If all goes as planned in the next nine years, San Francisco will be able to claim that title! As Spring allowed the much needed sun to shine down on us, the sun sparked new ideas in the minds of the City by the Bay.  About a week ago, newly appointed mayor (who was nominated to take Gavin Newsom’s vacant spot after his Lt Governor win) announced the city’s plan to become 100% Renewable Energy by 2020. The push for renewable energy is going to rely on the instillation of new solar panels throughout the city.

The announcement came during a gathering of 800 solar industry enthusiasts. Currently the city is receiving 12% of it’s energy from renewable sources, mainly from the nearby hydroelectric plant. Although 12% seems small, it actually lands San Francisco in the number two spot on Top Ten Cities For Renewable Energy, second only  to it’s less famous neighbor across the Bay, Oakland who currently uses 17% Renewable Energy.

88% may seem like a lot of ground to gain, or should we say sun, in the next nine years. However, proponents of the announcement see it as a hopeful step in the right direction. The city already offers huge incentives to residents and businesses who install solar through their GoSolarSF program.  Even former Mayor Gavin Newsom points out the progress this program has already done: “GoSolarSF has more than doubled the number of solar installations in our City and created dozens of jobs. This program is literally transforming how our homes and businesses generate and consume electricity rooftop by rooftop.

With these incentives the city hopes to increase solar energy production, as well as hydroelectric and wind power. Many people say that trying to meet such a high goal is unrealistic, however as Grist explains, the city has far exceeded their goal to recycle 75% of waste, another goal that was deemed to ambitious. As this city has the history of meeting expectations, possibly setting the bar so high this time will be a great incentive. Plus, it would catapult San Francisco back on the top of the list of Top 10 Greenest Cities, as they were pushed to number two last year by green giant Portland, OR. Here’s to being on top again!

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Low income countries, like Ghana, are being introduced to a sustainable and affordable way to obtain eco-friendly housing. Architect João Caeiro was recently recruited to help, a Lisbon-based design team, develop a house to sustain a single-family for the emerging middle class of Ghana. The result of this collaboration is called Emerging Ghana. Emerging Ghana is designed to be built using only local materials, local labor, and is complete with some of the best strategies for design sustainability you may have ever heard of! This family home is constructed complete with the flexibility and freedom for its owner to build and add-on to the home as a family grows. What’s really amazing?  This awesome house can be purchased for around $12,500 USD. I don’t know about you, but I’m considering purchasing a summer home in Ghana.

Emerging Ghana is attracting some major attention! Some of Emerging Ghana’s recent publicity is due its placement in the Open Source House competition. Open Source House is a nonprofit that emphasizes on global creativity and knowledge about housing designs that are focused on sustainability and affordability. Open Source House aims to bring choice to the typical housing situations of people who live in low-income and poverty stricken areas afflicted with massive urbanization. Every year, a competition takes place where designers are able to showcase their architectural visions in hopes of being chosen as the winner of the Open Source House competition. The Open Source House competition’s first place concept winner will then be built. This year’s winner? You guessed it: Emerging Ghana.

Congratulations Emerging Ghana! With its energy efficient solar-heated water tank, the inhabitants of this beautiful home will be able to bathe and cook with heated water. The solar passive design is south-facing and allows the home to be naturally shaded while rain water is collected to water a food-producing garden in the courtyard. This house is also complete with its own septic tank.

I can’t wait to see this concept be built in late 2010 and to read more media coverage about this fantastic design! Congratulations are also due to Ghana’s impressive run in the World Cup. You go Ghana!

-Hannah Bybee

One of the United States’ most exciting alternative-energy events, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, is about to kick off in Washington DC!  Starting October 9th (and ending the 18th), 20 teams of college and university students, hailing from such diverse corners as Kentucky and Germany, will be competing to design, build and operate their very own solar-powered houses.  The goal is to make them as energy-efficient as possible while still being aesthetically pleasing and practical to live in. In fact, one of our very own at Autonomie Project is down in DC competing himself. Kevin will be representing Boston Architectural College and Tufts University through designing and constructing the Curio House.

The Decathlon is split into three phases: first, the teams put their collective brains together to design their homes using high-tech solutions in unique ways, and then raise the funds and coordinate with contractors to build them.  Next, each team must disassemble their house, transport it to the national Mall in DC and reassemble it.  Finally, the competition begins as each team and home is evalutaed in ten different areas: architecture, market viability, engineering, lighting design, communications, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment and net metering (reading how much energy the home consumes over the course of the competition). The juries assessing each area are compromised of scholars and working professionals at the head of their particular field.

