New study sheds light on Antarctic sea ice mystery

June 24, 2020 by  
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By now, most people have heard about polar ice melting due to  global warming . But the coming and going of the sea ice surrounding Antarctica still leaves scientists puzzled. Recent research has shed light on changes in sea ice. Antarctica is known for its dynamic  sea ice , which contracts and extends seasonally, yet unpredictably. The drop in sea ice from 2015 to 2016 was staggering — 463,322 square miles, about twice the size of France. The following year, a Netherlands-sized hole melted within the sea ice. Geologists call this unfrozen expanse of open water within ice a polynya. Related: New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow So, what is happening to Antarctica’s sea ice? Recently,  Geophysical Research Letters  published new satellite research paired with data collected from ocean-faring floats. This research suggests that extremely powerful  storms  in the Weddell Sea whipped up warm winds, which lashed the icepack and brought on the 2015-2016 France-size melt. Storms started in September 2015, and the heat continued, causing the region’s hottest November on record. This weather created Antarctica’s first polynya in almost forty years. The polynya’s dark water absorbed more solar heat, leading to more melting. Then, another storm struck in December, further shrinking the ice. On March 24, 2015,  Antarctica  experienced its then-highest ever recorded temperature of 63.5 degrees. This February, the icy continent broke that record when it hit 65 degrees. “Variability in Antarctic sea ice extent is very large, and detecting an anthropogenic signal is going to be difficult,” said John Turner, a climate expert with the British Antarctic Survey, as reported by  Earther . “The increase up to 2014 was a surprise, considering the ice loss in the Arctic, and the rapid drop in 2016 added to the long list of questions about Antarctic sea ice. It’s unclear whether the sea ice extent will recover to 2014 values or if this the start of the long-term decline expected as  greenhouse gas  concentrations increase.” + Earther Images via Pexels and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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Episode 225: Lyft’s electrifying declaration, please open the windows

June 19, 2020 by  
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Episode 225: Lyft’s electrifying declaration, please open the windows Heather Clancy Fri, 06/19/2020 – 02:30 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (4:27). To make offices safe during COVID-19, buildings need a breath of fresh air Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste The unmasking of Corporate America Features Moving from analysis to action on circular food (29:10) Emma Chow, project lead on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Food initiative, chats about the role menus play in counteracting food waste and sharing practical steps for addressing the “brittleness” of the existing food system. ESG and the earnings call (39:40) Most companies don’t directly address environmental, social and governance concerns on their quarterly earnings calls. That needs to change. Tensie Whelan, director of the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, offers tips for how companies can buck that trend most effectively.  Lyft drives toward electric vehicles (49:30) Ride-hailing service Lyft has committed to electrifying all of its cars by 2030. GreenBiz Senior Writer Katie Fehrenbacher has the scoop. *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere:  “4th Avenue Walkup,” “Arcade Montage,” “I’m Going for a Coffee,”  “Here’s the Thing” and “As I Was Saying” Happy 20th anniversary , GreenBiz.com! Virtual conversations Mark your calendar for these upcoming GreenBiz webcasts. Can’t join live? All of these events also will be available on demand. Supply chains and circularity. Join us at 1 p.m. EDT June 23 for a discussion of how companies such as Interface are getting suppliers to buy into circular models for manufacturing, distribution and beyond.  Fleet of clean fleet . Real-life lessons for trucking’s future. Sign up for the conversation at 1 p.m. EDT July 2. In conversation with former Unilever CEO Paul Polman . One of the most influential voices in sustainability joins Executive Editor Joel Makower at 1 p.m. EDT July 16 for a one-on-one conversation about redesigning business and commerce in the post-pandemic era to better address sustainability and social challenges. Resources galore State of the Profession. Our sixth report examining the evolving role of corporate sustainability leaders. Download it here . The State of Green Business 2020. Our 13th annual analysis of key metrics and trends published here . Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Katie Fehrenbacher Deonna Anderson Topics Podcast Transportation & Mobility Food & Agriculture Circular Economy Electric Vehicles Supply Chain Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 56:15 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 225: Lyft’s electrifying declaration, please open the windows

