5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021

January 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021 Pamela Gordon Thu, 01/21/2021 – 01:40 Amongst the many dramatic challenges global businesses faced in 2020, one that had been simmering for years bubbled up and promised to stay at a high boil in 2021 is ESG: Environment, Social, Governance.  Signs that ESG expectations were becoming more ubiquitous included the establishment of global ESG standards published by the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council in September and BlackRock’s call for a globally recognized framework for investors to understand individual company risks.  Despite years of progress by leading corporations toward ESG, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental health and safety (EHS) and sustainability goals, the reality is that board members overseeing these companies are still trying to discern how all of this applies to them. In fact, in PwC’s annual Corporate Directors survey , which includes responses from more than 600 public board directors, only half (51 percent) say their board fully understands ESG issues impacting the company. That same study shows, however, that in 2020, 45 percent of directors say that ESG issues are a regular part of the board’s agenda, which demonstrates an increase from 34 percent in 2019. Time for training How can boards (public and private) improve their efficacy in ESG oversight for long-term value? As ESG experts, Presidians and members of the Athena Alliance (community of female corporate board directors and executives), we set out to help boards to become ESG-ready .  To start, we uncovered board members’ keenest ESG-education needs by surveying sitting board members at public (39 percent) and private (61 percent) companies, generating annual revenues of less than $50 million to $3 billion. They look to ESG to realize the following areas of corporate success: Source: Presidio Graduate School survey, October through December 2020 Then, we developed an ESG training for board members, along with the following five recommendations for board members to get ESG-ready for 2021. 1. Understand why boards need to be ESG-ready In our survey, 47 percent of directors believe ESG is important for brand equity and reputation, 24 percent cited both customer and investor pressure, and 18 percent pointed to risk management and board pressure. One sitting board member said that ESG is “an inherent part of the business model.” Board oversight includes advising the management team on the company strategy, and ensuring improved long term value for all stakeholders. Directors must understand how ESG issues can affect that strategy, and be in a position to assess and address both challenges and opportunities. To get started, align the board on why they should care, in light of demands from stakeholders such as customers, employees, investors, communities and suppliers. Invite an ESG expert to convey how ESG is material to your particular company.  2. Add ESG to your next board meeting agenda When asked what level of importance their boards put on ESG, 76 percent of our survey respondents said “important” or “very important,” yet only 47 percent said their companies report on ESG, and 35 percent said their board provides ESG oversight. Compare that to the 45 percent stated by public companies in the PwC survey, and we are still looking at less than half of company boards addressing ESG even as investors and other business stakeholders demand it. Add ESG to your next board agenda, even if only to start the conversation with the management team. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that somewhere in the organization people have been working on ESG initiatives and have been waiting for the conversation to reach the board. Risk and reputation are two of the most fundamental aspects of “duty of care” for sitting board directors. Corporate leaders who take a broader view of their long-term strategy, including how they will meet ESG demands, will be better positioned to address new risks and opportunities.  3. Select an ESG oversight structure that aligns with your company More than half (52 percent) of our survey respondents serve on the Nominating and Governance committees of their boards, with 20 percent stating they sit on a specialized ESG/EHS working group or committee. Some companies split the elements of ESG between committees, with “social” sitting with the compensation committee for example, as they typically manage diversity, equity and talent initiatives. Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated. A recent article by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance offers an excellent guide on how to address ESG and corporate governance within the board committees, noting most importantly, “Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated.”  4. Arm yourself with expertise In the PwC survey, respondents agreed that ESG issues are playing a larger role in their board discussions, and should be included in determining the company strategy. In fact, 67 percent of directors said the company should include climate change, human rights and income equality in the company strategy, a 13-point increase over 2019. Interestingly, female directors were more likely (60 percent) to see the link between ESG and company strategy than their male counterparts (46 percent), and agreed in higher percentages (79 percent vs. 64 percent) that climate change and human rights issues should be part of forming the company strategy.  As your board recruits new directors or replaces sitting directors, consider adding a director with ESG expertise, supplemented with an independent ESG consultant for a broader and future view. 5. Get educated When asked from which aspects of ESG education their boards would most benefit from, respondents prioritized: 1) diversity, equity and inclusion, 2) ESG/CSR reporting, 3) products’ environmental footprint/impact, 4) company operations’ environmental footprint/impact and 5) climate and renewable energy. Most prefer a half-day training, with some wanting a customized training for their entire board and others wanting to join training comprising individual board members representing diverse companies. Having interviewed board members over the years for materiality assessments, PGS Consults analysts note that board directors acknowledge their limited understanding of ESG and are genuinely open to learning more. The COVID-19 lockdown in March created a dramatic shift in board member interest in ESG — from polite inquiry to a more urgent need to know. Pull Quote Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated. Contributors Leilani Latimer Topics Corporate Strategy ESG Collective Insight Thinking in Systems Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Freedomz Close Authorship

Read the original here:
5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021

What’s in store for the future of commuting?

