Tag Archives: green

Being a green minority…

The concept that people who are green or eco-concious are actually a minority came up at the Lake Tahoe Eco Symposium on Friday.  It’s a concept that at the time I heard, kind of had a hmmm…, aha moment, but as I’ve thought about it and resonated on it, I’m wondering if it is true.

I am so used to being surrounded by environmental awareness and constantly running across books, posts and conversations about sustainability and the green revolution, but is this only me?  Am I really a green minority?

This is a real issue, as I discussed with a colleague at the symposium.  An event titled Eco Symposium is really only going to draw people already interested in the environment.  Most of the people in that room had probably heard about the topics discussed at the event; many were probably experts on the subject matter.  So, how do you get people that are ungreen to turn green?

The idea continued onto Saturday at Earth Day.  I saw many of my eco-concious revolutionaries at the event, but many people that were walking through the Village at Squaw had no idea it was Earth Day – they were simply going skiing as they do every Saturday.

Maybe some of them saw a incandescent light bulb or a blue bag, and thought what is that for?  But did they ask, or keep walking on by…

How can we make being green the norm instead of a minority?

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“Riding the Green Wave” – Live from Lake Tahoe Eco Symposium

Do you know where you food comes from?  WHY NOT?

Mark Estee, owner of several local Truckee, CA restaurants- Moody’s Bistro, Baxter’s Bistro and Burger Me – discussed ways to go green locally.  He said the number one way he has become eco-concious as a Truckee restauranteur is to go green by purchasing produce from local farmers.  He presented the question:

Do you know where you food comes from?  WHY NOT?

Estee promoted the Slow Food movement – he helped start the Lake Tahoe chapter.  He said it is important to keep business green and sustainable even if it doesn’t make fiscal sense in the beginning – don’t give up.

“Success does not mean it was easy,” said Carlo Luri of Bently Biofuels.  He reported on the history of the formation of Bently Biofuels in Minden, NV.  He gave information regarding biofuels and biofuel conversions.  Learn more at the Bently Biofuels web site.

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“Feed Your Mama”

Mark Ofarrall from  Hungry Mother Organics in Carson City, NV began his presentation by asking members of the audience a variety of questions…

What did you have for lunch?  Chicken Caesar Wrap.

Do you know where it came from? No.

Do you know how the wrap is made?  No.

What type of car do you have? A Subaru.

Do you know where it came from?  Indiana.

How does it run? Gas.

The point is we know where our cars and fuel come from, but often we do not know where the food we put into our bodies comes from or how it is made.   Ofarrall showed off his hanging lettuce basket, as well as a snow pea/lettuce ensemble. “The tagline for our company is Feed Your Mama,” said Ofarrall.  “We hope people will want to go home and grow their own food.”

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“We have two electric vehicle charging stations that have been in place for over a year,” said Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Sustainability Coordinator Cheri Chastain.  “They have never been used.”

A collective gasp from the audience.

Chastain expanded on the importance of getting to know your farmers – Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (SNBC) has a relationship with local barley farmers.  She also discussed sustainability.  What does sustainability mean to you?

SNBC leads by example by being sustainable in everything they do from energy efficiency (heat recovery, lighting, etc.) to generating their own electricity through a fuel cell installed on site, as well as using solar panels.  They reuse as much as possible, and then recycle everything else.  Currently, SNBC is working on creating a composting facility.


The Green Chamber of Commerce

Did you know there is a Green Chamber of Commerce?

Apparently, the US Chamber of Commerce is not very environmentally conscious.  Apple and Pacific Gas recently pulled out of the US Chamber due to this fact.

The Green Chamber advocates for green public policy.  They have green networking events, member-to-member benefits, political advocacy, membership directory and partnerships with green media, certification agencies and advocacy groups.

Green Business in the Sierras

Sierra Business Council

Sierra Business Council President Steve Frisch focused his presentation on the challenges facing sustainable business.  He persuaded moving past talk into action.  “We need to balance between regulatory approach and market drivers,” said Frisch.  “The piece driving change currently is non-profit and government non-regulatory.  We need this to flip. We need the courage to lead.”

What drives a better economy?

What is the right thing regarding green business and green development?

