I N · T H I S · I S S U E
Buying Green Power
Chris’s comment above highlights the spirit of EcoMotion. Someone gets the word, a bit of encouragement – I gave him a couple bulbs to get him started – and voila, an eco-action! Now Chris tells me he is gearing up to replace all the windows in his home. Behold, the power of the increment in action!
This week I bought three Wind Energy Credit Cards from Whole Foods. I bought a $15 family offset and two $5 individual cards for friends. When I asked the cashier about these new items, she was enthusiastic, “I think it’s a great idea.” Sales? “You’re my first one.” For me, the $25 investment felt good, a statement that I’m dedicated to wind and a healthy future, backed with a small investment, today!
Ultimately coal, gas, and nuclear plants will be replaced with solar sources – wind, hydro, biomass, PV, solar thermal, etc. The public desire will drive government requirements and regulatory mandates, in turn tactics like strategic performance incentives for utilities, for electric utilities to buy, build, own, and operate green power resources.
In the meantime, we have options for green power: The ultimate is installing your own system on your own roof! (EcoMotion has lots of information to help you do this.) As we reported in ENN V10#2, many utilities across the country offer green power programs. These tack a small fee on kilowatt-hours consumed to support green power purchases and programs.
Whole Foods and Renewable Energy Choice now offer us a means to invest in green power as we check out of our local market. Just as I buy organic vegetables and dairy products, why not green my power usage for the month? A small fee offsets the carbon imprint of my monthly share of the nation’s 45% coal-fired, 20% nuclear-powered electricity system. Yes, I’ll buy now – supporting the grass-roots and every means of consumer action possible -- while keeping my eyes squarely focused on long-term policies for a healthy and sustainable power future.
Consumers Demand More Efficient Homes
American Institute of Architects reports that the high costs of home fuel prices have consumers looking more deeply to save energy.
Its latest quarterly member survey finds that requests for energy-efficient housing features leapt from 38 – 54% from 2005 to 2006. The AIA poll shows 90% are willing to pay $5,000 more for a house that will consume less energy.
Requested design overhauls include doing away with grand, dramatic entry ways with high ceilings that are tough to heat. High efficiency windows and motorized dampers to shut off ductwork to unused areas of a home are also design considerations.
Even homeowners in warmer climates where summer cooling costs outweigh winter heating concerns are climbing aboard the energy efficiency bandwagon. In Los Angeles, energy-efficient home improvements rank second behind kitchen remodels as the most appealing home improvement according to home equity lender Bank of America. The bank reports top- flight windows and solar panels are coveted LA-area home upgrades.
Smart Cars: Member Feedback
More from Member Henry Dudley in Durango, Colorado:
“We’ve been coveting a Smart Car ever since we first saw one in Europe about eight years ago. The sole importer who converts them to US standards is in LA. G&K is the name. We bought ours in Parker [Colorado], but the guy there got his cars from G&K, as does everyone.”
So EcoMotion took a bit closer look: G & K is currently completing the conversion of several hundred Smart Cars at its facility in Santa Ana, California, shown above.
Smart Cars get 43 miles per gallon in city driving conditions; 53 mpg on highways. They are not hybrids but instead rely on efficient 3 cylinder engines. They come in three models: Passion, Pulse, and Pure. They are 8.5’ long compared to a Volkswagen beetle (14’) and a Mini Cooper (12”).
G & K Automotive Conversion Inc. has been in business since 1979. It claims to be the largest and the oldest established conversion company in the United States, having modified in excess of 8,000 vehicles. For the most part these have been from the Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, McLaren, or Jaguar elite.
G & K has an in-house testing laboratory and a 40,000 square foot conversion facility. Owner George Gemayel states that his firm is the only entity approved to "import and modify" Smart Cars for the U.S. market. G & K has obtained necessary EPA and DOT certifications for model year 2005 and 2006 Smart Cars to meet forty-five state standards. Certification for the remaining five states -- California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont -- is underway. For more information, go to www.gnkauto.com.