Episode 242: Responsible mining, the politics of clean energy

October 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Episode 242: Responsible mining, the politics of clean energy Heather Clancy Fri, 10/23/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (7:25). Microsoft, Tiffany help carve out new responsible mining standard Green 2.0: Corporate advocacy and the environmental movement’s racial justice reckoning How big-time investors think about deforestation: Q&A with investment manager Lauren Compere Features 5 questions with renewable fuels company Neste (20:40)   Jeremy Baines took on his role as president of Neste U.S. a little more than a year ago. He joins us to answer five questions about the organization’s strategy. The clean energy voting bloc (27:50)   GreenBiz senior energy analyst Sarah Golden offers an inside view to Clean Energy for Biden, which is raising visibility for the economic potential of clean energy industries ahead of the presidential election.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “More On That Later,” “Night Caves,” “New Day,” “Curiosity” and “Sad Marimba Planet” *This episode was sponsored by WestRock and MCE, and features VERGE 20 sponsor Neste. Resources galore Lessons in resilience from the produce industry. Subject matter experts from Kwik Lok, Walmart and Second Harvest Food Bank join us at 1 p.m. EST Nov. 10 to discuss responding to disruption and how to balance food safety and security to minimize food waste. Behavior change and the circular economy. How innovation and new business models alter people’s relationship with waste. Join the discussion at 8 p.m. EST Nov. 12.  Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Sarah Golden Topics Podcast Renewable Energy Supply Chain Policy & Politics Mining Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 37:26 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 242: Responsible mining, the politics of clean energy

Parsing Panera’s plan to nudge consumers toward low-carbon meals

October 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Parsing Panera’s plan to nudge consumers toward low-carbon meals Jim Giles Fri, 10/23/2020 – 01:00 Something changed recently in America’s fast-casual restaurants. It involved only a single company, but it could herald the start of a fundamental shift in the choices that diners make. I’ll get to what happened in a minute, but first take a step back and consider the information available when you buy food. At the grocery store, you’re bombarded with labels: organic and its new extension, regenerative organic; various competing fair trade standards; certifications relating to animal health and so on. Notice that these widely used labels tell you nothing about the climate change impact of your choices. If you’re eating out, you might find calorie information on menus and, typically at more boutique restaurants, notes on where ingredients were sourced from. Again, you’re unlikely to see anything relating to climate. This matters, because the greenhouse gas emissions generated by different kinds of food vary widely. Here’s a useful summary, courtesy of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan: The reluctance of brands to use climate labels may be partly because it isn’t clear what consumers would do with emissions information. In 2007, for instance, PepsiCo added a label to its Walkers potato chips noting that each bag generated 80 grams of carbon dioxide . A few years later, the label was gone. “With consumers not having enough points of comparison to make the label a useful tool at the time, it was discontinued,” a PepsiCo spokesperson told me. There’s been little progress since, but 2020 looks to be the year when things started to change. In June, Unilever announced ambitious plans to attach carbon labels to its products . Now restaurants are acting, too. The change I referred to earlier is happening at Panera Bread, where many menu items now have a “Cool Food” badge attached to them.  The label, developed by the World Resources Institute , indicates that the emissions generated by the item are in line with the institute’s recommended dietary carbon footprint. This is 38 percent smaller than the U.S. average, a cut that WRI research has found is needed by 2030 to help avoid the worst impacts of climate change. There are two reasons why I think this could be the start of something meaningful. First, the Panera Bread brand isn’t built around environmental values, as you might expect from an early mover in this space. Panera and the WRI seem to have recognized this by making it easy for consumers to make low-carbon choices. Contrast that with the Walkers experiment: PepsiCo deserves credit for being ahead of its time, but the information consumers saw on the chips — 80 grams of carbon dioxide — wasn’t meaningful to anyone aside from climate experts. (For experts and anyone else who wants more details on what qualifies as a Cool Food Meal, Panera has provided a breakdown of emissions associated with each menu item .) It’s also critical that Panera is not going it alone. The badge is based on extensive WRI research and builds on work that the institute has been doing with foodservice operators. The hope is that other restaurants will adopt the badge, making it easier for people to find climate-friendly options whenever they eat out. One quick aside before sign off. I described Panera as an early adopter, but the first mover here might be the Just Salad chain, which introduced carbon labels last month . After I mentioned the Panera announcement a couple of weeks back, Just Salad emailed to argue that items on its menu generate less carbon than comparable offerings at Panera. I’d like to dig into this in the future, but for now, I’ll just note that it’s awesome to see chains competing on carbon.  Topics Food & Agriculture Food & Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Quality HD Close Authorship

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Parsing Panera’s plan to nudge consumers toward low-carbon meals

Europe’s wood pellet market is worsening environmental racism in the American South

