First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

September 25, 2020 by  
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First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action? Sarah Golden Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:00 It’s Climate Week: the time of year that climate leaders and professionals usually descend upon New York City in a cloud of transportation emissions to talk climate ambitions and targets.  Like everything else this year, Climate Week wasn’t the usual. Sessions and panels were virtual. There were no breakfast buffets. People presumably drank alone instead of mingling at happy hours. From an emissions standpoint, Climate Week 2020 may go in the books as the greenest of all time.  But some things stayed the same: Corporations seized the opportunity to announce climate commitments.  Corporate commitments roundup Climate Week has become a favorite for heads of states and companies alike to make bold climate commitments.  This week, dozens of corporations re-upped goals, reflecting that the private sector is internalizing what’s at stake — physically, reputationally and economically — if climate change is left unchecked. Some of the most notable (some announced in the run-up to Climate Week) include:   Morgan Stanley became the first major U.S. bank to commit to net-zero emissions generated from its financing activities by 2050.  AT&T pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2035, a step up from its previous goal to reduce Scope 1 emissions by 20 percent and Scope 2 emissions by 60 percent. This comes following AT&T’s leadership in wind corporate procurements .   Walmart pledged to become carbon-neutral across its global operations by 2040 — without relying on offsets. In a separate announcement, Walmart joined forces with Schneider Electric to “educate Walmart suppliers about renewable energy” and accelerate deployment with the aim of removing a gigaton of carbon from its supply chain (aka Scope 3 emissions).  Google committed to becoming powered by clean energy — in real time — by 2030.  General Electric announced it will exit the market for new coal-fired power plants and instead prioritize renewable energy investments — a smart move for the climate and its return on investment .  Amazon got more companies to sign on to its Climate Pledge , including Best Buy, McKinstry, Real Betis, Schneider Electric, and Siemens. Signatories agree to implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement. Intel Corporation , PepsiCo , ASICS (Japan-based apparel company), Sanofi (healthcare company in France), SKF (Swedish manufacturer) and VELUX Group (Danish manufacturer) all signed on to RE100 , a commitment to procure the equivalent of the company’s annual electricity consumptions from renewable sources.  Talk is cheap  I love seeing these commitments rolling in. I love that major companies want to communicate they are on the right side of climate action. I love that consumers care about the climate enough to make it worth consumer brands’ time and effort.  But these commitments are the beginning of something, not the end. And these companies need to be held accountable for reaching their goals in meaningful ways — and to continue to uplevel their commitments to meet the scale of the climate challenge.  Already, climate hawks are pushing corporations for more details.  