How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

May 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair Elsa Wenzel Wed, 05/27/2020 – 02:00 Doing away with a culture of disposability is one of the big dreams of the circular economy. A jolt in this direction came overnight as COVID-19 drove people indoors, forcing many to rethink how they reduce, reuse or recycle items they took for granted only weeks earlier. As U.S. unemployment claims soared to 30 million, buying non-essentials became an act of either audacity or foolishness. Even window shopping has been confined to a web browser. People have been making every can of beans and square of toilet paper last. “Like it or not, the coronavirus is changing the rules of consumption,” said GreenBiz Editorial Director Heather Clancy during the Circularity Digital virtual event last week. “Millions of consumers are putting off retail purchases and looking at the stuff in their closets and cabinets and desktops in a very different way. Why should this item be thrown away when it could be repaired or refreshed and for that matter, how long should I expect these things to last?” However, most brands are in the business of selling something new, so circular economy efforts generally have tended to put repair at the bottom of the menu. Will this pandemic create a lasting change in priorities for business and end users alike? There’s no surefire answer for now, but some of the people thinking the hardest about what all of this means are those who work in product design. Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co., works hands-on with denim, zippers and buttons. Being stuck at home lately has been tough. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. “It’s called on all of my home [economics] skills, all of my ability to prototype and ideate using just the materials around my house, which has been a really exciting exercise,” Dillinger said. “It has challenged me to remember a lot of the skill set we don’t often call upon to make from nothing, to repair the broken things around us.” Embracing imperfections and repairs is part of his vision for a pair of jeans to be loved and worn for a decade until ultimately being recycled. Levi’s heritage, after all, began with durable canvas work pants worn by miners around the California gold rush. “Everyone’s favorite jean has a repair in it, a stain they don’t mind,” he said. “That mustard was a great ballgame. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product.” With that mindset, Dillinger led the design of Levi’s innovative Wellthread shirts, jackets and jeans, which launched in 2015. The company rebuilt blue jeans for recyclability, also slashing the use of water and being mindful of workers’ well-being. A Wellthread denim jacket in the line, for example, uses four technologies to incorporate recovered, chemically recycled and mechanically recycled cotton in the buttons, exterior denim and lining. The end result is 100 percent cellulosic material, the type of single, “clean” input that’s easiest for a recycling system to handle, which is why simple glass bottles, aluminum cans and newspapers have such a long recycling track record. Wellthread jeans contrast with others that are labeled as cotton but actually use blended materials, including polyester, throughout. If it were up to Dillinger, the industry would be a blank page for design. But reality has a lot of stuff in it already — most of it barely used or valued. Six out of 10 garments are incinerated within a year of production, according to McKinsey research. That means important and scarce natural resources are ruthlessly consumed and discarded, like the more than 3,700 liters of water needed to produce a pair of jeans. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. Fast fashion and high-performance fabrics have compounded waste by accelerating the output of apparel that’s virtually impossible to recycle. Take, for example, a blend of wool, viscose, polyamide and cashmere in a scarf or sweater. “You would need a solvent for one, a mechanical process for another, heat for another,” Dillinger said. The problem is shared across industries, including in electronics, which make up the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Only 20 percent of e-waste is recycled, according to a United Nations University report in 2017 . The fate of the rest is mostly unknown, probably either landfilled, reused or recycled informally. For Ed Boyd, an inside look at a recycling plant was a wake-up call. The senior vice president of Dell’s Experience Design Group recently visited a new Wistron electronics recycling plant in Dallas, one of the largest in North America. A typical notebook computer includes more than 200 ingredients, only a handful of which can be processed by such a facility. The rest get separated and sent around the planet for handling. “I’ve been involved in recycling materials for a long time, but seeing it firsthand in that kind of environment was kind of daunting,” Boyd said. “I was looking at this through a designer’s eyes thinking, I’ve kind of created this problem. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. And that has kicked off a lot of exciting work at Dell really aiming at changing that.” Over the past few years, Dell already has been getting more questions from customers about environmental impacts, reflecting a dramatic shift in sentiment that’s pushing electronics makers to rethink their approaches, Boyd said. Dell’s “moonshot goals” for 2030 include three things: for an equivalent product to be reused or recycled for every item bought by a customer; for recycled or renewable materials to make up all its packaging; and for more than half of the materials in its products to be made of recycled or renewable materials. Dell already has plucked some of the low-hanging fruit of closed-loop materials, such as by using reclaimed ocean plastics . In 2011, it introduced the use of mushroom-based cushioning to ship servers. Boyd said the PC maker is exploring with its suppliers how to rethink core product components responsibly, including battery cells, motherboards and displays. It’s also considering biopolymers to prevent waste and solar-powered smelting to reduce manufacturing footprints. And Boyd wants Dell to innovate by creating products that can be assembled and later disassembled quickly, extending life cycles by enabling repeated cycles of reuse or upcycling. That’s been the objective for DIY advocates such as Kyle Wiens, at the forefront of the right to repair movement for more than 15 years. The CEO and co-founder of the iFixit repair website, famous for ticking off Apple, pointed out how the 30 or so metals inside a given cell phone have a low recovery rate, making product reuse more efficient than recycling at this time. “It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society,” Wiens said. “I hope we’re moving in the other direction.” iFixit helps 100 million people a year fix things, including one in every five Californians, Wiens said. The company sees eight figures in annual sales of toolkits, switches, spark plugs and other parts, but its repairs database is free. It offers nearly 63,000 crowdsourced manuals and advice for an amazing assortment of products, including cars, garden hoses, jacket zippers and PCs. Some 70,000 people have accessed iFixIt’s instructions for repairing a countertop Starbucks Barista machine. iFixIt also rates products for their accessibility to fixers. A Dell Inspiron laptop that can be opened with a Phillips screwdriver got a 10 out of 10 score, while a Microsoft Surface that needed to be cut open received a score of three. (An upgrade later earned that model’s successor two more points.) Wiens is excited that iFixit is diving into on-demand 3D printing, starting with a component it sells for a coffee maker. He said he’d like to collaborate with companies to create products designed from the outset with components that can be printed in case of a breakdown. “We really think it needs to be a partnership between the repair community and the manufacturer to make it work,” he said. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Since the pandemic hemmed most of society into their homes, iFixit has seen a spike in searches for fixing devices, laptops and the Nintendo Switch. Last week, it dove into new territory and activism by publishing 13,000 manuals for medical devices , everything from hospital bed headboards to nebulizers to scales, becoming the world’s largest source of details for medical repairs. The company is hoping this ambitious effort will lighten the workloads of the exhausted biomedical technicians who keep hospital equipment humming and beeping. For better or worse, most appliances rely on human muscle and brainpower for longevity. But information technology is beginning to change some of this.  Boyd is intrigued by the possibility of “self-healing” electronics that reconstitute or repair themselves, made possible by artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI already helps predict when a laptop battery will fail. Also further out, and in Dell’s planning stages, is how to augment and design equipment that improves over the course of a decade or two. Product-as-a-service models could become part of an industry transformation, he said, eliminating the need for companies to keep up revenues by releasing whole new lines of modestly updated electronics every year. “We’re having an interesting moment in technology right now, with the birth of 5G and strong cloud connectivity — we can make products in the future that don’t degrade; they actually get better,” Boyd said. Dillinger, on the other hand, wants to remind people to “get a little analog” and take a stab at sewing a button. iFixit has directions for that, too. Pull Quote There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Topics Circular Economy Consumer Electronics Circularity 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Automation is only part of the picture. Shutterstock Serggod Close Authorship

