Is your Business Going Green?

power-meter.jpgWhen it comes to effectively running a business of any kind, one of the largest focuses is on the bottom line.  Unfortunately, many businesses simply do not realize how much they can actually cut their overall energy costs simply by converting their energy usage to solar power.  There are several financial incentives involved when it comes to going solar, including net metering, tax incentives and even solar loans.

Net Metering – Many states in the United States are offering cost savings to businesses that go solar through net metering.  What this refers to, is state laws requiring utilities to purchase power which is generated by solar systems.  So if a business like yours is generating more solar energy than what is actually needed by the business, the building power meter will run backwards and the utility company will actually buy this excess solar energy.  If your business is only open on certain days of the week, any solar power that is generated while the office is using no energy will essentially create free money for the company.

Tax Incentives – Because most governments know that change can be initiated through economic benefits, they are often willing to grant tax incentives such as tax credits and tax deductions as a way to help businesses convert to solar energy.  Your business may see a tax credit or a tax deduction for as high as thirty-five percent of the cost of installing the solar energy system, which means a lot of money saved in the long run.

Solar Loans – There are even more benefits available to businesses that go solar, such as being allowed to participate in solar financing programs which are offered by many governments.  These loan programs generally offer incredible terms as a means of promoting this renewable energy source, and these programs make a lot of sense for any business regardless of whether they are just building or working on renovating their location.  You can typically find solar loans with between seven and ten year terms, with no interest or at least an extremely low interest rate.

At this point, if deciding to take your business solar is not the easiest decision that you ever made, you must not have truly considered all of the great benefits.  To benefit the health of the planet and the bottom line in your business, going solar may be the best financial decision ever made

Going Green – What is a green collar job anyway?

What is a green collar job anyway?

You have heard the term green collar job discussed thousands of times lately by politicians, business leaders, union spokespeople and environmentalists. No other discussion (except the financial crisis) seems to have received as much media coverage — but what is all the fuss about?

In the United States, President Obama has promised to spend $150 billion over the next 10 years top create 5 million new green jobs, and he is not the only one to see the move to a low carbon economy as the answer.

In Europe political leaders have been promoting the creation of renewable energy jobs as a necessary step in the drive to reduce carbon emissions, and as one of the key levers in fighting the current worldwide economic crisis. In the UK, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised that this month’s Budget will be a “job creator, a quality of life improver, and an environment-enhancing measure” outlining a “green” path to economic revival. Brown has previously stated 400,000 new green jobs could be created over the next eight years if the UK transitions to a low carbon economy. But what is green collar? What makes it different from blue or white collar? Why does it matter? And why does the issue appear so controversial?

Some more sceptical have argued that the term green collar jobs is little more than “green washing” and a term used by politicians for political ends; they argue that actually green jobs are no different or perhaps less efficient than the blue collar jobs they are replacing. This is an argument that is sure to rage on for some time.

For all the talk of green jobs, there is probably equal confusion about what actually qualifies as a green job.

If an employee is working for a car manufacturer on a sports car: blue collar. If the same worker at the same company is working on a hybrid does is that a green collar job?

Phil Angelides, Chair of the Apollo Alliance (a coalition of environmental groups, labour unions and politicians promoting the low carbon economy) states that to be green a job “has to pay decent wages and benefits that can support a family. It has to be part of a real career path, with upward mobility. And it needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment.”

His colleague and Chief Executive of the Apollo Alliance Lucy Blake adds “A green collar job is in essence a blue-collar job that has been upgraded to address the environmental challenges of our country.”

Van Jones, social activist and advisor to President Obama says a green job is “a family-supporting, career-track job that directly contributes to preserving or enhancing environmental quality.” Jones’s site Green For All adds “most green collar jobs are middle-skill jobs requiring more education than high school, but less than a four-year degree — and are well within reach for lower-skilled and low-income workers as long as they have access to effective training programs and appropriate supports”.