Following the Morgan Stanley announcement, Rainforest Action Network’s climate and energy director Patrick McCully, wrote in a statement, “We look forward to Morgan Stanley quickly putting meat on this barebones commitment by using the Principles for Paris-Aligned Financial Institutions, and in particular by setting an interim target to halve its emissions by 2030.” Walmart is working hard to let the world know about its new carbon-neutrality commitment (including taking over all ads in my Podcast feed). Yet, as Bloomberg pointed out, this commitment applies to the retail giant’s direct and indicted emissions (Scope 1 and 2), which make up about 5 percent of the company’s total emissions. Whatever happened to last year’s Climate Week’s corporate commitments?  Last year on the eve of Climate Week 2019, employees from big tech companies planned a walkout , demanding their employers take climate seriously across operations. Among the complaints were the companies’ duplicit policies; while companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon were procuring massive amounts of renewables , they also were working with fossil fuel companies to extract oil more efficiently. Employees rightfully pointed out that one does not cancel out the other.  Take Amazon, for example. Last year, the retail giant’s employees formed a group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, demanding its corporate overlord do more on climate. The result: Amazon’s Climate Pledge ( announced during Climate Week 2019) and the company’s founder Jeff Bezos, a.k.a. the richest person on earth, pledged $10 billion of personal wealth to fight climate change.  According to E&E News , Bezos said he would begin issuing grants this summer. “[Tuesday] is the first day of fall, and the Bezos Earth Fund” — as he dubbed the venture — “has yet to announce a single grant.” In the cycle of activism and corporate climate commitments — company profits off climate destruction; employee/customers are mad; company makes a pledge; company doesn’t deliver on pledge — the ball is back in the activists’ court. Making commitments is not the same thing as taking action. In fact, Microsoft just announced another deal with Shell that will expand the oil giant’s use of the software company’s artificial intelligence technology to make extraction more efficient.  In the words of climate journalist Emily Atkins , “The West Coast is now in flames, the Gulf Coast is now waterlogged, and Bezos is now the richest man in the world. And in some people’s eyes, he’s a climate hero, because he promised to spend $10 billion solving climate change. And this, my friends, is exactly why rich people and corporations make voluntary climate pledges. It makes them seem benevolent and wonderful. And there’s no consequence if they never follow through.” Where is everyone else?  We have a terrible habit of scrutinizing companies that have made climate commitments more than those that have done squat.  I’ve spoken to many corporate sustainability professionals that say they don’t publicize their climate commitments. Why? Because yahoos such as me write critical columns about how they’re greenwashing or failing to do enough. Or environmental campaigns target them for hypocrisy.  I’m not saying we should stop holding companies accountable for their commitments. But we certainly shouldn’t give companies doing nothing a free pass. Right now, companies are punished more for speaking out than staying quiet.  In the aftermath of this Climate Week, consider asking the last company you patronized, “What is your organization doing to ensure a safe climate future?” It’s time to make staying quiet more dangerous than taking action.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe  here . Topics Energy & Climate Corporate Strategy Zero Emissions Renewable Energy Procurement Featured Column Power Points 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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First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

