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Archive for June, 2011

Prudential Locations’ Photovolatic Panels Gives Prudential Locations Bright Forecast

Every day real estate agents sell green to make green but few real estate companies put their money where their roof is. But this is exactly what Prudential Locations has done when it installed solar panels in 2008. Since their installation in 2008, the new 87-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system at the company’s Honolulu office have reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 650,721 kg, and produced more than 382,000 kWh of energy.

The solar panels – which currently generate more than 136,000 kilowatt hours of clean, solar electricity each year – are just one way Prudential Locations is bringing to light its corporate sustainability initiative, which aims to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. In addition to installing the PV panels, elements of Prudential Locations’ sustainability initiative includes a paperless initiative where the agents submit contracts electronically, increasing use of recycled products, as well as recycling.

“We live and work in such a beautiful place that it only makes sense that Prudential Locations do what it can to be sustainable and care for our environment,” said Joe Segal, Prudential Locations online marketing manager. “By installing the photovoltaic panels at our Honolulu offices, we hope that we are able to set an example for other local companies on how they can make changes both big and small and be sustainable.”

The photovoltaic panels currently produce enough electricity to power 382 homes for one full year and are also helping Prudential Locations’ bottom line, saving the company 10 to 15 percent on its electrical bill each year.

The PV technology that Prudential Locations installed converts solar energy into electricity with minimal impact on the environment and offers “net metering” which occurs when solar panels generates more electricity than the building can use.

Installed by Hawaii-based company, Hoku Solar, the project has already created excitement amongst Prudential Locations agents and employees.

“It is a privilege to be able to work for a local company that demonstrates such a deep commitment to the environment and our community,” added Segal. “I think it really speaks to Prudential Locations’ values and our ability to stay at the forefront — not just for real estate trends, but in sustainability as well.”

More information on Prudential Locations and the company’s green initiatives is available at


What is a survival plant?

by Brett Campbell

It’s a little difficult to define “survival plant”. In a survival situation, any plant that can be eaten would be considered a survival plant. That would include any vegetable or fruit you have in the garden right through to local weeds or plants that are edible (well at least a non-poisonous form of nutrients!).

I think a survival plant is one that you put in the garden once and it grows continuously with a minimum of care. A plant you can turn to in times of need.

A survival plant should meet the following criteria (in order of importance):-
It should be edible (of course), tasty and nutrient rich
It should perennial – or at least readily self-seeding
It should need a minimum of care
It should have a long or repeated harvest

There’s not too many conventionally grown vegetables that will meet all of this criteria. Most require regular preparation of the soil, regular & seasonal planting, regular watering, regular fertilizing and once the plant has yielded it’s crop, you have to pull it up & start all over again.

Growing conventional crops is very rewarding, but let’s face it – it’s a bit of work.

For the ebook and more information, visit


DIY Wood Fired Brick Ovens

Wood-fired brick ovens and pizza have been with us since the dawn of civilization. Both have been discovered in the excavations of virtually every ancient civilization, with the brick oven reaching its modern form in ancient Rome. The brick ovens uncovered in ancient Pompeii and Naples are in wonderful shape, and could start baking today with only minor renovations — the Pompeii Oven is named in their honor.

In modern Italy, the basic Pompeii Oven design is used to build the brick ovens you see in pizzerias and private homes and gardens. The oven is great for cooking pizza, roasts, focaccia and bread. It heats up quickly and is efficient at holding the high heats required for cooking the perfect three-minute pizza. The Pompeii Oven is also very efficient with wood fuel and at holding heat.

The Pompeii Oven is a set of free, downloadable plans that describe how to build a traditional Italian brick pizza oven. The oven is constructed using firebricks, high temp mortar, insulation, along with other materials easily found at building supply stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, B&Q, etc.). It’s a great oven, and a great project.


Recycled Motor Oils

by John Wesley, CEO of Universal Lubricants

Every summer, it’s the same story—soaring gas prices strike a national nerve as time at the pump pinches our wallets. And every summer, Americans more intensely question our reliance on finite petroleum fuel and the many undemocratic regimes that control its reserves. “Is there an alternative?” we wonder, “Is there a better option for our financial system, for the planet?”

