This Indonesian high-rise performs 36% better than LEED baseline

March 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on This Indonesian high-rise performs 36% better than LEED baseline

Located in Jakarta’s central business district of Sudirman, Sequis Tower makes a space for itself on the city skyline. Drawing inspiration from the Banyan tree for both design influence and metaphoric meaning, the tower is meant to look like it’s rising organically from the ground. Sequis Tower encompasses roughly 1.5 million square feet and 40 floors. This includes spaces for offices , healthcare facilities, shops and restaurants. The innovative design uses a series of landscaped terraces composed of four bundled super-tubes. While this certainly makes the tower eye-catching, it also creates a range of different floorplates. This makes the building extremely structurally sound, which is essential considering the tower’s location in an active seismic zone. Related: Seismically-safe cave home in Spain replaces informal shelter for shepherds While the tower wall is designed to provide beautiful views of the surrounding world, it also reduces solar heat gain , which helps keep cooling costs down. Other sustainable elements have also been integrated into the design, such as high-efficiency building systems. Additionally, using locally-sourced and recycled building materials helped reduce the tower’s embedded energy, while also staying true to the building’s central theme of rising from the landscape like an organic structure. On the ground level, the tower includes spaces for pedestrians. The building’s parking area is elevated, so the ground floor remains open for green areas and walkways. The design includes an elevated park , too. KPF, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, received two major awards for Sequis Tower, starting with a design award recognizing the tower’s human-focused, efficient design. The second is a sustainability award, proving that good design and sustainability can go hand-in-hand. The building also won a slew of additional awards, including Best Green Development and Best Office. Sequis Tower is also one of the first LEED Platinum buildings in all of Indonesia. In fact, it performs 36% better than the LEED baseline. + KPF Images via Mario Wilbowo Photography

Read the original:
This Indonesian high-rise performs 36% better than LEED baseline

San Diego Zoo apes get experimental, animal-only COVID-19 vaccine

March 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on San Diego Zoo apes get experimental, animal-only COVID-19 vaccine

In California, like other states, officials have come up with a priority list of COVID-19 vaccination recipients: healthcare workers, long-term care residents, elderly people, endangered apes — wait a minute, did the bonobos and orangutans at the San Diego Zoo just jump the line? No, they’re the first great apes to receive an experimental COVID-19 vaccine made specifically for animals. After some of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s gorillas tested positive in January, zoo keepers were worried. The IUCN Red List includes all gorilla species in the endangered or critically endangered categories. “Susceptibility to disease” is cited as one of the main dangers. Gorillas live in family groups, like many people, so infections can quickly spread. Related: Tourists could spread COVID-19 to gorillas in East Africa The decision to vaccinate was not made lightly. “This isn’t the norm,” said Nadine Lamberski, chief conservation and wildlife health officer at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, as reported by National Geographic . “In my career, I haven’t had access to an experimental vaccine this early in the process and haven’t had such an overwhelming desire to want to use one.” Zoetis, a veterinary pharmaceutical company, developed the vaccine. Last month, the San Diego Zoo used it to vaccinate five bonobos and four orangutans. Bonobos are endangered, and orangutans are critically endangered. The zoo also plans to vaccinate one gorilla. Because many of the zoo’s gorillas have already recovered from COVID-19, they’re considered lower priority than some of the other primates. At first, Zoetis was developing the vaccine for use in cats and dogs, the only animals it has been tested on. But when COVID-19 broke out in farmed mink populations last year, the company shifted its focus to mink. The vaccine is similar to the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine produced for humans. The USDA has not yet approved the experimental vaccine for animal use in the U.S. So far, the vaccinated apes seem to be doing fine. Soon they’ll be checked for antibodies. For Karen, one of the orangutans, making medical headlines is nothing new. In 1994, she was the world’s first orangutan to have open-heart surgery. Via National Geographic and Live Science Image via Oleg

View original here:
San Diego Zoo apes get experimental, animal-only COVID-19 vaccine

An inside look at pricing in the forest carbon market

March 2, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on An inside look at pricing in the forest carbon market

