A campus building is designed to reduce stress from Californias car culture

April 14, 2021 by  
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Brooklyn-based design firm Efficiency Lab for Architecture has recently transformed an existing, three-story commercial office building into the Community Information Center, a marketing center for Avenues: The World School’s new campus in San Jose, California . Located in a former office park, the Community Information Center redefines the nondescript environment with a fresh building entrance framed by redwood trees and a series of artsy concrete portals that the architects say “free people’s minds from the stressful reality of California’s driving culture before entering the facility.” Completed in June 2020, the Community Information Center is part of the first phase in the new San Jose campus for Avenues: The World School, a famous system of for-profit private schools for pre-K to 12th grades with international locations including New York City, São Paulo and Shenzhen. The new modern campus is located on a small existing office park. Two existing buildings and a parking garage will be repurposed for campus use, and four new buildings will be constructed.  Related: Adobe’s renovated headquarters channels the design giant’s creative energy As the marketing hub for the campus , the 10,000-square-foot Community Information Center features a reception and lounge space; an 80-person presentation room; meeting rooms; interview rooms; and staff offices arranged in an open-plan layout. In addition to the concrete portals that form the outdoor entrance sequence, the architects installed a bright orange portal to mark the threshold to the presentation room.  “Passing through the colorful entry portal, a clean, modern, open floor plan emerges, revealing visual continuity of spaces framed between engineered European hardwood oak floors and an acoustic ceiling that stretch across its entirety,” the architects noted of the minimalist and modern interior design. “The space artfully combines hints of industrial design and strategic uses of geometry and light, creating a stimulating ambiance that is conducive to thinking and learning.” + Efficiency Lab for Architecture Photography by Blake Marvin via Efficiency Lab for Architecture

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A campus building is designed to reduce stress from Californias car culture

The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan

April 7, 2021 by  
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The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 04/07/2021 – 01:15 Within President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan — the American Jobs Plan — unveiled last week, the White House is proposing a massive $174 billion investment “to win the EV market.” It’s a historic move that will have deep implications for the emerging U.S. EV industry. If it passes Congress mostly intact, we could see Americans’ use of plug-in vehicles jump considerably. A lot of ideas are in the plan, and many impacts will result from it. Here are 10 important bits to know about the planned federal investments for electric vehicles and EV infrastructure (and a reminder that we’re hosting an event about many of these pressing topics, VERGE Electrify online May 25 and 26): 1. It’s a boost for EV chargers: Biden has been calling for a goal of 500,000 chargers built out across the U.S. by 2030 since before the election. His infrastructure plan says the federal government will help achieve that goal by creating grant and incentive programs for local and state governments as well as the private sector to deploy EV chargers. Companies that own EV charging assets, such as ChargePoint and Tesla, saw a big boost to their stock prices following the release of the plan last week. 2. There’s a big push to electrify transit and school buses: The plan calls for replacing 50,000 diesel-powered transit vehicles as well as electrifying 20 percent of the U.S. school bus fleet through a new Clean Buses for Kids Program. Electric transit and school buses are two types of vehicles that already have been quickly electrifying because transit agencies and school districts can save money on fuel and maintenance costs while reducing air pollution for riders. What these organizations need is incentives to reduce the upfront purchase price of the electric vehicles, which are still more expensive than their diesel-powered counterparts.  3. Ditto the federal fleet: The plan also calls for electrifying vehicles in the federal fleet, including the United States Post Office. Details are sparse at this point, but it’s good to know that the elusive and complicated USPS will be a target. 4. It would buoy domestic EV production: Asian countries own the world’s EV battery production markets. But Biden is hoping to boost domestic manufacturing of batteries and EVs through incentives for automakers. Former President Barack Obama’s green recovery stimulus invested in battery and EV manufacturing with some mixed results. Biden’s plan should make sure to invest in scaling up already proven companies and technologies, instead of betting on emerging ones.  5. It includes incentives for Americans to buy EVs: The plan says it will give EV buyers “point of sale” rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made EVs. Despite the dropping costs of batteries and EVs, consumers still need incentives to buy more expensive electric cars. Biden reportedly plans to extend the current $7,500 federal tax credit, an amount that diminishes for vehicles built by automakers including Tesla and General Motors that already have sold over 200,000 electric vehicles. Biden could drop that 200,000 ceiling as well as enhance incentives for EV buyers in disadvantaged communities. 6. It prioritizes building out transmission lines and clean energy: If many of America’s vehicles go electric, we’ll need more electricity, and the nation’s electric grid will have to get more resilient and cleaner. Biden’s plan calls for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to cover transmission lines (which will provide much-needed financing ), as well as energy storage projects. It also would extend the ITC and the Production Tax Credit for another decade. The plan also mentioned a Clean Electricity Standard, which would set goals for the percentage of clean energy required each year. Many states including California have set state-level renewable portfolio standards that have been successful in boosting clean energy. 7. It prioritizes racial justice: Biden’s plan uniquely says it will use its overall infrastructure investments to prioritize “addressing long-standing and persistent racial injustice.” Forty percent of the total planned investments (not specific for EVs) will create climate and clean energy benefits for disadvantaged communities.  8. Decarbonizing transit is a big focus: Beyond EVs, the Biden infrastructure plan calls for investing $85 billion into “modernizing existing transit,” and help transit agencies expand systems to boost ridership. There’s also $80 billion for intercity rail systems such as Amtrak. This is essentially a doubling of federal investment in public transit, and transit advocates are saying this a ” dramatic shift ” in transportation spending. 9. Corporate taxes will feed funding: Biden seeks to raise corporate taxes, raising $2 trillion over the next 15 years. Corporations would see a boosted tax rate of 28 percent, and some offshore tax loopholes would be closed. 10. The proposal still needs to get through Congress: Biden’s plan likely will see significant reshaping as it spends months making its way through Congress. What’s been floated now is an aspirational initial draft. Still, the plan is historic and could help kick-start a real EV revolution in the U.S.  Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles 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 Investments in electrified public and school transportation options is just one piece of President’ Biden’s infrastructure proposals.

