O2 Treehouse to launch a treehouse-based hospitality company

January 4, 2021 by  
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Treehouse design and construction company O2 Treehouse is expanding to include large-scale hospitality. The Oakland-based firm is already well-known for its custom, modular treehouses and has raised more than $180,000 (at the time of writing) from hundreds of investors for the new franchise, called Treewalkers, through StartEngine . Treewalkers will become a worldwide network of rentable treehouses, enabling investors to provide any number of treehouses for rent from just one single unit to entire treehouse villages. “Our state-of-the-art technology and modular design offer investors a low-risk opportunity with a great return on investment,” said Dustin Feider, founder of O2 Treehouse. “We provide everything for the nature host to have beautiful glamping treehouses, designed for the modern ecotourist.” Related: How building a treehouse led to a career in arbortecture Feider has created a one-size-fits-all design called Tetratuss that can be modified based on the location to provide lower costs and an elevated platform technology that helps expand a tree’s real estate. Treewalkers will use the O2 Treehouse design methodology to allow guests the opportunity to make a unique connection to nature. The company has 85 custom-designed modular structures under its belt already. While luxury treehouses offer an excellent way to reconnect with nature and disconnect from the stresses of everyday life, owning one isn’t practical or economical for the average person. What’s more, the eco-tourism industry is on the rise, valued at $265 billion worldwide in 2018 and projected to grow 14% each year, according to O2 Treehouse. The proposed local host rental company (think of it like an Airbnb for the eco-tourism industry) will address all of that. Those who want to experience the treehouse life temporarily will have an organized rental service dedicated solely to treehouses, while potential franchisees looking for a unique investment opportunity will have the experience and expertise of O2 Treehouse to back them up. The company plans to start with five to 15 locations using Airbnb as a renting platform before eventually releasing its own O2 Treehouse platform for exclusive access to more than 20 locations. Long-term, O2 Treehouse has plans to also create corporate-owned, sustainable, residential housing developments. + O2 Treehouse Images via O2 Treehouse

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A new Swedish iron processing project could disrupt the global steel industry

