Electric truck fleets will need a lot of power, but utilities aren’t planning for it

August 4, 2020 by  
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Electric truck fleets will need a lot of power, but utilities aren’t planning for it Stephen Nadel Tue, 08/04/2020 – 01:11 As more electric buses and trucks enter the market, future fleets will require a lot of electricity for charging. While some utilities in California and elsewhere are planning for an increase in power demand, many have yet to do so and need to get started. This issue is critical, because freight trucks emit more than one-quarter of all vehicle emissions. Recent product developments offer growing opportunities to electrify trucks and buses and slash their emissions (see our recent white paper ). And just last week, a group of 15 states plus D.C. announced plans to fully electrify truck sales by 2050. Utilities will need to be ready to power electric fleets. Electric truck fleets need substantial power Power for trucks and buses is generally more of an issue than for cars because trucks typically have larger batteries and because trucks and buses are often parts of fleets with many vehicles that charge at the same location. For example, a Tesla Model 3 battery stores 54-75 kWh; a Proterra transit bus battery stores 220-660 kWh. In Amsterdam, a 100-bus transit fleet is powered by a set of slow and fast chargers that together have a peak load of 13 MW (megawatts). This is equivalent to the power used by a typical large factory. And they are thinking of expanding the fleet to 250 buses. California utilities are finding that grid capacity is often adequate in the short term, but that upgrade needs likely will grow in the medium term. Many other fleets also will need a lot of “juice.” For example, a rough estimate of the power needed to serve a fleet of 200 delivery vans at an Amazon fulfillment center is about 4 MW. And for electric 18-wheelers, chargers may need up to 2 MW of power each; a recent proposal calls for charging stations every 100 miles along the U.S. West Coast’s I-5 corridor, each with a peak load of 23.5 MW. Utilities need distribution planning These examples show the need for more power at a given site than most utilities can provide without planning and investment. Meeting these needs often will require changes to primary and secondary power distribution systems (feeders that deliver power to distribution transformers and to end customers) and substation upgrades. For large loads, a new substation may be needed. A paper recently released by the California Electric Transportation Coalition estimates that for loads over 5 MW, distribution system and substation upgrades will be needed most of the time. According to the paper, typical utility costs are $1 million to $9 million for substation upgrades, $150,000 to $6 million for primary distribution upgrades, and $5,000 to $100,000 for secondary distribution upgrades. Similarly, Black and Veatch, in a paper on Electric Fleets, also provides some general guidance, shown in the table below, while recognizing that each site is unique. Now is the time to begin understanding where such upgrades will be needed and start planning for them. California policy pushes utilities toward planning In California, state agencies and a statewide effort called CALSTART have been funding demonstration projects and vehicle and charger purchases for several years. The California Air Resources Board voted in June to phase in zero-emission requirements for truck sales, mandating that, beginning in 2024, manufacturers must increase their zero-emission truck sales to 30-50 percent by 2030 and 40-75 percent by 2035. By 2035, more than 300,000 trucks will be zero-emission vehicles. California utilities operate programs that work with fleet owners to install the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicle fleets. California utilities operate programs that work with fleet owners to install the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicle fleets. For example, Southern California Edison operates the Charge Ready Transport program for medium- and heavy-duty fleets. Normally, when customers request new or upgraded service from the utility, there are fees associated with the new upgrade. With Charge Ready, the utility generally pays these costs, and it will sometimes pay half the cost of chargers; the customer is responsible for the other half and for charger installation costs. Sites with at least two electric vehicles are eligible, but program managers report that at least five vehicles are often needed for the economics to make sense for the utility. One way to do this is to develop and implement a phased plan, with some components sized for future planned growth and other components added as needed. Southern California Edison, for example, has 24 commitments so far, and has a five-year goal of 870 sites, with an average of 10 chargers per site. The utility notes that one charger usually can serve several vehicles and that cycling of charging, some storage, and other load management techniques can reduce capacity needs (a nominal 10 MW load often can be reduced below 5 MW). Through this program, utility representatives are regularly talking with fleet operators, and they can use these discussions to help identify needed upgrades to the utility grid. For example, California transit agencies are doing the planning to meet a California Air Resources Board mandate for 100 percent electric or fuel cell buses by 2040; utilities are talking with the agencies and their consultants as part of this process. California utilities are finding that grid capacity is often adequate in the short term, but that upgrade needs likely will grow in the medium term (seven to 10 years out). They can manage grid needs with good planning (school buses generally can be charged overnight and don’t need fast chargers), load management techniques and some battery storage to address peak needs. Customer conversations drive planning elsewhere We also spoke with a northeastern utility (wishing to be unnamed) that has been talking with customers about many issues, including fleets. It has used these discussions to identify a few areas where grid upgrades might be needed if fleets electrify. It is factoring these findings into a broader grid-planning effort underway that is driven by multiple needs, including fleets. Even within an integrated planning effort, this utility is struggling with the question of when to take action to prepare the electric system for fleet electrification: Should it act on state or federal policy? Should it act when the specific customer request is submitted, or is there something in between? Recognizing that any option has scheduling and cost allocation implications, it notes that there are no easy answers. Many utilities need to start paying attention As part of our research, we also talked with several other utilities and found that they have not yet looked at how fleets might relate to grid planning. However, several of these companies are developing plans to look into these issues in the next year. We also talked with a major truck manufacturer, also wishing to remain unnamed, that views grid limitations as a key obstacle to truck electrification.  Based on these cases, it appears that fleet electrification can have a substantial impact on electric grids and that, while these impacts are small at present, they likely will grow over time. Fleet owners, electric utilities, and utility regulators need to start planning for these impacts now, so that grid improvements can be made steadily as electric fleets grow. Fleet and grid planning should happen in parallel, so that grid upgrades do not happen sooner or later than needed but are in place when needed. These grid impacts can be managed and planned for, but the time to begin this planning is now. Pull Quote California utilities are finding that grid capacity is often adequate in the short term, but that upgrade needs likely will grow in the medium term. California utilities operate programs that work with fleet owners to install the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicle fleets. Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Energy ACEEE Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Concept of a Tesla Semi truck. Shutterstock Mike Mareen Close Authorship

