Greenwashing: Untruth in Advertising

January 20, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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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Greenwashing: Untruth in Advertising

The electric revolution needs sustainable battery materials

January 20, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

The electric revolution needs sustainable battery materials Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/20/2021 – 00:15 To electrify many of the world’s vehicles in the coming years, the EV industry will need to procure a massive amount of lithium-ion batteries. And that will require brand-new sources and technologies to find, extract and process battery materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. These materials currently are extracted from beneath the earth through mining. Sometimes that mining process is problematic for humanitarian reasons, as with cobalt , or for environmental reasons, as with some lithium extracted via evaporation ponds . Fortunately, the issue of how to find new and sustainable sources for batteries is getting renewed attention this year from battery giants, tech startups, EV makers, investors and policymakers. “A major component of the renewable energy revolution is how do we get the materials necessary to do it,” says Kurt House, CEO of KoBold Metals . KoBold Metals is a startup that is building and applying machine learning and advanced scientific techniques for battery mineral exploration. The company is funded by investors Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Norwegian state oil company Equinor.  House estimates that to fully electrify the global vehicle fleet by 2050, the world will have to find over $4 trillion worth of new battery materials. “That is battery materials that we don’t know where they are now,” emphasized House.  Once sustainable battery materials are found and extracted, batteries are highly recyclable and a robust circular battery economy can be developed to reuse and recycle batteries, House noted: “It’s a really deep distinction with fossil fuels that are extracted from the ground and burned. You can never get that carbon back in a thermodynamical way. It’s a one-time trip.” KoBold Metals is building a database of information about the earth’s crust and using algorithms to mine that data to make predictions about the composition of materials under the ground in regions around the world. For example, while much of the world’s cobalt is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), KoBold is investigating a cobalt mining area in northern Quebec in Canada.  KoBold Metals is just one startup using computing to tackle exploring and mining sustainable battery materials. Another new player is Lilac Solutions , which has developed a more efficient and faster process to extract lithium from underground brines. Meanwhile, Redwood Materials is a startup developed by former Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel that is taking scrap metal from EV battery production and using that for the raw materials of other EV batteries. In addition to startups, big battery players are eager for alternatives to problematic materials such as cobalt. At the Consumer Electronics Show last week, Panasonic touted next-generation lithium batteries that will be cobalt-free and come out in a few years. Tesla and Apple also have been eager to slash the amount of cobalt in their batteries, and Tesla likewise has pledged to use cobalt-free batteries.  Eliminating problematic cobalt mined in the DRC is just one battery issue. Mining giants, battery makers, auto manufacturers and energy companies will have to create an entirely new framework to source, extract and process battery materials sustainably and then take back older EV batteries to both reuse and recycle them. And a lot of financing will be required to help set these systems up.  But circular and sustainable EV batteries — and the systems to support them — will be paramount to the electric revolution coming for both transportation and the power grid.  Want more great analysis of electric and sustainable transport? Sign up for Transport Weekly , our free email newsletter. Topics Transportation & Mobility Circular Economy Electric Vehicles 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 Kurt House, CEO of  KoBold Metals , a startup building and applying machine learning and advanced scientific techniques for battery mineral exploration. Photo courtesy of KoBold Metals

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The electric revolution needs sustainable battery materials

How My Green Lab is cleaning up R&D

January 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

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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How My Green Lab is cleaning up R&D

This green-roofed cabin is made from local cedar and glass

January 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A year-round retreat for a young family in British Columbia, this contemporary cabin is found nestled along the north shore of stunning Bowen Island. Made from sustainable building materials such as cedar and glass, the Bowen Island House maintains deep connections to nature while minimizing environmental impact with a design that touches lightly on the ground. The Bowen Island House is set on a rugged, 8-acre site on a secluded side of the island, characterized by a lush, lichen-covered rainforest and some of the best views in the Canadian province. While the island itself is somewhat isolated and requires a ferry ride to access it from the closest city, the landscape here has become increasingly vulnerable to development over the years. In a place where over-scaled homes have become the norm, the Bowen Island House by the Office of McFarlane Biggar Architects + Designers (OMB) presents a sustainable alternative with a small environmental footprint. Related: Cedar Haven is a forest retreat made with reclaimed logs A simple, two-level volume is clad in locally sourced cedar and insulated glass , with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open-plan kitchen, a dining room and a living area. This modest scale, along with off-grid functionality and independent sources for heat and electricity, helps minimize the home’s footprint. Additionally, the project prioritized simple details in its design to ensure minimal disruption to the natural surroundings during construction. The home’s position perpendicular to the rocky coastline hides it within the landscape and captures the sun from east to west, while the cedar cladding is stained black to help it visually recede into the forest. There is also a green roof to reinstate the absorptive qualities of the forest floor below. Mediation between architecture and nature is achieved through cast-in-place concrete walls that connect the constructed elements to the natural elements as well as large areas of outdoor decks that look out over the water. + Office of McFarlane Biggar Architects + Designers Via Dwell Photography by Ema Peter via OMB

