Midwest Row Crop Collaborative

September 17, 2020 by  
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Midwest Row Crop Collaborative cecily martine… Thu, 09/17/2020 – 13:15 The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative is an innovative partnership aligned to drive positive environmental change in the upper Mississippi River Basin. Comprised of leading businesses and nonprofits that span the full food and agriculture value chain, the Collaborative works to catalyze systems change solutions through diverse public & private sector partnerships and projects. Members collaborate by tackling systemic barriers to adoption of good farming practices, developing and implementing cutting-edge pilot projects that substantiate the water, air and soil benefits of sustainable agricultural practices and pave the way for broader change in the agricultural system.

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Midwest Row Crop Collaborative

Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future

September 1, 2020 by  
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Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future Heather Clancy Tue, 09/01/2020 – 00:02 Business strategy organization Boston Consulting Group will use remote workplace lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce per-employee travel by at least 30 percent by 2025, one key element of the $8.5 billion company’s new commitment to achieve net-zero status for its own operations by the end of this decade.  It’s also planning an investment push that will see it fund carbon removal projects at a starting cost of $25 per metric ton in 2025, increasing to $80 per metric ton in 2030 — far higher than the amount companies traditionally pay to purchase carbon offsets on voluntary markets.  Both declarations are notable, for different reasons. The consulting industry traditionally has relied heavily on travel to deliver services — it represents 80 percent of BCG’s total footprint, for example. Reducing that activity is something that neither the consulting sector nor its clients would have imagined was possible at the end of 2019, BCG CEO Rich Lesser told GreenBiz. “We are in a period of unbelievable learning,” he said. “My expectation is we will find different kinds of models with less travel intensity.” While BCG hasn’t made any specific commitments about what that model might look like, Lesser said it could include using videoconferencing for certain sorts of engagements in the future rather than sending someone for an on-site meeting or arranging for consultants to work at client locations on a staggered, rotating basis rather than all at the same time. Within its own operations — it has 21,000 employees and offices in 50 countries — BCG is aiming to reduce direct energy and electricity emissions by 90 percent per full-time employee against a baseline measurement of 2018, according to the new set of commitments the company announced Tuesday. It previously committed to purchasing 100 percent renewable energy and will use energy-efficiency measures to fill the gap. Beyond 2030, BCG aspires to be “climate positive” — by removing more carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere on an ongoing basis than it actually emits through its own activities. While the company didn’t publicly identify projects in its press release about the new commitments, those investments will be for both nature-based and “engineered” solutions. “I suspect it will be a mix of both,” Lesser said, adding that BCG will prioritize “change the game” kinds of solutions. One example of an organization with which BCG already works is Indigo Ag, the company behind the Terraton Initiative, an effort to draw down 1 trillion tons of atmospheric CO2 through regenerative agriculture and soil wellness initiatives. Indigo is growing fast both in terms of funding and connections with farmers, which are hoping to get credit for the carbon sequestration potential of their agricultural practices. In early August, it added $360 million in new financing, bringing its overall total to $535 million. The Indigo Marketplace, where it links growers prioritizing sustainability practices directly with grain buyers, has completed more than $1 billion in transactions since September 2018. ‘The model has yet to be fully proved out, but there is massive capacity,” Lesser said. Aside from its own commitments, BCG also has pledged up to $400 million in services — such as research or consulting support through its Center for Climate Action — to support environmental organizations, industry groups, government agencies and others working on net-zero projects. It works on more than 350 such projects with more than 250 organizations, including the World Economic Forum, WWF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. How does BCG’s new pledges compare with other leading business consulting firms? McKinsey & Company declared carbon neutrality in 2018 and has set emissions reductions in line with the Paris Agreement, including a 60 percent reduction in purchased energy by 2030 and by 90 percent by 2050. It also has been active in engaging its suppliers — including 50 of the world’s largest airlines and five of the biggest hotel groups — on how to improve environment performance. And it has a large sustainability practice, focused on helping other businesses reduce their own impact. Another business consulting heavyweight, Bain & Company, was declared carbon neutral by Natural Capital Partners in 2012. It has reduced its direct emissions by 70 percent since 2011, with a pledge to reach 90 percent by 2040. It committed to delivering up to $1 billion in pro bono consulting work for social impact projects between 2015 and 2025. (So far, it has delivered about $335 million.) Topics Corporate Strategy Carbon Removal Net-Zero Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future

