March 16, 2007 – Volume 10, Issue 22
I N · T H I S · I S S U E




FLANIGAN'S ECO-LOGIC

The Green Tipping Point
A “green tipping point?” What’s up with that?

Have you read “The Tipping Point” by Malcom Gladwell? The term tipping point emerged in the 1970s and referred to an urban planning phenomenon whereby a certain percentage of blacks would enter a neighborhood, causing white flight to the suburbs. Gladwell’s Year 2000 bestseller took the concept into a far broader dimension: He presents evidence of how change occurs, and how fast this happens at one dramatic moment: the tipping point.

The environmental movement is clearly at a tipping point. After years of being considered radical, fringe, and its members being accused of whining and being unnecessarily alarmist, how very exciting to be legitimate!

The Tipping Point presents an argument that the best way to understand the widespread acceptance of anything from a fashion trend to a political is that ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do. They are epidemics.

All successful movements are the result of infectious behavior. At a certain point, everyone and every company is feeding off one and other. Everywhere you turn there is substantiation and reinforcement. At a certain point, being green comes into vogue and like wheels on suit cases, like cell phones and i-PODs and navigators, the trend is universal. Everyone’s either got it or getting it!

Look at the evidence of an eco-tipping point. Since our last issue,

Bank of America pledges $20 billion, yes billion!

GE establishes a Renewable Energy financing group, expecting $1.6 billion of investments by the end of 2006, and $3 billion by 2008.

Market research finds that U.S. investments in clean energy doubled last year.

Al Gore wins an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth.

The people of Los Angeles link Southern California’s March heat wave to global climate change. “It’s happening,” is a fellow train rider’s succinct remark. I marvel at the pace of greening: In Toronto, a Councilor rides his bike to work. Far from a “freak,” he is featured in the press for braving snow, freezing rain, ice, and cold, and demonstrating his daily commitment to responsible action.

There’s the prefix craze: eco-snobs, eco-zone, clean energy funds, green weddings, green trading, a green radio station, eco-sexuals, you get it! I just read an article about a fella’ in an “eco-tizzy.” Below the rhetoric, thoughtful souls are contemplating the reality that our lifestyle may well change. Britain is preparing its citizens. “Everyone will have to deliver," notes an analyst for a Dutch company this week in an Associated Press story.

EcoMotion is pleased to be part of the movement. We’re dedicated to a successful transition. We salute those who are similarly dedicated, and we encourage those that have not yet seen the light to catch on. We’re at a tipping point; we’re launching into an exciting – and notably different – era. As my friend Evan Mills likes to say, “Ride the Wave!”


THE SHENZHEN SOLAR MANDATE

The Province of Shenzhen has set an energy-saving example by mandating the use of solar power in new housing construction. The law, the first of its kind in China, requires new residential buildings with fewer than 12 stories to install solar- powered water-heating systems.


WARW 94.7: The Globe!

WSAR in Washington DC, a CBS affiliate station, is going green, changing its format and its source of power. Formerly, “classic rock” becomes “the globe,” and greening ranges from wind power purchases, to hybrid vehicles, and a new studio featuring green materials such as recycled flooring.

A CBS spokesperson, interviewed by the Washington Post, noted that this “demonstrates how environmentalism has moved to the political center. Thirty years ago, it was considered fringe. Even five years ago, it would have been highly unlikely for a mainstream commercial radio station to align itself with concerns over global warming -- too crunchy for most listeners. Now, WARW thinks such branding might increase its ratings, as environmentalism -- like recycling -- carries a positive and widely popular connotation.”


Member Question: Just What the Heck Should I do with Retired-Yet-Operable Incandescent Lamps?

Cleaning my garage this past weekend, I came across a bag of incandescents that I’d removed from my home. I found myself at a loss: Just what the heck should I do with the incandescents? They work, so I again resisted throwing them away.

Should I give them away? Recycle them? Donate them to a school for an art project?

WE WANT YOUR SUGGESTIONS!

Be in touch by writing Vnicols@EcoMotion.us and specifying “Incandescent Disposal” in the subject line. The best entry will get a reward.

“I keep meaning to write and tell you how much both Jeff and I enjoy receiving this newsletter and hearing about all the news and good ideas...”
Julie Morse Realtor Lake Forest, Illinois

Compact Fluorescent Lamp Disposal
- Clare Chang, Student Intern, University of California at Irvine


With the banning of incandescent bulbs well underway in California, and elsewhere, millions of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) will be taking their place in residential homes, company and business buildings as the main energy light source. Yet, with all the benefits that CFLs will provide us in the future, an inevitable thought occurred to me, “How in the world will they all be recycled?”

CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury, roughly the size of a tip of a ball-point pen. (Compare to the amount in a traditional home thermostat, which is 100 times as much!) Unfortunately, mercury is a nerve toxin and improper disposal of fluorescent light bulbs can result in the contamination of the air, waterways, lakes, and the ocean.

Different states have different disposal rules, but starting 2006, homeowners and small businesses in California may no longer throw fluorescent light bulbs in the trash. These bulbs are now considered universal waste and must be disposed of at a household hazardous waste site.

