A Green Roadside Helper

Spend a romantic vacation cuddled in a Scottish country cottage, go scuba diving in Hawaii, or inhale the fresh ocean smells from your sea-side villa on Sicily's Italian shores -- all this without adding a single pound of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.

TripleE, a new group working to promote environmentally-friendly travel, has launched Travel Cool, a program that aims to offset the environmental damage caused by cars, planes, or other activities that burn fossil fuels, by calculating the number of miles you travel and investing in environmental projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The build-up of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide has accelerated a rise in the earth's temperature. Scientists predict that the rapid build-up of this and other gases will lead to a rise in sea levels, floods, frequent and powerful hurricanes, droughts and other natural catastrophes.

TripleE wants to head those disasters off at the pass. Fed up by what they saw as the anti-environmental policies of the world's largest automobile association, AAA, a group of environmentalists banded together to form this green alternative.

Though for now limited to a travel program run out of offices in San Francisco, Boston and Portland, Oregon, which offers access to more than 50,000 vacation homes around the world at rates competitive with other travel agencies, the group intends to launch online air, car and lodging reservation services soon. Their ultimate goal is to provide the same full emergency road-service now provided by AAA.

"It'll allow people to choose between a company that supports the environment and a company that doesn't," said Cherie Collins, vice president of TripleE business development.

The group, which was founded by Mitch Rofsky, who has worked with Ralph Nader and is former president of Business for Social Responsibility, supports alternative transportation, alternative fuels, and bike lanes.

"We are trying to find projects that wouldn't otherwise be funded," Collins said.

Among the carbon dioxide reduction projects the group has invested in, TripleE has installed natural gas boilers to replace coal-burning boilers in public schools throughout Portland, Oregon. It also invested in sensors in auditoriums and gymnasiums in some schools. The sensors detect how many people are in the room, so that the heating/cooling system only runs when needed and not all the time, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 500 tons per year and saving schools thousands of dollars.


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