Growing Something Greater: Healthy Kids, Schools and Communities

March 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on Growing Something Greater: Healthy Kids, Schools and Communities

Stephen Ritz is an educator in the South Bronx, where he takes a “whole school” approach to education, rooted in health, wellness and mindfulness. In the poorest Congressional district in America, where 45,000 people live within 8 square blocks of each other and healthy, fresh food is not available, he teaches students about growing and preparing their own vegetables in school farms. “Of all the crops I’ve grown,” he says, “my greatest crops have been my students themselves.” From GreenBiz 20.

Read the rest here:
Growing Something Greater: Healthy Kids, Schools and Communities

Congress reports U.S. will lose $54 billion annually to storms

May 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Congress reports U.S. will lose $54 billion annually to storms

A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office predicts an alarming $54 billion in hurricane and flood damage over the next few years — much of which can be avoided by spending money upfront to protect and prevent against losses. The frequency of what are called “billion-dollar storms” appear to be increasing. In 2018, there were 39 “billion-dollar” disasters around the world — 16 of which were in the U.S. Already in the first four months of 2019, the U.S. has endured winter storms Quiana and Ulmer, and each one caused more than a billion dollars  in damage to infrastructure and homes. The new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) focuses on hurricanes, which are the mostly costly natural disasters according to NOAA. Since 1980, tropical cyclones have caused a combined $927.5 billion in damages and are also the most expensive individual storm events in both financial cost and lives lost. Related: Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harm’s way Of the annual losses predicted by the CBO, $34 billion is estimated in damage to homes, plus $12 billion for the public sector and $9 billion for private businesses. The direct cost to taxpayers is estimated at approximately $17 billion per year. However, the CBO report also underscores several preventive actions that could significantly reduce these costs. By some analyses , mitigation measures (such as flood prevention or watershed protection) could save Americans $6 dollars in losses for every $1 spent in preparation. Solutions to mitigate hurricane damage The following suggestions from the report include environmental and policy-level recommendations to reduce loss in infrastructure and lives from tropical storms and hurricanes. Reduce carbon emissions Hurricanes, and their rising frequency and intensity, are intricately tied to climate change . Increasing temperatures melt glaciers and cause sea level rise, which leads to higher storm surge levels and more destructive flooding. The rising temperatures have also been linked to increased rainfall. Climate change is a result of greenhouse gas emissions; therefore,  reducing emissions would slow and prevent some of the future damage caused by intense storms and extreme flooding. One primary way to reduce emissions, according to the CBO, is by expanding cap-and-trade programs. These programs incentivize companies to keep emissions below designated thresholds and allow the purchasing of emission credits between companies that pollute less and companies that pollute more. However, the CBO also acknowledges that limiting emissions may negatively impact the economy by increasing the cost of goods and services and reducing jobs. Likewise, the CBO argues that such strategies must be enforced at a global scale, otherwise corporations will relocate to countries that allow unfettered pollution. Increase funding for flood mapping The weather is changing, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is struggling to keep up. Rapid urban development in wetlands and flood zones, combined with sea level rise and erosion, are changing the landscape of flood risk. The scale of this need is overwhelming — in 2018, FEMA spent $452 million on flood mapping and data collection, but it was nowhere near enough. Expand flood insurance coverage Flood insurance agencies need accurate spatial data and maps in order to adequately provide coverage, charge appropriate rates and adequately inform the public about their specific risks. Most people simply do not buy flood insurance and of those that do, 25 percent drop their plan within the first year. More accurate data and delineated risk zones can help inform residents of their direct risks and incentivize homeowners to implement mitigation measure, such as relocating heating and cooling equipment above of the predicted flood level. Accurate risk data will also help justify changes for long-standing insurance policy holders who have been “grandfathered” into plans that grossly underestimated their vulnerability before climate science and spatial mapping were widely available. An estimated 20 percent of insurance policy holders are paying rates lower than their appropriate risk level, which is good news for the policy holder up until a storm hits and they are in need of benefits that correspond to the damage they endured. Encourage local and state governments to share recovery costs When the president declares a disaster emergency, municipalities receive federal dollars to provide basic needs and support recovery efforts. Though the federal government plans to ramp up funding for preventive measures, such as sea walls, the CBO believes that if local and state governments had to foot more of the bill, they would be more inclined to enforce important mitigation policy . For example, if local and state governments expected to have to pay for damage to infrastructure, they would be more strict about limiting new development in flood zones — something they have more power to control from a local level. The message is clear — mitigation efforts are worth every penny. The National Weather Service already predicted more severe flooding this hurricane season than previous years. As evidence piles up in favor of mitigation, the only question remaining is ‘where do we start?’ + CBO Via The Weather Channel Image via Raquel M  and Pamela Andrade ( 1 , 2 )