Episode 224: Biodiversity, climate tech and voices of clean energy equity

June 12, 2020 by  
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Episode 224: Biodiversity, climate tech and voices of clean energy equity Heather Clancy Fri, 06/12/2020 – 02:15 Week in Review Stories discussed this week. Leading the sustainability transformation Funding climate tech and entrepreneurs of color should go hand in hand How sustainability professionals can uplift the black community How on-demand delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food Features A new angel fund dedicated to decarbonization (18:50) Ramez Naam, futurist and board member for Seattle-based angel investor network E8 , chats about the new Decarbon-8 fund and why seeking racially diverse founders will be a priority. “Because if we are going to help some people build companies in this, and they’re going to profit, as the entrepreneurs should, we’d like some of that to go back into those people, in those communities,” he says.  Funding biodiversity (31:14) William Ginn, author of the new book ” Valuing Nature ,” talks with Associate Editor Deonna Anderson about ways the private sector can address biodiversity. Voices of the clean energy equity movement (48:25) GreenBiz Senior Analyst Sarah Golden shares highlights of conversations with Bartees Cox, director of marketing and communications at Groundswell , an organization that brings community solar to low-income customers; Alexis Cureton, former electric vehicle fellow at GRID Alternatives , which works to bring clean energy jobs and access to low-income communities; and Taj Eldridge, senior director of investment at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. *Music in this episode by Blue Dot Sessions, AdmiralBob 77, Stefan Kartenburg and Lee Rosevere: “Throughput,” “Our Fingers Cold” and “Hundred Mile — Atmospheric” (Blue Dot); “Two Guitars” (AdmiralBob 77); “The Vendetta,” “Guitale’s Happy Place” and “Arc de Triomphe” (Kartenburg); “Curiosity” and “I’m Going for a Coffee” (Rosevere) *This episode was sponsored by UPS. Virtual conversations Mark your calendar for these upcoming GreenBiz webcasts. Can’t join live? All of these events also will be available on demand. The future of risk assessment. Ideas for building a supply chain resilient to both short-term disruptions such as the pandemic and long-term risks such as climate change. Register here for the session at 1 p.m. EDT June 16. Supply chains and circularity. Join us at 1 p.m. EDT June 23 for a discussion of how companies such as Interface are getting suppliers to buy into circular models for manufacturing, distribution and beyond.  Fleet of clean fleet. Real-life lessons for trucking’s future. Sign up for the conversation at 1 p.m. EDT July 2. Resources galore State of the Profession. Our sixth report examining the evolving role of corporate sustainability leaders. Download it here . The State of Green Business 2020. Our 13th annual analysis of key metrics and trends published here . Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Deonna Anderson Sarah Golden Topics Podcast Energy & Climate Food & Agriculture Equity & Inclusion Environmental Justice Biodiversity Innovation Climate Tech Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 1:00:19 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 224: Biodiversity, climate tech and voices of clean energy equity

