Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021 Mike De Socio Mon, 01/04/2021 – 02:00 Last year, a number of automakers announced or advanced ambitious plans to electrify heavy-duty big rigs, semi-trucks, box trucks, delivery vans and more. That article was one of GreenBiz’s most popular stories throughout the year. And the demand and interest in this technology is only growing stronger. Given that trucks consume the vast majority of energy compared to other modes of freight transportation, electrification in this area has huge potential to decrease the carbon impact of fleets. These new vehicles are quickly bumping up against familiar challenges of battery range, production capacity and charging, or fueling, infrastructure. That’s one reason a group of fleet leaders who spoke at the GreenBiz VERGE 20 conference late last year said they’re integrating renewable natural gas and other efficiency improvements alongside a long-term push to electrify. The transition is also proving to require a team effort that goes far beyond the vehicle manufacturers — and involving governments, utilities and a new ecosystem of technicians to go along with it. Nonetheless, the transition accelerated in 2020 as more mammoth automakers pushed electric trucking fleets closer to reality. Here’s a look at what nine big-name players accomplished over the past 12 months, and what to keep an eye on in 2021. Arrival Arrival, a five-year-old London-based startup, is establishing a presence in the U.S. and attracting major investments for its electric buses and vans still in development. The company closed out 2020 by investing $3 million and hiring 150 employees for its North American headquarters in Charlotte , North Carolina. But the bigger news for Arrival came earlier in the year, when UPS announced an order of 10,000 purpose-built electric vans, to be delivered through 2024. The deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Arrival. The upstart is hoping to distinguish itself in the electric vehicle market in two major ways. First, and perhaps most crucially, it plans to price its vehicles at the same or lower prices as comparable fossil-fuel vehicles. This will be achieved partially by using a patented, composite material the company has developed. Second, Arrival is building its vehicles in a network of “microfactories,” the first of which is in South Carolina . The smaller factories use a new type of assembly process and could allow the company to more easily customize vehicles for different customers . Each microfactory will be able to produce 10,000 vans or 1,000 buses per year, Arrival President Avinash Rugoobur told the Observer. Arrival still has yet to specify the range specifications for its vans, but it’s expected to be at least 100 miles . The composite material promises to make the vans lightweight and resistant to damage, another potential edge for Arrival over other van designs emerging in the market. The vans are expected to start rolling out for delivery in 2022. BYD delivered its 100th battery-electric truck in the U.S in early 2020. Photo courtesy of BYD BYD BYD is well-known for its electric buses, which continue to sell to fleets around the country. But the company’s trucking division is ramping up production of medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks, too. BYD is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, and its models include a Class 8 Day Cab, a Class 6 truck, a terminal tractor and two models of all-electric refuse trucks . BYD delivered its 100th battery-electric truck in the U.S in early 2020, a Class 8 model for Anheuser-Busch’s distribution operations in Oakland, California. It’s a relationship that’s likely to continue as Anheuser-Busch has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent across its entire value chain by 2025. BYD’s Class 8 has a range of 125 miles and a top speed of 65 miles per hour. It can recharge in as little as two hours with a high-speed direct current system or in about 14 hours with a standard 240-volt charging system. Global shipping provider DHL also began piloting BYD’s Class 8 trucks in November, adding four vehicles to its fleet in Los Angeles. That easily could grow as DHL works to meet a goal of net-zero logistics-related emissions by 2050. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand unveiled a new electric model in 2020, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul. Photo courtesy of Daimler Daimler Trucks Daimler, the largest truck maker in the world, is seeing significant progress on its Freightliner eCascadia, an electric big rig that promises a 250-mile range. The German automaker recently delivered a Freightliner eCascadia to Southern California Edison (SCE) for a three-month trial of the battery-electric Class 8 truck. The power utility company will use the eCascadia to transport heavy equipment from its warehouse to service centers. It fits in with SCE’s goal to electrify 30 percent of its medium-duty vehicles and pickup trucks and 8 percent of its heavy-duty trucks by 2030. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand also unveiled a new electric model this year, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul. It builds on the company’s existing short-range eActros truck that is already being tested by customers. The eActros LongHaul promises a 310-mile range, and Daimler predicts it will be ready for production by 2024 . Alongside the eActros LongHaul, Daimler also announced an electric-fuel cell truck called the Mercedes-Benz GenH2, which it says could drive more than 600 miles before refueling is needed. Daimler expects to start piloting the truck in 2023 and making it commercially available by 2025. Ford is promising that the E-Transit van will be available starting in late 2021. Photo courtesy of Ford Ford American auto giant Ford jumped into a new sector of the electric vehicle market in 2020 with plans to develop an all-electric version of its popular Transit cargo van. Ford is promising that the E-Transit van will be available starting in late 2021. The vehicle is expected to cost “less than $45,000” and will have a range of 126 miles. Ford sells 150,000 of its traditional E-Transit vans each year. Research from the company’s internal data says the average Transit user drives 74 miles per day, well within the projected range of the electric version of the vehicle. Ford’s ambitious production timeline is backed by a $100 million investment to retrofit a Kansas City plant that is already making the diesel-powered Transit. Ford says production of the E-Transit also will create 150 jobs. Across the company, Ford’s investment in electrifying vehicles through 2022 totals $11.5 billion. New models include the Mustang Mach-E and an electric version of its Ford F-150, America’s most popular pickup truck. NIkola Motors went public in June . Photo courtesy of Nikola Nikola Motors Phoenix-based startup Nikola Motors made a big step toward