January 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

What’s in store for the future of commuting? Marian Jones Tue, 01/12/2021 – 01:00 Despite being in a global pandemic, essential low-wage workers, healthcare providers, knowledge workers and many others have continued to work. However, since the start of lockdowns in March 2020, some 42 percent of the U.S. workforce has been from working home full-time . The continued progression of COVID-19 has required many businesses to postpone their back-to-the-office dates to protect their workers and assuage their health concerns. Of the 42 percent of the workforce able to work remotely, some 73 percent would prefer not to go back due to fears over the disease’s spread. From Twitter to Amazon, major urban businesses have rolled out a variety of different commuting policies as they contemplate going “back to the office.” Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Shopify have shifted to permanent work from home arrangements for some, and Google will be working remotely until at least summer 2021. Environmental researchers have warned that the unprecedented low-carbon levels due to stay-at-home orders could be followed by a surge in car usage as white-collar workers in densely populated urban areas attempt to evade public transportation. Climate scientists expect private vehicle usage to surpass pre-pandemic levels. In May 2020, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) issued an outright ban on public transportation , telling employees they had to take private cars to work. It was an appalling proposal, based on the false impression that public transit spreads coronavirus, and overturned just three weeks later. NYSE is still providing employees with reduced prices on parking , but the stock exchange hasn’t conducted any studies or investigations of what increased car usage might have on Lower Manhattan . Assuming the COVID vaccine eventually becomes widely available this spring or at least distributed at a pace more in line with global standards, employers and employees could have more freedom to set the terms of their return. Elsewhere, Bloomberg Media offers large reimbursements for commuting into work — up to $75 per day, or up to $1,500 in a given month. It’s a perk likely meant to encourage the use of private cars. Policies that favor driving to work over mass transit show a disregard for congestion, air quality and cities’ overall livability. If every New Yorker consistently used private cars to commute to work, the city would be unlivable. An expanding number of businesses, seeing no harm to their profitability from remote work, have arranged to switch to permanent work from home. Lilac Nachum, a professor of international business at Baruch College, told me in an interview that it’s the knowledge and innovation-based industries that actually have the least to gain from working from home permanently. While many components of these jobs are the most straightforward to do online and could remain remote, a significant amount of creativity and innovation is lost without face-to-face interaction. As Nachum notes, “what we’ve seen is that the knowledge economy has given a huge boom to the growth of cities. This interaction of people creates the necessary conditions for innovation, exchange of ideas, and creativity. So for those kinds of industries, I think that it is extremely important to get back to work.” Considering that even the knowledge-based industries that on the face of it work remotely need to bring people together, few industries can do well working entirely remotely. “I think we’re left with a small number of jobs that can effectively be implemented remotely, which means companies basically have to prepare, should prepare for returning to the office. Fortunately, the vaccine is just around the corner,” Nachum said. Indeed, the knowledge industry has long been aware of the benefits of sustained in-person collaboration. Pre-pandemic, tech companies, including Google and Facebook, developed plans to create onsite housing at their campuses. Merging offices and housing has been hailed by some as the ultimate perk, a new type of “factory town,” and a green solution to urban transportation problems by alleviating the burden of commuting. However, these new company towns have led to new issues and exacerbated inequality. Under the current status quo, large tech companies have a habit of taking over their immediate areas by driving housing up, spurring gentrification, driving out long-time residents, and increasing homelessness rates. This was the case in Seattle when Amazon moved its headquarters to the city with many of their workers living in close proximity and local businesses reliant on their more affluent workers’ patronage. Regardless of whether or not such company towns benefit the environment by cutting back on commutes, although fraught with other political problems, the issue is relatively moot since creating a company town is not an option for the vast majority of firms. By fall, most workers could be returning to traditional offices . Assuming the COVID vaccine eventually becomes widely available this spring or at least distributed at a pace more in line with global standards , employers and employees could have more freedom to set the terms of their return. This year, public transit utilization in New York City has dipped as low as 80 percent . Many of us are less than enthusiastic about resuming our old commutes by bus and subway. Even though mass transit creates far fewer emissions per individual per kilometer than cars, people think subways and buses are major carriers for the disease even though there is no evidence to support this. Cars cause congestion, increase commute times for all and lead to urban sprawl. Companies concerned with climate change could increase the appeal of transportation alternatives by developing new initiatives to discourage private vehicle use. Under this scenario, our badly under-used public transit might begin to come back from our fiscal deficit. Public, mass forms of high-density transportation are the future our climate relies on. Now more than ever, we need free, comfortable, and easily accessible public transit to help us recover from both this health crisis and the climate crisis. Pull Quote Assuming the COVID vaccine eventually becomes widely available this spring or at least distributed at a pace more in line with global standards, employers and employees could have more freedom to set the terms of their return. Topics Transportation & Mobility Social Justice Employee Engagement Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

Read the original post:
What’s in store for the future of commuting?

