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Monday, September 8, 2014

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HomeKit: The Technologically Ecosystematic Home from Apple


Apple HomeKit

Apple recently filed a patent application for an all-encompassing home automation system that promises to turn your home into a subconscious extension of yourself. Imagine your coffeemaker brewing a fresh cup in the morning, the clothes washer spinning into life, and your television tuned to your favorite news channel simply by opening an app on your iOS or Android device, and even before you get out of bed! And yes, Apple plans to accommodate Android, other non-Apple devices, third-party app developers and several partnered corporations. (more…)

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Virtual Water Dilemma: Act 3 – Our Stuff


fresh water with bubbles

Virtual water may be defined as all the water that goes into the creation of a product. Conservation usually means shorter showers and watering less. However, only about 5 percent of the water an average American uses each day comes from their home and garden. 95 percent of daily water consumption is hidden in the virtual water used to make the food we eat, the energy we rely on, and the goods and services we use. (more…)

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Monday, September 1, 2014

The Virtual Water Dilemma: Act 2 – Energy


water droplet falling

When we flip on the TV and hear about water scarcity, the suggested ways to conserve are usually to water our yard less and use less water in our home.  It might interest you to know that even turning on that TV is using water in the form of virtual water. Virtual water is all the water that goes into the production of a product; and it often goes unnoticed by consumers.

Like food, energy consumption is another area where we are guilty of using virtual water. Because the production of both electricity and fuel use large amounts of water when consumed, we increase our virtual water footprint on an ongoing basis. As already discussed in Act One, more than 50 percent goes into our food production. But water is also used up in the production of the energy that we rely on to support our everyday lives. On average, an American relies on about 670 gallons of water a day just in energy consumption. (more…)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

American Performance Technologies: The SmartCarb


Small engine fuel delivery systems have experienced a constant evolution since the introduction of the internal combustion engine towards the end of the 19th century, with innovations such as the carburetor and the electronic fuel injection (EFI) system appearing to feed larger and more powerful engines. It’s now become common knowledge that the newest EFI systems provide the optimal blend of engine power, fuel efficiency and emissions reductions, but one good ol’ American company is working to change that.

The SmartCarb® from American Performance Technologies, based in Kansas City, Missouri, is poised to revolutionize the small engine fuel delivery system industries by turning back the clock on what is “best” for the consumer. The SmartCarb® is the culmination of 45 years of development on the classic, flat slide carburetor, featuring automatic altitude compensation, increased horsepower and significantly better fuel economy than other carburetors on the market. This device can potentially be installed on motorcycles, all terrain vehicles, portable generators and small aircraft, or perhaps conventional full-size vehicles in the future!

The most notable improvement in the APT SmartCarb® is it’s revolutionary high atomization rate of fuel (in other words, the “stream” of fuel is converted into a “mist”) which allows for a significantly higher amount of fuel to be burned in the combustion process. (more…)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Planning a Trip to Paris? Checkout This New 2-Wheeled Trend


rental bike and Eiffel tower

Paris, the city of lights, is a world renowned tourist destination. Like many European cities it offers a wide range of transportation options. One that is particularly interesting and eco-friendly is the Velib bike rental. Instead of sitting in the traditional tour bus with a bunch of clamoring, chatting strangers, you can tour the city of light by bicycle.

The Velib program, which was launched in 2007, has had much success and been a shining example for other cities. The first 30 minutes of every checkout is free, and some of the pass options include:

  • A Velib Classic pass is 29 euros or about 39 US. And is good 24/7 for an entire year.
  • A Velib Passion pass is 39 euros or about 52 US. And is good 24/7 for an entire year and gets you the first 45 minutes free instead.
  • A 7-Day ticket is only 8 euros, about 11 US. And is good for an entire week.
  • A 1-Day ticket is 1.70 euros, about 3 US. And is good for 24 hrs.
  • Note: Depending on exchange rates these prices may change.

