Hard truths about tough times

November 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on Hard truths about tough times

Hard truths about tough times Kathrin Winkler Wed, 11/18/2020 – 02:00 I’m struggling. Back in the day, I had a reputation as someone who always offered to my team a positive interpretation or hopeful outcome to supposed bad news. A Pollyanna, perhaps. It wasn’t deliberate. In fact, I didn’t realize I was doing it until a senior engineer on my team told me, “You’re always so [expletive deleted] positive, it makes me want to puke.”  I wasn’t trying to spin the truth, either. When there is change — that is, nearly always — people often imagine the worst possible outcomes and the most deplorable motives by those in power. People help bring one another down as they wallow in the fear and anger, and sap their own and each other’s energy. I was just trying to get people to consider alternative possibilities, to help them find their motivation, stay focused and know that their work was valued. Play devil’s advocate to their negativity. And maybe convince myself, a bit, too.  My husband thought the accusation was funny, though. Because when I was at home and I wasn’t feeling the weight of responsibility for the team, I gave my own negativism free rein. The angel on one shoulder went to work; the devil on the other came home. The thing is, I’m home all the time now.  I’m impatient with those ‘fighting the good fight.’ They (you!) are undeniably heroes. But it’s not enough. And we’re not often telling the whole truth. I’m not sure how to characterize exactly how I feel. Impatience is a big part of it. We’re obviously not doing enough fast enough to address climate change and systemic societal issues. I can see evidence with my own eyes every time I walk out the door (masked, of course) and encounter the homeless struggling on the street. But I’m also impatient with those “fighting the good fight.” They (you!) are undeniably heroes. But it’s not enough. And we’re not often telling the whole truth. That’s creating a cognitive dissonance in me that is literally keeping me up at night. I know we have to show optimism, but I also see us avoiding the bare facts. People talk about “stopping” (or worse, “stopping and reversing”) climate change. The more circumspect just say “addressing” climate change. But in addition to the climate damage that already has occurred, more is locked in even if we were to stop emitting today. Will the next generation feel betrayed if we “win” the fight and things keep getting worse anyway? People do need hope and to feel that they have agency — that what they do matters. Every degree of global temperature rise that we prevent reduces the long-term risk. No matter what, I know we cannot stop acting and encouraging others to join us. I don’t know how to square this circle.  As for agency — I’m feeling pretty helpless. Not that I tell people that. I absolutely mean it when I passionately express how important it is that they vote, make thoughtful decisions about what to buy and from whom, think about the sources of their food, raise their voices against injustice. But it just doesn’t feel like enough. Once I get going on a task, I’m all in. But when I settle down to work, I find it hard to get started. That’s just me, of course. There are people out there doing critically important things — innovating in technology and business, running for office, motivating others and changing minds. Thank goodness for them. But we’re not all extraordinary, and I imagine I’m not alone.  I am also experiencing huge frustration from the Manichaean nature of public discourse on, well, everything. Truth is gray, but we only discuss black and white. Both sides tick me off. Op-ed pieces in the Wall Street Journal interpret reduced emissions during the most stringent lockdown as proof that major personal sacrifice is required if we (“the greenies”) act on climate. The sustainability community argues that we can make the changes we need without sacrificing. As usual, the truth is somewhere in between (depending, I suppose, on how you define “sacrifice” — and “happy,” for that matter). For me, the pandemic has highlighted what’s really valuable: human connection; love; health; safety. But yeah, there are things people will have to give up. They are mostly things that won’t truly make them happy in the long run, but that can feel pretty good about in the moment (flying off to the tropics, buying a new car, chomping down on a juicy burger, going to the movies), and relinquishing some of those will feel like a sacrifice for many.  Yet, I’m disgusted with selfishness. There’s a woman in our building who complains that, when the sun is at a certain angle, she can’t get the temperature in her unit below 71 degrees Fahrenheit. Climate change is making air conditioning a matter of life and death in some parts of the world, but 71 degrees in Seattle? Sheesh. Talk about privilege. Maybe I’m just afraid to be optimistic; afraid of a huge disappointment. Scared. Not that I’m not hopeful — I fervently hope things will move, and move quickly, in the right direction. I’m just reluctant to expect it. The political situation isn’t helping. I don’t know the answers. I hate not knowing the answers. It makes me grumpy.  I do find real moments of joy. They come from my friends, my colleagues, my family and nature. From humor and beauty. From gratitude for all that I have been given in life. So, I am coping. I hope you are, too.  Pull Quote I’m impatient with those ‘fighting the good fight.’ They (you!) are undeniably heroes. But it’s not enough. And we’re not often telling the whole truth. Topics Leadership Health & Well-being Featured Column Getting Real Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

Read more:
Hard truths about tough times

French housing project I Park has a double-skinned green facade

November 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on French housing project I Park has a double-skinned green facade