So in the end does the definition really matter? Possibly, but certainly not quite as much as the important issues of unemployment, economic recovery, climate change, energy security and peak oil, which the push for a low carbon economy seeks to address.

Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club state that green jobs are a victory for the environment and for workers. The founder of RenewableEnergyJobs.com, the global green job site, Sam Newell agrees. “To me it’s quite simple, green collar jobs are good for the worker and good for the environment and that can’t be bad.” He argues “comparing the efficiency of green collar jobs with. Those in other sectors of manufacturing or perhaps old energy doesn’t quite add up. You are comparing apples and oranges; they are not like for like. It’s pointless to compare them using one measure such as energy output per employee. You need to take a range of important factors such as carbon production and environmental impact into consideration which none of these arguments appears to do.”

Green collar jobs are already a growing part of the global economy. As demand has risen for clean energy and environmentally responsible manufacturing, green workers are producing everything from wind turbines to electric cars to organic clothing and food.

With the serious issues of climate change and the development of affordable, secure and sustainable energy sources for all it looks like the green job is here to stay regardless which definition you subscribe to.

Article Author Sam Newell is a renewable energy jobs recruitment specialist and the founder of RenewableEnergyJobs.com the job site for the global green energy sector.

Bearings – Most Common Bearing Materials

Bearings are made of many different materials, and many of these materials function more effectively in certain applications than others. Take a minute to learn about the many different types of materials bearings can be made of:

1. Chrome Steel – SAE 52100

This is the most common material used for precision ball bearings, roller bearings, and tapered roller bearings. This still has a high level of carbon within it and contains about 1.5% chromium.

These bearings have a high resistance to cracking and a hard surface, which helps them to resist wear and tear from rolling.

2. Extra Clean 52100 Chrome Steel

This type of steel is used to create precision miniature bearings. It is processed with additional melting steps. The resulting bearing is extremely quiet. Most often, the hardening process is done in a controlled atmosphere furnace. The resulting product can operate at temperatures up to 120°C.

SAE 52100 is by far the best general purpose steel for making bearings. It hardens to a very high level and has a long life when actually in use. However, the low chromium level of 1.5% means these bearings are not very resistant to corrosion.

3. Martensitic Stainless Steel – AISI 440C

This type of bearing has higher carbon content. The lower carbon content results in a softer material, however, it does allow for these bearings to be magnetic.

These bearings are slightly nosier than others, but they are able to operate at high temperatures of up to 250°C.

4. Martensitic Stainless Steel – 440C – ACD34

This material has smaller carbides in order to minimize noise, while also offering the same corrosion resistance as 440C. This is one of the most widely used materials for bearings, and it can bear similar loads to that of chrome steel.

5. Austenitic Stainless Steel

Bearing components made from this type of stainless steel have a high resistance to corrosion and are non-magnetic because they are made with low amounts of carbon. However, this material cannot be hardened, so it only works with low loads and low speeds.

These bearings are typically a special order and also carry a higher cost.

bearings

Solar Aid – Sally Struthers, Is That You?

Solar Aid has embarked upon an Internet ad campaign to raise donations to provide solar power devices to impoverished nations in parts of Africa. They lead off with “Imagine a world where everyone has access to affordable, clean, renewable power.” Alongside the text is a picture of a young black boy, shading his eyes with his hand, while looking up at the sun. Below is the suggestion that we “Give the gift of light this Christmas” by buying a solar lantern. The price? A mere $60 dollars.

Watching their video, one could almost be moved and convinced. Like an email from a Nigerian scammer, a few small flaws give us pause: Supposedly 1.2 million people die of smoke related deaths each year — one every 20 seconds. We question that statistic, as it seems unlikely for a number of reasons. They also show their campaign teaching people to convert their lamps to solar with LEDs, florescent bulbs, and solar panels. Its a simple electronics lab project, easily taught in an afternoon, but they’re promising to teach this skill to 250 people this year, and 500 next year. Thinking about it, that doesn’t seem like a very productive schedule.

