Bill McDonough at 70: A look back … and ahead

February 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Bill McDonough at 70: A look back … and ahead Joel Makower Mon, 02/22/2021 – 02:11 Architect, designer and author William McDonough is well-known to many in sustainability — as a pioneer in green building; as the erstwhile “green dean” of architecture; as co-author of the seminal 2002 book “Cradle to Cradle”; as a designer of breakthrough buildings and materials; as a deep thinker about how design relates to a healthy and abundant future; and as an enthusiastic framer of the concepts and language that have become part of the sustainability lexicon. On the occasion of his 70th birthday this month, I caught up with McDonough to discuss his journey and some seminal moments in his life and career, and how they influenced his work. And to take a peek into where he may be headed next. The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length. Joel Makower: Well, Bill, first of all, happy birthday. Are you excited to be 70? Bill McDonough: Well, it is very exciting. There is so much going on, and I have so many things to do. And I expect to continue to be hyperactive for another 20 years. For me, it is one of those moments to stop and think, and celebrate all my friends and all the wonderful things that I have had a chance to participate in. So, it just feels like a great moment to reflect. And then get back to work. Makower: Let’s talk a bit about how you got here. I am sure there are some pivotal moments when you think about your journey to today. When you speak, you often start off talking about growing up in Tokyo. Tell me why that feels like such an important part of who you became. McDonough: My parents were in Japan, both speaking Japanese, because my father was a Japanese language officer for Gen. Douglas MacArthur and my mother was also trained in Japanese by the U.S. Army. They were one of 200 couples sent into Japan after the war to wage peace. My mother was in the first group of American civilian women off the boat. They were sent into the villages everywhere to meet with the Japanese people in villages — no uniforms, no weapons, no paperwork, no marked Jeeps. It felt so natural when I was a child there to be part of this amazing place and to wage peace. James and Sara McDonough visit K?toku-in, a Buddhist temple in Kamakura, Japan, 1951. All photos courtesy of William McDonough I will never forget seeing Hiroshima and saying, “Oh, my God. We had a war. What is it about people that they would try and kill each other? How could we invent something so astonishing as a device that can destroy cities in seconds?” And watching my mother do flower arranging and say, “Oh, Mom, that is beautiful.” And she says, “Yes, this is the Ma.” “What is the Ma?” “The Ma is the space between the flowers.” Makower: I can start to see how some of that connects — the space between the flowers, the idea of waging peace. Where did that take you? McDonough: Last year, I opened the G20 in two tracks: climate and energy. I did four speeches. What we were looking at was how do we look at carbon in this circular economy? How do we look at carbon itself as an element, which is both an energy source and a material? How do we really start to think about how we manage it by intention? So we created a protocol about that. I am cataloging various things that are accruing into who I am, and the title of it is, ‘Waging Peace Through Commerce by Design.’ I do a little portfolio every six months about what I am working on or what I have done, and I am cataloging various things that are accruing into who I am, and the title of it is, “Waging Peace Through Commerce by Design.” Every act can be an act of waging peace. And so, for example, the end of all the sessions for the G20, when the leaders adopted this protocol we had put forward, the message that came with it was, “Let us all put down all sharp instruments now. We are not here to complain about how you are doing something or how you are using the wrong word or this or that. It does not matter. There is only one question: How can I help you?” That is it. All of us help each other and get this done. Makower: Your family moved from Tokyo to Hong Kong to Canada and then ultimately to Connecticut, and you attended Dartmouth. I imagine that that was a critical piece of how you got into design and architecture as a profession. McDonough: Dartmouth was magnificent for me because here I am, I am 18, and my two abiding questions from childhood were “Why do people fight with each other and destroy each other?” and “How can you make something so destructive that you can make a city disappear?” So, I started studying international relations, thinking I could be an ambassador someday. But all of the international relations courses that I could enter were around détente and about mutually assured destruction. That was so depressing that I thought, “I cannot spend my whole life arguing about mutually assured destruction.” At Dartmouth, 1972 I was doing photography and I got to work with Walker Evans — who is, I think, one of the greatest photographers of all time. And I was standing with him one day and I had an 8×10 view camera. He was using an SX-70 Polaroid. And I said, “Mr. Evans, you are the greatest black-and-white photographer of all time. I would be happy to carry your camera around.” He said, “No, no. You do not understand, Bill. You are 21. I am 71. When I was your age, I could lug around 40 pounds of equipment. But then, when the 4×5 Super Graphics came along, I could go to the factories. And then, when the Rolleiflex came around, I could go into the factories. And then when the Leica silent 35mm came along, I could go into the subways in New York. And now look what I can do. [Makes whirring sound.] Here. Portrait of William McDonough by Walker Evans.” And I remember thinking, “Oh, my goodness.” And he said, “What I am trying to teach you is that every 10 years, put down your tools.” So, if I was still walking around with an 8×10 view camera, I would only have one life. And so, every 10 years, stop, reflect