Located in Montpellier, a historic city near the south of France on the Mediterranean Sea, “I Park” is a housing project with a plant-covered facade that catches the eye even from afar. Developed across the street from the city’s new town hall, the building was designed by NBJ Architectes and completed in 2019. I Park features eight levels of variable layers and 4,000 square meters of space, constituting an urban build front in a dividing line with the busy street. Right next to the project’s site sits a public park that offers unobstructed views of green spaces and a river to the inhabitants. To allow for a distance between the public and private spaces, a landscape band adjoins the project site as well. Related: Architects envision a green, solar-powered skyscraper While the base of the building is treated with stamped concrete, the body of the project is made up on a unified double-facade . This facade consists of two skins to help air flow and support ventilation of the intermediate cavity, while also allowing adaptability to each orientation in connection with the direct environment. The designers came up with a unique composition for the urban facade, a sequence of three structures that interconnect with each other to form a single entity. Strategically placed planter boxes line the front, appearing to climb up the face of the building and scatter throughout the remaining sides sporadically. Trees and green spaces are included on the roof as well, though not as prevalent as the facade. The reflective glass on the neighboring building adds a special aspect to the project by projecting light onto the plants; the green facade and mirrored cladding seem to play off each other to represent the discrepancy between nature and the city. According to the architects, the project will also serve as a base for research and experimentation on Mediterranean climate living conditions. + NBJ Architectes Photography by photoarchitecture via v2com

Read the original here: 
French housing project I Park has a double-skinned green facade

A clever, garden-filled facelift revives a derelict building in Denmark

November 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on A clever, garden-filled facelift revives a derelict building in Denmark

Copenhagen-based architecture firm Tegnestuen LOKAL has radically reinvented one of the “ugliest” buildings in a Frederiksberg neighborhood with an innovative facade renovation that brings residents closer to nature and each other. The project — dubbed Ørsted Gardens — is the transformation of a 1960s concrete building that was notorious for its unwelcoming and dilapidated appearance. Instead of a simple facade renovation, the architects decided to dramatically alter the building’s appearance by inserting a series of triangular glass bays that serve as semi-private decks with 50 small gardens.  What began as an ordinary facade renovation aimed at protecting the concrete balconies from water damage gradually morphed into a complete overhaul of the front facade during the design process. Instead of simply reinforcing the open balconies with glazed panels, the architects inserted triangular glass bays to create new semi-private social spaces that would encourage random meetings between residents. The addition of operable glass panels also allow the balconies to be comfortably used from spring to fall and helps to buffer the apartments from the noise of the heavily trafficked road in front of the building. Related: HHF Architects’ renovated a group of crumbling buildings to help revitalize an entire neighborhood “A central aspect of the renovation is the notion that the building should contribute positively to the experience of the street,” the architects said. “The monotonous façade of the past is broken up into smaller geometric entities creating a sense of rhythm as you pass the building signaling a residential building, comprised of many families and individuals.” In addition to introducing an attractive, geometric facade that can be appreciated from both inside the building and the street level, the architects have also infused the apartments with greenery. Each glass bay accommodates a small garden that grows across the glazed facade to blur the boundaries between inside and out. Residents are also free to use their semi-private garden plots to grow decorative plants or vegetables. + Tegnestuen LOKAL Photography by Hampus Berndtson via Tegnestuen LOKAL

Go here to read the rest: 
A clever, garden-filled facelift revives a derelict building in Denmark

Architects want to turn the Tiber River banks into a thriving piazza

October 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Architects want to turn the Tiber River banks into a thriving piazza

In its ongoing efforts to introduce imaginative public spaces into cities, New York-based Ballman Khapalova has unveiled a proposal to turn a section of the Tiber River into a new vital center for public life in Rome dubbed the Piazza Tevere. The proposed location is a perfectly rectangular area of the river between the Ponte Giuseppe Mazzini and the Ponte Sisto that is also the same size and proportion as the Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium known as the first and largest stadium in Ancient Rome. To activate the river banks, sections of the river flood walls would be extended out into an alternating stepped profile that would expand public space at street level and make room to house equipment used for activities at the river promenade below. The Piazza Tevere design takes inspiration from Michelangelo’s cornice at the Palazzo Farnese, one of Rome’s most important High Renaissance palaces known for its rich ornamentation. Related: New resilient waterfront park helps protect NYC from storm surges “The creation of an inhabitable cornice at the top of the Tiber’s flood walls allows for the energy of the city to extend into the realm of the river,” the architects said of their proposal to horizontally extend portions of the flood wall into cornice-inspired ledges. “The Tiber, which currently divides Rome physically and experientially, becomes a place where the city can now come together. The rhythm of the cornice follows the city fabric on either side of the river, with Michelangelo’s uncompleted Farnese bridge forming the only alignment across the Tiber.” Extending sections of the flood walls would create space for amphitheater seating, fountains and Roman courtyard-inspired gardens to cultivate a greater connection between the street level and the water. The cornice-like ledges would also be used to house equipment for activities on the river promenade below such as lighting and sound equipment, theatrical rigging, retractable screens for projection and display and a platform elevator for bicycles and pedestrians . By providing greater access to the river promenade below, the architects have proposed a wide array of programming including bocce ball courts, rock climbing walls, outdoor gym equipment, large-scale outdoor art installations and even performance venues that can take place on land or from a floating concert hall on the river, with spectator seating set onto the river promenade. + Ballman Khapalova Images via Ballman Khapalova