I’d certainly like to be able to imagine even a COUNTRY (this one, for starters) where everyone has access to affordable, clean, renewable power. That would be a good start. Maybe it would be easier to bring the African continent up on solar since grid electricity isn’t as thoroughly entrenched there as it is here. I’ll give them that much… but charity still begins at home. Moreover, technology advancements will be far greater here than those achieved in a “developing” nation, and can then be handed across to them to utilize. When the U.S. and the rest of the Western World aren’t yet on board with that affordable, clean, renewable power, it’s a bit much to ask us to dig deep and give Africa money to get it.

The site goes on to show that Gwyn Roberts is driving a 1989 Landcruiser from London to Cape Town, hoping to raise £20,000 for them. The tie-in? He’s going to use solar panels on the vehicle, supposedly to increase MPG. Then there’s the 5k run. There’s a long laundry list of corporate donors and sponsors, including utility companies. It LOOKS like a valid cause… but are looks deceiving?

$60 is a fairly good chunk of change. On a wholesale basis, $60 buys a LOT more than one solar lamp. That much can buy a solar panel that can give lights to several LED lamps. Not sure? Think about those solar lamps for the yards. They have a couple off-brand AA rechargeable batteries in them, a very small solar cell, and they can provide light to read by. Such lamps retail in the stores in the States for well under $10 each. Where is the rest of the money going? Administration? New Landcruisers? And what about all of those corporate sponsors?

We agree with the sentiment, and the goal. But the numbers don’t add up, and that’s really too bad. Africa’s people ARE poor, and they could use solar technologies. But this program brings to mind a bloated Sally Struthers dolefully pleading for starving children while wearing a $1500 wardrobe. Cate Blanchette and the rest of the cast and crew may have the best of intentions, but that doesn’t mean they’re not being fleeced. It’s a myth that solar must be expensive — especially when we’re talking about solar lanterns. We’d be happy to pass along good news about a worthy solar charity. This just isn’t one of them, in my opinion.

VIDEO: Solar Aid Needs Your Money NOW!

Going Green – Booming Solar: Hope for the New Year!

Our last article for the year is good news. Amidst an economy that has been said to be in a depression, there’s one industry that’s doing quite well, in a place where it’s least expected — up on the roofs.  Solar panel sales are booming. Leading sales and installation companies are reporting a 45% increase in sales, and anticipating creating over 100,000 new jobs each, within the next few years. That doesn’t begin to address the other jobs created in manufacturing and distribution of the panels. Great news, but there is a catch.

Many of these installations are made feasible by government rebates. One job was sold at $66,000, but the homeowner recouped over $40,000 of that, making his net cost about $22,000. Who wouldn’t want a solar electric system for 1/3 of the regular price? But the money to pay those rebates has to be coming from somewhere, and that somewhere seems to be the taxpayers themselves. While we’re glad that people are getting with the program, at least one state has declared that they’re out of funds, cannot afford to issue any more rebates, which could bring the momentum to a grinding halt if more incentive funds and lower consumer costs aren’t sorted out soon.

President-Elect Obama has talked about the government getting involved in rebooting the economy. Most of his talk has involved shoring up bridges and roads, and that may be long overdue, but it would be wise to put a large chunk of that revitalization into things which will increase our independence from foreign fuel while reducing the carbon footprint. If his administration focuses on Green industries, millions of new jobs could be created in producing the technology domestically alone. Pivotal to it all is Alternative Energy proving affordable to install and cost-effective in the long run. Luckily, improvements in solar technology are coming in fast and furious, and cost reductions can be expected right behind them.

As we say goodbye to 2008 and make our New Year resolutions, let’s keep Going Green in mind, make the idea central to our plans. As we welcome the Obama administration into the Oval Office, let’s make sure that he knows he has our full support for economic stimulus and incentives that propel our nation towards a more Green and prosperous tomorrow.

