Can smart buildings be more equitable buildings?

March 30, 2021 by  
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Can smart buildings be more equitable buildings? Hadas Webb Tue, 03/30/2021 – 01:30 When I returned to the office after having my first child, I noticed for the first time that all of the offices and conference rooms either had windows or non-locking doors, which left me without any safe spaces for pumping. Fortunately, I work for a supportive company that requested modification from building management to convert a small conference room to a part-time pumping room. Shortly thereafter, the regional executives of a global pharmaceutical company came to my employer, Cimetrics, for help maintaining thermal comfort for women as part of their commitment to integrate the United Nations Global Compact and corporate social responsibility related to supporting women’s empowerment and advancing gender equality. Cimetrics’ analytical tools found that the facility’s energy reduction efforts led to exceptional efficiency but did not account for comfort variability relative to weather. These are only two examples of systemic bias within the building industry — in this case, related to understanding the needs of female occupants — that organizations are working to correct. Many building standards developed decades ago have had only small incremental updates over the years. For example, thermal comfort standards based on young, Caucasian, male body types (including ASHRAE standard 55) have been shown multiple times over to be biased , yet they persist as standards for building design. As another example, historically racist housing policies have resulted in heat islands and an imbalance of energy use across communities. A recent U.S. study found that “redlined” neighborhoods, which have fewer green spaces and tree canopy, are as much as 13 degrees warmer than non-redlined neighborhoods. There are ample regulatory drivers and utility incentives for reducing a building’s carbon footprint and embracing energy-efficient technology, but not for supporting diversity, particularly for privately held companies. Modern “smart” buildings that aim to optimize energy efficiency and occupant satisfaction now incorporate much more sophisticated technologies than those prevalent when these biased building standards were developed, but are we learning from the lessons of the past? There is no shortage of eye-catching headlines about how artificial intelligence can introduce or amplify bias, but evidence shows algorithms, in general, are still less biased than human decisions . Bias is introduced into the analytics AI or machine learning through the data selection process, called training data, and through the algorithms used to process that data. A straightforward example of bias introduced through training data is biometric facial recognition that is skewed toward lighter-skinned males and therefore falsely identifies African-American and Asian faces. There are ample regulatory drivers and utility incentives for reducing a building’s carbon footprint and embracing energy-efficient technology, but not for supporting diversity, particularly for privately held companies. What can we do to reduce bias within the built environment and create more equitable working spaces, while simultaneously working to reduce the climate impact of building and maintaining these structures? As a female leader, I find it offensive that we must create a business case to get people to pay attention to bias and equity. That said, there is a business case for harnessing diversity and ensuring equity, as has been reflected in myriad articles and research efforts of the past few years. Regarding the previously mentioned bias associated with temperature standards, at this time, research shows that productivity is not strongly correlated with room temperature, but productivity is correlated with the perception of comfort, and I would argue that the latter is more important for retaining high performing employees. Moreover, energy consumption can be reduced by expanding the thermostat range during certain conditions. In short, keeping equity at the forefront of smart building development has the potential to amplify its impact on carbon reduction. As you research building analytics and property intelligence tools that support your sustainability goals and ESG reporting requirements, make sure those tools have the flexibility to adapt to the requirements of your demographics, as well as track your performance in these areas. It begs the question: Are you collecting the right data to ensure the behavior, comfort, health and well-being of all building stakeholders are accounted for in your decision-making? After all, what is data but a decision-making tool that allows you to be proactive and intentional in your decisions? Pull Quote There are ample regulatory drivers and utility incentives for reducing a building’s carbon footprint and embracing energy-efficient technology, but not for supporting diversity, particularly for privately held companies. Topics Buildings Corporate Social Responsibility Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Why data and measurement are key to a circular economy transition