rolling out its electric semi-trucks this year. The company announced over the summer plans for a $600 million factory in Arizona, where it wants to begin making fully electric trucks in 2021 and hydrogen fuel-cell models by 2023. The plans came shortly after the company went public in June , marking a year of significant growth for the lesser-known auto company named after Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor who created electric motors. The company’s models include two semi-trucks available with either fully electric or hydrogen fuel-cell electric capabilities, and anticipated ranges between 500 and 700 miles. The Nikola Two is intended for North America, and the Nikola Tre is available in Europe, Asia and Australia. Creating the infrastructure to refuel tens of thousands of hydrogen-powered big rigs that Nikola plans to put on the road will require a huge investment. The company plans to build a nationwide network of 700 hydrogen stations in the U.S. by 2028, potentially with help from BP . (To put that into perspective, there are about 400 hydrogen fueling stations worldwide .) The company plans to power each refueling station with renewable sources such as wind and solar. It will take between 10 and 15 minutes to refill one of its semi-trucks. The interior of an Amazon Rivian van. Photo courtesy of Amazon Rivian Rivian spent much of 2020 racing to fill what is by any measure a huge order: 100,000 all-electric delivery vans designed for e-commerce giant Amazon. The company is building out a factory line for the vans in its Normal, Illinois, facility. A prototype is already being tested, and Rivian expects to deliver the first vans to Amazon during the second half of 2021, according to a company spokesperson. Rivian’s agreement with Amazon promises 10,000 vans by the end of 2022 and 100,000 by 2030. The vans will be built in three sizes and are part of Amazon’s strategy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Ross Rachey, director of global fleet and product logistics for Amazon, spoke with GreenBiz Senior Writer Katie Fehrenbacher during a session at VERGE 20 . He said that in addition to the tall order Amazon gave to Rivian, another steep challenge will be the infrastructure needed to support the fleet. “The reality is that charging infrastructure, electricity and utility connections — it’s the longest lead, probably the most challenging part of this equation,” Rachey told GreenBiz. Tesla’s electric semi-truck isn’t fully commercial, but it’s changing the dialogue about electric fleets. Photo courtesy of Tesla Tesla Tesla has been teasing its entrance into the heavy-duty transportation sector for years, ever since it unveiled plans for the Tesla Semi in 2017. But production timelines have been pushed back over and over again, with the company now projecting a 2021 start date . Tesla nonetheless continues to receive large orders for the long-promised Tesla Semi electric Class-8 truck, including Walmart’s 130-truck reservation in September . Other big-name companies such as Anheuser-Busch, FedEx, PepsiCo and UPS also have expressed interest but have yet to put down the $20,000-per-truck reservation fees. The Tesla Semis will come in two models : one with a 300-mile range and one with a 500-mile range. According to the company, the expected base prices for those trucks are $150,000 and $180,000, respectively. (A typical Class 8 diesel day-cab starts at roughly $120,000.) Tesla says the Semi will accelerate from 0 mph to 60 mph in 20 seconds while carrying a full load (roughly 40 tons); it will be able to maintain that speed while traveling up a 5 percent grade, according to the company. As the delays in Tesla Semi production have piled up, some analysts believe the big rig has become a “distraction” and fundamentally different business from Tesla’s electric passenger vehicles. The VNR Electric has a 150-mile range, with speeds up to 65 mph on the highway. Photo courtesy of Volvo Volvo Volvo Trucks brought its zero-emission truck, the VNR Electric, to market just as 2020 came to a close . The VNR Electric has a 150-mile range, with speeds up to 65 mph on the highway. An 80 percent charge for the vehicle takes 70 minutes, Volvo says. The truck comes in three models: A straight truck; a 4×2 tractor; and a 6×2 tractor. Volvo invested $400 million into its New River Valley, Virginia, factory to assemble the trucks, which first rolled out in Southern California in 2019. VNR Electric comes out of Volvo’s broader Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS), itself part of California Climate Investments. The statewide program puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Volvo company statement. Volvo has said it will offer the trucks for lease or sale, and also will lease and finance charging infrastructure to go along with them. Volvo Trucks is also in the early stages of introducing a hydrogen fuel-cell truck in a partnership with Daimler . Volvo Trucks CEO Martin Lundstedt said the COVID-19 crisis was a motivating factor for the company to increase its focus in this area, according to Forbes . Workhorse made headlines in July 2020 when it announced that Ryder System would be offering the C-Series vans through its leasing and rental programs. Photo courtesy of Workhorse Workhorse An electric truck startup out of Cincinnati, Workhorse is making progress on its C-Series all-electric delivery van, with big orders arriving in 2020. The company received a purchase order for 500 of its all-electric C-1000 delivery vehicles from Pritchard Companies in November. Pritchard is one of the nation’s largest commercial vehicle distributors, selling over 30,000 vehicles each year. Workhorse also made headlines in July when it announced that Ryder System would offer the C-Series vans through its leasing and rental programs. The C-1000 Workhorse electric van includes 1,000 cubic feet of cargo space , with about 100 miles of range. The vehicle can reach top speeds of 75 mph. As Workhorse heads into 2021 with a big stack of orders, it remains to be seen whether it can deliver on production. Automotive World reported in November that the company’s factory was struggling with short staffing amid a resurgent COVID-19 outbreak in Ohio. Workhorse’s fate also depends on whether it lands a piece of a $6.3 billion United States Postal Service contract to produce 186,000 mail trucks in the coming years. Workhorse’s stock fell 21 percent on the USPS announcement that it would not choose a contractor as originally planned near the end of 2020. A decision is expected in the second quarter of 2021. Four teams are competing for the USPS contract: India’s Mahindra Automotive North America; Turkey’s Karsan/Michigan’s Morgan Olson; American companies Oshkosh/Ford; and Workhorse. Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Clean Fleets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Arrival scored a big deal with UPS early in 2020. Photo courtesy of Arrival

