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Insurance co. offers green-rebuilding coverage

Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. has rolled out a home-insurance policy that covers the cost of rebuilding a home to green standards. The new coverage -- which can only be added to Fireman's top-tier insurance policy -- covers the cost of reconstruction with sustainably harvested wood, efficient lighting and plumbing, nontoxic paints and carpeting, and more. The coverage runs an additional $70 a year for a home insured at $1 million, and can be purchased regardless of the greenness of the original dwelling, though owners of previously green-certified homes get a 5 percent discount on their premiums. Fireman's, a division of …

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How to green your day job

Simple steps are the key to a greener office. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to waste we go. Nope, those aren't the lyrics the Disney dwarves belted out en route to the daily grind, but in today's world they're right on the money. Most skyscrapers, offices, and cubicles are eco disaster areas, squandering massive amounts of energy, water, and paper while spewing out toxins and trash. It's enough to make a person downright weepy (not to mention grumpy and wheezy). You're probably thinking there's not much you can do to help, short of swearing off computers and jobs altogether -- right? …

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Annals of meaningless statistics

Mattel worth more than GM on strong outlook for Matchbox, Hot Wheels cars

At the present moment Mattel, the maker of Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy cars, is worth $6.2 billion, putting it at a premium to GM, worth a mere $5.7 billion. Created in 1952, Matchbox cars were instantly popular because they were hard for children to swallow and required no batteries. With the price of a fill-up now topping $100, drivers are likewise finding GM's line up of trucks and SUVs very hard to swallow.

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State workers in Utah will enjoy mandatory three-day weekends

Starting in August, thousands of Utahns will begin enjoying mandatory three-day weekends. Some 17,000 government employees will switch to a compressed workweek -- four days a week, 10 hours a day -- as the state undergoes a yearlong experiment aimed at reducing energy and fuel costs as well as greenhouse-gas emissions. While employees of various U.S. counties and cities mandate a shortened week, Utah will be the first state to instigate such a program. About one-third of the state's 3,000 government buildings will be closed on Fridays, and savings on heat and air conditioning are expected to hit $3 million …

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Toyota may put solar panels on new Prius to power air conditioning

A Japanese newspaper is reporting that Toyota plans to install solar panels on its next model of the popular Prius hybrid. If the company follows through, it would be the first major automaker to incorporate solar power into its vehicles. Even with the panels, though, the pimped-out Prius wouldn't actually run on solar power (it's still a gasoline-electric hybrid, yo); instead, the solar panels would reportedly power the vehicle's air conditioning.

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Chipotle grilled

When will the conscientious burrito giant pay up for less exploitative tomatoes?

Tomato pickers in Florida: To earn $50, fill and carry 125 buckets. Photo: Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Chipotle Grill has received a lot of good press over its efforts to support local food systems in the areas where it operates. Even I've gotten into the act. In a post back in March, I reported on a conversation I had had with a Chipotle PR person: I told her that as long as Chipotle was committed to paying a fair price to farmers -- and not merely using them them for marketing leverage -- I thought the company could play a …

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Milking sustainability

Sustainability goals for the U.S. dairy industry

Last week, we witnessed the dairy industry hold their first ever Sustainability Summit for U.S. Dairy. The week long conference culminated in the announcement of an industry-wide commitment and action plan to reduce milk's "carbon footprint" while simultaneously increasing business value (translation: profit) from farm to consumer. But how truly "green" are their efforts? Sustainability -- ah, it sounds so good doesn't it? In recent years it has become the buzz word among businesses. Most large corporations have sustainability officers and are taking huge strides to become "greener." In part, these initiatives are driven by consumer and public demand for …

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Help wanted: A Bill Gates for distributed generation

Framing the energy revolution like the computer generation

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Kari Manlove, fellows assistant at the Center for American Progress. This week's issue of the Economist features a commemorative piece on Bill Gates, who stepped down from his position as Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft last week. Gates had an arguably turbulent career, due to his aggressive or monopolistic business tactics as the lead in the industry, but one that has been inconceivably successful and world-changing. Among the many legendary attributes the Economist article points out is Gates' determination and eventual responsibility for personalizing computers in the form of desktops. Gates made the …

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Wal-Mart gobbles up local produce

You thought you took home a haul at the farmers market last week, but you've got nothin' on Wal-Mart. The big-box retailer has become the nation's largest buyer of local produce, planning to purchase and sell $400 million worth of locally grown fruits and veggies this year. Wal-Mart says it works with "hundreds" of individual farmers, and has 50 percent more partnerships with local growers than it did in 2006. During the summer months, says the company, one-fifth of available produce in Wal-Mart stores is sourced locally. An emphasis on local produce -- which Wal-Mart defines as grown and sold …