Arctic explorer tests the RIKR recycled plastic backpack

November 30, 2020 by  
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Often when products claim to be made from recycled materials , companies are only talking about the bulk of the item. When it comes to Groundtruth’s RIKR recycled backpack, every single component is 100% recycled, from the main body to the padding, buckles, binding, webbing, zippers, hardware and even the thread that binds it all together. Most of the backpack, such as the outer shell, side panels and webbing, is made from recycled PET bottles, but the rest comes from recycled textiles like nylon, fleece and felt. Groundtruth was founded in 2017 by a team of three sisters who brought their documentary filmmaking talents and technical fabrics specialties together to create a progressive line of sustainable travel products. Each item is field-tested by real experts right in the environment it was designed for, and the RIKR is no exception; polar explorer and environmentalist Robert Swan took the backpack on a journey through Norway and Antarctica to test the water-repellency, stain-resistance, durability and comfort. Related: The durable Solo New York backpack can accompany all of your adventures “If recycled plastic bottles can be made into some thing that can survive these conditions — no one can ever doubt the durability of GROUNDTRUTH,” said Swan, who was the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles unsupported. The company prides itself on design innovation and creating products that directly remove plastic waste from the environment. All products, including the RIKR recycled backpack, are made from 100% recycled materials and by Bluesign-approved manufacturers to ensure responsible and sustainable working conditions. Additionally, the company offsets its entire carbon footprint. Priced at $382, the high-performance RIKR Backpack boasts modular compartments, multiple pockets, a separate laptop compartment, side access and a trolley sleeve, making it airport security-friendly and adaptable. Each backpack comes packaged in a completely biodegradable cassava bag and removes 120 plastic bottles from the environment, according to Groundtruth. Every purchase is carbon-neutral thanks to the company’s offset program, but buyers can choose to go even further by opting to go carbon-negative at checkout. + Groundtruth Via Dezeen Images via Groundtruth

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Arctic explorer tests the RIKR recycled plastic backpack

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

November 30, 2020 by  
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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

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

New eco-friendly, decomposing construction foam unveiled

November 25, 2020 by  
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Researchers have come up with a new, more eco-friendly and effective form of building insulation material. The new material was developed due to the shortcomings of the traditional polyurethane-based foam insulators. These traditional insulators harm the environment via the release of volatile compounds into the atmosphere. A group of engineers from the University of North Texas College of Engineering led the research. The engineers, led by Professor Nandika D’Souza of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, have been working on the project since 2018. D’Souza’s lab earned a National Science Foundation grant worth $302,285 to help find a solution to the shortcomings of the conventional insulators. After much research, the team revealed a new type of insulation material, which is less harmful to the environment . By mixing corn-based polylactic acid with cellulose, in combination with supercritical carbon-dioxide, researchers found they could create an environmentally friendly product. This type of insulator is not only safe but also combustible and decomposable. “PLA on its own was good, but we found it wasn’t as strong as the conventional insulation, so we came up with the idea of mixing cellulose in,” D’Souza said. “ Cellulose is a degradable fiber and is often found as a waste in the paper industry, so not only is it stronger, but also is cheaper and easier to come by.” The team has already tested its new technology at the UNT Engineering Zero Energy Lab, a space designed to test alternative energy generation technologies. With the technology already tested and proven in the lab, it only has to go through trials in the construction industry to determine its viability. Kayode Oluwabunmi, one of the doctoral students in DSouza’s lab, says the undoing of conventional foam is its inability to break down once it’s no longer usable. This means the foam lingers in the environment. “The conventional foams are not environmentally-friendly and do not break down once they are no longer usable. They can stay in the environment for 1,000 years,” Oluwabunmi said. Besides its ability to decompose, the new material is also long-lasting. It shares a similar lifespan with the conventional foam and allows a 12% increase in heating and cooling. In other words, this material will help control energy flow better and with fewer risks. + The University of North Texas Images via The University of North Texas

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New eco-friendly, decomposing construction foam unveiled