February 12, 2021 by  
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Why data and measurement are key to a circular economy transition James Woolven Fri, 02/12/2021 – 01:00 This article originally appeared on Circulate News . Measuring financial results, customer retention, productivity and inventory are all commonplace, but these measurements alone are no longer enough to tell a business whether it will stand the test of time. To be successful, it is becoming increasingly clear that businesses need to consider their social and environmental impact — or else be caught out by changing legislation or left behind by customers. What once simply could be written off as a “negative externality” has financial implications and has to be central to business strategies. This means changing the way businesses see their role in society and, ultimately, transforming the economy. Our current economic model is based on extraction and waste. It is linear — we take materials from the planet, make products from them and eventually throw them away. This take-make-waste economic model fundamentally cannot work long term. It relies on the extraction and eventual disposal of finite materials and — to satisfy an ever-growing demand for resources — encroachment into natural ecosystems, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions and staggering biodiversity loss. Alternatively, an economic system based on the recirculation of resources and the regeneration of natural systems offers a way forward that can work in the long term. This model, known as the circular economy, could help tackle the world’s biggest challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution. The circular economy is underpinned by three principles, each driven by design: eliminate waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use; and regenerate natural systems. Circular economy is gathering momentum and is being embraced across the public and private sectors around the world. For example, more than 50 global leaders, including CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies, policymakers, philanthropists, academics and other influential individuals, signed a joint statement in June calling for a transition to a circular economy in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In the plastics sector, more than 1,000 organizations have united behind, and are working towards, a common vision of a circular economy for plastics . As organizations begin to make strides in their efforts to transition away from a linear way of doing business and to implement real-world changes, clear and comparable metrics will be valuable for assessing their success and planning future actions. It is vital that we understand how to achieve a circular economy beyond the recirculation of materials. Upstream solutions such as product and service design are essential to eliminate waste before it happens. Jarkko Havas, insights and analysis lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, explains: “Implementing changes can only be effective when we have a clear vision of a future state, an understanding of where we are now and a view of how quickly we are moving between the two states. Measuring progress and tracking changes is an essential factor in the transition to a circular economy.” Measuring the circular economy transition for businesses To understand whether business activity is achieving the aims of a circular economy, business leaders need access to data that measures the circular economy performance of their business, alongside the more commonplace metrics used for assessing the business. However, measuring circular economy performance is a relatively new area and this can lead to misinterpretation of circular economy, with the outcome being well-intentioned incremental tweaks to linear systems, rather than the adoption of truly circular business models. The concept of a circular economy, and what it means for businesses, has been interpreted in many ways. As a result, standardization of the concepts behind circular economy and their inclusion into broader non-financial reporting standards are areas of ongoing work. Measuring circular economy performance also requires data on areas of a business that haven’t traditionally been measured, such as the circularity of water flows or physical assets. Havas adds: “It is vital that we understand how to achieve a circular economy beyond the recirculation of materials. Upstream solutions such as product and service design are essential to eliminate waste before it happens. On an organizational level, we also need to ensure that the circular economy is a part of strategy, risk assessment and organizational targets, to name a few.” In order to measure circular economy performance, it is important to take stock of the concrete results of a company’s efforts to transition to a circular economy — to create a snapshot of the company’s current circularity, in terms of material flows and business models. However, it is also important to look at things that enable the transition to happen, such as senior leadership buy-in and necessary infrastructure. This gives an insight into companies’ circular economy potential. As more businesses have employed circular economy models, a number of initiatives have been developed to measure circular economy performance. This includes the Circular Transition Indicators by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circulytics tool, of which version 2.0 recently has been launched. Broader reporting frameworks, such as the Global Reporting Initiative, also have started to embed concepts of the circular economy. Anna Krotova, senior manager for standards at the Global Reporting Initiative, says: “Since its last revision in 2016, we have updated the GRI Waste Standard to reflect the continued transition to the circular economy. This update will help thousands of GRI reporters look beyond operational waste, towards understanding how their activities, products and services cause or relate to waste impacts, and where in the value chain they are exposed to risk. Consequently, this will enable organizations to identify circularity opportunities and demonstrate to their stakeholders — such as communities, customers, investors and governments — how they are adopting a holistic and progressive approach to waste and resources management.” Circular economy measurement is also an ongoing area of work for Europe’s new Circular Economy Action Plan. The action plan calls for improved metrics to monitor the progress towards circularity. This monitoring should cover the interlinkages between circularity, climate neutrality and the zero-pollution ambition. The Bellagio process is an initiative taken by the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research and the European Environment Agency to respond to this need. We therefore need to focus our attention on more than just the flow of materials, and include also environmental and social aspects. The circular sustainable life should be a good life. Peder Jensen, expert, circular economy and resource efficiency, at the European Environment Agency, says: “Circularity is an idea as old as nature itself. So it is really the linear model that is the ‘odd one out.’ Only by transitioning to a circular model can we ever establish a real model for sustainable development. We therefore need to focus our attention on more than just the flow of materials, and include also environmental and social aspects. The circular sustainable life should be a good life. “The Bellagio principles are a set of guidelines on how to monitor the transition to a circular economy. The principles focus on capturing both the narrow material flow related aspects (circular material use) and the broader aspects linked to the environment and social implication. In this way, it pays tribute to the broadly accepted concept of sustainability and sustainable development.” Havas adds: “At the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we are working on measurement on many fronts: We continue to develop our company-level circular economy measurement tool Circulytics together with our network of companies; work with circular economy measurement standardization as a liaison to the ISO technical committee on circular economy; with non-financial reporting standards efforts; and with public sector actors especially in the EU. Our food initiative has also developed a city self-assessment tool for cities to understand solutions to achieve a circular economy of foods. Our aim is to act as an impartial organization on these different levels of measuring the circular economy, and to bring consistency across them.” Benefits of circular economy measurement Having access to metrics assessing the circular economy performance of a company can have a series of benefits, both for the individual companies themselves and for the overall transition to a circular economy. Establishing the extent of a company’s circular economy performance can be a motivating force to drive faster, fuller adoption of the circular economy. It can empower strategic decision making, helping companies fully realize circular economy opportunities and can help to drive continued progress. The systemic transition to a circular economy creates value and opens up opportunities for collaboration with a view to open innovation. If made publicly available, data on the circular economy performance of companies also can help accelerate the wider transition to a circular economy by giving the financial world a metric on which to base investment decisions. Given that the circular economy is a complex and many-faceted system, making decisions on whether a company is “circular” can be complicated for investors without clear, consistent and comparable metrics. Intesa Sanpaolo was an organization involved in the joint statement calling for a circular economy transition. The bank’s global head of circular economy, Massimiano Tellini, says: “The systemic transition to a circular economy creates value and opens up opportunities for collaboration with a view to open innovation. The change of cultural paradigm generates both a benefit for our customers, in terms of increased competitiveness, and an opportunity for us in terms of advisory and business origination. The renewed awareness of the urgency of this change determined by the pandemic and the opportunity offered by the Next Generation EU plan are key elements for a redefinition of the development model on an international scale investing in innovation and training. “These aspects stimulate a dialogue based on the sharing of approach and information assets combined with the impact capacity of each player in favor of the transition, with the natural consequence of involving more and more actors in a common path to accelerate the transformation.” Pull Quote It is vital that we understand how to achieve a circular economy beyond the recirculation of materials. Upstream solutions such as product and service design are essential to eliminate waste before it happens. We therefore need to focus our attention on more than just the flow of materials, and include also environmental and social aspects. The circular sustainable life should be a good life. The systemic transition to a circular economy creates value and opens up opportunities for collaboration with a view to open innovation. Topics Circular Economy Data Ellen MacArthur Foundation Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  Freedomz  on Shutterstock.

