Clean | Green | Sustainable

Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable Solutions’

Mad Men Pitch High Speed Rail for U.S. PIRG

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 9, 2011

From U.S. PIRG:

WASHINGTON, Mar. 9 –Two lead actors from the hit television show Mad Men throw their support behind high-speed rail in a humorous new online video. The actors and U.S. PIRG, a national advocacy organization, developed the video as a way to reach new audiences and build excitement for high-speed rail projects around the country.


Posted in Climate Change, Energy, Sustainable Solutions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

President Obama sets sustainability goals for federal agencies

Posted by Matthew Koehler on October 7, 2009

From the White House:

WASHINGTON, DC – Demonstrating a commitment to lead by example, President Obama signed an Executive Order today that sets sustainability goals for Federal agencies and focuses on making improvements in their environmental, energy and economic performance. The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target within 90 days; increase energy efficiency; reduce fleet petroleum consumption; conserve water; reduce waste; support sustainable communities; and leverage Federal purchasing power to promote environmentally-responsible products and technologies.

“As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the Federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies,” said President Obama.

The Federal government occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles, employs more than 1.8 million civilians, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services.

The Executive Order also requires federal agencies to meet a number of energy, water, and waste reduction targets, including:

  • 30% reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020;
  • 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020;
  • 50% recycling and waste diversion by 2015;
  • 95% of all applicable contracts will meet sustainability requirements;
  • Implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement;

Click here to read the entire executive order.

This is a good step in the right direction and, quite frankly, it’s about time. I have a previous post up about something similar, which I called the “sustainability filter.”

Posted in Climate Change, Energy, Obama Administration, Sustainable Solutions | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cut Phone Book Waste, Not Forests

Posted by Matthew Koehler on August 12, 2009

Earlier today, my buddy Josh Martin, a dedicated activist who works for the Environmental Paper Network out of North Carolina, passed along this excellent and well-researched Green Rant: Stop Sending Me Phone Books by Lea Bogdan over at

Please give it a read, pass it along and take action.

Posted in Forests, logging, Sustainable Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

NY Times Sings NREPA’s Praises

Posted by Matthew Koehler on July 7, 2009

Efforts to protect remaining roadless wildlands and restore logged over public lands in the northern Rockies got a boost today when the New York Times penned an editorial strongly in favor of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act.

Posted in Climate Change, Forests, Green jobs, logging, Restoration Economy, Sustainable Solutions, timber industry, Uncategorized, Wilderness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wilderness Defender Carole King & NREPA Featured at Huff Post

Posted by Matthew Koehler on April 24, 2009

The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.
Edward Abbey (1927 – 1989)

Yesterday, the Huffington Post featured Todd Wilkinson’s look at Carole King’s sixteen year effort to protect Wilderness in the northern Rockies. The four-time Grammy Award winner has been a stalwart in the Wilderness movement every since 1993, when King was captivated by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies’ vision for Wilderness protection based on science and the needs of wildlife, not politics.  Much of King’s activism has centered around her remarkable efforts to see the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) passed by Congress and signed into law.

We’ve written about NREPA before. In a nutshell, NREPA:

• Designates as Wilderness 24 million acres of roadlless wildlands in the Northern Rockies;

• Connects natural, biological corridors, ensuring the continued existence of native plants and animals and mitigating the effects of climate change;

• Restores habitat that has been severely damaged from tens of thousands of logging roads that were built, and creates more than 2,300 restoration jobs in rural communities leading to a more sustainable economic base in the region;

• Keeps water available for ranchers and farmers downstream until it is most needed; and

• Eliminates subsidized development in the designated of 24 million acres of new wilderness areas, saving taxpayers $245 million over a 10-year period.

If you want more information about NREPA, including the full text of the bill and also a link to some really nifty maps broken down by National Forests, click here.

Do yourself a favor. Read the excellent feature on Carole King’s Wilderness activism, get inspired and then take a page from Carol’s book and get active!! You’re Congressional representative is waiting to hear from you!