Episode 221: Mapping biodiversity, repair and the circular economy

May 22, 2020 by  
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Episode 221: Mapping biodiversity, repair and the circular economy Heather Clancy Fri, 05/22/2020 – 01:21 Week in Review Commentary on this week’s news highlights begins at 4:35. AB InBev VP: Our quest for “agile” sustainable development continues L et’s get together: Intel’s 2030 commitments include “shared” climate and social goals How coronavirus will affect 4 key environmental issues Features Esri and the science of corporate biodiversity (20:45) The sophistication of environmental monitoring tools continues to grow, with satellites, sensors and artificial intelligence all playing a role. We chat about potential business applications with Dawn Wright, chief scientist of geographic information systems software leader Esri.  Highlights from Circularity 20 Digital (32:45) Due to the pandemic, this week’s Circularity conference was postponed until August — when it will be held as a primarily virtual event . (Registration details here.) Here are some highlights from this week’s precursor, which featured an interview on the viability of reusable packaging, and two panel sessions — one on the future of recycled plastics in an age of cheap oil and one on the role of repair in circular economy strategies. TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky on what goes into a life cycle assessment for reusable packaging Dell Senior Vice President Ed Boyd on how designing for repair can dovetail with a broader circular economy strategy *This episode was sponsored by WestRock.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere and admiralbob77:  “Southside” and “Curiosity” (Lee Rosevere); “Two Guitars,” “Sax, Guitar and Organ at the Club” and “Confederation Line” (admiralbob77) Virtual Conversations Mark your calendar for these upcoming GreenBiz webcasts. Can’t join live? All of these events also will be available on demand. Scaling municipal fleets. Experts from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, ChargePoint, Smart City Columbus and the city of Oakland, California share tips at 1 p.m. EDT May 26.   This is climate tech. Join respected venture capitalists Nancy Pfund (DBL Partners), Andrew Beebe (Obvious Ventures) and Andrew Chung (1955 Capital) for a discussion at 1 p.m. EDT May 28 about compelling solutions and startups that address the climate crisis — and how big companies can play a role in scaling them. The future of risk assessment. Ideas for building a supply chain resilient to both short-term disruptions such as the pandemic and long-term risks such as climate change. Register here for the session at 1 p.m. EDT June 16. Resources galore State of the Profession. Our sixth report examining the evolving role of corporate sustainability leaders. Download it here . The State of Green Business 2020. Our 13th annual analysis of key metrics and trends published here . Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Topics Podcast Circular Economy Circularity 20 Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 42:41 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 221: Mapping biodiversity, repair and the circular economy

