EcoModo - The Best of TreeHugger

Illustration for article titled EcoModo - The Best of TreeHugger

This week at TreeHugger: Working from home, as we bloggers tend to do, sure is great if you like working in your underwear, but how does it stack up against office work when it comes to carbon emissions? Because two electric car stories are better than one: Tesla Motors' Roadster gets a half million bucks in grants, which'll help them launch sooner; plus, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recently took a ride in the 100% electric Roadster, and her verdict is...thumbs up! You wouldn't know it by looking at it or by snapping photos with it, but Pentax's *istDS digital SLR camera has the Japanese eco-label ECO-LEAF, given based on the results of the life cycle assessment of the product. In a move that didn't really surprise anyone, given the RoHS Directive to get toxins out of electronics, Intel will finally get the last of the lead out of its microprocessors, a process that started way back in 2002. Lastly, a new threat from wireless technology: Wi-Fi routers that want to eat babies.

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Working from home is not without its hardships and difficulties: It can be hard to remember to take off your jammies and it can be a long way from your desk to the fridge. On the other hand, we bloggers feel virtuous knowing that we are saving many tons of CO2 by not commuting to the energy hog of an office...or are we? A recent study by WSP Environmental suggests that while home workers can save carbon emissions by not commuting, the extra heating and power they use during the winter months can outweigh the benefits, especially if your home has central air conditioning and heat, and the whole thing is heated and cooled all the time (instead of an office's system coming on and off as necessary throughout the day and night). The study suggests that if an employee works at home all year, he or she pumps out 2.38 tons of carbon dioxide, whereas a typical office worker produces only 1.68 tons of carbon per year. No word on how USB slippers effect the telecommuters' carbon footprint.

We did double duty on Tesla stories this week, but, hey, two electric car stories are better than one. First, the California Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission has given Tesla Motors $561,000 for the development of a 16 kW public commercial charging station as part of almost $25 million worth of grants for the Alternative Fuel Incentive Program. If the company's plan to sell pure-electric vehicles across the country in the next few years takes off as expected, this could just be the start of very big things to come and would once and for all put the idea of "limited range" in an electric vehicle into the history books. In Tesla's curtain call, we spy U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice riding shotgun in the sexy roadster with Tesla sales manager Tom O'Leary; they went for a ride last week on the tarmac at California's Moffett Field. Secretary Rice was meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who also got a ride and hit speeds up to 110 mph. The Secretary sure looks like she's having some fun; we hope she's told her boss about how efficient, exciting, fun and functional electric cars can be.

You probably wouldn't know it by looking at it, or by taking photos with it, but Pentax's *istDS digital SLR camera has earned the Japanese eco-label ECO-LEAF. The eco-label is given based on the results of the life cycle assessment of the product. According to the company, "The *istDS was the world's most compact, lightweight digital SLR camera at the time of its market launch in January 2005"; we note that minimizing materials and weight is one of many eco-design principles that we hug. Additionally, "the camera is free of hazardous substances such as hexavalent chromium and used no lead in the optical components, in order to minimize environmental impact." Thanks to Pentax for helping us take photos with a clear eco-conscience.

Intel has pledged to get the lead out, in a move that, given the RoHS Directive that went into effect last year, really surprised no one (but we still think it's good to know). The company started phasing out the toxic metal way back in 2002, and was most of the way there; with the news last week, the final 5% will be taken out of their microprocessor-making process starting later this year. The last of the lead, used in solder, will be replaced by a "secret sauce"-type solder cocktail that uses a tin-silver-copper alloy; the shift in solder materials will not affect the performance of the chips, according to the company.

Lastly, this week we uncovered a new threat from your Wi-Fi router. Yep, it'll incapacitate you with its "radiation guns," eat your babies, grow enormous, attack our cities and invade and take over the world. You've been warned.

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.

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