Thursday, December 19, 2013

Green up your holidays!

It's the holidays - time for big spending, perhaps a little overindulging and definitely a lot of wastefulness if we aren't careful.

Here are a few do-good ideas for holiday gifting:
While you're making a list and checking it twice, why not give gifts that give twice? Charitable giving can can do a world of good! Keep your gift local by making a donation to your local food bank or homeless shelter in your recipient's name. Support education during the holidays by donating books or supplies in a friend's or your child's name to a local school or library. Make your holiday meals with as many locally grown and/or organic foods as possible! If you're giving or receiving new electronics this year, be sure to recycle or donate old ones! Check out for more info. How do you reduce waste? Gift reusable bags. Purchase recycled paper gift wrap. Reuse holiday cards into nifty gift tags. Wrap with newsprint, paper bags or old maps! Gift wrap with recycled paper or a scarf. Reuse a gift bag, even if it's NOT a holiday bag! Give the gift of time to someone you care about. Conversation shared over lunch or a visit to a museum are always great gifts.

Some waste facts that may surprise you:
  • Waste fact #1: Nationwide, between Thanksgiving & Christmas, we throw away a MILLION EXTRA TONS of waste each WEEK.
  • Waste fact #2: In Raleigh, in an average week, 3,000 tons of waste is discarded. During those six weeks it jumps up to 3,750 tons!
  • Waste fact #3: 1.9 billion holiday cards are sent every year, filling a football field 10 stories high. Harvesting almost 300,000 trees!
  • Waste fact #4: During the holidays, at least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year - almost 100 pounds per person.
  • Waste fact #5: Half of the paper America consumes is used to wrap & decorate consumer products.
If each American household wrapped just three gifts in reused materials, enough paper would be saved to cover 45,000 football fields. Join with NC GreenPower this holiday season and pledge to cut back on waste. You can also go online and offset your holiday lights through our My NC GreenPower fundraising campaign!

As we approach the end of the year, we ask that you please consider making a one-time or monthly donation online, or give to NC GreenPower on behalf of a loved one using our gift cards. While shopping online, you can also connect with GoodSearch, and they will donate a portion of your purchase to us on your behalf!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy 10th birthday, NC GreenPower!

I don't know about you, but I sure do remember my 10th birthday... I thought - WOW! I'm turning double-digits - and thought I was SO very grown up.

NC GreenPower celebrates our 10th birthday this month, and we are so excited to share this with you! To celebrate, we have been posting a lot of our ten year history on our social media sites. We also have Throwback Thursday where we post photos of past project dedications. (Twitter  /  Facebook)

On Thursday, October 17 at 11:30am, we will be giving away 225 small trees from Lichtin Plaza at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh – free for anyone to take home and plant as a way to reduce their carbon footprint. 

It's one tree per person, and we'll be out there until we run out of trees!

2 E South Street, Raleigh - map it here.
Walk, run, bike, drive by or take the bus!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sustainable Back to School Shopping

Back to school shopping can add up fast. And let’s be honest, you usually end up losing half of the materials you bought throughout the previous year, right? So why not take some pressure off your wallet and spend a day gathering those lost supplies and recycle the ones you’ve used! That box of pencils is lying around your house somewhere, and the supplies you already have are still in great shape. Here are some helpful hints for how to make your back to school shopping easier, less expensive, and green!

1.   Go through your desk drawers and collect all those pens, pencils, erasers, folders, notebooks, binders, etc. that are still in great shape. Mix and match and re-design to make your own trendy collection!

2.   Recycle those partially used notebooks by tearing out the used pages. Then, decorate the cover to make it look like it was customized just for you! Do the same for those perfectly good binders that have a few scratches and tears on the cover.

3.   Don’t have any old materials you can reuse? Go shopping at a store that carries green school supplies. For example, the Ultimate Green Store has everything from solar backpacks to recycled clothing and supplies. Everything they sell is either recycled, eco-friendly, or powered by solar. Better yet, you can conveniently shop online, and they have great deals. Even stores like Target and Wal-Mart have green options like recycled paper and notepads, so be on the lookout wherever you decide to go and be sure to make the green choice.

4.   Come see NC GreenPower at an event and get a FREE recycled pencil, pen, or notepad. Better yet, volunteer for us and get an organic and locally-made t-shirt!

5.   Not looking forward to cafeteria food and the unreasonable prices they charge for it? Buy a lunch box to bring your favorites to school each day. To green it up even more, use reusable Tupperware instead of plastic bags for your sandwiches, but make sure they are BPA free! As far as your food goes, look for organic and locally-grown. Shop at local farmers markets for those fresh veggies, or eco-friendly stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods.

6.   Shop at thrift stores for your back to school wardrobe. Places like Plato’s Closet and Uptown Cheapskate sell in-style clothes from the most popular name brands. Get your back to school outfit for less than 20 bucks!
Follow these helpful hints to have a green and cheap back to school shopping spree.  Be sure to share these trendy tips with your friends and be the one to start the green trend in your school!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Paperless Classroom…?