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Electric truck fleets will need a lot of power, but utilities aren’t planning for it

BMW, Ford, other automakers rev up carbon commitments

July 29, 2020 by  
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BMW, Ford, other automakers rev up carbon commitments Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 07/29/2020 – 02:00 The world’s biggest automakers are ramping up their carbon commitments even as they struggle to build back in the wake of the pandemic.  This week, Germany’s BMW took the plunge and set a goal to reduce its carbon emissions per car by at least one-third by 2030. Like its peers, BMW plans to reach those targets through a combination of developing and selling electric vehicles (including newly announced electric versions of the 5 Series sedan and X1 compact SUV), combined with incorporating more sustainable materials, working with its supply chain vendors and adopting clean energy for facilities. Last month, Ford announced that the company would become carbon neutral by 2050, a striking commitment for an American automaker. Mary Wroten, director of sustainability at Ford, told GreenBiz that Ford is aiming for 2050 to align with the Paris Commitments and because “anything after 2050 is unacceptable climate change risk.” Several big European and Asian automakers already have started down this road. Volvo Cars — owned by China’s Geely Holding and not to be mistaken with Volvo Group — is pledging to become carbon neutral by 2040. By 2025, Volvo Cars plans to reduce the CO2 footprint of each car it makes by 40 percent.  We have an obligation to get electrification right.   Volkswagen, which has linked electric vehicles to its comeback following the emissions scandal, says it’ll be carbon neutral by 2050. “We have an obligation to get electrification right,” Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh said in a release last year.  So what’s behind this carbon car company tipping point, even as automakers are expecting slower sales this year due to a global recession? Three macrotrends: Regulators in Europe and China are tightening emissions rules and driving automakers that sell into those markets to launch zero- and low-emissions vehicles. The U.S. at a federal level is lagging behind this movement, but states such as California have been acting much more aggressively to mandate emissions reductions targets for vehicles (such as the new Advanced Clean Truck rule). In general over the years, the auto industry has been slow to adopt zero-emission vehicle technologies. That has created an opening for upstart automakers such as Tesla, Rivian and Nikola Motors to emerge and gain customers from big auto. Rivian won a 100,000 electric delivery and freight truck deal with Amazon. Tesla is eligible to join the S&P 500 after four profitable quarters. Losing marketshare, and fear of losing marketshare, is a key driver of remaking the auto industry around sustainability.  Some automakers are using the struggles of the pandemic to lean into sustainability goals. “Build back better” is a refrain I’ve heard from a variety of transportation companies in recent weeks. In Europe, there’s a major push to fund clean transportation infrastructure, both EV chargers and hydrogen fueling, in stimulus packages.  What do you think? Are the automakers doing enough when it comes to carbon emissions? Love to hear your thoughts: katie@greenbiz.com . This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe  here . Pull Quote We have an obligation to get electrification right. Topics Transportation & Mobility Automobiles Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The BMW 7 series electric car at Bangkok Motor Show 2020.

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BMW, Ford, other automakers rev up carbon commitments

Cargotecture meets wine country in Paso Robles

July 27, 2020 by  
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Sipping a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon while gazing out over rows and rows of grapes is a thrill for any wine aficionado. But the Geneseo Inn at Cass Winery in Paso Robles, California offers something even more exciting — now wine-lovers can wake up to those vineyard views inside a repurposed shipping container . Cargotecture has come to wine country at last. The new, eight-unit bed and breakfast is now open and accepting guests. Ecotech Design, collaborating with the container fabricator CRATE MODULAR and the winery co-owners, Steve Cass and Ted Plemons, chose a 60-foot live oak tree as the centerpiece of the property. Ecotech Design integrated 20 factory-built, steel containers with conventional construction and set them in the rolling hills of the vineyard. Related: Is cargotecture the future of construction? What you need to know for your next project The units incorporate two containers each. The interior of each container is made from locally sourced, sustainable materials and features a modern, minimalist aesthetic. Parking is built underneath the units, so that cars don’t mar the landscape views. The 12-foot high clerestory, cathedral ceilings have multiple operable windows to invite light and fresh air inside. Guests can regulate the temperature and conserve energy by opening and closing these windows. The bridal unit suite is larger and more deluxe than the other units; it is built with a 40-foot and a 20-foot container. There is also an office cluster, which uses four 20-foot containers and features reception areas and a communal deck shaded by an oak tree . The B&B’s earthy exterior color palette complements both the landscape and the wine labels used at Cass Winery . “The design was inspired by the vineyard itself,” said Walter Scott Perry, founder and principal of Ecotech Design . “The most compelling attribute of this project is the use of modular components, in combination with recycled materials, to enhance visual interest and create an impressive panoramic openness that connects interior spaces, walkways, and decks. These connect with the vineyard vistas beyond.” Perry has been a leader in sustainable building design since the 1970s, when he was a part of the passive solar design movement in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the last 15 years, he’s built with shipping containers at sites around California. The winery personnel are excited to welcome guests to stay on the 145-acre vineyard and to serve them an estate breakfast prepared by the executive chef. Many ingredients are grown on-site in the chef gardens . In addition to a deluxe food and wine experience, guests can book a private massage, yoga session, archery lesson, photography workshop or horseback excursion. + Ecotech Design Photography by Paul Vu Photography via Ecotech Design

