Wind turbine blades currently have some challenges that impact their cost effectiveness.  First, most wind blades are made of fiberglass, and the molds to manufacture these blades cost millions of dollars to acquire.  Transporting the massive manufactured blades also poses a challenge as they cannot be assembled on site.  Furthermore, fiberglass places limitations on the size of the rotor diameters, which means the turbines are smaller and heavier so they are less able to capture wind at lower wind speeds in places such as the US Midwest.

The US Department of Energy's advanced research projects agency (ARPA-E) project aims to address these limitations by researching and developing architectural fabrics in lieu of conventional fiberglass.  These tough, flexible fabrics would be tension-wrapped around a metal frame and specially designed to meet wind blade operations’ demands as well as allow for easy maintenance.  The project will span three years and be comprised of a team from US electrics company GE, Virginia Tech University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  

If successful, these advancements in blade technology will enable larger, lighter turbines that allow tapping previously unsuitable moderate wind speed markets.  The new approach also has the potential to overcome earlier manufacturing and transportation limitations since the wind turbine components can be built and put together on site.  According to GE, this new blade design could reduce blade costs 25%-40%, making wind energy as economical as fossil fuels without government subsidies.

Expanding wind capabilities and lowering its costs as an energy source represents forging a course towards a clean energy future.

Founded in 1996 by federal employment veteran John Grobe, Federal Career Experts (FCE) is a small business that specializes in training and consulting in the areas of retirement, career development and transition services for federal government agencies and their employees.  FCE has a network of consultants, most of whom are retired federal employees, with experience in all categories of federal agency employment and career development areas.   

As part of its overall mission, Federal Career Experts believes in protecting the planet by making choices that enhance the quality of the atmosphere and the resulting quality of life.   In order to help achieve this goal, Federal Career Experts became CarbonFree® in 2007, offsetting their carbon footprint by supporting Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects.  FCE remains one of Carbonfund.org’s most tenured CarbonFree® Business Partners.

“The nature of Federal Career Experts’ business requires that we travel a great deal”, said John Grobe, President. “Though we are conscientious about our energy usage, we still have a relatively large ‘carbon footprint’ and have chosen to take steps to offset our impact on global warming.”

To date, Federal Career Experts has neutralized carbon emissions equal to the emissions created by combusting over 18,000 gallons of gasoline.  This continuous focus on serving federal employees while maintaining a sustainable business practice sets FCE apart in its field.  Carbonfund.org is proud to partner with Federal Career Experts in this long-term commitment to operational excellence. 

Carbonfund.org is pleased to announce that 2013 will bring big program anniversaries for about one hundred of our small business partners.  The CarbonFree® Business Partnership program, launched in 2007, makes it easy and affordable for businesses of all sizes to enhance their sustainability by joining the program either at pre-set donation levels based on employee size, or by calculating and mitigating actual annual operational emissions.  The program benefits include promotion of this environmentally responsible initiative through displaying the CarbonFree® Partner logo, maintaining a Partner Page on the Carbonfund.org website and being featured in online blogs and e-newsletters written by Carbonfund.org.

Our 5th and 6th year anniversary partners include the spectrum of businesses – healthcare/nutrition, eco-tourism, product retailers, technology service providers, and a variety of start-up product and service companies.  What these businesses have in common is demonstrated leadership in a long-term commitment to ensuring that their products, services and operations are offered to their customers in the most sustainable way possible.    

“When we designed the CarbonFree® Partner Program, we wanted to make it a very simple, easy-to-understand program that fit the budget of any business, regardless of age, size or industry,” explains Carbonfund.org founder and president Eric Carlson.  “These one hundred businesses celebrating their 5th or 6th anniversaries help to confirm that we’re doing what we set out to achieve.”  

In honor of the renewal anniversaries for these CarbonFree® Business Partners, Carbonfund.org developed a unique 2013 CarbonFree® Partner logo featuring the number of years the business has been in the program.  We’re also planting trees on behalf of these anniversary Partners – 50 and 60 trees planted for the 5th and 6th anniversaries, respectively – as an additional way to acknowledge their long-term commitment to helping win the fight against climate change and supporting our carbon reduction projects around the world. 

Watch www.carbonfund.org/blog for features of our CarbonFree® Anniversary Partners, starting in December and continuing throughout 2013.

