How managers can become sustainability rockstars of the 21st century

May 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

What’s Elon Musk doing right?

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How managers can become sustainability rockstars of the 21st century

Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry?

May 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Year after year, cities expand and pristine natural habitats are turned into farms and pastures to support the world’s growing population . But despite our encroachment into the environment, we still struggle to feed everyone. Vertical farms could offer a solution by producing higher crop yields year-round in less space than conventional agriculture. What is vertical farming? With land for crops and pastures growing scarce — plus the threat of pesticides and herbicides taking a toll on our health and the environment — people are exploring new ways to grow food, such as urban agriculture. In general, this is the process of growing food within city limits – whether on rooftops, in backyards or on balconies. The goal is to provide families with fresh, healthy food that isn’t laced with chemicals — and when you grow your own crops, you can control these elements. Vertical farming is a type of urban agriculture – but vertical farms are often constructed indoors in extremely controlled environments. Crops are grown on shelves that extend upward instead of outward, and the environment is carefully monitored, so crops grow year-round. In addition to growing crops, some vertical farmers have developed ways to grow fish in a self-sustaining system. Water from the plants is recycled into fish tanks, and the waste from the fish becomes fertilizer for the plants. Then, both the plants and fish can be harvested for food. The benefits of vertical farming The benefits of vertical farming are numerous. Farmers can control the crops’ environment in vertical farms, so the plants aren’t subjected to nasty weather conditions or droughts . Humidity, nutrients and water are administered to growing plants to achieve optimum growing conditions. Because of the controlled environment, crops can be harvested more than once a year, resulting in higher yields than traditional farming. Related: The GCC’s first commercial vertical farm launches in Dubai Vertical farms are more sustainable than conventional farms because they use less water (which is often recycled through the system), they take up less space and they use less fossil fuels because they don’t rely on heavy machinery such as tractors and harvesters. Technology helps vertical farmers get the best output from the farm. Tailored lamps help plants get more light exposure, which encourages them to grow faster than crops that rely on the sun. Vertical farms also provide greater protection from insects, thus decreasing the need for harmful chemical products. Downsides to vertical farming While vertical farms can help with local hunger issues and sustainability, there are some barriers that may keep them from gaining worldwide traction. The cost of setting up a vertical farm can be prohibitive. Conservative estimates put the initial start-up cost at around $110,000 , but there are estimates upward of millions of dollars. Finding an abandoned warehouse or building in an urban setting for a reasonable price might be difficult. Since vertical farms rely on electricity for growing lamps and strict environmental controls, the location has to have reliable power — not just any old abandoned building will do. Vertical farms also depend heavily on technology, which can be costly. Keeping the lights on and the environmental controls running will impact energy use — and your budget. Related: The “most technologically-sophisticated commercial indoor farm in the world” will grow 30X more produce Not every crop that is grown traditionally can be raised successfully in a vertical farm. Leafy greens and herbs do the best in an indoor environment, while staple crops like wheat and potatoes are difficult to grow indoors, as are some fruits and vegetables. The crops that can be harvested from a vertical garden are limited. Growing food to feed the hungry is a noble gesture, but it also has to be profitable, especially when the initial cost to set up a vertical farm is so high. If there isn’t a market in your area, it’s a waste of time to grow large amounts of food that you won’t be able to sell. The verdict Despite the downsides, the positives are plentiful. In addition to embracing sustainability and helping combat hunger , vertical farms can also encourage support for local economies. These farms can create jobs, turn a profit and provide a healthy source of food for locals. As technology continues to advance, new approaches will improve the efficiency and productivity of vertical farms. If nothing else, the idea sparks the conversation about changing the agricultural industry and gives us a place to start for finding better, more sustainable ways to grow food. Images via Depositphotos , Aqua Mechanical and Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry?

Episode 125: The world’s largest EV maker, sustainable French fries, Intel’s water wisdom

May 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

In this episode, we riff on why BYD is such a BFD. Plus three different perspectives on conserving, recycling and restoring water.

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Episode 125: The world’s largest EV maker, sustainable French fries, Intel’s water wisdom

Spotlighting the bright business case for LED retrofits on Native American lands

May 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Beyond energy savings, these projects can illuminate opportunities for economic development.

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Spotlighting the bright business case for LED retrofits on Native American lands

Upward e-mobility: How electric vehicles are driving a new class of ‘pro-sumers’

May 18, 2018 by  
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EV supply and demand are both growing rapidly in popularity, but obstacles still remain to mass adoption.

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Upward e-mobility: How electric vehicles are driving a new class of ‘pro-sumers’

Why it matters that affordable housing hits the triple bottom line

May 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The net-zero energy (NZE) opportunity for all.

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Why it matters that affordable housing hits the triple bottom line

How Burton embeds sustainability and female empowerment in its products and leadership

May 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

With a resin-ating impact.