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This green-roofed cabin is made from local cedar and glass

Dolmen Shelter renderings imagine stone-shaped guest rooms

January 18, 2021 by  
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Sibling team Davit and Mary Jilavyan have imagined a boutique  hotel  with stone-shaped guest rooms partially inspired by their housing complex in Moscow. The project, known as Dolmen Shelter, is a fictional rendering that the duo hopes to someday see brought to fruition by their friends in the building industry. The hotel measures from 35 square meters to 55 square meters on 100-120 square meters of site area. According to Davit and Mary, they came up with the idea while walking near their house and seeing a landscape design made up of three  stones . The structures are reminiscent of single-chamber megalithic tombs known as dolmens, which date from the early Neolithic age. Related: Marc Thorpe designs live/work buildings built from earth bricks The project imagines a mini-hotel with at least three small stone-shaped guest suites, a design that the team chose instead of buildings made from different blocks to keep the project unique. The idea is to move away from modern house designs that prioritize contemporary shapes and glass, and instead focus on more organic shapes. Each stone-shaped suite is made of reinforced concrete and faced with plaster to imitate natural stone. A few very small windows help mimic a  cave’s  atmosphere. Red lighting evokes the same mystery that characterizes  ancient  dolmens; archaeologists still debate the reasons behind their presence and methods of construction. The team says this choice intentionally alludes to the mesmerizing estrangement and overall characteristics that attract people to these ominous stone structures.  Simple, minimalist furniture provides enough to live comfortably without excess, while a rectangular black volume with an entrance space is built into each suite to indicate the doorway. Overall, the hotel renderings remind one of the ancestral caves of early humans, a feature the Jilavyans believe will distract guests from their busy lifestyles and allow them to concentrate on themselves and their inner voices.  + Dolmen Shelter Via Dezeen Images via Davit and Mary Jilavyan

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Dolmen Shelter renderings imagine stone-shaped guest rooms

