From the gentle hug of a sapling growing in a backyard in New England to the barely discernable embrace of a giant redwood in California, we saw over the course of the past month how much you love trees.
Thousands of people all over the world honored trees and forests by hugging trees and posting the photos on social media as part of WWF’s #hugatree campaign in April.
The photos made us curious: Why that tree? We reached out to a group of our supporters to ask.
There are several stories on this page. All are worth reading but I chose one that was related to Florida:
Amanda Lovall-Cole, Chicago
“This picture was taken on Honeymoon Island in Florida. Since I'm from Chicago, I love all palm trees because they represent nice, warm, tropical weather. This one was particularly lovely. Forests are the lungs of our planet and they house an amazing abundance of biodiversity. Protecting them is a no-brainer!”
Moss & Associates installed a solar-panel parking canopy at its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale
headquarters, one of the few in South Florida.
(Moss & Associates)
Building company Moss adds rare solar parking canopy
Solar parking canopy Moss & Associates
By Doreen Hemlock, Sun Sentinel
With the sun beating down on cars in parking lots across South Florida, it might seem like a no-brainer: solar-panel canopies that could shield cars from heat and also make electricity for businesses.
Construction company Moss & Associates just became one of the few to complete one locally.
Moss spent about $300,000 to build a canopy of 200 solar-panels to cover about 22 cars at the parking lot of its Fort Lauderdale headquarters. It expects to recoup that investment in about five years, thanks in part to rebates from Florida Power & Light Co. and to federal tax credits, president Scott Moss said.
Moss spent that money for several reasons: It tore down a canvas awning during a parking lot renovation, so it needed a new canopy. It could get good prices from companies that work with the builder on solar projects nationwide. And "at the end of the day, it's kind of advertising for the business we're in."
But few others have installed solar parking canopies in South Florida because of the cost, Moss said. In places with more expensive electricity like California or Hawaii, it takes less time to recoup the investment and makes more financial sense.
"Because power is so cheap from FPL, we're spoiled," Moss said. "It's easier to make the business case for solar canopies in Hawaii, where electricity is about 30 cents a kilowatt-hour," or three times the rate that FPL charges in Florida, he said.
The price for solar parking-canopies has been falling, said Clint Sockman, vice president of Advanced Green Technologies of Fort Lauderdale, the company that did the installation for Moss.
Solar panels now cost about 75 percent less than they did a decade ago. Plus, canopy designs and installation methods also have improved, slashing costs, Sockman sid.
Some companies have made the outlay, partly to show their commitment to the environment. Those include PNC Bank, which operates a branch at Davie Boulevard and Andrews Ave. in Fort Lauderdale that can generate more electricity than it uses.
FPL also has announced plans to install two 50-kilowatt solar canopies in the parking lot of the Young at Art Museum and Broward County Library in Davie.
But momentum for new projects in South Florida may well slow, Moss said. That's because FPL this year is ending its program offering rebates up to $50,000 for businesses that install solar projects. Plus, the federal tax credit on solar projects is slated to expire at the end of 2016. That will mean that the time to recoup the investment would lengthen, possibly by several years.
The Sunshine State now generates less than 1 percent of its energy from the sun. Both Moss and Advanced Green Technologies do the bulk of their solar work outside Florida.
Farmers markets benefit local communities in a variety of ways, from boosting the local economy to supplying an array of fresh, oftentimes sustainably grown food to helping small farmers whose farms frequently serve as wildlife habitats. The number of farmers markets nationwide continues to rise each year, showing that folks are coming together more and more to support growing, buying and eating locally.
Farmers markets are, in themselves, like a community. Every Saturday from May to September, I enjoy going to the Historic Lewes Farmers Market in my home state of Delaware to see what delicious items are available and to catch up with the farmers who I now consider friends. Visitors and locals gather every Saturday morning to experience the wonderful, fresh bounty found at the market. The sense of community in the atmosphere is palpable and I appreciate being around such an environmentally friendly group of people.
Historic Lewes Farmers Market (HLFM) has a short parade to celebrate the first market of each year. This year’s parade will be on May 9, 2015. Photo by HLFM
The once small farmers market, this year celebrating its 10th anniversary, has increased in size over the years and vendors are often vying to get included in the market. The HLFM’s success has inspired and influenced other farmers markets in Delaware, such as the Cool Springs Farmers Market and Milton Farmers Market, to engage effectively with the community.
One of my favorite parts of a farmers market is getting to interact with the farmers and vendors. Since agriculture is the biggest source of pollution of lakes and rivers, according to the EPA, I’m curious as to how farmers are working on reducing their environmental impacts. I’ve learned a lot about growing your own food and the ways small scale farming can more easily control and minimize their effects on wildlife compared to industrial farming. For instance, most farmers that I’ve spoken with recognize the importance of sustainable farming for the environment. Harriet Allen, owner of Hattie’s Garden, a small market garden in Lewes, Delaware states, “I believe farms can coexist with wildlife with a little forethought and creativity”.
Farms as Wildlife Habitats
Harriet Allen, owner of Hattie’s Garden, uses sustainable practices on her small farm. Photo by Abby Barber
Although her entire farm is less than an acre, Hattie’s Garden pays close attention to the farm’s effect on wildlife. A local farm can be a wildlife habitat by fulfilling the following five criteria for certifying any property: providing food, water, cover and places to raise young and practicing sustainable growing practices. Over 7,000 farms nationwide are currently Certified Wildlife Habitats.
By gardening organically, Hattie’s Garden does not spray any conventional pesticides or fungicides. All pollinators are encouraged, protected, and fed as much as possible. Herbs such as dill and cilantro are allowed to flower and stay in place to provide food and habitat for beneficial insects. Flowers are planted through the garden, and although there are many controls that are permitted under Organic Standards, Hattie’s Garden uses them very infrequently and carefully, and only for specific targeted problems and areas. In nearly all cases, a broad spectrum control is never used. Nothing is sprayed when pollinators are most active during the heat of the day, and, in addition to the natural pollinators, a honey bee hive is maintained on the grounds by a local bee keeper.
A honey bee hive on Hattie’s Garden’s property. Photo by Abby Barber
Snakes are also frequent visitors to Hattie’s Garden, so not all grass is mowed at one time in order to give the snakes a place to hide. Rabbits are also welcome in the garden, because there is normally plenty of food for them in the garden and very young plants they might destroy are protected until they get large enough to withstand the occasional nibbling. Hattie’s Garden exemplifies how well farmers and wildlife can live together as a community habitat.
Farmers like Hattie are aware of a farm’s connection with nature and understand the importance of sustainably growing crops while also maintaining a well-functioning wildlife habitat. Farms, like wildlife gardens and backyard habitats, are a great way to provide your own food, get outdoors, and help wildlife.
National Arbor Day is April 24, 2015. So let’s get together and celebrate the importance of trees!
When J. Sterling Morton founded Arbor Day back in 1872, his idea was simple—set aside a special day for tree planting. And today, that idea is more important than ever.
Here’s something I didn’t know -
First Arbor Day in the world
The small Spanish village of Villanueva de la Sierra is the town where was held the first Arbor Day around the world, an initiative launched in 1805 by the local priest with the enthusiastic support of the entire population.
While Napoleon was ravaging Europe with his ambition in this village in the Sierra de Gata lived a priest, don Ramón Vacas Roxo, which, according to the chronicles, "convinced of the importance of trees for health, hygiene, decoration, nature, environment and customs, decides to plant trees and give a festive air. The festival began on Carnival Tuesday with the ringing of two bells of the church, and the Middle and the Big. After the Mass, and even coated with church ornaments, don Ramón, accompanied by clergies, teachers and a large number of neighbours, planted the first tree, a poplar, in the place known as Valley of the Ejido. Tree plantations continued by Arroyada and Fuente de la Mora. Afterwards, there was a feast, and did not miss the dance. The party and plantations lasted three days. He drafted a manifesto in defence of the trees that was sent to surrounding towns to spread the love and respect for nature, and also he advised to make tree plantations in their localities.
Introducing the new Green Your Routine (GYR) website at www.fortlauderdale.gov/gyr! Just in time for Earth Day, Fort Lauderdale has achieved another milestone toward fulfilling our neighbor vision of becoming a resilient and safe coastal community.
The site’s interactive tools were designed to help our community builders and neighbors enhance sustainable practices at work, at home, at school, and around town. Check out the innovative features, including:
·Waste Directory- shows how to safely and responsibly dispose of household items
·Tree Directory- provides information on more than 50 types of trees found in Fort Lauderdale
·Maps- locate urban farms, community gardens, bike share stations, electric vehicle stations
The portal uses the same content management system as the new City site, so staff has the flexibility to update and add new content as it becomes available. If you have questions regarding the portal, please contact the IT helpdesk at 954-828-5555.
Congratulations to the Sustainability Division of the Public Works Department and the IT Department for bringing this portal to fruition. And thanks to all the Community Builders who contributed to the success of this project! The GYR portal will help raise awareness about changing climate conditions and empower neighbors to implement sustainable actions at home and throughout the community. Working together, we can ensure that the City website serves as a valuable resource for our neighbors, promotes transparency, and encourages civic engagement.
GoGreen EXTRA. We're sending this special Earth Day GoGreen to subscribers of other EPA email alerts. If you don't already receive the monthly GoGreen consumer newsletter, you can subscribe at http://www.epa.gov/gogreen
Please share this email with others who might be interested in taking action.
We're excited to share many opportunities with you to celebrate and engage. Check out the Earth Day site for tips you can use, blog posts, new videos, events near you, and more. http://www2.epa.gov/earthday Take Action. Get tips. Share your thoughts. #EarthDayEveryDay
Earth Day Twitter chat (April 22). Follow EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Twitter as she hosts a Twitter chat on Earth Day. Chat is planned for 3:30 pm ET on April 22. Twitter: https://twitter.com/GinaEPA
Take action to help protect the environment. There's a lot we can do every day to help protect the environment and the climate, while keeping our families healthy and saving money. Share your thoughts on how you help protect the environment, Earthy Day and Every Day. http://blog.epa.gov/epaconnect/2015/04/EarthDayEveryDay
¿Habla español? Aprenda más acerca del Da del Planeta Tierra y de lo que usted puede hacer para ayudar a proteger el medio ambiente. Escuche los podcasts ambientales. Inscrbase para recibir un consejo por correo electrnico en abril. http://www.epa.gov/espanol/diadelplanetatierra/
Safe Sun Exposure. If you're outdoors on Earth Day (or any day), it's easy to avoid sun overexposure. Use a sunblock of SPF 30 or higher. Remember, the sun in April is as strong as the sun in August, even if the air feels cool. Get your sun safety tips. http://www2.epa.gov/sunwise/action-steps-sun-safety
Environmental Education Week (April 19-25). EE Week is the nation's largest celebration of environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. Find out more and how to get involved. http://www2.epa.gov/education
City Celebrates Earth Day 2015 with the Designation of 11th "Greenest City"
Fort Lauderdale - Among the nation's 150 largest cities, the City of Fort Lauderdale ranks as the 11th "Greenest City in the U.S." according to a national study released today.
The study, released byNerdwallet.com, lauded the City for earning high rankings based on the analysis of four key environmental factors:
1) Housing density
2) Environmental quality
4) Energy sources
Fort Lauderdale scored the highest marks for the percentage of occupied buildings with 10 or more residences. The City also scored strongly for good air quality, transportation options and the percentage of residential buildings with solar energy.
"This national ranking is a reflection of our strong commitment to sustainability," said Mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler. "Through our community-wide Vision, Strategic Plan, and Sustainability Action Plan, we are strengthening resiliency, addressing climate change, and developing long-term adaptation and mitigation strategies to protect and preserve our outstanding quality of life. As we participate in a variety of Earth Day activities tomorrow, we will be proud to share this new 'Greenest City' designation with all of our neighbors who have worked in partnership with us to help attain this well-deserved and welcomed recognition."
The Positive Energy ECOXIA House in Yerres, France, is a certified Passivhaus, built for sustainability and efficiency.
There are many options available for those who want to build a "green" house. The number of sustainable and energy-efficient options used in the construction is dependent on budget, taste and the level of desire to be independent of the grid and utilize sustainable practices.
Here is a checklist of things to consider when building or remodeling a home to be sustainable and energy efficient:
1. Insulation First and foremost, use excellent insulation. Be sure there is adequate insulation, whether it is spray foam, cellulose, fiberglass, etc. The foundation, attic and exterior walls must all be properly insulated.
2. Air Sealing Be sure to check for air infiltration. This can be done with a blower door test that will show where outside air is coming into the house. A tightly sealed home requires less heating and cooling.
3. Windows Buy the best windows you can with your budget. Today there are many options in design, frame material, color and efficiency of windows. There are double and triple-pane windows, as well as gas-filled ones. Even frames can be insulated. Also, when designing a home, it is wise to have more windows on the south side of the house to take advantage of solar gain. Having fewer windows on the north side of the house prevents solar loss in those areas.
4. Appliances Use ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. They consume far less energy than non-rated ones. That saves energy and dollars throughout the life of the appliance.
5. Non-toxic Materials Make sure all stains, finishes, paints and adhesives are no-VOC or low-VOC. These toxins can continue to seep into the air and can cause illness and discomfort.
