QR Codes are Green and Good For Business

After watching a GoDaddy commercial last night with a prominently displayed QR code on the screen, I started thinking just how evironmentally friendly QR codes really are. More on that in a minute.

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If you don’t know much about QR codes, don’t be surprised. I was really only made aware of them during the last year or so as they are becoming more of a useful tool in the real estate business. A QR codes is essentially a bar code that can be read very quickly and which can store a lot of information. Most smart phone either have QR scanners installed or they can be downloaded as apps. The scanner reads the code which most often directs the user to a website of the advertiser or other relavent information. QR codes can be found and read from just about anywhere including business cards, magazines, signs, buses, and even t-shirts.

So back to the GoDaddy commercial. I watch a fair amount of TV but I never noticed a QR code on TV till then. The QR code was on the bottom left of the screen during the entire commercial. Since I wasn’t quick enough to grab my phone and get to the app during the commercial, I backed it up on the DVR and as it played again I scanned the QR code.

Well it worked just perfectly as the GoDaddy home page opened up as normal. They could have really sent me to any particular page on their website, to any article of choice, photos, music, or just about anything imaginable to keep my interest. So to me its benefit really lies in two areas:

1. Use in Marketing and Business/Brand Promotion. No doubt of the current and potential future benefits here. Although I am familiar with GoDaddy, my curiosity got me to scan the code. In the real estate business, we can use QR codes in many ways such as highlighting a property in a marketing plan, or providing relavent information to a large number of people who choose to look at it. Of course the general concepts of business development and branding apply.

2. The Environmentally Friendly Aspect. It’s always nice when business products come along that also support the larger sustainability picture. Now we are able to target a particular market without generating any paper. Of course its not just the paper, but all the energy that is used in the production and transportation of all that paper. And most of the paper never gets viewed anyway and only a small portion gets recycled.

In the GoDaddy example, they were able to successfully build their brand name by having me direct my attention to the TV commercial and then play on the website a little bit after scanning the QR code. But no paper was generated or wasted, I got all the information that I needed at the time, and I went on to my next thought with a good feeling about GoDaddy for trying to advertise and market in a sustainable manner. How the company ranks overall in sustainability I can’t say, but this use of the QR code on TV certainly saved energy.

I plan on using QR codes more in my business and in marketing properties for my clients. It’s a win-win situation!


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Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Reduces Carbon Footprint

I always knew that eating a vegetarian or vegan diet reduced our carbon footprint.  But I never knew by how much.  I stumbled onto this article today, and even though its a couple of years old, it puts the reduction in carbon footprint in quantifiable terms. Eat a Vegetarian Diet, Reduce Your Carbon Footprint by a Ton – Planet Green.

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The Switch Away From Plastic Water Bottles

I’ve been meaning to write about our switch from plastic water bottles to metal or reusable water bottles or a while. Then I read this article this morning which really provides a super description of whats involved in the process of making water bottles and one couples decision to stop using them.  I highly recommend this informative and colorful article. Green Parent Chicago : The single use plastic bottle culture.

We came to our own decision after receiving two reusable water bottles about two years ago as a corporate gift.  Well, it was the most useful corporate gift I had ever received although I didn’t know it at the time.  I have to admit I was caught in the culture of using plastic water bottles at the time.  The rational was that is was better than soda or other sugary drinks and I was recycling the bottles.  And, add in the general fallacy that municipal water is not as good.  But I was really missing the larger picture of all the energy being used to create the bottles and then transport the water!

Once we got into the habit of not buying water and bringing along our own with us, not only did we begin to feel better environmentally, but we were saving huge amounts of money. Just two bottles a day, 5 days a week @$1.50/bottle is $780. In more expensive cites, that could easily be $1,000/year for just one person, and many people drink more than two bottles a day.

After you do it for a while, you realize how easy it is to bring your own water along.  At work, I just keep a large glass from my house that I refill at the water bottle.  When on the road, we just refill at gas stations or other stops.  So we still drink plenty of water every day but we save money and the environment at the same time.  Pretty good deal I would say!

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Recycling at Music Festivals

I’m a big fan of music and going to festivals has become my primary way to see bands. What I’ve found is that music festivals are trying harder and harder to be Green and operate in a sustainable manner, but like most things there are certain parts of the country that tend to be the leaders.

Although I am a fan of living in the deep south, we’re not usually on the forefront of progressive movements such as recycling and sustainability.  It makes it’s way here, just not as fast.  But I’ve seen some things this weekend that have really impressed me.