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Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021

The top 2020 trends in sustainability, according to GreenBiz readers

December 28, 2020 by  
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The top 2020 trends in sustainability, according to GreenBiz readers Holly Secon Mon, 12/28/2020 – 01:30 At GreenBiz, we’ve been reporting on the world of sustainable business for over two decades, but this year has been unlike any other. From an unprecedented pandemic to a global economic downturn to the intensifying impacts of climate change, we can’t say we’ll miss 2020. But there were many valuable lessons learned over the past 12 months.  Some of those can be found in the top GreenBiz stories of the year, as “measured” by reader traffic. While COVID-19 cut through almost all of our coverage — just like it cut through our everyday lives this year — other hopeful stories shined through. GreenBiz readers got excited about climate change solutions that ranged from the new, from the emerging potential of hydrogen as an energy source to changes in plastics manufacturing, to the ancient, such as planting trees. Readers also sought glimmers of hope in this year; you were drawn to stories about COVID-19’s positive impact on air pollution and what the sustainability field can do to be more actively anti-racist and pro-diversity. Without further ado, here are the top 10 most widely read stories and reports from the past 12 months, brought to you by our analysts, editors and other members of the GreenBiz community. And as we look forward to next year, do you have any notes on our coverage — things you want to see more or less of in the upcoming year? Feel free to shoot us an email at editor@greenbiz.com ; we greatly appreciate any and all feedback. 1. Transportation habits are changing drastically. Fleet electrification strategies gained steam throughout the year, with all-electric heavy-duty big rigs, semi-trucks, box trucks, delivery vans and more in the spotlight. Daimler, the largest truck maker in the world, expects to have the 250-mile-range Freightliner eCascadia model in production during 2021. The hottest trend of the year was the electrification of transportation, which is on the precipice of a major upswing: Less than 1 percent of fleet vehicles were electric at the beginning of the year, but that number is expected to grow to 12 percent by 2030.  We named eight of the biggest players in the space so sustainability professionals know what and who to watch out for. From relative giants such as Tesla to newcomers like startup Rivian and Chanje, we stand by this list. READ THE FULL STORY: 8 electric truck and van companies to watch in 2020 .  2. The pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders had an unintentionally positive and significant initial impact on air pollution. Over 45 states were under stay-at-home orders at one point in the spring due to the COVID-19 crisis. A resulting drop in regional traffic, along with reduced industrial and commercial activity, led to a significant drop in air-polluting emissions.   These emissions reductions are obviously short-term, unintended consequences of the pandemic. But they show that just as human activities have caused our changing climate and the impacts we’re experiencing today, human activities can also slow and reverse the phenomenon. READ THE FULL STORY: The stunning impact of COVID-19 social distancing on air pollution & To make offices safe during COVID-19, buildings need a breath of fresh air & How coronavirus will affect 4 key environmental issues 3. Clean beauty and fashion are trendy. But the industries need to push beyond recycling. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Lush Close Authorship Some of the biggest contributors to the plastic crisis are the cosmetics and fashion industries.  In the $500 billion-per-year cosmetics space, small-scale packaging leads to large-scale single-use plastic waste. But solutions exist, and we wrote about them. At beauty and hygiene products company Lush, for example, working to implement zero-waste when possible has led to innovation across the board In fashion, similarly, going the extra mile takes an innovative approach. A new technology of this sort, chemical garment-to-garment recycling, was one of your favorite stories of the year.  Investors such as H&M are already forging ahead. READ THE FULL STORY: How cosmetics retailer Lush is making purposeful profit through circular processes & Fashion’s latest trend? Why H&M, other big brands are investing in garment recycling 4. What’s next for the chemicals industry amid a growing public backlash against plastics? New types of manufacturing processes with the promise to infinitely reuse plastics. Tupperware’s portable, reusable Tupperware Eco Straw and a new drinking tumbler are both made from a lightweight, phthalate-free circular PP polymer from SABIC. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship SABIC Close Authorship Our story with an inside look into Eastman Chemical’s factory was a hit earlier this year. Eastman is one of the largest U.S. chemical companies, and it has faced criticism in the past few years along with other chemical companies as plastics have grown as an issue in the public’s consciousnesses.  But it claims to have a response to these concerns. That includes two new technologies. Carbon renewal technology, or CRT, breaks down waste plastic feedstocks to the molecular level before using them as building blocks to produce a wide range of materials and packaging. Polyester renewal technology, or PRT, involves taking waste polyesters from landfills and other waste streams and transforming them back into a raw material that the company claims is indistinguishable from polyester produced from fossil-fuel feedstocks. In addition, other stories on plastic production piqued readers’ interest. A story about Tupperware’s new sustainable production processes, for example, was one of our most-read articles. Any and all new solutions to the plastics crisis will be welcome in 2021, given that this year has seen record new plastic production thanks to the pandemic. READ THE FULL STORY: Inside Eastman’s moonshot goal for endlessly circular plastics & Tupperware inches toward circular processes, one plastic container at a time 5. Planes remain among the most polluting means of transport. Is there a way to reduce their emissions? The largest all-electric plane has just completed a half an hour flight in the United States. Media Authorship MagniX Close Authorship Readers devoured GreenBiz stories on the emerging technologies powering electric aviation and the companies behind them. Though the technology isn’t quite there yet, the certification process is long and the process is expensive, the electric aviation industry is still taking off. That’s because flights under 500 miles are within the range of an electric motor. R oughly 45 percent of all global flights meet this standard — presenting a massive opportunity.  READ THE FULL STORY: 6 electric aviation companies to watch & 7 urban air mobility companies to watch 6. Humanity’s destruction of biodiversity fosters the conditions for emerging diseases such as COVID-19. Media Source Shutterstock Media Authorship Mathisa Close Authorship If this year has shown us anything, it’s that the health of our planet and the health of humans are inextricably linked.  Research suggests that outbreaks of animal-borne and other infectious diseases such as Ebola, SARS, bird flu and COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus, are on the rise. Meanwhile, humans have continued destructive practices such as deforestation and agricultural expansion. Case in point: The world has lost 60 percent of all wildlife in the last 50 years while the number of new infectious diseases has quadrupled in the last 60 years. These stories hit home with readers this year, and we’ll continue to cover stories in this vein, because we expect to see more events like this in the future. READ THE FULL STORY: Biodiversity, pandemics and the circle of life & Destroying habitats has opened a Pandora’s box for new diseases to emerge 7. Coal-fired power plants are closing, and those economic and social ecosystems are collapsing around the country. A just transition to renewable sources such as hydrogen could ease the pain . Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Burbank Water & Power Close Authorship Hydrogen is still an emerging source of renewable energy. But it’s a massive opportunity: It’s the most abundant element in the universe, and capturing hydrogen is simple, in theory. Old coal plants could be easily transformed into new hydrogen plants to produce GHG-free energy, according to some industry insiders, while providing good jobs for hard-hit communities. READ THE FULL STORY: You say old coal plant, I say new green hydrogen facility 8. Agriculture as a climate change solution rather than a cause of climate change Media Source Shutterstock Media Authorship l i g h t p o e t Close Authorship We all want an agricultural system that can enough food for the growing global population sustainably. But certain agricultural practices that aim to increase crop yields such as clear-cutting release greenhouse gases that had been trapped in the soils into the atmosphere. The practices of “regenerative agriculture” promise to do the opposite: these farming and grazing practices rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity, resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. Our stories on the topic struck a chord with you this year.  In 2020, food companies delved even deeper into how agricultural practices can sequester carbon in the land rather than release it. Two of the world’s largest food companies, General Mills and Danone North America, have set specific targets and worked to extend their support to farmers in their supply chains that are picking up these practices this year. These new programs have already been implemented for oats and wheat farmers who want to participate across a range of experience, ages and farm sizes. READ THE FULL STORY: General Mills, Danone dig deeper into regenerative agriculture with incentives, funding 9. Planting trees isn’t exactly the next big thing — or is it? Companies are investing in nature-based climate change solutions such as planting trees to draw down carbon. Media Source Shutterstock Media Authorship dennis_wegewijs Close Authorship Our inside look at two exciting tree-planting initiatives resonated with you this year. One is a hot new tree-planting startup whose investors include an Uber founder and whose buyers include Microsoft and Shopify resonated with you this year.  The startup, Pachama, has a unique value proposition: it offers a verified marketplace for carbon credits. That’s crucial for companies who want to buy credits after committing to going carbon neutral and even carbon-negative. Pachama both sells carbon credits by working with land managers who are using carbon-sequestering practices, and verifies the quantity of carbon they’re storing via a unique combination of satellite images, LiDAR and machine learning. Still, “if the planet continues waking up to the reality of climate change and the urgency of action, we believe that carbon markets will continue to expand,” Diego Saez-Gil, the founder of Pachama, said. Meanwhile, SilviaTerra, another cleantech startup, has been able to create a “basemap” of  every acre of forest in North America, down to the species and size of every single tree. To do this, SilviaTerra used machine learning to build the map, based on satellite and sensor data from sources such as NASA. It lays critical groundwork for landowners to participate in markets for carbon storage and other ecosystem benefits.  Companies like these will be crucial to watch in the next year, as carbon credit markets continue to grow. READ THE FULL STORY: Why Silicon Valley is taking a big interest in trees   10. Proponents of the Black Lives Matter movement that surged into the public eye this summer took on the sustainability space. Shutterstock This summer, the U.S. experienced a long-overdue racial reckoning. Following the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, white America received a reality check about the racism and discrimination happening in this country. The worlds of clean energy, corporate sustainability and cleantech were not spared. Some key themes that emerged among the GreenBiz readership this year included solidarity and environmental justice, the movement that advocates that low-income and marginalized communities and populations should not be disproportionately exposed to adverse environmental impacts.  READ THE FULL STORY: How racism manifests in clean energy & How sustainability professionals can uplift the Black community Topics Leadership Corporate Strategy Social Justice Carbon Removal COVID-19 Transportation & Mobility Plastic Carbon Pricing Aviation Food & Agriculture Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The top stories of the year ranged from the pandemic to the Black Lives Matter Movement to new renewable energies. GreenBiz collage. Close Authorship

