energy efficiency, sustainability, green buildings, solar, hybrid cars and alternate fuels.

"A society built on green design, sustainable energy and closed loop systems, a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, non-toxic, recyclable technology." ~~Alex Nikolai Steffan

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The IFAS Extension Office in Leon County is hosting its second series of workshops on the New Economy.  If you missed the first course, try to schedule time to attend when these topics are repeated, beginning in March.  

Can our economic system withstand the shocks of climate change, peak oil and financial disruptions?  Are there alternatives that can best sustain our planet? The purpose of the course is to explore some possible answers to these questions and to explore ways to work together to renew our community through economic transactions that mimic Earth's natural economy.  

The flipped classroom concept provides an opportunity for participants to read selected online readings and watch videos related to each of the week's topics.  This provides the time 'in class' for discussions and insights based on common knowledge.  

Topics that are covered are:

  • Money, Security and Wholeness of Life in the Era of Corporate Economic Globalization
  • Capitalism, Democracy and the New Economic Paradigm
  • Growth, Consumption, Work, Time and Plenitude
  • Money, Complementary Currencies, Local Stock Exchanges and the Green Economy 
  • Worker Cooperatives
  • Time and Skill Banking
  • Earth Rights, Land Trusts and Land tenure
  • Earth Responsibility, Earth Democracy, Degrowth and Open Market Sustainability 

The weekly classes begin March 12th running seven Wednesday evenings from 5:30 - 7:45, with dinner provided via potluck from participants.  

The Leon County Extension office is located at 615 Paul Russell Road, Tallahassee.  The course fee is $15.00 and requires registration at:
Contact the course facilitator, Will Sheftall if you have questions. E-mail: 



Solar panels make in part from repurposed or recycled components?  

This Pop-Can Solar Space Heating Collector uses recycled aluminum soda pop cans for the absorber. The pop cans have the tops and bottoms drilled out, and are assembled into vertical columns that the air passes through. 

In operation, the black painted soda pop cans are heated by the sun, warming the air that is flowing up through the cans.

Here's a link to the set of instructions on the webpage, Build It Solar.  



Check out the Choices for Sustainable LivingNorthwest Earth Institute.  This book was recently used as a text by the Leon County Extension's class on "Food & Diet: Gateways to Sustainability" course.  

Shopping for the holidays?  More information and other books at the Reading Table tab.  


Plastic Bags - Why?

click the graphic



photo by
This 10 x 10 x 10 'cube' is a net zero emissions house for one, which generates income via the UK's feed-in tariff.  This allows excess solar energy that feeds back to the grid to be sold the the utility company at an agreed-upon rate.  City of Gainesville is currently offering this program to its solar users. It's still going strong since we featured it in this March 2012 post.   

The video below highlights the built-in features and energy saving equipment of the Cube.  I imagine placing it in a climate with mostly year-round outdoor living, would resolve some claustrophobia issues!  



photo by Green Tallahassee

Goodwill will accept your old computers and laptops, cords that no longer match your equipment and other peripherals. 

The store has closed its location on West Tennessee Street. Take your electronics donation to any Goodwill drop-off center. The new storefront for sales of refurbished computers and peripherals is located at 2734 Capital Circle NE, Tallahassee. Telephone: 850.504.0958.

Check out the Recycle Where? tab at the top of this page for more information on what to do with your stuff.  

Check out the Green Calendar for the latest Hazardous Waste Round-Up to properly dispose of Fluorescent and CFL bulbs, paint, fertilizers and more.  



photo by Green Tallahassee

You and I, we love our coffee.  I give a cursory nod to my one or two friends who allegedly are tea drinkers, but we and 25 million of our closest friends from around the world drink coffee. 

Since coffee is not a locally grown product, how does this importation for our consumption impact our carbon footprint?  

This web article estimates:
  • One pound of coffee can generate as much as 4 pounds of carbon emissions before leaving its country of origin:
    • Roughly 2 pounds on the farm, 1.25 pounds at the mill, and another .75 pounds in shipping preparation--depending on the size of the farm, the processes and technologies used, and adding all the shipping energy into the equation
  • Of the 10 to 11 pounds of carbon emissions that the average pound of coffee creates, as much as 50% is created at the retail and consumer level.
Energy efficient measures in shops where machines and lights are turned off overnight would help.  Check out this a post from a while back that highlights some innovative energy efficiency choices made by the first LEED certified restaurant/coffee shop in St. Petersburg, Florida that included:   

  • Energy-efficient insulated concrete foam walls to reduce air conditioning usage by approximately 40%
  • Energy-efficient lighting, including motion sensors for restrooms and offices
  • Water-efficient plumbing fixtures, low-flush toilets, and the usage of well water rather than potable water for all irrigation
  • Waste from the construction site was diverted to the local recycling center
  • Designated areas within the restaurant for storage/collection of recyclable materials
  • Met IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) standards for debris/dust/garbage levels during construction
Brewing and drinking can reduce the amount of carbon impact. We, as consumers, can reduce the impact by using cups and mugs instead of paper (or Stryrofoamtm) cups, composting our coffee grounds and skipping the paper napkins. Walking inside the shop rather than idling in the drive-thru (a particular pet peeve)! Or brew at home, just don't forget to unplug the coffee maker.

But, if you're ready to change things up and look for a local solution for (at least) some of those cups of coffee, check out this post on the 100 mile diet alternatives to the coffee bean.  



Art often captures more than words. In 2009, Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo carved 1,000 ‘Melting Men’ out of ice and placed them in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt Square to bring awareness to Global Warming.

Nele Azevedo
More photos of this amazing art work at:



Single-stream recycling is here!  

City of Tallahassee residents are able to put all recycling in the container without separating paper and plastic/glass bottles, etc.  The program launched in October 2013, using the same recycling containers that are 
now used by residents.  Containers will be retrofitted on a rolling basis.  

This should increase the ease of recycling and hopefully increase residents' commitment to recycling 100% of everything that can be recycled.  

Not sure about an item?  Check the tab at the top Recycle Where?



Photo by City of Adelaide  
The southern Australian city of Adelaide is moving toward powering its public transit system solely through solar power.  

Beginning in 2010, the city began implementing a sustainability plan including extensive pedestrian walkways and bike paths as well as the new fleet of Tindo (Aboriginal for "sun") buses.

According to the City of Adelaide website
Unlike the gas-powered or hybrid fleets found around the world, the Tindo is completely electric so it's zero emission, and unlike San Francisco's MUNI, it doesn't draw power from overhead lines. In fact, the bus doesn't power itself at all. 
There are no solar panels actually on the vehicle itself. Instead each bus charges like an overgrown Roomba at the Adelaide Central Bus Station before setting out on its routes around town. In average traffic conditions, the Tindo can cover 200 km (about 125 miles) before needing to recharge, thanks in part to a regenerative braking system that increases the vehicle's energy efficiency by some 30 percent.  
Tindo is air-conditioned and can carry up to 40 passengers, with 25 standard seats, 2 seats especially designed for disabled passengers and room for 13 standing passengers. The bus saved the Council over 14,000 litres of diesel and the environment over 70,000kg of CO2-e in its first year.
Now that the City of Tallahassee has the first electric buses in the US, can we ask that the Phase Two of this development be electric buses powered by solar instead of electricity generated via natural gas?   




A student from the Swedish American Green Alliance (SAGA) visited Tallahassee at the end of August to learn about our efforts to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Check out her impressions at this SAGA blog post.


photo by Green Tallahassee

Park in the shade of the new solar panel array at the Four Points Sheraton, Tallahassee.  

Four Points by Sheraton Hotel received a grant of $359,000 from the City of Tallahassee's Community Redevelopment Agency to conduct extensive  fa├žade
improvements and renovations to the formerly vacant building we still call the 'Round Holiday Inn.'

According to estimates from the City of Tallahassee, total building renovations were estimated at $13.6 million.  The grant funds were used to support more than $250,000 in LEED certified enhancements, including a green roof over the main entrance and the installation of solar panels, and over $100,000 in improvements to the restaurant and interior/exterior entertainment venues. 



photo by Inside Climate News

On the Reading TableClean Break: The Story of Germany's Energy Transformation and What Americans Can Learn from It by Osha Gray Davidson.

An e-book, available through Amazon for $.99.  Osha Davidson is a writer for Inside Climate News and and president of the Worldwatch Institute.  The book explains Energiewende (energy change), changing Germany's energy economy from one based on fossil fuels and nuclear power to a sustainable one that is based on clean renewable energy. You can read more at Inside Climate News.  



Grassroots organizations in Boulder, Colorado have taken on the Xcel Power Corporation to turn back the ownership of power generation from the large corporation to a system that is locally owned and that moves power generation from fossil fuels to renewable energy.  In 2011, the citizens of Boulder voted to create their own municipal utility. They even agreed to increase taxes on themselves to pay for the costs. However, the process is far from complete and future local elections and a ballot initiative could change Boulder's momentum in making this transition. This Forbes article paints a bleak picture of the possibility of success.  Currently, over 100 cities across the US are taking a look at moving their utility's ownership from corporate to municipality.

Below is the New Era Colorado video outlining their campaign. Xcel Power is heavily dependent upon coal as its fuel for power generation.  About 11 per cent of Boulder's power is generated from renewables, mostly wind power. The non-profit group recently completed a successful indiegogo campaign to raise funds for further organizing their Campaign for Local Power.   

The City of Tallahassee already is a municipally owned power company.  It gets the majority of its power from natural gas.  While being excited that Tallahassee is the first City in the nation to have all electric buses added to its fleet, the electricity powering the buses still comes from natural gas.  

Where is the City of Tallahassee in moving from dependence on fossil fuels to renewables? What regulations impede things like establishing solar gardens that would allow small groups of homes or businesses to generate and share electricity through solar collectors? How cumbersome is the permitting process to install a solar array on a home? 

Discussions of solar cooperatives and collectives will be part of this Sunday's World Cafe, hosted by the non-profit Transition Tallahassee.  If these are issues you care about and if you want to learn more about the future of transitioning away from a fossil fuel dependent economy, this community discussion is for you.  Breakout discussions will include:

 * making a local market economy, 
 * building a healthy local food system, 
 * the New Economy and time banking, 
 * fossil fuel divestment and local reinvestment and 
 * solar coops and collectives.

 and it's free!

Sunday, September 8th beginning at 1:30 PM
FSU Center for Global Engagement Auditorium "The Globe"
110 S Woodward Avenue, FSU campus, Tallahassee
More information at the Green Calendar and at Transition Tallahassee's website.  



Single stream recycling is coming the Tallahassee/Leon County the beginning of October.  All this means is that you no longer have to separate the plastics and glass from the paper.  It all goes into the bin and it gets sorted from there. The idea is that more people will recycle at home and at the office if they don't have to separate items into separate containers.  

In 2008, the State of Florida adopted a goal of statewide recycling of 75% by the year 2020.  Data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection says the state is recycling at a rate of 48% in 2012, up from 30% in 2011. [note:  the Department did count solid waste burned to produce energy for the first time, which is a calculation not commonly used when calculating the recycling rate.]  The 2012 data shows Leon County ranked 5th in the state, with a rate of 43%, behind the number one county [yes, you guessed it] Alachua with a rate of 54%.  Leon increased in rank from 8th in 2011. Alachua was #1 in both years.

The top ten counties ranked in 2012 were:  Alachua, Martin, Sarasota/Brevard (tied), Leon, Duval, Orange, Hillsborough/Collier (tied), Putnam/Escambia (tied), and Broward.

So, why don't people recycle more?  

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research proposes an explanation as to why recycling isn't as ingrained a a habit as we might like. From the study, it appears that our sense of an object's utility, as well what we consider to be 'trash' has an effect on what we recycle.  
The research project started with the team rooting through the rubbish and recycling bins in one of their university's office buildings. During their after-hours trips through the trash, they noticed a rather distinctive pattern: sheets of paper that were close to the standard 8.5 x 11 inch size were more likely to be recycled, while smaller sheets tended to be thrown into the trash. This trend held even when the researchers adjusted for the total volume of paper in the different size categories.
The researchers concluded that if a sheet of paper is close to the normal size we use every day, then people will mentally categorize it as still useful and will be more likely to recycle it. If, in contrast, it's a smaller size, then we'll view it as damaged and less useful. As a result, we'll tend to throw it in the trash.
Does this mean that things like packaging and food containers may typically be viewed as trash once they're emptied and are therefore less likely to be recycled?  Many of us like to think we have already adopted categorizations of:
  1. Useful
  2. Trash
  3. Recyclable 
Disagree with the theory totally?  Or has it caused you to ponder what you toss in the trash? The abstract for the report from Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, can be read here.  (Full Journal access is $14.00 or via some libraries.)