What is the new voice of business?

“Restoring resources from beginning to end.  We have to embed this in everything we do.” – Steve Frisch

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Many Shades of Green by Tracey Grose –  NEXT 10

California per capita energy usage has decreased while the rest of the nation has increased energy use.  Why is this?  According to Grose, California leads in innovation and forefront in green technology – it is diverse, growing faster than local economy.  Employment in green business has grown 36% compared to 13% growth in total economy.  A vast array of green economic growth exist – to learn more, download the presentation here.

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Lake Tahoe Prosperity Plan

Trish Kelley presented on the Lake Tahoe Prosperity Plan.  This is a lake-wide collaborative plan to promote economic growth and environmental protection in the Tahoe region.  The Tahoe basin is losing jobs compared to the rest of the region; the existing aged development is contributing to environmental degradation.

“There is a need for a transformation and revitalization of the economy,” said Kelley.  “If we make the right policy to allow business innovation, we can change the trajectory of the economy in the basin.”

“Unfortunately, the basin is not very sustainable,” said Kelley.  “Someone recently said the basin was the brownest green area that they had ever seen, so that is our challenge.”

Read an article about the prosperity plan published in the Sierra Sun.

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“We Can Do This – How Greening CA Businesses will make money for CA Businesses!”

Presented by Hank Ryan – Small Business California

“This room is not full.  This room should be overflowing with people who have these attitudes,” said Ryan.

Small biz must be proactive by being energy smart.  This requires 3 basic tools:

  • energy savings = easily measured
  • access to capital that allows business to invest in energy savings
  • regulations that encourage business to earn profits by saving energy

Ryan discussed “smart meters” – ping information about energy devices in order to save.  This is projected to cut use by 5-10%.  Are you paying the right energy rate as a business? Websites and devices being created to help us power down.   Can computers help in the revolution of energy savings?

Redeveloping Green in Crystal Bay, Nevada – Boulder Bay Development

Boulder Bay project manager Brian Helm discussed development in Lake Tahoe in the past.  There was a huge burst of development in the 1940s, and then people started to realize this was causing degradation to the Lake, and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was established.  The TRPA created thresholds to protect the clarity and ecosystem of Lake Tahoe.

Boulder Bay will be developed in Crystal Bay, NV on the north shore of Lake Tahoe at the current location of the Tahoe Biltmore Casino.  Helm feels redevelopment will be better than the existing site , as it addresses issues that were not dealt with in the past.  The design will be mixed-use and mixed-design, focusing on pedestrian orientation to engage visitors.  The proposed restoration will tear down old inefficient buildings and restore over 3 acres with impervious coverage.  The existing structures are not very green friendly and create huge carbon footprints for each guest.  The new design will have a 32% overall reduced carbon footprint.

Helm discussed the importance of collaboration with public-private projects:

  • Nevada Utility Undergrounding
  • Brockway Resedential Water Quality
  • Creating a Sustainable Economy – mixed-use buildings will bring more groups for Mon-Thurs stays where current occupancy is mostly weekend visitors from Fri-Sun

After a question regarding TRPA standards, Helm noted that most of the TRPA plan was written in the 1980s – does not address the level of SmartGrowth and environmental standards that many environmental planners focus on today.

There was a question regarding community feelings regarding development in Lake Tahoe from a member of the audience who does not live in the area.  Helm said in the beginning, feelings were about 50/50 regarding approval of development.  After listening to community concerns, Boulder Bay made changes to the plan to address these issues which increased the support to about 80%.

How do you feel about development in a location like Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe Eco Symposium – Green Development at Homewood Resort

Vice President David Gemme welcomed everyone to the first annual Lake Tahoe Eco Symposium presented by Sierra Green Building Association (SiGBA).  He said the mission of SiGBA is to educate and promote environmental building and business practices for a sustainable lifestyle in the Sierra Nevada communities by:

  • Advocating resource efficiency in all phases of the design, construction and operation of homes and businesses
  • Providing educational resources and support in the areas of site development, energy, building materials, air, water and waste
  • Coordinating networking opportunities and community events

Gemme noted the importance of community effort, especially ski resort development in Lake Tahoe.  The first panel is led by JMA Ventures, the company that owns Alpine Meadows and Homewood Mountain Resort.  Executive Vice President David Tirman discussed the principles and blueprint of the new Homewood Resort development master plan.  The principles are to elevate environmental thresholds; become stewards of sustainable growth and enhance the resort for community development.

