Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stay Up to Date with SJVCEO: January Update

First off, happy 2015 to all of our partners and followers! The SJVCEO team is excited to see what the new year brings for our organization.

Our project analysts that work with the VIEW Partnership have been working away on ACCESS VIEW! which is previewed in the picture to the right. This project will be the VIEW Partnerships main database for partner energy usage information. City/County partners will be able to log in and access all city energy usage information in real time thanks to SEED (Standard Energy Efficiency Data Platform). This database will help city/county partners to see where their energy is being used and where there is room to improve.View is also looking into incorporating building energy codes for future energy projects. ACCESS VIEW! will be making its debut at the VIEW partnerships monthly partners meeting in February. We all cannot wait to see the finished product! Our project analysts have also been working very hard on data exchange hiccups within ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for our partnering jurisdictions. The Partnership works hard to ensure that we have comprehensive data to better assist our partners in their pursuit of energy efficiency.

The Partnership is also marching ahead when it comes to marketing and outreach. We are out in the communities that we partner with to promote our Kill-A-Watt Krackdown. The Krackdown is a fun and friendly competition designed to save businesses on their operating costs. We are challenging small and medium sized commercial businesses to make measurable and lasting changes in the way they consume energy and improve their operating costs. We hope to have great participation in this energy challenge and crown more energy leaders in our community.If you or your business may be interested click here for more information.



Our project analyst that works with Pacific Gas and Electric on our MUNI grant has been off to a great start in the beginning of 2015 and is a quote on quote benchmarking fool! We are only a few buildings away from completing benchmarking for the City of Reedley and the City of San Joaquin. Once those are completed we will be able to sit down with each City and let them know how their buildings are doing.Our analyst will also be meeting with the City of Fowler and the City of Kingsburg to go over a few building characteristics before going into benchmarking. One fun tidbit that we have learned while going through the benchmarking process is some benchmarking efforts require an understanding of the Public Land Survey System, a method of locating property often used by real estate professionals and land surveyors! Fun fact: SJVCEO's office is located at S15 T13S R20E!



Stay tuned for next months update!



What Innovations Are in the Future of the Car Market?

We have all heard the cheers or jeers over electric and fuel cell vehicles that debut at auto shows around the world, but at this year’s Detroit Auto Show we were able to find more cheers than jeers. This year’s show took on more of a “green” exterior and appeased the environmentalist in all of us.

Many debuts for 2015 were cars that took last year’s model or idea to the next level of conservation. Makers ranging from Hyundai to Mercedes featured electric vehicles. Then makers such as Honda showcased a fuel cell vehicle. Trust me I am not one to complain so you will only hear cheers coming from this direction when I cover some of the top cars.

Charging towards the Future

Chevy was one of the first to shock the onlookers with its Chevrolet Bolt. The Bolt will hit a price point of $30,000 and have a range of 200 miles. Chevy is looking to compete with the Nissan Leaf, since both are in the same price range but the Bolt comes with a larger range. This electric car will truly challenge Tesla Motors on becoming the first to make electric vehicles mainstream.[i] Most gas powered cars get 300 miles to a tank, while electric vehicles get around 100 miles before a charge.[ii] The Chevrolet Bolt makes the consumer happy with a range of 200 miles to a charge. Look for the Bolt to hit your nearest dealership in 2017.

Now we move to a luxury EV, the Mercedes Benz- C350 plug-in hybrid. Many might think that this C350 doesn't carry the same firepower that a normal C350 might, but they would be wrong. This EV is a 208-horsepower four cylinder turbocharged machine that can reach up to 130 miles per hour. [iii] Though this machine is fast it can also get 19 miles on an electric charge. One other item to note regarding this hybrid is the battery can be charged in under two hours using a regular 240-volt outlet.[iv]

Where the Hydrogen Meets the Highway

In 2014 we saw Toyota come out with its first fuel cell vehicle. Now we are seeing almost every major car manufacturer joining the FCV game in 2015. Honda was one of those car manufacturers who joined the game this year. The company debuted a five passenger hydrogen powered car that expands upon their first try at an FCV the Honda Clarity. This sedan has a driving range of 300 miles and can refuel in about 5 minutes. Since many might ask why would I buy an FCV when there aren’t any charging stations near me? Well that may be changing within the State of California. Honda has partnered with FirstElement Fuel to build additional hydrogen fueling stations.[v] And believe it or not California has the most hydrogen fueling stations than any other region in the world. [vi]

Hopefully you are as excited as I am when it comes to the new developments in the auto industry that will help to better our environment. I know I would truly appreciate cleaner air after living in the Central Valley for the past 24 years. And if you are from the Central Valley you know what I may be referring to…smog.



