Putting Portugal on the power grid | Business| Economy and finance …

At first glance deliveries of eco-friendly solar and wind energy from Portugal to Central Europe look great because both can be produced in abundance at the western end of Europe at reasonable prices. There is one problem though — a 3,000-meter-high obstacle called the Pyrenees Mountains, which cut off the Iberian Peninsula from France.

But things are about to change now because Portugal, Spain and France decided at the end of last month to simply bypass the mountains. An investment of around €2 billion ($2.28 billion) will soon create a better connection between Spain and Portugal and the European energy market.

Read more: Somewhere between crisis and boom in Portugal

By 2025, an underwater power line is supposed to be laid in the Bay of Biscay. By 2030, 15 percent of the networks in the Iberian Peninsula and France will be linked, well over today’s 5 percent. 

Portuguese Economics Minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral called the decision a “historic event” that would end “Portugal’s years of energy isolation.”

The end of isolation

“The governments of the three countries have sent a political message that they want to seriously participate in the European energy network,” says Antonio Sa da Costa, chairman of the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association APREN. But while the Portuguese economy minister is already dreaming of supplying Central Europe with cheap Portuguese electricity from renewable sources, Sa da Costa shows a bit more restraint: “There is still a lot to do before that happens.”

Antonio Sa da Costa from the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association is pleased about recent ‘political signals’

On the one hand, Portugal has made good use of renewables with wind and hydroelectric power stations — it even manages to cover its own energy needs for extended periods without using conventional power plants. On the other hand, the production is relatively expensive and solar energy is barely in the mix, despite the sun shining so often.

Francisco Ferreira from the environmental protection organization Zero warns though that the flow of energy may go in the opposite direction. France may use the new connections to channel its artificially cheap nuclear power toward Portugal.

Read more: Chinese eyeing of Portuguese assets raises some hackles

“In order to prevent that from happening, the Portuguese government must urgently provide price guarantees for the production of green electricity to encourage investment. But up to this point they have been rather stingy with subsidies and would like to get rid of them completely,” says Ferreira.

Portugal has come a long way in terms of production and use of renewable energies

“In the end, the price will decide who delivers energy where,” says Sa da Costa. “In order for us to export electricity, prices must also reflect the secondary costs of production.” He sees gas as the real competition in the future and not nuclear power, which will be phased out in the long run anyway. In order for electricity to really flow freely though, the EU must also work on the CO2 cap-and-trade emissions scheme to create fair prices.

Connecting to Morocco

At the same time, Portugal wants to improve the energy connection to Morocco and thus become more independent from its continental neighbors. So far, there are two connections through the Mediterranean near Gibraltar. Portugal wants a third.

A direct link with Morocco would expand the market for Portuguese renewable energy producers, says Cabral. In return, Morocco could supply environmentally friendly solar power to the Iberian Peninsula and beyond.

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However, since Spain only wants to expand the existing lines, Portugal is already looking for investors for the project which is expected to cost around €700 million. According to the energy minister, these costs will not be passed on to energy consumers.

The Portuguese already pay the fourth-highest electricity bills in Europe, because in the past governments gave too many perks to then state-owned energy monopoly EDP. Additionally, during the Portuguese financial crisis they increased value added tax (VAT) on energy from 6 to 23 percent. Exported energy has the added benefit of being VAT-free.

Worker dies after falling into vat at plant that recycles Disney World food waste


Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary on Oct. 1, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)

A man died early Wednesday after falling into a vat of oil and grease at a plant near Walt Disney World that recycles the resort’s food waste, authorities said.

The industrial accident occurred shortly after midnight Tuesday at Harvest Power, a Central Florida facility that converts food waste into renewable energy and fertilizers.

There, two men were emptying oil and grease from a semi-truck into a vat when one of the workers — identified as 61-year-old John Korody — slipped on a grate and fell into the vat, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Korody’s co-worker tried to pull him to safety, but fumes from the oil and grease byproduct overwhelmed both of them, and Korody slipped further into the vat, the sheriff’s office said.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, and the Reedy Creek Fire Department helped recover his body, the sheriff’s office said. An investigation is underway.

A Walt Disney World spokeswoman confirmed Korody was not an employee of the company but of Harvest Power.

According to Harvest Power’s website, the company accepts restaurant food scraps, grease trap waste and packaged food waste for recycling at its Bay Lake, Fla., facility, which neighbors Disney’s Lake Buena Vista resorts.

The company describes the Central Florida plant as an “award-winning energy garden” that “uses anaerobic digestion to turn organic waste from the 50 million visitors to Central Florida each year into clean, renewable energy.”

“This was a tragic incident,” said Harvest Power spokeswoman Meredith Sorensen. “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of this co-worker. We are in shock and grief and figuring out what happened.”

