SPAN: January/February 2012

Page 1


Left: Dr. S. Ayyappan, director general of the Indian Council of Agricullural Research (from left), USAID Administralor Dr. Rajiv Shah and Indian scientist and Member of Parliament Dr. M.S. Swaminathan at an event in New Delhi celebrating the past, present and future of U.S.-India cooperation in agricultural research and higher education, in December. left: Shah at the Anti-Retroviral Therapy Centre of the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi during his two-day visit to India. He also met officials of the National AIDS Control Organisation, doctors, activists and HIV-positive patients, and underscored the joint commitment of the U.S. and Indian governments in the fight against AIDS.

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Above: A roundtable chaired by Dr. Rajiv Shah with Indian innovators and entrepreneurs to explore potential U.S.-India partnerships in development via social entrepreneurship and innovation.

Above left: Shah interacts with people outside a ward at the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi.

Left: Shah signs a Leller of Intent of Cooperation with Dr. Rajiv Kumar, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (far left), as he launched the Millennium Alliance: An India-U.S. Innovation Partnership for Global Development.

Jan uary / February 2012




PUBL ISH ER very person on Earth consumes a portion of the planet's resources and our actions help or hurt the environment in many ways With a world population of around 7 billion, we have reached a stage where we simply cannot ignore the need to preserve our depleting resources and lead more environment-friendly lives. We need to take ownership of environmental protection and not wait for others to do something about it. Our everyday choices can help us lead a more sustainable tife. Each day, we have to make a conscious effort to hetp the environment, whether it is simpte things like turning off the tap while brushing our teeth, taking our own bag to the market or opting to use car poots and public transport. In this issue of SPAN, we focus on green living-how we can contribute to reducing environmental impact at home and at work. Green living is about making sustainable cho ices about what we eat, how we travel, what we buy and how we use things. We also take a look at the latest developments in the field of green technologies that will help us lead more eco-friendly lives. At the US Embassy in New De lhi, we take greening efforts seriously We have implemented initiatives focused on energy efficiency, solar energy, water use and efficiency, recycling and smart travel. The embassy successfully reduced carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 2490 metric tons per year The U.S. State Department recently conducted its first green activities inventory for its domestic and international operations. Among 200 locations, US Embassy New Delhi, one of the largest diplomatic missions in the world , scored an impressive 82 percent, placing it among the top five in green activities. As we begin the new year, we look forward to hearing more often from you about what interests you and how you want to see SPAN evolve into an interactive medi um-where we are nol simply giving you information but rather engag ing in an exchange of ideas. Do write to us at edilorspan@slale. gov. Happy New Yearl



* Air Pollution



Chipmaker Targets Energy Waste By Karin Rives


* Latest "Green" Packing Material?

Mushrooms l

6 8

By Josh Chamol

* GreenScaping

* "Green Roofs Are One of the Few Green

Building Elements That People Can See and Touch" By Kalin Rives

In ervlew by Howard Cincolla


* Green BUSiness By Anne Fi lipi c


* Want to Bui Id a Cheap House?

How About One For $300?


* Saving Energy at Home By Mark Trainer


* Power Walk By Terr De itt

By Howard Cillcolla


* Conscious Living


On Ihe Lighter Side

By Candice Yacono


• From Scraps to Soil By Michael Gallant


* A Tale of Three Buildings By Howard Cincotta


• Green Wa ll

Publisher Michael P Pelleller Editor in Chief Adele E. Ruppe Acting Editor Oee~anlali Kal;ai Hindi Edilor Giriral Agal\'lal Urdu Edilor Mahk Rashl GFalsal Co~y Editors RiCha Vamlil. Shah Md. Tahsin USfililfli Editorial Assistant Yugesh Mathur Art Director Heman! Bhatoaga< Deputy Art Directors KhUlshl. Anwal Abbasi. Oasim Raza Web Manager Giletna Kher2 Production/Circulation Manager Alok Kaushlk Printing Assistant Manish Gandhi Research Services Bureau 01 Intemallonal1Ill0000000IIon Programs. The American l,brary

Front cover:

PulJlishMby the Publi CAilairs SectIOn. American Cenler. 24 Kasturtla Gandhi Marg. fie:! Dethl I IOOOl iphone 234 72000), on behall ol th, U.S. Embass . New Deihl. Pfinte~ al ThofflS()n Press India Umlled, 18135. Dethl ' .alhura Road Faridabad, Haryana 121007. OIJinjoos e)'jlressefJ in this 52-Pilile magazine do oot necessarrly refiecllhe Yle\\S or policies 01 the US. GovernlOOfll


By Peter Cary

Phor~graph © Getty Images

AIllcleswllha ,1M maybe repl,""" will. permission Those WIU>Out a ,taoare copyngtted "d may nol ~e reprinted.


* Hands of Hope By Malik Rasllid Faisal


* Achievers: Vasu Kulkarni By Kaitlin McVey

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* EducationUSA Advice

Want to explore a new environmental -frontier that can be both beauti-ful and beneficial? Plant a roof, ooftops, especially those on top of commercial buildings , tend to be three things: hot, ugly and ignored , says landscape designer and environmental writer Linda Velazquez. Yet, they account for a remarkable amount of space in any urban area. According to estimates, about 12 percent of New York City's total area comprises rooftops. Those numbers climb to as high as 2S percent in cities such as Houston, 2 I A1'IUARY//'EBRUARY 20 12

Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Sacramento, California, according to U.S. government surveys. Rooftops are no longer being dismissed so routinely. In cities around the world , architects , landscape designers, builders and public officials are findin g innovative ways of converting urban and industrial rooftops from afterthoughts to valuable living resources. "Green roofs are vibrant and exciting alternatives to the average black-tar or concrete roofs that we see covering the world," writes Velazquez, who is one of America's prominent green-roof advocates. India held its first-ever green-roof con-

Top left: The High line project has created a vegetated sanctuary lor visitors and inhabitants 01 New York City. Top center: The High line, which runs lor 2.3 kilometers on a lormer elevated railroad track. Top right: Green rool and landscaping lor the city hall 01 Austin, Texas, uses native plant species to cover an area 011 ,100 square meters. Above right: Ford's Dearborn Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan covers 4.2 hectares and is anticipated to reduce the building'S energy costs by 7 percent. RighI: The High Line's planting design is inspired by the sell-seeded landscape that grew on the out-aI-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after trains stopped running .

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ference in Indore in 2011. Sponsored by the World Green Infrastructure Network in collaboration with a local company, Green Takniki, the symposium's ambitious agenda was captured in its title: "Green Technology for Green Roof, Green Home and Rain Harvesting to Combat Urbanization for Sustainable Future." "The green-roof industry has tremendous potential in India .. . to save electrical energy. cool buildings and boost the :'economy," says Suresh Billore, Green Takniki's executive director.

Gardens and mofs The idea of roofs and walls with grasses and plants is hardly revolutionary, whether dating back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or the sad houses of Scandinavia and the American Midwest. The modern green-roof movement, however, began in Germany in the 1960s before spreading elsewhere in Europe. The United States didn't seriously begin adopting green roofs until the late 1990s with the founding of the U.S.

Green Building Council and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities . In 2003, environmental architect William McDonough installed an icon of the green-roof movement: the Truck Assembly Plant at Ford Motor Company's vast River Rouge complex in Dearborn, Michigan. At 42 ,000 square meters, the facility is still one of the largest free-standing green roofs in the world . Modern green roofs aren't simply roof gardens with potted plants. At a minimum, green roofs incorporate a covering of plants in a special growing media (or engineered soil), a drainage system, and a waterproofing and root-resistant membrane. Many newer systems are modular, composed of pOitable, interlocking units of growing media and plantings. Green roofs are more costly to install than conventional ones , but they offer a remarkable range of benefits. Among them: improving water quality, decreasing the heat island effect of urban areas, saving energy, reducing both pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and

To share articles go to http://span.state.gol' JANUARY.FEBRUt\RY 20 12 3

The green roof 01 the CII·Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre In Hyderabad helps reduce heat Ingress Into the building. The center Is also the Ilrst building outside the UnHed States 10 eam a LEED platinum rating.

bringing biodiversity to cities through different plant varieties- besides the insects and birds they attract. "This is a new transformative process in our cities that will reconnect us to our sense of place in the world and a sense of intimacy with nature," declared horticulturist Ed Snodgrass at the 2011 Green Roofs and Walls Virtual Summit in Se ptember.

http ://www.greenindia2011 .org/

That relieves the city's water system of 3,596,000 liters of storm water annually. The acknowledged American leader in green roofs, however, remains Chicago, Illinois, which has more than 400 current or completed projects totaling 650,000 square meters-more than all other U.S . cities combined. "1;he greatest potential of green roofs lies in their capacity to cover imperv iou s roof surfaces with living, breathing, permeable plant material," observes Velazquez, who publishes the blog, Sky Gardens. The impact of green roofs on urban temperatures-the heat island phenomenon - is equally remarkable. Chicago compared summertime surface temperatures on a green roof with a neighboring building. On an August day in the early afternoon, the green roof sUliace temperature ranged from 33° to 48° Celsius, while the dark, conventional roof of the adjacent building was 76° Celsius. The near-surface air temperature above the green roof was about 4° Celsi us cooler than that over the conventional roof. With their insulating qualities, green roofs reverse the equation in cold weather and keep buildings warmer than normal roofs do.