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Cargotecture meets wine country in Paso Robles

Rec Room presents ethically produced dresses for summer

July 21, 2020 by  
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Comfort, style, equality, sustainability — these values encapsulate the essence of Rec Room and its products, including a new line of ethically crafted summer dresses you’ll want to wear every single day. The company’s newest release is a line of versatile and comfy dresses, constructed with Italian-made fabric that is antimicrobial and wrinkle-resistant, making it a performance fabric that is machine-washable and quick-drying. It’s also a forgiving fabric for any type of lifestyle. It packs well thanks to the wrinkle-resistance. It’s also stain-resistant. Related: These funky sandals upcycle fabric from the cutting room floor The dress line, called Summer of Comfort, offers a variety of style options such as tank, slip, strap, tie and open back, all made with the same silky, breathable fabric. Rec Room is a business partnership — and friendship — between two women, Dre and Val. Although the company has many goals around clothing quality and sustainability, it also recognizes the racial injustices of the world. In response, it contributes 1% of gross sales to organizations working to eradicate systems of racial injustice, including The Equal Justice Initiative and The Loveland Foundation. Rec Room chose a production facility in California , so all products are made in the U.S. by the same company that produces athleticwear for the U.S. Olympics teams. With that in mind, it makes sense that each dress is breathable and stretchy, and, as the company says, “puts the leisure back in athleisure.” Both the manufacturing plant in California and the fabric manufacturer in Italy have earned high marks for employee wages, hours and work environment, as well as water management and low environmental impact. However, every business has to measure its carbon footprint, so even though it has made an effort to create a brand that ethically and sustainably produced, Rec Room also gives back to reforestation initiatives via 1% For the Planet and One Tree Planted. Customers can purchase additional carbon offsets directly through the company website. Rec Room Review Rec Room generously offered to send me a sample dress, which I eagerly accepted. I chose the tie dress in burgundy. For reference, I stand around 5’6” tall and weigh around 140 pounds, carrying most of my weight around my waist. I received a large and could likely have been comfortable in a medium, but the tie feature really allows me to tighten and loosen the fit to where I feel comfortable. The fabric is divine — breathable, stretchy, very soft and very comfortable to move in. It offers a luxurious feel without any concern for damaging it while wearing it during activities. I love that it is machine-washable and releases wrinkles nicely, even right out of the package. The dress I selected allowed me to play around with how to use the tie, creating quite different looks that made me feel confident. My favorite was criss-crossing it in the front; I also tried it with different jewelry . It’s very adaptable to dressing up and dressing down with a change from tall boots to sandals to Keds. I’m no model, but I’ve included a few candid shots to show how it fit my body type. Honestly, I rarely even wear dresses, but this is the most comfortable and versatile item of clothing in my closet and will likely sub in for times I would typically wear shorts or jeans. + Rec Room Images via Rec Room and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat

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Rec Room presents ethically produced dresses for summer

