Saturday, August 31, 2013

Video - Oil Companies Greenwash for World Water Week

Water is essential for the extraction of fossil fuels particularly natural gas. Some of the world's largest oil companies are getting together to better manage these water resources. IPIECA (a global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues) are launching a water stewardship framework at a side event of World Water Week.

Video - 2013 World Water Week B-roll (pre-event)

World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place each year in Stockholm. This year the annual event will take place starting on September 1 and run until September 6. The World Water Week has been the focal point for the globe's water issues since 1991.

Every year, over 200 collaborating organizations convene events at the World Water Week. In addition, individuals from around the globe present their findings at the scientific workshops.

Video - How Climate Change Fuels Wildfires

From the Rim fire currently engulfing California to the Black Forest fire that burned more than 500 homes in Colorado, wildfires are becoming more destructive. In this video Matthew Hurteau, Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management at Pennsylvania State University explains the link between climate change and wildfires. Warming temperatures, prolonged drought, and a century’s worth of fire suppression policy are “priming the system to make it more flammable.”

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Video - Development by Design: An Inclusive Approach to Sustainable Development

In traditional forms of development a business will start a project, others object and the protests, conflicts and court battles ensue. There is a better more sustainable way that brings all parties to the table before a project begins.

Video - Are You a Climate Patriot?

Most Americans are surprised to learn that we currently have NO LIMITS on carbon pollution from power plants--but it's true. Is this responsible? August is Climate Patriotism and Activism Month and with your help we want to do something about it.

Be a #ClimatePatriot and visit

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Harvard's New VP for Sustainable Investment Proves that Students can Change the World

Harvard has hired its first vice president for sustainable investment to help oversee the university's $30 billion endowment. Jameela Pedicini was hired in the wake of a student-led activist campaign demanding the school divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies.

As reported by Fossil Free Campaign leader, more than 300 colleges and universities are now demanding that their schools withdraw their endowment holdings from companies involved in oil, gas and coal.

The campaign has identified over 200 publicly traded companies that are tied to fossil fuels. The goal of the campaign is to encourage schools to divest from companies that are associated with oil, gas and coal.

Infographic - Fastest Electric Vehicles on Earth

Greener Solvents on the Increase in Developed Countries

In developed countries solvent use is declining while demand for greener solvents in increasing. This trend is attributable to environmental and regulatory pressures, along with concerns about toxicity to humans.

Solvents are found in paints and coatings which together account for 40 percent of solvent use. Other places where solvents can be found include adhesives, inks, pharmaceuticals, chemical processing, metal and dry cleaning solutions and agriculture.

Solvents are one of the most comprehensively regulated classes of chemicals, and tend to be regulated collectively as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOC’s are air pollutants that contribute to low-level photochemical smog. VOCs also react with nitrogen oxides to produce ground level ozone that can damage lungs crops and natural vegetation. Solvents are also implicated in high-level ozone depletion and global warming. They are often highly flammable and can have direct health impacts by absorption through the skin.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Infographic - The Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus

Volkswagen's Efficient Cars and Other Sustainability Efforts

According to Interbrand’s 2013 Best Global Green Brands ranking, Volkswagen came in seventh. Volkswagen has an efficiency leading concept car known as the XL1. It boasts an ultra-light structure (1,750 pounds) that makes extensive use of composites, and a hybrid power train.

The 0.8-liter diesel twin produces 48 horsepower and comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG). The diesel engine is assisted by a 27-hp electric motor system powered by a 5.5-kWh lithium-ion battery. All together, the power train produces 68 hp and 103 lb-ft in its 'boosting mode.'The XL1 can go 310 miles on a single charge.

15 Environmental Scholarships in the United States

Environmentally minded students who are hard pressed to secure the resources to attend college and university now have a range of scholarships to help finance their education. Hundreds of thousands of dollars go toward environmental scholarships every year in the United States.

Here are fifteen environmental scholarships from an alphabetized list assembled by Brittany Johnson and Christine Coester and published in Sierra.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

BMW's Efficient Cars and Other Sustainability Efforts

The 2014 BMW i3 electric city car is part of the BMW iSeries. This series of electric cars has zero emissions and an affordable price tag. What sets the BMW iSeries apart from all other electric cars is their luxury and modernity as well as their technological sophistication thanks to a novel partnership with Apple.

