Heated plastic baby bottles release millions of microplastics in formula

October 21, 2020 by  
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A new study published in the journal Nature Food has revealed that babies around the world are consuming over 1.5 million microplastics each day. According to the study, microplastics are released in large quantities in baby plastic bottles, especially when the bottles are heated. But heating formula in the bottle is standard practice in preparing formula, and a majority of bottles on the market are plastic. While the study has proven beyond doubt that plastic bottles are releasing microplastics, the researchers said that there is no need for alarm yet. According to Philipp Schwabl, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna who has also researched microplastics, parents should not be worried until more information is available. According to a report released by the World Health Organization last year, there is not sufficient evidence to show that microplastics are harmful to humans . Related: New study finds microplastics in fruits and vegetables “At the moment, there is no need to be afraid,” Schwabl said. “But it is an open question and definitely an unmet [research] need.” The study authors found that about 82% of all baby bottles sold globally are made out of polypropylene. Researchers reviewed 10 types of plastic baby bottles. When they were used to prepare infant formula, it was revealed that all 10 bottles released microplastics and nanoplastics. The infant formula was prepared according to the World Health Organization guidelines, which state that powdered formula should be mixed with water heated to about 158°F. The researchers concluded that the release of microplastics is heat-sensitive. “What’s happening is that there’s an interaction between the [plastic] polymer and the water. It’s almost like flaking of the surface of the actual plastic itself,” said John Boland, a professor of chemistry and materials science researcher at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland and one of the authors of the study. At the temperature of 158°F, most bottles released between 1 million and 16 million microplastics per liter. Further, the bottles also released millions of nanoplastics. The researchers said that more research needs to be done and more data collected to determine the exact effect of these plastic particles on babies and adults. + Nature Food Via NPR Image via Tung256

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Oil companies use cooling technology to continue Arctic drilling

October 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Big oil companies are now turning to technology to protect their business from the effects of climate change. Companies that have been exploring the Arctic for oil drilling are now fighting with the effects of thawing and unstable permafrost. However, even the impacts on their infrastructure are not enough to stop these companies from exploring further. While they might have to pay more to steady their infrastructure, many fossil fuel companies are now developing and using technology to keep permafrost from melting in order to continue drilling. ConocoPhillips is one of the leading oil companies exploring for oil in the Arctic. The company developed special technology that would prevent permafrost — upon which its infrastructure is anchored — from melting. With plans to pump 160,000 more barrels of crude oil daily from its new project in Alaska’s North Slope, the company had to find a way of retaining its resources in the fast-melting region. So ConocoPhillips developed devices that will cool the ground beneath its structures . Related: Arctic permafrost already thawing at a rate not expected until 2090 Many would expect that due to the visible effects of climate change in the Arctic, the government would bar oil companies from further drilling. However, the Trump administration has made it even easier for oil corporations to expand into protected regions. While other countries are also advancing oil exploration in the region, the U.S. has gone so far as to finalize plans to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. The plans include allowing companies to operate at Teshekpuk Lake, a unique and important habitat that is also used by local Indigenous communities for fishing and hunting. While the U.S. government is promoting oil exploration in the Arctic, those who rely on these natural ecosystems are already feeling the pain of climate change. Last year, fishing crews in Utqiagvik had to wait several weeks longer than usual for the arrival of bowhead whales due to rising temperatures. Given that the community relies on the whales for their diet, continued exploration may mean that the locals will face food scarcity in the future. As locals struggle to deal with the changes caused by greenhouse gases , oil companies are changing their tactics to be able to continue drilling, which only worsens climate change and its detrimental impacts on the Arctic. Via The Guardian Image via Florence D.

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Oil companies use cooling technology to continue Arctic drilling

New study finds eco-glitter just as damaging as ordinary glitter

October 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Bad news for those of us who love sparkly stuff. Even though you thought you were saving the world one reflective particle at a time, that orange eco-glitter you sprinkled on your Halloween craft project isn’t any easier on rivers and lakes than conventional glitter. Despite the promises and inflated price tag, biodegradable glitter ends up the same way as old-school glitter — wreaking havoc on aquatic ecosystems. Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge, U.K. ran tests to compare ordinary glitter with “eco” glitter. “Glitter is a ready-made microplastic that is commonly found in our homes and, particularly through cosmetics, is washed off in our sinks and into the water system,” said Dannielle Green , a senior lecturer in biology at ARU. “Our study is the first to look at the effects of glitter in a freshwater environment and we found that both conventional and alternative glitters can have a serious ecological impact on aquatic ecosystems within a short period of time.” Related: Scientists call for a worldwide ban on the global hazard of glitter Regular glitter is made from PET plastic. Eco-glitter comes in a couple of varieties. One type is made from eucalyptus-sourced modified regenerated cellulose (MRC) with a reflective aluminum coating and thin plastic layer. The other main type of eco-glitter is made from mica, that shiny mineral often used in cosmetics. In the ARU study, researchers spent 5 weeks observing how traditional, MRC and mica glitters affected an aquatic ecosystem. They were especially interested in how glitter influenced chlorophyll and root levels of plants . All three types of glitter yielded similarly negative results. Worse, the eco-glitter attracted New Zealand mud snails, an invasive species that steals food from local species. Sixty U.K. festivals had already announced a switch to biodegradable glitter by 2021. But this new research threatens to steal the sparkle from eco-conscious party people and render an already bleak 2020 even drabber. The U.K. supermarket chain Morrisons is axing glitter from its own brand before Christmas. So don’t expect any sparkle on your holiday cards, ornaments and present bags. If you just can’t handle ditching glitter entirely, try making your own with sugar or salt and non-toxic, natural food coloring. Via The Guardian Image via Sharon McCutcheon

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New study finds eco-glitter just as damaging as ordinary glitter