Supporting democracy becomes the measure of leadership

January 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Supporting democracy becomes the measure of leadership Terry F. Yosie Mon, 01/18/2021 – 02:00 The aftershocks of the Jan. 6 insurrection to block Congressional certification of the U.S. Presidential election will reverberate for many years. In the short run, there may be additional efforts to violently disrupt President-elect Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20, in addition to domestic terrorism activities aimed at state and local governments and other institutions. Such concerns have re-focused public expectations that leadership across all major institutions, public and private, must take sustained actions to support democracy. The Jan. 6 insurrection has transformed the nation’s political conversation and moved the support for democratic values to the top tier of advocacy. It has subsumed and reset the context for other key national priorities such as responding to the pandemic, climate change, economic renewal and social justice. At the very core of democracy are the values of transparency, due process and good governance, respect for human rights and the ability to participate freely in the political system. At the very core of democracy are the values of transparency, due process and good governance, respect for human rights and the ability to participate freely in the political system. Not coincidentally, these same values enable enactment of core elements of the sustainability agenda for environmental protection, economic development and social responsibility. The accelerating debate over how best to protect and strengthen democracy bears close watching as a major barometer for the success of policies to advance sustainability. Political donations that undermine democracy Companies that make political donations, and institutions and individuals that receive them, are presently engaged in a frantic scramble to identify whether these funds are connected to groups associated with white nationalism, violence and sedition, or disruption of the election process. Numerous embarrassing examples already have emerged from leading U.S. institutions. They include: Comcast, JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft and PepsiCo made contributions to the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), the fundraising arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which raised about $18 million in 2020. The RLDF actively participated in attempting to prevent the certification of the U.S. Presidential election, including the use of robocalls encouraging people across the country to assemble in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 to march on the Capitol. The RAGA executive director subsequently has resigned. A large number of U.S. corporations provided political donations to two-thirds of the Republican caucus in the House of Representations that sought to block certification of the Presidential election. Individual companies are belatedly recognizing that individuals on the rapidly expanding “sedition” list prepared by law enforcement authorities received their donations. Carnegie Mellon University, which for many years has accepted funds from the Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation (a major funding source for many anti-environmental and right-wing political causes), established a fellow position at its Institute for Politics and Strategy for Richard Grenell, a senior Trump Administration official, who aggressively and publicly lobbied to overturn the U.S. election results. Good governance in donation practices In the midst of this political firestorm, a growing number of organizations, chiefly corporations, are examining whether their donations support anti-democratic politicians. Their practices include: Suspending immediately all corporate and employee contributions to any member of Congress who voted in objection to the certification of the Presidential election. Leading companies such as healthcare provider Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Commerce Bank, Dow Chemical and Marriott International have publicly announced this decision. Dow has further committed to suspending its political donations for the next election cycle (two years for a member of the House, six years for a senator). Reviewing the bylaws and governing policies of political action committees (the unit within a company that is legally authorized to collect and distribute political donations) to evaluate their consistency with a firm’s values and determine the criteria under which currently suspended political contributions can be reinstated or permanently revoked. This outcome will depend, in part, upon whether suspended political recipients re-affirm or reverse their position on electoral certification. Determining whether any recipients of political donations are identified on a law enforcement “seditionist list” subject to potential criminal or other penalties. To their chagrin, some American-based companies have determined a match between their donation recipients (as compiled by the U.S. Federal Election Commission that tracks political contributions) and individuals placed on the federal government’s sedition list. In the short run, these decisions will financially disadvantage Republican elected officials, as 139 members of Congress and eight senators from their party voted against certifying the presidential election results — even after the insurrection had occurred. Beyond these financial decisions are public statements by a limited number of business leaders who have called for the resignation of President Donald Trump. Most prominent has been Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. The insurrection “was a clear and present danger to our democracy … and we couldn’t stand for that,” he said. No other prominent business association has echoed Timmons’ declaration. Longer-term reforms Conventional behavior for financing the U.S. political system will await the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president and assume that momentous policy debates in the U.S. Congress over curbing the COVID-19 pandemic, reviving the economy, investing in infrastructure that decarbonizes the economy and reforming immigration practices will slide the public’s current focus on political donations to the periphery. Several initiatives to manage the advocacy process can be implemented to raise the bar in support of democracy. They include: Redefining the criteria for advocacy donations so they are aligned with a company’s central values and promote pro-democratic policy objectives. Such criteria should be approved by the board of directors and should apply to both direct company contributions and allocations provided through a foundation. Expanding the transparency of political donations so they are approved through the corporate governance process and are included as part of the annual financial audit. The list of external recipients should be made accessible through a public website. Identifying and publicizing universities, think tanks and individuals that receive funding to generate studies, organize seminars or establish fellowships to research and publish on issues related to democracy, labor, regulatory or sustainability issues. Integrating the pro-climate change and sustainability efforts of asset managers, investors and non-governmental organizations directly with pro-democracy advocacy. Organizations such as Climate Action 100+ are well-positioned to add support of democracy to their current suite of environment, social and governance (ESG) priorities. Mobilizing a coalition of lawyers, thought leaders and political representatives to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. This 2010 edict opened the floodgates for a dramatic expansion of money to influence political campaigns and regulatory policy decisions by prohibiting government from restricting independent expenditures for political communication and enabling donors to shield their identities. The adverse consequences of this decision continue through the ever-increasing amount of contributions to candidates and causes, much of it unaccounted for, anti-environmental and anti-democratic. Offsetting the discouraging news of political insurrection and the corruption of democracy is the hopeful indicator of expanded voter participation. Most Americans have a growing recognition of the fragile state of their country and are committed to a course of peaceful collaboration to address a growing list of problems. This is reflected in higher rates of voter participation in both the 2018 mid-term and 2020 Presidential elections. While encouraging, two election cycles do not represent a longer-term trend. Expanding pro-democracy advocacy can provide a rising tide for a number of economic, environmental and social justice proposals that lead to a more equitable and just society. Such is the means to grow a continuing pro-democracy majority while marginalizing extremist points of view. Pull Quote At the very core of democracy are the values of transparency, due process and good governance, respect for human rights and the ability to participate freely in the political system. Topics Policy & Politics Featured Column Values Proposition Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Supporting democracy becomes the measure of leadership