Bethesda, MD and Dalton, GA (December 3, 2012) – Tandus Flooring, a leading manufacturer of commercial floorcoverings, headquartered in Dalton, GA, has renewed its  commitment to offer customers the option to offset the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions of its hybrid resilient and modular product lines. This program, offered jointly by Carbonfund.org Foundation and NSF International  ensures Tandus Flooring has taken a very measured approach to make certain its CarbonFree® Certified product offerings are conducted responsibly through a third-party certification process, producing meaningful results in decreasing the overall level of its GHG emissions.

Tandus Flooring renewed its CarbonFree® product certification, by conducting extensive product Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to determine its products’ per unit carbon footprint.  Now in its fourth year, Tandus Flooring’s Carbonfree Flooring program allows customers the option to purchase their products as carbon neutral. 

Working in conjunction with Carbonfund.org and NSF International, third party validated carbon offset credits are purchased to neutralize the greenhouse gases associated with the product’s life cycle. Carbon offset credits purchased in the program are ‘retired‘ so that the carbon is essentially eliminated from use. Through the program, Tandus Flooring has provided CarbonFree products to customers, such as, Google, Bank of America, National Life Group, NV Energy, Stanford University, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Vermont. 

 “Many companies are looking for ways to reduce the climate impact of their products and operations,” said Lynn Preston, Technical Environmental Manager, Tandus Flooring. “Tandus Flooring’s Carbonfree Flooring program demonstrates our commitment to take action against global warming and provides customers with a convenient, credible means to decrease the environmental impact of their purchase.”

Carbonfund.org President Eric Carlson commented, “Providing products that are certified CarbonFree® by Carbonfund.org reflects Tandus Flooring’s leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in manufacturing. We are proud to be partners with Tandus Flooring and applaud their environmental leadership.”

The CarbonFree® certification label lets companies demonstrate that their products have been carbon offset as well as helps consumers identify carbon neutral products.  “The CarbonFree label on Tandus Flooring’s products  exemplifies the company’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of their products,” said Tom Bruursema, General Manager of NSF Sustainability.

For nearly half a century, Tandus Flooring has been a pioneer in the research and development of sustainable flooring processes and products while continually advancing business practices to meet the critical environmental challenges facing our industry. Tandus Flooring has employed a multi-faceted approach to reduce the carbon footprint of its operations and products including the reduction of energy, water and solid waste, the increased use of recycled material and renewable energy, along with a continued emphasis on closed loop recycling and post consumer reclamation of its products. 

Products included in the Tandus Carbonfree Flooring Program include ethos® Modular, Powerbond® ethos® Cushion, ER3® Modular, Powerbond® ER3® Cushion, Powerbond® Cushion,  Medfloor®,  Flex-Aire® Cushion Modular,  Conserv® Modular.

About Tandus Flooring

Tandus Flooring (www.tandus.com) creates innovative floorcovering solutions through our unique product line of hybrid resilient, modular, broadloom and woven products that work in tandem to enhance spaces for learning, working, healing and living. Through inspired design and leading-edge technology, Tandus Flooring offers its customers a single-source for innovative product design and technology, comprehensive services, and environmental leadership. For more than 40 years,Tandus Flooring has been examining all the ways to be a better corporate citizen and environmental steward — and then taking actions that lead to demonstrable, meaningful, quantifiable results.

About Carbonfund.org Foundation: 

Carbonfund.org is a leading nonprofit climate solutions organization, making it easy and affordable for individuals, businesses and organizations to reduce their climate impact and hasten our transition to a low-carbon economy. Carbonfund.org supports innovative renewable energy, energy efficiency and forestry projects globally that reduce carbon emissions and help people. Carbonfund.org has worked with over 2,000 corporate and nonprofit partners. More at www.carbonfund.org.

About NSF International: 

NSF International is an independent organization that writes standards, tests and certifies products for the construction, food, water and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment.

NSF Sustainability draws upon this expertise in standards development, product assurance and certification, advisory services and quality management systems to help companies green their products, services, operations, systems and supply chains.  Through its National Center for Sustainability Standards, NSF also develops sustainability assessment standards for products, services and service providers.

Ecotourism continues to grow in popularity as environmentally-conscious travelers seek out adventures to natural environments while minimizing the negative ecological impacts of their trips.  The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) has defined ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."  New Carbonfund.org partner Quasar Expeditions offers eco-travel adventures through the unique ecosystems of Patagonia, while ensuring that all on-the-ground tour emissions are measured and mitigated through Carbonfund.org.    

In order to uphold their commitment to environmentally sustainable tour operations, Quasar Expeditions chose to partner with Carbonfund.org to calculate the emissions generated by each tour vehicle then mitigate those emissions by supporting reforestation and bio-diversity preservation projects around the world.   

