Middle school Lego Pirates create blog on car problems

Monday, November 30, 2009

From the blog Transporation Improvement:

We are a group of kids that live in Madison, Wisconsin and are worried about the earth. We are in a big group called FLL (First Lego League) or BadgerBOTS. This is a competition where you build a robot out of legos and program it to do missions on a board. We have also completed a research project where we learned more about how people use transportation around the world. This website is to inform our community the world. We talked on the our local radio station, WORT. To hear us on the radio, click here.

If you are interested about BadgerBOTS, visit the badgerbots website.

Also email us with questions at legopirates09@gmail.com

Calculate, then reduce, your carbon footprint

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From CO2gether:

Madison Gas and Electric, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and UW-Madison's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment are pleased to provide this CO2gether Web site for people who live or are interested in the environment of south-central Wisconsin. It's local. The information is about and calculated for those of us who live in this part of Wisconsin.

We are concerned about climate change and believe that individual actions when combined with many others can make a significant difference. Your actions can have a global impact.

So we have worked together to provide web tools to help you:
•learn about climate change,
•calculate your carbon footprint
•learn how to reduce that carbon footprint,
•track and journal your efforts,
•discuss these topics and your efforts with others,
•measure the impact you can have working with others in this area.

Madison's Ross Street House reaches platinum heights

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

From a post by Preston Koerner on Jetson Green:

This is the Ross Street House in Madison, Wisconsin. It's located just a mile from the University of Wisconsin campus and the first LEED Platinum home in the entire state! I first noticed the home in an article on Cadalyst, where author Kenneth Wong discussed the use of ArchiCad software to model the home and neighboring properties for context. Owner Carol Richard, partner in the Atlanta firm of Richard Wittschiebe Hand, also used modeling to optimize the amount of natural light brought into the home.

The front of the house faces south and was designed to capture as much winter sun as possible, while still providing shade in the summer. Fixed sun louvers allow the sun to enter the home and shade the same windows in the summer.

While the Ross Street House is about 2,700 square feet, about 1,700 of that is above grade. Richard used a dark color exterior to make the home appear smaller, and used lighter colors on the inside to make it feel more open.

According to Cadalyst, the Ross Street House is very energy efficient. A typical home of this size would spend about $135 to $405 per month on electricity and gas. Here, the Platinum home costs an average of $44.21 per month for electricity and gas.

It's also powered in part by rooftop photovoltaics. Richard designed the home to use very little water. On the outside, there's a 550-gallon rainwater collection tank, and on the inside, the home has low-flow faucets, showerheads, and dual-flush toilets. The plantings are drought-resistent and a portion of the hardscape is permeable. Learn more about the house on the owner's blog.

Photo credit: Ross Street House

Clean air action day alert has been extended through Wednesday, Nov. 25th

From Jeanne Hoffman of the City of Madison:

PLEASE NOTE: Clean Air Action Day Alert has been Extended through Wednesday, Nov. 25th.

What You Can Do to Reduce Fine Particle Pollution

· Carpool, ride Metro Transit bus, walk or bike to work or recreational activities.
· Combine errands and reduce trips.
· Don’t let engines idle -- It gets 0 MPG!
· Conserve energy at home and work by turning off unnecessary lighting, computers and other electrical devices when not in use.
· Open burning and use of burn barrels should be reduced. Avoid use of outdoor wood burning boilers and fireplaces.
· If you use a wood burning stove, make sure it is an efficient model; burn dry wood.

Jeanne Hoffman
Facilities and Sustainability Manager
Engineering Main Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Room 115
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4751
Fax: (608) 264-9275

Greyhound's station away from downtown can be difficult to get to

Monday, November 23, 2009

From an article by George Hesselberg in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Now that the Badger Bus Depot at South Bedford Street and West Washington Avenue has been levelled, the trek to catch a Greyhound bus may be the most trying part of the journey.

