Archive for July, 2010

July 2010 Green Fire Times Cover

2010 July Edition

Earthstone/Growstone – Restorative Green Technology, Plastic Bags – Weapons of Eco-Mass Destruction?, Everyday Green – Affordable Organic, My Own Garden – Crop Rotation, Newsbites – Affordable Housing Development, Kidnapped by the House (Part 4), New Mexico’s Last Great Hostel – Abominable Snowmansion, American Solar Energy Society National Conference, Gadgets & Humans – Steve Baer Commentary, Green Wheels Can Save Green $, Who Filled the Electric Car?, Solar Newsbites, New Mexico Leads in Growth of Green Energy Jobs, Community Learning and Social Development (Part 2), What’s Going On! – Events/Announcements.

Click here to download the July 2010 Edition

“Kidnapped by the House” – Affordable Housing, Land, and the Green Imperative – Part 4

by Rebekah Zablud Azen

We are arriving at a juncture in history where old land-tenure arrangements are no longer working and must be replaced by new arrangements. Though there is probably nothing more sacred in the Western psyche than private property, it is truly a Pandora’s box of unforeseen consequences. This reality has not yet dawned upon the general consciousness but the warning signs are abundantly clear, and the cost of housing is just one flashing red light. In 1955, Peter van Dresser bought a home on Canyon Rd. for $850. Today, my monthly rent exceeds that amount. If nothing else, More >

New Mexico’s Last Great Hostel Teaches Youth Organic Farming

Lena Hakim

Nestled in the small mountain village of Arroyo Seco outside of Taos, is one of only three remaining hostels in New Mexico. Hostels are affordable travel accommodations, which began in post-war Europe to allow extensive travel opportunities for young adults. By the 1980s hostelling became popular in America, and many states had a handful of hostel choices, but by the ‘90s their numbers began to decline. Today, most large US cities have only one hostel. This makes the Abominable Snowmansion Hostel all the more special. It is located at the base of the Taos Ski Basin, allowing winter skiers More >

SolarLogic Hosts Installer Training

SolarLogic LLC, a Santa Fe start-up aimed at enabling heating contractors across the US to install solar heating, recently hosted its first installer training. This follows deployment of the company’s first generation products in homes.

SolarLogic made headlines last year when it won a local economic development grant from the city of Santa Fe. Since then the company has been developing its flagship products, the SLIC (SolarLogic Integrated Controller) and the SLASH-D (SolarLogic-Assisted Solar Heating Design). The combination of these products manages the inherent complexity in solar heating system design and control, removing the burden of expertise from the installer.

Dana Orzel, More >

New Solar Tech and R&D Facilities Coming to Mesa del Sol, Albuquerque Farmer’s Market Goes Solar

Governor Bill Richardson has announced that two new green energy projects, the CFV Solar Test Laboratory and the Fraunhofer R&D Facility, will begin operations at Mesa del Sol later this year. The two entities will create 30-40 renewable energy jobs.

“As we build a thriving solar industry in NM, it is important that we attract all aspects of the industry. That is why I am pleased to announce the establishment of the CFV Solar Test Laboratory and the Fraunhofer R&D facility,” Governor Richardson said. “This shows that our renewable energy policies and pro-business attitude continue to draw international interest and investment.”

The More >

Plastic Bags – Weapons of Eco-Mass Destruction?

Yet Another Inconvenient Truth

Gerald Ansell

Here in our beautiful and supportive Southwest region of the USA, plastic bags appear to be of a somewhat unimportant and relatively background importance in our busy lives. Most of us take for granted that practically every time we go shopping at our friendly nationwide department store, its checkout will provide us with a nice, convenient “free” plastic bag or two, or three or more that enables us to carry our purchases to the car. Most of us probably use the bag once more to bag-up trash under the kitchen sink or maybe as a doggie More >

NM Leads Rocky Mountain States in Growth of Green Energy Jobs

A New Report Shows NM’s Policies and Incentives Provide an Edge in Attracting Jobs, Venture Capital, Public Investment, and Green Technology Patents

A new report by Headwaters Economics, an independent, nonprofit research group, shows that New Mexico has emerged as a clean energy leader, increasing its percentage of green jobs faster than other Rocky Mountain States. NM’s combined strategy of targeted public policy and strong support for business has made it a regional and national competitive center of clean technology innovation, especially solar power, which is capturing energy-related jobs and attracting investment.

“New Mexico’s success shows the importance of both policy and More >

Who Filled the Electric Car?

Feeding the Charge or How Big Coal Wants to Juice Your Prius.

John Gwynn

They’re really coming this time, the electric cars; quiet like NASCAR on mute, but due to arrive in such numbers that even a corporate bigfoot like GM won’t be able to crush them all. And we’re not talking about the golf carts that haul your crazy Aunt Carol around Sun City, the ones that pull over so bicycles can pass.