Tesla: the real environmental impact

January 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Since the introduction of the initial Tesla electric vehicle (EV), consumers have sought accurate information regarding the total carbon footprint of EVs as they compare to traditional internal combustion engines (ICEs). We know Elon Musk’s Tesla vehicles create less pollution out of the tailpipe, but what about those batteries? The truth is, direct comparisons are difficult to make due to the endless variables to take into account. But as more information about batteries and manufacturing becomes available, it is important to consider all of the factors to make the most sustainable decision when it comes to car ownership. Tesla’s messaging Some of Tesla’s claims over the years have amounted to little more than hype. There’s even been a dose of greenwashing in the creatively crafted claims regarding sustainable corporate practices. Still, Tesla is the undeniable leader in the innovation, production and style now associated with energy-efficient cars. So, how green is Tesla, and is owning one really a thoughtful consideration for the environment? Related: Go off the grid with a Tesla-powered adventure vehicle by Ready.Set.Van. Manufacturing impact Running a factory is resource-intensive. Reports vary regarding the carbon footprint of the actual product though. While the parts are different, it’s generally accepted that Tesla vehicle production is equivalent or less-consumptive than standard vehicle builds. From the beginning, Musk has spouted claims about the efficiency of Tesla plants, with the use of high-tech robots for precision and LED lighting to save energy as well as reliance on local renewable energy. The company claims to have earned a zero-waste certification at the Fremont plant, although there have been reports showcasing the company’s waste at this plant. As new plants are constructed from the ground up, they are built to rely on renewable energy sources. In addition, the company’s water reduction efforts are seen across the sales, service and delivery facilities. It has even implemented waterless car washes in some areas. While the company goal is to lead the way in sustainable practices, it is still hovering around progress rather than perfection. By comparison to standard manufacturing practices, however, Tesla’s conservation methods are welcome environmentally. Materials sourcing The main hit to the environment in regards to Tesla EV production is in the materials needed for the batteries. There have been deep contradictions between Tesla’s stated objectives to source raw materials from suppliers who ensure environmentally friendly and ethical processes and reports of a questionable supply chain. Over the years, there have been accusations of poor treatment of the Indigenous population surrounding a lithium mine in Argentina, a dirty source of graphite from China and cobalt mined under harsh conditions. Tesla responded by saying the supply chains are complex and the company is continuing to find ways to clean them up. The company stated, “Reliably determining the origin [of these materials] is a difficult task, but the due diligence practices required of our suppliers adds transparency to help us and our suppliers adhere to the responsible sourcing principles of our Code.” You can read the Tesla Supplier Code of Conduct and the Human Rights and Conflict Minerals Policy to better understand these goals. Lifespan Electric cars don’t rely on the same parts as a combustion engine, and overall EV components last longer. With this in mind, comparisons shouldn’t be made on a one-to-one basis. ICE vehicles will need to be replaced more often, doubling the impact of material sourcing, manufacturing and scrap waste . In short, a product that lasts longer produces less waste. Charging stations  One of the prevalent arguments regarding EVs is the fact that they charge using electrical power. That power is most often sourced from the local power grid, which can be composed of a variety of sources including the very fossil fuels electric cars aim to eliminate. While Musk has repeatedly claimed that Tesla charging stations are 100% powered by renewable energy, this statement from a company spokesperson is likely closer to the truth. “We aim for carbon neutrality, and where the market allows via wholesale power purchase, we source renewable energy , even though it is slightly more expensive. In Europe, the power for all our Supercharger stations is sourced by renewable energy. Continuing to convert our superchargers to solar power will push us further down that road.” To some degree, it’s out of Tesla’s hands when it comes to public electricity, including what the consumer uses once they get their car home. It’s up to each Tesla owner to invest in solar panels or subscribe to renewable energy sources through their utility provider. It’s important to note the combination of energy sources varies widely across the country. For example, Iowa relies on wind for around 40% of its energy production while West Virginia sources nearly 100% of its energy from coal. Therefore, even an electric vehicle can be petroleum-consumptive in areas with a heavy reliance on fossil fuels . While Tesla may not be able to count on complete reliance on renewable energy, it does own a solar power production company. This adds up to a carbon offset, which is a good thing. However, it shouldn’t be considered when measuring the carbon footprint from Tesla cars as a whole. Battery disposal Battery disposal is another hot topic with concerns over massive, and potentially toxic, waste. However, the newest generation of batteries, especially Tesla batteries aimed at eliminating cobalt altogether, are highly recyclable. Not only can 90% of the battery be recycled , but even after its usable life in a Tesla, the battery can be used for energy storage for another 20 years or so. In addition, batteries can be refurbished by replacing bad cells or removing good cells to use in another battery. Tesla’s appeal and innovation The bottom line is Tesla has propelled EV production ahead by leaps and bounds with its innovation and dedication to sustainable practices. Perhaps even more powerful is the sleek, appealing designs that excite buyers and continue to grow a customer base willing to now own an electric vehicle. It has been, and continues to be, a driving force for continued improvements across the industry and a catalyst that sparks individuals to drive into the future of electric vehicles. Both are a win for the planet. Via The Drive , Clean Technica and Slate Images via Unsplash