Sorensen said the company organized a moment of silence and emphasized safety measures in the wake of the incident. It was also providing grief counselors for the team at the Florida facility, she said.

The death comes little more than a month after a Walt Disney World employee died in an accident in July outside the Pop Century Resort, one of the Disney-owned hotels surrounding the Florida theme park.

That employee, 33-year-old Juan Alberto Ojeda, was killed after a motorized utility cart he had been fixing “jumped a curb, ran into a chain-link fence, then fell on him,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Disney officials confirmed the death and mourned in a statement “the loss of one of our Cast Members” but did not immediately respond to questions about the fatal incident.

Keith McMillan contributed to this report.

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McDonald’s restaurant gets eco-friendly look

Behold the new McDonald’s flagship in Chicago!

This temple of the Big Mac is billed as a model of energy-saving architecture — sustainability! It’s supposed to bring people together — community! It even aims to be visually subtle, which amounts to a revolution for a company whose stores, once decked out in ketchup red and mustard yellow, blighted America’s highways and byways.

“I defy you to find another McDonald’s on Earth as beautiful as this one,” said downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly at Wednesday’s press preview.

That’s a lot of hype to live up to, and the flagship restaurant that opened to the public Thursday doesn’t always deliver.

The building, a white pavilion with pencil-thin steel columns, environmentally friendly timber and an array of 1,062 rooftop solar panels, is architecturally adventurous — a big improvement on the supersized, backward-looking store it replaced. Its airy, plant-showcasing interior is miles better than the plastic-heavy McDonald’s of old. Yet the flagship’s outdoor plaza isn’t nearly as inviting as it should be. And its green credentials, while impressive, are undercut by the fact that it remains tied to the energy-wasting car culture.

I give this building, whose costs were largely shouldered by McDonald’s rather than franchise owner Nick Karavites, an A for effort and a B for execution. There are lots of good ideas bubbling here, but they’re not (excuse the restaurant metaphor) fully cooked.

Located on the block bounded by Ohio, Ontario, Clark and LaSalle streets, the McDonald’s occupies a strange spot in Chicago — a place I once dubbed “the blurbs” for the way its blurs the line between urban charm and the tacky suburban strip. The neighbors include a gas station and a Rainforest Cafe with a hideous green frog on its roof. The original McDonald’s on this site, a low-slung affair that opened in 1983, played a leading role in this visual cacophony.

Its display of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia bestowed a sheen of glamour on the grubby business of serving up burgers and fries. Affectionately nicknamed the “Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s,” it lasted until 2004 when it was demolished for a new outlet, an on-steroids version of the McDonald’s that Ray Kroc built in northwest suburban Des Plaines in 1955. That building and its massive golden arches looked backward. The new one, with a commendable push from McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook, looks forward.

Creating an urban oasis

The architect, Chicago’s Carol Ross Barney, is widely recognized for her work on the Chicago Riverwalk, one of the city’s finest new public spaces. It’s less widely known that Barney’s eponymous firm assisted London-based Foster + Partners on the design of the new Apple flagship store on North Michigan Avenue. Both flagships don’t just aim to project a brand identity. They seek to give something back to the community in the form of usable public space — a fitting gesture for McDonald’s, which in June moved its headquarters to the city’s hip Fulton Market district from the sleepy confines of west suburban Oak Brook.

For Barney, the company’s directive about community meant striking a new balance between cars and pedestrians. She sought to create an urban oasis where people could eat, drink and meet. On the site’s west side, she got McDonald’s to cut the amount of parking by about one-third. She increased the number of trees and shrubs. She replaced ugly asphalt with permeable concrete pavers that cover the site like a gray rug, giving it the feel of an urbane outdoor plaza. Even the drive-through lanes have those pavers, making them resemble a shared street, where pedestrians, bikes and cars have an equal claim to the road.

But the outdoor space disappoints, even though, admittedly, it’s unfinished. (Contractors still have to put in a lawn and install a big, sustainable teak table.) In contrast to the Riverwalk, there aren’t enough places to sit, apparently because local officials were concerned that homeless people would turn benches into makeshift beds. In addition, city regulations aimed at masking ugly surface parking lots from the view of passers-by required Barney to wrap much of the site with fencing and shrubs. This treatment forms a visual barrier that makes the new flagship less open and inviting.

The building itself, which occupies the site’s east side, cleverly interprets McDonald’s desire to associate itself with environmental sustainability. In contrast to the sign-plastered, decoration-slathered eyesores around it, it relies on the essentials of architecture — columns and beams — to convey its message. The result is a shade-providing, energy-producing structure — a “solar pergola,” Barney calls it. Company executives expect it to meet at least 60 percent of the store’s electricity needs.