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The top 2020 trends in sustainability, according to GreenBiz readers

What is the role of gas efficiency in the time of building electrification?

December 10, 2020 by  
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What is the role of gas efficiency in the time of building electrification? Alejandra Mejia Thu, 12/10/2020 – 00:30 Transitioning most of our energy uses to clean electricity in an equitable manner is necessary to meet our 2050 climate goals. But what is the role of gas energy efficiency programs as we move to electrify America’s buildings? The short answer is there are still plenty of economic, climate and energy benefits to pursue as long as utilities and their regulators adhere to a few simple guidelines: Prioritize improving the efficiency of building “envelopes”; addressing the pressing needs of under-resourced (low-income) communities and communities of color; and eliminating incentives for building new homes that use gas.  For years, energy efficiency has been one of the energy sector’s silver bullets . Investing in efficiency improvements has held America’s energy use constant over the last 15 years despite a 33 percent increase in GDP, saved households an average of $500 each year on utility bills and created 2.4 million U.S. jobs. As we reduce the use of fossil fuels directly in our homes and buildings by installing appliances that can run on 100 percent clean electricity, efficiency still will be an important tool for avoiding unnecessary electric system costs in the future. Efficiency’s role in equitable building electrification To stabilize our climate and successfully transition to a thriving clean energy economy, we need to eliminate virtually all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the buildings where we live and work. This likely means replacing nearly every fossil fuel-burning appliance with one that can run on electricity generated from clean sources such as wind and power. Given the magnitude of this challenge , we must ensure that none of our energy investments are at cross-purposes to this goal. For efficiency funding that is not tied to a specific fuel — programs that don’t care whether a home uses gas or electricity — this means focusing on and fully funding the transition to efficient, all-electric technologies that are key to meeting our climate goals. It also means prioritizing the smooth, equitable transition of under-resourced and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPoC) communities that have disproportionately higher energy burdens off the fossil fuel system. If we do not prioritize the people who are least able to afford new all-electric equipment in this transition, we risk leaving them holding the bag on a system with a decreasing customer base and increasing costs. As more people transition to all-electric buildings, the costs of maintaining the gas system will rise for those still dependent on it. If we do not prioritize the people who are least able to afford new all-electric equipment in this transition, we risk leaving them holding the bag on a system with a decreasing customer base and increasing costs.   Focus on building efficiency for long-term success Gas efficiency programs are funded by gas utility customers. They commonly offer rebates for new efficient gas appliances and fund weatherization and other building efficiency upgrades. A recent American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report makes several helpful recommendations for improving the efficacy and cost-benefit of those programs. In particular, we agree that “going forward, building shell improvements in existing buildings will be particularly important to reduce costs and emissions,” and that increased partnerships and cost-sharing between gas and electric utilities is necessary to fully realize the benefits of such an investment. However, the report does not suggest how to balance the short-term benefits of some efficient gas appliances with the reality that those appliances will operate — and produced GHG emissions — for 10 to 20 years. One way to strike this balance is to focus gas programs on improving the efficiency of the buildings, rather than on the appliances within them. That includes insulating buildings, reducing air infiltrations, improving ventilation and upgrading windows. Envelope efficiency helps homes and businesses stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, and improve indoor air quality while reducing energy costs, regardless of the type of energy. Envelope upgrades improve the quality of life of residents, especially those living in housing that is in disrepair due to historic underinvestment, and make it easier and cheaper to switch those buildings and residents to 100 percent clean electricity when the time is right. Because continuing to install long-lived gas appliances is incompatible with meeting our climate and equity goals, gas efficiency funds no longer should go toward any fossil gas equipment unless there is a clear social, health or equity concern or crisis that cannot be effectively addressed with efficient all-electric solutions. All-electric equipment should be the preferred solution and all available efforts (including envelope efficiency) should be leveraged to make those clean electric options work for residents. How to avoid locking people into a polluting gas system Gas efficiency programs, like all clean energy initiatives, should prioritize the BIPoC and low-income communities that historically have been underserved . With regards to appliance rebates, this means first and foremost doing everything possible to help these residents move off the fossil gas system while saving money. However, in some cases, largely depending on local weather and electricity costs, providing immediate relief from disproportionate energy burdens and unhealthy living conditions may involve installing new, highly efficient gas appliances. The decision to install gas or electric appliances should be weighed carefully and be based on the following three key factors: The short-term cost to residents of electrifying home energy uses in areas with high utility rates.  A full accounting of the long-term costs of maintaining a safe and reliable gas delivery system. The risk that a new gas appliance will lead to higher energy costs in the future for the customer receiving that appliance.  Continuing to install gas equipment at the same time we’re working to reduce our dependence on all fossil fuels risks leaving the most vulnerable customers to pay the rising costs of an underused gas system. To prevent this, California consumer advocates recently asked regulators to investigate when efficiency programs reserved for low-income customers should sunset their gas appliance incentives in favor of clean electric options. We should be asking these questions about every energy efficiency program in every state and ensuring that BIPoC leaders are helping set and adopt the solutions for their own communities. Building clean from the start is more important every day Finally, we should not be investing any more of our energy efficiency funds on helping new buildings pipe for and install gas appliances. Most buildings that will house us in 2050 already have been built — which is why how we operate and upgrade those buildings today is so important to securing a stable climate future. But we will continue to build new homes and offices in the meantime, and it is vital that those buildings do not continue to further our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. Building efficient, healthy, all-electric buildings will mean lower energy costs from the start . This will be particularly important for affordable housing for under-resourced households as it ensures their energy costs are minimized from the get-go and that they are insulated from having to finance the rising costs of the gas system as electrification of existing buildings takes hold. Pull Quote If we do not prioritize the people who are least able to afford new all-electric equipment in this transition, we risk leaving them holding the bag on a system with a decreasing customer base and increasing costs. Topics Energy & Climate Electrification Energy Efficiency NRDC Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Gas programs should focus on improving the efficiency of the buildings, rather than on the appliances within them. That includes insulating buildings, reducing air infiltrations and more. Photo by  Lisa-S  on Shutterstock.

