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Getting Green from Green

By George Schmok, Publisher

Solar Panel Paradox
As I have been shopping for solar options for my house in California, I've found many companies that will lease me enough panels to power most of the property and save a substantial amount of money. Unfortunately, under the standard lease, they say I must have the power from the cells connected to the outside grid. In a blackout, the power to the house and grounds would be automatically disconnected. To use the solar energy as a back up to a power outage, they say, requires a bank of batteries to store the power. "Great, get me some numbers," I said to the five franchises that were offering the leases. Eight months later, not one of the companies have produced a bid to provide the products and service.

Be Careful What You Wish For . . .
As a card-carrying member of the Sierra Club . . . (That's right, I am a card carrying member of the Sierra Club) . . . I believe in many of the missions of that club: saving old growth forests, keeping rivers clean and protecting habitat to name a few. But I also find the "association" is programmed to attack every intrusion and defend against virtually all development. Sometimes this backfires, as in the case with the pipeline from the Alberta oil fields.

The Sierra Club, and many environmental groups, fought against the pipeline running to Houston. It became a big political issue based on its potential to cause harm to the environments along the route. The problem is that the oil from Alberta is definately flowing and needs to go somewhere. So now there is a proposal to run both an oil and natural gas pipeline across the Canadian Rockies and through the forests of central British Columbia to Kitimat, B.C., deep in the inland passage. This pristine environment would not only be cut by the lines, but the port would draw heavy tankers deep into the back waters with great potential for an environmental disaster worse than the Exxon Valdez.

Sometimes you can stop everything, but the oil in Alberta is going to be produced and piped somewhere. It seems to me they need to choose the best route and decide if it is better to cut across forests, rivers and mountains, or cut across the Great Plains and deserts of Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma and west Texas. Maybe landscape planners and builders should step into the mix and help develop the route in such a way as to contain any potential spillage, like maybe keeping the pipeline in a continuous culvert . . .

Turbine Forests
Lots of new wind devices are popping up in the mega turbine and personal turbine markets. Manufacturers have been working on prettying up the windmills and making them small and efficient enough to be used in single-family properties and small developments. I'd like to see way more of that than to see dozens of square miles of sometimes-working propellers as you now view on the way to Palm Springs from L.A. Part of saving the environment is preserving land and resources; some of it is keeping the beauty. Wind farms need a lot of work in this field . . .

Green Roofs Are Cool . . .
Literally. One of the biggest new opportunities in Green is green roofs. There is a news item in this issue ("Green Roofs Rising,") that predicts green roof installations will rise 70 percent to 204 million square meters by 2017, and account for $7 billion in the landscape market.

In this issue almost all the features are about green roofs. This arena is an all-around great opportunity for Landscape Architects to design and Landscape Contractors to build and maintain the growing number of rooftop landscapes. Watch for new ways to incorporate water tanks (like SiteCraft's parent company) and air conditioners into the grand puzzle, and be alert as new, lightweight products, media and design elements start hitting the market, making yesterday's best obsolete in the same manner as last year's electronics.

God Bless . . .

George Schmok, Publisher

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August 20, 2019, 10:07 am PDT

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