Greenwashing: Untruth in Advertising

January 20, 2021 by  
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Since the first market sellers shouted out the merits of … The post Greenwashing: Untruth in Advertising appeared first on Earth 911.

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How My Green Lab is cleaning up R&D

January 19, 2021 by  
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How My Green Lab is cleaning up R&D Elsa Wenzel Tue, 01/19/2021 – 00:30 Solutions to the world’s biggest problems, including climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, are studied in research laboratories across the globe. But as sterile as those labs may appear, they have a dirty secret: immense carbon footprints. Labs burn through five to 10 times more energy per square foot than offices, an impact that may be magnified tenfold for clean rooms and other specialized facilities. For instance, 44 percent of the energy use of Harvard University is derived from its laboratories, which take up less than a quarter of campus space. Labs also send massive amounts of water down the drain and discard possibly billions of pounds of single-use plastics every year. A unifying force is needed that creates standards and fosters a space for strategies and best practices, according to James Connelly. That’s what he wants to deliver as the new CEO of My Green Lab, which works with life sciences leaders including AstraZeneca and Agilent. “It’s sort of a surprising fact how much energy and water and materials that laboratory spaces consume,” Connelly said. “It’s been ignored by the green building world a little bit because it’s difficult to address. So the unique aspect of what My Green Lab does is, it was created by scientists, for scientists to help work on behavior change and a transformation of how the labs are actually operated and how science and research is performed.” We’re seeing an acceleration of interest and excitement about sustainability through the pandemic, an overall awakening of the life science industry to sustainability. At universities and corporations alike, addressing emissions and waste in labs can significantly drive down costs and further sustainability commitments. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if half of America’s labs shaved off 30 percent of their energy use, the total savings would be equivalent to the annual energy use of 840,000 homes.  “My Green Lab is a brilliant project because it reaches out to change behavior and mindset of scientists in the lab,” said Pernilla Sörme, risk management lead in global safety, health and environment at AstraZeneca, which expanded Green Lab Certification to seven sites across its global portfolio. The nonprofit is the first consolidated effort to educate researchers about sustainability in laboratory operations. Its Green Lab Certification already has labeled more than 400 labs. Last year, the Colorado Department of Agriculture became the first government lab to reach “green,” the highest of five levels. If that sounds similar to green building standards, such as LEED, that’s by design: My Green Lab is gunning to become the leading sustainability advocacy group in the life sciences, globally. Connelly comes to the growing organization by way of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), which he helped expand into the world’s leading proponent of regenerative, healthy and equitable building design —  managing its Green Building Challenge and Living Product Challenge before serving as VP of projects and strategic growth. Projects and progress My Green Lab’s 15 partners and sponsors include biotech giant Genentech, MilliporeSigma and USA Scientific. The nonprofit also has teamed up with the EPA to bring the Department of Energy’s Energy Star label to ultra-low temperature freezers used for COVID-19 vaccines, applied first to equipment sold by Stirling Ultracold, another sponsor of My Green Lab. My Green Lab also runs the ACT “eco-nutrition” label for lab equipment. (ACT stands for Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency). It was created to help procurement officials and scientists with purchasing. The organization is working directly with manufacturers, including scientific instruments maker Thermo Fisher, to set benchmarks on products and packaging design. The label rates the sustainability of products consumed in laboratories including beakers, pipettes, bottles and equipment such as autoclaves and chemicals. The ratings represent data from the GreenScreen safer chemicals benchmark as well as details on packaging and product handling at the end of life. Last April, diagnostics equipment leader Agilent signed up as a My Green Lab sponsor and also to have its instruments certified for ACT. “We chose to work with My Green Lab because, like them, we understand the importance of building a more sustainable scientific industry,” said Darlene Solomon, Agilent’s chief technology officer and senior vice president. “In many cases, product developments in support of sustainability also reduce laboratory risk. As we see the importance and value that our customers place on sustainability growing, the ACT instrument labels from My Green Lab will play a major role in helping those customers to make more informed, sustainable decisions for their analytical laboratory.” The number of standalone lab-greening efforts has grown since Harvard-trained neuroscientist Allison Paradise created My Green Lab in 2013, from about 10 to 90 groups that engage tens of thousands of scientists around the world. “We’re seeing an acceleration of interest and excitement about sustainability through the pandemic, and that represents the general overall awakening and awareness of the life science industry to sustainability that My Green Lab is really helping to catalyze,” Connelly said. “It’s important because it’s a growth industry that’s going to be incredibly important to our future as a society, and to managing things like COVID or in the future other diseases that may come down the pipeline.” My Green Lab is a brilliant project because it reaches out to change behavior and mindset of scientists in the lab. Through