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How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

May 26, 2020 by  
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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets Kathrin Winkler Tue, 05/26/2020 – 08:00 A few months back (and forever ago), our professional colleagues in our Sustainability Veterans group expressed their thoughts on the most important attributes for advancing a sustainability career. Our goal was to share lessons that we learned in the trenches to help those following us to build on our experiences. But we never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic. As unprecedented as these times are, and as uncertain as the near future may be, some past events offer small but important parallels that could yield tools and ideas for how to proceed. In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to: “In your career, was there a crisis (such as the Great Recession or other major disruption) in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID?” The answers are varied and disparate — and, in some cases, even contradictory. Together, they remind us that there is no one universal answer, that companies and cultures differ, and that while we may see echoes of the past in our world today, we are traversing entirely new territory, compass in hand, but without a map. About the Sustainability Veterans: We are a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in the world of corporate sustainability. We are exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. Here’s what they had to say: Observe to solve: On Sept. 11, I was in Malaysia watching events unfold from half a world away. I learned to take a step back, watch and then figure out where to have the biggest impact. We are still in crisis mode. Take time to be observant before deciding on how sustainability can be a solution.  — Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for DuPont from 1998 until 2019. Up Is down: My favorite crisis example is Apollo 13. In my experience, successful crisis management forces organizations to see externalities and ecosystems which have not always been self-evident. “Normal” isn’t “normal,” “up” is “down” and crisis unleashes untapped human capital, innovation, creativity and laser-focus on what can be done versus what cannot. — Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples. Shifting focus: During times of crisis we get a glimpse of the next emerging issue and how companies can impact for the long term. Following the financial crisis, we focused on more corporate transparency and accountability. Today, we have the opportunity to advocate for equity — in healthcare and access to resources. — Cecily Joseph is former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School. Take the long view and put people first. Recognize that we are all part of an interdependent global community. Both are vital for dealing with the immediate crisis, and for ongoing and future crises.   — Bill Weihl was Google’s Green Energy Czar, leading climate and clean energy work, then spent six years at Facebook as director of sustainability. In 2020, he founded ClimateVoice. The calm voice : With all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus, sustainability managers should strive to be the calm voice of reason for the company. Help your company understand that how they respond to people in this time of crisis must continue to balance the people, planet and profit equation of sustainability. — Paul Murray , president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries and previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller. Follow the counterintuitive : Crises remind us that systems are complex, interconnected and difficult to “fix,” and yet there are leverage points which have disproportionate ability to move the system in the right direction. Unfortunately, because they are counterintuitive we almost always push on them the wrong way . In your rush to solve whatever problems COVID-19 has created for you, investing time and effort in a systems-thinking approach will always improve the outcome. — Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change. A silver lining : For those of us working in corporate sustainability, one silver lining is that we’re comfortable with complexity and change, and our modus operandi is to plan for the long term.   — Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans. Jump in : In a crisis, I always believed that our team should jump in big-time, especially if what’s happening is related to a social/environmental predicament. For example, in the early 2000s, my McDonald’s team got very involved in the obesity problem. I never thought I’d be spending 75 percent of my time for a few years on this, which also means you don’t work on other efforts that are important. — Bob Langert is retired vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s Corporation and editor at large for GreenBiz. The rest will follow : We were in the law library at Dell, watching the horror of the World Trade Center exploding with a plane. The room was full, but stunningly silent. However, within minutes, we had all hands on deck, locating our team members and confirming their safety. People came first, above all. As they should, and do, now. Take care of your teams, your family and those you love. Help others less fortunate. The rest will follow. — Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies chief responsibility officer. Volunteer and dig in : I learned an important lesson after the anguishing loss of Alaska Flight 261. Even if it’s not part of your normal job function, look for volunteer opportunities to dig in and help. Your day job is going to be there for you when you are finished. By helping others, you will help yourself deal with grief and anxiety, and the deep (and new) relationships forged with fellow volunteers will never be forgotten. — Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program. Stop. Look. Listen. A moment (or extended period) of crisis requires a deep breath, an assessment of impact and understanding of implication across the full stakeholder spectrum. One can’t always control the initial damage, but can manage emotions, actions and the example set for others to follow in charting the course necessary for recovery. — Mark Spears retired from The Walt Disney Company after nearly 30 years, spanning a series of finance, strategic planning and sustainability roles. He serves as founder and chief strategist at common+value, a sustainability consultancy. Go overboard : In 1986, I was working for Sandoz when we had the big warehouse fire in Switzerland that contaminated the Rhine River. We responded by coming up with the most stringent warehousing guidelines in the world; previously warehousing was viewed as a low-risk activity. The lesson learned was that we went overboard with our standards because we were under strict orders to make sure we never had another such incident. — Jim Thomas has led sustainability programs at Novartis, Gerber, JCPenney and Petco. Tone down the celebration : Though the scale differs, in 2008 people were losing their jobs and afraid for their futures. One of the best tools in our toolbox had always been the celebration of success, but we learned that it was not the time for self-congratulation. Rather, we needed to focus on listening, empathy and building personal, community and business resilience. — Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC Corporation, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz. Immediate vs. restorative : The 2008 financial crisis sparked hopes of a fundamental shift from short-term profits to longer-term values. As the economic downturn persisted, financially stressed companies and consumers made decisions more on value — what they could afford — than values. There is a lesson for we who hope for a different future coming from the COVID-19 crisis. We need to address immediate needs before building consensus on a restorative future. — Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates LLC, and climate change action through Plan C Advisors. Pull Quote In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? Contributors Bob Langert Topics Leadership State of the Profession 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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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