Artist creates mesmerizing paintings using coal pollution from local streams

October 15, 2020 by  
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You gaze at a vibrant collision of color. Are you looking at the Earth? Is this bacteria under a microscope? Is it a distant galaxy through the lens of a telescope? Or could it be a rainbow of unique pigments created from none other than a stream of coal mine pollution? As it turns out, this series of art by John Sabraw reflects many meanings, and it symbolizes a deep commitment to the planet. You see, the art is in fact made using pigments derived from the iron oxide in acid mine drainage. In beautiful southeastern Ohio, an area lush with trees and rolling hills dotted with small towns throughout, defunct  coal mines  have left their mark on the environment years after their closures. But a group of artists, engineers and dedicated community members are finding ways to clean up the pollution and turn it into something meaningful. A stream of pollution Back around 2007,  Sabraw , an artist and professor at Ohio University, began working with a local environmental group after years of working with environmentalists and scientists on various projects. The group, called Kanawha, toured southeastern Ohio, and Sabraw was instantly struck by the smelly, red-orange  pollution  in many of the region’s streams.  Related: #degrowth art series exposes greenwashing in the food industry “This is mainly iron oxide, that is the heavy metal polluting the  stream ,” Sabraw told Inhabitat. “Most of the earth-based pigments I use are made of iron oxide, so I took some with me and played with them in the studio. This is the first time I started thinking this could be turned into pigments or paint product.” As it turns out, another Ohio University professor,  Guy Riefler , was already using his skills as an environmental engineer to turn the iron oxide from the acid mining drainage into paint. The two professors connected and began working on a new project together that would both create a viable product and clean up the streams: a win-win. What is acid mine drainage? But where is all of this iron oxide coming from, and why is it a problem? “It comes from abandoned and improperly sealed coal mines,” Sabraw explained. There are many abandoned  coal mines  not just throughout southeastern Ohio but around the world. When it rains, water leaches into these underground mines, where it picks up heavy metals before finding its way to the surface and draining into aquatic habitats. “ Aquatic life  is very sensitive to pH. They want to be around 7 pH or even lower on occasion, but acidic water is around pH 2 to pH 4,” Sabraw said. “They can’t live in that environment. The second thing is iron oxide gets to the surface of the water and is activated by sunlight. There is more oxygen in the atmosphere. Instead of dissolving, the iron becomes crystalized onto the creekbed. That covered creekbed inhibits growth; very few things can live in that.” Saving aquatic life That’s what makes the project so crucial. Removing the iron oxide will help return the streams to their natural state, where aquatic life can thrive. With iron oxide present, you’re unlikely to find any  fish  swimming around in these streams. So Sabraw, Riefler and groups of volunteers visit Appalachian streams to collect iron oxide and turn it into something useful. On a small scale, they go collect the iron oxide deposits on creek beds, then wash and purify it before neutralizing the acidity. The result? A product that is over 98% pure iron oxide with very few contaminants. The iron oxide is cooked at extremely high temperatures to remove any remaining biomatter. They are also working on  building a multi-million dollar facility  that can mimic this collection and purification process on a much larger scale. In fact, the goal is to produce pigments that they can sell to generate enough money to cover the cost of pollution cleanups. Another goal is to insert pumps in the old mines that will access the iron oxide before it ever leaves the source. Clean, safe water will then be returned to the streams and creeks. Cleaning up for the community There can sometimes be a disconnect between the  local community  and those affiliated with the university. But luckily, that hasn’t been the case with this project. Sabraw, Riefler and their team hope the planned facility will create local jobs and clean up the streams, where families can fish and play. The facility will double as an educational center and will include a wetland sculpture park that will even display the impacts of climate change, particularly during seasonal flooding. The local response has been overwhelmingly positive. “[These communities] remember when they played in clean creeks and fished for dinner. They remember it changing, becoming orange and acidic; they’d jump in to swim and come out with orange underwear,” Sabraw said. “This is not some place that they are skipping in to do a job and leave. This is home, this is heart.” Their work has also garnered international attention. “More than anything else, artists want to know how they can do something similar, take the ability to think differently, spatially, and apply it to issues in our world.” Pollution becomes art Sabraw has used the iron oxide pigments in his own series of  artworks , which feature mesmerizing, swirling patterns of color confined within circles. Aside from the direct inspiration from the polluted streams, Sabraw approaches his work with a sustainable mindset. “We are in a critical era,” Sabraw told Inhabitat. “There’s no time left to decide that we want to work to consciously and purposefully create a sustainable future for humans on this planet. My concerns surround the ways I can attack this myself and open my abilities up to other experiences and ideas to collectively create a new way of living on the planet together.” The art showcases how many things on this planet are happening simultaneously to create “a sense of wonder, openness and also mystery and a question of purpose.” Making a difference one stream at a time Beyond the art, Sabraw and Riefler hope the project expands beyond the borders of Ohio and across not just the country but the globe. While streams worldwide may have varying chemistries, the  technology  could be applied to abandoned mines everywhere. If you’re sitting there wondering whether or not to focus your own work on sustainability, Sabraw says, without a doubt, to do so. “There’s a funny phrase that if you are the smartest person in a room, you are in the wrong room. I’ve never been in the wrong room. I’m not the smartest guy ever. Artists need to decide they can be in a space that is uncomfortable and still have a major impact on how things happen.” + John Sabraw Photography by Ashley Stottlemyer, Ben Siegel, John Sabraw and Gamblin via John Sabraw

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Artist creates mesmerizing paintings using coal pollution from local streams