Never thought you would read those three words, did you?

Growing up, all of us lugged around dozens of binders and notebooks filled with an immense amount of unnecessary papers. Every little thing was written down, from notes to tests to homework.

Ever wonder what it would be like to enter a school and not see any paper? No textbooks. No written homework. It’s hard to imagine. One school in New York City found that during the school year it wasted an average of 28 pounds of paper for EVERY student, teacher and staff member. So how is it possible that a classroom can go from using 28 pounds in excess of paper a year to barely using any? Technology.

Recently, tablets have taken over the technology realm. Whether you’re riding on a bus and reading your e-book or navigating the web during some time in between work, they are easier and more portable than the laptop we’ve grown accustomed to. Tablets have reached every market, from little kids playing games and using apps to college students – even the elderly use technology regularly. Their lightweight size and cheap price (relatively speaking of course) makes them an attractive buy.

Education systems worldwide are noticing this recent trend and turning this popular technology into an academic tool with the help of computer companies. These companies are increasingly expanding and improving on their tablet products. Their ability to personalize apps and provide ease of access to information makes them a go-to for educational purposes. Apps and programs to aid with educational progress are increasing on the market. Even in college, books are now being turned into E-books. For some books, the option of a paper book is completely gone.

In the United Arab Emirates, U.A.E., the government has begun the process of phasing in iPads to 14,000 first-year students at their three top prestigious universities. Their goal: to roll out iPads to all incoming students for the next three years to have complete saturation. We could see this trend continuing worldwide as we see a new tech-savvy generation emerge, helping to reduce that 28 pounds per year per student consumption of paper.

So goodbye to the days of kids using their dog eating their homework as an excuse… or any excuse for that matter. No more problems with illegible handwriting or kids complaining their backpacks weigh more than they do. Every book, every assignment and every note can fit into an 8” x 5” tablet.

Other Links:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I’m For the Farm. Are You?

This year’s NC State University’s Earth Week featured “From Barn to Brick: Sustainable Food and Agriculture at NC State.” It focused on educating the campus and community about the importance of sustainable food. To kick off Earth Week, 100 helping hands from all over the community grabbed a shovel and got to work on the Agroecology Education Farm located off of Lake Wheeler Road. This event was co-hosted by the Education Farm and Campus Dining as the first step towards incorporating local and organic food throughout campus Dining Halls. NC State’s Sustainability Office is working hard to gain support For the Farm to further enhance this partnership between the Farm and Campus Dining. The more support this partnership gains, the more it and the Farm will prosper.

When the farm first started out about 3 years ago, it barely had a tool shed or access to water. It was used as a hands-on learning aid for students taking Agroecology courses for the minor and concentration that are offered at NC State. Now, they have a well-equipped tool shed, their own tractor, a well for spray irrigation and access to electricity. The Farm even receives compost from Campus Dining to put the tremendous amount of waste that accumulates in the dining halls to good use. The Farm had such great production success last summer that extra produce was donated to Raleigh’s Interfaith Food Shuttle. Green Planet Catering has also had great success growing produce in its very own portion of the plot. The farm takes tremendous pride in natural farming methods by using organic fertilizers and limiting the amount of tillage done to preserve the soils. Additionally, a beneficial insect border was established in 2008 to attract insects to better the farm, and plant cover crops are planted in winter and summer months by students on the remaining acreage to help protect the farm. This Farm’s hopeful message is to show that small, sustainable plots of land can provide a better source of fresh, local food.

If you’ve ever eaten at a campus dining hall, you’ve probably noticed that a large amount of food is tossed out and many dishes are used in the process of just one meal. However, NC State’s Campus Dining has been working towards becoming greener. Campus Dining contributes their waste as compost to the farm and has a goal to increase the amount of waste redirected away from landfills to 65% by 2015. Additionally, 26% of the food is sourced from local areas. Howling Cow Dairy products, including fresh milk and ice cream throughout campus comes from NC State’s very own farm and on-campus dairy plant; they feature pita bread, dinner rolls, and artisan sandwich bread from Neomonde, a local bakery that uses natural products and high quality ingredients. Campus Dining also started a program called “My Roots Are at NC State” which connects Dining with NC growers, manufacturers, producers and processes to further increase local and sustainable purchases. The program also allows NC State alumni to share their own stories about working for these companies and how their work positively impacts NC State’s efforts to provide the best food possible for the campus. It is a great program to trace one’s roots back to the University that made their career possible. Recently, Dining created the “Take Out Program” which features reusable, recyclable take-out containers. One must bring back a used container in order to receive a new one, enforcing the concept of reuse and recycle. Containers are washed alongside dirty dishes to be reused. Campus Dining also recycles their cooking oil. In fact, 55,000 gallons have been recycled into sustainable fuels since 2008, which is enough to run 10 Wolfline busses for 10 years!  

