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Monday, June 30, 2008

Green marketing means walking the talk

From a column in The Daily Reporter by Jennifer L. Guslick, marketing coordinator for Hunzinger Construction, Brookfield:

Four years ago the supplies and processes I used to do my job as a marketing professional were based on attributes like color, texture, cost, benefits, functionality, quality and necessity. Then my employer, Hunzinger Construction, shifted toward sustainability.

I began looking for ways to perform my job that would create the least environmental impact — from the supplies and tools I choose to the processes I use to perform my job.

One of the first things I looked at was paper. We switched to post-consumer-content recycled paper produced by wind mills and began utilizing Forest Stewardship Certified paper.

We also looked to The Marek Group for much of our printing needs. The Marek Group uses soy-based inks and is an FSC-certified printer.

“We went through the FSC certification process so we would be able to provide our clients with an environmentally sound option for their printed material,” said Marek Vice President Ben Rocco. “We feel it is all of our responsibility to do our part to manage our natural resources.”

Friday, June 27, 2008

Renewable Renewable Quarterly, Spring 2008

Articles in the Renewable Renewable Quarterly, Spring 2008:

+ RENEW Battles Local Opposition to Wind
+ Starting a Renewable Energy Business
+ Renewable Profiles: Wes Slaymaker
+ Solar Hot Water from the Garden
+ Reviving a Classic Wind Machine
+ Calendar

Click here

Green Life Day at Fields Neighborhood, July 19



From a media release issued by Fields Neighborhood:

Interested in finding out what it would be like to life the green life you have imagined? Come experience living green at Fields Neighborhood’s Live a Green Life Day on Saturday, July 19, 11:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m.

All are welcome to tour Fields Neighborhood’s award-winning green built housing and other innovative environmental solutions while talking with the visionary founder and architects.

Come dwell in possibility as you walk the miles of nature preserve trails, enjoy the open expanse of land on a hayride or tour the farm at neighboring Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, where you can pick your own flowers or produce. Discover straw bale building as demonstrated by renowned straw bale expert Michael Morgan and learn about biodynamic gardening with veteran garden expert Janet Gamble.

Come to relax. Come to breathe. Located at the corner of South and West Streets, this vibrant farming community in East Troy, Wisconsin, is nestled in the rolling hills of Southeast Wisconsin 30 minutes from Milwaukee and 90 minutes from Chicago.

“When we saw the destructive nature of most suburban sprawl, we wanted to introduce people to a type of community and way of living that was in tune with nature. This community serves as a model and educational reference on sustainability with award-winning green built cluster housing, community gardens, natural tranquility and open spaces in permanent land trusts,” said Fields Neighborhood visionary Christopher Mann.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Amtrack ridership sets record for Milwaukee-Chicago route

From an Associated Press story on Channel 7 WSAW:

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Amtrak says its passenger train service between Milwaukee and Chicago continues to set ridership records.

It says more than 64,000 passengers used the trains in May, another all-time monthly record.

For the first five months of the year, the seven daily Hiawatha Service round trips carried more than 281,000 passengers. Amtrak says that's a 24 percent increase over last year.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Home Depot will collect CFLs for recycling


A summary from Grist:

Home Depot announced Tuesday that it will collect compact fluorescent light bulbs and send them off to be recycled. The home-improvement behemoth hopes the new program will keep the bulbs, which contain a small amount of mercury, out of household trash and recycling bins. IKEA also collects CFLs for recycling but doesn't have the market saturation of Home Depot; more than three-quarters of U.S. households are estimated to be within 10 miles of a Home Depot store. The company's 1,973 U.S. stores will also switch to CFLs in light-fixture showrooms by the fall, a move expected to save it $16 million annually in energy costs.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Presentations

2012
10.11.12 Solar powering your community with Clean Energy Choice09.13.12 Update on 2012 Initiatives
07.12.12 Pathways to Increase Renewable Energy
06.16.12 Empower customers to overcome institutional and cultural barriers to renewables in Wisconsin!