Posted in Climate Change, Forests, logging, Obama Administration, Sustainable Solutions, timber industry, Wilderness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Montana Gets a Little FLAT

Posted by Matthew Koehler on April 6, 2009

Fresh off the Homegrown Prosperity Renewable Energy Tour, University of Montana graduate student – and all around great guy – Derek Kanwischer has put his considerable skills, creativity and passion for sustainable living to use with his latest project, dubbed the UM FLAT (Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology).

Billed as the “physical home for sustainability at the University of Montana,” the UM FLAT (a retro-fit of an existing home) is an experiential live-in resource for a half-dozen UM students  demonstrating the practicality of sustainable living. Kanwischer’s idea is that by living with and educating others about the social, ethical, and environmental benefits of appropriate technology, the UM FLAT will help to promote a culture of sustainability at the University.

According to Kanwischer, “Development and construction of the FLAT will provide a tremendous opportunity for interested students, faculty, and local businesses to become involved.  The process of planning, construction, and operations for the UM FLAT should be viewed as opportunities to challenge students to develop workable solutions that can be applied to life outside of the classroom.”

Once the renovation of the house is complete, Kanwischer expects the FLAT will provide a wealth of experiential opportunities for everyone involved.

“The rewarding benefits include residential demonstration of sustainable living practices, opportunities for faculty using the UM FLAT as a teaching resource, a student and faculty research forum for projects related to sustainable living, and workshops to involve the expertise and participation of the Missoula community.”

Students wishing to live in the UM FLAT must apply to the University where their applications will be reviewed by the current co-directors and board of the UM FLAT to determine who will make the most dynamic contribution to the mission and objectives of the FLAT.

Phase one of the project includes working with local contractors and student groups to come up with a suitable design for renovating our garage space into a usable demonstration and community space. This spring, the COT Carpentry Program will take the lead on this renovation, adding value to UM properties, and offering opportunities for students to work on and study a green retrofit.

Kanwischer is grateful for the opportunity to work with a small budget provided by the University and he’s relying on the generous contributions of local businesses for discount materials and consulting work.  If you want more information about the UM FLAT, or to donate time, energy or resources, please contact Derek Kanwischer at

Posted in Energy, Green jobs, Sustainable Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Power to the People: Wired’s 7 Ways to Fix the Grid

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 26, 2009

Filthy coal-fired power plants spew carbon into the air. A mish-mash of 9,200 generators streams vital electrons along 300,000 miles of aging, inefficient transmission lines and one untrimmed tree in the wrong place could plunge a quarter of the country into darkness. This is our electric grid. A whopping 40 percent of all the energy used in the US – be it oil, gas, wind, or solar – is converted into electrons that travel over these wires. Any attempt at energy reform must begin here. But this keystone of our 21st-century economy has yet to advance much beyond its 19th-century roots. Considering how wasteful, unresponsive, and just plain dumb the grid is, it isn’t surprising that outages – which have been increasing steadily over the past quarter century – cost us $150 billion a year. The real shock is that the damn thing works at all.

So opens Brendan I. Koerner’s essay Power to the People in the new April issue of Wired. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of knowledge about our electrical grid, I found Koerner’s essay quite interesting and Wired’s list of 7 ways to fix the grid simple yet promising.

1. Generate Electricity Everywhere
2. Deliver Clean Energy to Distant Cities
3. Store Power in Super Batteries
4. Monitor the Electrons in Real Time
5. Trade Electricity Like Pork Bellies
6. Think Negawatts, Not Megawatts
7. Make Conservation Simple (and Easy)

As Koerner writes, “If we’re serious about remaking our energy infrastructure, we’ll need to encourage these kinds of fixes and replace our current system of misplaced incentives. Right now, that system encourages everyone involved – customers, utilities, and private industry – to neglect the grid. We have to give those stakeholders new reasons to turn on, engage, and transform.”

So do your part as an energy consumer and give the essay and the 7 steps a once-over. Better yet, share this information and these ideas with your elected officials to help bring our energy grid into the modern world.