The i3 is a four-door made out of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). About 25 percent of the plastics used inside the car are recycled, and the eucalyptus wood veneers used on the trim are "responsibly harvested." The door trims and instrument-panel surround also use fibers from the kenaf plant, an increasingly popular sustainable element in car interiors.

Webinar - Sustain Your Campus & Sustain Your Brand

Sustain Your Campus. Sustain Your Brand is a free webinar which is subtitled The Impact of Sustainability on Your College or University Brand. This webinar will take place on September 11, 2013 between 2:00 and 3:00pm EST.

Sustainability an operating principle that is part of daily student life. Arizona State University and Notre Dame University have both built strong brands around sustainability..

Invitation to Comment on the USDA GHG Climate Report

A call for comments on the recent USDA greenhouse gas (GHG) climate report titled, Science-Based Methods for Entity-Scale Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks from Agriculture and Forestry Practices, and was published by the Climate Change Program Office of the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Office of the Chief Economist.

The report is the work of 38 scientists from across academia, USDA and the federal government. These researchers are experts in GHG estimation in the cropland, grazing land, livestock and forest management sectors.

The report outlines a set of consensus methods for quantifying GHG emissions and carbon storage at the local farm, ranch or forest scale. The methods reviewed have undergone peer review and exhibit both scientific rigor and cost effectiveness.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nissan's Efficient Cars and Other Sustainability Efforts

According to Interbrand’s 2013 Best Global Green Brands, Nissan ranked fifth. The Leaf is the most widely sold electric passenger car of all time. In February, 2013, the company announced that it had produced 50,000 LEAFs. The Leaf boasts a fuel efficiency rating of 115 MPGe and the EPA rated 2013 Leaf's range at 75 miles on a single charge.

The Nissan Leaf, is by far the volume leader, part of what makes the Leaf so successful is the fact that it is efficient, affordable and it offers better range than most electric vehicles.

Event / Workshop - Campus as a Living Lab: Using the Built Environment to Revitalize College Education

This event will take place on October 4, 2013 at St Clair Community College, Port Huron, MI.  The American Association of Community Colleges’ SEED Center is hosting the Campus as a Living Lab: Using the Built Environment to Revitalize College Education. This is a workshop for colleges that are greening their campuses and are interested in how to use these projects as real-world teaching tools for students.

Office Depot's Back to School Cause Marketing

For a second year in a row Office Depot is successfully using cause marketing to increase its profile. It would appear that the efforts are paying off as sales from this year's campaign are already out-performing last year's effort. Office Depot has been a business leader through its anti-bullying effort. Last year Office depot's We Supply Kindness' campaign partnered with Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation and provided a one million dollar donation. This year Office Deport continued its anti-bullying campaign and partnered with the boy band One Direction offering another million dollars for anti-bullying education in schools.

According to David Hessekiel, President of Cause Marketing Forum, here are three lessons to be learned from Office Depot:

What is Your Ecological Footprint?

Ecological footprints are a measure of sustainability. In essence an ecological footprint measures how much people or nations consume versus how much they actually have. The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet's ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to supply the resources a human population consumes, and to assimilate associated waste.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Webinar - GRI G4 Materiality Aligns Sustainability Reporting and Strategy

GRI G4 Materiality Aligns Sustainability Reporting and Strategy is a free webinar that will take place on Wednesday, August 28th, from 2 p.m. tro 3 p.m. This webinar, will present an overview of the GRI G4 Guidelines, describe the Materiality Principle in detail and explore the process with actual organizational case studies.

ALEC Must Die

There is a sinister force that is corrupting American politics by giving the most environmentally destructive elements of Big Business significant control over state legislatures. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) turns 40 this year. This organization is composed of large corporations and state lawmakers. They draft environmentally harmful model laws that have been adopted in state legislatures across the country.

ALEC describes itself as “nonpartisan public-private partnership” and is registered as a not for profit organization. While the organization enjoys 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, many groups see it as little more than a front for one of the most powerful and influential lobby groups in America.