The case for buying climate tech from BIPOC and women-owned suppliers

January 18, 2021 by  
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The case for buying climate tech from BIPOC and women-owned suppliers Marilyn Waite Mon, 01/18/2021 – 01:45 Stopping carbon pollution alone will not bring climate justice. Reaching net-zero by 2050 will not either. Neither will achieving 100 percent renewable energy targets. The entire economy is being rebuilt. From electric modes of transportation to climate-smart agriculture, the low-carbon economy creates new roles, companies and workers. It would be regressive if this green economy excluded the very communities disproportionately affected by a changing climate. Moreover, the climate-friendly transition could provide an opportunity to create a more just workforce — one that includes more women and underrepresented people of color at all levels of leadership and ownership. Right now, this opportunity is not so. A 2019 study by the Solar Foundation and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) found that among all senior executives reported by solar firms, 88 percent are white and 80 percent are men. Another report from the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the Energy Futures Initiative found that for energy efficiency jobs, women and Black workers substantially lag the national workforce averages. If these trends continue, the low-carbon economy will be just as extractive as its predecessor. Previously, oil and gas companies topped the list of the largest Black-owned enterprises in the U.S. In the 1980s, the largest 10 of these included five energy-related companies , with combined annual sales of about $854 million in 2021 U.S. dollars: Wallace & Wallace; the Vanguard Oil and Service Company; Smith Pipe and Supply Inc.; the Grimes Oil Company; and the Chioke International Corporation. How can the two principal agents in the economy, suppliers and demanders, bring about climate justice? For customers and procurers, one solution is to buy Black. Support women-owned. Go local. That would require an ample supply of green products and services led by women and underrepresented people of color. So where are these suppliers, who are they and what do they have to offer? Historically in the United States, there have been government and corporate procurement programs that support minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). Many qualifying certification schemes exist, ranging from local to national, and from public, free structures to private, paid third-party structures. The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), founded in Chicago in 1972, certifies minority business enterprises (MBEs) through 23 regional councils across the U.S. The requirements? A company must be at least 51 percent owned and operated by Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American U.S. citizens. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), founded in 1997, certifies women-owned businesses in the U.S. To qualify, a business must be 51 percent owned, controlled, operated and managed by a woman or women. Most procurement programs that have minority- and women-led business targets have their own process for verification, making third-party systems a redundant, unnecessary cost burden. While these systems may appear straightforward, they can be troublesome for the business owner. One Black-led cleantech startup was so frustrated with the NMSDC process that the founder gave up — at the time when she applied, NMSDC would not verify her as Black without her parental birth records indicating race. This information can be hard to come by for a whole host of reasons. Relying on 23andMe-style DNA tests also does not seem like a viable option for privacy and other concerns. Another Black founder explained, “Most procurement programs that have minority- and women-led business targets have their own process for verification, making third-party systems a redundant, unnecessary cost burden.” Others find the whole notion outdated, and most importantly for the bottom line, not helpful for attracting and retaining customers. Can a system established about 50 years ago meet the needs of today? After all, a lot has evolved in the marketplace — the digital age coupled with social media has changed the way businesses interact. The investment landscape, which still systemically and systematically denies access to capital to women and underrepresented people of color, also has evolved since the 1970s. As detailed in a report by the Brookings Institute, only 4 percent of the 22.2 million