Food waste startup backed by Oprah Winfrey snags $250 million

May 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Food waste startup backed by Oprah Winfrey snags $250 million Heather Clancy Tue, 05/26/2020 – 06:01 While overall startup funding is down this quarter because of the economic disruption brought on by COVID-19, entrepreneurs focused on solving climate-related problems have been bucking the trend . This morning brings one of the biggest deals yet this year: an infusion of $250 million in new financing for food waste crusader Apeel Sciences . What’s more, the funding pushes the Santa Barbara, California-based company’s valuation to more than $1 billion — a status dubbed in VC circles as “unicorn.” Cumulatively speaking, Apeel has raised $360 million, including the new funding. The lead backer on the latest round is Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, which explicitly embeds sustainability considerations into its investments. Other “participating” investors are Viking Global Investors, Upfront Investors, Tao Capital Partners and Rock Creek Group. There are also two highly recognizable minority “non-participating” investors: pop star Katy Perry and media queen Oprah Winfrey, who previously invested in Apeel in 2019.  “I hate to see food wasted, when there are so many people in the world who are going without,” Winfrey said in the funding press release. “Apeel can extend the life of fresh produce, which is critical to our food supply and to our planet too.” Food waste is responsible for generating close to 6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions: for perspective, that’s three times the amount generated by the aviation industry. The issue has been exacerbated by the pandemic: Farmers have been forced to bury vegetables and pour milk down drains, while livestock operations have been forced to euthanize animals with slaughtering capacity idled during the quarantine. Apeel, which got its start in 2012 with a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has attracted funding from many high-profile funds, such as Andreessen Horowitz, as well as several firms that have championed a focus on climate tech including S2G Ventures, DBL Partners and Powerplant Ventures. The startup’s product is literally a peel — made from fruit and vegetable matter — that can be used to coat everything from limes to avocados to mandarin oranges to apples. It’s applied in packaging facilities or warehouses using a water-based formula. That layer extends the shelf life of the produce so that it is less likely to spoil during its journey to the retailer and so that it lasts longer on display. The company says each item can last two to three times longer, because Apeel’s coating slows water loss and oxidation. What’s more, the coating is edible and because it’s made from plant matter, it can be used on organic products. One reason Apeel’s approach is so, well, appealing is that it’s intended to give nature a boost: fruits and vegetables already seal themselves with a substance called cutin; Apeel’s product helps make that seal last longer .   I think it gives confidence to put more product on the shelf. What we have seen is like a 50 percent [reduction] of waste, and then also a double-digit growth of sales. “I think it gives confidence to put more product on the shelf. What we have seen is like a 50 percent [reduction] of waste, and then also a double-digit growth of sales,” Adrielle Dankier, chief commercial officer for Nature’s Pride, a Dutch importer of fruits and vegetables that is applying Apeel to avocados, said in a customer video. Since 2018, the company has saved more than 3 million avocados by using the product, according to the testimonial. Other organizations featured in the customer video (below) are Cata Fresh, a Spanish exporter of everything from melons to onions, and Sage Fruit, which specializes in pears, cherries and apples. The company is working with suppliers, retails and growers — “ranging from smallholder farmers and local organic growers to the world’s largest food brands and retailers.”  Some of its partners include Kroger (the largest U.S. food retailer), Edeka (Germany’s biggest supermarket company) and Sailing Group (the largest retail group in Denmark). Apeel’s coating is being used in dozens of produce categories. This year, it could save up to 20 million pieces of fruit from going to waste in stores — it also can help extend the shelf life at home. The new funding will enable Apeel to continue is international expansion, especially in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and South America — places where there are higher rates of both food waste and food insecurity. The company operates primarily in the United States and Europe today. In a statement emailed to GreenBiz, a company spokesperson said interest in Apeel has grown since the pandemic. “Our capital raise comes at a critical time — making it possible to accelerate our efforts to improve resilience across the supply chain while it works to rebuild, and provide a better path forward now and into the future,” the Apeel spokesperson said in emailed answers to several questions submitted about the funding. “Food service organizations are also an integral part of the fresh food supply chain and another channel that has been greatly impacted as a result of the pandemic. Our efforts to improve efficiencies through the supply chain will absolutely include this sector, as well as work to help food service distributors and operators reduce waste.” Pull Quote I think it gives confidence to put more product on the shelf. What we have seen is like a 50 percent [reduction] of waste, and then also a double-digit growth of sales. Topics Food & Agriculture Climate Tech Food Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Apeel coats fruits and vegetables with an edible layer that can is designed to extend shelf life by two to three times. Courtesy of Apeel Sciences Close Authorship

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Food waste startup backed by Oprah Winfrey snags $250 million

Modernist, off-grid home in Los Angeles features a huge green roof

May 20, 2020 by  
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New York-based Marc Thorpe Design has brought its savvy architectural talents to the City of Angels in the form of a beautiful, off-grid home set in the Hollywood Hills. Topped with a massive green roof, the Case Study 2020 residence is completely self-sustaining thanks to solar power, a rainwater collection system and a composting system. Set into a quiet lot covered in native plants, the house features a modernist design. Inspired by the Case Study Houses of the 1950s and 1960s, which challenged several prominent architects to design affordable and efficient homes, the Case Study 2020 home is an off-grid marvel that blends sustainability, affordability and thoughtful architecture. Related: Stunning green-roofed home in Poland is embedded into the idyllic landscape A one-level structure that combines concrete, steel, wood and glass, the Case Study 2020 home is square in shape, with an overhanging flat roof that is covered in lush vegetation. At various corners of the green rooftop , open cutouts make way for large trees to grow through. Besides its eye-catching appearance and ability to blend the home into its surroundings, this impressive green roof also conceals a rainwater harvesting system that is used to irrigate the greenery. The exterior of the home is wrapped in massive, floor-to-ceiling glass panels and surrounded by a covered walkway. At the back end of the property, a narrow swimming pool sits just feet away, surrounded by a simple, concrete-clad patio space. This thick, exposed concrete follows through into the interior, where concrete walls, ceilings and flooring bring home the modernist style. The spacious interior of the solar-powered home is comprised of three principle living spaces: the living room, a gallery and the bedrooms — all of which are connected by a series of wide corridors that also lead to the outdoor patio spaces via several accesses. Throughout Case Study 2020, the glass walls and sliding glass doors usher in natural light and ventilation, not to mention stunning views of the twinkling lights of Los Angeles. + Marc Thorpe Design Images via Marc Thorpe Design

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Modernist, off-grid home in Los Angeles features a huge green roof

‘Hovering’ gardens passively cool this energy-efficient home

May 19, 2020 by  
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Indian design firm Niraj Doshi Design Consultancy has unveiled a stunning home in Pune, India that proves that greenery is much more than just decoration. Built for a large family of six, the Hovering Gardens House is an exquisite example of how combining natural materials, such as rocks and plants, can result in a contemporary, energy-efficient home  that sits in harmony with nature. The three-story home has plenty of indoor and outdoor space. The main volume is an H-shaped structure with a massive central courtyard , all surrounded by a barrier wall made of natural rock. Related: This café in Vietnam is a modern-day Hanging Gardens of Babylon Keeping India’s hot and humid climate in mind, the architects designed the house with several passive features , such as the cantilevered balconies that “hover” over the spaces below. These balconies are covered in hanging vegetation to further protect the interiors from harsh sunlight. Additionally, the house was installed with several vertical screen facades, which provide the family with privacy while also permitting sun and air to filter through the main living areas. For additional cooling, the family can use a state-of-the-art indirect evaporative cooling system that reduces reliance on conventional, energy-intensive air conditioners. Throughout the interior, triple-height ceilings, white walls and massive panels of glass add to the home’s contemporary style. The large residence was arranged to accommodate the family of six currently, but it is also designed to be flexible for the family’s future needs when the youngest children leave the nest. Each wing has a distinctive use but can be converted into separate living areas in the future. The designers also focused on using natural materials to create a strong connection to the surroundings. From interior rock walls to water features, plus bridges that join several pocket gardens, the Hovering Gardens House has an incredibly soothing atmosphere. + Niraj Doshi Design Consultancy Via ArchDaily Images via Niraj Doshi Design Consultancy

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‘Hovering’ gardens passively cool this energy-efficient home

Now is the best time to build a home you never want to leave

May 19, 2020 by  
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Whether you are still sheltering in place or your area’s lockdowns are just lifting after months indoors, right now is the perfect time to contemplate what you like about your home and what you’d like to change. Thankfully, Deltec Homes makes it easy to plan your future legacy home. This North Carolina-based builder is known for producing distinctive, resilient round houses and was also featured on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. Now, it can make your own dreams come true by offering extensive support, from planning to payment, in the home-building process. Many people are taking advantage of Deltec Homes’ tools to remotely design their eco-friendly dream homes. A small deposit gives you access to Deltec Homes’ full resources, including a wealth of experience building houses around the world and start-to-finish support for designing and building a new, sustainable home. Related: Building homes that fight against climate change How to design a home you never want to leave If you’ve never designed your own house — and many people haven’t — you might wonder how on earth you do this remotely, without an architect sitting by your side. Deltec Homes clearly explains its 360 collection of round homes and its Renew collection, which is designed to make it easy to reach net-zero energy goals. The company will work with you every step of the way to create a home better than you could ever imagine. The round houses in the 360 collection are incredibly fun to customize. Now that you have been spending more time at home than ever, you’re probably thinking a lot more about how you want your space to work for you. How many bedrooms do you need? Would you like designated space for a home office? Do you want flexible spaces that can serve as a study room during the day and a child’s playroom or craft room in the evenings? Perhaps you would love a deck, where the family can get together for a breath of fresh air. Do you want your home to embrace biophilic design? Renew has three basic designs: Balsam, a contemporary take on a mountain cabin; Solar Farmhouse, which is a modern farmhouse with solar capabilities; and Ridgeline, the most modern looking of the three. Each of these options allows you to customize features such as windows, siding, air ventilation and porches to make your home as comfortable and eco-friendly as possible. Thankfully, the Deltec Way strives for each home to be a sanctuary that seamlessly blurs the line between indoors and outdoors; think large, beautiful windows and uninterrupted sight lines. At every step, Deltec Homes will help you and your home embrace nature and sustainability — it is just the Deltec Way. Once you decide on your exact floor plan, Deltec Homes prefabricates your house in its factory, then ships it to the building site. Your own builder takes it from there, assembling and finishing your dream home. Deltec Homes has more than 5,000 homes in every state in the U.S. as well as over 30 countries and five continents, so no matter where you choose to call home, you are joining thousands of other people who love their unique Deltec homes. What’s more, Deltec Homes isn’t just helping you build your next house — it helps you build your legacy home. These high-quality, resilient homes are built to last and actually reduce the total cost of ownership over time. Deltec Homes are often comparable to custom homes, but they are built to last much longer by following stringent, precise standards to significantly reduce your energy costs and total ownership costs. Saving energy and designing legacy homes isn’t just good for you — it’s great for the planet and future generations, too. Deltec Homes embraces sustainability and resilient design — it’s the Deltec Way Deltec Homes prides itself on following the Deltec Way, which means connecting customers to nature and our planet while also protecting them from the elements. The planet will thank you for buying a net-zero energy home, which is one of many green design options offered by Deltec Homes. The company’s homes aren’t just sustainable — Deltec Homes embraces this green philosophy in its own factory, which runs on 100% renewable energy and diverts about 80% of its construction waste away from the landfill. In addition to connecting homeowners with nature and the planet, the Deltec Way also emphasizes connecting our homes with the planet. From using only the best materials to working with nature, rather than against it, Deltec Homes ensures each house can withstand extreme weather while also embracing all of the beauty Earth has to offer. Deltec Homes implements a unique, 360-degree design to ensure that wind diverts around the home. This prevents wind pressure from building up on a traditionally flat side of the home — this wind pressure typically leads to damage such as collapsed walls. The added benefit of the 360-degree design is the light-filled, panoramic views of nature that can include dreamy sunrise-to-sunset views. Of course, the round layout is just part of the equation to Deltec Homes’ hurricane-resistant designs. The company uses a comprehensive approach to make its homes more resilient , including special attention to engineering, construction and materials. This approach has resulted in a 99.9% survival rate for these hurricane-resistant homes. In fact, there have been Deltec Homes that have withstood some of the most devastating hurricanes of our time, including Hurricanes Dorian, Michael, Katrina, Harvey, Hugo, Irma, and Sandy. Deltec Homes is actually considered “the original green builder” and has been working on creating high-quality homes since 1968. Along the way, it recognized the need for sustainability to be central to its core mission — Deltec Homes are designed to stringent sustainability standards. Last year, one of its homes even won a Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home housing innovation award . These homes have been designed to stand the test of time and look good doing it. Luckily, these experts are ready to give you a helping hand in designing and building a sustainable legacy home for your family. Deltec Homes offers financial peace of mind Despite the pandemic, right now is a smart time to start planning the house of your dreams, thanks to Deltec’s homeowners assurance plan. Deltec Homes is offering financial peace of mind through its new refund flexibility policy. Any deposit placed in the first half of 2020 is fully refundable if the homebuyer loses their job or has a COVID-19-related health issue during this time. Deltec Homes is honoring those on the front lines of the pandemic by extending its usual 7% military discount to all healthcare and other essential workers who place a design deposit by June 30. Whether homebuyers are working in a hospital, delivering packages or keeping the electric grid or public transportation systems in operation, Deltec Homes recognizes these essential workers. These difficult times have also prompted Deltec Homes to increase its customer service support by extending hours and offering more remote consultations. If spending more time at home has made you yearn for a house that is designed exactly the way you want it, there’s no better time than right now to contact Deltec Homes . + Deltec Homes Images via Deltec Homes

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Companies push Congress to promote climate action. Is anyone listening?

May 18, 2020 by  
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Companies push Congress to promote climate action. Is anyone listening? Joel Makower Mon, 05/18/2020 – 09:15 What happens when more than 300 business people descend, virtually, on Capitol Hill to advocate for climate action amid a pandemic and economic crisis? Logic would dictate that these well-intentioned lobbyists-for-a-day would be met with a resounding shrug. After all, with two of the most devastating events to hit the United States happening simultaneously, there doesn’t seem to be much room to talk about anything else. As with so many other things these days, logic is not always the best guide. That’s my takeaway from last week’s LEAD on Climate 2020 , organized by the nonprofit Ceres and supported by other sustainability-focused business groups. It was the second annual opportunity for companies to educate legislators and their staff on the need for congressional action on the climate crisis. Among the larger participating companies were Adobe, Capital One, Danone, Dow, eBay, General Mills, LafargeHolcim, Mars, Microsoft, NRG, Pepsico, Salesforce, Tiffany and Visa, along with hundreds of smaller firms . Last year’s LEAD (for Lawmaker Education and Advocacy Day) event brought 75 companies to Capitol Hill. This year’s garnered 333 companies, including more than 100 CEOs, to have video meetups with 88 congressional offices — 50 Democrats, 36 Republicans and 2 Independents — from both the House (51 meetings) and Senate (37 meetings). Some had as many as 70 companies in attendance. This year’s bigger turnout no doubt had to do in part with the ease of meeting from one’s sequestered location — no travel, no costs and a lot smaller carbon footprint — but also from the growing push to get companies off the sidelines on climate action advocacy, whether motivated by external pressure groups, ESG-minded investors, employee concerns or a company’s own board or C-suite. To be quite frank, it was some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with members on climate in a long time. Last year’s LEAD event focused specifically on carbon pricing; this year’s focus was broadened, Anne Kelly, vice president of government relations at Ceres, the event’s organizer, told me last week. “We reframed it knowing that long-term solutions like carbon pricing are important, but that there were immediate opportunities that companies could speak to.” That, too, may have broadened its appeal. For Nestlé, the event was an opportunity “to have meaningful conversations with Congress on climate change and on our priorities,” said Meg Villareal, the company’s manager of policy and public affairs, in an interview for last week’s GreenBiz 350 podcast . “To be quite frank, it was some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with members on climate in a long time. I think the virtual platform created an opportunity for us to have very in-depth discussions about what company priorities are and how we want to see Congress engage on climate going into the future.” Among Nestlé’s interests, Villareal said, was scaling up renewable energy use in its operations. “We also want to develop agriculture initiatives for carbon storage and reforestation and biodiversity that help support our carbon initiatives. That was definitely a key piece of some of the conversations we had as well.” Her company is a founding member of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance , along with Mars, Danone and Unilever. “We put out a set of climate principles last May that have five principles as part of it, the first of which is creating a price on carbon.” Several congressional allies participated, first among them Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), who has a strong record on climate advocacy. It appeared that his role in the event was primarily to cheer the companies on and give them insight into the Capitol Hill zeitgeist. Bank shot Whitehouse made it clear that while CEO pronouncements on their company’s climate commitments are good, they only go so far. “CEOs may say we support a carbon price,” he explained. “No, they don’t. I happen to know that because I have the carbon price bill in the Senate. And nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We want to support your bill.’ You can’t underestimate the continued opposition and challenge that the fossil-fuel industry presents. They’re still really strong here and really powerful.” The senator cited the American Beverage Association as a case in point. “Coke and Pepsi both have terrific climate policies. They do all the stuff they should be doing. But they pretty much control the American Beverage Association because of their size. And the American Beverage Association has not lifted a finger, period” to support climate action, he said. CEOs may say we support a carbon price. No, they don’t. I have the carbon price bill in the Senate. Nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We want to support your bill.’ Whitehouse advocated what he called a “bank shot” — perhaps an unintentional play on words — as a way to build pressure on companies through their investors. “We put pressure on Marathon Petroleum for the climate mischief that they have done — particularly the CAFE standards, the fuel efficiency standards mischief, that they’ve been string-pulling-on behind the scenes. They could care less when I call them out on that. But their four biggest shareholders are BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and JPMorgan. And all those entities care quite a lot when they’re funding climate misbehavior. And they get called out on it themselves. So, you can use the pressure that the financial community feels to defend itself now against these climate and economic crash warnings to bring pressure to bear on even very recalcitrant companies.” The human factor I had the opportunity to speak during the LEAD training day, the day before they “hit the Hill” for their member meetings. As part of that, I interviewed Leah Rubin Shen, energy and environment policy advisor to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), who co-chairs the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus with Sen. Mike Braun (R-Indiana). I asked Shen, a trained electrochemist with research experience in energy storage technologies and green chemistry, for some insights into what it takes to change minds on Capitol Hill. “I’m a scientist,” she responded. “I think there are plenty of things that we could do tomorrow, or today even, that would make all of our systems much more robust and resilient, and set us on the right path. But politically, it’s just really difficult. As tempting as it is to just say, ‘Well, this is what experts say,’ or ‘This is what people say we should be doing’ — I wish that were enough; it’s not. It needs to be something that will resonate back home.” Storytelling is key, she noted. “Don’t discount the human element. Facts and figures are helpful — ‘This is how many jobs we have in your state,’ or ‘This is what our annual revenue was last year.’ Those things are important and helpful. But being able to tell a story is something that will resonate with a lot of staffers and members both.” Nestlé’s Villareal experienced that in a conversation last week with a congressman from Florida “with whom last year it was a bit of a difficult conversation, particularly around carbon pricing,” she told me. “So, this year, we tried a new approach with that office. We didn’t go in and lead with the ask on carbon pricing but wanted to have more of a general conversation about the companies in his district and how we are prioritizing our carbon principles and our climate principles. And it led into a very healthy discussion on carbon pricing and why the companies in his district were supportive of it. It was a very productive and surprisingly good conversation, and we were really pleased coming out of it.” We have to make these introductions on a large scale so that Congress knows if they act on climate, the broad business community will have their back. The whole exercise isn’t just about getting members of Congress to support climate action. It’s also letting them know that if they do, they’ll get business support.  “We have to make these introductions on a large scale so that Congress knows if they act on climate, the broad business community will have their back,” explained Anne Kelly. “Most lawmakers think that big businesses only want to break the rules, not call for new ones.” Among other things, she says, members generally aren’t aware of corporate climate leadership, science-based targets or large-scale renewable energy procurement by companies. The LEAD exchanges help them understand such things.  According to Kelly, the success of the virtual advocacy day — which she dubbed a “high-impact, low-footprint and low-budget model” — and the enthusiasm by participating companies has led Ceres to consider upping the frequency of LEAD events, from annually to quarterly. “Based on the rave reviews, I’d say many colleagues are hooked,” she added. I asked Villareal, one of those enthusiasts, what advice she’d give someone who hasn’t yet dipped their toe into the congressional advocacy waters. “It can always be scary to try something new, but it is so worth it,” she replied. “In the end, you get tremendous benefit from using your voice and especially on critical and positive issues like climate.” I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote To be quite frank, it was some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with members on climate in a long time. CEOs may say we support a carbon price. No, they don’t. I have the carbon price bill in the Senate. Nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We want to support your bill.’ We have to make these introductions on a large scale so that Congress knows if they act on climate, the broad business community will have their back. Topics Policy & Politics Carbon Policy Featured Column Two Steps Forward GreenBiz Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage via Shutterstock Close Authorship

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Companies push Congress to promote climate action. Is anyone listening?

How to replace single-use and plastic items in the kitchen

May 15, 2020 by  
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Scientists are predicting that by the year 2050, the ocean may have  more plastic than fish . While countries around the world are beginning to take a stand against  single-use  items and plastics in grocery stores, restaurants and retail chains, there are still measures that consumers can take within their very own households.  The kitchen is one of the most notorious spots in the house for waste, whether it is food waste, excessive  plastic  usage or single-use materials. Swapping some of your everyday kitchen items with reusable or eco-friendly alternatives is a great way to get started on (or continue) your sustainable-living journey. Related: Cut plastic from your home and inspire your family to live plastic-free Ditch paper towels One of the easiest eco-friendly kitchen swaps comes in the form of the humble paper towel roll. Usually stored right next to the sink or the stove, grabbing a sheet or two is almost second nature to those who spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Invest in a stack of high-quality, reusable microfiber cloths for cleaning instead of reaching for a paper towel every time, and switch out paper napkins or paper towels with reusable cloth napkins. Simply toss them in the laundry basket and reuse. Swap out plastic wrap Plastic wrap has become essential in the kitchen for keeping food fresh and wrapping up leftovers (because no one wants to  waste food ). The handy alternative of reusable beeswax wrap is making huge waves in the sustainable-living community, and for good reason. You can wrap pretty much anything in beeswax wrap that you would normally use plastic wrap for, and the food will stay just as fresh. One of our favorite brands,  Bee’s Wrap , is made with organic cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin. It is washable, reusable, compostable and comes in different sizes and specialty wraps for bread, sandwiches and more. Replace parchment paper and aluminum foil A reusable mat or roasting sheet is a great alternative to parchment paper or tin foil, especially for baking. Non-stick  silicone  mats can be reused thousands of times in lieu of oil, which is especially handy for those who are trying to stick to certain diets. Take proper care of it, and a good silicone mat can last for years! Nix plastic baggies Plastic sandwich baggies come in handy for packing lunch and smaller food leftovers. With a little extra effort, a couple of re-sealable silicone bags can be just as convenient and rewarding. It is also a nice way of introducing sustainable living to your children by teaching them to bring the reusable bags back home instead of tossing  disposable plastic  ones in the trash like most of their friends. Substitute plastic containers Swap out your cheap plastic Tupperware for tempered glass containers. Tempered glass containers keep food fresh and are  non-toxic , recyclable and food-safe (even in the freezer). Opt for a collection of compact, lightweight containers with easy-seal lids. Even better, since most types of tempered glass used for food storage containers have been treated to withstand heating, most are microwavable and dishwasher safe. Trade out plastic coffee pods When these little pods first came into the market, it seemed too good to be true for busy consumers eager to skip a step or two in their morning coffee routine. However, most plastic single-use coffee pods such as K-Cups and Nespresso Pods end up in landfills or oceans rather than being recycled. This plastic pollution is small enough to quickly break down into microplastics that have the potential to harm wildlife. In contrast, refillable coffee pods can be cleaned and reused daily. For those who compost, several companies are also beginning to make biodegradable and compostable pods available. Upgrade from plastic ice packs Swap out your plastic or disposable ice packs for stainless steel ones for use in lunch boxes or coolers. The stainless steel packs are filled with distilled water and freeze in just a few hours, so you can easily use them for your child’s lunches or keep one in the freezer for achy muscles. The material makes them  100% recyclable  at the end of the product’s lifespan.  Try out sustainable sponges Most kitchen sponges are made of polyester or nylon, giving them a considerable environmental footprint, especially if used daily. There are several alternatives to sponges out there for those who want to make the switch to a more  sustainable  dish-washing option. Try out cloth or reusable sponges and silicone scrubbers instead, or use a natural or plant-based compostable sponge. There are also machine washable cotton sponges on the market as well as copper scours that can be recycled. Forget the plastic grocery bags Plenty of Americans have already made the switch to reusable shopping or grocery bags (some states are even making them mandatory). Smaller plastic bags used for bulk items and produce are still popular, however. A couple of reusable and washable produce bags like  these  will greatly decrease your plastic use, especially if you eat a lot of fruits and veggies . Make sure you purchase bags with the tare weight on the tag so your grocer can easily find it for weighted items. Lose the plastic soap bottles Dishwashing soap blocks produce a lather that cuts grime and grease on dishes just as well as the liquid dish soap that comes in plastic containers. The popular  No Tox Life  vegan dish soap block is made of moisturizing coconut oil that won’t dry out your hands and also claims to take stains out of laundry and clean countertops. With alternatives like these, you can make a strong effort toward lowering your single-use plastic consumption. Images via Pexels, Pixabay, Randy Read , and Kevin Casper

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How to replace single-use and plastic items in the kitchen

Portland welcomes first Living Building Challenge project

May 8, 2020 by  
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Pacific Northwest architecture firm  Mahlum  has made history with the certification of its new architecture studio as Portland’s first Living Building Challenge ( LBC ) project. As an LBC-certified workspace, Mahlum’s new studio meets rigorous sustainability targets including net-zero embodied carbon emissions and the diversion of almost all construction waste from the landfill. The project is the 48th LBC-certified project in the United States and 57th in the world.  Located in a renovated 1930s structure that once served as a Custom Stamping facility, Mahlum’s newly minted 7,500-square-foot  office  in Portland meets the LBC guidelines for the Materials Petal, the Place, Equity and Beauty Petals, and the Health & Happiness Petal. As a result, workplace health and wellness have been emphasized alongside environmentally friendly design and construction. All products used were screened to comply with VOC emission restrictions.  Local materials and labor were also key to the office’s design. Nearly all of the wood used was sourced from the state of Oregon and 100% of all the wood is either  FSC-certified  or salvaged. Working with partners such as Sustainable Northwest Wood and Salvage Works, the architects also used over a dozen unique salvaged products, including Douglas fir wood reclaimed from the nearby National Historic site of Fort Vancouver. Moreover, local artist Paige Wright was commissioned to create nature-inspired ceramic vessels used as planters in the office. Materials have also been vetted to ensure compliance with the Red List, which screens for “worst-in-class” chemicals and environmentally harmful materials. Related: Glumac’s pioneering net-zero Shanghai office paves the way to greener buildings in China Mahlum will receive recognition for their LBC certification at the Living Future Conference, which will be digitally hosted in May 2020. The firm also plans to participate in Design Week Portland , currently expected to take place at the beginning of August, to welcome visitors as part of an Open House event.  + Mahlum Images by Lincoln Barbour

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Portland welcomes first Living Building Challenge project

Relax and unwind in this tiny home with a walk-in hot tub

May 4, 2020 by  
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From climbing walls to a roaming music studio , we’ve seen a lot of ingenious tiny house features over the years. But this tiny home on wheels from Movable Roots has a distinct feature we never thought was possible — a walk-in hot tub! The Culp is a 500-square-foot home that, in addition to its accessible, spa-like bathroom, boasts unique cork flooring and an incinerating toilet. Based in Melbourne, Florida, Movable Roots has already made a name for itself as a leading builder of tiny homes. But The Culp is sure to rocket the company to sheer tiny home stardom. The 500-square-foot tiny home on wheels features a two-tone metal exterior that was chosen for its low-maintenance properties. The entrance is through a screened-in porch, which is a relaxing outdoor space to take in some fresh air while sipping a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a refreshing mint julep. Related: This tiny home on wheels features a cool laundry chute Inside, the interior design is modern and fresh. Comprised of white walls with plank-style cork flooring throughout, the living space has subtle gold and aqua accents that add character. The living room has enough space for a couch, which sits across from a low-lying gas fireplace and a flat-screen television mounted on the wall. A galley kitchen with standard-sized appliances is on one end, while the master bedroom is on the back end of the tiny home . Across from the kitchen, there is a set of stairs along the wall. These stairs lead up to dual loft spaces and double as storage. Spacious and naturally lit, the two lofts can be customized as guest rooms, offices or additional storage areas. In between the living room and the bedroom is the impressive bathroom. At the request of the client, the designers were able to make room for a walk-in hot tub — a feature not often seen in tiny homes. In addition to this soaking tub, the bathroom was also installed with an incinerating toilet, which eliminates the need for blackwater plumbing. + Movable Roots Via Tiny House Talk Images via Movable Roots

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