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How Burton embeds sustainability and female empowerment in its products and leadership

The all-natural ‘Wellness Kitchen’ includes a beautiful living herb wall

May 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Kitchens are often the heart of any home, and now an innovative company is giving our beloved cooking space a healthy and sustainable makeover. Interior design company  Finch London recently unveiled its beautiful bespoke rose-colored “Wellness Kitchen” that’s built with various chemical-free and eco-friendly materials  and features a stunning herb wall. The London-based company’s Wellness Kitchen — which recently took home the grand prize at the Grand Designs Live event for its spectacular design — offers a glimpse into the future of eco-friendly kitchen design . The space includes a number of wellness features such as incandescent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) light bulbs, a doTerra essential oil diffuser, a steam oven, an alkaline water purifier and much more. The countertops are made of Jesmonite, a water-based material that, unlike cast concrete, does not release volatile organic compounds . Related: Artisan Moss ‘plant paintings’ are maintenance-free alternatives to living walls The flooring is made from natural cork  harvested through an environmentally-friendly process. Resistant to dust and toxic absorption, cork is an ideal choice for people who suffer from allergies. It’s also antimicrobial and water-resistant, which helps to combat mold. A major feature of the kitchen is its verdant living herb wall installed on the kitchen island. In addition to various air-purifying plants found hanging throughout the space, the indoor herb garden allows homeowners to grow their own herbs and spices organically. + Finch London Via Household Beautiful Images via Finch London

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The all-natural ‘Wellness Kitchen’ includes a beautiful living herb wall

UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling "as easy as building a garden wall"

May 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The United Kingdom ‘s government has come under fire from fracking opponents after releasing measures that could fast-track shale gas projects. Under these measures, explorers could drill test sites without first applying for planning permission, The Guardian reported . Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said, “Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support and now the government is trying its best to shock it back into life.” Shale gas, a natural gas extracted via hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is a controversial energy source. On one hand, it produces less carbon emissions than oil or coal ; on the other, it’s still a fossil fuel polluting the planet more than renewable  resources like solar or wind. According to Greg Clark, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, gas has an important role in helping the country meet carbon budgets laid out in its Climate Change Act, as well as international obligations. In a written statement , he said, “Gas still makes up around a third of our current energy usage and every scenario proposed by the Committee on Climate Change setting out how the UK could meet its legally-binding 2050 emissions reduction target includes demand for natural gas” — but “recent decisions on shale exploration planning applications remain disappointingly slow.” Related: New study finds that fracking chemicals could harm the immune system In addition to allowing shale explorers to drill test sites, the measures would allow for the categorization of fracking sites as nationally significant infrastructure , which means approval would come from a national level instead of a local one. Clark also announced a £1.6 million shale support fund that would let planning authorities accelerate fracking applications in the upcoming two years. Fracking opponents were furious. Greenpeace said, “Exploratory drilling will be as easy as building a garden wall or conservatory.” According to MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, “Fracking should be banned, not promoted.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons (1)

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UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling "as easy as building a garden wall"

NASA study shows water shortages could worsen without action

May 17, 2018 by  
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In a recent “first-of-its-kind”  study led by  NASA , scientists found major changes to freshwater availability — changes that could impact water shortages over the course of the century. For the study, published this week in  Nature , scientists drew on 14 years of satellite observations combined with data on human activity to track freshwater trends in 34 regions worldwide. And, according to hydrologist Jay Famiglietti, “What we are witnessing is major hydrologic change.” Specifically, wet areas around the globe are getting wetter, and dry areas are getting drier. This is bad news for the dry areas, most of them between the tropics and the high latitudes. Several of these hotspots, such as the Middle East, California and Australia, are complicating the issue by depleting their reserves of groundwater. While the study did not find a clear connection between the changing freshwater patterns and climate change, it is unlikely that the situation in these areas will improve without significant government action. Humans playing a huge role in changing freshwater availability via climate change, water management and changing extremes. Freshwater security is more tenuous than we thought. Out now in @Nature https://t.co/KxnC9eQts4 pic.twitter.com/h8Gab3dHrb — Jay Famiglietti (@JayFamiglietti) May 16, 2018 Related: Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air There are multiple factors behind the trends, including climate change , natural cycles and human water management . Lead author Matt Rodell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said, “A key goal was to distinguish shifts in terrestrial water storage caused by natural variability — wet periods and dry periods associated with El Niño and La Niña, for example — from trends related to climate change or human impacts, like pumping groundwater out of an aquifer faster than it is replenished.” Famiglietti said, “The pattern of wet-getting-wetter, dry-getting-drier during the rest of the 21st century is predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models, but we’ll need a much longer data set to be able to definitively say whether climate change is responsible for the emergence of any similar pattern in the GRACE data.” The study states that government policies that encourage water conservation could help avoid increased water shortages. + NASA + Nature Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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NASA study shows water shortages could worsen without action

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