Hybrid only parking – coming to a parking lot near you!

Photo courtesy of Jumbo Jack at Flickr.com.

Ikea, Home Depot, and the Green Exchange are just a few businesses that now offer preferred parking for hybrid owners. Apparently, IKEA’s Canadian stores offered hybrid only parking spots for more than a year… so it wont be long before we start seeing more and more of these spots in choice locations at the front of parking lots.

Hybrid cars not only use less fuel (and pay less fuel tax per mile driven) but they also get to ride in the HOV lane here in Dallas. Other cities offer free parking spots, discounts on city meters, or immunity from anti-congestion fees. All these incentives add up, and just might have something to do with the decline in sales for gas guzzlers.

Cynics have pointed out that many hybrid drivers get special treatment because they are often in the upper 5% income racket, but I’ve got a simple gauge for whether something is a good idea. If a certain course of action makes the mouthbreathers furious, then that’s a good policy.

Photo courtesy of Bob_2006 at Flickr.com.

Go Green Taxi

Pedicab Pilot Waits for Fare

Back in the 1800s, a Dallas businessman wrote that Fort Worth, Texas was so boring that a panther was seen sleeping on main street “undisturbed by the rush of men or the hum of trade.”  Fort Worth citizens rallied behind this and Fort Worth has been known as Panther City.  There is even a panther on the police badges and panthers adorn the older buildings downtown in place of gargoyles. 

But in the evenings downtown Fort Worth is no longer panther-friendly.  Clubs, restaurants, and street performers are everywhere you go.  And then there’s the bicycles. 

The police ride bicycles, security people ride bicycles — it’s the most efficient way to get around downtown.  When Dr. Hunter S. Thompson ran for Sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, one of his campaign promises was to close downtown to automobile traffic and have city maintained bicycles for public use, it’s not a new idea.   I was listening to my favorite street musician at 5th and Houston and I noticed an old friend of mine peddling a three wheel bicycle-like contraption up and down the street and from what I could tell just across 5th there seemed to be kind of a home base for these things.  I had to check it out. 

Go Green Taxi is the brain child of Steve Burdick, a retired bicycle racer who says he got the idea when racing down in Mexico.  Apparently these things are common down there. Steve, not being the sit-on-a-porch-in-a-rocking-chair kind of retiree, made this his retirement.  The bicycle powered taxis, called pedicabs, use 5th and Houston as a base of operations, but can be hailed all over downtown.  With the new stadium going in Arlington for the increasingly inaccurately named Dallas Cowboys there is a good chance that Burdick’s business will expand to cover that area as well.

Steve Burdick

In addition to the green-as-it-gets transportation they provide for the public the employees tell me that they use bicycles as their primary form of transpiration even when not on the job.  Spend a few hours on a street corner in down town Fort Worth and you really start to see the need for these guys.  You see the same cars drive past 10 or 15 times circling the block trying to find parking rather than park in the free parking garage on the outskirts.  All the gas wasted, all the noise, all the pollution and it’s a simple solution.  Next time you’re downtown keep an eye out for a pedicab.  They are starting to spring up in many major cities in the US.  Maybe the good doctors dream of a auto-less downtown can become a reality after all.    


Recruiting for green jobs

Photo courtesy of
♥Lauren♥ at Flickr.com.

Is your company looking for energetic, talented, motivated, hip, and intelligent workers? If so, that’s another reason to develop green policies and brag about them. Companies with green cred spend less on recruiting and have better retention rates. Perhaps this is because we’re seeing a cultural shift, where workers are becoming increasingly proud of working for companies that help the environment and ashamed of working for faceless corporations that plunder the natural world.

Which camp does your company belong to? If you want to reap the benefits of a green workplace, here are 10 starting points to green your office environment. And don’t forget – reduced turnover is only the tip of the iceberg:

  • Green offices are also more profitable due to higher efficiency.
  • Companies that have a reputation as stewards of the environment are able to bid on contracts that are closed to less reputable companies.
  • Workers in green buildings have higher productivity.
  • Finally, if you’re looking for a green career, here are some job search tools that may come in handy:



    Photo courtesy of
    temp13rec. at Flickr.com.

    Diesel from waste plastics in Nova Scotia

    Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Limited is a Canadian company started in 1937 to produce ground wood pulp, adding paperboard in 1946. Today they make 100 percent recycled paperboard products with power generated from their own hydro power plant. It’s estimated that their plant saves over 10 million cubic feet of landfill space a year. So what better recipient of a government program to produce diesel from recycled plastics?

    On April 2, 2008 Premier Rodney MacDonald announced that the Canadian province would be investing up to 20 million in Minas Basin’s new green programs.

    “We are committed to investing in innovative and resourceful companies that contribute to job growth, a green environment, and a strong economy for Nova Scotia,” said Premier MacDonald. “Minas Basin is taking a leadership role by helping to ensure environmental sustainability for this province.”

    With this investment by the Government the company will be able to invest $27 million in capital investments.

    “This assistance from the province allows us to enter the next phase of sustainable restructuring for Minas Basin,” said Scott Travers, Minas Basin president and chief operating officer. “It will create significant operational savings and increase the supply of renewable energy for Nova Scotia.

    Details on the process that will be used at the Minas Basin facility were not readily available.

    China began converting waste plastic into diesel in 1999, and since then have been importing large amounts of plastic waste that would otherwise go into landfills.

    Jatropha taking root in Florida as new biodiesel source plant

    Previously we talked about Jatropha as a new biodiesel source here, here, and here. Now The Naples Daily News reports that My Dream Fuel LLC is has been cultivating a Jatropha SW Florida. Jatropha produces four times the fuel per acre than soy and ten times more than corn. Paul Dalton, a former attorney owns the company and says demand is great:

    “There are about 100 buyers for every gallon you produce,” he said.

    Dalton already has close to a million plants in the ground and hopes to plant another million before June and is in the process of opening a 15,000 square foot seed crushing and plant cloning center in Ft Myers. The seeds of the of the plant are crushed in order to make biodiesel.

    My Dream Fuel is one of the first companies to bring large scale planting to the US of Jatropha, a plant native to Mexico and South America. The company expects to be able to turn out plants at the rate of one million per month

    “We studied our mother trees that we use to clone for over six years, and we have over 500 of them. So we have the largest bank of mother trees in the world, of any company,”

    “We know of a couple of groups from New York and from Spain that want to plant in Texas and Brazil. So in the next couple of weeks, we may exhaust our current supply,” Dalton said.

    Dave Wolfley, the owner of Sunshine Biofuels is working towards establishing a fuel plant. He has been campaigning to convince local farmers to take a chance on the new fuel crop and has a few ready to try it.

    Jatropha evangelist are targeting citrus groves in Florida with diseased trees and cattle ranchers looking to branch out. With the reported ability of this plant to grow in nearly any environment that is a lot of land in a lot of the country that these plants could be grown on.