Mary Lou LoPreste’s goal is simple: to ensure the water, the mountains and the earth she has always enjoyed will be around for her children and grandchildren.
LoPreste is probably most well known for her work on Sun Harbor Marina, a property she previously owned and managed in the San Diego Harbor. The marina complex was the first marina to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
When she first mentioned the idea of renovating the marina into a sustainable property, no one knew what she was talking about, LoPreste said.
The marina project, which was completed in early 2005 and was awarded LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council the following year, was truly ahead of its time. LoPreste said they recycled about 90 percent of the buildings that were taken down. The marina – which relies heavily on natural lighting – saves more than 35 percent on water and electricity.
Other green features included interior lights that automatically shut off after 9 p.m. and a smart energy system that will turn off the air conditioning if a window is open.
The stone used in the development was mined within 1,200 miles of San Diego. LoPreste opted to use recycled lumber and renewable building materials. At the time, using those types of materials cost LoPreste about 5 percent more than it would cost today because now they are more readily available.
“I believe we have to have renewable lumber,” she said. “Cutting trees is completely stupid and irresponsible and so disruptive.”
LoPreste no longer owns Sun Harbor Marina, but she still is spreading the green message around the country, working as a green building consultant, particularly encouraging marina owners to color their facilities green.
LoPreste is truly passionate about green building and urges businesses to look at how important it is to consider the aspects of building green. And yet her message extends to all businesses and individuals as she makes a case for the simple changes that have a big impact: recycling, switching to energy-efficient light bulbs or turning off the water when brushing your teeth.
“You have to open your eyes a little bit wider and see what the impact of billions of people can be,” she said. “Its’ awareness, awareness, awareness. We are in a global warming stage and people really need to wake up to that.”
As for her three grown children and four grandchildren, the activism runs in the family. Even her grandchildren conserve water or pick up trash when they are out taking a walk. “They are very aware of what’s happening,” she said. “You have to be the pebble that’s thrown in the water.”
LoPreste will share her message with anyone who will listen to the issues facing the global environment.
“I’d really like to give a sharp wakeup call to people and encourage people to stop thinking this is a transient thing, this devastation and global warming,” she said. “Just do one or two things that will make a difference. Start spreading the word. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but we all need to wake up and think about what we’ve experienced in our lives and ensure future generations have the same resources we’ve enjoyed.”
For more about Mary Lou LoPreste, visit her Web site.
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Major commercial real estate company CB Richard Ellis has enrolled 225 office buildings in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Existing Building (LEED EB) program. According to a news release, at the end of 2007, CBRE committed to enroll a minimum 100 buildings in the then-emerging LEED EB process. Now, the company is the largest third-party manager of buildings in this program for environmental sustainability.
The properties CBRE enrolled in the LEED EB program total more than 57 million square feet and are owned by more than 55 different investors and corporations in 21 states. That’s a pretty big green footprint.
“When we made our commitment in 2007 there were fewer than 60 buildings in the entire country with LEED EB designation,” said David Pogue, CBRE’s national director of sustainability. “The key to our success has been building a strong foundation, by both partnering effectively with our clients and deploying a strong internal certification team with great technical expertise and a genuine passion for enhancing sustainable practices in the buildings we manage.”
CBRE currently manages 17 buildings that have attained LEED EB certification; that total is expected to grow to 50 buildings by the end of 2009. A Green Thumbs Up to CB Richard Ellis.
Earlier this month, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority broke ground on its Green Build, formerly known as the Terminal Development Program, which will be the most extensive improvements ever carried out at San Diego International, according to Aviation News.
The project includes the construction of 10 new jet gates, a dual-level roadway at Terminal 2 to separate arriving and departing passengers and new dining and shopping options. Airport officials plan to incorporate sustainable design principles into the project with a larger goal of achieving LEED silver certification.
Even as high profile buildings like the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower take strides toward being more efficient, the need continues for buildings to take a look at how they can be more environmentally friendly. And in this current economic climate, it just makes sense to gain a competitive edge.
Here’s a great piece from Mother Nature Network about the need for commercial buildings to go green.
As blogger Melissa Hincha-Ownby writes,
As more companies begin to commit to sustainability, the demand for green office space will only rise. Depending on the size of the project, green building retrofits can take years to complete so wise building owners are getting started on these renovations sooner vs. later.
