This $118 million mutual fund pays companies in carbon credits

January 3, 2018 by  
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Backed by SAP, Danone and Schneider Electric, the new Livelihoods Fund aims to avoid the emissions of up to 25 million tons of carbon over 20 years.

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This $118 million mutual fund pays companies in carbon credits

40% of China’s factories shuttered in pollution crackdown

October 24, 2017 by  
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Is China at last cracking down on factory pollution ? The country’s Ministry of Environment inspectors have charged, fined, or reprimanded officials from over 80,000 factories in 10 provinces in the last year, according to NPR. One estimate indicates around 40 percent of the country’s factories have been at least briefly shuttered. Whole industrial regions have been temporarily closed in China, while inspectors conduct surprise inspections. They’ve cut gas and electricity to discover which businesses are adhering to the country’s environmental laws, and which aren’t. Some companies have moved their entire supply chains over to Bangladesh or India to keep up with orders. Related: Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog Michael Crotty told NPR in his almost 20 years in China, he has never seen a crackdown like this. He’s the president of MKT & Associates, which exports textiles from the country. He said the crackdown reminds him of America post-Clean Water Act in the 1970’s. He told NPR, “At that time, we in the textile business saw many dyeing and printing houses shut down because they couldn’t comply with the regulations. We’re seeing a similar process taking place here in China, and it’s much, much bigger. The disruption is larger.” MKT & Associates general manager Archie Liu estimated 40 percent of factories have been at least briefly closed in the flurry of inspections. Shanghai-based environmental lawyer Peter Corne told NPR emissions are now watched in real time, and fees are slapped on factories when they discharge more than allowed by law. He said implementation will be different – accomplished not by the environment ministry, which will only be monitoring, but the tax bureau. This is key because according to Corne, the country’s tax bureaus are supported by rigorous laws that tend to be aggressively enforced. Crotty said Americans shopping during the holidays could see higher prices due to the pollution crackdown in China – but that’s a small price to pay for a cleaner environment . Via NPR Images via Depositphotos

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40% of China’s factories shuttered in pollution crackdown

Ultra-thin Macbook-shaped roof tops new Apple Store in Chicago

October 24, 2017 by  
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A new Apple Store has just opened in downtown Chicago—and it’s an architectural beauty. Designed by Foster + Partners , Apple Michigan Avenue follows the tech giant’s new ( and controversial ) “Town Square” store concept in which stores are meant to serve as community hubs rather than simply commercial spaces. Naming aside, the new Apple flagship is a stunner with wraparound glazing and an ultra-thin carbon fiber roof in the recognizable shape of a Macbook cover. Located along the Chicago riverfront on North Michigan Avenue’s ‘Magnificent Mile,’ Apple Michigan Avenue was envisioned as a bridge between the city and the river. Granite staircases that flank the store step down to the waterfront from the historic Pioneer Court urban plaza. Massive curved glass walls wrap around the building on all sides, while four slender columns support an extremely thin floating roof. Related: First Apple Store in Southeast Asia is 100% powered by renewable energy “We fundamentally believe in great urban life, creating new gathering places, and connecting people in an analog way within an increasingly digital world,” said Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners. “The design of Apple Michigan Avenue embodies this in its structure and materiality with a glass wall that dissolves into the background, revealing the only visible element of the building – its floating carbon fiber roof.” Interior stairs double as seating for Apple Michigan Avenue’s “forum,” the events space for talks about photography and coding, and hub of Today at Apple. + Foster + Partners Images by Neil Young

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Ultra-thin Macbook-shaped roof tops new Apple Store in Chicago

Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

October 4, 2017 by  
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When you hear the words ‘ cow farts,’ you probably giggle a little. But bovine flatulence and belches are pumping methane into the atmosphere, and contributing even more greenhouse gas emissions than scientists previously thought. According to new NASA -funded research, estimates of livestock emissions could have been off by around 10 percent. When we think of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change , carbon dioxide is typically the first one that comes to mind. But methane – even though it can break down quicker – is around 85 times more powerful in trapping heat. And guess who’s pouring methane into the air? Cows. Three scientists, from the United States Department of Agriculture , Joint Global Change Research Institute , and the United States Department of Energy , reevaluated data employed to calculate 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions factors. They created revised emissions factors and discovered livestock methane emissions were 11 percent higher in 2011 than other estimates arrived at using the 2006 guidelines. Related: How oregano could save the world by reducing bovine belching The journal Carbon Balance and Management published the research the end of September. Lead author Julie Wolf said in a statement , “In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions.” The way we deal with cow poop also influences how many emissions enter the air. Using manure as fertilizer on fields yields less methane than storing the poop in pits. Changes like that one have caused global methane emissions to increase by almost 37 percent. Between 2003 and 2011, livestock yielded around one fifth of methane emissions – but they were also responsible for between half and three quarters of the methane emissions increase researchers noted during that time period. Even if you’re not a farmer, and can’t control farming practices, Popular Science said it wouldn’t hurt to eat less red meat . Via Forbes and Popular Science Images via Ryan Song on Unsplash and Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

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Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

Hurricane Harvey damaged ExxonMobil refineries, causing hazardous pollutants to leak

