Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wind Power Resources, A Few Good Books to Read

I've been thinking a lot about building my own wind generator and getting the funding to do so as well. The way my brain functions, I need to gather every scrap of useful information first before making a decision about going forward. (I've learned the hard way.) I'm investigating all the options first to make the best choice of home power that will last me several decades.

Here are a few resources on wind power development that I've come across recently, hope you find this helpful. Give me a shout if you're building a wind generator, I'd like to come and check it out.

Wind Power: Energy for the Future of Global Warming
Nigel Saunders, $26.95
ISBN: 0836884051
This is a great book for kids, it’s really targeted toward 8th graders. It has very basic explanations of electricity delivery and aerodynamics, covers the topic in a very simple and easy to understand manner.

Wind Power in View: Energy Landscapes in a Crowded World
Martin Pasqualetti
ISBN: 0125463340
This is the first book ever that covers the topic of wind energy aesthetics, the visual impact on the landscape. Contains 11 different articles from all over the globe addressing the question of wind generator ugliness and offering creative solutions to deal with the problem.

Remote Sensing for Wind Power Potential, a Prospector's Handbook
by U. S. Department Of Energy, $79.95
ISBN: 0894991744
The title pretty much says it all. The DOE tells you how to determine where to build your tower.

Wind Power: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm and Business
by Paul Gipe, $50.00
ISBN: 1931498148
This is the most comprehensive guide available on small scale wind generators. If you're going to construct a wind generator on your land for personal use, this is the book you want.

Developing Wind Power Projects: Theory and Practice
by Tore Wizelius, $69.95
ISBN: 1844072622
Developed primary for land-use planners and other government officials involved in wind farm construction, this heavy duty text covers political issues surrounding siting, financing and local legislation. This is a great book for consultants who are advising local governments on wind farm projects.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

It must be the water...

All I can say is "Wow, We've finally found a replacement for Muiderman."

Duke Greene is undeniably the best acoustic guitar player to emerge from the West Michigan music scene since Erik Muiderman left the Folk Lizards behind and headed out west to write music in Oregon.... or maybe even since the boys in Karmic split up and Juano Lippi landed in New York.

It's been a long time coming, but Grand Rapids finally generated another 6-string master. I'm not certain how we are going to hang on to Greene, he's destined to hit the big time soon. His soul-searching original acoustic tunes are what the instrument was invented for. I'll admit Duke, one listen to "Holiday" and I picked up my Fender immediately and tried to play along.

Click the links to listen to Greene's first 2005 release "True Enough". There is more to come, he's only just begun. The next release party is in June.

Catch Duke Greene live:
Genesis, 1601 Gallbraith SE, March 29th
Dillenbeck's, 1059 W. Fulton, April 11th, 7-9pm

Download on Itunes now or find him on CD-Baby.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wild West Michigan

Mr. Leonard examines the virtues of Grand Rapids and surrounding landscape from the perspective of a place-centered eco-ethic. I concur, take a stand for what you believe in the place that you love.

For the last century and more, Michigan has had a reputation as a world-class industrial leader on the one hand, and an outdoor paradise on the other. This contrast between city and wilderness, between the populated centers and the remote retreats, imbues and enhances the Michigan experience. And nowhere in the state is that contrast any more clear than here in metropolitan Grand Rapids and the central West Michigan region.

I like to say that Grand Rapids is now Michigan’s first city. That may not be so in population, geographical extent or capital investment. But it is so in one very important respect: reputation. Grand Rapids is the Michigan city that all Michiganians can take pride in. Grand Rapids is the Michigan city that, year in and year out, seems to work best.

Manufacturing, arts and entertainment, social diversity, bipartisanship, business innovation, industrial design, architecture, infrastructure, history, spiritual leadership. All these things are a part of our capital, points of our pride.

But we are not made important by sheer bigness or by the works of the human population here.

Take a ride out from the center of Grand Rapids, in any direction you like, and in half an hour you may find you have touched a piece of Michigan’s great wilderness heritage.

Go north and you will find black bear habitat almost as close as the Grand Rapids suburbs, with occasional documented visits from creatures of the ursine persuasion. Half an hour to the south, if you know where to look, you can find what may be the southernmost nesting pair of common loons in North America.

