5 companies that get what Earth Day really means

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Incremental progress is okay, but businesses such as Apple, DHL, Target, Toyota and Walmart are stepping up to truly move the needle on climate.

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5 companies that get what Earth Day really means

Marijuana meets Big Food: Why green weed isn’t easy to grow

April 20, 2017 by  
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Cannabis companies are hiring agriculture experts to grow newly-legal businesses, but pitfalls like organic labeling and big energy bills loom large.

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Marijuana meets Big Food: Why green weed isn’t easy to grow

Can the internet of things solve environmental crises?

April 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

If so, it must consider local business and cultural needs, build business processes and market structures around the world.

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Can the internet of things solve environmental crises?

Doughnut Economics: the long-sought alternative to endless growth

April 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Finding a healthy alternative to the prevailing growth model that has strained the planet to bursting is the holy grail of environmental economics. And it looks like maybe we’ve found it. George Monbiot, the most dynamic environmental journalist I know, wrote about Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist , which “redraws the economy” in such a way that the planet and its inhabitants can thrive, with or without growth. It’s so similar to the kind of closed-loop thinking we see frequently on Inhabitat, whether in permaculture design or William McDonough’s new approach to integrating the carbon cycle , it seemed important to share. I’ll point out a few excerpts below, but please do read Monbiot’s longer analysis . It starts with what he says is the most important question: “So what are we going to do about it?” Monbiot writes: Raworth points out that economics in the 20th century “lost the desire to articulate its goals”. It aspired to be a science of human behaviour: a science based on a deeply flawed portrait of humanity. The dominant model – “rational economic man”, self-interested, isolated, calculating – says more about the nature of economists than it does about other humans. The loss of an explicit objective allowed the discipline to be captured by a proxy goal: endless growth. In her book, Raworth emphasizes that economics should provide a model that doesn’t require growth in order to meet “the needs of all within the means of the planet.” And, she offers one. As Monbiot points out, we have a messy situation where power rests in the hands of a few who really don’t seem terribly concerned to acknowledge the planet’s limits, or, therefore, the limits to economic growth, so mustering political might not be so easy. Here’s how our current economic system works, in a nutshell, according to Monbiot: The central image in mainstream economics is the circular flow diagram. It depicts a closed flow of income cycling between households, businesses, banks, government and trade, operating in a social and ecological vacuum. Energy, materials, the natural world, human society, power, the wealth we hold in common … all are missing from the model. The unpaid work of carers – principally women – is ignored, though no economy could function without them. Like rational economic man, this representation of economic activity bears little relationship to reality. Raworth’s model “embeds” economics into existing natural and social systems, “showing how it depends on the flow of materials and energy , and reminding us that we are more than just workers, consumers and owners of capital.” Again from Monbiot, writing for The Guardian : The diagram consists of two rings. The inner ring of the doughnut represents a sufficiency of the resources we need to lead a good life: food, clean water, housing, sanitation, energy, education, healthcare, democracy. Anyone living within that ring, in the hole in the middle of the doughnut, is in a state of deprivation. The outer ring of the doughnut consists of the Earth’s environmental limits, beyond which we inflict dangerous levels of climate change, ozone depletion, water pollution, loss of species and other assaults on the living world. The area between the two rings – the doughnut itself – is the “ecologically safe and socially just space” in which humanity should strive to live. The purpose of economics should be to help us enter that space and stay there. It’s hard to understate how exciting this revelation is for those of us thinking of a way out of our current predicament. We need an economic system that works with the Earth, instead of against it, to provide for all of us – rather than too much for too few. Images via George Monbiot, Kate Raworth, Pixabay

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Doughnut Economics: the long-sought alternative to endless growth

Green roof flows into a lush living wall on this modern Vancouver home

April 13, 2017 by  
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Texture and hand craftsmanship are king in this beautiful modern home in Vancouver . Design studio Measured Architecture completed the Rough House, a single family home and laneway project that skillfully combines a myriad of patterns, colors, and texture for visual interest without looking at all cluttered. With beautiful details to be found in every corner, the carefully constructed home is a delight for the eyes and even boasts lush green roofs and living wall. The 3,600-square-foot Rough House comprises two narrow structures, the main home and the smaller, detached laneway house, slotted into a tight urban lot in a way that still allows room for side yards and light wells. Carbonized cypress clads the primary residence while board-form concrete and repurposed white boardroom boards cover the smaller building. Large windows cut into the volumes frame views of the garden using Japanese principles of shakkei, or “borrowed view.” Related: Vancouver home built almost entirely with former building’s materials “Fundamental to the success of this project is the separation of the home from its neighbours in a tight urban condition through the narrowing of building to support increased side yard landscape edges and exterior light well circulation, displaced green space to regain connectivity to yard in an increased densification, and finally a play of textures to increase an intimacy between materials and occupant,” wrote the architects. The firm’s success can be seen in the outdoor patio, built like an extension of the indoor living space, that’s partly bookended by a lush living wall. The vertical garden appears to seamlessly connect with a green roof on the laneway house, a smaller version of the landscaped roof atop the primary residence. + Measured Architects Via Dezeen Images via Measured Architects