At Greyhound's newest and only Madison stop, 2023 S. Stoughton Road, station agent Brian Mastin said last week the bus company and its 20,000 annual passengers will return to Downtown "eventually."

The new station, where the bus company formerly managed its package pickup service, is a small storefront in a strip mall with a tiny sign out front. Inside, there is a spacious and clean, if Spartan, waiting area, recently outfitted with a couple of comfy used sofas.

Getting there, however, can require an investment in time or money or imposition on a friend for a ride.

A trip from UW Hospital, for example, via Metro Transit to the Greyhound station would cost only $2 but would take an hour, include at least one transfer and leave a passenger a half-mile walk. Estimates of the cost of a taxi ride from the hospital to the station range from $16.50 to $30.

Mastin said there are clear "mixed feelings" from passengers about the station placement.

"It's close to the freeway, and people like that," he said.

It's far from Downtown, and people don't like that.

"And for people who use public transportation and travel on the weekends, it is difficult to get here," he said.

Sun Prairie company selected to build Nicaraguan wind project

Friday, November 20, 2009

A news release issued by Wave Wind, LLC:

Sun Prairie, Wis. – Wave Wind, LLC, a leading wind energy service provider, has been selected by Suzlon Energy Limited, one of the world's leading wind turbine suppliers, to erect 11 2.1 MW Suzlon wind turbines for Amayo II, the second phase of a 63 MW wind energy project in Nicaragua. The $55 million project, which is being developed by Consorcio Eólico Amayo S.A. (Amayo S.A.), an international wind project development consortium, is the second project Wave Wind has supported in Central America.

Amayo II is a 23 MW extension of Amayo I, which began operations in February 2009. The project site sits between two volcanoes in Rivas, Nicaragua; like many sites in Central America, it is characterized by both strong, constant winds and relatively inaccessible terrain. Upon completion, Amayo I and II will meet approximately 10 percent of Nicaragua's energy needs, directly reducing the country's annual oil expenditures by approximately 16 percent.

Wave Wind is scheduled to begin construction of the wind turbines by mid-December 2009. The goal is to have Amayo II fully operational by February 2010.

Amayo II is the second project Wave Wind has supported in Central America; the first was a maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) project in Costa Rica. Wave Wind's expansion into Central America is driven by a combination of the region's huge wind energy potential and the demand for its specialized material handling, construction, and MRO services.

"Amayo II is a prime example of a renewable energy project where everybody wins: the people and government of Nicaragua, Amayo S.A. and its investors, Suzlon Energy, and critical service providers like Wave Wind," said Dionne Lummus, Business Development Coordinator for Wave Wind. "We look forward to future opportunities to help our partners, customers, and stakeholders benefit from similar projects in Central America and elsewhere."

Transition Wisconsin seeks board members

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From an announcement from Transition Wisconsin:

Transition Wisconsin is looking for individuals who would like to serve on the board or be a director for the Incorporation of "Transition Wisconsin" as a non-profit in the State of Wisconsin.

Transition Wisconsin is currently a part of the Transition Movement looking to formalize it's involvement. It is currently involved, through its web presence, in providing people information on Peak Oil and Climate Change as well as opportunities for people to help make a positive transition to a world in which petroleum will become terminally in decline. Similarly, providing as much factual information concerning Climate Change is another priority. It is hoped that the infrastructure created would allow Wisconsin neighborhood, Town, Village or City communities as Transition initiatives with the benefits of tax exempt financial benefits working as an umbrella organization.

Anyone interested or have questions should email Rees Roberts.

Individuals have until December 31, 2009 to respond. It is hoped a diverse cross section of Wisconsin be represented.

This message will be repeated and shared widely.

Nominations sought for business sustainability awards

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

From an announcement from In Business:

In Business magazine, in partnership with Sustain Dane, invites your participation in the first annual Business Sustainability Awards. The winners in each award category will be unveiled at an awards dinner in April 2010 (date and location TBD) and featured in the April issue of In Business magazine.