August 25, 2020 by  
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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry Zoé Bezpalko Tue, 08/25/2020 – 01:45 Thinking back to the beginning of 2020 can seem like a lifetime ago. Before the pandemic took root on a global level, the transportation industry was already in the midst of a great and exciting transition. The move to electric vehicles (EVs) was intensifying.  Take General Motors, for example. In early March, the company announced it would have 20 new EVs by 2023. It also is tackling ambitious innovations with its Ultium battery and propulsion system that could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mile-per-hour acceleration as low as three seconds.  And then COVID-19 hit. Sales for all vehicles plummeted. But new consumer revelations were (and are) occurring on a daily basis — and it is good news for the EV market. People are appreciating how skies can be clearer and bluer with fewer cars on the road. We’re learning the value of our time and resources with lessons in how to shop more efficiently with fewer trips. With a growing unease in taking public transportation, the demand for electric bikes and cars is also skyrocketing.  While governmental incentives for the EV market in the United States are minimal, the private sector is jumping on board to continue the momentum and meet the new consumer demand.  In June, Lyft announced that every vehicle on its platform will be electric by 2030. Despite a setback in the construction of its factory during the shutdown, Rivian will debut its electric pickup truck and electric SUV next summer. The company is also on track to manufacture more than 100,000 electric vans for Amazon. And GM isn’t shying away from its announcement and commitment to EVs, stating in May that it is continuing at full speed. But there is still much more that needs to change and be done. The present and future opportunities for EVs What can be done to propel the EV industry even further despite the current global climate with COVID-19? Like anything in today’s landscape, it’s complicated — but it’s possible to achieve new inroads. Let’s be honest. EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. From EV design to manufacturing and battery optimization and production, we must address needed changes head-on for a radical, new approach to design and manufacturing. Battery changes Of course, not every company can be GM and create its own battery system. That’s why there is a need for greater openness in battery design and production — and what is actually inside the “black box” battery pack provided by manufacturers. If we can tap into the battery itself, we can further innovate for more efficiency. Battery packs contain components such as cooling, sensors and battery management systems that, if more open, could allow engineers and designers to optimize storage and layout for energy efficiency. With the development of integrated digital design tools, the hope is that addressing both the battery and the car’s geometry in one combined design process will lead to greater efficiency for both.  Manufacturing changes Even before COVID-19, automotive manufacturers and suppliers already were looking at new ways to modernize factories for better performance and reduced energy consumption. Last fall, Porsche opened a new, innovative factory to manufacture its first fully electric sports car, the Taycan. The zero-impact facility is the largest built since the company was founded 70 years ago, and it is also one of the first in the world to begin use of driverless transport systems within the factory. It’s a great example of not only the acceleration of EV availability in the market, but a better way to approach manufacturing, too. COVID-19 and its disruptive impacts on the global supply chain have accelerated how manufacturers and OEMs are looking at their production for more resilience. When factories shut down, it was a chance to step back and think of embedding sustainability throughout operations, in the factory layout itself, or leveraging more additive and local manufacturing. That also means greater opportunity to bring EV manufacturing and production more into the fold and mainstream. EV design changes On the vehicle design side, there are still untapped opportunities to improve battery range, especially through lightweighting and friction reduction. Frictions can be reduced by employing computational fluid dynamics software for simulation. And using generative design , designers can look at an incredible array of options to reduce the overall weight of the car.  Imagine taking an EV design and inputting the parameters to optimize such as geometry, materials, mechanical properties or even the manufacturing process. With generative design, the design team can explore the generated solutions and prioritize and choose what is most important for their goals. What’s more, the power of generative design truly shines when coupled with additive manufacturing to reduce waste in production. It even can solve some supply chain challenges for parts availability. GM has been putting generative design to the test, especially for lightweighting. Its very first proof-of-concept project was for a small, yet important, component — the seat bracket where seat belts are fastened. With parameters based on required connection points, strength and mass, the software returned more than 150 valid design options. The team quickly identified the new seat bracket with a unique, unimaginable style, which is 40 percent lighter, 20 percent stronger and consolidates eight components into one 3D-printed part.  Driving forward If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are all much more resilient than we thought possible. This global pandemic is offering us an opportunity to reflect on a future we want — one that is not only more sustainable, but also more equitable for all. We are embracing change as never before. As we all adapt to our new reality, industries also follow suit. Change and adaptability always has been endemic to the EV industry. We have made huge strides already. Now it’s time to keep driving forward. Pull Quote EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. Topics Transportation & Mobility Design & Packaging COVID-19 Electric Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Porsche’s zero-impact factory designed to manufacture electric vehicles. Image courtesy of Porsche.

