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  1. #1
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    Visiting poster asks What else to do to be "green?"

    Hello - I normally post in the commuting forum but I read here occassionally. While this isn't directly car free, I think this forum might be the best place for me to ask since I get the impression that many of you are car free out of desire to be green - at least in part anyway.

    So yesterday I was just flipping around in Wikipedia and noticed that transportation - ie cars - only account for 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions - lower than I expected. So now I am wondering what else people are doing to curb greenhouse gases.

    I've vowed to become more diligent in turning off unused lights and to lower my heating and cooling requirements.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmore
    Hello - I normally post in the commuting forum but I read here occassionally. While this isn't directly car free, I think this forum might be the best place for me to ask since I get the impression that many of you are car free out of desire to be green - at least in part anyway.

    So yesterday I was just flipping around in Wikipedia and noticed that transportation - ie cars - only account for 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions - lower than I expected. So now I am wondering what else people are doing to curb greenhouse gases.

    I've vowed to become more diligent in turning off unused lights and to lower my heating and cooling requirements.
    There is a long running Sticky Thread that has alot of good ideas in it. One thing we personally have done is swap out most of our incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents. Our overall savings probably won't be as great as some peoples, because we only had about 8 or 9 to change, but it is a start. IMHO it is going to take lots of people doing the little things to get the ball rolling. We are setting the thermostat's higher in the summer and using fans to move the air, setting the thermostats lower in the winter and wearing a sweater and keeping an afghan handy to cover up with when sitting still. Long range plans include a couple of direct solar air heaters mounted on the side of the house and garage. Possibly a thermosiphon hot water system.

    Aaron
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  3. #3
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    I've vowed to become more diligent in turning off unused lights and to lower my heating and cooling requirements.
    Heating and cooling are a big part of one's energy usage. Someone who's concerned about their fossil fuel energy use should, if they move, choose a home that is no larger than necessary and is well-insulated or easy to insulate after the fact. It's also a good idea to reduce hot water use. Water-saving showerheads help there.

    If you're considering having kids, you might consider their environmental impact when you decide how many to have.
    Last edited by cerewa; 04-03-07 at 07:32 AM.
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    Tankless water heater. It doesn't waste energy keeping water hot, it just heats as needed. Ours is a whole-house model which supplies 3 users simultaneously. I would have prefered a solar water heater followed by a smaller tankless. Most are gas but I have seen some electric available.

    Being in design, construction & insurance my whole life I could go on about many things to lower your utility bill & insurance & make your home more comfortable. That is if you are a homeowner, if your renting it's not very helpful.
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  5. #5
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    14 per cent seems a little low. If you consider that many of the consumables require the use of an automobile (to transport back to your house...) and if you consider that most of those consumables have travelled many miles (often from China...), I think the figure might be higher. Think for a second how it would be possible for all those suburbanites to spend all weekend running from store to store, buying "stuff". This would be very difficult to do w/o cars.

    So my recommendation would be to buy only what you really need. Then, get rid of your car or cut down drastically on same.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    First I wonder why you say "only" 14 per cent. That's a hell of a lot. It's also generally the easiest portion of energy usage to conserve on, since most car trips are a total waste.

    According to environmentalists, the "Big Three" consumer-driven uses of energy are:
    1. Transportation
    2. Shelter (materials, heating, cooling and water use)
    3. Food
    (Not necessarily in that order.)

    It makes most sense to concentrate your conservation to those three areas, where you'll have the biggest impact. I walk and ride my bike to take care of number one. I can't do a lot about number two because I rent, but I do conseve by using less water and keeping the thermostat at a reasonable level.

    My big crusade is locally grown organic food. Organic is a little better for the environment, and doesn't utilize fertilizers made from oil and natural gas. Locally grown means much less fuel was used in getting the food to me. And getting the food on my bike means I'm not using as much fuel either. A bonus is that the food tastes much better, is always fresh, and usually doesn't cost any more. And it's fun to shop for local food.


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  7. #7
    1. e4 Nf6 Alekhine's Avatar
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    I'm similar to wahoo/Aaron. I use solar panels to recharge multiple sets of laptop batteries in daily rotation, use compact fluorescent bulbs, wash my clothes in the bathtub and hang them on a line rather than using a washer/dryer, grocery shop with canvas bags, and I use my bike for nearly all my transportation needs.

    I do have one horrible area of guilt though, and it is much worse than driving all year. I try to take in one international bike tour a year to a country I haven't seen yet, which means an intercontinental plane trip and back. This uses loads of fuel to do, but seeing this beautiful planet is something I'm not going to deny myself. At least I'm not indiscriminate about it.

