Celebrating 10 female leaders in sustainability

May 21, 2021 by  
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Celebrating 10 female leaders in sustainability Heather Clancy Fri, 05/21/2021 – 01:30 “Lift while you climb.” That was just one powerful message delivered last week by keynote speaker Kaye Husband Fealing, dean of the Ivan Allen College College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Institute of Technology, during a virtual ceremony celebrating diverse, female leadership in the sustainability profession. Fealing spoke about the important role all leaders play in helping “invisible” individuals become visible within their professions, and how this approach can help companies strengthen the diversity of their workforce and ideas. “Be the person whom others can rely on to advise, guide and confide in as they make their way to their own excellence,” she observed. Her comments came during an event organized by the WSLA Alumnae Group to recognize 10 “accomplished, audacious and courageous” women — in the words of president Rochelle Routman — as part of the 2021 Women in Sustainability Leadership Awards. These individuals join 85 previous honorees, some of the most powerful female leaders in sustainable business heading up initiatives at startups, nonprofits, industry associations and beyond. “With each new woman that is recognized for her work in sustainability, all our voices are raised, and the world benefits as a result,” said Routman, a previous honoree and CSO and quality officer at HTMX Industries. “We are a diverse organization of women with a strong track record of meaningful and lasting change.”  Routman reflected on the first awards, convened several years ago in a crowded, dark San Francisco bar. Originally focused on leaders in the green building industry, the WSLA Alumnae Group last year became an independent organization. This year’s awards were the first to be held since that development.  This year’s honorees (listed alphabetically) are: Jessica Aldridge , director of sustainability and zero waste programs, Athens Services Mona Benisi , executive director and global head of sustainability, real assets, Morgan Stanley Marilyn Black , vice president and senior technical and strategic adviser, Underwriters Laboratories  Sonja Bochart , regenerative design, Sustainability and Biophilia Consulting, Sonja Bochart Wellbeing+Design Christine Brunel-Ligneau , head of sustainable agriculture strategy, Bayer AG CropScience Division Gina Ciganik , CEO, Healthy Building Network Robyn Eason , senior sustainability planner, city of West Hollywood Rachel Hodgdon , president and CEO, International WELL Building Institute Jennifer Holmgren , CEO, LanzaTech; director and chair, LanzaJet Elaine Hsieh , co-founder, head of corporate partnerships and marketing, Third Derivative Before the formal inductions, attendees were also treated to a performance by Awa Ndiaye , a spoken word poet and 2019 GreenBiz Emerging Leader who is building a career in environmental management. At that time, she reflected: “I learned that the first step towards helping others develop motivation to embrace sustainability is to question our own vision and motivation and identify how and why sustainability aligns with our core values.” During this week’s ceremony, she read from two of her powerful poems, which touched on issues of social justice and climate change. Despite her dystopian themes, she remains “obnoxiously optimistic, defiantly hopeful” that everyone — “all shades of human” — has a role to play in addressing climate change.  Keep your eyes (and ears) open for more coverage of these inspiring women in the coming months here on GreenBiz.com and on the GreenBiz 350 podcast.  Topics Careers Women 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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Celebrating 10 female leaders in sustainability

Modern, barn-inspired home ages gracefully in a wild Pozna meadow

March 1, 2021 by  
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After finding the perfect plot of land 30 minutes outside of Pozna?’s historic city center, Carolina reached out to Polish architecture studio PL.architekci to realize her dream home — a Hollywood Western-inspired abode where she could fulfill her passions for horseback riding and raising cacti. To that end, the architects crafted a handsome residence that resembles the traditional, rural vernacular and features a streamlined, modern appearance to complement the surrounding landscape. Designed to connect with nature in multiple ways, the Poz_7 House is built primarily of timber and wrapped in low-maintenance, untreated larch that will naturally develop a silvery patina over time to match the hue of the nearby trees. Completed over the course of three years, the Poz_7 House is a gabled , single-story residence of roughly 270 square meters — occupying less than 3% of the total site. “[We] managed to fit such a building into the landscape by not competing with the surrounding environment and by letting the architecture complement the environment,” the architects noted. “Thanks to that the house is not like a monument in the middle of a field.” Related: Contemporary Polish home is clad almost entirely in cedar planks While the home’s external cladding is made of untreated larch , the building structure is constructed of Siberian larch, a material chosen for its durability. Following modernist principles, the architects eschewed embellishments and unnecessary ornamental designs in favor of a clean and minimalist look. A timber palette continues to the interior, where ash lines multiple surfaces, including the floors. The architects also celebrate wood by exposing the timber roof trusses and topping the kitchen island with an untreated plank. Glazing on all four sides lets in natural light and frames views of the landscape to create a constant connection with the outdoors. Although the client initially sought a south-facing living room, the architects instead oriented the living space toward the northeast to face the site’s most beautiful view: a wild meadow dotted with trees and bisected by a small river. + PL.architekci Photography by Tom Kurek via PL.architekci