[i] “Chevy Could Beat Tesla to Building the First Mainstream Electric Car”, Jan., 14, 2015, http://www.wired.com/2015/01/chevrolet-bolt-ev/
[ii] “ Chevrolet unveils $30k Bolt electric car with a 200-mile range!”, Jan., 14, 2015, http://inhabitat.com/chevrolet-unveils-30k-bolt-electric-car-with-a-200-mile-range-photos/
[iii] “Mercedes-Benz C350 Plug-In Hybrid promises 20 miles EV range, 5.9 seconds to 60”, Jan. 14, 2015, http://www.autoblog.com/2015/01/12/mercedes-benz-c350-plug-in-hybrid-detroit-2015/
[iv] “Mercedes-Benz C 350 Plug-in Hybrid debuts at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show”, Jan., 14, 2015, http://inhabitat.com/mercedes-benz-c-350-plug-in-hybrid-debuts-at-the-2015-detroit-auto-show/
[v] Honda FCV fuel-cell concept makes its U.S. debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show”, Jan., 16, 2015, http://inhabitat.com/honda-fcv-fuel-cell-concept-makes-its-u-s-debut-at-the-2015-detroit-auto-show/
[vi] Driving for the Future”, Jan., 16, 2015, http://www.fuelcellpartnership.org/toolkits/stations


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Step in the Right Direction: High Speed Rail in the Central Valley


The central valley is certainly starting off the New Year on the right foot. Along with working towards minimizing the use of grocery store plastic bags, Fresno has broken ground on the Nation’s first high speed train. In the words of Kool & the Gang this is “a celebration to last throughout the years”. 

As an avid traveler to the North and South, this is the greatest step for California since the introduction of Windows 95. Metropolitan communities have always been of interest to me so to be able to leave work and then being able to spend the evening in the city highly appeals to me.

Per the Associated Press, California’s first step in the right direction started in 2008 when it approved the bond; furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supports this endeavor:
Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the all-electric trains, running on renewable energy, will take cars off highways and provide an effective alternative to flying on jet fuel, which pumps far more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. "High speed rail is good for our health, it is good for our climate and it is good for our economy,"
First off, renewable energy? This is the stuff the nation, more specifically, California’s 38 million residents really need. The EPA hit it right on the button. The list of benefits from this keeps growing every day. Lesser cars on the road mean lesser emissions, lesser car accidents and even lesser speeding tickets (now that’s a great day for everyone). California’s economy will get a boost from taxpayers using their dollars for high speed rail transportation -- in oppose to gas -- as well as job creation from rail operations. Breaking ground on high speed rail is so positive; it’s almost as if California cannot not choose to do this.

If we were to discuss relatable benefits of high speed rail, let’s think about how fast it would take to get to Los Angeles or San Francisco. According to the New York Times high speed rail “promises to combat global warming while whisking travelers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in less than three hours.” Currently, if you were driving from Fresno, three hours gets you to either San Francisco or parts of Los Angeles. So imagine taking high speed rail from Fresno to San Francisco (or Los Angeles) and how fast that would be. I absolutely believe that the train would become a daily commuter for a lot of Central Valley residents who yearn for opportunities only available in the metropolitan communities.

So California, I give you 2 thumbs. I support you all the way. 

Just one piece of advice: Don’t desert this project. We started this. We need to finish it.


“California Breaks Ground on Bullet Train as Climate,” New York Times, accessed January 16, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/01/06/us/ap-us-california-high-speed-rail.html
“California to Begin Work on Nation's First Bullet Train”, New York Times, accessed January 16, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/01/06/us/ap-us-travel-california-high-speed-rail.html
Image: http://assets.inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2015/01/california-high-speed-rail-breaks-ground.jpg



Monday, January 19, 2015

Switch to LED lights, or buy an additional 77 Toyota Corollas every year?


77 Toyota Corollas. Valued at $1.3 million.



Replace 200 streetlights. $10,000 in energy saved per year.

Both achieve the same result.

Sometimes, energy efficiency makes A LOT of sense, like when you see a movie theater full of incandescent light bulbs. But there are also instances where even with such projects with big savings, getting management to agree to a project can be difficult, or nearly impossible.

