The many faces of energy resilience

August 17, 2020 by  
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The many faces of energy resilience Michelle Moore Mon, 08/17/2020 – 00:30 This series explores how clean energy can deliver on finance and corporate social and governance goals alongside climate and environmental benefits. “Resilience” is a powerful word in 2020. Fires, floods, pestilence, pandemic — I don’t know about you all, but I was raised in a fundamentalist Southern Baptist Church and my Revelations bingo card is just about full. Thinking about the idea of resilience as it relates to equity and energy systems merely as the ability to keep the lights on, however, is missing a powerful opportunity to right the scales of justice. Large corporate energy buyers and utilities, in particular, hold the opportunity to build better and make things right. On resilience The term “resilience” can be applied to a vast array of natural, built and social systems and refers to the ability to recover function following a significant, potentially unpredictable disruption. As it relates to energy, moving away from long transmission lines and centralized power plants burning extracted, polluting fuels and towards a distributed system that combines local energy storage with renewables improves resilience — consistent with the principles of biomimicry. That’s the vision. But how is that vision valued? Resilient energy systems combining renewables, microgrids and energy storage are being deployed by corporations and other institutions that can assign an economic value to resilience as a service, by residential customers who can afford it and by utilities that benefit from the resulting infrastructure and other cost reductions. If we define the value of resilience in such narrow economic terms, however, we will build a clean energy dystopia. But we can choose a better way. Do justice Our energy systems, like most legacy systems, are infused with racial injustices that do particular harm to Black communities, families and individuals because many of our laws and institutions were designed for that purpose. Systems produce outcomes according to the values on which they are founded, and the outcomes are clear. As the NAACP has highlighted , 68 percent of Black and African-American individuals live within 30 miles of a coal plant and are twice as likely to die from asthma than white Americans. Only 1.1 percent of those employed in the energy industry are Black, while Black households comprise more than half of those paying 10 percent or more of their entire income to keep the lights on. Moreover, Black and Latino households pay almost three times as much for energy as higher income and white households.  If we define the value of resilience in such narrow economic terms, we will build a clean energy dystopia. But we can choose a better way. Just because you didn’t write the rules that made things so broken doesn’t absolve you of accountability to fix them. As my colleague Chandra Farley, Just Energy Director with Partnership for Southern Equity, has pointedly noted, Black people, communities of color and low-income communities are resilient because they have endured hundreds of years of systemic racism and disinvestment. Recognizing this, every decision maker leading an energy storage project can choose to do justice by understanding the value of resilience as encompassing more than the money. Here are four examples of how to begin. Communities can define their own resilient energy futures , anchored by colleges and universities. In service to the Atlanta University Center Consortium , Groundswell is supporting the design and development of an innovative Resilience Hub that celebrates the leadership of Atlanta’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Partnership for Southern Equity is on the team to ensure that the voice and vision of the surrounding neighborhoods, among the most energy-burdened in the city, are the priority. Enabled through NREL’s Solar Energy Innovation Network, this project is tackling how to deploy community-led energy resilience in a regulated, utility-driven energy market. Large corporate energy buyers can share resilience as a service to the communities surrounding their facilities and installations. Doing so in a way that aligns with local community needs and values requires building relationships with local communities and listening to and meeting their needs. John Kliem, formerly the head of the U.S. Navy’s Resilient Energy Program Office, oversaw an early example of this approach in collaboration with the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii. The resulting solar-plus-storage facility, recognized b y a 2019 U.S. Department of Energy award, improves energy security for the local Naval facility while supporting local goals. Kliem, who now leads federal energy strategy for Johnson Controls, also has identified co-location of energy storage facilities to share resilience with critical infrastructure such as hospitals and municipal water pumping stations as opportunities. Cities, municipalities and other jurisdictions can use their planning authority to embed community-driven resilience at the building level. The city of Baltimore is helping to lead the way. Funded through a Maryland Energy Administration Grant, Baltimore is working with Groundswell and energy storage innovators A.F. Mensah to identify and develop up to 20 local Resilience Hubs across the city that will host solar and energy storage installations and provide refuge for local community members in case of extreme weather or other events. Importantly, funded collaborations such as this support critical place-based R&D into optimal approaches to financing larger scale deployment while navigating local, state and regional regulations that impact siting, interconnection and access to revenue opportunities such as selling stored power back to the grid at peak.   Rural electric cooperatives are demonstrating how utilities can deploy energy storage that reduces electric costs for their member customers. Curtis Wynn, CEO of the Roanoke Electric Cooperative and president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, is studying offering energy storage as a service to industrial customers and sharing the resulting cost reductions from reducing peak demand with his residential customers, who are largely low- and moderate-income households. Using smart hot water heaters for energy storage offers similar potential benefits to lower income customers, which is just one of the innovative ideas being advanced by the Beneficial Electrification League . Towards regeneration Building energy resilience can do more than keep the lights on for those who can pay for it. Resilience can be reparative, and the resulting investments can support the regeneration of communities that have been held back by institutionalized systems of oppression. We have a corporate as well as an individual responsibility to do justice. We are called to advocate for and share what we have with others so that everyone is treated equally and with dignity, and it’s the privilege of our generation to be alive at a time when we can make things right. Pull Quote If we define the value of resilience in such narrow economic terms, we will build a clean energy dystopia. But we can choose a better way. Topics Energy & Climate Social Justice Community Resilience Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock

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The many faces of energy resilience

Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions

March 16, 2020 by  
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As people cut back on traveling and the global economy slows, carbon emissions have dropped significantly, most notably in China. Unfortunately, reducing carbon emissions at the expense of public health is far from sustainable. By late February, China’s economy had already taken a hit. Coronavirus containment measures had reduced key industrial sectors by 15% to 40%, according to Carbon Brief . Industrial output and electricity demand were far below usual levels, including a 36% drop in coal consumption, a 34% drop in utilization of oil refining capacity and a 5% to 10% rate of flight cancellations globally. Both international flights from China and domestic flights within China are down by more than half. Related: Starbucks suspends personal cup use because of coronavirus As Chinese refineries shut down, ships become floating storage units for oil. About 87 million barrels of petroleum products are currently stored at sea, plus many more onshore, awaiting buyers. Some NASA satellite images taken in February are especially startling. The images show Wuhan’s usual yellow cloak of nitrogen dioxide — a gas produced by vehicles and industry — in early January of 2020, compared with nearly clear skies by mid-February. By the time of the latter photo, Chinese authorities had ordered a city-wide quarantine to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The images showed that nitrogen dioxide in the Wuhan skies was down 10% to 30%. “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a statement accompanying the satellite photos. Coronavirus and Chinese New Year Every year, China sees a drop in carbon emissions during the 10-day Chinese New Year celebration. Shops close, construction sites take a break and many industries cut back on operations. Scientists have measured the reduction in energy demand and the resulting emissions. Coal-fired power generation usually drops by half for the 10-day period. This year, coronavirus hit in Wuhan, China just before the start of Chinese New Year. By the time people started traveling home to see family for the holiday, more than 900 cases had been reported worldwide. The numbers and panic increased over the course of the usually celebratory time. Instead of things returning to business as usual after the celebration, the reduction in industry — and carbon emissions — continued. According to The New York Times , after three weeks of coronavirus, the decline in Chinese carbon dioxide emissions was about 150 million metric tons, or the amount of carbon dioxide the state of New York produces in a year. Historic precedents This isn’t the first time carbon emissions have plunged during a time of human sickness or panic. Global emissions dropped significantly from 2008 to 2009. During this time, U.S. unemployment doubled, the housing market crashed and the stock market tumbled. Global emissions decreased about 1.4% , or about 450 million tons of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, the drop was brief, and soon emissions soared to even higher levels than before the Great Recession. During the Great Depression, as U.S. unemployment climbed to 25%, global emissions dropped by 25% between 1929 and 1932. It wasn’t until 1937 that emissions reached their pre-1929 levels again. Of course, global emissions were much lower then than they are today. The worst pandemic in semi-recent history was the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 , in which 50 million people died globally. That year, carbon dioxide emissions shrank by more than 400 million tons. Other factors, such as the end of World War I and the resulting decrease in the steel and arms industries, may also have contributed to this decline. Carbon emissions after the coronavirus At the time of writing, coronavirus is still spreading worldwide. Soon we may see countries with similar reductions in emissions as quarantines spread across nations. But for now, China is the most interesting example, because it’s the epicenter of the virus and has such a vast economy. Scientists and the climate-concerned are already looking toward a future when the virus is contained and China fires up industry full-tilt. China had planned for 2020 to be the crowning year for a decade of economic accomplishments aimed at “building a moderately prosperous society.” But the virus has dire consequences on everybody, from big to small businesses to householders in China, who may fail to pay their debts because the virus has temporarily put them out of work. Chinese president Xi Jinping has expressed an opinion that the virus response has gone overboard, but local governments are more prone to tighten controls on movement and urge businesses to remain closed in an effort to contain the virus. Experts worry that China’s post-virus economic comeback will quickly reverse any ecological gains it has made during this time of reduced industry. “The reductions are substantial, but they are most certainly only temporary, and there will likely be a rebound effect,” said Joanna Lewis, an expert on China’s energy sector at Georgetown University . “Once people go back to work and factories restart, they may try to make up for lost time. This could result in a surge in emissions.” Images via Shutterstock and NASA’s Earth Observatory

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Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions

How China’s ‘Belt & Road’ initiative could make or break the Paris Agreement

September 5, 2019 by  
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China is eyeing $12 trillion investment across 126 developing countries by 2030, but will the resulting infrastructure be low carbon?