To that end, consider another, often forgotten, petroleum-based product that every car requires—motor oil. Every year, U.S. drivers depend on approximately 1.3 billion gallons of the substance to promote healthy engine life, but far too much of it—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 200 million gallons—is dumped illegally each year. Such consumer behavior is environmentally and economically regrettable, especially as recent technological advancements, the culmination of incredible R&D efforts, have transformed motor oil into a veritable renewable resource.

With state-of-the-art machinery and facilities, Universal Lubricants’ re-refinery in Wichita, KS, empowers auto enthusiasts everywhere to recycle used motor oil, restoring it to “good as new” quality. The result, ECO ULTRA green motor oil, can be resold at about the same price per quart as conventional motor oil.

As a product, motor oil is approximately 85% oil and 15% additives (detergent, anti-foaming stabilizers, etc.) and it is the latter 15% which breaks down by design as contaminants accumulate over time, necessitating oil changes. As the oil molecules themselves retain their chemical compositions, spent motor oil simply needs to be cleaned (stripping away contaminants and the worn out additives), re-refined into API approved base oil, and then infused with a fresh additive package, to transform what was once thought of as a waste into a top-grade product.

The concept of re-refining motor oil is not a new one; for years, manufacturers toyed with an “Acid/Clay Process” in which used motor oil was treated with sulfuric acid to dissolve contaminants by forming sludge, subsequently drawn out for disposal. Followed by a clay filtration, the motor oil was cleaned relatively well, but failed to meet the exacting standards of many. Again, American environmentalists, scientists and car lovers asked, “can’t we do better?”

Universal Lubricants, pioneering the green motor oil revolution, endeavored to design a more sophisticated re-refining process, actually treating used motor oil in the same manner as crude. The company does so by implementing a sequence of four steps: (1) flash distillation, removing water, fuel and other contaminants; (2) wiped film evaporation, eliminating metals and heavier particles; (3) hydro treatment, refreshing the oil molecules; and (4) a final distillation, eradicating any trace contaminants lingering in the stock and separating the base II oil into separate grades, ready for blending with a fresh additive package and re-bottling. With the science of re-refining improved multifold, so too the quality of the end product, ECO ULTRA motor oils. ECO ULTRA’s become the trusted choice for optimal engine performance, but also environmental stewardship—the entire process of re-refining motor oil uses 89% less energy than refining oil from virgin crude.

Such advancements have revved the green motor oil revolution to full force, and across America green motor oils are beginning to line the shelves of auto garages, dealerships and commercial retailers. Yet again, one company takes its commitment to sustainability above and beyond, distinguishing itself as the only “close-loop” manufacturer of recycled oil in the U.S. Universal Lubricants collects, re-refines, blends, packages and redistributes its own oil—never losing guardianship within the chain. This cycle is infinitely repeatable and as such, is the most sustainable car care practice in existence.

However, in such a swiftly changing industry with rapidly progressing technology capabilities, we shouldn’t be surprised that the threats to our advancements adapt an equally rapid pace. Recently, bio-based motor oils have been touted as a “green-er” alternative to recycled petroleum based products. Upon closer examination however, that claim comes into question.

Made in part from the animal fat of beef slaughter byproducts, bio-based motor oils have the potential to derail elegant re-refining processes, in much the same manner as a cooking oil clogs a kitchen sink. Except this time, much more is at stake—expensive capital, jobs, and car performance, and a commitment to truly, not superficially, bettering America’s environmental and economic futures. What’s more, in an increasingly interconnected world, it’s not only the motor oil industry which will be affected by the entry of bio-based products into the oil inventory. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted that as of January 2011, food prices around the globe had risen to historic highs, without signs of abatement in sight. With increasing stress on global food supplies, social and political dilemmas abound from implementing potential food sources in industrial applications.

At present and realistically for the foreseeable future, America is a gas-fueled society. Yet, everyday American citizens are actively taking steps to reduce our dependency on foreign reserves; scientists and environmentalists cooperating to develop green technology and processes, companies building sustainability practices into their corporate objectives, and you, the American driver, by choosing ECO ULTRA, at every oil change. The average five-quart oil change using ECO ULTRA helps preserve our natural resources while reducing America’s need for foreign oil by two barrels. So as you visit the gas pump this summer, remember, each and every one of us can already do better. We can all choose ECO ULTRA.