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The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan

California farmers find ways to work with less water

April 5, 2021 by  
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Water scarcity due to persistent droughts in California’s Central Valley is forcing scientists and farmers to find innovative and sustainable ways of utilizing this precious resource. Through collaboration, the community has found ways of reusing water several times in a bid to fully tap into its benefits. The process of conservation and recycling starts just a few miles downstream of all major rivers and streams in the state. With the main source of water for the Central Valley being the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the community relies on a series of infrastructures to utilize the water every step of the way. Structures such as the Pine Flat Reservoir are vital to the plan of minimizing water use. Related: Is high-yield vertical farming the future of agriculture? The reservoir serves as a hydroelectric power station point, utilizing the speed of the free-falling water to turn turbines to generate electricity for the region. Given that hydroelectric power is a greener source of electricity, locals ensure that they have cut down reliance on fossil fuels. Further into the Central Valley, the same water is put to use by farmers who utilize technology to minimize water use. Famers collaborate with local institutions such as the Fresno State Center for Irrigation Technology to adopt sustainable irrigation methods. “So we have basically three essential functions,” said Charles Hillyer, director of Fresno State’s Center for Irrigation Technology. “We do field testing and technology. We do research relating to agriculture specifically for irrigation, and then we have a laboratory that tests and certifies equipment for different research experiments that are all testing different aspects of water use efficiency. One is focused on a product that may reduce consumptive use of water .” Hillyer further explained that irrigation has become mandatory to all farmers in California because of droughts . As a result, they have to adopt methods of sustainable agriculture. “So irrigation matters to everybody who eats in California ,” Hillyer said. “That’s why sustainable production practices are important because this is how we’re going to continue to feed ourselves and the rest of the world.” From training irrigation managers to finding new, sustainable methods of irrigation, Central Valley farmers will have to adapt to the reality of climate change . But Hillyer noted that the future for sustainable water use is bright. “My hope is that this institution will continue as it has done in the past to generate research and pure science research that is useful not only to agriculture but other scientists,” Hillyer said. Via ABC7 Image via Mia S

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California farmers find ways to work with less water