More here: 
Congress reports U.S. will lose $54 billion annually to storms

Why the fate of our climate could rest on Justice Scalia’s replacement

February 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Why the fate of our climate could rest on Justice Scalia’s replacement

Since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death last weekend, there’s been a glut of articles analyzing what his absence means for the balance of power in the US Supreme Court. One writer taking a bold stance is Maddie Stone, who asserts in a piece for Gizmodo that “Scalia’s death may have saved the planet” from the looming catastrophe of climate change . Of course matters aren’t entirely that simple; we don’t yet know who will be nominated to replace Scalia, or if Congressional Republicans will even allow a new nominee to be appointed. Read the rest of Why the fate of our climate could rest on Justice Scalia’s replacement

The rest is here:
Why the fate of our climate could rest on Justice Scalia’s replacement

GreenBuzz – December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on GreenBuzz – December 1, 2014

Happy December. For our U.S. readers, I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend. As December dawns, we’re beginning to look both backward and forward — at the year just ending, and and all that’s yet to come. For starters, we’re planning our annual package of year-end stories, including the voices of many of your colleagues on the highs and lows of 2014 and a look forward at 2015. The GreenBiz team is mainly looking forward: at the 2015 State of Green Business report, to publish on January 27; at the three January meetings of the GreenBiz Executive Network, in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Boca Raton; and at the 2015 GreenBiz Forum , in February in Arizona, which is shaping up to be another winner. That is to say, it’s business as usual here, albeit with a wistful eye to a year that’s just beginning to wind down. Welcome!  We’re very pleased to welcome associate editor Lauren Hepler , the newest member of the GreenBiz team. Lauren comes to us from the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Slate magazine and Congressional Quarterly. She chipped in two piece in her first week and we are looking forward to many more. Recycling 2.0: That’s the title of our next webcast, on December 9. It will focus on how cities are reinvigorating their recycling programs, which have plateaued in recent years, though the insights are equally applicable to companies. You’ll hear new data about what consumers think about recycling and what messages resonate with them. It’s free; registration required .   Newsletter Date:  Monday, December 1, 2014 Newsletter Type:  GreenBuzz Daily

Original post:
GreenBuzz – December 1, 2014

Recycling 2.0 – Changing Consumer Behavior Amid Changing Waste Streams

November 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Recycling 2.0 – Changing Consumer Behavior Amid Changing Waste Streams