and take the new tools. Makower: So, what was the path from there to sustainable design? McDonough: I was at Yale, and we had the energy crisis in 1973. I decided to build a solar-heated house. And I decided to go back to my ancestors’ place to do it, which would be Ireland, so I could understand the ancients; I could understand what it is like to be humble in a place, and then what it would be like to build a solar-powered house in Ireland. So, I just started building an experimental house there by hand. And I worked on that during the whole time I was at Yale and a year after. I got to think about these things deeply because I lived it. I was freezing, and I had no money. And building was hard, and I did not know what I was doing. I graduated from Yale and came back to New York. I worked at a big firm and did a lot of competitions, and it was really fun and we were really good. Then, when I started my own firm, my first client had a ranch in Utah, so I got to go out there and work around Zion National Park designing 13,000 acres. It was pretty fabulous — bridges and buildings. At the opening of his architecture firm in New York, 1981 Then I got hired by the Environmental Defense Fund to do their national headquarters in New York. It became known as the first green office in New York City, which we did in 1984. We were looking at the lighting for the right kind of colors. We looked at the carpets — we wanted to get all the toxins out of the carpet glues. It was the beginning of the green office and the green building movement. There were a bunch of us in the States, and we slowly coalesced into a Committee on the Environment within the American Institute of Architects. One of my contractors started the U.S. Green Building Council after building a project for me in Washington. That was David Gottfried. And it just kept going. Makower: What was it about green architecture that made you realize you needed to be doing this for the rest of your career? McDonough: To me it was just obvious. This is how we can be. It literally felt natural. Why would we not want to save healthy things? Why would we want to destroy the world at all? Why would we do that? Why would we do it to each other? We are waging peace. We are not here to poison you with carpets. We are not here to make your day miserable because the light frequencies are sending you into strange sleeping patterns. We are here to make your life better, not worse. So, it just seemed natural. It just seemed obvious and normal to me. Makower: At some point you realized that buildings were only part of it. The materials themselves — not just building materials but materials in general — were another big opportunity that needed to be addressed. How did you get to that particular pivot? McDonough: I had two things occur simultaneously in 1989. One is that I won a competition in Germany for a daycare center and my proposal was called a low-entropy building. In other words, a building that is organized instead of chaotic. I designed a daycare center that was solar-powered. It had a laundry for the parents so they could wait for the kids. Purified water. It grew food. It had shutters and skylights operated by children so they could let the sun in, keep the sun out, put them to bed at night, that kind of thing. And I just thought a building as an organism operated by children would be so much fun. With Michael Braungart, 2013 While they were having that conversation I was looking at the children and they were eating the building and the furniture. They had their mouths on everything. Chew, chew, chew. I was thinking, “What are they eating?” I realized I had to get together with an ecotoxicologist and find out what all this stuff we were using was made out of, down to the molecule. That is what ultimately led me to Michael Braungart, because Michael had been the head of Greenpeace Chemistry, worrying about exactly that kind of thing. The other thing that happened, I won a competition in Warsaw for a skyscraper right before the change of government; I had designed a building. The developer said, “You win.” And I said, “Just one thing. You have to plant 10 square miles of trees to go with the building,” because I calculated how much carbon would be released from the coal to build the building and how much would be needed to operate it. It was about five square miles of trees’ worth of oxygen production or carbon sequestration required to set up one building. And so, I said, “That is part of the building. The 10 square miles of trees go with it.” With a model of the Warsaw Tower, 1980s They priced it, and it was $150,000.00. Amazing. In Poland. That 10 square miles of tree planting was one-tenth of the advertising budget. It was such a strange thing to tell the developer to do that it ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. And they said, “We will plant a forest to satisfy an architect who loves clean air.” Makower: Talk a little bit about the Hannover Principles . First of all, what they are, for people who do not know or remember them, and how those came to be. McDonough: I was in Hannover, working there with Michael. Hannover had just won the World’s Fair for 2000, and they wanted to do sustainability as the theme. They asked me to write the design principles for that World’s Fair based on our work in sustainability. We wrote them from New York. Nine design principles . I still use them. And then, later that year, in June 1992, the German government decided to give the Hannover Principles as a gift to the Earth Summit. Makower: What has happened with them since? Are they still referred to? Have they propagated in any way? McDonough: I see them referred to all the time. We did not make any big program out of it or anything. They are just there. And you can find them, and people render them and make posters out of them and call and ask me to explain them. Makower: The ’90s was in many ways a golden decade for you. You became dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. You designed a building-like-a-tree structure at Oberlin. You designed a building for