Springfield, MO: City Utilities programs save power for the future


City Utilities programs save power for the future

Conservation efforts, rebates prove to limit utility usage, costs.City Utilities conservation program

Written by
Wes Johnson

Want to learn more?

For more information about CU energy management and conservation programs, visit www.cuenergywise.com or call CU at 874-8200. That number goes directly to the Energy Management and Conservation department.

Expanded conservation programs offered by City Utilities are having a measurable impact on the utility’s future need for more electricity, gas and water.

Since 2007, electricity-conserving efforts such as commercial lighting rebates, removal of old refrigerators and rebates for Energy Star-rated appliances have cumulatively saved CU the equivalent power use of 4,562 average homes.

Rebates for high-efficiency HVAC units have helped reduce natural gas usage by the equivalent of 2,764 homes.

Water-conserving measures have cut use by the equivalent of 1,558 homes, according to CU.

“Any savings we make from conservation delays the need for additional capacity units into the future,” said Cara Shaefer, director of Energy Management and Conservation.

Shaefer notes those savings came from CU’s investment in energy management and conservation programs.

Over the past five years, CU has spent $5.6 million on a variety of programs. The amount includes program and administrative costs.

On the electricity-conservation side, Shaefer said CU’s commercial lighting rebate provided the most energy savings.

CU provided 146 commercial lighting rebates to companies that switched to more efficient lighting systems.

Rebates to improve heating and air conditioning units were the second most effective at conserving electricity and gas, Shaefer said.

More than 5,300 rebates were issued to upgrade HVAC systems to higher-efficiency units.

A recent program that gave CU customers a $35 credit on their electric bill to get rid of old refrigerators typically plugged in in garages proved successful.

That program took 1,549 refrigerators — usually older, less-efficient units — off CU’s system.

CU’s high-efficiency toilet rebate program resulted in more than 4,000 water-saving toilets being installed in Springfield.

“We’ve even seen a market transformation in Springfield because of this rebate,” Shaefer said. “When it began, there was only one or two retailers with them in stock. Today, you can’t go anywhere without them being available.”

Local contractors rejoice as statewide Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Programs

Local contractors rejoice as statewide Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Programs

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Soenso Celebrates Five Years of Providing Clean, Renewable Energy to Georgia

Solar PV Array on Roof of Campus Crossings Emory University

Solar PV Array on Roof of Campus Crossings Emory University

Source Press release, September 30, 2009

ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 30, 2009 – Founder and president of Soenso Energy, Roger K. Cone, today announced that this Marietta, GA, startup is celebrating five years of service to Georgia. Established in September 2004, Soenso Energy is one of the leading renewable energy installers in the state. Soenso, which is an acronym for Southern Environmental Solutions, installs commercial and residential solar thermal water heating, solar photovoltaic (PV) electric and small wind turbine electric systems.

“Much of Georgia is marginal for wind energy,” said Mr. Cone, “but there are micro-climates in our area where our residential/small commercial-sized wind turbines perform quite well. However, Georgia is indisputably a solar state.” Most of Georgia is rated as “very good” for solar radiation according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Georgia is on par with much of Florida, the self-proclaimed “Sunshine State”, for solar energy potential.
Currently there are generous Federal and Georgia financial incentives in place for the installation of renewable energy. Generally speaking for commercial solar or wind energy installations the Federal incentive is a 30% income tax credit or grant, and the Georgia incentive is a 35% income tax credit or rebate. And generally speaking for residential solar or wind energy installations the Federal incentive is a 30% income tax credit, and the Georgia incentive is a 35% income tax credit. There are published maximum limits on Georgia renewable energy incentives.

In its “long” five-year history Soenso has provided renewable energy systems for clients in a variety of categories including churches, inns, museums, office buildings, private residences, restaurants, schools and warehouse facilities, among others. Soenso Energy encourages the practice of energy conservation first and then the implementation of renewable energy. We are helping Georgia move away from our dependence on dirty fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal that are major contributors to the climate crisis. Soenso Energy is working toward making renewable energy a more significant component of Georgia’s overall energy mix.
About Soenso Energy Located in Marietta, Georgia, near Atlanta, Soenso Energy is a supplier and installer of commercial and residential renewable energy products – solar thermal hot water systems, solar photovoltaic (PV) for generating electricity and small wind turbines for generating electricity. These renewable energy technologies qualify for Federal and Georgia clean energy income tax credits. On the Web: http://www.soenso.com , Email: info@soenso.com, Phone: (770) 973-6298.

please vote for Soenso Energy

Soenso Energy.