The decarbonization promise of indoor agriculture is still in the seed stage

May 22, 2020 by  
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The decarbonization promise of indoor agriculture is still in the seed stage Jim Giles Fri, 05/22/2020 – 01:18 Here’s a tale of two chefs. Both are based in the Midwest and both are preparing a Caesar salad. One uses lettuce shipped from where much of our lettuce is grown: The fields around Monterey, California. The other sources her greens from a nearby indoor farm. Out in Monterey, the farmer used diesel-powered machinery, pumped water, fertilizer and pesticides. At the indoor farm, precision systems provided the lettuce with exactly the amount of water and nutrients the crop requires — and no more. The pickers in California discarded lettuces that didn’t look perfect. That wasn’t an issue indoors: Conditions are so well controlled that almost all the crop met consumers’ exacting standards. Finally, when the crop was packed and ready, the indoor farmer drove 20 miles or so to drop the lettuce at our chef’s restaurant. The Monterey produce had to travel 2,000 miles. Which chef is preparing the more environmentally friendly salad? Let’s start with the bad news. The story above about indoor farming, a tale about a technology can produce dramatic environmental gains — it doesn’t hold true. The Monterey lettuce is currently the better bet, according to a new analysis from the WWF . For places that are food-insecure, this could be a real game-changer. The problem with indoor farming, also known as controlled environment agriculture, is the electric grid. Indoor farms use LEDs to light crops. In St. Louis, Missouri, the focus of the WWF study, two-thirds of electricity comes from fossil fuel plants that pump out health-damaging particulates and planet-warming carbon dioxide. The WWF team combined these and other impacts into a single score that captures total environmental harm. Lettuce grown in St. Louis greenhouses, which supplement LEDs with natural light, scored twice as high as the conventional crop. In a vertical farm lit entirely by LEDs, the difference was threefold. Now to the good news: Our chef who sources from a nearby indoor farm may not be making the best environmental choice today, but she likely will be soon. That’s partly because if we look beyond energy use, indoor ag delivers clear benefits. Indoor systems require little or even no pesticides and generate 80 percent less waste. They use less space, which can free up land for biodiversity. The WWF study found that precision indoor water systems use 1 liter of water to produce a kilogram of lettuce; for field-grown lettuce, the figure is 150 liters. Another reason is that indoor ag’s energy problem is likely to become less serious. Market forces are already adding renewables to the U.S. electricity mix and pushing out coal. Technology improvements in the pipeline also will cut energy use in indoor farms. PlantLab , a Netherlands-based startup, has developed an LED that’s more efficient in indoor ag settings because it emits light at the exact wavelengths used for photosynthesis. New crop varieties from Precision Indoor Plants , a public-private partnership that is developing seeds specifically for indoor use, may require less light to grow. This tech is at an early stage, which makes it tough to quantify future impact. But the data we do have shows that a combination of efficiency improvements and grid decarbonization can make indoor farms a much better environmental choice for some crops. Cutting energy use also will lower costs, making indoor farms competitive on price. It’s fascinating to speculate about what would happen if both these trends came to fruition. Indoor farms likely would diversify, for starters. At present, indoor farms in urban areas profitably can grow leafy greens but little else. If energy costs come down, cucumbers, berries and tomatoes also might make financial sense, suggests Julia Kurnik , director of innovation startups for WWF. When this project ends, key players will already be invested and ready to move ahead with building a pilot system that can be replicated worldwide … With more diverse output, the farms could become local hubs that would strengthen the food system’s resilience to extreme weather events and other shocks. “For places that are food-insecure, this could be a real game-changer,” Kurnik added. Venture capitalists already have seen this future; hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed to indoor farming companies in recent years. That’s essential if this industry is to grow, but it’s also great to see an organization such as the WWF in the mix. After studying the potential, the WWF has convened a diverse group of stakeholders to map out the expansion of indoor ag in St. Louis. In addition to business execs and investors, the group includes civic and community leaders. “By working as a group to make those decisions,” explains the report, “when this project ends, key players will already be invested and ready to move ahead with building a pilot system that can be replicated worldwide, making food production more environmentally sustainable.” I’ll certainly be keeping tabs on progress in St. Louis, and with indoor ag more generally. If you know of a particular project or related technology that deserves a mention, drop me an email at jg@greenbiz.com . This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter.  