This week Gizmodo highlighted ten green technologies that can help boost the value of your home, while reducing your energy bills. Among those featured was GreenSwitch, which uses wireless technology to help reduce the power consumption in homes and offices by eliminating the drain of unused electricity caused by unattended climate control, forgotten lights and “phantom power” (the energy that appliances draw when they’re not in use, but still plugged in) —saving hundreds of dollars on electricity bills and greatly reducing energy use (GreenSwitch claims a savings of 20-35% for the average home).

According to the company web site, 1.32 lbs of carbon dioxide are generated for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced and the average home uses almost 12,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. The claim is that by reducing the amount of electricity you use by 20%, each household can reduce 3,168 lbs of carbon dioxide. With 111 million homes in the U.S. alone, the potential impact seems staggering.

Among GreenSwitch’s biggest fans is Ed Begley Jr., a.k.a. the greenest man in Hollywood, who was also featured on Oprah this week. While many celebrities support green initiatives, Ed may be one of the few celebrities to truly walk the walk, going so far as to peddle his energy-generating bicycle for ten minutes every morning to make toast. Many (including his wife) may consider the degree to which he has taken his green lifestyle a little extreme, but you can’t help but admire his commitment (albeit an obsession) to living green and using his celebrity to inspire others to ask themselves, “What changes am I willing to make?”

Read Gizmodo’s “Green Tech Upgrades That Boost Home Values and Reduce Bills” post : http://gizmodo.com/5233176/green-tech-upgrades-that-boost-home-values-and-reduce-bills?skyline=true&s=x or watch the “Living with Ed” TV series on HGTV: http://www.livingwithed.net/ to learn about other green technologies you can implement to green your home.


With so much else going on, it’s easy to overlook how much the Obama administration has done to support greentech in its first 100 days in office. The president’s proposed budget includes grants for clean power, tax credits for solar, wind, geothermal and energy efficiency programs, smart grid funding, weatherization programs and a new tax credit for cleantech hardware manufacturing. The Department of Transportation has raised fuel efficiency standards for the first time in almost three decades, and the EPA issued a groundbreaking ruling that may allow the agency to regulate carbon emissions. The president has also set a goal of creating 3 million green collar jobs as part of his plan to increase the country’s renewable energy production.

All this, plus the new vegetable garden in the White House backyard. It’s quite an impressive start.


Another interesting little piece popped up on earth2tech this morning that I just can’t resist sharing. As a PR firm, we love working with startups. Really, we do: the struggle to grow is an adrenaline rush, and the challenge of defining their identity even as they work to determine how they fit is oftentimes frustrating, but extremely rewarding. These days, green startups are exploding, however, and even VCs are having trouble gauging which ones are the real deal.

With stimulus funds now flowing into the smart grid, investors are rushing to get in the game. And the opportunities are indeed aplenty. According to Katie Fehrenbacher, picking the market leader should be easy: the firms that have managed to complete deals with larger utility companies are clearly a step ahead of the game, right? The problem is that most utility giants are currently “sampling” the smart grid landscape, and doing a host of smaller pilot deals with several startups. And this means that almost all of the contenders have some small deal with a larger utility company. So how to suss out the winners from the also-rans?

This is a really interesting discussion that will undoubtedly get hotter as the push toward energy efficiency grows.  Listen and learn…


A little more than a month after his task force told him it would take a year to get a proposed high-risk, $415 million clean energy research program up and running, Energy Secretary Steven Chu is proceeding with plans to launch the so-called Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, in half a year or less.

ARPA-E, which was created in 2007 but left unfunded until this year, will be accepting concept papers between May 12th and June 2nd for innovative green technology ideas that it may be interested in funding. Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full application for consideration.

According to an article by Josie Garthwaite at earth2tech, ARPA-E is particularly interested in ideas and technologies that could reduce dependency on oil imports, improve energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or give the U.S. an edge in deployment of energy technologies — areas where many capital-intensive cleantech startups struggle to find financing for critical phases of development or commercialization.

“Only truly transformational technologies that can contribute greatly to the ARPA-E’s Mission Areas have any chance of funding,” the agency says in its solicitation. “We are not looking for incremental progress on current technologies.”
Getting in on the ARPA-E program will mean more than cash— the agency said that it will also work with teams to develop intellectual property and technical data strategies, as well as a procurement or financial assistance instrument to help manage risk once government funding for a project runs out.