2011
10.15.11
Renewable Energy in Wisconsin: Anatomy of a Long, Strange Trip and Where We’re Headed Next


2010
11.16.10 Wind Permitting in Wisconsin: What We've Learned in 12 Years
06.19.20 Wind Permitting Outlook
03.24.10 Revitalizing Wisconsin with Homegrown Renewable Energy

2009
06.21.09 Revitalizing Ourselves Through Renewable Energy
06.05.09 Wind and Baseload Planning
04.30.09 Wind in Wisconsin: Permitting Crisis
04.29.09 Wisconsin Wind: Outlook for 2009 and Beyond
03.25.09 Getting Serious About Solar Hot Water
03.26.09 Economic Development Impacts of Renewable Energy
02.05.09 Revitalizing America through renewable energy

2008
11.13.08 Public Service Commission presentation about the Wisconsin potential for Wind on the Water
11.01.08 Tiptoe Through the Minefields: Permitting Wind Projects in Wisconsin
10.24.08 The Competitive Advantage of Solar Hot Water in Wisconsin
09.26.08 Wind in Wisconsin: Ready for the Big Leagues
06.22.08 Leveling the Playing Field for Renewables in Wisconsin
05.07.08 Advanced Renewable Tariffs
04.04.08 Driving Away from the Oil Economy

2007
12.13.07 Solar hot water: The search for persuasive yet truthful marketing messages
10.21.07 Anatomy of a State Renewable Energy Purchase

2006
02.28.06 Brett Hulsey's presentation on solutions to peak oil
01.02.06 Peak Oil: Are We Headed Over the Cliff?

2005
10. .05 Fossil Fuel Watch: Stirrings in the Land of What-Me-Worry?

Alliant needs more compelling case for new coal plant

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin Power & Light Co. took a significant step recently when it promised to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from a new coal plant it is proposing to build in southwestern Wisconsin. Company officials understand the importance of balancing energy sources to provide customers with reliable and affordable energy while reducing emissions that contribute to climate change.

The problem is that while Wisconsin needs power, it also needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not just offset increases in emissions. So while WP&L officials deserve credit for proposing their mitigation plan, they still need to make a more compelling case than they have so far for building a coal plant in Cassville.

State regulators need to carefully examine that case before they make their decision by the end of the year. And unless WP&L officials make a convincing case for the kind of coal plant they have proposed, the state shouldn't give its OK.

In a recent meeting with the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, company officials said demand was growing at a rate of 2% to 3% per year. To meet that demand, the utility says it needs to build a 300-megawatt $1.1 billion base load plant that would generate enough power to supply 150,000 homes.

Based on those numbers, WP&L, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corp., makes a reasonable case. Neither conservation nor renewable sources now available are likely to fill that demand.

But an analysis by state environmental and energy regulators predicts demand to grow by 1.65%. That analysis also concluded that although Alliant "needs to procure more energy resources to keep rates affordable," this particular coal plant proposal was "not the least-cost option." The environmental group Clean Wisconsin and the ratepayer group Citizens' Utility Board oppose the plant and have urged the utility to spend more on energy efficiency and renewables. . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

RENEW Wisconsin Comments on Comprehensive Strawman Proposal for Governor Doyle’s Global Warming Task Force

From a statement on behalf of RENEW Wisconsin submitted by Michael Vickerman to the Governor's Global Warming Task Force:

These comments, submitted on behalf of RENEW Wisconsin, address the strawman proposal developed by the co-chairs of Governor Doyle’s Global Warming Task Force. I represented RENEW in the Electric Generation and Supply Workgroup and took part in the drafting and preparing of several specific proposals that were submitted to the full Task Force. Among them were proposals to establish (1) uniform permitting standards for wind projects, (2) fixed-rate production-cost-based tariffs to stimulate customer-sited renewable energy systems; and (3) post-2015 renewable energy requirements on utilities. The comments address various proposed changes to the existing renewable energy standard (RES). . . .