Read the original here:
Architects want to turn the Tiber River banks into a thriving piazza

SEC rule change stifles key risk signal, disenfranchises retail investors

October 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on SEC rule change stifles key risk signal, disenfranchises retail investors

SEC rule change stifles key risk signal, disenfranchises retail investors Sara Murphy Mon, 10/05/2020 – 02:00 The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted Sept. 23 to amend its shareholder proposal rule , effectively depriving most retail investors of the ability to use the process to protect and advance their interests. In so doing, the SEC is dampening an important risk signal to corporate management and investors, especially with respect to environmental, social and governance issues. The change appears to have been heavily influenced by a network of corporate oil and gas interests, and is likely to be contested in court. First, some background. Shareholders in publicly traded companies have the right to vote on certain corporate matters. As most people cannot attend companies’ annual meetings, corporations offer shareholders the option to cast a proxy vote by mail or electronic means. While most proposals originate with company management, a growing investor movement uses shareholder proposals or resolutions to promote more sustainable business practices. This is becoming increasingly difficult for corporate boards to ignore. This process is codified under SEC Rule 14a-8, and investors with an interest in environmental protection and social justice consider it a useful way to proactively and constructively engage with the companies in their portfolio. Risk and opportunity signals Over time, the shareholder resolution process has evolved to offer an additional benefit. “Shareholder proposals provide an early warning signal of risks and opportunities for management and boards,” said Heidi Welsh, executive director of the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2). Shareholder proposals provide an early warning signal of risks and opportunities for management and boards. Si2 is a nonprofit organization that provides impartial research and analysis about corporate responsibility issues for institutional investors and maintains a rich database of information on shareholder resolutions, including support levels and the most detailed and precise issue taxonomy available in the marketplace. Si2’s data reveal that proponents were filing resolutions as far back as 2010 on issues that have risen to stark prominence in 2020 as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest over racial inequality have rippled through the business world. For example, the number of shareholder resolutions related to decent work — addressing topics such as minority pay disparity and income inequality — has steadily increased over the last decade (see chart below). Data source: Si2 Note: The chart above includes resolutions that were withdrawn (usually by agreement between the company and the proponent) or omitted (usually after the company successfully challenged the resolution at the SEC on procedural grounds). Such resolutions, while not ultimately submitted to a vote, still provide risk and opportunity signals. Average shareholder support for these resolutions also has increased over the same period, as reflected in the chart below. Data source: Si2 Note: The chart above includes only resolutions that went to a vote. Process changes and impacts The SEC’s decision alters the shareholder resolution process in several significant ways, including by: Increasing the value of stock shareholders need to own before they can submit proposals if they haven’t been invested for three years; Eliminating shareholders’ longstanding practice of pooling their shares to meet filing thresholds; and Raising the level of support shareholders need to resubmit a proposal from the previous year. The ownership threshold changes are substantial. For investors who have held a company’s securities for one year, the previous ownership threshold was $2,000 — it is now $25,000. This bar becomes higher still now that the practice of pooling shares has been prohibited. The SEC’s own impact analysis — which it published long after the public comment period on these amendments had closed — estimated that at 55 percent of all companies, less than 5 percent of investor accounts would be eligible to file a shareholder proposal under the amended rule. At 99 percent of all companies, three-quarters of investor accounts would be unable to meet the new proposal submission thresholds. “The sheer racism of a $25,000 threshold for submission (no matter the holding period) in a country with a racial wealth gap like ours is stunning,” said Rick Alexander, co-founder of The Shareholder Commons (TSC), in a LinkedIn post. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a press call that the amendments will modernize the shareholder proposal process to benefit all shareholders and public companies. “It’s all about having a credible demonstration that the proponent’s interests are aligned with all of the others’ interests from an investment or ownership standpoint,” Clayton said. SEC Commissioner Allison Herren Lee disagreed. “Today’s amendments do not serve shareholders or the capital markets more broadly,” Lee said in her statement of opposition . “They will have pronounced effects in two important respects. First, in connection with environmental, social and governance issues at a time when such issues — climate change, worker safety, racial injustice — have never been more important to long-term value. Second, in connection with smaller shareholders, Main Street investors, who will be dramatically disadvantaged by the changes we adopt today.” Industry support These outcomes appear to be part of the design. Bloomberg reporters Zachary Mider and Ben Elgin published an investigation in November 2019 that bolstered claims of a clandestine campaign by oil and gas interests to promote the rule amendments at the SEC. The investigation found evidence that a coalition of industry groups including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) — of which Exxon Mobil and Chevron are members — manipulated the public comment process to create the impression that droves of ordinary Americans passionately supported the rule revisions. The Business Roundtable (BRT) — a group that includes major companies such as Amazon, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase — expressed its support for the rule changes, despite a statement its member companies signed late last year to redefine the purpose of a corporation to one that delivers value to all stakeholders, not just shareholders. It may be no coincidence that the 2020 proxy season featured shareholder resolutions at six BRT signatories that sought to pin down what the companies’ purported stakeholder focus meant in practice. For example, the resolutions asked Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs to determine if the BRT statement “is reflected in our Company’s current governance documents, policies, long-term plans, goals, metrics and sustainability practices” and to publish their recommendations on “how any incongruities may be reconciled by changes to our Company’s governance documents, policies or practices.” The sheer racism of a $25,000 threshold for submission (no matter the holding period) in a country with a racial wealth gap like ours is stunning. A September analysis of BRT signatories found that they performed no better than their non-signatory counterparts on measures of stakeholder well-being related to the pandemic and social unrest over racial inequality. “The result [of the rule changes] will be fewer shareholder proposals,” said Amy Borrus, executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, “and that is precisely the goal of the business lobby that pressed the SEC to make these changes. Simply put, CEOs and corporate directors do not like being second-guessed by shareholders on environmental, social and governance matters.” What happens next? The final rule amendments are slated to apply to any proposal that will go to a vote on or after Jan. 1, 2022. Many observers expect to see legal challenges that could forestall implementation. The outcome of the Nov. 3 election is also likely to influence the process considerably. Some stakeholders envision a more systemic shift. A September analysis by nonprofit organizations The Shareholder Commons and B Lab calls for comprehensive legislative and regulatory change to U.S. corporate and securities laws. The policy proposals revolve around a core concept: creating a legal structure that encourages the creation of “guardrails,” investor-sanctioned limits on corporate behavior that exploits vulnerable communities or common resources. The report proposes that the current amendments to Rule 14a-8 be reversed, and that the rule be further amended to clarify that proposals aimed at protecting social and environmental systems are proper matters for shareholders to bring before annual meetings. Such proposals would seem to be a necessary feature of our collective future, not our past. At a time when social and environmental stressors have an increasingly potent impact on the systems that support our economy, corporate accountability to a broad range of stakeholders is paramount. Pull Quote Shareholder proposals provide an early warning signal of risks and opportunities for management and boards. The sheer racism of a $25,000 threshold for submission (no matter the holding period) in a country with a racial wealth gap like ours is stunning. Topics Policy & Politics ESG Shareholder Activism Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