The Ocean Cleanup launches sunglasses made from ocean plastic

November 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a floating island of waste located in the Pacific Ocean. Several organizations have taken part in cleaning up the area and transporting the garbage back to shore, where it is mostly hauled to landfills. But The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization based in Holland, has diverted plastic from the ocean and recycled it into fashionable sunglasses that are an essential part of the funding for future efforts. The organization spent years developing a garbage retrieval system, which eventually donned the moniker System 001/B when it was launched into the North Pacific Ocean in the middle of 2019. The team of more than 90 engineers, researchers, scientists and computational modelers successfully returned the collected debris to land. The plastic was then carefully bagged and labeled to ensure transparency throughout the process. The goal is to guarantee the plastic used in the sunglasses comes directly from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch cleanup . Related: The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers The certified plastic was then processed at a commercial scale, creating a strong, durable plastic for the sunglasses. The sunglasses are designed by Yves Béhar in California and manufactured by Safilo , a leading eyewear company in Italy. Every part of the product is made for recycling at the end-of-wear lifespan, including the polarized lenses and metal hinges. Because the amount of certified plastic is limited, the number of sunglasses produced is small. But the impact is mighty. Each purchase of the sunglasses supports cleaning up an area of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is equivalent to 24 football fields. The sale of all sunglasses in this initial release equates to 500,000 football fields full of waste removed from the ocean. The Ocean Cleanup will put 100% of the profits back into the process as it continues to innovate the best ways to clean up the ocean. This is not a one-time event, with plans well underway to improve the System 001/B for the next ocean exploration and cleanup. “It’s incredible to think that only a year ago this plastic was polluting our oceans and now it’s something beautiful, thereby turning a problem into a solution,” said Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. “Of course, The Ocean Cleanup is only here today because of our supporters, so I am excited these sunglasses are just another opportunity for everyone to be part of the cleanup and help us maximize our impact. I am thankful for the support of our followers and our partners and for their dedication and efforts to realize this very important step on our mission to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.” + The Ocean Cleanup Images via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup launches sunglasses made from ocean plastic

Farmstead is making the world greener with groceries

November 6, 2020 by  
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COVID-19 made the world painfully aware that simply doing normal things, like going to the grocery store, can be dangerous. Grocery delivery can be safer and, for some customers, greener than typical grocery shopping. One green option, Farmstead, offers free delivery in an attempt to change the shopping game. Its model, technology and vision for the future differ from other online grocer services. Beginning to launch services in Charlotte, Farmstead will introduce the very first online service to offer fresh, high-quality groceries delivered to customers for free. While Farmstead makes waves in North Carolina , the company actually started on the other side of the country. In San Francisco, Farmstead began with a different business model than many other online grocers. Farmstead created warehouses geared toward delivery, not shopping. This delivery-centric model focuses not just on making things easier for customers but also on solving a world problem. The Farmstead business model includes plans to reduce food waste and to provide fresh, affordable food to a wide group of customers. The company wants to provide food with no markups and no stockouts. Farmstead provides selections from national brands as well as local brands. AI technology helps Farmstead change the way groceries are purchased and how food moves throughout the country. The company’s goal is to make high-quality local food available to everyone. Farmstead hopes to soon be available everywhere, from North Carolina to California . The service offers multiple ways for consumers to save money. Customers who buy the same products multiple times will get a 5% discount on those items. There’s no monthly fee and no delivery charge. Customers can even request same-day service when they place a grocery order. The grocery-buying AI system will help you purchase only what you need. This helps reduce food waste, which helps everyone build a greener, healthier world. + Farmstead Images via Farmstead, Pexels and Pixabay

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Farmstead is making the world greener with groceries