An inside look at pricing in the forest carbon market Wilder Person Tue, 03/02/2021 – 00:05 On June 23, Amazon commenced its $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund to further endeavors to become net-zero by 2040. In January 2020, Microsoft committed to invest $1 billion over the next four years as part of their Climate Innovation Fund. And on July 21, Apple committed to become 100 percent carbon neutral across its entire business, supply chain and product life cycle by 2030.  These commitments and investments along with those of other corporations have created an important source of demand and funding for forest carbon. While much of this capital will be used and already has been used for other carbon removal strategies and technologies, a significant portion of it has been and should continue to be available for forest carbon.  But corporations do not just go directly to and pay landowners willing to conserve their forest. Instead, carbon project developers that act as the intermediaries between the two making everything happen.  There’s also a problem: Despite the billions of dollars put forth for carbon removal, the price per forest carbon credit is still not high enough to prompt a critical mass of owners to stop traditional harvesting and start the carbon-credit adventure. Currently, the average price per credit in the voluntary market is about $4 to $6 and in the compliance market it ranges between $12 and $14, according to two companies.  To better understand how forest carbon projects are conducted, the CFN interviewed three carbon project developers, EP Carbon (formerly Ecopartners), Bluesource and Finite Carbon. In spite of their respective success, all three developers have different business strategies. Finite Carbon specializes in forest carbon projects and puts emphasis on understanding landowners’ needs and how carbon strategies can fit into and be a part of forest management. EP Carbon uses innovation and creativity to make carbon projects and their accompanying standards work for an eclectic range of landowners. Bluesource takes on many project types beyond forest carbon and tailors their process not only to landowners but to corporations as well by making marketing a top priority.  At their core the developers use landowners’ property parameters — the diameter at breast height (DBH) of their trees, tree heights and tree species to derive carbon credit totals under different standards. If the landowners think the potential revenue generated by the credit totals is enough and they want to proceed with the project, then the developers will enact the project for them with a contract. Lastly, the developers market and sell the credits to corporations and then return the revenues to the landowners.  Nonetheless, there are various ways to go about doing this. For starters, geographies may vary for each carbon project developer. Central Appalachia and the old pulp and paper regions of Maine, the lake states, northern New England and upstate New York are hot project areas for Bluesource. However, most of Finite Carbon’s projects — 70 percent by volume — are west of the Mississippi River. EP Carbon on the other hand, takes a much more international approach. It has conducted projects in the United States as well as South America, Central America, Africa, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.  Domestically, landowners in the old pulp and paper regions want compensation for their pulp and paper wood without having to cut it. Thus, the price per credit problem is less of an issue in these areas and Bluesource has made a point to capitalize on them. Central Appalachia is also a popular spot for Bluesource because property on mountainous terrain is not heavily managed nor expected to generate tons of revenue, which helps to avoid the price per credit dilemma as well. There is also an abundance of hardwoods in this region, which have more carbon content than pines.  Despite the billions of dollars put forth for carbon removal, the price per forest carbon credit is still not high enough to prompt a critical mass of owners to stop traditional harvesting. EP Carbon’s focus on the international voluntary market has led it to using different standards and protocols from Bluesource and Finite Carbon. It tends to use Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), which is more geared for international and REDD+ projects, whereas Bluesource makes more use of the American Carbon Registry (ACR) Standard for their abundance of voluntary projects. And Finite Carbon leans more on the California Compliance Standard, as it conduct more compliance projects.  The VCS and many of EP Carbon’s projects are geared toward stopping deforestation threats and land conversion in the global south. While these projects present their own set of difficulties, focusing on them is an effective way to avoid the typical scenario in which a landowner finds that harvesting their trees is more profitable than a carbon project.  Finite Carbon has a different way of dealing with this problem. Unlike Bluesource and EP Carbon, Finite Carbon specializes in forestry carbon projects. This strategy is baked into Finite’s staff as well. Many worked in conservation or forestry before coming to Finite. “Having focused solely on forestry projects, Finite has a grasp on forest management, land use protection and conservation,” said Dylan Jenkins, vice president of portfolio development at Finite Carbon. Taking this approach has allowed Finite to really understand landowners and given them a knack for implementing carbon strategies into landowners’ pre-existing management regimes. This is something that developers struggle with, as many landowners do not want to change their preset regimes nor like the idea of having their trees or part of their property locked into a long-term agreement. Making carbon projects more convenient for landowners and figuring out how they can exist in harmony with their harvests has allowed Finite to overcome these problems and the price per credit dilemma on many properties.  In contrast, Bluesource has seen their own advantages by conducting additional carbon project types, such as Ag Methane, Acid Gas Injection, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Carbon Capture. “This has allowed Bluesource to not only expand their buyer network but to have more set-in-stone buyers as well,” said Aaron Paul, director of forest carbon origination at Bluesource. Taking on a range of carbon credit projects also gives Bluesource the ability to make entire footprint reports for their clients.  Similar to Bluesource, EP Carbon goes beyond forestry and includes grassland, shrubland, wetlands, mangroves, dry land savanna, and water or blue carbon projects. Some of these projects are done on their own but EP Carbon also combines them with forest carbon projects when appropriate. This allows EP Carbon to generate more revenue for landowners and to make the projects more attractive for them than just harvesting their trees.  EP Carbon also makes a point to be very flexible when it comes to standards. While it makes use of the VCS for international projects, it does not wed themselves to any one standard. It uses whichever standards are the best fit for their clients for each project even if the standards would not customarily be used for the given projects. Unlike many developers, EP Carbon pushes the standards to the limit and bends them to make them work for its projects, despite the standards’ strict constraints. “Our projects are more experimental and creative; they push the boundaries of the field,” said Zach Barbane, director of projects and operations at EP Carbon. This EP Carbon approach is effective for incorporating more landowners and is another way to overcome low prices per credit.  Bluesource and Finite take a very different and much more systematic approach. Nonetheless, Bluesource controls most of the United States’ voluntary market. Likewise, Finite has procured 45 percent of all California Compliance forestry offsets, which makes up 37 percent of all California Compliance offsets. (Both work in both forms of markets.) By sticking to the same standards and perfecting their compliance to them, both developers have become accustomed to applying standards to various properties. This has allowed Bluesource and Finite to make carbon projects work for a lot of landowners.  Unlike many developers, EP Carbon pushes the standards to the limit and bends them to make them work for its projects, despite the standards’ strict constraints. Yet the price per credit dilemma still keeps many landowners from implementing carbon projects. One of the main underlying problems that amplifies this dilemma is that small landowners with less than 5,000 acres typically cannot overcome the inventorying and verification costs associated with carbon projects.  To address this issue, EP Carbon developed an app and separate company, Forest Carbon Works (FCW). The app allows for the proper tree measurements for carbon projects to be taken on a smartphone. This has reduced the inventorying costs associated with the projects, making them more accessible for those with less land. As a company FCW also gives special attention to small landowners and tailors its process and services to their forest carbon needs. FCW has been verified by the California Air Resources Board and has enabled many landowners to pursue carbon projects. EP Carbon should feel good about using its innovative thinking to help bring small landowners to the carbon table. Finite Carbon has also made an effort to reach small landowners with its new small business and device, CORE Carbon. This digital platform estimates the amount of carbon that is in a given forested area with a general geospatial outline of the property and remotely sensed data.  Accordingly, with CORE Carbon boots on the ground inventorying is not required and forest carbon projects are much more affordable for small landowners. Unfortunately, even if both new technologies scale and inventorying becomes significantly cheaper, an average of about $10 per credit still will make harvesting more attractive for many both small and large landowners. Even large scale timberland investment management organizations (TIMOs) with millions of acres of land are not ready to implement carbon projects on their properties. Many TIMOs think at $10 a credit, harvesting is just the more economic decision.  Nonetheless, EP Carbon, Bluesource and Finite Carbon have all found unique ways to circumvent the low price per credit predicament and implement carbon projects despite it.  Bluesource has conserved more than 2.3 million acres of forested land and has generated over $182 million of revenue for landowners. EP Carbon has protected over 13 million acres of forested land and abated more than 260 million tons of carbon. And Finite Carbon has conserved more than 3.1 million acres of forested land and has produced over $720 million of revenue for landowners. But think about all of the tons of carbon that these three developers could abate and all of the acres of forest land they could conserve if the price per credit were higher.  Pull Quote Despite the billions of dollars put forth for carbon removal, the price per forest carbon credit is still not high enough to prompt a critical mass of owners to stop traditional harvesting. Unlike many developers, EP Carbon pushes the standards to the limit and bends them to make them work for its projects, despite the standards’ strict constraints. Topics Finance & Investing Carbon Removal Forestry Forestry Carbon Pricing Conservation Finance Network Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off To date the price for a ton of forest carbon has stayed stable, making growth tricky. //Image courtesy of Conservation Finance Network.

