“Now that we’ve witnessed the historic overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, and seen how the people of Egypt have spoken loud and clear in favor of democracy, let us stand together in support of Egypt, ensuring this ancient land will not fall to corporatocracy. And, let’s also be inspired to end the terrible reign of corporatocracy around the world, including in the United States.”
Archive for February, 2011
National Environmental Writers Rally Around Wendell Berry in Kentucky Governor’s Office Sit-In
FRANKFORT, KY – February 14, 2011, The nation’s most acclaimed environment writers are rallying around Wendell Berry, whom they called “the dean of their profession,” in support of his four-day long sit-in protesting mountaintop removal mining that continues in the office of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.
In strong statements of support, writer and 350.org founder Bill McKibben, along with bestselling authors Michael Pollan and Terry Tempest Williams, expressed their solidarity with the group of fourteen protesters that also includes a retired coal miner, a nurse practitioner who treats miners, community organizers, a graduate student, and others.
“People across America today…are electrified by what’s going on in Frankfort,” McKibben said. “It’s about time that people said: ‘No more business as usual, if that means leveling the mountains of southern Appalachia.’ And it comes as no surprise that Wendell Berry is in the forefront, as he has been for an entire generation.”
Michael Pollan, author of the bestselling The Omnivore’s Dilemma, agreed: “All of us who care about the future of the planet stand in solidarity with Wendell Berry and his compatriots in Frankfort, Kentucky, where they are conducting a ‘sleep in’ to protest mountaintop removal.”
“I can think of no more appropriate action to be taking on Valentine’s Day than what Wendell Berry and his fellow Kentuckians are doing: taking a stand from one’s heart,” Terry Tempest Williams (The Open Space of Democracy) said. “Mountaintop removal is an act of aggression. Civil disobedience is an act of love. We are right there with them in solidarity and support.”
The sit-in, which the protesters dubbed Kentucky Rising, has attracted international attention, with messages of support coming in from Argentina and Germany. In a statement issued last night, they called on Gov. Beshear, who is running for reelection this year, to join with them in opposing mountaintop removal.
“It’s disappointing that Gov. Beshear is choosing to play election-year politics with the lives and livelihoods of eastern Kentuckians. We continue to call on him to engage in a sincere, public dialogue about ending mountaintop removal and beginning a program of economic renewal for our miners and mountain communities.”
Original Press Release: http://kentuckyrising.blogspot.com/2011/02/press-release-national-environmental.html
GreenChoice Bank Offers Values-Based Approach Focused on People, Planet, Profits
CHICAGO- February 11, 2011, GreenChoice Holding Company, Inc. officially opened the doors to GreenChoice Bank on Feb. 1, completing the rebranding of Family Federal Savings of Illinois, the 100 year old community lender it acquired last July. Unique about GreenChoice Bank is its dedication to sustainable business operations, sourcing, lending and culture.
By rebranding branch locations in Cicero and Lockport, Ill., GreenChoice
becomes the first holistically sustainable community bank in the Midwest. Its mission is to offer consumers and businesses a better, values-based choice for banking services, focused on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profits.
GreenChoice Holding Company has been operating under the Family Federal name since it acquired the savings and loan. Simultaneously, its management has spent months retrofitting and re-engineering outdated structures and processes to operate the business using sustainable principles.
This includes retrofitting the century-old buildings to environmentally sound
standards for LEED Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EBO&M) certification. Green technologies are infused into every aspect of the retrofit project, from high-efficiency lighting and plumbing and locally-sourced building materials to recycled and reused products, including reclaimed walnut planks from a turkey coop.
As part of its mission, GreenChoice Bank, a certified B Corporation, leverages funds on deposit to invest in the local and green economy. Special checking and savings accounts with higher rates are designed for those actively embracing sustainability through their account activity. Advantaged terms are offered to commercial clients managing green businesses, building sustainably and creating green collar jobs.