This LA startup turns spoiled milk into biodegradable T-shirts

July 16, 2020 by  
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Did you know that 128 million tons of milk are wasted every year? LA-based startup Mi Terro is using biotechnology to turn a portion of that food waste into sustainable fibers for biodegradable T-shirts. Transforming spoiled milk into clothing may seem like something from the future, but Mi Terro already has it down to a science. Using technology that re-engineers milk proteins, the company has invented a completely unique process that finds an innovative use for food waste and uses 60% less water than an organic cotton shirt. Related: This biodegradable T-shirt is made from trees and algae <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Mi-Terro-6-889×661.jpg" alt="Two people wearing black T-shirts with graphic that reads "Mi Terro"" class="wp-image-2275202" The method was invented in just three months by co-founders Robert Luo and Daniel Zhuang. After visiting his uncle’s dairy farm in China in 2018, Luo saw just how much milk product gets dumped first-hand, and after some research, he found that the issue was one of a massive global scale. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Mi-Terro-3-889×592.jpg" alt="person holding yarn fibers made from old milk" class="wp-image-2275204" Step one is to obtain milk and other dairy products from farms, food processing centers and grocery stores. The company then uses “Protein Activation” and “Self-Assembly Purification” technology to extract and purify casein protein molecules from the spoiled milk bacteria. The last step is using “Dynamic Flow Shear Spinning” to spin the clean casein protein into eco-friendly fibers. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Mi-Terro-4.jpg" alt="machines spinning yarn" class="wp-image-2275203" Now, we’re sure you’re wondering what a shirt made from dairy feels like. According to the company, it is actually three times softer than cotton, anti-microbial, odor-free, anti-wrinkle and temperature-regulating. If that’s not enough, each T-shirt contains 18 amino acids that can nourish and improve skin texture. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Mi-Terro-2-889×667.jpg" alt="person wearing white T-shirt that reads, "This Tee Is Made From Milk"" class="wp-image-2275205" Mi Terro has also committed to planting 15 trees for every purchase. The company doesn’t want to stop there. Its innovative, patent-pending process can also be used to make other eco-friendly products and offer a sustainable substitute for plastic. The goal is to create a new type of circular economy powered by the agricultural waste that has become a growing problem in modern society. Even better, because the fiber is rescued from food waste and processed sans chemicals, it stays biodegradable even after it has reached the end of its second life. + Mi Terro Images via Mi Terro

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This LA startup turns spoiled milk into biodegradable T-shirts