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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

August 25, 2020 by  
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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry Zoé Bezpalko Tue, 08/25/2020 – 01:45 Thinking back to the beginning of 2020 can seem like a lifetime ago. Before the pandemic took root on a global level, the transportation industry was already in the midst of a great and exciting transition. The move to electric vehicles (EVs) was intensifying.  Take General Motors, for example. In early March, the company announced it would have 20 new EVs by 2023. It also is tackling ambitious innovations with its Ultium battery and propulsion system that could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mile-per-hour acceleration as low as three seconds.  And then COVID-19 hit. Sales for all vehicles plummeted. But new consumer revelations were (and are) occurring on a daily basis — and it is good news for the EV market. People are appreciating how skies can be clearer and bluer with fewer cars on the road. We’re learning the value of our time and resources with lessons in how to shop more efficiently with fewer trips. With a growing unease in taking public transportation, the demand for electric bikes and cars is also skyrocketing.  While governmental incentives for the EV market in the United States are minimal, the private sector is jumping on board to continue the momentum and meet the new consumer demand.  In June, Lyft announced that every vehicle on its platform will be electric by 2030. Despite a setback in the construction of its factory during the shutdown, Rivian will debut its electric pickup truck and electric SUV next summer. The company is also on track to manufacture more than 100,000 electric vans for Amazon. And GM isn’t shying away from its announcement and commitment to EVs, stating in May that it is continuing at full speed. But there is still much more that needs to change and be done. The present and future opportunities for EVs What can be done to propel the EV industry even further despite the current global climate with COVID-19? Like anything in today’s landscape, it’s complicated — but it’s possible to achieve new inroads. Let’s be honest. EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. From EV design to manufacturing and battery optimization and production, we must address needed changes head-on for a radical, new approach to design and manufacturing. Battery changes Of course, not every company can be GM and create its own battery system. That’s why there is a need for greater openness in battery design and production — and what is actually inside the “black box” battery pack provided by manufacturers. If we can tap into the battery itself, we can further innovate for more efficiency. Battery packs contain components such as cooling, sensors and battery management systems that, if more open, could allow engineers and designers to optimize storage and layout for energy efficiency. With the development of integrated digital design tools, the hope is that addressing both the battery and the car’s geometry in one combined design process will lead to greater efficiency for both.  Manufacturing changes Even before COVID-19, automotive manufacturers and suppliers already were looking at new ways to modernize factories for better performance and reduced energy consumption. Last fall, Porsche opened a new, innovative factory to manufacture its first fully electric sports car, the Taycan. The zero-impact facility is the largest built since the company was founded 70 years ago, and it is also one of the first in the world to begin use of driverless transport systems within the factory. It’s a great example of not only the acceleration of EV availability in the market, but a better way to approach manufacturing, too. COVID-19 and its disruptive impacts on the global supply chain have accelerated how manufacturers and OEMs are looking at their production for more resilience. When factories shut down, it was a chance to step back and think of embedding sustainability throughout operations, in the factory layout itself, or leveraging more additive and local manufacturing. That also means greater opportunity to bring EV manufacturing and production more into the fold and mainstream. EV design changes On the vehicle design side, there are still untapped opportunities to improve battery range, especially through lightweighting and friction reduction. Frictions can be reduced by employing computational fluid dynamics software for simulation. And using generative design , designers can look at an incredible array of options to reduce the overall weight of the car.  Imagine taking an EV design and inputting the parameters to optimize such as geometry, materials, mechanical properties or even the manufacturing process. With generative design, the design team can explore the generated solutions and prioritize and choose what is most important for their goals. What’s more, the power of generative design truly shines when coupled with additive manufacturing to reduce waste in production. It even can solve some supply chain challenges for parts availability. GM has been putting generative design to the test, especially for lightweighting. Its very first proof-of-concept project was for a small, yet important, component — the seat bracket where seat belts are fastened. With parameters based on required connection points, strength and mass, the software returned more than 150 valid design options. The team quickly identified the new seat bracket with a unique, unimaginable style, which is 40 percent lighter, 20 percent stronger and consolidates eight components into one 3D-printed part.  Driving forward If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are all much more resilient than we thought possible. This global pandemic is offering us an opportunity to reflect on a future we want — one that is not only more sustainable, but also more equitable for all. We are embracing change as never before. As we all adapt to our new reality, industries also follow suit. Change and adaptability always has been endemic to the EV industry. We have made huge strides already. Now it’s time to keep driving forward. Pull Quote EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. Topics Transportation & Mobility Design & Packaging COVID-19 Electric Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Porsche’s zero-impact factory designed to manufacture electric vehicles. Image courtesy of Porsche.