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Boost service, cut fares to save county transit system, consultant says

From an article by Larry Sandler in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Town of Yorkville - Cutting fares and restoring slashed service could be key strategies for rescuing the financially troubled Milwaukee County Transit System, a nationally known transit consultant told the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority on Monday. . . .

Rubin agreed with reports from the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Public Policy Forum that praised the Milwaukee County bus system’s cost-effective management, but that found major ridership losses resulted from fare increases and service cuts since 2000. He also agreed with those reports’ warnings of a 35% service cut by 2010 without new state or local funding — a cut that would wipe out all Freeway Flyers and most night, weekend and suburban service.

But Rubin said ridership could double in five years if county officials restore the service that has been cut and lower the fares. Phasing in that approach, with service restorations first and fare cuts later, would cater to “a huge unmet demand” for transit service that is growing as gas prices rise, he said.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has spoken favorably about lowering fares but proposed several fare increases and no fare cuts. That’s because restoring service and lowering fares would require additional revenue, and state and local officials have been deeply divided about new funding for buses.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Newsletters

2011
Spring 2011
Siting Rule Suspension Rocks Wind Industry
Community Biogas Project Fires Up
Insty Prints: Mpower ChaMpion
Manitoba Hydro: A Washout?
Verona Firm Begins Work on “Epic” PV

2010
Summer 2010
Council Backs Compromise on Siting Standards
Community Wind on Move in Cashton
Seventh Generation Pioneers Wind
Making Sense of the Gulf Disaster
Turbines Power Cascade Wastewater
Calendar

Spring 2010
Case Builds for the Clean Energy Jobs Act Bills
Tour Spotlights Homegrown Renewables
Energizing Fort Atkinson Schools
Clearing Up Lakes with Clean Energy
Of Molehills and Renewable Energy
Calendar

2009
Fall 2009
+ Doyle Signs Wind Siting Reform Bill into Law
+ Solar Outlook Set to Dim in 2010
+ PSC Approves Coal to Wood Conversion
+ Producer Profile: Rick Adamski
+ Educating Schools on Solar Air Heating
+ RENEW Slams Anti-Wind Article
+ Calendar

Summer 2009
+ It's Time to Bring Renewable Energy Home
+ In Memoriam: Bob Gilbertson
+ Board Member Brings Green Home
+ Renewables Profile: Jenny Heinzen
+ Manure Digesters Good Fit
+ Solar Innovator: Craig Tarr
+ Calendar

Spring 2009
+ Legislature to Tackle Wind Permitting
+ The Importance of Doing the Math
+ Stimulus Package 101
+ Policy Drives Solar Hot Water Market
+ PSC Investigates Renewable Tariffs
+ Open Letter from RENEW President
+ Calendar

2008
Winter 2008/2009
+ Rest in Peace: Cassville Generation Plant
+ Mississippi River Bird and Bat Study
+ Osceola School Heats Pools with Solar
+ Bob Ramlow: Solar Pioneer
+ Focus on Energy Issues Biogas Profiles
+ Focus on Energy Earns National Honor
+ State Plugs into Renewable Energy
+ Calendar

Summer/fall 2008
+ Peak Oil Spices Meeting with Cong. Baldwin
+ Countdown to Solar Tour
+ Solar H2O on Madison Fire Stations
+ Global Warming Task Force Report
+ Wisconsin’s Newest Wind Projects
+ PHEV+Wind=Clean Air
+ Small Wind Conference Wrap-up

Spring 2008
+ RENEW Battles Local Opposition to Wind
+ Starting a Renewable Energy Business
+ Renewable Profiles: Wes Slaymaker
+ Solar Hot Water from the Garden
+ Reviving a Classic Wind Machine

