Toyota Takes the LEED in Texas

Toyota Headquarters Campus Achieves LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council, The Largest Commercial LEED Platinum Project in The State Of Texas, To Date

Plano, Texas (Sept. 22, 2017) – Everything is bigger in Texas. Everything, that is, except Toyota’s environmental footprint. 

Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) headquarters campus in Plano, Texas has officially achieved LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Jonathan Kraatz, executive director, USGBC Texas Chapter, presented the prized Platinum plaque to Jim Lentz, TMNA president and chief executive officer, today at the new campus. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Toyota’s new campus is the largest commercial LEED Platinum project in the state of Texas, to date.


“At Toyota, we have a longstanding commitment to sustainability and preserving our natural resources,” said Lentz. “With the installation of greenspaces, thousands of solar panels, a massive rain water capture system, and natural light wells, we have designed our new headquarters to reflect the local habitat and enhance its biodiversity. Recognition as a LEED Platinum facility is a testament of our efforts to become a model for energy efficiency and sustainability, and speaks to our challenge to ourselves to create a net positive impact on the planet by 2050.”

“USGBC is proud to award LEED Platinum to Toyota, for their thoughtfulness in their campus energy planning and space design as well as the overall net positive impact on the community and environment,” said Kraatz. “Our mission at USGBC has challenged organizations to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Toyota’s new Texas campus is a great example of what can be accomplished with the right leadership.”


The state-of-the-art, 100-acre campus boasts a Platinum-sized list of sustainability aspects, from renewable energy to drought resistant landscaping:  

Renewable Energy

Largest onsite corporate solar installation among non-utility companies in Texas

8.79-Megawatt solar power system, designed and installed by SunPower Corp.

Produces up to 33 percent of daily electric needs for headquarters campus

Reduces annual carbon dioxide emissions by 7,198 metric tons

Creates enough energy to power 1,200 average US homes for a year

Installation of high efficiency lighting and building envelopes to reduce energy usage on campus

Specialized rooftop design teeming with plant life to manage rainwater, reduce heat and further insulate the buildings

Flexible energy contract to preserve and resell excess power generation back to the grid

Grid energy offset by Texas wind farm renewable energy credits

Repurposed Rainwater

State-of-the-art rainwater capture system will provide up to three months of water supply for irrigation use

Cistern water storage with a capacity to hold 400,000 gallons of harvested rain water

Estimated to save more than 11 million gallons of potable (drinking) water annually

Excess drain water will be collected and repurposed for sanitary facility use

Recycling

More than 99 percent of the construction waste was recycled

Construction waste was sorted offsite at North Texas’ first Construction and Demolition waste processing facility

Sustainable Landscaping

Exterior landscaping features drought-tolerant, North Texas indigenous plants like savannah, oaklands and wildflower meadows

Campus landscape will provide a natural habitat for endangered pollinators and monarch butterflies

Approximately 1,300 trees planted onsite by Toyota

More than 80 mature trees saved or relocated onsite, including a 100-year-old oak tree

Landscaping will be managed without expensive mowing, fertilizers, chemicals or artificial irrigation

Historic wetlands on the northeast corner of the campus were preserved to protect its natural state


Professionals who led this project include a host of Dallas-based firms: KDC Real Estate Development & Investments to develop and build the campus, architect Corgan Associates to design the campus, and Austin Commercial to manage the construction.

In late 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation announced the 2050 Toyota Environmental Challenge, a set of ambitious environmental goals to reach beyond net zero, and create a net positive impact on the planet. To learn more, please visit http://www.toyota-global.com/sustainability/environment/challenge2050/.

 

Solar Power Lights Up Amazon Communities Fighting Dirty Energy

September 19, 2017 — Three indigenous communities on the front lines of the Amazon rainforest’s most emblematic rights and resources struggles now have solar energy generation capacity and internet hubs thanks to a partnership between Amazon Watch and Empowered By Light.

While Trump administration denies the impacts of climate change on the disastrous weather events in recent weeks, indigenous communities in the Amazon are leading us toward a brighter future as they embrace clean energy while defending the living forest, as demonstrated in the new video released today by Amazon Watch and Credo Mobile.

“These communities are true climate leaders,” said Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director at Amazon Watch. “Lighting the way for our climate and our forests, these indigenous earth defenders know that the solution to climate change must include stopping the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.”

Solar micro-systems and radio communications infrastructure now power five Sápara communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon as they resist oil drilling on their lands; two Munduruku communities in the Brazilian Amazon as they demand legal recognition and protection for their territory; and four U’wa communities in the Colombian cloud forests as they defend their sacred sites. More installations are planned for late 2017 and 2018.

The astoundingly biodiversity of the Amazon is home to hundreds of distinct indigenous peoples whose futures are threatened by this resurgent wave of resource exploitation, often living in remote areas where they are vulnerable to violent repression. The solar power and communications systems being installed are critical for these communities to assure their safety and communicate their stories as they defend their traditional practices and territories. In the past, protecting themselves and their territories has meant using polluting and unreliable diesel and kerosene generators, with fuel being brought in from the outside at significant expense.

