Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Peace, Love, & Beer!

Right in the heart of Kinston, North Carolina, Mother Earth was born. A lonely, worn-down brick building was given a second chance. Trent Mooring and Stephen Hill, brought together by their shared passion for home-grown vegetables and hand-crafted beer founded Mother Earth Brewing Co. in 2007. They envisioned a sustainable brewery, researched sustainable building materials and techniques, and Mother Earth was born the following year.

Not only is the location and structure of the building recycled itself, but sustainable materials were used for building almost every additional detail. To start, this sustainable brewery contains a six-kilowatt solar array on the rooftop, right off the bat reducing their emissions. The building also contains blue-jean insulation, which is a 100% recyclable product and has great noise-barriers. Soy-based spray foam insulation was used on the second story ceiling, eliminating the use of harmful chemicals, low Volatile organic compounds (VOC) paint was used on the walls, and eco carpet made from renewable resources was installed. They also invested in eco valves and eco faucets to reduce water use by 30%, a tankless water heater that heats almost instantly and only when it is needed, and a rain catcher to provide outside irrigation.

There’s just no way a business could possibly become any more sustainable than this, right? Well, think again! The Mother Earth brewing process in itself is sustainable! When grain is done being used for brewing, it is sent to local farmers as top quality feed for their animals. In addition, their “hop project” involves planting hops locally and organically. Even the tap handles are made from one of the most sustainable resources, bamboo – the most rapidly growing plant on earth – taking in a greater amount of carbon dioxide and taking pressure off of traditional hardwood forests. Even the employees are sustainable! Mother Earth’s very own brewer, Josh D. Brewer traded in his car for a bicycle to reduce his emissions during his commutes to and from work, as well as his travels elsewhere.

Mother Earth Brewing Co. is in the process of becoming Gold LEED Certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) through the U.S. Green Building Council, which will make them the first brewery in the U.S. to earn this level of certification. This Brewery is a leading example for up and coming sustainable businesses everywhere. Mooring and Hill’s heart and soul not only went into the planning and building process, it went into their brewing recipe as well! Word on the street is their beer is quite tasty, so give back to Mother Earth and check it out for yourself! There will be more sustainable technologies to come as Mooring and Hill continue to please Mother Earth by keeping her close to home.   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tips for a Sustainable Holiday: Take 1 – Thanksgiving

It’s finally that time of year when the weather begins to get a little nippy and the leaves start to change colors, hinting that the holiday season is right around the corner. Here are a few friendly tips to make your Thanksgiving Day a green one:
1. Plan Accordingly:  According to the NY Times, it’s estimated that Americans throw away over 100 billion pounds of food, costing over $100 billion dollars a year. To avoid this, determine how many dinner guests you will be having and go from there. Cooking enough to feed an entire village may be a little extreme if you plan on only have a few friends and family members over. Why not lessen the burden and have a potluck? You have less to cook, more time to relax and in the end results in a good food portion to people ratio.
2. Shop Local: Before we all rush and eat ourselves into a Thanksgiving Day food-induced coma, think about where your food comes from. When executing on that shopping list, think organic or better yet - local. Not only are these green options but they are sure to guarantee a fresher, more nutritious meal. Visit the NC Farm Fresh website to find a farmer offering local fruits, vegetables, and even ethically-raised, free range local turkeys! (Plan ahead and order today)
3. Reduce Energy Consumption:  As gas prices increase, why not plan a Thanksgiving dinner with nearby friends and family? You’ll not only save money but also reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. If you must go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, make sure to turn down that thermostat, turn off the lights and unplug any unessential electrical appliances before you leave to go out of town.
Last but not least, keep it simple by going back to basics: 4. RECYCLE. Recycle all packaging and beverage containers which will in turn reduce the number of times you have to take the trash out and significantly reduce how much garbage you send off to the landfill. Not sure what to recycle? Check out Recycle More NC for where to take your recyclables.
Have a safe and happy holiday and don’t forget to think sustainably during the season of consumption!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Driving around town… What’s your MPG?

From Car and Driver:
“Starting [in 2010] with 2011 models, the federal government’s fuel-economy standards, which have sat frozen for years, are going to get a big-time thaw—the biggest change since the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) (http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy) law was created in 1975. The average fuel economy for cars must improve from the current 27.5 mpg, where it has been since 1990, to 37.8 mpg by 2016. The truck standard has to rise from 23.5 mpg to 28.8.”

I drive a Toyota Prius. When I bought it five years ago, I was driving a vehicle that needed premium gas, got only about 23 MPG highway, and with all of the driving I was doing for my job at the time, I was shelling out a good $60 a week. (Probably about $65-$70 in today’s gas prices.) With some patient driving in my Prius, I can get about 48-52 MPG around town and about 45 MPG on the highway, saving me nearly half on my gas bill each month.

It’s not the newest model, but I still get asked fairly often about my car. People stop me at gas stations and ask questions. They want to know if I like it and what kind of MPG I get on the road. I love my car. But some people need a bigger car. Some people just LIKE bigger cars! I will be happier when the MPG standards improve so that we can make better, more environmentally responsible options with our vehicles at a lower cost.

Each gallon of gas your car burns emits just shy of 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. With NCGreenPower Carbon Offsets, you can support a local project that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and not feel so bad about your daily 30 mile commute to work or school! A donation of only $4 a month will support the mitigation of harmful GHGs from one of our local projects like a hog lagoon or landfill that is preventing the release of methane gas.

So if a hybrid or plug-in electric vehicle isn’t for you, at least be a responsible driver and heed these green driving tips for saving on MPGs and help the environment.