AutoCamp to expand Airstream glamping to Zion, Joshua Tree and the Catskills

March 31, 2021 by  
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Award-winning glamping company AutoCamp has announced plans to bring its design-led Airstream suites and luxurious tent accommodations to three new iconic destinations: California’s Joshua Tree National Park, Utah’s Zion National Park and the Catskill Mountains in New York. Slated to open in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, the new expansion effectively doubles the footprint of the outdoor lodging brand, which was created to immerse guests in nature with high-end outdoor hospitality. All AutoCamp properties are designed for safe experiences that follow social distancing guidelines and include features such as contactless check-in and text message-based concierge services. Founded in 2013 in Santa Barbara, AutoCamp currently operates three locations: AutoCamp Russian River in the heart of California’s wine country, AutoCamp Yosemite near the entrance of the iconic national park and, most recently, AutoCamp Cape Cod in Massachusetts. All properties offer fully outfitted, family-friendly accommodations, from modern, 31-foot Airstreams and luxury tents to seasonally available Base Camp Mini Suites. Related: Adorable timber cabins in Chile let you glamp among the trees On track to open this fall, AutoCamp Joshua Tree will feature 47 Airstreams, four Accessible Suites and four X Suites on a 25-acre property. All units will include updated HVAC systems for all-season weather, and guests will have access to an outdoor bar with a full beverage program, a hybrid hot tub and plunge pool and a mobile kitchen for chef residency pop-ups. The Clubhouse — a focal point of every AutoCamp destination — will be designed by HKS Architects and Narrative Design Studio and will include translucent solar panels , misters and a seamless connection with the outdoors. HKS Architects also designed AutoCamp Zion National Park, slated to open Spring 2022, which will include a Clubhouse that faces views of the Gooseberry Mesa and beyond. The Clubhouse in AutoCamp Catskills will be designed by Milwaukee-based Workshop/APD. As with all existing AutoCamp properties, no cars will be allowed on the premises so as not to detract from the surroundings.  + AutoCamp Images via HKS and Narrative Design Studio

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AutoCamp to expand Airstream glamping to Zion, Joshua Tree and the Catskills