Herman Miller . You designed  Nike’s European headquarters . You got a Presidential award, I think from Bill Clinton. Then, all of a sudden you seemed to be all about China. What happened? McDonough: Well, President Clinton, after they had a visit by Zhu Rongji in the White House —I think it was around ’98 — it was the first Chinese leader to visit the U.S. since the revolution, and they wanted to exchange gifts. And they had to be careful when exchanging gifts, obviously. So, they decided the exchange would be sustainable development. Let us share information about that. Because the politicians did not know what it was. So, we created the China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development, based out of Portland. They looked for a U.S. chair, and they proposed governors and they proposed senators, and the Chinese kept saying, “No. No. No. We are looking for a long-term relationship. Four years is not enough.” With Madame Deng Nan, 1999 So, finally they decided “What about Bill?” because I had won that award at the White House for sustainable development and I am an academic to them, which they respect. And I know a lot of commercial people because all my clients are CEOs and chairs, essentially. And so they said, “You can represent the U.S.” And so I did. For 10 years I was the U.S. chair, with Madame Deng Nan, Deng Xiaoping’s daughter, in China. Makower: What did you learn? McDonough: When we set up the circular economy, the first version for the 12th five-year plan, which came along later, it was interpreted really as “Please recycle.” It had no depth. The second five-year plan, the 13th, became “Implement the circular economy.” So, we started putting guidelines in it. We had “Cradle to Cradle” translated into Chinese by a poet. In China, it was called “The Design of the Circular Economy.” But it is hard to make these kinds of changes. It is really hard. What we were doing was creating a de facto standard of good behavior. But we were not required to by law. We were just doing it. That is the part I really learned, is that you start with inspiration, then you move to creative work, and then you start to execute against it. And once you have executed it and it can stand on its own two feet, well then it is a reference point for people, so it can actually become a standard. The government was not involved in any of this. We just did it. A lot of the things we were working on way back then are now becoming regulations. And I am seeing really good regulation in China over the quality of packaging based on our biological and technical nutrient conversations with them. It is coming to pass. And even watching the Chinese put up the green fence on our recycling, they said, “We are just going to have to say no to all of this because they are sending us the worst of it.” Those kinds of things were people paying attention to issues of human health and dignity and trade and quality. It is slow but worthwhile. With Susan Sarandon and Meryl Streep at the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute gala, 2012 Makower: A lot of people, when they think of Bill McDonough, immediately go to ” Cradle to Cradle .” Even more so than the Hannover principles, that feels like your legacy. How do you feel about where that has gone? McDonough: I am just so happy that it is meant so much to so many people. I mean, it is the core of the circular economy. I was able to chair the circular economy at the World Economic Forum and we used that as the basis. I have been able to share it with lots of people. Ellen MacArthur has adopted biological, technical, restorative, regenerative. And “product as a service,” I thought, was a really important idea we put forward that has been taken up pretty vigorously. When we first did it, people were saying we were communists because we did not believe in ownership. And we were saying, “Well, what you want from a washing machine is clean clothing, not the ownership of metals, rubber and glass.” So, there is a whole way to think about these things. And modern society has caught up with that, of course. Philips still owns the indium and the gallium and the rare earths and the aluminum from its products. That is the stuff of their business and they still have it on their books. How exciting. Those elements of “Cradle to Cradle” have been widely adopted and in all kinds of forums and programs. So I am really pleased about that. The key thing, though, is that it is really about ecological health down to the molecule. So, even though it became the basis for the circular economy, which we are happy about, at the same time we say “safe and circular.” Safe, then circular. Because a lot of people are saying, “Circular everything.” Well, some of it is toxic and if you have a circular economy, that is bad instead of good. Makower: Where do you see the biggest untapped opportunity for the circular economy? McDonough: I think the largest untapped opportunity is the way we design for the circular economy. We still have people saying, “I am designing for end-of-life,” and that term is actually referencing a scientific protocol known as life-cycle assessment or life-cycle analysis, but it is still a human projection. The idea that these inanimate objects have a life is a bit odd when you think about it. They are not biological items. They are metals and plastics or whatever. We like to say, ‘Do not say end-of-life because it scares children.’ We like to say, “Do not say end-of-life because it scares children.” We know that you are referring to sourcing and disposition, which is a good thing. But let us not say to the children, “We are designing for end-of-life.” So, we say “design for end-of-use.” And once you say “design for end-of-use” it makes you stop. Then you say, “Well, what is the next use?” because that is the obvious next question. So, then you design for next use. So, when you asked, “What is the next big opportunity?” it is design. It is design for next use in the circular economy. But safe and circular. That is somewhere we are working right now, with all kinds of tools — AI, blockchain, what we call material passports and buildings as material banks — we coined terms for all this. These things are all being held for future generations in trust and made available to them. Makower: One of the things that you have started talking about in the last couple of years is carbon — circular carbon and various types of carbon, and that not all carbon is equal. Why is carbon the next interesting place for you? McDonough: I have been involved with renewables forever, but I did not get into the carbon per se issue because there were so many people involved who were so articulate and so engaged and knowledgeable. But all of a sudden one day it occurred to me that carbon had become the enemy. And for a person who works with materials, this is really sad. Demonizing carbon? We are carbon. This is not a good message for the children. “Carbon is the enemy.” “Bad carbon.” So, it is because we worry about the climate and we worry about combustion and we say carbon is a problem and “Carbon-negative is a positive.” It is confusing. This is like saying “less bad,” as we pointed out a long time ago. “Less” is a numerical relationship. “Bad” is a human value. So what I am trying to do is bring values to value. So, the values are “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong,” “moral/immoral,” “ethical/unethical.” Plato, and then Aristotle, his student, talked about what he called practical wisdom. Aristotle was looking for truth in science and numbers. Smart. Plato is looking for truth in meaning. Wise. So, I prefer wise buildings to smart buildings because we can go beyond statistical significance into a natural intelligence. The idea of looking at carbon and saying it is bad — carbon is an innocent element, a magnificent thing because it is a core of life. I thought, what if we redefine our way of dealing with it and what if we had new language for carbon that does not demonize it? I wrote a paper in Nature , and it has had a wonderful effect. I am delighted that the terms get used. And it basically said we have living carbon, which we can celebrate and we should in every which way we can. The sun shines on the Earth. The carbon obviously becomes photosynthetically engaged and off to the races and we have living things. Biomass. Beautiful. And then we have durable carbon, which is carbon sitting still in a mountain or it might be a beam in a building for a thousand years. And that is what I call the technosphere. A wood beam can be in the technosphere because it is an object of human intention and use, and it is durable. That would include plastics that are recyclable. So, it is durable and it is in our technical system. I thought we needed a new language for carbon. Fugitive carbon, no. Durable carbon, careful. Living carbon, celebrate. And then there is the third kind of carbon, which is fugitive. So, let us just call it for what is. Fugitive carbon at this point in history is a toxin because a toxin in the United States is defined by dose and duration. And so, what is the dose, what is the duration? The dose in the atmosphere is way overloaded and the duration is way too long. We have turned carbon into a toxin for the atmosphere. That is why I thought we needed a new language for carbon. Fugitive carbon, no. Durable carbon, careful. Living carbon, celebrate. Makower: It strikes me that as a design guy, as a visual thinker, that you care a lot about words and language. “Less bad” is not the same as “good.” Carbon is not the enemy. And so many other things — not to mention words and phrases you have either coined or popularized. What is it about language that you see as so critical when so much of the world is a design problem? McDonough: The great thing about being a human is that we get to communicate with each other. And we use words. So if we can embed meaning and spirit and accuracy into our language, we can start to get clarity. So, I just see the obvious, like when I first said “waste equals food.” That is the clearest way I could say it. And “Carbon is not the enemy.” “What? Oh.” And so on. I just love the language. I found out that my writings are being used in a famous English university in a course on rhetoric in the English department. When I asked the professor, “Why are you using my writing?” he said, “You have a weird way of discovering the obvious. And you read your stuff and you go ‘Wait a minute’ at the end of it. ‘That was obvious.’ And then you realize it was not obvious at all before you read it. Which means you made your argument. Which is rhetoric. That is why we do it.” I like that. We all search for words that have meaning and it becomes obvious upon reflection. Makower: You talk a lot about the children. That seems to be a passion, maybe even an obsession for you. Of course, you have kids of your own. But what else is that about? I mean, obviously that we want to make the best world for future generations. Why have children become such a part of your approach? Teaching a group of sixth graders about systems design, 2011 McDonough: I always start designing with a question: “How do we love all the children of all species for all time?” I think that is a really important question because it puts us in the context of something we all share everywhere as living things. And having traveled a lot as a child — my mother called me when I was 40 and said, “I just went through your box of all your report cards. Did you know you went to 19 different schools before college in lots of countries?” — I think I got the chance to see a lot of people and say, “I wonder how I can help them.” I mean, when we had cholera in Hong Kong and all the refugees came, we all went out with our water buckets. And during the dry season, we only had four hours of water every fourth day but we would all stand in line together and we would all help each other. And we would make visits to the refugees to bring them things and try and help them. That is the way it was. We are here to help each other. It needs to be understood by the children — that it is honest, that it is pure at its core. That is why I am interested. Pull Quote I am cataloging various things that are accruing into who I am, and the title of it is, ‘Waging Peace Through Commerce by Design.’ We like to say, ‘Do not say end-of-life because it scares children.’ I thought we needed a new language for carbon. Fugitive carbon, no. Durable carbon, careful. Living carbon, celebrate. Topics Circular Economy Leadership Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off DuHun Photography

