Environment Forum

Video Q+A with solar entrepreneur Dave Llorens

Solar energy is not a new technology, yet the adoption rate in the United States continues to crawl along. Just one percent of homes have made the switch to solar power and the reason is primarily a lack of understanding of how it all works, says Dave Llorens, founder and CEO of One Block Off the Grid (1BOG), a California solar retrofit company that groups together neighbourhoods to cut costs for consumers.

“The problem is nobody has it, but you should,” Llorens recently told Reuters in San Francisco, adding that it is common for in-home Q&A sessions to go on for hours and hours. “Everybody is so hungry for information, it’s like nobody knows anything.”

We asked Llorens about federal and state subsidies, technological advances, and the challenges of taking on global climate change locally. Here are his answers:

Q: How can the U.S. government improve its policies for the emerging solar market?

Q: What about people who criticize solar and say the only reason it works is because of all these subsidies?

Compost — or else! San Fran’s not just asking

No more Mr. Nice Green! San Francisco passed what it called the first mandatory requirement to throw carrot peels, moldy bread and other icky compostable material into separate bins in order to improve recycling. Total recycling would rise to 90 percent from a current 72 percent if all of the paper and scraps currently in the garbage were put in the right cans, the city said.

Mayor Gavin Newsom soft-pedaled the sticky side of the situation (although who wants any carrot in this story?). There is a $100 cap for fines on residences and small businesses, and the main goal is public awareness, he said in a statement.

The picture, by Reuters’ Daniel Aguilar, is of a dump in Mexico City, which is facing a crisis on where to put its garbage.

L.A. to be greenest big U.S. city?

downtownla.jpgLooking for clean air and lots of greenery? Los Angeles is probably not the first place that comes to mind.

Still, the city as famous for traffic and smog as it is for sunshine and celebrities is working hard to earn the mantle of the greenest big city in America.

In its latest move, the L.A. City Council this week passed a law that will require all new building projects bigger than 50 units or 50,000 square feet to comply with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building standards. The city claims the move will cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 80,000 tons by 2012 — the equivalent of taking 15,000 cars off the road.