Compelled to action: 5 sustainability trends impacting food retail

March 25, 2021 by  
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Compelled to action: 5 sustainability trends impacting food retail Heather Putnam Thu, 03/25/2021 – 01:30 Authors’ note: Ratio Institute taps Presidio Graduate School ’s students and alumni for sustainability research in the food industry. Through our partnership, we’re able to communicate to a broader audience about best practices in engaging with the food industry around sustainability.  Food retailers — supermarkets, neighborhood grocery stores and convenience stores — are the nexus of food production, distribution and consumption, bringing together the most pressing issues in our food system. They also have the most potential to drive changes for a more sustainable future. The food retail industry has remained behind in adapting to the realities of doing business in the era of climate change and rapidly changing consumer preferences. At the Ratio Institute, we’re dedicated to accelerating measurable sustainability and viability in food retail and have worked with more than 1,000 grocery stores and 20 grocery chains to create store-level and enterprise sustainability solutions that reduce costs, shift internal cultures and improve overall performance.  COVID-19 has revealed weaknesses in our food supply chain, made consumers more aware of issues in the supply chain and changed the way customers use grocery stores. The pandemic meant many consumers reportedly changed how they shopped for food in 2020 : 40 percent shopped at fewer stores; 28 percent shopped more online; and a full 10 percent stopped going to stores altogether, according to data from the Food Industry Association. Food retail responded with accelerated innovation in parts of the business including online shopping and grocery delivery , the check-out process and product offerings. But the industry has been notoriously slow to innovate in response to other sustainability trends that affect its business. Below are five major trends that should compel food retailers to take more aggressive action to adapt to a shifting world. 1. Increasing public awareness and regulatory requirements regarding climate change The public is savvy about the impact of climate change on our planet, and consumer buying habits are aligning with this increased awareness. In line with this trend, evolving regulatory requirements meant to mitigate the impact of operations on climate change directly impact food retail. Primary to this regulatory drive are refrigerants. Traditional refrigerants including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been recognized for decades as contributing thousands of times more greenhouse gas emissions than carbon dioxide. Now, federal government regulations and 17 states have enacted or are enacting laws aimed at eliminating HFCs. Food retailers must get ahead of the regulatory curve and develop a strategy to phase out HFCs. Converting refrigeration systems to natural refrigerants including ammonia and carbon dioxide is a proven strategy to reduce the carbon footprint of retail refrigeration systems. The retail group ALDI Sud has converted to transcritical refrigeration systems in 1,496 stores across Europe, the U.S. and Australia, providing a roadmap for the rest of the industry to follow suit. The food retail industry has been notoriously slow to innovate in response to other sustainability trends that affect its business. While specific companies have invested in strategic energy efficiency or clean energy, the food retail industry has not had a wholesale reckoning with its climate change impact. Given the industry’s carbon footprint from energy consumption alone , there is ample opportunity to reduce energy usage and improve its bottom line. 2.  Consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced It is not news to anyone that consumers are increasingly interested in sustainability-marketed foods such as organic, fair trade, sustainably harvested products such as seafood, and so-called “natural” foods. And recent research shows that shoppers are putting their money where their mouths are. This market segment grew from 14.3 percent to 16.6 percent of CPG dollar sales. Additionally, over half the growth in the CPG product category is attributed to sustainability-marketed products. Beyond this, consumers are more conscious of how their food is produced and the environmental and social impacts of producing it. The food retail sector can both satisfy its customers’ buying preferences and drive more sustainable food production in its supply chain by creating industry-wide product procurement guidelines and partnering with NGOs that focus on these issues. 3.  Growing awareness of food retail’s role in creating (or preventing) food waste Supermarkets produce 10 percent of food waste in the U.S., and the industry is just beginning to step up in response to tackling the issue. A 2019 report by the Center for Biological Diversity on U.S. supermarkets’ path to zero waste rated only three of the top 10 retailers an “A,” meaning they scored high on three metrics: commitment to zero waste; tracking and transparency; and waste prevention measures. Nonprofit organizations and programs are partnering with food retail to reduce its food waste, while others are implementing their own internal programs. The initiative 10X20X30 aims to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030 by working with 10 top retailers and their suppliers — Sodexo, Tesco and Walmart were among its founding partners. Kroger founded the Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Foundation, while retailers such as Walmart have worked to clarify expiration dates on labels and reduce spoilage from farm to shelf. Additionally, other retailers have taken advantage of ugly or imperfect produce (that previously would be thrown away) to sell it at a discount. Why should retailers pay more attention to these programs? One, preventing food waste can reduce the burden of food production on land and water resources as well as help alleviate hunger in their immediate communities; two, to get ahead of increasing regulatory pressure to prevent large generators of food waste (read: supermarkets) from sending it to the landfill; and three, because it is good for the bottom line.  4. Growing awareness of the waste problem Along with food waste, consumers are increasingly interested in the global waste problem and are asking questions about who the biggest culprits are. Weekly trips to the grocery store put plastic packaging and single-use bags at the forefront of public consciousness, highlighting the role that food retailers play in addressing waste each time they visit. Following California’s example, eight states effectively ban either plastic or non-biodegradable single-use bags. In other states, counties and cities have taken the approach of imposing a charge for each plastic bag. While many countries have enacted plastic bag bans, the U.S. still has not moved to do so. Weekly trips to the grocery store put plastic packaging and single-use bags at the forefront of public consciousness, highlighting the role that food retailers play in addressing waste each time they visit. The grocery sector is also highly dependent on single-use plastic packaging, particularly in the case of consumer packaged goods (CPGs) sold in stores. Consumers are very concerned about the environmental impacts of plastic packaging, even as they prioritize convenience and quality. NGOs such as Break Free from Plastic are pressuring the industry to choose alternative packaging for prepared foods and in turn getting CPG manufacturers to do the same. The food retail sector can take a stronger stance by working directly with CPG manufacturers to use less plastic packaging on CPG products. 5.  COVID-19 has magnified social inequities among frontline food system workers The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities along racial and income lines. Exposure and death rates have been especially high among communities of color compared with the overall population, partly because frontline workers disproportionately are people of color. These are the people who are the underpinnings of our food system, who work to harvest, process, distribute and yes, sell our food to us at the checkout counter in the grocery store. Early on in the pandemic, grocery store workers did not receive the protections they needed , and since then, there has not been a universal move to treat them as frontline workers with all the protections this would entail. Some retailers, including Whole Foods and Walmart, began instituting mandatory mask requirements before states and the CDC issued guidelines for retail operations. Similar trends were seen in produce harvesting operations and meat processing plants. The industry can work with its suppliers to ensure that harvesters and processing plant workers are being protected where they work. The industry has ushered in advanced disinfection practices to protect workers and customers within the store environment, and this has created tension with its mandate to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in operations. Job loss due to the pandemic also has had an outsize effect on workers in the service industry as restaurants, retail and service operations have closed, aggravating existing food access issues in communities where these workers live. Food retail can play a role in helping these communities by creating or expanding programs to improve access to healthy food in local communities. Now what? The good news is that people are thinking about how to move food retail toward being a leader in environmental and social stewardship. Grocery chains such as Wegmans, H-E-B and Metro are investing in innovative programs. Nonprofit organizations and coalitions, including the Consumer Goods Forum’s Coalition of Action on Food Waste and the Food Chain Workers Alliance , are also rising to meet the need to drive the industry forward. Organizations such as Ratio Institute , founded to drive sustainability and operational excellence in food retail, are valuable partners that can offer insight and tools for retailers to make the jump. Finally, individual consumers can have an impact by learning more about sustainability measures retailers are taking, and choosing retailers, brands and products that align with their personal values.  To learn more about Ratio Institute, visit ratioinstitute.org or contact info@ratioinstitute.org . Join the conversation on LinkedIn , Twitter , and Facebook . Pull Quote The food retail industry has been notoriously slow to innovate in response to other sustainability trends that affect its business. Weekly trips to the grocery store put plastic packaging and single-use bags at the forefront of public consciousness, highlighting the role that food retailers play in addressing waste each time they visit. Contributors Aaron Daly Peter Cooke Topics Food Systems Food & Agriculture Retail Food Waste Waste Collective Insight Thinking in Systems Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  FG Trade  on iStock.