Sustainable Schools Produce Eco-literate Ambassadors

Sustainability is increasingly ubiquitous on university campuses across the country and around the world. But do students and society really benefit from an environmental education and a sustainable campus? More specifically, do environmental academics, renewable energy, recycling and other sustainability initiatives stay with students after they graduate? Do they carry their green experience into the workforce?

Sierra set out to answer this question by asking Do Green Schools Matter? They explain that it is hard to respond to this query as are only a few universities that actually track whether environmental curricula make a difference to students after graduate.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Event - Halton Environment Open House & LEED Green Building Tour

Halton Environment Open House & LEED Green Building Tour will take place between 3 and 9 p.m. on Monday Aug 26, 2013, Oakville, ON at Queen Elizabeth Park Community &Cultural Centre, 2302 Bridge Rd.. Light refreshments provided. LEED green building tours at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.

For more information click here, or phone 905-815-6185 or E-mail

To register click here or call 905-815-6185.

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Event - Power Shift 2013: Youth Conference Convenes to Fight Climate Change

Power Shift 2013 will take place October 18 - 21st in Pittsburgh, PA. There are expected to be 10,000+ youth leaders converging on Pittsburgh to combat climate change and fight for the future. Young people will come together from all walks of life including college students, young environmental justice leaders, DREAMers, young people of faith, and young workers. At this conference attendees will learn from one another and go back to their communities where they will build and launch strategic campaigns.

Issues on the agenda include the fight against fracking, and the Keystone XL pipeline. They will also address the issues of divestment from fossil fuels, clean energy, and of course, the climate crisis.

Event - The Future of Sustainability Reporting (Last Call)

This is the last call for the Future of Sustainability Reporting which will take place on Friday, September 6, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM (CEST) in Berlin, Germany.

The Future of Sustainability Reporting is a critical reflection on the status quo on the ongoing development of Sustainability Reporting in the European and international context. The event takes place with the participation of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and will be held in German - simultaneous translation of all sessions into English is provided.

Event - SPIE Optics + Phononics 2013 Conference

Solar Energy & Technology 2013 will take place on Aug 25 - 29. Attendees with have access to a focused program of 200+ technical presentations and courses on photovoltaic cell technologies plus R&D of solar concentrators, solar hydrogen and other illuminations systems.

Event - The Green Leaders Summit (Last Call)

This is the last call for the Green Leaders Summit which will be held on September 9 - 12 in Sydney, Australia. This event brings together the world’s most influential Sustainability Leaders for inspiring thought provoking days of exchange and solution collaboration. This summit is structured to not only deliver a global picture of current sustainability challenges and innovations, but also to afford international leaders the opportunity to gain insights on solutions from some of the world’s leading minds.

The Green Leaders Summit is organized by Green World City Organization. What makes this summit different is the organizers background in mega green projects, sustainable initiatives and clean technologies.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Video - The Importance of Engaging the Community in Campus Sustainability

Several members of the University of Michigan community highlight campus operations strategy including recycling, energy efficiency and renewable energy like a high profile solar array. They stress that it is important to engage the community to get people involved with the campus sustainability strategy.

Video - Investment and Divestment: Making Sustainable Choices with Campus Endowments

This webinar covers the topics of investment transparency, divestment of endowment resources from fossil fuels, sustainable investment strategies and options for higher education, and how to engage your campus in the discussion.

Video - Cornell Sustainable Campus: A Living Laboratory for Sustainability

Discover how, as a Living Laboratory for Sustainability, Cornell University supports research, scholarship, and the practical application of knowledge that address one of humankind's greatest challenges: achieving a sustainable world for all.

Video - Green Buildings on Campus

Green buildings are really about a culture of learning. In this video John D. Spengler reviews green innovation in sustainable campuses in Asia. In addition to mitigating carbon footprints and other environmental impacts through energy efficient technologies, campuses in Asia have started to apply various green innovations through design and methods enhancement.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Honda's Efficient Cars and Other Sustainability Initiatives

According to Interbrand’s 2013 Best Global Green Brands, Honda ranked third. The 2013 Honda Fit EV gets 118 MPGe combined (132 city and 105 highway), with a range of 82 miles. Although at present it is only available by lease, according to the EPA, it is the second most efficient electric car in the world today. However, the company is producing only 1,100 Fit EVs.