To be sure, the pergola looks a little industrial from certain vantage points. (Is it a factory? A mini power station?) It also will strike some observers as a rough-edged knockoff of the Art Institute of Chicago’s elegant Modern Wing (Barney denies any influence). And you wonder how the open-to-the-elements structure will fare when brutal winter winds blow.

Still, the understated exterior, which has only six small versions of the McDonald’s arches affixed to the structure, can be deemed a success. The pergola draws together the store’s disparate elements — the kitchen and the drive-through lanes, which retain their previous location, and a new dining area — into a visually unified whole. The impressive canopy, which is in keeping with the Chicago tradition of celebrating structure, has enough oomph to stand up to ever-larger buildings rising around it. And the dining area is a little jewel, a minimalist glass box that reveals the wood structure that helps support it.

At night, the transparent store and its canopy become a beacon.


From within, the dining area is roomy and light-filled even though the 19,000-square-foot store is 5,000 square feet smaller than the previous flagship and has one level of seating versus the old store’s two. Multiplying this sense of expansiveness is the obligatory “wow” feature — a hanging, glass-sheathed garden, set below the roof and filled with river birch trees. (When rain pours in, a drain pipe will prevent the garden from turning into a giant water tank.)

Modern interior design

Continuing the environmental theme, narrow walls of plants are suspended from the ceiling. Cross-laminated timber, an advanced form of plywood that requires less energy to make than concrete or steel, supports the roof. This is said to be the first commercial use of the timber in Chicago.

Barney worked on the interior with the Sydney firm of Landini Associates, which did a fine job on the appropriately modern furniture and legible layout. Like the exterior, the interior has a calm palette, consisting of cool grays and warm woods. Ketchup red is notably absent, though there are traces of mustard yellow.

The store is a showcase in McDonald’s’ effort to convert its roughly 14,000 U.S. locations to a “experience of the future” model, featuring ordering kiosks, table service and increasing use of the mobile app. With the store expected to use half the energy of a typical restaurant, McDonald’s is seeking platinum status, the highest level in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ratings, for the project.

Some things don’t change, though. About half the store’s business comes from its drive-through lanes (in a typical McDonald’s, that share can be 70 percent). So while the materials and building systems of the new McDonald’s point to an environmentally enlightened future, its car-culture business model remains stuck in the past.

That inconsistency doesn’t make the store an exercise in “green-washing,” a term critics use to describe buildings that are better at presenting the image of reducing energy use than actually saving it. But it does show that architecture must adapt to slowly changing habits even as it points the way to new ones. Hurdles abound on the road to eco-utopia.


China’s renewable power waste falls in first half, but warns of challenges

China's renewable power waste falls in first half, but warns of challenges SHANGHAI: Levels of wasted power in China‘s renewable sector fell in the first half of this year, but securing grid access for many new clean energy projects remains a challenge for the industry, an energy bureau official said.

China’s renewable energy capacity has soared thanks to generous subsidies and ambitious targets, but the country does not have enough transmission capacity to deliver all the new power to customers, a problem known as curtailment.

To resolve the issue, the government has been trying to adjust the timing of construction and has set up an early warning system forcing regions suffering from excess capacity growth to slow down the pace of new approvals.

“From this year, the situation has improved,” said Liang Zhipeng, vice-director of the renewable energy office of the National Energy Administration during a media briefing on Monday. “But absorbing renewable power remains a long term problem.”

China’s total renewable energy capacity reached 680 gigawatts by the end of June, up 13 percent on the year, accounting for nearly 40 of total energy capacity.

Non-fossil fuel power – renewables and nuclear – accounted for 66.1 percent of China’s new installed energy capacity in the first half, up 5.4 percentage points compared to a year earlier.

Wind curtailment rates stood at 8.7 percent, down 5 percentage points on the year, while solar curtailment also fell 3.2 percentage points to 3.6 percent during the first half.

Liang said new demand had created more favourable conditions for the renewable sector, but it still faced big challenges.

“Over the long term, it is very important to establish an effective mechanism to absorb and utilise renewable energy,” he said.

Amid overcapacity fears, China has already taken action to restrict the number of new solar power generation projects this year after record growth in 2017.

The state planning agency said at the end of June that it would cap new capacity at 30 GW in 2018, compared to 53 GW last year.

Activists turn from protesting to collaborating, like Glendale Environmental Coalition and Grayson Power Plant plans

A very different kind of environmental activism is spreading across Southern California: a new wave of advocacy partnerships that trades placard-waving protests and staring down bulldozers for collaborative work solutions.

Green organizations are joining government, utilities and eco-friendly startups to shape green projects, from solar power to advanced battery storage to new forms of car-free transportation such as bicycle rentals and electric scooters.

One example is the Glendale Environmental Coalition, a grassroots group of climate change believers that became frustrated with a city plan to rebuild the aging Grayson Power Plant near the 5 and 134 freeways using gas-fired generators. The 262-megawatt power plant would increase smog emissions and release an additional 415,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change.

