Getting off the Couch: Exploring a World of Green Initiatives
I’ll be honest… television almost ruined travelling for me. Why wander the streets of Rome or climb the snow-packed peaks of the Rockies when I could watch someone else do it on T.V.? My urge to explore had run head first into a crisis of confidence. As an ecologically conscientious 21st Century man, how could I justify going to all the places I longed to see? For a year, I barely ventured away from my couch. Thankfully, others didn’t give up so easily, and with the proliferation of Green Initiatives; I got over my hesitation about as quickly as it takes to switch the channel.
Long known as one of the most beautiful cities on America’s West Coast, green-initiatives would seem to go hand in hand with San Francisco’s progressive reputation. Undeterred by the sometimes-inclement weather, the city went ahead and built a massive 60,000 square-foot solar roof above the Moscone Convention Center. A joint project between public and private entities, the net of photovoltaic cells is enough to power the entire building or as many as 180 homes. Installed in 2004, the success of the project has led to similar projects on other city structures, creating a web of low-cost sustainable energy. While visitors may not notice the network, they are certain to enjoy its benefits.
The same concept, utilizing without necessarily noticing, is also on display in nearby Santa Rosa. Harvesting the geothermal energy created by numerous Geysers in the Redwood forests outside the city, Santa Rosa is now able to generate as much as 850 megawatts of clean, sustainable power. Utilizing a number of wells drilled deep into the earth’s crust, the steam from underground reservoirs is pumped to a series of steam-powered turbines. After years of use, an ingenious 1998 plan revitalized the system by pumping the city’s wastewater into the steam fields, thereby refilling the supply of steam. Reopened in 2004, the plan is an excellent example of how recycling isn’t always limited to tin cans and newspapers.
On the other side of the country, the massive regional mall known as Destiny USA went even further with its recycling plans. Located in Syracuse, New York, the Destiny USA shopping complex features more than 200 retail, dining, and entertainment options- making it big even by American standards. Rather than build on a new site and risk disrupting farms, wetlands, or public parks, the developers choose to build on a previously developed site. In addition to preserving the natural habitat of endangered species in the nearby area, the site selection also gave the developers a chance to improve the quality of the existing land. Formerly known as “Oil City,” the site that Destiny USA occupies was previously categorized as a “Brownfield” or environmentally damaged area. Contamination from the nearby scrap yard and acres of toxic oil drums made the site as dangerous as it was unsightly. Undeterred, Destiny USA not only cleaned up the environmental hazards, they did so while earning LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits from the US Green Building Council. In short, the wasteland was turned into a destination enjoyed by some 29 million visitors a year.
Sprung from my couch, a new world of Green Initiatives and eco-friendly sites seems to wait. Now, if I can just convince one of the cable channels to film my adventures, I think I might be onto something!
I live in Vermont, USA, my name is Cliff Barre and I am a responsible, green tourist and co-blogger with the love of my life Tiffany on our Blog Peace, Love and Travel with Cliff and Tiff. This is my guest post to share some green facts about the evolving World of Green Initiatives in the USA.
“Greening Sussex by Sussex families”