We’re in the middle of a really fun 3 day music festival on the beach called DeLuna Fest (www.delunafest.com).  Although there is a great musical lineup, there has been some internal politics and issues with the Festival that had soured many and led to some bad press and social media comments.  I had read very little if anything about their Green efforts and I just figured it would be minimal.  I was wrong!

While some of these items may seem small, they are a big step in the right direction for southern music festivals.  First off I noticed in the FAQ’s section that “no styrofoam or non-recycleable containers are allowed on the site.”  I had never really seen this before in a FAQ’s section so thought this sounded pretty good.

When we got there, one of the first things we noticed was all the water filling stations. We had brought our own water bottle, but since the filling stations were sponsored by Grooveshark, they were giving away free reusable water bottles!!  So no having to buy water and waste money and create all that waste, although recyclable…still waste.  I attended a music festival called Hangout in Gulf Shores, AL back in May and they promised water filling stations.  What they had was one or two water hoses with long lines.  Basically BS.  But DeLuna Fest got it right with lots of easy ways to fill your water bottles.

The other positive thing was all the recycle bins.  This needs a little work because unless you looked real hard, you really couldn’t tell whether it was trash or recycle since the two cheap cardboard containers looked the same.  Ideally, the recycle container should look different for easy ID.  But I still applaud DeLuna Fest for their efforts.

So these festivals are going in the right direction in trying to be fair to the environment. There is certainly less impact than having all these shows separately and its nice to see all the bikes on the beach! Hopefully other southern music festivals, like Hangout in Gulf Shores, will begin to understand the sustainability issues and responsibilities that come along with the ultimate profit they are trying to achieve.

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Thermostats are not always accurate

I see a lot of online discussions based around the topic of what you set your thermostat at in your home.  People have lots of reasons for why they set it where they do.  Certainly, generally maintaining the highest comfortable setting in the summer and the lowest comfortable setting in the winter is preferred.  Buy what I discovered is that thermostats do not always read correctly and the temperature that the thermostat shows and the actual temperature in the room can vary greatly.  There are three major reasons which can cause this:

1. Simple calibration.  Like any similar type instrument, thermostat can occasionally become uncalibrated and read incorrectly.  Your HVAC technician can confirm this.

2.  The thermostat is mounted on an exterior wall.  This was the problem in our home.  The thermostat was reading 76 but it felt very cold in the room, probably more like 70.  When we removed the panel, it was so much warmer in the wall cavity that the thermostat was reading high and causing the system to call for cooling unnecessarily. Because of the nature of our home, we really couldn’t move it anywhere.  So we insulated the box the best we could and although the temperature reads closer, its still a few degrees off.  So we just know that 78 probably means about 74 or 75, and we tell our guest who stay here.

3.  The box is not properly insulated.  As I mentioned above there was no insulation in the box and it was picking up heat from the exterior wall.  Ideally, the box should be on an interior wall.  If the house is properly insulated and there in no air infiltration in the walls, then there is really no reason to insulate the box.  But if it is an older house, or there is too much air movement in the walls, the insulating the box will help ensure more accurate temperature readings.

In any event, its never a bad idea to measure the temperature in different parts of  a room and compare it to what the thermostat reads.  I think most of the time you will find the numbers to be slightly different.  You can then try to remedy the situation if you can, but if not, just recognize the difference and factor it in when you set your thermostat from then on.

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Thoughts from Greenbuild 2011

Having just returned from the Greenbuild Expo and Convention in Toronto, I am loaded with enthusiasm and new ideas with regard to sustainable construction, energy efficiency, and conservation of our limited resources.   I was so impressed with the Canadian attitude toward recycling and energy conservation in general.  Toronto was a very clean and friendly city that I would like to visit again when I have more time to really take in some sites.  I did visit the Hockey Hall of Fame and get to see the Maple Leafs play the Canadians in the opening game of the NHL season.  All walking distance from the hotel.

But the reason I was there was for the Expo and education opportunities.  It was almost impossible just to view the Expo in the two days I was there.  There is just so much, and to see so many new and innovative products in one location was really exciting.  I’ll write more about some of my favorite new products and the one’s I think may easily be incorporated into our homes and businesses right now with minimal investment and quick payback.

One thing is for sure, the Expo seemed to be dominated by two recurring product themes; Green/Living Roof systems and water retention and reuse systems.  Maybe it just seemed that way because these are two systems I’m pretty familiar with and that I would like to add to my own home.  I’ve got a nice flat roof that would be perfect for a Green roof and big area under our deck where rain water could be stored in a bladder or other container system.  Then we can irrigate from there……and if I could get our county to amend a few ordinances, we could use that water for flushing.  Good information and education are the keys to understanding.

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