The Grayson Power plant, located in an industrial area of the City of Glendale at 800 Air Way, Glendale. ( Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

After winning a chance to seek alternatives from the City Council in April, the GEC launched itself into the city’s formal request for low- and zero-carbon alternative energy proposal bids in a way that was so unusual, it perturbed city utility staffers.

The group used the California Public Records Act to intercept the bidders, contacting each one and offering crowd-sourcing services from stay-at-home moms and retirees, some walking the city by foot to record data.

Surprisingly, about 20 companies answered affirmatively. Out of those, the group is working with three or four whose bids were part of dozens received by the city by the end of last week.

An exact number will not be available for at least a week but the staff was receiving boxes of bids on deadline day Friday, according to the city.

The group acknowledged working with three bidders: Sunrun, a residential solar provider based in San Francisco; Charge Bliss, a West Hollywood company that completed a $4.8 million, 365,000 kilowatt hour solar/battery microgrid at Kaiser Permanente in Richmond last month; and PermaCity Inc., which recently completed the most powerful solar rooftop project in San Pedro.

Their actions are controversial because they go against the way a Request For Proposal from a city normally works.

In fact, the city’s utility declined their help, said GEC co-founder Dan Brotman, saying the city utility hired a consultant who can ferret out the best proposals and reject the rest.

“I approached GWP to get our group to work with them. They kept rebuffing me. They went out of their way to keep me and people from our group out of a pre-bid conference for companies,” Brotman said.

His group gathered information from the pre-bid conferees and now is part of several proposals for decentralized, green energy in Glendale.

The roll-up-your-sleeves approach suits Brotman and others in the group, who want to bring their knowledge to help a city move the needle toward green energy.

“Now is the time for us to be part of the solution,” he said.

Locals crowd-source data

Once the word got out, Brotman’s phone started ringing.

One company looking to install solar on large-scale commercial buildings asked Brotman if he could put them in touch with anyone from DreamWorks, whose animation studio campus is located on Flower Street in Glendale.

Others were finding rooftops perfect for solar but had no clue who owned the buildings.

“One company said to us: ‘Can you help us out with that,’” Brotman said.

Monica Campagna is a volunteer with grass roots environmental group Glendale Environmental Coalition (GEC). She is mapping every single empty parking lot and rooftop in the city using Google Maps. She’s printing it out and creating a map of possible solar sites for companies to use to build project in Glendale. Glendale, CA 8/3/2018 (Photo by John McCoy)

Enter Monica Campagna, 47, a stay-at-home mother and elementary school volunteer who wants to do something about global warming. She knew little about computer mapping but began tackling the job anyway a few months ago.

She uses Google Earth to locate commercial rooftops and parking lots that are accessible to solar and battery storage. On her walls are computer print-outs fastened with tape; beneath her desk are rolled up maps depicting potential sites for a decentralized, interconnected solar power plant that would spread across the city’s downtown commercial district.

“If we are demanding they (city) look at alternatives, I feel we have a responsibility to help them out,” she said. “How do we create energy here, store it here. This is a piece of the puzzle we can help with.”

“First I take screen shots. I’m printing each one out and then I’m taping them together to make a huge map of Glendale. I highlight roof space with one color, parking lots, like say car dealerships, with another color.

“Once I get them highlighted, I write down the name of the businesses and note the kinds: hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, car dealerships. Then I put them all in a spreadsheet with the addresses.”

Campagna’s about 30 percent of the way through.  Her friend is working on getting the names of property owners through public records act requests with the Office of Los Angeles County Assessor.

PermaCity was so impressed with the work, it named Glendale Environmental Coalition as a partner in its bid, she said.

“They were not going to participate until they talked to us,” she said.

“Climate change, the heat waves, the fires are all in my face. It is happening now,” said Campagna. “We all have to work together to prevent this from getting any worse.”

Brotman and others are working with Sunrun to find residential homeowners who would install solar rooftop panels. The group and Sunrun held a public workshop on July 25 drumming up 40 potential customers.The goal is to build 1,000 residential solar installations and wire them together, Brotman said.

Learning from a Santa Barbara group

The people from Glendale learned about pairing up with bidders from a group in Santa Barbara called the Community Environmental Council, a nonprofit working on regional solutions to climate change.

They formed Clean Energy 805, which fought Southern California Edison’s plans to revamp the Puente Power Plant using natural gas. That project was rebuffed by the California Energy Commission and locals from Oxnard, forcing SCE to send out requests for proposals for greener energy projects.

“We brought developers to the table,” explained April Price, renewable energy specialist with CEC in Santa Barbara. “Our goal was: If Edison had a lot of great offers on the table, they ‘d be less likely to go ahead with a gas-fired orientation.”