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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

Residential energy is becoming companies’ business

May 29, 2020 by  
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Residential energy is becoming companies’ business Sarah Golden Fri, 05/29/2020 – 01:45 In this crazy upside-down world, the line between residential and commercial energy is getting fuzzy.  Everything changed so quickly, it makes sense that climate and energy teams have yet to figure out how to account for the shift. But as companies such as Mastercard , Facebook and Twitter look at long-term remote work policies, working from home (WFH) is adding a new dimension to corporate carbon accounting.  And it’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy.  It’s still early days for companies thinking about WFH energy usages as part of their own greenhouse gas footprint. Right now, commercial energy use is still high , and it’s not clear when or which workers will head back to the office.  It’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy. According to Noah Goldstein, director of sustainability at Guidehouse, there also aren’t great calculations for what the GHG impact of working from home would be. The guidance is that the company is only responsible for “additional” energy use, but that is hard to determine without baseline calculations.  “I can foresee some companies accounting for WFH in their 2020 or 2021 footprint, but very, very few in number,” said Goldstein in an email.  Five companies with residential energy programs for the COVID era With people hunkering down at home as we enter a hotter than normal summer , residential demand response will be critical to keep energy affordable and clean(er).  The pandemic began in a shoulder month — meaning a time of year where heating and cooling demands are low as most of the country experiences temperate weather. With restrictions on movement still in effect, grid operators are preparing for air conditioners alone to strain our energy infrastructure. Demand response is a promising solution. According to an analysis by Wood Mackenzie, residential demand response would unlock more than 10 gigawatts of additional energy capacity. This would help utilities and states stay on track for clean energy goals and reduce energy bills at a time when households are struggling more than ever to make ends meet.  Here are five companies with updated offerings tailored to the COVID-19 era, designed to make residential energy use smarter as our homes become our office (and bar and restaurant and concert venue and movie theater…) 1. Google Nest partners with utilities Google recently announced its partnership with Consumers Energy to bring smart thermostats to up to 100,000 households in Michigan. According to its release , those who receive a thermostat will be enrolled in the utility’s Smart Thermostat Program, which shifts energy use to off-peak hours.  The partnership is part of Consumers’ Clean Energy Plan, which is striving to reach net-zero carbon emissions. Shifting energy use during peak times is key to staying on track.  This is just the first in a series of Google Nest’s partnerships. The company is expected to announce three more utility partnerships at the start of June.  Google isn’t the only company teaming up with utilities to gamify demand response. Logical Buildings launched its GridRewards campaign last month to encourage residents to reduce energy usage at key times. Logical Buildings partnered with a consortium of municipalities in Westchester, New York.  2. OhmConnect launches AutoOhms Last week, OhmConnect announced AutoOhms , its newest program that offers cash incentives for “timely, smarter energy use.” AutoOhm will power down energy-intensive connected appliances in 15-minute increments during peak energy times. Customers will receive a text message when peak rates are about to kick in and can select appliances to power down through an app. Through this “gamified” experience, the customer can actively see their energy savings.  The program is available for customers of California’s three big investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric.  3. Tesla Energy discusses Autobidder Always a big dreamer, it comes as no surprise that Tesla’s energy division has its sights on becoming a distributed global utility.  Tesla has been deploying distributed energy assets (think solar, electric vehicles, Powerwalls) while investing in grid-scale energy and storage projects. Now the company’s vision is to control these individual assets as one beast on its platform Autobidder . According to the website, Autobidder allows anyone with energy storage assets — be they EVs, solar plus storage, a home battery, anything — to engage in real-time trading and make additional money from the energy asset.  Apparently, Autobidder already has been (quietly) around for a few years, operations at Tesla’s energy storage facility in South Australia. With Tesla talking about the software, the company is likely hoping for wider adoption.  4. Leap Energy develops a demand response marketplace Leap, a newer company in the world of demand response, is working to create a marketplace to better monetize energy resources. Its vision is to engage connected energy resources that aren’t currently participating in grid flexibility — which, according to its CEO Thomas Folker, is about 90 percent of energy assets. “We are an aggregator of other aggregators,” said Folker in a phone conversation last month. “We don’t physically control any hardware, we don’t acquire any customers. We just provide the software that allows for this all to happen.” The platform allows for end energy users to bid on resources and automatically facilitates the exchange. Its users are demand response companies — such as OhmConnect and Google Nest — and works to increase the value of distributed energy resources while providing flexibility to the grid.  5. Span turns homes into microgrids New on the scene with a fresh round of Series A finance, Span bills itself as a smart panel company that works to integrate a home’s solar, energy storage and electric vehicle. It’s kind of like using a home’s energy assets as a microgrid.  Span’s selling point is energy resilience. The system works to keep power flowing to where customers need it in the event of a power outage, which, the company points out in a release , is of growing importance as California is looking at a future where shelter in place could overlap with planned power outages. (The company is initially focusing on California and Hawaii as key markets.) This increased level of control and connected energy assets also means users can rely on their own resources when the grid has more dirty energy.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Pull Quote It’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy. Topics Energy & Climate COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Featured Column Power Points 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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Residential energy is becoming companies’ business