Consumer recycling, once seen as the most basic of environmental practices, has become decidedly more complex. Some communities have mandated aggressive, long-term, zero-waste goals to divert sometimes up to 90 percent of their waste from the local landfill. That can lead to a  wide array of what’s collected — and what’s not —  engendering confusion among residents (citizens). The result: After decades of growth, recycling rates have plateaued, or even dropped. How can cities regain the momentum? There are some tried and true methods, but it takes a village, literally — producers, recyclers, municipalities and consumers, working together to find solutions. In this hour-long webcast, you’ll hear how waste streams are changing;  the latest data about what consumers think about recycling and what messages resonate with them; how one of the nation’s largest recycling companies is working with cities to increase recovery rates; and the secrets behind one of the most successful municipal recycling programs in the United States. Among the things you’ll learn: Current recycling trends and the true bottom-line impacts of non-recyclable materials such as “flexible packaging” How recycling programs influence how consumers think and recycle The differences between what consumers say about recycling and how they actually recycle (what they are actually doing) Specific examples from Hennepin County, MN demonstrating how their innovative recycling education initiatives work     Click here to register to attend the webcast and receive the recording when it concludes. Speakers: Susan Robinson, Director of Public Affairs, Waste Management   Susan Robinson is the Director of Public Affairs for Waste Management.  She has worked in the environmental industry for 30 years in roles that span the public sector, non-profit, consultancy, and over twenty years in the private sector.  Since joining Waste Management in1999, Susan has been instrumental in the company’s implementation of new recycling programs in the Western U.S.  She currently supports the company’s public policy efforts associated with materials management technologies.  Susan is on the Board of Directors of Ameripen, served on the Washington State Governor’s Beyond Waste Working Group and is past president of the Washington State Recycling Association. She attended Stanford University and the University of Washington, and holds degrees in Applied Earth Sciences and English.  Her Masters work in Environmental Studies is from the Evergreen State College.    Julie Colehour, Principal, Colehour & Cohen   Julie Colehour is a Partner at Colehour+Cohen, a 36 person social marketing and public relations firm with offices in Seattle and Portland, Oregon. She has 24 years of experience creating and implementing social marketing campaigns that encourage consumers to adopt environmentally-friendly behaviors. Her experience includes 17 years working with EPA on ENERGY STAR including creating the plan that launched the brand in 1997. She works on behavior change campaigns that span a number of important social issues including recycling, waste reduction, water efficiency and healthcare. She is frequently called upon to speak on social marketing at venues across the country. Julie has been recognized for her work through many awards including eight Silver Anvils from the Public Relations Society of America. In 2001, she was named one of The Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 under 40 young outstanding executives. She is also co-author of The Environmental Marketing Imperative (Probus Publishing).   Angie Timmons, Environmental Education Coordinator, Hennepin County, MN   Angie is the Communications Coordinator for Hennepin County Environmental Services. She has fifteen years of environmental education experience. Recent projects include launching a multimedia campaign called “Recycle Everywhere” to encourage away from home recycling and promoting an environmental recognition program for businesses. Angie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of St. Thomas Moderator: Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group  For 25 years, Joel has been a well-respected voice on business, the environment, and the bottom line. Joel is co-founded GreenBiz Group Inc., including its website, research reports and events on the corporate sustainability strategy and trends. He hosts the annual  GreenBiz Forums  and  VERGE conferences  around the world, and is author of the annual, award-winning  State of Green Business report . In 2012, he was  awarded the Hutchens Medal  by the American Society for Quality, which cited “his ability to tell compelling stories that both inform and inspire business leaders toward profitable action.” In 2014 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame  of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. Topics:  Waste Waste Management Recycling Tuesday, December 9, 2014 – 1:00pm Sponsored by:  Waste Management Webcast URL:  Register Here

See original here:
Recycling 2.0 – Changing Consumer Behavior Amid Changing Waste Streams

How to engage millennials? Appeal to 3 core values, 3 core traits

October 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on How to engage millennials? Appeal to 3 core values, 3 core traits

