Topic: energy efficiency

10 Ways to Go Green

The Hamilton County Waste Management department has been working hard to help increase environmental awareness around the area.  Earlier this year they shared 10 Ways to Go Green, which are very much worth re-sharing.

From the Hamilton County Interchange Newsletter:

Top 10 Ways for Your Business to Go Green
Michelle Balz, Program Specialist, Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District

So, your business has decided to reduce its environmental footprint and become a good corporate citizen by going green. Generously, upper management has given you free reign to implement environmental policies…but where do you begin? Here are 10 simple ideas that can increase worker productivity, improve your company’s public image, and save your company money.

1. Start Recycling

Today recycling is a no-brainer. More than 40% of what we throw into the landfill is paper, yet over a dozen local companies crave paper as feedstock for their operation. Not wasting this valuable resource can also reduce your waste bill since the cost to haul recycling is lower than trash. Add in the environmental benefits of reduced pollution and conserved energy and it is easy to understand why recycling is often one of the first environmental policies a company adopts. For help with recycling, call the Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District at (513) 946-7734 or visit www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org.

Environmental Benefit- Recycling office paper reduces air pollution by 95% and saves 24 trees for every ton of office paper recycled (National Recycling Coalition).

2. Switch Your Bulbs

While the lighting technology choices are endless, CFL, LED, T8, T5… the solution is clear: switching to energy efficient lights saves energy and money. The bulbs may cost more upfront, but energy efficient lights last much longer than traditional bulbs and use significantly less energy to reduce costs in the long run. To help you decide which technology is right for you, visit www.energystar.gov.

Environmental Benefit- Replacing a single standard bulb with a CFL reduces energy use by 75% and prevents 450 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the bulb (Energy Star).

3. Build Green

Whether you start with a vacant lot or renovate your current space, integrating green building ideas can decrease energy and water use and increase worker productivity with a healthier work environment. The idea is simple: use sustainable materials and design to create a space that works with the local environment instead of against it. For ideas on green building and how to earn LEED certification, visit the US Green Building Council at www.usgbc.org or call the local Cincinnati chapter at (513) 388-0020.

Environmental Benefit- Green buildings on average use 30% less energy than conventional buildings, saving $60,000 per year for every 100,000 ft2 space (US Green Building Council).

4. Convert Your Fleet

Increase fuel efficiency, decrease pollution, and receive federal tax credits, need I say more? Integrating hybrid vehicles or biodiesel not only builds a green fleet but it also makes the public aware of your green commitment. To compare the latest alternative fuels and vehicles visit www.CleanFuelsOhio.org.

Environmental Benefit- The production and use of biodiesel, compared to petroleum diesel, results in a 78.5% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (National Biodiesel Board).

5. Implement Storm Water Management

Everything the rain washes off your buildings and parking lots ends up in a stream nearby, likely with unnatural speed that damages a stream ecosystem. You can take steps to minimize this effect by installing green roofs, buffer zones, rain gardens, and porous pavement. These practices allow rainwater to slowly release into local streams improving the health of the stream for local wildlife. For more information, visit
www.hamilton-co.org/stormwater.

Environmental Benefit- Porous pavement can reduce storm water runoff six times better than traditional pavement during peak rainfall (Environmental Protection Agency).

6. Encourage Employees to Save Fuel

If gas prices continue to climb, employees will welcome ideas to reduce fuel consumption. Offer incentives to employees who take the bus, ride a bike, carpool, or drive fuel efficient vehicles. Or if practical, allow your employees to work from home and eliminate the commute altogether. These actions will reduce your company’s carbon footprint and likely save employees money.

Environmental Benefit- Switching a 20-mile round trip commute to existing public transportation can reduce one person’s annual CO2 emissions by 4,800 lbs per year, equal to a 10% reduction in all greenhouse gases produced by a typical two-adult, two-car household (American Public Transportation Association).

7. Adopt an Environmental Purchasing Policy

Your company purchases many products- why not make those purchases greener? Adopting an environmentally preferable purchasing policy will give your employees the green light to seek out products ranging from post-consumer recycled content paper to non-toxic cleaning products. For sample policies and environmental purchasing tools visit www.epa.gov/epp/.