Take a grocery store for example. Some have marketing expenses, loss leaders, and spoilage issues. Most grocery stores have a low profit margin, around 2%. That means grocery stores don’t take a big cut of the profit,

Equivalent Revenue = Energy Savings / Profit Margin

So let’s say that an LED lighting project, which will not only reduce energy consumption by $10,000 a year, but also make produce look more appetizing, is up for discussion.

$500,000 = $10,000 / 2%

So which is it?  A grocer could create a marketing campaign designed to attract an additional half a million in sales in a year or spend say $10,000 to get the same effect.  Which one is easier?  Which one is more guaranteed to bring in revenue?

Because I work mainly with local governments, let’s use the same formula for cities.  Surprisingly enough, local governments have the lowest profit margin of all, with revenues originating from sales tax and property tax.  Let’s take your typical Fresno County city for example.

How much money do people have to spend for a city to receive one dollar?
  • $1.00 to a typical Fresno County city (0.75%).
  • $0.13 to the County Zoo Authority (0.10%).
  • $0.67 to the Fresno County Transportation Authority (0.50%).
  • $0.17 to Fresno County Public Libraries (0.125%).
  • $0.33 to County Transportation Funds (0.25%).
  • $1.42 to the Local Revenue Fund 2011 (1.0625%).
  • $0.67 to the Local Revenue Fund (for Health and Social Service programs) (0.50%).
  • $0.33 to the State’s Education Protection Account (0.25%).
  • $0.67 to the Local Public Safety Fund (0.50%).
  • $0.33 to the State Fiscal Recovery Fund (0.25%).
  • $0.33 to the State General Fund (0.25%).
  • $4.92 to the State General Fund (3.6875%).
Source: California State Board of Equalization. Breakdown of Sales TaxesDistrict Taxes.

All in total, that’s $10.97 in taxes generated, of which the city receives $1.00.  That also means, that if we divide $10.97 by the sales tax rate, 8.225%, we’ll come up with the amount of $133.33.

$133.33 spent for the city to collect just one dollar, or a profit margin of 0.75%.  That’s not a whole lot, so effective spending is essential.  Which leads us (of course) to energy efficiency!

If this city was able to save $10,000 per year on energy, that’s equivalent to an additional $1.3 million being spent in the city.   How else could a city encourage its residents to spend an additional $1.3 million?  Pay-to-sit park benches?

Or how about getting people to buy this whole lot of cars?


Friday, January 16, 2015

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

For those of you who know who Joseph Oldham is you likely are on his email distribution list and receive this update each week.  We are grateful that Joseph has agreed to allow our little blog to re-post his weekly update.  If you have an interest in the happenings of energy efficiency and local government throughout California this is the update for you! If you love the information here, but want more in depth features be sure to check out Joseph's quarterly newsletter, CURRENTS.  


1. ATTENTION!!  R.13-11-005 Commissioner/ALJ Joint Ruling
Parties interested in the 10 year rolling portfolio cycle proceeding at the CPUC should open this link and read the joint ruling!

Commissioner Peterman and Administrative Law Judge Edmister’s Joint Ruling Re Phase II Prehearing Conference Statements.  The full text of this ruling is made available through the link provided below.  The ruling was issued on January 13, 2015.


In the event of problems with the e-mail or the internet link, please contact Elizabeth Kiss at ek4@cpuc.ca.gov, telephone #(415) 703-2547.

2. Job Announcement: Intermittent Energy Council Program Manager

The Energy Council is hiring an intermittent Program Manager to support the implementation of current programs and development of new funding proposals. This position will work on externally funded projects, including the existing regional multifamily program, innovative financing, and pilot programs in Alameda County. Priority areas for additional funding include water-energy nexus, municipal building operations, and integrated services for small and medium sized businesses.


Applications are due on Monday, February 9 at 5 pm. Please forward to anyone you think may be interested!

3.   Smart Building Predictions for 2015
Good article and worth reading.  Discussion of micro-grids is especially interesting.  http://www.energymanagertoday.com/smart-building-predictions-2015-0107977/

4. Quantity Quotes Green Purchasing Tool

Here is a new tool from StopWaste to help purchase energy and water saving equipment more efficiently.  Please contact Stephanie with any questions or feedback.  The description of the tool is as follows:

Quantity Quotes (www.QuantityQuotes.net), an online purchasing tool that makes it easy for organizations around the nation to buy green and resource-efficient products, has expanded its offerings with five new product categories.   Available as a free service, Quantity Quotes offers a one-stop shopping experience to large-quantity buyers – such as utilities, governments, affordable and multifamily housing providers, colleges and universities. Through the site, buyers select the products they want to purchase, then receive competitive bids from multiple vendors.