Infill development

  • goal to decrease overall coverage
  • redevelop areas that are already developed
  • recycle existing infrastructure (building, asphalt, concrete – SmartGrowth)

Land Restoration

  • Re-establish slope – 97% reduction in sediment
  • Restored over 240,000 sf of restored dirt roads
  • Re-introduce native vegetation
  • Increase infiltration

Renewable Energy Sources

  • Wind – micro turbines
  • Solar – sun power
  • Earth – geo thermal
  • Water – micro hydro electric

Alternative Transportation

  • Give guests options! Dial-a-Ride, water taxi, shuttles, hybrid electric fleet (like Zip Cars!), bicycle fleet (gaudy colors, so they don’t get stolen!)

Socio-Economic

  • 200 full time jobs
  • Workforce housing
  • Cultural & Community Center

Environmental Restoration

A big problem in the past was runoff from the resort across Highway 89 into Lake Tahoe.  Restorations have been made to reduce the runoff issues.  Another issue was forest fuel management, an issue surrounding the Lake.  Today, nearly 500 acres of forest have been treated which will improve the threat of wildfire in the region.

Public Outreach

JMA Ventures began the plan with public outreach.  Major concerns were:

  • providing affordable/workforce housing – JMA will provide on-site housing & child care.
  • public access – There will be open access & community center.
  • density and scale of the development – JMA has reduced the amount of land that will be developed in the master plan.

The proposed North Base area will have underground parking to improve the aesthetics of the existing landscape.  The plan pays much attention to working with all existing space, making sure areas, such as rooftops, are utilized in the development.  There is a new proposed mid-mountain lodge – 14,000 square foot footprint.

Learn more at www.skihomewood.com/masterplan.

Climate Change? A Green Economy?

In my CHS 725 Environmental Health class, we have been discussing the atmosphere and air pollution, along with quite possibly the biggest debate question of my time – does global warming exist and have humans contributed to it?  It seems the majority of people, including scientist and the media are constantly going back and forth on this question, coming up with new evidence and then countering that evidence with yet newer and more complete evidence, only to be countered again and again.  The cycle continues.  I am not a scientist or an economist, and I have in no way ever claimed to even be very good at science.  As my undergrad Public Relations class like to say, “we are not math majors.”

Yesterday, a student in my CHS 725 class presented this article by Paul Krugman from the New York Times about climate change and creating a green economy.  This is my response to his article.  I encourage you to not only read Krugman’s article, but also the comments section.  Please feel free to add your own comments to this post.

One piece of advice that I heard somewhere a few years goes something like this… we hopefully will never be in a car accident, but we have insurance on our cars.  It is not all that likely that our house will burn down, but we still buy insurance for our houses.  Doesn’t it seem like we should put insurance on our planet?

This question really goes beyond political parties.  It doesn’t matter if your Republican or Democrat, the earth is still our planet.  There is scientific evidence that we have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.  To me, this seems obvious.  All the emissions from our automobiles and factories do not just disintegrate into thin air.  They rise into the atmosphere, causing smog, air pollution, ozone, nitric oxide, sulfuric oxide, particulate matter, along with CO2.

Whether or not you believe global warming is fact or fiction, whether or not your believe it is indeed caused by humans or it is just another cycle of nature, it makes sense to buy into the insurance.  The insurance can be seen in the form of jobs – installing alternative energy and promoting alternative energy equals jobs and economic boosts.  The insurance can be seen in the form of new industry that meets environmental standards or improves existing infrastructures to create less emissions.  The insurance can be seen in the form of creating sustainable agriculture through local owned and operated sustainable farms.  The insurance can be seen in the form of reducing, reusing, recycling, composting.

The what ifs can really be turned into let’s just do this, and everything is connected to the point that there would not only be a boost in the economy, but also in human health and environmental health, along with increasing the insurance policy on our planet – how can that be debated?