To the east the Grand River and its tributaries wind away, the traditional home of the beaver, mink, river otter, and other species seldom seen since the days of the Astor fur traders, but now returning to our waters.

And to the West, of course, the lake itself, and the animals and plants that reside within it. Along the Lake Michigan coast, in our estuaries and rivers, the bald eagle plunges and the lake sturgeon turns a solemn, Devonian profile. In the wetlands and cornfields, sandhill cranes have grown abundant in central and west Michigan. Few things are more plainly inhuman, in the prehistoric sense, than the sight of the cranes arriving in their wild roosting areas at dusk.

A lot of people don’t know that our area provides a foothold for many endangered and threatened species, especially birds. Thomas Funke, the resident manager of the Michigan Audubon’s Otis Sanctuary in Barry County, reports that the Barry State Game Area is home to seven of Michigan’s nine globally imperiled bird species. They include Henslow’s sparrow, the golden-winged warbler, redheaded woodpecker, northern bobwhite, and the olive-sided flycatcher.

In fact, Funke notes that whooping cranes, among the world’s rarest birds, have been reported in West Michigan three years running.

Part of what makes it possible to see rare bird species in West Michigan is the availability of some remaining large tracts of contiguous woodland habitat. Barry State Game Area is one of a number of such areas, otherwise rare in the southern part of the state. The Allegan and Middleville State Game Areas are also nearby. Some of the species mentioned above could not persist in an area with less than 4,000 or 5,000 acres.

Thoreau called these creatures his “brute neighbors.” Part of the formula for sustainability of any community involves the welfare of our brute neighbors. These fellow West Michiganians, whose existence may be barely noticeable to many of us, are part of the community we hope to sustain with our green buildings, 21st-century designs and renewable power sources, our agricultural resources and policies, our pollution scrubbers, transit vehicles, and infrastructure.

We may think we are being generous to them if we sustain them. But really we are being generous to ourselves.

Whether you are a birder or sportsman or just an alert hiker, much of the charm and wonder of your chosen region will have to do with its wildlife. For my own part, I would like to see our wildlife flourishing in a way it does not now. A flourishing wildlife requires room, especially the room to be seldom visited, to be left alone. Small inroads and appearances, even by careful, well-intentioned people, test their sometimes precarious existence. A diverse wildlife, by contrast, requires diverse habitats. Indeed, they may be dependent on systems of natural habitat stretching well beyond our borders.

A hopeful effort to systematically protect local natural areas and wildlife is the Green Infrastructure concept being developed by the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, a regional planning group. The notion of green infrastructure suggests how nature, instead of being regarded as an impediment to economic growth and development, or as the absence of useful endeavor, needs instead to be considered as an amenity, and allowed to grow in proportion with the region as a whole.

Government policy, instead of refereeing the gradual destruction of wildlife habitat over time, needs to reflect and support such values.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Carbon Neutral Sugar, Baby

Beyond the Organic Label, Florida Crystals and Partner to Introduce Organic Sugar Line to Carbon-Conscious Consumers

Silver Spring, MD – March 19, 2008 – and Florida Crystals Corporation today announced the CarbonFree® certification of Florida Crystals Organic Sugar, marking a growing trend of businesses that are bringing carbon-conscious consumerism directly to their customers and a growing number of eco-conscious consumers who scrutinize food production methods and seek products that minimize climate impact.’s CarbonFree label, which will appear on Florida Crystals' entire line of organic sugar, indicates that the product’s entire carbon footprint will be offset through the support of greenhouse gas reduction projects, allowing consumers to make carbon-conscious buying decisions right in the store.

The average American consumes approximately 107 pounds of sugar a year, according to a 2003-2004 United States Department of Agriculture Food Intake Survey. With a new line of sugar that offers an organic and CarbonFree option, consumers can take a further step to combat global warming. Meanwhile, A new study shows that roughly half of all consumers now consider questions of sustainability in their purchasing decisions, with particular focus on the food and beverage industry. certified Florida Crystals organic sugar CarbonFree after a rigorous life cycle analysis (LCA) performed by carbon management consultants, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management. They determined the product’s carbon footprint by assessing the primary inputs of planting and growing the sugar cane, through the harvesting, milling and packaging processes, to the product’s final delivery to store shelves. Each product’s carbon footprint was rendered neutral through greenhouse gas cutting measures, specifically, through Florida Crystals’ production of renewable energy.