How to engage millennials? Appeal to 3 core values, 3 core traits Bridget Croke 9:00am Featured Image:  Popular opinion says that millennials are different animal from the rest of the populace. And with millennials quickly moving through their 20s and 30s, the yet-to-be-definitively-labeled Gen Z’er is coming of age and becoming a more critical decision maker. With all the conflicting information on millennials’ relationship with social change, how do we successfully engage these generations in positive behavior change? Do they care about your brand’s social impact? Do they actually align their spending with their values? Or are they so cash-strapped and overwhelmed with information that clicktivism is the most we can expect? In reality, all generations share a set of core motivations that drive our decision-making (hint: it’s not our rational thought ). But millennials and Generation Z have grown up in a different context and with a new set of digital tools that also influence behavior. To best mobilize this audience around your brand and mission, we need to understand what core values and trends that drive behavior change. Core value 1: Belonging This basic human instinct isn’t something we comfortably discuss, but ultimately most people want to fit in. We want to be seen as socially conscious only so much as it sits within the expectations of our peer group. Millennial embrace of the Toms Shoes brand is an example of a peer-driven business growth where social impact becomes synonymous with cool. Toms made it easy to take an impactful action, attracting a socially conscious millennial audience who take easy social actions such as online petitions, likes and shares. Toms leveraged these influencers to mobilize their friends who wanted to be part of the club. The shoes became a proof of belonging. Suddenly, the one-for-one model wasn’t just another stodgy cause marketing program. One-for-one became a new category of social action, where the product becomes a badge of honor. With this in mind, we can treat behavior change like an innovative product launch, where we target early adopters first and use their influence to make that behavior feel like the default behavior in their community of peers. Core value 2: Recognition Within the confines of belonging, we like to also feel special and unique. If a particular behavior is perceived in our social circle as cool, we want to be recognized for that. Peruse your social media feeds and you’ll likely notice your online community filled with “humblebrags” — casual shares of images and recent achievements that their peer group is likely to value and recognize through likes and comments. Want your audience to recycle? Recognize that action in contexts and sharable formats that make them look cool. Global Citizen and EKOCYCLE did this skillfully with their #ADayWIthoutWaste mug shot campaign, showing fun pictures of friends at trendy events like SXSW and the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park confessing their crimes of waste and pledging to go waste-free for a day. The content is sharable with a fun backdrop and the context of events that builds social currency. Core value 3: Need for ease Outside of our deep-seated values, we will take the path of less resistance — the default action given to us. You want people to recycle? Make your package easily and clearly recyclable and work with communities to make recycling the default action. To get people to recycle, communities should make their recycling container bigger than the waste receptacle, make sure recycling is picked up as or more frequently than trash and properly incentivize the behavior. None of this means that generational differences don’t exist. There are also some characteristics and trends unique to millennials and younger audiences. A few examples follow. Millenial/Gen Z trait 1: Natural hackers This is a generation of makers with their own Etsy stores. They’ve seen a shift from Hollywood celebrity to young celebrity entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg. Teenagers are finding their own solutions global problems from the great Pacific ocean patch to clean water and energy . Unilever wisely leverages these great minds with their young entrepreneurs program , thereby driving greater youth engagement. Let them help create the solution and build far more brand relevance and likely impact. Otherwise they might leave your company behind and start their own businesses that solve social issues and change the behavior of their generation. Millenial/Gen Z trait 2: Diminished influence of geographic borders The sphere of influence of young people includes good friends, neighbors and their vast digital community. According to a ShareThis report , Millennials are 3.6 times more likely than their elders to share online, so peer pressure extends far beyond local communities. This generation has seen the advent of the self-made social media and reality TV celebs. Influencer status is well within reach of the average social-savvy teenager and 20-something and therefore the line between leader and follower has blurred. Instead of focusing on a single celebrity to motivate consumer action, distribute the message amongst a larger number of everyday influencers with strong social followings. It’s like the Avon model for the twenty-first century. Millenial/Gen Z trait 3: New lifestyles demand less ownership These generations are driving the sharing economy. Our population continues to urbanize and live a less traditional lifestyle. Older millennials are getting married less and are making major purchases like houses and cars at lower rates than older generations. New lifestyles and limited budgets have paved the way for new business models that leverage a service-based economy, requiring less individual ownership. Growing businesses such as Rent the Runway , car sharing service Getaround , and emerging player Yerdle all succeed at driving new behaviors based on these trends. Brands need to appeal to these new lifestyles. Brands getting wise to this shift are the ones skillfully claiming this new audience and staying on trend. Home Depot , Walgreens and BMW are some of the companies dabbling in this movement. But the trend of big brands participating in the sharing economy is still nascent. To engage millennials and Gen Z in behaviors you want to drive, ride the waves of new behaviors that are already beginning to take hold. To drive the greatest impact, be sure to understand and consider the core human values driving behavior and the new contexts shaping these generations. Top image of young designers by Dragon Images via Shutterstock. Topics:  Branding Consumer Trends

Excerpt from:
How to engage millennials? Appeal to 3 core values, 3 core traits

Why understanding the true value of water is smart business

October 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Why understanding the true value of water is smart business

