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Choosing solar panels as a first timer isn’t easy, but this guide provides a short background on solar panel evolution for people who are looking to understand what might give them the best price to performance ratio.

First off, traditional solar cells are made from silicon and they are currently the most efficient solar cells available for homes. Traditional solar cells account for at least 80% of all solar panels sold around the world. In this category, monocrystalline silicon cells are the most efficient, at a rate of up to 24.2% per unit area but they costs are higher than most solar cells. Monocrystalline silicon cells require the most intensive manufacturing because the shape of the silicon cell is extraordinary and there is quite a bit of original silicon waste. The second most popular option is a polycrystalline silicon cell, and it is relatively inexpensive with an efficiency of up to 19.3% per unit area. The third type of traditional solar cell is known as amorphous silicon cells which is the type used in most calculators and other small electronic devices. The amorphous silicon cells have the lowest prices and have an efficiency of up to 10% per unit area. The area of this type of panel is often double the area of other panels to achieve the same power output. The beauty of the amorphous silicon cells besides the low cost are the flexibilities of the material and their ability to perform well at low and high light levels. Lastly, the hybrid silicon cells combine multiple materials in a cost reductive way which are also designed to increase efficiency and the lifetime of the cells.

The second-generation solar cells are usually thin-film solar cells that are made from layers of semiconductor materials. The materials that are used in this type of solar cell varies and they are known for being inexpensive.

Third-generation solar cells are currently being researched and they are made from different materials, new technologies, conductive dyes and plastics. The goal is to improve commercially available solar cells and more can be learned on this page developed for the latest in solar panel research:  http://www.solar-facts-and-advice.com/solar-research.html

For additional tips and specs to look out for, James Walker the Director of Energy Matters does an excellent job of explaining who to buy from and what factors should go into the decision making process here:

 

(Source: http://www.cnet.com/news/solar-junction-claims-cell-efficiency-record/

and http://www.solar-facts-and-advice.com/)

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recycler_finderLandfill waste can be reduced from 40% to 30% by the year 2020 if people bought and sold reusable materials or salvage materials. RecyclerFinder.com makes it quick and easy to find recyclers near you for salvage materials and over 10 more categories of materials!

The cost savings of buying second doors, hardware for your home, tiles, cabinets and more is amazing. People who are into DIY or artists should also checkout a salvage yard sometime. Beyond the finds that you can give a new home, RecyclerFinder.com is also a great way to turn scrap into cash!

People who recycle in the U.S. and Canada will get money back for unwanted items and materials by simply finding facilities and making a few calls to find out how much they would be able to pay you that day!

The next time you need to recycle or dispose of cardboard, bottles, cans, plastics, metal, e-waste, construction and demolition debris, concrete, wood, hazardous waste, paint and more visit RecyclerFinder.com!

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If you’re ever been on a living roof, chances are that you haven’t forgotten the feeling. Clean air, nice humidity and coolness not to mention the beauty of being surrounded by plants instead of standing on hot black tar or shingles. The benefits of living roofs are illustrated in this example. Living roofs or green roofs

  • Provide storm water management that retains 65-100% of rainwater
  • Improve air quality by absorbing pollutants
  • Reduce the urban heat island effects by cooling roofs
  • Add an aesthetic quality and increase the quality of life for people who live and work around them
  • They reduce energy costs by keeping the heat down during hot climates
  • They increase the life of roof membranes since many UV rays are blocked and in freezing temperatures the longevity of the roof is also increased since they are less exposed
  • They increase the green space in urban environments which is increasingly important during this time of concern about the urban heat island effect

LEED is one of the most common ways for people to keep track of how efficient their buildings are in terms of energy, water and carbon. Additionally Green Halo Systems is used to track waste, salvaging and recycling for construction projects and for properties. Green Halo Systems can keep track of LEED points and additional benefits of using this free software is that people who want to know the inner workings of their home to make it more green will benefit from an array of features by using Green Halo Systems.

Bousselot-green-roof green roof halo waste tracking system green wall tracking system awesome ecofriendly building green wall tracking system green-roof

 

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Insideclimatenews.org published an insightful infographic about how much different organizations that are headquartered in the United States have for an annual budget (according to “the organizations and consultation with experts”).

The organization with the largest budget for the environmental movement according to this infographic is the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) with an impressive budget of $120.5 million. In case you’re wondering what the EDF does, the EDF “work[s] to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends, focusing on the most critical environmental problems”. The EDF is working to protect the precious environmental systems by focusing on pressing environmental issues. The climate, energy oceanic, ecosystem and health system work can be explored on their website: http://www.edf.org/. The second largest budget in the U.S. environmental movement is the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC).

