Ikea store in Bloomington (Minnesota) has gone solar

Way to go, IKEA! Thanks for being a corporate leader in the world of solar power. We’re excited to see who will be next!

Article by: Minneapolis Star Tribune  —  Updated: August 28, 2012 – 8:25 PM

The Swedish furniture chain said the Bloomington system can power the equivalent of 100 homes each year.

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea is now generating electricity atop its store in Bloomington near the Mall of America.

Depending on sunshine, the 142,000 square feet of solar panels will generate up to 80 percent of the store’s electrical needs, Ikea spokeswoman Brooke Nelson said Tuesday.

The 1-megawatt system is the largest solar array in Minnesota. It generates the equivalent of the power needed by 100 homes, or roughly the output of one small wind turbine.

The Bloomington store marks the 31st U.S. solar project for Ikea, with eight more locations in development. The company said it has invested $590 million in renewable energy projects around the world.

SoCore Energy, based in Chicago, designed the system for the Bloomington store.

Unlike some large solar arrays, Ikea’s won’t sell excess electricity back to the local utility, Nelson said.

It’s unlikely to remain the largest in Minnesota for long. A 2-megawatt project near Slayton, Minn., is slated to begin construction next month, said Chris Little, development director for Ecos Energy, the project’s sponsor.


Read the original article here: http://www.startribune.com/business/167680535.html?refer=y


Fuel Efficiency Driving Onshoring | Roland Hwang’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

Fuel Efficiency Driving Onshoring | Roland Hwang’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC.

Lost in the current debate about “offshoring” is the remarkable story of the “onshoring” of fuel-efficiency manufacturing.  Thanks in large part to stronger standards, American drivers no longer have to buy foreign if they want to trade in their gas guzzler for gas sippers. Fuel-efficiency is driving sales and jobs growth in the auto industry.  And as demand grows, so does the business case to make fuel efficient cars and components in America.

Hybrid productions exemplify this trend.  With U.S. hybrid sales booming (up 63% this year), Toyota and Honda are bringing production to the U.S.  Most recently, Honda Motor Co. plans to invest $40 million and bring all global Civic Hybrid manufacturing to its Greensburg, Indiana manufacturing plant from Japan, creating 300 jobs by the end of the year.

Earlier this year, Toyota announced it would bring production of its Highlander mid-size SUV, including the Highlander Hybrid, to its Princeton, Indiana plant from its current plant in Japan.  The move to expand capacity represents an investment of $400 million and will add another 400 jobs.  Furthermore, Toyota plans to begin producing the Prius hybrid in the U.S. by 2015, bringing production inshore from Japan to a yet-to-be specified plant.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

New Tool Can Help Paper Buyers Measure Environmental Impact of Paper Usage

Reblogged from: EcoWatch

The Environmental Paper Network has released a new version of the Paper Calculator to better assist paper buyers with measuring the environmental impact of their paper usage and shifting to paper that supports climate and endangered forest protection.

The Paper Calculator is the original and most independent paper life-cycle impact estimator available. The improvements make the Paper Calculator easier to use, and include updated industry data and technical input from diverse stakeholders. The Paper Calculator is made available to users for free by the Environmental Paper Network thanks to its coalition members, supporters and through Power User premium sponsorships.

The original analytical model for the Paper Calculator was developed by Environmental Defense Fund based on research by the multi-stakeholder Paper Task Force. In 2011, ownership of the Paper Calculator was transferred to the Environmental Paper Network. Today, the Paper Calculator is utilized by more than 50,000 users per year and appears on millions of pieces of environmentally improved paper products from companies such as Office Depot, Sprint and Starbucks.

The key improvements in version 3.2 include:

  • More completely capturing the life-cycle water use of both recycled and virgin fiber based on consultation with industry associations and life cycle experts
  • Updated national average data on mill performance
  • Calculates the environmental savings of both post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled content
  • Updated decomposition rates for each of the paper grades based on new data

The Paper Calculator is committed to independence and transparency, and a detailed documentation of the Paper Calculator version 3.2 methodology can be found by clicking here.