See the original post here:
Tesla: the real environmental impact

Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

January 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

A combination aviary and bird-watching platform in China’s Suzhou Taihu Lakeside National Wetland Park, this stunning conceptual design by Margot Krasojevi? Architecture utilizes piezoelectric energy to move parts of the structure, mimicking birds in flight. At the heart of the dome, a high tensile steel loom acts as a gallery for birds, while the primary structure is made from stainless steel spine beams that move and sway like feathers. Piezoelectric cells are connected to a motor that harnesses movement to produce an electrical current, making the entire structure self-sufficient. The cells then respond to the overall mechanical stress generated by the structure and create an electric charge, which in turn runs through a dichroic filtered electrochromic glass modifying the transparency and luminosity of the facade. Responding directly to the density of bird movement, the facade appears to “flutter” as the environment changes. Related: Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou Thanks to the reflective, fluttering facade, the structure appears to partially disappear into its wetland surroundings. The dome protects birds from flying into the glass cladding by projecting ultrasound signals from the surface. Extra electrical energy generated by the piezoelectric cells is used to control the dome’s temperature, humidity and building filtration, allowing the structure to essentially dictate its own ecosystem. The humidity is filtered and ecologically purified to be pumped back into the surrounding wetlands through the aviary’s dome.  Visitors are led into the wetlands and connected to the building entrance through a helical ramp that unfolds across the aviary. This hydraulic runway ramp glides along within the building, rather than touching the building envelope, to guide visitors as they walk among the birds. The ramp can lower and raise to take visitors to different heights within the interior; this can offer clearer views. The pile grid is anchored through concrete to enable it to rise and fall according to the substructure movement, all while maintaining equilibrium inside the aviary. + Margot Krasojevi? Architecture Images via Margot Krasojevi?

View post:
Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

Green-roofed home embraces valley views and daylight

January 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Green-roofed home embraces valley views and daylight

On the steep banks of the Dyje River in the Czech town of Znojmo, Brno-based architecture firm Kuba & Pila? architekti has completed the Family House in the River Valley, a contemporary, geothermal-powered home topped with a lush green roof. Set on a narrow, rectangular plot, the waterfront home complements its neighbors with its simple form, yet it stands out with a modern materials palette that includes a structure of reinforced concrete and steel clad in black aluminum sheets. Access to natural light and views toward the slope and the river largely dictated the design of the home. Completed after 9 years of design and construction, the Family House in the River Valley comprises three floors that face the Dyje River and one floor that faces the slope. The north-facing side of the home is topped with a sharply angled green roof that feels like an extension of the steep, grassy slope and culminates into a rising garden above the home. Related: Modular home in Delft boasts low-carbon timber build and a green roof Unlike the layout of a conventional home, the Family House in the River Valley places the living areas on the top floor and the bedrooms down below. “The living space benefits from the absence of partition, which creates two advantages,” the architects explained. “One, the sunlight floods the room from the southern side, from the garden through the glass wall in the dining area. Two, to the north, it offers impressive views of the valley. It is the beautiful views of the Dyje River valley and the opposite rocky slopes with important historical monuments of Znojmo that are the main strengths of this site.” The interior is kept minimalist so as not to detract from the beautiful landscape views. Large, aluminum-framed windows usher in these vistas and natural light. To create an indoor-outdoor experience, the architects connected the living space to an outdoor terrace and the garden on the south side, which can also be accessed via an outdoor staircase. + Kuba & Pila? architekti Photography by BoysPlayNice

Go here to read the rest:
Green-roofed home embraces valley views and daylight

D prefab glass cabin immerses you in nature while you work

December 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on D prefab glass cabin immerses you in nature while you work

In a world where remote work is becoming the norm, modular design studio ÖÖD is offering a sustainable solution to those who want to feel surrounded by nature without the distractions of a traditional home office. The company’s prefab glass cabins blend into their surroundings with mirrored walls and cost about $22,000. At the forefront of the design is, obviously, the glass , which is separated into modules to allow for easy transportation and installation in virtually any setting. The glass portions are attached to a smaller bench and facade made of timber so users have a dedicated space to be outside and smell the fresh air. The minimalist office provides 113 square feet of space to mitigate distractions while also allowing enough space for essentials like desks and storage. It’s essentially a blank canvas, so in the event that a home office is no longer needed, it can be easily repurposed as a guest room or a studio. Related: This serene family home is connected by glass hallways The company recommends a natural setting for the office so that the environment may be reflected and the office can blend into its surroundings with ease. It can just as easily be installed in a more urban area; because the mirrored walls are designed to reflect, the structure will take on the appearance of its surroundings. Perhaps the best part, the glass allows for whoever is inside to see out while keeping their privacy with the glass mirrors on the exterior. As reported by Dwell, the glass reflects 97% of direct sunlight so the natural light won’t produce a glare on computer screens, even if a desk is placed directly against the glass. The standard office cost of $22,114 doesn’t include transport costs, though the company is planning on offering it through Amazon in the future. ÖÖD has the ability to transport the office to the buyer’s preferred location in completed form, installing only the glass modules on the spot, or building the house completely onsite in the event that there is no access in the location for transportation. + ÖÖD House Via Dwell Images via ÖÖD House

