Carbon Conservation & Energy Efficiency


Bruce Rowse & Team

Indoor plants make buildings safer

September 7th, 2009

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found in concentrations consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. These cause significant health risks. Now scientific research has confirmed that the solution is in many common, easy-care indoor plants.

VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

Symptoms from VOCs include eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.  Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, shortness of breath, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, vomiting, nosebleed, fatigue and dizziness.

So you could say that these plants are self-regulating air purifiers which also produce oxygen and remove carbon from the air.

As well as adding to our safety, plants add greatly to our comfort. We feel good when we’re around healthy plants because they’re a key part of our natural environment,. To top it off, plants are beautiful, modular and incredibly good value.

So select from those listed below, and google how to care for them, it’s simple. Just be aware that many indoor plants are chosen because they are understorey plants. This means in a forest they shelter under other taller plants, and so often do not cope well with any direct sunlight on them.

These Indoor Plants have been proven to Reduce Air Pollution

Common name Latin name

Parlour Palm Chamaedorea elegans

Dracaena Dracaena marginata and D. “Janet Craig’

Kentia palm Howea forsteriana),

Peace Lilly Spathiphyllum ‘Petite’, Spathiphyllum. ‘Sensation’),

Philodendron ‘Congo’ Philodendron ‘Congo’


Umbrella Tree Schefflera ‘Amate’

Snake Plant /Mother-in-law’s Tongue    Sansevieria trifasciata

Zanzibar Zamioculcas zamiifilia

Sources: Recent Research carried out by the National Interior Plantscape Association and Professor Margaret Burchett at the University of Technology Sydney.

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You have SPAM with a huge carbon footprint

September 3rd, 2009

You may have come across this news item a couple of months ago but it is worth taking another look. Although, the study was conducted by a major spam-ware corporation, it is clear that junk e-mails have a huge carbon footprint.


Anything powered by electricity emits greenhouse gases. Recently research was conducted in the US to find out the amount of energy needed to transmit, process and filter spam globally. The results were startling. According to the ‘Carbon Footprint of Spam’ report the average greenhouse gas emission of a single spam message is 0.3 grams of CO2. Is this a lot? Well, if you multiply this by the number of spam sent annually it translates into a huge figure.

It is estimated that there are 62 trillion junk e-mails sent each year. In terms of energy this equals to the energy needed to drive a car around the planet 1.6 million times. If looking at the electricity needed to power these spam it equals to 33 billion kWh. This amount of electricity could power 2.4 million homes for a year! Spam-related emissions for all e-mail users around the world in 2008 totalled 17 million tons of CO2 or about the same as the emissions produced by 3.1 million passenger cars. That’s 0.2% of the total global emissions.

The report found that about 85 to 91% of all e-mails globally is spam. Nearly 80% of the spam-related GHG emissions came from the energy used by the PC users viewing, deleting and searching for legitimate e-mails amongst the junk e-mails. But spam filtering itself accounts for about 16% of spam-related energy use. To view and trash a piece of spam takes about 3 seconds.

If every inbox were protected by spam filters, organisations and individuals could reduce today’s spam energy by 75% or by 25 billion kWh per year. This would save the same amount of greenhouse emissions as produced by 2.3 million cars. In late 2008 a major source of online spam was taken off line and global spam volumes dropped by 70%. However, there are always new ones to take its place.

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What surface area is required to solar power the whole world?

September 2nd, 2009

View “Todd’s Postereous Blog” to see a map of the world showing for each continent the area that needs to be covered with solar panels in order to meet all the world’s power needs. You might be surprised!

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Weather in August our most extreme on record

August 28th, 2009

David Jones, the bureau of meteorology’s head of climate analysis, as reported in the the Age, said earlier this week that temperature benchmarks for August had been broken in every state and territory. ”In duration, extent and the magnitude of anomalies it is beyond historical experience and it hasn’t finished,” he said.

See full article at the Age newspaper.

I find this very disturbing. It appears that climate change is happening very quickly, reinforcing again the need for urgent action to cut emissions.

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Will we look back at today as a period of climate change or the start of climate change?

August 25th, 2009
Australia is one of the places in the world where climate change is most strongly felt. The climate has been noticeably changing for around 10 years now, and in Melbourne the graph of the city’s water supply levels dramatically illustrates this. Twelve years ago at this time our dams were 80% full. Today they are around 28% full.
Melbourne water storage levels (courtesy Melbourne Water)

Melbourne water storage levels (courtesy Melbourne Water)

This week the weather is not what we expect for winter. Melbourne is known as a place of changeable weather, so I can’t recall a winter where we have had 5 or 6 nights in a row of strong winds. In Brisbane the temperature was 32 degrees Celsius yesterday. Its winter for goodness sake!

So are we going to look back at this time as a period of climate change or the start of climate change? The science seems quite clear. Unless we can quickly slash the amount of greenhouse gas being generated by human activity, the climate will continue to change. My young children may never in their lifetimes know what it is like to live in a stable climate.

The famous Dr Seus children’s book The Tale of the Lifted Lorax finishes by saying “unless someone like you cares an awful lot…”

Unless we get global emissions reduction quickly, 2009 will be viewed historically as a year back in time where people started to notice that the weather was changing. Unless we quickly stop putting great amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, stabilise, then reduce atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases people won’t be looking back and saying “2000 to 2030 was the time where the climate changed quickly.”

Think about this next time you make or support a decision that results in greenhouse gas being generated somewhere.

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