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Green roof flows into a lush living wall on this modern Vancouver home

Tiny modern cube home boasts spectacular desert views

April 13, 2017 by  
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If you’re a fan of desert living prepare to swoon over this cute compact abode in Arizona. Set on a 1.25-acre lot that backs up onto Tonto National Forest, this beautiful modern home spotted by Curbed boasts spectacular views of the desert. Built with large windows and a spacious patio to blur the line between indoor and outdoor living, this small yet mighty home is even up for sale—at $275,000. Clad in weathered corrugated steel , the cube-shaped home features a rusty red facade that complements the surrounding desert palette. Despite its small footprint of 529 square feet, the Arizona home has a spacious feel thanks to its large windows, high ceilings, and open-plan layout. The bedroom seamlessly flows into the living room and kitchen space with the bathroom and closet tucked into the sides. Related: Rammed Earth Desert Courtyard House Built From the Ground Upon Which it Sits in Arizona In addition to its weathered steel facade, the home embraces the desert landscape through the large windows, outdoor patio, and rooftop deck. Homeowners can enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of the desert sunrises and sunsets and even take a dip into the outdoor soaking pool after a long day’s hike. The one-bedroom, one-bathroom home is currently up for sale on Estately for $275,000. + Estately Via Curbed Images via Estately

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Tiny modern cube home boasts spectacular desert views

How a small tribe in Nevada shut down coal and built a solar farm

April 12, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump brags about bringing back coal jobs, but tends to gloss over the fuel’s negative health effects for workers and those who live nearby. The Moapa Band of Paiutes in Nevada know all about those harmful health effects. After years of campaigning against a coal plant near their land, they finally saw it close as they switched on the first utility-scale solar plant ever erected on tribal land. The Moapa Band of Paiutes resides in Nevada next to the coal-fired Reid Gardner Generating Station. The tribe has seen high rates of heart disease and asthma, and didn’t even benefit from the power plant – it neither powered their homes nor employed their people. But because the 311-person tribe is so small, it was difficult to conclusively establish their health issues were related to the plant. Related: Moapa Paiutes to Install 250 MW Solar Power Plant to Transition Away from Dirty Coal Still, the tribe persisted in their campaign to shutter the plant, which provided power for Las Vegas. They started writing letters, and then took legal action with the help of the Sierra Club. When Las Vegas residents learned their power came from a plant polluting the air for people who lived next door, many of them got involved in the campaign as well. The tribe lost the case in 2013 but that same year Senate Bill 123 became law – requiring certain utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and replace some polluting power with renewable sources. The Reid Gardner Generating Station finally closed this year, last month. Its 40 employees didn’t even lose their jobs, since they were given new positions in the same company. And now the tribe is turning to solar . They’ve leased land for the 250-megawatt Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project; First Solar started operations and recently sold the plant to Capital Dynamics . The tribe will receive revenue and 115 of their members obtained construction jobs for the plant, which recently began operating under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Two tribe members will be permanently employed as field technicians. Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council chairman Darren Daboda said in a statement, “If our small tribe can accomplish this, then others can also. There are endless opportunities in renewable energy, and tribes across the nation have the perfect areas in which to build utility-scale projects.” Via Colorlines Images via Ken Lund on Flickr and ENERGY.GOV on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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How a small tribe in Nevada shut down coal and built a solar farm

The green business guide to Brexit: 10 questions to ask

April 7, 2017 by  
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Brexit throws up countless uncertainties for green businesses, but they should not be allowed to paralyze decision makers.

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The green business guide to Brexit: 10 questions to ask

Publishing writes a new chapter on sustainable culture

April 7, 2017 by  
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Books are a $28 billion industry in the U.S. One employee-owned publishing house is turning the public conversation towards sustainable living.

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Publishing writes a new chapter on sustainable culture

Measuring the ROI for circularity soon may be easier

April 6, 2017 by  
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More companies are introducing circular concepts into their product manufacturing, but a full transition to circularity may need convincing metrics. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Accenture and UL EHS are working on it.

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Measuring the ROI for circularity soon may be easier

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