    The yacht also uses fuel when I'm motoring out of the basin, but after that it's all about sailing.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv
    14 per cent seems a little low. If you consider that many of the consumables require the use of an automobile (to transport back to your house...) and if you consider that most of those consumables have travelled many miles (often from China...), I think the figure might be higher. Think for a second how it would be possible for all those suburbanites to spend all weekend running from store to store, buying "stuff". This would be very difficult to do w/o cars.

    So my recommendation would be to buy only what you really need. Then, get rid of your car or cut down drastically on same.
    It is low. If you read the source there are a number of things to consider:
    1. It is not a true percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, but rather a percentage of the "global warming potential". The difference is that the "global warming potential" is a weighted sum rather than an unweighted sum. So carbon dioxide counts more, for example, than methane or nitrous oxide.
    2. Fossil fuel production and distribution is not included. This is another 11.3%. Since most fossil fuels are used for transportation, I think the total impact of transportation fuels from well to atmosphere should be more like 25%.
    3. These are worldwide emissions. Most countries' automobile usages aren't nearly as high as the US. I'm willing to bet that if this data were for US only then the number would jump from 25% to 50%.

    I also wonder how much of the emissions attributed to "industrial processes" comes from car manufacturing.
    Last edited by makeinu; 04-03-07 at 12:34 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    * Get energy efficient light bulbs
    * Put a filled bag in your toilet tank to use less water
    * Line/air dry whatever you can so you use the dryer less
    * If you own a home, get newspaper insulation blown into your walls (lowers heating bills a LOT) - you can buy it at home depot, Lowes...
    * Purchase Carbon Offsets ( http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=268144 )

  10. #10
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    the largest one is:

    buy/comsume less crap- eg. no greeting cards, no worthless presents ets, no new wardrobe etc..

    make greeting cards or reuse old ones, make gifts, bake a pie for a gift, shop at thrift/consignment shops,etc.

  11. #11
    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    Goldener

    Good point, sometimes the obvious needs to be stated; fattens the wallet while saving for the difficult times to come.

    To expand on makeinu's response, I would remind the OP that the great majority of the emerging potential car owners haven't even brought their first car home; I can't wait until there is a car in every Chinese garage for this will dwarf the U.S.
    Last edited by LandLuger; 04-04-07 at 01:10 PM.

  12. #12
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    Good points. Thanks to all who responded with tips for additional things one can do to reduce greenhouse emissions.

    Couple of points. A) 14% based on global warming potential still means that cars are less responsible fopr global warming than I thought. While that may not represent 14% of greenhouse gas emissions, it's the global warming potential that make greenhouse gas emissions important to most ... I think it's important to get that message across to those concerend about global warming. As a "casual" concerned party, I knew that power plants were the biggest producer but I would have thought cars to be a much larger percentage. Eliminating cars completely really will not do much to stop global warming. We need to be looking at reducing total emissions on the scale of 50 percent and higher, don't you think?


    B) It's true that the majorty of potential car owners don't yet own a car. But it's also true that those same people do not have the same level of power plant coverage which accounts for about 21% of global warming potential nor do they have the industrialized agriculture machine which accounts for about 12.5 percent. That 14% figure then might not change all that much since those factors are likely to go hand in hand ...

    Just kinda thinking outloud here ...
    Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more. Bark less.

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  13. #13
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmore
    Good points. Thanks to all who responded with tips for additional things one can do to reduce greenhouse emissions.

    Couple of points. A) 14% based on global warming potential still means that cars are less responsible fopr global warming than I thought. While that may not represent 14% of greenhouse gas emissions, it's the global warming potential that make greenhouse gas emissions important to most ... I think it's important to get that message across to those concerend about global warming. As a "casual" concerned party, I knew that power plants were the biggest producer but I would have thought cars to be a much larger percentage. Eliminating cars completely really will not do much to stop global warming. We need to be looking at reducing total emissions on the scale of 50 percent and higher, don't you think?


    B) It's true that the majorty of potential car owners don't yet own a car. But it's also true that those same people do not have the same level of power plant coverage which accounts for about 21% of global warming potential nor do they have the industrialized agriculture machine which accounts for about 12.5 percent. That 14% figure then might not change all that much since those factors are likely to go hand in hand ...

    Just kinda thinking outloud here ...
    That 14% number is probably based on current planetary car ownership, and if you consider that something less then 20% of the worlds population drives a car, and that a car spends less then 10% of it's life actually operating, we find that 14% is actually quite a high amount. Now consider that over 50% of the population uses electricity, and that power plants are operational 100% of the time. We find that really on a per user while operating basis, that car has much more carbon potential then the power plant, even though it's a lower overall amount.

    Now one issue is that carbon release from power plants is not regulated everywhere, for example some jurisdictions have strict laws on power plant emissions, and power plant operators have spent many Billions of dollars on pollution control equipment. Other jurisdictions have no emission laws at all -- IIRC in the US, this is state regulated, and some states have no regulations, Ohio being one of them. This is something the US government should be looking into, because it's going to be a big issue in the future, as air pollution knows no borders, and cross border pollution becomes a big issue.

    With carbon emissions, we should reduce it, 50% sounds good, it's probably not realistic, but it does sound good, we should also plant more trees, as a tree grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide, stores the carbon and releases most of the oxygen. Regulators could help here, builders should be required to plant trees on every property they build, this doesn't compensate for the 140 trees they cut down to clear that lot, but it does help. Look at the highways, when they build a highway, it seems like they must clear every tree for 5 miles on either side, which creates wind and snow issues in the winter, creates excessive heat in the summer, and keeps the carbon released in the air. A highway should have trees on both sides, this would block the wind and snow in the winter, cool things in the summer, and absorb some of that carbon released.

    The latest bright idea is to build walls to cut noise on either side, in populated areas, a double row of trees would help here as well, and look a lot nicer then a gray cement wall, covered in gang tags
    The walls also cause snow to get dumped between them, make the road even hotter in the summer, and keeps that pollution close at hand.

    I knew of one house, they had a couple of huge hardwood trees (forget what kind, if I ever knew) on the south side, shaded the whole house, you know, you could go in there on the hottest day in the summer, when it's been on broil for a couple of weeks and it was nice and cool, they had no air conditioner, it was the trees.

  14. #14
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Trees are natures air conditioners but you have a hard time convincing people of that. I read somewhere that a mature cottonwood tree has as much cooling power (transpiration IIRC) as 500 room air conditioners. Also homes USED to be built to take advantage of convection cooling, heat sinks and prevailing winds. I had one house that was built in 1921 that on all but the very hottest of southern days could be kept cool by adjustment of windows and doors.

    Aaron
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  15. #15
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca
    That 14% number is probably based on current planetary car ownership, and if you consider that something less then 20% of the worlds population drives a car, and that a car spends less then 10% of it's life actually operating, we find that 14% is actually quite a high amount. Now consider that over 50% of the population uses electricity, and that power plants are operational 100% of the time. We find that really on a per user while operating basis, that car has much more carbon potential then the power plant, even though it's a lower overall amount.
    Now that makes a lot of sense to me. And I'm all for more trees. Particularly in my yard so I won't have any grass to cut.
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  16. #16
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Dalmore, I think you could do all of the above and then this one thing: stayed tuned! The complete book on what we need to do hasn't been written yet. Largely because the impact of climate change is really poorly understood, even by environmentalists. You will hear a lot of them offering "technological" solutions, but the impacts may happen so quickly that technology just cannot keep up.

    When you hear folks talk about electric automobiles and carbon sequestering and energy efficient housing and greentech startups, remember that it will almost certainly take a lot of oil-based energy to achieve those goals.

    As a species, we will undoubtedly have to learn some new skill sets. I just don't think we know what they are yet. I'm pretty sure that a lot of folks won't be up to learning them...

  17. #17
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc
    Trees are natures air conditioners but you have a hard time convincing people of that. I read somewhere that a mature cottonwood tree has as much cooling power (transpiration IIRC) as 500 room air conditioners. Also homes USED to be built to take advantage of convection cooling, heat sinks and prevailing winds. I had one house that was built in 1921 that on all but the very hottest of southern days could be kept cool by adjustment of windows and doors.

    Aaron
    I had to kind of end that message before I was finished, my wife decided to go out for dinner The real point is that your Cottonwood, maple, oak, uses 0 kw/h of electricity, so a house cooled by tree is actually carbon negative, use wind power and solar hot water heating, and your well on your way to carbon neutrality. The problem is in northern climates, where you need to create heat in the winter, this is often a carbon rich process, don't know if there is a way to fix that or not.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmore
    Now that makes a lot of sense to me. And I'm all for more trees. Particularly in my yard so I won't have any grass to cut.
    Who needs grass, there are many, many ground covers other then grass, many kinds of plant that grow naturally in many areas. I know one couple who built a crushed stone pathway through their back yard, with a couple of benches under trees, and natural ground cover through the rest of the yard, all of it being plants that return every year, no maintenance requiered, and no noisy carbon spewing lawn mower and leaf blower required. Speaking of leaf blowers, those things are evil, a push broom does the same job, without the noise and fumes.