Brotman, Campagna and others in the group copied the Santa Barbara team’s model of working within the system.

“We have relationships with local businesses, landowners and local governments. We help educate them about the opportunities to build renewable resources,” Price said during a phone interview last week.

The bidding closed in early July and the group is awaiting Edison’s decision on the Puente Power Plant.

Being a green energy leader

Brotman says he thinks the city only need 131 megawatts of power to replace Grayson. The amount of power needed remains in dispute, particularly with the city’s utility, which originally proposed a 262-megawatt Grayson plant revitalization.

However, Brotman thinks the City Council will only permit a smaller amount of power. He hopes a portfolio of solar and battery storage projects can meet the need for a reliable power supply, although many say that is a tall order.

For example, PermaCity is proposing 20 megawatts for its commercial rooftops plan. And Solar Optimum just completed a 3 megawatt project at the Glendale Galleria mall, one of the largest in the city.

“Glendale can be a pioneer here, a leader in clean energy, or be one of the last cities in California to build a gas plant that will look like a dinosaur,” Brotman said.

 

 

Architect Nathan Good designs eco-friendly, sustainable homes

A home is often defined by its numbers: how many bedrooms and bathrooms, total square footage and cost.

Architect Nathan Good and his staff design homes that are not defined simply by numbers.

They design eco-friendly homes that reflect the natural world, are durable for decades to come, use less energy, are healthy for the inhabitants and can be built within their client’s budgets.

Nathan Good Architects EarthWISE certified

“Green building is about common sense,” Nathan says. “It’s about planning, understanding the site, the climate, the client’s needs and the long-term ramifications of our decisions.”

Nathan Good and his team are making such an impact in the sustainable design field that they have received over 20 regional, national and international design awards.

And the 2015 Mid-Valley Green Award for Green Service of the Year went to Nathan Good Architects, which includes three other licensed architects — Lydia Peters, John Carriere and Forrest Good — and interior designer Emily Doefler.

The firm, located above Jackson Jewelers in downtown Salem, has been EarthWISE certified for three years. The EarthWISE program is a free business environmental assistance program of Marion County. EarthWISE staff helps businesses recycle, save energy, reduce waste and much more. To earn certification, a business meets criteria in six areas. Nathan Good Architects is one of more than 170 EarthWISE businesses and organizations in Marion County.

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While each home designed by Nathan Good Architects is unique — even within the spectrum of green — the firm emphasizes four eco-friendly elements in particular to their clients: indoor air quality, connection to nature, durability and energy efficiency.

Keeping unhealthy products out of homes is key at Nathan Good Architects. They steer their clients away from products that off-gas volatile organic compounds and urea-formaldehydes. They prefer hard surfaces for flooring instead of carpet, which houses dust mites and contributes to asthma issues. They specify robust heat-recovery ventilation systems, which filter the air before it enters the home.

“Our homes should not be a source of illness, accidents or stress,” Good said. “A home should be a place for safety, renewal and enhancing our vitality.”

The orientation and layout of the house even make a difference with the indoor air quality. The architects study each site carefully before launching into design in order to understand how the wind blows at a site and makes sure that windows on opposite sides of a room enable a cross breeze for natural ventilation.

Orientation and design elements are also necessary for connecting a home to its surroundings and bringing people closer to nature.

“Properly placed and sized windows are essential for connecting us to the nature that surrounds our home and creating portals for natural light into the interiors,” Good said.

Their office designs decks, patios and year-round outdoor rooms to bring the outdoors inside and taking the inside out. The interior of a small home will feel more spacious if it has a good connection with the outdoors, he said.

Energy efficiency is ‘key ingredient’

Energy efficiency is one of the key ingredients to each of Nathan Good Architects’ projects, regardless of whether it is a residential, winery or commercial project.

“It’s a key ingredient of all our homes,” Nathan said. “There’s a wide range of energy efficient opportunities. The most cost-effective is to invest in robust insulation, high-performance windows, ultra-efficient hot water heaters and appliances. Once you reduce your demand for electricity, one can add on solar electric panels and work towards a zero-energy home, one that generates more energy than it consumes on an annual basis.”

His own home in Salem has a 10-kilowatt-hour solar electric system on its roof — but it’s also the extra insulation, triple-pane windows, LED lights and energy-efficient appliances that contribute to not having an energy bill for six months of the year.

A Philomath home designed by Nathan Good Architects is so energy efficient that it produces more energy annually than it consumes. It’s what’s called a Passive House, which has extreme insulation in the roof, walls, floors, windows and doors. An attached greenhouse acts as a passive heat source in the winter. When the owners open the greenhouse doors into the dining room, it helps warm the entire home.

These owners also asked Good to design resiliency into their home. A resilient home is one that can adapt to changes over time — such as growing or shrinking family sizes, aging individuals, income reductions or climate and storm disasters.

