Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

June 22, 2012

My City is Smart: Yes ROI, Yes Energy Efficiency Saves

Category: Climate Change,Conservation,Policy – Tom Harrison – 10:08 am

Our excellent Mayor of Newton, MA, Setti Warren cares about our city. The way he cares most is by saving money. One way he saved money was through energy efficiency programs.

These programs are for the city itself, businesses, and residents

October 24, 2008

You’re Reading a Carbon-Neutral Website thanks to CO2stats

Category: Companies,Cool Sites,Save Electricity,Technology – Tom Harrison – 12:09 pm

So Paul Graham and his Y Combinator venture firm have done it again: a new site called CO2stats has a clever way for any website to offset the carbon emissions associated with electricity needed to make the Internet magic happen.

And trust me, it ain’t magic. There’s a lot of electricity going into making that magic. And all that electricity creates a lot of greenhouse gases.

According to the CO2stats site:

The carbon footprint of air and automobile transportation is widely known, but few people are aware that the electricity generation required for information and communication techologies (ICT) is now responsible for 2% of global CO2 emissions, exceeding the emissions of the entire aviation industry.

(emphasis mine). (more…)

October 4, 2008

My Kind of Pork: Renewable Energy Credits

Category: Economics,Political,Technology – Tom Harrison – 8:41 pm

I Mean it in the Best Possible Way

I Mean it in the Best Possible Way

This week’s bailout/rescue was a pig for sure, and before it got passed it got even more porky in the application of several coats of lipstick. None of the add-on’s were in themselves bad in particular. But the timing was terrible; at a moment when people are conscious of the government’s sheer magnitude, we managed to add on another 100 billion dollars of so.

But I suppose that one man’s pork is another man’s passion, to paraphrase most terribly. And in the case of this bill, tax credits for renewable energy were … renewed. And unlike several other add-on’s, this one makes sense, in context. (more…)

December 2, 2007

NY Times Article on Green Scammers

Category: Observations – Tom Harrison – 10:55 pm

You know that your cause has reached some level of breadth and market viability when people start using it to sell product. How sad, in a country obsessed with consumption that this is true. And “TerraChoice Environmental Marketing” has taken it upon themselves to define the high road, as reported in an article from last week in the NY Times. Whether it be Green Spam, the people selling shower heads that don’t use less water, or companies who think they just need to buy some renewable energy credits and all will be well, the signs are all here.

We’re getting into the interesting part of the debate on what it will take to really deal with our climate and energy crises.

October 21, 2007

Green Markets: Valuing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)

Category: Big Things,Companies,Economics,News,Policy – Tom Harrison – 3:37 pm

This week’s Business Week ran an article called Little Green Lies, The Bitter Education of a Corporate Environmentalist. One thrust of the article involves renewable energy credits (RECs); they are so cheap, and provide such a small benefit (less than 3% of the total revenue), says the article, that they don’t affect what renewable energy facilities get built. This view seems very short-sighted to me. (more…)

May 7, 2006

TerraPass: Pay For What You Do Use

Category: Companies,Cool Sites,Economics,Take Actions,Technology,Transportation – Tom Harrison – 8:08 pm

TerraPass is a simple idea: pay for what you use. If you drive your car you’re sending CO2 and other greenhouse gasses into the air. But this is a cost that isn’t accounted for (no, your gas taxes go to pay for roads and many other things … but not for the cost of pollution). So if you must drive, you can pay your share. TerraPass has a calculator that figures the amount of CO2 your vehicles produce each year, you purchase TerraPasses at a rate based on that. You get a window and bumper sticker for your car so you can spread the word. And TerraPass uses this money to fund clean energy projects. A pretty good deal all around.

Except that it’s voluntary. (more…)

Renewable Energy Credits

Category: Companies,Conservation,Cool Sites,Economics,Policy,Save Electricity – Tom Harrison – 3:40 pm

Whole Foods Market gets it. They are purchasing energy credits to “offset 100% of the electricity used in all stores, bakehouses, distribution centers, and offices”. You can participate by buying credits at, and Whole Foods will even share some of the costs.

Whole Foods is purchasing wind power. That power is probably not used by Whole Foods in particular, but it is used by someone — electricity is electricity. In most case throughout the country today, it is produced by burning fossil fuels. But the key is, someone close to a wind farm will use that electricity and not use fossil fuels.

The economics of energy credits are as simple as economics get … in other words gnarly. (more…)