View original here:
D prefab glass cabin immerses you in nature while you work

2020 was the year that…

December 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on 2020 was the year that…

2020 was the year that… Joel Makower Mon, 12/28/2020 – 02:11 It was a very long year. True, just 366 days (it was a leap year, after all), each one, I’m told, containing only the standard 24 hours. But it was much, much longer than that. Remember 2019? Neither do I. To recall some of the key developments, as I have done each December for more than a decade, I’ve plumbed the nearly 1,300 stories, columns and analyses we’ve published on GreenBiz.com since the dawn of 2020 — a.k.a. the beforetime — accentuating the positive, seeking signs of progress and hope. We need such reminders to get us through these challenging times. Here, in no particular order, are five storylines that I found encouraging during the 12 months just ending. And, perhaps, to set us on a more bullish course for 2021. Here, in no particular order, are five storylines that I found encouraging during the 12 months just ending. (All links are to stories published on GreenBiz.com during 2020.) What would you add to the list? 1. Companies accelerated the route to sustainable mobility The rise of electric vehicles has been a perennial story for nearly a decade, but 2020 saw the pace of change accelerate. Indeed, in January, my colleague Katie Fehrenbacher predicted that 2020 would be a key year for EVs. She was right. Both the private and public sectors delivered big wins for the electrification of transportation. California’s governor signed a history-making executive order , banning sales of new gas-powered cars within 15 years. Britain upped the ante , with a similar ban but within a decade, helped by McDonald’s plan to install EV chargers at its UK drive-thru restaurants. On the supply side, General Motors and Volkswagen planned major EV rollouts. Ultimately, how fast these markets rev up depends on demand from fleet buyers. Amazon continued its aggressive EV buying plans , as did both Walmart and IKEA . One reason for all this: Batteries continue their journey down the price-experience curve, where increased demand lowers prices, further pumping up demand. New technologies are helping, many still in early stages . Some are specifically geared toward truck and bus fleets , an indication that the markets for medium- and heavy-duty EVs are about to kick into high gear . 2. Sustainable fashion became material Fashion is another long-simmering environmental story that has finally reached a boiling point. The issues are many, from the resources needed to grow cotton or produce synthetic fabrics, usually from petroleum feedstocks, to the waste that ends up in landfills, especially for inexpensive and trendy clothing items that often have a short useful life. In 2020, several new developments help put sustainability in fashion. For example, the nonprofit Textile Exchange  launched a Material Change Index , enabling manufacturers to integrate a preferred fiber and materials strategy into their products. It also  launched a Corporate Fiber and Materials Benchmark to help the fashion and textile industry take action on biodiversity. Circular models made the rounds, starting with the design department, where a lot of negative environmental and social impacts are baked into garments, usually unwittingly. Adidas and H&M Group  teamed up for a project to recycle old garments and fibers into new items for major brands. German sportswear company adidas committed to using only recycled polyester across its supply chain by 2024. Markets for secondhand clothing racked up sales, including recommerce , where companies sell their own reclaimed and refurbished goods back to customers. In the wings:  startups touting a new generation of textiles, production methods and business models, suggesting there are a lot more innovations in store. 3. Forestry took root on the balance sheet Saving and planting trees has been a cornerstone of environmental action pretty much since Day One. (Hence, the often-epithetic moniker “treehugger.”) And pressing companies to eliminate deforestation in their supply chains has long been an activist focus. Now, companies themselves are seeing the business benefits of proactive forestry policies. First, there’s risk mitigation — ensuring “a company’s ability to sell products into a global supply chain,” as a BlackRock executive put it . It’s not just the climate impacts of concern to investors. Deforestation and human rights abuses often go hand-in-hand — “there’s almost a direct correlation,” said another investor — an additional layer of risk for companies from neglecting forests and those who live and work there. And then there’s the opportunity for companies to offset their emissions, since trees are a natural climate solution that can help draw down greenhouse gases, especially firms adopting net-zero commitments (see below). Microsoft , JetBlue and Royal Dutch Shell are among those seeking to offset a portion of their carbon footprint by investing in forest protection and reforestation. Finally, there are the innovators — entrepreneurs who see gold in all that green. Silicon Valley venture capitalists are beginning to branch out into forestry-related startups — companies such as SilviaTerra and Pachama that provide enabling technologies to facilitate forestry projects. These entrepreneurs likely saw opportunity in the Trillion Trees initiative launched in early 2020. Of course, success requires stopping deforestation in the first place, especially in tropical rainforests. And that remains a problem. Half of the companies most reliant on key commodities that have a negative impact on forests — palm oil, soy, beef, leather, timber, and pulp and paper — don’t have a publicly stated policy on deforestation, according to one report . Still, some firms are making progress. Mars, for example, announced that its palm oil — used in food and pet care products — is now deforestation-free after shrinking the number of mills it works with from 1,500 to a few hundred, a clear-cut sign that progress is possible. 