How a Blue New Deal charts a course for a sustainable sea change

July 20, 2020 by  
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How a Blue New Deal charts a course for a sustainable sea change Joel Makower Mon, 07/20/2020 – 02:11 Last week, a group of activists, scientists, academics and others issued a report calling for policies and other initiatives to generate prosperity while addressing inequity and the climate crisis. They called it the Blue New Deal. Its focus: an ocean-based blue economy . The problem, these experts said, is that the much-ballyhooed Green New Deal doesn’t adequately address the many environmental and social challenges that lie along the world’s shorelines and into the deep blue: industrial overfishing; coastal flooding; declining biodiversity; plastic waste; irresponsible tourism; unsustainable aquaculture; oil and chemical pollution; invasive species; and a range of other issues, many affecting the lives and livelihoods of coastal communities. Yes, provisions in the Green New Deal address fisheries and fishing communities, but that’s only a drop in the ocean, say blue-economy experts. The Ocean Climate Action Plan (OCAP), produced by the Center for the Blue Economy at the Middlebury Institute and the nonprofit Blue Frontier, aims to fill the shortcomings of the Green New Deal, offering a four-part set of policy recommendations that, it says, “contains both conservative and liberal economic philosophies that are mutually reinforcing.” There’s a pool of insights for companies, too. “There’s been a lot of stovepiping between the marine conservation community and the climate community,” David Helvarg, executive director of Blue Frontier, explained to me last week. “There’s kind of this feeling that the environment ends with the shoreline.” Suffice to say, it doesn’t. Indeed, says Helvarg, 14 of the 20 biggest U.S. cities are coastal, which he and others regard as those adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. That’s also true for eight of the world’s 10 largest cities, according to the U.N. Atlas of the Oceans . These communities face a wide range of environmental, social and economic challenges that extend well beyond their terrestrial-based boundaries. There’s kind of this feeling like the environment ends with the shoreline. The OCAP report is the result of “dozens of conversations” with leaders and experts, culminating in October in a meeting in Monterey, California, attended by 60 leading ocean and coastal experts across disciplines. It was followed by a virtual meet-up in April, attended by more than 750 people. The group is quick to distinguish the ” blue economy ” from the ” ocean economy .” The latter includes all ocean-based economic activity, including fishing, shipping, mining, port operations, oil and gas exploration and energy generation. “When we talk about the blue economy, we’re talking about sectors that are sustainable and that maintain the health of the ocean that support our economies and communities, both human and wild,” said Helvarg. “We’re looking at how you build and expand economic activity in ways that benefit both the sustainable ecological systems and the health of the ocean that sustains us and that benefits ocean-dependent communities and businesses.” That includes providing opportunities for marginalized and disadvantaged communities, including communities of color, that tend to be at greater risk of pollution and climate impacts. According to the report: One of OCAP’s core premises is that our ocean and coastal economies suffer from pervasive market failure; many externalities from industry are not properly priced in the market, many offshore industries are currently being stymied due to regulatory uncertainty over property rights, and large gaps in information lead to inefficient decisions about ocean and coastal resource use. Correcting these market failures in order to spur rapid innovation in the blue economy is one of OCAP’s top priorities. Ensuring that markets function efficiently is a deeply conservative objective. The Blue New Deal laid out in the OCAP report is a policy framework that aims to achieve two key objectives: use ocean and coastal resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and draw atmospheric greenhouse gases down to safer levels; and enable coastal communities to more effectively and equitably adapt to climate impacts. No wish list  To accomplish these things, the report lays out four key issue areas along with policy recommendations for each: Coastal adaptation and financing: helping vulnerable communities retreat from unstable shorelines; catalyzing a “large-scale dynamic living shorelines industry”; creating jobs that rehabilitate coastal ecosystems; reforming flood insurance; improving coastal wastewater management. Clean ocean energy: catalyzing large-scale deployment of offshore wind power; ensuring the protection of critical offshore habitats; creating robust programs to assess additional renewable ocean energy systems such as wave, current, tidal and thermal. Ports, shipping and the maritime sector: accelerating the decarbonization of ports and the shipping industry, including dramatically improving air and water quality in adjacent communities. Aquaculture, sustainable fisheries and marine biodiversity conservation: helping U.S. fisheries adapt to climate impacts; catalyzing the growth of a “new sustainable seafood industry,” including aquaculture, mariculture and plant- and cell-based seafood alternatives. It’s not just a wish list. The report offers a gap analysis of how current U.S. congressional legislation aligns — and doesn’t — with Blue New Deal objectives. Example: I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the report’s recommendation to fund state governments to pilot living shoreline projects in at-risk coastal counties is addressed in seven congressional bills. As with most other sustainability-related matters, there’s a takes-a-village aspect of all of this, along with a sense of urgency as climate impacts become increasingly evident, particularly along coasts. “It’s triage at this point,” Helvarg explained. “I mean, we’re fighting to preserve the last 10 percent of the world’s tropical corals. We’re fighting to minimize the impacts of sea-level rise and intensifying hurricanes, where NOAA just put out a report that hurricane intensity increased 8 percent a decade over the last 40 years. That means we’re going to have a more-than-normal active hurricane season on top of the pandemic this year, and if a hurricane comes ashore this year it’s going to be a third more intense than one that would have come ashore in 1980.” Given U.S. legislators’ decidedly somnolent approach to addressing the climate crisis, it likely will take a few more devastating hurricanes or other natural disasters before the Blue New Deal — and the Green New Deal, for that matter — garner a sense of urgency. It’s also possible that market signals could drive many of these notions forward without policy action. “We think that the crisis is an opportunity for almost every maritime sector and industry to engage and work with other stakeholders in turning the tide on this,” Helvarg said. Our aim is to restore the blue in our red, white and blue. Helvarg’s group works with a wide range of industries, but not with the oil and gas sector — “they’re the problem, not the solution,” he said — but there’s good news even there. “There’s a lot of potential lateral movement for the roughnecks and roustabouts ” — skilled and unskilled workers on oil rigs, respectively. “They have all the skill sets to immediately transition to be wind turbine technicians and linesmen and ocean engineers, which have the potential to be at least as significant in terms of U.S. domestic energy as offshore oil.” Can ocean and coastal health become part of a “new deal” — green, blue or any other hue? This is yet another arena where equity and environmental issues align, creating opportunities for leadership companies and communities to uplift the 40 percent of Americans living in coastal regions. And help thwart the worst impacts of what may well be a future national crisis. As Helvarg quipped: “Our aim is to restore the blue in our red, white and blue.” Pull Quote There’s kind of this feeling like the environment ends with the shoreline. Our aim is to restore the blue in our red, white and blue. Topics Oceans & Fisheries Policy & Politics Social Justice Coastal Health Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock / GreenBiz photocollage

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How a Blue New Deal charts a course for a sustainable sea change