Winter 2008
+ Solar Water Heating's Day of Superlatives
+ Calumet Voters Strongly Favor Wind
+ Renewable Profiles: Steve & Nancy Sandstrom
+ Wind a No Go in Trempealeau
+ Windpower Projects Near Completion

2007
Summer 2007
+ Random Thoughts from This Year’s Renewable Energy Fair
+ RENEW Objects to Town Ordinance
+ A Federal Energy Policy?
+ Renewable Profiles: Jeff Knutson
+ State Must End Wind Roadblocks
+ RENEW Lunch and Meeting, Sept. 15
+ RENEW Argues for Uniform Tariffs
+ Walter: MGE Gets High Marks
+ WPPI Adds PV at HQ

Spring 2007
+ Wind Farm Construction Explodes While Manufacturing Lags
+ “But what’s the payback?”
+ Renewable Profiles: Jeff Riggert
+ Can Ethanol Kick Fossil Fuels?
+ Coal Rush Negatives Wind’s Promise
+ Energy co-dependents: Russia, America, and Energy Security

2006
Winter 2006
+ RENEW, Clean Wisconsin Defend Wind Power Project
+ We Energies Cops National Honors
+ Don Wichert: RENEW Founder and Tireless Advocate
+ How I Fell in Love with My Solar Dryer
+ PSC Approves WE Wind Project
+ Doyle Sets Plans to Expand Renewables

Fall 2006
+ 2nd U.S. Solar Testing Lab Opens in State
+ Payback Analysis: Impediment to Sustainability
+ Andy Bangert: Solar Installer & Master Electrician
+ MGE, WPPI Tap into Top of Iowa Wind Projects
+ Wind Energy Projects Slowly Advance
+ Neenah Paper Buys Reams of Renewable Electricity

Summer 2006
+ Misplaced Security Concerns Still Wind Projects
+ Doyle Embraces Energy Independence
+ Profiles in Leadership: Niels Wolter
+ Wisconsin Tops in Cow Power

Spring 2006
+ State's energy house back in order
+ WE bulllish on wind energy
+ Producer profile: Amy Taivalkoski
+ Ethanol mandate runs out of gas
+ WE updates renewable program
+ State renewable grants available

2005
Winter 2005
+ Time is ripe for renewable tariff reform
+ Church engergized by renewables
+ Producer profile: John Katers
+ RENEW lauds Forward's payment plan
+ China pins hopes on hydro
+ New federal tax credits for solar
+ RENEW backs ethanol bill

Time's right for rail

From an editorial in The Capital Times (Madison):

The impossible happened this week -- the U.S. Senate and House voted overwhelmingly to fully fund Amtrak for the next five years. There's even some matching money to help states set up or expand rail service.

It's amazing what four-buck-a-gallon gas will do.

Amtrak's funding package even got the votes of some of its biggest critics, like Florida Republican Rep. John Mica, who admitted for the first time that Americans need some transportation choices.

"Nothing could be more fitting to bring before Congress today, on a day when gasoline has reached $4.05 a gallon across the United States on average," he announced on the floor.

The two houses need to patch over some minor differences in the bills they passed, but Amtrak backers are confident that won't be any trouble.

The biggest trouble, though, may still come from the White House. President Bush, who has attempted to dismantle the national rail system throughout his presidency, has pledged to veto the bill. Fortunately, both the House and Senate passed the funding by veto-proof margins. Unless Republicans switch because they don't want to "embarrass" their president, Bush's veto will be moot.

Frankly, the president should be embarrassed. His stand on public transportation has marginalized him on the issue. He continues to insist that Amtrak should be dismantled and pieces of it turned over to private companies to run short-line routes. That might work in highly urbanized areas, but without government subsidies the vast expanse of America would be left with no rail service of any kind.

But Bush has been far from alone. There has long been a mind-set against subsidizing rail transportation. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have never had trouble subsidizing the building of more and bigger highways and underwriting the cost of airports and sleek terminals, but when it came to rail, they sang a different tune.