Go here to see the original:
SEC rule change stifles key risk signal, disenfranchises retail investors

This luxurious home is a pollutant-free paradise and it’s for sale

October 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on This luxurious home is a pollutant-free paradise and it’s for sale

Located in Norwalk, Connecticut, this recently listed pollutant-free home at 88 Old Saugatuck Road has been void of chemicals, insecticides and pesticides for more than 26 years. The house has been rebuilt to 100% green standards by the seller, an award-winning LEED AP interior designer specializing in sustainable luxury, green consulting and holistic homes. The house at 88 Old Saugatuck Road isn’t just an energy-efficient, green home built with non-toxic materials and finishes — it is also a stunning example of a residence with clean air . The indoor air is refreshed every 20 minutes with a specialized heat recovery ventilation system that exchanges indoor air with fresh outdoor air. The system filters out allergens like dust, pollen, mold, mites, dander and VOCs all while recovering up to 80% of the heating and cooling energy. There is even a whole house central vacuum system designed to prevent dust from going back into the air while vacuuming. Related: IKEA’s new air purifying curtain will decrease indoor pollutants Thoughtfully constructed with fewer natural resources to minimize its environmental impact , the house also has custom, FSC-certified solid rock maple cabinetry throughout. The cabinetry is free from interior particleboard and formaldehyde-based finishes. Additionally, the walls and trim are painted with no-VOC, water-based latex paint. During the remodel, when a wall was taken out between the original kitchen and living room, the design team reused the appliances in a lower-level catering kitchen rather than purchasing them new. The garage has a charging station for electric vehicles as well as an automatic air filtration system that activates for 20 minutes each time the car pulls in to filter harmful fumes. To reduce electromagnetic fields, there is metal-clad cable electric wiring used instead of non-metallic sheathing. For landscaping, the property’s 1.15 acres are planted with trees and pines to help filter out any car fumes from the street and organic, perennial gardens to promote less maintenance. A driveway storm drain filters pollutants before runoff can enter local waterways, and a five-ring meditation walkway can be found in the back garden . The 4,094-square-foot, single-family home has three bedrooms, three full baths and a two-car garage. + Coldwell Banker Images via Coldwell Banker

Read the original: 
This luxurious home is a pollutant-free paradise and it’s for sale

September is Coastal Cleanup Month with a new look for 2020

September 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on September is Coastal Cleanup Month with a new look for 2020