Sign up here  to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote For places that are food-insecure, this could be a real game-changer. When this project ends, key players will already be invested and ready to move ahead with building a pilot system that can be replicated worldwide … Topics Food & Agriculture Urban Agriculture 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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Episode 219: Water, workplaces and well-being

May 8, 2020 by  
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Episode 219: Water, workplaces and well-being Heather Clancy Fri, 05/08/2020 – 02:33 Week in Review Commentary on this week’s news highlights begins at 4:35. Why global engagement is essential to sustainable supply chains Sustainable infrastructure investments can aid the post-COVID recovery Two ways P&G is working toward its packaging goals Features Intel’s water world (16:25) In 2017, semiconductor and technology manufacturing giant Intel committed to restoring 100 percent of its global water use. This year on Earth Day, the company said it had reached a milestone of 1 billion gallons restored. Todd Brady, director of global public affairs and sustainability, discusses the projects that got it there.  Workplaces and well-being (31:15) Last week, three respected real estate companies — Cushman & Wakefield, Hines and Delos — announced an initiative intended to help companies begin the process of reconfiguring their offices to protect employees’ health as they return to work. Here to discuss the project is Paul Scialla, founder and CEO of Delos, which founded both the International Well Building Institute and the Well Building Standard. On the fringe … consumers (40:45) A highlight from our ” Seeing into the Future ” webcast, featuring sustainability marketing guru Suzanne Shelton. *This episode was sponsored by Villanova University.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere:  “Waiting for the Moment That Never Comes,” “Knowing the Truth,” “Southside,” “Start the Day,” “Thinking It Over,” “Curiosity” and “Introducing the Pre-Roll” Virtual Conversations Mark your calendar for these upcoming GreenBiz webcasts. Can’t join live? All of these events also will be available on demand. Moving to a regenerative food supply. Pioneering companies, NGOs and policymakers will discuss tracking technologies, regenerative agriculture projects and new collaborations that could make food systems more sustainable. Sign up here for the session at 1 p.m. EDT May 12. In conversation with John Elkington. Don’t miss this one-on-one interview featuring GreenBiz Executive Editor Joel Makower and well-respected sustainability consultant John Elkington, who recently published his 20th book, “Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism.” Register for the live event at 1 p.m. EDT May 14. Circularity goes digital.  You don’t have to wait until August for three great discussions on the circular economy . We’ll debate “Reusable Packaging in the Age of Contagion,” “Can Recycled Plastic Survive Low Oil Prices” and “Repair, Resilience and Customer Engagement.” Register here for our half-day event starting at 1 p.m. EDT May 18. Scaling municipal fleets. Experts from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, ChargePoint, Smart City Columbus and the city of Oakland, California share tips at 1 p.m. EDT May 26.   This is climate tech. Join respected venture capitalists Nancy Pfund (DBL Partners), Andrew Beebe (Obvious Ventures) and Andrew Chung (1955 Capital) for a discussion at 1 p.m. EDT May 28 about compelling solutions and startups that address the climate crisis — and how big companies can play a role in scaling them. Resources Galore The State of Green Business 2020.  Our 13th annual analysis of key metrics and trends for the year ahead  published here . Do we have a newsletter for you!  We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Topics Podcast Water Efficiency & Conservation COVID-19 Buildings COVID-19 Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 49:42 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 219: Water, workplaces and well-being