Please vote for Soenso Energy to win a free website by an interactive marketing  agency based in Atlanta, Solar Velocity.
Soenso Energy, founded in 2004, is one of the pioneering renewable energy integrators in Georgia. They are a family owned and operated business; managed by brothers,  Roger and Charles Cone. Soenso Energy, founded in 2004, is one of the pioneering renewable energy integrators in Georgia. When Soenso started five years ago, there were no more than a half dozen solar installers in the entire state. Now there are more than three dozen solar installers in Georgia. With this plethora of newcomers they find it increasingly more difficult to maintain high search engine rankings with their current Web site. A professionally designed and optimized Web site from Solar Velocity would be a great enhancement toward helping them to continue to grow their business and to supply clean, renewable energy to Georgia; They sell and install high quality German- designed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and solar thermal water heating systems and high quality American-designed wind turbines. They are also confident that they have the best installation crew in the state of Georgia.
Please give them your vote here

Sales Tax holiday in Georgia October 1-4, 2009

October 1-4, 2009

A culture of conservation is growing in Georgia.

We are responsible for the stewardship of our state’s natural resources. Incorporating energy and water conservation practices into our daily lives benefits everyone in our state now and for generations to come. And small changes can make a big impact in our pocketbooks. To help make those changes a little easier, Georgia is offering the ENERGY STAR® and WaterSense® Sales Tax Holiday, Oct. 1-4, 2009.

During the sales tax holiday, you can purchase ENERGY STAR-qualified or WaterSense-labeled products up to $1,500 without paying sales tax. In addition to the up-front cost savings, purchasing and installing more-efficient appliances and products can reduce in-home utility costs and improve both energy and water conservation.



ENERGY STAR products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy. These appliances, electronics and lighting operate while using less energy – and less money – than older models.

Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, prevented 43 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 alone – equivalent to the annual emissions from 29 million vehicles – and saved more than $19 million on their utility bills. By looking to ENERGY STAR for best practices and products, households can reduce their energy use and save about one-third, or $750 annually, on their utility bills, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.



WaterSense, a national program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, makes it easy to find water-efficient products. Toilets, faucets and other products that are independently certified to meet U.S. EPA criteria for water effi­ciency and performance can earn the label.Look for WaterSense labeled products

The average household spends as much as $500 per year on its water and sewer bill. By installing WaterSense-labeled fixtures and ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances that use water more efficiently, a household could save about $170 per year. If just one out of every four households in Georgia retrofit their bathrooms with WaterSense-labeled fixtures, it could save nearly 10 billion gallons of water per year – enough for every Georgian to take a shower daily for about two months.

For more information on ENERGY STAR, please visit http://www.gefa.org/Index.aspx?page=352

For more information on WaterSense, please visit http://www.conservewatergeorgia.net/documents/ waterSense_taxHoliday.html

Len Foote Hike Inn and Soenso Energy Partner to Heat Water with Solar Power

Source: Press release soenso Energy
Len Foote Hike Inn, a backcountry lodge deep in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, is offering its guests solar-heated showers with a new state-of-the-art solar thermal system from Soenso Energy


      (July 8, 2009) – Dawsonville, Dawson County, Georgia – Len Foote Hike Inn, a backcountry lodge deep in north Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, is offering its guests solar-heated showers with a new state-of-the-art solar Schuco-USA thermal system.

     “This solar system is highly efficient and significantly reduces propane to heat water for our bathhouse,” says Hike Inn Manager Stan Krajeski.

     A partnership between the Hike Inn and Marietta, Georgia-based Soenso Energy will make the system an education tool.  “Working with the Hike Inn was a great experience,” says Roger Cone, a principal in Soenso Energy.  “Thousands of annual visitors will take solar-heated showers and learn how solar energy is key to our energy future.”

     For more than a decade, the Len Foote Hike Inn – accessible to its guests only by a five-mile mountain footpath beginning at the top of Amicalola Falls – has been a showplace of environmental sustainability.  “We have solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal water heating, composting toilets and worm beds to help dispose of our garbage,” says Steve Skinner, board member of the nonprofit overseeing the Hike Inn.  “Our guests learn about nature and sustainability while enjoying the outdoors.”