Scientists search for cause of mass marine die-off in Russia

October 14, 2020 by  
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Massive deaths of marine life off of the Russian Pacific Coast have left many scientists baffled. At the beginning of October, thousands of dead sea creatures were spotted along the eastern coast, after they had been pushed on the shoreline by waves. Although environmental experts have already ruled out human activity as a cause, they are still investigating other possibilities. Among the dead ocean creatures are octopuses, crabs and sea urchins. The organisms were found washed up on Khalaktyrsky Beach, which is a popular surfing destination. This week, Russian environmental officials revealed that the water where the deaths occurred has excess amounts of phosphate ion, iron and phenol. But where this pollution originated is still a puzzle to scientists. Related: Botswana elephant deaths caused by cyanobacteria At the same time, environmental officials are still trying to assess the full extent of the damage. There are fears that more dead fish and other marine life could be found in other areas. Speaking to ABC News, Elena Sakirko of Greenpeace revealed that signs of trouble have also been observed farther north. We published the first results of sample analysis collected in Kamchatka where the massive die-off of benthic marine organisms happened. #SaveKamchatka pic.twitter.com/0qLeoG5RZO — Greenpeace Russia (@greenpeaceru) October 14, 2020 The most affected areas are Avacha Bay to the south and Cape Nalychev to the north. Scientists who examined the impacted waters said that about 95% of sea creatures to the depth of 15 meters have died. But local environmental officials are suggesting that the deaths are a natural occurrence. Several theories have arisen to try and explain the mass die-off. Some experts suggest that the marine organisms may have died due to a poisonous algal bloom , while others suggest that the event might have been caused by seismic activity. It is common for seismic activities in the region in question, as it is a volcanically active area. Sakirko said that it is too early to rule out any theories, including that the deaths could be caused by human activity. For now, scientists and environmental officials must continue investigations to determine the exact cause of the deaths. Via ABC News Image via Valery Balievich

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To keep going during these difficult times, remember to float

October 12, 2020 by  
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To keep going during these difficult times, remember to float Chris Gaither Mon, 10/12/2020 – 01:45 A couple of years ago, desperate for fitness and community, I joined the master’s swim program at my local pool. I churned up and down the lanes a few mornings a week, and I grew faster and faster, especially on the sprints. Turns out these big feet of mine, size 13 with fallen arches, propel me beautifully through the water. “What a great kick you have,” my teammates would say. And on the next lap I’d kick even harder, arriving at the wall panting and grinning. My coach moved me into the fast lane, and my ego swelled. But on longer distances, I fell apart. To go faster, I must stop working so hard. To maintain my energy, I must embrace ease. To keep going, I must remember to float. I’d start off well enough, keeping pace with lifelong swimmers such as Susan and Sarah. Then, a few laps in, I’d falter. I’d fall so far behind that I’d have to occasionally pause at the wall, embarrassed, to let the leaders pass me. I’d tell myself to work harder. Get those feet moving. Kick more ferociously. One day, as I again dropped behind, my coach began shouting at me from the deck. I couldn’t hear her over my exertions. She yelled louder. “Chris!” she said. “You are kicking too hard!” After the workout, she explained that a strong kick is effective during sprints, but over-kicking on endurance swims slows us down. Our big leg muscles require a lot of oxygen, so we run out of gas quickly. When you kick more lightly, she said, you maintain your energy. So, you can keep going. To prove her point, she had me practice floating. I lay still, face down, arms extended. I relaxed, felt my muscles soften, a sense of peace settling over me. Then, from that place of ease, I began to swim. It felt so different. My strokes were calmer, more efficient. Instead of fighting the water, I allowed it to support my body then slip past me. I understood what the coach was teaching me: To go faster, I must stop working so hard. To maintain my energy, I must embrace ease. To keep going, I must remember to float. It’s 2020, the year that won’t end, and I suspect that many of you, like me, are trying to kick so hard through this pandemic. Everything feels difficult right now. As I write, we are slogging through our seventh month of sheltering in place. More than 210,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus, and it has spread all the way to the White House. Fires continue to ravage the West. Here in Oakland, California, I wake up many mornings to the sight and acrid taste of smoke, visceral reminders of the climate emergency. The poor air quality has kept me off the hiking trails and out of the pool, depriving me, like so many Californians, of the chance to heal our psyches in nature. There is so much to process. So much to do. So much to repair. Earlier in the pandemic, my writing and my work with leaders and their teams buoyed me. I felt a prolonged surge of energy — purpose, focus, a calling to serve others, motivation to create. Those desires feel much fainter now, dim outlines I see through a haze of fatigue, loneliness and sadness. I’ve been trying to muscle through it. Even as I’ve helped my clients notice where they are resisting their current reality, asking them to strip away the non-essential tasks and honoring what they most need right now, I’ve been taking on more responsibilities. I’m kicking so hard in all aspects of my life: as an executive leadership coach, business owner, father, son, romantic partner, friend, citizen, environmentalist, learner, writer. It’s exhausting. I’d been trying to write this latest Sustainable You column for weeks. My intention was to explore the importance of identifying our purpose and letting it shine through in our jobs. Purpose is one of my favorite coaching topics, one I’ve taught in workshops at the Robins Air Force Base and X, the Moonshot Factory, and with individual clients at Apple, Google, Levi Strauss and more. Following my purpose is also what led me to create a coaching practice focused on supporting environmental and social-impact leaders. Yet I just couldn’t get it right. I’d captured pages of notes, blocked off time to write, done Pomodoro timer sessions , unleashed a tangle of thoughts. It just wasn’t coming together, no matter how hard I tried. Then, as I was hiking in redwoods during a break from the smoke, I remembered my swim coach’s instructions. I started asking myself: Where in my life am I trying too hard? Where can I start from a place of ease? Where can I kick more lightly? Where can I float? I started asking myself: Where in my life am I trying too hard? Where can I start from a place of ease? Where can I kick more lightly?   I decided to begin here, with you. I’ll be back next month with that essay about purpose. But for now, I invite you to join me in the water. Wade in and relax. Feel what it’s like to be you, in your body, in this very moment. You don’t need to be strong right now. You don’t need to work so hard. Be still. Let the water hold you. In a few minutes, you will begin swimming again. Set an intention to do that with ease. Whatever you have planned for today, for this week, bring a sense of flow to it. Kick lightly and notice what happens. But for now, let’s stay together for a while. Let’s be here in the water, serene. Let’s float. Pull Quote To go faster, I must stop working so hard. To maintain my energy, I must embrace ease. To keep going, I must remember to float. I started asking myself: Where in my life am I trying too hard? Where can I start from a place of ease? Where can I kick more lightly? Topics Leadership Health & Well-being Featured Column Sustainable You Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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To keep going during these difficult times, remember to float