Reducing Urban Heat Islands

Gree archi elagos

Many people overlook one of the chief assets of green roofs: controlling storm water. Urban areas contain vast expanses of impermeable surfaces - roads, parking lots, sidewalks and rooftops-


where rainwater rushes into sewage systems and can quickly overwhelm them. An urban green roof slows and absorbs water, dramatically reducing the damage caused by the runoff from heavy rains. The potential savings are huge. Studies confirm that a typical green roof will retain from 60 to more than 75 percent rainwater, which is later released through evaporation. City officials have taken note, and stormwater control is a principal driver of green roof programs throughout the United States. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, estimates that its 32,000 square meters of green roofs can control roughly 35 to 42 inches of rain per year.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities



http://www.greenroofs .org/


Linda Velazquez's blog: Sky Gardens http://www.greenroofs.eom/blogJ


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Green roofs fall into two categories: extensive and intensive. An extensive installation, designed for low maintenance and limited public access, consists of

groundcover as thin as 5 centimeters. In North American and European latitudes, that usually means hardy alpine plants like sedum and other succulents that can withstand temperature extremes, drought and winds that can be found on both high mountains and exposed rooftops. An excellent example is FedEx's 16,000 square-meter facility at O'Hare Intemational Airport in Chicago. Intensive green roofs can almost be as varied as any conventional garden, with elaborate landscaping that incorporates trees, large shrubs and water features-often providing walkways and open space for the public. As a result, intensive green roofs - sometimes called a building's fifth fa<;:ade-can become remarkable showcases of living architecture, transforming parts of the urban landscape into an archipelago of elevated green spaces. Consider one of the 2011 winners of the Awards of Excellence, given annually by the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities association. The High Line project, located in New York City, has converted a disused elevated railroad into a public park that runs for 2.3 kilometers. The landscape features grasses and plants that once grew on the abandoned High Line track, along with walkways, sun deck, perfonnance space, even a small, flowingwater channel. "With the thousands of people that visit the High Line every day, it could be argued that the High Line receives more attention than any other green roof in the world at the present time," says construction manager Dylan Peck. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities also gives an annual Green Wall award for the difficult art of tuming the sides of buildings into vertical gardens. The 2011 winner was the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona for "a habitat garden that thrives on the urban structure that embraces it." With all these environmental and aesthetic attributes, says Velazquez, "Green roofs are fast becoming green staples in mainstream architecture and high-performance buildings." ~ Howard Cincotta is a U.S. State Department writer and editor.

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Top: The Alaire apartment complex in Rockville, Maryland lists among its "green" features a saline swimming pool without chlorine chemicals, a solarpowered trash compactor and the use of recycled soda bottles on its roof for plants. Above: Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, Washington, selected brightly colored sedum that could be easily installed in modular units of growing media and seedlings. Above left: Construction is almost finished on the Illinois Department of Agriculture Building roof which is being transformed into a 2,050-square-meter green roof covered with plants and solar panels at the Illinois State Fairground in Springfield. Left center The green roof at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has a growing medium depth of 15 centimeters and is planted with native grasses to

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The easy way to a greener, healthier yard. Our yards are our outdoor homes: fun, beautiful. great spaces for relaxing. By taking care of our lawns and gardens properly, we can save money, time and help the environment. GreenScaping encompasses a set of landscaping practices that can ' improve¡ the health and appearance of your lawn and garden while protecting and preserving natural resources.


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When 'oil is dry or compacted, it won ' t ab orb water quickly. If water puddles, stop watering a while and then restart so the water has time to soak in. Water in the early morning. If you water at mid-day, much of the water simply evaporates. Evening watering should be avoided because it can encourage the growth of mold or plant diseases. Vegetables and other annual should be watered at the first sign of wilting, but tougher perennials need water only if they stay droopy after it cools off in the evening. Trees and shrubs u ually don 'I need any watering once their roots are fully established (two to five years), except in very dry years.

More information on greenscaping http :// conserve/rrr /greenscapes/ owners.htm

Inlervie\\ with green roof designer HAVE:'II KIERS by HOWARD CINCOTTA

Kiers is an instructor the organization Green for Healthy Cities and been teaching courses green roofs for more than seven years. Kiers is the design editor of greenroofs.cOll1, and has written articles examining trends in green roof design. Exccrpts from the interview:

TI1C biggest change is the amount of infom1ation availahle in English. When [ star1l:d studying green roofs in 200 I. there was very little information available in anything other than German. We no longer have to try and apply European infOlmation to ollr very different climates and micro-climates. Because of this. orth American green roofs have evolved beyond their European counterpartswe are no longer relying solely on sedum roofs with inorganic growing medium. There is a new movement that looks at the biol-

ogy of soil and the potential for native plants. While there is still little consensus on whether these approaches are as effective. there is no doubt that they've helped push the green roof movement in a new direction. The biggest breakthrough is probably the introduction of modules that can be installed individually, like roof tiles. While there is still a lot of research to be done on their long-term effectiveness and benefits. there is no doubt that the~ 'w gone a long way to...make green roofs more accessible to all.

twice a much as reguiar roofs and then take longer than other "green" elements to pay for While sedums have long themselves. Combine that with been the standard for many the fact that there are still conyears. we are now seeing them cerns (left over from the heavy used in increa ingly creative sod roofs of the 196Os) that a ways-mixed with grasses, green roof will leak. and you designed in swoops and swirls, have a lot of skeptics. and incorporating the incredible The other thing is that green variation within the species roofs constitute a "whole build- flower color, height, leaf color. ing solution." They provide There i a trend away from many different benefits overthe standard edum carpet; all-- storm water reduction, designers are stmting to add energy efficiency. reductions in colors and patterns and actualthe urban heat island effect. ly use the roof. even large increas d biodiversity. air indu 路trial ones, as a palette for purification. But when comdesign. Other plants. 'uch as pared one-on-one with a differ- gra ses and alpines-rock garent product that only provide a den plants-are also being single solution (i.e. photoadded in unique combinations. voltaics versu green roofs), Also. edibles-from lowgreen roof will not be a effec- growing herbs to full-on tomative. Thus the "sell" has to be to plants-are extremely hot on green roof benefits at sever- right now. al different levels, which can be Howard Cillcotta is a U.S. State a difficult me sage to convey Departmellt writer and editor. sometimes.


The biggest obstacle to the green roof movement right now b their upfront cost compared to their return on investment. For developers looking to build and quickly sell for a profit, green roof are not a good investment. They co t

Guadencio Sanchez waters the living roof at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The roof keeps the building's interiors an average 0110 degrees cooler than a standard roof would.


Woman business owner creates clean energy jobs by being bold, endy Jameson's life slogan is "Fear Mediocrity: don ' t be afraid to be bold," a motto that Jameson and her partner in Colnatec, Scott Grimshaw (whom she met on Twitter) , established . Jameson has always been an individual who stand s out from the crowd and takes risks each and every day, the epitome of an entrepreneur. She is a former business consultant and coach with 25 years experience in sales, marketing and business strategy for growth companies. A wife and mother of two boys, family has always been an important part of Jameson's life, too. But they are not the only people she calls family-the nine employees who work for Colnatec care for each other and believe in the success of the company as much as she does. Colnatec (http://colnatec.comJ) is a woman-owned "greentech" company from Gilbert, Arizona that designs and builds tbin film process control sensors for nanotechnology manufacturing. They have developed and patented groundbreaking film thickness measurement products for making solar cells, mobile displays, optics and flexible lighting and electronics that increase production yield s and decrease manufacturing costs. The holder of eight patents, they are recipients of a U.S. Department of Energy award for a revolutionary sensor to be used in manufacturing CIGS solar cells. This sensor will enable manufacturers to achieve cell and module efficiencies well beyond CUlTent capability. Colnatec is also one of eight winners of the Arizona Innovation Challenge grant program, which was established through $1.5 million in funds provided to Arizona to promote innovation, specifically in the technology sector, and encourage export manufactUling. These funds have enabled CoJnatec to purchase production machinery, finalize product development and market globally. "Tbe funding we ' ve received has been like a shot in the arm-a significant morale boost," says Jameson . "It's proof our science is sound , but even more importantly, that others believe in us, too. It gave us not only confidence, but also hope that we really could achieve our dreams."

Anne Filipic is the deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement at the White House.

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Want to Build a

h ap DUSe? ow About



What began as a speculative blog has become a professional

and design cha enge - and may well evolve into a worldwide social and economic movement.

Left: An initial sketch of the $300 house concept by Vijay Govindarajan and Christian Sarkar, which appeared in their first blog on the subject.

ears ago, when Vijay Govindarajan was earning his chartered accountancy degree in India, he would walk through a slum area to his bus stop. Like many people, he never forgot the experience of witnessing poverty firsthand. "The people you see are wonderful, but they were caught in a vicious cycle," says Govindarajan, now a professor of international business at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. "Without a proper house, there is no proper sanitation. They get sick and can't work, which means they can't earn money to have a proper house or educate their children."