     Owned by the Georgia State Parks and operated by not-for-profit Appalachian Education and Recreation Services, the Len Foote Hike Inn, Dawsonville, Georgia,  is Georgia’s only backcountry inn. www.hike-inn.com 

     Soenso Energy in Marietta, Georgia, near Atlanta, is a renewable energy dealer and installer featuring Schuco solar-thermal water heating, Schuco solar photovoltaic electric and Skystream 3.7 wind turbine energy systems. www.soenso.com; info@soenso.com, (770) 973-6298.

Come and Watch Caroma’s exceptional flushing power at Greenprints in Atlanta, March 25&26, 2009

Visit Alterna Corp’s booth at Greenprints and see Caroma’s exceptional flushing power yourself.

The Greenprints Conference and Tradeshow, a leading southeastern green building symposium, returns in 2009. Join green building professionals, policy makers and industry experts as they come together at Greenprints to share trends, strategies and the latest environmental technologies in a stimulating and interdisciplinary environment. Learn how Atlanta measures up as a sustainable city and explore smarter ways to “green” your city. Plan now to attend the region’s most acclaimed event of its kind, the Greenprints Conference and Tradeshow, hosted by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority and Southface, in Atlanta on March 25-26, 2009.

The Hyatt Regency Atlanta is the venue for 2009 conference. View more details about Greenprints here


Six Feet Under – Westside Is First Restaurant In Atlanta To Utilize Wind Energy

Urban Wind Turbine From Soenso Energy Generates Clean Electricity For Pub & Fish House

ATLANTA, GEORGIA, January 5, 2009 – Roger K. Cone, president of renewable energy integrator Soenso Energy of Marietta, Georgia, announced today that Six Feet Under-Westside Pub & Fish House has become the first restaurant in Atlanta to use wind energy to generate electricity to help power its business. Restaurateurs Nancy and Tad Mitchell selected the Skystream 3.7 Wind Turbine for their location at 685 11th Street NW in Atlanta. The Skystream is mounted on a forty-five foot tower at the back of the restaurant’s parking lot. The sleek wind turbine, overlooking the Atlanta Water Works, is on one of the hiskystream1ghest points in the city and is visible to southbound traffic on Howell Mill Road and Northside Drive.

About the Skystream 3.7

The Skystream, developed by Arizona-based Southwest Windpower in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, has unique curved blades for quiet operation. It is the first residential/small commercial wind turbine that includes a built-in inverter and requires no external components. The Skystream qualifies for Federal and Georgia clean energy income tax credits. With Atlanta’s average annual wind speeds of about nine mph, the Skystream should generate approximately 200kWh/month of clean electricity. The Skystream 3.7 was awarded a 2006 Best of What’s New award from the editors of Popular Science and included in TIME magazine’s 2006 Best Inventions.                                                                                        

About Six Feet Under-Westside

Six Feet Under-Westside is an urban, neighborhood restaurant and pub offering excellent food at a fair price with a full service bar and wide selection of beers. The roof top deck dining area has a panoramic view of Atlanta’s Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead. Six Feet Under-Westside, 685 11th Street NW (between Northside Drive and Howell Mill Road), Atlanta, Georgia 30318; Phone: (404) 810-0040; On the Web: www.sixfeetunderatlanta.com; Email: tad@sixfeetunderatlanta.com

About Soenso Energy

Located in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Georgia, Soenso Energy has been a leading provider of commercial and residential renewable energy products since 2004. Soenso Energy offers sales and professional installation of solar thermal water heating, solar photovoltaic (PV) electric and small wind turbine electric. On the Web: www.soenso.com; Email: info@soenso.com.

Why should I buy a LEED®certified home? What is LEED®?

What is LEED®

LEED® stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It was created and is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit environmental organization with more than 14,000 member organizations dedicated to sustainability in building design and construction. The certification system has been in use for more than seven years in commercial construction, and includes Green Home Buildingmore than 3.2 Billion square feet of real estate currently seeking LEED® certification.

LEED® recognizes the highest quality in green homebuilding. LEED® promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor air quality.

Please explore case studies on a variety of LEED®-certified homes at http://www.thegreenhomeguide.org.


LEED®for Homes FAQs for Home Buyers

Is a green home right for me?