Wishing you all a very happy new year,

JT
Going Green News

Solar Power Goes Mainstream – Going Green

In Hollywood, you know you’ve arrived when They start advertising you, your book, album or movie. Aside from a few generalized Alternative Energy commercials during this past election year in the United States, solar and wind power developments have pretty much been on the Q-T. This is especially strange when there have been large solar energy farms in desert regions for quite some time now… but Alternative Energy has definitely gone mainstream. How can you tell? It isn’t just that the Governor of New Jersey ordered a billion dollars of wind turbines installed 20 miles offshore, or that a city in Florida made solar buy-back mandatory, or even the Green communities and the governments’ solar investments. It’s the ads.

In the past few days, the Internet, and Google in particular, has started firing off commercial solar power ads. We’re not talking about the old Popular Mechanics ads that amount to a school science project, or the little solar lawn lights that kinda snuck in at Warmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot when nobody was looking. These are major, full-blown websites offering analysis of your solar needs, and quotes for a full-house installation. CoolerPlanet.com and BellaEnergy.com sites are amongst those which have paid Google ads, and very professional websites for their very professional services. There’s even a site advertising Solar as a gift to impoverished nations! Astute businessmen, pay heed: Solar Power has arrived!

Going Green Tax Incentives for Alternative Energy Create Jobs

Tax Incentives for Alternative Energy Technologies Create Jobs! 

True story.  The bailout bill of 2008 included some $150 billion in alternative energy incentives.  Not only do those keep solar and wind farms viable, but they also stimulate growth in many other sectors as well.  Take a look at Tesla Motors, the California-based company producing electric cars.  Building electric vehicles may seem like space technology or something for the uber-rich, but it’s not.  In fact, even though there have been a few rough starts, Tesla’s plant in Northern California means thousands of new jobs being created to manufacture those vehicles… and not just the sports car either!  Tesla and others are building cars that will retail for about $16,000 and take you to and from work and the store on pennies a day! 

Wind and Solar farms will also create new jobs, and even more technologies to utilize them and convert our existing devices and technologies over to electric use.  Many of the cars we already have can be repowered to work as full-time electric cars.  There’s even a company making cars that run on compressed air!  Those awesome innovations and far more are ahead, spurred into existence by these Federal tax incentives and state and local government investments into alternative energy sources.  It really is amazing how much we can do, and how quickly we’re doing it, now that we’ve begun to put our heads to it!

The Argument For Investing In Green Energy Sources

Fifteen years ago, no savvy investor would have touched alternative or renewable energy resources — and rightly so.  The technology wasn’t able to pass muster.  It was clunky, unreliable and unnecessarily expensive.  Worse yet, it had virtually no support in the mainstream.  That was 1994, and the world was a very different place.

Today’s savvy investors are looking for something reliable, secure, safe and promising, the same as any other day. But what a difference a decade makes in today’s world! Today’s investors who are looking at the long haul, are looking at alternative energy. Huge investments come from what may seem to be some of the most unlikely places.

The Middle-east, for example, seems to be betting against themselves. They’ve sunk tens and scores of billions of dollars into investments in alternative energy technologies, and not to buy and bury them either. Hundreds of millions each in endowments and grants to the likes of M.I.T. (and just about every other prestigious university on the planet, it turns out,) were just the beginning. Masdar, a zero-carbon-footprint city sleeping 50,000 residents and a total of 90,000 people during the day, shows every indication of becoming a functional reality within a decade. Those wiz kids and profs they’ve invested in will be providing some of the technological advances needed to pull it off, and the Arabs don’t even have proprietary rights to the technologies. They just know a good idea when they see it, and are resolved to have a big place at the table as times change.

It’s not just guys in thobes with long beards and lots of money though. It’s also Wall Street, and Pickens, and Bill Gates, and just about anybody with more than a few nickels to rub together and the vision to see what ought to be the obvious truths:

  • We ARE going to run out of oil, so alternative energy solutions aren’t optional.