Bucket Worm Composting

We have used red worms for composting in the past, and we make various products with used buckets, so when we ran across this video on making worm bins with used buckets, we were intrigued. There are two videos, one on making the worm bin, and a second one on harvesting. Both are excellent and we recommend you watch them in order, before starting construction. For more information on worm composting, and a source of worms, see For more diy ideas with buckets, see


Garage Sales – Recycling at it’s best

We are very big fans of garage sales. My wife can’t drive by one without stopping. Don’t always pick up anything, but the thrill is in the hunt for something useful that someone else no longer wants. Bargains can be had, and instead of being thrown away, an item gets a new lease on life. The old adage, one (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure is never more true. I enjoyed reading this book, and will apply many of it’s tips in our next sale.

Ava Seavey, “a self taught master of garagesaleology”, has combined her two decades of holding garage sales for herself and others with over twenty years experience in direct response advertising, to produce a foolproof guide to having successful garage sales. After initially becoming involved in garage sales and flea markets as a mode of supplemental income, Ava became fascinated by experimenting with the different angles of buying and selling and combined strategies and techniques she learned in the direct response advertising industry with the garage sale experience. As the economy got worse, Ava was inspired to help as many people as possible make money and have fun by sharing her well tested techniques.



How Healthy is Rabbit Meat?

We are all concerned about our health (or at least we should be!) and one great thing about raising your own rabbit meat is not only that you’ll know exactly what has gone into your rabbit, but you’ll also be eating a leaner protein-rich diet. Pound-for-pound, rabbit meat has FAR MORE protein and LESS fat than other meats. This means you’ll not only be spending less for food, but you’ll have the extra health benefit too!

Take a look at this chart on the nutritional values of rabbit meat and other popular meats:

Calories, Protein & Fat Values for Meat per 100 grams (3.5 oz)

Calories Protein Fat (g)
RABBIT 187 27 8
Beef (lean) 275 25 20
Pork chops (grilled) 340 28 24
Pork leg (roast) 290 27 20
Lamb breast (roast) 398 22 30
Lamb chops (grilled) 368 21 28
Lamb cutlets (grilled) 375 23 31
Venison 200 34 6.5
Chicken 140 26 12
Turkey (roast) 165 28 6
Duck (roast) 330 20 30
Goose (roast) 350 30 25
Pheasant (roast) 250 30 9

Rabbit meat is so healthy and lean that some doctors actually prescribe a rabbit meat diet to people who are overweight and obese. Because the fat and calorie levels are so low, but protein so high, one can radically change their life by eating a rabbit meat diet and exercising.

Does that mean that it would be healthy to eat only rabbit meat all the time with no additional other foods? Actually no. Because rabbit meat is so lean, your body can actually suffer if you eat nothing but rabbit meat all the time because it does not contain enough fat. So the good news is, you’re encouraged to eat other foods that you might not otherwise get to eat because of their fat content — thanks to rabbit meat!

Click here to read about raising rabbits for meat.


Recipe for Raising Chickens

We have read this book before, but since the chickens are coming soon, it was time to reread it. It’s a great little resource packed with good tips from an old time experienced chicken person, Minnie Rose Lovgreen. Her greatest point to be made was “The main thing is to keep them happy.” The booklet is subtitled, “Simple economical ways with eggs, chicks, broody hens, laying hens, and general chicken care”, and it nails those topics well. We recommend it! Additional info can be found at

Additional related topics:

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, 3rd Edition

The Chicken Health Handbook

Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plans for Housing Your Flock