Beachfront villa is split into two units for brothers to share

July 16, 2020 by  
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The Jesolo Lido Beach Villa is a beachfront, dual-unit building that exudes luxury yet incorporates energy efficiency throughout. Located in the resort area of Jesolo Lido, Italy, the split villa is the passion project by two brothers seeking to provide a beachfront getaway for their young families. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-2-889×592.jpg" alt="long pool with cabanas on either side" class="wp-image-2275089" Like many other places, beachfront property isn’t easy to come by or to afford in this popular Italian area. So when the brothers found it, they jumped on the opportunity. But as it came time for construction, they had to get creative in order to share the limited, 11-meter buildable width of the property without sacrificing the personal space each family desired. To solve the problem, they sourced the expertise of the team at JM Architecture, a firm based out of Milan. Related: Beachfront hotel in Costa Rica pays tribute to the land and its inhabitants <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-3-889×592.jpg" alt="covered patio with gray furnishings" class="wp-image-2275088" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-4-889×592.jpg" alt="villa with glass walls and extended roof eaves" class="wp-image-2275087" The architects began by respecting the wishes of the family to keep both sides of the project equal in size and amenities, creating two separate buildings that share the same symmetrical, two-bedroom two-bathroom layout and are identically furnished. The units share a beachfront, 16-meter, zero-edge swimming pool , and they also feature identical covered, custom-designed aluminum cabanas for poolside lounging with protection from the sun. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-5-889×592.jpg" alt="small yard and long pool outside white and glass beach villa" class="wp-image-2275086" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-6-889×592.jpg" alt="white room with gray sofa and wood coffee table" class="wp-image-2275085" Integral to the overall design is the use of photovoltaic panels integrated into the roof of the cabanas, which grant power to all the electrical heating and cooling systems. Using solar energy enhances other already efficient building elements, such as natural shade provided by existing trees in the white rock entrance to the building. According to the architects, they also considered noise pollution and privacy. “A large portion of the building envelope is cladded with 5 mm full-height gres tiles on a ventilated facade, to provide the necessary privacy to bedrooms and bathrooms,” the firm explained. “The north facade is entirely opaque in order to provide an acoustic boundary from the entry courtyard and the street behind.” <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-7-889×592.jpg" alt="blue chairs on a covered patio" class="wp-image-2275084" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-8-889×592.jpg" alt="two gray chairs in a cabana beside a pool" class="wp-image-2275083" With limited above-ground building space, the design took advantage of space underground with a basement level, where the families share a gym, sauna, hot tub, cold plunge pool, additional kitchen and laundry room. Large sunken patios clad with white glass mosaic tiles reflect light and offer natural cooling features in a space that is private to each unit. + JM Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Jacopo Mascheroni via JM Architecture

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Beachfront villa is split into two units for brothers to share

Wood waste strengthens recycled concrete, new study finds

February 27, 2020 by  
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Research from the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science has revealed that discarded concrete can be strengthened with the addition of wood waste. This pioneering technique promises to be an environmentally friendly way to enhance concrete structures while simultaneously reducing construction costs and curtailing carbon emissions . It is hoped that this groundbreaking new method will help make better use of old concrete and any waste plant or wood materials. With traditional methods, reusing old concrete is unfeasible. The research team’s first author, Li Liang, explained, “Just reusing the aggregate from old concrete is unsustainable, because it is the production of new cement that is driving climate change emissions.” The team, therefore, sought to find a better approach, particularly one that would “help promote the circular economy of concrete,” according to the University of Tokyo. Related: 11 green building materials that are way better than concrete The innovative process involves taking discarded concrete and grinding it into a powder. Wood waste is also sourced from sawdust, scrap wood and other agricultural waste. Rather than sending this wood off to landfills, it is instead leveraged in the concrete recycling process for the key ingredient, lignin. Lignin is an organic polymer that comprises wood’s vascularized tissue and accounts for wood’s rigidity. The concrete, now in powder form, is then combined with water and the lignin to form a mixture. This mixture is both heated and pressurized, allowing for the lignin to become an adhesive that fills the gaps between the concrete particles. What results is a newly formed concrete with stronger malleability than the original concrete. Additionally, the lignin makes this new, recycled concrete more biodegradable . “Most of the recycled products we made exhibited better bending strength than that of ordinary concrete,” said Yuya Sakai, team lead and senior author of the study. “These findings can promote a move toward a greener, more economical construction industry that not only reduces the stores of waste concrete and wood , but also helps address the issue of climate change .” + The University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science Via New Atlas Image via Philipp Dümcke

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Wood waste strengthens recycled concrete, new study finds

Hydroelectric art gallery will generate enough wave power to be 100% self-sustaining