Why understanding the true value of water is smart business Steve Bolton 8:00am Featured Image:  Concerns about water availability are increasing around the world. Water scarcity threatens the ability of companies and communities to operate as they have in the past. Business value may be at risk if they do not have insight into these natural capital considerations and adjust their operations accordingly. Understanding the true value of water and pinpointing limits to growth is a growing global trend . Companies that quantify their natural capital dependencies will benefit from a more complete picture of the most effective ways to allocate water and other resources. Current market pricing disconnected from risks In many regions, the market price of water is inversely proportional to how much is available. For example, water-scarce regions of China can have a low price for water which does not reflect its relative availability. Forbes India magazine has an informative world map showing local water prices based on data from Global Water Intelligence. The market also does not consider the risk to business value of water availability, nor the benefits that water provides communities and ecosystems. As water demand rises around the world resulting in shortages and increased operating costs, it will be difficult to conduct business in the same way as before. Without measuring the hidden risks to business value of insufficient water, a company cannot perceive the potential losses or respond to them. The full value of water should be measured by incorporating its broader social and environmental significance within the market price. By using this value, companies can identify hidden water risks and make more informed decisions, such as locating facilities based on water availability and selecting water-efficient technologies to use in production processes. Facing water scarcity Trucost’s research for GreenBiz’s State of Green Business 2014 report found that the average US business uses over 49,000 cubic meters of water per million dollars of revenue. In a world faced by increasing water shortages, we must identify and implement ways of decoupling commercial growth from natural capital dependency, so that economic success does not overwhelm natural resource capacity. This year’s drought in California reflects the impact of resource scarcity on quality of life, economic activities and public services. As of September 2, 2014, a total of 58 emergency proclamations for water conservation have been issued by municipalities, counties, tribal governments and special districts. The State Water Board is providing technical and funding assistance to communities facing drinking water shortages. The state also has responded to 25 percent more wildfires than during an average year, which have burned 15 percent more acreage, equating to increased costs for firefighting and natural resource damage. Focusing on the true value of water Water is not valued properly according to the gaps between supply and demand. For instance, the low market price of water in dry regions is a perverse incentive to grow water-intensive agricultural products despite the high risk of drought or damage to long-term water supplies. Since market water prices do not capture the full costs of extracting water, these costs are borne by society and the environment — so-called ‘externalities.’ These externalities are becoming more visible as water shortages threaten local communities, ecosystems and economies, droughts shrink crop yields and increase food prices, and desertification takes over farm land. Applying the true value of water for business growth How do we monetize water risk so it can be factored into investment decisions and considered alongside other business metrics? Trucost estimates that the true value of one cubic meter of water ranges between $0.10 where it is plentiful and $15 in areas of extreme scarcity. Forward-thinking businesses should apply this true value of water to inform their operating strategies, such as aligning water use with its availability and evaluating new infrastructure investments, procurement strategies and product portfolios. Companies can focus on the true value of water to prepare for having to absorb costs that were once off the books, but are now being internalized due to new regulations, higher water prices or water shortages. One example of this approach is work by Yorkshire Water in the U.K., which applied natural capital valuations to inform its 25-year corporate strategy so that it could meet the needs of one million new households. The company created an environmental profit and loss account so that it could allocate resources and manage commodity costs for the long term. In the EP&L, negative environmental impacts are shown as losses, such as water extraction, waste disposal and pollution, while environmental benefits are identified as profit, such as the company’s water recharge and energy recovery facilities. Applying monetary values helped the company communicate its water efficiency strategy to stakeholders, including suppliers, customers and regulators, in a way that is easy to understand. Another example is the use of shadow water pricing by Nestlé, so that the company includes the full value of water in its operational decision making. A recent article in The Financial Times outlines how the food company applies an internal water value to spur more efficient use in its factories. Under this policy, water is priced at approximately $1 per cubic meter for facilities located where water is readily available and $5 in more arid regions. Nestlé applies this value when considering purchasing new equipment, making tangible the impact of water availability within capital expenditure decisions. Shadow pricing has also been applied to greenhouse gas emissions by Microsoft, Disney, and at least 27 other US companies , to factor climate impacts into their business decisions. Monetary valuation for improved decision making Monetary valuation enables a business to include the true value of water — not just its current market price—alongside traditionally priced items such as labor in capital budgeting, as well as adjusting the net present value of capital and operational expenditure. Applying monetary values to projected water consumption and deducting the environmental costs from future cash flows can reveal which option has a lower risk. By expressing all of its environmental impacts in the single metric of monetary value, a company can easily identify and manage its most significant environmental risks and opportunities. Water valuations also can be used to map commodity flows and quantify risks across a company’s brand portfolio or business unit. As a result of understanding the true value of water, a company can make more informed decisions which maintain business value by avoiding or minimizing the risks associated with water scarcity and other natural capital constraints. Top image by  Wollertz  via Shutterstock. Topics:  Water Use Food & Agriculture Water Efficiency & Conservation Corporate Strategy Risk Natural Capital

See the rest here:
Why understanding the true value of water is smart business

For Sprint, communications is core to climate resilience

October 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on For Sprint, communications is core to climate resilience

