Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Natural Gas

US President Barack Obama
Natural gas has received increased media attention surrounding President Obama's State of the Union address and his talk at the University of Miami this  year, however, while natural gas is often included in the "green" energies it has some additional risks (see below). Some may compare natural gas to biomass/biogas power but these are significantly different in that they can turn natural waste into energy, solving a considerable problem throughout the world, and are above ground posing fewer ecological risks. Regardless of the type of energy, there are advantages and disadvantages to all; learn more about each in their appropriate sections at (Wind, Solar, Hydropower, Geothermal, Biomass, Ocean).

Transportation/Extraction Methods

Natural gas requires highly complex treatment plants and pipelines to deliver gas from the source to the site of use. These pipelines have high maintenance costs because they need to be laid underground and need to be checked regularly for leakage (Learn more).

The extraction of natural gas creates cavities in the ground which can sometimes cause the ground to sink. Before the gas is extracted from a natural gas field, the pressure exerted by the gas helps support the layers of soil above the gas field; when the gas is extracted, the soil pressure increases and cavities are created in the ground (Learn more).

Natural Gas Storage

Environmental Impacts

Natural gas is still a contributor to global warming, although much less so than other fossil fuels, it still releases millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year (Learn more).

Naturally occurring natural gas seeps from the ocean floor and can disrupt marine life.  Since pipelines run underground/water, any leaks that may occur can expose marine life to the harmful gas (Learn more).

Gas Leaks

Natural gas is highly combustible because of the high percentage of methane. Therefore, there are high risks that methane explosions occur when extracting and using this gas (Learn more).

If a natural gas leak has occurred, oxygen can be reduced which can lead to dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headache, and irregular breathing (Learn more).

Natural Gas Pipeline
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day! 

Monday, 27 February 2012

Daily Green

Here at Eco Endeavors and the Greencyclopedia we are fortunate enough spend all of our days in the green space, but we know it can be difficult to stay eco-conscious in everyday life. Like any big change try to stay positive and remember "Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned." [Peter Marshall] 

If you aren't quite ready for big changes start small and use reminders to help you. 

The colour green can be a powerful tool to keep your eco-brain activated; use green items as visual reminders to make green choices daily!

A progress list can be a great way to set your goals and acknowledge your achievements; make a list of ways you can go green and keep a tally of how often you do them.

Remember to reward yourself for a job well done; positive reinforcement is a great way to stay motivated and achieve more!

For ideas to go green check out our list of 28 Ways to Build a Green Lifestyle
And to learn more about setting and achieving your goals try this article

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day! 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

REPORT UPDATE: "Renewable Energy Hotspots: Where They Are and Why"

Further to our earlier report on "Renewable Energy Hotspots: Where They Are and Why", this post provides updated statistics (end of 2011) in regards to solar and wind energy.  Hydro, geothermal, and biomass energy statistics have remained similar to the ones previously posted.

Solar Energy:
1) Germany - 24.7 GW
2) Italy - 12 GW
3) United States - 5.2 GW
4) Spain - 4.2 GW
5) Japan - 3.8 GW

Wind Energy:
1) China - 62.7 GW
2) United States - 46.9 GW
3) Germany - 29.0 GW
4) Spain - 21.6 GW
5) India - 16 GW

For more details on why these regions are the leaders in various renewable energies please click here.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day! 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Wind Energy in the Home

Wind energy is a power that has been harnessed for centuries and calls to mind familiar images of wind mills throughout the world. Today power companies use the wind's energy to generate electricity, but how can you use it? Installing your own personal wind turbine is a green way of generating your own electricity; it is clean, renewable, and produces no greenhouse gases.

Factors to Consider when Buying a Wind Turbine

Wind Speed

Before getting a wind turbine it is important to check the wind speed in your area. To do this, one should refer to wind maps and wind data in their region. Even if the wind data for your location is promising, a hill or other barrier might not be accounted for which would result in wind speeds being greatly reduced. 