Plugging into Amazon’s fleet electrification strategy

October 30, 2020 by  
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Plugging into Amazon’s fleet electrification strategy Mike De Socio Fri, 10/30/2020 – 00:30 When Ross Rachey set out to electrify Amazon’s fleet of last-mile delivery vehicles a few years ago, he thought it would be a matter of matching the company’s needs to the right vehicle on the market. It was not that simple. “We were a little underwhelmed at the vehicles that were available to us when we looked across the industry. It’s not for lack of trying, lots of really smart companies working hard, but we couldn’t find a vehicle that suited our need,” said Rachey, director of global fleet and product logistics for Amazon. The existing models didn’t live up to Amazon’s range and payload demands. And if the company’s fleet team did find something they liked, they couldn’t purchase it in the quantities they needed. “We realized we needed to take an active role in accelerating the products and the technology,” Rachey said. The reality is that charging infrastructure, electricity and utility connections — it’s the longest lead, probably the most challenging part of this equation. So Amazon finds itself, through a partnership with Rivian , designing its own delivery vehicles and playing a large role in scaling up the electric vehicle market. “We’re at the point now where we’re really comfortable placing big, bold bets. We’re comfortable being a first mover. And I think we’ve gotten to a point where we’re really comfortable taking risks,” Rachey said. Amazon’s Rachey spoke this week with GreenBiz Senior Writer Katie Fehrenbacher during a session VERGE 20. Here are a few takeaways on what we need to rapidly scale EVs. We need big players to take the lead There aren’t many motivators as large as a 100,000-unit order for electric vehicles. But that’s the challenge facing Amazon’s partner Rivian right now, and it’s pushing the industry to think a lot bigger. For scale, Amazon’s order is 100 times larger than similar orders from FedEx or UPS. And Rachey said more large-scale moves such as that could ignite this nascent industry. “We as corporations and fleet purchasers and auto manufacturers — we have the ability to make it easier for consumers to adopt electric vehicles. We do that by advancing the technology on more aggressive timelines. We do that by building great products so that people can purchase more products,” Rachey said. More fleet operators are likely to start moving in the same direction, but Rachey says the private sector should pick up the pace before government mandates make it non-negotiable. “I’m in favor of any policy that makes consumer adoption easier, but we can’t sit around and wait for that. We as the corporate customers, manufacturers, battery suppliers, we need to move this curve faster,” Rachey said. Brake lights surround the backend of Amazon’s custom electric van. Courtesy of Amazon We need to design (and retrofit) infrastructure with EVs in mind Rachey’s goal is to make Amazon’s electric fleet as easy to drive and fuel as the gas fleet. That means building out a robust charging infrastructure at Amazon facilities long before it will be needed. “The reality is that charging infrastructure, electricity and utility connections — it’s the longest lead, probably the most challenging part of this equation,” Rachey said. The first thing Amazon has done is design all new buildings with the ability to handle multiple types of fueling, with stronger energy connections to the grid and space onsite for eventual energy storage needs. “Make sure that when you build a site, you haven’t created a one-way door that is going to be painful later to electrify,” he said. For existing sites, Amazon is figuring out how to retrofit and already has started the work at thousands of locations across Europe and North America. We need to develop strong relationships with utilities Rachey says Amazon — and all early movers in this space — have an obligation to be good partners to regional utility companies. The earlier these private companies communicate their infrastructure needs, the sooner utilities can try to meet them. “We are both an exciting customer, because we’re going to have very large energy demands, but it’s not lost on us that we’re a challenging customer, given the scale and the timelines,” Rachey said. It’s likely that Amazon’s demands will outpace the utilities — Rivian is aiming to put the new delivery EVs on the road by the end of 2021 — but Rachey says the company is being as transparent as possible with its plans. He’s encouraged by the fact that everyone at the table, including policymakers, utilities, corporations and auto manufacturers, has the same goal: decarbonization. “Our goals are all aligned, and that’s a really powerful jumping-off point,” Rachey said. Pull Quote The reality is that charging infrastructure, electricity and utility connections — it’s the longest lead, probably the most challenging part of this equation. Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The interior of an Amazon Rivian van. Courtesy of Amazon

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Plugging into Amazon’s fleet electrification strategy