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Bill McDonough at 70: A look back … and ahead

The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior

February 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior Mike De Socio Thu, 02/18/2021 – 00:05 These days, it’s hard to argue that sustainability is a niche consumer interest. A vast majority of consumers worldwide believe we need to consume less, according to research by GlobeScan . More to the point, 57 percent of consumers in that survey were willing to pay more for sustainable products. But only about a quarter of them actually made any sustainable changes to their lifestyle or consumption. So what gives? “There’s this really marked intention-action gap when we’re asking people to change their behaviors to be more sustainable,” said Katherine White, professor of marketing and behavioral science at the University of British Columbia. White shared her research on sustainable consumption during GreenBiz 21. She was among industry leaders from Amazon and Procter & Gamble, as well as nonprofit executives, who shared insights on the trends in sustainable consumption. Here are three takeaways from the session: 1. Attitude has shifted, but behavior lags Across the board, indicators for consumer interest in sustainable products are up, according to the GlobeScan survey. The 2020 results, for example, showed that 73 percent of consumers wanted to reduce the impact they have on the environment by a large amount, up almost 10 percentage points from the year prior. During the session, Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan, described it as a “remarkable shift” in consumer attitude that bodes well for the sustainable products market. But he was quick to underline the shortcomings of that progress. “There is still a gap between our desire to change and what we’re actually doing, but we do see significant movements happening across the world,” he said. White’s research in behavioral science looks into what levers could be most effective in convincing consumers to align their choices with their concern for the planet.  A fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. “This is a real challenge for marketers, for organizations, for public policymakers,” she said. “We really need to understand, what are the key drivers of behavior change in particular?” White identified a few factors that stakeholders can focus on to shift behavior — social influence (in other words, peer pressure), habit formation, individual values, emotional buy-in and tangible outcomes.  But ultimately, no one should think about hitting consumers with all of those efforts at once, White said. The shifts are more likely to be gradual. 2. Price and performance are still king Todd Cline, as director for Procter & Gamble’s North America fabric care research and development, is trying to focus consumers on one tiny change that could drastically slash the climate impact of his company’s product: Wash their clothes in cold water. Cline said what consumers do with Tide, one of the company’s sub-brands, once they take it off the shelf accounts for two-thirds of the product’s carbon footprint. The biggest chunk of that is the energy used to heat the water in the washing machine. But Cline knows if he wants consumers to change to cold, the performance can’t suffer. So his plan is simple: “Make products that work great when consumers use them on cold,” he said. This highlights a fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. So sustainable products must tick those two boxes before showing off their climate bona fides.  Adam Werbach, global lead for sustainable shopping at Amazon, knows this well. He led the development of a “Climate Pledge Friendly” label on the site that uses external certifications to direct customers to the most sustainable products. The experience so far has shown Werbach that customers, even at Amazon’s eco-conscious Whole Foods, primarily seek out price and performance before considering sustainability.  But the “Climate Pledge Friendly” label can be a quick, easy way for them to make that decision. “Customers like the cognitive load being taken off them,” he said. 3. Less (information) can be more The success of a simple label for Amazon speaks to another important tactic for nudging customers to more sustainable options: Sometimes less information is better. The average consumer, according to White, doesn’t have the time or interest to know all the details on ingredients, manufacturing or packaging. They just want to know it’s not going to harm the planet. “At the end of the day, if it’s really quick and easy and enjoyable and pleasant, I’m going to do it,” White said. That’s where labels can help. Doug Gatlin, CEO of Green Seal, said his company has worked to simplify the way it communicates its own sustainability certifications. “It can really be difficult to communicate the various attributes to the consumer,” he said. So rather than listing 20 or more claims on one label, Green Seal developed a “compass” that identifies four main categories — water, waste, health and climate — and acts as a shorthand to evaluate products. Cline keeps this in mind, too, as Procter & Gamble refines its own packaging and labeling. “If we can make it simple and make it so it’s a great experience for people, they’ll adopt the behavior and stick with it,” he said. Pull Quote A fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. Topics Consumer Trends GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Consumer trend surveys show a shift towards an environmental mindset among shoppers but they need to start putting their money where their mouth is.//Image courtesy of Unsplash 