certification and education programs, My Green Lab enlists scientists and facilities professionals to clean up the carbon impact of labs. Lately, the group has been publicizing ways to green the cold chain for COVID-19 vaccines , which require sub-North-Pole temperatures. Its Laboratory Freezer Challenge, entering its fifth year, has gotten professionals from hundreds of labs to reduce the energy consumption of their deep freezers. Higher efficiency energy systems in the green building industry don’t address the “guts” inside a lab that really drive energy consumption, Connelly noted. “That’s something I’m really excited about, to dive in deeply and see how quickly we can make an impact on these types of operations in buildings that have such a dramatic impact on climate change.” And because the higher-level sustainability goals of many organizations still haven’t moved down into their R&D labs, that means plenty of low-hanging fruit for scientists and their colleagues to pluck.  Noted energy hogs inside labs include ultra-low temperature freezers — which can eat up as much energy as a house — and chemical fume hoods for ventilation. The University of Glasgow’s Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation blames 42 percent of its energy consumption on centrifuges alone. In many cases, product developments in support of sustainability also reduce laboratory risk. As for the overuse of single-use plastics, the University of Exeter estimated that academic researchers produced plastic waste equivalent to 5.7 million two-liter soda bottles each year.  Thankfully, Connelly has seen more companies thinking through how to change the supply chain of plastics, produce them in a more sustainable way, figure out ways to reuse or recycle them in laboratories, and change the way lab professionals manage plastics. “There’s a ton of innovation happening,” he said. Based on case studies, My Green Lab estimates that participants in its Green Lab Certification can achieve reductions of 30 percent in energy use, 50 percent in water use and 10 percent in waste. AstraZeneca AstraZeneca was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to pursue Green Lab Certification at multiple sites, starting about two years ago. The company already had achieved LEED certifications in America and ISO 14 001 certification in Europe, and its R&D site leaders found a global strategy to steer sustainability in My Green Lab. Reducing waste and energy in its labs aids AstraZeneca’s sustainability targets, issued a year ago, of zero carbon emissions by 2025 and negative carbon emissions by 2030 across its value chain. That includes moving toward 100 percent renewables and a fully electric fleet. The Green Lab Certification has created a framework and a new way of working that becomes second-nature for AstraZeneca’s scientists, Sörme said. “You start thinking, do I actually need to use a high-grade solvent or can I use a low-grade solvent that’s more environmentally friendly?” And scientists can share ideas across the global sites, which is driving innovation in product development as well as employee engagement. “We also have a lot of fun activities,” she said. “For instance, we got our scientists in the U.K., because they love doing research, to do a bit of an inventory. They did ‘a day in the lab’ to find out how much they used plastic-wise. That’s the state we want to be at when people come up with ideas on their own and want to share that.” Each AstraZeneca lab site has a green team with scientists, facility managers, health and safety managers and procurement professionals. A survey kicks off the Green Lab Certification process, reaching out to every scientist, not just key leaders. There’s a lot of best-practice sharing on novel ideas, such as for recycling lab gloves and reducing water use, Sörme noted. A lab in Boston might share solutions for a site in Cambridge, U.K., to adapt locally. Quick-win practices have included changing freezer filters annually and installing LED lights. AstraZeneca in 2019 credited Green Lab with helping it reach a 97 percent recycling rate of biological waste at a facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and sparking the recycling of tens of thousands of plastic centrifuge tubes and serological pipets in Cambridge. The company is exploring how to raise the temperature of ultra-low temperature freezers from minus-80 to minus-70 degrees Celsius to achieve significant energy savings. In a separate effort, AstraZeneca was a winner in the 2020 Freezer Challenge run by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories. Systemic issues My Green Lab’s intention to address systemic issues by creating an ecosystem of programs echoes the approach taken by the ILFI, which was initially considered aspirational by many in the mainstream building establishment yet has been embraced by the likes of Microsoft and Google and making headway in Asia and Europe. Connelly hopes to see a similar growth trajectory at My Green Lab, which has an ambassador program and accreditation program in development. It’s worth noting that ILFI was an early advocate of identifying social equity as a root cause behind environmental problems, releasing its JUST Label behind building products in 2014, following its Declare Program in 2012 targeting “red list” chemicals of concern in building products. “We want to start driving equity into our program and elevating it to the same position as efficiency and waste reduction and water reduction,” Connelly said of My Green Lab. Pull Quote We’re seeing an acceleration of interest and excitement about sustainability through the pandemic, an overall awakening of the life science industry to sustainability. My Green Lab is a brilliant project because it reaches out to change behavior and mindset of scientists in the lab. In many cases, product developments in support of sustainability also reduce laboratory risk. Topics Chemicals & Toxics Eco-Design COVID-19 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off My Green Lab is helping scientists address the massive energy costs of running high-tech labs. Shutterstock Choksawatdikorn Close Authorship