Beach and coastline cleanups have been a focus of many caring citizens and environmental groups for decades. The most-publicized beach cleanup effort, Coastal Cleanup Day, is typically slotted for a day in September. This year, the event has expanded into an entire month with the goal of involving more people at every level and from every community — not just those near the beach. According to Surfrider Foundation , “International Coastal Cleanup Month (formerly International Coastal Cleanup Day) is one of the world’s largest annual preservation and protection events and volunteer efforts for our ocean, waves and beaches.” Register your own coastal cleanup — wherever that may be One conservation organization, Heal the Bay in Los Angeles County, serves as an example of this campaign by helping citizens coordinate their own cleanup efforts with a centralized registration system. As residents register events, other volunteers can join the effort to coordinate larger cleanup activities. Related: Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought The centralized information also allows organizers to track the amount and types of garbage removed. Knowing what has been collected is an effective way to identify the source of the pollution and provide data for policymakers. Save Our Shores recommends downloading the Clean Swell App to keep track of the items in your trash pile. “Data collection is an important part of Coastal Cleanup Day,” Save Our Shores explained. “The data that is collected about the types and quantities of debris picked up can be used for outreach, policy and advocacy, and more!” Further, the organization suggests that one member of the cleanup party be in charge of data collection to reduce the spread of germs. Safety tips for your beach cleanup To support community efforts, Heal the Bay provides tutorials and tips for safe and effective cleanups with information on how to dispose of collected trash and abide by LA County Public Health guidelines along with details regarding supplies and parking. Each region has varying needs, so participants can access specific information for their neighborhood. During this time of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the organization encourages social distancing during cleanups as well as the use of masks and gloves. Participants should only work with members of their own household and stay home if they feel ill. If you are in an area impacted by the ongoing wildfires, Heal the Bay advises you to also stay home to minimize your exposure to the smoke. Why is Coastal Cleanup Month important? The primary goal of Coastal Clean Up Month is to reduce the amount of debris that ends up in the waterways, including the ocean. Ocean pollution, particularly plastic from inland as well as boating activities, has become a massive environmental issue in recent years. The cycle is toxic. Animals are harmed by items like six-pack rings and plastic bags. Plastic in the waterways begins to break down into microplastics, which marine animals ingest. This comes full circle as seafood that may contain microplastics lands onto our dinner plates. In addition to waste removal, a secondary goal is to educate communities about the hazards of ocean pollution and share the importance of marine life and aquatic biodiversity. In addition, the event promotes more sustainable activities such as recycling and minimizing waste. Make a difference one small step at a time To support these educational efforts, Heal the Bay maintains five programs that, “allow citizens to explore and learn about the various issues facing the diverse regions that make up Los Angeles.” Volunteers can facilitate touch tank visits at the aquarium, participate in a beach cleanup , spread information through the outreach program, contribute to community science by collecting data or register middle and high school students as part of the youth program. The coordination in Los Angeles is just a sampling of similar events across the nation and around the world. In fact, Coastal Cleanup Month is a global movement that includes 6 million volunteers in 90 countries. Even though the efforts are widespread, coronavirus restrictions have resulted in several canceled events and made it difficult for organizers of various organizations to spotlight the effort this year. With that in mind, the push is for more of a grassroots coordination of many small groups rather than fewer large ones.  Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 That means the entire month of September is prime time to get out and lead your own cleanup crew, whether that’s a party of one or up to 10 people within the same household. With 30 years behind this organized beach cleanup movement, organizers report disappointment in not being able to host large events. However, they say this is an opportunity for every citizen to tackle the garbage in their own area, whether that be the street, park, mountain, sides of the roadway or parking lot. Although that may feel a little off-point, the majority of the garbage that ends up in the ocean stems from further inland, so you can think of it as confronting the problem at the source. While it might seem that a neighborhood pickup isn’t enough, individual efforts make a huge impact. As an example, Heal the Bay provides inspiration in the fact that, “In 2019, the Ocean Conservancy reports that nearly 800,000 volunteers collectively removed more than 20 million pieces of trash from beaches and waterways around the world. That’s 20 million fewer potential impacts on whales, turtles and other beloved ocean wildlife.” So whether in groups of 1,000 or one, those same hands can make a difference for the health of our planet. + Heal the Bay + Surfrider Foundation + Save Our Shores Images via Adobe Stock

View post: 
September is Coastal Cleanup Month with a new look for 2020

Sustainability leaders must celebrate the work of female mayors on racial equity

August 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on Sustainability leaders must celebrate the work of female mayors on racial equity

