Category: Energy

Green Gas. Greenroof. Greenwash.

 cartoon by: Wilcox

Gasoline production is never actually going to be "green" but to show they really care, British Petroleum has been going the extra mile for the environment in other areas. A Los Angeles BP , Helios House, is the nation’s first station to operate with high "green" standards which includes low-flow toilets, solar panels, a rain-catchment system and floors made from recycled glass, everything green (except its product.) The station also hands out tips on being green and seeds you can plant in your home garden.

Here in Baltimore we have our very own "growing" equivalent. The BP station across from the Museum of Industry off Key Highway has a greenroof on both the convenience store and the car wash. This roof was was planted in spring, 2007 by me, your GOforChange contributor, while working for Furbish Co . The easiest — and probably the only — way to see it is if you have any friends with roof-top decks in South Baltimore. Although most of us can’t see it, it is helping improve air, lowering the urban heat-island effect, and slowing storm water run-off.

Is BP acting "Beyond Petroleum" or is it closer to greenwashing? Listen to NPR news story.

Greenwash is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” View a list of America’s 10 worst offenders from The Green LIfe.

We have two new programs starting up, including the Green Website Adventure Tour, which begins the week of July 13. Join me on a F*R*E*E phonecall to find out more: Friday, July 3 at 11:00 a.m. EST.

The Fight On Energy Efficiency?

photo by: alyssa We were wondering if you’ve heard of Blackle? A new Google search page in black, created by Heap Media. Their idea is that having a black screen on your computer can cut electricity demand. Seemingly insignificant? Blackle was also created to “remind us all of the need to take small steps in our everyday lives to save energy.” I wonder if this might be more effective then the actual energy savings but according to Ecolron a white web page uses about 74 watts to display, while an all black page uses only 59 watts. There is much dispute. Please, tell us what you think. Could this be "green-washing"?

On a local level the fight for energy efficiency is hitting much harder. This just came to me via email with the following concerns from the Green Building Institute. Thanks Janice Romanosky for sending it along:

A key committee in the Maryland House of Delegates will decide this week whether to divert $70 million away from energy efficiency program to bill-payer assistance. The committee will vote as early as Wednesday, so it couldn’t be more urgent. Please call AND fax the Delegates in the areas where you work and urge them to keep the energy efficiency funding in the Strategic Energy Investment Fund as it was passed into law last year.


· Baltimore County – Del. Susan Aumann – (410) 841-3258, fax (410) 841-3163

· Baltimore City – Del. Talmadge Branch – (410) 841-3398, fax (410) 841-3550

· Charles County – Del. Murray Levy – (410) 841-3325, fax (410) 841- 3367

· Montgomery County – Bill Bronrott – (410) 841-3642, fax (410) 841-3026

Please also pass this message along to former clients or colleagues who also believe that energy efficiency is an important part of Maryland’s energy future.


16 Practical Tips for Saving Energy at Home

drawings by Alyssa Dennis

One of my favorite clients sent out long list of energy-saving tips after spending close to a year shaving her family’s energy use. Violaine Melancon is a musician who cares deeply about the environment and she got bitten by the energy efficiency bug. A good list is very satisfying, even if they have things you’re already doing, because that just makes you feel a bit smug. (Already doing! So in-the-know!)

A while back we wrote about this topic , aimed at reducing heating bills in winter. Here we present Violaine’s more comprehensive list, with links added by us for your convenience. Let us know what your experiences are with saving energy around your house.

1. Turn off lights! Use as little as you really need.

2. Change all the incandescent light bulbs you can to those funny-looking fluorescent ones.

3. Unplug appliances (washer, dryer, kitchen things like blender, toaster, hairdryer etc…) when not in use. This includes your cell-phone charger and any low-voltage lights that have those boxy AC adaptors on the plug end.

4. Turn off your computer when not in use and purchase a “smart strip" at SmartHomeUSA , which cuts the leaking current at the source. While you’re at it, purchase smart strips for the TV/DVD center and the sound system. All electronics still use a lot of power even when off. Continued

Aurora Energy, Inc.

photo courtesy of: Aurora
Aurora Energy, Inc. is a Columbia, Maryland-based solar-energy company specializing in solar thermal and solar electric installations. Its website includes an extensive photo gallery of previous projects, detailing the construction of solar water-heating systems, solar paneling, and solar signage at various residential and commercial sites, both locally and nationally.

City Tour for Solar

photo courtesy of: CTFS
The City Tour for Solar Is a “mobile photovoltaic (PV) solar educational event that will travel across 50 cities in 100 days, educating citizens and city leaders on the benefits and viability of solar power.” The tour started on August 1st and will run through November 14, 2008 with the only disappointing aspect being that it will not reach the east coast, even though one of their leading sponsors, Sun Edison LLC, is from Maryland, boo! Visitors are able to interact with solar electric equipment and speak with professional individuals about how and where these systems are best utilized. The exhibits expand and changed from city to city which on occasion has included showcases in hydrogen power, recycled Styrofoam as building material, wind power, local solar installers, and various ways to increase efficiency.

Sun Edison LLC

photo courtesy of: CTFS
Sun Edison LLC provides renewable solar energy solutions all around the world and we’re fortunate enough to have their headquarters right here in Beltsville, MD. Some of their projects have included an 8,700 solar panel installation at the White Marsh, Maryland GM plant . They’re also a lead sponsor of the City Tour for Solar which is a “mobile photovoltaic (PV) solar educational event that will travel across 50 cities in 100 days, educating citizens and city leaders on the benefits and viability of solar power.” Although the company has extensive experience in large solar system installation they also provide renewable power to smaller venues without ever having to actually own solar panels.

Brilliant Green Marketing


See if you can get the joke before the end. Even if you don’t, you’ll appreciate its clever approach. It’s refreshing to see such creative messaging. We won’t say more — lest we spoil the surprise!