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Modern, barn-inspired home ages gracefully in a wild Pozna meadow

If people will believe in QAnon, why won’t they believe in climate change?

November 4, 2020 by  
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If people will believe in QAnon, why won’t they believe in climate change? Suzanne Shelton Wed, 11/04/2020 – 00:15 In 2017, 65 percent of Americans believed that climate change was occurring and that it was caused by human activity. According to our latest Eco Pulse polling, that number is down to 55 percent. Now, what I regularly tell people about this seemingly distressing news is that the number of actual climate deniers — Americans who believe climate change isn’t occurring at all — stands at only 17 percent, right where it was in 2016. I regularly say, “We need to stop focusing on whose fault it is. If your kid calls you and says he or she has just been in a car wreck, your first question is, ‘Are you OK?’ not, ‘Whose fault was it?’ So, in our messaging let’s just focus on the fact that there’s a widely acknowledged problem and we should all do something about it.” I do still think that’s the right approach. But as noted in my blog post a couple of weeks ago , I think those of us in the sustainability community have something to learn from the Disinformation Machine. And I’ve found myself pondering the question in the headline of this piece a lot. To me, the QAnon conspiracy theory doesn’t even seem like a viable plot for a Hollywood blockbuster. Imagine the pitch to an A-list star: “So, half the politicians in Washington, and many in the entertainment industry, are leading a Satanic cult, kidnapping children and forcing them into a shadowy underworld of sex trafficking. These terrible villains sometimes kill the children to extract their adrenaline in order to make themselves younger and more powerful. You’re the president of the United States, recruited specifically to run for president so that you can destroy this evil plan. Many people in this terrifying cult will try to stop you — accusing you of courting foreign interference in your election, trying to impeach you, even throwing a pandemic your way. But you will not be stopped!” I can see three things the QAnon story has going for it that we need to figure out in the land of sustainability communications. Can’t you picture any star going, “Um, neat. And no.” It just sounds too far-fetched, right? How could that possibly be a plausible story? Of course, that’s how some people feel about climate change. As in, “Really? You expect me to believe in some unseen force that’s going to destroy life as we know it, and I’m supposed to give up fossil fuels and meat to save us all? Come on …” I can see three things the QAnon story has going for it that we need to figure out in the land of sustainability communications: 1. Save the children. That’s a QAnon rallying cry that looks to be pretty effective in pulling more mainstream moms into the fold. Most moms, myself included, are instinctively wired to protect children in peril. This is why it’s imperative that we stop talking about climate change as something that’s going to affect “future generations.” Who the heck are those people? And how am I supposed to have personal feelings about a generation? No, frame the message as “your children and grandchildren.” Co-opt the idea of “save the children” to use it to move people to take action against climate change. 2. Evil/the Devil. I recently finished the seventh Harry Potter book with my daughter. If you’ve read it — or even just heard about it — you know the entire series is about Harry ultimately saving the wizarding world from Voldemort, the incarnation of evil. We get how awful Voldemort is, and we desperately want Harry to win. That same idea has been played out over and over in books, movies and even in country-building — Nazi Germany horrifyingly positioned an entire group of people as evil. QAnon is doing the same thing (and many parallels have been drawn to anti-Semitic tropes). The trick, then, is how do we create an evil target to fight against to move people to action on climate change? Perhaps climate change itself is the evil? Perhaps it’s Big Oil? We need a villain to make our narrative more powerful. 3. Somebody people want a reason to hate. One thing I think is particularly nefarious and powerful about the QAnon narrative is that it holds up celebrities that many in America may want a reason to hate as perpetrators of the atrocities. It’s unpopular to hate Oprah Winfrey or the Pope. But say you actually don’t like them, for whatever reason. QAnon gives you a reason to justify your hate. And the whole Hillary Clinton “lock her up” thing that’s really old news? QAnon gives you a reason to bring it back and erase any lingering worries about the fact that Trump didn’t win the popular vote. “Who cares if she won the popular vote … she’s evil!” I don’t know who the equivalent is, but the “fight climate change” narrative needs more than a villain — we need a villain that people love to hate. Pull Quote I can see three things the QAnon story has going for it that we need to figure out in the land of sustainability communications. Topics Marketing & Communication Climate Change Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably 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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If people will believe in QAnon, why won’t they believe in climate change?

Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art

January 6, 2020 by  
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In a bid to clamp down on the NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) opposition to wind farms, international design collective Prototype 2030 has created a two-part proposal that would turn wind turbines into interactive public art. The first part of the design, dubbed Windwords, proposes reshaping wind turbines into giant letters to create landmarks representative of the community. To further empower communities with wind farms, the designers suggest allowing local residents to share in the profits and control the wind turbines through a smartphone app. Inspired by community-oriented design processes for public infrastructure, Prototype 2030 believes that the way to wider acceptance of wind farms and wind turbines begins with neighborhood-centered design. The Windwords proposal takes cues from the Hollywood sign and the IAMSTERDAM letters, which are not only iconic landmarks in their respective cities but also attract attention from tourists. Related: LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic “Our point is not, of course, that every wind turbine has to be turned into a giant letter,” the collective explained. “Every site and community is different and will present different needs and opportunities. Big pink words will not be the solution every time. The real lesson is that wind farms need to be designed to mean something to humans — because they do, to neighbors and passersby. Right now, what they say is usually not what we want to hear. They need to be designed to speak human.” To further humanize the relationship between wind farms and communities, the designers have also proposed Windswitch, a smartphone app that would allow local residents to share in the profits from wind energy . The app would also give users the opportunity to “influence the turbines in their backyard” by trading previous earnings in as credits to temporarily pause a wind turbine. + Prototype 2030 Images by Prototype 2030

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Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art

16 must-see environmental documentaries

December 23, 2019 by  
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From animals facing extinction to pollution to global warming, the world is changing — quickly. Some days you may feel like you’re the only one concerned with what is happening to the planet. But there are a host of scientists, environmentalists, authors, journalists, adventurers and Hollywood actors that share your mindset and went through the effort of getting it to the screen. Here are some top environmental documentaries to watch if you’re looking for a show that keeps sustainability in focus. Before the Flood, 2016 Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio in conjunction with National Geographic, Before the Flood follows DiCaprio as he talks with world leaders, politicians, scientists and religious figures to better understand the thinking around the climate crisis . Related: Attenborough Effect inspires people to drastically reduce single-use plastics Chasing Coral, 2017 Coral is a barometer for the health of the planet . As a measure of this health, coral is showing that the earth is sick. This documentary follows scientists, divers and photographers underwater, where they investigate the reasons behind the detrimental disappearance of healthy coral around the globe. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, 2014 In a world where many people either deny climate change or talk in generalizations about the causes and solutions, this documentary puts a fine point on the pervasive damage that agriculture has on the planet, connecting it to global warming, water use , deforestation and ocean dead zones. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, 2017 No list of environmental documentaries would be complete without mentioning the climate change film that added fuel to the conversation, An Inconvenient Truth , which features Former American Vice President Al Gore’s efforts to inform and inspire climate policies around the globe. The story continues with An Inconvenient Sequel , following Gore on his environmental campaign, sharing poignant personal and public moments with activists across the planet. The True Cost, 2015 The True Cost exposes another major contributor of pollution, waste and consumption — the fast fashion industry. This is a first-hand account of the human cost of clothing manufacturing, exposing low-wages and poor treatment of workers. It also highlights toxins added to the soil and waterways via plant growth (such as cotton) and throughout the manufacturing process (such as dyes). Director Andrew Morgan connects all of this to the driving force of the media, culture, societal norms and consumerism. Chasing Ice, 2012 This award-winning film pulls together years of time-lapse photography to document the planet’s rapidly melting glaciers . More Than Honey, 2012 In light of mass colony collapse, this documentary seeks to provide a better understanding of the importance of honey bees while looking for answers as to what is causing the decline in bee populations. A Plastic Ocean, 2016 Adventurers Craig Leeson and Tanya Streeter team up with an international team of scientists and researchers to reveal the astonishing amount of plastic waste consuming the ocean and coastlines, endangering animals and polluting the food chain. The images and reporting cover 20 locations over the course of four years. Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story, 2014 This film uncovers the nasty truth behind food waste , from farms to retail consumption. The lens follows filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer as they vow to sustain themselves for six months without buying groceries, instead relying on food that would otherwise be thrown out. The Story of Stuff, 2007 The Story of Stuff appears to be a playful, 20-minute video that is actually a dart thrown directly into the bullseye of consumerism and capitalism. This powerful animation cuts straight to the point of the damaging effects of manufacturing, material sourcing, convenience and quick disposal of the “stuff” in our lives. Explained, 2018 This docuseries , a Netflix original, highlights a range of topics, many of which pertain to the environment. Look for episodes titled, “The Future of Meat,” and “The World’s Water Crisis” to get started. Tomorrow, 2015 Where many documentaries are fatalistic, Tomorrow aims to focus on the positive. From French filmmakers Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, Tomorrow is a mostly uplifting journey around the planet, discovering people and communities focused on solutions through agriculture, energy , economy, education and government policy. Tapped, 2009 Plastic is a well-known environmental issue. In Tapped , directors Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey aim directly at the bottled water industry as a major contributor to the problem. They explore the financial and environmental impact of the industry, including material sources, manufacturing, and post-consumer waste. No Impact Man, 2009 Following the journey of author Colin Beavan, No Impact Man provides a look inside his dedication to going green. The cameras follow Beavan as he disconnects from all modern conveniences including electricity, gas-powered transportation, shipped food and public waste disposal in an effort to experience a life without environment impact. What begins as a journey about minimalism leads to a discovery about happiness, relationships and balance. How to Change the World, 2015 Drawing from archived video from 1971, this film tells the story of the passionate pioneers that founded Greenpeace and somewhat unintentionally gave birth to the green movement. Patrimonio, 2018 It’s happening all over the world — corporations moving into small communities and changing their ways of life. Patrimonio is an example of one community forever driven toward change as a resort and housing development, packaged commercially as a holistic yoga retreat, moves into town. Images via