8 cities share how racial justice is embedded into their climate plans

July 20, 2020 by  
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8 cities share how racial justice is embedded into their climate plans Jesse Klein Mon, 07/20/2020 – 02:00 As COVID-19 rampages through vulnerable minority populations with tragic consequences, and protests for racial justice surge among a similar demographic, city climate planners see a renewed focus on climate justice. The pandemic, in some ways, has been a trial run for the anticipated coming impacts of climate change — a not-so-distant future in which low-income and minority populations are the most at risk. As mayors make quick strategic changes to address the short-term COVID crisis, they are also in the midst of planning for similar long-term climate issues. Last week, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group , an organization of mayors from around the global, launched a Detailed Agenda for Green and Just Recovery from COVID-19 to ensure that this crisis propels sustainable innovations instead of a return to old ways.  “Equity is really at the heart of our recovery in the city,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell of her city, New Orleans, during the C40 press conference. “We’ve had 542 deaths [due to COVID-19] in our city and out of the 542, 404 were Black or Brown. Our response to this pandemic is an opportunity to create a much more healthier, more sustainable and equitable city, no doubt about it.” Another organization, Climate Mayors , a network of 438 United States mayors, hopes to provide peer-to-peer sharing between American cities to help adapt to and in some ways reverse our changing climate. It has helped fill the U.S- shaped hole in leadership left by the Trump administration.  “We want to make sure we’re reflecting back to the international community that there is a lot of effort going on to reduce emissions and energy technology,” said James Ritchotte, director of Climate Mayors. GreenBiz recently spoke with eight chief sustainability officers and mayors that are part of the Climate Mayors network to understand what actions they are taking to ensure climate justice is embedded into their climate resiliency plans. Below are excerpts from the interviews, edited for length and clarity. Boston Boston is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050 by focusing on their 86,000 buildings. The city is also investing in seawalls to prevent erosion due to sea level rise.  Christopher Cook, chief of environment, energy and open space On COVID-19 pandemic learnings that can apply to climate change initiatives:  What COVID has put in the forefront is how interwoven racial equity is with our climate crisis. Those social equity gaps in our society show how intentional we have to be in the climate work to make sure that we’re not exacerbating the situation. We have to be very intentional about job creation, or else our most socially vulnerable won’t be able to fully participate. We started very intentional conversations with our Office of Workforce Development to make sure that we are connecting directly with communities of color, and are starting a job training program for city retrofitting. On how COVID-19 gives us a chance to help vulnerable populations:  We can take [the pandemic as an] opportunity to be intentional about creating a cleaner respiratory environment for our citizens, especially those living in affordable housing. People need to have air filters and high-quality HVAC systems. Can we also use this as an opportunity to electrify those systems and retrofit those systems? So as we make buildings more efficient and cleaner from a carbon perspective, can we also make them healthier buildings? Carmel, Indiana Carmel is focusing on making its city greener through transportation initiatives, including more bike access and roundabouts.  Mayor James Brainard On how making the city more bike accessible is an environmental justice issue: Everybody talks about affordable housing, it’s really more about affordable living. A lot of city design requires huge amounts of a poor person’s expenditures be spent on gas, automobiles and insurance. We unveiled 225 miles of bike trails so you can get anywhere within the city of Carmel by bicycle, which is also important for environmental justice. To somebody who can’t afford a car, that makes a huge difference. So many times we’ve designed our cities so that not having a car isn’t even an option. We are also working to make our city beautiful, too. Wealthy people can travel to some of the most beautiful places on earth. But for people who can’t, they have a right to have their city be beautiful as well. So we focused on that through public art and beautiful parks and trails. On environmentalism as a Republican issue:  [Environmentalism] is a Republican issue. It was Teddy Roosevelt that started the national parks. It was Eisenhower who set aside the arctic reserve. It was Nixon and Ford who signed the EPA into existence. The Migratory Bird act was Nixon. The Endangered Species Act was for Nixon. The Republicans were very much environmentalists, starting with Teddy Roosevelt. Ford was always environmentalist, and got a lot done. And it disappoints me that this is something the Republican party has not focused on recently. On how two ideologies can come to the same decision that benefits climate: I had a guy who was very conservative giving me a hard time about spending $750,000 on switching to LED streetlights. So I said to him, “Well, what about the cost savings?” Because of less electricity, the savings will be about a 22 percent a year annualized rate of return on that money we invest. I showed him the bills. And he said “Oh, I guess this is a pretty good idea.” So he didn’t care about the environment. But he did care a lot about the return on investment. By the time we ended the conversation he got to the same place. But not for the environmental reason, but for a fiscal reason. People can get in the same place for different reasons. Houston Houston has committed to 100 percent renewable energy for all municipal buildings on its way to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 .   Marissa Aho, chief of resilience officer On Houston’s strategy for imbedding climate justice into climate resilience: In January we released a report with recommendations particularly related to flood resilience. We focused on three historically underinvested communities in Houston: Independence Heights; Greenspoint; and Kashmere Gardens, which is part of Mayor [Sylvester] Turner’s Complete Communities Plan initiative, which is looking at 10 of our most historically under invested African American and Hispanic, Latinx neighborhoods, and creating action plans to improve quality of life. A majority of the key actions are really understanding that our most vulnerable people, places and systems are disproportionately affected when there is any disruption. So, we have a number of targets but one is to address the huge disparities in life expectancy depending on what neighborhood you grew up in or live in. And that pre-COVID was a 24-year disparity.  Los Angeles Los Angeles is on track for a 45 percent decrease in emissions by 2025 with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The city’s climate initiatives was written in conjunction with creating new green jobs as part of Los Angeles’ Green New Deal.   