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Compelled to action: 5 sustainability trends impacting food retail

Valuing the ‘lived experience’ in infrastructure decisions

March 25, 2021 by  
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Valuing the ‘lived experience’ in infrastructure decisions Heather Clancy Thu, 03/25/2021 – 01:00 As discussions over the Biden administration’s $3 trillion infrastructure vision take shape, one principle central to the president’s ideas to help America “build back better” after COVID-19 is ensuring that investments shaping a clean economy are firmly rooted in social and environmental justice.  What better way to actually do that than by more intentionally including historically disadvantaged low-income and BIPOC communities in the decision-making process? That’s the foundational question underlying the ” Square Partnership ” development model championed by startup accelerator Elemental Excelerator as part of its broader commitment to getting portfolio companies to embrace equity and access as core values.  Elemental’s approach brings together its startups, their customers and nonprofit advocacy organizations directly connected to the community that could be affected by a given solution — the accelerator largely acts as the project manager, among other things. One example of a Square Partnership in action is the four-sided relationship between Elemental; transportation planning software developer Remix , which Via Transportation just bought for $100 million ; an Oakland, California-based “liveable” community planning agency, TransForm ; and several project advisers that interact with its customers, including The GreenLining Institute.  “To really address equity issues, we believe it’s a combination of the government, nonprofits and the private sector working together,” said Darnell Grisby, executive director of TransForm, named this week to the California Transportation Commission. “Nonprofits have to understand the importance of the private sector.” The purpose of the year-long engagement was to co-create better equity analysis features for Remix Explore, a mapping software module for urban planners. Rachel Zack, director of policy at Remix, said one question that her company sought to explore was how to better embrace people who don’t have a technical background but who can provide valuable oral histories within the planning process.  “Transportation is the throughline through which we should be seeing all our social justice issues,” noted one adviser, Tamika Butler, during a recent webcast with the various project partners. And yet, as she notes in a detailed brief about the project, the BIPOC community isn’t well-represented in municipal planning meetings. “We are in rooms where people devalue our lived experience if it is not backed by the ‘right’ degree or statistics,” Butler wrote. “We are engaged in conversations where power, privilege and equity are thrown around as things we strive for without direct and intentional work to integrate any of those things in the processes, people or organizations bandying them about. That must change.” Three case studies were considered during this project: making sure a planned new park served low-income earners in surrounding neighborhoods; ensuring that changes to a city’s bus service were equitable; and a deeper look at how oral histories about a community align with the data that planners use to make decisions. Jamario Jackson, senior community planner with TransForm, said one a-ha moment was just how deeply connected decisions about public transit and transportation are to other planning decisions, especially housing and economic development. “It’s so important to work across disciplines,” he said. “These relationships are dynamic and ever changing. Planners are supposed to be working on behalf of the public … That is a real opportunity for growth.” Another conclusion: the “shiny new thing” isn’t always the best solution. Sometimes, pitching new technologies can overcomplicate things, observed Hana Creger, environmental program manager with the Greenlining Institute: “Equity projects require a reframing of the traditional measures for success, such as speed, efficiency, cost-effectiveness.” How well a solution actually meets a community’s expressed needs also must be highlighted, she said. “Companies are part of the solution and not the solution,” notes Sara Chandler, managing director for equity and access at Elemental. It believes the future success of equitable partnerships is rooted in six concepts: Multidisciplinary, multistakeholder collaboration for mutual benefit Clear, comprehensive processes for equity History and context that reflect a local community’s needs Transparency about outcomes Decision-making agency A posture open to diverse perspectives As the U.S. and countries around the world commit trillions of dollars and yen and euros and so on to building back better, we would all do well to consider how spending decisions are made and to ensure that the communities most affected by the decisions have a voice in them.  As I hope you’ve heard , exploring the opportunities for physical and digital infrastructure will be central to VERGE Infrastructure , the fifth conference within our annual VERGE conference. It will debut this year during VERGE 21 , scheduled for Oct. 25-28 and expected to convene more than 15,000 leaders from the private and public sectors.  Topics Social Justice Infrastructure Transportation & Mobility Environmental Justice 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 Jamario Jackson of Transform addresses a group as part of its project with Elemental Excelerator and Remix.