Investors call on major US polluters to clean up lobbying activities

October 29, 2020 by  
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Investors call on major US polluters to clean up lobbying activities Cecilia Keating Thu, 10/29/2020 – 00:10 Carbon intensive companies in the U.S. are facing growing pressure to clean up their lobbying activity, with a host of institutional investors this week issuing an urgent call to 47 of the largest greenhouse gas emitters to disclose how their corporate advocacy aligns with the most ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement. BNP Paribas Asset Management, Boston Trust Walden, California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and the New York City Comptroller’s Office are among institutional investors which have signed an open letter calling on greater climate lobbying transparency and accountability from their U.S. portfolio companies, in a move spearheaded by the Climate Action 100+ initiative. The letter, sent to 47 company chairs and chief executives, calls on emissions-intensive firms to align all direct corporate lobbying activity and indirect lobbying activity managed by trade associations with the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, noting that any advocacy inconsistent with climate goals presents a raft of regulatory, economic, reputational and legal risks for investors. “The private sector cannot address the full range of impacts from climate change without strong public policy designed to help stabilize the climate. Companies should establish the Paris Agreement’s goals as their North Star when meeting with regulators and legislators,” said Adam Kanzer, head of stewardship for the Americas at BNP Paribas Asset Management. “Their lobbying activities should be consistent with the Paris Agreement and the best available science, well governed and transparent.” It is just the latest intervention from Climate Action 100+, which is backed by more than 500 global investors representing $47 trillion of assets worldwide and aims ramp up climate ambition from companies it has identified as collectively responsible for up to 80 percent of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Companies targeted by the campaign span a number of polluting sectors, including oil and gas, consumer goods, power and transportation, and have been identified as “systematically important” to the net zero transition by the campaign. Companies have an important and constructive role to play in enabling policy-makers to close the ‘ambition gap’ which would also contribute positively to the long-term value of our investment portfolios. Investors signing this week’s letters have called on the 47 U.S. companies to leave trade associations unable or unwilling to ensure their advocacy activity is compliant with global climate goals. While trade associations will not always speak for all of their members on some issues, climate change on the other hand represents “a unique challenge that requires alignment at all levels of an organization,” the letter argues. Companies therefore have a responsibility to their investors to encourage climate-friendly government policies, the letter emphasizes. “Currently, there are critical gaps between the pledges and commitments national governments have made and the actions required to stave off the worst effects of climate change,” the investors write. “Companies have an important and constructive role to play in enabling policy-makers to close the ‘ambition gap’ which would also contribute positively to the long-term value of our investment portfolios.” Climate Action 100+ is also working on a report set for publication next year aimed at benchmarking how 161 of the world’s most polluting companies are faring on climate action, with Paris-aligned corporate lobbying a “key indicator” in the metric, it said. The letters come as firms worldwide face growing pressure from investors to ensure that corporate engagement with policymakers helps advance a resilient, net zero economy. Shareholder proposals that demand companies disclose how their climate lobbying aligns with the Paris Agreement reached a record high in 2020, with Chevron shareholders approving such a proposal in a landmark vote in June. In Europe, meanwhile, oil firms such as Equinor, Shell, BP and Total have published the results of internal audits of their trade association memberships following long-running investor pressure, detailing where groups’ climate policies were misaligned with their internal goals. There also have been instances of companies exiting trade groups over disagreements over environmental policy in recent years. Unilever, Nestle and Mars left the Grocery Manufacturers Association in 2018 over disagreements on sustainable food policy, while Coca-Cola and PepsiCo cut ties with the Plastic Industry Association one year later over green policy issues. “The urgency of the climate crisis means that companies must not only take bold in-house actions to reduce emissions to net-zero and improve governance of climate risk, they must also look beyond their four walls and publicly advocate for federal and state policies to mitigate climate change,” said Ceres CEO and president Mindy Lubber, a member of the Climate Action 100+ global steering committee. “Investors are looking at those advocacy efforts and if corporate trade association lobbying matches what companies are publicly stating.” Pull Quote Companies have an important and constructive role to play in enabling policy-makers to close the ‘ambition gap’ which would also contribute positively to the long-term value of our investment portfolios. Topics Finance & Investing Risk & Resilience GreenFin Investing Greenhouse Gas BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  worradirek  on Shutterstock.