There is a great wind speed prediction tool on the website whereby you can enter your postcode and state whether your home is urban or rural. The website can then tell you whether your home is in a suitable location for building a wind turbine.

Wind turbines are very site specific. If wind speeds are below par, then your wind turbine will not produce enough electricity. Wind speeds should be above 18km (10mph) in order for the turbine to generate enough electricity.


The wind speed itself is dependent on a number of factors such as:
- Location (houses built along the coast or on wide open plains are in an ideal location to consider having a wind turbine)
- Nearby obstructions such as buildings and trees
- Height of the turbine above ground level or on top of your roof.


Smaller turbines are susceptible to turbulence, so if you live near to a busy road, or near trees, or in a built up area, a wind turbine is unlikely to work well for you. Turbulent air - where the wind is constantly changing direction - leaves the turbines constantly changing direction, constantly chasing the wind rather than extracting power from it. This is why it is important to build your wind turbine up high because the higher the turbine, the stronger the wind. Also by building your turbine up high, it prevents wind energy from being obstructed. Turbines can be set up either on a pole or on the roof of a house.

Types of Home Turbines

Building Mounted 

Building mounted turbines are smaller systems that can be installed on the roof of a home where there is a suitable wind resource. Often these are around 1kW to 2kW in size. This type of wind turbine is more suited to someone who lives in a residential area. These turbines must be located in exposed areas where wind energy is high. If there are trees or any buildings nearby, then they will cause obstructions which affect the wind speed. The turbine will need to be high enough off the roof so that it will not be affected by turbulence from the roof.

Pole Mounted

Pole mounted turbines are free standing and are erected in a suitably exposed position, often around 5kW to 6kW. Pole mounted turbines are particularly ideal for a person who lives on a large property. It is important that these pole mounted turbines are built high and away from obstructions like buildings or trees. For obvious reasons, this type of wind turbine is not really suitable for someone who lives in an urban residential area.

Building-mounted turbines tend to produce less electricity per kW than pole-mounted ones. A well-sited 6kW turbine can generate approximately 10,000 kWh per year.

In many countries wind turbines require planning permission and there are a number of criteria that a wind turbine will need to meet. If you decide to get a turbine there are many grants and a lot of do-it-yourself (DIY) information on the internet.

If a wind turbine is not right for your home, you can always harness the wind's energy by using it to dry your clothes. Using a dryer can use up a lot of electricity and is not cost effective so why not take advantage of this great energy source!

How Wind Turbines Work

A wind turbine works the opposite of a fan: instead of using electricity to make wind, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. Wind turbines use large blades to catch the wind. When the wind blows, the blades are forced round, driving a turbine which generates electricity. The wind turbine collects kinetic energy from the wind which is then converted into electricity by magnets moving past a stator (stationary part of a rotor system). As the magnets pass the stator, alternating current (AC) electricity is produced. It is then converted into direct current (DC) electricity which can be used to charge the batteries that store the electrical energy or can also be fed into the electricity grid.

Small wind energy systems can be connected to the electricity distribution system. These are called grid-connected systems. A grid-connected wind turbine can reduce your consumption of utility-supplied electricity for lighting, appliances, and electric heat. You can also get stand-alone wind turbines which are not connected to the grid.

Stand-alone turbines: In remote locations, stand-alone systems can be more cost-effective than extending a power line to the electricity grid. But these systems are also used by people who live near the grid and wish to obtain independence from the power provider or demonstrate a commitment to non-polluting energy sources. The stand-alone system uses batteries which store electricity for use during times that your system is not producing electricity due to resource unavailability.

Grid connected turbines: When the turbine cannot deliver the amount of energy you need, the utility makes up the difference. That way the grid can switch between wind energy and the utility company.Grid connected wind turbine will operate only when the utility grid is available. During power outages, the wind turbine is required to shut down due to safety concerns.In some countries like the UK, when the home is linked with the grid any surplus electricity that is produced by the turbine, can be sold to the utility company to reduce and sometimes even eliminate your electric bill. This is known as the feed in tariff.

