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Shut that door!
Dominic Murphy, Guardian
Britain's shops waste hundreds of millions on fuel - and emit vast quantities of CO2 - by leaving their doors open. But shoppers are now demanding they change their ways.
At home, we are urged to insulate our attics, draught-proof our windows, share baths and generally rally round to fight climate change together. Yet walk down the high street on a cold day, and you would think that many retailers are oblivious to global warming, their doors wide open, their heating on full blast. Like patio heaters or television standby buttons, open shop doors are rapidly turning into a national eco-irritant.
Estimates suggest around £300m annually is wasted by shops because their doors are left open - many could slash their energy bills by 20-25% if they closed them. Using figures produced by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, I calculated that the average shop (about 600sq m of floor space) emits nearly 500kg of carbon dioxide every day in heating and lighting. That is twice as much as an office or factory of an equivalent size. "It does seem plain stupid that stores are continuing to leave doors open when there seems to be a clear business case for not doing so and they are damaging the environment," says a spokesman for the National Consumer Council. "Actually, stores could make a virtue out of their closed doors, and show they are environmentally friendly."
On the surface, it looks like an open-and-shut case, especially since consumers are increasingly complaining about open doors.
(20 March 2008)
Bibi van der Zee comments: "High fuel prices and a recession may teach us more about energy efficiency than environmental campaigners have managed"
Agraria picks five-acre site
Lauren Heaton, Yellow Springs News (Ohio)
The model, low-energy development Community Solution calls Agraria became a little more real late last fall when organizers of the project purchased a 5.1-acre parcel of land on the north end of town. And after informal discussions with the Village about possible annexation, Community Solution hired a consultant to study the feasibility of building a sustainable community of 10, 20, or 30 houses on the property.
“Our dream is to have a demonstration of a passive housing development using half or less of the land for housing and the rest for agriculture and organic gardening,” Community Solution member Faith Morgan said. “And we hope,” added Community Solution Director Pat Murphy, “that those who will be happy to live in a small space without deleterious effects on the planet will come here.”
The idea for Agraria was first proposed at Community Solution’s second annual Peak Oil Conference in 2006, when the energy-efficient development’s plan to design a lifestyle using 75 percent less energy seemed “radical,” Murphy said. Since then, the issue of fuel shortages and the environmental impact of energy consumption has come into mainstream consciousness, he said, and made the concept of reducing our energy usage to half its current rate seem reasonable. It has even made much bigger reductions, on the order of 80 to 90 percent, seem necessary in order to soften the impact of climate change, he said.
Since Agraria was conceptualized, Community Solution has remained active in researching and planning for the best and most effective solutions for Agraria.
(20 March 2008)
New green website in UK
Sandy Irvine, Ecological Sustainability
You may be interested in a new website which seeks to give a 'deep green' analysis of the world as well as provide resources for all those fighting to protect it. its address is
There is considerable material posted already and lots more to come. The Ecocide bibliography, for example, will help the Earth's friends to refute the 'denialists' who think that there is no real danger and that environmental conservation is some minor luxury. By contrast the The Sustainable Society bibliography gives what may well be the most detailed set of references to the means by which a more ecologically durable and socially fulfilling way of living might be constructed. It covers a huge range of sub-topics from wildlife conservation to urban design. Green Roots… essay provides a very accessible overview of the growth of environmentalist thought. As you can see, book reviews will be a major feature of the site. A string of cartoons add some variety.
Soon-to-be-posted bibliographical studies includes ones on 'Energy', 'Agriculture', 'Transport', 'The Built Environment', 'The Crisis Within Society', 'Education', 'Mass Media', 'Political Ideas', and War and Peace'. A major essay on the mismatch between existing political units and the underlying biogeophysical regions is also nearing completion. Future book reviews include Ben Barber's Consumed plus a feature review on 'econovels'. An appreciation of the great photographer Ansel Adams is scheduled.
Feedback about specific material and the site as a whole will be most welcome. We really would appreciate any publicity you can give us.
The file 'About Us' gives some background about our project.
Sandy Irvine (Mr.)
co-author A Green Manifesto, founder and co-editor Real World, author Beyond Green Consumerism and one-time member of the executive of the Green Party of England and Wales
Alec Ponton (Mr)
co-author A Green Manifesto, co-editor Real World, former co-chairman of the Ecology Party he Green Party of England and Wales and graphic designer with four posters which are in the collection of the V & A Museum
Newcastle Upon Tyne, England