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Monday, June 27, 2011

From the Garden to the Grill

By: Nan Jensen, FCS Agent

Bring out the flavor of that fresh summer produce by cooking it on the grill. Whether you cook the fruits and veggies directly on the grill rack, skewer them into kabobs or use a special grilling pan for smaller slices, grilling can bring out the flavor and liven up your summer meals. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your grilling experience.

Marinate vegetables to add flavor. A little orange juice along with some olive oil, cilantro and red pepper flakes can give your veggies an extra kick or try some fresh ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil for an Asian inspired side dish.

Enhance the flavor of fruits by brushing with butter and adding cinnamon, brown sugar or lemon juice. Because sugar can burn, add toward the end of the cooking process.

Cut fruits and vegetables into uniform sizes to ensure that all pieces get done at the same time.

Vegetable cooking spray or a small amount of vegetable oil makes grilled vegetables and fruits easier to turn and prevents them from sticking.

Cook fruits using indirect heat and vegetables over medium heat. Since not all vegetables cook at the same rate, consider lightly steaming root vegetables like potatoes or carrots in the microwave before adding them to a summer vegetable mixture or kebab.

Keep a close eye on your fruits and vegetables because cooking times vary.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Automatic Savings from Irrigation Devices

By: Greg Plantamura, Grant Worker

If your home uses an automatic irrigation system, these devices can help you save energy, water and money–and keep your yard looking greener.

Rain sensors, the simplest rain shut-off device, are designed to bypass a scheduled event from an automatic irrigation system timer after a specific amount of rainfall has occurred. They are small and inexpensive devices that are wired to the irrigation system timer. They can result in a 34% savings during normal/wet weather conditions and 15% savings during dry weather conditions.

Soil moisture controllers are designed to bypass a scheduled event from an automatic irrigation system timer if the soil water content is above a certain threshold, defined and set by the user. The sensor, buried within the turf grass or landscape root zone, checks the soil water content. Savings could provide a payback in one to two years and result in 69 to 92% savings during normal/wet weather.

ET (Weather-based) controllers schedule irrigation based on on-site weather data (Stand-Alone) or a signal from a local, publicly available weather station (Signal-Based). ET controllers work differently depending on the manufacturer but typically can be programmed with site-specific conditions such as soil type, plant type, sprinkler type, sun and shade, etc. Yearly signal fees may be required.

All of these devices can be set up to conform to day-of-week watering restrictions.


Energy Efficient Irrigation Systems

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Is Email the Greener Choice?

By: Margaret Deller, Extension Specialist

If we are talking corporate email the answer is a resounding no. There are 3.1 BILLION email accounts worldwide, 25% of them are corporate email addresses. It has become the number one cost of e-work worldwide.

In 2011 Radicati reported the average corporate worker received and sent 105 emails a day:

58 legitimate incoming mails
14 incoming spam
33 new or reply emails sent

Steve Robbins , of the Harvard Business School of Working Knowledge, reported that reading and responding to an average legitimate email takes three minutes. That is roughly 3 hours a day just on email!

So how do we combat this onslaught of partially necessary information? Seth Godin , marketing expert, has a few suggestions:

1.If I had to pay 42 cents to send this email, would I?
2.Is there anything in this email I don't want the attorney general, the media or my boss seeing? (If so, hit delete).
3.Does the subject line make it easy to understand what's to come and likely it will get filed properly?
4.Could I do this note better with a phone call?
5.Could this email be shorter?
6.Is there anyone copied on this email that could be left off the list?
7.If I didn't send it would the recipient complain about not getting it?
8.Did I hit 'reply all'? If so, am I glad I did? Does every person on the list need to see it?
9.Have I corresponded with this person before? Really? They've written back? (If no, reconsider email).
10.Do I have my contact info at the bottom? (If not, consider adding it).
11.Am I quoting back the original text in a helpful way? (Sending an email that says, in its entirety, "yes," is not helpful).

While there are many benefits to email including documentation of a conversation and being a greener choice than snail mail, the best way to communicate is in person. So if the person is just down the hall add to your 10,000 steps a day and go see them, in the next building give them a call. If you must email try to cut the number you send by 13 a day, you could save your company up to $4,225 a year. Sound impossible? Send just 1 less email a day and you could save your company up to $350 in a year.


The Hidden Costs of Information work

Email Statistics Report 2011 – 2015

Email Overload - The Challenge to Productivity

Email checklist (maybe this time it'll work!)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy to be Home

By: Libby Carnahan, Sea Grant Agent

By the numbers, China recently surpassed the United States in total carbon emissions. However, in a citizen to citizen comparison the average United States citizen has greater than 3 times the carbon footprint of the average Chinese citizen. China isn’t trying to be “sustainable” per se. As a country with approximately 1/5 of the global population, China is taking action to sustain.
They do more with less, when it makes sense-consume less products, use less electricity, drive less .

As Americans, we value our independence and the power of choice. However, after my visit to China - the most populated country on the planet, I realize that the power of choice shouldn’t mean doing whatever we want, whenever we want, however we want. Our choices have consequences, not only for ourselves, but for our communities, and our planet .

I plan to choose more carefully to benefit me, you, our community, and our planet. I hope you will join me.

United States Energy Information Administration: International Energy Statistics

Thursday, June 16, 2011

China Finds Creative Ways to Limit Energy Use

By: Libby Carnahan, Sea Grant Agent

Communities all over China are limiting energy use and consumption in a variety of ways.