The stronger the wind, the more electricity produced. Wind is variable and can change day to day so in one day your wind turbine may produce enough electricity to run your house. During periods with not enough wind, the home is supplied power from the utility company or in the case of stand-alone turbines, a battery (with stored electricity) is used. 

Wind resources are strongest in the winter months, while solar resources are stronger in the summer months, so this means that these two energy sources actually work well together and are often used in hybrid systems. A person can switch between the two energy sources. On a cloudy day, a turbine will still produce electricity and on a sunny calm day solar panels will produce electricity.

Sizes of Wind Turbines

Large – these large industrial turbines produce hundreds of megawatts of electricity (expressed as “MW”) and are used by utility companies. Large turbines are usually installed in reserved places called wind farms.

Small – these are ideal for homes, small farms or a small business. They produce no more than 100 kilowatts (KW) of electricity and can be used as a back-up power supply or to decrease energy consumption.

Very small – these turbines are used to charge batteries of a large number of recreational vehicles like small boats.

Homeowners would usually use a small home wind turbine. There are also two types of wind turbines available: horizontal axis and vertical axis. The horizontal axis type comes with a tower, the vertical ones are usually anchored to the ground.

The horizontal axis turbine is the most common and is installed so that it aims directly at the wind. It has a component called a tailvane that will point the turbine to the direction of the wind. The vertical axis type can be installed in whichever way the wind blows, but it needs more ground space to accommodate the wires and other components.

For information about other renewable energies in your home please visit our article on Solar Energy and stay tuned for more!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day! 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Hybrids, Flex Fuels, & Initiatives: Your Options For "Going Green" With Vehicles

While walking and biking can work for a lot of individuals, some people still need a vehicle in their daily lives. An environmentally friendly vehicle is one that produces less harmful impacts to the environment than the comparable conventional vehicles. To go green with your vehicle choice consider these technologies:

(See below for a list of some of the top green vehicles today!)

Hybrid Technology

Conserving as much energy as possible, that is built up by the inertia of a moving car, is a major efficiency enjoyed by hybrid cars. This is accomplished through various technologies that are used in concert with a battery to utilize electricity in providing the energy demands of the car. While traditional gasoline is required for a significant portion of the vehicle’s operation, hybrid technologies like the Start-Stop system minimize its use by tapping into electrical power when the car’s needs are modest. Other processes like regenerative braking, take the traditionally discarded energy produced by a slowing car and store it in the battery for future use.


Quiet and effective at reducing fuel costs, hybrid technology is firmly entrenching itself as a reliable reducer of carbon emissions. The dependence on electric battery technology of specific makes of hybrid cars helps determine each model’s fuel efficiency rating. Recently the use of charging stations at various public places have enabled certain hybrid models, such as Nissan’s Leaf, Volvo’s V70 & Suzuki’s Swift,  to maximize the contribution provided by a car’s battery. Depending on how diligently an owner is with keeping their battery juiced up, some owners are able to get by on one tank of gas a month for their daily commuting needs. Further advancements in hybrid technologies promise to trim the fuel needs of individual automobiles even further in the years to come.


One promising technology that’s still in the development stage is the use of hydrogen as a propulsion source for automobiles. The explosive capability of hydrogen as fuel offers an alternative energy source that could cater to all of the car’s needs, while emitting only water as a by-product of its consumption. Much like fully electric cars, hydrogen cars need fuelling stations to provide them with ample hydrogen to meet their driving needs. The automotive industry is working hard to modernize hydrogen vehicles so that they are a practical consumer vehicle by 2015.

Flex Fuels

Flex fuels are derived from a mixture of traditional petroleum fuel with plant based ethanol, which greatly diminishes the carbon footprint that trails our global consumption of fuel. The E rating of a flex fuel denotes how much ethanol is in a particular grade of fuel which varies based on the availability of plant-based ethanol and the legal precedent in the region. For example, Brazil leads all countries with a government mandated minimum E20 rating for all commercial gas, while in the United States some corn belt states offer E85 fuel at a lesser cost than typical petroleum based gas.