Had we adequately funded Amtrak so that it could have improved trackage in congested areas and run more than one train a day between big cities like Chicago and Minneapolis, for example, the country would today have a reasonable alternative to $4gas and gridlocked and unreliable airports. We might even have had rail service to Madison. . . .

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Let there be light: Church sees mission in solar panels

From an article by Tom Heinen in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Tapping into a higher power, Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield has become the first church in southeastern Wisconsin to install a solar-electric generating system.

Rob Zimmerman, president of Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, and the Rev. Suzelle Lynch stand on top of the church next to the new solar panels that were recently installed.

Using 42 roof-mounted solar panels, the 8.4-kilowatt system is expected to provide energy equal to about 15% of the electrical needs for the church, 13001 W. North Ave. The system went on line June 5.

Church leaders also hope that the system will generate a conversational buzz. For both theological and practical reasons, they’d like to see more homes, churches and businesses get greener.

“Part of our purpose is to be visible, not only to church members but to the community, so we can be a resource for them,” said the Rev. Suzelle Lynch, the church’s minister.

One principle of Unitarian Universalism is to respect and honor the Earth.

Photos

Michael Vickerman
- Head shot

Leveling the Playing Field for Renewables in Wisconsin - June 22, 2008

A presentation by RENEW Wisconsin Executive Director Michael Vickerman at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin, June 22, 2008.

Click here for the presentation.

Letters to the editor

2011
11.08.11 Facts on wind installations trump myths

2009
09.28.09 Anti-wind article damages Isthmus' credibility
01.02.09 Response to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column on wind vs. cows

2008
08.13.08 Wind power exaggerations are fear mongering. The Capital Times.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Miller releases 2008 sustainable development report

From a news release issued by Miller Brewing:

MILWAUKEE (June 4, 2008) – Miller Brewing Company today released its second annual Sustainable Development Report, entitled “Live Sustainably.” The report details the company’s progress against its global sustainable development priorities, including areas such as alcohol responsibility, water conservation, energy and carbon reduction, recycling, supply chain management and social investment. The report also features employees who are driving notable sustainable development efforts within the company. . . .

Available online at www.millerbrewing.com, the 28-page report includes the following highlights and efforts by Miller employees:

• Reduced Miller’s water-to-beer ratio to less than 4:1. This reduction is nearly two years ahead of schedule, as the company set this as a 2010 goal.

• Reduced fossil fuel consumption to 1.45 therms per barrel, putting Miller well within reach of a 2010 target of 1.40 therms per barrel.

• Reduced waste to landfill by 2.5 million pounds over the last five years. Miller currently recycles 99.9 percent of all packaging waste.

• Initiated a switch to energy-efficient fluorescent lights in all six brewery facilities that will drive a 9 million kilowatt hour reduction across the company.

• Recycled brewery waste water to generate biogas at our Irwindale brewery that produced enough electrical capacity to power 50 average California homes.

• Expanded the Respect 21® Responsible Retailing Program into 10 new markets and launched Keep Your Balance®, a program designed to educate motorcyclists about responsible riding.

• Tallied more than 1.7 million riders over the 20 year history of the Miller Free Rides program that offers alternative transportation on key holidays to prevent drunk driving incidents.

• Made corporate social investments totaling more than $5.1 million across our brewery communities, representing 1.4 percent of the company’s pre-tax profit.

• Contributed more than $1.7 million since 2001 through the Miller Brewing Company Employee Fund, a cross-functional committee of employees who spearhead the giving campaign, establish a set of criteria for non-profit funding and oversee the distribution of the employee donations to local non-profits. In 2007, the fund contributed $278,217 to 19 organizations that focus on hunger, at-risk youth and domestic violence issues.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Transit tax plan revived

From a story by Steve Schultze in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A Milwaukee County Board committee Wednesday revived the idea of levying a half-cent local sales tax to pay for transit, after hearing appeals from major civic and business groups.