December 17, 2020 by  
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A new Swedish iron processing project could disrupt the global steel industry Thomas Koch Blank Thu, 12/17/2020 – 00:20 A recent announcement by Europe’s largest iron ore producer, LKAB, may seem like a technical detail only relevant for metallurgists and steel nerds. However, the company’s plan to invest up to $46 billion over the next 15–20 years to expand into an emissions-free iron process being piloted in Northern Sweden is big news for Sweden, the global steel industry and future generations around the world. From a climate change perspective, steelmaking is considered one of the “hard-to-abate” sectors. Given that the industry contributes directly to 7 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, it is impossible to ignore it. But in contrast to other areas of our society — such as automobiles or power generation — technical solutions to replace conventional methods have seemed either quite expensive or simply unknown. However, this view has rapidly changed over the course of only a few years, and Swedish industry has played a pivotal role in this shift. The steel industry contributes directly to 7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, the  HYBRIT project  was launched as a joint venture between utility  Vattenfall , iron ore producer  LKAB  and steelmaker  SSAB . Both Vattenfall and LKAB are owned by the Swedish state, while SSAB was privatized in 1994. And with the political backing and de-risking of the early stage of the HYBRIT project, it can be argued that HYBRIT is the outcome of a long-standing political intent to ensure a competitive basic industry sector in Sweden. Looking forward, with customers, investors and policymakers increasing pressure to adhere to the Paris Agreement, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a critical element of maintaining competitiveness. The process that HYBRIT is currently piloting in  Luleå , a small town in northern Sweden, holds the key to unlocking dramatic CO2-emissions reduction for steelmaking. By using hydrogen instead of coal as a “reduction agent” — to remove the oxygen from the iron in iron ore — the most critical step in the steel value chain becomes virtually free of carbon emissions. These steel plants can replace polluting blast furnaces with a process that emits water vapor instead of CO2. On Nov. 23, LKAB announced that it intends to integrate forward in the steel supply chain and start producing “sponge iron” as a value-added product from its current pellet product, using the HYBRIT process. This pivot in business strategy has major significance for the global steel industry. Steel plants can replace polluting blast furnaces with a process that emits water vapor instead of CO2. There are three reasons LKAB’s announcement is big news for the global steel industry as well as the economy at large: LKAB will single-handedly contribute to greenhouse gas reductions corresponding to more than 50 percent of Sweden’s total footprint by obviating the need for blast furnaces — many of which are in other nations The hydrogen required will significantly contribute to bringing down the cost of this zero-carbon fuel, which in turn can help the economy to address emissions from other sectors such as aviation or shipping While the process trials are still ongoing (the pilot plant is producing sponge iron, but its scaffolding has hardly been taken down) the confidence demonstrated by this announcement clears up any questions as to whether this technology will be commercially scalable   Implications for the global steel industry Sweden is a small economy that already has comparatively clean energy supply. However, LKAB’s stated strategy to over time integrate forward into primary steelmaking not only enables thousands of jobs with strengthened long-term competitiveness, it also reduces disproportionate amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. This will enable Sweden to punch significantly above its weight class. LKAB’s total production of 27 million tons of iron ore products corresponds to 18 million tons of crude steel. If that steel were produced in conventional blast furnaces, it would lead to emissions of 28 million tons of CO2 — more than 50 percent of Sweden’s total footprint of 52 million tons of CO2 equivalents. Steel production is only one of many potential uses for hydrogen. Indeed, other sectors that are technically challenged to reduce emissions likely will have to rely on cheap hydrogen. Today the cost of hydrogen for fuel cell trucks or buses, as well as using hydrogen (or ammonia) as an aviation or maritime fuel, is prohibitively high. Yet costs are expected to come down as the technology is deployed at scale. The sponge iron capacity that LKAB could build out corresponds to half a million large fuel cell vehicles, a significant step towards the “hydrogen economy” envisioned by the European Commission. The production of the hydrogen could require as much as 10 GW worth of electrolyzer capacity, a quarter of the total  EU target for 2030 . LKAB’s ambition to build a sponge iron plant as early as 2027, just one year after SSAB plans to retire its blast furnace in  Oxelösund , speaks volumes in terms of the technology confidence the joint venture already has established. LKAB is also setting itself up as a single company to grow its DRI capacity by 30% per year over 20 years. Furthermore, Göran Persson, chairman of the board and former prime minister of Sweden, claims that the investments shall be made without any government support, expecting it to be competitive without subsidies beyond the EU carbon price. LKAB is also setting itself up as a single company to grow its DRI capacity by 30 percent per year over 20 years, diminishing any doubt that the technology can be scaled fast. In the big picture, while this constitutes a significant step towards a decarbonized steel industry, the impact corresponds to less than 1 percent of the emissions from the global steel industry. But even though it’s unrealistic to expect that the whole steel industry will turn upside down to adopt this new technology given the scale of investment in existing blast furnaces, other iron ore companies can of course replicate LKAB’s forward integration. The main iron ore sources in the world, in Australia, South Africa and Latin America, have access to drastically cheaper renewable energy than Sweden. This makes for an even more competitive product using this highly electrified process. Indeed, in these locations  zero-carbon steel can be competitive with blast furnaces completely without subsidies . New challenges, new opportunities The leadership demonstrated by LKAB serves as a role model for the kind of outside-the-box and whole-systems thinking required for the global economy to decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. Change requires exploration of new concepts and solutions. Bold action both creates new opportunities and surfaces new underlying challenges. For example, adding 10 gigawatts (GW) of load, given Sweden’s current total installed generation capacity of 40 GW, will require significant investments in both renewable generation capacity and grid infrastructure. But for utilities, this opportunity is providing a much-needed headwind to achieve a zero-emission power system, as investing in a growing market is significantly easier than with stagnant demand. The fact that the impact on global emissions will not be credited to Sweden in the political protocols negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change underscores the value of corporate action. The private sector remains the most reliable engine for innovation in our economy. Graphic: Auke Hoekstra, TU Eindhoven. Technology disruption is by definition challenging to forecast. In the solar industry, the International Energy Agency (IEA) consistently has underestimated both near- and long-term capacity additions to an almost comical degree. Yet the private sector has managed to out-perform expectations, and this is true for LKAB and the HYBRIT team just as it has been for the solar industry. In comparison, the official position of  Jernkontoret, the Swedish Steel Association , that it will take “20-30 years until this technology can be introduced into large-scale industrial production” is conservative, to say the least. The  World Steel Association  is almost completely silent about the opportunity of both hydrogen-based reduction and other alternative technologies.  The association’s 2020 positioning paper  maintains a narrative around need for long-term R&D rather than rapid deployment support. But regardless whether the industry associations are acknowledging it, the snowball has started to roll down the slopes of the  Luossavaara  and  Kirunavaara  mountains (the L and K in LKAB) and the avalanche will hit the global steel industry within this decade. Survivors of the impact will re-emerge to ski in clean powder snow. Casualties will be buried under the masses, anchored down by strategically untimely investments in CO2-intensive technology. Pull Quote The steel industry contributes directly to 7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Steel plants can replace polluting blast furnaces with a process that emits water vapor instead of CO2. LKAB is also setting itself up as a single company to grow its DRI capacity by 30% per year over 20 years. Topics Emissions Reduction Chemicals & Toxics Collective Insight Rocky Mountain Institute Rocky Mountain Institute Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A view of the blast furnace of an old steel refinery in  Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord, Duisburg, Germany . Photo by Aranka Sinnema on Unsplash. Close Authorship