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Investors call on major US polluters to clean up lobbying activities

Former Walmart exec brings ride-share technology to fresh produce transport

October 27, 2020 by  
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Former Walmart exec brings ride-share technology to fresh produce transport Jesse Klein Tue, 10/27/2020 – 01:00 Hwy Haul co-founder and CEO Syed Aman knows fresh produce is the future of grocery stores. It’s one of the few categories that still drives shoppers to buy in-store. But some points in the supply chain for fresh produce are still stuck in the dark ages. Using his experience at Walmart, Aman is dragging trucking into the digital age with the added bonus of reducing food waste and eliminating unnecessary transportation emissions.  The trucking industry is fragmented and driven by individual relationships, according to Aman. Hwy Haul is trying to unite every stakeholder — shipper, trucker and retailer — in one place. Hwy Haul’s app digitally connects growers with fresh produce to truckers who can deliver the loads to buyers around the country. According to Max Gorobets, associate director of transportation for Lakeside Produce , one of Hwy Haul’s clients, before the app, would have to get on the phone to call each trucking company to find a truck and a driver to pick up and deliver his load. Lakeside Produce delivers 12 million cases of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers to large grocery stores in Canada every year, usually dealing with regional trucking companies. “You spend a lot of time and effort and money to get it done manually,” he said. Now Gorobets enters his load’s origin and destination information into the Hwy Haul app, and drivers on the other end can decide to accept it. Gorobets’ story reminds me of my own transition from yellow cabs to the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing services. Hwy Haul is used by thousands of carriers across North America, and it earns a commission on every load. The San Francisco-based startup has raised $3.3 million in seed funding. According to its website , investors and advisers include partners and CEOs at August Capital, Freshworks and Nutanix. But convenience isn’t the main driver modernizing the trucking industry. Aman hopes his platform will help with transportation-related sustainability commitments by reducing the number of empty miles driven by trucks and the amount of food waste. Technology working to reducing empty mileage  In the trucking sector, anywhere between 20 and 30 percent of miles are driven by empty freights, according to industry research. Sometimes, trucks drive 300 miles just to pick up a load. Those emissions add up. Hwy Haul has reduced empty mileage by 80 percent compared to industry standards by using data science, AI and algorithms, Aman said.  Gorobets described a time he was short a driver in California on a Saturday night. He needed a truck within the hour to make it on time for his delivery in Michigan or he would have lost the produce to a different retailer. Gorobets was in Leamington, Ontario, trying to figure out a truck for a load in San Francisco, not usually an easy task. “With Hwy Haul, I posted the load and within half an hour, I had a driver in the area ready for pick-up,” he said.   Without Hwy Haul, Gorobets would have called every carrier in California and might have been able to connect only with a driver a few hundred miles away. He would have had to settle for those empty miles, and the planet would have had to suck in CO2 from an unnecessary and unproductive drive.  21st-century monitoring could eliminate waste Aman’s key metric of success, however, is reducing rejections and therefore reducing food waste. According to him, produce spends half its shelf life on a truck.  “Produce is a very time-sensitive commodity,” he said.  That means having eyes on the produce at all times during the route. Hwy Haul uses sensors to monitor metrics such as temperature and location that are uploaded in real-time to its portal.  “One of the biggest problems of this industry is visibility and transparency,” he said. “Everyone is anxious about what’s happening to their load.” Shippers can log into the portal to see what is happening to their products and where a shipment is along the trip instead of hassling the truck driver over email, phone or text. According to Aman, an average of 14 percent of loads are rejected by the retailer once they make it to the destination because of spoilage and damage en route. If there’s one metric he hopes to get down to negligible, it’s that one. So far, Hwy Haul has reduced rejections by 90 percent compared to industry standards, he estimated.  “If the food gets rejected, we are working on certain programs to be routed to a nearby food bank or wholesalers rather than crashing into the dumpster,” Aman said. Topics Transportation & Mobility Food Systems Supply Chain Food Waste Transportation Supply Chain Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Hwy Haul connects truckers and shippers through a digital platform for convenience and sustainability improvements.  Courtesy of Hwy Haul Close Authorship