Do you have examples of commercial buildings that are going green? Let us know! We’re always looking for companies to profile on their journey to sustainability.
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Walmart, the world's largest retailer, announced this week that they are planning to put green/sustainability labeling on all of their products within the next five years.
Walmart today announced plans to develop a worldwide sustainable product index during a meeting with 1,500 of its suppliers, associates and sustainability leaders at its home office. The index will establish a single source of data for evaluating the sustainability of products.
The company will ask their suppliers (all their suppliers) to answer fifteen questions:
1. Have you measured your corporate greenhouse gas emissions?
2. Have you opted to report your greenhouse gas emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)?
3. What are your total greenhouse gas emissions reported in your most recently completed report?
4. Have you set publicly available greenhouse gas reduction targets? If yes, what are those targets?
5. If measured, please report total amount of solid waste generated from the facilities that produce your product(s) for Wal-Mart Inc for the most recent year measured.
6. Have you set publicly available solid waste reduction targets? If yes, what are those targets?
7. If measured, please report total water use from the facilities that produce your product(s) for Wal-Mart Inc for the most recent year measured.
8. Have you set publically available water use reduction targets? If yes, what are those targets?
9. Have you established publicly available sustainability purchasing guidelines for your direct suppliers that address issues such as environmental compliance, employment practices, and product/ingredient safety?
10. Have you obtained 3rd party certifications for any of the products that you sell to Walmart? If so, from the list of certifications below, please select those for which any of your products are, or utilize materials that are, currently certified.
11. Do you know the location of 100% of the facilities that produce your product(s)?
12. Before beginning a business relationship with a manufacturing facility, do you evaluate their quality of production and capacity for production?
13. Do you have a process for managing social compliance at the manufacturing level?
14. Do you work with your supply base to resolve issues found during social compliance evaluations and also document specific corrections and improvements?
15. Do you invest in community development activities in the markets you source from and/or operate within?
The company will apply a rating to the products based on an algorithm yet to be announced. It is unclear how they will determine the accuracy of the replies -- what oversight, if any, will be instituted and applied. Also yet to be announced will be how that rating will be displayed. It may be as simple as a green tag or as complicated as a link on the product to a customer's smart phone which will then give the customer detailed information about the product's sustainability.
Environmental groups laud this attempt to go green at the corporate level and point out that, as the world's largest retailer, Walmart may be best positioned to pull this off. Corporate associations and academics have raised concern of increased costs. Walmart's spokesman disagrees and says that with less packaging there will be lest cost (concentrated detergent is cited as an example).
“Nobody else could pull this off,” said Michelle Harvey at Environmental Defense Fund, one of the groups involved in the creation of the index.
The question, of course, is whether even Wal-Mart can make it happen.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of work for a lot of people,” said Jon Johnson, a professor in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, whom the company asked to help create the index, along with Jay Golden at Arizona State University. “But obviously we’re optimistic about the prospects.”
The idea of an index, a single sustainability standard across the corporate world, that companies and suppliers could follow raises the ante for other large corporate retailers (i.e. Costco, Target, Kmart, etc) to participate or loose out on environmentally conscious consumers. It also puts pressure on manufacturers and suppliers of all stripes to change their business model to the index or lose out as environmentally conscious consumers chose other products over theirs.
Walmart is projecting a five year span to (figure out how to) implement this. It will be interesting to see if the sheer size and influence of the 'big box' retailer can make this a tipping point toward sustainability.
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This post is devoted to some great green ideas I’ve come across recently, some of which can be useful to your office or home and others that provide some inspiration for just how easy it can be to go green if you just put your mind to it and get creative.
Granted the use of e-mail, various online file sharing services and electronic faxes have eliminated a great deal of the mail we receive, but junk mail is another story. It seems there are many days when the mailbox runneth over with catalogs and credit card offers.
Check out these stats from 41pounds.org, a nonprofit organization working to eliminate junk mail:
• The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year; 44% goes to the landfill unopened.
• On average, we receive 16 pieces of junk mail a week, compared to only 1.5 personal letters.
• The majority of household waste consists of junk mail.
• Junk mail inks have high concentrations of heavy metals, making the paper difficult to recycle.