Beyond emissions: The life of a carbon molecule

October 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Beyond emissions: The life of a carbon molecule David Parham Mon, 10/12/2020 – 01:30 Carbon is everywhere. Carbon atoms flow through all living organisms, from the atmosphere to the earth to the oceans and back again. But carbon is also moving constantly through the global economy, which historically has been powered by burning fossil fuels for energy. As a result, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions have risen dramatically since the industrial revolution, presenting a daunting array of challenges for people, planet and prosperity. As the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases (GHGs), CO2 plays an outsize role in global climate change — for example, it accounted for 81 percent of U.S. emissions in 2018. If human activity, including economic activity, is the primary driver of global warming, it only makes sense that an effective solution must start with changing that behavior. But how does one go about shifting the actions of thousands of businesses around the world? The critical role of emissions data First, let’s be clear: Measuring GHG emissions is incredibly important. GHG emissions are what directly contribute to global temperature rise and are therefore the ultimate target of any action to combat climate change. As a result, this data informs policy decisions, shapes more effective regulation and helps scientists and other experts understand trends and evaluate potential solutions. Metrics that focus on the direct levers available to a company — and measure how the company is using them — provide actionable data to management and decision-useful information to a firm’s investors. GHG emission data also helps business monitor the effectiveness of mitigation strategies, and it helps investors understand broadly how the systemic risk across their portfolio is distributed among exposure to emitters (Scope 1 emissions), energy users (Scope 2) and companies with significant supply chain or use-phase impacts (Scope 3). The value of GHG emissions data to these users is incalculable. However, at the end of the day, we don’t just want to observe the needle — we want to move it. And, especially when it comes to indirect emissions, that often requires a targeted approach — one that explores the important interconnections between the many points along the carbon value chain. Identifying the levers of influence So, how do we catalyze an evolution of carbon-related economic activity all over the world? As with most things in economics, the answer starts with incentives. Companies understand that financial success and thriving markets go hand-in-hand, so they’re naturally inclined to care about how climate change affects their customers, employees, suppliers, communities and more. But caring about an issue and managing it effectively are very different things. Effective risk management is often a function of the degree of control or influence a company has over the risk. With GHG emissions, that is a straightforward proposition for direct emitters. For everyone else, it can get significantly more complicated. According to an analysis of CDP data , just seven industries account for 85 percent of direct Scope 1 emissions. That means a lot of companies — and, indeed, entire industries — need to identify levers of influence that align with their operations, business models and value creation strategies. The questions companies must ask themselves are, “What business opportunities are inherent in this rapidly changing competitive landscape?” “What are the risks if we ignore climate change?” And, “What levers can we pull to help mitigate these risks, realize the opportunities and help society achieve its emission reduction goals?” Accordingly, the indicators companies use to measure and manage performance must capture these risks and opportunities, which often vary from one industry to the next. The microeconomic decisions such metrics enable can exert strong influence on emissions while simultaneously contributing to enterprise value creation. For companies, investors and the planet, it’s win-win. Figure 1. The Life of a Carbon Molecule through the Value Chain Moving along the value chain To illustrate, it may be helpful to trace the life of a carbon molecule through the value chain and explore the specific operational or product-design decisions that might be made at each stage. (See Figure 1, above.) Let’s start with the “emitters,” such as oil and gas companies and utilities. For these businesses, Scope 1 emissions data is actionable business intelligence. This is because they face potentially significant financial risks directly related to their emissions, including from existing or anticipated regulations to limit emissions, restrict or mandate specific energy sources, establish a price on carbon or other measures. Although, in many cases, these companies may pass their increased operating costs or capital expenditures on to customers, this can dampen demand, especially as alternative energy sources and technologies become increasingly competitive. But where direct emitters are in the driver’s seat in managing direct GHG emissions, companies further down the value chain have very different levers of influence. Take energy consumers, for example, such as the industrial machinery and goods industry, which manufactures equipment for a variety of industries, including engines, earthmoving equipment, trucks, tractors, ships, industrial pumps, locomotives and turbines. A company in this industry may benefit from measuring its emissions, but the financial risks it faces are more directly related to other issues: energy pricing and availability; fuel-economy standards; and materials sourcing. By measuring and managing its performance on these industry-specific issues, the company can reduce its own financial and operational risks and exert significant influence on emissions in a variety of ways, including the following: Action Influence on Emissions Financial Impact More energy-efficient manufacturing Reduces upstream emissions from generation Lowers manufacturing costs More fuel-efficient vehicles Reduces downstream emissions during use phase Increases revenue by meeting consumer demand Designing products that minimize the use of critical materials or that may be easily recycled Reduces upstream emissions associated with extractive activities Saves raw materials costs