All products offered on the Quantity Quotes site must meet environmental and energy efficiency criteria, such as ENERGY STAR and WaterSense standards, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Products include:

·         CFL and LED bulbs (new!)
·         Water-efficient toilets, showerheads, and faucets (new!)
·         Water-efficient commercial pre-rinse spray valves (new!)
·         Energy-efficient light fixtures
·         Dehumidifiers
·         Dishwashers and refrigerators
·         Clothes washers
·         Room air conditioners
·         Recycled- content insulation (new!)

Stephanie Stern
Program Manager | StopWaste
1537 Webster St. | Oakland, CA  94612


5.  How to Measure Energy Efficiency Improvements

Those interested in data and measurement of energy savings should find this article interesting and worth reading. http://www.energymanagertoday.com/measure-energy-efficiency-improvements-0108131/

6. Energy Saving Tactics for Restaurants

For Local Government Partnerships that work with restaurants within their communities to help them reduce their energy use, this article is worth reading.  http://www.energymanagertoday.com/energy-saving-tactics-restaurants-0108166/


That is all for this week!    

Water Efficiency and Energy Efficiency in the Central Valley

November of 2014 was Election Day and while this was not a presidential election, there were plenty of issues to vote on and of course, an energy efficiency initiative was on the ballot. For example, we have the water bond, which passed with 66.8% of voters in favor. California has been in a serious drought that's so severe that there were reports earlier this year that East Porterville that water needed to be rationed. Residence only received a 3 week supply of water per person. So it would be more than expected that there be a water reform issue on the ballot. This brings us to Proposition 1 which would improve water infrastructure in California, including watershed protection.

What does the water bond and water itself have to do with energy efficiency? Due to the severity of the drought, more water has to be pumped from underground sources to provide for farmers, businesses and residences. Theses pumps cannot function without electricity and since Fresno has not seen decent rain in what seems like forever, the pumps are working harder and using more energy. Of course this means more taxpayer dollars being spent to pay for the energy used so water can be accessed. Along with working harder for water, the infrastructure of water is, according to the San Francisco Examiner, over 100 years old. So saying that there are leaking pipes across the state of California would be more of a fact than a theory. Currently energy efficiency is not waters strongest suite.

Why should anyone care? Right next to electricity and probably smartphones, mankind is extremely dependent on water; furthermore, if all aspects of clean energy (water, solar, biomass, and wind) were utilized to the fullest of their extent, water could not play a significant role in reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. With apparent climate change developing across the U.S., we would need complete access to clean energy resources to maintain our way of living. What’s equally important is the Central Valley, one of the nation’s largest produce providers must irrigate to grow crops for consumption and this past year was one of the worst droughts California has experienced which left farmers in a difficult spot.

What can we do?

We have already passed Proposition 1 which is a great step. But everyone from your local government to your preschool can help conserve water. Visalia took a step by only allowing 12 watering days a year and the City of Fresno has already mandated that from December 1st thru March 1st, there is no outdoor watering as well as no watering between 6AM and 7PM. However, I think for California to truly conserve water, not only would mandates need to come down on a statewide level but homeowners/renters can do their part and have a critical impact on our water supply. For example, I recently learned how much a waste of water and energy bottled water is – apparently more expensive than gas per gallon. You can visit Treehugger to see what ways you can conserve water and energy.
.   .   .Fingers crossed that passing the water bond will have a positive impact on water supply.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

For those of you who know who Joseph Oldham is you likely are on his email distribution list and receive this update each week.  We are grateful that Joseph has agreed to allow our little blog to re-post his weekly update.  If you have an interest in the happenings of energy efficiency and local government throughout California this is the update for you! If you love the information here, but want more in depth features be sure to check out Joseph's quarterly newsletter, CURRENTS.  