At least the ball’s finally rolling so get those ideas in by June 2nd!

Read Josie’s article at: http://earth2tech.com/2009/04/27/how-to-get-doe-cash-for-your-high-risk-green-technology/

The EPA released its list of the top 50 purchasers of green power today, naming Intel as number 1 due to its purchase of 1,301,200,000 kWh of wind power a year in order to run 46% of its total operation. This is Intel’s second year in the number one spot. Other tech bellwethers on the list include Dell at number 4, Cisco at number 9, Motorola at number 44 and AMD at number 46.

Here are the Top 10 green power buyers listed by company, number of kilowatt hours bought, percent of energy needs met by green power, and kind of clean power used.

1. Intel Corporation 1,301,200,000 – 46% – Wind
2. PepsiCo 1,144,773,154 – 100% – Various
3. Kohl’s Department Stores 600,990,000 – 50% – Biogas, Biomass, Small-hydro, Solar, Wind
4. Dell Inc. 553,708,000 – 158% – Biogas, Solar, Wind
5. Whole Foods Market 526,995,000 – 100% – Solar, Wind
6. The Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc. 470,216,838 – 100% – Various
7. Johnson & Johnson 434,854,733 – 38% – Biomass, Small-hydro, Solar, Wind
8. U.S. Air Force 426,233,001 – 5% – Biogas, Biomass, Solar, Wind
9. Cisco Systems, Inc. 400,996,000 – 46% – Wind
10. City of Houston, TX 350,400,000 – 27% Govt. (Local, Municipal) Reliant Energy Wind

For more information see: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/04/purchase-green-power-top-50-buyers.php

Complete list: http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/top50.htm

Illustration by Pelle Mellor


As a biofuel, the advantages of coffee over alternative biofuels are numerous: it does not diverting crops from being a food source because it’s made from the left over coffee grounds. it’s consistently available globally, it can easily yield 10-15% of biodiesel by weight, it requires little or no tinkering because it has lower viscosity, manufacturing costs are at about $1 per gallon, and when burned it leaves a smell many of us love!


If you’re interested in producing some coffee-based biodiesel here’s the process, but it’s really better suited for a larger-scale producer:


“The diesel-extraction method for coffee grounds is similar to that used for other vegetable oils. It employs a process called transesterification, in which the grounds react with an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst. The coffee grounds are dried overnight and common chemical solvents, such as hexane, ether and dichloromethane, are added to dissolve the oils. The grounds are then filtered out and the solvents separated (to be reused with the next batch of coffee grounds). The remaining oil is treated with an alkali to remove free fatty acids (which form a soap). Then the crude biodiesel is heated to about 100ºC to remove any water, and treated with methanol and a catalyst, so that transesterification takes place. When cooled to room temperature and left to stand, the biodiesel floats up, leaving a layer of glycerine at the bottom. These layers are separated and the biodiesel is cleaned to remove any residues.

From Mar 5th 2009 The Economist print edition  http://www.economist.com/science/tq/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13174477

Can Geeks Go Green?

As expected, the celebration of Earth Day brought with it oodles of green news articles, broadcasts and discussions. But among all the chatter about the numerous issues plaguing Mother Earth, I got a chuckle thanks to an article by Jim Rapoza of eWeek.

Addressing the green technology dilemma facing geeks worldwide, Rapoza took a look at the dichotomy between the desires of tech nerds to stay ahead of the tech curve while being true to the environment. As he concedes, this can be a very lofty proposition.

“That’s because when it comes to enemies of the environment, most modern technologies rank pretty high on the list,” said Rapoza. “Technology products can consume lots of resources, both in their production and in their daily use. And, if these products are improperly disposed of, they can cause significant damage to the environment.”

As a reader of this blog, I can only assume that you are likely one of the people Rapoza’s describing. So I challenge you to take a look at the decisions you make every day! Before jumping ship to purchase the latest version of the iPhone, ask: Is it worth it? Many diehards will say yes, but just remember that striking a balance, although not always easy, is a necessary sacrifice if we hope to make the world a little better.

To read Jim Rapoza’s commentary, go to: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Green-IT/Can-Geeks-Go-Green-And-Still-Stay-Ahead-of-the-Tech-Curve-133032/