Finally, as another example, automakers face a similar challenge in that the bulk of their emissions are associated with the use-phase of their products — which falls outside their direct control. Nevertheless, a car manufacturer has an important lever of influence in designing products that meet high standards for fuel economy or in diversifying its set of product offerings to increasingly feature zero-emission vehicles. As consumer preferences shift, this approach enables automobile companies to capture market share while also addressing both downstream (use-phase) and upstream emissions (by decreasing the demand-side “pull”). The value of industry specificity As these simple, hypothetical examples demonstrate, companies can face different emissions-influencing decisions depending on the activities in which they are involved or the products they produce. Of course, reality is always messier. For example, when a company is involved in an array of activities or produces a wide range of products, aggregate emissions data can get especially unwieldy. Similarly, companies face different risks related to indirect emissions in their supply chain versus those that result from the use of their products. For these firms and their investors, only industry-specific metrics can help them tease apart the relative contributions of business functions and inform an effective risk management strategy. This dynamic is reflected in how we approach climate-related disclosure at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Although our standards call for direct emitters to disclose their Scope 1 emissions in 22 industries, we also identify other industry-specific levers of influence. Applying our evidence-based, market-informed standard-setting process to each of 77 industries, we’ve identified metrics associated with the key operational or product-design decisions most likely to influence indirect emissions — topics such as materials sourcing, energy usage, product energy-efficiency and end-of-life management. Because the financial implications of each of these decisions are different, rolling them up into a single indirect emissions metric does not give investors insight into how a company is adapting its operations, business strategy and/or product mix to address climate-related risks and opportunities. Although a single indirect emissions metric may not account for this complexity, measuring factors that affect indirect emissions that are under a company’s direct control helps align incentives and drive mutually beneficial outcomes. For example, consider the financial impact of regulations designed to reduce tailpipe emissions at two points along the value chain (see bottom of Figure 1): The auto manufacturer is likely to face financial risks and opportunities related to regulations targeting the fuel economy of its products. The company can manage this risk at least in part by changing its product mix toward increasingly fuel-efficient or zero-emission vehicles, lowering use-phase emissions. At the other end of the value chain, the financial risk to the oil and gas company is several steps removed. Increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles likely would reduce the use of refined products, which would lower demand for hydrocarbons, which would decrease oil prices, which would impact the resiliency of the company’s reserves, which would impair the value of the assets on its balance sheet, which finally would put downward pressure on its stock price. The company could respond by investing in lower-cost, more resilient reserves or diversifying its business model toward alternative or renewable forms of energy — both metrics in the SASB Standard for this industry. While the ultimate effect is to reduce tailpipe emissions, the levers of control available to companies at different points in the value chain differ. SASB focuses on measuring the industry-specific factor that is most relevant to the financial impact at each point. And because these decisions and impacts are connected through the value chain, in both cases effective management of the issue would support both financial risk-return objectives and emissions mitigation goals. Conclusion The life of a carbon molecule is complicated but important. The point at which a molecule of carbon leaves the value chain and enters the atmosphere as CO2 is driven by a complex and interrelated set of financial drivers. At each point in the value chain, these incentives and the business decisions that result, have significant implications for both upstream and downstream emissions. Such complex systems-level problems require comprehensive solutions, and SASB standards offer an important set of industry-specific metrics that complement existing, widely used measures for indirect emissions. As a leading contributor to climate change, GHG emissions pose obvious threats to human health, infrastructure, natural resources, energy security and even international order. They also create daunting challenges for business. A landmark 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested the price tag of unchecked climate change will run from $54 trillion to $69 trillion. Similarly, a 2019 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that under a “business as usual” scenario, global GDP would drop by 7.2 percent per capita by 2100. Clearly, it’s critical for the world to have access to complete, reliable and timely GHG emissions data. But it’s not enough to simply know how much closer we’re getting to the iceberg; we also need to turn the ship’s wheel. Metrics that focus on the direct levers available to a company — and measure how the company is using them — provide actionable data to management and decision-useful information to a firm’s investors. As a result, they help mobilize global capital markets toward a future in which business can optimize its impacts and offer solutions at scale.  To learn more about SASB’s approach to climate-related disclosure, watch the recording of the recent Climate Week webinar  “Accelerating Change through ESG Disclosure.” Pull Quote Metrics that focus on the direct levers available to a company — and measure how the company is using them — provide actionable data to management and decision-useful information to a firm’s investors. Topics Carbon Removal ESG 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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Beyond emissions: The life of a carbon molecule