Sustainability leaders must celebrate the work of female mayors on racial equity Kimberly Lewis Mon, 08/17/2020 – 01:00 Sustainability leaders are architects, designers, city planners, engineers, scientists, energy experts, lawyers, nonprofit leaders and business owners. The United Nations defines “sustainability” as meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of the next generation to meet their own needs. In practice, much of our work centers around developing global climate change solutions to save the planet. The Black Lives Matter movement has cast a bright light on what we’ve all known for a long time: We cannot do this work effectively without fighting against white supremacy and putting racial justice at the center of sustainability.  Sustainability also relies on local government. Despite the pain and heartbreak across the country, we have seen leaders — especially female mayors and local officials such as mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, Vi Lyles of Charlotte, North Carolina, Libby Schaaf of Oakland, California and Jenny Durkan of Seattle — working in their communities to create powerful dialogues and meaningful policy action. In June, Ferguson, Missouri elected its first Black mayor, Ella Jones.  As sustainability leaders, we must partner with these mayors to implement an anti-racist future. Whether it be renaming Black Lives Matter Plaza on 16th Street NW in Washington, D.C., or urging protestors and police to congregate peacefully, these leaders are working hard to take action on systemic racism. Sustainability must put people at the center. But what does this actually mean? As Bowser stated in a recent interview , her actions on 16th Street were to “send a unifying and affirming message about what this time and the reaction to the killing of George Floyd means in our country.” The image of Bowser next to the late Congressman John Lewis is a powerful testament to change, progress and hope.  Like these other mayors, Bowser has pushed for a green and sustainable vision for her city . In 2019, Lance Bottoms and Lyles testified before Congress on Atlanta’s and Charlotte’s steps to create a more climate resilient city. Lightfoot , Schaff and Durkan also fight for sustainability in their cities daily. From the carbon footprint of city buildings and housing to energy policy, mayors are on the front lines of sustainability. These leaders — many of whom are Black women — are standing up and also listening, and doing all they can to create a brighter future. Yes, reforming policing is first and foremost right now. But the larger discussions about dismantling systemic racism are about how we will invest in people and communities. Sustainability is part of that necessary community investment. Equal access to clean air, clean water, clean energy, green space and a healthy built environment is the heart of sustainability. Yet, environmental racism is real. A recent literature review published in the Journal of American Medical Association found a statistically significant correlation between low birth rate and miscarriage in Black communities with higher temperatures from global warming and climate. Environmental justice leaders have shown time and time again the disproportionate impact of citing toxic manufacturing plants and landfill in Black, Indigeneous and people of color communities along with the devastating impacts to public health. Putting racial justice at the center of our conversations on climate solutions and design is essential.  Sustainability is often stated as rethinking profit, people and planet. Sustainability must put people at the center. But what does this actually mean? Designers must think about the impact of design, not just the intent. We must not only ask for feedback from communities where we work, but we need to take the feedback and change design based on their needs. Using design thinking, we must separate our intent from our impact. We also must create opportunities for BIPOC individuals to provide input and solutions for sustainability. That means investing in people — specifically, creating job opportunities for BIPOC leaders in creating solutions for a healthier, greener planet. We can’t safeguard the planet if we can’t protect, respect and support each other. It starts with equality, and it leads to the health and resilience of people and the planet. The bold leadership of these women mayors is inspiring. It’s time for the sustainability community to honor their bravery with bold, inclusive action to create a greener and more equitable planet.  Editor’s Note: The authors are past national winners of the Women in Sustainability Leadership Award . Their view is that the role of these local female civic leaders in sustainability and racial equity has been overlooked and that the sustainability community should embrace their efforts. Kimberly Lewis is writing in her personal capacity. Pull Quote Sustainability must put people at the center. But what does this actually mean? Contributors Heather White Topics Social Justice Cities Corporate Strategy Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Protesters looking at the new mural on 16th Street at newly dedicated Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., on June 5, 2020. Shutterstock Allison Bailey Close Authorship

Read the original:
Sustainability leaders must celebrate the work of female mayors on racial equity

Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world

August 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world

Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world Joel Makower Mon, 08/10/2020 – 02:11 And now for some serious fun. Last week, I had the opportunity to facilitate an  online conversation with  Terreform ONE , a Brooklyn, New York-based nonprofit architecture and urban design research group whose humble mission is “to combat the extinction of planetary species through pioneering acts of design.” It was a refreshing jolt of inspiration and hopefulness during this otherwise dreary moment. The conversation was hosted by the San Francisco-based Museum of Craft and Design , which recently housed an exhibition titled  “Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience,” in which visionary architects and artists were asked to create artistically interpretative solutions and prototypes for survival shelter in a warming world. (My wife, Randy Rosenberg, executive director of the nonprofit  Art Works for Change , created the exhibition, which has traveled North America the past few years.) As part of the exhibition, Art Works for Change commissioned Terreform ONE (for Open Network Ecology) to create  Cricket Shelter Farm , an innovative living space that addresses both sustainable food systems and modular compact architecture. Essentially, it is housing that also serves as a cricket farm and, hence, a source of food for its human residents. Each of the hundreds of off-the-shelf plastic containers that form the main structure house a self-contained colony of crickets, which can be turned into high-protein flour. A typical shelter might have 300 such units, each producing a bag of “chirp chips,” or the ingredients for making such things as bagels or pasta, every few weeks. “They live happy lives and they reproduce,” explained Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE’s co-founder, of the tiny, six-legged critters. In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers. That may sound fanciful — and, for some, less than appetizing — but insect consumption is hardly a novel concept, according to a 2013 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report . “From ants to beetle larvae — eaten by tribes in Africa and Australia as part of their subsistence diets — to the popular, crispy-fried locusts and beetles enjoyed in Thailand, it is estimated that insect-eating is practiced regularly by at least 2 billion people worldwide,” FAO said. Some 80 percent of the world’s nations eat insects in some form. And because you can produce a gram of cricket protein using a tiny fraction of the land, water and other resources it takes to produce a gram of animal protein, it represents a vast ecological improvement compared to eating meat from cows, chickens, lambs and pigs. In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers. Bikes, buildings and butterflies Cricket Shelter Farm is just one of Terreform ONE’s  innovative solutions . There’s  Gen2Seat , ”the first full-scale synthetic biological chair,” created by fusing mycelium — the vegetative part of a fungus, and the foundation for mushrooms — with bacteria to create a  biobased polymer. “It’s designed for kindergartens, and she’s supposed to go home and tell mommy and daddy that she can eat her chair and that it’s okay,” said Joachim, a Harvard- and MIT-educated architect, Fulbright Scholar and TED Fellow, whose daughter is pictured here, modeling the chair. Another is the  Plug-In Ecology: Urban Farm Pod , a habitat “for individuals and urban nuclear families to grow and provide for their daily vegetable needs.” As Joachim explained: “Instead of a green wall, it’s a green ball for your home or your rooftop or your urban balcony or an urban park. You make food on the outside and the inside. It’s on wheels, so it can rotate to get the most amount of solar income.” An app tells you when the veggies are ready to pick. And then there’s the  Monarch Sanctuary , a prototype building façade that serves as a habitat for the butterfly of that name, an iconic pollinator species that is considered endangered. It’s a regular building on the inside but the skin of the building doubles as a “vertical butterfly meadow.” Terreform ONE teamed with BASF to launch a Monarch Sanctuary  installation at the Morris Museum. A  planned eight-story building in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood will be the first full-scale version. In addition to BASF, Terreform has also worked with Intel and GE. “These big partners are very much interested in sharing these concepts so they can move on their side of things to make some of them happen,” said Terreform Executive Director Vivian Kuan, an architect with an interdisciplinary background in art, entrepreneurial marketing and startups. Quotidian, everyday folks One of the things I truly appreciate about Terreform’s approach is its attention to the social aspect of these innovative designs. “I think a lot of the future depends on creating access and implementing these programs and making them rely on the collaboration of many different stakeholders — public-private partnerships, where cities and corporations really jump in and help the funding; and where inventors and entrepreneurs develop the technology and pilot,” Kuan said. Joachim pointed to a shared-bicycle concept being incubated at Terreform —”a super accessible bike-sharing program along with a biodiversity program,” as he described it. “This is essentially meant for people who can’t even afford something like Citi Bike” — the privately-owned public bicycle sharing system serving New York City. “It gives them access and they can use it to solve what we call the last-mile problem, which is a very difficult thing in cities. You can get buses and subways to a certain area, but then you can’t get that bag of groceries from that last stop on the subway to your home.” The low-cost cargo bikes are designed to carry up to 400 pounds. “We are working deeply to think about mobility justice in every possible form,” Joachim added. “So, none of this is imagined for the 1 percent or the super-elite. It’s imagined for the quotidian folks and the everyday people in cities, especially dense, intense urban environments.” In this topsy-turvy time, even the most fanciful ideas suddenly seem possible as we rethink cities, suburbs, buildings, work, home, shopping and practically everything else. Joachim and Kuan believe the pandemic could cause a massive shift in how people think about living in dense urban environments — or, instead, move to the ‘burbs. Either way, the times will require new designs for buildings, infrastructure and ways of moving about. Indeed, Joachim said, this may be Terreform’s moment. “We were waiting for a crisis, because we thought that was the only way we’re going to get any kind of change happening.” I invite you to  follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter,  GreenBuzz , and listen to  GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers. Topics Cities Buildings Eco-Design Innovation Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Terreform ONE’s fanciful vision of 42nd Street in New York city, with riparian corridors teeming with aqueous life, lighting systems with vertical-axis wind turbines and photovoltaic cells, and lots of green walls. All images courtesy of Terreform ONE. 

Here is the original:
Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world

Is sustainability undergoing a pandemic pause?

June 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Is sustainability undergoing a pandemic pause?