 “Our recent partnership with Carbonfund.org is a big step for Quasar Expeditions in making yet another positive contribution to conservation and sustainable tourism,” explains Fernando Diez, Director of Marketing and E-Commerce.  “Although our adventures are methodically designed to leave very light footprints, we know that there is always some environmental impact, so we are now happy to be offsetting our carbon emissions through Carbonfund.org.”

When planning ecotourism excursions, it’s incumbent upon travelers to carefully review and seek out tour providers that are implementing sustainability practices to limit the environmental impact on the fragile habitats they visit.  Eco-tour related emissions may be unavoidable, but measurement, reduction and neutralization of these emissions is a key component to maintaining responsible travel options while fighting the negative impacts of climate change. 

As the environmentally-inspired movement towards banning or charging for paper and plastic shopping bags continues to spread, shoppers need convenient solutions for carrying their reusable bags with them wherever they go.  During the holiday shopping frenzy, it’s even more important to remember to take along reusable shopping bags rather than wasting resources on paper or plastic store bags. 

CarbonFree® Partner flip & tumble came up with a great solution -- a reusable bag that compacts into a stretchy pouch, cinching the full-sized shopping bag into a small ball in seconds.  Shoppers can stash flip & tumble bags in their cars, briefcases and backpacks in order to have a reusable bag handy when needed. 

Consideration of the environment is very important to the folks at flip & tumble, so neutralizing their annual business emissions was a logical step.  "We partner with Carbonfund.org to continue to foster our initiative to be an environmentally conscious company," explains Anna Hebel, Product Manager at flip & tumble. 

As a CarbonFree® Business Partner, flip & tumble is leading the reusable shopping bag industry as an environmentally responsible company.  They’ve made the commitment to reduce carbon emissions where possible then mitigate their remaining carbon footprint by supporting Carbonfund.org’s emissions reduction projects.  Do your part this holiday shopping season by bringing along reusable shopping bags and patronizing businesses that offer eco-responsible products and environmentally focused business operations.

The electronic delivery of software applications, rather than mailing physical DVDs and CDs for manual installation on computing networks and workstations, is an important component to reducing operational emissions.  Recent studies have calculated that replacing traditional distribution of DVD/CD disk kit software with Electronic Software Delivery (ESD) can result in at least an 83% reduction in carbon emissions. 

CarbonFree® Business Partner Kivuto Solutions offers green software distribution solutions through ESD, enabling users to download software and avoid the carbon emissions attributable to product packaging and shipping.   Previously known as e-academy, Kivuto seeks to maximize software availability for organizations by reducing the total cost and environmental impact of software distribution. 

But Kivuto decided it was important to do more and wanted to join the national movement of businesses and organizations that are leading the fight against global warming.  Recognizing that its own operations still created a significant carbon footprint, Kivuto took the proactive step to calculate its annual operational emissions.  Kivuto then chose to partner with Carbonfund.org to mitigate its emissions by supporting Reforestation and Forest Preservation projects that absorb carbon emissions now and for years to come.  

Electronic software delivery may be part of a lower carbon world, but IT systems use a tremendous amount of electricity.  Carbonfund.org encourages companies to follow examples set by business partners such as Kivuto to take the next step towards operational sustainability by supporting carbon sequestration projects, energy efficiency innovation and renewable energy source development. 

The issue of climate change has re-entered the public’s conscious in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.  In fact, there were accusations of a “climate silence” on the part of the presidential candidates until the megastorm hit the Northeast a week before this month’s election.  Now both parties are talking about a potential carbon tax.

Last week  a carbon tax was once again the topic of discussion at the American Enterprise Institute (a conservative think-tank) and the Brookings Institution (a more liberal think-tank) released a paper on it.  The Congressional Budget Office also published a report on potential ways to make a carbon tax less of a burden on lower income people.

A carbon tax works by making those that use fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas pay more.  When they are burned, fossil fuels contribute to global warming by producing carbon dioxide, which traps heat.  Some experts estimate the price tag of a tax of $20 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions to add 1 or 2 percent to the price of gasoline and electric power.  Other pundits view a carbon tax as a tax on economic growth.

Whether or not a carbon tax will have the political backing to make it through a divided Congress is questionable.  However, environmental advocates are always interested when climate change is a hot topic.  Extreme weather has been linked to climate change.  So it’s important to warn people that if we continue on this unsustainable path of dumping 90 million tons of pollution into the atmosphere on a daily basis that the future will include more superstorms with increasingly devastating consequences.