In Shanghai, public policy dictates that the lights of city high-rises turn off at specific times depending on the day of the week (e.g. by 11:00pm on weekends).

As a tourist, my carbon footprint was controlled by key card at the local hotels.
In order to operate my lights, electric outlets, and climate control, I inserted my key card into a special outlet. While it was a moderate adjustment to charge my cell phone, laptop, etc. on my own time, it created an undeniable connection to my personal energy consumption that I only come to terms with one day a month at home when my electricity bill arrives.

See you tomorrow for our last stop on this journey through China’s sustainability practices.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

China’s Low-impact Choices

By: Libby Carnahan, Sea Grant Agent

Low-impact actions are apparent at the individual and community level.

At the neighborhood markets, all items are sold in bulk (there are sporadic Western stores where you can get your fill of pre-packaged items). Shoppers select the
amount of fish, chicken, eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit, rice, and even pet food that are then wrapped up in a small bag. Reusable shopping bags are the norm due to government-imposed fees per plastic bag ranging from $0.03 to $0.30 (US). Re-use was also seen in the daily ritual of tea-drinking from reusable glass jars.

Many Chinese recycle, though the practice is dictated more by economic reasons (rebate programs) than environmental ones.

Clothes are hung to air-dry on balconies and, in Beijing, I passed many small storefronts on the Hutongs (traditional alleyways) where undergarments hung to dry
for the entire world to see! In public restrooms, hand dryers are the norm over paper towels. On a hike on the Great Wall, I was happy to see a local tour guide employing the “pack it in, pack it out” policy with the groups’ trash slung on a stick over his shoulder.

And it doesn’t stop there check out China’s energy choices tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Many Wonderful Places and Just as Many Ways to Get There

By: Libby Carnahan, Sea Grant Agent

As I walked the streets of China,I soaked in the sights-some very different and some resoundingly similar to the United States. Local merchants sweep their storefronts with brooms handmade of twigs; streets are lined with specialized corner stores for fresh produce, clothing, barbers, fruit juice and repairs.

Locals and tourists have varied options for moving around town from designated bicycle lanes on every street (not for the inexperienced!); electric and gas powered scooters; inexpensive, clean subways and taxis; and tree-lined sidewalks with
convenient and safe pedestrian over- and under-passes. With license plates in the city of Shanghai costing anywhere from $6,200 to $9,500 (US) depending upon results of the monthly auction, it is cost-prohibitive for many Shanghainese to own an automobile.

But transportation isn’t the only way the Chinese use cost/rebates to encourage sustainable choices. Check out tomorrow’s post!

Monday, June 13, 2011

China’s Integrated Sustainability

By: Libby Carnahan, Sea Grant Agent

I was fortunate to spend the last 2 weeks traveling in China to Shanghai, Xi’an, Beijing and the surrounding countryside, and if you think you have China figured out, guess again.

The stories that hit the news are just a fraction of the character of the country as diverse as it is populated. China is a country of paradox: smog-filled city streets, swept clean by hand every morning; nuclear power plants set in the
foreground of beautiful green mountainscapes; a network of railways, subways, and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks competing with an ever expanding highways to accommodate her increasing dependence upon the personal automobile.

You do not hear China praised as a poster child for environmentalism, however there are things that China is doing to limit its impact and she is doing them well.

Look for the rest of my adventures and China’s sustainability initiatives in this week’s posts.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Climate Change News

By: Mary Campbell, Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent

With the recent dramatic weather occurrences in the Midwest and now Florida fires due to severe drought conditions, there is more focus on climate change and the potential impacts. More than just sea level rise and the arctic ice are impacted due to the current climate changes we are experiencing globally. In a recent article released by the National Academy of Sciences, it discusses the nation's options for responding to the risks from climate change in a report requested by Congress. The committee that authored the report included not only renowned scientists and engineers but also economists, business leaders, an ex-governor, a former congressman, and other policy experts.

The new report reaffirms that the majority of scientific evidence points to human activities -- especially the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere -- as the most likely cause for most of the climate change that has occurred over the last several decades. This trend cannot be explained by natural factors such as internal climate variability or changes in incoming energy from the sun. The report adds that the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems can be expected to intensify with the warming trend.

“America's response to climate change is ultimately about making choices in the face of risk," noted committee vice chair William L. Chameides, Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, N.C. "Risk management strategies must be durable enough to promote sustained progress yet sufficiently flexible to take advantage of new knowledge and technologies."

The committee cited many reasons for not waiting, including that the faster emissions are reduced, the lower the risks. Waiting for impacts to occur before taking action will likely be too late for meaningful mitigation. Beginning emissions reductions soon will also lower the pressure to make steeper and costlier cuts later.


National Academies

Florida Energy Systems Consortium

Florida Climate Institute

Climate Change: A Citizen’s Guide to Thoughtful Action

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


You're invited to attend our next meeting:

Monday, June 6, 2011
10:00 a.m. to noon
Seminole Community Library Program Room
9200 113th St. N., Seminole, Fl. 33722

TOPIC: Plants, An Element of Sustainability

SPEAKERS: Four members of Florida Nursery, Growers, and Landscape Association

Discussions will include the creation of Florida-friendly landscaping, use of native plants, agriculture in the classroom, and plants to promote sustainability.

Networking opportunities: An invitation is being extended to members of other
organizations including: Florida Native Plant Society, Florida Farm Bureau, Sierra Club,
City of Seminole Council, and St.Petersburg College Science Faculty and Students.

Bring YOUR 'green thumb' friends and neighbors!

R.S.V.P with number of people attending to: