Category Archives: Environment

More Good News for Mother Earth

built-in.jpgIn today’s (Wednesday, November 15th) Strib, the editorials include one called “Appliance efficiency gets overdue boost”. The words certainly have a bit of editorializing to them, “after six years of dawdling and even backsliding” but indeed share good news, “the U. S. Department of Energy…agreed to follow the law and raise efficiency standards for more than 20 household appliances”.

The piece goes on to say that the new standards will “lower electricity consumption by the equivalent of taking 12 million households of fthe power grid. That means air pollution reductions equivalent to taking 18 million cars off the road – much of it by downsizing the need for new power plants”.

Congress decided to establish minimum efficiency standards under the Carter administration and under the Reagan administration to require periodic upgrades. Under the first Bush administration there were five upgrades and under the Clinton administration there were ten. With little opposition from manufacturers and, in fact, some support from industry associations, no one seems to understand why it took a lawsuit by 15 states to force compliance with the law.

As Lee Lansing has so often advised me, “Turn the page”. The efficiency standards have been raised. Electricity consumption and air pollution will be reduced. Indeed, it’s good news for Mother Earth.

And how does this effect you? Your gas and electricity bills will go down using the new appliances. They’ve been ready to roll off the assembling plant lines and onto the showroom floors for years. Hey, you might even be able to get a grant from your utility company to buy one.

Ain’t America great?

More on Proposed LARGE Ethanol Plant

I wasn’t able to attend last week’s informational meeting, and haven’t spoken to anyone who did. If any of our readers can provide a summary, please post a comment.

Apparently, Advanced BioEnergy, the company formed in 2005 which is interested in building a plant in this area, is merging with two South Dakota plants. Associated Press wire sources indicate that the company is planning a 100 million gallon plant for this area.

I’m still researching the issue, and haven’t decided if I believe this proposal is a net plus or net minus for the community when all the factors (economic, environmental, implications for transportation and quality of life, etc.) are weighed. Thoughts, anyone?

Comment and Controversy: Proposed Ethanol Plant

There’s an open meeting Saturday, Nov. 4, 10 am to 2 pm at Little Prairie United Methodist Church regarding a proposed 300-acre ethanol plant on Co. Rd. 8. The meeting will include presentations on the cost and benefits of ethanol and biodiesel, as well as perspectives from agriculture, conservation and environmental groups.

Dundas Planning Commissioner Bruce Morlan posted about this issue and some of the questions it raises, along with a schedule of meetings related to the proposal. Technical glitches make it impossible to comment on his blog, but we can have comments here, so I encourage everyone to read Bruce’s post, attend tomorrow’s meeting, and start a discussion.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage “green building” by establishing common standards of measurement, promoting best practices, recognizing leadership in the building industry, raising consumer awareness, and ultimately to transform the building market.

McNeighborhoodOne of the things the Northfield Planning Commission is hoping to encourage (via revisions to the Comprehensive Plan and local ordinances) is increased development which meets LEED standards, or at least shows significant progress in that area.

Pioneer architect Doug Farr, principal of the firm which has designed two of the 23 buildings in the entire world which have received the highest available Platinum designation by LEED, and the only firm to have been awarded more than one Platinum, is broadening the vision. Farr wants to move beyond sustainable buildings to the idea of sustainable neighborhoods.

“Sustainable development” is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Continue reading It’s Not Easy Being Green

Interesting Interview with Berkeley’s Christopher Alexander

My favorite Oz radio show/podcast hosted UC-Berkeley’s Emeritus Professor of Architecture, Christopher Alexander, a couple of weeks ago. Read this quick bio of Alexander to see what he’s about, and give the radio show a listen if the bio interests you. Some may find the radio show more accessible than some of Alexander’s writings. (He’s an egghead, but that usually doesn’t bother Northfielders as the town is rife with ’em.)

How is this relevant to Northfield? I’m so glad you asked. Poke around Alexander’s latest website,, to see how his theory is put into practice. Here’s an excerpt:

Continue reading Interesting Interview with Berkeley’s Christopher Alexander

Locally Grown podcast #10: Making Northfield an energy self-sufficient community

This content originally appeared on

Issues covered in show #10 of Locally Grown (March 3), recorded in the KRLX 88.1 FM studio at Carleton on Friday afternoon: making Northfield an energy self-sufficient community.

Guest: Bruce Anderson, Executive Director of RENewNorthfield. Click the photo thumbnail to see his memorable shirt (photo taken last summer).

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Click the play button to listen (30 mintues) or download the MP3 File. Subscribe to the feed. Subscribe with iTunes. Join the ISSUES discussion list to continue the conversation on these and other issues. Attach a comment to give us feedback. See the Locally Grown page for more on the show.