Earth to Philly
Here's another update from the Energy Coordinating Agency on trends in energy efficiency in Philly.
Last year Philadelphia adopted a city ordinance requiring that commercial buildings benchmark and disclose their energy and water use on an annual basis. Thus Philadelphia joins the growing number of cities across the country like New York and Seattle which are working to improve the energy efficiency of commercial spaces and helping save their owners and tenants millions of dollars a year in lower operating costs.
The Energy Benchmarking ordinance requires that all commercial spaces including universities, schools, and hospitals over 50,000 square feet must benchmark their energy and water consumption using EPA’s free software, Portfolio Manager by October 31, 2013. Next year this information will be made available to the public and will be provided at time of sale.
While new technologies and eco-solutions are being generated every minute, you might think some products are beyond rethinking. A pencil. An undershirt. A paperclip.
I probably would have put flip-flop sandals in that category, but if you did, think again, because Pluggz has rethought the humblest of outdoor footwear to create something totally new: Sandals that, for $39 a pair, will bring you the electrical benefit of walking barefoot on the Earth.
That's right, these are thongs you'll get a charge out of. If you check the photo at right you'll notice a little circle near the middle - this is the "plug" - a "custom-formulated carbon and rubber compound" that is situated directly under the weight bearing part of your feet, so that when you walk, you're literally "grounded" by connecting more directly to the Earth.
What with all the rain this summer, you can bet it's been a bonanza for mosquitoes. And for those of us who have even the tiniest patio outside on which to gather for eating, drinking and relaxing, keeping the bugs off of us is always a plus. But how?
The bug zappers from days of yore are energy hogs as well as death-dealing distractions. The coils that you light on fire produce a plume of smoke that works as long as you're enveloped in it. Growing gigantic citronella plants to create an organic fortress is probably the all-around greenest solution, but it takes a lot of forethought and waiting time (not to mention enough fertile ground) to make it work.
The ThermaCELL Mosquito Repelling Lantern ($25 at hardware / home & garden stores) is trying to bridge that gap, keeping the bugs at bay without completely altering the environment, and even providing low-key lighting functionality.
Earth to Philly
Here's another update from the Energy Coordinating Agency, this time bringing you more information than you thought you needed about rain barrels, courtesy of ECA's Matthew Wilk.
I had been working with Liz Robinson, Executive Director of the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) and a few other ECA staff members to coordinate displays for “The Art and Science of Rain Barrels”; an exhibit at the Environmental Protection Agency to raise awareness on the importance of managing storm water in Philadelphia.
I was expecting a small, intimate gathering with just a handful of people, so when I walked into a room filled with teachers, children, artists, community members and executives of non-profits, all mingling and reading information on rain barrels, I was quite surprised! It was really incredible seeing people from all different walks of life all gathered together for a single cause.
You may recall Paul Glover as the man behind Green Jobs Philly and the Philadelphia Orchard Project, or as the fellow who wants us to develop our own currency. But he's also a friend and fan of Dr. Patch Adams, who is coming to town this week, as philly.com's The Public's Health notes.
Yes, Patch Adams, for those who may have forgotten, is a real-life person who survived his canonization via Robin Williams and Hollywood and is still out and about, changing lives and inspiring people in and beyond the world of medicine. He will be speaking at Drexel University College of Medicine, Geary Auditorium B; 245 N. 15th; 6:30 pm on July 23 and at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, 20th & Venango, 6:30 pm on July 24. Admission is free.
The big news that speaks to Adams' inspiring energy and to Philly's own initiative is the Patch Adams Free Clinic now in development.
Earth to Philly presents another update from our partners at the Energy Coordinating Agency:
With summer rolling in, thoughts turn to the beach, backyard barbecues and warm summer nights with friends and family. This summer though, we’re also remembering that Hurricane Sandy hit 8 months ago and thousands of people are still rebuilding their homes and communities.
We are glad to have some good news to share with you about the Sandy Recovery effort. New Jersey’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has unrolled the reNew Jersey Stronger program, which provides up to $150,000 in grants for qualified homeowners to retrofit and rebuild their homes to an acceptable energy standard.
Here's another update from the Energy Coordinating Agency.
Will 2013 be the Best Year Yet to Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency?
Now that spring has sprung, things are really looking bright for home energy efficiency in the Philadelphia region. The EnergyWorks Program has been extended through September of 2013 by DOE. Starting on April 1st the first six monthly payments of the EnergyWorks loan are on the house! As if that’s not enough, both PGW and PECO are getting ready to announce new rebates that are bigger and better than ever. EnergyWorks, the region’s whole house energy efficiency program has already helped more than 1,400 area homeowners save energy and increase the comfort of their homes. EnergyWorks will save homeowners millions of dollars over the life of the improvements.
Frances Moore Lappe kicked off a whole subgenre of ecolocgy literature with her beststilling Diet for a Small Planet in 1971. The book challenged assumptions about the redistribution of food and how people's everyday actions might impact the global picture. Her latest, EcoMind, is a book devoted to overcoming mental habits that become obstacles to sustainable progress, and it's just out in paperback. We spoke by phone a few days ago.
Earth to Philly: When you originally wrote Diet for a Small Planet you were pulling together a lot of info on food and economics that people hadn't examined to such an extent. Did you see your main mission as conveying this data or changing the way people were thinking about these problems?
Frances Moore Lappe: I would say the latter, although I wouldn't have had that phrase then. But I was sitting in the U.C.-Berkeley library with my dad's slide rule, putting numbers together while the headlines were blaring to us that the world is running out of food famine is inevitable, scarcity is the cause of hunger, and my youthful intuition was that if I could just figure food out -- food is so basic, if we can't figure out why we're not feeding ourselves, all of us, that's a problem -- if I could just figure that one out then that would unlock the mysteries of economics and politics for me.
So I started with that one question, why are people hungry? Is it true that we're running out of food? And within a few months of putting the numbers together I had this shocking moment when I realized that we were actually creating scarcity out of plenty - that there was more than enough for all of us, but we had created this incredibly inefficient food system because the concentration of wealth and power meant that people couldn't buy the food they needed and it got diverted into feed -- and now, of course, into fuel -- and so today we have 20 to 30 percent more food for each of us, and yet there are as many people hungry today as there were when I wrote Diet for a Small Planet.