U.S. business owners are Black, and only 1 percent of Black business owners get a loan in their first year of business compared with 7 percent for white business owners. Finally, the democratization of information has led to a certain public accountability that lends itself to favor self-identification of race, ethnicity and gender. Instead of relying on a paywalled list of suppliers, purchasers form relationships with suppliers through “warm lead” business recommendations, industry vertical networks considered more trustworthy given the focus on subject matter expertise, and other avenues, such as the “crowd,” that help vet potential business partners. Many tech-oriented companies prefer equity to debt, and often can only consider equity at the early stages. The need to offer equity to investors often reduces the percentage of the founder’s ownership below the 51 percent threshold. The need to prove a certain race or gender may be less helpful than just using self-identification; today’s social media mechanisms create some accountability. Many procurement programs that seek to improve representation penalize larger MWBEs. The regulations are also set up to force these businesses to remain small, by putting in place revenue caps of as low as $3 million to qualify and by only having programs for MWBE sub-contractors, as opposed to prime contractors . Perhaps one way forward is to align with the times, where the ecosystem of capital and access to information has evolved. That is, make visible and uplift the MWBEs leading the clean transition, make the list of founders and senior executives open-access, provide early-stage capital (debt, equity, revenue share, non-dilutive grants) for both small and midsize enterprises and high-growth tech startups alike, strategically partner with MWBEs on projects, and remove the red tape that exists in procurement programs to keep underrepresented MWBEs in a subordinate and small position. On the latter point, the wish list for Black women cleantech founders that I spoke to include allowing for more flexibility around equity ownership (51 percent may be too onerous, especially for VC-backed startups), raising revenue caps (let’s say to $100 million), including sustainability and clean energy carve-outs in procurement, and moving away from third-party certification to decide who is a woman and who is a racial or ethnic minority. Black Owners of Solar Services ( BOSS ) is an organization set up to support smart policies that bring about climate justice in the U.S. Below is a list of Black-led companies, both small and midsize enterprises and startups, that are leading the low-carbon transition. Although not as robust as this list , for customers and procurers, this is where you can start. Senior Executive/CEO/Founder    Specialty Company Etosha Cave, Founder and CSO Carbon Economy Opus 12 Lisa Dyson,  Founder and CEO Carbon Economy Kiverdi Donna Sanders, Founder and CEO Energy Efficiency and Buildings Virimodo Donnel Baird, Founder Energy Efficiency and Buildings BlocPower SaLisa Berrien, CEO and Founder Energy Efficiency and Buildings COI Energy Ugwem Eneyo, Co-founder Energy Efficiency and Buildings SHYFT Power Solutions Ajulo E. Othow, Founder and CEO Solar Energy EnerWealth Solutions Dana Clare Redden, Founder Solar Energy Solar Stewards Gilbert Campbell and Antonio Francis, Co-founders Solar Energy Volt Energy Jessica O. Matthews, Co-founder and CEO Solar Energy Uncharted Power Jessica Newton, Founder and CEO Solar Energy OBIPower Ken Wells, CEO Solar Energy O&M Solar Services Kristal Hansley, Founder Solar Energy WeSolar Mark Davis, Founder and President Solar Energy WDC Solar Mina McCullom, President and CEO Solar Energy SynEnergy Monique Dyers, Founder and Managing Principal Solar Energy Ensight Energy Nicole Poindexter, Co-founder and CEO Solar Energy Energicity Rob Wallace, Co-founder and CEO Solar Energy Power52 Salma Okonkwo, CEO Solar Energy Blue Power Energy Kellee James, Founder and CEO Sustainable Agriculture Mercaris Nemo Semret, Sara Menker and Sewit Ahderom, Co-founders Sustainable Agriculture Gro Intelligence Tinia Pina, Founder and CEO Sustainable Agriculture Re-Nuble Zuleyka Strasner, Founder Sustainable Agriculture Zero Grocery Pull Quote Most procurement programs that have minority- and women-led business targets have their own process for verification, making third-party systems a redundant, unnecessary cost burden. Topics Social Justice Racial Justice Corporate Procurement 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 case for buying climate tech from BIPOC and women-owned suppliers

