US EPA Greenacres Native Plants Program

Native Prairie Grass

The US Environmental Protection Agency has an excellent program that promotes the use of native plants for landscaping that goes by the name of Greenacres. Their website provides tons of information on using native plants. Why is it a good idea to use native plants for landscaping? Because native plants require less maintenance, provide wildlife habitat for local animals, birds, insects, etc., and are non-invasive. Using native plants in your garden is an excellent way to create a natural oasis in your own backyard that exists in harmony with the natural landscapes of your region. The program also deals with large-scale landscape restoration for open spaces, parks, etc. It’s nice to see the federal government recognizes this fact and is promoting the use of native plants with fact sheets, brochures, and other useful info.

New California Solar Energy Plan

California State energy regulators are pushing forward an impressive solar energy plan that includes generous consumer rebates for those interested in investing in solar technology. Their hope is that this initiative will stimulate more interest in solar energy and create new jobs in the alternative energy sector. Over the next decade, the goal is to install enough solar panels on private homes, businesses and public buildings to generate over 3,000 megawatts of solar energy.

Given the fact that California is one of the sunniest states in the U.S., this plan makes a lot of sense. In fact, this plan may place California back on the list of the world leaders in solar energy development, as they were back in the 70s.

These days, Germany and Japan have been getting more attention as the leading innovators and users of solar energy. Let’s hope Californians can do us proud and somewhat reverse the bad reputation the Bush administration has given the U.S. with respect to energy consumption and greenhouse gas production.
See here for more information.

Energy Star, A Government Program That Works

Sure, our government has a reputation of coming up with lots of inefficient ideas, but occasionally something beautiful pops up out of all that messy bureaucracy. ENERGY STAR is one of those things of beauty. This is a government-sponsored program that works to improve energy efficiency and protect the environment at the local level. They work with businesses and individuals and have a certification program that selects household products for high energy efficiency standards and then recommends them on their site. They also certify new homes if you’re looking to purchase a home. They even help with advice on home improvements.