The EPA rates the 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid's electric range at 13 miles, during which its efficiency rating is 115 MPGe. After the battery is depleted, it behaves like a conventional hybrid and is rated at 46 MPG combined. It is the only mid-size sedan to boast such numbers. This plug-in uses Honda's new two-motor hybrid system, with powerful electric motors and multiple modes of operation. The plug-in hybrid Accord will be followed by the 2014 Accord Hybrid that will be launched later this fall.

Five Ways Students are Fighting Climate Change

Young people, as they have for decades in movements around the world, are pushing and pulling the environmental movement to be bolder, and here are some stories to prove it.

1. Students Expose Climate Deniers and Lame Politicians

Activists across the country are continuing to connect the dots from corporate polluter money to politicians and the so-called “climate debate.” Scientists who are paid off by the likes of the Koch Brothers and Exxon are being called out by students like Hannah Noll in Wisconsin on their conflicts of interest in public. Politicians who think they’re just going to shake hands and kiss babies on the campaign trail are getting asked some tough questions that have global climate consequences by young activists from coast to coast.

Study Shows Americans Would Act on Global Warming if they were Urged to do so by People they Like and Respect

Friends and family are the key to encouraging others to act on global warming. Despite strong scientific support for anthropogenic climate change, only a small number of people are prepared to do something about it.

According to a Yale study published earlier this year, people who are alarmed about global warming are likely to do something about it. Of those that are alarmed, 66 percent have discussed a company’s “irresponsible environmental behavior” at least occasionally with family or friends over the past 12 months. Those that are alarmed are also the most likely to have written letters, emailed, or phoned a government official about global warming in the past 12 months.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The 2013 Environmental March Madness Tournament

The Environmental March Madness tournament was designed to evaluate colleges and universities on environmental degree programs and curriculum, environmental opportunities for students and campus sustainability efforts. To move on to the “Environmental Eight,” the “Sustainable 16” were evaluated on their initial survey, as well as the second round of supplementary essays, videos and photos submitted by students and faculty. In total, the “Sustainable 16” submitted more than 800 photos, 150 essays and 30 videos. These “Environmental Eight,” schools were narrowed down further to determine the “Finest Four,” and ultimately the “National Champion.”

Toyota's Efficient Cars and Sustainability Leadership

Toyota retained the top spot on Interbrand’s 2013 Best Global Green Brands ranking for the third year running. Toyota’s 2013 Prius line is dominating the greener car market. The Toyota Prius C, a compact version of the Prius that boasts fuel economy of 53 mpg city and 46 mpg highway. The Prius is one of the best vehicles on the market in terms of tailpipe emissions.

Combined the four model variations of the Prius sold 236,659 units last year, making the vehicle the Toyota Prius the most popular hybrid car in the US. In total more than 2.9 million Prius models were sold worldwide in 2012.

Five EV/Hybrid Product Marketing Strategies

Demand for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (EVs) is growing at an ever increasing rate. A Mintel study indicated that sales of hybrids and EVs were up 73 percent in 2012. They forecasted that the number of hybrid and Evs will reach 535,000 units by the end of 2013, which represents a 14 percent increase in sales over 2012. By 2017, Mintel predicts that sales of hybrid and EVs will reach 850,000 units, representing five percent of the total US car market.

Automotive companies are now vying for attention in an increasingly competitive space. Here are five EV product offerings and the associated marketing strategies of the five different automakers.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

America's Top 10 Most Wasteful States

America's Most WASTEFUL States from American State Litter Scorecard

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Sierra Magazine's Top Ten Cool Schools 2013

Here is the countdown of Sierra Magazine's top ten list of the greenest colleges and universities in the United States. This is their seventh annual ranking. Participation in the Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the US. To generate the Cool Schools list researchers scored the responses to an extensive sustainability questionnaire and ranked all 162 participating institutions.

