Archive for February, 2009

Sustainability is Blowin’ in the Wind

February 27, 2009

Jacobs_31-20_DAs both a sustainability professional and a trained aeronautical engineer, I make the following assertion: wind turbines are awesome. I have always been fascinated by their elegance and visual simplicity, using one of nature’s own shapes, the airfoil, to perform the same task as the coal-gobbling, smoke-spewing power plants that dotted the landscape back home in northeast Ohio.

Like solar, wind operates with what is effectively 100% efficiency – whatever energy isn’t converted to electricity simply goes back to nature, with no real waste. Because of this, wind power is very flexible. It can be used in very small applications, such as 200-400 W units installed on sailboats, to large scale generation, such as the gargantuan 7 MW turbine built by Enercon.

With this near-obsession in mind, I jumped at the opportunity when I received the invitation to see a wind turbine installed at Dave’s BrewFarm, in Wilson, WI. David Andersen, a man with a long
Jacobs_31-20_Apedigree when it comes to beer, is in the process of building a residence and brewery that will be almost completely self-sustaining once established. With wheat, hops, raspberries, and other ingredients grown on the property, David has everything needed to brew great beer. Producing power on site is only an extension of that concept. (All of the other great sustainable features of the BrewFarm are topics for another blog post.)

Jacobs_31-20_BThe wind turbine installed at Dave’s BrewFarm is a Jacobs 31-20, manufactured by Wind Turbine Industries, capable of producing 20 kW of power. While David’s not sure what percentage of the brewery’s electricity demand will be met, the turbine is the largest for which Wisconsin will allow sale of excess power at retail rates – excess power produced by larger turbines must be sold at the much-lower wholesale rates. The ability to resell excess power is what makes these turbines attractive to residential and small business customers. With some additional renewable energy grant money, the resale allows an owner to recoup the $60,000-$70,000 installation cost in 8-10 years, after which the turbine’s excess power can become a source of income.

Jacobs_31-20_CI don’t live far enough from civilization to have my own wind turbine, but that may not matter: Chaska may put one practically in my backyard. The City of Chaska generates its own power and is consequently required to meet state mandates for renewable power. To meet this requirement, the city is looking to install a 160 kW turbine, and the planned location is right at the entrance to my neighborhood. It won’t really be mine, but I can always pretend…

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Drink from the Tap!

February 15, 2009

If you haven’t heard it yet, you’ve been living under a rock: bottled water is not sustainable! According to the International Bottled Water Association, U.S. consumption of bottled water hit 8.8 billion gallons in 2007, the majority of which was sold in single-serving bottles, only 23% of which were recycled. In addition to the waste created, bottling this water consumed 18.2 million barrels of oil and produced 2.7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Did I forget to mention that bottled water is over 1,000 times more expensive than tap water? Save the environment and your cash: buy a reusable bottle and fill it from the tap. Plastic bottles are inexpensive, but be sure to look for a recycling code of “2” (HDPE), “4” (LDPE), or “5” (polypropylene) on the bottom – these plastics won’t leech harmful chemicals into your water. Metal bottles cost more but are nearly indestructible. Stainless steel or lacquer-coated aluminum bottles are available from Klean Kanteen (http://www.kleankanteen.com) and SIGG USA (http://www.mysigg.com) in a variety of sizes and styles. If you don’t like the taste, buy a filtration system from BRITA (http://www.brita.com): in conjunction with Preserve’s Gimme 5 Program, BRITA has recently begun offering recycling for used filters.

Meet Paydirt

February 11, 2009

Welcome to the Paydirt blog! We’re delighted you’re here. Please feel free to check back regularly and comment… that is, if you have something interesting to say.

For our first entry, we thought you might like to get a flavor of who you’ll be hearing from in future months — Paydirt’s exceptional staff!

So, without further ado… (Or perhaps for those of you who know us, “Much Ado about Nothing.”)

Introducing Jill Elizabeth Kolling
Jill Kolling, our founder and fearless leader, is an experienced entrepreneur and astute business strategist. As managing partner of Paydirt, Jill’s specialties include operational efficiency, regulatory compliance, strategy execution, mentoring and training, and program planning and management.

With a background in lean manufacturing and management consulting, Jill has always recognized the opportunity for greater performance through increased efficiency and resourcefulness. She joined the sustainability consulting world after noticing that business leaders were beginning to recognize the value of environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility. Jill is energized by the fact that multiple stakeholders — NGOs, corporations, and governments — are now coming together at the same table to explore solutions to our global environmental challenges.

On a personal level, Jill has an insatiable appetite for international travel and enjoys fine wine, collecting vintage cocktail shakers, the TV show House and working on her 80+ year-old Minneapolis residence. People are often surprised to learn that Jill loves to sew and has made all of the window treatments in her home.

Fun Fact: When Jill traveled to Easter Island, she met a native islander who had visited Southdale shopping mall and described it as “the most amazing place I’ve ever seen.”

Introducing Thomas Patrick Tierney
Thomas Tierney, a.ka. “Tom,” “Tommy” or “TT,” joined Paydirt due to a desire to use his skills and background to do something worthwhile and have a positive impact beyond the realm of business. As a principal and strategic advisor to clients, Tom’s specialty areas include technology, risk and performance management, and business process reengineering. Tom is excited about the opportunity to continually learn new things and apply them to meet clients’ challenges.

With a background in regulatory compliance and environmental health and safety, Tom’s interest in sustainability stemmed from two things: (1) having kids and (2) moving to Minnesota from Ohio (by way of Boston and Houston). Tom has spent a lot more time outdoors in Minnesota, so the notion of preserving the environment for his children quickly took hold.

Tom enjoys bicycling, desserts of all kinds, and “very” amateur photography. Thanks to his grandmother, he has been drinking tea since he was three years old. An avid music fan, Tom enjoys Beck, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Robert Earl Keen, Bim Skala Bim and anything by Elvis Costello. However, please note that this is not a comprehensive list of his favorites — there are simply too many to list.

Fun Fact: Tom can wiggle his nose like a rabbit (don’t think Samantha in Bewitched — his nose wiggling is truly one-of-a-kind.) For all of you “Google addicts,” our Tom is NOT the Tom Tierney that designs paper dolls.

Introducing Eliza Christine Shardlow Clark
Principal Eliza or Ellie (“it’s really your preference”) Clark is Paydirt’s resident marketing and communications expert. A recent addition to Paydirt, Eliza is excited about the opportunity to expand her technical skills and offer clients an integrated, holistic approach to sustainability strategy and assessment. Eliza’s professional specialties include strategic planning, public relations, public affairs, green events, online marketing, strategic planning and coalition building.

Eliza’s background includes a law degree from the University of Minnesota as well as traditional and sustainability-focused communications agency experience. When asked where her interest in sustainability stems from, Eliza answered, “To me, it just makes sense – business sense and common sense — to avoid unnecessary waste and pollution and to protect our natural resources. I do love the planet like (most) everybody else. However, I also appreciate the fact that it presents an opportunity to explore an uncharted business frontier.”

Eliza’s personal interests, although admittedly random, include relaxing with family and friends, dance, singing, yoga, running, reading, downhill and water skiing, traveling and keeping up-to-date with all of the new Twin Cities “hot spots.” Favorite TV shows include The Office, Arrested Development, and 30 Rock, and her favorite foods include McDonald’s twist cones (elusive but still in existence) and raspberries.

Fun Fact: Eliza’s family still makes fun of her for voraciously reading books while playing in t-ball and softball games while growing up. (She would like to note that she has since found success in other athletic endeavors…)