The introduction of flex fuels into the automobile market has been great for and consumers alike, but there are still obstacles that limit its applicability. Low concentrations of ethanol can be tolerated by most typical car engines but when the content is significantly increased, damage or complete deterioration of the car’s engine can occur. Furthermore, flex fuels with a high ethanol concentration must be heated in cold climates before they can be put to use.


Setting the Tone with Car Share

Founded in Australia’s second most populated city, Melbourne, Green Car Share is implementing one of the world’s most thorough car co-op coverage using an exclusively hybrid fleet of vehicles. Overwhelming support for the program has enabled the company to expand to Sydney and is waiting on approval to bring their service to nine other major Australian cities. Using Toyota’s Prius & Yaris as two of their predominant car share options allows those in the co-op to enjoy a fuel efficiency of under 5L/100km. Green Car Share understands the importance of removing swaths of carbon emissions through combining co-ops with hybrid technology and aims to have an entirely emissions free fleet by the year 2015.

Mass Transport through Hybrid Technology

Trailing only San Francisco as the greenest city in North America, Vancouver, BC, is home to a diverse set of companies that are pioneering methods of mass implementing hybrid technology across the lower mainland. Vancouver & its surrounding suburbs are supplied with its public transportation needs by Translink, a company that began utilizing hybrid technology in 2009 with the introduction of over 140 hybrid buses into their fleet. Employing hybrid technology reduces each bus’ particulate matter emissions to 2.5% of the amount produced by their predecessors. With most of the hybrid fleet serving Vancouver’s central transportation corridor, a significant proportion of the city’s residents are embracing hybrid technology in their daily commute.

Community Foundation Investing in Hybrid Co-Op

Following the lead of Translink, other Vancouver based corporations like the banking institution, Vancity, are investing in hybrid technology. By offering up a few parking spaces at its branches and special sockets that plug in to hybrid electric cars, Vancity’sCommunity Investment Program lends a helping hand to the green local car co-op Modo. Being a non-profit organization which is dedicated to quashing Vancouverite’s carbon emissions enabled Modo to qualify for a grant from the banking institution to help further mobilize hybrid technology. The companies’ collective effort has brought the first electric hybrid car in Western Canada to the car sharing market, serving as a beacon for the global hybrid movement.

Toyota Prius V Plug-in Hybrid

Starting at $32,000       
City Fuel Economy: 2.1L/100km

This vehicle is ideal for people who are primarily travelling short distances at a low speed.  This isn’t to say that the Prius V can’t accommodate long-distance driving or high speed driving, but utilizing the 4.4 kWh battery is optimal in city environments. Requiring about 2.5 – 3 hours to completely charge the battery produces enough energy to drive for approximately 24 kilometers on electricity alone. With impressive cargo space of over 34 cubic feetin this five seat hybrid, the Prius V is the perfect alternative family car.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Starting at $41,400                               
Fuel Economy: 4.6 L/100km

Lincoln is making it easy for consumers to swap towards green energy by offering their MKZ hybrid model at the same price as the traditional model. Combining a 2.5-litre, four cylinder gas engine with a cutting edge electric engine provides customers with all the traditional power they are used to but with a quieter, less intrusive engine. Running on the electric engine alone, the MKZ is capable of reaching speeds of 47mph while assisting drivers with the SmartGauge with Eco Guide to help them optimize their fuel consumption.

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
To be released at the end of 2012

The Jetta promises to be one of the most fuel efficient hybrids in the market when it hits the streets at the end of 2012. Offering a 1.4-litre traditional engine that works in concert with a 20 kW electric engine, the Jetta can accommodate everybody’s driving style. With a chic seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission, the Jetta is the first of its kind to offer a light-weight automatic transmission vehicle for hybrid enthusiasts.