Blogging and networking In 2010, Govindarajan, writing with development consultant Christian Sarkar, posted a blog on the Harvard Business Review Web site that asked a simple but challenging question: Would it be possible to provide basic, decent housing for the world's poorest at a cost as low as $300 per unit? They offered few guidelines but did lay down several ground rules. Use locally available materials that can be mass produced; provide for clean water, sanitation and electricity; meet standards for

Graduate students at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business who are working on the $300 house project. The team recently travelled to Mumbai and Raipur to explore the feasibility of the concept.

rounded that figure down to $300," Govindarajan observes. The initial blog drew so much attention that the authors created a social networking Web site (www.300house .comf) and invited people to join the discussion. More than 2,500 architects, engineers, designers, builders , development experts, academics and business representatives did just that.

Design challenge Several months after their first blog, Govindarajan and Sarkar launched a global design competition for a $300

bring health, sanitation and other basic services to the poor." The 16 finalists were selected through a combination of votes from the $300 house community, together with an independent panel of expert designers, architects and other professionals. The finalists shared a total of $25,000, which included $15,000 in scholarships for the top six winners to turn their concepts into actual prototypes. At the same time, students from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College traveled to Mumbai and Raipur to meet with local communities, gov-

The $300 House

Affordable Housing http://www.hud .gov/offices/cpdl affordablehousing/ Far left: Vijay Govindarajan at Dartmouth. Left: Christian Sarkar.

environmental protection and sustainability; and build structures strong enough to withstand heavy rains and even earthquakes. Finally, do it all for $300. "The blog was purely a thought experiment," says Govindarajan, noting that it was based on Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus' observation that when people do get out of poverty, they often build a house that costs around $370. "We just

house that drew more than 300 entries, along with a key corporate sponsor, Ingerso ll Rand, which put up prize money for the contest. 'The point was not so much the price," Govindarajan says. "We wanted people to think outside the box, as if they had landed on Mars. Assume that we have a clean sheet of paper. The $300 house is really a metaphor about how to

ernment officials and business representatives to assess the feasibility of a $300 house initiative in India.

Challenges The $300 house project was not greeted with universal applause. Development experts and international NGOs raised a number of objections. Chief among them: a house, no matter

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how cheap or well designed, won ' t solve the housing problems of the estimated 1.5 billion people without adequate shelter. Only a comprehensive approach can succeed, one that grapples "w ith the complex relationships in informal settlements among housing, land ri ghts, economic opportunities , gender rights, health and safety," according to a blog by Jason Corburn, associate professor of urban planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Other objections focused on the unintended consequences of good inte ntion s, such as bringing massive amounts of prefabricated materials and inadveltently undercutting local employment. Govindarajan and Sarkar, along with supporters who joined the online debate, responded by essentially agreeing that designing a "clever box" alone wasn't the solution.

"The house in the end wasn't the real problem," Sarkar reiterates in his public presentation s, and points to the need for "an inc lu sive ecosystem of serv ices"from sanitation and electricity to health and education- that can break poverty's viciou s cycle. He also stresses the need for involvement of the private sec tor as well as government and nongovernmental organizations . " We don ' t want thi s to be just a charitable thing," Sarkar says, and repeats a familiar saying-" You can ' t donate yourself out of poverty."

Concept to prototype The six $300 hou se winners took a variety of approaches to the challenge, although al l stressed readily available material s and the use of locallabor. The top-ranked entry, from Paui Stouter of Germany, envisaged upper walls that

would be constructed of what is termed hyper-wattle-20-centimeter mes h tubes that contain straw or wood chips dipped in a mixture of clay and water. Another winning entry, from Eric Ko of Architecture Commons, used compressed-earth blocks and stressed the creation of micro enterprises that would provide construction jobs as the res idents build their own homes. A unit comprising about 100 families would participate in the earth-block and roof-tile indu stries and share in the profits. In a separate corporate category, the winner was the multinational M ahindra & Mahindra, based in Mumbai, whose design, like several others, incorporated bamboo construction and solar panels for electricity. The contest winners wiU gather on the campus of Dartmouth in 2012 and bui ld prototypes of their designs that can be



Top and above: Bamboo slruclure proposed by Mahindra & Mahindra.








Above right The top-ranked enlry used "hyper-wat1le" for lhe walls. These are aclually mesh lubes filled wilh slraw or wood chips. The wat1le walls resl on a foundalion of rubble bags (far righl) and are finished wilh a mixlure of clay and waler (rig hI).




evaluated by o utside experts. Meanwh ile , DaFtmouth is send ing a team o f fac ul ty, admi nistrators and gradu ate students to Haiti w here they w ill ex pl o re o ptio ns for con struc ting a n en tire proto type village that can be evalu ated as a functi o ning community. Gov indaraj an sees the $300 ho use as an oppo rtuni ty for wh at he ca ll s a ki nd of reverse soc ia l e ng ineering . Instead of the standard to p-dow n model , innovatio n and econo mic opportunit y will percolate up ii-om the bottom of the eco no mic pyramid-a world market estim ated at $5 trillio n, he po ints out. " As busin esses get into this field ," Govindaraj an and Sarkar wrote in one of man y blog postings, "we a ll wan t to see their initiati ves achie ve two levels of sll ccess that we believe go hand-in-hand: mak in g a profit and improving th e human condi tio n." ~

Howard Cincotta is a U.S. State Departmen t writer and editor.

Expansion Zone I Work / Retail Area

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Right: Project Ground Up, from Eric Ho of Architecture Commons, envisages homes constructed of compressed earth blocks that would be manufactured by micro enterprises ot1 00 families each.

left. The SuperAdobe entry proposed fill ing plastic tubing that can be wrapped in concentric circles to create a beehive structure, eliminating the need for a roof. Above ' One of the six winning entries-the EarthtJag Stone Dome.

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, The disposable seem Oas knew he wanted to make a dif e e nce in the world, but did not think market in the .S, is he 0 ld end up creat ing a multi-millionalso very huge, and it dolla r-profit company in the process. Oa is the founder of World Centric, a seemed like a gQQd__Caljforn ia-based supplier of compostable and i egradable food packaging and envlronme taI so Iutlon food ser ce products like plates and mento the larg quantities si ls for corpo ate, institutional and person- ,~~~~;~~d al use , 9~ of Styrof am and The comp ny; was founded as a nonprofToday, despite all of the changes to its plastic rp ducts with it in 2004, in' n attempt to increase awarebusine,ss plan, the company's original misness of varied i s es through documentary sion, vision and values remain unchanged. associal ed' health, screenings and other avenues, A year later, Das still wants to change the world's "t d II ' Oas and his team sought to file for taxtOXICI y an po utlon exempt status. But World Centric's priunderstanding of social and environmental issues, due in part to hi s upbringing in two pro blemS, mary methods of funding - the sale of J


compostable and Fairtrade productsquickly became the focus of the company 's time and resources, and World Centric ended up as a for-profit social enterprise.


countries. " 1 always had a very strong interest [in] social and environmental issues," he says, " Awareness of social issues came fro m



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growing up in India in a middle-class family and seeing the wide disparities not only between the rich and the poor, but also between the middle class and the poor. I developed awareness of environmental issues after coming to the U.S. and becoming aware of the ... lifestyle, and how that impacted the environment in terms of resource use." Das immigrated with his parents to the United States after fini s hing high school. Hi s father is an eng ineer, and his mother is a teacher ; D as says that like many children in similar middle-class families, he was guided toward a career in engineering or medicine. Das went on to study computer sc ience, earn ing a bachelor's degree in science at Oklahoma State University and a master 's at the University of Oregon. He then began a career at companies like Boeing and NASA. On paper, Das had an enviable lifestyle - but he craved something more. "Even though 1 worked in the software industry for IS-plus years and did some very challenging and stimulating work, I often felt that my work did not connect to my everyday life, and was not doing anything to make the world a better

place- soc ially or environmentally," he says. In 2003, when the Iraq War started, Das began showing film s on human rights, globalization and environmental issues as a way to rai se awareness and engage people in di scussion. The initial film series ' success led to the formin g of World Centric, Das says, as "an educational nonprofit with the goal of raising awareness of broad social/environmental issues, relating these issues to everyday choices people make in their lives, and how these choices ... impac t the world-positively or negatively." The company's later trajectory began as a simpl e need . "The first year as a nonprofit was additional film series, s peakers and courses on globalization, sustainability, simple living," Das says. "However, to support the work and myself, I had to come up with a way to generate some income." Most nonpro fits ask for donations , but Das wanted World Centric to be se lfsupporting. He looked at several ideas like mattress recycling, wind turbines, a Fairtrade cafe. During this research he came across "compostable disposables." "The di sposab les market in the U.S. is also very huge , and it seemed like a good environmental so lution to the large quantities of Styrofoam and plastic products with assoc iated health, to xic ity and pollution problem s," says Das.