The board’s transportation committee voted 4-3 in favor of holding an advisory referendum on the sales tax idea on the November ballot. The tax would be dedicated to transit and generate an estimated $65 million a year. That’s nearly triple what the county is spending in property taxes on transit.

The additional money could help pay for new buses, enhanced bus security, reduced fares and other improvements, said Supervisor Patricia Jursik, the author of the transit sales tax measure.

Under the language of the referendum question, the county tax levy would be reduced by the same amount the new sales tax would raise — a vital safeguard needed to win public support, county supervisors said.

Jursik described the issue as switching transit funding from the property tax, where Wisconsin ranks high, to the sales tax, where the state is comparatively low. Visitors to Milwaukee also would help fund local transit through a transit sales tax, she said.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Council votes for solar energy grant

From a media release issued by the Milwaukee Common Council:

The Common Council has approved a measure that allows for the acceptance of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Cities 2008 grant. The measure directs the city’s Office of Environmental Sustainability to apply for and accept a $200,000 grant, matched by $100,000 in allocated city funds, to help remove barriers to the implementation of solar technologies in the city. Milwaukee is one of 12 cities selected for this grant in 2008 and the results of this project will be shared across the country.

Ald. Tony Zielinski (District 14), lead sponsor of the resolution, said the two-year grant will include training for solar panel installers and also provides funds for the production of educational materials to make more residents aware of how solar
technologies work to increase efficiency and save costs.
Under a similar grant, the City of Madison has begun assisting businesses and homeowners who are interested in solar installations.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Johnson Controls and partner will supply batteries for Ford Escape hybrid

From a media release issued by Johnson Controls:

MILWAUKEE, June 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As increasing numbers of consumers look for fuel-efficient, low emission vehicle options, a test fleet of Ford Escape plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) is making its way on the road today. Powered by lithium-ion batteries from Johnson Controls-Saft, the demonstration fleet will examine the future of PHEVs as part of a complete vehicle, home and grid energy system. The fleet is the result of an ongoing collaboration among Ford, Johnson Controls-Saft, Southern California Edison (SCE) and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

"This fleet demonstrates a major step forward toward validating plug-in hybrid vehicle technology," said Mary Ann Wright, who leads the Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture and is vice president and general manager of Johnson Controls' hybrid battery business. "PHEVs, which have the ability to drive an extended range on electric-only power, can significantly reduce emissions and improve fuel economy."

The 20-vehicle fleet will be tested first in California by SCE and later by other utilities in the New York/ New Jersey area, to help determine regional differences in vehicle usage and performance, as well as how PHEVs will affect the electric grid system and associated infrastructure requirements. The first unit was delivered to California in December; additional units will be on the road in June.

The outcome of the fleet will help to continue to address barriers to commercialization including cost, technology validation, and strategies for charging the vehicles.

Monday, June 9, 2008

RENEW Battles Local Opposition to Wind


Articles in the Renewable Energy Quarterly, Spring 2008, include:

RENEW Battles Local Opposition to Wind
Starting a Renewable Energy Business
Renewable Profiles: Wes Slaymaker
Solar Hot Water from the Garden
Reviving a Classic Wind Machine
Calendar

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tax carbon, don’t cap it

From an editorial on The Journal Times (Racine):

With the emphasis on global warming this week as the U.S. Senate debates a bill to limit carbon dioxide emissions, let us begin with the idea that the bill is fundamentally wrong.

It wants to impose a cap-and-trade system to control greenhouse gases. The government would allow a certain number of tons of carbon dioxide to be emitted every year — with the number diminishing as time passes — and an auction would allow companies with low emissions could sell their excess capacity to industries with high emissions.

The idea is to adhere to current science and cut carbon emissions below year 2000 levels in order to avoid the more extreme effects of global warming. There is a better method of doing this than the Senate plan, and that is with a tax.

