Green Business

GM gets it right by asking bloggers to review Chevrolet Volt in daily use

GM gets it right by asking bloggers to review Chevrolet Volt in daily use GM has endured a winding road on its way back to profitability, and it seems the company is embracing the social web when it comes to the Chevrolet Volt. The company is running a 3 month test with 15 individuals it has picked for technology and electric car moguls and calling the team a Customer Advisory Board. Each member will receive a production Chevrolet Volt and provide feedback back to GM. That’s a good move for a couple of reasons.

It has the potential to provide legitimacy to GM’s claims on reliability and fuel efficiency with the Chevrolet Volt. Some of those selected have extensive experience in the industry and who have opinions developed by long term participation, while others are newer to the electric vehicle enthusiast scene.

T-Mobile making solar part of cellular on one U.S. site, keep it coming!

T-Mobile making solar part of cellular on one U.S. site, keep it coming! The mobile phone industry is poised to replace computers as the dominant form of technology productivity, and that makes it an industry to watch in terms of how it’s taking responsibility for the pollution it creates. While certainly a small step in the grand scheme, T-Mobile just finished installing 12 solar panels on a site in Chelfont, Pennsylvania. That’s a bit unique because usually carriers install solar panels in developing countries where other power sources are scarce and towers are widely separated.

Report suggests online shopping and telecommuting lead to higher carbon emissions

Report suggests online shopping and telecommuting lead to higher carbon emissionsA new report from Newcastle University suggests that working from home and shopping online actually increases carbon emissions. According to researchers, buying goods online only provides carbon savings if certain conditions are met. For example, if a truck delivers at least 25 orders in one trip or if your online purchase takes the place of more than three physical shopping trips. As computers make it easier for us to conduct business from home, it's become more important to determine how exactly it impacts the environment.

Chevrolet Volt batteries may be recycled into next gen smart grids

Chevrolet Volt batteries may be recycled into next gen smart grids Nothing is certain yet, but GM is exploring options when it comes to the lithium-ion batteries packed into the 2010 Chevrolet Volts. Each battery is capable of holding up to 16-kWh of electricity and creating some sort of shelter and connectivity to the grid for those would provide large scale energy storage.

GM warrantees the battery in the Volt for 8 years, so drivers certainly don’t need to worry about that part going bad for a large part of the vehicle’s lifespan. But eventually cars break down, and lithium-ion batteries take a long time to decompose – consequently GM is seeking to extend the product lifecycle of its batteries beyond the car.

Hemp houses offer sustainability without sacrificing style

hemp houses

While the United States continues to ban the cultivation of industrial hemp because of its relationship to marijuana, other countries recognize the plant's considerable economic and environmental benefits. The soft, hardy fiber can be found in paper, clothing and, increasingly, in houses. In the United Kingdom, Bath University researchers have constructed a building dubbed the "HemPod" in order to test the suitability of hemp as a building material.

Bloom Energy valuation at $1 billion, but green energy is priceless

Bloom Energy valuation at $1 billion but green energy is priceless Bloom Energy burst into the green energy microcosm with a bang earlier this year when it organized a launch event that included some political and business heavyweights like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and executives from companies like eBay, Google, and Coca-Cola. Since then Bloom Energy hasn’t shared many new details publicly but a recently released report is indicating the company is work $1.034 billion were it to go public.

GM snaps up a piece of innovative battery manufacturer Sakti3

GM snaps up a piece of innovative battery manufacturer Sakti3 GM hasn’t been shy in their wish to become a dominant force when it comes to hybrid and plug-in cars. Besides showing off the Volt, they’ve created financial relationships with companies like Bright Automotive that develop electric vans. Now GM’s investment arm has sunk $3.2m in Sakti3, a Michigan company that’s developing sold-state lithium-ion batteries that will extend the range of electric cars.

Air fresheners poison the air with pthalates

Air fresheners poison the air with pthalatesA clean house needs a fragrant scent and a liberal spray of air freshener, according to all the advertisements. Spring rain. Fresh linen. Formaldehyde. Far from leaving you with a fresh feeling, the ingredients in air fresheners can cause respiratory problems, birth defects, depression and infertility. Yet we find them everywhere, from homes to cars to hotel rooms.

The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that 75 percent of American homes use some form of air freshener. While industry representatives state that their products pose no risk, a study conducted by the NRDC in 2007 found that a dozen common air fresheners contained phthalates. Pthalates are chemicals used to soften plastic and bind fragrances, and are known to cause hormonal and reproductive problems. The NRDC study looked at aerosol sprays, solids and liquids that continuously emit a scent. None of the air fresheners listed phthalates among their ingredients, but even products marked "all natural" and "unscented" tested positive for the chemical.

A bamboo house powered by solar panels? Now that’s green

A bamboo house powered by solar panels? Now that’s green While many companies are focused on changes to existing processes that create efficiencies translating into energy or resource savings – others are rethinking their initial approach. Consider a house, which traditionally requires logs or precut rectangular boards to build out the frame. Now replace that lumber with hardened bamboo, layer the top of it with solar panels, and you get something that looks like a modern way of living sustainably.

Tonji University Shanghai displayed one such model in the 2010 European Solar Decathlon with hopes of demonstrating how people can live within the means of their home’s own carbon footprint. Traditional Chinese architecture is very apparent in the house, and it’s loaded with some hi-tech gear.

Scion iQ entering uncertain market as Smart ForTwo sales decline

Scion iQ entering uncertain market as Smart ForTwo sales decline Daimler AG can’t be incredibly happy about the sales performance of the Smart ForTwo recently, especially because the number sold this year will likely dip below last year’s numbers. That makes the playing field interesting for Toyota who is planning on debuting the Scion iQ in early 2011, which is another microcar with a couple of twists.

One of the biggest differences is passenger seats. The Scion iQ comes with seating for 4 people inside the cabin, which may make it more marketable for people who want a little more flexibility than the Smart ForTwo’s 2 person limit. The second generation of the Smart ForTwo came out in 2007 and dealers are wanting more flexibility in customization plus a model for more passengers. Daimler is expected to deliver a facelift still in 2010 but it remains to be seen if that can reverse the downward trend.