1.  ​Envelope Air Sealing Fact Sheet Available
     Energy Efficiency Fact Sheets
     Envelope Air Sealing
     2013 California Energy Efficiency Building Standards
     For more information:
    (If link above doesn't work, please copy entire link into your web browser's URL)
2.     Strategic Plan Technical Consultant

The CPUC has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Technical Consultant for the Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.  The consultant will assist Energy Division staff in tasks related to the 2015 update of the Strategic Plan. This RFP is soliciting proposals from interested parties for an individual Consultant who has primary expertise in the areas of energy efficiency strategic plan development. The RPF can be accessed through this link:

3.   Title 24 Tool - Updated 2013 Reference Ace Released
The California Statewide Codes & Standards Program is pleased to announce the launch of the updated 2013 version of its Reference Ace™ tool designed to help users navigate the Title 24, Part 6 Standards documents. As before, key word search capabilities along with hyperlinks allow you to jump directly to related sections to make using the Standards documents easier.    

This new version links the relevant sections of the Building Energy Efficiency Standards, the Residential and Nonresidential Compliance Manuals, and the Reference Appendices. A version also including the Alternative Calculation Method Reference Manuals is under development.   

 Both the 2013 and 2008 versions of the Reference Ace are available online or via download on EnergyCodeAce.com .

4.     2013 Low-Rise Residential Mandatory Measures Summary Now Available!

The California Energy Commission has developed the 2013 Low-Rise Residential Mandatory Measures Summary (Mandatory Measures Summary).  The Mandatory Measures Summary is a tool designed to help quickly identify the mandatory measures at the design phase of low-rise residential projects.  This tool is not a compliance document and therefore is not required to be registered with an approved HERS provider data registry.  Designers may incorporate this document onto building plans to specify the mandatory measures.  The Mandatory Measures Summary is available at:

           
Help With the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards

For assistance with understanding or locating information in the 2013 Energy Standards, contact the Energy Standards Hotline at: (800) 772-3300 (toll-free in California); (916) 654-5106 (outside California); or via email at title24@energy.ca.gov

For more information:
(If link above doesn't work, please copy entire link into your web browser's URL)


That is all for this week!       

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Flying the Friendly Green Skies

Imagine sitting on a plane getting ready to take off and the plane steward thanks you for flying the green skies. You may be sitting there scratching your head thinking….green skies I thought it was the friendly skies? Well you might want to familiarize yourself with what the phrase means because it could be the future catch phrase on commercial flights.
 
The plane steward stated the green skies since the plane you are flying on is green and good for the environment. Airlines are testing the idea of running their commercial airliners on biofuel. Just this month Boeing completed its first ever quote on quote green flight on its ecoDemonstrator 787 and turned heads while doing it. The aviation leader is making headlines by testing a green diesel and jet fuel mixture in its commercial planes. For those unfamiliar with the term green diesel it is a biofuel made from vegetable oils, waste cooking oils and wasted animal fats.[i] Different forms of biofuels are already out on the market, but green diesel is chemically different and more complex.[ii]



Though this flight was only powered on a mixture of 15 percent green diesel and 85 percent petroleum jet fuel it can still play a role in lowering carbon emissions. Research has shown that the aviation industry creates 2 to 2.5 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.[i] With green diesel the industry can reduce its carbon emissions 50 to 90 percent.  Forecasted production capacity of 800 million gallons of green diesel could supply as much as 1 percent of jet fuel demand. The price of this fuel of the future is predicted to stay around the $3 mark, which is close to the price of current fossil fuels.[ii]

Who know if the biofuel idea will work out for the aviation industry, but man I sure hope it does. Anyway that the industry is able to help curb carbon emissions and climate change is a good idea.

Sure flying the green skies may not sound as attractive as the friendly skies, but man it sounds good to our environment!



[i] “The aviation industry is responsible for 2.5% of the world’s carbon emissions”, Jan., 6, 2015, http://inhabitat.com/aviation-industry-looks-to-emissions-trading-to-meet-environmental-goals/

[ii] “Boeing Completes World’s First Flight Powered by Green Diesel”, Dec., 4, 2014, http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/cleantech/mike_hower/boeing_carries_out_worlds_first_flight_powered_green_diesel?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=schtweets&utm_campaign=editorial
[iii] “Eco-friendly planes are coming: Boeing powers jet partly on used cooking oil”, Dec., 3,2014, http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/techflash/2014/12/eco-friendly-planes-are-coming-boeing-powers-jet.html
[iv] “Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787 logs first flight with green diesel as aviation biofuel”, Dec, 4, 2014, http://www.intelligent-aerospace.com/articles/2014/12/boeing-ecodemonstrator-787-logs-first-flight-with-green-diesel-as-aviation-biofuel.html

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stay Up to Date: December Update

Our SJVCEO team has been pretty busy over the past few months with many things coming to an end as well as ramping up for the coming year. We are all very excited here at SJVCEO for what 2015 has in store.