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The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior

SteelZero commitments represent a new era in heavy manufacturing production

January 27, 2021 by  
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SteelZero commitments represent a new era in heavy manufacturing production Jesse Klein Wed, 01/27/2021 – 00:30 Decarbonizing steel has a chicken or the egg problem. Industry experts say current processes for doing it are so extremely expensive that few manufacturers have the financial ability. And right now, there isn’t enough demand for decarbonized steel for manufacturers to justify investing several millions of dollars into lower-carbon steel facilities. But there has been little demand because the end product is so expensive. “Can we borrow $100 million or $200 million to make something more expensive than our competitors is a hard business case?” said Matthew Wenban-Smith, policy and standards director for the nonprofit standards and certification organization, ResponsibleSteel.  A new initiative called SteelZero , created by The Climate Group in partnership with ResponsibleSteel , hope to break the cycle on the demand side. The program brings together the top steel buyers across the globe — including construction companies, real estate groups and property developers — and challenges them to commit to procuring 100 percent net-zero emissions steel by 2050. Members include Lendlease, Mace Group, Multiplex Construction Europe and WSP UK. Most of the carbon footprint for steel companies comes from Scope 3 emissions, emissions from suppliers downstream, as is the case with many businesses. According to Joshua Davies, sustainability manager for Multiplex Europe, 42 percent of his company’s overall 2019 footprint came from embodied carbon from its suppliers. Multiplex already has sustainability commitments written into contracts with its suppliers and subcontractors including committing to the responsible sourcing of steel, having science-based carbon reduction targets for 2023 at the latest and providing low carbon alternative materials during the build process. But there’s only so much it can do on its own. The hope is collective action can spur faster change, Davies said. If we don’t take some of these actions now, we won’t be a business around in five years. “We’re really wanting to show a commitment directly to steel producers that the buyers are ready,” said Jim Norris, the senior project manager for SteelZero. “It’s up to steel producers and policymakers to step up to market and really accelerate the decarbonization of steel production.” Last year saw a huge jump forward in green steel technology. Sweden saw the first hydrogen powered commercial steel production . According to the Rocky Mountain Institute , last year, Swedish steel maker SSAB working with iron ore producer LKAB and utility Vattenfall, created a pilot plant for hydrogen-based primary steel. By using hydrogen instead of coal in blast furnaces, they were able to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Traditional furnaces generate a minimum of 1.8 metric tons of CO2 per metric ton of finished product, while burning hydrogen produces only water. In Germany, the steel production company ArcelorMittal is reducing its carbon emissions by using hydrogen for iron ore reduction, reported by the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association .  According to a 2019 Rocky Mountain Institute report, full-scale hydrogen-based steel production would cost 20 to 30 percent more than conventional steel-making processes. That increase comes mostly from the energy source and doesn’t take into account the costs of building new hydrogen facilities, a huge hurdle for manufacturers, according to the RMI analysis.  Steel, like most industries, follows the money. Norris’ goal is to use the steel industry’s collective buying power to shift market forces towards lower-carbon technologies for production. By driving demand for net-zero steel, the hope is to signal to the steel producers that they can invest in creating the supply.  22 Bishopsgate in London is another of Multiplex’s skyscrapers that was built with sustainability in mind.//Courtesy of Multiplex “It requires people to change the way we think,” said Diego Padilla Phillips, associate director of Structures at WSP UK. “For many years, our brains have been wired to focus on constructability or reducing cost programs. And to make that shift towards reducing carbon, it requires a conscious effort.”  Sustainability managers of the member organizations said they aren’t afraid to cut ties with steel manufacturers that don’t follow the trends to meet their 2050 targets. But it would be a huge loss, and members would rather help their suppliers and business partners along in the decarbonization journey.  “There’s not a lot of different subcontractors out there who do steelwork,” Davies said. “So considering that, we can’t just completely say we’re not going to work with you again. What we will probably do is make it more uncompetitive, so they will have to come along with us.”  SteelZero also will be a working group where competitors and companies up and down the supply chain can work together to innovate solutions and break down the obstacles to decarbonization, according to Norris. “It’s about scalability,” said Catherine Heil, head of sustainability at LendLease. “Acknowledging the fact that LendLease can’t do it on our own. We need to find commercially viable solutions and dig into some of the pain points around why the sector is still slowly, slowly transitioning.”  By working collectively, the group can create a roadmap to decarbonize because the steps to getting there are not clearly defined. But SteelZero has set up at least one. By 2030, each member needs 50 percent of its steel demand to come from steel producers that have committed to an approved science-based emissions reduction target, have a ResponsibleSteel Certification or have a low embodied carbon steel profile by recycling end-of-life scrap steel.  “This is critical to the future business resilience and the way we move forward,” Davies said. “If we don’t take some of these actions now, we won’t be a business around in five years.”  Pull Quote If we don’t take some of these actions now, we won’t be a business around in five years. Topics Emissions Reduction Advanced Materials Energy & Climate Manufacturing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Skyscrapers such as Multiplex’s White Collar Factory in London are erected using thousands of tons of steel. //Courtesy of Mutliplex 