4. Food equity showed up on the menu For all the talk about Big Ag and Big Food, there’s a growing recognition of the smaller players in the food chain, from farmers and producers to those who prepare and serve meals. And, of course, the 821 million or so humans who face food insecurity, according to the United Nations. And that stat was from 2018, long before this year’s pandemic and global recession created millions more hungry bellies. With restaurants closed and other foodservice operations curtailed, one lingering question is what the world’s largest food companies are doing to help their suppliers and other partners. “Retailers and brands are recognizing that if they don’t step in to help their producers and distributors, the links holding together those supply chains may crack in ways that aren’t easily repaired,” my colleague Elsa Wenzel reported back in June. Collecting uneaten food or unsellable produce for distribution to those in need is one activity that accelerated during the pandemic . A newish concept, “upcycled food” — goods that “use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment” — is being promoted by a nonprofit consortium called the Upcycled Food Association. Increased concern for farmers is also on the menu. Fair Trade certified crops continue to rise , ensuring a living wage for many smallholder farmers, and there’s growing interest in supporting Indigenous farmers , who have long practiced regenerative techniques. The Regenerative Organic Alliance developed a standard to support farmers who promote soil health. All this will require making capital and assistance available to growers around the world, including the data and analytics that increasingly are core to 21st-century farming. And to do this quickly, before the ravages of a changing climate create further hardships for both food producers and consumers around the world. 5. Net-zero commitments found infinite potential And finally, zero — perhaps a fitting coda to a year that boasts two of them in its name. What began just a couple years ago blossomed into a full-on movement as the number of net-zero commitments doubled in less than a year . The list of companies making such commitments cut across sectors and international borders, among them BP , Delta , Facebook , HSBC , Nestlé , Walmart , even Rolls Royce . Verizon, Indian IT services giant Infosys and British consumer goods brand Reckitt Benckiser became the first global companies to join Amazon’s Climate Pledge initiative , committing to reach “carbon neutrality” by 2040. Some went further. Microsoft said it would become “carbon negative” within a decade , with a stretch goal to remove all the carbon it has emitted since it was founded in 1975. The travel-intensive strategy firm BCG said it aspires to be “climate positive” by removing more carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere than it emits. But getting to zero — or neutral or positive or some other goal — is not without controversy. As one report noted , net-zero commitments vary widely in terms of their metrics and transparency, among other things. That is, no single standard governs the way net-zero is defined or measured, or how it should be communicated. As such, net-zero could soon be in the crosshairs of activists eager to point out corporate greenwash. Help could be on the way. In September, the Science Based Targets initiative unveiled plans to develop a global standard for corporate net-zero goals, including the role of carbon offsets, a practice whose massive expansion is itself problematic and controversial . How it gets resolved will be an enduring storyline for 2021 and beyond. There’s more Those were hardly the only 2020 storylines of note. There was a significant uptick of Wall Street interest in  environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting … a surge of attention by companies to  environmental justice … the continued rise and empowerment of  corporate sustainability professionals . Oh, and the advent of a new U.S. presidential administration that  promises to reengage with business and the global community on addressing the climate crisis. That is to say, 2020 wasn’t all about the pandemic, recession and you-know-who. If that’s not enough, here — in alphabetical order by company — are a baker’s dozen other hopeful headlines from the past 12 months: How Apple aims to lead on environment and equity Bank of America CEO: Each public company needs to reach carbon zero BP announces net-zero by 2050 ambition Delta lifts off with $1 billion pledge to become carbon neutral Inside Eastman’s moonshot goal for endlessly circular plastics General Mills, Danone dig deeper into regenerative agriculture with incentives, funding HSBC invests in world’s first ‘reef credit’ system IKEA will buy back used furniture in stand against ‘excessive consumption’ Microsoft is building a ‘Planetary Computer’ to protect biodiversity Morgan Stanley will measure CO2 impact of loans and investments How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040 I invite you to  follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter,  GreenBuzz , and listen to  GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote Here, in no particular order, are five storylines that I found encouraging during the 12 months just ending. Topics Leadership Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Group

View post:
2020 was the year that…

The high environmental cost of popular holiday gifts

December 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on The high environmental cost of popular holiday gifts