• California’s state and local governments spend $500,000 a year collecting and disposing of AOL’s direct mail disks alone.
• Transporting junk mail costs $550 million a year.
Yikes! That’s a lot of junk mail. So, what can you do? Sites like 41pounds.org and YellowPagesGoesGreen.org will contact distributors on your behalf and stop the unwanted mail. 41pounds.org does charge a fee ($41 for a five-year period and does donate a portion of each new subscriber’s fee to an environmental charity of their choice).
And while you’re at it, check out Junk Mail Gems, which makes useful items from, you guessed it, junk mail. Everyone has some scratch paper next to the office phone, so why not store it in a box made from junk mail? Green Thumbs Up, Junk Mail Gems!
The city of Charleston, S.C., is assessing ways to reduce energy consumption in the city, not only making the city greener, but also creating green jobs. The city’s Boston-based consultant Serrafix recommends the city launch an organization that would give businesses and homeowners everything they need to know about energy-efficiency projects in one place.
According to this article in The Post & Courier: “From this single organization a building owner could arrange a home energy audit, find out what changes would produce the greatest savings, learn about rebates and government incentives, select an approved contractor, and have the work done with no up-front cost. The building owner would realize utility bill savings immediately, and pay off improvement costs over an extended period of time through a surcharge on their water bill.”
Charleston could become a national model for energy efficiency if it implements some of the recommended programs.
You know those entertainment books filled with retail and restaurants coupons? Well, San Diego now has something similar but with a green twist. The “Go Green Book” ($25) has coupons from eco-friendly retailers as well as tips and ideas for how to green your home, dine on organic food, get fit and exploring San Diego’s many parks and attractions. What a great way to save some green! (Employers, think about this as a good employee incentive gift.)
OK, let’s hear the cool green ideas you’ve found recently. Post a comment below.
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Solvair Cleaning System, a green company based in Naperville, Ill. A new kind of clothing care technology, Solvair removes a wider range of dirt and stains than traditional dry cleaning and in an environmentally friendly method. Dry cleaners in about 20 cities in the United States and Canada are using the Solviar machines.
Here's how it works: Clothes are placed in the machine along with a biodegradable cleaning liquid to remove stains and dirt. Then the machine is pressurized and liquid carbon dioxide is added. That cold liquid carbon dioxide removes the cleaning solution from the clothes. The pressure is reduced, the carbon dioxide evaporates and the clothes are instantly dry. The cleaning liquid and carbon dioxide are purified and reused.
The result is less energy use and less waste. Because the Solvair cleaning process is as energy efficient as possible, the Solvair office is too.
“Our employees continuously strive to be as green as our actual business model,” says Rachel Rich, consumer communications and public relations manager. “We recycle everything – from paper to drink cans to paper cups. Whenever possible, our sales and marketing materials, as well as company business cards, are printed on recycled paper. Office lights automatically turn off when associates are not present.
“Whenever we are making business decisions, we strive to make the most eco-responsible decision since being green is what our business is all about,” Rich says.
One area in which Solvair is not only making an environmental impact, but also a financial one is through the use of hybrid vehicles for its sales team, which spends a great deal of time on the road.
“With the nature of their job responsibilities calling them from one cleaner to the next all across the U.S., sometimes seeing five to 10 cleaners a day in one city before moving to the next, the hybrids have been a great investment,” Rich notes.
Also, the dry cleaning companies Solvair works with are striving to be greener, which, in addition to using the Solvair machine, can include offering reusable garment bags and recycling hangers as well as using hybrid vehicles for their delivery services. Those cleaners also report decreased utility costs and less waste after making the switch to Solvair machines.
Even if your company’s core business service or product isn’t a green one, it’s not tough for offices to go green.
Rich offers these suggestions:
• Recycle everyday office items, such as paper, drink cans and ink cartridges. “Make small efforts and team up to do them. Alternate who takes the recycling each week if it has to be delivered, and if you live in a state like California that offers a recycling incentive, put the money into an office fund for going out to lunch.”
• Cut back on energy consumption. Rich says she opens her office window rather than using the air conditioning, plus she enjoys the fresh air.
“If you start small to make new, greener habits for yourself and your office, the changes in behavior will soon become natural, making the harder tasks seem within reach,” she says.
Keep up with Solvair’s latest green efforts by following the company on Twitter.
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