Honda Insight Hybrid

Starting at $25,295                 
Fuel Economy: 4.8 Litres/100km

The five-door hatchback Insight has comparable specs to other hybrids in its class. It has been on the market since 2009 and can be found for under $20,000 in some economic climates, designating it an ideal choice for budgetary constrained environmentalists world round. The smooth drive provided by the 98 horsepower engine underneath the hood slides in low-emission hybrid technology without impacting its capabilities on the road.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Starting at $28,999
Fuel Economy: 4.6 Litres/100km

Hyundai illustrated its newest technological advancement, “Blue Drive Technology”, with its 2010 release the Sonata. A host of technological advances in the battery, shape, brakes & other areas, help the Sonata competitive with top hybrids in the market, despite its relatively spacious nature. For potential hybrid buyers who want the latest in typical gas-first hybrid technology, Hyundai’s Sonata is a viable option.

Ford Escape Hybrid

Starting at: $23,701                
Fuel Economy: 5.8 Litres/100km

One of the longest established hybrids, the Escape provides a time-tested SUV hybrid option for consumers. While its fuel economy lags behind the competition, drivers of the Escape are impressed by how its power and durability compete with the rest of the compact SUV market. The escape employs a combination of an electric motor with a four-cylinder engine, which help it tackle the diverse environment of a four-wheel drive vehicle. For many green drivers, the Escape provides them with a sizable vehicle that will safely escort them into nature’s back-roads without major greenhouse gas emissions.

Nissan Leaf Electric Hybrid

Starting at $38,395                 
Fuel Economy: 2.2 Litres/100km

Reaching where no hybrid has gone before, the Nissan Leaf’s 80 kW electric engine delivers the opportunity for drivers to eradicate fossil fuels from their transportation equation. Aside from its solely electrical nature,drivers of the Leaf get the most out ofalternative energy technology through features like a solar-panel spoiler on the rear and energy efficient LED lighting throughout the cars frame.  The car’s battery can fuel it for upwards of 70 miles ofdriving, which together with its compact body and ability to comfortably seat five, make it an ideal car for city driving.

Chevy Volt Electric Hybrid

Starting at $31,645                 
Fuel Economy: 2.5 Litres/100km

Unlike the comparable Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Volt provides a more gradual shift towards alternative energy, by endowing drivers with a gas tank to back up the electric motor. A fully charged battery will take drivers around 40 miles in electric mode with any other fuel needs provided by premium fuel, which places the vehicle’s fuel economy solely in the hands of its owners. The vehicle can be completely charged by a typical electrical outlet, making the Volt the most efficient hybrid choice in the market.

All price quotes are taken from corresponding company websites and are based on latest model specifications. For additional information, potential hybrid owners can visit used car dealerships for discounted options.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day! 

Monday, 13 February 2012

Eco-Friendly Flowers

Flowers are a well-known holiday gift and with Valentine's Day just around the corner we encourage you to think green instead of red. There are arguments for all sides of "what's best" in the flower industry but to do your part for the planet, and the people in it, consider local, organic, and fair trade flowers.


Crocosmia - February
Locally-grown flowers can have a significantly reduced carbon footprint by employing a limited amount of harmful emissions to transport them from the garden to the store (as opposed to a large plane ride and more). When making your green flower choice, look for those that are in season at the time of your purchase, as this article shows some flowers grown in a greenhouse can have a greater carbon footprint than those flown for miles.

This website has put together a list of flowers by month to help you make your green flower choice easily: Flowers By Month Be sure to search your local area for what's in season near you!


Popular daisy-like flower with a country garden feel 
Unusual slightly thistle like flowers, dries well

Tall spiky flowers generally known as Montbretia when grown as a garden flower.  
The flower of the artichoke 

Tall flower spikes. Also, Larkspur which is a type of delphinium. 

