Green Bits: February 2009

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Green Bits: February 2009

Little bits of green, all over town.
by Katherine Pioli

Here’s a deal on an energy audit

An icy doorknob, a draft at the back of your neck when you sit near the window, a fridge that hums like crazy-ever wonder about the resources your dwelling sucks up day after day?

A $25 energy audit from Questar can make any homeowner a lot smarter-and wiser-and save cash, too. In 30-45 minutes, a technician will check out your windows, doors, faucets and energy-run appliances. You’ll receive a detailed report on how to make your castle more energy efficient. He may even gift you with a water-heater blanket, pipe insulation, a low-flow showerhead and/or faucet aerators if the audit indicates a need for them and you’re willing to install them.

Follow through on the rebate recommendations and the $25 audit charge will be credited back to your gas account. In the end, the audit is free, and one more home is on its way to greater energy efficiency.

To schedule an appointment for an audit call (800) 695-7375 or email In-HomeAudit@ThermWise.com. You’ll be asked to provide a name, address and daytime telephone number. There is also an option for a do-it-yourself mail-in audit with the form found online.

When’s the last time you used a phonebook?

For the production of 500 million phonebooks, Americans unwittingly allow the harvest of 19 million trees and consumption of 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. One grassroots group called YellowPagesGoesGreen.org is calling for this to stop. Why, they ask, are we all forced to consume something that many people do not need, want or use?

Their solution to the problem of phonebook waste begins with mimicking the National No-Call Directory. Allow people, they say, to remove themselves from the mailing list. The group’s website includes a petition-like sign-up page. Those interested in not receiving directories are asked to provide name, number and address and indicate the unwanted book. By submitting this information to YellowPagesGoesGreen, you authorize them to contact the Telephone Directory in your name and order them to discontinue distribution to the address provided. A little asterisk note at the bottom of the form assures, “we promise to protect your privacy.”

How this can be accomplished remains unclear, considering the logistics of phonebook distribution. Still, making the sentiment known is a start.

Meet “Junk Jam” songwriting competition winner Allan Jorgensen

Allan Jorgensen stands outside of Highland high school, leaning against the flag pole just where he said he would be. A tall, blond and slightly awkward senior, Allan first appears like most high school students, but I can tell immediately that he is the poet and musician that I have agreed to meet. Of course, the large black guitar case he holds between two arms is a clue, too.

Before his modest brush with local fame, Allan Jorgensen’s talent as a musician was know only by family and friends. He began, as many middleclass children in Utah do, with piano lessons. These eventually gave way to independent tinkering with the trombone, guitar and other instruments. He formed a band with friends called Tomorrow’s Yesterday. And then last summer Allan saw an announcement for Junk Jam.

“Junk Jam was Salt Lake City’s first attempt at participating in the national competition of Cans for Cash,” explains Bridget Stuchly, outreach coordinator for the division of sustainability. While the national campaign suggested organizing a can drive, Stuchly envisioned a more entertaining and inspiring event to one that would heighten awareness about recycling especially among younger community members. How about a song-writing contest?

The mayor’s office flew the idea, inviting entries from all musical genres. The only criteria: Keep the song within two minutes and relate it to recycling. When Allan’s song “Down to Size” came across her desk, Bridget was pleasantly surprised. “His lyrics were so insightful and thoughtful. He is clearly a talented composer. We enjoyed the song so much that we played it around the office for days.”

From the swivel chair in his father’s empty science classroom, holding the guitar in his lap, Allan admits, “I thought I might have a chance but I didn’t think it was the best song that I had ever written.”

He does hope, however, that this little step might lead to greater opportunity for his music, which he plans to study in college. “It is one of my greatest joys, seeing the feeling that people get when I play. When my friends tell me that my music hits home for them it truly makes me happy.”

He finishes playing the winning song. “Open your eyes and realize and reduce this down to size. And reuse what you never thought could be used for you and me.”

Planning for the next Cans for Cash summer event has yet to begin, and Bridget Stuchly cannot yet comment on the form of the competition. Notwithstanding the relative success of last years Junk Jam, she is unsure that the Jam will be repeated. “Our preparation for the Jam was a little last minute and I think that if we gave it more time it could earn even more community involvement.” Still, Stuchly says that the city might have another idea up its sleeve.

Green Events: e2 for concerts and conventions

Salt Lake City’s E2 programs educate and support businesses, individuals and students who take steps to address “climate change and ensure a health sustainable future for Salt Lake City” through reducing energy consumption, conserving water and contributing to community environmental education.

In the development phase is a new E2 Events category covering events of all sizes from local concerts to Salt Palace-style conventions.

The idea for green events is not new, but the people in Salt Lake City’s division of sustainability are developing an inventive new system using levels and points. Like the LEED system which rates the environmental sustainability of buildings, the E2 events program will have gold, silver and bronze levels to indicate the level of sustainability attained by the event. The points system will rate individual efforts towards sustainability. If, for example, an event drastically reduces the waste generated by venders and guests by providing recycling containers and educating vendors on their options and alternatives, the event might earn a high points rating. Ideally, the points will translate into certain advantages, reduced cost for waste removal or expedition of the event application process.

The Division of Sustainability hopes to work closely with events planners throughout the entire planning process, giving information and suggestions on attaining E2 status.

www.slcgreen.com

Congratulations New e2 Business members

CATALYST believes local businesses that embrace sustainable practices deserve recognition. SLC’s e2 Business program offers challenges and guidelines. January’s new e2 Business members included:

Earth Goods General Store; A locally owned store that provides earth-friendly goods and supplies for the home and office.

Organic Tree & Spray/ Natural Environment Design: Organic Tree Service offers tree trimming to organic pest control and uses alternative fueled vehicles, reduces paper use and recycles their yard waste. CATALYST has used this service and recommends them.

Momentum Recycling LLC: Momentum recycling helps public, private and non-profit organizations strive for “zero waste” by providing waste stream consultation, recycling collection services, and recycling education.

Dream Clean: This residential and commercial green cleaning company uses environmentally friendly cleaning products and educates clientele on the benefits of using non-harmful chemicals.

Baker & Associates PLLC: An intellectual property law firm specializing in patents, copyrights, etc, this firm serves their commitment by digitally transacting documents, reducing paper use and striving for energy efficiency.

Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau: The private, non-profit community organization promotes Salt Lake as a travel destination.

Service First Realty Group; A partnership of professional real estate brokers that strive to “establish a standard” and lead the industry in satisfaction and customer service.

For a complete list of e2 Businesses as well as information on how to join, visit slcgreen.com.

Encouraging sustainable business

Who knew that the average restaurant annually uses 300,000 gallons of water and typically spends 30% of their yearly budget on energy bills? Well, for Salt Lake County and the Salt Lake Valley Health Department (SLVHD), these facts are common knowlege. That’s why together they are launching the Green Business program. Under the Division of Environmental Health’s Bureau of Water Quality and Hazardous Waste, this program encourages businesses to improve their environmental practices in four areas: water conservation, pollution prevention, waste management, and energy efficiency and sustainability.

The businesses set goals and track their progress. For example, a business may reduce trash hauls by one per month by creating a company recycling program and training employees how to maintain it.

Green Businesses will have use of the Salt Lake County Green logo, receive a free window sticker to advertise their green status and receive recognition on the County’s website.

The application for the Green Business Program is found online at www.slvhealth.org. For additional information contact Jesse Millen-Johnson at jmjohnson@slco.org or 313-6714.

 
 
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