A New Year’s resolution for Bill Gates

January 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

A New Year’s resolution for Bill Gates John Elkington Mon, 01/18/2021 – 00:45 Bill Gates has a new book in the pipeline, ” How to Avoid a Climate Disaster .” Vital reading, particularly in a year that should see Glasgow hosting the COP26 climate summit. But if I could propose one additional New Year’s resolution for Gates, it would be to send another book to all COP26 delegates: Kim Stanley Robinson’s ” The Ministry for the Future .” Sci-fi fans know Robinson as a giant in his field, but I literally stumbled across his work. I had acquired a second-hand copy of his 2017 novel “New York 2140,” coverless and so somewhat unappetizing. I was using it as a doorstop, hence the stumbles. At 600-plus pages it loomed like the Eiger, but once in I was unstoppable. Wanting more, I ordered “The Ministry of the Future,” clocking in at a more modest 564 pages. If I had to give a prize for the best writing, it would go to “New York,” but if the prize was for giving readers confidence that we can crack the climate challenge, I would choose “The Ministry.” True, some early sections read like novelized versions of an MBA course on sustainable development, but stick with it. “The Ministry” is set in the time of COP58, a world where our worst climate nightmares are materializing. Indeed, the book opens with a disaster leaving perhaps 20 million Indians dead. It’s fascinating how tomorrow interferes with today. Science fiction, if you think about it, is all about perspective. In that vein, when I was trying to creep up on companies back in the 1970s, I pictured myself using a periscope. Later, when we had breached the corporate gates, even finding our way into boardrooms, it felt as though we were putting corporations — their leaders, cultures, technologies, business models and supply chains — under the microscope. We still do that sort of work but reaching for our telescopes — to track the trajectories of entire constellations of economic actors, with an eye to spurring systemic change. Still, alongside those different lenses and optics, I have long ached for some form of kaleidoscope — a compound lens delivering more information the more it is shaken, whether by the user or by reality. Decades ago, creeping up on the future, I began to stalk sci-fi authors. I had a fascinating early exchange with John Brunner, author of “Jagged Orbit” and “Stand on Zanzibar.” When I complimented him on the dystopian vision in the second book, which seemed to be increasingly realistic, he replied, uncomfortably, that he had hoped that the terrifying vision would wake people up in time. A later thrill involved interviewing Frank Herbert back in 1983. Denis Villeneuve’s film of Herbert’s magnificent “Dune,” perhaps the best sci-fi novel I have read, is due out in October. I genuinely can’t wait. Meanwhile, one thing Herbert told me stuck in my mind: “If you’re managing and fixing, you’re locking down today, you’re not getting into tomorrow. You’re preventing tomorrow.” A linked idea that has been rattling around my brain recently features an A.I.-enabled resource pooling all key solutions proposed in sci-fi novels — to tap into the collective creativity of some of the brightest minds of all time.  That idea, in turn, had me stumbling across an experiment launched by David Brin, another of my favorite sci-fi authors since I read his novel “Earth” in 1990, when he already was talking about the possibility of bringing mammoths back from extinction. Like it or not, such ideas are bounding forward, as I learned when talking to people such as Ryan Phelan of Revive & Restore a couple of years ago. Another case of fiction teetering on the edge of science fact .  It’s fascinating how tomorrow interferes with today. For a couple of decades, William Gibson has been my favorite contemporary sci-fi author, with the impossibly distant future of his early book “Neuromancer” gradually hauling back in later novels until it eerily mutates today’s realities. Or, as Gibson famously put it in the last century, “The future’s already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.” To which I often add, “Yet.” Someone else who achieves this trick is Ramez Naam — whose “Nexus Trilogy” I strongly recommend. As it happens, I met Naam — in his role as a radical energy analyst — at a VERGE event in San Jose, California, in 2016.  Now, with China looming, I have been reading sci-fi (in translation) by such authors as Liu Cixin . It’s fascinating how as cultures rise, technologically and economically, some begin to produce world-class sci-fi. Europe did it with authors such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, America with everyone from Isaac Asimov to Kurt Vonnegut.  New Year’s resolutions are an attempt to shape the future. I don’t do them, but if I did one candidate for 2021 would be to pour myself heart and soul into a new Volans project, the Green Swans Observatory . The idea here is to turn every lens we have — periscopes, microscopes, telescopes — onto the emerging regenerative economy. Scanning for what’s working, what isn’t (yet) and what needs to be tried next. Once again, I’m pondering where the sci-fi kaleidoscope fits in. So I called David Brin, inspired by his TASAT database — the acronym standing for “There’s A Story About That.” The idea, the website explains, involves: “Accessing more than a hundred years of science fiction thought experiments, TASAT taps into a passionate, global community of writers, scholars, librarians and fans. We aim to curate a reading list applicable to problems and possibilities of tomorrow.” A fantastic experiment, TASAT, although when you search the database for terms that feature routinely in The Ministry for the Future they rarely show up. Yet. True, the “Dune” series of novels focuses on the regeneration of planets such as Arrakis, but can TASAT-style initiatives help us all boldly go toward a truly regenerative future? Perhaps that’s one more resolution for Gates, or for another future-oriented billionaire or foundation: to help turn TASAT into a globally accessible portal to the ever-expanding universe of sci-fi wisdom. At a time when every second business book seems to include words such as “reimagining,” “reinventing” or “resetting,” we will need all the help we can get. Pull Quote It’s fascinating how tomorrow interferes with today. Topics Innovation Leadership Books Featured Column The Elkington Report Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Credit: gatesnotes.com