Lauren Faber O’Connor, chief sustainability officer On how Los Angeles plans to address heat issues to benefit lower-income communities:  A big concern of climate change are impacts of heat and extreme heat in Los Angeles. Some of our citywide goals just facilitate a cooler, more resilient city, and I mean cooler as in temperature. This needs to happen citywide but we’re targeting the rollout in communities that are in greatest need and have the lowest tree canopy and the most vulnerability, like an elderly population, low-income population who may not be able to run an AC if they even have an AC. We want to make sure that we’re cooling those neighborhoods, and doing it in a way that meets their needs by focusing on the walk to a bus stop and at the area around the bus stop. The laying of cool pavement to reduce the urban heat island effect by literally paving a lighter shade over our streets. And then combining those with local tree planting to create more canopy cover and doing those things in neighborhoods that need it the most. On focusing money towards overlooked communities: The Transformative Climate Communities Program was created by the state through the climate investments, cap and trade dollars. We worked with local community leaders to prepare projects that would apply for state funding. The first year the Watts neighborhood was awarded a $30 million grant. Watts has a really incredible history, including the Watts riots in the 1960s. It’s a lively community. They’ve suffered a lot of injustices and need more significant and more direct investment. We prioritize that with incredible innovation by electrifying the local buses, electrifying the service in Watts. But also providing an EV Car Share service, bike share and bike lanes, multiple pedestrian improvements to allow for more walking, rooftop solar for home. What’s incredible is that when we hear from our community leaders, they would say to us that Watts is always last. In this project, LA has put Watts in the front of the line. Oakland, California Oakland’s climate action plan to get to carbon neutrality includes funding for a downtown shuttle, constructing electric vehicle charging stations and launching a green retrofitting program for residential houses, among 29 other initiatives.   Daniel Hamilton, sustainability program manager On climate programs that address inequities:  When we talked about the need to create denser urban environments to accommodate more people, the community said, “Well, it’s not just about the densities and the land use. Its about housing discrimination.” The climate solutions to these couldn’t be ignorant of or silent on those types of topics. The action items are designed specifically to address the broader social issues as well as climate issues. It’s not just a greenhouse gas reduction policy. It’s a policy that targets the systems that create the greenhouse gases in ways that address historic inequities and provide some solutions. An example of this would be the action items focused on anti-displacement, so keeping people rooted in Oakland. When we talked about this densification of land uses, housing came up as a big issue. But the final action item doesn’t say “provide greater densities.” The final action item is actually support for the community land trust model to build wealth within the communities to allow people who are in Oakland to stay in the community and not have to move out to second- and third-tier suburbs and drive a lot further to get to the same jobs they exist in today. Orlando, Florida Orlando hopes to power the city entirely off renewable energy by 2050 . But the city’s 2018 Community Action Plan is on an even quicker timeline, establishing goals for 2040 that include getting the government’s 232 buildings up to LEED code, planting 20,000 trees and increasing the electrical vehicle infrastructure.  Chris Castro, director of the office of sustainability and resilience On creating programs that help low-income communities meet overall climate goals:  Low- and moderate-income communities often are spending two and three times as much per square foot on utilities than more affluent communities. The landlords of these homes or apartments are reluctant to make ongoing maintenance improvements to them. So they have very outdated air conditioning systems, outdated insulation and lighting. As a result, they have less resources, but they’re spending more on their utility bills. In one of our notorious communities of color, Paramore, people are burdened by upwards of 18 percent of their household income being spent on utilities . The average across in Orlando is 4.5 percent. That has helped us to develop new programs. We’ve partnered with a nonprofit called SELF, Solar Energy Loan Fund. We helped them establish their regional headquarters in Orlando. They provide funding, specifically to low and moderate income communities for home energy improvements, reducing energy and water use, lighting and HVAC, onsite solar, and even sewer and water improvements. It’s a loan product that is really looking at an unsecured very low interest loan for homeowners. So a person with a low credit score of 500 can get a loan for 5 percent to 6 percent interest from SELF versus getting laughed out of the bank when they’re asking for a loan to get a new AC system. This is an opportunity for people on the low and moderate income spectrum to have the financial tools to make these home improvements that improve quality of life, save energy, save water and reduce carbon right at the end of the day. I think we’ve invested about $150,000 over the last few years to help them out. Richmond, Virginia To reach the city’s goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2050, the sustainability office is focusing on increasing alternative energy options with solar panel installations.  Alicia Zatcoff, sustainability manager On climate mapping helped with the COVID response: We have a pretty sophisticated mapping, the equity index. We have gone through and assessed and about 20 social vulnerability factors including geographic-based and demographic factors, resulting over 140 layers and pieces of data on the map. We rank those pieces of land using our climate equity index to identify where new parks or open spaces could be. We mapped our heat index looking for our heat islands. Using the equity index we can prioritize those areas, which is a different approach than we would have taken a year or two ago. So we’ve done that for climate. And then when COVID hit, we went back to see what the risk factors are for getting COVID and then the factors for getting severe disease or dying. And what we found is they are so closely aligned with the climate risk and vulnerability factors. The community that was on the frontline of climate change, we’re also on the front line of COVID. Saint Paul, Minnesota Saint Paul’s top priorities are to become a carbon-neutral community and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. The government buildings are hoping to decarbonize by 2030.  Russell Stark, chief resilience officer  On how car sharing will benefit low-income communities  We are making sure that at the same time that we’re reducing emissions, we’re actually creating a mobility access benefit for our lowest-income communities. For example, car sharing has operated on a round trip model. Most of the parking locations are where the market is, usually around colleges or high density neighborhoods or in some cases better-off neighborhoods. When we thought about expanding our car share was to expand the service into some of our lowest income communities and communities of color. We are partnering with community-based organizations to expand that service into 10 locations that really haven’t had the service before. Topics Cities COVID-19 Racial Issues Environmental Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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8 cities share how racial justice is embedded into their climate plans