October 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Europe’s wood pellet market is worsening environmental racism in the American South Danielle Purifoy Wed, 10/21/2020 – 00:45 This story was originally published by Southerly , in partnership with Scalawag and Environmental Health News for its Powerlines series, which looks at climate change, justice, and infrastructure in the American South. The series is supported by the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University, and is part of their  POWER project .  In 2013, when Enviva Biomass opened a new plant near Belinda Joyner’s community in Northampton County, North Carolina, she already knew what to expect. As the Northeast Organizer for  Clean Water for North Carolina , she’d met with residents of a small, majority Black town called Ahoskie, 40 miles from her home. Enviva had built its  first North Carolina plant  there two years before.  The corporation, which manufactures wood pellets as a purportedly renewable alternative to coal, did what most industries do in prospective communities — they promised jobs, economic development, and minimal impacts. What Ahoskie got was approximately 50 direct jobs, local tree loss,  noise ,  heavy traffic, air pollution, and combustible dust  from wood drying and processing that threatens their health and enjoyment of their homes. On top of those impacts, as many scientists and environmental groups now say, wood pellets are not the hoped-for transition fuel championed just 11 years ago.  However, like Ahoskie, Joyner’s community wasn’t quick to organize against the plant.  “I made an announcement in my church that this plant was coming and I kind of gave them a gist of what it would entail and at first, you know how people just don’t kinda pay you any attention?” she said. “And then once [Enviva] start building it, then they were saying ‘oh this is coming,’ and I told them ‘this is what I tried to tell you all about.’”  In June, I interviewed Joyner and other members of her community in Northampton County, which is located in the Northeast corner of the state, close to the Virginia state line. The area is rural, and peppered with industries — including Westrock Paper Mill, a warehouse and distribution center for Lowe’s Hardware, an industrial hog farm, and Enviva. Until it was canceled in late July, the  Atlantic Coast Pipeline  was slated to run through the county, connecting to a newly constructed compressor station.  The county is also majority Black (57 percent), with 21 percent of residents living in poverty compared to 14 percent statewide,  according to the most recent data  from the U.S. Census. The county’s median household income is 38 percent lower than the state as a whole; it is classified by North Carolina as a  “Tier 1” county , meaning that it is among the 40 most economically distressed of the state’s 100 counties. From Northampton County to Alabama’s Black Belt, residents and activists say companies like Enviva exploit mostly communities of color with promises to build up busted local economies with a “green energy” industry. Joyner’s home sits in a cozy loop of houses in a small Northampton County town. As I pull up to her house, she’s sitting on her porch with her sister and neighbors, chatting with masks on. The community is tight; they’ve shared a lot of their lives in this place.  For seven years, they’ve also had to share the burdens and losses from Enviva. “I call Northampton County the dumping ground,” Joyner said. “Being that we live right here off I-95, and it’s easy access, they just feel like more or less they can just come in here and give us anything, and we’re supposed to be happy after we get it.”  Enviva is the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets and is part of a rapidly growing industry in the U.S. South, where companies find ample forests, lax business regulations, and ports along the Atlantic coast. Though there is some domestic demand for wood pellets for electric utilities — particularly in the Northeast — the majority of wood pellets manufactured in the region are  exported to the European Union  (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), to fulfill global commitments to mitigate climate change by reducing reliance on fossil fuels.  Other wood pellet companies have flocked to the region, including  Drax , a major energy utility in the UK that now manufactures wood pellets in the U.S. South to burn them overseas in its power plants. Collectively, the region’s wood pellet industry exports more than 7.4 million tons of pellets per year. With facility expansions and several prospective plants on the horizon, that number is expected to climb in coming years. From Northampton County to Alabama’s Black Belt, residents and activists say companies like Enviva exploit mostly communities of color with promises to build up busted local economies with a “green energy” industry. Instead, communities hosting wood pellet facilities are not only further burdened by pollution and other local dangers, they are also entangled in yet another climate damaging trend — the destruction of biodiverse hardwood forests and the rise of monoculture tree plantations to produce energy that appears to pose climate threats similar to coal.  The rise of the wood pellet industry in the U.S. South can be traced back to 2009, when wood pellets were touted as a “transition fuel” that could be used to advance the  EU’s climate goals  — a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, and a 20 percent increase in renewable energy by 2020. Wood pellets were considered to be renewable energy because replanted forests could recapture carbon lost in the clear cutting and burning process. They were also coveted because unlike solar, wind, or water energy, wood pellets can be burned in the same incinerators as coal with some retrofits, thus eliminating the expense of new infrastructure. The U.S. South was targeted for sourcing wood pellets because of its status as the world’s “wood basket” — it is the largest producer of wood products, according to Emily Zucchino, Director of Community Engagement for the Dogwood Alliance, an environmental nonprofit committed to protect[ing] Southern forests across 14 [U.S.] states.  Enviva Biomass, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, has a large foothold in the region, with nine wood pellet manufacturing plants across six states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia and Mississippi — and two more facilities pending. A sign outside of the Ahoskie facility reads, “This is Enviva Country.” A spokesperson wrote that the company has a production capacity of 4.9 million metric tons of pellets per year.  Several other wood pellet production companies also operate in the region — Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc in Alabama, Highland Pellets in Arkansas, Mohegan Renewable Energy in Tennessee, and Drax, which manufactures wood pellets mostly near the Gulf Coast.  But even if the EU has met its 2020 climate goals — the region claims to have already  reduced emissions by 23.2   percent  in 2018  — the use of wood pellets raises important questions about the EU’s carbon accounting, [PDM1] and even more questions about public health and climate consequences for the U.S. South, which is already bearing the brunt of climate change effects.  “As more and more science came out about the industry… it became clear that this is not the green and carbon neutral energy it was made out to be,” Zucchino said. According to  a 2009 study  on climate accounting published in  Science Magazine , at the point of combustion, wood pellets put more carbon into the atmosphere than coal, despite generating less energy per unit than coal. Other studies, like one published in 2012 in  GBC Bioenergy , directly challenge the idea that wood pellets are renewable energy because forests can be replanted. The “carbon debt” generated when forests are cut and their stored carbon is burned into the atmosphere can take decades, if not more than a century, to “repay” through forest regrowth. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says humans must reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 to avoid the most catastrophic climate change impacts.  As more and more science came out about the industry… it became clear that this is not the green and carbon neutral energy it was made out to be. What makes the wood pellet strategy even more complicated is that,  due to loopholes in the EU climate policy , carbon emissions from burning wood pellets are often never counted.  Kenneth Richter, a Germany-based environmental policy consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the loophole is due to the disconnect in carbon accounting between the EU’s land use change policies and its energy policies. Carbon loss is measured only when trees are cut, and not when they’re burned for power. Another problem is that when pellets are imported, the EU counts no emissions at all. Though the theory is that the exporting nations would account for those emissions from clear cutting forests, the U.S. does not account for carbon loss from the wood pellet industry because it is no longer part of the Paris Agreement on climate change.  “You have massive amounts of carbon going into the atmosphere but everyone pretends they’re not there,” Richter said. “Everyone else says it’s someone else’s responsibility.”  The EU and UK also provide heavy subsidies to the industry because of the expense of importing wood pellets. Their reliance on the energy source to meet stringent emissions targets is now heavily political — and hard to correct — despite the growing scientific evidence against it.  “Energy companies in many European countries have obligations to produce a certain percentage from renewable sources,” Richter said. “It’s easiest to burn wood with coal, much cheaper than solar panels. They’re pushing the governments — if you don’t allow us to do this [burn wood pellets] and don’t subsidize us we’re going to fail. Drax is a prime example. It produces a large percentage of the UK’s electricity. If [the UK] took subsidies away from Drax, it would fail and cause difficulties in producing enough electricity in the short term.”  Northampton County residents like Joyner are more immediately concerned about the acute impacts of wood pellet manufacturing, from local clear cutting of privately-owned forests to the 24/7 production process.  “The noise… banging and during all hours of the night,” Silverleen Alston, who lives about a mile from Enviva’s plant in Northampton County, said in our interview at Joyner’s home. “I used to call up there [to Enviva] and tell them, why don’t they stop, lower the noise or whatever, till I stopped. I don’t even do it no more.”  In addition to the noise from grinding trees and truck traffic, Alston and others complain about a constant cloud of dust flowing from the plant onto their homes, cars, gardens, and into their lungs.  “The stuff is in the air, coming [in] all directions. I keep my car in a carport, and you can see the stuff on the car. So you know it’s not just coming down from above,” Alston said.  A  2018 report  by the Environmental Integrity Project found that 21 wood pellet mills exporting to the EU emit thousands of tons of particulate matter (fine dust), carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides (smog), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) per year, each of which are  associated with a range of illnesses , from respiratory and heart disease to cancer. These wood pellet mills also emit 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. The report also found that at least a third of wood pellet facilities violated their air permit limits in 2017. Fires and explosions have erupted in plants in five states largely from wood dust, which is combustible. In 2017, a wood pellet storage silo owned by German Pellets in Port Arthur, Texas,  caught fire  and burned unchecked for two months, sending many local residents to the hospital. Later that year, a  worker at the silo died  when pellets fell on the Bobcat machine he was operating. Many of Alston’s family members, who live together on a large plot of land they own, suffer from respiratory illnesses that have been exacerbated since Enviva’s arrival. Her father had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)   and died two years ago. Her aunt also has COPD, and her sister has to sleep on a breathing machine. Alston, her mother, and another sister all have breathing problems, though not as severe.  These wood pellet mills also emit 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. … Fires and explosions have erupted in plants in five states largely from wood dust, which is combustible. Other community members complain about not being able to spend as much time outdoors anymore.  “We have a gentleman that lives in the area, he said that he has to wash his car every three days and power wash his house every three months, and that’s the stuff that comes from Enviva,” Joyner said. “There’s a young man that lives out there that says he doesn’t cook out anymore because he can see the residue falling from the sky.” Richie Harding, a pastor of a local church in Northampton County, doesn’t live close enough to Enviva to experience the dust, but the private forest where Enviva sources its trees is near his house. When I interviewed him by phone, he told me that large swaths of the forest are now gone and listed the wildlife he’s observed in the area since the clear cutting.  “There’s been a high increase in the amount of animals,” Harding said. “Bobcats, black bears… coyotes… sightings more frequent in the Gaston area.”  In an email response Enviva’s director of communications and public affairs María Moreno wrote that Enviva follows all applicable environmental laws, including the U.S. Clean Air Act, and even exceeds regulation standards in controlling air pollution at its facilities.  “We use state-of-the-art, industry-proven air emission controls to reduce emissions from our manufacturing process with at least 95% destruction efficiency,” Moreno wrote. “We are going above and beyond what is required by the law as an industry leader to show our commitment to environmental stewardship in the communities where we live and operate.”  Despite installing additional pollution controls and obtaining an environmental justice (EJ) analysis approved by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) last year, Enviva’s claims do not reflect the daily experiences of residents living near the facility. In my interview with Alston, she told me that her husband still has to wash the dust from the plant off their car every other day. Further,  a 2018 study  of wood pellet mills in the U.S. South found that all wood pellet mills in North Carolina and South Carolina are located in low income communities of color typically overburdened by toxic industry. Across the region, the authors found that they are 50 percent more likely to be located in low income communities of color. Pine pellets in front a wall of fire wood. Photo by  tchara  on Shutterstock. As for the forest impacts, Moreno wrote that Enviva only takes “low grade wood,” which is a “by-product of a traditional timber harvest,” and that the higher demand for forest products like wood pellets leads to  more  forest growth.  But Richter, the EU-based environmental policy consultant, says the term “low-grade wood” is business jargon for otherwise healthy trees that are not valuable for the industry, but are very valuable for the planet. He says the increased forest growth that Enviva claims comes from higher demand for wood products is not the same kind of naturally occurring forests that people recognize.  “[O]ften these naturally grown forests are cut down and replaced with something that’s essentially a plantation,” Richter said. “Trees in rows, monoculture. One species, fairly fast growing, hardly any space between them. Sprayed with fertilizers [and] pesticides. It’s an agricultural crop. You lose the wildlife and biodiversity of what you previously had in a natural forest. Companies still call that a forest but it’s nowhere near what’s contained in an actual natural forest.” According to a 2018  Dogwood Alliance report , since 1953, the U.S. South has lost over 33 million acres of natural forest, and gained 40 million acres of pine plantations.  Black families like Alston’s and Joyner’s have owned land in Northampton County for generations, and experienced the closeness and safety of the communities, the freedom of living on the land. Joyner says the noise and pollution made some people in her community want to move away. She called one of her friends who moved an hour south to Zebulon, NC, “one of the fortunate ones.” According to a 2018 Dogwood Alliance report, since 1953, the U.S. South has lost over 33 million acres of natural forest, and gained 40 million acres of pine plantations. But many others can’t afford to move — and some don’t want to. “[Enviva] had mentioned to us, you know, had we thought about moving?” Alston said. “I’m on family earned land, that my grandaddy was invested in. To me, I really can say they couldn’t pay me enough to move.” Enviva got  support from Northampton County Commissioners  before opening the plant in 2013. They made the same promises that they made to Ahoskie — economic development and jobs. But according to Joyner, the public hearings for Enviva’s permit, organized by NCDEQ, were mostly publicized in newspapers and on posters tacked along the road. Not many knew they were happening, or understood what was at stake, so there was low attendance.  “If you really wanted to know what [the poster] was, you basically had to get out of your car and go and look at it,” Joyner said.  After the plant was built, and residents began experiencing the pollution and noise, they joined forces with Dogwood Alliance, which has been monitoring the growth of the wood pellet industry across the U.S. South, to advocate for improved environmental conditions at the plant. But after several meetings with the county commission, Enviva plant administrators and the company’s former public relations director, there were no improvements to the plant; the company has donated resources to local schools and meals to local residents.  Last year, NCDEQ granted Enviva a permit  to expand its Northampton plant , increasing its production capacity from 550,000 metric tons per year to 781,255 metric tons annually.  “We had a public hearing on the 20th of August last year,” Joyner said. “We had 40 or so people there opposed to the expansion and of course the only people who were for the expansion were people who worked for Enviva.”  Even if Enviva exceeds the requirements of its own air permit in its expanded facility, as Moreno wrote in our interview, there are still concerns about further deterioration of environmental quality in the community, and what it means for residents’ health.  “When I looked at the officer that was choking George Floyd, and he said I can’t breathe, this is the same thing that the industries are doing to our communities,” Joyner said. “It’s fine to have jobs, but give us some jobs that don’t kill us.”  As the wood pellet industry continues to grow across the South, Enviva has targeted Alabama and Mississippi for future expansion. The company is building facilities producing significantly larger quantities of wood pellets for export through a deep water  marine port and storage silo  currently under construction in Pasagoula, Mississippi. In each state, the company’s pitch remains the same: jobs and economic development.  “They go into these low wealth communities, promise opportunity, and a lot of residents bite on it,” said Rev. Michael Malcom, executive director of Alabama Interfaith Power and Light. “If we could get ahead of this, we could go in and tell them about the dangers of the wood pellet industry. But unfortunately, the way the system works in Alabama, ADEM keeps things under wraps until it’s time for the public hearing.”  Alabama has the third most timberland acreage in the contiguous 48 states, much of it in the form of pine plantations owned by  private absentee landowners  disconnected from local residents.  Enviva’s first Alabama facility  will be located in a small Black town called Epes, and is projected to open in 2021, with a production capacity of over one million metric tons of wood pellets per year. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) approved the permit last December, with additional  support from Alabama governor Kay Ivey .  Malcom said it is likely that Enviva spends as much as a full year making the case for a new manufacturing plant in a community, promising good jobs and low environmental impacts.  “When they announce [the facility], it’s already too late. [Enviva has] already gone in [to the community] and greased the wheel,” Malcom said.  Through mutual connections to the Dogwood Alliance, Malcom teamed up with Mississippi-based Katherine Egland, Chair of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee and Co-founder of the  Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization  to develop interventions for preventing the growth of the wood pellet industry in the Southeast. Their first chance was in Lucedale, Mississippi, a predominantly White rural community, where Enviva is now constructing a facility permitted last July. Malcom said Enviva had already convinced many people that the mill would be a good thing for the community, bringing much needed jobs.  “[ At the public hearing ] they were basically shooting our talking points back to us and saying, ’so what?’” Malcom said. “One guy literally said, ‘They [Enviva opponents] tell us we can get cancer. What’s wrong with that? Got to have something.” Industrial logging-dependent communities are some of the most poverty stricken places in the South … If industrial logging were the solution to these places, they’d be some of the wealthiest on earth. It’s just not true. After the hearing in Lucedale, Enviva  released a statement  saying that it was “proud to have the opportunity to create 90 direct jobs in Lucedale, 30 direct jobs in Pascagoula, and hundreds of additional indirect and construction jobs.” It also made a disclaimer that any ‘forward looking statements’ about its operations were estimated projections, and could not be assured. Regardless of the jobs projections, Zucchino said that the longer term impacts of the industry undermine other forms of economic growth.  “Industrial logging-dependent communities are some of the most poverty stricken places in the South,” Zucchino said. “If industrial logging were the solution to these places, they’d be some of the wealthiest on earth. It’s just not true.” Back in North Carolina, a predominantly Indigenous and Black community in Robeson County, were largely unswayed by the economic promise of the wood pellet industry. Already burdened with hog factory farms, coal ash waste sites, a landfill, a poultry litter burning plant, and increasing flood risk due to climate change, Robeson County residents mounted a long opposition campaign  against a new wood pellet facility  owned by London-based Active Energy Group (AEG),  including over 1000 public comments, substantial media coverage, and a public hearing  in which an overwhelming majority of speakers opposed the plant. Nevertheless, NCDEQ approved an  air permit for AEG in June . Construction is already in progress. Unlike the white wood pellets manufactured by companies like Enviva, which require energy utilities to retrofit their coal incinerators, AEG’s facility will manufacture  wood pellets called CoalSwitch , designed to be a direct substitute for coal, with no retrofits required.  “There’s a lot of moving pieces with this facility, and kind of a lot of confusion,” Zucchino said. “Not a lot of clarity [about whether] they have contracts for export, how big are they going to be. [AEG] is pioneering this [black wood pellet technology]; they’ve tried it in Utah without success… it hasn’t been done successfully anywhere as far as I know.”  Zaynab Nasif, public information officer for the Division of Air Quality at NCDEQ wrote via email that the agency provided additional avenues for community participation for the AEG site, and responded to concerns raised during that process by adding more stringent testing requirements for hazardous pollutants to the facility’s air permit.  But many residents of Robeson County, which is about 180 miles from Northampton County, are already suffering from high rates of respiratory illness, including COVID-19. Additionally, clear cutting more of the county’s forests for wood pellet production will likely exacerbate the region’s climate vulnerability.  “Enough is enough,” said Joyner, who travels frequently to Robeson County. “I’ve seen the damage that has been done there. It’s a shame to want to wreak havoc on a community in that way.”  In recent years, some new communities impacted by the wood pellet industry have begun organizing against it. Residents of the Netherlands,  who pay significant tariffs for the shipment of wood pellets from the U.S. , traveled to North Carolina and other parts of the South to understand the environmental impacts of the industry, and to fight for better climate policies in the EU.  “We have had people come here wondering, ‘why are you doing this to your land? We would not do this to our land,’” said Harding, who lives in Northampton County. “They see that America was destroying land just for a dollar, and that was really troublesome to them. They don’t understand pretty much like we don’t understand.” I am reminded with the wood pellet trade, if you look at the map of the wood pellet trade states and the former cotton trade states, they are the same. Since Egland started organizing with Malcom in Mississippi and Alabama a couple of years ago, she’s been struck by historic parallels of the wood pellet industry with other extractive legacies in the South and has been working locally and globally to motivate others to intervene.  “I am reminded with the wood pellet trade, if you look at the map of the wood pellet trade states and the former cotton trade states, they are the same,” she said. “The UK ignored the human rights abuses of the cotton trade, with slavery, now they are imperiling the descendants of that same population with the wood pellets. [The U.S. South] also happens to be the most climate vulnerable region in the nation.” There are some signs of progress, including European policies limiting wood pellet imports and decreased expansion of the industry in the U.S. South. Recently, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper and NCDEQ committed to  excluding wood pellets  from the state’s energy mix in its Clean Energy Plan.  Richter says an opening for change is on the horizon in the EU, as the government must revisit its existing climate legislation to prepare for new greenhouse gas reduction targets — a  55 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030  compared to 1990 levels. One piece of that legislation is the  Renewable Energy Directive (RED) , which he says is driving the demand for wood pellets as renewable energy. Kicking wood pellets out of the “renewables club” would kill existing subsidies for the industry, which he hopes can be diverted to pay for solar, wind, and water energy sources.  “[T]here’s also the  European Green Deal , the European road map for making economies sustainable. The person responsible for that is Franz Timmermans, the Vice President of the EU. He’s said that bioenergy needs to be reviewed. And we hope that he can become a bit of a champion for our demands.”  Zucchino also sees some momentum building against the wood pellet industry, from coalitions forming regionally, within states, and internationally.  “One of the things I’m proudest of in my time at Dogwood [Alliance] is the amount of movement building that we’ve accomplished around this issue,” she said. “We are seeing encouraging advances in the understanding of and policy around the wood pellet industry. But we need to see more and we need to see it happen quickly.”  Pull Quote From Northampton County to Alabama’s Black Belt, residents and activists say companies like Enviva exploit mostly communities of color with promises to build up busted local economies with a “green energy” industry. As more and more science came out about the industry… it became clear that this is not the green and carbon neutral energy it was made out to be. These wood pellet mills also emit 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. … Fires and explosions have erupted in plants in five states largely from wood dust, which is combustible. According to a 2018 Dogwood Alliance report, since 1953, the U.S. South has lost over 33 million acres of natural forest, and gained 40 million acres of pine plantations. Industrial logging-dependent communities are some of the most poverty stricken places in the South … If industrial logging were the solution to these places, they’d be some of the wealthiest on earth. It’s just not true. I am reminded with the wood pellet trade, if you look at the map of the wood pellet trade states and the former cotton trade states, they are the same. Topics Energy & Climate Pollution Prevention Human Rights Environmental Justice Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A pellet factory, where pine wood shavings are moved on a conveyor belt. Photo by  Juan Enrique del Barrio  on Shutterstock.