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Valuing the ‘lived experience’ in infrastructure decisions

Unilever sets out net-zero plans for shareholder vote

March 25, 2021 by  
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Unilever sets out net-zero plans for shareholder vote Michael Holder Thu, 03/25/2021 – 00:30 Unilever has become one of the first multinational companies in the world to publish a corporate net-zero action plan for oversight by its shareholders, as it prepares to put the climate strategy to an advisory vote at its upcoming AGM in early May. The consumer goods giant this week unveiled its strategy for achieving net-zero emissions across its entire supply chain by 2039 in line with recommendations from climate scientists, with a focus on decarbonizing its heating and cooling, encouraging its suppliers to set science-based targets, and stepping up its broader advocacy work in the run up to the crucial COP26 U.N. Climate Summit later this year. The “climate transition action plan” (CTAP) is set for a non-binding, advisory vote at Unilever’s AGM May 5, with the company also promising to report annually on its progress towards implementing the strategy in line with the guidelines of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFDs). “We will also submit an updated CTAP for an advisory shareholder vote at our AGM every three years, noting any material changes we have made or propose making,” the company said. The Anglo-Dutch firm first announced plans to give its shareholders a direct say over its climate action strategy back in December , in a bid to boost corporate transparency and governance surrounding its drive to reach net-zero emissions for its core business by 2030 and across its entire supply chain by 2039. It is also aiming to eradicate deforestation in its supply chains by 2023, including for commodities such as palm oil, paper, soy, cocoa and tea. We hope that by setting out our plan, and the assumptions underpinning it, investors will share our confidence — and other businesses will start to follow suit. In a blog post explaining the firm’s decision to give its shareholders a say on its sustainability strategy, Unilever CEO Alan Jope said the aim was “to be transparent about our plans, and to strengthen engagement and dialogue with our investors.” “As governments around the world wake up to the full implications of the climate crisis and start to regulate and price emissions, we are confident that early and ambitious climate action will drive superior performance and create value for all our stakeholders,” he wrote earlier this week. “We hope that by setting out our plan, and the assumptions underpinning it, investors will share our confidence — and other businesses will start to follow suit.” Jope also explained Tuesday that achieving net-zero by 2039 would mean ensuring that the emissions associated with Unilever’s products are reduced towards zero “as far as possible, with residual emissions balanced by carbon removals, through either natural technological carbon sequestration such as reforestation or carbon capture and storage.” However, over the next two decades, the company’s primary focus would be on emissions reduction across its value chain, he insisted. “We will not seek to meet our targets through purchasing and retiring carbon credits, known as offsetting,” explained Jope. “By 2039 and thereafter, we will ensure that any residual emissions are balanced with carbon removals to achieve and maintain our net zero position.” In order to deliver its targets, Unilever said its priority was to decarbonize its use of heating and cooling, including removing HFCs — harmful greenhouse gas pollutants — from its refrigerants, having already achieve 100 percent renewable electricity across its business worldwide. It also has set up a $1.18 billion Climate and Nature Fund to help its brands invest in decarbonization and nature protection projects, and the firm aims to increase its investments in plant-based food offerings and harness the influence of its brands to help encourage greener consumer behaviors. We will also call for ambitious goals and actions by both governments and the private sector on key themes like nature-based solutions, finance, and adaptation and resilience. And, in order to slash both upstream and downstream emissions in its value chain, the company said it would work with suppliers to encourage the adoption of their own science-based emissions targets, and to help its logistics partners to shift towards low emission transport options. Unilever also promised to “step up our climate advocacy ahead of COP26,” including though its membership of global industry groups such as the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition and Transform to Net Zero. “We will also call for ambitious goals and actions by both governments and the private sector on key themes like nature-based solutions, finance, and adaptation and resilience,” explained Jope, who argued that leading on climate action “will help Unilever be a more successful business.” “Consumers are becoming more demanding of brands,” he wrote. “Investors are increasingly seeking to build net-zero-aligned portfolios. High-quality talent is seeking employment with purpose-led companies. In this context, we believe that any costs associated with this additional level of ambition represent a wise investment in building our purpose-led, future-fit business, one that will be respected and trusted by future generations as much as it has been by past generations.” Jonathon Porritt, founder and director of corporate sustainability nonprofit Forum for the Future, welcomed the publication of Unilever’s climate transition plan this week as “something of a breakthrough on getting shareholders focused on what companies need to do to get to net zero.” Pull Quote We hope that by setting out our plan, and the assumptions underpinning it, investors will share our confidence — and other businesses will start to follow suit. We will also call for ambitious goals and actions by both governments and the private sector on key themes like nature-based solutions, finance, and adaptation and resilience. Topics Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy Net-Zero BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  JHVEPhoto  on Shutterstock.