Velib bike share station

Bikes are rented from a collection of 1,800 docking stations which are located every 300 meters from each other, about 0 .1 mile or 984 feet.  Each station has up to 70 bike posts, where the bikes can be checked back in and re-rented. If space isn’t available a 15 minute extension is given to reach the next station. Stations are embedded all over the city and are broken up by districts. Choosing to use the bike instead of a taxi allows you to immerse yourself in city and you won’t have to worry about getting caught up in traffic. (more…)

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love Your Reef Tank Without Loving Coral Reefs to Death


percula
For novice aquarists fresh water tanks are usually a starting point because they are easier and cheaper to maintain. But some may say that coral reef tanks are the Bentleys of aquariums. Despite their deep love for these amazing species many aquarists buy corals, fish and inverts that have been taken from wild reefs. A lot of reef species are obtained from the exploitation and over harvesting of already threatened reef systems. Some estimates put 60% of corals reefs in critical danger. The practice of taking corals, fish and invertebrates from these fragile systems for aquarium practices has been going on for decades.

purple stylo

There are however ways to enjoy having salt water species in your tank without promoting their exploitation, simply buy from aquaculture providers instead. As American aquarists have become more eco-conscious companies have taken notice and new options are all over the market. Fort Pierce, Florida based, ORA ( Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums), offers aquacultured hatchery-raised saltwater fish, invertebrates, and live aquarium foods and Sustainable Reefs.com offers access to aquacultured corals, fish, plants and inverts from various aquaculture providers. (more…)

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Monday, August 18, 2014

5 Green Orgs That Deserve Our Support


Mother Earth's Eyeball

We thought we’d highlight just a few of the organizations and NGOs that are out there in the trenches everyday tirelessly working to conserve and protect our natural environment from all the forces working against it and us.

NRDC – The National Resources Defense Council works tirelessly to protect our land, water, sea and air – and the plants, people and animals that inhabit the earth. The NRDC is not afraid to get its hands dirty. The group’s 1.4 million members and online activists include more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals, making the NRDC one of the nation’s most powerful environmental action groups. NRDC has taken on countless polluters, energy producers and environmental law breakers – big and small and knows more about environmental laws than the governments and its regulators.

Audubon Society – I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “like a canary in a coal mine”. Well, birds, their health, abundance and survival rate are a clear indicator of the health of our ecosystem. Habitat loss, pollution and man’s affinity for killing things has put many bird populations in danger. The Audubon Society mission: To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. The Audubon Society has chapters, programs and initiatives  and sanctuaries across the nation. Find a chapter near you, get involved, or make a donation.

EWG – If you’d like to make more informed buying decisions, know which sunscreen, skincare and food products contain harmful chemicals and additives and protect both yourself, and the environment, then the Environmental Working Group is the org for you. EWG does your homework for you and provides comprehensive, well researched guides for consumers to utilize when evaluating everyday purchases. The organization tests hundreds of products – from light bulbs to bottled water – and outlines the best, environmentally appropriate and healthiest choices you can make when purchasing a wide range everyday consumer products. EWG also tackles tough civic and environmental issues, including: energy production, pollution and fracking.

Rainforest Alliance – The mission: The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. The Rainforest Alliance works with large corporations, individual farmers, local officials and organizations to support and preserve the health and conservation of some of the most endangered and important global ecosystems.  The Alliance is a key participant in the global war on climate change. Consumers can look for the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal on products. The seal stands for environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Sierra ClubThe Sierra Club is all about incorporating grassroots action and advocacy to preserve, protect and promote America’s imperiled natural wild treasures, forests, water and resources. The org has over 2.4 million members and supporters and 64 local chapters nationwide. In addition to fighting to protect millions of acres of wild America, the Sierra Club is actively involved in efforts to reduce the number of coal fired and nuclear power plants and to promote the enforcement and creation of the environmental laws that protect our land, water and air. Join a local chapter near you and get involved.

