30 August 2010

Eco Choice Awards tap three green gifts

The Eco Choice Awards were announced this month at the New York International Gift Fair. Three new products were singled out:

Most Innovative: Emerson House by Brinca Dada. A dollhouse with 23 LED lights powered by solar panels.

Most Sensitive Use of Materials: On The Rocks by Sea Stones. Stone “ice” cubes keep drinks cold without diluting them, and are made of repurposed stone and FSC-certified wood.

Most Sellable: Kitchen Basics by Bambu. Kitchen tools made of renewable, certified organic bamboo.

This dollhouse features LED lights powered by solar panels.

28 August 2010

LEDs are the new CFLs

Good news for people who hate CFLs, like my wife (too dim, she says). New low(er) cost LED bilbs are finally making their way onto the market. Check out this article from Reuters and Sustainable Business: Home Depot to Sell LED Bulbs for Surprisingly Cheap. According to the article, two years ago, a 60W LED-based bulb cost $90. In April, a GE model was announced in the $40 to $50 range. Now Home Depot is selling at a $19.97 price point.

13 August 2010

Retailers continue to push green practices

Momentum continues to build for environmentally friendly practices in retail settings. The U.S. Green Building Council is expected to release its LEED for Retail standards later this year; in the meantime, many retailers are pursuing other forms of certification under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
Since 2000, 2,600 retail projects have been registered with the USGBC, and half of those were approved last year.
And retailers achieving certification include not only big chains but also independent retailers. For example. JCPenney won kudos for recycling, installing energy-efficient lighting, and motion sensor faucets. Office Depot got LEED credits for skylights, Energy Star rated HVAC equipment, ands low-flow urinals. Even a small retailer like a Goodwill store in Macedon, N.Y., was recognized for adding carbon dioxide sensors to control air quality and a white roof design to reduce heat.
These retailers are not just looking for environmental cred or good public relations. They are moving to green practices to add to the bottom line. For example, consider Wal-Mart. According to the USGBC, studies show that daylight has a significant potential to boost retail sales. “Skylights incorporated into Wal-Mart’s prototype Eco-Mart in Lawrence, Kansas yielded a surprising discovery,” reads a USGBC report. “To cut costs, skylights were installed over only half the store. Sales per square foot was significantly higher for those departments with access to natural light. Wal-Mart subsequently mandated daylighting in all new stores.”
Online, there are many suggestions for increasing a store’s eco-friendliness; here are a few:

  • Eliminate waste: reuse shopping bags, and encourage shoppers to use canvas rather than paper or plastic.
  • Use sustainable materials: certified wood can be used for interior construction, and durable recycled carpet is now available.
  • Sell green products: Do the research necessary to source and offer green products to your customers.
  • Save energy: Reduce a store’s carbon footprint with smart thermostats, lighting on timers, and energy efficient bulbs. There are even ways to reduce the energy wasted by electronic cash registers and computers.

There may be a side benefit for retailers in going green as well: a more motivated work force that feels a sense of accomplishment.