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Europe’s wood pellet market is worsening environmental racism in the American South

LEED Gold office in Austin offers wearables to promote employee wellness

October 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The Texas Mutual Insurance Company’s new headquarters in Austin, Texas’s Mueller Development has earned both LEED Gold and Austin Energy Green Building 4-Star certifications in recognition of the building’s energy-efficient design and focus on occupant wellness. Designed by Texan architecture firm  Studio8 Architects , the four-story office building is notable for its adherence to the “Design for Active Occupants” LEED innovation strategy to prioritize a healthy and active workplace as opposed to the traditionally sedentary office environment. Texas Mutual also provides occupants with wearable devices to track activity and employee access to an online portal for evaluating individual health scores and biometric data.  As one of the first members of the Austin Green Business Leaders group, Texas Mutual has used its headquarters as an inspiring example of the firm’s sustainable objectives. The four-story headquarters is strategically located in the LEED ND Gold-certified Mueller neighborhood, a  mixed-use  and mixed-income area that’s pedestrian and bicycle-friendly. The offices sit above ground-floor retail space — currently occupied by a restaurant and daycare facility — and a parking garage. To meet  LEED Gold  standards, architects wrapped the building with a highly insulating envelope punctuated with full-height windows and wove biophilic design elements throughout the interior. Daylight responsive LEDs and an HVAC system that draws chilled water from Austin Energy’s Mueller District Energy System help to further reduce the building’s energy footprint.  Related: SUNY New Paltz Engineering Innovation Hub achieves LEED Gold Natural materials, daylighting and greenery indoors further promote a healthy work environment. Occupant health is also targeted with ergonomic workstations with adjustable sit/stand desks, an on-site gym and a Green Housekeeping program to maintain a clean and non-toxic space. “Social spaces were sporadically placed to encourage movement across floors, a multi-story  green wall , and a courtyard and rooftop terrace with Wi-Fi connection encouraged employees to be connected to each other and to nature,” the architects said. + Studio8 Architects Images by Lars Frazer

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LEED Gold office in Austin offers wearables to promote employee wellness