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The State of Green Business 2021

December 21, 2020 by  
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The State of Green Business 2021 Date/Time: January 25, 2021 (1-2PM ET / 10-11AM PT) Following the challenging, turbulent year that was 2020, what is the state of sustainable business in 2021? Join us for the release of the 14th annual edition of State of Green Business, GreenBiz Group’s award-winning annual report. Each year, the report looks at key trends and metrics assessing how, and how much, companies are moving the needle on the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. The report is produced in partnership with Trucost, part of S&P Global, and covers the performance on the biggest publicly traded U.S. companies (S&P 500) and global players (S&P Global 1200). In this one-hour webcast, coinciding with the report’s release, GreenBiz Group Chairman and Executive Editor Joel Makower and Trucost CEO Richard Mattison will provide insights into key trends and metrics in sustainable business, including new metrics introduced in this year’s report revealing companies’ revenue aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, and how large companies’ emissions align with a 2-degree carbon budget. Among the topics: Why the “S” in ESG is gaining currency The new face of credit risk How ESG scores relate to financial performance Why sustainable mobility is becoming the newest corporate perk Corporate profits at risk from climate change Speakers: Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group Richard Mattison, Chief Executive Officer, Trucost, part of S&P Global If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. Report Partner taylor flores Mon, 12/21/2020 – 10:22 Joel Makower Chairman & Executive Editor GreenBiz Group @makower Richard Mattison CEO Trucost, part of S&P Global @richmattison gbz_webcast_date Sat, 01/25/2020 – 10:00 – Sat, 01/25/2020 – 11:00