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What is the role of gas efficiency in the time of building electrification?

Modular home in Delft boasts low-carbon timber build and a green roof

December 8, 2020 by  
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Building information modeling ( BIM ), modular construction and low-carbon timber materials combine in the sustainable Buitenhuis, a small, low-impact home with beautiful farmland views in Heinenoord, the Netherlands. Dutch architecture firm VLOT architecten designed Buitenhuis with a strong connection to the outdoors not only by framing sweeping landscape views with an entire glazed facade but also by integrating existing trees and plants into the green-roofed structure. The home is engineered to be completely dismountable with dry connections so that it can removed with minimal environmental impact. Although the main brief for Buitenhuis seems simple — to create a home for enjoying garden and farmland views — the process for creating the structure was anything but. The architects completely engineered the building with BIM and developed 3D models for the steel foundation and wooden load-bearing structure to minimize construction waste. The modeling also led to a modular structure design based on a 1.5-meter grid with prefabricated components. Laminated larch and cross-laminated timber are the main construction materials; the architects also used wood fiber insulation, padouk decking and birch plywood for the floors and ceilings. Related: Energy-plus home is a beacon of sustainability in Tel Aviv To blur the boundary between indoors and out, Buitenhuis opens up to a large deck in warmer weather. The outdoor living space expands the footprint of the home from 54 square meters to 210 square meters. The deck is cantilevered over a garden and existing ditch, which serves as the boundary between the garden and the farmland that stretches in all directions. The garden is irrigated with rainwater harvested from the sedum-covered roof. Passive solar principles also informed the design of the home, which is outfitted with all-electric appliances as well as electric floor heating. Extended roof eaves mitigate unwanted solar gain in the summer while permitting winter sun, and the windows can be opened on all sides to promote natural ventilation. + VLOT architecten Images via VLOT architecten

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Modular home in Delft boasts low-carbon timber build and a green roof

10 eco-friendly holiday gift ideas for friends

November 27, 2020 by  
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Too often, the giving season feels like a mad rush to check tasks off a list. It’s all too easy (and embarrassing) to wind up giving our friends and family junk gifts that we regret buying. Our  shopping  guide makes it simple to find sustainably made, easy-to-purchase presents that you can feel good about giving over the holidays. Spent grain pancakes Everybody has to eat, and anybody sane likes a good pancake. This  spent grain mix  is low carb, high  protein , contains lots of fiber and uses recycled grains. What?! That’s right, these pancakes are called “spent” because the barley flour comes from microbrewery castoffs. You and your pancake gift recipient will feel even better about breakfast knowing that Grain4Grain donates to a food bank every time somebody purchases a box. Related: How to make soy wax candles for a cozy, autumnal home Shoes by Allbirds Buying shoes can be intimate, so this one is for your close friends.  Allbirds , best known for its sneakers, also makes boat shoes, slip-ons and flats. Choose from shoes made from wool — supposedly these New Zealand sheep have a fabulous life — or, for your  vegan bestie, choose shoes made from responsibly sourced eucalyptus fiber. As a carbon-neutral company, Allbirds puts eco-thought into all aspects of business. The laces are made from recycled plastic bottles, the insoles use castor bean oil and even the shipping boxes are made from 90% recycled cardboard. Digital thrift store gift card Some friends are easier to shop for than others. For some particular people, it’s best to let them pick out their own  gifts . Help them shop sustainably with a digital thrift store gift card from Rent the Runway or thredUP. Upcycled clutch from Jungalow Jungalow  specializes in bright colors and bold botanical patterns. The company is the brainchild of  design  blogger Justina Blakeney. Now you can get Jungalow’s super lush upholstery fabrics in a clutch purse. These clutches use upholstery scraps that wound up on the cutting room floor. Your friend can carry it as a small purse, or keep important things organized inside the clutch while tossing it in a larger bag. Darling little tassels adorn the clutch’s zipper. Girlfriend Collective activewear Through  fashion  alchemy,  Girlfriend Collective  turns old fishing nets, plastic bottles and other trash into chic leggings, bras, socks, sweatsuits and shorts. The company has already sidetracked about 4.5 million plastic water bottles bound for a dubious fate. You can find clothing for all sizes, and even a maternity section on their website. Homemade sugar scrub For a low-cost yet personal gift with a sweet scent, make your friend a sugar scrub. All you need is  sugar , coconut oil (or similar) and a few drops of essential oil. Use the essential oil straight out of the bottle, or make a special blend for your friend. Scoop the scrub into a mason jar, tie a bow around it, and it’s ready to gift. Full details on making sugar scrubs are available at  The Simple Veganista . Malala Scrunchie With a  Malala scrunchi , your friend can secure her hair while simultaneously promoting  education  for girls. When you buy these hair holders, the money goes to the Malala Fund, named for the brave and beloved Pakistani heroine and kick-ass activist Malala Yousufzai. The scrunchies are made from sustainably sourced bamboo fabric and dyed with natural plant dyes, like turmeric for yellow, indigo for blue and madder root for pink. We like the pumpkin color for fall and winter. Cruelty-free, 10-free nail polish from Pear Nova Ten what? Bad ingredients: toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, xylene, parabens, camphor, fragrances, phthalates or animal ingredients. Not sure what all those ingredients are? The bottom line is you probably don’t want them on your nails.  Pear Nova  products are 10-free, designed in  Chicago  and look much more stylish than your average drugstore nail polish. The inventive colors have fun names, such as Cleo F*ckin Patra, Rub My Temples, It’s Summer Somewhere and Rooftop ‘Til You Drop. Wine barrel Apple Watch strap In another clever example of  upcycling ,  Uncommon Goods  offers an upgrade for your Apple Watch strap. Your oenophile friend will feel good knowing that her new watch strap was once a French oak wine barrel. These straps are made in Austria and compatible with Apple Watch Series 5, 4 and 3. Eco travel kit In this pandemic  holiday  season, everybody wants things to go back to normal ASAP. Give the gift of optimism with this  eco travel kit . Your friend will smell delightful with naturally flavored lip balm, deodorant, moisturizer and perfume in grapefruit, bergamot and rose scents. She’ll nap beneath a silky eye mask and wake to note her thoughts in an artisan-crafted kite notebook. The kits come in a vegan leather case and also include earplugs, q-tips, hair ties, disposable face masks and Emergen-Cs. You can upgrade and personalize the Aria Kit with extra add-ons. Images via Grain4Grain , Katherine Gallagher / Inhabitat, thredUP , Jungalow , Girlfriend , Pixabay, HARA , Pear Nova , Uncommon Goods , and Aria Kit