Is sustainability undergoing a pandemic pause? Joel Makower Mon, 06/01/2020 – 00:00 If you were to believe the mainstream business media, there would be no question whatsoever that the twin crises of a pandemic and a recession have pretty much put the kibosh on sustainable business activity. I mean, why, amid all this human and economic carnage, should companies be focused on anything besides keeping their doors open? Last month, for example, the Wall Street Journal published a piece (“Sustainability Was Corporate America’s Buzzword. This Crisis Changes That”) proclaiming that when it comes to corporate commitments and programs, “executives have called a timeout.” It said in part: Today, every occupant of every C-suite is trying to figure out what they’re willing to throw overboard as the economic storm spawned by the pandemic is swamping their ships. Businesses that were planning to help save the world are now simply saving themselves. Among the Journal’s proof points: General Motors put the brakes on a car-sharing program, Starbucks washed its hands of filling reusable coffee mugs and “companies have delayed sustainability reports.” Yes, we get it: No one wants to share a vehicle with strangers or refill an unwashed coffee mug during a pandemic. No question those programs should be “thrown overboard,” at least temporarily. For the first time, corporate sustainability professionals are on the bus instead of being thrown under it. All of which, my friends, is the editorial equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard: something so dissonant with reality that it makes my head hurt. The reality is that corporate sustainability is alive and well. Unlike previous economic downturns, sustainability isn’t being jettisoned in the spirit of corporate cost-savings. It’s being kept alive as part of a pathway back to profitability. For the first time, corporate sustainability professionals are on the bus instead of being thrown under it. Need proof that reports of the death of sustainability are premature? Let’s begin with a few headlines: Southern Company commits to net-zero emissions by 2050 Microsoft committed to protect more land than it operates on globally by 2025 Citigroup to halt all financing for thermal coal mining by 2030 Shell plans to achieve net-zero emissions across its product manufacturing operations Mattel launches latest sugarcane-based products Volvo and Daimler launch €1.2 billion fuel cell truck joint venture General Mills commits to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 All of those happened in April. April! The Lost Month. When jobs and economic activity essentially went poof. When more than 190,000 humans died of COVID-19 globally, nearly five times the number one month earlier, and more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs. When the U.S. services sector posted its biggest contraction in more than a decade and the price of oil turned negative for the first time in history. When the global economy essentially sank like a stone as people world over sheltered in place. April! Okay, you say, April coincides with Earth Day, when companies traditionally strut their sustainability stuff. Thus, it’s not a good indicator. Fair enough. In that case, here are some headlines from May: Total pledges to deliver net-zero operations by mid-century Campbell Soup to transition to 100% recyclable or compostable packaging by 2030 Dunkin’ switches to plastic-free cups and plans to double number of green restaurants French corporates call for “green and inclusive recovery” BNP Paribas accelerates “complete coal exit” plan Intel’s 2030 commitments include “shared” climate and social goals More than 300 companies push U.S. Congress to promote climate action Pernod Ricard moves up ban on single-use plastics to 2021 ADM to pioneer biofuels, more carbon capture projects Over 150 global corporations urge world leaders for net-zero recovery from COVID-19 Siemens Gamesa unveils plans for “world’s largest wind turbine” Google to stop making AI tools for oil and gas extraction Half of Cargill’s sustainable cocoa now traceable from farm to factory I could go on; there’s more where these came from. Still, this baker’s dozen of storylines provides a peek into what happened in the 31 days just ended, well before most cities and states have started to reopen. Another data point, albeit anecdotal: The 90 or so members of our GreenBiz Executive Network — sustainability leaders at large companies — remain firmly in their jobs. Sure, there’s been some churn — both comings and goings — but that’s normal. There seem to be precious few layoffs among these professionals. That could change if the downturn drags on, but so far, so good.  Five easy pieces So, why is sustainability still going strong within the private sector amid this terrifying time? Five reasons: 1. Corporate sustainability is a long-term evolution. As several of the above headlines suggest, companies are making commitments into 2025, 2030 and beyond. That means they have set the wheels in motion for long-term structural change. These changes generally don’t come and go based on quarterly cycles. 2. Companies understand that sustainability engenders resilience by making supply chains more transparent, operations more efficient and, increasingly, improving the ability of operations to withstand or recover from calamities of all types. 3. Investors see sustainability as material. Largely because of No. 2 above, institutional shareholders see sustainability performance as a proxy for a well-managed company that is taking a risked-based approach to strategy and investing. And they’re not shy about letting companies know this. 4. There’s a growing call for a business-led “green recovery” to revive economies around the world and help them prepare for the next likely pandemic: climate change. While the Green New Deal isn’t yet getting traction in Washington, D.C., some of its components already are being tucked into the recovery legislation. And in Europe, “green recovery” is already a mainstream meme . 5. Companies understand that the world is watching. They want to be able to attract and retain customers and talent — to be seen as part of the solution or at least not part of the problem. True, we’ve been hearing this for years, and there is strong evidence that job shoppers and seekers have been seeking out “good” companies. But the times have ratcheted up those concerns. In a world where talent, both young and experienced, are drawn to employers that are helping address the world’s problems, who will want to work for your company? Of course, it’s not all a rosy scenario. Clean energy jobs have been decimated . Hiring is on hold for many open corporate sustainability positions. More than a few sustainable business professionals are devoting their time these days to the pandemic, to ensure the well-being of employees, suppliers, customers and others, and that facilities will be healthy places to work once the recovery kicks in. Some are itching to get back to their “day job.” But let’s stop and briefly celebrate the moment: Corporate sustainability continues, largely unhindered, during some of the worst moments in modern human history. Its value and importance are being seen as central to addressing the economic, environmental and social problems we face, and to increasing societal resilience to the next wave of shocks, in whatever form they take. And, little by little, companies are stepping up to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities. Okay, enough celebrating. It’s time to get back to the hard work still to be done. Pull Quote For the first time, corporate sustainability professionals are on the bus instead of being thrown under it. Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz, via Shutterstock Close Authorship

See the original post here:
Is sustainability undergoing a pandemic pause?

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 3593 access attempts in the last 7 days.