August 29, 2017 by  
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After Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas last weekend, you probably didn’t think the situation could get any worse. Sadly, it did. On Tuesday, ExxonMobil acknowledged that two of its refineries were damaged during the natural disaster, causing hazardous pollutants to leak into the environment. The acknowledgment was made in a regulatory filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, following repeated complaints on social media of an “unbearable” chemical smell in parts of Houston. In the filing, ExxonMobil said that a floating roof covering a tank at ExxonMobil’s Baytown oil refinery sank due to heavy rain. This, in turn, caused it to dip below the surface of oil or other materials stored there, causing “unusually high emissions, especially of volatile organic compounds, a category of regulated chemicals,” reports the Washington Post. The Baytown Refinery is the second largest in the country. ExxonMobil is seeking a permit to empty the tank and make repairs. Reportedly, the company is planning to “conduct an assessment to determine the impact of the storm once it is safe to do so.” A spokesperson for ExxonMobil refused to say what was in the tank. The extent of Hurricane Harvey’s damage doesn’t end there. ExxonMobil’s Beaumont petrochemical refinery suffered damage to its sulfur thermal oxidizers, which capture and burn sulfur dioxide. As a result, the plant expelled 1,312.84 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere — well in excess of allowable emissions. The company said in a statement, “The unit was stabilized. No impact to the community has been reported. Actions were taken to minimize emissions and to restore the refinery to normal operations.” Related: CA communities sue Exxon, Shell and 35 other fossil fuel companies over climate change According to Luke Metzger, director of the group Environment Texas, “Most of the unauthorized emissions come from the process of shutting down, and then starting up, the various units of the plant, when pollution control devices can’t be operated properly and there’s lots of flaring.” Flaring is usually done when releasing chemicals without burning them is more hazardous for the local community and environment. The company admitted to flaring hazardous materials at its Baytown refinery both Sunday and Monday. ExxonMobil isn’t the only company responsible for environmental damage in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Washington Post reports that many facilities belonging to major companies filed notices with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The Cedar Bayou chemical plant, for instance, exceeded permitted limits for several kinds of hazardous pollutants, including 1,3-butadiene, benzene and ethylene, during shutdown procedures. Litigation may now follow, considering the release of carcinogens increases the risk of cancer for those living near the plants. Via Washington Post Images via ExxonMobil , Pixabay

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Hurricane Harvey damaged ExxonMobil refineries, causing hazardous pollutants to leak

Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

August 29, 2017 by  
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Seattle-based architects, Hoedemaker Pfeiffer  just unveiled a contemporary cabin-style home built on the banks of beautiful Lake Chelan. The architects used planks of reclaimed wood to build the stunning home, which sits overlooking incredibly scenic views. Think they have a guest room for us? The lake house design is a contemporary take on the traditional wooden cabin , with plenty of carefully cultivated rustic charm included throughout. The 3,300- square-foot structure – which is clad in reclaimed lumber and roofed with corrugated galvanized steel – sits on a heavily-wooded lot with front slope of natural stone. The interior is a bright and airy space with wooden flooring and exposed Doug Fir beams in the kitchen and living room. Related: Architect Jim Olson spent 55 years renovating this breathtaking Puget Sound cabin However, it’s clearly the lake view that inspired the beautiful home’s design. Large windows in virtually every room flood the interior with natural light as well as offer breathtaking views of the picturesque surroundings. The heart of the home is the open-air terrace that sits adjacent to the lake’s edge. Covered with a chunky wooden pergola , the outdoor area is complete with a glass-enclosed fire pit and plenty of comfy seating. + Hoedemaker Pfeiffer Photography by Thomas J. Story  

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Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

Why mobility tech could be $600 billion boon for cities

June 28, 2017 by  
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From the way we use land to the emissions from public and private transit, an upheaval in transportation tech has big implications.

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Why mobility tech could be $600 billion boon for cities

Tyson Foods adopts video audits to monitor animal welfare

June 28, 2017 by  
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Company adopts new technological approaches in a bid to improve chicken and livestock well-being.

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Tyson Foods adopts video audits to monitor animal welfare

Red States vs. Blue States: Which Are More Eco-Friendly?

May 18, 2017 by  
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Consider that the most environmentally friendly states are Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Connecticut, while the lowest are Oklahoma, North Dakota, West Virginia, Montana and Wyoming. Notice a pattern? It turns out that political…

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Red States vs. Blue States: Which Are More Eco-Friendly?

European electricity sector pledges no new coal plants after 2020

April 6, 2017 by  
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In another sign that the world is rapidly moving away from coal , the European electricity sector just announced a commitment to not invest in new coal-fired power plants after 2020. Every European Union country signed onto the initiative except for Poland and Greece. The Union of the Electricity Industry, otherwise known as Eurelectric , which represents 3,500 utilities with a combined value of over €200 billion, reiterated its commitment to decarbonize the EU economy in line with targets set in the Paris climate agreement . Europe’s power sector is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. “The power sector is determined to lead the energy transition and back our commitment to the low carbon economy with concrete action,” said Eurelectric President and CEO of the Portuguese energy group EDP, António Mexia. “With power supply becoming increasingly clean, electric technologies are an obvious choice for replacing fossil fuel based systems for instance in the transport sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Related: China calls America selfish amid Trump attempt to revive coal Coal is already in decline as Europe continues making massive investments in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Last year, European coal emissions fell by an impressive 11 percent , according to an analysis published by the European Commission. The decrease of coal emissions is part of a long-term trend — since 2010, European coal’s generation emissions fell by 16 percent and overall power sector emissions fell by 19 percent. Across the Atlantic, US President Donald Trump has pledged to revive coal. However, US utilities, similar to their European counterparts, are moving away from coal in favor of natural gas and renewables. News agency Reuters contacted 32 utilities and the vast majority said that Trump’s actions would not impact their investments away from coal. “I’m not going to build new coal plants in today’s environment,” Ben Fowke, CEO of Xcel Energy, told Reuters. “And if I’m not going to build new ones, eventually there won’t be any.” Via The Guardian Images via Flickr 1 , 2

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European electricity sector pledges no new coal plants after 2020

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