Now is a great time to optimize energy in buildings. You’d think.

May 8, 2020 by  
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Now is a great time to optimize energy in buildings. You’d think. Sarah Golden Fri, 05/08/2020 – 00:43 Despite being mostly empty, commercial real estate energy bills are mostly unchanged.  Commercial buildings in the United Kingdom have reduced energy consumption only by 16 percent on average during the pandemic, according to analysis from Carbon Intelligence . The worst-performing buildings are only achieving a 3 percent reduction, according to the analysis. Anecdotal evidence suggests similar numbers in the United States.  What a waste of time and money.  With occupancy so low and energy bills so high, there may never have been a more persuasive argument — or a better opportunity — to optimize buildings. You’d think.  The (missed) opportunity for capital upgrades  With buildings empty, service providers hungry for work and capital cheap, it seems a great time to bring buildings into the 21st century.  But as we’re still grasping the extent of the economic fallout, commercial real estate owners are cautious. “The financial smoke will have to clear before many people will put project capital at risk there,” explained Steve Gossett Jr., operating partner at Generate Capital, via email. “Most landlords are likely to husband cash rather than invest in their assets right now because they aren’t sure how functional the capital markets will be for real estate in the near future or how stable their tenants are.” In the short term, landlords are worried struggling companies will renegotiate leases or shift to a work-from-home model, requiring less office space writ large. The result: Commercial office spaces could become stranded assets, subject to write-downs and operating losses.  Being able to have this time to find these deeper problems and being able to address them will have long-term savings, even when the building becomes occupied again.   “In the past, before COVID, we’d say, ‘Oh, if you do these improvements you can increase your rental rates and you can have higher-quality tenants,’” said Marta Schantz, senior vice president of the Urban Land Institute’s Greenprint, an alliance of real estate owners and investors. “But now that case sounds tone-deaf to the market. If folks are worried about people even being able to pay their rent, they’re less focused on increasing rental rates and more on just getting rent.” To say the least, this is a missed opportunity. About half of all buildings were built before 1980 , and many are old, dumb and wasteful. The U.S. building stock accounts for about 40 percent of the emissions. And the technology exists to change that; buildings could be optimized and transformed to be a resource for the electric grid. Buildings could be cheaper to run, provide healthier spaces and become more resilient. What building owners can do now: tighten operations  As occupancy drops close to zero, some building operators have been surprised at how little change there has been in their energy consumption.  “In general, some clients probably have been surprised to find that parasitic loads were higher than expected,” said Kyle Goehring, executive vice president of clean energy solutions at JLL, in an email.  Simply reviewing systems and buildings presets can save energy and money, according to Schantz.  For example, facility managers could reduce the run time of HVAC systems (responsible for about 40 percent of energy consumption), turn off lights in unoccupied spaces (lighting is responsible for 20 percent of energy use) or unplug appliances that aren’t needed (which account for about 33 percent of buildings’ energy use). For more specific ideas, check out Schantz’s blog or GreenBiz’s coverage . Investment in critical infrastructure focused on digitization and efficiency will be absolutely key for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building resilience for the future. These ideas, which are of course important, sound like no-brainers. As the world is turned upside down, I’m craving a cataclysmic change, not energy efficiency 101.  But according to Schantz, the basics are revolutionary when facility managers never had time to examine operations in the before-time.  “I very much hope that as folks go through their buildings they will also find some red flags that they didn’t know existed,” she said. “Being able to have this time to find these deeper problems and being able to address them will have long-term savings, even when the building becomes occupied again.” The COVID-19 conundrum and financial solutions As people make sense of these crazy times, I often hear big ideas about how we could transform the future. As we emerge from this crisis, what type of world do we want to create? Simultaneously, it seems we’re also paralyzed by constantly constricting opportunities. The vanishing jobs, capital and resources are shifting mindsets to survival, not reinvention.  The good news is that the same financial mechanisms that allow building owners to upgrade without upfront costs are the same measures that would support broader economic development. This is especially true if the private sector partners with federal dollars to stretch capital further.  “Investment in critical infrastructure focused on digitization and efficiency will be absolutely key for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building resilience for the future,” wrote Kevin Self, senior vice president of strategy, business development and government relations at Schneider Electric, in an email.  Schneider Electric is one service organization providing financing structures to move along projects without upfront capital. These include energy-as-a-service and energy savings performance contracting.  “Not only does digitization support resilience and sustainability, it saves on cost,” wrote Self.  Schneider Electric is not the only organization offering financial solutions for energy upgrades. Service providers and startups have emerged in this space over the last 10 years, vying for companies’ potential energy savings. Other X-as-a-service organizations include Carbon Lighthouse , Sparkfund , Redaptive , Parity , Measurabl and Metrus .  While many of these service providers are likely working hard to navigate these turbulent months, the role they play will be more important than ever as we rebuild our future. This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe  here . Pull Quote Being able to have this time to find these deeper problems and being able to address them will have long-term savings, even when the building becomes occupied again. Investment in critical infrastructure focused on digitization and efficiency will be absolutely key for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building resilience for the future. Topics Energy & Climate Buildings COVID-19 Energy Efficiency COVID-19 Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Now is a great time to optimize energy in buildings. You’d think.