The NRDC is known for being one of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups, hence the NRDC claims to be “The Earth’s Best Defense” and the “nation’s most effective environmental action group”. The best defense and most powerful environmental group in this case revolves around the fact that the NRDC combines grassroots power with “courtroom clout”. The staff works with various groups to address:

All of these pressing environmental issues and more can be read about by clicking on the links here: http://www.nrdc.org/about/. Both the EDF and the NRDC are known as political activists and interestingly enough the five largest budgeted organizations are all political advocates according to insideclimatenews.org. The second largest budgeted organizations are in the direction action category and the smallest budgeted organizations fall under the grassroots category.

In summary, the top 10 organizations driving the “modern green wave” show how the environmental movement is swayed. These budgets “advance environmental agendas at the local, national and international levels” and so this info graphic is a good, quick way to see who the biggest players are:

 Top 10 Enviro Group from insideclimatenews

(Source: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140407/infographic-field-guide-us-environmental-movement

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Green Halo - World's Biggest DumpsAfrica is home to some beautiful sites…and then there’s Agbogbloshie, Ghana. The town has one of the world’s largest dumps for discarded electronics. Millions of tons of used electronics from all over the world – including the U.S. – are sent to Africa to be re-sold or donated to charity. But much of it is broken or obsolete and winds up in Agbogbloshie. The old electronics are often smashed by scavengers looking for valuable metals inside, such as copper. Back in the U.S., the Puente Hills landfill in Los Angeles County, California, has piles of trash reaching as high as a 40-story building. The landfill, which was the largest in the country, closed this past October after more than 50 years in operation because it reached capacity – about 130 million tons of trash. The landfill will be sealed with a layer of dirt and eventually turned into a park. But the largest trash dump in the world isn’t actually on land – it’s in the Pacific Ocean. Trash thrown into the Pacific is carried by currents to an area north of Hawaii. This floating trash pile is now estimated to be larger in area than the state of Texas. Several private organizations are working to clean it up, which is difficult because of its size and remote location. The good news is that the city of Oslo, Norway has a use for some of that ocean trash: converting it to heat and electricity by burning it. The Norwegians are such good recyclers that they often run out of trash to burn and must import it from other countries. Kudos to the Norwegians for doing their part to prevent Africa – and the rest of the world – from becoming one giant trash heap.

Yahoo News Video:
http://news.yahoo.com/video/whoknew-worlds-biggest-dumps-060000314.html

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The country’s first all-electric school bus began transporting students to and from Kings Canyon Unified school district in central California. The new electric vehicle is a modified SST Trans Tech Bus with an electric powertrain from Motiv Power Systems. The electric bus is estimated to save the school district around 16 gallons of fuel a day, which equates to a total annual savings of $11,000. For a school district like Kings Canyon, which serves one of the largest geographical areas in California, these savings are quite significant.

Green Halo - America's First All-Electric School Bus Launches in CaliforniaThe pilot project was the result of collaboration between Motiv Power Systems and Trans Tech Bus Company and the California Air Resources Board, which contributed $400,000 cost-saving vouchers to the ambitious project. Thanks to a federal highway program, three more electric buses are on their way to the Kings Canyon district and similar programs are in the works in both Chicago and New York.

Although the initial cost of an electric bus is much higher than the traditional gas-guzzling bus, electric buses offer long term savings such as lifelong fuel and maintenance costs, not to mention the reduction of harmful greenhouse gases. According to founder and CEO of Motive Power Systems, “The buses cost about twice as much as a comparable gas bus, but cost 1/8 as much to fuel and 1/3 as much to maintain,” he said. “In the life of a school bus, 2-3 times the cost of the vehicle is spent on fuel and maintenance.”

The smaller electric buses hold up to hold 25 students and are equipped with four or five battery packs that allow for a range of 80 to 100 miles. Although the smaller buses were refitted for the pilot program, full-size electric bus fleets are also being considered for an all-electric makeover in the future.

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in Pittsburg, Calif., on Thursday, March 20, 2014.(Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay)A three-alarm fire blazed dangerously close to a power plant in Pittsburg, CA before being contained Thursday.

The fire burned 35 to 40 acres near the intersection of Willow Pass Road and West 10th Street. Reported around 3:15 p.m., fire crews remained on scene mopping up for several hours.

in Pittsburg, Calif., on Thursday, March 20, 2014.(Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay)The fire charred roughly 40 acres of grass, brush and trees according to fire Capt. Robert Marshall. A few power lines connected to the nearby NRG Energy natural gas power plant were threatened, but no structures were threatened and injuries were reported.