View post:
An inside look at pricing in the forest carbon market

These bioclimatic student dorms use low-cost, sustainable materials

March 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on These bioclimatic student dorms use low-cost, sustainable materials

In the tropical Vietnamese province of Dong Nai, Southeast Asian architecture firm  T3 Architects  has completed the Hippo Farm Bioclimatic Dormitories, a cost-effective housing structure that uses locally sourced materials and  bioclimatic  design principles to stay naturally cool and comfortable year-round. A limited budget and a brief that specified low-impact construction led the architects to explore traditional construction methods such as using Vietnamese bulk rice husk with inspect-resistant diatomaceous earth for the roof insulation. The building is also equipped with composting toilets, low-flow plumbing fixtures and rooftop solar heaters to further minimize the project’s environmental footprint.  Catherine and Olivier, the founders of Hippo Farm, commissioned the Bioclimatic Dormitories as an expansion of their three-hectare permaculture farm in Binh Hoa, about an hour away from downtown  Ho Chi Minh City . The new construction was designed to follow the example of the existing architecture on site, which was constructed for low environmental impact and built with locally sourced natural materials. Hippo Farm’s existing buildings also feature solar panels, graywater recycling and passive solar design principles. As a result, the architects first conducted solar and wind studies to create a  site-specific  design that would not only take advantage of cooling cross breezes in the summer but also protect against water infiltration by rain during the monsoon season. As a first defense, the steel-framed building (a custom structure assembled near the site) is elevated above the flood zone using repurposed debris from demolished horse boxes. Large timber windows with woven bamboo shutters let in natural ventilation, while long roof overhangs provide shelter from intense sun and rain.  Related: A green roof naturally cools a bioclimatic mosque in Indonesia Melaleuca timber makes up the handrails and pergolas, while thermo-wood is used for the decking. The walls are built of local  bricks  covered with natural lime plaster mixed with locally sourced sand for a reddish tint. The landscaping comprises native, low-maintenance species. “This Building is the perfect “manifesto” of a project in line with Happy and Creative Frugality adapted for Tropical country (countryside),” the architects said.  + T3 Architects Images by Herve GOUBAND (Alisa Production)