GreenChoice Bank//Add One
“From online banking and paperless statements to advantaged loan and deposit
products for those actively embracing sustainability, we designed the bank with
environmentally-friendly principles that guide every aspect of our business,” says Steve
Sherman, LEED AP, chief operating officer and director. “Our customers know that
when they bank with us, their funds are being leveraged responsibly and invested back
into the community.”
Internally, back-office operations are being developed to conserve energy and
reduce the bank’s environmental footprint. This minimizes waste through paperless
processes, electronic document distribution, image-based check processing, on-line
banking and e-statements. The bank seeks to purchase more environmentally friendly
products and is mindful of sourcing decisions, such as offering debit cards made of 100
percent recycled plastic. Employee policies also encourage sustainable choices, from
using public transportation and volunteering in the community to rewarding those who
purchase hybrid or other Low Emission Fuel Efficient vehicles.
The bank’s executive team is active in the sustainable business community and
has more than 75 years of Chicago area banking expertise. In addition to Steve Sherman,
the team is comprised of Harold L. Sherman, founder, chairman and chief executive
officer; Jon A. Levey, LEED AP, founder, executive vice president and chief lending
officer; and Kenneth C. Kline, chief financial officer.
GreenChoice Bank branch locations are located at 5225 W. 25th St. in Cicero and
838 S. State St. in Lockport. GreenChoice Bank also plans to open its LEED Platinum
flagship location later at the new Green Exchange, 2545 W. Diversey Ave. in Chicago.
For more information about GreenChoice Bank, including its green banking incentives
for consumers and businesses, please visit www.greenchoicebank.com.
GreenChoice Bank is the Midwest’s first holistically sustainable community bank, offering a values-basedchoice in banking to consumers and businesses. Conscious about more than your money, GreenChoiceBank marries contemporary sustainability with a relationship-driven approach to provide financialproducts and services to individuals and businesses. GreenChoice Bank’s flagship location will open atGreen Exchange, 2545 W. Diversey Ave. in Chicago. Branch facilities are located in Cicero and Lockport,Ill. For information about GreenChoice Bank’s products and services, please visit online at www.greenchoicebank.com.
“Green Depot, which dubs itself the nation’s biggest building material dealer specializing in environmentally sustainable building products, grew even larger Monday when the New York-based company announced it has acquired Ecohaus, a similar operation with locations in Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland, Ore.”
“Just over 150 Berkeley businesses have been certified by the Bay Area Green Business program, ensuring that they meet a long list of environmentally friendly standards, and although it is universally encouraged, the designation has had mixed effects on companies’ sales.”
“Being green is really important to a lot of people that live here,” said Fred Fassett, chief executive officer of printing company Minuteman Press, which became officially green certified last month. “Everything else being equal, I think you’re going to tend to go with the green company – I think it gives us kind of an edge.”
Bay Area Sees High Concentration of Green-Certified Businesses via Soumya Karlamangla – The Daily Californian
“SAN FRANCISCO — California’s landmark law on curbing greenhouse gases, which is well on its way to taking effect, has hit a legal snag in the form of a tentative judicial ruling that state environmental regulators failed to follow legally required procedures.
Judge Ernest H. Goldsmith of San Francisco Superior Court issued a tentative opinion — a rarely used procedure that gives the prospective loser in the case a chance to make new arguments or take new actions before a final decision — saying that the rules creating a cap-and-trade system were adopted without proper analysis of alternatives.”
California Law to Curb Greenhouse Gases Faces a Legal Hurdle via Felicity Barringer – New York Times Environment
President Obama’s Plan to Win the Future by Making American Businesses More Energy Efficient through the “Better Buildings Initiative”
Washington, D.C. – February 2, 2011 In his State of the Union, President Obama laid out his vision for winning the future by investing in innovative clean energy technologies and doubling the share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. Alongside that effort, the President is proposing new efforts to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings across the country. Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. economy. Improving energy efficiency in our buildings can create jobs, save money, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and make our air cleaner. The President’s Better Buildings Initiative will make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade by catalyzing private sector investment through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings. This initiative builds on our investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and our continued commitment to passing the President’s proposed “HOMESTAR” legislation to encourage American families to make energy saving upgrades in their homes.