                During the month of November our team was spread throughout California to attend our utility partner planning meetings. While attending these meetings staff learned about what each utility has in store for the coming year. No matter which utility meeting our staff attended we all walked away invigorated for another year of helping others on energy efficiency projects.

                One great opportunity that SJVCEO has coming up in 2015 is bringing on two to three interns from CivicSpark. The CivicSpark program is a group of individuals in a national service volunteer program to help local governments reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions. These interns will be working very closely with our staff to benchmark municipal buildings in the San Joaquin Valley. We are all excited to see what this new opportunity with CivicSpark will bring.

                Lastly, SJVCEO as well as the VIEW partnership will be receiving a website face lift. Don’t worry your bookmarked pages will still work as the new websites will be under the same domain names. We thought it was time to fix up the websites to stay current with those of our partners. We hope that when they are debuted that you will like them as much as our staff does.



Make sure to stay up to date with what SJVCEO is up to. We hope to make 2015 one of our most successful years!

Monday, December 22, 2014

How to Green Your Holiday

During the holiday season we are inundated with bright sparkly lights, the smell of pine and festive decorations. Sadly, not all of those items listed are good for our environment. So this year try adding a green spin. You will see how easy it is to go green during this holiday season.

Outdoor Decoration

When it comes to house lights for the holiday try upgrading your older lights to new energy efficient LED lights. These lights are 80 to 90 percent more efficient that incandescent's. LED's are also safer for your family, since they run cooler which makes them less of a fire hazard. Also for a 30 day period of time incandescent lights can cost around $18 whereas LED lights only cost $.19. One last nifty note, if one LED bulb goes out on the strand the rest of the strand will stay lit.[i]
As for your other outdoor decorations try and reduce the size of your display this year. Decorating for the holiday is not a challenge it is about spreading holiday cheer. Go with what you think is spirited and not try to challenge your neighbor to a light dual. Another note would be to turn your lights off when going to bed. Its not energy efficient to leave your lights on whilst everyone is asleep.One such item that will help you make sure your lights go on and off at the right time would be a light timer. Light timers range from 10 dollars to around 25 and can be found at most home improvement stores.

The Tree

Though your artificial tree seems so easy and convenient for your busy lifestyle as well as environmentally friendly, try going with a live tree this year. Artificial trees are made up of PVC, a petroleum-based plastic, and carry a large carbon footprint. A study shows that a household would have to keep their fake tree for 20 years to have an impact on natural tree levels.[ii] Also, once your artificial tree has called it quits it will go to a landfill where a majority of it will sit for decades, since it is not biodegradable.
If you were to switch to a live tree this year you would be making a more sustainable choice. Live trees for the most part are locally sourced so their carbon footprint is much smaller. Also live trees help with air pollution while they are growing on the tree farms as well as if or when you replant them after the holidays. 

Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper is one of those items that is a must for your holiday celebration. It’s not as if you can let others know what you got them, but much of that wrapping paper goes to the waste once it has been used. So this year try an option that is easier on the environment.

Some options would be using hemp or recycled paper from previous years as well as fabric scraps, comic books strips, old calendars and maps. With some of these options you can get pretty creative with how you present the gift. Also, when choosing gift wrap try to steer clear of glossy foil or metallic wrap, since those types of papers are difficult to recycle. It is hard to separate out the heavy metals from the paper itself so the paper can become mulch.

Green Gifts

Whenever it comes to thinking of gifts for others people usually revert back to the almighty gift cards or sweaters, but this year think outside of the box and give a green gift. See some green gift ideas below. [iii]

Help a Good Cause: Give a gift that can help animal or environmental conservation groups.

Recycle or Upcycled Goods: Visit sights such as Etsy to find items that are beautiful and are made of recycled items.

Help Reduce Waste: Give a gift that will help others cut down on waste. These items can range from small to large in size.
Kill the Watts: Give a gift that should be counted as two gifts. Help someone cut down on energy use and in turn saves them moolah! I think that this gift goes above and beyond 



[i] “How to have a ‘green’ Christmas”, Dec., 5, 2014, http://eartheasy.com/give_sustainchristmas.htm
[ii] “Drought Intensifies Christmas Tree Debate:, Dec., 18,2014, http://www.sci-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=102005PYMK3C
[iii]“ 9 Green Gift Ideas For the Holiday Season”, Dec. 15, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/04/green-gift-guide_n_6261474.html