AMD’s energy-slashing feat

July 17, 2020 by  
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AMD’s energy-slashing feat Heather Clancy Fri, 07/17/2020 – 01:00 It isn’t often I have the mindspace to proactively follow up on every commitment proclaimed by the companies I cover. But I recently paused to catch up about one that has particular relevance as more companies act to address their Scope 3 emissions reductions, those generated by supply chains and customers: AMD’s bold pledge back in 2014 to improve the energy efficiency of its mobile processors — the components used in notebook computers and specialized embedded systems, such as medical imaging equipment or industrial applications — by 25 times by 2020. Not-so-spoiler alert: The fact that I’m bringing it up should be a big hint that the company has delivered. In fact, AMD overachieved the goal, delivering a 31.7 times improvement with its new Ryzen 7 4800H processor. In layperson’s terms, that means that the chip consumes 84 percent energy, while taking 80 percent less compute time for certain tasks. For you and me, that means batteries last longer. For companies buying entire portfolios of devices based on these processors, they will see their electricity consumption reduced. (The specific reduction you’d see by upgrading 50,000 laptops would be 1.4 million kilowatt-hours.) Consider this perspective from tech research analyst Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research: “Lower energy consumption has never been more important for the planet, and the company’s ability to meet its target while also achieving strong processor performance is a great reflection of what a market-leading, engineering-focus company they’ve become.” Indeed, when I chatted with Susan Moore, AMD’s corporate vice president for corporate responsibility and government affairs, she told me it took “a full company focus and a lot of innovation” by the AMD engineering team to make the goal happen. Note to others attempting the same sort of thing. Although the company had pretty good visibility into what it would be able to pull off early on during the six-year period, there were plenty of questions marks, and it took unwavering support (and faith) from AMD CEO Lisa Su to keep true, Moore said.  Actually getting there took some very specific design changes, outlined in a blog by AMD Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster. Here are some of them: Investments in new semiconductor manufacturing processors (specifically 7 nanometer technology) Changes to the real-time power management algorithms The integration of the central processor and graphics architecture into a common “system on a chip” (among other architecture changes) Changes to the interconnections between the components (its proprietary approach for this is called the Infinity Fabric) Moore said close collaboration with customers (such as the original equipment manufacturers using AMD chips for their computers) was also critical. “A large part is the ability to sit down with likeminded organizations,” she noted.  Plus, disclosure. AMD decided to declare its progress year to year. (Here’s the report card from 2018, for an idea of how it shared the information.) “That was definitely a risk, but we thought it was very important that is was something that we talk about along the way, so we did measurements every year,” Moore said.  I wish every company were that transparent. Topics Information Technology Energy & Climate Energy Efficiency Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of AMD Close Authorship

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The future of the fashion industry requires innovative circular systems

July 17, 2020 by  
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The future of the fashion industry requires innovative circular systems Nicole Pamani Fri, 07/17/2020 – 00:15 Agricultural waste from food crops either is traditionally left to rot or is burned, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. About 270 million tons of banana waste are left to rot annually, and in India, 32 million acres of rice straw are burned. Circular Systems’ Agraloop , in contrast, sees food crop waste as a valuable resource, a feed stock for natural fiber products. Winner of the 2018 Global Change Award , the company aims to unlock value for the textile and fashion industry, for farmers and for the planet. Bard MBA alum Nicole Pamani recently spoke with Isaac Nichelson, CEO and co-founder at Circular Systems , about how the company’s circular production processes are helping to redefine the meaning of sustainable materials in the fashion industry. They discussed how Agraloop functions like a mechanical sheep, and how the COVID-19 pandemic is causing us to rethink the way we produce products.  Nicole Pamani: Tell us the Agraloop story. Isaac Nichelson: Agraloop is the world’s first regenerative industrial system for textile production. It originated from the mind of Yitzac Goldstein, whose natural systems thinking drives him at the core. It’s recently been described by our friend Nick Tipon from Fibershed , one of the world’s experts in regenerative farming practices and fiber systems, as essentially a giant mechanical sheep.   A sheep consumes a lot of biomass left over from food production, basically agricultural stubble. That biomass goes into its belly, where the sheep breaks it down and turns it into nutrition. Finally, the sheep fertilizes the field, trampling it in ever so perfectly, which improves the fertility cycle. This is exactly what Agraloop does at an industrial scale. It takes the leftover biomass from food crop production and upgrades that fiber, using some of the waste to create energy. When we’re done, what’s left over are only beneficial effluent and super high value products, rather than the caustic salts that come from traditional fiber processing or dye processing.  The effluent is actually perfect organic fertilizer, and we take it back to the farms to build soil fertility and further sequester carbon — just like the sheep does. We’re able to provide farmers with more income for waste that was actually climate liability because it’s usually burned.  This is more than just a better way to produce fiber from food crop waste. It’s literally showing the world that we can create industrial systems that are beneficial to humanity and to our habitat. Pamani: How do the textiles produced by Agraloop stack up against recycled fabrics? Nichelson: With this process, we’re changing people’s whole conception of what a recycled fabric is. Traditionally, recycled cotton textiles have been downplayed as inferior because in most cases they are. By tearing apart the fabric, mechanical recycling creates shorter staple fibers, and that creates a less strong yarn product. The lack of strength causes issues like pilling. Because it’s generally blended with recycled polyester, it also has problems of inconsistency. These issues have prevented the massive growth of traditional mechanically recycled textiles.  But that can all be fixed. Yitzac has innovated again around the creation of a yarn system that allows us to produce stronger-than-traditional virgin yarns that are also higher performing than traditional synthetics. Their moisture management will meet or exceed the performance of the Adidas Climate Cool or Nike Dri Fit with no chemical finishing and all recycled and organic inputs. The COVID-19 global pandemic is forcing us to rethink our patterns of consumption and the way we produce things. Pamani: What’s the next big sustainability challenge in the circular fashion industry? Nichelson: We’re having it delivered to us inadvertently right now with the COVID-19 global pandemic. Within this moment so much loss is happening, but it’s also forcing us to rethink our patterns of consumption and the way we produce things. It’s bringing home the idea of how fragile our habitat is and how sacred our health is.  As we sit in our houses, either laid off or working from home with a lot more time on our hands, we’re looking inward at this incredible crisis. The whole world — but especially the tech, style and fashion industry — is collapsing in on itself right now because it’s unbalanced and totally unprepared for what’s to come. What’s necessary is not a revolution, but a resolution to change that resolves to do things differently as a species, not just an industry.  Pamani: Do you see opportunities for collaboration across different levels of production?  Nichelson: We’ve been doing presentations at textile exchanges and with some of the biggest companies in our space about a new way of looking at sustainability and collaboration. We are raising the bar. What we need to be striving for is fixing things — that’s regeneration, that’s true circular. We’re in this incredible moment, this inflection point for humanity, and constructive interference is what’s going to save us. We need it right now on a global basis. Are we going to come out of this into the real hunger games, or are we going to come out of this into a world ready to transform and willing to collaborate? I can tell you that we at Circular Systems are working night and day to do our part to make that collaboration a reality, and we invite everybody else to join us.  The above Q&A is an edited excerpt from the Bard MBA’s June 5 The Impact Report podcast. The Impact Report brings together students and faculty in Bard’s MBA in Sustainability program with leaders in business, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Pull Quote The COVID-19 global pandemic is forcing us to rethink our patterns of consumption and the way we produce things. Contributors Katie Ellman Topics Circular Economy Food & Agriculture Fashion Food Waste Collective Insight The Sustainable MBA Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Credit:  Rawpixel.com