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Former Walmart exec brings ride-share technology to fresh produce transport

Architecture students design a LEED Platinum home with an ADU in Kansas

October 19, 2020 by  
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Every year as part of Studio 804 , University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design graduate students design and build an energy-efficient home for the community — and this year’s home not only achieved LEED Platinum certification but also comes with an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to fight suburban sprawl. The 2020 project, known as 722 Ash Street House, consists of a 1,500-square-foot primary house with a contiguous 500-square-foot ADU located in North Lawrence. The modern and sustainable home is equipped with a south-facing, 4.9-kW solar power system and a highly insulated building envelope. The 722 Ash Street House project was created as part of Studio 804, a yearlong comprehensive educational opportunity for Masters of Architecture students at the University of Kansas, which has completed 14 LEED Platinum buildings and achieved three Passive House certifications to date. The most recent project in North Lawrence takes inspiration from the Midwestern farmstead vernacular with its three gabled volumes clad in vertically oriented wood. The cladding, which was sustainably fabricated in the Austrian town of Sankt Veit an der Glan, is a composite material of raw pulpwood, recycled wood and natural resins selected for its durability and low maintenance. Related: Students fight urban sprawl with a subdivision for two LEED Platinum houses The primary 1,500-square-foot residence consists of two bedrooms, one full bath, one half bath, a great room and a full kitchen. The studio took advantage of the permissions in the zoning district to add a 500-square-foot ADU with a wet bar, full bath and flex space attached. Large windows bring an abundance of natural light indoors and frame views of the many mature trees for which North Lawrence is known. “Studio 804 continues their long standing pattern of maintaining the highest level of sustainable design while remaining contextually sensitive to the surrounding community,” reads a statement by Studio 804. “This house, like every Studio 804 project since 2008, is USGBC LEED Platinum Certified.” + Studio 804 Photography by Corey Gaffer via Studio 804

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Architecture students design a LEED Platinum home with an ADU in Kansas

World’s largest Arctic expedition returns with grim news

October 14, 2020 by  
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After 13 months of collecting data, history’s largest  Arctic  research expedition returned with grim news. “We witnessed how the Arctic Ocean is dying,” mission leader Markus Rex told Agence-France Presse. “We saw this process right outside our windows, or when we walked on the brittle ice.” In September 2019, the research mission set sail on the German Alfred Wegener Institute’s Polarstern ship from Tromsø, Norway. For 13 months, about 300  scientists  from 20 countries were on board at various times. Known as the  MOSAiC  Expedition — Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate — the team followed in the footsteps of Fridtjof Nansen’s 1893-1896 journey. But instead of traveling aboard an old wooden sailing ship like Nansen’s Fram, MOSAiC traveled via the Polarstern, a highly modern icebreaker designed for research. Related: Arctic wildfires are emitting 35% more carbon compared to 2019 The international scientists gathered information to better understand how the Arctic is weathering the climate crisis. Rex described this area as “the epicenter of  climate change .” The crew hopes that the finding will help predict how heatwaves, storms, floods and fires will affect the Arctic’s future. The  researchers  brought back over 1,000 ice samples and 150 terabytes of data about subjects such as Arctic clouds, biology, atmosphere, and ocean physics. It will take years, or even decades, to analyze all this intel. “We went above and beyond the data collection we set out to do,” said Melinda Webster, a sea ice expert from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Unfortunately, the expedition’s initial impressions of the situation were severe. “At the North Pole itself, we found badly eroded, melted, thin and brittle ice,” said Rex. The researchers experienced smooth sailing in some areas previously covered with  ice . Rex predicts that Arctic summers will soon be ice-free if the planet’s warming trend continues. The Polarstern’s Arctic voyage cost $177 million.  Coronavirus  upended the trip’s logistics, forcing scientists to end the mission earlier than planned. Via EcoWatch and Science Image via Pixabay

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World’s largest Arctic expedition returns with grim news

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