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How China’s ‘Belt & Road’ initiative could make or break the Paris Agreement

How Cross Industry Collaboration Accelerates Supply Chain Sustainability

February 23, 2017 by  
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Increasingly, supply chain partners are identifying areas of shared value and acting together to engage in innovative partnerships. International Paper and McDonald’s are leveraging their commitment to advance sustainable forestry and responsible sourcing through both supply chain actions and third party sustainability collaborations. Hear how these two companies have identified and leveraged their areas of intersection to mutual benefit, and the resulting outcomes on both ends of the supply chain.

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How Cross Industry Collaboration Accelerates Supply Chain Sustainability

Reinventing Corporate Sustainability

February 23, 2017 by  
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The past year has seen a number of ambitious targets set, from Paris to Kigali – the next step is translating these objectives into reality. BSR President and CEO Aron Cramer explores what it will take from the public and private sectors to follow through on these goals, tackle new questions, and build fairer societies.

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Reinventing Corporate Sustainability

Special Announcement: The Sustainability Solutions Celebration

February 23, 2017 by  
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ASU, with the help of some special guests, previews the Sustainability Solutions Celebration, presented as part of the Sustainability Solutions Festival hosted by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

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Special Announcement: The Sustainability Solutions Celebration

Rethinking the Water Cycle for a Water Quality Constrained World

February 23, 2017 by  
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Global water scarcity is a function of the compounding impacts of decreasing availability and declining quality. The impacts of these factors on business are complex and far reaching. Succeeding in a water quality constrained world requires the ingenuity of business to drive water strategies that go beyond conservation to reuse, recycling and stewardship.  Ecolab vice president of sustainability Emilio Tenuta will outline imperatives for achieving business resilience  amidst water scarcity.

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Rethinking the Water Cycle for a Water Quality Constrained World

Reclaimed Plastic Furniture Can Help You Recline in Style

April 25, 2014 by  
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Isn’t it ironic that most things that are made of plastic are used only once and then thrown into the trash, but plastic itself is a material that lasts forever; something that the Earth simply cannot digest? We may not be able to eliminate single-use plastics such as grocery bags and beverage bottles , but we can recycle them into items that’ll be used long-term… like these Adirondack-style chairs , which are made of 90 recycled plastic bottles and grocery bags. The folks at C.R. Plastic Products chose to make these gorgeous items from plastics that would have otherwise ended up in landfill sites, and the resulting furniture is as stylish and comfortable as it is long-lasting. Available in 16 colors, these weather-resistant items are built to last a lifetime (or longer). + CR Plastic Products The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “green furniture” , grocery bags , patio furniture , plastic bags , plastics , recycled , Recycled Plastic , summer furniture

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Reclaimed Plastic Furniture Can Help You Recline in Style

DIY Gift Wrap and Tags Made From Chip Bags, Clothes and Other Recycled Items

December 16, 2012 by  
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If you love wrapping and opening wrapped gifts but hate the resulting pile of wasted paper, then you might want to check out this awesome DIY post. We have compiled a list of clever ways to recycle the most mundane household items into fun gift wrap and tags that your friends and family will love. Our list demonstrates how just about anything can be given new life, including chip bags, children’s art, reusable shopping bags and t-shirts. Hit the jump to learn more and get inspired to make your own recycled gift wrap . READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: DIY , eco holidays , gift guide , gift tags , gift wrap , green holidays , holidays , household items used as gift wrap , Recycled Materials , sustainable gifts

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DIY Gift Wrap and Tags Made From Chip Bags, Clothes and Other Recycled Items

Beyond Soda Taxes, Teaching Cooking Crucial Part of Building Healthy American Diet

July 25, 2011 by  
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photo: cookbookman17 / Creative Commons The New York Times ‘ chief food opinionator Mark Bittman has weighed in on a topic that frequents TreeHugger’s page: Taxing sugary beverages , ending the de facto subsidies for unhealthy foods we’ve currently got in place, and the resulting health benefits of doing so. Bittman’s overview of those benefits is compelling for su… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Beyond Soda Taxes, Teaching Cooking Crucial Part of Building Healthy American Diet

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