World Centric http://www.worldcentric,org/

Fairtrade International http://www.fairtrade .netl

Rainforest Action Network

Green Products That 'Break Down ' j



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http://news.discovery. com/tech/ green-products-that-break-down110310,html


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He started with a $3000 investment and initially did everything himself, from receiving shipments to packing, shipping, customer service , Web site, supply chain and accounting. The money quickly ran out. so Das took personal loans from friends and family - a move he calls crucial to his future success. "1 did not pay myself till the fall of 2006, and then it was $1 O/hour. 1 hired my first part-time person in the summer of 2006, and by the end of 2006 there were three people, as we were growing very rapidly. Now we are 18 people, with sales of $11 mi II ion." But with that rapid growth in what was meant to be a side venture to raise money for their primary efforts, Das and his team had to reevaluate their priorities and business model. World Centric now sees its educational work as informing people about the issues of waste and consumption, and reducing the use of Styrofoam and petroleum-based plastics. "We give at least 25 percent of our pre-tax profits to grassroots social/environmental organizations ," Das says. "Our goal is to keep on increasing the amount we are able to give . We also are carbon neutral and planted 175,000 trees in 2009 ; in 2010 we pm1nered with Rainforest Action Network to protect 5,000 acres of rainforest and support indigenou s communities in order to keep millions of tons of carbon in the ground ." World Centric also classifies itself as a B-Corp, Das says, which he describes as a " new class of benefit corporations whose purpose is to use .the power of bu siness to do social and environmental good. We give discounts to nonprofits and schools, still [show J some films and invite speakers, and have different incentives to encourage staff to volunteer and be sustainable. "Our future goals are to create packaging and disposables from locally available waste materials, give 100 percent of our profits, and become a source for info rmation on waste, consumption and simple living." ~

Candice Yacono is a magazine and newspaper writer based in sou thern California.

To share articles go to JANlJARYfFEIlRlIARY2012 15


S DI 1


EcoScraps turns foocl \Naste into compost, helping gardens and the environment-in the process.

One bag of our -firlished compost is equivalent to taking one car off the road for a week,

r Daniel Blake, the inspiration to start a business came not from a charismatic mentor or a childhood dream, but rather from a plate of French toast. Now the CEO of EcoScraps, a young company that transforms discarded food into gardening soil, Blake experiencedn is environmentally-related epiphany while studyin cr at Brigham Young University in Utah. It was during a meal at an allyou-can-eat buffet that Blake began to notice just how many half-eaten servings ended up tossed in tras cans-a large portion of his own breakfast included. Struck by the amount wasted, Blake quic ly dove into research and discovered some intriguing-and troubling-facts. "Between farms, grocery stores, and leftovers at restaurants, 40 per~~ent of all food we grow in the United States gets -UU-own away," he says. "Not only is that a huge amount of waste, it also creates environmental problems." Methane emissions from rotting organic matter in landfills can count for up to 8 percent of the greenhouse emissions that humans generate, says Blake. 'To put that in perspective, all cars on the road in the United States produce about 12 percent of this country's greenhouse emissions," he asserts. "So we're talking about a lot of pollution coming directly from food waste." "It seemed like a big problem, but also a business opportunity," continues the young entrepreneur, who grew up helping with his parents' backyard garden. With the help of friends, Blake began surreptitiously invading the dumpsters of local restaurants to procure different types of food


waste. Blake and his associates then composted various blends and tested them for nutritional content in a soil lab. "Some of the composts were absolutely terrible and would kill plants," he says. "But we also created a blend that came from fruit and vegetables. It was. very high in nutrients- as rich as any chemical fertilizer you could buy. We started to take our compost to gardening stores and found that there was interest." Riding the momentum of their initial success, the team officially founded EcoScraps in 20 I O.

Transforming waste Now operating facilities in Arizona and Utah, EcoScraps gets its raw materials not from dumpster diving, but from grocery stores and wholesale produce providers. "Instead of dumping their food waste in a landfill, they bring it to our facilities," says Blake. "We sort through everything, make sure there's no trash mixed in, and then grind it up to the consistency of a smoothie. It's a dirty business," he adds, laughing. The team mixes the resulting organic matter with sawdust shavings and forms large composting piles, which are then monitored for temperature, moisture and oxygen levels as the "smoothie" begins to decompose. On any given day, EcoScraps facilities can process between 20 and 50 tons of fruit and vegetable waste. Once the composting process is complete, EcoScraps bags and resells the resulting compost-both through the company's online marketplace and often at the stores from which the food waste originated. "It only takes about three weeks

Above: EcoScraps' Director of Finance Craig Martineau (from left), CEO Oaniel Blake and Vice President of Sales Brandon Sargent.

for an apple to go from sitting on the shelf of a Costco to go back to a shelf at that same Costco as EcoScraps compost," Blake says. Though the CEO readily admits tha.t running a startup company is far from easy, he is thrilled with the reactions EcoScraps receives from gardeners and grocery stores. "Consumers love buying something that's organic, something that performs just as well as chemicalbased soils, but doesn't cost anything more," he says. "We're also able to sav~­ the grocery stores money on their waste fees, so everybody wins. Right now, we're just trying to expand as quickly as we can."

Bevond Ihe grocery store EcoScraps' unique business model has positive environmental and economic effects for all involved. "The core of our business model is environmental sustainability," says Blake. 'The more sales we get, the more revenue we generate, and the more food waste we can compost and keep out of landfills." "People don't normally think of throwing stuff away as expensive, but a Costco can

throwaway as much as one ton of produce on a daily basis," he continues. 'The costs of shipping that to landfills can really add up." When it comes to reducing greenhouse gases, the results of EcoScraps' efforts are equally positive. "One bag of our finished compost is equivalent to taking one car off the road for a week," says B lake. "I think it's great that we're able to save people money, develop a business, and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, all at the same time'''¢ k Michael Gallant is the founder and chief executive officer of Gallant Music. He lives in New York City. To share articles go to Jt\

lIA RYIFEf.lK Ut\RY 2012


Green buildings may come In many sizes, shapes and colors, but almost all of them share the same acronym- LEED , ,


ometimes it's the less obvious things that can make a building green. Like using construction materials from only within a 800kilometer radius, recycling not just bottles and paper, but rubble and waste, or choosing a previously developed site rather than using another open field. In other words, when you are constructing a green building, everything counts. One of the primary organizations doing the counting these days is the U.S. Green Building Council, which in 1998 established a now internationally recognized standard for environmentally sustainable buildings known as LEED-

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Today, the council has more than 16,000 member companies and organizations, with 79 local chapters and affiliates. Approximately 43,000 buildings and projects participate in the commercial and institutional LEED rating system, comprising more than 725 million square meters in 120 countries.

Go .platinum The Green Building Council uses a 100-point system to rate buildings to determine if a builder can earn one of LEED's coveted ratings, which start at LEED certified, then climb to silver, gold and platinum levels.

Left: Pearl Place, a 50-unit, LEED-cerlilied apartment complex in Porlland, Maine.

LEED is a flexible standard. It takes a undertaking the ambitious renovation of a 1928 downtown building that was list"whole building" approach that covers ed on the U.S. National Register of five key areas: the building site itself, water and energy usage, air pollution and Historic Places, but was vacant and greenhouse gases, construction waste and derelict as well. The result is a widely indoor air quality. admired project that met the challenge of Builders can also earn bonus points for balancing preservation of walls and other innovation in design and the way their interior features with a flexible, open project fits into the community-for workplace featuring a two-story, glassroofed atrium. instance, whether it encourages ma,ss transit and walking instead of more auto"In some cases, sustainability did colmobiles. lide with historic preservation," says D. The environmental impact of buildings Brooke Smith of SmithGroup, the lead and construction is huge. In the United architectural firm on the project. States, according to government esti"Windows were a big issue, because they mates, buildings consume 72 percent of are considered an architecturally defining all the nation's electricity and 13 percent feature." Normally, you would replace 100-year-old windows with energy-effiof its water, and produce 40 percent of cient, high-performing ones, Smith carbon dioxide emissions. The impact of green buildings can be observes. But they would have comproequally large. Studies place electricity mised the building's historic integrity. "It was a tradeoff that we were willing and energy savings between 24 to 50 perto make," says Smith. There was another cent, 40 percent for water and 33 to 40 very practical reason: the need to qualify percent for carbon dioxide. The best way to tell the green-building for $2.5 million in tax credits, without 'which the company couldn't have understory, however, may be less through stataken the project in the first place. tistics than the buildings themselves. Christman wanted a green building, but it didn't necessarily want LEED status, at least not at first. But the company, with SmithGroup, found that most LEED features either didn't add cost, or The headquarters of the Christman added real value, enabling them to Company, a construction and engineering progress from silver and gold to a platfirm in Lansing, Michigan, got the triple inum rating. platinum in 2010. 'The total value of the Christman projChlistman earned this distinction by ect is greater than the sum of its parts," Smith says. "It dispelled the myth that The Christman Building atrium (far left), an aerial view of the building (left above), and the interior of the sustainability can't work hand-in-hand

Christman Companv building

building in Lansing, Michigan (left).

with historic preservation."