Consolidated bioprocessing: a revolution in biofuels development

by Jeremy Fordham <>

In 1956 M. King Hubbert, a geoscientist working with the Shell research laboratory, developed a controversial theory of petroleum production that rocked the oil industry. The model, known today as the Hubbert Curve, was widely criticized at the time. In a nutshell it predicted that overall petroleum production in the U.S. would peak sometime between the mid-sixties and early seventies. Scientists and oil speculators thought he was crazy and dismissed his model as irrelevant and poorly constructed, especially because Hubbert was reluctant to publish the methods and equations behind his theory. Then, in late 1970, United States petroleum production actually did peak. A few years later the U.S. entered an energy crisis characterized by high gas prices and a frenetic rush to find new resources in places like Mexico and elsewhere.
Lots of people mistake the actual implications of Hubbert’s theory, which he later developed to predict a world petroleum production peak around the year 2000. Since the oil industry is fragile and dependent on things like wars and the shape of the global economy, this prediction is subject to much more variability and fluctuation than normal. What is certain, however, is that mass implementation of renewable energy systems is a viable alternative to consuming depletable petroleum-based resources. In the last couple decades, renewable energy initiatives have skyrocketed all around the world. Britain recently finished building the world’s largest offshore wind farm, which is a daring and trend-setting achievement for the country. All across the world academic programs have cropped up in attempt to instill interest in this now-blossoming realm. While online PhD programs have yet to come to full scale, places like Loughborough University in the U.K. are helping people gain extensive and professional expertise in this field from their own homes. Renewable energy is an infectious ideal that has effectively swept the entire world.

Biofuels are a particularly interesting form of green energy because they don’t require the construction of a secondary infrastructure for use. You can take biodiesel created from algae and put it directly in your gas tank, just like ethanol derived from corn-based biomass can be added directly to gasoline to improve its octane number substantially. Many companies have attempted to take advantage of everything from solar algal systems to gasification reactors that turn woody biomass (woodchips, etc.) into heat and fuel oil. Unfortunately, these reactor systems can cost upwards of $100 million, which is a lot of money to invest in something that hasn’t yet proven its power. Biofuel researchers are working hard to break through the barrier holding this industry back from macroscopic economic viability, and by far one of the most creative, and cost-effective, recent developments is consolidated bioprocessing.

Microorganisms are incredibly abundant and diverse, especially in their metabolic functionality. Consolidated bioprocessing takes advantage of this versatility. To obtain ethanol from a plant like sugarcane, a factory must grind the biomass, heat it up, feed it to microorganisms that can degrade cellulose into glucogenic byproducts and then feed those sugars to another set of microorganisms that can digest them to create ethanol. Cellulose is a crystalline molecule that is critical to a plant cell’s structure, so it is hard for microbes to break down naturally.

This is a very complicated and sensitive bioprocess that requires lots of temperature-controlled reactors and expensive grinding equipment. Consolidated bioprocessing, then takes this entire concept and minimizes the components needed to create ethanol from biomass, by genetically engineering one microorganism to both break down a plant’s cell wall (cellulose) and ferment its constituent sugars. This eliminates the need for an expensive grinder and for separate reactors that contain different microbes with different functions.

The genetics are approached in many interesting ways. A microorganism that is capable of degrading crystalline cellulose but incapable of fermenting its sugars, for instance, could be engineered with alternative metabolic pathways that allow it to use molecules like glucose, xylose and arabinose (components of cellulose) to create ethanol. This is typically done by introducing homologous genes into the target microbe’s DNA that cause it to develop novel fermentation pathways. Alternatively, a microbe that is widely used as a fermentative species (yeast, for instance) could be engineered with genes that give it the ability to break down plant material, which it cannot do naturally. This “super microorganism” would only need one reactor to function optimally in a biofuel production system.

The macroscopic consequences of this difficult genetic manipulation are astounding. Engineers can save millions of dollars by eliminating more than half of the reactors involved in biofuel processes if they create a microbe that can “do it all.” This drives down operating costs and ultimately makes the price tag on a biofuels plant that much more bearable. Companies like the Mascoma Corporation and Qteros (who actually discovered their own microbe in the wild) are working rigorously to develop technologies that rely on consolidated bioprocessing to make biofuel production worth the cost. They are making great progress.

The USDA is also actively involved in this research, so it will be interesting to see where things go in the next decade. Solar and wind technologies are still very expensive and bulky, so biofuels have an outstanding opportunity to outshine them as a resource whose implementation will be relatively transparent.

While nobody knows the exact date and time that petroleum will run out, the overarching point is that someday it will be gone, whether it’s 30 or 300 years from now. Biofuels have an opportunity to slow this depletion and are sure to come to the forefront of renewable energy in time, so be on the watch.


Coleslaw, It’s What’s for Dinner

Mom’s Coleslaw


1 small head cabbage, shredded
3 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar


In a large bowl, combine cabbage and carrots. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Serve with a slotted spoon.