As we scramble around gathering up last-minute Christmas gifts, we often worry more about hurting somebody’s feelings if we don’t get them something compared to how much we consider that gift’s impact on the environment. But the societal pressure of all this gift-giving has many bad consequences for the planet. The top 10 types of Christmas gifts given in the U.K., in order, are: clothes and shoes, food and drink, health and beauty products, toys and games, books, jewelry, vouchers, music, movies and computers. Each of these items has its impact on the environment. Related: 10 eco-friendly holiday gift ideas for friends Pajamas are one of the most popular holiday presents. Many gift-givers and recipients would be shocked to find out that those cute cotton pajamas took 20,000 liters of water to produce — enough water to keep a U.K. household of two running for 2.5 months. Then there’s the pesticides . While cotton only represents 2.4% of the world’s croplands, about 24% of the world’s insecticides and 11% of pesticides are used for growing this crop. About half of the usable cotton ends up as waste product. Then, consider health and beauty products. Half a million animals die every year in makeup and toiletry tests . When it comes to packaging, those little plastic containers can take a millennium to break down. So what are we to do if we don’t want to be the Grinch around Christmas? Be a little choosier. Think of a gift the recipient will actually use, preferably for a long time. When possible, buy secondhand. Do a little research — at least read the labels or look at the company website — to ensure that ingredients are vegan and sustainably sourced. If this is too much work, shop where somebody else has already done the research for you, such as Shop Like You Give a Damn . Maybe it’s too late this year, and your presents are already wrapped and under the Christmas tree, or you already exchanged them at Hanukkah or on the solstice. But there’s always next year, and the many holidays, birthdays and other occasions in between. Each gift is a choice; choose wisely. Image via Kari Shea

Read the original post: 
The high environmental cost of popular holiday gifts

Bradley Plaza Green Alley: a new park for an old LA neighborhood

December 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Bradley Plaza Green Alley: a new park for an old LA neighborhood

As the need for safe outdoor space is more pressing than ever, the Bradley Plaza Green Alley project has opened a new community park in an old industrial neighborhood of Los Angeles. What was once an alley surrounded by factories in Pacoima is now a vibrant space that features shade trees, ADA-accessible amenities and a stormwater management system. Project partners included LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN), the Department of Public Works, Pacoima Beautiful, The Trust for Public Land and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. “I’m proud of our collaboration to deliver much-needed green space in Pacoima,” Rodriguez said. “This project showcases how we can design with both the community and environment in mind. Bradley Plaza and Green Alley brings together beautiful community gathering spaces, and engineering that will improve water quality and reduce local flooding during rainstorms. This effort will have long-term impacts and improve the quality of life in Pacoima.” Related: Floating islands bring a new type of public park to Copenhagen Planners expect Bradley Plaza Green Alley to improve the lives of many of the 8,500 residents who live within a 10-minute walk of the space. The alley is now a shared street that slows vehicles down while making room for walking and other outdoor activities. Bradley Plaza is a smaller part of the alley that is closed to vehicular traffic. The plaza features a shade structure, reclaimed wooden seating, a nature classroom and outdoor fitness equipment. Planners hope that all residents, especially children and families, will make use of this space. Builders emphasized the importance of giving community members a say in the finished space. “From the beginning of the project, local community members were engaged in the design process,” said Veronica Padilla, executive director of Pacoima Beautiful, “providing feedback on the plants and trees that now line the alleyway to the fitness equipment and benches installed in the Plaza.” They especially sought input from the Fernandeño Tataviam tribe, the former owners of this land, and incorporated the tribe’s language and art into the final project. In addition to once being an unsightly industrial alley, the site has had a problem with dirty stormwater, which often flooded the neighborhood. Now, thanks in part to landscape architects Rios Clementi Hale Studios, stormwater will drain into a series of planters, eventually releasing it into a subsurface infiltration trench. Drought-tolerant, low-water vegetation will filter the water enough so that it will replenish, rather than harm, the groundwater aquifer. The project relied on the expertise of the engineering firm Arup for stormwater management , as well as lighting design, sustainability consulting and other important aspects. “This is exactly the type of project LASAN loves to pursue and has cultivated a unique expertise in,” said Enrique C. Zaldivar, director and general manager of LASAN. “The important and often unseen work that stormwater infrastructure does in our communities , reclaiming water and preventing flooding, can and should be paired whenever possible with other complete street projects that beautify neighborhoods and provide green space for residents.” + Arup Via Informed Infrastructure Images via the Trust for Public Land

See the rest here: 
Bradley Plaza Green Alley: a new park for an old LA neighborhood

Our favorite environmental TikTok channels

December 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Our favorite environmental TikTok channels