Pearl Place Sustainable building features are by no means restricted to high-visibility commercial projects. Pearl Place is an excellent example. Pearl Place, which earned a LEED gold designation, is a complex of 60 apartments in Portland, Maine, built by Avesta, one of the state's largest developers of affordable housing. Pearl Place hardly resembles the conventionallow-income housing of the past, with high-quality brick and fiberglass construction, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and special emphasis on the use of recycled materials. 'There is a perception that a green building needs to have renewable energy or exotic design features, but that's not the case," says Jay Waterman, senior project engineer at Fore Solutions, a consulting firm that worked on Pearl Place. "You start with the basics of a welldesigned building that has a good tight envelope-then downsize the heating and cooling systems as much as possible." Pearl Place employs an effective and increasingly popular technique known as heat recovery ventilation, which uses warm exhaust air to preheat incoming cold air before it even enters the house. A huge energy savings during Maine's bitter winters, Waterman observes. Pearl Place's downtown location held a surprise for its builders, says Avesta's acquisitions director, Ethan BoxerMacomber. A study comparing the work

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U.S. Green Bui Iding Council httpJ/

Christman Building

Pearl Place


Renewable Energy Laboratory



ARY 2012

commutes of residents before and after they moved to Pearl Place found huge reductions in commuting times, which translate into less energy and lower total carbon emissions. 'The shorter commutes resulted in as great an environmental impact as the energy-efficient buildings themselves," Boxer-Macomber says.

National Renewable Enerav laboralorv If any organization needed a building that demonstrated its commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability, it

was the U.S. Department of Energy's ational Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. They have one now: the first fede ral facility to win a LEED platinum award for an innovative design that encourages close scientific collaboration to accelerate the speed with which new technologies can be introduced into the marketplace. The facility, which conducts advanced research into solar and hydroge n power and nanotechnology, is a 6,600 squaremeter structure comprising nine s maller specialized laboratories, office space and an elevated bridge that connects it to the nei ghbori ng Solar Energy Research

Facility. Through its compact but flexible design, solar and water conservation techniques, soph isticated construction materials, and maximum use of daylight, the lab has achieved a 40 percent energy reduction over a conventional facility. "The original expectation was to achieve gold ," says Brad Woodman, laboratory project leader for the SmithGroup. "B ut as we were able to drive the energy sav ings higher than expected, we saw the opportunity to reach platinum." An early decision to drop the original plan for a one-story facility in favor of a

multi-story building served both environmental and functional purposes, Woodman says. One was to reduce the building's overall footprint. And since the site actually slopes, labs that were sensitive to vibration, or used laser li ght, could be tucked into the hill side. In a press statement, Nancy Carlisle, a LEED-certified architect at the lab, observes, "This cutting-edge, environmentally sound, high-performance building is the best teaching tool we can offer to the public."

Howard Cincotta is a U.S. State Department writer and editor.

Suzlon One I Earth

ndia has quickly and quietly joined the leading ranks of nations with hundreds of LEED-certified buildings, including what may well be the COI:I try's flagship green project. the corporate headquarters of the global wind power company

Suzlon Energy Ltd. in Pune. Suzlon One Earth a like building and "..H 路in..~... 41 000 ~"'!l'"~~,y,

First, its combination of onsite photovoltaic (solar) panels and wind

The renovated cafeteria of Lake Mills Middle School (top), the gymnasium (above), and the school's 2011 student council (right). Lake Mills is among America's first LEED platinum public schools.


he renovation and expansion of the Lake Mills Middle School in the midwestern state of Wisconsin has earned it the distinction of becoming one of the first LEED platinum public schools in the United States. Lake Mills features an innovative geothermal system that is 45 percent more efficient than conventional heating and air conditioning systems. Large windows, coupled with sun louvers, also help energy efficiency by permitting more daylight while cutting heat and glare at the same time. The school grounds, which have been planted with a variety of native plants, serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental studies. The grounds have also been landscaped with grassy depressions, or swales, to retain water, reduce runoff and eliminate the need for an irrigation system. As with virtually every LEED project, Lake Mills used a substantial percentage of recycled and locally acquired materials in the renovation of the existing struc-

ture-totaling 3,400 square meter~-and an additional 5,600 square-meter expansion. Another standard LEED feature-a waste management plan-reduced construction debris and waste that had to be moved to a landfill by a remarkable 77 percent. inside the school, teachers comment on how much quieter the building is, making it easier for students to concentrate. Even more important, however, the school's emphasis on indoor air quality has led to a significant reduction in the number of student sick days due to asthma and other respiratory illnesses-and fewer students needing to take inhalers or other medications for asthma or allergies. "The students have taken a great deal of pride in understanding how sustainability was integrated into 'their' building," according to a statement by Dean Sanders, Lake Mills district administrator. 'They are keenly aware that it's a healthy and safe learning environment because environmental responsibility has been infused into their class-H.C. room curriculum."

Mousumi Mukherjee Abhijit Dutta (American Center New Delhi) There's no amount of individual saving that can be encouraged for the public waste it can offset. I look at saving water-and I look at the fountains and swimming pools. No amount of water you can save in an individual lifetime will add up to the amount of water that passes through a fountain in a day.

Jennifer Kumar (U. S. Consulate General Hyderabad) As an American living in India, it' s easier to avoid dryers. We have our house in India installed with CFL bulbs. In Kochi the garbage coliectors have us separate out food waste-that goes to a biogas plant. (I had a compost pile in the U.S., so this habit was easy for me to keep in India.)

(American Center Kolkata) Water can be conserved provided we have steady supply of clean water at home! You should know we do not have clean water in all parts of Kolkata (leaving aside perhaps the area served by Tala tank water supply). In the Dumdum area where we live, we have to boil water and filter out the thick sediments from water at home or buy bottled water to drink.

Priyankeshu Parihar Vivek Sabharwal (American Center New Delhi) Woodland, a footwear and apparel brand, has a national network of over 300 stores across the country. While every stage/process has been devised considering the focus on greener environment (manufacturing biodegradable shoes/use of organic cotton for garments) through our campaign "Proplanet," the corporate focus of the organization has been to support and protect our environment. Woodland partnered with the Delhi Government during a month-and-a-half citywide campaign to plant saplings.

Suveer Daswani (American Center Mumbai) SOLAR (Save Our Land and Rise) began small. Just a group of like-minded children with a vision , but little idea of how to put it in action. That was two years ago. Over these two years, we have devoted a great deal of time and energy to developing our projects- which include the donation of over 500 solar lamps to several villages in and around our city, a water harvesting project in a village close to Thane that is now providing the villagers with clean drinking water.

Shahanshah Mirza (American Center Kolkata) Few years ago, I and some of my friends decided to do something for the environment. We decided to plant 70 saplings in our neighborhood. We made special boxes and fi lled it with high nutrient mUd. We got hold of an expert who guided us as to what saplings to plant, taking into account the hours of sunshine, amount of rain and other conditions. The best part was that we employed security guards round the clock to look after these plants. All this was done with only our contributions. Over the years, these have grown up into big trees and all the saplings have survived.

(American Center New Delhi) The more we depend on electricity and gadgets the worse it gets. We should walk instead of driving, we should construct stairs instead of elevators. In the night we should sleep instead of watching movies or online.

Truly lurn electronics Switch off your TV, DVD, tereo or computer at the power point. Unplug your cell phone charger when not in use.

ave paper by paying bill online Of etting up automatic payment from yOUf bank account. Also, opt for e-mail bank and credit card statements.

Your Own Bag when you Keep reusable bags in car or near your door so they easy to grab when you go.

""",1110nm路 ng.

Use public transportation or car pools to reduce carbon emissions and air pollutants. Combine errands into one trip.

Small steps that will go a long way in hel ping you lead an environmentfriendly life.

Make a

fresh choice Buy fre h foods. Frozen uses 10 time more

Don't trash it Reuse! Be creative as you look for new ways to reduce the amount or kinds of household waste. Plant seeds in an egg carton. Make a flower pot alit of a plastic ice-cream tub. Paint Llsed bottles to

Plant a tree Trees ab orb carbon dioxide and tr e root can help stay oil era ion.

