Category Archives: Science & Tech

A Better Way to Check Tire Pressure

RightPSI Tire Pressure Gauge

RightPSI lets you know if your tire pressure is low at a glance.

How often do you check your car’s tire pressure? Do you even know how often you should check your tire pressure? It’s not a difficult task, but it’s not convenient, either. You have to find your gauge, keep track of four tiny caps, get your hands dirty, wrestle with an air hose. Is it all worth it? Well, yes. And a new product called RightPSI will make the task much easier.

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First Look: Our New Headquarters

Rendering of Sustainable America's new Stamford, Connecticut, office space

These renderings show the vision behind our new office in Stamford, Connecticut.

When it came time to design permanent office space for Sustainable America in Stamford, Conn., our dream was for it to be more than just a collection of desks and conference rooms. We wanted to showcase the innovations that will help us build more sustainable food and fuel systems. Here’s a first look at our plans: compost bins, growing walls, EVs and more!

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Investing in a Sustainable Future

Sustainable America

If you’ve been following Sustainable America’s evolution over the last two years, you know that part of our philosophy is that investing in entrepreneurs and startups is an effective way to help increase the sustainability of our food and fuel systems. What you might not know is how we do it, and what some of our criteria are for making these investments.

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L.A. Port Project Aims to Reduce Wasteful Idling

Shipping Containers

Photo Credit: papalars via Compfight cc

Freight is an essential part of the world economy, and goods are largely moved with fossil fuels. But wait times, congestion, idling, and other factors all lead to wasted fuel and air pollution. With U.S. domestic freight expected to double and international freight to triple by the year 2035, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) is spurring development of information systems to improve the efficiency of moving goods. Here’s how they hope to do it…

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What Is Precision Agriculture?

a helicoptor-style drone used for precision agriculture

The future of farming may include helicoptor-style drones, like this one from Precision Drone LLC, that survey crop health.

With the global demand for calories expected to grow by almost 50% over the next 40 years, the question on many minds is how to produce enough food to feed the world population. Though crop yields in the United States have grown in the last decade, they must continue to grow — and some farms are starting to use precision agriculture to do just that.

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Vecarius: Taking the Heat…and Using It

Vecarius’s thermoelectric generator system improves the energy efficiency of vehicles ranging from light-duty vehicles produced by vehicle manufacturers to heavy-duty vehicles used by vehicle owners and operators of vehicle fleets. Photo Credit: RyanP77 via Compfight cc

Our global oil system is operating at near capacity—97 percent—which just isn’t sustainable. Because 70% of oil consumption in the U.S. is used for ground transportation, reducing the amount of gas used by vehicles is key to heading off an impending crisis. Boston-based Vecarius, which recently won the 2013 Sustainable America/Greentown Labs Fellowship, is working to tackle this problem by turning vehicles’ exhaust waste heat into energy, technology that can reduce fuel usage in vehicles by 5 to 10 percent. We talked to CEO Steven Casey to learn more about his innovative product.

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Vecarius Wins Sustainable America/Greentown Labs Fellowship

Boston skyline

Photo Credit: Sunset Noir via Compfight cc

We’re thrilled to announce the winner of the 2013 Sustainable America/Greentown Labs Fellowship. Vecarius, a vehicle waste-heat recovery company based in Boston, was chosen from a field of nine finalists who pitched their business ideas to a room of 60 entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, and students at a networking event Thursday at Greentown Labs in Somerville, Mass.

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Turning Truckers Into Treehuggers

Truck on a sunny day

Photo Credit: Ryan Holst via Compfight cc

As more and more Americans realize the truth about idling their cars, we can’t forget about the millions of truckers transporting products for us across the nation’s highways. You might not realize how much time those trucks spend idling to power their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems inside the cabs of the trucks in which they basically live while on the road. Regulations require them to take at least an eight to 10 hour break every day—and for much of that time, their trucks are idling or using diesel-powered auxiliary units for power.

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Finalists Announced for Sustainable America/Greentown Labs Fellowship

Boston skyline

Photo Credit: Sunset Noir via Compfight cc

The applications are in for our new fellowship program, and we’re excited by all the innovative startups that applied. We’ve narrowed the applicant pool down to nine exciting ventures engaged in trying to solve a number of problems in agriculture and transportation via sustainable solutions.

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Ag Innovations: Robotic Bug Trackers

Spensa Technologies' Z-Trap in the field

Photo: Johnny Park

Here’s a head-scratching statistic: In 2010, crop growers in the United States lost $20 billion a year due to insect damage despite spending $4.5 billion on pesticide applications. It turns out that agricultural pest management is a surprisingly inefficient system that involves sticky traps, updating spreadsheets, and a lot of legwork.

An Indiana-based startup, has come up with a way to save growers legwork, hassle, and money—and reduce the amount of pesticides sprayed on crops—by automating the insect-tracking process. We spoke with Kim Nicholson, Spensa Technologies’ vice president of business development, to learn more about the product and the company.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.


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