View post: 
These bioclimatic student dorms use low-cost, sustainable materials

USPS cuts emissions with new delivery vehicle fleet

March 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on USPS cuts emissions with new delivery vehicle fleet

The United States Postal Service announced last week that it was awarded a multi-billion-dollar contract to update the postal delivery fleet. Oshkosh Defense of Oshkosh, Wisconsin , won the 10-year contract to build more efficient vehicles with fewer emissions. In recent years, the USPS has faced stiff competition from private delivery services and has endured derision over being less reliable. Investing in a modernized fleet is just part of an overarching, soon-to-be-released plan for USPS to triumph and once again become the nation’s preferred delivery service provider. Related: Canoo unveils 100% electric delivery vans that start at $33K Oshkosh Defense is finalizing designs for the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV). The plan is to assemble 50,000 to 165,000 of the new right-hand-drive mail and package delivery vehicles over the next decade. The vehicles will have either battery electric powertrains or fuel-efficient internal combustion engines. USPS plans to design them so that they can be easily retrofitted as electric vehicle technology evolves. An initial $482 million investment includes building the U.S. manufacturing facility where final assembly of the new fleet will happen. “Our fleet modernization also reflects the Postal Service’s commitment to a more environmentally sustainable mix of vehicles,” Postmaster General and USPS Chief Executive Officer Louis DeJoy said in a statement. “Because we operate one of the largest civilian government fleets in the world, we are committed to pursuing near-term and long-term opportunities to reduce our impact on the environment.” NGDV safety features include advanced braking and traction control, 360-degree cameras and a front- and rear-collision avoidance system that includes visual, audio warning and automatic braking, according to USPS. Increased cargo capacity will accommodate more packages and maximize efficiency. The current USPS fleet includes more than 230,000 vehicles in every class. Some are purpose-built for USPS delivery, while others are commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) vehicles. Some have already been in service for 30 years. About 190,000 of these deliver mail six or seven days a week, making them some of the hardest working vehicles on the road. + USPS Images via USPS

Read the original: 
USPS cuts emissions with new delivery vehicle fleet

Why corporate partners are essential for Third Derivative, a new climate-tech support network

November 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Why corporate partners are essential for Third Derivative, a new climate-tech support network

