Tag Archives: sustainable

“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.


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?

Reno’s fall from Inc.’s list – that’s so 2005

Just a few years ago, Reno grabbed some coveted attention by ranking as one of the nation’s best bets for building a business. In fact, the rave by Inc. Magazine (and others) was all about Reno’s low cost of living, awesome outdoor lifestyle, and Nevada’s low-tax environment. The cherry on top, back in 2005, was a booming gaming economy and population that continued to drive feet and dollars through business doorways – brick-and-mortar and virtual. The party, it seemed, would never end.

But then came the bust. Goodbye gamblers. Goodbye start-ups. Reno’s ranking as a fave place to do biz is now somewhere between a Virginia City mineshaft and grandma’s cellar. But not so fast. Nevada is one of the world’s premier alternative energy hotspots, with innovation and incentives that bring the world’s top inventors and investors up, down and across the state. While gaming and tourism may be getting kicked in the butt, Nevada is still the place to be for the emerging alternative energy business. NV Energy will likely build the 235-mile electric grid from south to north, allowing feeds from future wind and solar generation. Geothermal is apparently heating up (yes, an easy pun – sorry!) and federal and state tax incentives will likely remain magnets for businesses and homeowners to get on the alternative energy bandwagon. Nevada is a great place to start/bring an alternative energy business.