Environmental Benefit- Purchasing one ton (40 cases) of 30% post consumer copy paper saves the equivalent of: 7.2 trees, 2,100 gallons of water, 1,230 KW hours of electricity, and 18 pounds of air pollution (Conservatree).

8. Reduce and Reuse

Reduce waste in your office by discouraging employees to print unnecessarily (e.g., keep emails electronic) and encourage double-sided printing when possible. A simple change in margin size to 0.75 inches fits more text onto a page and reduces paper usage over time. Reuse in your office by providing a water cooler instead of water bottles and giving employees a reusable mug instead of disposable cups.

Environmental Benefit- Save energy! You would have to use a foam cup 1,006 times to reduce the amount of energy equal to reusing a ceramic mug (Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment).

9. Make Energy Conservation an Office Habit

Want an option for going green that won’t cost you a dime? Encourage employees to conserve energy by turning off lights when they are not in use and shutting down computers before they go home. This small change in behavior can add up to a big conservation of energy. According to the US Department of Energy, to conserve the most energy turn off the monitor if you are not going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes and turn off both the CPU and the monitor if you’re not going to use your PC for more than 2 hours./

Environmental Benefit- Turning your computer off at night or on weekends can reduce energy use by two-thirds and save an average of $90 a year per computer (US Department of Energy).

10. Take the Go Green Challenge

By joining the Hamilton County Go Green Challenge, your business becomes part of a network of local companies implementing green practices. Go Green Challenge members also have access to experts in a variety of environmental fields and receive public recognition for their accomplishments. Visit www.hcdoes.org/gogreen.htm for more information.

And remember, the next Go Green Challenge event is Oct 7. Are you registered?

LEED homes in Northside

We’ve mentioned these local green houses before, but here are some photos of the Northside LEED green residences taken during the EcoBags Lunch Series organized by ENCORE.  Both homes are under contract, but it’s still worth an inside look at what makes these places unique.


The homes from the front yard on a beautiful summer day.  Notice the drought tolerant and native plants in the landscaping.


Insulation is key to high energy efficiency.


Quality HVAC systems are designed to use minimal power.


My personal favorite: a dual flush toilet to save water where you use the most.  Choose a half flush for #1 and whole flush for #2.


High windows provide natural light for the room and a way out for hot air when opened.


Jami and Libby, the realtors who put together ENCORE in the kitchen of the second house.  Check out the bamboo floors, responsible cabinetry, Energy Star appliances, and the recycled material countertops.

LED Street Lamps

LED lighting uses less power than traditional incandescent bulbs or even compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs). LEDs are still priced out of use in average homes, but are finding a home in other applications.

A recent trip to Watt Works,  a company providing residential and commercial energy saving products and services in Columbus, introduced a street lamp using LED lighting.

These inventive street lamps are being incorporated into neighborhood streetscapes in Columbus and around the country as a way to reduce the environmental impact of ongoing operation of the street facilities.

Trucking companies saving money and gas

On a recent trip to Columbus, we saw this elaborate contraption at a truck stop.

Turns out, this is a great way for trucking companies to save money and in the process help reduce carbon emissions which contribute to global warming.

In the past, most truckers in the summer or winter left their trucks idling so that they could take advantage of air conditioning or heat in the cab while they rested on long journeys. With gasoline at $4 a gallon, that habit isn’t a very smart one for their business profits.

The system shown in the picture above, provides heat and a/c to trucks in the lot saving gasoline, saving wear and tear on the vehicles from constant idling, and reducing both air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

This particular service is provided by a company called IdleAire, and according to their website visits by truckers has resulted in:

conserving over 15 million gallons of fuel and eliminating over 360 million pounds of diesel emissions, mostly carbon dioxide

The technology is out there to help us both reduce our dependency on foreign oil supplies and help cut back on carbon emissions, it just takes people willing to find business models that work. Have an idea you think will help the “green” economy of our area? Get out there and do it.