The future of agriculture lies within small, sustainable plots like the Agroecology Education Farm. The farm allows for students and the community to become educated about the importance and convenience of local food sources, and the partnership between NC State Campus Dining and the Farm will add to the community’s awareness. So I ask, are you For the Farm? To show your support, click here and help strengthen this partnership that could act as a leading model for sustainable food everywhere. Support For the Farm, and watch as the cycle comes full circle; from Farm-to-Fork, or as we call it here, from Barn-to-Brick.

Other links:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Inside the James B. Hunt Jr. Library

Have you ever had trouble finding a place to study, let alone sit in North Carolina State University’s D. H. Hill Library? Well, the brand new James B. Hunt Jr. Library on Centennial campus doubles NC State’s study seating capacity and, the best part: it’s GREEN! It has been designed for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Environmental rating and is expected to be the fourth LEED-certified building on NC State’s campus!

Before the opening of the Hunt Library, NC State could seat less than 5% of its students, but this building offers 1,700 new seats and almost 100 group study rooms! Providing technology-enabled furniture, high-definition video walls, a 3D computing and visualization space, and videoconferencing and telepresence facilities, the Hunt Library utilizes technology to encourage innovation and learning. The building goes above and beyond in representing NC State’s strength in technology and design.  

The Hunt Library’s efficient and complex design reduces energy consumption by 31%, downsizing costs and improving ecological conditions. A main contributor of this reduction is the bookBot, which efficiently stores and retrieves books. This incredible design eliminates the need for aisle space and reduces the building’s square footage by 40%! Ceiling-mounted occupancy sensors automatically control the efficient lighting throughout the building as well as room temperature in the study rooms and offices, putting a halt to energy consumption when areas are not in use. Additionally, twelve solar thermal panels on the roof of the building utilize the sun to naturally produce hot water for the entire building!  Vast expanses of glass windows also take advantage of the natural sunlight to light many rooms throughout the day. However, the combination of vertical and horizontal solar blades that contributes to the unique exterior of the building block out unwanted sunlight that causes uncomfortable heat and glare. And you thought the awesome exterior was just for looks! 


For those that love that fresh outdoor air, you will be remarkably comfortable due to the air ventilation system sized to deliver 30% more outside air than required by code! The air quality throughout the building is further enhanced through the use of Low-VOC paints and coatings used on drywall and wood finishes, as well as low-VOC adhesives and sealants in the carpets to reduce harmful off-gassing.

The strong sustainable design of the Hunt Library extends beyond its interior and works to enhance its scenic surrounding environment. The Centennial Oval leading up to the building, the terrace overlooking Lake Raleigh, and the exterior design of the building all act to integrate and appreciate the surrounding environment. The natural hydrology of Lake Raleigh and Walnut Creek is preserved by incorporating the rain garden and vegetated green roof, which act to reduce harmful runoff and remove sedimentation and contaminants before reaching the waterways. The green roof also helps cool the building, reducing energy use in the summer time. Water-efficient landscaping throughout the site reduces the need for irrigation and conserves water. Drinking water is also conserved through the installation of infrastructure for future connection to municipal reclaimed wastewater to be used for all toilets and urinals. Water-efficient or ultra-low-flow plumbing fixtures in bathrooms currently contribute to a 38% reduction in water use.

Even the materials used to construct the library were sourced to have minimal impact on the environment! One-third of all materials used to construct and finish the library were both extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the site. In addition, 82% of all wood products used inside the building have been sustainably harvested and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The library’s environmental impact is also reduced by using 31% recycled content, including steel, carpet, bathroom countertops and aluminum window mullions. Recycling is made convenient and accessible for students, faculty, and staff by placing bins for metal, plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, and electronics throughout the library to reduce operational waste, extending the life of our prized natural resources!

For bicycle and Wolfline commuters, accessing the Hunt Library will be as convenient as ever! Public transportation and bicycle commuting are encouraged through the buildings setup through bus stops and bike racks surrounding the building. Showers and changing areas are also provided in the building to promote physical activity. Light-colored paths and trees around the building also contribute to reducing the heat island effect, keeping the surrounding environment cool and comfortable for commuters!

Are you interested in learning more about the Hunt Library’s sustainable design? Click here to request a tour, or here to learn more! Get your smart phones ready because an application is being designed for visitors who would like a self-guided tour! Digital displays in the building and the NCSU Libraries website provide facts about green building strategies and the Hunt Library’s achievements. Education about green building is part of the design and function of the building. It is essential to educate the community about the Hunt Library’s sustainable technology and design and to recognize it for its influential green building design as a successful example of balancing social, economic, and ecological aspects. By allowing visitors, students, staff and faculty to become aware about the benefits of green building, the vision of living and working in a healthier, safer, more efficient building comes closer to reality.

(All photos courtesy of the Hunt Library's webpage.)