Greg Horn, best-selling author of Living Green: A Sustainable Guide, seeks video entries for JustDoOne.org's collection of sustainable living ideas. Entries should summarize ideas in no longer than three minutes. Judges will determine the best entry and award the winner a $5,000 cash prize.
Horn's Web site serves as an online forum to help users answer, "What can I do?" to live greener. Visit www.JustDoOne.org for contest details. — Alex Woodward
There's nothing greener than turning your refuse into fuel. Since April, the Abita Brewing Company has done exactly that with the installation of a low-rate anaerobic digester that ferments the brewery's industrial wastewater, converting it to reusable methane. In time, Abita President David Blossman estimates, the treatment facility should reduce the company's natural-gas purchases by as much as 30 percent. "Right now an MMBTU (1 million British Thermal Units, or close to 1,000 cubic feet of gas) is around $9. It used to be $2.50," he says. "That's about $46,000 per year (in savings)."
Blossman says the new system already is exceeding expectations. Depending on the use of different nutrients and operating temperatures, the quality and volume of the gas is subject to change. "We're experimenting right now," he says. "They told us we'd get 70, 75 percent methane out of it. We're getting 92 percent. That's unheard of."
Nearly as important, he adds, is that the facility is odorless as it operates. "We want to be good neighbors," Blossman says. "We don't want it smelling like a septic tank, and we don't want to waste any of that because the smell would be methane. We want it all."
With a cost of nearly $1.5 million — roughly twice the price of replacing the brewery's previous aerobic system — it will take a long time for the anaerobic conversion to pay for its cost, Blossman says. But it's just one part of a larger companywide sustainability strategy that includes hybrid vehicles for sales representatives and "six-pack wraps," a European style of packaging that conserves 50 percent of the paper used in traditional carries.
"Usually you can get a five-, six-year payback (on projects)," he says. "But it makes our people and me feel better about what we're doing, and you just can't measure that in a payback. Most green projects do have a payback. You just have to be more patient with them." — Noah Bonaparte Pais
The Salvation Army kicked off its EnviRenew initiative with 12 days of Christmas greening in Broadmoor, identifying and upgrading a household during each of the 12 days from Dec. 26 to Jan. 6. It kicked off the initiative's long-term plan to renovate 125 homes and build 125 homes over three years.
Salvation Army partnered with Green Coast Enterprises, the Broadmoor Improvement Association, the U.S. Green Building Council and local green building suppliers and contractors to add eco-friendly elements to Broadmoor homes. Recipients included Mary Phipps, who lives with her daughter, son-in-law, granddaughters and great-grandchildren. With supplies provided by local contractor AAC Inc., the program placed new energy-efficient windows in the Phipps' home.
"Those who are the most vulnerable need green home sustainability to have the greatest chance of success" in post-Katrina New Orleans, Frizzell says, pointing to the economic pinch caused by higher energy expenses being paid with lower household incomes. "This program is about reducing the cost to the homeowner."
Other recipients include Vivian Batiste, who received new Energy Star appliances, courtesy of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery. Local retailers including New Orleans Bamboo, South Coast Solar and Green Bean Insulation also provided services and products to Broadmoor residents who were identified by the EnviRenew Initiative.
Frizzell says he hopes the initiative sets a new standard for building and reconstruction in New Orleans.
AmeriCorps house captains partnered with Rebuilding Together New Orleans and led 100 volunteers from the campus group Hillel to rebuild four homes for disabled and low-income homeowners in Broadmoor during four days earlier this month. They used salvaged materials, environmentally responsible landscaping products and energy-efficient appliances and insulation in their renovations and repairs. RTNO plans to host three more Hillel volunteer groups this year. — Woodward
Terrebonne celebrates wetlands
The Convention on Wetlands — the international accord for wetland conservation and preservation and the first global intergovernmental treaty for the sustainable use of natural resources — was signed at Ramsar, Iran, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, on Feb. 2, 1971. To commemorate the historic assembly, the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center will sponsor a series of events marking Terrebonne Parish's first participation in World Wetlands Day. On Feb. 2, Houma's Waterlife Museum, the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, LSU Wildlife Hospital of Louisiana and others will host educational events throughout the day. — Woodward