Why corporate partners are essential for Third Derivative, a new climate-tech support network Heather Clancy Mon, 11/30/2020 – 03:00 Climate tech is more important than ever, but the systemic challenges entrepreneurs face in shepherding these solutions to commercial success is formidable. Most have incredibly long R&D lead times, while the systems that typically support startups cater to ones promising shorter-term payoffs. That’s why earlier this year, clean economy nonprofits Rocky Mountain Institute — known for its thought leadership on climate change issues — and New Energy Nexus — with deep bottom-up resources for founders — combined forces to create a joint venture centered on finding and scaling climate-tech startups focused addressing climate change across the electric grid, transportation, buildings, manufacturing and agriculture. Their mission: create a network of financial, technical and market development resources — including credible and powerful corporate connections — that gets these critically important solutions to commercial scale more quickly. The thesis: The most successful climate-tech startups will be those with early access to economic analysis, policy resources, financing and technical support. This week, the venture, Third Derivative (D3), is launching with a portfolio of close to 50 startups (both early stage and those closer to commercial readiness) and the support of nine corporate partners and nine venture capital firms. D3 is particularly interested in accelerating solutions for “hard to abate sectors” where there aren’t currently good options for decarbonization, according to its website. It is incredibly hard for investors to source, vet and execute investments across the many varied climate solution sectors. Of the 50-ish startup companies announced this week — dubbed ” Cohort 417 ” (for the peak of 417.1 parts per million in atmospheric CO2 concentration recorded in May 2020 — more than two-thirds are led by founders who are women, veterans or people of color, said Third Derivative co-founder and CEO Bryan Hassin. “We went out to meet them where they are,” he said. Both RMI and New Energy Nexus have committed “hundreds” of their market experts to supporting the venture with research, technical expertise and commercialization advice. The organization seeks to bridge knowledge and funding gaps at multiple phases of a startup’s life cycle — moving from basic research into a spinout; product development; demonstrations and market validation efforts; and commercial deployment. RMI and New Energy Nexus are a powerful combo, but the corporate connections and venture resources make the initiative unique by providing that active perspective far earlier in the innovation process, Hassin said, pointing to his own past career as a climate-tech entrepreneur with a background in nanomaterials, off-grid solar energy and artificial intelligence. “We have a systems-level problem that we’re working on here,” he said. “I think we can all agree that more is necessary.” Corporate support equals path to commercialization D3 certainly packs a punch from day one, with nine corporations lined up as backers that have pledged to provide technical resources and financial support over the next three years. That initial group includes AT&T, BP Ventures, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Engie, Envision Energy, FedEx, Microsoft, Shell and Wells Fargo. Together, these big companies represent almost $3 trillion in market capitalization, although the energy company valuations are particularly subject to fluctuation at this time. These companies are “incredibly motivated and visionary,” Hassin said. They will play a hands-on role in startup mentorship and pilot projects, along with any other businesses that choose to join. But this isn’t just about money. “It doesn’t do any good for them to come in and just write a check,” Hassin said. Nine venture firms — representing more than $2 billion in funding and four continents — also have stepped up to support Third Derivative: Imperative Ventures, Skyview Ventures and Volo Earth Ventures from the U.S.; Chrysalix and Emerald Technology Partners from Europe; Factor[e] and Social Alpha from Africa/India; and Tsing Capital and CRCM from China. “It is incredibly hard for investors to source, vet and execute investments across the many varied climate solution sectors,” said Jan Van Dokkum, the former Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers partner who became chairman of Imperative in 2019, in a statement. “We see enormous value in Third Derivative applying RMI’s market knowledge and networks to cultivate a pipeline of game-changing climate-tech ventures validated by corporate partners. We are excited to make seed investments in those startups, and our ability to work with them over the duration of the program should dramatically increase their investability by the time they are ready for follow-on funding.” These are big ambitious goals for us, and we feel the sense of urgency to find scalable solutions that can help us meet both of them. AT&T, which has committed to carbon neutrality by 2035 for its own operations and is also interested in supporting technologies that help its customers work toward similar goals, was intrigued by the “rigor” that Third Derivative is using to evaluate potential portfolio companies and in allowing corporate partners to be part of that process. That was one reason it decided to shell out $900,000 for its first three years in the program, said John Schulz, director of sustainability integration for AT&T. The other motivator: the diversity of perspective the venture offers. “These are big ambitious goals for us, and we feel the sense of urgency to find scalable solutions that can help us meet both of them,” Schulz said. Aside from financial backing, AT&T is providing technical resources, especially those focused on how the various technologies being pioneered by D3 companies might be integrated with the internet of things — a major business development focus for the telecommunications company. “What are the connectivity solutions that could be the key to unlock success? That’s of particular interest,” Schulz said. A wide range of solutions D3 actually launched the application process for its first cohort in the spring and received more than 600 applications — many for what Schulz described as “mind-blowing” innovations. The corporate partners were actively involved with evaluating and recommending selections among the 200 finalists, which represent advances in hardware and business models and, to a lesser extent, software. They also represent countries including India, Indonesia, China and Italy, although the initial selections are weighted to companies from North America. “We were a little overwhelmed by the enthusiasm,” Schulz said. Some companies from the first cohort include: Antora Energy : A Stanford-born effort (also backed by Cyclotron Road) working on ultra-low-cost energy storage that could have applications as wind and solar farms. Blue Frontier : A startup supported by NREL, NYSERDA and others that is using saltwater energy-storage technology to create “hyper-efficient” air conditioners. Frost Methane :   An offsets market being created around methane flaring activities Kanin Energy : A venture focused on turning industrial waste heat into an emissions-free energy source. Membrion : A materials company developing environmentally friendly filtration membranes. Silvia Terra : A forest-mapping startup. TexPower : A small team working on cobalt-free batteries. Each D3 startup receives a $100,000 convertible note as well as the potential for $250 million in follow-on funding from the venture capital network that’s part of the program. Hassin said the mentorship process initially will last 16 months, but startups will be encouraged to remain connected. What’s more, companies will be added on an ongoing basis: applications will open up again in December. “We think there is value to working with a cohort for a while,” he said.  Pull Quote It is incredibly hard for investors to source, vet and execute investments across the many varied climate solution sectors. These are big ambitious goals for us, and we feel the sense of urgency to find scalable solutions that can help us meet both of them. Topics Innovation Climate Tech Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Antora Energy, one of the Third Derivative startups, in the lab (L. to R: Tarun Narayan, David Bierman, Andrew Ponec, Justin Briggs) Courtesy of Cyclotron Road Close Authorship

Go here to read the rest:
Why corporate partners are essential for Third Derivative, a new climate-tech support network

Introducing … GreenFin 21

November 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Introducing … GreenFin 21