July 1 through 7 is Independents' Week, a nationwide campaign to engage our local independent businesses and community members in celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurism and freedom independent businesses embody. 

Independents Week is an occasion to recognize independent businesses’ contributions to the community–and to recognize local residents’ role in shaping your community’s future. Tallahassee has many great local businesses.  Check out Locally Owned Tallahassee for new ideas.  

When you buy local from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms -- continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.  

Keep our community unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun -- all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of Tallahassee.  

Shopping local is good for the environment.  Local purchases require less transportation and generally shops are set up near downtown as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.

Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally.  

Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers. 

Put your taxes to good use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.

Encourage local prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

Click here to see summaries of a variety of economic impact studies, including comparing local business to big box retail.  



Yes, young people are the problem solvers of tomorrow, only some are doing it today.  The video below from the website social consciousness highlights a young man who looked at oak trees, figured out the math ( Fibonacci sequence) and came up with a potentially better way to build solar arrays to collect energy--and he is 13 years old!   



The City of Tallahassee Commission voted to extend its double rebate program.  It begins today and extends through July 14th.  All work must be completed by August 29th.  

See the City's website for all details on what is eligible and the amount of each rebate.  



photos by Green Tallahassee



Sue Hansen, Tallahassee resident whose idea was recognized at the recent  Sustainable Tallahassee's Eco-Team's graduation, was featured today on WFSU news radio.  Here's the post on her project and on Eco-teams.  

You can read or listen to the WFSU interview here.  

Sue is a great example of how one person can make a difference!

Want to start or become a member of an Eco-team?  Go to Sustainable Tallahassee's website for information.  


On the Reading Table

Reading 30 Eco-Trips in Florida: The Best Nature Excursions and How to Leave Only Your Footprints, by Holly Ambrose.  The book won an award from the Florida Outdoor Writers Association in 2006.

Available at the Leon County library or order through your (few remaining) independent local bookstore.  

Published by the University Press of Florida, I would have loved color photographs (there are a few on the website).  I guess I can see the real thing in color when I do the trips.   

Check out the additional articles at her website.



The City recently updated its interactive solar map to designate locations using solar.  I wish that there was a way to filter out all the Lamar billboards for a cleaner, clearer picture of what's solar in Tallahassee.  

Check it out at City of Tallahassee's solar map here.
Prices of solar panels continue to drop, moving solar toward becoming a more economically viable option.  The Institute for Local Self Reliance says that by 2021, one-third of the US could reach solar parity.  [defined as when the cost of solar electricity--without subsidies--is equal to or lower than residential retail electrical rate.]

See the Institutes report, Changing Everything with Cost-Effective Local Solar, here [opens as PDF].

Currently, Sustainable Tallahassee has a Renewable Energy committee that is working on a host of renewable options, including some innovative ideas about solar.  Contact them at their website if you are interested in joining the local conversation and moving this issue forward.  



We've merged this blog into the

shorter address, same great content!

Green Tallahassee publishes this page and



photo of book jacket by Green Tallahassee

John Updike wrote that every seventeen years the average American male drives the distance to the moon.  James Morgan explores this theory and America's love affair with the car and the open road.  His chronicles his trip from Oregon to Florida in his book, The Distance to the Moon.

In a recent episode of City Walk by KCET,   Chris Leinberger, George Washington University, talk about how in the the US in mid 20th century, 40% of all jobs were related to putting raw material into, manufacturing, 
building the roads for, fueling, financing, insuring and maintaining cars.  Today much of our economy depends on maintaining a built environment specifically for cars.  

Also in the video, Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives, talks about the alluring promise of the automobile and the comfortable easy lifestyle it has created where we forgot that people need to to  walk.  