For the Philomath clients, their home needed to accommodate the possibility that one of them would be disabled in the future. Good designed the home for a wheelchair-bound person with 36-inch-wide doors, lever door handles, fully accessible bathrooms, hard surface flooring and kitchen counters that can be lowered. The Philomath residence was built by a Mid-Valley Green Award winner, Bilyeu Homes.

‘You salvage everything’

Good also designed his own home with resiliency in mind. The Fairmount neighborhood home is built to withstand extreme weather and seismic events. Even though it is built on a hillside, the home has the entry, garage, main bedroom and bathroom, the kitchen, living and laundry rooms on the main level so there is no need for going up or down stairs. It was specifically designed this way so Good and his wife, April, can age in place. The lower level was designed with a kitchenette so it can function as a separate unit for their son Aaron, who has a disability.

For many of the firm’s projects, they look for opportunities to incorporate salvaged and recycled materials. They locate unique products with character from a multitude of sources: Craigslist, locals in the construction field, salvage yards, and online retailers. Their office often calls upon another former Mid-Valley Green Award winner, Bruce Wadleigh at Barnwood Naturals, for reclaimed wood.

For his own home, he framed the entrance with large hand-hewn timbers that Barnwood Naturals salvaged from a turn-of-the-century barn in South Salem. Redwood from old water tanks in Silverton are now the siding at the home’s entry.

Nathan and his team work with the builders of their homes to reduce waste and encourage robust construction site recycling. Nathan was the site clean-up and recycling designee for his own home. He worked with Marion County’s Waste Reduction Coordinator, Alan Pennington, to identify sources for the truckloads of construction waste that included clean wood to Marion County’s Transfer Station and to wood fuel sources, cardboard to D O Garbage’s recycling center, and Styrofoam packaging to Marion County’s foam recycling center behind the Fresh Start Market on Center Street.

Good credits his childhood on a Midwest farm for teaching him the fundamentals of green building.

“I worked for 10 summers on the family farm in Oklahoma,” he said. “I learned that you don’t eat your seed corn, you salvage everything to be reused some other time and you repair all of your equipment. I have a city boy in me who loves architecture and a farmer in me who understands self-sufficiency and resiliency.”

For more information about Nathan Good Architects, go to: http://www.nathangoodarchitects.com. To learn about the EarthWISE program visit www.mcEarthWISE.net.

Building green without building new

Architect Nathan Good tells homeowners that they can easily make an environmental and financial difference without building a new green home. Here are his top 4 recommendations:

1. Request a free energy audit from the Energy Trust of Oregon to analyze your home’s energy consumption and figure out the most cost-effective ways to reduce your energy load.

2. Replace light bulbs with LEDs.

3. Replace your appliances —- refrigerator and freezer, heating and cooling system, washer and dryer — with ultra-energy efficient ones.

4. Add additional insulation where you can.

 

Glendale Environmental Coalition ditches protests for Google mapping and crowd-sourcing Grayson Power Plant …

A very different kind of environmental activism is spreading across Southern California: a new wave of advocacy partnerships that trades placard-waving protests and staring down bulldozers for collaborative work solutions.

Green organizations are joining government, utilities and eco-friendly startups to shape green projects, from solar power to advanced battery storage to new forms of car-free transportation such as bicycle rentals and electric scooters.

One example is the Glendale Environmental Coalition, a grassroots group of climate change believers that became frustrated with a city plan to rebuild the aging Grayson Power Plant near the 5 and 134 freeways using gas-fired generators. The 262-megawatt power plant would increase smog emissions and release an additional 415,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change.

The Grayson Power plant, located in an industrial area of the City of Glendale at 800 Air Way, Glendale. ( Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

After winning a chance to seek alternatives from the City Council in April, the GEC launched itself into the city’s formal request for low- and zero-carbon alternative energy proposal bids in a way that was so unusual, it perturbed city utility staffers.

The group used the California Public Records Act to intercept the bidders, contacting each one and offering crowd-sourcing services from stay-at-home moms and retirees, some walking the city by foot to record data.

Surprisingly, about 20 companies answered affirmatively. Out of those, the group is working with three or four whose bids were part of dozens received by the city by the end of last week.

An exact number will not be available for at least a week but the staff was receiving boxes of bids on deadline day Friday, according to the city.

The group acknowledged working with three bidders: Sunrun, a residential solar provider based in San Francisco; Charge Bliss, a West Hollywood company that completed a $4.8 million, 365,000 kilowatt hour solar/battery microgrid at Kaiser Permanente in Richmond last month; and PermaCity Inc., which recently completed the most powerful solar rooftop project in San Pedro.

Their actions are controversial because they go against the way a Request For Proposal from a city normally works.