Introducing … GreenFin 21 Joel Makower Mon, 11/30/2020 – 02:11 The world of environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting and investing has ramped up significantly over the past couple years, even more so during 2020, when social risks and reporting became front and center for many companies and investors. Combine that with the growth of related finance products and services — sustainability-linked loans and bonds — and you can find sustainability sitting squarely on Wall Street. We call it GreenFin, our portmanteau for “green finance.” It may well be the most dynamic and impactful aspect of sustainable business today. Which is why GreenBiz Group is pleased to announce GreenFin 21 , the launch of a new annual event, virtual for now, taking place April 13-14. GreenFin will join our other annual event brands — GreenBiz , Circularity and VERGE — on the sustainability conference calendar. For all the sustainability reporting that companies serve up each year, it doesn’t always represent the kinds of data that investors need to assess corporate risk and opportunity. GreenFin 21 is the natural evolution of the GreenFin Summits we ran at our GreenBiz conferences in 2019 and 2020 . There, we convened a small group of professionals (100 in 2019, 200 in 2020) representing the ESG and sustainable finance ecosystem: corporate reporters (including those in sustainability, investor relations and corporate finance roles); institutional investors and pension funds; ESG rating and ranking organizations; and financial institutions, notably the world’s largest banks. Tower of Babel What spurred us to launch the summits back in 2019 was the realization that these parties weren’t always speaking the same language or understanding one another’s needs. For example, for all the sustainability reporting that companies serve up each year, it doesn’t always represent the kinds of data that investors need to assess corporate risk and opportunity. For their part, investors may not be asking the questions companies most want to answer. And neither side may fully understand how various parties are using this fast-growing cache of data. At the 2019 and 2020 summits, our goal was to have a candid conversation in a safe space to address this financial Tower of Babel. Based on the enthusiastic feedback we received, we succeeded. GreenFin 21 will build on that success, adding in the rapidly evolving world of sustainable finance products and services, to share what’s working, what can work better, and the path forward. It’s no small matter. ESG, as we’ve noted , has been one of investing’s bright spots in 2020, with tens of billions of dollars flowing into ESG-themed funds every quarter. According to Morningstar, ESG funds reached the $1 trillion milestone sometime during the second quarter of the year. Much of the action is taking place in Europe, where PwC predicted that ESG funds — “a central tenet of the investment landscape” — could outpace traditional funds by 2025. U.S. investors, for their part, are catching up. So, too, the growth of ESG-related bonds and loans . Corporate bond offerings focusing on sustainability and social issues are growing each quarter, and there’s a burgeoning market for loans linked to a company’s ESG performance or other sustainability metrics. As we reported recently , global green bond issuance shot past the $1 trillion mark in September. Still, there’s massive room for growth. Fully 96 percent of U.S. institutional investors, and 91 percent across six global markets, expect their firm to increase prioritization of ESG as an investment criterion, according to a recent Edelman Trust Barometer survey of institutional investors. Three in four U.S. individual investors said they are not familiar with the concept of sustainable investing, having heard little or nothing about it, according to a Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index survey released in April. Wild West The explosive growth of green finance makes sense. Increased investor interest in climate risk and, more recently, biodiversity risk is fueling the growth of several funds, as is an increased societal focus on economic, gender and racial equity. All of these issues are heading inexorably toward tipping points. Investors are increasingly moving money accordingly. Still, the markets for sustainable investing and finance are young and the standards are evolving or, in some cases, don’t yet fully exist. It’s still the Wild West out there. There are glimmers of hope . Just last week, for example, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the International Integrated Reporting Council announced their intention to merge into a unified organization, the Value Reporting Foundation, “providing investors and corporates with a comprehensive corporate reporting framework across the full range of enterprise value drivers and standards to drive global sustainability performance,” according to the press release . Earlier this year, SASB and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) announced their intention to collaborate. Such consolidation and collaboration are sorely needed to truly catalyze the full potential of sustainable finance. Ultimately, all of this relies on lots of data — ESG data — being compiled by a relatively small number of firms whose ratings can wield outsized clout among investors. The data is used to analyze stocks, of course, but also to assess creditworthiness and possibly even help determine whether a company is a great place to work. But where is this data coming from? How is it compiled? Who owns it? Is it accurate? Why do different ratings organizations assess the same company differently? These are among the questions still to be addressed. And these are among the topics we’ll be covering at GreenFin. We’ll be joined by our convening partner, S&P Global, along with a who’s who of community partners, including BSR, Capitals Coalition, CDP, Ceres, Competent Boards, GRI, Intentional Endowments Network, National Investor Relations Institute, Responsible Asset Owners, SASB, United Nations Global Compact and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. We’re also excited to have a growing corps of advisory board members and sponsors, including from Citi, CDP, ERM, HP Inc., Intel, Morgan Stanley, SASB, S&P Global, State Street and Wells Fargo — with more to come. ( Let me know if you are interested.) Today, we’ve launched a call for speakers as well as a page to request an invitation . I hope you’ll join us for this landmark event. Pull Quote For all the sustainability reporting that companies serve up each year, it doesn’t always represent the kinds of data that investors need to assess corporate risk and opportunity. Topics Finance & Investing Reporting ESG GreenFin Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

Read the original:
Introducing … GreenFin 21

Surprising ways seaweed benefits the environment

August 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Surprising ways seaweed benefits the environment