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A New Year’s resolution for Bill Gates

Earth911 Inspiration: Every Green Tree — Martin Luther King Jr

January 15, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

This week’s quote is from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “For … The post Earth911 Inspiration: Every Green Tree — Martin Luther King Jr appeared first on Earth 911.

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Earth911 Inspiration: Every Green Tree — Martin Luther King Jr

5 radical visions for a 2050 food system

January 15, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

5 radical visions for a 2050 food system Jim Giles Fri, 01/15/2021 – 01:30 Just over a year ago, the Rockefeller Foundation put out a global call for proposals for radical reform of our food systems. More than 1,300 teams from 119 countries responded. The pile of submissions was whittled down to 79 semifinalists and then, last week, to 10 “bold ideas for tackling some of the world’s most pressing food systems challenges.” Each winner was awarded $200,000 to pursue their vision for reform. The winning proposals cover a dizzying range of locations and issues — from food sovereignty on a Native American reservation to plant-based diets in metropolitan Beijing. But as I read them, the commonalities seem as prominent as the differences. Embedded in the ideas is an emerging consensus on the critical ingredients for food system reform, regardless where it takes place.  I encourage you to browse the final selection and see for yourself, but here’s my reading of that consensus: Food systems must connect to local communities. There’s a stunning example of this need in the proposal from the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota . The reservation occupies almost 2,000 square miles, yet has just three grocery stores. There are plenty of local farms, but most grow commodity crops such as soybeans. The result is a food desert surrounded by fertile land. Technology is part of the solution. Agtech is often associated with highly efficient yet unsustainable practices, but the same tech can benefit sustainable approaches. In their vision of a holistic food system for the Netherlands , for example, Wageningen University researchers imagine farmers using drones to precisely target nutrient use. At the Stone Barns Center in upstate New York, the team wants to build a cold storage lab dedicated to extending the season for local crops . It’s got to be regenerative. Almost every winner made it clear that regenerative agriculture is central to their vision. That was predictable given that the foundation sought proposals for a “regenerative and nourishing food future,” but it nevertheless reflects the growing importance of regenerative ag in food policy. (And perhaps the waning importance of organic?) From linear to circular. Circular processes — the transformation of crop residues into compost, for instance — are a common feature of food system reform. But the Wageningen team ups the ante with a rallying cry for circular agriculture, circular cooking and circular chefs: “By 2050,” they write, “we have replaced the wasteful, linear model of our current food system with a circular one.” Among other things, this includes limiting livestock to numbers that can be supported on food waste and food byproducts. Which brings us to… Plant-based diets. No surprise to hear entrants from North American and Europe advocate for this: These are regions where a reduction in emissions from meat production is seen as an essential way to reduce the climate impact of food. Perhaps only because I know less about food debates elsewhere, I was interested to see entries from China and Nigeria that also placed alternative proteins at the heart of their visions.  Before I sign off, I’ll mention one other, more controversial, commonality. Many visions are either explicitly or implicitly pitched in opposition to Big Ag . I see where this comes from: Chemical inputs and monocultures and livestock farming have undeniable negative impacts. But Big Ag is more than that. It brings efficient land use, which prevents native ecosystems being converted to farmland, and sophisticated supply chains that provide year-round abundance at low prices. I don’t say this to gloss over the sector’s problems, but as we imagine a better system, we shouldn’t ignore the benefits of the current one. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off At the Stone Barns Center in upstate New York, the team wants to build a Cold Storage Lab dedicated to extending the season for local crops . Courtesy of Stone Barns Center Close Authorship

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5 radical visions for a 2050 food system

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