TikTokers aren’t just young, fashionable and good at lip-synching and skits. More and more users of the social media platform are on a campaign to save the world. Originally called music.ly and used for sharing user-generated music videos, the platform is now popular with people sharing sustainability tips, promoting veganism and talking about their concerns for the future of the planet. TikTok now has about 850 million active users. Eco-themed hashtags like “moss”, “ biodiversity ”, “zero waste” and “sustainable fashion” have gained millions of views. With so many channels and hashtags on the TikTok app, it can be hard to sift through the noise to find the eco-friendly content. Here are a few of our favorite environmental TikTok channels to keep on your radar. Related: 14 apps to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle @eco_tok who else is on team anti-grass lawns? creator: @caseyc0w #antigrasslawntiktok #environment #grass ? original sound – Kaitlyn eco_tok The environmental collective EcoTok has become very popular on TikTok. EcoTok was co-founded by 27-year-old Philip Aiken, whose special interest is  soil  restoration. During lockdown he started the collective with other young creators. “I see it as like planting seeds, and hopefully that germinates and that person wants to learn more,” Aiken said . His fans constantly message him about sustainability and gardening. Aiken is U.S.-based but earned a master’s degree in renewable energy in New Zealand. “It’s been cool being able to influence the younger generation in that way,” Aiken said. @iamtabithabrown Vegan shrimp for the lunch win!!! #tabithabrown #veganshrimp ? original sound – Tabitha Brown iamtabithabrown Tabitha Brown is an actor who has been in the spotlight for years but became a TikTok sensation this year for her vegan-focused videos. Her channel features funny and inspirational messages and, of course, mouth-watering vegan dishes that you’ll want to whip up in your own kitchen. @diysustainability #upcycle #diy #tshirtupcycle #sustainability #diysustainability #lesswaste #fyp ? Ashes – Stellar diysustainability DIY Sustainability’s 32.9K followers tune in to find entertaining and easy projects to do at home with old stuff. Have you ever wanted to learn to make a haunted house out of old moving boxes? Or to learn to weave baskets out of plastic yarn? Does your guinea pig yearn for new toys made out of old toilet paper rollers? This is the TikTok channel for you. @last20pavement Almost all glass materials can be infinitely recycled🙌 #doyourpart #sustainability #recycle #environment ? Deep End – Fousheé last20pavement The young Canadian behind last20pavement posts jokes and environmental raps, like: “I’m an environmentalist, but I do get pissed, when people walk around the Earth like they don’t give a shit. I’ve got my reusables. Aren’t they pretty neat? Not to flex, but I also don’t eat any meat.” This is a good channel to follow if you’re interested in veganism and recycling . @mvvvc I want a 3D printed building so bad #engineering #3dprinting #concrete #civilengineer #earth #soil ? Heart Of Glass (Live from the iHeart Festival) – Miley Cyrus mvvvc This civil and structural engineer contemplates alternative building materials, high-speed rail, green roofs , politics and the occasional engineering joke. Mvvvc also shows off some incredible examples of architecture around the world. @vismcandleco Someone keeps leaving empty Tito’s Vodka handles around 🤷🏽‍♂️, so let’s UPCYCLE! #candlemaking #upcycle #reuse #recycle #sustainability #dranks #me ? Woohoo – Kirsten Collins jtdrbeauty Jacob Tomás del Rosa is a proud candle enthusiast and upcycler who finds ways to turn many surprising things into candles. If you’re about to throw your old vodka bottles into the recycling, hold on. In a one-minute video, del Rosa will show you how to turn that bottle into a chartreuse green candle instead. You’ll also find helpful tips for safely sanding wine bottles into soft candle holder rims without breathing in tiny pieces of glass. @ethica.clothing Quit Fast Fashion, Join the Revolution #thrift #upcycle #sustainable #ethicalfashion #ethicalfashionbrand #sustainablefashion #secondhand ? Lovely Day – Bill Withers ethica.clothing This is a TikTok channel for the online store Ethica Thrift . The account’s 182K followers eagerly await the next drop of seasonally appropriate, upcycled and thrifted clothes in addition to videos covering environmental facts. @brightly.eco What are some bedroom swaps you’ve made? #ecofriendly #ecofriendlyproducts #zerowaste #zerowasteliving #antiquestore #thrifting #GrowUpWithMe #bedroom ? The Journey – Sol Rising brightly.eco Learn about everything from the benefits of earthships to how to live a zero-waste lifestyle via the brightly.eco channel . We love the Old Me, New Me series, which features simple, affordable (even free!) swaps you can make at home to be more sustainable. @epicgardening pro seed starting tip #garden #tiktokpartner #learnontiktok ? Ice Dance (From “Edward Scissorhands”) – Ashton Gleckman epicgardening Looking for garden inspiration? Hoping to learn more about starting seeds and composting? Check out epicgardening , a verified TikTok account that offers plenty of gardening advice using a real-life backyard garden influenced by the video game Stardew Valley. Image via Kon Karampelas

See more here:
Our favorite environmental TikTok channels

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 2851 access attempts in the last 7 days.