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The future of the fashion industry requires innovative circular systems

Sculptural aluminum roof keeps Cal Poly building cool

July 14, 2020 by  
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California State Polytechnic University’s (Cal Poly) Pomona campus recently welcomed a new gateway building that not only consolidates academic services, but also serves as a sustainable campus landmark. Los Angeles-based firm  CO Architects  designed the 140,000-square-foot building, a two-wing structure topped with an eye-catching aluminum roof that spans two acres. The massive, undulating roof protects against California’s intense sun, while also referencing the campus’s topography, including the foothills and nearby San Gabriel Mountains.  Completed in 2018, Cal Poly’s new Student Services Building (SSB) consolidates formerly fractured departments — including enrollment, registration, financial aid, cashiering and prospective student services — into one destination. The 110,000-square-foot, three-story main building houses the service centers on the ground floor, offices for academic, student and administrative affairs on the second level and offices for the university president, provost and university advancement on the top floor. A two-story, 30,000-square-foot wing located across a shaded pedestrian breezeway contains the veteran resources center, orientation, multipurpose rooms, human resources offices and additional service centers.  The SSB draws the eye with its wavy standing-seam aluminum roof constructed with perforated metal overhangs that vary from five to 28 feet in depth. Extensive daylight, glare and solar heat-gain analysis modeling informed the roof’s orientation and design. As a result, the optimized roof serves as a primary performance driver for the building; its Energy Use Intensity rating is 31 compared to an average of 65, and it minimizes energy loads for lighting and cooling while improving thermal comfort. The  LEED Platinum -certified building enhances its energy efficiency with LEDs installed throughout. Low-E glass strategically installed also provides naturally lit workspaces for the majority of the eight-hour work period.  Related: Immense drought-tolerant green roof provides valuable teaching tool in thirsty California Spurlock Landscape Architects led the design of the building’s environmentally responsible landscape plan. This plan features drought-tolerant plantings and an on-site capture system for stormwater and roof runoff, which is used to irrigate the new landscape.  + CO Architects Images by Bill Timmerman

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Sculptural aluminum roof keeps Cal Poly building cool

California’s new truck rule: It’s big, it’s bold, it’s controversial

July 1, 2020 by  
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California’s new truck rule: It’s big, it’s bold, it’s controversial Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 07/01/2020 – 00:30  California’s epic clean truck rule has arrived. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s controversial.  After months of discussion, last week the California Air Resources Board (CARB) unanimously approved the Advanced Clean Truck rule, which says that more than half of the trucks sold in California have to be zero-emission by 2035. By 2045, all new commercial trucks sold in California must be zero-emission.  The truck rule follows another California law ( passed in 2018 ) that says all new public transit buses sold must be zero-emission starting in 2029. The combination of these policies makes California one of the most aggressive regions in the world pushing electric trucks and buses.  Environmentalists hailed the decision , calling it a win that will help clean up the air for disadvantaged communities that live in areas with a large amount of trucks. For example, in the Inland Empire in Southern California, where there’s an Amazon distribution hub, growth in e-commerce has led to tens of thousands of trucks per day on the roads. CARB estimates that 2 million diesel trucks cause 70 percent of the smog-causing pollution in the state. Transportation emissions represent 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and without taking aggressive steps the state will not be able to meet its climate goals.  The rule also could help kick-start an electric truck market, which has been slow to emerge.   The rule also could help kick-start an electric truck market, which has been slow to emerge. Adoption has been delayed partly because of costly and short-range batteries, and hesitancy from many traditional commercial automakers. But in the past year, truck makers such as Daimler and Volvo Trucks have started to take electric trucks much more seriously.  Nonprofit CALSTART predicts that 169 medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicle models   will be available by the end of 2020, growing 78 percent from the end of 2019. All-electric truck companies such as BYD, Rivian and Tesla are set to capitalize on the trend.    So who’s not so enamored with the rule? Some traditional truck and auto parts makers:  The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association  has been pushing against more stringent regulations in the face of COVID-19, citing concerns over added costs.  Some oil industry and low-carbon fuel companies:  The Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group, has opposed the rule , saying it would eliminate promising efficiency and low-carbon fuel technologies.  Smaller truck fleet operators: Many are worried about the higher upfront costs to buy zero-emission trucks and new fueling infrastructure. It’ll be a challenge no doubt. And potentially might be challenged itself.  But I’ll leave you with a quote from CARB’s Mary Nichols  about the rule (from The New York Times). This might be Nichols’ last major regulation before she retires later this year:  This is exactly the right time for this rule. … We certainly know that the economy is in a rough shape right now, and there aren’t a lot of new vehicles of any kind. But when they are able to buy vehicles again, we think it’s important that they be investing in the cleanest kinds of vehicles. This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe  here . Pull Quote The rule also could help kick-start an electric truck market, which has been slow to emerge. Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets Zero Emissions Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Trucks – CC license by Flickr user Andrew Atzert

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