Yes, climate marches are working

July 5, 2019 by  
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If you’re on social media or watch the news, you probably noticed that protest marches have increased in incidence and popularity in this era of Trump. The President’s political and personal actions have sent the opposition out on the streets, including mass protests for issues from women’s rights to climate change and everything in between. Up until recently, social scientists believed aggressive protests alienate activists from potential supporters, but the massive popularity of recent climate marches have turned this idea on its head. The popularity of the People’s Climate March (2017) and Youth Climate Strike (2019) spurred participation from all walks of life and changed the stereotypical face of an activist to be– well, anyone. This critical shift may render marches one of the most powerful political tools. Trump’s election was a “blessing for the climate movement.” His anti-environment policies, like closing national parks and slashing the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, have galvanized the opposition and united groups that don’t agree on much except that Trump is terrible for the environment. Related: Climate change will push 120 million into poverty Climate fanatics have become likeable A new study from Penn State University examined public opinion before and after the March for Science and the Peoples’ Climate March, both in 2017, and found that unlike previous marches, these helped boost likability and support. So, what is different about climate activists? All of the nearly 600 people interviewed heard about the marches through the media, but did not attend. The results of the survey indicated that across political affiliation, participants reported that the activists were “less arrogant, less whiny and less eccentric” than other activists. Clearly, activists have a negative connotation in the minds of the American public, but something about these climate marchers was slightly different. Activists get a bad rep A widely cited study on activism from 2013 concluded that depending on the tactics, certain acts of civil disobedience lose supporters. For example, acts viewed aggressive, militant or wasteful (think: throwing red paint on a fur coat) mostly earn activists scorn— but not support. These feelings of scorn reduce peoples’ willingness “to adopt the behaviors that these activities promoted,” the research team from the University of Toronto reported . “If you were a bystander in 2017, if you were looking at the march, you’d see people of faith, labor unions, people of color and frontline communities,” the director of the People’s Climate Movement, Paul Getsos said about the March. “It wasn’t your typical kind of activist march; it counters the narrative that no one cares about climate change. If we were just mobilizing the usual activist base, I know for a fact it wouldn’t have had the same impact.” What is the point of marches? In general, the goal of a march is to inspire people to support the cause and to get government to act. In her article “ To have impact, the People’s Climate March needs to reach beyond activists ,” Jill Hopkes argued the goal of marches needed to be to gain attention and support from people who did not already support the cause. Garnering this far-reaching impact is incredibly important and it’s where marches can get it right or get it wrong. Surprisingly, survey respondents of the University of Tornoto study, who identify as conservative, reported an increase in what researchers call “collective efficacy.” This means an increase in their belief that together, we can solve the climate crisis . Climate marches, because of their palatability and sheer numbers, may make a difference in terms of gaining supporters across the aisle, but will that lead to action? In an op-ed for Grist, Director of Climate Justice for the Center for Popular Democracy, Aura Vasquez, argued that this intentionality to reach not only across aisles but across cultures is critical. “It’s about sending a message of unity that crosses color lines and income scales. It’s about demonstrating the diversity of the climate movement, the diversity that gives us our strength,” wrote Vasquez. Related: Polls show climate change is a determining issue for 2020 elections The Climate Movement started at Standing Rock Aura Vasquez also makes sure to give credit where credit is due, citing: “Standing Rock is when the movement truly bloomed, bringing together thousands of people from every corner of the country to block a pipeline that threatens ancient water sources and blatantly disregards treaties with sovereign First Nation.” As the protests at Standing Rock bubbled and grew into something larger than just a small sect of activists, the indigenous-led movement began to make “a powerful argument that wove together environmental, racial and economic justice, water protectors were able to attract both die-hard climate activists and allies brand-new to the cause,” said Vasquez. From there, the momentum for the climate and science marches grew. Suddenly, with over 300 marches throughout the country, the climate movement became something that everyone could get involved with, even those who weren’t militant (or privileged) enough to skip out on work and fly to North Dakota to protest a pipeline. Inclusive tactics will reach non-believers Researchers and critics of general marches have suggestions for how the activists can be more inclusive and effective, including more carefully selecting who is the face of the protest and what messages they use in order to avoid the “whiny, arrogant and eccentric” stereotype. Seasoned environmentalists may have thought people would join their fight when the science came out over 30 years ago that fossil fuels were altering the climate. But the truth is that emissions have gotten drastically worse. It’s clear, then, that facts from scientists might convince some, but they aren’t enough to sway the public. Climate Outreach suggests that the visuals used by both the media and the activists themselves also have a role to play in their reputation and supporters they attract. According to the climate communication advisors, visuals that show the negative impacts of climate change alongside positive solutions help people understand the gravity of the crisis. Climate Outreach also encourages “careful use” of protest imagery, since many people still do not identify with activism. However, to the extent that protest images show diversity and unification– rather than aggression– this new research indicates these images may be the turning point toward finally achieving political action, together. Via Grist Images via Mark Dixon, NiklasPntk , filmbetrachterin

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Yes, climate marches are working