- Achieve a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020: Under the President’s plan, by 2020, we will make commercial building space in the United States 20 percent more energy efficient through cost-effective upgrades.
- Reduce companies’ and business owners’ energy bills by about $40 billion per year: By making buildings more energy efficient we will save business owners money by reducing their energy bills by about $40 billion at today’s prices. That money that can be put to better use hiring more workers, inventing new products, and creating shareholder value.
- Save energy by reforming outdated incentives and challenging the private sector to act: The President is calling for an aggressive reform of existing tax and other incentives for commercial building retrofits and proposing a new competitive grant program. In turn, he is asking corporate leaders to commit to making progress toward his energy goals.
The President’s Plan for Better Buildings
The President’s Budget will propose to make American businesses more energy efficient through a series of new initiatives:
- New tax incentives for building efficiency: The President is calling on Congress to redesign the current tax deduction for commercial building upgrades, transforming the current deduction to a credit that is more generous and that will encourage building owners and real estate investment trusts (REITs) to retrofit their properties. These changes could result in a ten-fold increase in commercial retrofit take up, leveraging job- creating investments.
- More financing opportunities for commercial retrofits: Access to financing is an important barrier to increased retrofit investment in some market segments. To address these gaps, the Small Business Administration is working to encourage existing lenders to take advantage of recently increased loan size limits to promote new energy efficiency retrofit loans for small businesses. The President’s Budget will also propose a new pilot program through the Department of Energy to guarantee loans for energy efficiency upgrades at hospitals, schools and other commercial buildings.
- “Race to Green” for state and municipal governments that streamline regulations and attract private investment for retrofit projects: Much of the authority to alter codes, regulations, and performance standards relating to commercial energy efficiency lies in the jurisdiction of states and localities. The President’s Budget will propose new competitive grants to states and/or local governments that streamline standards, encouraging upgrades and attracting private sector investment.
- The Better Buildings Challenge: The President is challenging CEOs and University Presidents to make their organizations leaders in saving energy, which will save them money and improve productivity. Partners will commit to a series of actions to make their facilities more efficient. They will in turn become eligible for benefits including public recognition, technical assistance, and best-practices sharing through a network of peers.
- Training the next generation of commercial building technology workers: Using existing authorities, the Administration is currently working to implement a number of reforms, including improving transparency around energy efficiency performance, launching a Building Construction Technology Extension Partnership modeled on the successful Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Commerce, and providing more workforce training in areas such as energy auditing and building operations.
Building on Progress
The Better Buildings Initiative will complement the initiatives the President has already launched for government and residential buildings, including the $20 billion in funding for building energy efficiency in ARRA:
- Through ARRA investments in programs like the Weatherization Assistance Program, Better Buildings, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, we will retrofit 600,000 residential homes.
- In last year’s State of the Union, the President called on Congress to pass a package of incentives to encourage Americans to make their homes more energy efficient. We remain committed to the passage of the “HOMESTAR” program.
- The Penn State-led Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster is the winner of the federal Energy-Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) competition. The E-RIC competition is a ground-breaking $129.7 million multi-agency grant program that delivers coordinated, targeted grants to spark the growth of innovative, energy-efficient building systems and technologies. This effort involves extensive collaboration across agencies, including Commerce and the Small Business Administration.
- ARRA provided GSA $5.5 billion to improve the energy performance of existing buildings and to start building a new generation of energy efficient buildings.
- The President signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies to achieve zero net energy by 2030 and employ high-performance and sustainable design principles for all new construction and alterations. At least 15 percent of existing buildings need to meet these guiding principles by FY 2015.
“Green Car Journal’s annual Green Car Vision Award was presented to Ford today at the Washington Auto Show. Honoring the Ford Focus Electric vehicle that will come to market late in 2011, the Green Car Vision Award celebrates an industry-leading, environmentally focused vehicle that is in its early stages of commercialization or in demonstration programs, but not yet on sale.”