Aim for the


Check the number of stars on the Energy Label to choose the most efficient mod-


ome 1.6 billion cell phones and mobile devices were sold worldwide in 2010. Each came equi pped with a charger that plugs into an electrical outlet. The U .S . Environmental Protection Agency estimates that no fewer th an 10 billion chargers and other so-called ACDC power supplies are used for computers, phones and other consumer products around the globe. Toge ther, they waste huge amounts of energy-roughl y 40 percent of the power they transfer from the outlet to the gadget. It's a prob lem that concerns Weili Dai , co-founder of the California-based Marvell Technology Group. Since starting her semiconductor company in 1995

go to



Marvell Technology Group http://www.marvell .com/

eCycle Cell Phones http ://www. ips/ plugin/cellphonel

with her husband, Sehat Sutardja, and his brother, Pantas, Dai has always been proud of Marvell's record on energy efficiency. "Not only did we say, 'We have to be the best' [maker of semiconductors], but we also always focused on producing low-power technology," she says. Marvell is now pushing technology that can dramatically reduce power wastage in all consumer electronics. Known as power factor correction, it's an electronic chip that "tricks" personal computers, laptops, smartphones, computer tablets, printers and other gadgets into taking better advantage of the electric current. While Marvell is finding a global market for its power-saving chips, Dai believes that only when all manufacturers are required to pursue smarter power solutions will the true environmental improvement be felt. "Right now, we're kind of the cheerleader, and we're driving it," she says. "But we'd like to have the entire electronic industry make their products greener. We have a way to solve this problem, but everybody needs to apply it. " So Dai's team has been working with the Congressman representing California's high-tech Silicon Valley on legislation that would standardize "smart" power technology for consumer electronics and provide incentives for 28 JAn'ARYIFEBRUARY 2012

manufacturers in the United States to adopt such technology. Marvell estimates that if power factor cOITection technology were mandated, it would save the United States nearly $3 billion in annual energy costs and cut the nation's carbon-dioxide emissions by 24 million tons each year. It would also boost Marvell's bottom line. The company is heavily invested in low-power technologies and is betting on a growing market for energy-smart electronics. Meanwhile, at its Santa Clara, California headquarters, Marvell has embarked on a campaign dubbed "Footprint Zero" to gradually make its company operations carbon-neutral. A new computerized lighting control system, for example, is using 60 percent less electricity than a conventional lighting system would. Energy-efficient fluorescent and LED light bulbs in the company's offices have also shaved electricity consumption. The company, which employs 5,700 people worldwide, is taking its Footprint Zero campaign to its campuses on several continents. Changes in technology and infrastructure are needed "to save our country and our world," Dai says. 11 stllff writer for the U.S. Oepllrtment of Stllte's Internlltiol1lli Informlltion Programs.

Karin Rives is


Oai believes that only when all manufacturers are r~quired to pursue smarter power solutions will the true environmental improvement be felt.



~","""Mi".'jj."_""'" reen " paCking Material?

A composite of inedible agricu ltural waste and mushroom roots, its manufacture req uires ju st one-tenth th e carbon dioxide of trad itional foam packing material. By JOSH CHAMOT

new packing material that grows itself is now appearing in shipped products across the United States. The composite of inedible agricultural waste and mushroom roots is called MycoBond , and its manufac ture requires just one-eighth the energy and one-tenth the carbon dio xide of traditi ona l foam packing material. And unlike most foam substitutes, when no longer useful , it thyme oil, oregano oil and lemongrass oil. The sterilization process , which kills makes great compost in the garden. any spores that could compete with The technology was the brainchild of Ecovative's mushrooms, is almost as two fo rmer Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute undergraduates, Gavin McIntyre effective as the autoclaving process used to disinfect instruments and will and Eben Bayer, who founded Ecovative allow the MycoBond products to grow in Design of Green Island, New York, to the open air, instead of their current bring their idea into production. clean-room environment. "We don't manufacture materials, we Much of the manufacturing process is grow them ," says McIntyre. "We're connearly energy-free, with the mycelia verting agricultural byproducts into a higher-value product." growing around and digesting agricultural starter material-such as cotton seed or Because the feedstock is based on renewable resources , he adds, the mateli- wood fiber-in an environment that is bqth room-temperature and dark. Because aJ has an economic benefit as well: it is ':'~he growth occurs within a molded plastic not prone to the price fluctuation s comstructure, which the producers customize mon to synthetic materials derived from such sources as petroleum. "All of our for each application, no energy is required for shaping the products. raw materials are inherently renewable and they are literally waste streams ," Once fully formed, each piece is heattreated to stop the growth process and says Mclntyre. delivered to the customer-though with With SUppOlt from the U.S. National the new, easier, disinfection treatment, Science Foundation, Mcintyre and Bayer Bayer and McIntyre are hoping that by are developing a new, less energy-intensive method to sterilize their agricultural2013 the entire process can be packaged waste statter material -a necessary step as a kit, allowing shipping facilities, and even homeowners, to grow their own for enabling the mushroom roots, called MycoBond materials . mycelia, to grow. McIntyre and Bayer are replacing a steam-heat process with a "The traction that they have gotten treatment made from cinnamon-bark oil, with their early customers demonstrates

Ecovative Design http://www.ecovativedesign .com/

Rensselaer Polytecllnic Institute http://www.eng.rpi .edu/lemelson/img/ students/Bayer_ Web.pdf how companies can build strong busine sses around products whose primary competitive advantage lies in their sustainability," says Ben Schrag, the National Science Foundation 's program officer who oversees Ecovative's Small Business Innovation Research award. In addition to the packaging product, called EcoCradle, Ecovative has developed a home insulation product dubbed Greensulates. Comparable in effectiveness to foam in sulation . it is also highly flame retardant. Ecovative has also received SUppOlt from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Josh Chamot is the media officer for engineering at the U. S. National Science Foundation.

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ike and John Schmidt had long dreamed of opening their own taxicab company in the Midwestern college town where their family had lived for several generation s. Opportunity knocked in 2010 when the business plan the brothers brought before the city council in Madison, Wisconsin, was approved without a hitch . They had staItup capital from the sale of another company years ago, and a local dealer of hy brid Toyota Prius cars had already offered to sell an initial 10 vehicles to get the company going.

Green Cab of Madison took off, and a lot faster than the Schmidt brothers had ever hoped . "It was perfect timing with all the Priu ses hitting the market and everybody talking about going green ," says Amanda Schmidt, Mike 's 24-year-old daughter and Green Cab's marketing manager. "We weren't supposed to add the next to cars until we had been open for a year, but we had to add them right away. A lot of people really like us, and we've never even done any traditional advertising."


More taxi companies in the United States are turning to greener operations.





-... Z




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Lelt: An environment-friendly hybrid electric laxi from Yellow Cab Cooperative in San Francisco, California. Left below: Taxi tops, moving advertising billboards that sit atop cabs, now feature the latesl in green technology in New York City, with fully recyclable materials. The LED backlighting system bUrns 10 times longer Ihan standard fluorescent bulbs. Boltom lelt: Tricia Yeggy stands in front 01 one of her cabs in Iowa as she lalks about her company that wilileature vehicles powered by biodieselluel. BoHom' Green Cab of Madison employees schedule laxi rides with the help of custommade dispatch software that saves clients money.

Gr wing movement Environmentally-minded taxi companies have popped up in cities across the United States in recent years, appealing to riders who want to minimize their carbon emi ssions while on the road. In Arlington, Virginia, for example, a company called enviroCAB made a splash a few years ago when it opened as "the world's first carbon-negative taxi fleet." In Boston, Massachusetts the city has required all taxi companies to go hybrid by 2015 . With rising gasoline prices, such taxi companies are often able to offset high in vestment costs with lower operating costs. Green Cab's 20 Prius taxicabs get an a verage of 21 .3 ki lometers per liter of gasoline. That compares with about 7 or 8 kilometers per liter for a traditional American taxicab model, Schmidt says. Lower fuel costs translate into lower fares for customers.

High-tech dispatch

Green Cab's software system calculates the fare upfront when a customer calls inOf course, it takes more th an savings of taking into account the ride options and a few dollars to get people to grab your Madison' s complicated city zone sys tem , cab, especially in a town with several other which leads to an extra charge anytime a taxi compani es. Green Cab tries to further cab crosses a city zone border. distinguish its business with a high-tech The call taker at Green Cab enters the taxi dispatch system that runs on a customrider's phone number, address, type of ride made software program the company and destination into the system, which then ordered to meet its specific needs. crunches the numbers. The fare has already For customers who want to keep fares been calculated and communicated to the down and travel greener, Green Cab picks customer by the time the taxi alTives. up other riders who are headed in the same The taxi fee is set, regardless of what direction. Customers can order a direct ride route the driver takes or whether the car for a little bit more money. gets stuck in traffic. All cars are equipped ~ with Apple iPad tablet computers that are ~., . connected to Green Cab's booking soft'0 ware. These provide GPS navigation for the drivers. "People getting into the cab are often taken aback when they see the driver using an iPad," Schmidt says. Another perk for green customers: Each car calTies a bicycle rack to accommodate people who bike but want a ride one-way or part of the way. "It's important for the next generation that we think about the environment," Schmidt says.

For customers who want to keep fares down and travel greener, Green Cab picks up other riders who are headed in the same direction.