February 27, 2020 by  
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London-based architect Margot Krasojevic has just unveiled a futuristic art gallery that runs on hydroelectric power. Slated for the coastal Russian region of Sochi, the Hydroelectric Sculpture Gallery will harness enough wave energy to not only be 100% self-sufficient, but it will also be able to channel surplus energy back into the grid, powering around 200 nearby houses and businesses as a result. The art gallery will be located on Sochi’s coastline, where it will use the exceptionally strong coastal swells from the Black Sea to power a water turbine system . Krasojevic’s vision depicts a sculptural volume that rises out of an existing wooden promenade. The building, which will be partly submerged into the sea, will be strategically angled at 45 degrees to the coastline for maximum wave exposure. Related: Oil rig off South Korea’s coast to become a floating hotel that operates on tidal energy According to the design plans, the building will “use the environment’s characteristics to generate clean, sustainable energy, without affecting the quality and nature of the landscape.” State-of-the-art engineering will allow the structure to harvest wave energy through oscillating water columns as the waves crash against it. Generating up to 300kW, the system will enable the gallery to operate completely off the grid and channel surplus energy back into the grid. It could supply clean energy to approximately 200 households and businesses in the same area. Visitors to the futuristic gallery will enter through a long walkway stretching out from the shore. The robust exterior of the building will comprise various walkways and ramps that wind around the steel structure. Sinuous volumes will conceal the building’s many turbines, which will also be partially submerged underwater. Inside, the spaces will reflect the building’s functions. The various galleries will be laid out into a power plant format, with steel clad ceilings that mimic the rolling waves that crash into the exterior. Irregularly shaped skylights will also create a vibrant, kaleidoscope show of shadow and light throughout the day. + Margot Krasojevic Images via Margot Krasojevic

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Hydroelectric art gallery will generate enough wave power to be 100% self-sustaining

Passive solar community in Brazil combines social justice and sustainability

January 15, 2020 by  
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To empower a marginalized community in Brazil’s Maranhão state, São Paulo-based architecture firm  Estudio Flume  has completed Castanha de Caju, a new headquarters for a women’s agricultural cooperative that doubles as a welcoming community hub. Constructed on a limited budget and a tight timeline, the inspiring project included the refurbishment and extension of a small house as well as the inclusion of traditional construction techniques and materials to reduce costs. Low-cost passive thermal control strategies and considerable community input helped shape the project, which also includes permaculture principles, a biodigester, and rainwater harvesting. Located in Nova Vida, a small impoverished community in Bom Jesus das Selvas, the new agricultural co-op headquarters was primarily built to serve a group of women who make their living by collecting and processing a type of oil-rich Brazilian nut. As a result, the layout of the building was informed by the co-op’s workflows and includes nut cooking and breaking areas as well as an internal courtyard for drying foods. In light of the lack of  public spaces in the town, the architects also added facilities to the project, such as the sun-room and concrete bunch, to encourage community cohesion and knowledge sharing. In addition to  reusing  as much of the original building as possible, the new headquarters is constructed with perforated bricks and ‘brise-soleil’ pivot doors made with traditional techniques to allow for cross ventilation, natural light, and views. Since the area lacks a sewage system and a constant supply of potable water, the architects added a rainwater harvesting system and a septic tank biodigester for sewage treatment as well as a banana circle to filter gray water. The architects hope that through continued use and maintenance, the community will gradually begin to adapt these systems into other buildings in the town. Related: This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint “This project is part of a wider plan for renovation works for small cooperatives and associations in the interior Maranhão and Pará states, in the north and northeast of Brazil ,” the architects said. “In a country with enormous continental diversity and cultural richness, it represents the opportunity to defend some sense of social justice, to ensure job security, comfort in the routine of a group of women. This was an opportunity to work with those who produce food on a small scale and with respect for the environment and, in the end, these products are eaten in the big cities.” + Estudio Flume Images via Estudio Flume

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Passive solar community in Brazil combines social justice and sustainability

Can big data hold the key to unlocking sustainable smallholder farms?

October 3, 2018 by  
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A cooperative network of data sets could spur innovation and drive resilience in the agricultural sector.

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Can big data hold the key to unlocking sustainable smallholder farms?

Trade and food security are linked — and both are in danger

September 27, 2018 by  
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Climate change is disrupting our agricultural production, and we’ll need international agreements to solve the global challenge.

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Trade and food security are linked — and both are in danger

How this economist-entrepreneur is cultivating a new market for organic products

August 15, 2018 by  
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Disrupting and diversifying the agricultural commodity industry.

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How this economist-entrepreneur is cultivating a new market for organic products

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