Eco-Product or Service of the Year
This award recognizes a new product or service introduced to the market that addresses one or more of the following areas: helps to solve an environmental problem, demonstrates a superior environmentally-conscious design, or helps an individual better manage his environmental footprint.
Sustainable Workforce Development of the Year
This award recognizes a company's commitment to creating jobs that positively impact the environment, or provide training to its current workforce on issues of sustainability.
Ecosystem Protection Initiative of the Year
This award will be given to a company that has implemented ways to initiate, assist or accelerate the protection of a local ecological system or feature.
Eco-Efficiency Initiative of the Year
This award will be given to a company that has made significant improvements in its facility or practices that improve material, water and/or energy efficiency.
Sustainable Small Business of the Year
This award recognizes a small company demonstrating a comprehensive sustainability effort that improves environment, social, and economic performance. (Open to companies with up to 100 employees.)
Sustainable Large Business of the Year
This award recognizes a large company demonstrating a comprehensive sustainability effort that improves environment, social, and economic performance. (Open to companies with 100 employees or more.)
Sustainable Community of the Year
This award will be given to a Dane County community that demonstrates a comprehensive, community-wide sustainability effort that improves overall environment, social and economic performance.
Sustained Individual Leadership Award
This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a longstanding and outstanding commitment to sustainable business practices in Dane County. (Open to individual applicants; not companies.)

*Companies may enter more than one category when applicable.

Sun Prairie host Hyundai Heavy Industries on wind and manufacturing tour of Wisconsin

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From a news release issued by Wave Wind:

Sun Prairie, Wis. – Wave Wind, LLC, a leading wind energy service provider, recently hosted Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), a global leader in industrial manufacturing, on a business development tour of Wisconsin. The tour, which was arranged by Wave Wind following its recent agreement to purchase six 1.65 MW wind turbines from HHI, featured a visit with Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, meetings with other leading Wisconsin businesses, and a survey of potential wind development sites in the state.

Wave Wind's partnership with HHI is evidence that Wisconsin's commitment to becoming a leading center for renewable energy manufacturing, services, and job creation is beginning to yield tangible benefits. Wave Wind viewed HHI's visit as an opportunity to support this commitment.

To that end, HHI's tour of Wisconsin included a meeting hosted by Governor Doyle during which the Governor promoted Wisconsin's physical, geographic, and human resources and reiterated his commitment to creating new, high-paying renewable energy jobs. It also included a tour of Wave Wind's operations and wind turbine storage facilities as well as a tour of potential wind development sites currently being evaluated by Wave Wind.

I am not riding a bicycle

Monday, November 16, 2009

I am not riding a bicycle
I am untangling my nation from wars for oil

I am not riding a bicycle
I am joining forces with those who are small, and slow, and without armor

I am not riding a bicycle
I am searching for harmony with Earth's limits

I am not riding a bicycle
I am being the village I want us to become

I am not riding a bicycle
I am creating fellowship for others to join me
I am lonely

inspired by Lily Yeh, tele-speaker at the superb Bringing Bioneers to Wisconsin conference this past weekend.

Hans Noeldner

Renewable Energy Quarterly, Fall 2009, now online

Friday, November 13, 2009

RENEW Wisconsin's newsletter features these articles:

+ Doyle Signs Wind Siting Reform Bill into Law
+ Solar Outlook Set to Dim in 2010
+ PSC Approves Coal to Wood Conversion
+ Producer Profile: Rick Adamski
+ Educating Schools on Solar Air Heating
+ RENEW Slams Anti-Wind Article
+ Calendar

Madison Metro offers green rides

Thursday, November 12, 2009

From Green View on the Web site of Madison Gas & Electric.

Energy agency rejects whistleblower allegations of oil cover up

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From a story by Hilary Whiteman on CNN:

London, England (CNN) -- The International Energy Agency has rejected reported allegations from a whistleblower that world oil reserves have been exaggerated to avoid panic buying in the oil market.

