Category Archives: Uncategorized

Taking a century-old rowhouse “net zero”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The house scored “net zero” on its energy audit

 

My latest green building story focuses on a DC rowhouse overhauled for energy efficiency. Then the developer slapped on almost as many solar panels as the roof would hold, turning this architectural relic into a cutting edge “extremely green” home. The new owner may be saying bye-bye to electric bills. Read the story in the Washington Post today!

Advertisements

New report takes aim at corporate funding for climate denial

Image

NASA’s Aqua satellite, dedicated to advancing our understanding of Earth’s water cycle. Creative Commons license

The Union of Concerned Scientists has just published a report outing corporations that publicly back action on global warming, while quietly bankrolling climate change denier groups.

While the report acknowledged that not all corporations are engaged in this sort of Jekyll & Hyde behavior, it says many have adopted a strategy that “allows companies to maintain a public image of climate consciousness while, behind the scenes, undermining climate science and policy in powerful ways.” The report goes on the say:

While all companies in our sample stated they were taking voluntary internal action to reduce carbon emissions, half of them also misrepresented some element of established climate science in their public communications.

It’s worth pointing out that several of the two-faced companies profiled in today’s report are key partners and benefactors of the country’s biggest environmental groups. Companies like ExxonMobil Corp., General Electric Co., and Alcoa Inc. have bankrolled nature centers, conservation projects and public education campaigns, among other things. (For more details, check out my book.) Companies often spend more money publicizing their environmental projects than they spent on the good works in the first place. In contrast, you seldom hear much about the money channeled to groups such as the Heartland Institute that continue to claim climate change is a hoax.

You can find the report here.

Some of today’s coverage is here, here and here.

Workaday Monday – in Berlin

It’s another Monday morning, computers are turned on, buzzing and the click, click of fingertips to keyboards. It’s almost like any other Monday morning – checking email, the news headlines and settling down to write – all except I’m doing it in a hotel lobby in Berlin. My co-workers: a group of environmental journalists from the U.S. and Canada. We were traveling around Germany last week touring green schools, office and apartment buildings when the volcano on Iceland began to erupt.

I was supposed to fly out Saturday morning and get back to D.C. in plenty of time to throw myself into another crazy workweek. But by Friday night, most of our flights were canceled and we had no idea where we’d sleep the next night or what we’d do as the ash cloud wafted through the atmosphere far above Europe. Of course, we’re all grown adults, journalists no less and fully equipped to survive such inconveniences. And, with the help of our hosts in the German government and the think tank, Ecologic Institute, we were quickly installed in a funky little hotel on the edge of Berlin’s Tiergarten, the city’s version of Central Park and a wonderful place that is right now full of gently unfurling buds and the first flowers of springtime.

It’s such a pleasure to experience springtime. And, here in Berlin, where they have had a hard winter, it’s easy to get caught up in the joyousness of the growing grass, chirping birds and happy Berliners who took full advantage of the mild weather and ample sunshine this weekend.  They were picnicking in the park, walking and biking all over town.

It’s a beautiful city – particularly this time of year. I would like to say that I handled this unexpected change of plans with the utmost grace but there was a lot of hand-wringing and wrinkled brows before we arrived at our new digs and had rebooked our flights. Three of us rented bikes yesterday and biked – YES WE BIKED! – out to the airport, a marvelous ride which I’ll likely tell you more about later.  I’m finally scheduled to go on Thursday now – which was seemingly like a lifetime-long delay only a day or two ago. That was before adjusting my expectations to the forces of nature. While we all knew we’d survive, it is something of a mindbend to be told that there is no certainly when or if you will be able to get home. We’ve all become accustomed to crossing at will the Atlantic (Pacific, Sea of Japan, whatever) that it is quite disconcerting to learn nature really doesn’t care that we have work to do, deadlines to meet and places to be.

Now that I’ve stopped worrying, I realize it’s really not much different from a regular day in the District. In fact, since it’s only just before 6 am at home, I’m really getting an early start to a productive workday! Everyone is quietly getting things done here in the lobby of the Motel One. I’ve decided to embrace the uncertainty. Tonight, in fact, we may venture to a special restaurant, Unsicht-Bar, where a wait staff of blind people serve you dinner entirely in the dark. Somehow, it seems like just the right meal for the moment.

Auf Wiedersehen!

New Book on Why Clinton + Palin Failed in 2008 Race

Check out my latest story, an interview with Washington Post White House Correspondent Anne Kornblut about her new book: “Notes from the Cracked Ceiling.”

DC Autumn

I found this photo on the Fuck Ya DC site but it apparently started out on the DCist via DCloveyou. So Confusing!