CarbonFree product certification entails four main steps:
● Determine the product’s carbon footprint through an LCA
● Certify and register the product as CarbonFree
● Offset the product’s footprint through the support of greenhouse gas reduction projects
● Conduct annual review and recertification

“CarbonFree certification and labeling is the next big trend in environmentally responsible living,” Executive Director Eric Carlson said. “Florida Crystals is increasing awareness among consumers of the impact their buying decisions have on the planet. We’re very proud to have them as a partner.”

“Florida Crystals certification is unique,” said Luis Fernandez, Florida Crystals’ Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. “Unlike other manufacturers who rely on the purchase of carbon credits from third parties, we are able to provide our products’ carbon neutrality through our own production of renewable energy. We have a strong commitment to the environment and continue to invest in the expansion of our renewable energy program. We are proud to receive CarbonFree certification.”

Other CarbonFree products include:

● Tropical Traders’ Royal Hawaiian Honey
● Ecofuture’s THEbulb
● Yakima racks and other products
Knu: Sustainable Contemporary Furniture

Note: I'm posting this because is a business partner of my employer, Industrial Woodworking Corporation and it's subsidiary Knu LLC. IWC and Knu joined CarbonFund's CarbonFree program in January 2007 and have offset 100% of our carbon emissions since then. We are, as far as I know, the first furniture manufacturer in Michigan - perhaps in the country - to do so.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Steelcase Tackles Wind Power

Steelcase will purchase all the renewable energy credits produced by a new 10 megawatt wind farm in Panhandle, Texas developed by John Deere Renewables, the wind-energy development unit of Deere & Co., for at least the first five years of its operation.

Naming rights come with the agreement. The wind farm will be named the “Wege Wind Energy Farm, provided by Steelcase” named for Peter Wege, a Michigan environmentalist and Steelcase founding family member. Steelcase is paying a premium for the RECs in order to add their name to them.

Expect more of this kind of advertising in the future.

Bradley Johnson, John Deere’s director for business development, says that premium prices for naming rights will enable Deere to undertake projects that are too small to be economically practical. Several companies have expressed interest in naming rights.

“This is a new business model, and it could attract any brand that wants to be linked with sustainability,” Ted Rose, vice president for business development for Renewable Choice Energy, which led the transaction and serves as the marketer for the project, says in the Times article. “Imagine the G.M. wind farm, the Apple wind farm - it’s not unthinkable at all.”

The power expected to be generated by the wind farm represents approximately 20 percent of the power Steelcase facilities require in the U.S.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Spitzer leaves and Paterson signs the compact...

Ye olde press release from the state of New York:

Governor Designate David A. Paterson today announced that legislation has been signed authorizing New York State to join the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Compact is a multi-state agreement designed to protect, conserve, and improve the water resources of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. The legislation was signed by Governor Spitzer on March 4, 2008.

“The Great Lakes and their bays and tributaries contain approximately 18 percent of the world’s supply of freshwater, and 90 percent of the United States’ supply of fresh surface water,” said Governor Designate Paterson. “Unfortunately, water levels in the Great Lakes have seen drastic declines in the last decade, and it is vitally important that we protect and conserve this essential water resource. The Great Lakes Compact demonstrates the commitment of all of the Great Lakes states to work together to achieve that goal.”

In 2001, the Governors of the eight Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec signed an agreement to develop and implement a new common, resource-based conservation standard for the Great Lakes Basin. After several years of negotiation, the Great Lakes Compact was developed.
The water surface area of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River and connecting channels covers approximately 95,000 square miles in eight states and two Canadian provinces, and the drainage area of the Basin covers an additional 200,000 square miles. Since only about one percent of the water in the Great Lakes is renewed or replaced by rain and tributary inflow each year, a multi-state agreement regulating various withdrawals and diversions is an important step to preserving this natural resource.

Senator George Maziarz said: “Having New York State sign on to the historic Great Lakes Compact is critical to protecting our precious freshwater resources, particularly Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the St. Lawrence River, and their tributaries. Joining this multi-state and multi-province effort is the right thing to do for our environment, for our communities, and for our future.”

Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney said: “This legislation will protect the largest body of fresh water in the world. This historic agreement is designed to ensure protection of the waters of the Great Lakes, now and in perpetuity. Over 40 percent of our State lies within the Great Lakes Basin and this provides us with an important environmental resource and economic driver. The compact is designed as proactive legislation to shelter and preserve the Great Lakes.”

Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Pete Grannis said: “The Great Lakes are among America's greatest natural resources and they must be protected from excessive demands. The compact is an integral tool that will establish proper management practices and standards so that the benefits these waters provide will continue to be available for future generations.”

Derek Stack, Executive Director of Great Lakes United, said: “By signing the Compact, the State of New York tells its neighbors that protecting the waters of the Great Lakes is about protecting our future. Today, New York demonstrates that the spirit of cooperation between the Great Lakes states and provinces is thriving, and reaffirms the value of protecting the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem. Now we must work hard to ensure that the Compact moves swiftly to approval in those states where years of careful negotiation has been held hostage by narrow-minded political agendas.”

Dereth Glance, Executive Program Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said: “New York's unanimous support of the Great Lakes Compact builds the momentum necessary to secure the adoption of this historic document throughout the Basin. We applaud the State’s commitment to protect the future of this magnificent resource.”

Robert Moore, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York, said: “The magnificent waters of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River have provided New Yorkers with so much throughout our history, including unparalleled habitat for fish and wildlife and drinking water for millions of residents. Environmental Advocates of New York applauds the Administration, Senator Maziarz and Assemblyman Sweeney for their leadership on this historic measure. We urge Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan to ratify the agreed-upon language of the Compact and ensure that the Great Lakes will be managed for the benefit of the entire region.”

Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York, the state program of the National Audubon Society, said: “Protecting the water of the Great Lakes is critical for the long term restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem and for the revitalization of the upstate New York economy. The Great Lakes Compact will allow the region to maintain control of its waters as demand for fresh water continues to grow throughout the nation and worldwide. We commend the Administration, and the Senate and Assembly, especially Senator George Maziarz and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, for passing this important measure, and we hope the remaining states in the Basin will follow New York’s strong lead.”

The Compact would provide for:

- The creation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council, consisting of the Governors of the eight Great Lakes states;
- The creation of a water resources inventory by each member state;
- Periodic assessments of cumulative impacts of water withdrawals from the Basin;
- A prohibition on most new and increased diversions of water from the Basin;
- Registration of water withdrawals in amounts of 100,000 gallons per day (gpd) or greater from the Basin in any 30-day period, and certain regulated diversions of Basin water;
- Implementation of water conservation and efficiency programs by each member state relating to Basin water uses;
- Commitments by member states to promote environmentally sound and economically feasible water conservation measures;
- Consultation between the Great Lakes Council and the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec through “regional review” procedures for any new or increased consumptive uses of at least 5 million gpd in any 90-day period; and
- Preservation of existing diversions, withdrawals, uses, rights and agreements.

In order for the Compact to take effect, each of the eight Great Lakes states must pass legislation ratifying the Compact, and then the United States Congress must consent to the signed Compact. New York is now the fourth state to approve the Compact, following approvals by Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana.

The legislation authorizes the Governor to take steps to facilitate the execution of the Compact by the other Governors, and to apply to Congress for consent to the Compact. The legislation also authorizes Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Grannis to convene an advisory council to make recommendations for legislation, rules and regulations necessary to implement the Compact.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Greening the Great Lakes

Michigan State University and WJR have launched a web site called "Greening of the Great Lakes" with the goal of providing information and insight into the organizations committed to making the Great Lakes region a leader in environmental practices.

The new site has video, podcasts and numerous links to other relative sites and news stories. Greening of the Great Lakes is designed to be an entertaining way of learning about the Great Lakes region, related environmental issues and ways that folk can protect the environment.

(Hey, whose idea was this? Dude, talk about stealing someone else's idea, geez....)

Anyhow the Great Lakes Information Network finally decided to do a story on Cradle to Cradle design and new classes at WMU. Not that GLIN is out of the loop with Michigan businesses - I wouldn't say that - but quite a few companies in West Michigan have been on this path for several years. Nice to know that the story is finally getting out to the public through the radio at least. And it's also nice to know that Western Michigan University finally got around to teaching Cradle to Cradle in the classroom.