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Unilever sets out net-zero plans for shareholder vote

For a clean, resilient grid, look to EV infrastructure

March 24, 2021 by  
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For a clean, resilient grid, look to EV infrastructure Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 03/24/2021 – 00:30 Electric vehicle charging infrastructure could provide a major benefit — boosting both clean energy and resiliency — for the power grid. On Monday, automaker BMW and northern California utility PG&E announced a new expanded program that could help incentivize 3,000 BMW drivers to shift the charging of their vehicles to times of day when clean energy (namely solar power) is abundant. The program could also nudge drivers to curb EV charging during times when the grid is really congested.  “We see smart charging as a way to make EVs more sustainable,” said Adam Langton, energy services manager for connected e-mobility for BMW of North America, in an interview with GreenBiz. BMW previously offered two smaller pilot programs with PG&E and found that smart charging services paired with clean energy could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Northern California by 32 percent. “Some customers were very motivated to use more clean energy for charging. Using digital tools, we can provide them with that clean energy,” Langton said. Some customers were very motivated to use more clean energy for charging. While the latest effort is still just a pilot program right now, here are five reasons I think this initiative is particularly interesting: Utilities and automakers need to collaborate. To build a grid — with an abundance of clean energy and electric vehicles — that operates well, utilities and automakers will need to create strong partnerships. Currently not many have these relationships in place. BMW’s Langton said this pilot is the only example he knows of where a utility is providing an automaker with clean energy generation projection data. I would think sharing this type of data would be extremely important and valuable to all players across the EV infrastructure and hardware ecosystem. It’s all about data. To enable this type of dynamic smart-charging ecosystem, the automakers, utilities, tech providers, charging companies and drivers need data to optimize the systems. They need clean energy projections, but also predictions about user behavior, dynamic electricity rates, weather prediction data, etc. Data will be the key — the currency — that underlies all of these programs. Design experience will be required. The way these programs are designed, and taking into consideration how users drive and want to drive their EVs, will be extremely important in ensuring that drivers volunteer to take part in them. Negative experiences around programs being difficult to use, complicated, not flexible or just not worth the extra effort to be enrolled will greatly affect the rollout. The teams creating these programs need strong expertise in consumer behavior.  This could be a stepping stone to V2G. Utilities and automakers need to get these smart-charging programs right in order to move to the next stage where they’re looking at projects around enabling vehicle-to-grid capabilities. That’s where EVs can discharge electricity back onto the power grid in an exchange with utilities. V2G has long been overhyped and underdeployed, but to kick it into the next gear will require these smart charging baby steps first.  This is a big year for infrastructure. These types of EV smart-charging pilot programs will become even more important as the federal government is expected to spend potentially trillions of dollars on a stimulus plan this year that could include $1 trillion for infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rails, EV charging and grid gear. Getting the steps right on a micro-level — 3,000 EV drivers in California — will help inform how and where EV infrastructure spending should be deployed.  Want more great analysis of electric and sustainable transport? Sign up for Transport Weekly , our free email newsletter. Pull Quote Some customers were very motivated to use more clean energy for charging. Topics Transportation & Mobility EV Charging Electricity Grid Resilience 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