Residential energy is becoming companies’ business

May 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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Residential energy is becoming companies’ business Sarah Golden Fri, 05/29/2020 – 01:45 In this crazy upside-down world, the line between residential and commercial energy is getting fuzzy.  Everything changed so quickly, it makes sense that climate and energy teams have yet to figure out how to account for the shift. But as companies such as Mastercard , Facebook and Twitter look at long-term remote work policies, working from home (WFH) is adding a new dimension to corporate carbon accounting.  And it’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy.  It’s still early days for companies thinking about WFH energy usages as part of their own greenhouse gas footprint. Right now, commercial energy use is still high , and it’s not clear when or which workers will head back to the office.  It’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy. According to Noah Goldstein, director of sustainability at Guidehouse, there also aren’t great calculations for what the GHG impact of working from home would be. The guidance is that the company is only responsible for “additional” energy use, but that is hard to determine without baseline calculations.  “I can foresee some companies accounting for WFH in their 2020 or 2021 footprint, but very, very few in number,” said Goldstein in an email.  Five companies with residential energy programs for the COVID era With people hunkering down at home as we enter a hotter than normal summer , residential demand response will be critical to keep energy affordable and clean(er).  The pandemic began in a shoulder month — meaning a time of year where heating and cooling demands are low as most of the country experiences temperate weather. With restrictions on movement still in effect, grid operators are preparing for air conditioners alone to strain our energy infrastructure. Demand response is a promising solution. According to an analysis by Wood Mackenzie, residential demand response would unlock more than 10 gigawatts of additional energy capacity. This would help utilities and states stay on track for clean energy goals and reduce energy bills at a time when households are struggling more than ever to make ends meet.  Here are five companies with updated offerings tailored to the COVID-19 era, designed to make residential energy use smarter as our homes become our office (and bar and restaurant and concert venue and movie theater…) 1. Google Nest partners with utilities Google recently announced its partnership with Consumers Energy to bring smart thermostats to up to 100,000 households in Michigan. According to its release , those who receive a thermostat will be enrolled in the utility’s Smart Thermostat Program, which shifts energy use to off-peak hours.  The partnership is part of Consumers’ Clean Energy Plan, which is striving to reach net-zero carbon emissions. Shifting energy use during peak times is key to staying on track.  This is just the first in a series of Google Nest’s partnerships. The company is expected to announce three more utility partnerships at the start of June.  Google isn’t the only company teaming up with utilities to gamify demand response. Logical Buildings launched its GridRewards campaign last month to encourage residents to reduce energy usage at key times. Logical Buildings partnered with a consortium of municipalities in Westchester, New York.  2. OhmConnect launches AutoOhms Last week, OhmConnect announced AutoOhms , its newest program that offers cash incentives for “timely, smarter energy use.” AutoOhm will power down energy-intensive connected appliances in 15-minute increments during peak energy times. Customers will receive a text message when peak rates are about to kick in and can select appliances to power down through an app. Through this “gamified” experience, the customer can actively see their energy savings.  The program is available for customers of California’s three big investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric.  3. Tesla Energy discusses Autobidder Always a big dreamer, it comes as no surprise that Tesla’s energy division has its sights on becoming a distributed global utility.  Tesla has been deploying distributed energy assets (think solar, electric vehicles, Powerwalls) while investing in grid-scale energy and storage projects. Now the company’s vision is to control these individual assets as one beast on its platform Autobidder . According to the website, Autobidder allows anyone with energy storage assets — be they EVs, solar plus storage, a home battery, anything — to engage in real-time trading and make additional money from the energy asset.  Apparently, Autobidder already has been (quietly) around for a few years, operations at Tesla’s energy storage facility in South Australia. With Tesla talking about the software, the company is likely hoping for wider adoption.  4. Leap Energy develops a demand response marketplace Leap, a newer company in the world of demand response, is working to create a marketplace to better monetize energy resources. Its vision is to engage connected energy resources that aren’t currently participating in grid flexibility — which, according to its CEO Thomas Folker, is about 90 percent of energy assets. “We are an aggregator of other aggregators,” said Folker in a phone conversation last month. “We don’t physically control any hardware, we don’t acquire any customers. We just provide the software that allows for this all to happen.” The platform allows for end energy users to bid on resources and automatically facilitates the exchange. Its users are demand response companies — such as OhmConnect and Google Nest — and works to increase the value of distributed energy resources while providing flexibility to the grid.  5. Span turns homes into microgrids New on the scene with a fresh round of Series A finance, Span bills itself as a smart panel company that works to integrate a home’s solar, energy storage and electric vehicle. It’s kind of like using a home’s energy assets as a microgrid.  Span’s selling point is energy resilience. The system works to keep power flowing to where customers need it in the event of a power outage, which, the company points out in a release , is of growing importance as California is looking at a future where shelter in place could overlap with planned power outages. (The company is initially focusing on California and Hawaii as key markets.) This increased level of control and connected energy assets also means users can rely on their own resources when the grid has more dirty energy.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Pull Quote It’s not too soon for climate-forward companies to think about how to incentivize employees to make their home (office) run off clean energy. Topics Energy & Climate COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Featured Column Power Points 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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Residential energy is becoming companies’ business