A senior source within the IEA is reported to have told The Guardian newspaper that many within the agency believe the body's prediction for oil supplies "is much higher than can be justified."

In its annual outlook released on Tuesday, the IEA repeated its prediction that oil supplies would rise to 105 million barrels by 2030 under current government policy.

"We're the ones that are out there warning that the oil and gas is running out in the most authoritative manner. But we don't see it happening as quickly as some of the peak oil theorists," Richard Jones, deputy executive director of the IEA, told CNN.

"Generally, we're viewed as more pessimistic than we should be by the (oil) industry," he added.

The whistleblower, who reportedly refused to be identified for fear of reprisals, told the newspaper that: "Many inside the organization believe that maintaining oil supplies at even 90 million to 95 million barrels a day would be impossible, but there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further."

Solar thermal expo and conference,
December 3-4

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From the Midwest Renewable Energy Association:

SOLAR THERMAL '09 is a national conference and expo for the solar thermal professional. The Midwest Renewable Energy Association invites you to the only professional level conference devoted to solar heating and cooling.

Installers, manufacturers, site assessors, dealers, distributors, state agency representatives, and policy makers will not want to miss this one-of-a-kind conference.

•Solar hot water, solar hot air, and solar space heating sessions
•Manufacturer and dealer updates
•Best practices on residential and commercial applications
•New control and balance of system options
•Structural considerations
•State policy and incentive updates

Register here.

Builder chosen for Dane County’s 1st manure digester

Monday, November 09, 2009

From an article by Matthew DeFour in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Dane County's first community manure digester, the first cooperative project of its kind in Wisconsin, will be built and operated by a Milwaukee-based company that plans to finance most of the project itself.

By letting Clear Horizons, in partnership with SCC Americas, a global developer of greenhouse gas emission reduction projects, operate the Waunakee community digester, the county is avoiding the financial risks and rewards.

"That was important to the farmers (who wanted) a separate company operating the digester," Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said of the county's decision. "We've chosen this model because Clear Horizons brings significant private dollars."

Clear Horizons plans to privately finance everything except a $3.3 million state earmark. The state included $6.6 million in its latest budget for the Waunakee digester and another being planned near Middleton. The county planned to borrow $1.4 million for the project, but now won't have to spend anything to build the first digester.

Clear Horizons general manager Dan Nemke said construction is expected to cost about $11 million. After designs are finalized and a site is selected on one of three participating farms, the company expects to break ground in the spring and begin processing manure by the fall.

A manure digester is essentially a mini power plant that uses bacteria to convert cow manure into mostly methane gas, a fiber material and a liquid fertilizer. The methane is burned to generate electricity and the fiber can be used as cow bedding.

The Waunakee digester is expected to generate $2 million worth of electricity every year, and Clear Horizons plans to sell the fiber material.

Dane County's 400 dairy farms and 50,000 dairy cows - a $700 million industry - produce more than 2 billion pounds of manure each year. Much of that is spread on fields in the winter and the resulting runoff into creeks and rivers has killed thousands of fish in the past.

County Board passes RTA proposal after passionate debate

Friday, November 06, 2009

From an article by Matthew DeFour in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Metropolitan Madison residents, welcome to the Dane County Regional Transit Authority.

The Dane County Board voted 20-16 with one absence early Friday morning to create a new governmental body with the power to raise a sales tax to fund bus and rail transportation options. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said she plans to sign the resolution, which will make the new body official.

In creating an RTA, the Dane County Board handed over the responsibility for answering questions about commuter rail versus enhanced bus service or when to hold a referendum on a sales tax.

Those questions now go to the nine appointed members of the RTA board. Madison and Dane County have two appointees each and the governor, Fitchburg, Middleton, Sun Prairie and the Dane County Cities and Villages Association each have one.

Though the RTA board won't likely meet until early 2010, officials already have begun to consider the task ahead. Falk, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and the mayors of Fitchburg and Middleton signed a letter committing their appointees to hold an RTA-wide referendum before imposing up to a half-cent sales tax.

