As the sun comes out and the Everest-like snow piles begin to melt, it’s clear that we are at the beginning of another season out on the trail! Spring cleaning is officially upon us, so besides having time to dust off your shelves and spruce up your window displays, it is equally as important to reassess how to cut down on your monthly overhead. And surprise, surprise! Being green can help you accomplish this.
Simple steps to cut down overhead include:
-turning lights off when you leave the room
–power strips when not in use can be turned off
-lowering the thermostat down after work hours
-using compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent
We already have some great ideas for lowering your monthly overhead and simultaneously becoming a more sustainable business archived right here in the GAP SBN blog all available as a resource for your perusal. Also, we at the Trail Town Outreach Corps want to remind you that we are another valuable resource available to help you research sustainable practices, help you write grant applications, or find you the assistance you need to make your sustainable business vision a reality!
Also, please remember that the GAP Sustainable Business Network is a place for you, the forward-thinking local businesses along the trail, to engage in dialogue as a community about how to better your sustainable business practices by sharing new ideas, detailing your own challenges, or reaching out for assistance.
This is your network to build as you see fit so be sure to make the most of it!
A question that arose at the Great Allegheny Passage Sustainability Summit last week concerns biodiesel. Eric Martin (owner, Wilderness Voyageurs and Falls City Pub) and Mike Dreisbach (owner, Savage River Lodge) both refine their used cooking oil into biodiesel for their vehicles. The questions put forth were:
1. What vehicles can run on biodiesel?
2. Do the vehicles need to be modified for such use?
In order to run a vehicle on biodiesel the vehicle must have a diesel powered engine. Diesel vehicles get great mileage (a modern VW Golf diesel gets upwards of 50 mpg). Diesels are generally the longest lasting reliable cars on the road with most engines lasting over 400,000 miles. Unfortunately in the US the diesel vehicle selection is limited as compared to the rest of the world. However, this seems to be changing as the price of gas goes up and diesel hybrid technology is developed. Volkswagen sells all their models in diesel versions called TDI, which are excellent biodiesel vehicles. Jeep is just now coming out with a diesel version of their Liberty SUV. Ford, Dodge, Chevy and GMC all currently sell diesel versions of their large pickups and Mercedes is about to come out with a new turbo diesel in the US. There are also a host of older vehicles such as Mercedes, Volvo, etc that can be found on the used market in diesel. You can find a great list of all US diesel makes and models at:
Most vehicles do not require any prep to run biodiesel. However for vehicles manufactured before 1985 the fuel line should be changed to a modern fluorinated plastic such as Viton as the biodiesel could cause swelling in some older plastic lines. If the vehicle has been running petro-diesel for a long time you should be prepared to change the fuel filter in the first few thousand miles of biodiesel use. Biodiesel will flush all the petro-diesel residue from your system and it will end up in your fuel filter. As this happens you will feel a gradual loss of power over a few days, this is the signal to change the filter.
Both Eric and Mike mentioned future ideas to perhaps begin Biodiesel Co-ops. So what does a biodiesel co-op entail? A co-op is a community of people that committ to share ideas, skills, and in most cases goods. For a membership fee, members of a co-op generally receive discounted products or goods. A biodiesel co-op would therefore use this principle based around the manufacture and distribution of biodiesel.
To understand how it operates in reality, here are a few examples of successful Biodiesel Co-ops:
No doubt you’ve seen the “Idiot’s Guide” books. A new, much-blogged about interview with author Trish Riley introduces the series’ newest edition: “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Greening Your Business.” The interview and book offer easy suggestions to implement, as well as higher-reach actions. Riley’s perspective on the collective power of businesses to influence their communities is especially inspiring and her nod to the profit-friendly benefits of going green is compelling. Whether you’re well-practiced in sustainable business, or just getting started, read the interview for some positive reinforcement. According to the review by David M. Kinchen, the book is comprehensive, easy to use and with a long list of resources to get started; topics include creating a sustainable business plan, collaborating with like-minded business owners to reduce costs, and cutting energy and fuel costs.
Join the Trail Town Program for a great KICK-OFF EVENT for the Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network!
We are hosting a half-day summit on Wednesday, November 18, from 10:00am – 2:30pm.
No matter where you are in the process of making more sustainable choices for your business— whether you’re thinking about ways to save money, wondering what “sustainability” is all about and how it affects you, recycling or composting, or making even bigger changes— we hope to see you there.
At the summit we’ll…
- Meet Eric Martin of Wilderness Voyageurs who will give a quick intro and talk about why he’s signing his businesses on to the program
- Hear from Mike Dreisbach of Savage River Lodge about his impressive greening efforts, and the money he saves as a result
- Discuss the SBN program and also give a brief demonstration on the FREE sustainability assessments that we offer
- Walk or carpool to Lucky Dog Café for a fresh, local lunch
- Visit the Confluence Cyclery to check out their energy efficient HVAC system and weatherization efforts
- Hand out FREE CFL light bulbs to participating businesses
- Give practical, economically AND environmentally sound solutions for running your business
- Network and brainstorm with other Trail Town businesses interested in sustainable business practices
The cost to attend is $10 and covers lunch. Please register with the Trail Town Outreach Corps by November 13. Call (724) 603-3151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.