This past Wednesday night I attended a green innovators panel, ahem, “Catwalk of New Ideas in Green Buildings”, organized by Green Home NYC as part of New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy (NYC ACRE), part of the Polytechnic Institute of NY and supported by NYSERDA.
Here are some food for thought items:
1. Beyond re-use, Re-feed! Every product has a lifecycle. If the natural lifecycle is that food becomes waste becomes food again, then it can be summarized as such: plants feed animals, animal waste feeds fungi/bacteria, fungi/bacteria feed soil, soil feeds plants. The question for every new product then should be: WHAT WILL YOUR NEW PRODUCT INNOVATION BECOME FOOD FOR? What will it feed when it becomes trash?
Design Tex industrial textiles producer, is on the quest with its products.
2. The One-Degree Movement might be on the rise… or rather, on the decline. Apparently, you can save 3% on your heating bill for each 1 Degree drop in temperature. Diana Nezamutinova from Power Concepts LLC advocates gradually turning the temperature down by a degree or two until it gets, well, unbearable. Smart move for homeowners, but for renters this might be hell freezing over. Take your pick.
3. Composting gets an upgrade. “Forbidden” Compost items finds a future in your apartment kitchen! Eco-engineer Donna Hope gave us the run-down on upgrading your composting technique. Vokashi compost kits use the efficient micro-organisms and fermenting bran to help break down food wastes that are usually forbidden at the neighborhood gardens…. things like dairy and meat which (aside from being gross when rotten) attract rodents and other undesirables. Vokashi alleviates any potential odors also, if that’s a concern, and provides a pick-up service from your home. Now, there’s really no excuse to avoid home composting. REALLY. NO EXCUSE.
4. Collaboration: the next great economic innovation. Eva Finkelstein of the Green Design Expo (showroom and store) in Westchester described the benefits to her business of cooperating with other eco-friendly entrepreneurs, espousing partnership over competition. Okay…this ain’t a new idea, it’s similar to that of business associations working to “prime” a market and “grow” their potential pie. However, it’s incredibly important for vulnerable eco-business and social enterprises to rally together for the benefit of all! In other words, GO GO POWER RANGERS!
My caveat here is the next, real economic innovation is worker-owner cooperatives, like the Evergreen Coop of Cleveland. This too is an old concept, often erroneously associated with socialism (or, gasp, “communism” the true form of which the world has never seen)… but WTF?!?! Doesn’t even the most egregiously, capitalist-minded person want to own what they work for?????
5. New York City boasts approximately 53,000 acres of residential “Yards”, most of which goes un-used, festering behind dark towering buildings or down long, dank alleys. Compare this to the 244 acres of actual green streets (you know, the little boxes of dirt with trees in them on the street…). This information courtesy of brand spanking new research conducted by Evan Mason, who has also studied what plants indigenous trees soak up the most carbon.
Basically, land owners in NYC need to step up their green game. CATCH SOME STORM WATER (since the city infrastructure seems incapable). GROW SOMETHING IN A DIRT BOX AND SOAK UP SOME CO2. And show a little green love to us tenants.
6. Extra! Extra! No VOC, industrial quality Paint! Yay! Thanks Ivy Coatings… they’re a Brooklyn based manufacturer too.
7. Now being passive is a good thing. Make your home a Passive House! Apparently, retro-fitting an existing home to be carbon neutral tends to be seen as a difficult challenge. But also, apparently, consultants at Steve Winters Associates have plenty of solutions. Here’s more on passive, aka, self-sustaining, aka carbon neutral building, http://www.self-sustaining-building.org.
Also, apparently, Oak Ridge, Tennessee plans to be the first entire city going carbon neutral. DANG. Have you heard of anything so MOD coming out of Tennessee?