Posted in Climate Change, Energy, Green jobs, Obama Administration, Sustainable Solutions | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lighten Your Load: Stop Junk Mail

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 14, 2009

• The average person gets only 1.5 personal letters each week, compared to 10.8 pieces of junk mail. 100 million trees are ground up each year to produce junk mail.
• 44% of all junk mail is thrown in the trash, unopened and unread.
• Approximately 40% of the solid mass that makes up our landfills is paper and paperboard waste.
• Your name is typically worth 3 to 20 cents each time it is sold.

To help reduce junk mail, cut down waste, and save some trees to boot, follow these easy steps.

1. Virtually all companies offering unsolicited pre-approved credit cards and insurance offers use lists from the major credit bureaus. Fortunately, to remove your name from mailing lists used by all major credit bureaus all you need to do is click here or call 888-567-8688.

2. The Direct Marketing Association represents many mail order sales companies and estimates that listing your name with their mail preference service will stop 75% of all national mailings coming to your home. You gotta do this the old-fashion way. Ssend a postcard with your name, address and signature to: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.

3. If you’re looking for a company to stop your junk mail, I’d recommend the folks at 41 Pounds, so named because the average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year. Their service costs $41 for five years, or only two cents a day. Plus more than 1/3 of your fee goes to an environmental group you choose [shameless plug: WildWest Institute].

Posted in Forests, Sustainable Solutions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Well worth a listen this weekend

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 13, 2009

If you didn’t catch the excellent feature on Gary Delp and his crew at Heritage Timber, LLC do yourself a favor and listen in.

Montana Public Radio’s Edward O’Brien caught up with Heritage Timber as they were deconstructing a timber-framed building at the former Stimson Lumber mill site in Bonner, MT. It’s a great interview featuring a creative Montana company and a hard-working businessman.

Delp’s company, Heritage Timber, LLC has been deconstructing timber-framed buildings and providing reclaimed materials to Montanan’s since 1994. In the process, over 1.85 million board feet of wood, or the yearly output of 3,080 acres of planted pine, has been spared. By providing reclaimed wood, including old-growth timbers, clients are able to save natural resources and energy too.

A few years ago I got some old, reclaimed cedar telephone poles from Gary that I used to frame in a brick patio.  And this past summer we got framing lumber and plywood Gary reclaimed to convert part of our garage into a simple office. Gary’s been a big supporter of protecting public lands and old-growth forests and I would highly recommend Heritage Timber and their products to anyone.

Posted in Forests, Green jobs, Restoration Economy, Sustainable Solutions | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s Pick a Big Boost for Green Jobs

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 11, 2009

Well, let’s start the first post on Clean | Green | Sustainable with some positive news.

Yesterday, the White House Council on Environmental Quality announced that green jobs guru Van Jones will serve as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at CEQ.  This is fantastic news and, in my opinion, by far President Obama’s greenest pick! Let’s hope this is the start of a promising trend!

According to the White House’s press release:

“Van Jones has been a strong voice for green jobs and we look forward to having him work with departments and agencies to advance the President’s agenda of creating 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources.  Jones will also help to shape and advance the Administration’s energy and climate initiatives with a specific interest in improvements and opportunities for vulnerable communities,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

I first learned about Van Jones’ work last fall when I saw he was one of the main presenters at the Bioneers Conference.  Jones is the founder of a amazing organization called Green For All,  a national organization dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.

According to their website, “By advocating for local, state and federal commitment to job creation, job training, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging green economy – especially for people from disadvantaged communities – Green For All fights both poverty and pollution at the same time.”

Talk about the “Win-Win” solution, eh?

Jones is also the author of a 2008 New York Times best-seller titled  The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems.

You can read Mr. Jones’ take on his new job with the Obama Administration at the Green For All blog.

Congratulations Mr. Jones! Best of luck and here’s to many successes!

Posted in Green jobs, Obama Administration, Sustainable Solutions | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »