The world-changing potential of STEAM-powered youth

February 11, 2021 by  
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The world-changing potential of STEAM-powered youth Shana Rappaport Thu, 02/11/2021 – 00:01 For more essays and articles by Shana Rapport, sign up for VERGE Weekly , one of our free newsletters. The last time I profiled a young technologist working to change the world, she went on to be honored as Time Magazine’s first Kid of the Year . Just sayin’ — we know how to spot a rising star. On that note, meet Danielle Boyer, who promises to be no exception. An Indigenous educator, inventor, author and environmental activist, Boyer has, at age 20, already accomplished more than most adults to increase diversity, accessibility and affordability in the STEAM education space — science, technology, engineering, art and math.  If you care about accelerating an equitable clean economy, then you need to care about STEAM — specifically, the woeful underrepresentation of women and people of color working in these industries, and the disparate access to quality STEAM education that precedes it. Research shows that having a diverse workforce not only drives innovation and market growth , but also underscores the significant risks of perpetuating inequities when people of color are left out of creating the products and services we all use.  If we are to leverage the full potential of science and technology to address our most pressing global challenges, the people developing these solutions must represent society as a whole. Image Credit: Drawn by Danielle Boyer, Founder and CEO of STEAM Connection That’s why Boyer is working to solve this problem by getting to the root — ensuring that young people of color, particularly girls and those in Indigenous communities, have access to quality STEAM education. I caught up with her recently to talk about technology innovation and environmental education. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length. Shana Rappaport: Your work is rooted in the belief that ensuring equitable access to environmental education and engineering opportunities is a social and environmental imperative. Why is that? Danielle Boyer: I believe that every child has the potential to be an Earth Innovator — someone who uses their unique talents, interests and skills to benefit our Earth. Giving kids skills in technology, engineering and science to use in their lives as innovators, activists and changemakers is so important. Us youth are the ones who are being affected the most by climate change, and we need, as I say, all of our superpowers to fight it. Each of our superpowers are different and can contribute to positive change, but we must be taught how to use them.  Unfortunately, not every child has the opportunity to discover their superpower, because they don’t have access to learning technical skills — skills that will not only transform their future, but the future of our Earth, too. Underserved communities are isolated from learning these important skills, leaving these kids at a huge disadvantage.  I’ve centered my mission around providing resources to these kids with an emphasis on youth of color and girls, especially in Indigenous communities, like my own. I think that we all deserve to learn what our superpowers are and to be given the opportunity to use them. Rappaport: Talk a little bit about the organization that you founded, STEAM Connection , and how initiatives such as your flagship program, Every Kid Gets a Robot, are designed to fulfill your mission. Boyer: I founded the STEAM Connection in January 2019, which wasn’t that long ago. Our work brings accessible, affordable and diverse STEAM education to children all around the world, and it has been such a cool journey. I work with a team of all minorities — we’re all students in STEAM and we work to bring things like robotics, classes and more to youth.  One of my favorite projects is called Every Kid Gets a Robot , which is a robot that I invented — it costs less than $20, is made out of biodegradable and recycled materials and I send it to kids for free in 12 countries, which is insane. The robot has been to more places than I have. I’ve used it to teach kids skills on everything from electrical engineering to computer science to mechanical engineering. I absolutely love the robots.  Each of our superpowers are different and can contribute to positive change, but we must be taught how to use them. All of these initiatives matter a lot to me, because I’m able to use them to supplement the environmental and STEAM classes that I teach. It’s been so much fun, because I’ve been able to reach tens of thousands of kids now, along with the 35 youth robotics teams that I mentor.  One of my most recent initiatives is called Hands-On Techie Talks — it’s a podcast that I started with my 13-year-old mentee, Vinaya Gunasekar, which is crazy — she’s 13! We started a podcast for kids to bring resources for environmental innovation in a hands-on way to kids during the pandemic, and it has been so much fun. Rappaport: What are your impressions of how Gen Z views the role of technology innovation in accelerating solutions to environmental problems? Boyer: This is a really interesting question — because honestly, when I was 10 years old and got started, I had never used a computer before. Things have changed so much since I was a young kid.  Technology now drives everything that Gen Z does. But, I often think that many young kids don’t necessarily see environmental activists as designers, programmers and scientists. Many of them see activists as media figures who lead protests — and while that certainly is an aspect of it, I think that it puts them off because it may not suit their interests, or they may not see environmental role models who look like them.  Showing kids that they can use their skills right now affects how they see themselves and their potential impact, and everyone needs to play an active role in our Earth. We need people to design robots that clean up oil spills. I believe in doing more than just advocating for a solution, but also being an active part of creating ones, too.  For me, that looks like education that creates well-informed innovators with an emphasis on robotics — because, like I encourage my students to do, I’m using my own unique skillsets to do what I can to benefit our Earth. And I’m close to their age, too. Rappaport: What kind of support can the private sector provide to you, and to Indigenous communities, either as corporate partners or as intergenerational allies? Boyer: I’m always excited to answer this question, because businesses hold the key to so much change. They’re able to solve so many problems that we see in our communities, and they have so much potential for impact — no matter the size of the company.  I don’t think you necessarily need to have an environmental activism program or initiative at your organization to make important change. I believe that people should start with supporting young changemakers in their own communities — and, on theme with our discussion, to use their own skills. For example, are you a financial adviser? Use your skills to help a young person who’s trying to start their nonprofit. Are you in marketing? Help someone who is creating an online platform and needs to get their platform out there.  To find these youth, I suggest getting involved in nonprofits that cater to students, especially ones engaged in Indigenous issues. We Indigenous peoples take care of 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity in rainforests, and in community lands we store at least 24 percent of above-ground carbon in the world’s tropical rainforests. A lot of people don’t know that. I recommend checking out organizations such as the American Indian Science and Engineering Society to see how you can get involved and be engaged as a mentor, a role model and a leader. Image Credit: Drawn by Danielle Boyer, Founder and CEO of STEAM Connection Pull Quote Each of our superpowers are different and can contribute to positive change, but we must be taught how to use them. Topics Social Justice Youth Indigenous People Environmental Justice GreenBiz 21 Featured Column On the VERGE 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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What 8 indoor farming companies plan for 2021

January 6, 2021 by  
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What 8 indoor farming companies plan for 2021 Jesse Klein Wed, 01/06/2021 – 01:30 When the pandemic exposed major issues with our lengthy food supply chain — in the form of shipment delays and inadequate demand forecasting — local vertical farms and indoor growing organizations were called upon to fill in the gaps in a way that was unprecedented. With 2020 in the history books and hopes for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic rising, these companies seek to build on their newfound momentum in 2021. With revenue for vertical farming alone estimated at just $212.4 million in 2019, one forecast calls for the industry to hit $1.38 billion by 2027, a compound annual growth rate of 26.2 percent from 2021 to 2027. Here are what eight indoor-growing leaders are planning in the year ahead. The list is presented alphabetically and represents a slice of the marketplace activity cropping up in late 2020. AeroFarms The Aerofarms facility in Jersey City, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Aerofarms AeroFarms’ four New Jersey vertical farms produced 2 million pounds of produce in 2020. And this year that number likely will skyrocket with the company’s April announcement of construction on a 90,000-square-foot indoor vertical farm in Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest vertical farm. In 2021, Aerofarms is taking on the issue of food waste more explicitly. It invested in Precision Indoor Plants (PIP) to help understand and prevent lettuce discoloration, experiment with ways to increase lettuce yield and level up leaf quality. AppHarvest  AppHarvest’s farm in Morehead, Kentucky. Photo courtesy of AppHarvest Appalachian company AppHarvest has launched three indoor farms in Kentucky. It chose the state specifically because it’s within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population. In early 2021, AppHarvest will harvest its first crop of tomatoes, a move meant to help reduce reliance and emissions from imported tomatoes. In 2019, 60 percent of America’s tomatoes were imported. The farms use a closed-loop system that runs entirely off recycled rainwater to eliminate agricultural runoff and reduce water usage. Bowery Farming Bowery Farming’s second farm in Kearny, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Bowery Farming Bowery Farming, based in New York City, plans to invest its 600 percent increase in sales last year into a new vertical farm in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 2021. By working with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the Governor’s Action Team, Bowery is turning an arid industrial site into 8.7 acres of modern farmland that also should help the economic recovery of the area. Bethlehem once was a thriving steel town with Bethlehem Steel Corporation once employing around 60 percent of the local workforce at its peak before shutting down in 1998 . Since then, the city has had to transition into different sectors. Bowery Farming hopes to be part of that evolution. Its farm will create 70 jobs and feature LED lighting, recapture water from the plants using a water transpiration system and collect data on a massive scale to inform future farming choices.  BrightFarms This BrightFarms greenhouse produces more than two million pounds of leafy salad greens per year. Photo courtesy of BrightFarms With $100 million in new funding raised in 2020, BrightFarms plans to construct indoor farms in every major market by 2025. This year marks the start of that journey with the construction of two new facilities in North Carolina and Massachusetts.  Both farms will be six to seven acres, or almost double the company’s current facilities in Ohio, Illinois and Virginia. In 2021, BrightFarm, which makes its headquarters in Irvington, New York, also plans to roll out its proprietary AI System, Bright OS, which will use machine learning and analytics to make operations from seed to shelf more efficient.   Gotham Greens Gotham Greens operates a network of greenhouses across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, New England, Mountain West and beyond. Photo courtesy of Gotham Greens Gotham Greens has been at the forefront of urban farming for over a decade. After starting in New York and expanding across the northeast, 2021 will be the year Gotham tries to take over the rest of the country. As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered so many businesses, Gotham Greens was able to expand into Aurora, Colorado , just outside of Denver. The Colorado location is Gotham’s eighth indoor farm. It also expanded to Baltimore. Finally, in December, the company announced an $87 million funding round. The funding will support Gotham Greens products in Whole Foods Market, Albertsons Companies, Meijer, Target, King Soopers, Harris Teeter, ShopRite and Sprouts. Infarm An Infarm installation at French retailer, Metro. Photo courtesy of Infarm In 2021, Infarm is hopping on a hot industry trend — bringing the vertical farm to the grocery store. In late December, the Berlin-based company announced a partnership with Sumitomo, a Japanese company that owns Summit Store, one of Tokyo’s leading supermarket chains. The partnership will bring Infarm’s modular vertical farm directly to grocery stores. With this move, Infarm is expanding on its in-store strategy first experimented with Kroger in Berlin in 2020. Brick Street Farms also partnered last year with Publix to bring its vertical farms closer to the consumer. Infarm will install its first farm at Summit’s Gotanno location and products are scheduled to be ready for sale at the end of January. Kalera Kalera’s new farm in Houston will be the largest such facility in Texas. Photo courtesy of Kalera Kalera also plans a rapid expansion in 2021. The Orlando-based vertical farm company is pushing into Atlanta , Denver and Houston this year. This will be the company’s third, fourth and fifth farms and the first ones outside Florida. The Houston facilities will be the largest vertical farm in Texas while the Atlanta location will be the highest production volume vertical farm in the Southeast. The Atlanta one will be more than double the size of the company’s Orlando facilities — able to produce 11 million heads of lettuce. And in December Kalera announced it is expanding into the Pacific Northwest in Seattle. These new facilities will help Kalera support partnerships with grocers and restaurants in the area. Plenty Most vertical farms, including Plenty, have initially focused on leafy greens like kale. Photo courtesy of Plenty Plenty , based in San Francisco, had an eventful final quarter of 2020 and is riding that momentum into 2021. In August, the indoor farming company announced a partnership with Albertsons to expand into more than 430 stores in Southern California. It followed up that move in October with a $140 million funding round led by Softbank and a historic partnership with Driscoll’s to give consumers fresh sweet strawberries year round. This year, Plenty plans to begin construction on the world largest output vertical farm in Compton, California. Upon completion, the farm will be the size of a big box retail store and will grow over 700 acres of leafy green crops. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems 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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Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021 Mike De Socio Mon, 01/04/2021 – 02:00 Last year, a number of automakers announced or advanced ambitious plans to electrify heavy-duty big rigs, semi-trucks, box trucks, delivery vans and more. That article was one of GreenBiz’s most popular stories throughout the year. And the demand and interest in this technology is only growing stronger. Given that trucks consume the vast majority of energy compared to other modes of freight transportation, electrification in this area has huge potential to decrease the carbon impact of fleets. These new vehicles are quickly bumping up against familiar challenges of battery range, production capacity and charging, or fueling, infrastructure. That’s one reason a group of fleet leaders who spoke at the GreenBiz VERGE 20 conference late last year said they’re integrating renewable natural gas and other efficiency improvements alongside a long-term push to electrify. The transition is also proving to require a team effort that goes far beyond the vehicle manufacturers — and involving governments, utilities and a new ecosystem of technicians to go along with it. Nonetheless, the transition accelerated in 2020 as more mammoth automakers pushed electric trucking fleets closer to reality. Here’s a look at what nine big-name players accomplished over the past 12 months, and what to keep an eye on in 2021. Arrival Arrival, a five-year-old London-based startup, is establishing a presence in the U.S. and attracting major investments for its electric buses and vans still in development. The company closed out 2020 by investing $3 million and hiring 150 employees for its North American headquarters in Charlotte , North Carolina. But the bigger news for Arrival came earlier in the year, when UPS announced an order of 10,000 purpose-built electric vans, to be delivered through 2024. The deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Arrival. The upstart is hoping to distinguish itself in the electric vehicle market in two major ways. First, and perhaps most crucially, it plans to price its vehicles at the same or lower prices as comparable fossil-fuel vehicles. This will be achieved partially by using a patented, composite material the company has developed. Second, Arrival is building its vehicles in a network of “microfactories,” the first of which is in South Carolina . The smaller factories use a new type of assembly process and could allow the company to more easily customize vehicles for different customers . Each microfactory will be able to produce 10,000 vans or 1,000 buses per year, Arrival President Avinash Rugoobur told the Observer. Arrival still has yet to specify the range specifications for its vans, but it’s expected to be at least 100 miles . The composite material promises to make the vans lightweight and resistant to damage, another potential edge for Arrival over other van designs emerging in the market. The vans are expected to start rolling out for delivery in 2022. BYD delivered its 100th battery-electric truck in the U.S in early 2020. Photo courtesy of BYD BYD BYD is well-known for its electric buses, which continue to sell to fleets around the country. But the company’s trucking division is ramping up production of medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks, too. BYD is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, and its models include a Class 8 Day Cab, a Class 6 truck, a terminal tractor and two models of all-electric refuse trucks . BYD delivered its 100th battery-electric truck in the U.S in early 2020, a Class 8 model for Anheuser-Busch’s distribution operations in Oakland, California. It’s a relationship that’s likely to continue as Anheuser-Busch has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent across its entire value chain by 2025. BYD’s Class 8 has a range of 125 miles and a top speed of 65 miles per hour. It can recharge in as little as two hours with a high-speed direct current system or in about 14 hours with a standard 240-volt charging system. Global shipping provider DHL also began piloting BYD’s Class 8 trucks in November, adding four vehicles to its fleet in Los Angeles. That easily could grow as DHL works to meet a goal of net-zero logistics-related emissions by 2050. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand unveiled a new electric model in 2020, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul. Photo courtesy of Daimler Daimler Trucks Daimler, the largest truck maker in the world, is seeing significant progress on its Freightliner eCascadia, an electric big rig that promises a 250-mile range. The German automaker recently delivered a Freightliner eCascadia to Southern California Edison (SCE) for a three-month trial of the battery-electric Class 8 truck. The power utility company will use the eCascadia to transport heavy equipment from its warehouse to service centers. It fits in with SCE’s goal to electrify 30 percent of its medium-duty vehicles and pickup trucks and 8 percent of its heavy-duty trucks by 2030. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand also unveiled a new electric model this year, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul. It builds on the company’s existing short-range eActros truck that is already being tested by customers. The eActros LongHaul promises a 310-mile range, and Daimler predicts it will be ready for production by 2024 . Alongside the eActros LongHaul, Daimler also announced an electric-fuel cell truck called the Mercedes-Benz GenH2, which it says could drive more than 600 miles before refueling is needed. Daimler expects to start piloting the truck in 2023 and making it commercially available by 2025. Ford is promising that the E-Transit van will be available starting in late 2021. Photo courtesy of Ford Ford American auto giant Ford jumped into a new sector of the electric vehicle market in 2020 with plans to develop an all-electric version of its popular Transit cargo van. Ford is promising that the E-Transit van will be available starting in late 2021. The vehicle is expected to cost “less than $45,000” and will have a range of 126 miles. Ford sells 150,000 of its traditional E-Transit vans each year. Research from the company’s internal data says the average Transit user drives 74 miles per day, well within the projected range of the electric version of the vehicle. Ford’s ambitious production timeline is backed by a $100 million investment to retrofit a Kansas City plant that is already making the diesel-powered Transit. Ford says production of the E-Transit also will create 150 jobs. Across the company, Ford’s investment in electrifying vehicles through 2022 totals $11.5 billion. New models include the Mustang Mach-E and an electric version of its Ford F-150, America’s most popular pickup truck. NIkola Motors went public in June . Photo courtesy of Nikola Nikola Motors Phoenix-based startup Nikola Motors made a big step toward rolling out its electric semi-trucks this year. The company announced over the summer plans for a $600 million factory in Arizona, where it wants to begin making fully electric trucks in 2021 and hydrogen fuel-cell models by 2023. The plans came shortly after the company went public in June , marking a year of significant growth for the lesser-known auto company named after Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor who created electric motors. The company’s models include two semi-trucks available with either fully electric or hydrogen fuel-cell electric capabilities, and anticipated ranges between 500 and 700 miles. The Nikola Two is intended for North America, and the Nikola Tre is available in Europe, Asia and Australia. Creating the infrastructure to refuel tens of thousands of hydrogen-powered big rigs that Nikola plans to put on the road will require a huge investment. The company plans to build a nationwide network of 700 hydrogen stations in the U.S. by 2028, potentially with help from BP . (To put that into perspective, there are about 400 hydrogen fueling stations worldwide .) The company plans to power each refueling station with renewable sources such as wind and solar. It will take between 10 and 15 minutes to refill one of its semi-trucks. The interior of an Amazon Rivian van. Photo courtesy of Amazon Rivian Rivian spent much of 2020 racing to fill what is by any measure a huge order: 100,000 all-electric delivery vans designed for e-commerce giant Amazon. The company is building out a factory line for the vans in its Normal, Illinois, facility. A prototype is already being tested, and Rivian expects to deliver the first vans to Amazon during the second half of 2021, according to a company spokesperson. Rivian’s agreement with Amazon promises 10,000 vans by the end of 2022 and 100,000 by 2030. The vans will be built in three sizes and are part of Amazon’s strategy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Ross Rachey, director of global fleet and product logistics for Amazon, spoke with GreenBiz Senior Writer Katie Fehrenbacher during a session at VERGE 20 . He said that in addition to the tall order Amazon gave to Rivian, another steep challenge will be the infrastructure needed to support the fleet. “The reality is that charging infrastructure, electricity and utility connections — it’s the longest lead, probably the most challenging part of this equation,” Rachey told GreenBiz. Tesla’s electric semi-truck isn’t fully commercial, but it’s changing the dialogue about electric fleets. Photo courtesy of Tesla Tesla Tesla has been teasing its entrance into the heavy-duty transportation sector for years, ever since it unveiled plans for the Tesla Semi in 2017. But production timelines have been pushed back over and over again, with the company now projecting a 2021 start date . Tesla nonetheless continues to receive large orders for the long-promised Tesla Semi electric Class-8 truck, including Walmart’s 130-truck reservation in September . Other big-name companies such as Anheuser-Busch, FedEx, PepsiCo and UPS also have expressed interest but have yet to put down the $20,000-per-truck reservation fees. The Tesla Semis will come in two models : one with a 300-mile range and one with a 500-mile range. According to the company, the expected base prices for those trucks are $150,000 and $180,000, respectively. (A typical Class 8 diesel day-cab starts at roughly $120,000.) Tesla says the Semi will accelerate from 0 mph to 60 mph in 20 seconds while carrying a full load (roughly 40 tons); it will be able to maintain that speed while traveling up a 5 percent grade, according to the company. As the delays in Tesla Semi production have piled up, some analysts believe the big rig has become a “distraction” and fundamentally different business from Tesla’s electric passenger vehicles. The VNR Electric has a 150-mile range, with speeds up to 65 mph on the highway. Photo courtesy of Volvo Volvo Volvo Trucks brought its zero-emission truck, the VNR Electric, to market just as 2020 came to a close . The VNR Electric has a 150-mile range, with speeds up to 65 mph on the highway. An 80 percent charge for the vehicle takes 70 minutes, Volvo says. The truck comes in three models: A straight truck; a 4×2 tractor; and a 6×2 tractor. Volvo invested $400 million into its New River Valley, Virginia, factory to assemble the trucks, which first rolled out in Southern California in 2019. VNR Electric comes out of Volvo’s broader Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS), itself part of California Climate Investments. The statewide program puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Volvo company statement. Volvo has said it will offer the trucks for lease or sale, and also will lease and finance charging infrastructure to go along with them. Volvo Trucks is also in the early stages of introducing a hydrogen fuel-cell truck in a partnership with Daimler . Volvo Trucks CEO Martin Lundstedt said the COVID-19 crisis was a motivating factor for the company to increase its focus in this area, according to Forbes . Workhorse made headlines in July 2020 when it announced that Ryder System would be offering the C-Series vans through its leasing and rental programs. Photo courtesy of Workhorse Workhorse An electric truck startup out of Cincinnati, Workhorse is making progress on its C-Series all-electric delivery van, with big orders arriving in 2020. The company received a purchase order for 500 of its all-electric C-1000 delivery vehicles from Pritchard Companies in November. Pritchard is one of the nation’s largest commercial vehicle distributors, selling over 30,000 vehicles each year. Workhorse also made headlines in July when it announced that Ryder System would offer the C-Series vans through its leasing and rental programs. The C-1000 Workhorse electric van includes 1,000 cubic feet of cargo space , with about 100 miles of range. The vehicle can reach top speeds of 75 mph. As Workhorse heads into 2021 with a big stack of orders, it remains to be seen whether it can deliver on production. Automotive World reported in November that the company’s factory was struggling with short staffing amid a resurgent COVID-19 outbreak in Ohio. Workhorse’s fate also depends on whether it lands a piece of a $6.3 billion United States Postal Service contract to produce 186,000 mail trucks in the coming years. Workhorse’s stock fell 21 percent on the USPS announcement that it would not choose a contractor as originally planned near the end of 2020. A decision is expected in the second quarter of 2021. Four teams are competing for the USPS contract: India’s Mahindra Automotive North America; Turkey’s Karsan/Michigan’s Morgan Olson; American companies Oshkosh/Ford; and Workhorse. Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Clean Fleets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Arrival scored a big deal with UPS early in 2020. Photo courtesy of Arrival

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Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021

Why Google, BASF and Sephora are coming together on safer chemistry

October 28, 2020 by  
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Why Google, BASF and Sephora are coming together on safer chemistry Elsa Wenzel Wed, 10/28/2020 – 02:02 It’s probably fair to say that nobody expressly set out to devise a sunscreen to bleach coral reefs or a yoga mat to emit carcinogens. Yet toxic substances circulate in waterways and bloodstreams, leached out from all the consumables of everyday life. Shortsightedness and paltry data in the cycles of product design and engineering are partly to blame for this collateral damage of modern chemistry. Most product designers are unlettered in chemistry, and the practice of green chemistry remains in its early years. Even a basic count of all the industrial chemicals in use is scarce — somewhere over 80,000 , according to the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory, although the EPA total for recent output is less than 9,000 . It’s simply asking too much of most people formulating a consumer product only to include ingredients that are proven not to harm living systems. But what if design teams seeking safer ingredients didn’t have to know much about the molecules that comprise the stuff they’re making? What if they had a handy menu that graded each chemical? In theory, picking a less-toxic choice could be as simple as shunning an “F” or “C” ingredient for an “A” or a “B” on the list. We really saw this as a key to unlock in order to improve safe and circular chemistry. That’s the vision being advanced by ChemFORWARD, a mission-driven nonprofit backed by leading corporations with serious ambitions to accelerate safer chemistry. The effort is attracting pioneers in green chemistry, design and data to build a first-of-its-kind clearinghouse to help design teams and supply chains ditch hazardous chemicals for good. Leaders on board “We really saw this as a key to unlock in order to improve safe and circular chemistry,” said Mike Werner, circular economy lead at Google, who serves on the nonprofit’s advisory board. The search giant pushes for safer chemistry and a circular economy on myriad levels , including within its office spaces, at its data centers and inside the devices it sells. “ChemFORWARD fits [into] this really big important puzzle toward making materials healthy and safe.” Google is among ChemFORWARD’s roster of “co-design” partners that includes Sephora, Target, Levi’s, HP, Levi Strauss, H&M, Nike, Steelcase and Method, each recognized for various leadership efforts toward safer chemistry. Last year, for example, Sephora became the first major cosmetics retailer to broadcast its policy on chemicals. Target’s Sustainable Product Standard came on the scene in 2013. Nike has its own Chemistry Playbook . Levi’s innovations include its recyclable Wellthread denim line. Other ChemFORWARD partners include the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals.  ChemFORWARD’s technical advisory board is led by Art Fong, Apple’s green chemistry lead. Corporate scientists and chemists also come together via ChemFORWARD for regular meetings and peer reviews with third-party toxicology firms. The nonprofit is betting that teaming up with such pathfinders will help spark lasting industry innovation via its tool, in the process lowering the cost for even small companies to find safer chemical alternatives for their products. “Our intention is to reverse decades of negative impacts from the inundation of toxic chemicals that we find in our products, our economy, our environment and our bodies,” said ChemFORWARD Executive Director Stacy Glass, who has led the effort from a project within the  Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute to its current iteration, housed within the Washington, D.C.-based Healthy Building Network , a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable building materials. “We need new solutions, new ways of thinking about things to have safe, circular products.” We are fundamentally changing the way that chemical hazard data is created, maintained, distributed and financed. ChemFORWARD seeks not only to display what chemicals not to use, but also what’s available instead. This aim progresses away from the longtime industry reliance on restricted substances lists that can leave product makers empty-handed, while liberating data that until recently has been trapped in various PDF reports or proprietary databases. ChemFORWARD seeks to stand apart from other data plays by building bridges in the supply chain with its “collaborative, harmonized” approach. “We are fundamentally changing the way that chemical hazard data is created, maintained, distributed and financed,” Glass said. What’s inside However, ChemFORWARD is entering an area that’s already seeing a lot of activity. Multiple hazards assessment standards are available in increasingly usable formats to help companies identify problematic chemicals. The for-profit firm Scivera , launched in 2008 in Charlottesville, Virginia, offers a subscription database SciveraLENS, with color-coded grades for chemicals based on their inherent hazards. ChemFORWARD’s web-based software pools together data from some of the best-known chemicals assessment methodologies. A color-coded letter grade rolls up information from the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification , Cradle to Cradle (on material health) and the EPA SaferChoice Safer Chemical Ingredients List . That results in offering users more than 50 pieces of interpretation and over 20 human and environmental endpoints, such as around neurotoxicity or aquatic toxicity, for each chemical. A view inside a ChemFORWARD display of dimethyl phthalate, used in plastics. “The work that ChemFORWARD is doing and proposes to do will provide important additional information to a community of organizations seeking real-world data to better understand the safety implications of their materials choices,” said green chemistry trailblazer John C. Warner, a distinguished research fellow at synthetic biology startup Zymergen. Think of nearly any consumer-product chemical villain that’s dominated recent headlines for disrupting ecosystems or being linked to cancer or hormonal havoc. Chances are ChemFORWARD is building a collection of alternatives to it. These include ortho-phthalate plasticizers found in flexible toys, UV-blocking oxybenzone in sunscreens and halogenated flame retardants in electronics. ChemFORWARD has portfolios of alternative cleaning solvents , cosmetics preservatives and fragrance fixatives. The goal is for ChemFORWARD to scale up from about 200 to 2,000 safer chemicals in 2021. “The more technical person can see the technical data they need,” Glass said. “But most companies need, ‘Can I use it [or] can I not use it?’ for an answer.” More than skin deep ChemFORWARD is building clearinghouses for electronics and food packaging, but one of its earliest repositories coalesces data in beauty and personal care, with hundreds of safer alternatives. Someone shopping around to include a safer surfactant in a skin cleanser or an emollient in a moisturizing lotion can consult the tool for the green “A” or “B” options. Sephora, which is mindful of its many eco-conscious young customers and became a co-design partner with ChemFORWARD in March, recently took steps to advance beyond its restricted substances list. The company says 94 percent of all the products it sells eliminate potentially negative “high-priority” chemicals. The Clean at Sephora label for sustainable beauty care products in its catalog features goods from more than five dozen smaller companies, including BeautyCounter . “We knew the importance of creating a baseline expectation for all brands in terms of safety and the environment,” Carley Klekas, Sephora’s senior manager of product sustainability, said. “Sephora already had rigorous requirements in place, specifically with our in-house brand, Sephora Collection, that goes beyond EU regulations, but we also wanted to expand this even more across the brands we carry.” These chemicals used in cosmetics display letter grades according to safety. It teamed up with ChemFORWARD and EDF on a research project that prioritized four chemical categories common within beauty and personal care: preservatives; benzophenones; silicones; and ethanolamines. Sephora then sponsored chemical hazard assessments for the alternative ingredients named in the research. As a result of the partnership, safer alternatives have been assessed for 73 percent of Sephora’s high-priority chemicals — and made available to industry via ChemFORWARD. “We needed a credible and innovative resource to help us assess alternatives to chemicals within our policy, to ensure they were safe, and that we were avoiding regrettable substitution,” Klekas said. “We know this is important work to be done and will ultimately help showcase that there are safer alternatives to the high-priority chemicals we seek to reduce in our assortment, while also help the industry identify gaps where more innovation is needed.” The innovation puzzle Glass sees ChemFORWARD’s highest mission as its potential for furthering innovation. But that requires buy-in not only from retailers and product manufacturers, but also from the chemical producers themselves. The process of making chemical substitutions is only one step along the path to optimizing shiny, new, safer chemicals, which Glass hopes to help propel. Enter Pat Harmon, industry manager at chemicals powerhouse BASF. He’s been involved with ChemFORWARD for many years after meeting Lauren Heine through a Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (G3C) event. Heine was then executive director of the nonprofit Northwest Green Chemistry and had just joined MaterialWise, the early iteration of ChemFORWARD, where she’s now director of safer materials and data integrity. BASF’s sustainability strategy hinges upon developing chemicals that advance sustainability, called “accelerators,” which account for more than 25 percent of its sales. Ninety-five percent of BASF’s products have been evaluated for potential sustainability contributions. BASF has a history of involvement in collaborative assessments, and it quantifies the sustainability benefits of its products through life-cycle assessments and its Sustainable Solutions Steering methodology. It’s really powerful in terms of thinking about moving to green chemistry. Harmon aligned with Heine on the need for better third-party assessments for alternatives to troublesome ortho-phthalates, which are tied to multiple health problems. He also liked what she described of how the fledgling nonprofit chemical clearinghouse might lower the cost to companies of chemical assessments while moving away from “negative lists.” ChemFORWARD’s involvement with leadership brands and retailers, which are ultimately BASF’s downstream customers, also helped to elevate the case for BASF getting involved.  Eventually, BASF shared details for ChemFORWARD about several of its plasticizer accelerators, including its ortho-phthalate alternatives Hexamoll DINCH and Palatinol DOTP . These are used in flexible PVC and in a broad range of applications including children’s toys, yoga mats, wiring cable, vinyl flooring and automotive interiors. A bridge? “Now, chemical suppliers have the option to market their safer alternatives and to validate their low-hazard claims through an independent, trusted platform,” Glass said. “In this way, we create a bridge between chemical suppliers, their customers and prospective customers with data that has been traditionally hard to come by, difficult to interpret and sometimes hard to trust.” Harmon sees ChemFORWARD as a useful tool for companies that ultimately use BASF’s chemicals as well as a resource that can help move safer chemistry forward in industry, demonstrating for BASF’s customers the value of the safer decisions behind their product formulations. And the involvement with CHEMForward may help BASF to identify potential market gaps in areas where the number of attractive chemical alternatives is slim.  “This is why the ChemFORWARD project is so important,” Harmon said. “It’s one of the ways to help understand that you’re making the right decisions to move to new substances. I would really like to see this approach be used more and more.” For example, what if ChemFORWARD could grow to include the broader area of plastics additives in addition to plasticizers, such as flame retardants and light stabilizers? That could bring more of the plastic industry onboard, he added. “If you make it broader for the whole plastics industry, then you have a lot of people who would have interest in using this type of tool,” Harmon said, optimistic that ChemFORWARD may help to advance plastics circularity longer term. For example, if it identifies safer plastics used, say, in medical equipment that’s currently discarded, then more IV bags or other consumables finally might be recycled without the possibility of circulating harmful chemicals into the marketplace and the environment, Harmon said.   Here’s a view of inherent hazards for benzophenone, known to damage coral reefs. It has been banned in sunscreens in Hawaii. ChemFORWARD’s small team hopes to encourage more chemical suppliers to get involved by providing them a means to bring forth their safer chemicals in a way that’s trustworthy, verified and peer-reviewed by a third party, also broadening the availability of their chemicals for certifications and reporting. Companies can use this information for marketing purposes, including for consumer labels, but it’s also critical for risk management and verifying internal claims about a product. “As we get more and more eyes on our platform, we’ll be able to make that case even more strongly that: ‘Hey, chemical suppliers, if you have good stuff and you want to verify those claims, this is a great place to do it,'” Glass said. “We feel a tremendous sense of urgency to not only stop unknowing toxic chemical exposure, but to empower those who are working to create a safe and circular future for all.” Data driven Glass spent a decade in green building, serving as VP for the built environment at the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute , which shaped in 2016 the earliest version of ChemFORWARD. Research across industries, up and down supply chains, found that companies lacked information to use better chemistry. Good attempts by other nonprofits had failed to gain traction. Recognizing a larger industry need, the institute spun out the effort, which currently counts less than 10 staff members distributed across the U.S. and a network of toxicologists. I realized this was a data organization problem, our not knowing what was in our stuff and what we’re exposed to. “I realized this was a data organization problem, our not knowing what was in our stuff and what we’re exposed to, and the incredible tax this exposure is causing to society,” Glass said. “I’m not a chemist, I’m not a toxicologist — I said, we can fix this. I see the solution clearly. I’ll take any data solution, any scalable solution, that will get this information into the hands of designers and formulators so (they) can make safer decisions.” It’s possible ChemFORWARD ultimately could feed data into life-cycle analysis or supply chain management tools. It can’t hurt to have Google as a partner, and it’s worth noting that the advisory board’s latest addition is Kimberly Shenk, co-founder of the AI-driven supply chain transparency startup Novi. The movement, however, has a long road ahead. It’s still relatively cheap for companies to crank out new molecules, and the chemicals industry is a powerful economic engine and lobbying force. Nevertheless, ChemFORWARD and others pivoting away from the conventional focus in managing chemical risks and instead toward making decisions based on inherent toxicity is a huge paradigm shift, said Mark Rossi, executive director of Clean Production Action, who also created the GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals hazard assessment method with Heine. “It’s really powerful in terms of thinking about moving to green chemistry,” he said. “All chemistry should be green chemistry, and how do you get there? This is all part of that movement toward making choices based on hazards.” Pull Quote We really saw this as a key to unlock in order to improve safe and circular chemistry. We are fundamentally changing the way that chemical hazard data is created, maintained, distributed and financed. It’s really powerful in terms of thinking about moving to green chemistry. I realized this was a data organization problem, our not knowing what was in our stuff and what we’re exposed to. We create a bridge between chemical suppliers, their customers and prospective customers with data that has been traditionally hard to come by, difficult to interpret and sometimes hard to trust. Hey, chemical suppliers, if you have good stuff and you want to verify those claims, this is a great place to do it. Topics Chemicals & Toxics Data Eco-Design BASF Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Industrial chemicals have proliferated exponentially since the time of this antique medical cabinet, and new ways of organizing them are sorely needed. Shutterstock Triff Close Authorship

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Why Google, BASF and Sephora are coming together on safer chemistry

The top 25 most sustainable fleets

October 26, 2020 by  
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The top 25 most sustainable fleets Katie Fehrenbacher Mon, 10/26/2020 – 02:00 However you look at it, 2020 is a turning point for fleets.  Thanks to converging forces — including supportive policies, dropping battery costs and aggressive climate goals — transportation leaders at large and small organizations are increasingly turning to new zero-emission and low-carbon options that decarbonize fleets and in some cases save money. Fleets are often the workhorses that toil behind the scenes: the garbage trucks that pick up your trash before dawn; the long-haul semi-trucks that move goods from the port; the bucket trucks that utilities use to fix power lines and keep your lights on; the delivery vans that drop off your packages and help you stay safe inside your homes. The definition of fleet is evolving. Ride-hailing companies such as Lyft own vehicles, but they’re also working to help drivers that own their own vehicles move into EVs. The young e-scooter companies also own large “fleets,” although not in the traditional sense .  Fleet leaders are also facing increasing pressure. Policies such as California’s Advanced Clean Truck rule are forcing organizations in the state to phase in zero-emission trucks and phase out fossil fuel-based ones. Progressive cities, many in Europe, are building zones in downtown centers that are banning fossil-fuel vehicles and incentivizing zero-emission models. A global company that wants to deliver goods to residents in cities such as London, Paris, Madrid and soon Santa Monica , California, will need zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) fleets or it will lose business. ZEVs are also an opportunity for fleets. Certain types of vehicles — including transit and school buses, delivery vans and light-duty cars — can save fleet owners considerable money when they’re switched to electric. Other types of fleets such as long-haul trucks will take a lot& longer to go electric.  One of the biggest concerns for fleet leaders is how to design, plan, deploy and manage the complicated infrastructure that sometimes can be required to charge or fuel various types of fleets. Investments in software and data, as well as building deep relationships with utilities, will be key to helping fleets navigate this daunting ecosystem. Another chief concern is a lack of electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicle models from major OEMs in the U.S. that fit fleets’ needs. Time and again, fleet leaders say there just aren’t enough ZEV vehicles available for them to buy, and the ones that are available are just too expensive without incentives right now. The pandemic has created unique challenges for fleets, including safety concerns for drivers, additional vehicle cleaning costs and the need to redesign operations around social distancing measures. But the pandemic also has shone a spotlight on just how important many of these fleets are — in midst of the most aggressive lockdowns, trucks were running lifesaving groceries and personal protective equipment to communities and hospitals across the U.S. So here’s our list, in alphabetical order, of 25 organizations taking important steps to decarbonize their fleets, buying (or planning to buy) new zero-emission vehicles and making the still-difficult choice to be an early adopter. The list includes public agencies, big corporations, small companies, school districts, utilities — it runs the gamut.  To hear from some of these fleet leaders — including Seattle’s Philip Saunders, Port Authority NY and NJ’s Christine Weydig, Anheuser-Busch’s Angie Slaughter, Walmart’s Zach Freeze, Amazon’s Ross Rachey, IKEA’s Angela Hultberg, FedEx’s Russ Musgrove, Genentech’s Andy Jefferson and Lime’s Andrew Savage — tune into VERGE 20 across the next five days. The keynotes are free, but you’ll need to buy a pass for the transportation deep-dive sessions .  Media Authorship Amazon Close Authorship Amazon Amazon’s domination of commerce and delivery means it’s got a lot of emissions from the vehicles that deliver orders to our doorsteps every day. But in early 2019, Amazon announced an industry-first for a delivery company: It pledged that half of all of its shipments would be net-zero carbon by 2030. The entire company (including transportation) will be net-zero carbon by 2040. In true Amazon form, the company has written its own vehicle playbook and disrupted the status quo. While many fleet managers are challenged to find vehicles available that they can buy, Amazon routed around that problem by investing in — and planning to buy — 100,000 electric trucks from startup Rivian. Will Rivian eventually be a division of Amazon? Maybe: It would make sense for Amazon to bring vehicle production in-house in its constant bid for vertical integration. But Amazon is also buying electric versions of the Mercedes-Benz sprinter van that dominates delivery markets. For now, we’re eagerly watching and waiting for more details about Amazon’s growing zero-emission and low-carbon vehicle fleet. Media Authorship Anheuser-Busch Close Authorship Anheuser-Busch Beer giant Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. subsidiary of AB InBev, delivers about a million shipments of its beer per year, largely in trucks carrying beers such as Budweiser and Stella Artois to grocery stores and bars around the U.S. Of course, all that trucking delivers a big greenhouse gas footprint: 10 percent of Anheuser-Busch’s carbon emissions come from transportation. But the beverage maker has a big sustainability plan and is taking a first-mover approach to decarbonizing its dedicated fleet of around 1,600 vehicles. The company has an order to buy up to 800 of Nikola Motor’s hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks and 40 Tesla Semi trucks. It could be one of the first fleets in the country to get long-haul zero-emission vehicles, and it has a plan to convert its entire long-haul dedicated fleet to ZEVs by 2025. At the same time, it’s already adopting renewable natural gas to power its natural gas trucks in its short-haul fleet.  Overall, Anheuser-Busch has a goal to slash carbon emissions by a quarter across its entire supply chain by 2025. Just a short five years away. An Antelope Valley Transit Authority bus on the road. Media Source Flickr Media Authorship Hiveminer Close Authorship Antelope Valley Transit Authority This summer, the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) — a transit organization that serves the Southern California cities of Lancaster and Palmdale — hit a milestone : 3 million miles of zero-emission bus operation. The group’s fleet consists of 93 buses, 61 of which are zero-emission buses, and the majority of those are BYD-made electric models. The transit authority was one of the first in the U.S. to make a major commitment to electric buses four years ago, partly thanks to its close proximity to the American headquarters of BYD in Lancaster. A former BYD exec even joined AVTA as its CEO and has helped lead the e-bus transition. AVTA says in addition to slashed carbon emissions and local air pollution, it’s been able to save 769,231 gallons of diesel fuel, the equivalent of more than $1 million in fuel cost savings.  Denver International Airport If you’ve ever flown through Denver’s International Airport, you know the city prides itself on its innovative design and customer-friendly amenities. But it’s also been aggressively adopting zero- and low-emission vehicles.  Our friends at 100 Best Fleets named Denver International Airport the second greenest fleet in America. It’s got close to 300 alternative-fueled vehicles, including electric, hybrid and natural gas buses, sweepers and light-duty vehicles. The airport also incentivizes hybrid taxis and vans by reducing their access fees to the airport. Airport shuttle buses are a key area where electric vehicles will be able to make a dent, given their dedicated and short routes. States such as California are mandating that its 13 largest airports move their shuttle buses to zero-emission operations by 2035. Media Authorship Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com Close Authorship Facebook Facebook might not be thought of as a fleet leader, but two years ago Facebook acquired 43 BYD-made electric on-campus shuttles that can carry employees across its sprawling complex. At the time, the social media giant leveraged a unique financing deal led by Generate Capital to lease the vehicles , lowering the upfront costs. Facebook says it’s investigating how it can electrify its commuter shuttle buses. Facebook started testing out a double-decker electric commuter shuttle bus last year and had planned to test more out this year. However, the pandemic and remote work has thrown a wrench into many companies’ commuter ZEV bus plans. An Earthsmart FedEx zero-emission all-electrical truck in Lower Manhattan on July 17, 2014.  FedEx Delivery trucks are a key type of vehicle ready for electrification. Bloomberg New Energy Finance earlier this year declared delivery trucks to be the “next segment to cross the tipping point” and an electric “killer app.”  FedEx, which has more than 100,000 vehicles in its Express division across the world, has been working on its zero-emission and low-carbon vehicle program for a couple of years. Two years ago, FedEx announced a partnership with startup Chanje to add 1,000 Chanje electric delivery vehicles to its fleet: 100 bought outright and 900 leased through Ryder. Chanje is also supplying FedEx with EV charging infrastructure  FedEx recently told the New York Times that it added close to 400 electric vehicles in its fleet internationally last year, which brought its total EVs to close to 3,000, including forklifts and airport ground service equipment.   One of Genentech’s electric buses, made by BYD. Media Authorship Genentech Close Authorship Genentech Biotech giant Genentech is a surprising fleet leader: It’s got the most aggressive electric commuter bus programs around, in addition to its other EV fleet goals. Two years ago, the company started running electric BYD-made commuter buses to move its employees across the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area — from as far north as Vacaville to as far south as San Jose — to its headquarters in South San Francisco. While many companies are hesitant to rely on EVs for such long routes, Genentech took the plunge. And the company says it is happy with the results. Today, Genentech is in the process of converting close to half of its 60 buses on batteries.  In addition to its electric commuter buses, Genentech has committed to converting its entire light-duty sales fleet of 1,200 cars to electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030. IKEA is using an electric truck fleet in Shanghai to deliver its products to customers. Media Authorship IKEA Close Authorship Ingka Group (IKEA) Inkga Group, aka IKEA, has its own unique take on a ZEV fleet. The company doesn’t own its own vehicles, but its products are delivered via 10,000 vehicles globally, owned by delivery companies such as DHL and UPS. As a result, IKEA is using its large footprint to partner, push and pull its partners into ZEVs. IKEA says by 2025 all last-mile delivery of its goods will be done in electric vehicles. And by the end of this year (yes, 2020), IKEA says it will electrify its last-mile delivery in Shanghai, Paris, Los Angeles, New York and Amsterdam. It’s already happened in Shanghai and other cities are well underway. Los Angeles is proving a little more challenging, IKEA Chief Sustainability Officer Pia Heidenmark Cook said recently during a session at Climate Week. But if companies don’t push themselves, they won’t make progress. LeasePlan Netherlands-based LeasePlan is a large fleet management company that mostly operates in Europe but also has a solid presence in the U.S. We’re including the company because it was a founding member of the Climate Group’s EV100 Program and because of its first-of-its-kind ZEV fleet commitment.  The company has pledged to zero out its emissions for all of its customers’ fleets — at a whopping 1.8 million vehicles — by 2030. What’s more, it also plans to electrify its own employee fleet by 2021. These kinds of commitments are still unheard of broadly in the U.S. Europe is moving at a much faster trajectory toward electric vehicles than the U.S., despite the U.S.’s being the birthplace to EV leader Tesla. Many European countries and cities are committing to provide incentives for electric vehicles and banning fossil-fuel ones from city centers. Lime’s 3.0 scooter. Media Authorship Lime Close Authorship Lime Lime is our wildcard on the top fleets list. The electric scooter company operates a fleet of well over 100,000 electric scooters, as well as owned and leased trucks and vans that the company uses to move around its scooters.  Earlier this year, Lime pledged  — as part of the EV100 — to transition its entire fleet of vehicles to electric by 2030. It’s already powering its scooters and operations with clean energy as well as buying carbon offsets to neutralize emissions. Recently Lime also announced a partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation, which include programs around education, advocacy and carbon innovation. Next up for Lime? The scooter company is looking at new warehouse space where it can optimize charging infrastructure for an electric fleet. It’s also partnered with Ceres to help advocate for policies that will support a transition to electric fleets. Electrify America and Lyft partnered to bring chargers to Lyft EV drivers in Denver. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Electrify America Close Authorship Lyft Electrifying ride-hailing will be tricky, given most ride-hailing drivers own their own vehicles. But this summer, ride-hailing giant Lyft announced it plans to transition to 100 percent electric vehicles — both for the vehicles it owns and driver-owned vehicles — by 2030. It’ll take a big lift, a lot of outside-the-box thinking and major policy support to get there. But the time is now, and Uber set a similar goal after Lyft. Some policies are moving the ride-hailing giants in that direction. Cities, many of them in Europe, are setting incentives and mandates to ban fossil-fuel vehicles and transition to zero-emission vehicles in city centers. States such as California are setting specific rules for the ride-hailing companies to track and reduce their emissions. City of Oakland The city of Oakland in California has a long history of setting climate and sustainability goals, and in 2003 adopted a green fleet policy. As a result of a holistic and innovative approach, the city — which uses 1,500 types of vehicles — no longer uses diesel-powered vehicles and is using a combination of low-carbon fuels, compressed natural gas and electric vehicles. Its circular renewable diesel fueling system is unique in the country. It takes waste grease and oils from local businesses and its partner Neste converts them to renewable diesel, which then powers many of Oakland’s trucks. Richard Battersby, assistant director at Oakland Public Works, is a leader in the green fleet space for his work on Oakland’s fleet. This summer, Oakland adopted an equitable climate plan with ambitious targets for 2030, calling for a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gases relative to 2005 levels. The end goal is carbon neutrality.  PG&E Northern California’s Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has spent the last few years building out an electric fleet of 1,360 electric vehicles to add to the thousands of other vehicles in its low-carbon fleet that use sources such as natural gas and biodiesel. The company uses vehicles such as pickup trucks, bucket trucks and light-duty vehicles for various operations. PG&E’s goal is to electrify 100 percent of its light-duty vehicles, 10 percent of its medium-duty vehicles and 5 percent of its heavy-duty vehicles. There are particular challenges with battery range when it comes to electrifying heavy-duty emergency response vehicles and other work vehicles that don’t have unpredictable and lengthy routes. In addition to transforming its own fleet, PG&E is supporting the uptake of EVs for its 23,000 employees and has installed more than 1,230 charging stations at its facilities. It makes sense for utilities to be early adopters of fleet electrification, given they are helping their customers make a similar transition and need to learn their customers’ experience. PepsiCo Global beverage behemoth PepsiCo has an overarching goal to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2030. It’s got a lot of work to do across packaging, water, the sources for its products and — its fleet. The company runs vehicles such as long-haul trucks, yard trucks and forklifts to move its various products — from soft drinks to snacks to bottled water — across the globe. PepsiCo is building out a pilot facility with various low-carbon and electric vehicles at its Frito Lay campus in Modesto, California. The site, leveraging state incentives, will use 15 electric Tesla Semi Trucks, six electric Peterbilt e220 straight trucks, three BYD electric yard trucks, 12 BYD electric forklifts and 38 Volvo natural gas trucks fueled by renewable natural gas. The facility also will deploy charging and fueling infrastructure as well as solar and onsite battery storage. Media Source Flickr Media Authorship PGE Close Authorship Portland General Electric In September, Portland-based utility Portland General Electric announced that it plans to electrify large portions of its 1,167 vehicles. It already has 91 EVs in use, but the new commitment will deploy 600 electric vehicles and retire 600 fossil fuel-burning vehicles over the next 10 years. The goal is for its fleet to be 61 percent electric within a decade. Like with Pacific Gas & Electric, the really heavy-duty trucks — bucket trucks and dump trucks — will be the hardest to electrify, and Portland General Electric plans to transition 30 percent of those. Beyond fleet electrification, Portland General Electric has been a leader when it comes to trying to proactively find ways to enable the EVs on its network to be a net benefit. It’s been building out smart grid tech and testing out a virtual power plant . The company’s electric vehicles go hand-in-hand with its clean energy goals, and Portland General Electric expects to serve half of its customers with renewable-generated electricity by 2022.  Port Authority New York and New Jersey Port Authority New York and New Jersey has the largest electric bus fleet on the East Coast, including 36 buses and 19 chargers, at the region’s three biggest airports. The organization recently said it had reached its goal to have a 100 percent electric bus fleet by the end of this year (close to three months early). Beyond the bus fleet, 130 of the organization’s light-duty vehicles, used by employees and police officers, are electric. By 2023, Port Authority says over 600 — or 50 percent of its light-duty fleet — will be electric.  Port Authority’s fleet goals are all part of its overarching plan to reach a 35 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050. Salt River Project Tempe, Arizona-based Salt River Project (SRP) provides electricity and power to 1 million residents in central Arizona. The company has spent the past six years investigating and piloting electric vehicle tech for its employees, its fleet and its customers.  Today, SRP uses close to 200 electric vehicles, both on-road and offroad, including light-duty vehicles, bucket trucks, forklifts and utility carts. The organization also has the largest workplace EV charging program in Arizona, with close to 200 employees driving plug-in vehicles to SRP’s facility. SRP says this program is expected to grow to 450 employees (or 7 percent of its workforce) over the next five years. Down the road, SRP’s goals are to electrify 100 percent of its sedan fleet by the end of 2021 and reduce 30 percent of its fleet emissions by 2035. In addition, SRP expects 500,000 customers using EVs by 2035, and it will build plans and programs to help charge 90 percent of those customers’ EV loads.  Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority The Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority, which provides buses, light rail, paratransit and BART stations for greater Silicon Valley, has been an early transit group to codify sustainability goals, to implement clean energy technologies and, two years ago, to deploy electric buses.  In 2018, VTA put its first five electric buses , built by Proterra and using DC fast charging infrastructure made by Chargepoint, into service. The company has plans to procure 35 more electric buses over the next several years, on its way to meeting California’s mandate that says all transit buses must be zero-emission by 2040. VTA closely tracks its energy use for its fleet. Its goals are to reduce its fleet’s energy consumption by 35 percent below 2009 levels by 2025 and 60 percent by 2040.  Schneider Electric Earlier this year, energy company Schneider Electric announced that it’s joining the Climate Group’s EV100 program and will transition its entire 14,000 vehicle fleet to electric by 2030. The company is based in France but has operations across the globe. The company sells EV charging equipment and software, among many other energy and grid products, so it makes sense for it to use this huge commitment to learn more about what its customers are experiencing. Schneider Electric is also installing EV charging equipment at its facilities for its employees.            City of Seattle Over the last decade, the greater Puget Sound region has been looking to reduce its carbon emissions from transportation, which accounts for 60 percent of its total emissions. Alongside that regional issue, the city of Seattle has an aggressive and multi-pronged green fleet strategy for its over 6,000 vehicles, across departments such as police, fire and utilities.  Seattle’s future fleet goals include cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025 and using only fossil-fuel-free vehicles by 2030. The fleet team, led by Philip Saunders, is looking to rapidly electrify, build out EV charging infrastructure, aggressively reduce fuel use, swap in low-carbon fuels for certain types of vehicles and pilot technologies that are not yet cost-effective or widely available. The company uses a wide range of technologies including renewable diesel, biodiesel, propane and EVs.  Twin Rivers School District Three years ago, Twin Rivers School District in California became one of the first school districts in the U.S. to deploy electric school buses. Today the organization operates 35 electric school buses, and over the next three years it plans to convert the bulk of its fleet, or 91 school buses, to electric. In the interim, Twin Rivers has natural gas buses, some of which run on renewable natural gas, and is running all of its diesel buses on renewable diesel from Neste . Following the switch to renewable diesel, it’s entire fleet is fossil-fuel-free.  Twin Rivers Director of Transportation Tim Shannon told GreenBiz in an interview earlier this year that the organization is already using the electric buses to pilot the vehicle-to-grid technology with Sacramento Municipal Utility District. It’s not just about cool tech, though. Shannon explains: “Our green bus program is taking an area that is highly densely populated, we’re transporting a lot of kids, we’re a disadvantaged community and a high rate of air pollution. We’re lowering all that, and we’re making it an eco-friendly place to live.” Look how happy everyone is in this Uber! Uber Following Lyft’s announcement, Uber revealed that it, too, plans to transition to an all zero-emission fleet. Uber says it will reach that goal by 2040. First, it will have 100 percent of its rides in the U.S., Canada and Europe, be electric by 2030.  Uber already has made progress in cities such as London, where it’s moving to an all-electric fleet. Uber says it will commit $800 million to help drivers on its platform move to EVs by 2025. The company also operates scooters and bikes, and its app encourages riders to use public transit.  The ride-hailing giants need to move to ZEV as cities and states pressure them with mandates. The California Air Resources Board recently found that the carbon emissions of Uber and Lyft’s vehicle fleet per passenger mile is over 50 percent higher than regular cars driving on the roads.  Unilever The consumer product company, based in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, says it will commit its entire global fleet of 11,000 vehicles to electric by 2030 as part of the Climate Group’s EV100 program. Its interim goals are 25 percent EV or hybrid by 2020, and 50 percent by 2025. Unilever has broader sustainability goals beyond its fleet, which include becoming “carbon positive” in its operations by 2030; 100 percent of its energy will come from renewables.  The UPS Rolling Laboratory of about 9,300 alternative vehicles includes more than 1,000 electric and hybrid electric delivery trucks in cities worldwide. Source: UPS UPS For several years UPS has been operating its “rolling laboratory” approach to piloting and deploying low-carbon and electric vehicles. Of its fleet of 125,000 package vans, trucks, motorcycles and tractors, UPS has 10,300 alternative-fuels vehicles, and it’s done a substantial project in London with smart grid tech and EVs. Earlier this year, UPS kicked its EV plans into overdrive. UPS announced it plans to buy 10,000 electric vehicles from partner Arrival, purpose-built for UPS. At the same time, UPS made an investment in the startup through its venture arm, UPS Ventures.  The strategy is similar to Amazon’s move with Rivian. The OEMs haven’t been producing the vehicles that these large fleets want and need, so the biggest companies are diving into the supply chain to help create their own. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Walmart Close Authorship Walmart Walmart is just starting its green fleet journey but kicked off the move with a bang by announcing in late 2020 hat it would transition its entire fleet to zero emissions by 2040, including its long-haul trucks. Up until now, much of Walmart’s strategy has been around piloting technology, adopting some zero-emission vehicles at its Canadian facility and aggressively adopting fuel-efficiency measures. Walmart has a fleet of over 10,000 vehicles including 6,500 semi-trucks and 4,000 passenger vehicles. Walmart’s senior director of strategic initiatives and sustainability at Walmart, Zach Freeze, told GreenBiz that “more needs to be done,” and Walmart wants to set the ambitious goal of zero-emission across the company. “In order to get to zero, we need to transition the fleet,” Freeze said.  Topics Transportation & Mobility Fleet Management Shipping & Logistics VERGE 20 Clean Fleets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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The top 25 most sustainable fleets

Hey Knitters: New Zealand Penguins Need Your Help

October 18, 2011 by  
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Image: Etsy.com Things are looking bleak for wildlife in New Zealand as the disastrous oil spill grows even worse . Oil-soaked

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Hey Knitters: New Zealand Penguins Need Your Help

Entire Island Nation Runs Out of Water

October 18, 2011 by  
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Water-strapped Tuvalu. Photo credit: mrlns via Flickr/CC BY Climate change largely to blame It’s a particularly bad time to live in a low-lying island nation. With global warming continuing unmitigated, rising sea levels and increasingly violent storms aren’t just dangerous. They’re existential threats. Island nations like Tuvalu and Maldives have become famous in recent years for their impassioned pleas for action on climate change. And the mental image these nations’ plights are capable of conjuring — entire countries disappearing… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Entire Island Nation Runs Out of Water

D*Haus: Concept Transformer House Morphs With The Weather

October 18, 2011 by  
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Image & video: The D*Haus Company The idea that our built environment can be fluid, adapting to the needs and constraints of the moment, is something that isn’t seen often. But so-called ” transformer spaces ,” ” transformer furniture ” and ” genetic architecture ” are all examples of ho… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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D*Haus: Concept Transformer House Morphs With The Weather

Michael Jantzen’s Amazing 1981 Modular Steel Dome House (Slideshow)

October 18, 2011 by  
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Image credit Michael Jantzen Lately we’ve been covering some of the amazing early work by designer Michael Jantzen (see how the Retro 1970s Solar Vacation House by Michael Jantzen is Still Relevant ). For his mother’s house, Jantzen turned to out of off-the-shelf agricultural building parts.

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Michael Jantzen’s Amazing 1981 Modular Steel Dome House (Slideshow)

Fresh Corn Salsa

October 14, 2011 by  
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As I mentioned in this Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa recipe, I loves me a good salsa bar. There is just so much to pick from! Enjoy this salsa with some good friends, a game of UNO and, a nicely chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio. … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Fresh Corn Salsa

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