Karin Rives is a staff'writer for the U.S. Department of State's Internllliol1ai Information Programs. JANlIA~YIFEHRUARY 2012


hile most entrepreneurs in the green energy field are looking for ways to supply more energy, Jim Conlon of Elysian Energy in Maryland is focusing on making use of the energy that's slipping through the cracks. Literally. Elysian Energy looks at how homes use energy and what homeowners can do to get the most for the money they are spending to heat, lignt and cool. Conlon adapted an academic background in ecosystem management and conservation biology to an entrepreneurial venture after becoming interested in renewable energy. An internship at the American Council On Renewable Energy inspired him to think, "Let's not wait around for nonprofits to figure this out. Let's let the market decide, and let 's get competitive and innovative. "

Conlon 's instincts were well-founded. Glenn Croston , author of "75 Green Businesses You Can Start to Make Money and Make A Difference," cites a U.S. Department of Commerce rep0l1 estimating the green economy in 20 to to have been between $350 billion and $500 billion of business activity. "It's a huge opportunity, and it's not going away." Conlon started Elysian Energy in 2007 with the mission "to provide actionable, and cost-effective energy information;'" he says. "We tell people how to save money on their bills and how to make their home more comfortable. An efficient building tends to be safer, more comf0l1able and cheaper to live in." Instead of focusing on energy creation, Conlon corrcentrates on finding out how the existing Jiving systems could be made more efficient. "That's far smarter money than buying solar panels or building a


wind farm . Efficiency, what we call 'negawatts,' is far cheaper overall than renewable energy at this point. T he energy saved is power or energy you dorr ' t need to buy or install ," he says. One of his first clients was a couple he describes as "very prudent consumers of information . I was there to confirm for them that replacing all their windows was smart money," Conlon says. "When I crunched the numbers, did the diagnostics, what I found was that the windows would not have paid back within 100 years." But did he tell them how they could save money? "The far less glamorous but practical things for them to do were a lot of caulk, spray foam, weather stripping and adding some insu lation. " Keren Waranch of Silver Spring,

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Maryland, was considering replacing her aging heating and air-conditioning systems in 20 II because they couldn't keep the second floor of her home warm in winter and cool in summer. But first she signed up for an inspection with Elysian through her local power company. "I wanted to see if there was really another problem in the house." Instead of replacing the heating and cooling systems, she added insulation and had the windows properly sealed. "Last summer it was unbearable," she says of her upstairs. "This has been the hottest July, and it's been fine." Hannah Schardt knew the windows in her Washington row house were crumbling, but found out during Elysian's inspection that there were many other steps she could take while saving to replace them. "He told us we were a D-as far as energy efficiency. The best thing about it was that he gave us some really cheap, easy fixes like putting in a brush along the bottom of the door because that was one of our biggest heat-loss areas." Since 2007, Conlon says, "we've grown over 100 percent every year. We've been in over 10,000 homes." His 25 ener-

gy inspectors are certified by the Residential Energy Services Network and the Building Performance Institute. As Elysian Energy has grown, so has the energy auditing business around it. "Four years ago when I started my company, I wasn't the new kid on the block: I was effectively the only kid on the block. Today I'm going to be on a call that's probably going to have 40 or 50 companies on it." Increased efficiency can also allow energy providers to expand their businesses more cost-effectively. "It's a lot cheaper to meet new demand by tightening up your current demand's efficiency," Conlon says. "If you lower [an area's] gross annual consumption and you already have that capacity, that's new capacity for someone else. That's far cheaper than trying to get permitted and trying to put up a new power plant." "The most successful entrepreneurs," author Croston says, "reject the idea that we can either have a clean planet or a healthy economy but we can't have both. They say, 'We can have both, we need to have both and I'm going to show you how we can do both.' "


Mark Trainer is a staff writer for the U.S. Department of State's International Information Programs.


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Above: Donna Sisson (right) watches Larimer County Youth Conservation Corps member Will Wright install a CFL bulb during an energy audit at her home in Loveland, Colorado.

Above: Tom Walsh insulated his Victorian home and installed a new heater and hot water heater after a free energy audit by his gas company. This helped Walsh cut his natural gas use by 40 percent.

To share articles go to JANL ARY/ FEBRllt\RY 2012 35


f the vision of Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor comes to fruition , one day soon, your cell phone-or just about any other portable electronic device-could be powered by simply taking a walk. In a paper that appeared in the journal Nature in 2011, Krupenkin and Taylor. both engineering researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. describe a new energy-harvesting technology that promi. es to dramatically reduce our dependence on batteries and in tead capture the energy of human motion to power portable electronics. "Humans. generally speaking, are very powerful energy-producing machines," explains Krupenkin, a UW-Madison associate professor of mechanical engineering. "While printing, a person can produce as much as a kilowatt of power." Grabbing even a small fraction of that energy. Krupenkin points out, is enough to power a host of mobile electronic devices - everything from laptop computers and cell phones to flashl ights. "What has been lacking is a mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion technology that would work well for this type of application." he says. Current energy harvesting technologies are aimed at either high-power applications uch a:-. wind or solar power, or very lowpower applications such as calculators, watches or sensors. "What's been missing." says Ta) lor, "is the power in the watts range. That's the power range needed for p0l1ahie del'tronics." Solar power, the researchers explain, can also he used to power portable electronics, but, unlike human motion. direct sunlight is u uall) not a readily a\ ailable source of energ) for mohile electronks users. In their ature report, Krupenkin and Ta) lor de cribe a novel energy-han路e. ting

The energy haNester embedded in the footwear captures energy produced during walking and converts it into up to 20 watts ot electrical power. technology known as "reverse electrowetting," a phenomenon discovered by the Wisconsin researchers. The mechanical energy is converted to electrical energy by using a micro-fluidic device consisting of thousands of liquid micro-droplets interacting with a novel nano-structured su bstrate. This technology could enable a unique footwear-embedded energy harvester that captures energy produced by humans during walking, which is normally lost as heat, and converts it into up to 20 watts of electrical power that can be used to power mobile electronic devices. Unlike a traditional battery, the energy harvester never needs to be recharged, as new energy is constantly generated during the normal walking process. The initial development of this tech-

no logy was funded by a National Scien<;e Foundation Small Business Innovation .t . Research grant. Now Krupenkin and Taylor are seeking to commercialize the technology through a company they have established, InStep NanoPower. In their work, Taylor and Krllpenkin were inspired by severe limitations that current battery technology imposes on mobile electronics users. As any cell phone or laptop user knows , heavy reliance on batteries greatly restricts the utility of mobile electronic devices in many situations. What's more, many mobile electronics are used in remote areas of the world where electrical grids for recharging batteries are often not available. Cell phone users in developing countries often have to pay to have cell phones charged. Similar problems face

military and law enforcement personnel. Modern soldiers, for example, head into the field carrying as much as 9 kilograms of batteries to power communications equipment, laptop computers and nightvision goggles. The energy generated by the footwearembedded harvester can be used in one of two ways . It can be used directly to power a broad range of devices, from smartphones and laptops to radios, GPS units, night-vision goggles and flashlights. Alternatively, the energy harvester can be integrated with a Wi-Fi hot spot that acts as a "middleman" between mobile dev fc es and a wireless network. This allows users to seamlessly utilize the energy generated by the harvester without having to physically connect their mobile devices to the footwear. Such a configuration dramatically reduces power consumption of wireless mobile devices and allows them to operate for a much longer time without battery recharge, the Wisconsin researchers say. "You cut the power requirements of your cell phone dramatically by doing this," says Krupenkin. "Your cell phone battery will last 10 times longer." Even though energy harvesting is unlikely to completely replace batteries in the majority of mobile applications, the UW-Madison researchers believe it can playa key role in redllcing cost, polllltion and other problems associated with battery llse. The hope, they say, is that the novel mechanical to electrical energy conversion process they pioneered can go a long way toward achieving that goal. ;ยงh Terry Devitt directs research communications for the University of WisconsinMadison .

38 J\SllAl~\,IFEBRl1ARY 2012


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The Happy Hands Foundation has helped artisans reach a wider market and popularized traditional crafts among young people, 42 JANUARY/FE BRUARY 2012

raditional alts and crafts have perhaps been the oldest industry. These crafts and art forms contribute to the Indian identity. They are a part of our culture, and that is something that will stay with us forever." It was this sentiment that inspired Medhavi Gandhi to work for the welfare of India's craftspeople. The journey started when Gandhi, 24, worked as an intern on a UNESCO documentation project. "During this project I had to interact with artisans and craftsmen from South Asia. Most of them were Indian artisans. At that point of time, I felt quite embarrassed because I knew so little about the rich culture of our own country," she says. Gandhi. realized that the middlemen who were involved in the crafts business often pushed up prices but the profit did not reach the artisans. And when cheaper knockoffs statted selling more than

Far left: A T-shirt painting workshop with painter Siddharth Gandhi. Above : The Happy Hands Foundation trains women in different crafts at the Dor Vidyalaya.


Above far left: Medhavi Gandhi (right) with an artist at a Patachitra workshop in Orissa. Far left: Gond art puzzles. Left: Matchboxes designed as souvenirs to celebrate the 100 years of Delhi.