A vote for clean energy

October 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

A vote for clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 10/16/2020 – 01:45 I recently joined the most impressive group of clean energy leaders I’ve known, and it happens to have come together in support of Joe Biden for president. The network: Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B).  It includes more than 9,500 clean energy professionals in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. There are entrepreneurs, engineers, policymakers, technicians and investors. There are thought leaders I’ve long admired and business leaders that have made clean energy more accessible to all people. Clean energy professionals as a voting bloc CE4B is evidence that the clean energy sector is, perhaps for the first time, a significant voting bloc in the United States.  Before the start of the COVID crisis, the clean energy sector employed nearly 3.4 million Americans in all 50 states. In 42 states, more people are included in clean energy than in the fossil fuel industry. If mobilized, these millions of Americans could have a major impact in this and future elections.  CE4B shows that support for clean energy as a voting issue is already widespread. The self-organizing, all-volunteer effort has more than 25 active state teams and organized more than 100 grassroots events, which collectively have raised more than $2.6 million on behalf of the Biden campaign.  The executive council is more than 50 industry leaders, including household names (for energy nerds) and representation from major companies, including Kate Brandt of Google, Jigar Shah of Generate Capital, Kate Gordon of California’s Office of Planning and Research and Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Why get political now? We don’t write about politics much at GreenBiz (although I’m sure regular Energy Weeklyians have a sense of my personal politics).  Much about this presidential contest is outside of the purview of my job as an energy analyst. But when it comes to accelerating the adoption of clean energy, I would be remiss to not call attention to what may be the starkest difference in energy platforms in American history.  If I may simplify the two men’s stances, Donald Trump’s energy policy looks backward to the energy that powered our past, and Biden is looking forward to the fuels of the future. I’m not going to dive into either candidate’s specific platform; others already have written much on the topic. Rather, I’m here to highlight that candidates who support clean energy policy are also supporting economic, climate and social justice policies.  Clean energy policy is economic policy As the economic fallout of the COVID pandemic is coming into focus and the job creation is leveling off, the clean energy transition represents an opportunity to put Americans back to work.  First, clean energy is more jobs-rich than fossil fuels, meaning more people are employed per unit of energy created. A 2010 study found that for every $1 million invested, oil and gas would create roughly five jobs, while wind and solar would create 13 or 14 jobs.  Second, clean energy jobs are distributed. While dirty energy is usually centralized — think coal miners in West Virginia or roughnecks in North Dakota — clean energy manufacturers, technicians and installers are needed in every community, and provide options at every skill level. According to E2, all but two of America’s 3,007 counties are home to clean energy jobs.  Third, prioritizing clean energy gives America a chance to be a global leaders in advanced energy technologies. Getting ahead of the innovation curve means the country could be exporting technologies as other nations race to meet climate goals. Which I find a lot more exciting than trying to prop up dinosaur industries.  My two cents: if you are worried about the economy, supporting candidates that understand the jobs potential in the clean energy sector is a smart move.  Clean energy policy is climate policy  Scientists agree that the next decade will be critical to addressing climate change and avoiding the worst of its economic impacts and human toll.  So it makes sense that voters are beginning to see climate as a voting issue. A recent poll from Pew Research shows that 68 percent of likely voters rank climate as “very” or “somewhat” important, up from 44 percent in 2009. Luckily, the same policies that will create clean energy jobs will curb energy-related emissions. While energy is not the only source of climate-changing emissions, it is a sector that has carbon-free solutions today, meaning it must rapidly decarbonize to give us a chance at a safe climate future.  We’re already seeing the economic impacts of extreme weather across the country and world. Politicians that work to curb the worst impacts of climate change are working to curb the human and economic tolls.  Clean energy policy is social justice policy Like so many other issues, those most affected by pollution from dirty energy are low-income communities and communities of color.  If you’re Black in America, you have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma, and are more likely to have (and die from) heart disease, all linked to living with dirty air. Nearly one in two Latinx people in the U.S. live in counties where the air doesn’t meet EPA smog standards. People of color are more likely to live near highways, airports, power plants and refineries.  That all takes a toll on health, economic potential and quality of life. Supporting a just energy transition is synonymous with supporting marginalized communities to become more resilient, prosperous and healthy.  Clean energy technologies — the same that uplift the economy and address climate change — can help all communities thrive. Politicians who understand that are taking the realities of environmental racism seriously.  Vote Clean energy is a rare issue that is win-win-win: it uplifts the economy, creates jobs and helps curb climate change. The only downside is incumbent energy powers need to get out of the way.  Of course, the sector isn’t perfect. Clean energy advocates are working hard to not replicate the same inequities or unintended consequences as the old, dirty energy sources. But I, for one, am ready for political debates about how to best create energy systems for the future, rather than debate if we should stay in the past.  And, no matter what your political ideology is, if you’re a U.S. reader, vote in whatever way you can. It’s what being American is all about.  This essay first appeared in GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Topics Energy & Climate Policy & Politics Social Justice Clean Energy Featured Column Power Points 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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A vote for clean energy

A vote for clean energy

October 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

A vote for clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 10/16/2020 – 01:45 I recently joined the most impressive group of clean energy leaders I’ve known, and it happens to have come together in support of Joe Biden for president. The network: Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B).  It includes more than 9,500 clean energy professionals in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. There are entrepreneurs, engineers, policymakers, technicians and investors. There are thought leaders I’ve long admired and business leaders that have made clean energy more accessible to all people. Clean energy professionals as a voting bloc CE4B is evidence that the clean energy sector is, perhaps for the first time, a significant voting bloc in the United States.  Before the start of the COVID crisis, the clean energy sector employed nearly 3.4 million Americans in all 50 states. In 42 states, more people are included in clean energy than in the fossil fuel industry. If mobilized, these millions of Americans could have a major impact in this and future elections.  CE4B shows that support for clean energy as a voting issue is already widespread. The self-organizing, all-volunteer effort has more than 25 active state teams and organized more than 100 grassroots events, which collectively have raised more than $2.6 million on behalf of the Biden campaign.  The executive council is more than 50 industry leaders, including household names (for energy nerds) and representation from major companies, including Kate Brandt of Google, Jigar Shah of Generate Capital, Kate Gordon of California’s Office of Planning and Research and Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Why get political now? We don’t write about politics much at GreenBiz (although I’m sure regular Energy Weeklyians have a sense of my personal politics).  Much about this presidential contest is outside of the purview of my job as an energy analyst. But when it comes to accelerating the adoption of clean energy, I would be remiss to not call attention to what may be the starkest difference in energy platforms in American history.  If I may simplify the two men’s stances, Donald Trump’s energy policy looks backward to the energy that powered our past, and Biden is looking forward to the fuels of the future. I’m not going to dive into either candidate’s specific platform; others already have written much on the topic. Rather, I’m here to highlight that candidates who support clean energy policy are also supporting economic, climate and social justice policies.  Clean energy policy is economic policy As the economic fallout of the COVID pandemic is coming into focus and the job creation is leveling off, the clean energy transition represents an opportunity to put Americans back to work.  First, clean energy is more jobs-rich than fossil fuels, meaning more people are employed per unit of energy created. A 2010 study found that for every $1 million invested, oil and gas would create roughly five jobs, while wind and solar would create 13 or 14 jobs.  Second, clean energy jobs are distributed. While dirty energy is usually centralized — think coal miners in West Virginia or roughnecks in North Dakota — clean energy manufacturers, technicians and installers are needed in every community, and provide options at every skill level. According to E2, all but two of America’s 3,007 counties are home to clean energy jobs.  Third, prioritizing clean energy gives America a chance to be a global leaders in advanced energy technologies. Getting ahead of the innovation curve means the country could be exporting technologies as other nations race to meet climate goals. Which I find a lot more exciting than trying to prop up dinosaur industries.  My two cents: if you are worried about the economy, supporting candidates that understand the jobs potential in the clean energy sector is a smart move.  Clean energy policy is climate policy  Scientists agree that the next decade will be critical to addressing climate change and avoiding the worst of its economic impacts and human toll.  So it makes sense that voters are beginning to see climate as a voting issue. A recent poll from Pew Research shows that 68 percent of likely voters rank climate as “very” or “somewhat” important, up from 44 percent in 2009. Luckily, the same policies that will create clean energy jobs will curb energy-related emissions. While energy is not the only source of climate-changing emissions, it is a sector that has carbon-free solutions today, meaning it must rapidly decarbonize to give us a chance at a safe climate future.  We’re already seeing the economic impacts of extreme weather across the country and world. Politicians that work to curb the worst impacts of climate change are working to curb the human and economic tolls.  Clean energy policy is social justice policy Like so many other issues, those most affected by pollution from dirty energy are low-income communities and communities of color.  If you’re Black in America, you have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma, and are more likely to have (and die from) heart disease, all linked to living with dirty air. Nearly one in two Latinx people in the U.S. live in counties where the air doesn’t meet EPA smog standards. People of color are more likely to live near highways, airports, power plants and refineries.  That all takes a toll on health, economic potential and quality of life. Supporting a just energy transition is synonymous with supporting marginalized communities to become more resilient, prosperous and healthy.  Clean energy technologies — the same that uplift the economy and address climate change — can help all communities thrive. Politicians who understand that are taking the realities of environmental racism seriously.  Vote Clean energy is a rare issue that is win-win-win: it uplifts the economy, creates jobs and helps curb climate change. The only downside is incumbent energy powers need to get out of the way.  Of course, the sector isn’t perfect. Clean energy advocates are working hard to not replicate the same inequities or unintended consequences as the old, dirty energy sources. But I, for one, am ready for political debates about how to best create energy systems for the future, rather than debate if we should stay in the past.  And, no matter what your political ideology is, if you’re a U.S. reader, vote in whatever way you can. It’s what being American is all about.  This essay first appeared in GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Topics Energy & Climate Policy & Politics Social Justice Clean Energy Featured Column Power Points 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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A vote for clean energy

