Green Updates from Apple, Cool!

This just in!

Apple has come under fire in the past from environmental groups including Greenpeace, who say one of the world’s most valuable companies can do more with renewable energy and that it had not been as forthright in its disclosure about the efforts it was making to make the company a greener business. Former CEO Steve Jobs penned an open letter in 2007, voicing his commitment to provide ongoing updates on the company’s progress.

And yesterday Apple released their latest update to include a proud annoucement that it is now using 100% renewable and clean energy in all of its data centers. Cool!

“We’re currently on track toward achieving an ambitious goal: to power every Apple facility entirely with energy from renewable sources — solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. We’ve already reached this milestone at all of our data centers that provide online services to our customers, including in Maiden, North Carolina. We’ve also reached 100 percent at our facilities in Austin, Cork, and Munich and at our Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino,” the company said in its annual environmental impact report, which is posted on its web site.  ”Among all Apple corporate facilities worldwide, 75 percent of the total energy used comes from renewable sources — a 114 percent increase since 2010.”

Read Connie Guglielmo’s Forbes article here to learn more.

Puget Sound’s Toxic Cocktail’s Implications for Us

I thought that this PBS News Hour piece about water in Puget Sound was something useful to consider. The part about the impact of run off (heavy metals, oil, etc) and the use of rain gardens and other natural filters (green storm water infrastructure) to improve water quality. This seems to have implications for our local groundwater systems.

Scientists Search for Solution to ‘Toxic Cocktail’ in Washington’s Puget Sound
Summary: In Washington state’s Puget Sound, scientists have made discovery of a “toxic cocktail,” made up of excess rainfall that flows into the nearest body of water, carrying pollutants along with it. Kate Campbell from KCTS-9 in Seattle reports on efforts to prevent that runoff from making it into the sound.

Watch Seattleites Make Rain Gardens to Curb Stormwater Pollution on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Fix a Leak Week

The following is a repost from an email alert I receive weekly from the EPA. It’s about calling attention to water leaks in our homes and suggesting ways to minimize water loss. A lot of the time we (I) get emails like this and think, That’s great information but I don’t know how and can’t afford to pay someone to fix these problems. So, I am also embedding links to YouTube videos that show you how to do some of the things suggested by yourself. So grab a wrench and let’s get started saving water and money!

EPA Marks March 18-24 as Fifth Annual Fix a Leak Week
One in every 10 homes has a leak that is wasting at least 90 gallons of water per day

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program encourages Americans to check and replace leaky plumbing fixtures and sprinkler systems, helping households save more than 10,000 gallons of water per year and as much as 10 percent on utility bills.

“Easy-to-fix household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide, which is equal to the amount of water used by more than 11 million homes,” said EPA Acting Administrator for the Office of Water Nancy Stoner. “We’re not just wasting water; families also lose money from leaks with higher utility bills. That’s why Fix a Leak Week is so important, and why we encourage everyone to take a few simple steps that add up to make a significant positive impact.”

In just 10 minutes, businesses and homeowners can: check winter water bills and fixtures for water waste; twist and tighten pipe and hose connections; and consider replacing broken or inefficient fixtures with WaterSense-labeled models.

If winter water usage for a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, it’s likely that the home has a leak problem. Here are some easy tips:

  • Check toilets for silent leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank at the back and, if after 10 minutes, color shows up in the bowl before flushing, it may be time to make an easy repair and replace the flapper.
  • Check additional plumbing and outdoor fixtures for leaks. They may just need a quick twist or pipe tape.
  • Check outdoor hoses for damage from winter frost and tighten connections at the water source.
  • For in-ground sprinkler systems, a professional certified through a WaterSense-labeled program can inspect sprinkler heads and pipes for signs of leakage and help homeowners maintain an efficient system and healthy lawn.

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services. Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save 287 billion gallons of water and $4.7 billion in water and energy bills.

Learn more about fixing leaks, find a certified irrigation professional, or search for WaterSense labeled plumbing and irrigation products: http://www.epa.gov/watersense

Also, you can save on water by making sure your appliances are working properly (dishwashers, washing machines, etc.). Make sure to have them serviced regularly. Another cheap way to save water and money is to install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. A family of four could save up to $250 in water-heating costs just by installing a low-flow showerhead. And installing faucet aerators in kitchens and bathrooms can save over 2,000 gallons of water a year!

For more tips on water saving or questions about creating a healthy, eco-friendly home for you and your family feel free to email sustainability@morainevalley.edu or stop by L242, the Center for Sustainability at Moraine Valley Community College.

Climate Change Is Making Canada Look More Like the United States

Wanted to post this link:

The Atlantic: Climate Change Is Making Canada Look More Like the United States

“Observant people who’ve driven through Canada their entire lives may have noticed a shift in their natural surroundings. That is, it’s greener: A huge portion of the country, roughly equal to the area of the entire United States, is sprouting thick, luscious new coats of trees and bushland.”

Light Snowfall, the Economy, and Winter Sports

This PBS Newshour piece highlights evidence of warming and its impact. As our area is in a drought, this is something that reaches into our lives as well.

For Winter Sports Industry, Decreasing Snowfall Sends Business Downhill
SUMMARY: While winter storms have blasted parts of the Midwest and Northeast, a lack of steady and deep snow — less accumulation and faster melt — has had serious effects for the ski industry. Hari Sreenivasan reports on how winter sports businesses are navigating the season as part of the Coping with Climate Change series.

Watch Decreasing Snowfall Sends Winter Sports Industry Downhill on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.