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10 eco-friendly holiday gift ideas for friends

Denmark’s top fur cooperative is closing

November 25, 2020 by  
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The news that an enormous Danish fur cooperative is closing is bittersweet. While animal-lovers may rejoice at the end of Kopenhagen Fur, it comes on the tail of a massive culling of about 17 million farmed mink in Denmark due to worries that they could spread a mutated form of COVID-19 to humans. Kopenhagen Fur is the world’s largest fur auction house in the world, a cooperative owned by 1,500 Danish fur farmers and brokers. In 2018-19, it sold nearly 25 million mink skins. This week, the auction house announced it would close within the next few years. Related: Denmark to cull millions of minks to prevent spread of mutant coronavirus Humane Society International predicts that this could signify the end of the global fur industry. “The announcement by Kopenhagen Fur that it will cease trading shows that fur production has now passed a tipping point and it could very well signal the beginning of the end of the fur trade,” said Joanna Swabe, HSI Europe senior director of public affairs, as reported in VegNews . “Fur farms are not only the cause of immense and unnecessary animal suffering, but they are also ticking time bombs for deadly diseases. We cannot simply sit back and wait for the next pandemic to emerge from them.” During the summer, mink farms in the U.S., Spain and the Netherlands all diagnosed COVID-19 in these little carnivorous mammals. Experts worried that the mutated form of the virus could threaten the effectiveness of the anticipated coronavirus vaccines. Just hours before the announcement of Kopenhagen Fur’s closure, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) released the “Rapid Risk Assessment: Detection of new SARS-CoV-2 variants related to mink.” This report details the awful consequences of mutated viruses spreading from farmed mink to humans and stresses that this risk also applies to other future viruses besides COVID-19 . “Mink farms provide the ideal environment for a mutating virus,” said Justine Butler, senior health researcher for the animal rights group Viva!. “The animals are kept in horrific conditions and experience extreme stress as a result of their cramped and inhumane surroundings. On these farms, the animals are tightly packed into filthy wire cages, standing on top of each other and in their own feces, which enables viruses to quickly mutate and spread throughout the population.” The Netherlands is planning to stop fur production by March 2021. Perhaps we’ll soon be hearing more announcements about ending this cruel practice from other countries as well. Via VegNews Image via Pixabay

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Denmark’s top fur cooperative is closing

New eco-friendly, decomposing construction foam unveiled

November 25, 2020 by  
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Researchers have come up with a new, more eco-friendly and effective form of building insulation material. The new material was developed due to the shortcomings of the traditional polyurethane-based foam insulators. These traditional insulators harm the environment via the release of volatile compounds into the atmosphere. A group of engineers from the University of North Texas College of Engineering led the research. The engineers, led by Professor Nandika D’Souza of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, have been working on the project since 2018. D’Souza’s lab earned a National Science Foundation grant worth $302,285 to help find a solution to the shortcomings of the conventional insulators. After much research, the team revealed a new type of insulation material, which is less harmful to the environment . By mixing corn-based polylactic acid with cellulose, in combination with supercritical carbon-dioxide, researchers found they could create an environmentally friendly product. This type of insulator is not only safe but also combustible and decomposable. “PLA on its own was good, but we found it wasn’t as strong as the conventional insulation, so we came up with the idea of mixing cellulose in,” D’Souza said. “ Cellulose is a degradable fiber and is often found as a waste in the paper industry, so not only is it stronger, but also is cheaper and easier to come by.” The team has already tested its new technology at the UNT Engineering Zero Energy Lab, a space designed to test alternative energy generation technologies. With the technology already tested and proven in the lab, it only has to go through trials in the construction industry to determine its viability. Kayode Oluwabunmi, one of the doctoral students in DSouza’s lab, says the undoing of conventional foam is its inability to break down once it’s no longer usable. This means the foam lingers in the environment. “The conventional foams are not environmentally-friendly and do not break down once they are no longer usable. They can stay in the environment for 1,000 years,” Oluwabunmi said. Besides its ability to decompose, the new material is also long-lasting. It shares a similar lifespan with the conventional foam and allows a 12% increase in heating and cooling. In other words, this material will help control energy flow better and with fewer risks. + The University of North Texas Images via The University of North Texas

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New eco-friendly, decomposing construction foam unveiled