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The year ahead for water: The Roaring ’20s and creative destruction

January 7, 2021 by  
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The year ahead for water: The Roaring ’20s and creative destruction Will Sarni Thu, 01/07/2021 – 01:00 A recent issue of the Economist featured an article titled ” The Plague Year: The Year When Everything Changed ” (subscription required). Few will be surprised by this title. However, aside from the COVID-19 reflections, the article provides insights about lessons learned from several events from the early part of the last century. The article explains, “The horrors of the first world war and the ‘Spanish Flu’ were followed by the Roaring Twenties, which can be characterized by risk-taking social, industrial and artistic novelty.” In the U.S., Warren Harding built his 2020 campaign around “normalcy.” What unfolded was not a return to normal. According to the Economist, the survivors of the Spanish Flu and the first world war left survivors with “an appetite to live the 1920s at speed.” While making predictions for 2021 would be a fool’s errand, I am willing to place a bet that our view of water, including the more traditional view of the water sector — think utilities, solutions providers, NGOs — will not return to normal. And, frankly, we shouldn’t go back. The water sector from a technology, business model and funding perspective will be transformed, driven by lessons learned from the pandemic but also due to the natural rhythm of “creative destruction.” 2021 and creative destruction I believe this is the year where creative destruction will transform the water sector and our view of water. In the early 20th century, economist Joseph Schumpeter described the dynamic pattern in which innovative entrepreneurs unseat established firms through a process he called “creative destruction.” According to Schumpeter, and discussed in detail in ” The Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction ,” the entrepreneur not only creates invention but also creates competition from a new commodity, new technology, new source of supply and a new type of organization. The entrepreneur creates competition, “which commands a decisive cost or quality advantage and which strikes not at the margins of the profits and the outputs of the existing firms but at their foundations and their very lives.” This innovation propels the economy with “gales of creative destruction,” which “incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” Schumpeter’s view of creative destruction was applied to the emerging trend of sustainability in 1999 by Stuart L. Hart and Mark B. Milstein in their article, ” Global Sustainability and the Creative Destruction of Industries.” This is the article that got me curious about the cycles of creative destruction and its relevance to the water sector. For me, the key point from Hart and Milstein is that with technological innovation there is a dramatic transformation in institutions and society. The technology innovation — and, in turn transformation in institutions and in society — create profound challenges to incumbent businesses. Historically, these incumbents (the installed base) “have not been successful in building the capabilities needed to secure a position in the new competitive landscape.” One additional point about disruption, a term used frequently without distinction from innovation. Disruptive innovation “describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge the incumbent business.” Innovative companies disrupt incumbents by successfully gaining a foothold by delivering functionality frequently at a lower price while incumbents chase higher profitability in more demanding segments and tend not to respond effectively.   Advancing the water sector with disruptive innovation What does creative destruction and disruptive innovation mean for the water sector? I believe it will, in general, be the democratization of water. It will be an “end run” around the public sector, infrastructure and traditional financing of innovations to deliver universal and equitable access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. The creative destruction of water will include real-time and actionable information on water quantity and quality and increased access to capital to scale innovative solutions. A few examples of disruptive innovations we might anticipate for 2021 and this decade include: Digital technologies such as earth observation systems (satellite data analytics) for real-time water quality and quantity evaluations for watersheds, source water and asset management; real-time water quality monitoring at the tap; and artificial intelligence, inexpensive sensors and virtual reality/augmented reality applications to improve the management of utility and industrial assets and resource use Innovative business models and financing such as water as a service for outsourcing water conservation and treatment; or crowdfunding startups, projects and programs to supplement or serve as an alternative to traditional sources of investment capital Democratizing access to safe drinking water such as air moisture capture Decentralizing water treatment and reuse systems at the residential and community scale The water sector is poised to undergo a “gale of creative destruction” to a large degree by the pandemic. The accelerated transition to using digital technologies is also an enabling tool, in addition to providing readily accessible actionable information to the general population. I believe we are now entering the Roaring ’20s for water. Topics Water Efficiency & Conservation Innovation Featured Column Liquid Assets 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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The year ahead for water: The Roaring ’20s and creative destruction

Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Bangkoks Mega Park reimagines mega-malls as green community hubs

December 18, 2020 by  
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Thai architecture firm Architectkidd has flipped the script on the typical Southeast Asian shopping mall with its completion of Mega Park, a nature-focused retail connection in Bangkok. Designed to connect the Megabangna shopping mall with a future mixed-use development, Mega Park was created to give the closed-off mega-mall a more “extroverted” character by encouraging visitors to go outdoors to enjoy a richly programmed public park that features a nature walk, a tree top walk and even an amphitheater. Mega Park’s white galvanized steel column structure can also double as a “green scaffold” for supporting vertical vegetation. Completed in 2019, the Mega Park is the newest large-scale addition to the Megabangna, the first low-rise super regional mall in Southeast Asia that was completed over a decade ago. Mega Park connects to the shopping mall with a steel elevated pathway inspired by the local footbridges and pedestrian pathways found across Bangkok . The galvanized steel columns, which measure 20 centimeters by 20 centimeters, are spaced a meter apart to provide sufficient support for the walkways, canopies and programming while allowing for generous views toward the lush, landscaped grounds. Related: Asia’s largest organic rooftop farm can grow 20 tons of food annually Universal design ramps are integrated throughout the park for a seamless transition between the skywalk and ground-level circulation. The ground-level circulation takes the shape of a winding red path that weaves through a variety of garden spaces planted with native tropical species, such as ironwood. Perennial plants provide food and habitat for local pollinators as well. “It has been over 10 years since the original shopping center was built housing the first IKEA in Thailand ,” the architects said. “Since then the retail and urban environment in South East Asia have evolved significantly. Architectkidd’s design brings a vision of change to the shopping center model as well as an opportunity to experiment with new approaches that combine the commercial with community and the public.”  + Architectkidd Photography by WWorkspace, Ketsiree Wongwan and Panoramic Studio via Architectkidd

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3 big trends headlining a tumultuous year in food

December 11, 2020 by  
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3 big trends headlining a tumultuous year in food Jim Giles Fri, 12/11/2020 – 01:45 I’m going to try to make sense of this tumultuous year, starting with three trends from the past 12 months that I see as key to the immediate future of food. 1. An insane year for alternative proteins The trend: By Dec. 1, venture capitalists invested a whopping $1.5 billion in alternative proteins during 2020, according to the latest data from the Good Food Institute . That money — close to double the 2019 total — is making the industry increasingly visible. At the start of the year, the Impossible Burger was available in around 150 stores — now you can find it in more than 15,000. Newer alt proteins are also coming. Just last week, Singapore became the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown meat . And while the field may not need further incentives, it got one anyway: This week, the XPRIZE Foundation announced a new $15 million competition focused on chicken and fish alternatives .  The twist: Moving fast means breaking things. I see two bumps in the road. First, alternatives have a tiny market share because animal meat is cheap and, for now, tastes better. Consumption of animal products should and will decrease, but many alt protein brands and startups will disappear before that happens. The second challenge was summed up by the French ag minister’s response to the news from Singapore : “Meat comes from life, not from laboratories. Count on me so that in France, meat remains natural and never artificial!” I’d bet on seeing more of a backlash against alt proteins. The question is whether it will dent the industry’s trajectory. My take: The minister should visit a concentrated animal feeding operation and explain why he describes what happens there as “natural.” 2. How committed is your company? The trend: Where do we start? How about June, when Unilever committed to zeroing-out emissions from all its products by 2039 ? Or last week, when Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, said it would spend  $3.6 billion over the next five years as it moves toward a 2050 net-zero target? Or back in March at Horizon Organic, a U.S. dairy brand that committed to going carbon-negative by 2025 ? Those are just the first three that come to mind in a bumper year for target-setting. The twist: What’s the rest of the industry doing? Far less, in many cases. When experts at CDP, a nonprofit that tracks sustainability commitments, surveyed 479 food and ag companies , only 75 reported having emissions commitments in line with the Paris Agreement. The situation is worse for deforestation. Around half of companies that source soy told CDP that they can track their purchases to the country of origin and no further. This means that when it comes to Brazil and other forest nations, most food companies are blind as to whether their soy comes from newly cleared land. My take: I’m going for glass half-full, at least on emissions. The industry is way behind where it should be, but every company that sets a meaningful target heaps a little more pressure on those that haven’t. 3. The rush for regenerative ag  The trend: Another area where a flood of new initiatives in 2020 made it challenging to keep up. Big industry names such as Bayer and Cargill said they would help farmers transition to regenerative methods, and big names from the wider corporate world — JPMorgan Chase and IBM, for instance — bought some of the first carbon credits from Indigo Carbon, an soil offsets marketplace. Nori, an Indigo competitor, closed a $4 million funding round . Another disruptive company, Farmers Business Network, launched a service designed to help farmers earn a premium from regeneratively farmed grain . Again, those are just the first examples that come to mind. The twist: No one disputes that these efforts will be good for soil health. But do regenerative methods sequester as much carbon as advocates claim? Some prominent experts think not. In May, the World Resources Institute warned of regenerative ag’s ” limited potential to mitigate climate change .” If so, should we be building an offsets market around soil credits? Again, experts have doubts: One important step toward such a market, the creation of a protocol for soil carbon offsets, was the subject of multi-pronged criticism . My take: If I’m honest, this worries the hell out of me. Imagine the PR storm if a big company shrinks its carbon footprint using credits that later come under attack in the media. The ensuing controversy could do huge damage to efforts to pay farmers to store carbon in soils. That’s it for part one of my 2020 roundup. Look for more of my reflections (and maybe some predictions) before the end of December.  This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Topics Food & Agriculture Alternative Protein Regenerative 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

