Flood damage in America: 4 crucial lessons

April 14, 2016 by  
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Floods are the most damaging natural disaster in the United States (PDF), as well as globally, with losses rising dramatically (PDF) over time.

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Flood damage in America: 4 crucial lessons

Pope Francis’ leaked encyclical calls for global government action against climate change

June 16, 2015 by  
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We’ve long known that Pope Francis has a great many thoughts about climate change , and that he has been preparing to release a hefty encyclical to illustrate his stance. An unauthorized draft of that document designed to urge the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to join him in the fight to save our planet was published online in PDF format  Monday by L’Espresso, a prominent Italian news weekly. But Vatican officials warn that the 192-page draft doesn’t represent the final version of the Pope’s encyclical, which will be released on Thursday. Read the rest of Pope Francis’ leaked encyclical calls for global government action against climate change Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: catholics , Climate Change , encyclical , leaked encyclical , official vatican statements on climate change , papal document , papal encyclical , Pope Francis , pope on climate change , pope scientist , vatican , Vatican City

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Pope Francis’ leaked encyclical calls for global government action against climate change

9 ways sustainability drives profit

October 23, 2014 by  
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9 ways sustainability drives profit Chris Hummel 6:00am Featured Image:  Today most executives recognize that sustainability must be integrated into their organization’s core strategy — not to say that they necessarily understand why. In fact, too many are still content wearing some kind of sustainability PR badge just because the “About Us” section of their website gives sustainability a one-paragraph mention. For their sake and ours, here are nine reasons why all of us might want to redefine how we approach sustainability. 1. Lower costs Sustainability drives profitability. For example, Intercontinental Hotels says it is saving $30,000 a month at two San Francisco hotels by micro-managing peak power. Watch for companies using the uninterrupted power supplies in their data centers to do the same thing. They might even rent spare capacity on their UPS to utilities — UPS as a profit center, anyone? 2. Increased revenue CBRE , the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, surveyed San Diego and found that green buildings commanded 18 percent higher rents ($2.42 per square foot versus $2.02 per square foot) and higher occupancy rates (88.3 percent vs. 84.3 percent) than conventional buildings. Other surveys show similar results . 3. Higher capital value and ROI In real estate, higher rents and lower turnover translate directly into higher capital values (PDF) that can average 10.9 percent for new buildings and 6.9 percent for older ones. It also helps you control your utility bill. 4. Leveraging broadband investments As part of a smart-grid upgrade to make its electrical system more efficient, municipal utility EPB installed a 1-gigabit fiber optic network that reaches more than 172,000 homes and businesses in Chattanooga, Tenn . By building one network for both grid and Internet traffic, EPB was able to leverage its investments and construction costs, and provide local residents along with businesses such as Volkswagen and Amazon with some of the fastest Internet service in the country. This project will become a model for many communities. 5. Brand Sustainable brands outperform their peers by 120 percent . Seventy-five percent of retailers say sustainability has strengthened or mitigated their brand. I have seen several private studies by the top branding agencies in the world that say similar things. 6. Customer engagement Ask anyone who has retrofitted their restaurant or store with LED lighting : patrons linger longer. Anecdotal evidence is also being gathered about higher sell-through rates (let alone more savings, of course, as solid-state lighting and lighting networking can cut light power consumption by 70 to 90 percent .) 7. Recruiting Workers younger than 25 rank an employer’s reputation as an important draw for a job. “It is one of the soft things that many companies don’t understand but it is crucial in the retention and morale of employees,” Larry Vertal of AMD has noted. “It is amazing how the highest talented people will grill you about your sustainability practices in job interviews.” 8. Health and wellness Workplace and building design can have a direct impact on motivation, employee satisfaction and productivity . If you’re not freezing or complaining about the heat, you’ll get more done. This benefit may be tough to quantify, but the compelling anecdotes are growing. Hewlett-Packard found that lighting controls can reduce migraines . Data also shows that respiratory problems drop in retrofitted buildings. 9. Data center performance With the trend towards cloud everything, data center managers are some of the biggest believers in sustainability as electricity can consume up to 30 percent of the operating budget. Google claims it has saved over $1 billion through its energy efficiency measures in its data centers. What kinds of measures can be taken in a data center environment? Designing for energy efficiency can free up floor space , reducing real estate costs. Lowering wasted heat extends equipment lifetime and reduces failures. Even innovations such as flash memory storage systems — one of the more interesting new ways to reduce power consumption — let companies get more work done with fewer machines. The list could go on. What are some results and unexpected benefits you’ve seen? And how do you think we can use hard data to move the ball forward? Top image by  Patryk Kosmider  via Shutterstock. Topics:  Data Centers Emissions Reduction Renewable Energy Energy Efficiency Reporting Architecture & Design Smart Buildings Corporate Strategy

