Going Green to Bring in the Green.

A Cambridge, Ontario metal fabrication company, VeriForm, has become an ecological leader in a field notorious for neglecting the effects of their business and product on the environment. A capital investment of $78000 has allowed VeriForm to implement many small changes (i.e. a centralized programmable thermostat, high-efficiency lighting systems, etc.) which saves the company $120000 annually!

The eco-changes shrank VeriForm’s greenhouse gas emissions to 126 tonnes in 2009, down from 234 tonnes in 2006. That figure is even more impressive given that in 2009 the company’s sales were 28 per cent higher and the plant’s physical size was 145 per cent larger than in 2006.

The inspiration for going green was altruistic. “We were just trying to reduce our carbon footprint,” Mr. Rak says. But the financial rewards quickly became evident “once we started doing spreadsheets and payback analysis,” the 46-year-old says.

This is great proof that, contrary to popular belief, going green doesn’t mean losing money – VeriForm has shown that making smart upgrades that benefit the planet can also benefit profits.

Read the rest of the article at The Globe and Mail.

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Solar Energy to Power Trains

Trains are a great transit solution and are efficient at moving people and goods. Trains are really a green way to travel.

In Belgium, they are taking this green form of travelling and making it even better by powering the trains using solar power.

More than 16,000 solar panels will be installed on the roof of the high-speed rail tunnel stretching just over 2 miles long. The tunnel is primarily used by the high-speed train connecting Amsterdam and Paris via Brussels.

The roof’s total surface area is 50,000 m2, roughly equivalent to 8 football fields. The installation should generate an estimated 3.3 MWh of electricity per year.

The installation commenced this summer on the tunnel’s northern side. Project completion is scheduled for December 2010. The total investment budget is $20.1 million.

Infrabel, the Belgian railway infrastructure manager, will use the green energy in the Antwerp North-South junction (including Antwerp Central Station) and to power both conventional and high-speed trains running on the Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris line. With this project Infrabel has re-emphasized its belief in renewable energy as a viable alternative, and complement, to conventional energy sources.

Read the full press release.

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Rebuilding Haiti: Solar Power Essential

Repairs and rebuilding has been going on in Haiti after the powerful earthquake hit the country about two weeks ago. They aid teams have run into a problem around energy – there’s not enough diesel. Things that rely on solar power are still working – bizarrely the traffic lights are on such thing. The good news that comes from all of this is the revived interest in renewable power for disaster recovery.

We can all benefit from this research into renewable energy sources for disaster recovery.

Solar setups are quick to install, mobile, and relatively inexpensive compared to the price of rebuilding a damaged electricity grid. They can also be incredibly robust. Alan Doyle, a science editor at MSNBC, recently wrote that a single solar water purification system, recovered from the rubble by the Red Cross, is now purifying 30,000 gallons (over 110,000 liters) of water a day.

Sol Inc, a US-based solar street lighting company, has sent a first shipment of lights for roadways, food distribution, and triage sites. This may sound mundane, until you imagine trying to perform street-side surgery or find family members in the dark. The LED lights can also withstand hurricane force winds – no small thing in a country that has also recently been hit by tropical cyclones. Sol Inc has promised to match donations for people wanting to contribute to the program.

Communications are another crucial need being met by solar. China’s ZTE corporation has donated 1,500 solar cellphones and 300 digital trunking base stations. The same technology was used in China when an earthquake hit the Sichuan Province in May of 2008. A similar project is being set up by a group from Holland.

Renewable energy in Haiti is not a new. Walt Ratterman, CEO of non-profit SunEnergy Power International was working on the electrification of Haitian hospitals at the time of the quake. He is currently still missing.

Keep reading at WorldChanging.

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Six Good Things That Pay for Themselves

Being a little greener and a little richer is really easy with these six items that pay for themselves within a year by helping the environment.

5. Programmable Thermostat
Having a programmable thermostat is the easiest way to lower your heating and cooling costs. And having the house temperature right where you want it every hour of the day isn’t bad either. You can find programmable thermostats as cheap as $20 – at that price, it would probably pay for itself many times over in a year.

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Conserving Energy Starts at Home

It goes without saying that saving energy is a good thing, and it’s something that everyone can do. It’s really easy to save energy and sometimes it’s easy to forget how easy it is, luckily the internet is filled with tips on how to save energy at home.

2. Make sure that the rooms in the house are neither too cold nor too warm.
Heating and cooling systems takes up most of the energy which is being consumed by a typical household. By making sure that each individual room in the house has just the right temperature, you will be saving a lot on CO2 emissions.
3. Make sure that the air filters are cleaned and the heaters are well-insulated.
Again, heating and cooling takes up most of the energy consumption in a typical home. When you see to it that your air filters are cleaned or replaced regularly, the energy will not be lost. Dirty air filters need to work doubly hard and take twice as much energy to work properly.
The same thing applies when you make sure that the heaters are well-insulated – it’s a good way to observe that no heat is escaping and you’re not using any more energy than you have to.

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