While the news often mentions the terrible things in the sea, such as gyres of plastic and other trash, the oceans also hold an extremely valuable resource: seaweed. This renewable and easily harvestable organism is used for everything from food to spa treatments to a possible  COVID-19 medicine. This eco-friendly ingredient also features in many common products, including paint, toothpaste, ice cream and beer. Farming seaweed People collect seaweed both wild and cultivated from seaweed  farms . Wild picking involves either wading into the seawater to gather the slippery crop or picking it up off the shoreline. Especially abundant harvests usually come post-storm when seaweed washes onshore. For centuries, people gathered seaweed using this traditional method. Nowadays, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 96% of global seaweed production comes from farms instead of wild gathering. Depending on the type of seaweed grown, farming may involve attaching the seaweed to rope lines suspended in the sea just off the coast, or growing the seaweed in nets. Seaweed farming in Japan started in the 1600s, and the practice may date back to the 15th century in Korea. Other parts of Asia, including  China , Indonesia and the Philippines, also produce seaweed for food and other products. In the Philippines alone, about 40,000 people made their living from seaweed production in the late 90s. When it’s time to harvest seaweed, people in most seaweed-growing countries use boats and machinery like rakes or trawlers. While easier than hand collection, harvesting with these tools can adversely affect habitats and wreck sea animals’ homes. To combat this, farmers in Norway devised a rake method that only removes the floating top canopy of seaweed, this avoiding seabed disruption. Seaweed helping the environment Farming seaweed might even improve the sea’s health, according to findings from Chinese researchers in a 2019 issue of  Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment . Research found that seaweed aquaculture can help combat eutrophication, the process whereby water becomes so overly enriched with nutrients that it causes excessive algae growth and oxygen depletion. The study discovered that seaweed aquaculture removed more than 75,000 metric tons of nitrogen and more than 9,500 metric tons of phosphate from coastal waters. Seaweed aquaculture also sequestered and absorbed a large amount of CO2 and released more than a million metric tons of oxygen. As a natural filter, seaweed helps remove pollutants from the environment; this does mean people should eat seaweed in moderation, though, as it can contain high levels of metals and iodine. In addition to keeping oceans healthy, seaweed also helps terrestrial farmers. When used as fertilizer, seaweed helps farmers avoid using nearly 30,000 tons of chemical fertilizers. Summarizing these benefits, the seaweed study’s authors wrote, “These results demonstrate that Chinese seaweed aquaculture has turned the  pollutants  that cause eutrophication into nutrients, which generates considerable environmental benefits as well as socio-economic values.” Seaweed in cosmetics and medicine Diverse parts of the world use seaweed in  cosmetics , too. Many Tanzanian women farm seaweed for export to China, Korea, Vietnam and other countries that use it as an ingredient in cosmetics and skincare products.  Even Ireland has harvested seaweed for hundreds of years. A 12th-century poem recounts how monks distributed edible seaweed to hungry poor people. In the early 20th century, the Irish coast housed nearly 300 seaweed bathhouses. You can still find some places in County Sligo to take a traditional seaweed bath. “This is our traditional spa treatment,” said Neil Walton, owner of Voya Seaweed Baths in the town of Strandhill. Scientists continue searching for more health benefits from  seaweed . The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York has even explored using seaweed extract to treat COVID-19. This extract contains variations of heparin, a common anticoagulant. Though heparin usually comes from animal tissue, this seaweed alternative may become popular. If so, this could lower costs for seaweed as a biofuel resource. Seaweed as biofuel Seaweed aquaculture may also increase the use of biomass as  renewable energy . In 2015, biomass-derived energy accounted for about 5% of U.S. energy use . Biomass energy encompasses plant and animal-derived energy, such as food crop waste, animal farming, human sewage, wood or forest residue and horticultural byproducts. So far, seaweed as biofuel has garnered little commercial interest, and the market remains mostly unexplored. But the industry holds great potential. According to Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a United States government agency that funds and promotes research and development of energy technologies, U.S. seaweed cultivation could reach 500 million tons and provide more energy than 23 billion gallons of gasoline. Seaweed farming paired with other industries Seaweed farming can also work with other industries, such as fish farming. Some environmental experts worry that open-sea fisheries negatively impact ecosystems due to the excess fish feed and fish feces floating in the water. Integrating seaweed production into fish farms could help reduce nitrogen  emissions  and break down other pollutants. A seaweed farm could also pair well with an offshore  wind farm . The first such operation is being built by Belgian-Dutch consortium Wier & Wind this year. The company plans to grow patches of seaweed for biofuel between large turbines 23 km off Zeebrugge in Belgium. This combination may lead to a genius symbiotic relationship. Seaweed production would make use of large open spaces between turbines, and the turbines would prevent ships from running over floating seaweed. Images via Pixabay,  Rich Brooks ,  Ronald Tagra  and  Gregg Gorman

Read more here: 
Surprising ways seaweed benefits the environment

Trump administration furthers Arctic drilling plan

August 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Trump administration furthers Arctic drilling plan

