Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Human Powered Generator

You can't really tell how much energy is being consumed by flipping a switch to turn on a light bulb. So how do you really know you are using less energy when you swap out a regular, incandescent light bulb for an energy efficient CFL bulb? I'm glad you asked! Last week I had the Human Powered Generator out in the schools so students could try their hand at generating the energy it takes to illuminate both types of light bulbs. The students discovered it was a lot harder and took way more energy to light up a regular bulb compared to the CFL bulb. They worked really hard to get the incandescent bulb going and found it was pretty easy to generate the power needed for the "swirly, twisty" CFL bulb.
Using a lot of energy to barely illuminate an incandescent lightbulb.

Barely using any energy to fully illuminate a CFL bulb.
It's hard work to get this bulb going and it hardly lights up!

It turns so easily to power a CFL bulb!

Friday, April 26, 2013

One More Video

I wear many hats and do a lot of different things as an EEC but the best part, and my favorite part, is when I work with students and you get to see those aha or light bulb (pun intended) moments when they "get it." Thank you to Cara Rieckenberg at SEA for putting together this video from my visit there yesterday. Please click here to check it out. Some of the expressions on the students' faces are priceless.

Another Earth Day Video

And now for something completely different... Please click here for a fun and pretty silly Earth Day video as Earth Week 2013 comes to a close. Have an efficient and groovy weekend, everybody, enjoy the warm temps and sunshine!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Today's Energy Insight

In honor of Earth Week let's talk about recycling an item that does not immediately come to mind like paper, glass, aluminum cans, or plastic water bottles. Let's take a look at recycling CDs.
In 1983, when CDs were introduced in the United States, 800,000 discs were sold. By 1990, this number had grown to close to 1 billion! Wow, that is a lot of compact discs! More than 5.5 million boxes of software go to landfills and incinerators each year and people throw away millions of music CDs! Every month approximately 100,000 pounds of CDs become obsolete meaning outdated, useless, or unwanted.
According to Back Thru the Future, a technology disposal company, 
  • A cd/dvd is considered a class 7 recyclable plastic
  • To manufacture a pound of plastic (30 CDs per pound), it requires 300 cubic feet of natural gas, 2 cups of crude oil and 24 gallons of water
  • It is estimated that AOL alone has distributed more than 2 billion CDs. That is the natural gas equivalent of heating 200,000 homes for 1 year
  • It is estimated that it will take over 1 million years for a CD to completely decompose in a landfill
With all that in mind, I have good news to share. There is a company that recycles CDs and cases and I will be setting up drop-off bins for both CDs and cases at the Education Services Center.

If you have any ideas for other items you would like to see recycled in the district or if you have any questions, please contact me at sheri_brunner@rdale.org.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Earth Day!

Even though it may not look or feel like mid-April in Minnesota, we are still going to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd. To kick off Earth Week, please take 90 seconds to view this very cool video made by Greenpeace a few years ago.
Earth Day: Give Earth a Hand

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today's Energy Insight

The EPA recently released a list of the Top 25 Cities with the Most ENERGY STAR Certified Buildings in 2012. Where do you think the Twins Cities fell among other large metropolitan areas around the country like New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, et al?

Below is a list of the top 15 cities in the country. For a complete list of all 25 that includes a variety of statistics for each city and previous years' rankings, click here and you will also see how the cities stack up against each other.
                                1   Los Angeles
                                2   Washington, DC
                                3   Chicago
                                4   New York
                                5   Atlanta
                                6   San Francisco
                                7   Houston
                                8   Dallas-Fort Worth
                                9   Phoenix
                                10 Boston
                                11 Philadelphia
                                12 Denver
                                13 Cincinnati
                                14 Charlotte
                                14 Minneapolis-St. Paul 
                                15 San Diego

image courtesy Pete Hoffman/Shutterstock

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Green Burgers

No, I am not talking about veggie burgers... While browsing through a weekly coupon mailer, I came across an advertisment for a local burger joint and was pleasantly surprised to read the following:
Lions Tap recycles and composts over 95% of our waste stream! Our recycling program removes over 45 tons of waste annually from landfills and incinerators. We're proud of our recycling efforts which benefit the environment and our community.

This led me to check out their website and there I found a tab labeled "organics recycling" and the following information was posted there:

Welcome to Lions Tap, where we love the color GREEN!
Lions Tap is taking part in a program that benefits both the environment and the community. Through our recycling efforts, we will be removing over 45 Tons of waste annually from local landfills and incinerators!

Over 95% of all our waste stream is recycled thanks to our newest venture - Organics Recycling!

All of those french fries you can’t finish, along with the plates and napkins you use today, will be turned into Organic Compost for use in landscaping, road building and gardening projects throughout the state.

Organics Recycling, another reason GREEN is our favorite color!

Thank you, Lions Tap!

Friday, April 5, 2013

What is Earth Day?

Image courtesy Kansas Wetlands Education Center
Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22nd. This observance was founded by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and was first organized in 1970 to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution. In 2011 it was the 40th anniversary of the very first Earth Day.

From the Nelson Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:  Nelson had just toured the oil spill devastation on the coast of Santa Barbara and was flying to San Francisco when he read an article about recent popular teach-ins held on college campuses. The format struck him as a promising way to communicate this growing public concern to elected officials in Washington D.C. and state government. He imagined that:
"If we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force the issue onto the national political agenda."
Separate teach-ins were already planned at San Jose State, Dickinson College (Pennsylvania), and the University of Michigan—all organized campus-wide events drawing attention to ecological crises. Nelson aimed to unite these efforts and then extend them beyond the college campus. He announced his intentions at a speech in Seattle on September 20, 1969 and several major media outlets immediately broadcast the idea to national audiences.
What are you going to do to celebrate Earth Day this year?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy Earth Month!

It's April! Despite the cool temps outside, it is April and that means Earth Day is coming on the 22nd so... that makes it Earth Month! There are several events coming up in the next few weeks in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Click here for a link to about.com where you will find all sorts of information about activities and events in the Twin Cities for Earth Day, and month!