10: University of California, Santa Barbara

SCORE: 756.69 | STUDENTS: 22,218

UCSB puts up formidable numbers: 44 of its buildings are LEED certified, 47% of academic departments offer a class about sustainability (for a total of 321 classes and 217 faculty members who do eco-research), 50% of food served is local, and 75% of waste gets saved from the landfill via recycling and composting; the goal is to get that latter percentage to 100 by 2020. The Gauchos have also, since the late 1990s, lowered their electricity use by a third (10 on-campus photovoltaic systems help), their water use by a quarter, and their food waste by almost 35%. A whopping 94% of students take alternative means of transit to class—there are more than 10,000 bicycle parking spaces on campus to accommodate 10 miles of bike paths.

Inforgraphic - Ranking of the Greenest States in America

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Renewable Energy on College Campuses in the US

College campuses are major consumers of renewable energy making them a vital part of the sustainability revolution taking hold across the US. They are also national leaders in carbon reduction efforts. College campuses are not only using renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they are also living laboratories that offer a model of sustainability for students, organizations and cities. 

One of the leading sustainability initiatives is the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). This is an intensive partnership among more than 650 colleges and universities. ACUPCC signatories commit to initiating two or more of seven specified tangible action options to reduce greenhouse gases within the two years after their implementation start date.

Earth Overshoot Day 2013

This year August 20 is Earth Overshoot Day. This annual marker is the day when we begin living beyond our ecological means or the day when humanity exhausts nature’s budget.

Earth Overshoot Day is an approximate date when our resource consumption for a given year exceeds the planet’s ability to replenish.The measure helps us to acknowledge the gap between our demand for ecological resources and services, and how much the planet can provide.

Study Shows Coal is a Bad Investment

There was a time when investors made a great deal of money from investing in coal, but new research shows that those days are drawing to a close.

As reviewed in a ThinkProgress article by Joe Romm, Goldman Sachs has published a new research paper shows that coal used to generate power is no longer the profitable investment it once was. The tile of the paper says it all, “The window for thermal coal investment is closing.”

As explained in the paper:
"We believe that thermal coal’s current position atop the fuel mix for global power generation will be gradually eroded by the following structural trends: 1) environmental regulations that discourage coal-fired generation, 2) strong competition from gas and renewable energy and 3) improvements in energy efficiency. The prospect of weaker demand growth (we believe seaborne demand could peak in 2020) and seaborne prices near marginal production costs suggest that most thermal coal growth projects will struggle to earn a positive return for their owners."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sustainability in Colleges and Universities Across America

The growth of sustainable schools continues across America. This trend encompasses schools from Kindergarten to University. Students are increasingly interested in sustainability as indicated by the Princeton Review's Green Guide which showed that 68 percent of likely college applicants say a college or universities’ commitment to sustainability would affect their decision to attend.

As reviewed in an ED article published in early 2013, there have been exemplary efforts of K-12 schools to reduce environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental and sustainability education.

Ecuador to Drill for Oil in the Amazon Rainforest

Ecuador has abandoned a UN backed conservation plan that would have paid the country not to drill for oil in the 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq miles) Yasuni National Park located in the Amazon rainforest. According to President Rafael Correa, the plans to drill in the area are the result of rich nations failing to live up to their commitments.

"The world failed us," explained Correa, "It was not charity that we sought from the international community, but co-responsibility in the face of climate change."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Event - Second Annual Bionutritional Summit

The second annual bionutritional summit will be held on October 23, 2013 at Seelbach Hilton located near the GIE & EXPO in Louisville, Ky. The Summit will be hosted and sponsored by Holganix.

This year’s keynote speaker is Judith Guido, former sales, marketing and strategy executive of Service Master’s TruGreen Landcare. She will focus on how to leverage the green phenomenon and make a profit from it. Guido’s presentation is entitled, Leveraging the Green Phenomenon & Building a Profitable Green Company.

Highlights include, Understanding the size and opportunities with the green market, how to leverage the green opportunities within your market, creating differentiation and a competitive advantage with green and how to build and position an profitable green company.

Event - CR Reporting and Communications Summit

The seventh annual CR Reporting and Communications Summit will take place on November 27-28, 2013, in London, UK. At this conference participants will learn how to boost stakeholder engagement and brand reputation with a cutting-edge CR reporting and communications strategies. 

Designed for CSR and communications executives, the summit will address best practice and strategy targeted at your priorities: They do more primary research than any of their competitors.