The Trump administration’s environmental protection rollbacks seem to now come daily. Today’s bad news? A plan to allow  oil  and gas companies to drill in Alaska’s so-far pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2017, a Republican tax bill opened part of the refuge to gas and oil leasing. Monday’s development pushed the plan further, aiming to sell the first drilling leases by the end of 2020. Many Republicans back the plan, despite opposition from environmental groups and Alaska’s Indigenous communities. Related: EPA loosens restrictions on methane emissions The over 19 million-acre refuge has long remained off-limits to development. Managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, most of the refuge is true wilderness, free from roads, trails and facilities, and open to the public for exploration. The few travelers who visit access the refuge by private planes and air taxis. Visitors may witness the Polar and grizzly bears , wolves, wolverines, caribou, beluga whales, musk oxen and walruses that call this area home. Though wildlife outnumbers people here, both the Gwich’in and Iñupiat people reside on and live off resources from the land.  Sometimes calling themselves “caribou people,” the Gwich’in have based their culture around these reindeer for centuries. The Gwich’in live in 15 villages across northeast  Alaska  and northwest Canada and have actively fought against gas and oil leasing. David Smith, a Gwich’in leader in Arctic Village, worries that the industries will harm caribou and change his nation’s way of life. “I would say this is like no other place on earth, so we shouldn’t be treated like any other place on earth,” Smith said in an interview with  Alaska Public Media . “I can drive in any direction and  hunt  freely. I can drive in any direction and go trapping.” Despite the recent news, the fight to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge continues. Still, environmental groups say that once companies buy drilling rights, it will be harder for future presidents to stop  Arctic  drilling. “The Trump administration never stops pushing to drill in the Arctic Refuge — and we will never stop suing them,” said Gina McCarthy, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “America has safeguarded the refuge for decades, and we will not allow the administration to strip that protection away now.” Via Thomson Reuters Foundation Image via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

Excerpt from: 
Trump administration furthers Arctic drilling plan

Coconut oil production is a danger to vulnerable species

July 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Coconut oil production is a danger to vulnerable species

Coconut oil has been in the spotlight for a while now as a superstar for personal care and healthier eating. It might seem like a miracle product, but a new study is highlighting the negative impacts of coconut oil that lurk in the shadows. Other oils, mainly palm oil , have made headlines for years. Grown in tropical areas, palm oil harvested from trees is widely acknowledged as a threat to the habitats of endangered species. Related: Dutch designer creates leather alternative from palm leaves For the discerning consumer, it can be difficult to gather information about how products you purchase are made. But the truth is all consumable products have an impact on the planet, including coconut oil, a trendy health food and personal care product. A team of researchers wanted to provide more information regarding the harvest of coconuts to consumers, but even they were surprised by the results of their study. Lead author Erik Meijaard has worked in tropical conservation for nearly three decades, so he’s familiar with the frequent publication of information about palm oil and the lack of information around other similar plants. “Both of them are tropical plants that are occupying large areas that previously would have been covered in natural forest,” he said. “Why does one end up being evil and the other one being wonderful?” The cultivation of coconut oil has been detrimental to ecosystems and is even expected to be responsible for the extinction of some animals, including the Marianne white eye, a tiny bird, and the feared-to-be-extinct Ontong Java flying fox, found only on the Solomon Islands. Other species currently threatened by coconut production are the endangered Sangihe tarsier, a small primate native to the Sangihe island of Indonesia, and the Balabac mouse-deer, which is only found on three islands in the Philippines. According to the study , now in several publications, the production of coconut oil is a danger to 20 threatened species per million liters of oil produced, the standard measurement used in establishing the level of destruction caused by production. Comparatively, palm oil measures in at 3.8 species per million liters, and soybean oil impacts 1.3 species per million liters. Another interesting tidbit from the study shows that coconut farms actually cover significantly less land space than other oil crops. For example, compared to the estimated 30.4 million acres for coconut palms, oil palms cover 46.7 million acres. The overall impact is higher, however, based on the IUCN’s Red List. The study reports that coconut plantations affect 66 species on the list, including 29 vertebrates, seven arthropods, two mollusks and 28 plants. Although this revelation on coconut oil might be shocking, it’s intended to be informative for consumers. “We want to be very careful not to say that coconut is actually a greater problem than palm oil,” Meijaard said. The study goes on to report that coconut isn’t the only culprit, and we need to maintain a wider lens when it comes to oil production. For example, the machines that harvest olive oil are blamed for the death of over 2.5 million birds each year. The researchers felt it was important to dig into the effects of oil production in products typically seen as healthy and low-impact environmentally, because these types of oils seem to benefit from a pass by the critical eye of the media and environmentalists. “What we’re really trying to say, and trying to get the public to understand, is that all agricultural commodities have their own issues,” Meijaard explained. Co-author Jesse F. Abrams added, “When making decisions about what we buy, we need to be aware of our cultural biases and examine the problem from a lens that is not only based on Western perspectives to avoid dangerous double standards.” Overall, the goal of the study wasn’t to target coconut oil production but to bring awareness to the need for more information about all consumer purchasing decisions. “At the moment, we’re simply not there yet,” Meijaard said. “We can pick any crop , and there are huge holes in our understanding and knowledge about their impact, so it’s a call from us for scientists, politicians, and the public to demand better information about commodities.” Douglas Sheil, co-author of the study, added, “Consumers need to realize that all our agricultural commodities, and not just tropical crops, have negative environmental impacts. We need to provide consumers with sound information to guide their choices.” + Coconut Oil, Conservation and the Conscientious Consumer Via Mongabay Images via Ogutier , Marie Osaki and Monicore

Original post:
Coconut oil production is a danger to vulnerable species

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 2125 access attempts in the last 7 days.