COVID-19, 3D printing and the digital supply chain reckoning

May 14, 2020 by  
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COVID-19, 3D printing and the digital supply chain reckoning Heather Clancy Thu, 05/14/2020 – 03:28 Proponents of 3D printing technology and digital manufacturing solutions have been seeking their breakthrough moment for years. It took mere weeks to showcase their potential as enablers of flexible supply chains — capable of decentralizing worldwide production and responding to violent, unforeseen disruption. Every day, there is news of some inspirational pivot that points toward the future possibilities for creating far more sustainable supply chains. The most vivid illustration, of course, is the literally hundreds of companies diverting at least some portion of their production capacity to creating urgently needed supplies for the medical community. It’s part altruism, part capitalism. Just a few examples: 3D printing provider HP Inc. and its network of customers and partners has so far “printed” more than 1.5 million parts for front-line healthcare workers — components for face shields and PAPR hoods. Digital manufacturing specialist Fictiv has mobilized its network to produce batches of 10,000 shields daily with lead times of as little as 24 hours.  Another player, Carbon , teamed up with Resolution Medical and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to design and start producing nasopharyngeal swabs for COVID-19 in just three weeks. The partnership is producing hundreds of thousands of swabs every week using Carbon’s M2 printers. Markforged , which makes metal and carbon fiber 3D printers, is part of a similar collaboration driven by several hospitals and research institutions in San Diego. With supply chains experiencing such significant disruption right now, we could see trends in different sectors toward decentralization and localization … “With supply chains experiencing such significant disruption right now, we could see trends in different sectors toward decentralization and localization, including in the way products are designed and made to rely less on centralized production and mass production,” noted Carbon CEO Ellen Kullman, in response to questions I sent her for this article. A similar sentiment was shared by Ramon Pastor, interim president of 3D printing and digital manufacturing at HP, also via email: “Many companies look to digital manufacturing service providers to help speed development of new products, shorten time to market, create leaner supply chains and reduce their carbon footprint.” The global 3D printing market was worth about $12 billion in 2019, with a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent predicted from 2020 to 2027. One of HP’s high-profile customers is Volkswagen, which is using its technology in the design of electric vehicles. VW aims to produce more than 22 million EVs worldwide by 2028. The pandemic is proving to be what Sean Manzanares, senior manager of business strategy and marketing for Autodesk, describes as an “unfortunate catalyst” that is accelerating corporate evaluations of alternative, more sustainable production methods. (To sate that interest, the software company is offering free access to the commercial versions of its cloud-hosted design applications through June 30.) Autodesk is putting considerable muscle behind demonstrative facilities that help companies explore the potential of 3D printing and localized manufacturing, such as the Generative Design Field Lab that is part of the 100,000-square-foot MxD innovation center in Chicago. Autodesk doesn’t make the hardware; it has added artificial intelligence to many of its applications to make “push-button” manufacturing simpler. One company exploring how these technologies could support its sustainability initiatives is IKEA, which has been examining how it might use reclaimed furniture scraps to create new products that combine wood and an emerging form of “sustainable power” from Arkema, which makes resins for 3D printers, Manzanares said. The first thing you have to do is show people that they have options. Dave Evans, founder and CEO of Fictiv and a former Ford engineer, said the pandemic has helped underscore the notion that digital manufacturing networks — ones that allow organizations to be more agile when it comes to sourcing — will be key to ensuring resilience in the long term, as disruptions brought on by climate change become more frequent. The seven-year-old company just logged its best first quarter. One ongoing dialogue within Fictiv is the role of design in moving toward a more circular, agile economy — one in which products can be repaired and serviced far more easily. The company’s gift to employees last Christmas: the 2002 book ” Cradle to Cradle ,” which it hopes will spur innovation from the bottom up. “The first thing you have to do is show people that they have options,” Evans observed. “If you can show someone a [total cost of ownership] or landed cost, you can show them the emissions of hyperlocal versus some different view. Our role isn’t to push sustainability, but it’s to give them a better choice. If you can do that, you’re enabling leaders to make both better business decisions and better environmental decisions.” This article first appeared in GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, VERGE Weekly, running Wednesdays. Subscribe  here . Follow me on Twitter:@greentechlady. Pull Quote With supply chains experiencing such significant disruption right now, we could see trends in different sectors toward decentralization and localization … The first thing you have to do is show people that they have options. Topics COVID-19 Supply Chain Innovation Technology 3D Printing 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 A piece of manufacturing machine from Fictiv’s digitally connected network. Fictiv Close Authorship

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COVID-19, 3D printing and the digital supply chain reckoning

Microsoft is building a ‘Planetary Computer’ to protect biodiversity

April 16, 2020 by  
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It’s all about collecting and connecting data, which is part of the software giant’s DNA.

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Microsoft is building a ‘Planetary Computer’ to protect biodiversity

Beyond renewables: How timing can reduce corporate emissions

June 4, 2019 by  
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There’s another way for corporations to achieve even deeper reductions in their climate emissions footprint.

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Beyond renewables: How timing can reduce corporate emissions

Why VMware’s sustainability team reports to its CTO

March 8, 2019 by  
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Sustainability execs Nicola Acutt and Nicola Peill-Moelter are tasking with dreaming up innovative ways the company’s software can aid in fighting climate change.

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Why VMware’s sustainability team reports to its CTO

How cleaning your closets can change your company’s culture

March 8, 2019 by  
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As a leader, circularity is going to be a key concept that you will want your team to understand. But how do you create a culture of circularity?

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How cleaning your closets can change your company’s culture

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