For Sprint, communications is core to climate resilience Ann Goodman 8:45am Featured Image:  In what surely is a glaring understatement, Tanya Jones, manager of Sprint Corp.’s vital Emergency Response Team Operations, observed, “We learned quite a bit from Hurricane Sandy .” Indeed, Sprint, like all telecommunications carriers, lost cell sites on the northeastern seaboard and in New York City in the 2012 superstorm, which hurt its cellular operations. Fortunately, Sprint’s ERT was able to provide critical communications services to various first responders and emergency agencies using vehicles such as COWS (Cell On Wheels) and COLTS (Cell on Light Trucks), including those near the World Trade Center in New York, where the vehicles were parked right in front of the Freedom Tower, after police blocked it off for the Sprint workers. Among the key learnings from the debacle, said Jones: How better to rebuild; where better to stage; how better to “future-proof our technology to ensure our equipment is upgraded and our personnel equipped” for disaster. Her team of disaster emergency workers in multiple U.S. locations, including Dallas and Sterling, Va., is at the center — and on the front lines — of Sprint’s emerging approach to climate resilience. Having overseen the company’s disaster response for 10 years and found herself on the spot during 2,500 events — from hurricanes to fires to tornados to floods — her interpretation of such events is telling: “While a disaster is a disaster, I subscribe to the theory that the climate is changing weather patterns. You see more forest fires in the west and more hurricanes; you see increased water and air temperatures and storm activities; and there’s been an uptick in severity of storms,” Jones said. A communications approach to resilience Jones’ thoughts on disaster and climate echo the observation of Sprint’s director of corporate responsibility and sustainability, Amy Hargroves , who heads the company’s approach to climate resilience: “The same risks exist for climate-related events as for other disasters, but there’s a greater range of events and more of them.” Of acute importance, Hargroves noted: “In our field, as a communications company, disaster resilience has to be core to our business, because there’s so much dependence nationally on communications.” Indeed, while now majority owned by Japanese parent Softbank, Sprint’s network is United States-centric, serving federal, state and local governments as well as emergency responders — and, of course, the company’s 50 million-plus business and individual customers. Because emergency response is at the core of Sprint’s resilience approach, the company is always at the cutting edge of communications technology: “LTE, high-speed data, 4G, emergency response — we can provide that now, but most of what we do is make sure we’re on top of technology, because it’s not if but when a disaster will happen,” Jones explained. Keeping its emergency response team up to date with special equipment and mobile communications — as well as learning from each disaster — is only one part of Sprint’s four-pronged approach to implementing climate resilience, a business priority of Hargroves’ sustainability team, which has won the company a number of accolades, including the recent Compass Intelligence Eco-Focus and EPA Climate Leadership awards. Other priorities in Sprint’s resilience approach include: • Frequent assessments of the company’s network risks. • Improving backup power with less carbon-intensive sources, including research on hydrogen-fuel cells, in part with the Department of Energy. • Reviewing lessons learned to find new business opportunities, including those related to customer offerings. Overarching goals include reducing the company’s greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use by 20 percent by 2017 from 10 years earlier and ensuring 90 percent of its supply chain meets Sprint’s environmental and social criteria. The goals are complementary, particularly given Sprint’s massive network overhaul, at a cost of nearly $5 billion over three years, now coming to an end. That renewal has allowed Sprint to achieve its 2017 GHG reduction goal and come within 1 percent of its electricity reduction goal. Sprint provided free guidance on greenhouse gas measurement, reporting and reduction strategies to its top suppliers, including those involved in the network overhaul. Network risks: cell sites, signaling, fleets, response prioritization To ensure the network stays up to date — and up and running — in case of disaster, the company runs quarterly risk assessments. And Sprint expects more extreme events. On planning for potential climate risks, Hargraves noted that since Sandy, “it’s not so much that we’ve done anything new, but that there’s increased risk recognized through insurance [coverage] and assessment. That’s how we adjust and plan.” Fleets: Network risks also include the company’s fleet of vehicles for a range of conditions that could affect the cell sites, the most vulnerable part of the network. Fortunately, Hargroves noted, insurance companies have been building climate risk into their corporate risk models, assessing the level and nature of risk per site. With that information, Sprint can determine which sites may be most vulnerable and potential candidates for relocation. “We look at 500-year flood levels when we build our sites,” she said. Cell sites: With some 55,000 cell sites across the country, Sprint has a lot to keep track of. The signal from the site must be accessible in order for wireless customers to complete calls. Cell site traffic is aggregated at over 100 major satellite switching sites that allow calls to be terminated between various wireless and wire-line networks. Much of the IP-based (Internet Protocol) control functionality is handled by some 30 Core sites that act as traffic directors for voice and data services. “Networks are complicated beasts, and risk varies according to the site,” said Hargroves. “But the most important parts to protect are the switch sites, mainly because they aggregate traffic from thousands of cell sites. A single switch outage can isolate a complete market, leaving customers without critical wireless services over a large geographical area.” Emergency response: Of rising importance to the company’s resilience plan, said Hargroves, is the sort of emergency response to disasters that Jones manages. “We anticipate greater demand for the services of our Emergency Response Team because of the increase in the number of disruptive events,” Hargroves said. Essential to the response is the specialized mobile equipment, such as mobile communications centers, including COWs and  COLTs . These are whole vans or trailers especially useful in places that are hard to access. “Demand for COWs and COLTs has increased over the past several years, so our fleet has been [growing] and is expected to continue to grow in response,” she explained. A big part of emergency response is sequencing and prioritization: That entails determining who is “in charge” of disaster management (from a government perspective), which communications capabilities are intact and which are needed — and then developing a prioritized list of communications services and infrastructure that the company will provide. Sprint may send out its ERT to work with government and provide critical communications services initially for the first responders — government personnel, military, FEMA, Red Cross — to enable them to communicate, especially if a lot of infrastructure, such as cell site towers, signal repeaters or switching centers, has been disabled. The Sprint ERT always works with local government, including sheriffs and firefighters. Next