Archive for the ‘Green travel’ Category

The Tesla S is here

October 8th, 2012

The Tesla Model S has arrived in the Hawaiian islands. Photo from gallery.

The Tesla Model S has arrived in the Hawaiian islands. Photo from gallery.

The Tesla Model S electric sedan has arrived in Honolulu and will be introduced at a presss conference Tuesday morning (Oct. 9) hosted by the Blue Planet Foundation and Volta Industries.

Concerns over limited travel range, limited seating and "sexiness" were all adressed in the new Tesla Model S, which travels up to 300 miles per charge (at 55 miles per hour), seats up to seven and accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds.

The Tesla S interior features a 17-inch WiFI control center.

The Tesla S interior features a 17-inch touchscreen with WiFi-enabled control center. Photo from

Prices start at a more affordable $49,000 (with federal tax incentives up to $7,500). The Tesla Roadster, by contrast, starts at prices over $100,000. There are also battery options that include 40, 60 and 85 kilowatt hours. Inside the Model S offers a 17-inch touchscreen with a WiFi-enabled control center.

They come in signature red, black, silver and white.

Hawaii commuters currently drive a total of 29 million miles a day, burning an average of $5.4 million in gas, emitting 13,500 tons of carbon dioxide pollution, according to Blue Planet. Electric cars offer an alternative.

Hawaii is on its way to reaching an expected milestone of 1,000 registered EVs this month.

Tesla's first run of the Model S included 3,000 vehicles. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company plans to manufacture 20,000 of the Model S for 2013. Reservations are available at

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Consumer Watchdog challenges Hyundai's 40 MPG claims

February 3rd, 2012

Is your car's mileage really what it was advertised to be?

Consumer Watchdog has called Hyundai out on its "40 Miles Per Gallon" claim about the Elantra in an ad slated to run during the Super Bowl. Hyundai has pulled the 40 MPG claim but says it was not influenced by Consumer Watchdog.

The group has a counter-advertisement posted on YouTube, noting professional testers at Consumers Union were only able to achieve 29 MPG in combined city and highway tests of the 2011 Elantra, 12 percent below the company's claim of 33 MPG.

Consumer Watcdog has urged the Environmental Protection Agency to re-test the 2011 and 2012 Elantra. Hyundai tested its original MPG tests, the basis for its EPA-certified claim of 50 MPG highway, 29 MPG city and 33 MPG in combined driving.

But real-world reports and professional driving tests report much worse mileage.

Scrutiny over MPG claims is growing after the owner of a Honda Civic hybrid in California won a small-claims court challenge Wednesday on the car's false MPG claims.

"Consumers who increasingly buy cars on the basis of high miles per gallon — then can't get close to the posted figure — are justifiably angry," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. "Hyundai's omission of its touted '40 MPG' claim in its Super Bowl ads, after making a very big deal of it in earlier advertising, shows that the company is hearing the hoofbeats of consumer outrage."

Consumer Watchdog sent a letter Wednesday to Hyundai's U.S. CEO. You can read a copy of the correspondence here.

Time to plug in

October 12th, 2011

The Mitsubishi MiEV, 100-percent electric, arrives in early 2012. It's being dubbed as the most affordable EV in America with a starting price of $21,625 after tax savings. Photo from

The Mitsubishi MiEV, 100-percent electric, arrives in early 2012. It's being dubbed as the most affordable EV in America with a starting price of $21,625 after tax savings. Photo from

If you drive, you've probably felt the pain at the gas pump recently. Unless, of course, you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle. As gas prices keep increasing, it will eventually make sense for drivers to look for alternatives — and to plug in.

Electric car drivers across Oahu are going to champion their benefits as part of the first National Plug In Day this Sunday, Oct. 16. The day is being organized by Plug In America, the Sierra Club and Electric Auto Association.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., plug-in cars by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Wheego and others will be on hand for viewing and limited test drives at Haleiwa Farmers' Market, along with EV chargers and other products.

From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. the electric cars will be at the "piano lot" next to the Children's Discoveory Center in Kakaako. At 2 p.m., a new charging spot will also be unveiled at Kakaako Waterfront Park.

Curious about what electric cars are in the pipeline and when they'll be available? You can check them out at the plug-in vehicle tracker.

It's great to see the vision of Better Place Hawaii taking shape, with EV charging stations at the state Capitol, the Sheraton Waikiki and elsewhere. I noticed Disney's new Aulani resort at Ko Olina has four EV charging stations in its parking lot. I'm glad they were thinking ahead.

Elsewhere in the U.S., there will be electric car parades, lectures, a ceremonial plugging-in and other events. For a complete list of Plug In Day events, go to

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Recycle. Compost. Landfill.

June 1st, 2011

At the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, you can choose to recycle, compost or contribute to the landfill. Photo by Nina Wu.

At the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, you can choose to recycle, compost or contribute to the landfill. Photo by Nina Wu.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was inspired by the way recycling bins are set up everywhere — from SFO International Airport to the Ferry Building at Embarcadero and at the California Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park.

At the Academy, your choices are to recycle (and there are photo illustrations explaining what to recycle, including plastics No. 1 to No. 6, tin foil, and glass), compost (90 percent of your waste can be composted, including paper plates, food scraps, wood chopsticks and biodegradable utensils), or landfill (plastic wraps and rubber bands).

I thought it was an ingenious way to remind people that when we throw trash away, it doesn't just go away, especially on an island like Oahu.

So maybe we could try the same thing here — at Honolulu International Airport, the Honolulu Academy of Arts and in Waikiki, where we really need it. Unfortunately, only plastics No. 1 and 2 are recycled here in Honolulu, and we don't have a large-scale facility where compostable utensils can actually compost — at least, not yet.

Kudos to Bishop Museum for getting a solar PV system, which makes so much sense.

At SFO airport, there were bins for paper, which would be most appropriate for recycling newspapers. We should set that up here at Honolulu airport.

The compost at the California Academy of Sciences is picked up by Recology, which then goes to Jepson Prairie Organics two miles east of Vacaville, where it is converted into compost that goes to farms, vineyards, and highway erosion control projects. The Academy averages about 120 cubic yards per month from its compost bins, and 300 cubic yards per month from its recycling bins. Not bad.


If you're heading to San Francisco, the museum is a great way to spend the day.

Check out the four-story tropical rainforest, and walk among butterflies and birds, or lean back in your seat and go on a journey to the edge of the universe while watching "Life: A Cosmic Story" at the Planetarium. The aquarium is fun, too — the fish from the Philippine Coral Reef will remind you of Hawaii.

On exhibit this summer: "Snakes & Lizards: The Summer of Slither" (May 9 to Sept. 5, 2011). Shiver! Thank goodness we have no snakes (that we know of) here in Hawaii.

The California Academy of Sciences, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is a Platinum LEED-certified building, with radiant floor heating, a 2.5-acre living roof (that you can check out), walls insulated with recycled blue jeans, a solar canopy of 60,000 photovoltaic cells that will supply at least 5 percent of the academy's energy needs, toilets that are flushed by reclaimed water, and rechargeable sensor faucets.

It's an inspiring example of what can be accomplished in green building. Even more simple is the idea of putting out three bins — one for recycling, one for composting, and one for the landfill.


The California Academy of Sciences' 'Living Rooftop' features native plants which become a home for winged visitors including birds, butterflies and insects. The hills house the Academy's rainforest and planetarium. Skylights help bring in natural light and ventilate hot air from the building. Photo by Nina Wu.

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