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No new gas-powered cars by 2035, California governor says

September 25, 2020 by  
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California Governor Gavin Newsom’s new executive order bans the sale of all new gasoline-powered cars and passenger trucks by 2035. After that, only zero-emissions new cars will be sold in the state of  California . Californians will still be able to own, drive, buy and sell used cars that run on gas. Over half of California’s current carbon emissions come from transportation. The governor’s office foresees a 35% drop in  greenhouse gas  emissions once the new policy goes into effect. Related: 17,000 Tiehm’s buckwheat, rare wildflowers of Nevada, destroyed “I don’t know of any other state in this country that’s been more forceful and forthright in establishing and anchoring a consciousness around  climate change ,” Newsom said in a press conference Wednesday. “We just want to fundamentally reconcile the fact we’re no longer living in 19th century, and we don’t need to drill things or extract things in order to advance our economic goals and advance our mobility needs.” Priorities stressed in the executive order include setting new health regulations around oil extraction and the communities affected by it, stopping hydraulic  fracking  permits from being issued by 2024 and planning a statewide rail and transit network. The California Air Resources Board is formulating regulations for medium and heavy-duty vehicles to be zero emissions by 2045. “This is an economic opportunity: the opportunity to transform our  economy across sectors, the opportunity to accelerate innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit, the opportunity to bring more companies here into the state of California,” said Newsom. Not everyone favors this turn away from gasoline, and Newsom will likely face political, legal and commercial challenges. In the past, President Trump has objected to California setting its own auto  emission  standards that differ from federal rules. The California New Car Dealers Association released a statement saying that the state’s citizens should have more of a say in this matter. While electric cars are better for the environment than those fueled by gasoline, the lithium necessary for electronic vehicles’ batteries causes another set of problems. Mining for  lithium  affects communities and ecosystems from northern Tibet to the salt plains of Chile to Nevada’s desert. Hopefully, better batteries and the planned statewide rail and transit network catch on and drive down demand for every person to own a private car. Via ABC7 and Salon Image via Pexels

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Policy for a Circular Economy: Part 2

September 15, 2020 by  
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Policy for a Circular Economy: Part 2 How should diverse corporate stakeholders —such as brands and packaging producers — help shape the U.S. policy landscape around plastics, recycling and solid waste management? This two part policy session, organized in collaboration with the The Recycling Partnership, will focus on the role that brand and packaging producers can play in forging a stronger policy environment in the U.S. to create more circular outcomes. The steady growth of public attention around plastics and packaging has led to a revitalized policy focus in the U.S. on recycling and solid waste management in 2020. Historically, brands and packaging producers have played an antagonistic role in the U.S. packaging policy landscape. However, the emergence of a circular economy opportunity and the urgency of science-based action are creating the conditions for value chain engagement and collective participation in the policymaking process. Speakers Elizabeth Biser, VP Policy & Public Affairs, The Recycling Partnership Nicole Collier, Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Nestlé Dylan de Thomas, VP of Industry Collaboration, The Recycling Partnership Missy Owens, Director, Government Relations, Federal & Diplomatic, Coca-Cola  Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 23:59 Featured Off