Based on a 2004 report from LampRecycle.org, 70.8% of the mercury-lamps used by business and 98% of the lamps used in homes are not being recycled. These are terrible statistics especially considering the fact that more CFLs will be used in upcoming years.

Thankfully, there are productive actions you can take to assist in the proper recycling of CFLs:

• Check out www.earth911.com and enter your zip code to find disposal options, or call 1-877-EARTH911, the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Recycling Hotline.

• Check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling and disposal guidelines.

• Look up www.lamprecycle.org for further information.

• Check out www.almr.org for more information on the non-profit Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers (ALMR).

• IKEA, the home products retailer, is accepting used CFLs, as are many other retailers who are looking into take-back programs. Check their website www.IKEA.com for a location near you.

A $20 Billion Green Initiative

The Bank of America threw its hat into the ring this week: Making Richard Branson’s historic $3 billion commitment seem small, it made a ten-year commitment to fund $20 billion of “environmentally sustainable business activity.” According to CEO Kenneth D. Lewis, "Today, we have a tremendous opportunity to support our customer's efforts to build an environmentally sustainable economy.”

For its customers, BOA will provide a range of services. It will finance LEED-certified buildings, energy efficiency improvements, and green mortgage programs. It plans an eco-credit card with proceeds going to offset carbon emissions. BOA announced the launch a carbon emissions trading unit. And through its investments, it will encourage green manufacture, while donating $50 million over the decade to non-profits and charitable works.

BOA, now headquartered in North Carolina, is the nation’s largest retail financial institution. Internally it is “walking the talk,” committing $1.4 billion to assure that all new facilities are LEED certified and launching a $100 million energy conservation program for existing facilities.

Renewable Portfolio Standards

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change reports that as of March 2007 there are 23 states that have set standards for the percentage of renewable energy delivered by electric utilities. Most states have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Minnesota and New York lead the pack with 25% and 24% RPS requirements by 2025 and 2013 respectively. Two states – Illinois and Vermont – have non-binding goals. Recently the 27-member nation European Union took charge with new energy policies derived from a Brussels summit including a pledge to require 20% renewable by 2020.

Pew reports a number of key RPS design details. First is the definition of renewables. Some states like California exclude distributed solar projects from the standard. Some states allow utilities to purchase renewable energy credits reach compliance. And the level of renewables delivered varies by state, as do the interim goals. Texas, for example, calls for its utilities to deliver 2,000 MW of renewables by 2009 and 5,800 MW by 2015.

In California, the State’s major investor-owned utilities are working hard to achieve the accelerated 20% goal by 2010. (Originally, the target date was 2017.) After 2010, California will require the state's utilities to continue to increase its renewable portfolio by at least 1% per year. The State legislature is considering increasing the renewable standard to 33.3% by 2020. This past week, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed a bill into law that doubles his state’s renewable energy requirement to 20% by 2020. And the State is on track: Public Service Company of New Mexico expects to meet an interim target several years ahead of schedule. Renewables currently make up 8% of its portfolio.

Bracing to Become World’s First Green Economy

According to an article in London’s Daily Mail, “drastic government plans” are being formulated that British ministers warn would mean everyone in the country will have to live, work, and travel differently. The Climate Change Bill presented in draft this week by Britain’s highest officials targets 60% reductions in CO2 by 2050. Ministers compared the scale of change necessary to the industrial revolution of the 18th century.

British homes may be required to be carbon neutral in ten years. Homeowners may be subject to mandatory home energy audits, they will have access to “hassle-free” renovations that allow them to buy now and pay later, and those who refuse to make their properties energy efficient will face financial penalties. Environment Secretary David Miliband said it would be "painful" to continue to have an energy inefficient home.

Transport will also undergo radical overhaul as Britain moves towards becoming a "low- carbon economy." The Government plans to work with the EU to set new average emissions target of 130g of CO2 per kilometer - well below most of today's models - with further reductions to follow. People will be encouraged to make more sustainable travel choices, including greater use of public transport, walking, and cycling.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and his expected Labor party successor unveiled the draft Climate Change Bill at Downing Street this week. Officials expect that the legislation will pass in April, making Britain the first country in the world with legally binding targets.

Clean Energy Investments Double

This year’s Clean Energy Trends Report, an annual “snapshot” of clean energy trends by the Portland-based Clean Edge, finds that venture capital investment in U.S. companies developing alternative energy technologies more than doubled last year to an all-time high of $2.4 billion. According to the report, high oil prices caused investors to seize on the promise of ethanol and other bio-fuels. Potential government carbon caps have also created an impetus for the investment growth.

Venture capital investments in bio-fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel surged from $20.5 million in 2005 to $813 million last year. Clean Edge said the worldwide clean energy market in four technologies – bio-fuels, wind, solar PV, and fuels cells and distributed hydrogen -- grew from $40 billion in 2005 to $55 billion last year. It also projected that the market would grow to $226 billion by 2016. That rate of growth, the report said, compares to growth rates in the nascent computer, wireless and Internet industries.