in line are customers. Risk, site planning and backup power: response to storms, fires, flooding While Sprint always has had backup power initiatives, those have expanded throughout the United States over the past few years — as has the need for backup, which has risen, along with the frequency of disasters. “Provision of backup power is very much motivated by both natural and manmade disasters,” said John Holmes, who, as Sprint’s manager of network planning, is responsible for the company’s strategic planning efforts involving backup power, energy efficiency and sustainability for the company’s network. The need for backup power varies by region. “In the eastern and southern coastal regions, hurricanes and tropical storms can cause widespread damage,” he said. “In the Midwest and upper Midwest, ice storms can result in widespread outages. “Wildfires can be a problem anywhere there’s a combination of very dry weather and a lot of combustible ground or tree cover. As a general rule, they are more frequent out west. Places like California or the Pacific Northwest are susceptible to earthquakes. “Also, don’t count out tornadoes. Heavy rainfall can result in flooding, and many times that will occur downstream of where the majority of the rainfall occurred.” Sometimes the power stays on, but Sprint “can still have widespread outages, if, say, a major backbone fiber carrying multiple backhaul circuits (which connect the BTS equipment to the switches) is cut,” Holmes pointed out. “That would prevent calls from being completed … and is often manifested to the wireless subscriber as a fast busy signal.” What’s more, Hargroves added, the question of where to build cell sites has been complicated in recent years by the increase in frequency and severity of storms, as well as the availability of energy and water sources. “A few years ago, we studied the impact of climate change on water scarcity and cost in the U.S. The results were shared with the C-suite and operational teams so they could use it as input for site planning. For instance, if you need a big building, you should expect it to have a water chilling system, which is a big driver of water use. If you know where water will be scarcer, and thus more expensive, you should avoid building in those areas,” Hargroves explained. In 2013, water cost the company a mere $1.2 million, compared with $300 million for energy, “so it’s a far lower economic priority,” she said. “However, given the importance of water globally, it would be foolish not to consider drought forecasts in your site-planning process.” By contrast, Sprint has a strong economic incentive to reduce its energy usage, which is primarily electric. The company has cut its internal electricity use by 22 percent since 2007 and reduced its electricity costs by $87 million annually. Including Clearwire, acquired — along with its emissions output — in 2013, Sprint’s electricity costs are still down by 19 percent. Power backup and hydrogen fuel cells When disaster strikes, electrical power from traditional sources is likely to go down, as recent climate-related events, including Superstorm Sandy, have shown. That’s why backup power is essential for telecommunications providers such as Sprint. A backup plan is needed for all critical components in the network. Because Sprint is committed to lowering carbon emissions, the company looks to cleaner backup power sources. “Our second priority for carbon reduction is back-up power, which is a leading contributor to Sprint’s Scope 1, or direct, emissions,” said Hargroves. “Scope 1 emissions represent only 3.5 percent of our aggregate Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Within the 3.5 percent, 10 percent is emissions from back-up power sources, such as diesel fuel and propane. “Sprint includes its Scope 1 emissions in its goal to absolutely reduce GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2017, and in fact, has reduced them by more than 41 percent so far. Increasing our use of hydrogen fuel cells and propane — and decreasing use of diesel generators — as backup power sources at cell sites has contributed to this success.” Hargroves noted that Sprint’s fleet, with 1,000 vehicles, has a substantially smaller GHG footprint than the fleets of its direct competitors, which have 40,000 or more vehicles. “When we talk about network resiliency, we mean the ability of the network to maintain power and functionality, particularly at the switching and cell site level,” she said. “There are multiple lines of defense, the first of which is batteries. Since we have the greatest dependency on batteries, much of our focus is on reducing the environmental impact and duration of use of our network batteries. We have partnered with the National Renewable Energy Lab and the Department of Energy on battery technology, which is so critical for a communications company.” The second line of defense is using both a diesel generator and natural gas feeds, even propane and methanol, to access multiple core electricity streams in a single place to provide backup power. While solar and wind power are sparsely used where possible, neither technology is practical, given risks (when wind is strong, a disaster could be in the making), lack of continuous availability of energy and cost-benefit balance. Sprint is maximizing its use of hydrogen fuel cells in part through work with the DOE, whose $7.3 million grant in 2009 has supported the company’s development and deployment of 260 additional fuel cells to support its backup power systems, network planning manager Holmes said. The innovative fuel cells use an on-site, refillable, medium-pressure hydrogen storage system, which has eliminated bottle swaps, required in earlier generations of the technology, while boosting the standby runtime of the cells to parity with that of other backup solutions such as diesel generators. The company’s 500-plus hydrogen fuel cells help Sprint ensure that its Scope 1 emissions related to back-up power stay low despite significant increases in network resilience, achieved via more sites with longer back-up power. Customers and business opportunity Perhaps the biggest business opportunity in climate resilience for the company is on the consumer side of the business, said Hargroves. “We’re trying to identify additional services we can provide to help customers” understand and prepare for potentially disruptive events. So far, most of the company’s focus has been on the “survivability of network infrastructure,” Hargroves said. The company’s Japanese parent Softbank has exceptional experience in this arena, gained during the Great East Japan earthquake of March 2011. Explained Hargroves: “Up to now, the main things we’ve done involve the survivability of our services, directly helping first responders, supporting customers on billing, and managing our service, versus providing information that can help them manage through the disaster — things like how to extend the life of your phone battery and recharge with limited electricity sources available, which is different from relaying information during a disaster, as people become more and more dependent on cell service.” But the company imagines the opportunity to change that. Sprint may have a competitive advantage in consumer engagement, if it can leverage some other assets of Softbank such as Yahoo (in Japan) and provide disaster-related content on its customers’ phones. She added: “We do think there are some interesting opportunities with emergency alert systems and disaster content support. So if someone can figure out a good way to do it, this is a terrific opportunity.” Top image of Sprint store in New York City by  Northfoto  via Shutterstock Topics:  Climate Computers Fleets