In fact, the city’s utility declined their help, said GEC co-founder Dan Brotman, saying the city utility hired a consultant who can ferret out the best proposals and reject the rest.

“I approached GWP to get our group to work with them. They kept rebuffing me. They went out of their way to keep me and people from our group out of a pre-bid conference for companies,” Brotman said.

His group gathered information from the pre-bid conferees and now is part of several proposals for decentralized, green energy in Glendale.

The roll-up-your-sleeves approach suits Brotman and others in the group, who want to bring their knowledge to help a city move the needle toward green energy.

“Now is the time for us to be part of the solution,” he said.

Locals crowd-source data

Once the word got out, Brotman’s phone started ringing.

One company looking to install solar on large-scale commercial buildings asked Brotman if he could put them in touch with anyone from DreamWorks, whose animation studio campus is located on Flower Street in Glendale.

Others were finding rooftops perfect for solar but had no clue who owned the buildings.

“One company said to us: ‘Can you help us out with that,’” Brotman said.

Monica Campagna is a volunteer with grass roots environmental group Glendale Environmental Coalition (GEC). She is mapping every single empty parking lot and rooftop in the city using Google Maps. She’s printing it out and creating a map of possible solar sites for companies to use to build project in Glendale. Glendale, CA 8/3/2018 (Photo by John McCoy)

Enter Monica Campagna, 47, a stay-at-home mother and elementary school volunteer who wants to do something about global warming. She knew little about computer mapping but began tackling the job anyway a few months ago.

She uses Google Earth to locate commercial rooftops and parking lots that are accessible to solar and battery storage. On her walls are computer print-outs fastened with tape; beneath her desk are rolled up maps depicting potential sites for a decentralized, interconnected solar power plant that would spread across the city’s downtown commercial district.

“If we are demanding they (city) look at alternatives, I feel we have a responsibility to help them out,” she said. “How do we create energy here, store it here. This is a piece of the puzzle we can help with.”

“First I take screen shots. I’m printing each one out and then I’m taping them together to make a huge map of Glendale. I highlight roof space with one color, parking lots, like say car dealerships, with another color.

“Once I get them highlighted, I write down the name of the businesses and note the kinds: hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, car dealerships. Then I put them all in a spreadsheet with the addresses.”

Campagna’s about 30 percent of the way through.  Her friend is working on getting the names of property owners through public records act requests with the Office of Los Angeles County Assessor.

PermaCity was so impressed with the work, it named Glendale Environmental Coalition as a partner in its bid, she said.

“They were not going to participate until they talked to us,” she said.

“Climate change, the heat waves, the fires are all in my face. It is happening now,” said Campagna. “We all have to work together to prevent this from getting any worse.”

Brotman and others are working with Sunrun to find residential homeowners who would install solar rooftop panels. The group and Sunrun held a public workshop on July 25 drumming up 40 potential customers.The goal is to build 1,000 residential solar installations and wire them together, Brotman said.

Learning from a Santa Barbara group

The people from Glendale learned about pairing up with bidders from a group in Santa Barbara called the Community Environmental Council, a nonprofit working on regional solutions to climate change.

They formed Clean Energy 805, which fought Southern California Edison’s plans to revamp the Puente Power Plant using natural gas. That project was rebuffed by the California Energy Commission and locals from Oxnard, forcing SCE to send out requests for proposals for greener energy projects.

“We brought developers to the table,” explained April Price, renewable energy specialist with CEC in Santa Barbara. “Our goal was: If Edison had a lot of great offers on the table, they ‘d be less likely to go ahead with a gas-fired orientation.”

Brotman, Campagna and others in the group copied the Santa Barbara team’s model of working within the system.

“We have relationships with local businesses, landowners and local governments. We help educate them about the opportunities to build renewable resources,” Price said during a phone interview last week.

The bidding closed in early July and the group is awaiting Edison’s decision on the Puente Power Plant.

Being a green energy leader

Brotman says he thinks the city only need 131 megawatts of power to replace Grayson. The amount of power needed remains in dispute, particularly with the city’s utility, which originally proposed a 262-megawatt Grayson plant revitalization.

However, Brotman thinks the City Council will only permit a smaller amount of power. He hopes a portfolio of solar and battery storage projects can meet the need for a reliable power supply, although many say that is a tall order.

For example, PermaCity is proposing 20 megawatts for its commercial rooftops plan. And Solar Optimum just completed a 3 megawatt project at the Glendale Galleria mall, one of the largest in the city.

“Glendale can be a pioneer here, a leader in clean energy, or be one of the last cities in California to build a gas plant that will look like a dinosaur,” Brotman said.

 

 

GMG Acquires Solid Waste Management, Resource Recovery Facility

Gold Medal Group (GMG) and its wholly-owned subsidiaries recently acquired Envirowaste and Commonwealth Commons, two companies that own and operate a fully permitted solid waste management and resource recovery facility located on 4.7 acres in South Philadelphia.

