Sustainability

Ritger-Preder Wind Turbine Powers Family Farm in Southeastern Wisconsin

Posted on February 16, 2012. Filed under: Energy Finance, Food, Sustainability, Wind |


“Sustainable family farm operation powered by renewable wind energy”
February 16, 2012

The rising cost of oil and fertilizers, coupled with growing concerns over the use of pesticides and hormones, have spurred the growth of sustainable farming operations across the United States.

Jeff and Kathy Preder—owners and operators of the Jeff-Leen Farm in Random Lake, Wisconsin—became part of that movement in the late 1990’s, when they set out “to produce the healthiest food products possible, in a sustainable manner, without the use of growth hormones, antibiotics, or steroids.”

But the Preder’s vision of a sustainable farming operation included more than just low-input food production. With the help of Random Lake attorney and renewable energy champion Ed Ritger, the Preders are now powering their farm with clean, renewable wind energy…Read more here.

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Switch flipped: UWO biodigester producing energy

Posted on October 17, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Sustainability |


From an article in the UW Oshkosh Today:

The switch has effectively been flipped on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s groundbreaking alternative power plant that generates energy from plant and food waste.

The UW Oshkosh anaerobic dry fermentation biodigester, first of its kind in the western hemisphere, began producing energy on Oct. 3.

Gas produced as a result of decomposition of agricultural plant and food waste loaded into and stored in the facility’s airless chambers since late summer reached an optimal point for energy-production startup. On Oct. 3, the faculty, staff and student team running the plant activated on-site turbine engines, combusting the gas and harvesting and selling energy.

The renewable energy facility is expected to initially produce up to 5 percent of the campus’ electricity and heat.

Greg Kleinheinz, UW Oshkosh professor of microbiology, said the biodigester has been running in an off-and-on mode over the course of its startup. Plant overseers continue to work with partner engineering firms to calibrate computer software and to fine tune energy production.

“The facility is producing quite a bit of gas right now, so it is a computer-control issue and not a mechanical or biological issue limiting the CHP (combined power and heat) usage,” Kleinheinz said.

Energy produced by the power generation is being sold back to the grid through regional utilities. The revenue realized over time will vary based on the level of gas production and power purchase agreements with Wisconsin Public Service, Kleinheinz said. It will ultimately support student scholarship and academic program enhancements at UW Oshkosh.

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Sustainable energy jobs could boost economy, group says

Posted on June 14, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Economic development, Energy independence, Energy Policy, Hydroelectric, Jobs, Landfill Gas, Solar, Sustainability, Wind | Tags: , , |


From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin should strive to do more to grow a renewable energy economy that creates jobs in the state, the author of a new sustainability report says.

The report was published by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business and the state Department of Natural Resources’ green tier program.

The report seeks to emulate reports published by businesses that move beyond the fiscal bottom line to discuss the firms’ environmental and social impact.

Businesses in Wisconsin that have adopted a “triple-bottom line” approach – for social, economic and environmental benefit – include Kohl’s Corp., Johnson Controls Inc., Miron Construction and S.C. Johnson & Son Inc.

The report found opportunity for job creation awaits the state in the renewable energy sector, and emphasizes how much of the state’s energy spending takes place outside Wisconsin.

“Of the $19 billion that we spent last year, 87% of that money went out of state,” said Tom Eggert, the council’s executive director. “That’s going to help people’s economies in places other than Wisconsin.”

The state lacks coal mines and natural gas reserves but has ample opportunity to create jobs through development of wind, solar and biomass power, he said.

One option for the state to consider, he said, would be for the government to give renewable energy – and job creation – a push by expanding the state’s renewable energy standard.

The state Legislature, though, rejected a plan last year to expand renewable energy mandates in the state.

The Legislature last week gave final approval to a bill that would allow large dams such as those planned to be built in Manitoba to qualify for the state’s renewable energy standard.

Supporters said that access to the large hydro projects is good for the state’s economy because it would keep electricity rates affordable and help the state’s businesses create jobs.

But the direct result in terms of energy investment creates an economic impact for the Canadian province rather than here in the state, Eggert said.

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Software firm reaches for the sun

Posted on June 6, 2011. Filed under: Solar, Sustainability | Tags: |


1,300 solar panels rise above a parking lost at Epic Systems in Verona, WI.

From an article by Tom Conent in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Verona – By the end of the year, the largest solar project yet built in Wisconsin will take shape in the rolling countryside that Epic Systems calls home.

And by the middle of next year, the new solar “farm” will double in size again.

Clearly, Epic, a fast-growing provider of sought-after health care software that’s hiring 1,000 people just this year, doesn’t embrace small projects.