Daisy like flowers with backward sloping petals. 
Foxtail Lily 
Large dramatic flowers, usually yellow or orange, with other colours less commonly available 
Graceful curving stems with loads of tiny flowers. Note not all colours are available at the same time, check with your florist 

pretty white small flowers, used as a filler 

Exotic looking flowers which hang downwards in a cluster on top of tall straight stems 

Long lasting trumpet shaped flowers up straight stems. 
Pincushion Protea 
Large flowerheads which resemble a pin cushion. Long lasting 
Tiny bell shaped flowers on short stems. Very popular in wedding flowers. 

A hybrid orchid, with highly patterned petals 


Much like produce, organic flowers are a great way to cut down on harmful pesticides and other chemicals being released into the environment through farming. Eco Business Links offers a list of some organic growers in North America but be sure to search and ask around for more in your area. Often stores that are not solely organic will also carry some organic products so always look for "Certified Organic" labels to help you identify the right ones.


Fair trade flowers are a great way to do your part for the planet and the people in it; by supporting fair trade, you can help increase the benefits and safety for the workers and reduce the use of harmful chemicals as a benefit for the planet too. Learn more about fair trade flowers and other products here at

"Flowers are a symbol of celebration, and are popular purchases for occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or a graduation. But many people admire the beauty of a red rose without thinking about where the cut flower was produced, or under what conditions. 

The Dutch were the first to produce flowers for auction, and began exporting in the early 1600s. Today, half of the world’s flowers are grown in the Netherlands, and Dutch flower auctions amount to 19 million flowers per day. In this multi-billion dollar global industry, developing countries control most of the relevant technology and expertise.

A growing proportion of cut flowers are produced and exported by developing countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Colombia, and Ecuador. The majority of flowers sold in Canada, available since 2005, are imported from Latin America.

Work in the flower industry is a very important source of income for many people, especially in regions where agriculture no longer brings in a living wage. However, these popular tokens of love and affection are often grown under a labour and chemical- intensive process that puts workers and the environment at high risk. 
Jobs in the flower industry are often insecure, with short-term contracts, low wages, and no benefits. Relatively few workers belong to unions, which would allow them to collectively negotiate better working conditions. Instead, many flower companies work to actively prevent the establishment of unions.
One of the most serious issues in the production of flowers is the exposure of workers, and their environment, to highly toxic chemical pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers. Flower-importing countries only accept flower shipments if they are totally free of diseases and insects, so the majority of producers use huge quantities of these poisons. 
Workers are often required to handle dangerous chemicals without proper protective equipment. They also experience a variety of serious physical harm due to long hours spent in awkward positions, extreme changes in temperature, and long working hours.
Despite the fact that 65-70% of flower workers are women, they are typically paid less than men and are likely to be hired on a temporary rather than a permanent one. Pregnant and nursing women are often unprotected against exposure to dangerous chemicals.
While this may all sound very unromantic, there's a way to show that special someone that you really care. Go on, flirt with Fair Trade.
Fair Trade aims to protect and benefit workers on flower farms by certifying those farms which ensure safety and good working conditions for their employees. Among other things, Fair Trade standards for flowers ensure the following:
  • Salaries must be equal to or higher than the regional average or the minimum wage.
  • Producer organizations receive a premium, set at 10% of the negotiated price, which is invested in social and economic initiatives.
  • A Joint Body composed of workers and management is formed to manage the Fair Trade premium.
  • Forced labour and child labour of children under 15 years old is prohibited. Children aged 15 and over cannot do work that compromises their health or education.
  • Workers have  the right to establish or join an independent union
  • Health and safety measures must be established in order to avoid work-related injuries. A detailed set of safety regulations specific to flower production limit the use of agrochemicals and prohibit the use of banned pesticides.
If you choose to buy imported flowers, we hope you'll choose Fair Trade. Of course, many flowers are grown in Canada, and you can also find local organic options. Geraniums, poinsettias, chrysanthemums, the Canada Lily (Lilium canadense), and the woodland lily are just a few examples of the flowers cultivated domestically. Fresh local flowers are typically available from May until the middle of October."

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!