Finding green home improvement resources

If you’ve been reading along for a few months, you know there there are local dedicated green Realtors, a certified Eco Broker, and development companies working to build green homes in the area. There are national websites dedicated to finding and buying existing green homes, and now you can even find an affordable LEED certified home in the local MLS.

All that, and green building is just getting off the ground in Cincinnati.

This spring and summer when you are working in the garden or taking a weekend to re-paint the garage, remember to think green. Not only is it a healthy choice and an energy conscious one, you may also be increasing the value of your home when it comes time for re-sale. Green building is taking off because demand is rising, even during a financially difficult time for most.

If you’re planning on taking advantage of a HIP loan from Hamilton County, use it for an energy efficiency upgrade to your home!

When you’re looking for a resource to help you green your remodel, check out the Live Green Cincinnati listings. Do you know someone who provides an environmentally friendly home building material or service in the area? Contact us so we can help connect Cincinnati residents to the tools they need to green their homes.

Give a stylish picnic gift this summer

French Rabbit wines from the Languedoc Roussillon Region of France has released a series of good French wines in a convenient and resealable package that is helping save energy

Stylish and Useful

The great thing is the wine tastes good, the package is stylish for gift-giving, and the convenient packaging makes them great for taking them on a picnic. They won’t accidentally break. You can reseal the top, and you don’t need to carry a cork screw with you.

We found these bottles of French Rabbit wines for sale at City Cellars Fine Wines, 908 Race Street downtown Cincinnati. Give Brian Hymel, General Manager, a shout-out from Live Green Cincinnati if you go and buy a bottle there.

Sustainable Packaging

In an effort to make their product more sustainable, French Rabbit has switched to bottling their product in a new take on the old “wine-in-a-box” idea. The Tetra Pak wine container is 3% the weight of a regular bottle of wine and uses 90% less packaging. The result is a 2/3rds reduction in transportation costs. The new packaging also allows them to provide more wine per container, almost 2 glasses more than a bottle.

French Rabbit packages are 100% recyclable, made from paperboard, aluminum and polyethelene. Unfortunately you can’t currently recycle them in Hamilton County. However, it’s just a matter of time before that will begin to change. Check with your local recycling facility to see if you can recycle Tetra Pak cartons in your neightborhood.

Packaging isn’t the only eco-friendly way the French Rabbit brand is meeting their corporate stewardship. For every 4 French rabbit wines sold, the company commits to planting one tree.

Energy Reducing

Don’t be surprised if you start seeing more Tetra Pak cartons on the shelves of your local stores. Because of the way they are made (aseptic packaging), they keep liquids stable without refrigeration until opened. This cuts down on the energy used to refrigerate them during delivery and while on the store shelves. Tetra Pak is a Swedish company product and found most often in Europe.

Find Out More
French Rabbit Website: frenchrabbit.com
Tetra Pak Website: Tetra Pak

I Make Cincinnati Green, green Realtor edition

Our “I Make Cincinnati Green” feature now turns to green homes. Not building them, but advocating for greener lifestyles and assisting home buyers in finding a place that fits their needs, minimizes their environmental footprint, and uses energy and resources efficiently.

Meet Jami Stutzman. Half of the local Realtor-duo who started ENCORE: Environmentally Conscious Real Estate of Cincinnati.  Another person in the city who is proving that being environmentally responsible is not only the right thing to do, but good business as well.

Do you make Cincinnati green? Let us know.

Home Depot collects your used CFLs

Been wondering where to recycle your burned-out CFL light bulbs?

Home Depot has started a program to recycle them. You can find out more about the program on the Home Depot web site.

Remember, don’t recycle a broken CFL bulb. If you’ve broken a CFL, follow the EPA guidelines for cleanup and disposal. They contain trace amounts of mercury and should be disposed of properly.

If this all sounds daunting, remember that CFL technology saves you money and is a stop-gap measure until incredibly efficient and long-lasting LED light bulbs become widely available and reasonably priced in a few years. Until then, handle your CFLs with care and save green!