The Environmental Paper Network also recently introduced the Power User premium sponsorship program, which offers additional features and technical support. The program’s inaugural members include respected NGOs and business leaders including New Leaf Paper, Office Depot, Hemlock Printers, Computershare, Staples, GreenerPrinter, FutureMark Paper and Friesens Corporation.

The Environmental Paper Network is a coalition of non-profit organizations working together to protect the earth’s climate and endangered forests by transforming the production and consumption of paper products. The Steering Committee of the Environmental Paper Network is CanopyClimate for IdeasConservatreeDogwood AllianceForestEthicsGreen AmericaGreen Press InitiativeNatural Resources Council of MaineNational Wildlife Federation and Rainforest Action Network.

Visit the new Paper Calculator today by clicking here.

Endangered Species Day

Today is Endangered Species Day, a day dedicated to learning about the Endangered Species Act, to the species it protects, and to celebrate the many recovery success stories listed species have seen over the past several decades.

Here’s some good news: While there are about 1,959 species currently listed as “Threatened” or “Endangered,”  the Center for Biological Diversity released a report yesterday that found that “90 percent of species are recovering at the rate specified by their federal recovery plan.” Read more here.

Alabama Beach Mouse (Photo credit: US FWS)

Coastal Alabama, as well as the entire Gulf Coast, is a hotspot for biodiversity. Hundreds of species of fish, birds, marine mammals, plants, insects, and shellfish call our Coastal Alabama home. Did you know that Alabama has 20 listed species in just the two coastal counties (Mobile and Baldwin Counties)? Some of these species have populations in other parts of the country or the Gulf Coast, others are endemic to Coastal Alabama, meaning they are only found in this part of the world.

Here are some of Alabama’s fantastic endangered species. Click here to find the full list.

Birds: Bald Eagle, Wood Stork, Piping Plover

Clams: Alabama Heelsplitter, Southern Clubshell

Fishes: Alabama Sturgeon*, Gulf Sturgeon

Flowering Plants: American Shaffseed

Mammals: West Indian Manatee, Perdido Key Beach Mouse, Alabama Beach Mouse*

Reptiles: Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Alabama Red-belly Turtle, Eastern Indigo Snake, Indigo Snake, Black Pine Snake, Gopher Tortoise

*Alabama is lead field office

Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Photo credit: US FWS)

To learn more about the Endangered Species Act, check out these links:




Hawaii Becomes the First State in the U.S. to Ban Plastic Bags! | Surfrider Foundation

Congratulations to the State of Hawaii for taking a bold step towards decreased plastic pollution! You can make a difference too by making the switch to reusable shopping bags. There are many stylish and functional ways to reduce plastic pollution in your community.


Hawaii Becomes the First State in the U.S. to Ban Plastic Bags! | Surfrider Foundation.


When the governor of Honolulu County signed into law the plastic bag ban last week that the County Council approved, Hawaii became the first state in the nation where every city and unincorporated area is covered by a plastic bag ban.  This was not done by the state legislature, but instead by all four County Councils – a great example of local activists and decision makers addressing the serious issue of plastic pollution.

The City and County of Honolulu is the last of Hawaii’s counties to enact a ban on plastic bags at the point of sale. Maui and Kauai counties already have plastic bag bans in place while Hawaii County passed an ordinance that will take effect next year.  While we are excited that the plastic bag bans have been enacted, there has been a reported increase in paper bag use from locals.  Paper bags biodegrade and don’t have the same impact on wildlife but there are issues with any disposable product so local Surfrider Chapters will continue to push for more reusable bag education and potentially a fee on paper bags.

For now, let’s celebrate this important moment and spread the word to bring your reusable bags when traveling to Hawaii.  Congrats to all of the Surfrider activists and other organizations involved!