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For a clean, resilient grid, look to EV infrastructure

Wildfires made air quality worse in 2020, despite lockdowns

March 22, 2021 by  
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Last spring, many environmentalists were cheering about the lockdowns’ side effects, such as reduced air pollution. While cars stayed parked and the air got cleaner for a few months, wildfires negated any lasting improvements. A new report from IQAir breaks down the winners and losers — mostly losers — in the air pollution battle. “You look at August through December, and you see the biggest impact on air quality is wildfires,” said Glory Dolphin Hammes with IQAir, as reported by Wyoming Public Media . In the U.S., those wildfires account for air pollution levels being higher in 2020 than in the preceding two years, despite all those people working from home and barely going anywhere. Related: Sandstorms and pollution create hazardous air quality in Beijing The annual World Air Quality Report uses the measure of PM2.5 averages. This means particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller. These tiny particles float in the air, making their way into our lungs and even bloodstream as we breathe, with often dire health consequences. The new report showed that the greatest increases in PM2.5 levels were in São Paulo (+5%), Melbourne (+1%) and Los Angeles (+1%). Wildfire season ravaged all three cities and the surrounding areas. In Sept 2020, 77 of the world’s most polluted cities were in the U.S. — 35 each in Oregon and California and seven in Washington. While fires were mainly responsible, Trump’s rollbacks of environmental regulations and lax attitude about the Clean Air Act didn’t help. Overall, 37 of the world’s most polluted cities are in South Asia. Going by the U.S. AQI measurements, 80% of cities in Bangladesh, 67% of cities in Pakistan and 32% of cities in India qualify as “unhealthy” or worse. The most polluted city in 2020 was Hotan in China, mainly due to major sandstorms. There were a few cities that came out as winners with improved air quality over the year. Singapore’s PM2.5 levels were down by 25%, Beijing’s by 23% and Bangkok’s by 20%. + IQAir Via Wyoming Public Media Image via Sippakorn

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Wildfires made air quality worse in 2020, despite lockdowns

Bottom trawling contributes more carbon emissions than air travel

March 22, 2021 by  
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The bottom trawling fishing technique is more harmful to the environment than previously thought, according to a new study. While it has long been known that this method captures fish indiscriminately, there was no available data on its carbon footprint. A recent study now shows that this method of fishing releases carbon emissions from ocean beds. The study, published in Nature , becomes the first to give a clear estimate of the carbon emissions caused by bottom trawling. In this technique, nets are dragged along the ocean floor, scraping for fish and other ocean creatures. This damages a significant part of fish habitats and releases CO2 that had been captured in the sea bed. Related: Super trawlers ravage UK’s protected waters amid pandemic The study broke the ocean into 50-square-kilometer blocks and used collected data to measure how much each square contributes to marine life in terms of fish stock, biodiversity and salinity among other aspects. Researchers estimate that bottom trawling releases about one gigaton of carbon emissions into the atmosphere every year, meaning this method of fishing alone contributes more carbon to the atmosphere than the aviation industry at pre-pandemic levels. This practice also impedes the ability of the sea bed to continue absorbing and storing carbon. On top of the pollution, damaged habitats for fish and indiscriminate capturing of species leads to diversity degradation. According to Enric Sala , lead author, marine biologist and National Geographic’s Explorer in Residence, the team had originally set out to find ways of discrediting this method of fishing to encourage those in the industry and governments to put an end to it. Scientists have been trying to petition governments against bottom trawling due to the effects it has on marine habitats. Bottom trawling is also one of the most  expensive methods of fishing  and the most destructive. Sala explained that most fishing operators that depend on bottom trawling rely on government subsidies to remain afloat. The team hopes this research will lead people to think twice about allowing bottom trawling to continue. + Nature Via Time Image via andrasgs

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