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

October 6, 2020 by  
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In its ongoing efforts to introduce imaginative public spaces into cities, New York-based Ballman Khapalova has unveiled a proposal to turn a section of the Tiber River into a new vital center for public life in Rome dubbed the Piazza Tevere. The proposed location is a perfectly rectangular area of the river between the Ponte Giuseppe Mazzini and the Ponte Sisto that is also the same size and proportion as the Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium known as the first and largest stadium in Ancient Rome. To activate the river banks, sections of the river flood walls would be extended out into an alternating stepped profile that would expand public space at street level and make room to house equipment used for activities at the river promenade below. The Piazza Tevere design takes inspiration from Michelangelo’s cornice at the Palazzo Farnese, one of Rome’s most important High Renaissance palaces known for its rich ornamentation. Related: New resilient waterfront park helps protect NYC from storm surges “The creation of an inhabitable cornice at the top of the Tiber’s flood walls allows for the energy of the city to extend into the realm of the river,” the architects said of their proposal to horizontally extend portions of the flood wall into cornice-inspired ledges. “The Tiber, which currently divides Rome physically and experientially, becomes a place where the city can now come together. The rhythm of the cornice follows the city fabric on either side of the river, with Michelangelo’s uncompleted Farnese bridge forming the only alignment across the Tiber.” Extending sections of the flood walls would create space for amphitheater seating, fountains and Roman courtyard-inspired gardens to cultivate a greater connection between the street level and the water. The cornice-like ledges would also be used to house equipment for activities on the river promenade below such as lighting and sound equipment, theatrical rigging, retractable screens for projection and display and a platform elevator for bicycles and pedestrians . By providing greater access to the river promenade below, the architects have proposed a wide array of programming including bocce ball courts, rock climbing walls, outdoor gym equipment, large-scale outdoor art installations and even performance venues that can take place on land or from a floating concert hall on the river, with spectator seating set onto the river promenade. + Ballman Khapalova Images via Ballman Khapalova