Supreme Court will make historic Clean Water Act ruling

March 4, 2019 by  
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This Fall, the Supreme Court will make a monumental decision on whether the Clean Water Act prohibits groundwater pollution. The upcoming case is in response to a 2018 verdict in Hawaii, which ruled that a wastewater facility needed a Clean Water Act permit to inject treated wastewater into ground wells. The ruling will have national implications about what constitutes direct water pollution with two possible and controversial outcomes: either creating a massive loophole for major polluters or drastically expanding the Clean Water Act to include infinite sources of non-direct pollution. “This is the most significant environmental law case in the last few year,” former Head of the Justice Department’s Environment Division, John Cruden, told E&E News . First, what is groundwater? According to the U.S. Geological Survey , ground water is water that is beneath land surface. It is water that fills pores and fractures in sand, soil and rocks. Groundwater supplies 40 percent of water used by the public and 39 percent of water used in U.S. agriculture. It also feeds into bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers and the ocean. Related: Compensation for conservation: water markets are economists’ answer to scarcity What is the Clean Water Act? Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has been the main federal law governing the health of the country’s waterways. The Clean Water Act explicitly covers all navigable bodies of water. This definition has been up to judicial interpretation, but widely includes ocean, rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands, arguably including bodies of water that fill after heavy rains. The Clean Water Act channels federal funding to state and Tribal governments for water protection and remediation projects. Direct polluters are also required by the Act to obtain permits for any pollution discharged into bodies of water. The pollution case in Hawaii Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility in Maui was in violation of the Clean Water Act and needed a permit for its ongoing practice of injecting 3 to 5 million gallons of treated wastewater into the ground every day. In 2011, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study used tracer dye to prove that treated sewage was seeping out into coastal waters near Kahekili Beach. In 2012, a coalition of environmental advocacy organizations sued the treatment facility in order to protect nearshore coral reef. In 2018, the Court determined that because of its traceability, this case was considered direct pollution and therefore required a Clean Water Act permit. “If the Supreme Court reverses the lower courts’ decisions, chemical plants, concentrated animal feeding operations, oil refineries, and other industrial facilities would effectively have free rein to discharge pollutants indirectly into the nation’s waterways without Clean Water Act permits,” Earth Justice said in a statement reported in USA Today . However, the County of Maui argues that this is their most environmentally friendly option given limited resources and that they would need more time and funding to explore alternate methods of disposing of wastewater, such as offshore facilities.The County believes such issues should be determined at a local level, where judges understand the constraints. “We all want unpolluted waters, healthy coral and fish. But we want workable solutions, not onerous and costly government red tape. This is a home-rule issue that should be addressed here, not by far-off regulators imposing rules that don’t properly address our real world problems,” Maui County spokesperson Brian Perry said to the Lahaina News . Have other courts ruled on groundwater pollution? This is not the first time a local court has had to make a decision on indirect versus direct groundwater pollution and the Clean Water Act. In fact, USA today reports that in 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in South Carolina ruled that an oil spill from a burst pipeline was in violation of the Clean Water Act because the oil seeped through groundwater and entered bodies of water such as the Savannah River. However, in 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Kentucky ruled that pollutants from a coal ash pond that entered groundwater was not in violation of the Clean Water Act because groundwater does not fall under “navigable waters”. The Supreme Court has important decisions to make both about state versus federal jurisdiction and also about the possibilities of discharging pollution into groundwater. If the Supreme Court rules against the local decision, environmentalists believe this would give polluters free reign to contaminate the country’s important water sources. If it upholds the local decision, municipalities worry they will be inundated with costly changes to infrastructure as well as open targets for lawsuits for everything from road runoff to leaky water fountains. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the County of Maui, Hawaii versus Hawaii Wildlife Fund in October or November, 2019. Via The Lahaina News Image via Shutterstock

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Supreme Court will make historic Clean Water Act ruling

Survey Results: Will You Embrace Sustainable Eating?

December 26, 2018 by  
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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s … The post Survey Results: Will You Embrace Sustainable Eating? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Survey Results: Will You Embrace Sustainable Eating?

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