Photo credit: Amazon Watch

The solar and communications equipment allow these remote communities to communicate internally to improve their safety and engage in cross-community dialogue; tell their own story to the broader world directly through new communications technology and training, subsequently further increasing their visibility and safety; and have access to reliable, clean energy for other community needs without relying on dirty energy sources like kerosene or diesel.

“We hope the introduction of clean, renewable solar power will not only help these communities protect the Amazon rainforest, which is critical for climate stability, but that it will demonstrate to their governments that similar remote or off-grid communities can leapfrog fossil fuels,” said Moira Hanes, co-founder of Empowered by Light.

Collaborative project planning, along with maintenance and communications trainings, are integral parts of all of these projects in order to maximize both system longevity and impact. These projects, all of which were specifically requested by the communities, provide critical external and internal communications capacity, thereby allowing communities to increase both their personal safety and visibility for their emblematic campaigns.

For more information:

Amazon Watch: www.amazonwatch.org/solar
Empowered By Light: www.empoweredbylight.org

Most Families Make These 4 Eco-Unfriendly Mistakes When Moving House – Is Yours?

Most people don’t think about the environment when they’re moving. Maybe you’re moving into a place with solar power and more efficient plumbing, and that will do wonders to reduce your carbon footprint in the future. The issue is often that the act of moving itself does a great deal of damage to the environment. A lot of waste is generated, and a lot of fuel is burned up in the process. The best way to reduce your impact on the environment starts with changing the way you move.

Using Boxes You Don’t Have to Use

If you find yourself packing your reusable grocery bags into a box, you’re doing something wrong. Every bag and bin you have can be used in place of a cardboard box. When you bring it to your new home, unpack your stuff from your reusable containers, and all is right again.

Some moving companies offer reusable plastic bins on wheels that can serve as the perfect substitute for boxes. If you’re using a moving company, ask them if they have any alternatives available to you. If you aren’t using a company, you might still be able to rent these containers from movers. They’re large and sturdy. They can be used hundreds of times, saving countless cardboard boxes.

Generating Waste From Packing Materials  Wrapping your valuables in things like clothing saves money, waste, and packing space. If your glasses and your t-shirts are in the same container, that’s one less container you’ll need to use. Everything will still arrive at your new home safely. Things like blankets and towels can be used to add shock protection to boxes full of things you don’t want bouncing around.  If you absolutely must purchase packing materials, make sure you’re choosing eco friendly alternatives. It’s easy to spot biodegradable packing materials because they’re usually colored green. They’re made of plant fibers, and they won’t sit in a landfill for too long before they’ve broken down.

Generating Waste From Packing Materials

Wrapping your valuables in things like clothing saves money, waste, and packing space. If your glasses and your t-shirts are in the same container, that’s one less container you’ll need to use. Everything will still arrive at your new home safely. Things like blankets and towels can be used to add shock protection to boxes full of things you don’t want bouncing around.

If you absolutely must purchase packing materials, make sure you’re choosing eco friendly alternatives. It’s easy to spot biodegradable packing materials because they’re usually colored green. They’re made of plant fibers, and they won’t sit in a landfill for too long before they’ve broken down.

Trying to Recycle Things That Can’t Be Recycled

Recycling everything seems like the best plan, but dumping materials that cannot be recycled at a recycling facility only causes logistical nightmares. They’ll have to get rid of it, and two trips will have been made for nothing. Lightbulbs, anything with a CRT tube, crystal, mirrors, heat resistant dinnerware (like Pyrex glass), ceramics, or glass that’s become dirty (from food or actual dirt) can’t be recycled.

The things that can’t be recycled might be able to be donated if they’re in great condition. If they’re not in great condition (such as broken televisions with CRT tubes, cracked mirrors or damaged dinnerware), they need to go to an actual waste facility. Make sure these are included with the non-recyclable things that cannot be donated, and set them aside for when you call a removal service to pick them up.

Making Tons of Trips

Most people think it’s a good idea to save money by renting a smaller moving truck. If everything doesn’t fit, you can always make a few more trips. When you do that, you’re putting tons of fuel pollution into the environment – especially if you’re moving far away. Before you even rent your truck, do a dry run. See how big or small of a space all of your stuff can fit into.

If possible, get a truck that, when packed tightly, can accommodate everything in one load. If you have a little too much for one trip, think about what will fit into the cars you’re taking with you. Not only is moving in a single trip better for the environment, but it’s also less work for you. There isn’t any back and forth if you’re only going one way. You can unpack and settle in sooner.

If you do wind up using things like cardboard, make sure you recycle it once you’ve arrived. It’s not always easy to do a perfectly green move, so make sure you’re offsetting some of the less eco-friendly choices you’ve made with positive ones once the move is over.