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Local materials make up a lakeside home tied to nature

November 11, 2020 by  
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On the shore of Lake Simon in the Outaouais region of  Québec , Montreal-based architecture firm  L’Abri  has replaced a family’s cottage with an elegant and modern escape deeply rooted in the landscape. Designed for a family of six, the 5,400-square-foot Baie-Yelle House pays homage to the original cottage with reclaimed materials such as stones salvaged from the original chimney that’s now used in the large wine cellar.  The architects took a  site-specific  design approach to the Baie-Yelle House as a means of celebrating the surrounding lakeside. To ensure that the landscape remains the focal point, the architects used a restrained materials palette that includes timber, metal and stone. The metallic siding that wraps around a portion of the setback ground volume mimics the shimmering waters of the lake, while the top volume is clad in an indigenous species of white cedar that’s left untreated, allowing it to develop a silvery patina over time.  “The design puts forward the use of  local materials  and a sensibility to the site’s environment and natural qualities,” the architects explained in a press release. “The materials are celebrated for their essence, bringing warmth and balance to an otherwise sober and contemporary composition. Of natural wood and anodized metal, the construction is formed of interlocking volumes oriented to open the relationship between the interiors and exterior.” Related: Young carpenter builds cost-effective timber cabin for his first home Natural materials continue inside the light-filled interiors. A gray limestone masonry fireplace anchors the  double-height  living room that faces the lake and provides a handsome focal point. The open-plan great room also connects to a large outdoor terrace. Even the raw steel staircase leading to the upper floor pays homage to the lake; the wooden treads were made from salvaged log drive trunks that sank to the bottom of the lake in the 1850s and were recovered and repurposed by a local artisan. + L’Abri Images by Raphaël Thibodeau

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Earth911 Inspiration: The First Rule of Sustainability

November 6, 2020 by  
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Today’s inspiration is from environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author Paul Hawken: … The post Earth911 Inspiration: The First Rule of Sustainability appeared first on Earth 911.

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Plan Ahead To Reduce Food Waste

November 6, 2020 by  
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Nearly 40% of food is wasted from farm to landfill … The post Plan Ahead To Reduce Food Waste appeared first on Earth 911.

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From design to recycling, opportunities abound to make solar more circular