Envirowaste is permitted for the processing of 1,000 tons of construction material and municipal solid waste per day. The LEED-certified facility provides construction and demolition recycling services utilizing an automated material sorting and recovery system.

According to GMG, the acquisition gives the company control over a strategically located disposal asset in the Philadelphia market, where GMG currently collects approximately 150,000 tons of waste per year. The Envirowaste facility has direct rail service with Conrail to enable efficient and more environmentally friendly transportation of outbound materials, that cannot be recovered or recycled, to landfill destinations in the Northeast.

As part of the acquisition, GMG acquired an option to purchase 4.5 acres of adjacent property to support the potential expansion of the facility. GMG sees a future opportunity to transform the entire site into an eco-park for the city of Philadelphia through the addition of expanded recycling operations and other sustainable services.

GMG also said it is having preliminary discussions with BioHiTech Global to explore the possibility of co-developing a HEBioT renewable waste facility at the site, similar to the facility in Martinsburg, W.Va., that is expected to commence operations later this year that the companies co-own.

“We are excited about the expansion of our operations in the Philadelphia market through the acquisition of Envirowaste,” said Mike Schmidt, executive vice president of GMG, in a statement. “This acquisition not only provides us with a better ability to service our growing customer base in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, but it also serves to demonstrate our commitment to building more sustainable operations. Our option to acquire additional property at the site also gives us the ability create a future Eco-Park hub in the city, and we look forward to exploring that possibility with our partners at Kinderhook and BioHiTech, as well as the city of Philadelphia.”

How Business Can Solve Environmental Problems

For the longest time, humankind was under the impression that the world was so large, there was no way we could have a negative impact on the environment. Fast forward to 2018, and our oceans are suffering from pollution and overfishing now more than ever, greenhouse gas emissions have been peaking for years affecting both the health of our atmosphere and our bodies, and the trash produced by the materials we use on a daily basis is a threat to not only our planet but the other animals inhabiting it.

Operating a business with environmental issues in mind is paramount in changing things for the better. If you need some more motivation to “go green”, you might like to know that as you make more sustainable choices for your business you will also save money. Most of us know the value of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle but what about the specifics? Here are some practical ways your business can take ownership of its environmental footprint.

1. Rethink Your Office Supplies
Over 4 million disposable pens are thrown away every day. A small but extremely effective way to reduce waste produced by your office is by purchasing reusable pens. The refill process will hold everyone accountable for keeping track of their pens instead of carelessly misplacing them and going to get another one. Long-term, this is a cheaper investment for your business.

Conduct a waste review or audit to see exactly how much waste your business is producing. It is also important to be aware of how to recycle properly because if even a small amount of unrecyclable material gets thrown into the recycling bin, it can contaminate the rest of the material and cause the whole bin, or more, to be thrown into the landfill.

2. Sourcing and Purchasing
Sourcing and purchasing, or procurement, is one of the easiest things to address when it comes to “greening up” your business. When looking for suppliers, choose to source your goods from manufacturers who produce them sustainably and don’t use excess packaging. This may require more research on your part but approach the process with curiosity and let others know of your findings so they can make better choices too.

3. Postage
Even in the digital age, the use of paper is anything but obsolete. Make the switch to eco-friendly envelopes that are reusable. This will reduce the total cost spent on envelopes by eliminating the need for separate reply envelopes. Not only will you save on the envelope cost, you will effectively cut warehousing needs and lessen the waste produced by your company.

4. Green Web Hosting
Did you know that running all of the servers in the United States alone equates to the running of 5 nuclear power plants? WIth servers running all the time, your business could be consistently draining environmental resources. Unless you choose green hosting, which ensures that part of the energy is coming from a renewable power source. This option is also more affordable since the hosting company is already saving money by choosing to make its own energy.

5. Furnishing Your Office
This one is often overlooked and needs our attention. Over 17 billion pounds of office furniture and equipment in the U.S. is sent to landfills each year. These products have long lifetimes and should be repurposed instead of disposed of. If you’re designing a new office, disposing of furniture, or updating your office- how can you do so more sustainably? Look into how to properly dispose of these materials for your area instead of throwing them on the curb and try to find used and repurposed furnisher to fill your office space.

6. Energy Use
There are many renewable energy sources that can power your business from wind and solar power to geothermal power, to hydropower and even plant matter. These options are not only good for the planet they are good for your wallet. More businesses are choosing more sustainable energy sources to power their offices each year.

Running a profitable business should not come at such a high cost to the environment and coming up with different ways to make sustainable decisions is a great way to flex your creative muscle. It’s time we own up to our environmental responsibilities and make more of our business decisions with ethics in mind. Be a leader in your field and set an example for other businesses to follow!