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Solutions & sustainability - May 23

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


EPEAT: The New Green Computing Standard

Joel Makower, PUB
...Now comes EPEAT, a just-launched standard for "green" computers and other electronic equipment, created by the Portland, Ore.-based Green Electronics Council and adopted at the annual International Symposium on Electronics and the Environment. The voluntary standard, funded by the U.S. EPA, was initiated by a group of manufacturers, environmentalists, and purchasers.

IEEE 1680, as the standard is known, is the first U.S. standard to supply environmental guidelines for institutional purchasing decisions involving desktop and laptop computers and monitors. It offers criteria in eight categories -- materials selection, environmentally sensitive materials, design for end of life, end-of-life management, energy conservation, product longevity and life-cycle extension, packaging, and corporate performance.

...it's too early to tell whether EPEAT will do for green computing what LEED has done for green buildings, but it's a promising start. What needs to happen next is the hard part: the chicken-and-egg problem that all new markets face -- whether supply should proceed demand, or vice versa. That's a conversation that voluntary standards can't control.

But the downside for manufacturers is minimal. Building to new IEEE 1680 standard essentially means building durable computers that use minimal energy, are easily upgraded, and can be easily (and harmlessly) recycled. That's a good value proposition likely to sell more machines regardless of whether buyers specify the new standard.

And that's what a good, green standard should do: Provide market incentives to build and sell products that are a better value for customers, and for the environment.
(21 May 2006)
Also posted at WorldChanging.


Small business as a solution
(audio)
Jason Bradford, Global Public Media
Merrian Fuller of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, or BALLE, discusses how small, locally owned businesses can revitalize communities while dealing with the realities of declining fossil fuels and global warming. Jason Bradford hosts "The Party's Over: Going Local" on KZYX in Mendocino County, CA.
(24 April 2006)


Shifting Gears

Stephen Krcmar, LA Times
Shifting Gears
As more Angelenos ditch their cars, the city is opening bike lanes, companies are holding cycling seminars and federal officials are pushing for tax incentives.
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WHEN Robert Petersen bought his bike a few months back, he hadn't ridden for two decades and didn't know if he would be able to stay upright. He was so nervous about falling that he lowered his seat.

"I never even considered the bike as a method of transportation," says the 29-year-old, third-generation Southern Californian. But he was sick of forking out $6 to $20 per day in parking fees for a lot in downtown L.A. near his work. Plus he'd been gym-less since graduating from UCLA Law School last spring and figured pedaling to work from his home in Angelino Heights would force him to exercise regularly.

He approached his maiden voyage carefully and with not a little stress. "The first day was a little strange, not knowing if I was more car or pedestrian," he says.

So he took it slow. Really slow. He spent a lot of time on the sidewalk, especially when he hit the thick traffic on Figueroa Street. But — and it surprised him — by the time he'd gotten to work he'd cycled through most of his fear.

"I was really, really worried that first day," Petersen says. "Within one week, I was going fast and enjoying going fast."

Petersen is a good example of the new face of bike commuting — professional and average folks who are abandoning their daily drive for bikes in increasing numbers for a variety of reasons: fitness, a refusal to sit in traffic, politics or pocketbook, especially during days of skyrocketing gas prices.

Every day, according to the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, between 100,000 and 240,000 Angelenos ride a bike and 24,000 commute by bicycle. There are signs that the number is climbing and set to climb higher.
(22 May 2006)
Long article, which details LA's growing bike-friendliness and gives how-to advice.

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