If you would like a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle for you and for your family, a green home is right for you. Green homes have lower utility bills, use less water, are associated with fewer asthma attacks, and are at lower risk for mold and mildew. Green homes are better for the environment, and they are affordable.

How are green homes good for the climate?

In the United States, our homes are responsible for 21% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Living in a green home means that you’re helping to stop the causes of climate change.

How will a LEED®home benefit me?

The benefits of a LEED®home include economic benefits such as lower energy and water bills; environmental benefits like reduced greenhouse gas emissions; and health benefits such as reduced exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins.

LEED®-certified homes may also be eligible for financial benefits such as lower fees for financing and lower insurance rates.

How can I compare a green home to a conventional home?

Think of LEED®as a nutrition label for your home that gives you much greater confidence in specific features of your home that will contribute to your quality of life.

LEED®certified green homes include a homeowner’s manual and a LEED® “scorecard” that reflects third-party verified information about your home’s energy performance, water savings, materials used in construction, and other features.

Similar, third-party verified information is typically not available for conventionally constructed homes.

What types of homes are LEED®certified?

The LEED®for Homes certification system is tailored for the construction of market rate and affordable new single family or low-rise multi-family homes (like condos and garden apartments). Existing homes undergoing extensive renovations – down to the last studs on at least one side of each exterior wall – are also eligible to participate in the program.Green Home Building

What about remodeling projects?

USGBC and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) have partnered to create the REGREEN Program, which are the first nationwide green residential remodeling guidelines for existing homes.


How can I purchase/build a LEED®home?

Tell your realtor or builder that you want a LEED®-certified home. Some markets now include whether a home is LEED®certified in MLS listings of homes for sale. If you are interested in purchasing a LEED®certified home in Georgia, please contact me. I have a list of builders participating in the program.

You can also visit http://www.thegreenhomeguide.org to find a homebuilder participating in the LEED®for Homes program in your area.

Do LEED®certified homes cost more?

LEED® certification can fit into your family’s budget regardless of what it is. LEED®certified homes include everything from luxury residences to Habitat for Humanity projects. Buying green and asking for LEED®-certification is your choice.

Are there any incentives?

Many local and state governments, utility companies and other entities across the country offer rebates, tax breaks and other incentives for green homes and for remodeling with green technologies.

Where can I find more information on green home building?

Visit http://www.thegreenhomeguide.org for comprehensive information and links to other great online resources.

If you are interested purchasing a “green” home or remodeling “green” in Georgia, please contact me. As a certified EcoBroker®, I have received additional education to promote energy-efficient, sustainable, and healthier design/features in homes and buildings. If you are a Buyer, I look at your individual situation and help you find a home that is comfortable, affordable, healthy and saves money on utility bills. If you are a Seller, I will help you identify how you can improve your home’s water and energy efficiency to appeal to today’s buyer.

Let’s go Solar

During my recent visit back home in beautiful Franconia (Bavaria), Germany I couldn’t help but notice the amount of Solar panels on roofs and Wind turbines in the distance. I wanted to share a few pictures I took during a Sunday afternoon while my daughter had the time of her life on my friend’s horse.


It is a great time in Georgia to implement free, solar energy in your home. The federal 30% tax credit for residential and commercial solar installations has been extended for 8 years. Also, the $2,000 monetary cap for residential solar electric installations has been eliminated (effective for property placed in service after December 31, 2008). More info here http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=217

The state of Georgia also has come through and passed some groundbreaking solar legislation! According to House Bill 670 passed a little while ago, businesses and residences are eligible for a clean energy property tax credit. The public service commission defines “clean energy property” as any that uses solar radiation to convert energy to useful forms. So, this includes photovoltaics, solar water heating, etc. You’ve got from now until December 31st, 2012 to put your system on line to qualify. Additionally, you need to file an application with the Commissioner of Revenue. Funds will  be distributed on a first come, first serve basis from a pool of $2.5 million. The credits are administered by the Department of Revenue who can be reached at 404-417-4477. More information here. 