A total focus on corporate priorities and learning: Too many conferences 'pad out' their list of speakers with gurus, service providers and consultants. They deliver 25+ expert corporate peers - people who can help you improve based on real experience.

Event - Carbon Forum North America

Carbon Forum North America will take place on 1-2 October 2013 at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington DC. This is the International Emissions Trading Association's (IETA) flagship North American Event.

The event will be this year’s best opportunity to network with the North American and global carbon markets, browse exhibits showcasing the work of leading companies, and learn what you need to know about this rapidly evolving policy area.

Now in its third year, Carbon Forum North America has firmly established itself as the place to go to keep abreast of the latest thinking and developments in the North American carbon space—for policy wonks and market-players alike.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Video - United States of ALEC

Moyers & Company presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a "nonpartisan public-private partnership." But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

Video - The B Team Declaration

The B Team Declaration from The B Team on Vimeo.

The B Team is a not-for-profit initiative that has been formed by a group of global business leaders to create a future where the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit.

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Video - United States of ALEC: A Follow-Up

Moyers & Company follows up on a breakthrough 2012 report about ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a "nonpartisan public-private partnership." But behind that mantra lies a network of lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

Video - The B Team Story

The B Team Story from The B Team on Vimeo.

The B Team's mission is to deliver a 'Plan B' that puts people and planet alongside profit.

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Video - ALEC's Organized Corruption

ALEC creates model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers. This includes support for the lax regulations in the fossil fuel industry and resistance to clean sources of energy.

However there ALEC's influence extends far beyond crafting model legislation. As explained in the New York Times, "a review of internal ALEC documents shows that this is only one facet of a sophisticated operation for shaping public policy at a state-by-state level. The records offer a glimpse of how special interests effectively turn ALEC's lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes. The documents — hundreds of pages of minutes of private meetings, member e-mail alerts and correspondence — were obtained by the watchdog group Common Cause and shared with The New York Times..."

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Video - The Plan B Kick-Off Live Event

The B Team, a global non-profit founded by Sir Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz, revealed its starting line-up of business leaders 13th June 2013. They will work together to deliver a new way of doing business that prioritises people and planet alongside profit -- a "Plan B" for businesses the world over.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Geothermal Heating Accelerating Greenland's Ice Melt

Everyone who follows the issue of melting ice knows that Northern ice is melting, but a new study shows that it is not only melting from above due to global warming, it is also melting from below. The fact that the ice is melting from above and below has important implications for scientific models.

The international research initiative IceGeoHeat led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences published their research in Nature Geoscience. The continental ice sheets play a central role in climate. GFZ scientists Alexey Petrunin and Irina Rogozhina have created a model which calculates ice melt from geothermal forces.

The White House is Reinstalling Solar Panels

After a delay of almost three years construction has begun to install solar panels on the White House Roof. In 2010, then Energy Secretary Steven Chu first announced the plan to install solar panels on the White House. However, it was not until Thursday August 15, 2013 that the construction actually began.

“This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home,” Chu said at the time. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”

Sustainable Cities: Business Opportunities from Resource Efficiency in Urbanization

The exodus of people from rural environments to the cities continues around the world. There are now 7 billion people on earth and it is anticipated that by 2050 there will be at least 9 billion people, most of whom will be living in cities. As of 2011 there were 3.6 billion people living in cities by 2050 that number is expected to almost double to 6 billion people living in urban contexts. Cities must find ways to deal with this massive population influx.

The question that we all face is how to make urban existence sufficiently sustainable so that burgeoning populations do not outstrip the carrying capacity of the local environments in and around these cities. How are we to provide food, water, electricity, roads, vehicles etc. Nowhere is this problem more serious and more pressing than in the developing world.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Study Shows Natural Gas Worse than Coal

Another study has confirmed that there is significant methane leakage in natural gas extraction. This was the finding in a major new study published in Geophysical Research Letters. A total of 19 researchers, mostly from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).

The data was collected by research aircraft and measured significant quantities of methane seeping from natural gas fields. The measurements were taken in February in the Uinta Basin. What was most alarming in the findings is that the field leeched on average 6 to 12 percent of the methane produced.