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Financing Circularity

September 15, 2020 by  
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Financing Circularity What new strategies are enabling companies and sectors to finance circularity at scale? The circular economy offers significant value and new growth opportunities. In the plastic value chain alone, research shows that compared with business-as-usual, a circular economy has the potential to reduce the annual volume of plastics entering our oceans by 80 percent, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, generate savings of $200 billion per year, and create 700,000 additional jobs by 2040. The circular economy can create value in similar ways across other sectors of the economy. As we look for ways to recover from the economic shock of the pandemic, the circular economy presents a pathway to build back better. Through the capital markets, investors can help build a more resilient economy that addresses global challenges, creates jobs, and benefits society. Speakers Rob Opsomer, Executive Lead, Systemic Initiatives, Ellen MacArthur Foundation Audrey Choi, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Sustainability Officer, Morgan Stanley Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 23:35 Featured Off

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Financing Circularity

Policy for a Circular Economy: Part 1

September 15, 2020 by  
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Policy for a Circular Economy: Part 1 How should diverse corporate stakeholders — such as brands and packaging producers — help shape the U.S. policy landscape around plastics, recycling and solid waste management? This two part policy session, organized in collaboration with the The Recycling Partnership, will focus on the role that brand and packaging producers can play in forging a stronger policy environment in the U.S. to create more circular outcomes. The steady growth of public attention around plastics and packaging has led to a revitalized policy focus in the U.S. on recycling and solid waste management in 2020. Historically, brands and packaging producers have played an antagonistic role in the U.S. packaging policy landscape. However, the emergence of a circular economy opportunity and the urgency of science-based action are creating the conditions for value chain engagement and collective participation in the policymaking process. Speakers Dylan de Thomas, TRP Nina Butler, More Recycling Sarah Peery, Office of Senator Rob Portman This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s Circularity 20, August 25-27, 2020. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/circularity/online/2020 Watch our other must-see talks here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDIkTxibMLM&list=PLyVZcHL_zmn6pie1MKrS3… OUR LINKS Website: https://www.greenbiz.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenbiz LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/greenbiz-group Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenbiz_group Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenBiz Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 23:29 Featured Off

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LeSportsac’s ReCycled collection uses recycled water bottles

September 11, 2020 by  
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In 1974, LeSportsac opened its doors for business in New York City. Much has changed since then, but not the company’s focus on creating innovative, colorful and useful bags that encourage an on-the-go lifestyle. With the modern-day zeitgeist squarely aimed at improving sustainable practices, both in the private and business world, LeSportsac’s most recent release removes plastic from the waste stream while encouraging fans to continue their LeSportsac journey. Called ReCycled, the new bags come in three prints, each making a statement about green developments in production and packaging. LeSportsac’s effort to improve its products through sustainable practices has led to a reduced carbon footprint by utilizing post-consumer water bottles in the fabric. In fact, every yard of fabric equals nine recycled bottles, and each product lists the actual equivalent number of water bottles used. Related: This versatile, waterproof parka is made with recycled PET bottles Fortunately for the environment, many companies have adopted the advancing technology of turning  post-consumer plastic  into usable fabric. The process involves collecting, cleaning and shredding plastic into small chips. Subsequently, the chips are spun into yarn for the fabric.  Small and large cosmetic, cross-body, hobo and weekender bags make up the collection in all three prints. Eco Iris Garden features tones of blue and purple with the telltale yellow color punch of an iris in bloom. Eco Rose Garden offers a colorful and classically feminine floral motif. Eco Black delivers the same travel bag options in a more subdued color offering.  LeSportsac has even transformed its old logo to accommodate the recycled logo. The LeSportsac Fall 2020 ReCycled Collection debuted in-store and online mid-August 2020, and each component of the capsule collection is now ready for purchase. After more than four decades in the industry , LeSportsac aims to continue providing the bags consumers need for an active lifestyle while simultaneously focusing on sustainable, eco-friendly development. + LeSportsac Images via LeSportsac

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LeSportsac’s ReCycled collection uses recycled water bottles

After the age of contagion, what’s the ‘new normal’?

March 23, 2020 by  
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As we begin to ponder our collective future post-coronavirus, the opportunity is ripe to accelerate sustainable outcomes. Will we?

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After the age of contagion, what’s the ‘new normal’?

Testing the mettle of the aluminum cup

March 23, 2020 by  
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Which is better: reusable, unrecyclable plastic or single-use, recyclable aluminum?

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Testing the mettle of the aluminum cup

Jad Dalay of American Forests on forests’ potential to mitigate climate change

November 13, 2019 by  
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Jad Dalay says using forests as a climate change solution offers the opportunity to capture carbon and create more green jobs.

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