To keep going during these difficult times, remember to float

October 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

To keep going during these difficult times, remember to float Chris Gaither Mon, 10/12/2020 – 01:45 A couple of years ago, desperate for fitness and community, I joined the master’s swim program at my local pool. I churned up and down the lanes a few mornings a week, and I grew faster and faster, especially on the sprints. Turns out these big feet of mine, size 13 with fallen arches, propel me beautifully through the water. “What a great kick you have,” my teammates would say. And on the next lap I’d kick even harder, arriving at the wall panting and grinning. My coach moved me into the fast lane, and my ego swelled. But on longer distances, I fell apart. To go faster, I must stop working so hard. To maintain my energy, I must embrace ease. To keep going, I must remember to float. I’d start off well enough, keeping pace with lifelong swimmers such as Susan and Sarah. Then, a few laps in, I’d falter. I’d fall so far behind that I’d have to occasionally pause at the wall, embarrassed, to let the leaders pass me. I’d tell myself to work harder. Get those feet moving. Kick more ferociously. One day, as I again dropped behind, my coach began shouting at me from the deck. I couldn’t hear her over my exertions. She yelled louder. “Chris!” she said. “You are kicking too hard!” After the workout, she explained that a strong kick is effective during sprints, but over-kicking on endurance swims slows us down. Our big leg muscles require a lot of oxygen, so we run out of gas quickly. When you kick more lightly, she said, you maintain your energy. So, you can keep going. To prove her point, she had me practice floating. I lay still, face down, arms extended. I relaxed, felt my muscles soften, a sense of peace settling over me. Then, from that place of ease, I began to swim. It felt so different. My strokes were calmer, more efficient. Instead of fighting the water, I allowed it to support my body then slip past me. I understood what the coach was teaching me: To go faster, I must stop working so hard. To maintain my energy, I must embrace ease. To keep going, I must remember to float. It’s 2020, the year that won’t end, and I suspect that many of you, like me, are trying to kick so hard through this pandemic. Everything feels difficult right now. As I write, we are slogging through our seventh month of sheltering in place. More than 210,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus, and it has spread all the way to the White House. Fires continue to ravage the West. Here in Oakland, California, I wake up many mornings to the sight and acrid taste of smoke, visceral reminders of the climate emergency. The poor air quality has kept me off the hiking trails and out of the pool, depriving me, like so many Californians, of the chance to heal our psyches in nature. There is so much to process. So much to do. So much to repair. Earlier in the pandemic, my writing and my work with leaders and their teams buoyed me. I felt a prolonged surge of energy — purpose, focus, a calling to serve others, motivation to create. Those desires feel much fainter now, dim outlines I see through a haze of fatigue, loneliness and sadness. I’ve been trying to muscle through it. Even as I’ve helped my clients notice where they are resisting their current reality, asking them to strip away the non-essential tasks and honoring what they most need right now, I’ve been taking on more responsibilities. I’m kicking so hard in all aspects of my life: as an executive leadership coach, business owner, father, son, romantic partner, friend, citizen, environmentalist, learner, writer. It’s exhausting. I’d been trying to write this latest Sustainable You column for weeks. My intention was to explore the importance of identifying our purpose and letting it shine through in our jobs. Purpose is one of my favorite coaching topics, one I’ve taught in workshops at the Robins Air Force Base and X, the Moonshot Factory, and with individual clients at Apple, Google, Levi Strauss and more. Following my purpose is also what led me to create a coaching practice focused on supporting environmental and social-impact leaders. Yet I just couldn’t get it right. I’d captured pages of notes, blocked off time to write, done Pomodoro timer sessions , unleashed a tangle of thoughts. It just wasn’t coming together, no matter how hard I tried. Then, as I was hiking in redwoods during a break from the smoke, I remembered my swim coach’s instructions. I started asking myself: Where in my life am I trying too hard? Where can I start from a place of ease? Where can I kick more lightly? Where can I float? I started asking myself: Where in my life am I trying too hard? Where can I start from a place of ease? Where can I kick more lightly?   I decided to begin here, with you. I’ll be back next month with that essay about purpose. But for now, I invite you to join me in the water. Wade in and relax. Feel what it’s like to be you, in your body, in this very moment. You don’t need to be strong right now. You don’t need to work so hard. Be still. Let the water hold you. In a few minutes, you will begin swimming again. Set an intention to do that with ease. Whatever you have planned for today, for this week, bring a sense of flow to it. Kick lightly and notice what happens. But for now, let’s stay together for a while. Let’s be here in the water, serene. Let’s float. Pull Quote To go faster, I must stop working so hard. To maintain my energy, I must embrace ease. To keep going, I must remember to float. I started asking myself: Where in my life am I trying too hard? Where can I start from a place of ease? Where can I kick more lightly? Topics Leadership Health & Well-being Featured Column Sustainable You Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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To keep going during these difficult times, remember to float