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

A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

October 2, 2020 by  
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Refined, elemental and minimal: these words were the inspiration behind a recently completed net-zero home in West Seattle. Built to endure the test of time and incorporate elegance with an unobtrusive aesthetic and restrained size, the home takes inspiration from the Japanese concept of Shibui. Uncomplicated and honest, the concept of Shibui in design favors simple, subtle beauty. The architectural team followed the client’s suggestion to utilize the technique by creating a minimal -yet-elegant home with few superfluous touches. Though the design is uncomplicated, leading to a sense of peace while inside, it is not lacking in convenience. Despite being on the smaller side when compared to similar luxury homes, the 1,153-square-foot house still has an open-plan kitchen, a living and dining area, a den to be used as an office or guest room, two bathrooms and a garage with electric vehicle charging capability, bike storage and a trash room. Related: Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines The home also maintains a small carbon footprint with energy-efficient features like Passive House-certified windows for high thermal performance, LED fixtures and WaterSense-certified fixtures. To put more value on privacy, the home is set farther back from the street to create a sense of distance from the public. Setting the house back also gained the additional bonus of preserving an existing cherry tree onsite. There is a non-infiltrating bio-retention tank to collect rain and stormwater, filtering the collected water before applying it to landscaping inside the raised yard. The location of interior spaces, also guided by privacy and control, features diagonal views and sliding doors that block neighbor views. A large roof accommodates a substantial solar panel system and guards the home against the elements. On the upper level, the home opens fully to the west deck through patio sliders while roof overhangs provide protection for occupants. + SHED Architecture and Design Photography by Rafael Soldi via SHED Architecture and Design

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A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

Some dual-flush toilets are actually wasting water

September 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Some dual-flush toilets are actually wasting water

The innovation was supposed to save us water. But now, in shocking commode news, the water-saving organization Waterwise has revealed that dual-flush toilets actually waste water. Waterwise estimates that between 5% and 8% of U.K. toilets are leaking a total of 88 million gallons per day. Dual-flush toilets allow users to select from a small flush for liquids and a larger flush for solid waste , a design intended to save water. This type of toilet usually depends on a drop-valve system. The valve sits underwater and opens for a flush. But debris can catch in the valve, resulting in leaks and constant running. Related: High-tech public toilets proposed for San Francisco can recycle rainwater for reuse “Because we’ve got so many [loos] that continuously flow all through the day, collectively that water loss is now exceeding the amount of water they should be saving nationally,” Andrew Tucker, water efficiency manager at the U.K. sewerage company Thames Water, told the BBC . “The volume of water loss is getting bigger every day as more people refurbish and retrofit their older toilets and as we build more homes, so we’re actually adding a problem.” Some experts say the solution is to manufacture more dual-valve toilets that use a siphon system rather than a drop valve. The siphon works by forcing water down through a tube and into the pan when you depress your toilet handle. That way, the water can only escape if it’s above the water line, which makes it much less likely to leak. Jason Parker, managing director of U.K. plumbing manufacturer Thomas Dudley Ltd, wants drop valves outlawed, no matter the cost to his own business. “If we’re serious about wasting water and we want to stop it, the only way to do that is put a siphon back in,” he told the BBC. Additional water is lost when dual-flush users get confused over which button to push. Thames Water’s recent consumer research found that as many as 50% of customers either chose the wrong button or pushed both. Via BBC Image via Adobe Stock

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Some dual-flush toilets are actually wasting water

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