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Ensuring Performance and Safety in Recycled Plastics

August 26, 2020 by  
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Ensuring Performance and Safety in Recycled Plastics As companies and consumer brands incorporate recycled plastic content into their products and as part of their circularity goals, product integrity becomes an important consideration. There are many ways to evaluate the performance and safety of recycled materials. This one-hour webcast will show you tools to evaluate these aspects and how brands like HP are increasing recycled content in their products and assessing performance and sustainability.  Topic include:  How regulations and brands are driving the use of recycled plastics The safety and performance considerations of recycled plastics How companies can develop mitigation strategies and reduce risk with testing and certification How to ensure that claims of recycled content are valid and to avoid greenwashing Moderator: John Davies, Vice President & Senior Analyst, GreenBiz Group Speakers:  Fred Arazan, Innovation & Partnerships Manager, UL Bill Hoffman, Corporate Fellow & Research Scientist, Environment & Sustainability Division, UL Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability & Social Impact Officer, HP Inc.  If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. taylor flores Wed, 08/26/2020 – 10:17 John Davies VP, Senior Analyst GreenBiz Group @greenbizjd Fred Arazan Innovation & Partnerships Manager UL Bill Hoffman Ph.D, UL Corporate Fellow, Research Scientist UL @ULdialogue Ellen Jackowski Chief Sustainability & Social Impact Officer HP Inc. @ellenjackowski gbz_webcast_date Tue, 09/22/2020 – 10:00 – Tue, 09/22/2020 – 11:00

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Sumo wrestles sustainability into an all-natural, biodegradable diaper

February 14, 2020 by  
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Sustainable living is an ongoing pursuit that requires evaluating each purchase and every product we use. But some daily tasks just don’t have suitable solutions. The spotlight on disposable diapers is one example, and the only real option so far has been cloth diapers. Even though cloth diapers do keep the plastic variety from sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years, the plastic ribbing and diaper inserts typically keep cloth diapers from being recyclable. As part of her master’s thesis, Luisa Kahlfeldt created Sumo, a natural, biodegradable diaper that is as gentle on the planet as it is on a baby’s skin. Sumo diapers are created from a material called SeaCell, which is made up of algae extracts and eucalyptus wood . Both materials are soft and naturally antibacterial, making a great combination for something that will be against a baby’s skin. Additionally, SeaCell is sustainably harvested and produced with a low environmental impact. It is also biodegradable. Related: Pacific nation Vanuatu is the first to ban disposable diapers Anyone who has children knows that while it is important to strive for sustainability, if a reusable diaper doesn’t do its job, it’s out. The Sumo incorporates performance into the design with three layers of protection that include a soft inner layer, an absorbent center and a waterproof outer layer to combat leaks. Once the performance and material issues were hammered out, Kahlfeldt turned to finding an alternative to the standard elastic used for gathering fabric around the legs in traditional cloth diapers. In the process, she developed a way to knit natural yarns that stand up to the task while offering elasticity. The design is gaining notice from some notable organizations, namely the James Dyson Award, where Sumo was the winning entry from Switzerland in 2019. Kahlfeldt completed the project before graduating Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), one of the world’s top design schools. She is currently working as a senior designer at Konstantin Grcic Design in Berlin. + Luisa Kahlfeldt Via Dezeen Images via Sumo

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South Africa’s first interior 6 star Green Star awarded to Formfunc