Video showing -- Mountain top removal coal mining, Nov. 11 & 12

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wisconsin buys coal mined by blasting the tops off of Appalachian mountains & dumping the debris in the valleys!

Coal Country
November 11, 2009
Room 328 NW, State Capitol

Coal Country
November 12, 2009
7:00 p.m.
Goodman Community Center
149 Waubesa, Madison

The State of Wisconsin buys coal to be burned in state facilities from Massey Coal and Alpha Coal, two companies using the latest form of strip mining called mountaintop removal, or MTR. Coal companies blast the tops off mountains, and run the debris into valleys and streams. Then they mine the exposed seams of coal and transport it to processing plants. Coal is mined more cheaply than ever, and America needs coal. But the air and water are filled with chemicals, and an ancient mountain range is disappearing forever.

COAL COUNTRY is a dramatic look at modern coal mining. We get to know working miners along with activists who are battling coal companies in Appalachia. We hear from miners and coal company officials, who are concerned about jobs and the economy and believe they are acting responsibly in bringing power to the American people. Both sides in this conflict claim that history is on their side. Families have lived in the region for generations, and most have ancestors who worked in the mines. Everyone shares a deep love for the land, but MTR (Mountain Top Removal mining which has leveled over 500 Appalachian mountains) is tearing them apart.

More information -- Ed Blume, 608.819.0748, eblume@renewwisconsin.org

Sponsored by Sierra Club; RENEW Wisconsin; Madison Peak Oil Group; Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice's "carbon free, nuclear free" campaign

Learning to live in balance with Earth's limits

Hans Noeldner, an active member of the Madison Peak Oil Group shared the statement he intends to make at the Dane County Board meeting tonight:

The debate about creating a Regional Transit Authority isn't really about the RTA. It's about adapting to the future versus clinging to the past. It's about learning to live in balance with Earth's limits versus denying that there are any. It's about working together versus fighting each other to get ahead.

And for you, Supervisors, this vote isn't really about an RTA either – it's about the sobriety of your expectations and the courage of your convictions. It's about voting for those who cannot speak for themselves because they are too young – or not even born yet. After all, they don't have a radio station to broadcast their demands to you.

If you are fearful when the times call us to be bold, ask yourself what our great-grandchildren might say to us if they could come back in time.

"Great-grandpa, where did all the farmland in Dane County go?"

We would have to say, "We covered it with highways and parking lots so we could drive everywhere and park."

"Great-great-grandma, why is there so little oil left in the ground? We still need some to plant and harvest our food!"

We would reply, "We burned it up driving our cars. We figured `they' would discover something else to keep civilization running by the time you came along."

"Great-great-great-grandpa, why didn't you remember to share with us? You had so much to begin with! Did you really need all you took?"

And our excuse would be, "Well, at first we couldn't imagine running out of things like oil or water or more land to build on. After all, there was always a lot more somewhere else! So we got spoiled; we said to ourselves, `I deserve it!' Then, when it began to sink in that there really ARE limits to how much people can take, the thought of not always having more of everything scared us so much that we refused to think or talk or do anything about it."

County Board to vote on controversial regional transit authority

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

From an article by Kristin Czubkowksi in The Capital Times:

In some ways, the Dane County Board's vote on creating a regional transit authority is one of the longest and shortest journeys for a piece of legislation in the county's recent history.

After enabling legislation was passed in the budget by the state Legislature in June, board Chairman Scott McDonell introduced a resolution at the board's Oct. 15 meeting that would create the new governmental body. An RTA, which allows for regional governance on transit issues, could pave the way for a commuter rail line and an expanded bus system, among other options. The measure was approved by two committees on Monday, Oct. 26, setting up a vote by the full County Board on Nov. 5, just three weeks after the resolution's introduction.