Episode 240: Ceres points the way, Beautycounter’s mica makeover

October 9, 2020 by  
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Episode 240: Ceres points the way, Beautycounter’s mica makeover Heather Clancy Fri, 10/09/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (4:20). SEC rule change stifles key risk signal, disenfranchises retail investors Why Kroger and Publix are bringing the farm to the grocery store Demand for voluntary carbon offsets holds strong Features All the glitters: Beautycounter and the mica supply chain (17:30)   Outakes from the reporting behind Joel Makower’s two-part series about the mica supply chain and retailer Beautycounter’s work to address the sector’s big child labor problem. You can read both stories here and here . A corporate climate action plan, Ceres style (30:55) We chat with Kristen Lang, senior director of the Ceres Corporate Networks about the new Corporate Roadmap 2030 , a blueprint for strategy, policy action and systems change. *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “Waiting for the Moment That Never Comes,” “Knowing the Truth,” “As I Was Saying” and “Southside” *This episode was sponsored by Amazon and WestRock Resources galore Innovation in textiles. The global fashion industry is looking toward innovative materials and strategies. Learn more about what’s possible in this interactive discussion at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 13. The social side of energy procurement. How to add considerations for equity and biodiversity into renewables procurement? Join the discussion at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 15. Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Topics Supply Chain Podcast Corporate Strategy Mining Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 44:41 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 240: Ceres points the way, Beautycounter’s mica makeover

Disney World McDonald’s to be first net-zero fast food restaurant

October 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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Chicago-based  Ross Barney Architects  has given the iconic McDonald’s at Walt Disney World Resort a sustainable makeover. This revamp aims to make McDonald’s Disney flagship the first net-zero energy quick-service restaurant. Topped with a canopy clad in solar panels, the energy-efficient building takes on a new, contemporary form that strategically responds to Orlando’s hot and humid climate. In addition to generating renewable energy on-site, the restaurant reduces its energy footprint by using natural ventilation and operable windows that open and close in response to outdoor humidity and temperature sensors.  “We were really interested in taking advantage of the climate in Florida , which is most of the year is fantastic,” said Carol Ross Barney, design principal at Ross Barney Architects. Completed earlier this year, McDonald’s new solar-powered Disney location represents the company’s commitment to building a better future through “Scale for Good,” an initiative that seeks to minimize McDonald’s building impact and embraces the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s operates over 37,000 restaurants in over 100 countries around the world and serves 69 million people every day. The company has pledged to prevent 150 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2030 — a reduction of 36% from a 2015 base year.  Related: Cantilevered Green Shield Protects McDonalds’ Customers from Adjacent Fuel Station The renovated McDonald’s Disney restaurant serves as an inspiring sustainable steward with its thoughtful architectural design and educational focus. Interior wall graphics, interactive video content and games unique to McDonald’s Disney World location help teach visitors of all ages how to become more dedicated environment stewards at a variety of levels. To meet  net-zero  energy targets, the eatery features 18,727 square feet of photovoltaic panels, 4,809 square feet of glazing integrated photovoltaic panels (BiPV) and 25 off-grid parking lot lights that, in total, provide more energy than the restaurant uses. The building and kitchen systems have also been optimized for energy efficiency, while natural ventilation is prioritized for roughly 65% of the year.  + Ross Barney Architects Images by Kate Joyce Studios

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Disney World McDonald’s to be first net-zero fast food restaurant

Miami Beach Convention Center receives a stunning LEED Silver makeover

October 7, 2020 by  
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Global design firm Fentress Architects and Arquitectonia have given the 1950s-era Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) a sustainable and modern redesign — that has also recently received LEED Silver certification . Located in the heart of Miami Beach, Florida, the convention center has long been internationally known as the host for annual events such as Art Basel Miami Beach and eMERGE Americas. With the recent renovation and expansion, the energy-efficient venue is not only better equipped to withstand hurricanes but is now recognized as one of the most technologically advanced convention centers in the U.S. Completed earlier this year, the 1.4-million-square-foot redesign of the Miami Beach Convention Center takes cues from the regional context for both its exterior and interior design. The eye-catching exterior facade features more than 500 unique aluminum solar fins that, when seen from afar, mimic the movement of nearby ocean waves. Inside, colors and patterns were used to emulate receding water, sea foam and local coral reef patterns. Satellite images of nearby ocean waves, coral and sandbars were even used to create custom carpet patterns. Related: BIG weaves green roofs into a mixed-use development on stilts in Miami In addition to providing contextual cues, the exterior angled fins help to mitigate solar gain while filtering dappled light to the indoors. Glazing and connections were selected for resistance to projectiles and hurricanes to comply with FEMA code. Critical building systems have also been elevated to the second floor to allow the building to remain operational in the event of flooding or rising sea levels. The project’s resiliency to storms extends to the outdoor landscape as well. Together with West8, Fentress Architects transformed the existing 6-acre surface parking lot into a vibrant public park that includes a tropical garden, game lawn, shaded areas and a veterans’ plaza. In total, 12 acres of green space have been added along with over 1,300 new trees to increase the previous acreage of the 25-acre campus by 245%. + Fentress Architects + Arquitectonia Photography by Robin Hill, Craig Denis and Tom Clark via Fentress Architects and Miami Beach Convention Center

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Miami Beach Convention Center receives a stunning LEED Silver makeover

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