Get that image out of your head. That’s not what people want as their primary wheels and that’s not what they’re going to get. These new plug-ins are real More >

Earthstone / Growstone – Restorative Green Technology

Seth Roffman

In response to the destructive pumice strip mining taking place in Northern New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains, eco-preneurs Andrew Ungerleider and Gay Dillingham co-founded Earthstone in 1993. Pumice is a volcanic rock used as an ingredient in concrete, as a mild abrasive in cosmetics and cleansers, and to abrade blue jeans, giving them their “stonewashed” look. Ungerleider, working with a ceramicist, found an alternative using recycled glass. It was a cost-effective and superior alternative, which was completely earth-friendly. Utilizing ground glass and carbonate mimicked a volcanic eruption inside the controlled environment of a large kiln. The result, “earthstone,” is ultra-lightweight, More >

My Own Garden: Crop Rotation – Companion Planting for Sustainable Plant Nutrition

Susan Waterman

Crop rotation, a type of companion planting that focuses particularly on nutrition, is an approach to maintaining healthy soil that has been around as long as there have been gardens to grow food. The plants are doing their own work to help each other. The main principle is very simple: in any given area of a garden, try to plant crops from different plant families successively in order to balance the nutrients that are taken from or added back to the soil. If your garden space is 6 feet by 12 feet, for example, the area could be divided More >

Community Learning and Social Development (Part 2)

Miguel Angel Acosta

Ana Alvarado, a south side community and youth activist and one of the moms who inspired our work at the Colegio sin Fronteras, led off the semester’s concluding event by distributing certificates of appreciation to the volunteers. The students themselves had created and signed them. In a completely self-organizing manner, the basis of any successful swarm, the students, volunteers and moms had planned for a guest speaker, a complete dinner for the 20+ students and their families, a youth mariachi, certificates of appreciation for the volunteers, certificates of achievement for the students, and gifts for everyone present. It More >

American Solar Energy Society National Conference 2010

Mark Chalom

In late May I was fortunate to attend the 39th American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) national conference in Phoenix. It was at the downtown conference center where the “Greenbuild” conference/expo had been held. At 3,000 attendees vs. 30,000, the feeling was much different. It was not a big marketing show; it was more technical and specialized, centered on solar energy’s place in the emerging sustainable society.

Though that may sound like a narrow focus, the session topics and papers demonstrated that was not the case. As there were up to 7 simultaneous tracks, it was hard to choose which session More >

Beneficial Farms CSA Now in Albuquerque

Beneficial Farms Community Supported Agriculture is now accepting members in Albuquerque. Weekly distribution is on Fridays from 4-6 pm at La Montañita Coop Warehouse at 3361 Columbia NE.

Beneficial Farms CSA offers abundant, affordable shares of fresh fruit and vegetables and other local and regionally produced foods year round. All produce is grown with sustainable chemical-free methods. Participating farmers use only natural fertilizers and pest management. “Anchor” farms include Vida Verde in Albuquerque, Mesa Top in Santa Fe, and Shiraz Vineyard in La Luz. Shiraz Vineyard adds exotic fruit such as pomegranates and figs to the weekly shares during the summer More >

Gov. Richardson Breaks Ground on SF Affordable Housing Development

On June 10, Governor Bill Richardson and Santa Fe Mayor David Coss broke ground on a major affordable housing development in downtown Santa Fe that will create 144 new affordable homes and more than 150 construction jobs.

“This is a great project for New Mexico,” Governor Richardson said. “It’s creating new affordable housing in Santa Fe, it’s revitalizing the downtown area and it’s providing jobs for the construction industry when we need them the most.”

The first two phases of Villa Alegre are scheduled to be open by June 2011. Housing will be reserved for very low-income families and senior citizens. The More >

Companies Selected for Japan/NM Smart Grid Collaboration

Governor Bill Richardson has announced the 19 Japanese companies that will work in Albuquerque and Los Alamos on two Japan-US Smart Grid Collaborative Demonstration projects. The companies, including industry giants Toshiba, Kyocera and Hitachi, were selected by the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). They will collaborate with Los Alamos and Sandia national labs, Los Alamos County, Mesa del Sol and PNM Resources. The State of New Mexico will provide access to its super-computer at Intel in Rio Rancho, as well as other in-kind services.

NEDO is investing $30 million over four years on microgrid and smart house More >

NM Supreme Court Allows Consideration of Greenhouse Emissions Caps

Hearing to Continue August 16

Seth Roffman

Last month, in a unanimous decision, the New Mexico Supreme Court gave the green light for New Energy Economy’s petition to cap greenhouse gas pollution to proceed. The court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Public Service Company of NM (PNM), other utilities, conservative legislators, and the oil and gas industry, that challenged the NM Environmental Improvement Board’s (EIB) authority to hear the petition.

The Justices overruled Lea County District Judge William Shoobridge. Their decision was based on a separation of powers issue: “A Judge cannot interfere with an “ongoing, uncompleted agency process,” stated Chief Justice Daniels.

The More >

RE News – Solar Buckman Diversion, Clovis Wind Farm

The Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) Project, which will treat Rio Grande water for the city of Santa Fe to drink, will be largely powered by solar photovoltaic panels when it opens in 2011. As a result of authorization by the BDD board, national solar developer American Capital Energy Inc. will build and operate a one-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant on 8.5 acres of federal land next to the treatment plant. The board will pay the Bureau of Land Management $10,000 in rent a year.

A new law approved by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Richardson this year helped make the More >

Everyday Green – Affordable Organic

Susan Guyette

Are you living to eat or eating to live? The shift away from processed foods to whole, organic foods can be gradual, enjoyable, and a path of exciting discovery. The season of availability and opportunity is here, a good time to experiment! In this column you will find important reasons for eating organically and how to find affordable sources. Getting clear about priorities around money and being knowledgeable about food value, or nutrition plus cost, are key for eating to support the daily healing and repair of the body needed to maintain good health. (more…)