Window air conditioner trade-in this weekend

The first project of the recently passed Cincinnati Climate Protection Action Plan is happening this weekend. If the heat is on in your house, this one is meant for you!

Have a crummy older window air conditioning unit? Take it to the Best Buy in Tri-County to trade for a recycled future in exchange for a $50 credit towards an EnergyStar qualified window air conditioner. The program is this weekend only, act now!

Here are the details from the press release:

City of Cincinnati, Duke Energy, and Best Buy Partner to

Offer Energy Efficient Room Air Conditioner Deal

First project from the recently passed Green Cincinnati Plan


Cincinnati - The City of Cincinnati, Duke Energy, and Best Buy are teaming up to offer citizens the opportunity to trade in their old inefficient room air conditioners and receive a $50 rebate instant rebate for a new high efficiency room air conditioner at Best Buy. The trade-in program will be at the Best Buy at Tri-County Mall on Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29. The program is the first example of how the Mayor’s Green Cincinnati Plan will help citizens save money on their utility bills.


“I want to thank Duke Energy and Best Buy for partnering with the City to help people make their homes more energy efficient,” Mayor Mallory said. “The Green Cincinnati Plan will continue to develop partnerships that will help citizens save money and improve the environment.”


To participate, bring your old inefficient air conditioner to the Best Buy at 865 E Kemper Rd, Springdale, OH 45246. The old air conditioners will be collected in the parking lot. Citizens will fill out a rebate form and receive either a $15 gift card to Best Buy or a $50 instant rebate if they choose to buy a new high efficiency ENERGY STAR qualified room air conditioner. There is a limit of three recycled air conditioners per household. The promotion runs from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm Saturday and 11:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Sunday.


“The Green Cincinnati Plan encourages residents to make their homes more energy efficient because it saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and saves money,” said Larry Falkin, Director of the Cincinnati Office of Environmental Quality. “Buying EnergyStar appliances is an easy way of knowing that you are making a wise decision, and this trade in program makes it an even better deal.”


Using a high efficiency ENERGY STAR qualified room air conditioner instead of a regular air conditioner will cut your cooling costs by 10 percent. This is equal to about $64 in savings over the lifetime of the unit. Products that have the ENERGY STAR have met strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy and have been tested as the most energy efficient products on the market.


The air conditioner turn-in program is part of Duke Energy’s commitment to increase the use of energy efficiency as an environmentally friendly way to meet the demand for energy from residents and businesses. Duke Energy Ohio’s energy efficiency programs are available to both residential and non-residential customers and include rebates on energy efficient appliances and lighting and other programs to help customers manage their energy use. Sandra Meyer, President of Duke Energy Ohio, was active in helping the City develop the Green Cincinnati Plan as part of the company’s efforts to support sustainable communities.

The turned-in air conditioner will be collected and safely recycled by Rumpke.

Still have a long way to go

The good news is that living in an urban environment rather than a suburban one does cut our per capita (per person) output of carbon dioxide (the gas that contributes to Global Warming).

The bad news is that Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana are the top states for per capita output.

According to a recent CNN article on the subject:

Cities in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana dominated the bottom tier of high carbon emitters.

These urban areas are “kind of a poster child of what high carbon intensive growth looks like,” said Brown. She noted their reliance on coal for electricity and natural gas for heating, a shortage of mass transit, and often older, energy-inefficient buildings.

The positive note here is that they identified 3 areas where Cincinnati citizens can begin to focus on making it better here. Not only do these things make it less healthy and contribute to global warming, but these are also the things that cost us more money in our daily lives.

Let’s fix our issues by looking at the 3 areas of improvement we should all focus on:

  1. Encourage alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar
  2. Support and use mass transit - buses, streetcars, commuter trains, etc.
  3. Put our household renovation money towards better energy efficiency rather than cosmetic changes

These are investments that will repay you in lower transportation costs and energy bills. Not to mention they guarantee that young Cincinnatians will stay here and continue to build their own families here rather than leave for areas of the country that are doing these things better than us. You know that will make grandma happy.