Here’s the incentive rate schedule:

Residential installations

1. The lesser of 35 percent or $2,500 for solar energy equipment for water heating.

2. The lesser of 35 percent of $10,500 for solar energy equipment for heating applications.

3. The lesser of 35 percent or $2,000 for certified geothermal heat pump systems.

Business installations

1. The lesser of 35 percent or $500,000 for solar energy equipment for solar electric (photovoltaic),other solar thermal electric applications, and active space heating, wind equipment, and biomassequipment

2. The lesser of 35 percent or $100,000 for solar energy equipment for domestic water heating

3. The lesser of 35 percent or $100,000 for Energy Star certified geothermal heat pump systems

Sales tax holiday in Georgia for energy and water efficient products will be held October 2 – 5, 2008

The Oct. 2-5 sales tax holiday applies to ENERGY STAR appliances and, for the first time, products that carry the WaterSense label for water efficiency.

Georgia’s fourth annual ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday begins at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, October 2nd and continues until midnight on October 5th.  During this period, products carrying the ENERGY STAR label as well as WaterSense labeled products are exempt from the State Sales and use tax. 

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

WaterSense helps consumers to identify water-efficient products and programs. The WaterSense label indicates that these products and programs meet water efficiency and performance criteria. WaterSense labeled products will perform well, help save money and encourage innovation in manufacturing. For additional information on WaterSense, please visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/.

The sales tax exemption is intended only for individuals and their personal use.  It does not apply to purchases made for resale, purchases by businesses, items leased or rented, or items sold at sports facilities, theme parks, restaurants, public lodging establishments and airports.

SAVE even more:

If you live in a home built prior to 1993 and have an individual residential account with a participating water utility, you may qualify for the $100 rebate on the purchase of a WaterSense labeled, High Efficiency toilet.

Authorities that participate in the Rebate program:

•·        City of Atlanta·        City of Dallas, GA·        City of Hapeville·        City of Marietta

•·        City of Smyrna·        City of Roswell·        Cherokee County·        Clayton County

•·        Cobb County·        DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management

•·        Fayette County·        Fulton County·        Gwinnett County·        Henry County

•·        Paulding County

 Visit http://www.ecotransitions.com/rebate.asp for details on the rebate program by County.

ecoTransitions Inc., a WaterSense partner is a local supplier for Caroma High Efficiency toilets. Check out their huge selection at http://www.ecotransitions.com/caroma.asp. To see why these toilets work so well, visit http://www.youtube.com/ecotransitions.

Order your Caroma High Efficiency toilet today for pickup or delivery during the Sales Tax Holiday October 2-5, 2008 and SAVE Water and Money! For more info contact sales@ecotransitions.com.

How eating 4 burgers less per year can save 2,500 to 5,000 gallons of water

Not even to mention the calories and the cholesterol……

No, seriously. I never thought about it this way:

It takes about 5,000 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef. No, cows don’t drink that much water, but it takes so much to grow the corn they eat.

You don’t have to become a vegetarian or vegan to conserve water. But – going meatless for one day a week can make a big impact and can be a lot of fun too! Involve your kids to create tasty meals without meat. If you have to have meat, opt for chicken instead.

Why save Water?

Of all the water in the world, only 3% is fresh. Less than one third of 1% of this fresh water is available for human use. We are depleting our underground aquifers faster than we are replenishing them. The largest one, the Ogallala, which covers a vast part of the country from the Midwest to the mountain states, is being depleted by 13 trillion gallons a year. Eventually it is going to run out – and then what? Northwest Texas is already dry. They can’t get any water from their wells.

Our growing population is putting stress on available water supplies. The U.S. population almost doubled from 1950 to 2000. The demand however, tripled! Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water each day-enough to fill 1,600 drinking glasses! This increased demand has put additional stress on water supplies and distribution systems, threatening both human health and the environment.

We all need to do our part to save water. Visit http://epa.gov/watersense/ to find out how you can save water in your home. Little changes that make a big difference!


Think outside the bottle!

Join me and break the bottled water habit! Getting rid of bottled water is a win-win! You save money and water and help lessen the amount of plastic in landfills! You can now even win a trip to Glacier National Park. Please learn more about the campain here  http://water.newdream.org/campaigns/water/register/78023085e295e74b21a82b2bb7894a34/ 

Break the Bottled Water Habit, Win a Prize and Cut Your Carbon

When you want pure, healthy drinking water, you should reach for bottled water, right? Surprisingly, on neither a personal nor a global level are you making a healthy choice.

For each gallon of water bottled, two gallons are wasted; producing the plastic wastes  the energy equivalent of a quarter-bottle’s worth of oil. And what’s in the bottle could just be tap water.