February 14, 2020 by  
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The Green Building Council recently awarded South Africa’s highest possible Interiors Green Star v1 certification to Capetown-based company  Formfunc Studio’s  office spaces — the first such rating to be awarded in the country for an office and distribution center. Spearheaded by local multidisciplinary environmental firm  Terramanzi Group , the design optimizes energy efficiency as well as occupant health and wellness. Designed with the Green Star Rating Tool in mind, the environmental consultants from the Terramanzi Group assessed all elements of the office fit-out to ensure ratings of between 75 to 100 credits for each evaluated category. This meant careful planning on a wide range of factors, from materials used to Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and emissions. Key to the design was a “less is more” approach that led to a minimalist interior design with unplastered walls and exposed ceilings to minimize materials.  Low VOC  paints and sealants were used wherever possible.  Low-tech and high-tech solutions were used throughout, such as the installation of  floor-to-ceiling glazing  that takes advantage of natural daylight and the highly efficient HVAC system that improves outside air rates into the building to achieve above SANS 10400 requirements. Sensors were also installed to monitor and control carbon dioxide, water, and electricity levels. To promote responsible environmental stewardship, the office has been equipped with a recycling station and a composting unit for organic waste. Employees also have access to biking and motorbike parking on-site.  Related: This amazing green office is covered with native plants that were rescued on-site “As we are the exclusive distributor of Humanscale® ergonomic chairs, workstations and other  office  accessories to the southern African market, it was imperative that our office environment went beyond just an ergonomic solution but also reflected our brand and our philosophy of recreating workspaces that are simpler and healthier for our employees to work in,” Kim Kowalski, director and co-founder of Formfunc, explained in a project statement. + Terramanzi Group Images via Formfunc Studio

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South Africa’s first interior 6 star Green Star awarded to Formfunc

Studio Roosegaardes laser light art tracks floating space waste in the sky

October 12, 2018 by  
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A dazzling neon green light show is illuminating the night skies in Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde’s latest large-scale art installation, the Space Waste Lab Performance. Created as part of the Space Waste Lab , the performance uses real-time tracking information to render the space waste floating above our heads visible with bright green LEDs that follow the movement of the drifting waste. The series of live installations kicked off on October 5 in the Dutch city of Almere and aims to call attention to the problem of space waste as well as sustainable upcycling solutions. According to Studio Roosegaarde, there are currently more than 29,000 items of space waste  — approximately 8.1 million kilograms worth — floating around the earth. Classified as objects greater than 10 centimeters, the waste comprises anything from parts of broken rockets to chipped-off satellite pieces. The drifting junk poses a danger to current satellites and can disrupt digital communications, however there is no clear plan on how to fix the growing issue. In response, the Dutch design studio launched Space Waste Lab with support from the European Space Agency to bring attention to the issue and find ways to upcycle the waste into sustainable products. The Space Waste Lab Performance that launched early this month marks the first phase of the living lab. Created in compliance with strict safety and aviation regulations, the large-scale light show uses cutting-edge software and camera technology to track pieces of drifting space waste in real time with high-powered, neon green LEDs that project a distance of 125,000 to 136,000 miles. “I’m a strong believer in cooperation between technologists and artists,” said  ESA Director Franco Ongaro about Space Waste Lab. “Artists not only communicate vision and feelings to the public but help us discover aspects of our work which we are often unable to perceive. This cooperation is all the more important when dealing with issues like space debris, which may one day impact our future and our ability to draw maximum benefits from space. We need to speak in different ways, to convey not just the dry technological aspects of technology, but the emotions involved in the struggle to preserve this environment for future generations.” Related: Daan Roosegaarde unveils mind-expanding 295-foot SPACE installation in Eindhoven Space Waste Lab will be open to the public at Kunstlinie in Almere until January 19, 2019 and is complemented by the “Space @ KAF” exhibition next door. The Space Waste Lab Performance will be exhibited after sunset on the nights of October 5 and 6; November 9 and 10; December 7 and 8; and January 18 and 19, 2019. The surrounding street and commercial lights will be turned off at those times to enhance the experience. Phase 2 of the program begins after January 2019 and will study ways to capture and upcycle space waste. + Studio Roosegaarde Via Dezeen Images via Studio Roosegaarde

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Studio Roosegaardes laser light art tracks floating space waste in the sky

Pepsi: We expect suppliers to share our values

February 16, 2017 by  
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Farms and production partners must commit to Performance with Purpose ethos by 2025.

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Measuring the impact of conservation investing just got easier

May 4, 2016 by  
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New software breaks down the performance of financial investments in environmental conservation.

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INFOGRAPHIC: The benefits of structural insulated panels

November 24, 2015 by  
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The demand for better-built homes continues to rise as codes get stronger and homeowners realize the many benefits of a high performance home. Never before have so many construction methods been available to homeowners. One of the most comprehensive building solutions includes Structural Insulated Panels , or SIPs. As one of the few building methods that solve multiple building needs all by themselves, SIPs are very energy-efficient , produce less waste and increase the speed in which a home can be built. Point Zero High Performance Homes created the following infographic to help illustrate the major benefits of SIP-built homes. Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: The benefits of structural insulated panels

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