November 6, 2020 by  
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From design to recycling, opportunities abound to make solar more circular Myisha Majumder Fri, 11/06/2020 – 02:00 Solar has become a staple of the U.S. power generation mix in the last decade. Now that the industry is maturing, it’s time to have a tough conversation: The solar industry needs to improve its circular practices. Like any industry, the solar industry has unique machinery and equipment; specifically, its photovoltaic (PV) cells have silicon, metal, glass and plastic components that are melded together in order to create a functioning solar panel. But these cells have a limited lifespan of about 25-30 years. Most of the component materials retain their value, however, and can be reused to participate in the circular economy, the economic system that aims to keep resources in use and eliminate waste. At GreenBiz Group’s virtual clean economy conference, VERGE 20 , last week, industry experts discussed the complexities of circularity in solar. The solar industry is still growing — the International Energy Agency predicts that total renewable based power capacity will grow by 50 percent between now and 2024, and 60 percent of that rise will be attributed to solar. Given this rapid increase and dependency on solar, Evelyn Butler of Solar Energy Industry Alliance (SEIA) emphasized that with increased capacity comes increased waste. The International Energy Agency predicts that total renewable based power capacity will grow by 50% between now and 2024, and 60% of that will be solar. “By 2030, with that much PV, there’s a potential of something like 8 million tons of potential PV waste,” Butler said. It’s also a global opportunity of about “$450 million in raw material recovery that could be leveraged for new industries or employment.” The challenge is making PV waste recycling and repurposing more efficient than it currently is in order to move towards a more circular economy. A more circular solar industry at the manufacturing level Some of these opportunities arise at the solar manufacturing level. As Andreas Wade of First Solar explained, the energy-resource nexus is a top priority at First Solar. The company works throughout the production, deployment and maintenance parts of the solar industry. Since 2005, First Solar has been a part of an established global recycling and take-back program for its panels since 2005. To Wade, a major area of development for circular economy practices in the solar industry is repurposing materials used to create solar cells, like crystalline silicon and aluminum. But designing products for end-of-life in a way that the materials can be reused or repurposed can be a challenge. Wade described the apparent conflict: “We want to deliver a solution to our customers, which is out there in the field for 25, 30, 35 or even 40 years or longer. So design for recycling means for us that we try to make sure that we hit the quality, reliability and longevity marks, as well as making sure that we can recover the materials encapsulated and embodied in our PV module at the end of life in a high volume fashion.” By considering circular economy practices from the onset of designing solar panels, materials can be more efficiently reused and recycled, rather than considered in hindsight at the end. A more circular solar industry at the recycling level For First Solar, material recovery goes beyond the traditional model of bulk recycling and recovering glass and aluminum, but also taking back the semiconductor system such that it can be reused in new panels. Wade claimed that First Solar is now able to recover 90 percent of its panel’s semiconductor functions. Butler echoed these challenges but said that manufacturers are beginning the process of overcoming them. In her experience so far at SEIA, Butler has mainly seen repurposing of solar materials that “have been damaged, either the weather events or logistics, or sometimes their installation”. This is in contrast to the traditional end-of-life planning First Solar is employing, but can still be a large number of materials that should be repurposed for sustainability. Other opportunities include companies standing as the middleman for selling excess modules from installers. Other opportunities also include companies standing as the middleman for selling excess modules from installers. Both Wade and Butler argued that such repurposing will only be optimized with outside pressure from the customers of such companies. Wade encouraged users to ask their providers questions like: “What are you doing about circularity? Do you offer a recycling program? What are your recovery rates?” He believes specifying such questions in RFPs can drive the industry to the next level. Tadas Radavicius of SoliTek added that there’s an opportunity for using circular economy principles for secondhand panels: “We see a growing market for secondhand panels just usually comes from utility-scale systems … you can look at the degradation rate, and you can identify for your potential client for how long these panels go, or how much the energy will be generated.” However, he explained that this is only feasible if there is clear communication about the history of the panels from one company to the next. In addition, Radavicius noted that pressure on the policy level from the European Commission to incorporate the solar industry into the circular economy. Because of the competitive market in Europe, solar companies are frequently battling for bids and need to set apart from others. Participating in the circular economy and presenting sustainable practices often gives these companies an edge. Radavicius also explained that increasing circular economy practices could enable Europe to function more independently in the industry. As Radavicus described: “If you could manage circularity in the rate that you can recover these materials, Europe can create its own local supply chain and can increase its supply of these materials, which usually comes from outside. The event highlighted key opportunities for the solar industry’s much-needed entrance into the circular economy. As Butler said, “There is a need to create the right infrastructure in order to realize that value creation, and to provide opportunities for materials to be recovered and re-utilized in some way, shape or form.” Pull Quote The International Energy Agency predicts that total renewable based power capacity will grow by 50% between now and 2024, and 60% of that will be solar. Other opportunities also include companies standing as the middleman for selling excess modules from installers. Topics Energy & Climate Circular Economy VERGE 20 Solar Recycling Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Employees work on panels that the Energy Department is using to leverage a Power Purchase Agreement with Sun Edison and Xcel Energy. Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash. Close Authorship

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From design to recycling, opportunities abound to make solar more circular

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