6. FSC-certified Wood Using wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council helps provide healthy forests for future generations.
7. Passive Solar Orientation Orient the house for optimal solar gain, if possible. This limits the need for artificial lighting and saves money on electricity, while also reducing energy costs.
8. Footprint Limit the hallways in the house. Space should be used efficiently so there are fewer square feet to heat and cool. When a house is well designed, less space can still provide all the areas and functions desired.
9. Multi-functional Rooms For example, a guest bedroom can easily work as an office or playroom when friends or family are not visiting.
Courtesy of Jim Tetro
The 4D House built by Team Massachusetts for the Solar Decathlon has a partition wall that can be closed for privacy in the bedroom or opened to increase the entertaining area.
10. Flexible Rooms Walls can sometimes be moved to open up space for entertaining, as seen in a house built by students at the University of Massachusetts for the Solar Decathlon, a competition staged by the U.S. Department of Energy.
11. Ventilation To maintain a healthy indoor environment, a tightly built house requires adequate ventilation. Heat recovery ventilators and energy recovery ventilators are systems that continuously exchange the stale inside air with fresh outside air, while retaining the warmth or coolness already created in the house.
12. Low-flow Faucets and Showerheads and Dual-flush Toilets Both of these substantially reduce the water being used in the house.
13. Recycled, Reused, and Reclaimed Materials This limits our depletion of natural resources as well as the amount of material that goes into landfills. There are many types of recycled, reused and reclaimed materials -- including countertops made with recycled glass, reclaimed flooring and antique furnishings.
14. Lighting LED and CFL lighting uses less energy than incandescent bulbs and the bulbs last much longer. The cost of these efficient bulbs is going down, and the variety of bulbs available has expanded.
15. Large Overhangs Large overhangs around the house block the sun's heat in the summer months when the sun is high in the sky. In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky (in the northern hemisphere), overhangs allow the sun to come in through the windows and help heat the house.
16. An Efficient Water Heater Traditional water heaters maintain a tank full of warm water and are continuously using energy. Tankless water heaters heat water on demand.
18. Permeable Paving Using paving materials that are permeable, such as gravel, allows rainwater and melted snow to return to the water table.
19. Solar Hot Water Panels The cost of solar panels is coming down and there are subsidies available to reduce the cost further. Hot water panels can be used to heat the household's water or be used as part of a radiant heating system.
20.Photovoltaic Panels PV panels can be used to reduce or eliminate the electric load. While connected to the grid, they can provide electricity when it is needed and receive electricity when the sun is not out. Extra electricity can also be returned to the grid to reduce electric costs.
21. Thermal Mass Stone and other high-mass materials can be used to absorb energy when the sun beats down on them. That heat (or coolness) can later be released when it is needed. Some houses have stone around the periphery of the room where the sun is most likely to hit.
22. Heating System A heating and cooling system that limits the energy consumed should be used. Heat pumps are becoming more popular in this country and quite popular around the world. They can be used successfully when the house is built with a very energy-efficient envelope.
This will be the first of many Earth Day articles. I hope everyone has a great Earth Day! --Gene
Today is Earth Day, a time for us all to honor and give back to nature.
Gene—today is Earth Day, a time for us all to honor and give back to nature. To celebrate this special day, thousands of supporters like you are standing up for forests. Join them and make a statement today by participating in our #hugatree awareness campaign!
We also invite you to discover a deeper appreciation our world's forests. Check out just a few reasons why they matter:
Eight out of 10 land-dwelling species live in forests. A square kilometer of forest may be home to more than 1,000 species.
Forests provide a vast array of resources to many of us, including food, wood, medicine, fresh water, and the air we breathe.
Trees soak up and store carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. Tropical forests alone hold seven times the carbon dioxide emitted each year by human activities.
But threats to forests are growing. Expanding agriculture and illegal and unsustainable logging are responsible for most of the deforestation and degradation of the world's forests. The threats are so severe that we are losing forests at a rate equivalent to 48 football fields per minute. WWF is working to address the threats to forests.
For Earth Day, help us spread awareness about our forests and the threats they face by participating in #hugatree for Earth Day. Thousands of people around the world are showing their support for trees, will you?
It's easy to #hugatree. Sometime today:
Find a tree. Hug it out. Snap a pic and post it. Together we can raise awareness about the importance of Earth's forests.
Your contribution will help us protect some of the planet's last intact rain forests, reforest regions that need it, encourage responsible forest management, and work on many other projects that conserve forests around the world.