  19. #19
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    To echo Roody a little, one of the big things you can do is give up meat (I haven't, but you asked). Meat , especially factory farmed beef, requires a lot of energy and a lot of water to produce and get to your grocery store. Organic or free range mutton/lamb, goat, and chicken bought locally are among the most "green" if you are going to eat meat.

  20. #20
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    It is low. If you read the source there are a number of things to consider:
    1. It is not a true percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, but rather a percentage of the "global warming potential". The difference is that the "global warming potential" is a weighted sum rather than an unweighted sum. So carbon dioxide counts more, for example, than methane or nitrous oxide.
    2. Fossil fuel production and distribution is not included. This is another 11.3%. Since most fossil fuels are used for transportation, I think the total impact of transportation fuels from well to atmosphere should be more like 25%.
    3. These are worldwide emissions. Most countries' automobile usages aren't nearly as high as the US. I'm willing to bet that if this data were for US only then the number would jump from 25% to 50%.

    I also wonder how much of the emissions attributed to "industrial processes" comes from car manufacturing.
    I remember reading that for the USA the CO2 emissions are from ~40% automotive and ~60% power generation. Anyway the EPA has a fairly detailed worksheet on what you can do to reduce greenhouse gases.

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emi...alculator.html
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  21. #21
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car
    I remember reading that for the USA the CO2 emissions are from ~40% automotive and ~60% power generation. Anyway the EPA has a fairly detailed worksheet on what you can do to reduce greenhouse gases.
    I'm glad the EPA provides this information. But whatever we can do about GHG emissions, it's not as much as the EPA can do! Now that the Supreme Court has given them the go-ahead, let's hope they strat doing a lot more.


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    I recommend the book The Consumer's Gude to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The two biggest things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment are to drive less, and to eat less meat. Beyond that, eating locally produced foods will also significantly reduce your impact on the environment. The next time you move, consider your location carefully, because it will signficantly impact your transporation choices for years to come. Chosing a home that is close to work, grocery stores, schools, and other common destinations will make it easier for you to bike or walk. Choosing a location close to mass transit will make it easier when you need to travel to more distant destinations.

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    dalmore - One more thing to consider about that 14%, you're only talking about the emissions from driving the vehicle. To my knowledge there has only been one study done on the subject, but it found that the process of manufacturing one, Focus-sized automobile produced the same volume of emissions as driving the car for 66k miles. When calculating the effect of automobiles, many people forget to add manufacturing and disposal into the equation. Throw in the impact of creating and maintaining the excess infrastructure that the automobile requires and I find it very hard to believe anything has a larger total polluting effect, at least in the US.

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    I have some questions that I have been wondering about. I have recently bought a home and I would like to improve it's efficiency as much as possible within my budget. I have been looking into inline water heaters, using earth heat (geothermal) and a heat pump to heat AND cool my home, someone on here mentioned www.squarefootgardening.com and I hope to try it out, etc.
    Does anyone know a good resource, like maybe a forum similar to this but with a home efficiency focus, where I can find more info? I am specifically interested in DIY solutions and I find a lot of the info on the web is "make sure you have a qualified installer" type of advice. Sometimes that is true, other times it isn't if you are willing to DIY. Kind of like hub overhauls, not too difficult to do yourself, but if you call 'most' (or some) bike shops, they'll tell you to bring it in and charge you $20.

    Anyways, any resources would be greatly appreciated. Here are a few that I found already...

    http://www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/energuide/home.cfm
    www.homepower.com
    http://www.otherpower.com/otherpower_conservation.html
    http://www.green-trust.org
    http://www.aspencore.org

  25. #25
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alekhine
    I'm similar to wahoo/Aaron. I use solar panels to recharge multiple sets of laptop batteries in daily rotation, use compact fluorescent bulbs, wash my clothes in the bathtub and hang them on a line rather than using a washer/dryer, grocery shop with canvas bags, and I use my bike for nearly all my transportation needs.

    I do have one horrible area of guilt though, and it is much worse than driving all year. I try to take in one international bike tour a year to a country I haven't seen yet, which means an intercontinental plane trip and back. This uses loads of fuel to do, but seeing this beautiful planet is something I'm not going to deny myself. At least I'm not indiscriminate about it.

    The yacht also uses fuel when I'm motoring out of the basin, but after that it's all about sailing.
    It seems you also have a solution to your "Horrible Guilt, and mentioned it yourself! Sail to the coast where you are going to tour! That way, you also get a great ocean cruise and a bit of adventure as well (assuming the boat is a Blur Water boat. What is she, by the way?
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

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