It makes more sense, is more uniform, is much more honest, and would achieve the objective more efficiently.

A cap-and-trade system does not impose a real cost — indeed, as long as a dirty plant can buy credits it can continue operation — and thus interferes with market pressure for change. If all carbon emissions were taxed, all of us would have incentive to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels or choose other power sources. There would be more incentive for energy markets to develop alternatives. Better still, a carbon tax could be, and should be, segregated into a pool of money used for alternative energy research and development.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

High school, city farm to build "green" garage with solar panels

From an article by Karen Herzog in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A partnership between a city farm and a Milwaukee trade school will build an urban agricultural training space atop a "green" garage in the Riverwest neighborhood, complete with year-round, rooftop garden.

The project, called Growing Spaces, is a joint venture of the non-profit farm Growing Power Inc., 5500 West Silver Spring Road, and Bradley Tech High School, 700 S. 4th St. Details are to be announced at a 3 p.m. press conference today at the school.

Bradley Tech seniors in carpentry, electrical and plumbing classes will build the 3.5-bay garage beside a private home in Riverwest, starting in the fall. The homeowner, Kate Halfwassen, will coordinate the project and lease the garage back to Growing Power in what amounts to at least a five-year donation of the space, Halfwassen said Tuesday.

The garage will be built against a hillside with wood concrete forms - a green material combining recycled wood and cement. Solar panels on a rooftop shed will power the garage doors and heat water and soil for winter food production in the rooftop hoop-house.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Eco-municipality primer for officials: Sunday, June 22, 9 am-12 noon, Custer, WI

From the Energy Fair workshop schedule of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA):

The MREA will host a special session on eco-municipalities for elected officials or other municipal government staff . This session will be held on the same day of Torbjorn Lahti's keynote presentation, and will build on the concepts presented. Don’t miss this chance to get a fun, in-depth study of sustainable community initiatives that can be implemented in everyday governmental decisions and policies. Course Cost: $30.00 Course Prerequisite: The Natural Step for Communities, which can be purchased through the MREA Marketplace online or at the Energy Fair.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Flower-shaped sculptures are green power plants


From a story by Avrum Lank in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Sturgeon Bay - John Hippensteel believes a person has only one original idea in a lifetime.

His can be summed up in two words: flower power.

Not the kind expressed in bright splashes of color on psychedelic concert posters or daisies put down gun barrels during anti-war demonstrations, but actual power from flowers.

OK, not real flowers. Rather from sculptures that look like flowers - and rather unusual sculptures at that.

A professional engineer, Hippensteel designs, builds and installs large arrays of photovoltaic solar panels made to look like flowers. He hopes the product line he and wife, Ann, have dubbed Solar Flairs will be the key to a blossoming of their business, Lake Michigan Wind and Sun Ltd., which they run out of a 100-year-old farmhouse on 40 acres near the Lake Michigan shoreline in the southern Door County Town of Clay Banks.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sale of hybrid vehicles gaining traction

From a story by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

How's this for oil-shock value: Scott Olson of Brookfield went to his car dealership to get the oil changed on his sport utility vehicle and drove home in a new SUV that gets nearly twice the gas mileage.

"I was filling it up every five days," he said of his old Ford Escape. "Now I'm only filling it up every eight or nine days."

Olson, 43, now the proud owner of a blue Mercury Mariner hybrid SUV that gets nearly 40 mpg in city driving, is part of the latest crowd of buyers bothered by fuel costs who are now in the hunt for hybrid electric vehicles.

Until recently, most hybrid buyers could be characterized as having a "green streak," concerned about the environment and pollution released from tailpipes, said John Dolan, hybrid sales specialist at Smart Motors in Madison.

"But once oil got to $100 a barrel and on toward $130, we're starting to see more and more people who don't even characterize themselves as environmentalists," he said. "They're just looking at buying a hybrid as a dollars and cents thing."