Author’s Bio:

Elizabeth Lee is a staunch supporter of green living and sustainability, currently residing and working in Sydney, Australia. Writing for a transportation company PACK & SEND, Elizabeth often shares her suggestions on how both businesses and individuals can work and live with lesser negative impact on our planet. Feel free to follow Elizabeth on @LelizabethLee86

Oregon State receives high “Cool School” ranking from Sierra Club

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Sierra Club has released its “Cool Schools” rankings based on the ‘greenness’ of participating universities, and Oregon State has the highest green ranking of any public college in the state (private college Lewis & Clark came in 5th). Oregon State is listed as 20th in the nation.

The Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the nation. The award honors more than 200 colleges that are helping to solve climate problems and making significant efforts to integrate sustainability into their teaching, research and engagement and to operate sustainably. Evaluations were based on survey information provided by the participating schools. The raw data for scoring came from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) STARS self-reporting tool, plus a supplemental question about fossil fuel investments.

The Sierra Club noted innovative research at OSU, calling out assistant professor Chad Higgins’ research into the impact on soil moisture from ground mounted solar panels, and the benefits of growing food there. Higgins’ preliminary findings indicated a co-benefit for the panels as well – cooler temperatures, which means more electricity production from the panels.
Brandon Trelstad, sustainability officer for Oregon State, said that the university’s continued commitment to sustainability has led to a number of honors from national organizations over the years.

“We continue to prioritize our work to reduce our carbon footprint. Things like conserving energy and recycling and repurposing materials to keep them out of the landfill help support carbon emission reductions and offer numerous co-benefits,” Trelstad said. “I continue to consider myself lucky to do sustainability work at Oregon State and in the Pacific Northwest. Being green is part of OSU’s ethos, we consider ourselves good stewards of the planet and being a ‘Cool School’ highlights this work.”

The Sierra Club noted innovative research at OSU, calling out assistant professor Chad Higgins’ research into the impact on soil moisture from ground mounted solar panels, and the benefits of growing food there. Higgins’ preliminary findings indicated a co-benefit for the panels as well – cooler temperatures, which means more electricity production from the panels.

“Based on my casual summertime observations at our six-acre solar array,” Trelstad said, “it didn’t surprise me that the ground under panels might be good for some food crops. But I was elated to learn that growing crops could also increase solar production. This is the kind of synergy we look for in sustainability work; systems thinking and looking for co-benefits across those systems.”

Photo of solar panels at OSU: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/14128889802/

Source: 8-24-17. http://bit.ly/2isI4R9

Geothermal company Dandelion Energy partnering with Hudson Solar to bring 100% Renewable Energy to Hudson Valley and Capitol Region of NY

Today, my new partners at Dandelion, which is a geothermal startup that recently graduated X, the research and development lab at Google’s parent company, announces a partnership with Hudson Solar, the leading residential solarinstaller in the Hudson Valley and Capital Region.  Yes I’m teamed up with a Google Startup ok breathe breathe!).  

Plus, I know Hudson Solar. They were chosen as a leading provider of solar in the Solarize campaigns throughout most of the Hudson Valley. 

Together, these companies will offer homeowners the opportunity to easily get their homes to go 100% GREEN ENERGY. 
Dandelion as reported in the Poughkeepsie Journal today uses a new geothermal installation process developed at X, can convert homeowners away from oil or gas heat and offer them substantial savings.  

Hudson Solar, with its on-site or community solar offerings, can then offer homeowners to lower the cost of solar power.  A homeowner with geothermal, solar and energy efficiency can easily go 100 percent renewable. The Dandelion geothermal system will use solar electricity and the ground, as a source of heat and heatsink, to provide a home with heating, cooling and hot water! (BOOM!!)
Hudson Solar, with its on-site or community solar offerings, can then offer homeowners to lower the cost of solar power.  A homeowner with geothermal, solar and energy efficiency can easily go 100 percent renewable. The Dandelion geothermal system will use solar electricity and the ground, as a source of heat and heatsink, to provide a home with heating, cooling and hot water! (BOOM!!) 

Let’s put it this way, average geothermal installs cost around $40,000. Dandelion is about $20,000 and will offer financing and monthly payment plans. 

Now while solar costs about the same, the finance costs will be really more affordable than the grid.

Geothermal company Dandelion Energy partnering with Hudson Solar to bring 100% Renewable Energy to Hudson Valley and Capitol Region of NYDandelion Energy partners with Hudson Solar to bring 100% Renewable Energy to Hudson Valley and Capitol District in NY

“We chose Hudson Solar as our first solar partner because the company is well known for their high-quality work and share our values and excitement about the impact that our combined product will have on combating climate change,” Dandelion CEO Kathy Hannun said. “Hudson Solar’s unique offering of both on-site and community solar systems means they can provide all of Dandelion’s customers a way to power their geothermal systems with clean electricity. ”

“Dandelion has lowered the cost of geothermal and set up financing so a homeowner switching to geothermal from oil or propane can save money from day one, just like with solar,” Hudson Solar CEO Jeff Irish said. ” … And with our community solar arrays, even people who can’t site solar on their property can go solar.”

Source: Dandelion Energy