Earth Day, Spread the Joy

Cool Roof
Santa Clara Earth day , feeling the cool roof in action. Note the solar cell on the roof.

By Bruce Naegel May 2018

Earth Day represents a great day to look at our options to save the planet and have a better life.  We can make every day Earth Day with  changes in our lives.

SSV (Sustainable Silicon Valley) participated in Earth Days in 2018, East Palo Alto, Fenwick and West, Google, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara.  We had two distinct audiences, corporate and family. This means those of us working the booth get to see youthful enthusiasm in action. SSV has two demonstrations that captivate both youth and adults.

Solar House on Earth Day

The first is the Solar House, which demonstrates “cool roofs” and solar power.  A cool roof is one that is highly reflective. Many standard roofs are dark in color. This absorbs light and turns it into heat.  A reflective roof  is usually lighter in color and reflects the light back.   We have measured a 15-degree difference in temperature between the dark roof and the “cool roof” with Solar House. You can see young hands on the roof, feeling the difference in temperature..

Solar House also has a PV (Photo Voltaic) cell that produces electricity in the sun.  There are three devices powered by this solar cell.

–           A light bulb
–           A fan (covering heating and cooling)
–           An electronic sound generator (covering electronic devices)

In bright sunlight, one sees the bulb light up, the fan spin and the electronic device make noise. Covering the solar cell stops all the activity, showing solar power at work.  So active hands can see the sun powering the home.

Crowding around the Solar House and Carbon Burgers

Earth Day’s Carbon Burger Challenge

What we eat influences the amount of GHG we are putting into the atmosphere. The more our diet is based on vegetables, the kinder we are to the earth’s atmosphere. To show this, we have the “Carbon Burgers”. These are plastic replicas of burgers. One of the three has the weight of GHG for creating a vege-burger patty. The other two have the GHG weight for a turkey burger patty and a beef burger patty.

Fenwick Carbon Burger

At Fenwick and West, eyeing the Carbon Burger Challenge


The “Carbon Burger Challenge” provides a tactile way to display the difference between them. The vege-burger is a light lift weighting 1/2 lb. The turkey burger raises the bar at 1.5 lbs. The beef burger creates a challenge to lift with 6 lbs. This provides a way to talk about food choices. Eating less beef means less GHG in the atmosphere


6 lb carbon burgr
Six pounds of Carbon Burger is a challenge to lift

We usually get one of three answers to the significance of the Carbon Burger Challenge.

–           Wow, I did not know beef was this bad. Why is this?
–           I am already a vegetarian or eat mainly turkey.
–           I like beef and will keep eating it.

Fortunately, we are seeing increasing numbers of people that are looking at alternatives to beef. We mention during the discussion that there are two vegetable-based burgers that taste like beef burgers. One is the Impossible Burger and another is Beyond Meat.

Our read of the audiences indicates the “Carbon Burger Challenge” is memorable.  We have also received comments from people afterward on the Carbon Burger challenge.

So, What is Next after Earth Day?

?We should all realize every day is Earth Day and see what changes we can make in our lives. One can start out gradually. Perhaps one cuts back on the beef consumed.  How about a vegetable only Monday?

Solar has gotten less expensive and perhaps this is an option. If Solar will not work for your roof or your budget, consider buying carbon free electricity (produced in part by Solar) from your electricity supply is there.

Do you consider an electric car as your next auto? Electric vehicles that run on carbon free electricity supply carbon free transportation. They can be zippy and the newer models have longer ranges.

Some recommendations can be found at this blog.
Save Energy and Earn Money
Water Conservation and Efficiency
Electrify your home
Carbon Free Electricity Sources
Try a Plant Based Burger

There are many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.You are likely to discover that some of them are just better than what you did before. Enjoy!