  • The list of people in favor of green is long and distinguished, and profitable.

  • The alternative-source energy market is climbing steadily, undiminished by even radical market fluctuations on the petroleum front.

  • Projections suggest a need for $26 trillion (in 2007 dollars) to be invested from 2007 to 2030, in energy infrastructure alone.

Whoever funds the need is going to make out like a bandit. Funding Green isn’t just some cute little philanthropy anymore. You don’t need to be any kind of tree-hugger to see that Green is good business.

Energy Efficient Business-Solatube Solar Sky Lighting

There are two very good reasons why creating an energy-efficient business is a good idea.  The first is obvious, because energy-efficient office buildings are easy on the environment and eco-friendly, and the second is because using less energy is great for the bottom line of any business that wants to save some money.  There is absolutely no reason to pay overpriced energy costs, when you can make your business energy-efficient much more easily.  The following is a simple list of hints and tips for reducing the amount of energy that your company consumes on a daily basis.

Office Equipment:

You can save as much as $35 every year for every single computer in your office building simply by selecting equipment with an Energy Star logo.  Energy Star brand office equipment will automatically go into sleep mode in order to consume less power.  You can save more than $100 a year simply by switching all of the office equipment before you go home at the end of the day.  Leaving all of this equipment on unnecessarily can increase your bills significantly every year.  You can save as much as 80-percent of your energy bill simply by installing compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of the standard light bulbs that you have always used.  These compact fluorescent light bulbs are capable of lasting as many as 15,000 hours rather than the 800 hours that a normal light bulb will usually last for.  Not only do they last longer, but they also use up a lot less energy, saving you quite a bit of money in the long run both on your lighting bill, and your electric bill.

Heating and Cooling:

You can save several hundred dollars every year simply by keeping all of the external doors in your building closed as often as possible.  Leaving these doors open can waste a lot of heat, so aim to use the heat that you already have instead of letting it float right out the door.  By resetting your thermostats for cooling purposes, you can save as much as $60 every single year.  Cooling costs rise by as much as 20-percent for every degree lower that you set your thermostat.  And finally, by turning heating off when it is not required, such as at night, on weekends or when it simply is not cold, you can save as much as $700 in heating costs in a single year.  Program your thermostat to turn the heat off around thirty minutes before everyone is set to leave for the day, and you will be surprised at how much money you have saved at the end of the year.

Solatube Solar Sky Lighting Video:

Green Jobs Give Hope to the Unemployed

All across the nation, local trade schools and colleges are teaching the unemployed about green technologies. They’re learning to perform solar panel installations and repairs, wind turbine maintenance, and all manner of other services relating to renewable energy. The Federal stimulus package, which provides tens of billions of dollars for renewable energy sources, is allowing colleges to expand their curriculum to provide that training. Both unemployed workers and the schools themselves are hopeful that the Obama administration’s dedication to alternative energy will soon bring millions of good jobs for non-degree workers. Amongst those new jobs will be the thousands to be employed to retrofit Federal buildings and public housing projects so that they comply with higher energy efficiency standards.

According to the American Solar Energy Society, renewable energy generated some 500,000 jobs, producing some $43 billion in domestic revenues during 2007. Energy-efficiency was responsible for 8.6 million jobs and $1 trillion in revenues during that same year. The ASES’ study projects that somewhere bertween 16 million and 37 million jobs will be created in these industries by 2030. The range is expected to depend upon the Federal administration’s policies regarding Green energy. All in all, a very promising future!

Nothing is guaranteed, though, including Green employment in the future. With or without a degree, much still depends on both Industry and the demands of the public. If a corporation determines that it is even marginally more cost-effective to continue to use dirty techologies, unless there is an incentive earmarked for them, chances are that they’ll continue to pollute and forego the costs of upgrading their facilities.

We’re of the belief that renewable energy is our only future. You build it, they will come.