At the recent conversations at the Imagine Tallahassee events, there were a great number of locals talking about walking and biking, connecting greenways and parks and the need to make Tallahassee a more walkable city.  Oh, yes, and there needed to be some place to go with something to do at the end of your walk.  

Sounds like Tallahassee residents want to have a reason to get out of their cars.  The website  rates Tallahassee as 'car dependent' with a walkability score of 39 out of 100, noting most errands require a car.  The top zip code for walking is 32301 ranked 50.

Boston, New York City and San Francisco are all noted as walkable cities, but their dense urban population is no comparison for Tallahassee.  

What part of Tallahassee is a candidate for becoming a walkable district, at least?  Midtown?  It has restaurants, bars, coffee shop, retail stores, banks, bookstore (.02 miles), Star Metro Stop, Lake Ella (.07 miles), Publix (.08 miles + harrowing street crossing), Lafayette Park (.01 miles).

Here are suggested techniques for Making Cities More Walkable (condensed from Walkable Cities by Jeff Speck):

  • Put cars in their place
  • Mixed Use zoning
  • Consolidated parking for multiple buildings and businesses 
  • Good transit 
  • Protect pedestrians 
  • Welcome bikes 
  • Get the design right (streets over walk-ways and surface parking lots along the walkway = bad design). Promote sense of safety for the pedestrian 
  • Friendly and unique building facades
  • Plant trees 
  • Invest money where it can do the most good Ask "Where can spending the least money make the most difference?"
Also, check out Walk Steps with comprehensive strategies for improving a community's walkabillity and with more facts, resources  and great step by step 'how to's' with projected costs for adoption and  

Bike Tallahassee has an overlay map linking biking and walking paths.  
See this post on the Sales Tax Extension and walkable Tallahassee.

An urban bike route system was recently proposed by the Committee for a Bikeable Community (CBC), which is a committee created by the local non-profit Capital City Cyclists. This proposed network would create eight major routes with a total length of 104 miles using existing bicycle facilities and low‐traffic roads to throughout the urban area of Tallahassee.

Tom Clark, recent speaker at Sustainable Tallahassee's Green Drinks documented that it is possible to get around Tallahassee by walking and/or biking.

Is Tallahassee moving toward a walkable city?  If one walks downtown is there anything to do other than dine after 5 PM?  Will the upcoming Walgreens store on the corner of Tenessee and Monroe increase walkability? Or will it create another traffic hazard for entering and exiting cars?  Are we walking to get somewhere or walking solely for recreation? Would we ever get over our love affair with the car?



photo from

On June 9th, 2013, Jennie Romer, founder of will set sail from Bermuda to Rhode Island to study single-use plastics in the Atlantic Ocean with the 5 Gyres Institute. As a lawyer that helps cities adopt plastic bag reduction laws, Ms. Romer believes that first-hand knowledge of how single-use plastics affect the ocean will help bolster her arguments.

Ms. Romer will blog about each day of her trip at

Imagine chorus of people singing this song outside local supermarkets:

Want your local city or county in Florida to pass an ordinance banning plastic bags?  Can't do it.  Pursuant to section 403.7033, Florida Statutes, no state or local retail bag regulations can be enacted until the Florida Legislature takes action, limiting the 'home rule' common in Florida. However, a retail store can refuse to provide customers with plastic bags if it chooses.

Since local municipalities can't pass a plastic bag ban, Flagler College students are working with St. Augustine City Commissioners and local businesses to voluntarily eliminate plastic checkout bags citywide. The resolution was approved in March 2013.  More information here.  
Retail Bags Report For the Legislature
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, February 1, 2010 was produced as part of the Energy, Climate Change, and Economic Security Act of 2008 (Section 403.7033, Florida Statutes), under Governor Charlie Crist.  
The Report was to assess the need for new or different regulation of auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags used by consumers to carry products from retail establishments. 
The information contained within this report provides an assessment of the impacts associated with current use and disposal of these containers as well as several potential policy options to provide policymakers the information needed to weigh and balance the effect of proposed actions on the environment, regulated community and the consumer. 
The Report also noted that recycling rates for plastic bags in Florida is only around 12% 

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