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16 must-see environmental documentaries

DIY: A Hand-Me-Down Play Table Makeover

May 1, 2019 by  
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DIY-er Dinah Wulf shares one of her favorite trash-to-treasure projects, explaining step-by-step how she upcycled a well-loved (er, worn out) play table from Everyday Blah to Hollywood Chic. The post DIY: A Hand-Me-Down Play Table Makeover…

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This sculptural home takes cues from the sloping Hollywood Hills landscape

October 12, 2018 by  
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Tucked inside a quiet and wooded site of Nichols Canyon is the Hollywood Hills House, a sculptural home that boasts cutting-edge green technologies and materials. Los Angeles-based design practice Tighe Architecture crafted the home for a musician and took inspiration from the terrain to form the curvaceous, multi-story dwelling. Spanning an area of 5,200 square feet, the home is faced with an abundance of full-height glazing that creates a seamless connection between the indoors and out. Although the Hollywood Hills House is located less than a 10-minute drive from the bustling Hollywood Boulevard, the home feels a world away in its secluded plot surrounded by mature pines, eucalyptus and indigenous plants . The multifaceted building was optimally placed to make the most of its landscape views and to protect against unwanted solar gain. Set on a solid base of board-formed concrete walls, the home’s upper levels appear to float in comparison because of its curved lines, walls of glass and plastered exterior. The main living areas, kitchen and dining room are located on the first floor and open up to views of the landscape through floor-to-ceiling glass. The master suite and two additional bedrooms can be found on the top floor, while the basement consists of a music studio, laundry room, storage and the garage. A swimming pool has been installed in the backyard. “The floating mass is shaped by the constraints of the site and a series of openings that frame specific views,” the studio noted. Related: Richard Neutra’s mid-century Hailey Residence is an exercise in compact space design The client’s request for a sustainable home directed the adoption of passive solar principles in the design process. The home is optimized for natural ventilation and lighting, yet also includes a solar photovoltaic system and a solar hydronic system for heating water. The existing native landscape has been supplemented with a drought-tolerant native planting plan. + Tighe Architecture Via Dezeen Images by Antonio Follo

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This sculptural home takes cues from the sloping Hollywood Hills landscape

Canadian island invites American immigrants escaping a Donald Trump presidency

August 9, 2016 by  
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“Is this for real? Yes. Is this a joke? No.” Cape Breton Island is serious about taking in American immigrants if Donald Trump wins the presidential election. All political ideologies are accepted on the northeastern Nova Scotia island, and – if Trump does win – may create an opportunity for the coastal region to build their population – instead of a wall. The Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins website, created by a local DJ, touts all of the finer features of the island, including warm summers, rich cultural diversity, and North America’s first carbon neutral university campus. According to CNN , the “Trump Bump”  surge of interest in the island has resulted in at least one tourism association reporting increases in vacation bookings between 20 and 200 percent. Related: Someone built a tiny wall around Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star “We are experiencing a bit of a population problem at the moment,” says the website. “We need people. We need you!” Cape Breton is about twice as big as Delaware and working to rebuild its coal mining heyday with the tourism industry. What seems to have started as a joke has morphed into a growing economy, thanks to those looking to escape either the 9 to 5 grind or a climate change-denying , immigrant-alienating, narcissistic, talking traffic cone hellbent on initiating the end of days. Via  CNN Images via Flickr , Wikipedia

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Canadian island invites American immigrants escaping a Donald Trump presidency

Stunning corten-clad California home built for efficiency and flexibility

August 1, 2016 by  
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441 Tamalpais sits at the end of a road in a serene hillside location close to hiking trails and nature. The family home enjoys an abundance of natural light thanks to large glazed sliding doors that minimize the need for artificial lighting, and the open-plan layout provides flexibility as the family matures. Related: Terraced Hollywood Hills House Eliminates the Need for Air Conditioning Every room of the terraced home has a strong connection to the surroundings and features a shaded deck made from recycled bamboo flooring. The home is equipped with a 10Kw solar photovoltaic system, which provides energy for a hyper-efficient mini-split heat pump heating and air conditioning, as well as an automatic Heat Recovery Ventilation System (HRV) that operates around the clock. The home was designed to be virtually maintenance free with long-lasting materials that also age beautifully, including the rusty corten steel facade. + Zack De Vito Via Arch Daily Images via  Bruce Damonte

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Stunning corten-clad California home built for efficiency and flexibility

Tesla and SolarCity just agreed on a $2.6 billion merger

August 1, 2016 by  
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Elon Musk announced back in June that Tesla wished to purchase solar power company SolarCity . Now the world is one step closer to the clean energy super company that could result from such a merger. Today in a blog post , Tesla announced the two companies have come to an agreement: a hefty “all-stock transaction with an equity value of $2.6 billion.” With SolarCity’s focus on renewable energy , and Tesla’s focus on storage, Musk apparently believes now is the perfect time to combine the two companies, especially as Tesla aims to grow its Powerwall product. In Elon Musk’s ” Master Plan Part Deux ,” released near the end of July, he said it’s been a goal of his for ten years to offer solar energy, and combining with SolarCity could allow Tesla to achieve that goal. He spoke of a “beautiful solar-roof-with-battery that just works,” and envisioned with a merger the process to transition to clean energy would be simple for a customer: “One ordering experience, one installation, one service contract, one phone app.” Related: Elon Musk aims to build clean energy giant with Tesla’s $2.8 billion bid for SolarCity Musk said, “That [Telsa and SolarCity] are separate at all, despite similar origins and pursuit of the same overarching goal of sustainable energy, is largely an accident of history.” The blog post released by Tesla today announcing the agreement with SolarCity echoes many of those dreams laid out in Musk’s updated master plan. With the combination of two companies, they said, there could be an easy “one-stop solar + storage experience.” SolarCity organized a committee to review the agreement apart from Musk’s influence, reports Reuters. As Musk sits on the board of SolarCity, of which his cousin Lyndon Rive is CEO (another cousin, Peter Rive, also sits on the board), they and many other executives won’t vote on the agreement. Under the agreement, there will be a “go-shop” provision, which means Solar City has 45 days, until September 14, to see if they get a better offer than Tesla’s offer. In the blog post Tesla said they anticipate closing the transaction in 2016’s fourth quarter. Via The Verge Images via SolarCity Facebook and Flickr

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Tesla and SolarCity just agreed on a $2.6 billion merger

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