Left: Potter Om Prakash with his 10路loot路high hookah that spreads awareness against tobacco.

genuine crafts, the artisans stopped innovating. Gandhi's response to this situation came in the form of the Happy Hands Foundation , which she started in 2009. "There have been many weaver communitiesbut what sets them apart is the weave, the pattern, the texture, th~ 'd1aterial-these form the identity of a clan [or] community," she says. "The death of crafts would hugely impact the economy at the base level." Happy Hands has helped artisans reach a wider market and reintroduced the usage of traditional crafts among young people through innovative, handcrafted games, jewelry and other collectibles. Gandhi says her organization "empowers people by setting them free to explore different creative spaces . When someone knows they 'can' do something, they fee l empowered. Even with our artisans, we host workshops where the concept is worked upon, but the real artwork is the artisan's own creative mind . That definitely gives them the confidence to develop their own designs. " Gandhi and her team work in villages , where artisans are trained to think about market needs and how their

Happy Hands Foundation volunteers display their products at a mall in New Delhi.


44 JAr-.

RY/fEBR AR' 2012

product can be developed further. The artisans are taught to keep in mind their community strengths and weaknesses, and how even though the villagers work on the same craft, they can be a little different from each other. "I think inspiring people has mostly come from involving them in the process ... We did workshops with more schools, colleges; corporates understood they could explore more than just gifting with us, and I think that helped us do great work and set higher standards for ourselves," says Gandhi. "We just happened to inspire people through our journey." Happy Hands works with artisans from states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat, Bihar, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. They work on pottery, crochet, cherial art, pithora art, warli, madhubani, bamboo craft, Gond art, doll craft, lacquerware, ikat, coir, dhokra, banjara jewelry, etc. The products are sold through exhibits. on s, and through their outlet in New Delhi's Hauz Khas village. "We inspire people by involving them. People can volunteer to come for a Dor class-where we teach women how to do simple craftwork for livelihood. They can help us on an event, and witness the madness; or just spend a lot more time

with us for artisan-related workshops," she adds. Gandhi says that she wants people to support the arts and crafts of India "because it isn't just the form of art or the artisan but lives connected to the 311 that need attention. An artisan's income impacts the future of his children, the health of his family, and so it is important to keep his art alive." Language was one of her biggest hurdles, apart from convincing the artisans to try something new. But, she says, these were hardly any obstacles considering what they usually face in the cities-lack of venues that allow them to exhibit or sell crafts, sponsor blues, etc. Happy Hands worked with the New Delhi American Center in 2009 for Yellow Frames, a two-day film festival, panel discussion and puppet show. The festival highlighted the rise of Indian crossover cinema in the West and looked at the portrayal of Indians and Indian Americans through a Western lens. Gandhi was also selected for the U.S. Embassy's International Visitor Leadership Program in 201 1. "The experience, needless to say, has changed some things forever," she says. "There was a lot of learning, and some very fruitful collaborative ventures that have come about, thanks to the IVLP."


Far lelt: Warli artist Ravi making a tray at his village in Maharashtra. Left: A wooden temple, or kavad, opens up several folds to narrate a story.

To share articles go to http://span.state.go,' JANl.IARYIFElllWARY 2012 45




46 JA


asu Kulkarni became a basketball junkie at the age of 4 when he was living in Los Angeles and watched the NBA final s for the fIrSt time. Soon after the 1994 earthquake, his family moved back to India to introduce him to his native culture. Living in Bangalore was difficult at first, being the "kid with the funny accent," but he soon learned to adjust and began playing basketball on his school 's court that consisted of a dirt floor and a wooden backboard. "Back in ' 95 it wasn't the easiest game to play because everyone loved cricket," Kulkarni says. He pursued his passion by playing on club teams. After graduating from high school, he went to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he tried out for its basketball team. At 5 feet 10 inches and 61 kilograms, he soon realized that " there was a large discrepancy" between him and the other players. "I always wondered whether I had the confidence to play because Indian guys aren't big," he says. Kulkarni worked out and bulked up until his senior year as a walk on-someone without an athletic scholarship-and made the Junior Varsity team. While playing on the team, his coach gave him an astute suggestion: "Why don ' t you look into basketball stats?" After observing the stats take n during each game, Kulkarni was positive that technology could better capture and analyze information for the player's benefit. After graduating with a computer and telecommunication engineering and entrepreneurship degree, he began reaching out to contacts in India. Kulkarni worked at a daytime consulting job until the programmers he employed were able to create an affordable software package. With the prototype and a $50 ,000 investment from a friend in hand, Kulkarni launched Krossover Intelligence in November 2008 .

Based in New York City, the company focuses on the online video search industry. The software synchronizes game logs with video footage to create a database that coaches and players can use to review plays and analyze their games. Kulkarni describes Krossover as an "online database of indexed sports video content that not only allows coaches and athletes to enhance their level of play through data analysis, but also serves as a storage of memories-for 90 percent of athletes, their high school and college days are the best days of their lives-and will be the highest level at which they will ever compete." Kulkarni was initially nervous about how an Indian would be accepted into the sport's world and considered "getting someone else to be the face of the company." But he realized that his passion

U.S. to India, where everything was different, allowed me to understand that you can't always get what you want." Besides the life experience, India also provided him with crucial connections. He now has offices in India and admits that he doesn't know whether he would have created Krossover if he hadn ' t Ii ved there. "It shaped the business in a large way." Krossover now offers both basketball and lacrosse platforms to its customers and it has soccer, volleyball and tennis coming out this year. "We currently have close to 350 teams that are paying customers, and several hundred more in the pipeline. We are capping the number of basketball teams for this season at 500, the rest go on a wait list, and will expand next basketball season to possibly 1000 to 1500 teams."



for basketball would always shine through and erase any doubts about hi s commitment to his product and the game. He also thought that being just 22 years old might be a problem in securing investors. However, th is wasn ' t an issue since people are "used to seeing young guys at the forefront of the tech industry. At the end of the day, if they think they will deliver, it works." Living in both the United States and India gave him a strong advantage when starting his company. "Moving from the

Kulkarni's dream is to "be the first Indian to have the majority ownership in an NBA team." The company is heading in this direction since it "grew revenues by 500 percent [in 2011] as compared to last, and our target for [2012] is to once again grow at 500 percent." Kulkarni 's adv ice to aspiring entrepreneurs: "Remember, you mi ss 100 percent of the shot s that you don't take! "


Kaitlin McVey is a writer living in Seattle, Wa shington.

To share articles go 10 http://span.state.goV J.'''I'UAIn'lf'EBRL'ARY 20 12 47



hile a number of U.S. university application deadlines have already passed, some are open into January, February and even March. EducationUSA encourages students to consider the following measures after submitting the admission application.

Undergraduate students Whatever the "hook" for your application, you need to keep updating the admission officers about that unique something you bring to the table, even after the deadline. For example, if you have been selected for some national or international competition, inform the college to which you have applied. Some universities still have February and March deadlines-do consider applying to these as a safety measure. If you have applied to elite institutions for undergraduate admission, and you are closer to the zone of being considered for admission, some of these institutions may have one of their alumni contact you for an interview. Go through the materials that you had submitted so you are not caught off-guard by an oblique question that may originate from your essays or background details. You may also want to research that institution and prepare your own list of questions for the interviewer. You may find that using the Common Application has reduced your form-filling drudgery. But even 48 1\'-.(

\R' f1IlRL \R\ 201 2

if you are conversant with their Web site (, you should keep a close eye on the school codes. If your school is not listed online, you may need to take printouts and provide them to your teachers who will write the letters of recommendation.

Graduate students: MBA. Master's and Ph.D. applicants The materials you submit will have a bearing on your professional future, so it is worth taking the trouble to polish them before submission. In particular, applicants to MBA programs should note that some of the elite programs pull out the e-mails you have written to them during the course of the application process to get a sense of the persona you project. If you win a scholarly award in your discipline, be sure to notify the graduate secretary of that particular institution's department and specifically request that this information be forwarded to the professors and the admissions committee. If you have lower-than-expected standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT) you should consider a second attempt, to improve scores. This can be done after formally submitting your application for admission.

ib Anil Jacob is a senior EducalionLlSA advisor ;'1 New Deilli.


Consul General of the U.S. Consulate in Chennai Jennifer MCintyre (center) joined actor Karthi Sivakumar (left), members of the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society and students from Red Ribbon clubs at the Marina Beach in .Cnennai to form a human chain on the occasion of World AIDS Day in December.

Terracotta and bamboo crafts, madhubani and mithila paintings, and Patacrlitra occupied tile pride of place at the American Center in Kolkata during the "Experience the Crafts" exhibition in December. Susan Snow Wadley, a professor of anthropology at the Syracuse University in New York hosted an interactive talk show during the exhibit. The highlight of the event were stalls set up by grassroots artisans to showcase their art and sell products. US. Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Lu (below) also visited the exhibit.

U.S. Deputy Secretary

William Burns (right) inaugurated the new compound of the U.S.

Consulate General in Mumbai at the Bandra Kurla Complex in December. Also present were Maharashtra's Minister of Public Health and Protocol Suresh Shetty (left) and US Charge d'Alfaires A. Peter Burleigh (center) . The new facility has expanded space for consulate operations and features state-of-the-art green technology, including high-efficiency lighting , a gray-water recycling system and a self-contained waste water treatment facility.

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