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9 ways sustainability drives profit

NYC’s Design Trust for Public Space Launches Urban Agriculture Data Collection Portal

July 29, 2014 by  
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Some people still criticize the urban agriculture movement as a cute idea with little potential to feed urban populations, or as an unnecessary intrusion on valuable city real estate. Part of the problem is there has never been solid data to back up the many benefits that food production brings to the urban ecosystem. Starting this summer, however, a new online tool is set to change that. New York City’s Design Trust for Public Space just launched an online data toolkit that tracks 19 metrics under four broad categories to give greater validity to the claims of urban farmers. Read the rest of NYC’s Design Trust for Public Space Launches Urban Agriculture Data Collection Portal Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: benefits of urban farming , data portal , design trust for public space , five boroughs farm , food system , green technology application , New York. , urban agriculture , urban farm , Urban Farming , urban space

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NYC’s Design Trust for Public Space Launches Urban Agriculture Data Collection Portal

Renewable Energy Now Accounts for 25% of Global Energy Capacity

July 26, 2011 by  
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The newly released REN21 Renewables 2011 Global Status Report shows that renewable energy hit a major milestone in 2010 by making up 25 percent of global energy capacity by the end of that year.  Renewable sources supplied 20 percent of the energy consumed in 2010. So far in 2011, renewable energy sources (solar, wind, water, biomass, biofuels, geothermal ) have supplied 11.73 percent of energy consumed in the U.S., which is 5.65 percent more than nuclear power and not far away from the energy supplied from domestic crude oil. The report states that 50 percent of renewable energy capacity is now in developing countries.  The top five countries (in order) for non-hydro renewable energy capacity are the U.S., China , Germany, Spain and India. China ended 2010 with renewables accounting for 26 percent of installed energy capacity and 18 percent of the energy consumed. In other encouraging news, the EU exceeded all of its targets for wind , solar PV, solar thermal and heating/heat pumps.  In 2010, renewables made up 41 percent of new electricity capacity in the EU. For more on the state of renewable energy in the world, including more country rankings by sector, you can check out the full report here (PDF) . via Sustainable Business

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Renewable Energy Now Accounts for 25% of Global Energy Capacity

Urban Bikeway Design Guide Released by NACTO

May 5, 2011 by  
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Image: NACTO Download it for Free The National Association of City Transportation Officials has released its Urban Bikeways Design Guide (you can download it in PDF format). This reference guide should be on the bookshelf of all urban planners, and even if they don’t follow its suggestions exactly, they should at least know about them.

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Urban Bikeway Design Guide Released by NACTO

‘Electric Roads’ Could Charge EVs As They Drive

May 5, 2011 by  
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What if there was a way to build roads that could charge electric cars’ batteries as they drove over them? It’d certainly go a long ways in easing range anxiety, and could drop the size (and price) of EV batteries significantly.

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‘Electric Roads’ Could Charge EVs As They Drive

Mother’s Day: An Opportunity to Support Women Around the World

May 5, 2011 by  
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Image: Courtesy of Les Stone / Women for Women International I’m not an advocate of Hallmark holiday-driven consumerism, but if you’re going to be doing some Mother’s Day shopping, the dollars might as well go to a worthy place, right?

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Mother’s Day: An Opportunity to Support Women Around the World

Portland is Building a 700-Foot Bridge for Pedestrians and Cyclists

January 7, 2011 by  
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Image: gibbsbridge.org The Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge The City of Portland is working to build a new bike and pedestrian bridge over I-5 to connect the historic Lair Hill neighborhood with the South Waterfront District.

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Portland is Building a 700-Foot Bridge for Pedestrians and Cyclists

Green Residential Products Showcased at Greenbuild

November 28, 2010 by  
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This year’s 2010 Greenbuild Conference and Expo offered the usual enormous hall filled with displays of all kinds of products and building materials that can be used to create greener buildings. Eco Home Magazine has a slideshow of 14 of the products that were on display at this year’s Greenbuild.

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Green Residential Products Showcased at Greenbuild

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