Please check out these great green organizations and join their efforts to protect, conserve, preserve and support our natural world and the plants, animals and people that inhabit it. Visit them on social media, join a local or national chapter and donate to them if possible.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Future of Green Vehicles


electric car charging Some look back at car history with rose-colored glasses, but looking forward offers a greener perspective. Without doubt, the future of cars comes framed with a more environmental conscience. Here’s a glimpse into what the future of fuel-efficient, energy-saving cars has in store.

One out of Two Cars Will Be a Hybrid by 2040
According to Exxon Mobile, by 2040 one out of every two cars will likely fall under the hybrid or alternative fuel category. That’s a startling contrast compared to today’s estimated one percent hybrid ownership.

Since the automobile world agreed to upping gas mileage requirements in 2011, predictions lean toward increased hybrid sales. That’s not to say oil won’t stay the top supplier, but certainly many buyers will consider the savings as those mileage standards increase. President Obama’s administration set off to double average fuel efficiency by 2025, translating to around 54 miles per gallon (MPG). As natural gas, wind, nuclear power, and battery technologies improve and become more popular, you can certainly expect more green cars on the streets.

Expect Good Looks and Good Gas Mileage

honda hybrid

Hybrid and green vehicles often earn a bad reputation for neglecting style. However, many of the top brands in cars, from the commercial, affordable brands to luxury and sports names, already create models that bridge the gap between pedestrian and sophisticated. Not surprisingly, many families benefit from these widened hybrid choices, since initial models neglected storage and family transporting capabilities. Now, among the top twelve KBB family cars listed, many offer a hybrid version, such as the roomy and classic 2014 Honda Accord, priced just below $30,000.

Still, people with all lifestyles and car preferences look at a future of green options. Concept electrical cars for possible future release include BMW’s Concept ActiveE, which runs on battery-power and essentially mimics the BMW 1 Series Coupe in styling, and Audi’s sleek, fast, battery-powered coupe, the e-tron for luxury lovers. On the other hand, more practical models include the Hyundai’s plug-in Blue-Will Concept vehicle, which largely inspired the Sonata hybrid and offers aerodynamics, original stylistic choices, and solar panels. Another, the Volkswagen New Compact Coupe Concept model offers European appeal and sporty performance for a hybrid engine. As hybrids gain favor on the market, prices will decline, but even now models offer a reasonable MSRP with savings in the long-run.

The Rise of Supercapacitors

supercapacitor Toyota graphic
While new, spiffy, green brand Tesla operates with the lithium-ion battery and major brands opt for the NiMH battery, they don’t completely solve the environmental impact issue. Yet, lithium-ion definitely offers a major improvement over NiMH, with zero heavy metals or metal toxins and huge potential in capacity and costs.

But supercapacitors, or hypercapacitors, truly have developers’ attention. These electricity storers do not have memory like batteries, meaning unlimited charging without any degradation. Plus, they charge and discharge far quicker than batteries, offering benefits for drivers at charging stations. The current issue lies in power. But certainly universities like MIT and the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ team believe their Electrical Energy Storage Units (EESU) approach the solution. Once power storage reaches that of chemical batteries, and the cost comes down to a realistic consumer range, these supercapacitors will likely takeover the green car movement.

Introducing Energy Storing Panels
One special advancement occurring in the green world is energy storing vehicle body panels. These panels store energy and charge faster than the aforementioned alternative car batteries. In addition, they take much of the heavy battery weight out of the equation, possibly reducing a car’s weight by fifteen percent. Volvo, the leader of this body panel research, is looking into polymer fiber and carbon resin panels that regenerate energy through braking or overnight plugging-in. Meanwhile, Toyota also started panel research, but geared toward capturing solar energy and storing it in a lightweight panel.

With powerful and attractive electric and hybrid models available already, the future of green vehicles is fast-approaching, with only more innovative and exciting ideas to come. Expect your family, friends, and co-workers to ditch the gas-guzzlers for an eco-friendly ride.

Electric car charging symbol via shutterstock.com

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