New American Dream and Corporate Accountability International is asking you to think about where the water in that bottle came from, where the plastic is going, and take the Break the Bottled Water Habit pledge(water.newdream.org) and drink to a healthy ecosystem.

During October, make a conscious choice to slake your thirst without drying up our planet’s resources. In addition to benefiting the environment, participants will have a chance to win a free condo for a week at a ski resort in Idaho.  Visit the website (water.newdream.org now to get started.

THE ‘Green’ Wedding and Event facility in Marietta, GA




The Gardens at Kennesaw Mountain in Marietta, GA is THE Eco-Friendly Wedding and Event Facility in GA.  

They recently installed a Solar PV System to Generate Clean Electricity and Caroma Dual Flush Toilets to Save Water 

ATLANTA, GEORGIA, August 2, 2008 –

The Grand Ballroom of The Gardens at Kennesaw Mountain
The Grand Ballroom of The Gardens at Kennesaw Mountain

Back in the twentieth century Billy Idol sang about a “White Wedding” in his 1982 hit. But in the twenty-first century, mother and son team Ellie and Marc Sommers are leading the charge in Atlanta for “green” weddings, as well as “green” special events and “green” corporate events. They are the owners of The Gardens at Kennesaw Mountain in Marietta, Georgia. This event facility is on four idyllic, forested acres near the entrance to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.


The Gardens at Kennesaw Mountain, formerly known as the Kennesaw Mountain Winery, was acquired by the Sommers in 2006. They began implementing numerous environmentally friendly initiatives. Most recently they had a 1.3kW DC solar PV electric system,

1.3kW DC Solar PV Array at The Gardens at Kennesaw Mountain

manufactured by Schuco Solar of Germany, mounted onto the roof of the facility’s Grand Ballroom. The solar array was supplied and installed by Marietta-based SOENSO GA (soenso.com). The 1.3kW solar PV system will produce an average of 145kWh/month of free electricity. A system this size will generate just a portion of the total power needed for the facility, but it will shave peak-usage kWh’s and reduce each month’s electric bill. 

In addition, generating 145kWh/month of clean electricity from solar PV instead of using that same amount of electricity generated by coal-fired utility power plants will have the following positive annual impact on the environment: 

  • 2,826 pounds of carbon dioxide not released into the atmosphere
  • 3 barrels of foreign oil not imported
  • 145 gallons of gasoline not consumed

Other sustainable initiatives underway at The Gardens at Kennesaw Mountain include locally inspired and organic food, biodegradable and compostable food containers and flatware, waste recycling by Conex Recycling of Alpharetta and dual-flush toilets from ecoTransitions of Marietta. The Sommers also plan to install a solar thermal water heating system from SOENSO GA.

Update: They were recently featured as the “Going Green Champion of the Week” by WSB TV, see here http://www.wsbtv.com/video/17642364/

The Gardens at Kennesaw Mountain, 1127 White Circle NW, Marietta, Georgia 30060
On the Web: www.gardensatkennesaw.com,
Phone: (770) 396-5361, Email: catering@parsleys.com.
Thanks to SOENSO GA for providing this information 
SOENSO GA solar energy dealer/installer – On the Web: www.soenso.com.
Email: info@soenso.com



How small ‘compromises’ can make a BIG difference!

I just found this great article, published by Fred A. Bernstein in the New York times. The only part I just don’t understand is why it is such a big compromise for Americans to turn on lights or wait a few minutes until the room has reached the perfect temperature. These ‘compromises’ can help us all in saving money, resources and helping to get to Energy independency from countries we don’t want to be dependent on! Please see his article below or view it here http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/realestate/commercial/03sqft.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&ref=business&pagewanted=print

Checking In

Will Americans Accept Greener Hotel Rooms?


SEAN MacPHERSON, the New York hotelier, has been to Europe dozens of times. And he knows that across the Continent, many hotel rooms have master switches that help reduce power use.

Put the cylinder into the slot, and the power comes on. Take out the cylinder on your way out, and the power goes off.

Usually, a guest inserts a card into a slot when entering the room to turn on the electricity. Removing the card (which doubles as the room key) on the way out the door shuts off the power.

It is an easy way to conserve energy. Yet it is almost never seen in the United States. Guests who are in a hurry — or simply don’t care about saving electricity — leave TVs, air-conditioners and lights on when there is no one in the room. Brian McGuinness, a vice president of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, explained the mind-set of some travelers: “Part of being on the road means the ability to live a little more luxuriously than at home, and that means not having to turn off the lights and the TV.”