This is the fourth Decathlon, the others having occurred previously at intervals of two years.  The contest is always growing, involving more students and universities, and the event brings more than 100,000 people out each time to walk among and interact with the teams and their homes. This is a very special chance to venture into a world that may very well reflect the needs and hopes of a future in crisis. If you have the chance, we highly recommend you take it and go get lost in the solar village!  All of the above information and much more can be found on the event website. We want to send our special thanks to the members of the Curio House and we wish Kevin and the rest the best of luck!

CO: Obama signs economic recovery bill in Denver Photo By aflcio2008Just days after the huge economic recovery stimulus bill was passed and Obama signed it into law, critics on both sides put it their two cents. Economists and regular Joes can’t seem to agree whether the stimulus is a great move or a bad decision. However, there is one group of people who are celebrating the passage. The Green Movement seems to be one of the winners of the bill. The bill sets aside millions of funding for green development. From mass transit to solar energy, the bill definitely is a win for a growing industry.

Wind Power Photo By Luis AlvesImmediately following the passage several green groups celebrated in the news, including Green America.  They have released a great list of the “5 best stimulus provisions for a greener America.” And their list is full of hopeful parts of the stimulus plan including: 9.5 billion for energy efficient revitalization of federal buildings, 6 billion towards in loans for solar and wind projects, 11 million to modernize the electricity grid, and 17.5 billion for public transportation including high speed rail. Green America also celebrated that 50 million in funding of new nuclear and coal plants was cut out of the bill.

Green Jobs Now Sarasota - Sarasota, FL Photo By greenforall.orgThese are major victories in the green economy and we can only hope that this really will stimulate the economy as well convince the majority of America to switch to a greener lifestyle. This bill has potential to create millions of new jobs as well as jumpstart a move to a greener America! So we say congratulations to all of us who have been working to bring the green movement into the forefront! Even though a huge victory has happened, it doesn’t mean we can stop pushing. Stay involved with organizations like Green America and Green Jobs Now. And most of all try to to stay green in your daily life.

As some of you may know, Congress is on summer break and they did not address the current energy and climate crisis at hand. Not only did they not address gas prices, but they also failed to renew the clean energy tax cuts that will expire soon. These cuts fund solar, wind, and other renewable energy. Job loss and wasted time could be the result of this inaction by Congress. However, there is something, we the people can do!

The We Campaign is encouraging people to take the time to write a quick letter to the editor of your local paper. These letters are often published and may be viewed by representatives in their vacation months. So please take a moment and send a letter. Let’s work together and let Congress and the public know we do want CHANGE

If you would like to learn more about The We Campaign and how to get involved, please check them out at WeCanSolveIt.org

Fenway Park, home of the famed Red Sox, which rests in the middle of bustling Boston is a national and local attraction. The green walls of the park have come to symbolize America’s national pastime. But now the park can boast the green shade is more than symbolic.

Earlier this month, Fenway Park revealed newly installed solar panels. They have installed enough solar panels to heat a third of the park’s hot water. The solar panels were installed by one of the city’s green projects. The city of Boston and energy companies have been funding this initiative, called Solar Boston.

Boston who was rated 3rd on the Popular Science’s America’s 50 Greenest Cities, hopes to increase the city’s overall solar output by 2015. They have set a reachable goal to increase solar energy 50 fold. In 2007, Boston also became one of the Solar America Cities, an initiative to increase the national solar output by the US Department of Energy.

Solar power is a great renewable energy source, but it isn’t the only one the city of Boston is instituting . Beginning this July, NStar, electricity supplier to Boston, is offering customers the option to have half or all of their electricity supply come from wind power. For just $4 (for half) or $7 (for all) extra a month, every household can switch to a renewable energy source. That’s the cost of a lunchtime sandwich!! So, please, if you are local, consider signing up for NStar’s Green Program.

It is inspiring to see Boston, America’s oldest city and one of the largest metropolises in the country taking renewable energy to the mainstream! If you live in Boston or would like to keep updated on the city’s Green projects, check out The Green Blog hosted by the Boston Globe. Hopefully, Boston and other Green cities such as San Francisco and Portland, OR will set a new trend that will take hold over cities and towns across the nation!!

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