While that may seem speedy relative to other bills, those involved in the Madison area's quest for improved transit through a regional governing body say that this vote has been a long time in coming. As former County Board chairman Dick Wagner recently pointed out, seven county executives going back to 1974 have supported the creation of an RTA, and local studies on regional transportation go back equally far.

The County Board has been generally supportive of regional transportation, including a 22-13 vote in 2007 that signaled support for an RTA to the state, and there's little to suggest the votes will be different Thursday. Still, some conservative members of the County Board say the county should hold an advisory referendum so that the public has an opportunity to weigh in before the board creates the body or spends any more money on transportation planning and studies. Under state law, the RTA could levy up to a half-percent sales tax without a referendum; RTA proponents have pledged to hold a referendum before a tax is levied, but after the body is created.

Madison March for Green Solutions, November 13

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

An announcement from WISPIRG:

November 13th at 3pm
By Library Mall

Stop the climate catastrophe
Carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise year after year due to human activity. This leads to a completely unsustainable path.
We WANT to, we CAN, and we HAVE to stop global warming!

The solutions exist
- Sustainable energy production
- Public transit - Bicycling
- Energy neutral buildings
- Energy efficiency improvements
- The politicians need to take action – talking is not enough!

This march is necessary in order to push climate change to the forefront of our political goals. It is a chance to unite in a common message, while also educating and raising awareness of citizens around the state.

Business as usual is the most dangerous path that can be taken, yet politicians are continuing to hesitate about passing significant legislation.

We need to show the politicians that we are really concerned about the future if significant action is not taken. That's why you should show up on November 13th at Library Mall. COME MAKE HISTORY!

Renewable energy tour, Nov. 13

Monday, November 02, 2009

A news release issued by Wisconsin Farmers Union:

Chippewa Falls, Wis. (October 30, 2009) - The Wisconsin Farmers Union and other Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign partners will host a bus tour on Nov. 13 to highlight the benefits of four homegrown renewable energy policies promoted by the campaign and the opportunities for clean energy jobs in Wisconsin.

The four signature partners of the activities are Wisconsin Farmers Union, the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Clean Wisconsin and RENEW Wisconsin. The Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection and the Office of Energy Independence are co-sponsors of the event.

The bus tour will begin at 9 a.m. at the Montfort Wind Farm, 254 Highway 18, Montfort, Wis. The wind farm is an example of one way to reduce carbon emissions and emphasizes the campaign's advocacy for a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard. A LCFS calls for a reduction in carbon emissions from transportation fuels, based on the carbon content of all fuels, and the transformation of the market.

The Fuels for Schools and Communities Program and the Biomass Crop Reserve Program will be addressed at the second stop on the tour - at the Meister Cheese Plant, 1160 Industrial Drive, Muscoda, Wis. The cheese plant uses a wood-chip heating system. Research at the University of Wisconsin will also be highlighted demonstrate the prospects for Wisconsin farmers to grow biomass crops.

Providing funding for schools and communities to install renewable energy projects that use biomass crops will create demand for renewable energy. The Biomass Crop Reserve Program provides incentives for farmers to meet that demand by growing biomass crops.

The third stop will be at the Cardinal Glass factory in Mazomanie, Wis. Cardinal Glass is one of the leading suppliers of glass for solar panels. The stop is an example of how homegrown renewable energy can provide jobs for Wisconsin.

Renewable energy buyback rates, the fourth component of the Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign, will set utility payments for small renewable energy producers who want to feed energy into the electric grid. The tour will stop at a residential home in Ridgeway, Wis. using solar panels to feed electricity into the grid.

The bus will return to the Montfort Wind Farm at 5 p.m.

To register for the Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign Bus Tour, contact Mike Stranz, WFU Government Relations Specialist, by Nov. 9 at 608-256-6661 or email mstranz@wisconsinfarmersunion.com. A $10 registration fee, payable by cash or check the day of the event, covers the cost of the tour, lunch and snacks.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Homegrown Renewable Energy Bus Tour.