Solar Power's Prodigious Global Growth

Solar has seen exponential growth in the last few years. In fact it is doubling every two and a half years. According to GTM Research two-thirds of all solar PV capacity in place worldwide has been installed since January 2011. It took nearly four decades to install 50 gigawatts of PV capacity worldwide but in the last two and a half years we have seen that number double to just over 100 gigawatts.

The tremendous growth of solar also makes a convincing point about economies of scale. As the volume grows the price declines. Since January 2011 global module prices have fallen 62 percent. The national average for residential system prices in the US fell another 18 percent last year; non-residential prices fell 13.3 percent. Lower costs suggest that even without new incentives solar installations are finding new markets.

Climate Change Exacerbates Social Tensions and Causes Conflict

A wide array of research reveals that climate change plays a salient role in social change, violence and war. This research summary is one of the most comprehensive surveys of the social impacts of climate change ever assembled.

Climate change and conflict

The relationship between climate change, social tensions and conflict is well laid out by Kate Johnson. She provides a good overview of many of the ways in which climate impacts human behavior. She explains how climate change has the potential to increase conflict in environmentally and politically vulnerable states.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Studying Sustainable Development Best Practices

Soon to be released research is working on identifying the best practices in sustainable development. The Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ENVforum) is about to release a research study conducted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (Switzerland), Earth Council Asia-Pacific (Philippines) and Public Strategy for Sustainable Development (Belgium). This research was conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES – Japan). The research team also worked closely with ASEF, through the ENVforum.

DOE to Revise Commercial Energy Efficiency Standards

The Department of Energy (DOE) will revise commercial energy efficiency standards for metal halide lamps, commercial refrigeration equipment, walk-in coolers/freezers and electric motors in 2014. This move is expected to lower pollution and save $3.8 billion by 2035.

The specific timetables are as follows:

  • Metal halide lamps - January 2014
  • Commercial refrigeration - February 2014
  • Walk-in coolers and freezers - April 2014
  • Electric motors - May 2014

Web-Based Sustainability Reporting from GreenBox

A new startup is striving to simplify sustainability reporting making it easy and accessible to everyone. A company by the name of GreenBox is commercializing its web-based sustainability reporting software following a pilot program with real estate asset management firms.

"Sustainability is a standard business practice. The documents and reports supporting your sustainability program should be as well. GreenBox helps you create essential documents the right way with unique step-by-step wizards make creating industry-compliant reports and documents easy and affordable. Embrace sustainability without the headache!"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

GRI G4 and Other Sustainability Reporting Guidelines Briefing

For all those for whom CR reporting or sustainability communications are important, the Ethical Corporation has compiled an excellent complimentary analysis. The 5 page report addresses the pro's and con's of the GRI G4 Guidelines. It also offers a thorough overview of other sustainability reporting guidelines (IIRC, SASB etc) which can help you choose the most material and relevant CR disclosure model, in line with your business.

This newly published analysis contains a detailed critique of recent Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 guidelines. In addition to a review of GRI G4 advantages and disadvantages you will also get an understanding how GRI stacks up against other institutions.

Solar Operations and Maintenance are Increasingly Important

As solar energy steals headlines around the world there is a general trend in the industry toward more proactive and sophisticated operations and maintenance (O&M). As the solar industry continues to grow and evolve, strategies for effective O&M have acquired more importance.

The solar industry and other renewable sources of energy accounted for more than half of all new power plants in 2012. It makes sense that solar is among the fastest growing of all energy sources given that so much of the sun's energy remains untapped. The commonly heard refrain from solar power advocates states that there is enough sunlight in one hour to meet global energy demand for an entire year.

The Hyperloop: Solar Powered Rapid Transportation

The Hyperloop is a solar powered ultra high speed transportation system. It involves wheel-less capsule shaped cars in a low-pressure tube that travels at speeds up to 800 miles an hours.

The capsules ride a cushion of air blasted from “skis” beneath, propelled via a magnetic linear accelerator. What makes this project standout is the fact that it is powered by renewable energy, it is cost effective and perhaps most importantly, it is fast.

The travel time between San Francisco and Los Angeles is estimated to be around 30 minutes for the Hyperloop. This compares very favorably with other forms of ground transportation. The trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles takes about 5.5 hours by car and about 2.7 hours via California’s planned high-speed rail.