New leaders at Patagonia, McDonald’s, Netflix

October 7, 2020 by  
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New leaders at Patagonia, McDonald’s, Netflix Elsa Wenzel Wed, 10/07/2020 – 02:01 Heading into fall, this batch of career updates from the worlds of sustainability and business is somewhat top-heavy. It’s not necessarily that the game of musical chairs has intensified in the C-suite, but you’ll note major executive moves at big apparel, food, energy, finance and technology corporations, some of which have enlisted a chief sustainability officer (CSO) or equivalent for the first time. Amid myriad social, health and political crises, business sustainability is alive and well and living the Paris Agreement. Who’s news McDonald’s has formed a Global Impact Team to be overseen by EVP and Global Impact Officer Katie Beirne Fallon , who is departing Hilton Worldwide as EVP and head of corporate affairs. Fallon served President Barack Obama as director of legislative affairs and senior advisor. Emma Stewart , recently with Engie Impact and WRI, was named Netflix’s first sustainability officer. The streaming media giant just started reporting on its renewable energy usage last winter. Stewart is known for her longtime service to Autodesk, whose first Sustainability Solutions product group she founded. Stewart also launched and ran research and development at BSR. At Ventura, California-based Patagonia, Ryan Gellert is stepping into the shoes of longtime CEO Rose Marcario , who departed in June after leaving a high water mark for corporate activism. He’s at the helm of Patagonia Works, the parent company. From Amsterdam, Gellert oversaw the company in Europe, Africa and the Middle East for nearly six years, working before that at outdoor gear maker Black Diamond. That brings former VP  Jenna Johnson up to CEO of Patagonia, Inc. Lisa Williams , former chief product officer, becomes head of innovation, design and merchandising. HP Inc. has a new chief sustainability and social impact officer, Ellen Jackowski , who has led there for 12 years as global head of sustainability strategy and innovation. Jeffrey Hogue is slipping into the CSO role at Levi Strauss, moving from the same role at C&A, where he was involved with the launch of the world’s first Cradle to Cradle T-shirt . In addition to his circular economy efforts in apparel, he has been McDonald’s senior director of global CSR. Meanwhile, Michael Kobori left Levi Strauss at the start of the year to become CSO at Starbucks.  Mattel appointed Pamela Gill-Alabaster as head of global sustainability. She brings more than two decades of sustainability expertise honed at Centric Brands, L’Oréal, Estée Lauder Companies and Revlon. Katherine Neebe is the new president of the Duke Energy Foundation, as well as CSO and VP of national engagement and strategy at Duke Energy Corporation. Prior to this, she led ESG and sustainability stakeholder engagement at Walmart, after having spent six years with WWF on a partnership with Coca-Cola. Jeanne-Mey Sun is NRG Energy’s new CSO, joining from Baker Hughes, where she led the oil field services company’s clean energy transition strategy. Applied Materials hired Chris Librie as director of ESG, corporate sustainability and reporting. He held the same title at Samsung Semiconductor, after leading ESG and sustainability at eBay and HP Inc. Green chemistry pioneer John Warner , president of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, joined the biomanufacturing startup Zymergen as a distinguished research fellow. He’s also co-founder of Beyond Benign , an effort to integrate sustainability principles into K-12 chemistry education. Chantelle Ludski is serving as the North America and Asia Pacific COO for the Anthesis Group sustainability consultancy. Previously she served as chief administrative officer for the Americas at Renewable Energy Systems, and global chief risk officer at engineering consultancy Arcadis. Former JetBlue CSO Sophia Mendelsohn is the new chief sustainability officer and global head of ESG at IT services company Cognizant. Richard Threlfall , a 17-year veteran of the Big Four firm KPMG, is now global head of KPMG IMPACT in addition to partner and head of infrastructure. Former Microsoft sustainability director Josh Henretig became VP of global partnerships at Higg Co, known for the Higg Index for apparel. Edelman named Heidi DuBois as special ESG adviser, coming from the Society for Corporate Governance via BNY Mellon and PepsiCo. Former CEO of the Tides Foundation Kriss Deiglmeier just made a move to become chief of social impact at Splunk for Good, billed as a “data for everything” platform. BNP Paribas is enlisting Christina Cho , in her 13th year at the bank, as co-head with Anne van Riel of Sustainable Finance Capital Markets Americas. Jennifer Silberman has joined the hip cooler maker Yeti as VP of ESG, bringing her corporate responsibility background earned at Target , Hilton and BeyondBrands. Former Sephora Director of Sustainability Alison Colwell moved to Novi , a safer chemistry-AI startup, as VP of business development and partnerships. Kabira Stokes became CEO of circular economy startup Retrievr after nine years as co-founder and CEO of Homeboy Recycling. Tod Durst advanced to president from EVP at PolyQuest, which manufactures rPET, recycled plastic resins. Founder and former EVP John Marinelli is serving as CEO and chairman. Advocating The Institute for Sustainable Communities , which advances equitable community solutions to climate change, has appointed Deeohn Ferris as president and CEO. The environmental lawyer leaves the Audubon Society, where she was VP of equity, diversity and inclusion. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) welcomes Managing Director for Climate and Energy Claire O’Neill . The former U.K. Energy and Clean Growth minister also served as COP President for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference. B-Lab co-founder Jay Coen Gilbert is the new co-chair of the new Imperative 21 campaign to “reset capitalism.” Cortney Worrall is the new president and CEO of the nonprofit Waterfront Alliance , which pushes for resilience along the New York and New Jersey coasts. She comes to the organization as former National Parks Conservation Association northeast regional director. Former Energy UK Chief Executive Lawrence Slade is the new CEO of the Global Infrastructure Investor Association . The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) brought on Nora Wang Esram from the Pacific Northwest Laboratory as senior director for research, and promoted Lauren Ross to senior director for policy from local policy director. The roles were previously held by Neal Elliott , now director emeritus, and Maggie Molina , who joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a branch chief. Andrew Howley , a longtime National Geographic director, joined the Biomimicry Institute as chief editor of its AskNature resource of biomimetic solutions. Thought for Food announced Melissa Ong as its Southeast Asia CEO. On the move Energy equipment maker GreenGen added its first director of healthy buildings, Dominic Ramos-Ruiz , who comes from the International Well Building Institute (WELL). Global asset management firm Neuberger Berman brought on Caitlin McSherry as its ESG Investing Team director of stewardships. She’s a former VP and ESG analyst at State Street. The Walton Family Foundation named its new environment program director, Moira Mcdonald , a freshwater conservation program officer there for a decade. She spent 12 years as a senior advisor with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Jenna Jambeck, known for advancing an understanding of marine plastic waste, has been named Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in Environmental Engineering at the University of Georgia. She’s associate director of the university’s New Materials Institute and directs its Center for Circular Materials Management. Pax Momentum startup accelerator brought on Senseware co-founder and CEO Serene Al-Momen as a professor. Nikki Kapp came to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as a research analyst, leaving Circularity Capital. Radha Friedman is now a senior adviser with the Uplift Agency, a woman-led social impact agency specializing in marginalized populations. She brings experience as a former Weber Shandwick VP of social impact and director of programs at the World Justice Project. The experimental Ray Highway in Georgia, named for Interface carpet’s late sustainability hero Ray Anderson, has brought on Matthew Quirey as landscape design and research fellow. Clare Castleman , a 2018 GreenBiz 30U30 honore, formerly of Eaton, has moved up at Self-Help Credit Union to small business support associate from clean energy intern. Mike Pratl became market leader for KAI Design’s Civic and Municipal market in St. Louis. On board General Mills Foundation Executive Director Nicola Dixon is ReFED’s new board chair, succeeding co-founder Jesse Fink , who remains on the board. Stacey Greene-Koehnke , COO at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, also joined the board of the food waste think tank, while Circularity Capital Founder and CEO Rob Kaplan , moving to Singapore, has left. The board of directors of the Green Seal product certification nonprofit brought on former U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator Jim Jones and Edward Hubbard Jr. , general counsel for the Renewable Fuels Association. Mike Werner , Google’s circular economy lead and Veena Singla , senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), joined the board of the Healthy Building Network . CHEMForward pulled Kimberly Shenk , CEO of Novi, into its advisory board. Forest carbon credit company Pachama formed an advisory board, bringing on Josh Henretig ; forest scientist and Old-Growth Forest Network Founder Joan Maloof ; and Scott Harrison , founder of Charity:Water. Tom Popple , senior manager at Natural Capital Partners, is now a steering committee member of the Irish Forum on Natural Capital. All in the GreenBiz family Former GreenBiz Senior Editor Lauren Hepler has joined CalMatters as economy reporter. Keith Larsen , who worked under Hepler as a GreenBiz reporter , now reports on New York real estate for the Real Deal. Former GreenBiz Senior Account Manager Shaandiin Cedar brought her New Zealand adventure to GreenBiz readers this summer. Topics Leadership Collective Insight Names in the News Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Clockwise, from top left: Deeohn Ferris, ISD; Ryan Gellert, Patagonia; Jennifer Silberman, YETI; Dominic Ramos-Ruiz, GreenGen; Jeff Hogue, Levi Strauss; Veena Singla, NRDC; Chris Librie, Applied Materials; Katie Beirne Fallon, McDonald’s; Jeanne-Mey Sun, NRG Energy; John Warner, Warner Babcock Institute.