Mr. McGuinness added, “People say they want to be green, but they don’t want to compromise.” As a result, he said, “We don’t really know yet what it means to be green in the hospitality field.”

Last month, Starwood, which owns Westin and Sheraton Hotels, began a new “green” brand, called Element, which it bills as being eco-conscious and “kind to the environment,” with ample natural light, in-room recycling bins and faucet filters meant to reduce reliance on bottled water. But so far, Element hotels do not have master switches in their guest rooms.

Mr. McGuinness, the executive responsible for the Element brand, said that before building the hotels, the company surveyed potential customers about energy-saving features, including master switches.

“Some,” he recalled, “said they would suffer discomfort because they would get back to their room and it would be extremely hot.” Others, he said, “indicated that entering a dark room could be a safety issue.”

He said that future Element hotels might have a compromise master switch — one that controls the lights and the TV, while leaving the air-conditioning on.

Wen-I Chang, the developer of the Gaia Merced — a hotel being built in central California with master switches — estimated the price of installing them at about $300 a room, or less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the cost of construction.

Raefer K. Wallis, a Canadian-born architect living in China, helped design a hotel in Shanghai that is intended to be “carbon neutral.” That meant giving the hotel, called URBN, energy-saving features, including master switches. But in North America, he said, hoteliers think: “Why run the risk of losing a customer because a room needs a few minutes to cool while the air-conditioning kicks in? It’s better business just to run the A.C. and make sure the client comes back.”

Mr. Wallis added, “North America just doesn’t have the culture of saving resources.”

But Mr. MacPherson said he thinks the mood in this country is shifting.

He and his business partner, Eric Goode, didn’t install master switches at the Maritime Hotel, which opened in 2003, or the Bowery Hotel, which opened in 2007, both in Manhattan, believing that customers were not ready for them. But at their low-priced Jane Hotel, which opened last month on Jane Street in the West Village, they took the plunge.

At the Jane, the master switches are not controlled by key cards, which Mr. MacPherson said “seem impersonal and corporate.”

“We wanted to do it in a more stylish way,” he added.

So Mr. MacPherson had a metal shop make small brass cylinders, which he attached to each of the Jane’s key chains. Place the cylinder into a slot near the door to your room, and the power goes on. Pull the cylinder out, and it goes off. Mr. MacPherson’s team rigged the switches, he said, from standard electrical parts.

As recently as two years ago, he said, guests might have been put off by the enforced conservation. Now, Mr. MacPherson said: “The world has shifted. If you do the right thing, people pick up on it.”

Another device, also common in European hotels, raises similar issues. It saves a lot of water, but also forces guests to think about how they use resources.

The device is a dual-flush toilet. Instead of one button to operate the toilet, there are two: one for a 0.8-gallon flush (for liquid waste) and one for 1.6 gallons (for solids). The toilets, which average just under one gallon per flush — as opposed to 7 gallons for some older toilets — are standard in much of the world.

But in the United States, few hotels have installed them. Consumers expressed concern that the dual-flush toilets would not work, Mr. McGuinness said.

An American hotel that has tried the toilets, however, has reported no problems at all. In early 2007, Siegfried Richter, the manager of the Hilton Palacio del Rio in San Antonio, replaced more than 400 toilets in the hotel with dual-flush models.

The idea came from the San Antonio Water System, which was looking for a hotel to serve as a model for its “kick the can” program to replace wasteful toilets. Mr. Richter jumped at the chance.

The toilets are made by the Australian manufacturer Caroma, and were installed as part of a project that also involved switching to low-flow showerheads. Since the change, water use at the hotel dropped by about a million gallons a month, according to Eddie Wilcut, conservation manager of the San Antonio Water System. Mr. Wilcut attributed about 60 percent of that savings to the toilets.

The drop was so substantial that “the hotel thought its water meter was broken,” he said.

According to Mr. Richter, there has not been a single customer complaint about the toilets.

Mr. Chang said the Kohler dual-flush toilets he chose for the Gaia at Merced added about $80 to the cost of each room, which he described as a small price to pay.

Mr. Richter would like to see other hotels install the water-saving toilets. “We informed Hilton of our experience,” he said. “But I’m not an officer of the company,” he said, “nor do I have any great influence there.”