A CalFire helicopter dropped mud on the fire.  “It’s burning on top of the water. Fire on water,” said Contra Costa Fire Inspector George Laing. This is because of its marshland location.

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It may seem like just yesterday that the wildfires in California finally died down, but experts in the state are already worried about the upcoming fire season after a long, hot winter comes to a close. If recent weather is any indicator, the state – and the entire Western U.S. – could be in for an even hotter summer. Almost 95 percent of the state is currently in a drought even after recent rain, and after last year’s fires the budget for fighting fires has been spread thin.

Green Halo - How Will the Western U.S. Prepare for Upcoming Fire Season After Hot Winter & DroughtLast year some of the most destructive fires in California started as early as May and ended later than normal as well. Some experts expect this year to be similar in terms of length. Recent fire maps show only a small portion of the state at risk right now, but over the next few months that risk will spread to cover two-thirds of the state. What’s particularly concerning is that trends are moving in the wrong direction for fires in the west. With the wood getting drier and the weather getting hotter, fires are more likely to start and spread quickly, but there is an added danger as people continue to build more homes in forested areas.

Although fire fighters have learned to expect these sort of extreme fire seasons, their budgets haven’t kept up. Last year’s suppression budget was exceeded by about a half a billion dollars for the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. That means little money is left over for prevention efforts, which adds another risk factor to the mix. This year lawmakers in the west are hoping to pay for fires out of the federal emergency fund, which is used for other natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. Regardless of how it is paid for, the area is likely in for a difficult fire season.

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In a permanent extension of a 2007 law, San Francisco has made it illegal for the City to buy or distribute plastic water bottles. Bottled water contributes to massive amounts of litter and plastic waste all over the world. San Francisco has an aggressive plan to achieve zero net waste by 2020. In 2013, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors appeared ready to enact one of the strictest bans on bottled water in the nation. Days ago, the proposal became law, and plastic water bottles smaller than 21 ounces will no longer be allowed on city property starting Oct. 1, 2014.

Green Halo - San Francisco Bans Bottled Water on City PropertySan Francisco’s legislation, introduced by Supervisor David Chiu, “does not prohibit private business from trading in small plastic bottles of water.” Rather, it restricts the sale at events of more than 100 people (not including marathons and other sporting events), and on all city property and parks. San Francisco Airport will also be allowed to sell plastic bottles indefinitely.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors supported the legislation unanimously. Prior to the vote, Chiu held up a water bottle that was a quarter of the way filled with oil. The move illustrated just how much oil is used in the production and transport of plastic water bottles.

“He also reminded San Franciscans that the current fad of buying bottled water only started in the 1990s when the bottled water industry mounted a huge ad campaign that got Americans buying bottled water,” reports the San Francisco Bay Guardian. “Somehow, Chiu noted, ‘for centuries, everybody managed to stay hydrated.’ He, and the rest of San Francisco seem confident that they can learn to do so again.

Not surprisingly, the American Beverage Association and bottled water industry were less than enthusiastic about the bottled water ban. These critics claim that banning bottled water at concerts and other large events will drive them to choose alcohol or carbonated beverages instead of healthier water.

Learn more about this new legislation here.

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A newly released NASA satellite image taken from space shows the extent of California’s worst drought since record-keeping started in 1885 and potentially the region’s driest period in 500 years. The data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites vividly displays green areas that are supposed to be white with winter snow cover and brown areas that are supposed to be green with plant growth this time of year.

Green Halo - New NASA Satellite Image Shows California DroughtThe evergreen vegetation near the Sierra Nevada mountain range is usually covered with snow in a normal year. Most of the rest of the state — from the San Joaquin Valley to San Francisco to Los Angeles and beyond shows areas suffering from drought stress or left fallow because of lack of water to grow crop seeds.

“If you showed me this image without the date, I would say, ‘This is California in early fall after a long, hot summer, before the fall and winter rains and snows arrived,’” said Bill Patzert, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “This is no California winter postcard.”

While recent rainfall and snowfall have brought temporary relief to parts of the state, it is not enough to mitigate the worst effects of the drought that is now in its third year. David Miskus of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center wrote that “even though this storm was welcome, the central Sierra still needs 3 to 4 more copious storms to bring this wet season close to average. Unfortunately, little to no precipitation fell on southern California and the Southwest.”

On a recent visit to California to tour the damage, President Obama pledged $183 million in federal aid and blamed the drought on climate change, saying “we’re going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for. We’re going to have to start looking at these disasters as something to prepare for.” The president added that “we have to be clear. A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher.”

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