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New leaders at Patagonia, McDonald’s, Netflix

Our COVID-19 response can make our cities more resilient to heat waves

October 6, 2020 by  
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Our COVID-19 response can make our cities more resilient to heat waves Roland Hunziker Tue, 10/06/2020 – 01:00 The COVID crisis has exposed our interdependencies and the insufficient preparation of our urban systems for coping with shocks. It also has highlighted the stress we put on the environment and in many places greatly increased inequality — including the response to heat. Now, with climate change, come scorching hot temperatures during the summer months which bring additional challenges to healthcare systems that already operate under great pressure due to the pandemic. On Aug. 16, California recorded what could be the hottest temperature ever on earth: 54.4 degrees Celsius, in the shade. COVID-19 wasn’t a bolt from the blue. Experts have long warned about the potential outbreak of a major pandemic, yet governments around the world were woefully unprepared for its catastrophic consequences. Let’s not make the same mistake with global warming. The dangers of anthropogenic climate change have been known for decades and with the vast amount of existing data, tools and guidelines, taking action should be seemingly straightforward. Yet extreme heat is progressively posing fatal danger for humanity, particularly for young children and elderly people. In fact, in Europe and the United States, more people die of heat waves than from all other natural disasters combined. And temperatures will continue to rise. Cities are particularly vulnerable to heat waves. Air pollution, tall buildings, building materials, lack of green spaces and wind all contribute to trapping heat from the sun, traffic and industry and result in the creation of Urban Heat Islands (UHI). Due to the UHI effect, cities on average record 2-4 degrees higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas. Moreover, many cities, particularly in the north, are ill-prepared for extreme heat with buildings primarily designed to keep the cold out and not the other way around. In the wake of COVID-19, when governments will provide massive stimulus funding to restart economies, it’s more important than ever to consider the long-term value creation of urban infrastructure investments. There is an urgent, global need for building urban resilience to heat and, as usual, business has a key role to play. Over the past months, it has become clear that resilience strategies for COVID-19 in cities could help us approach other threats as well. We have seen that in times of pandemics, we need almost the same things as we do during heat waves. We need spacious green and blue areas close to our homes where we can walk, exercise and rest — places where we can enhance our well-being while maintaining the necessary physical distance. We also need comfortable dwellings that are neither too hot nor too cold, as well as gardens and parks that are accessible to the whole community. In Sweco’s most recent Urban Insight report, “Building resilience: being young and getting old in a hotter Europe,” more solutions for how we can create sustainable, livable cities are proposed:  Architects, urban planners, building managers and developers need to implement and apply new guidelines and innovative design and technology solutions that minimize the impact of heat on buildings and their surroundings and better accommodate the needs of building users. Collaborative platforms should facilitate sharing of knowledge, data and best practices between industry, policymakers and academia to accelerate climate action and building resilience. This is crucial for enabling the connectivity, flexibility and resourcefulness needed for adaptation and quick recovery. We need to build resilience into both physical and social structures of our cities. Behavior change and effective communication can help in preparing for and mitigating risks. Organizations such as nursing homes or hospitals should be involved in designing livable and healthy cities of the future. Many cities are already taking action against increasingly frequent extreme heat events. In the slums of Delhi, roofs are coated with a sun and heat-reflective paint to reduce indoor temperatures and lower energy consumption. In Paris, streets and building walls are cooled down with water in the advent of heat waves and in Seoul, cooling shelters offer relief from sweltering weather for those who cannot afford air conditioning in their homes. WBCSD is actively transforming the built environment towards one that is resilient, net-zero emissions, circular, healthy and inclusive. Through our City-Business Climate Alliance, we have established several local partnerships between public and private actors for joint climate action. One of our key goals is to support these collaborations in designing and implementing adaptation measures and to build urban systems resilient to climate change. But we need to accelerate our efforts to cope with global population growth and rapid urbanization.  More stakeholders must engage, and we need to improve institutional and governance aspects of how cities, business and other stakeholders can work together to realize the vision of a sustainable built environment. To tackle these issues, WBCSD is developing a “blueprint” with a non-prescriptive collection of targets, mechanisms and principles that can channel investment toward sustainable projects in the future. The blueprint will reflect both the business case as well as the wider value of these investments, to align and compare the competing objectives that need to be managed with a holistic, long-term vision in mind. In the wake of COVID-19, when governments will provide massive stimulus funding to restart economies, it’s more important than ever to consider the long-term value creation of urban infrastructure investments. If we manage to take advantage of the momentum spurred by this global public health emergency to build back better, we can prepare our cities for a warmer future and create healthy living spaces where people and biodiversity can thrive. Pull Quote In the wake of COVID-19, when governments will provide massive stimulus funding to restart economies, it’s more important than ever to consider the long-term value creation of urban infrastructure investments. Contributors Mattias Goldmann Topics Cities COVID-19 Climate Change Smart Cities 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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Our COVID-19 response can make our cities more resilient to heat waves

Lack of cruise ships gives researchers the perfect chance to study humpback whales

October 5, 2020 by  
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Due to the impact of COVID-19, researchers have found the perfect opportunity to understand the Alaskan coast and its humpback whales. Alaska’s southeastern waters are usually busy, with thousands of tourists on cruise ships at any given moment. This disruption impacts how the whales behave. However, researchers have experienced a difference during the summer of this year, thanks to a slow-down of tourist activities, and they are taking the rare chance for a closer study of the area’s humpback whales. Alaska receives many cruise ships every year with over 1 million tourists expecting to enjoy spectacular views of glaciers. However, that number has been drastically reduced to zero during the pandemic . Now that the waters are open, researchers are using the opportunity to understand the ecosystem better. Related: Record number of pilot whales get stranded, die in Tasmania Paul Swanstrom, founder of Mountain Flying Service, said, “The town of Skagway gets a million people a year off cruise ships and is just completely shut down. It’s nuts. All the southeast has been hit pretty hard.” With the ships out of the way, scientists are now preparing to watch whales in their natural habitat. It has been over 40 years since scientists last recorded the sounds of whales in Alaska. In most cases, they have to record the interactions between whales and humans. “It’s the first time in human history that we’ve had the technological ability to listen to these whales in a meaningful way without us interfering … it’s a really, really big deal,” said Michelle Fournet, director of Sound Science Research Collective and research fellow of Cornell University. “The last time researchers were able to listen to humpbacks in a quiet ocean in Alaska was in 1976.” Since whale observations began, the technology has greatly improved, allowing researchers to gather improved data on the whales. “We’re going to see how these humpback whales are interacting with their environment instead of how they’re interacting with us,” Fournet explained. “You can’t figure out whether or not your species is resilient to something if you don’t know what it acts like when it’s happy.” Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Lack of cruise ships gives researchers the perfect chance to study humpback whales

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