food, the report said. 

Simon Turner