Read more from the original source:
For Sprint, communications is core to climate resilience

Obama Caves, Abandons Proposal to Improve National Air Quality

September 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Obama Caves, Abandons Proposal to Improve National Air Quality

Photo credit: Señor Codo via Fotopedia/ CC BY-SA 3.0 Congressional Republicans have been complaining relentlessly (and rather baselessly) that tightening smog standards, as Obama’s EPA has sought to do, would cripple the economy. Studies have indicated that those improved anti-air pollution standards would have saved tens of thousands of lives every year, and prevented innumerable cases of lung disease, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses. However, Obama… Read the full story on TreeHugger

Go here to see the original: 
Obama Caves, Abandons Proposal to Improve National Air Quality

Democratic Leaders Excoriate Congressional Republicans, Say This is the "Most Anti-environment House in the History of Congress"

July 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Democratic Leaders Excoriate Congressional Republicans, Say This is the "Most Anti-environment House in the History of Congress"

Rep. Ed Markey, photo via flickr Many greens, including me, had big problems with Waxman-Markey , the failed cap and trade bill that would have finally priced carbon but also given a lifeline to the coal industry. Whatever your feelings for the bill, the congressmen behind it, Ed Markey (MA) and Henry Waxman (CA), have always been stalwart defenders of the environment. That’s why they have… Read the full story on TreeHugger

More here:
Democratic Leaders Excoriate Congressional Republicans, Say This is the "Most Anti-environment House in the History of Congress"

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 9420 access attempts in the last 7 days.