It’s more cost-effective to build a big renewable energy project than to come back later and expand it, said Bruce Richards, director of facilities and engineering.

And it fits in with a green vision espoused by company founder and chief executive Judith Faulkner.

“We were in a meeting, and I was discussing the payback on a particular project, thinking she might have some concerns,” said Bruce Richards, director of facilities and engineering at Epic. “But she didn’t hesitate. She said, ‘But once it’s paid off, the energy is free, right?'”

Epic clearly has the financial wherewithal to undertake a green-energy investment that other firms might seek state dollars to help fund. Officials declined to disclose the cost of the project.

The company is a developer of health care IT software that helps hospitals move toward electronic medical records. Epic sales grew 27% in 2010. Revenue reached $825 million in 2010, compared with $76 million in 2001.

Focused on sustainability
Epic is an economic engine that’s a Wisconsin outlier: A booming business that’s about as far from the state’s manufacturing heritage as you can get.

The company is moving to wean itself off fossil fuels in a big way.

Already, most buildings on the sprawling campus are heated and cooled with a ground-source heat pump system, which means the campus needs no natural gas for heating and no electricity for cooling in the summer.

About 1,300 solar panels were erected in recent months on a latticelike structure above an employee parking lot.

Faulkner picked the color of the lattice to match the deep blue light posts that dot downtown Verona, Richards said.

The remaining parking spaces are underground, to retain the pastoral feel of the campus. The result, Richards tells a visitor walking between buildings across the complex, “You’re walking on a green roof right now.”

Richards says the driver of the green campus and move for energy self-reliance comes from a vision of doing right by the planet.

“Sustainability, that’s really what it’s all about,” he said. “We’re looking for 100-year sustainability here. Everything we do in design and put in, that’s what we’re looking to do.”

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Political gridlock not likely to forestall energy regulation

Posted on September 1, 2010. Filed under: Carbon, Energy Efficiency, Sustainability |


From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Bayside — The partisan divide on Capitol Hill means cap-and-trade legislation is all but dead, so businesses need not worry about their carbon footprint, right? Wrong, speakers at a summit on energy efficiency said Tuesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and global corporations such as Wal-Mart are leading the nation down a path of “quiet regulation” of greenhouse gases, despite the political rhetoric and battles that have created gridlock in Congress, Mark Thimke, environmental lawyer at Foley & Lardner, said during the Green Manufacturing Summit at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.

But corporate initiatives have gone beyond Wal-Mart, he said.

Suppliers to 62 corporations must provide information as part of a greenhouse gas supply chain initiative launched this year. That effort includes Racine County-based manufacturers S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. and Diversey Inc., formerly JohnsonDiversey.

Thimke said that means a host of companies that may have thought they didn’t have to worry about greenhouse gases should start paying attention.

“Even if you aren’t one of the big companies and you are selling to these people, you need to know where you’re at,” Thimke said.

Energy efficiency is a carbon strategy because emissions are linked to energy production.

Efficiency opportunities abound for many manufacturers, said Jon Dommissee of Bradley Corp., a manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures, which co-sponsored the event.

“There’s a lot of energy wasted – and there’s a lot of money wasted,” he said.

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7th Annual Kickapoo Country Fair, July 24-25, 2010

Posted on July 20, 2010. Filed under: Food, Renewable energy - generally, Sustainability |


Now in its seventh year, the Kickapoo Country Fair is the Midwest’s largest organic food and sustainability festival. In La Farge, Wisconsin, nestled among the ancient hills of the Kickapoo Valley, the fair serves up a generous helping of fun for all in celebration of family, culture, and community, all the while looking toward a healthy, sustainable future.

Held July 24-25, 2010, on the grounds of Organic Valley headquarters Kickapoo Country Fair will bring together thousands of attendees for two fun-packed days of food, music, bike and farm tours, cooking demonstrations, theater, kids’ activities, dancing, author readings, and speakers—all offered at an affordable price for families.

*Authors, activists and innovators including Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human
*Live music all weekend on two stages
*Musical headliner Miles Nielsen — Good ol’ heartland rock ‘n’ roll, main stage, Saturday night
*Wisconsin Author Michael Perry reading from his latest book Coop and performing with his band, the Long Beds
*”Green Village,” green building and lifestyle workshops
*Delicious local and organic food
*Farmers market
*Farm tours and exhibits
*Vendors and artisans
*Fourth-annual Butter Churn Bike Tour
*Children’s activities
*Stiltwalkers and other surprises!

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    A statewide nonprofit dedicated to promoting economically and environmentally sustainable energy policies and practices in Wisconsin.

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