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SteelZero commitments represent a new era in heavy manufacturing production

Designers selected for new Shenzhen Natural History Museum project

January 25, 2021 by  
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B+H Architects, 3XN Architects and Zhubo Design have been selected to design the new Shenzhen Natural History Museum. The team beat out over 70 proposals from around the world in an international competition. For the bidding state, 15 teams were selected, representing 18 different countries from throughout North America, Asia and Europe. China’s new Shenzhen Natural History Museum will be the first large-scale, comprehensive natural museum in Southern China and is set to become one of Shenzhen’s “Ten Cultural Facilities of the New Era” once complete. The site is located next to Yanzi Lake in Shenhen’s Pingshan District, a picturesque spot for a world-class natural science museum. The museum will be dedicated to advocating for science in the area, interpreting laws of natural evolution and showcasing the region’s geography and ecology in a global perspective. Related: Fram Museum extension is dedicated to environmental education B+H Architects, 3XN and Zhubo Design’s winning design scheme, called Delta, imagines a 42,000-square-meter facility that rises from the river delta with an accessible green rooftop and an adjoining public park. The park and green roof are meant to provide a welcoming invitation to both residents and visitors while highlighting the museum’s organic geometries. “This building captures the unique atmosphere of a riverfront site and finds the timeless property of water as a concept,” said Yvonne Farrell, Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate and contest judge. “The connection between function, site, concept, structure, material and space is very clear.” Each turn of the structure helps frame a distinct view over the park and nearby hills from viewing terraces along the roof, mimicking a river stream finding its shape in balance with the land. The museum will maximize access to the public park network and lush green areas, allowing residents and visitors to connect with nature and stay active through activities like early morning jogs and evening strolls. The pathways lead guests into a cave-like passageway that connects to the museum lobby, surrounded by multiple cafes and other public areas to centralize the building. + 3XN Architects + B+H Architects + Zhubo Design Images via 3XN Architects

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Designers selected for new Shenzhen Natural History Museum project

Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks Featured Column Driving Change 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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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks Featured Column Driving Change 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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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

The top vegan holiday recipes submitted by you

December 21, 2020 by  
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Drumroll, please… after much deliberation (and salivating), Inhabitat has chosen the winner and runners-up of our 2020 Vegan Holiday Recipe competition. The winner receives our sustainable chef’s kit featuring the Ninja Foodi 2-Basket Air Fryer, Farberware Knife Set, Bamboo Cutting Board Set and a Stasher bag bundle. Because we were blown away by the creative submissions for this contest, we’ve decided to highlight some of our favorites, too. Without further ado, we present our contest winner and top contenders. First place: Vegan Wild Rice Stuffed Seitan Wellington Congratulations are in order for Megan C., who submitted this mouth-watering vegan wellington. We chose this recipe because it was impressive, unique and festive. Now, Megan can plan for many more days of cooking and baking ahead with a prize pack of new kitchen goodies. For the wild rice (prepare a day in advance) • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted • 1/4 C yellow onion, finely chopped • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped • 1/2 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves • 1 C cooked wild rice mix • 1/3 C pecans, toasted and finely chopped • 1/8 C dried cranberries, finely chopped • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed Place the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, shallots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, around 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries and measured salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. For the caramelized onions (prepare a day in advance): • 6 yellow onions, sliced • 3 tbsp butter • Salt • 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add butter and onions to the pan. Sauté onions until translucent. Add in pinches of salt to help the onions sweat. Stir and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar to onions and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. For the seitan (best prepared a day in advance, needs time to cool) • 1 1/2 C vital wheat gluten • 1/4 C nutritional yeast • 1 tsp poultry spice • 1 tsp onion powder • 1/2 tsp garlic powder • 1 tsp salt • 3/4 C water • 1/2 C soy milk • 2 tbsp oil • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar Get your water boiling in a big pot with a steamer over it (I use a metal mesh strainer). Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Combine with a wooden spoon until it forms a wet dough. If it seems too wet, add a bit more vital wheat gluten. It should be soft but still hold together. Transfer dough to a countertop or board. Flatten it into a rectangle with your hands, about 1/2″ thick and no longer than your steamer. Put the wild rice in a wide line, lengthwise, in the seitan. (Imagine the seitan is a flag with four horizontal stripes. The two middle stripes should be covered in wild rice.) Compress the stuffing with your hands so the center of the roast will be firm. Grab each side of the dough and seal them around the rice as best you can. Transfer the roll to a piece of aluminum foil, and tightly roll it up. Transfer the seitan into the steamer and steam for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Cool completely. For the final wellington: • vegan puff pastry (most store-bought puff pastry is already vegan) • lots of melted vegan butter or use Just Egg • Stuffed seitan • Caramelized onion Preheat the oven to 400°F. Flatten the puff pastry out with a rolling pin until it is slightly larger than your seitan, (you want it to all fit in the puff pastry shell). Spread caramelized onion as an even layer across the puff pastry. Place seitan in the middle of the puff pastry and wrap it. Score the top to allow air to escape. Cover in melted vegan butter or Just Egg, which gives it the golden color while baking. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until your pastry is golden and crispy. Runners-up for appetizers There were so many incredible recipes , so we decided to pull together an entire menu of delicious vegan dishes broken up by category. Here are some excellent appetizers for the holidays. Vegan Spanakopita This vegan spanakopita recipe by Elaine P. calls for simple, fresh ingredients to create an impressive vegan dish that adds to the holiday dinner table. • 12 oz vegan feta cheese • 8 oz firm tofu • 1 lb cooked baby spinach • 1 sweet onion, sautéed in 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1 lb phyllo dough • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil Combine the first four ingredients and mix well. Remove phyllo dough from its box and lay flat. Cut phyllo dough into three long strips and cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent drying. Take one strip of phyllo dough and dab on olive oil with pastry brush. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of spinach/vegan feta filling and fold into triangles using a flag-folding technique. Place on baking tray and brush the tops with olive oil. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 30 servings. Christmas Soda Bread Bread is a mealtime staple, and we loved the festive flair of Samantha Y.’s soda bread, which uses spinach and tomato paste as natural food dyes. For the green dough: • 195g whole wheat pastry flour • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1/2 tsp baking powder • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 120 ml plant-based milk • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar • 65g fresh spinach For the red dough: • 195g whole wheat pastry flour • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1/2 tsp baking powder • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 120ml plant-based milk • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar • 60g tomato paste • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika Preheat your oven to 425°F. Make the green dough: In a food processor, blend the milk, vinegar and spinach until smooth. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the spinach mixture to the dry ingredients and combine with a spatula until incorporated. Set aside. Make the red dough: Blend the milk, vinegar and tomato paste together until smooth. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and paprika. Add the tomato mixture to the dry ingredients and combine with a spatula until well incorporated. On a lightly floured surface, pat or roll out the green dough into a 6.5x10inch rectangle. Repeat with the red dough. Stack the green dough on top of the red dough. Roll the dough up into a batard (an oblong shape) and seal the ends so that the red dough covers up the green dough. Place the loaf onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Slash the top of the loaf in three diagonals. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing. New Year’s Eve Roasted Chestnut Soup You don’t have to roast your chestnuts on an open fire, but bonus points if you do! Enjoying this soup, submitted by Wendy W., sounds like the perfect way to ring in the new year . • 2 1/2 pounds fresh chestnuts, shelled and roasted • 2 tablespoons coconut oil • 1 medium onion, diced • 1 leek, sliced • 2 celery stalks, diced • 1 medium carrot, diced • 6 cups vegetable broth • 1 tsp salt • 1/2 tsp black pepper • 1 tbsp sage • Fresh parsley or thyme • Optional: 1 C alternative milk to substitute 1 C of vegetable broth Boil chestnuts in a medium pot for approximately 20-30 minutes. Drain and rinse. Using 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, caramelize onions, celery, carrot and leek until softened. Working in batches, in a high speed blender, puree chestnuts, onion, celery, carrot, leek and vegetable broth. Blend on high until smooth. Add mixture to a sauce pan and cook down until desired thickness. Add alternative milk for a creamier texture. Warm the soup and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley or thyme. This soup is so delicate, it is a flavor few get a chance to experience. Runners up for entrees Vegans are used to being stuck with a few sides to choose from during celebratory meals … but no more! Plant-based main dishes are absolutely delicious, as shown by the following recipes. Creamy Stinging Nettle Tagliatelle We couldn’t help but share this unique pasta dish, which even suggests foraging for the stinging nettles. This recipe, submitted by Azem S., is “inspired by my grandmother’s love of cooking with stinging nettles in Kosovo and my girlfriend’s veganism!” • 1 onion • 2 garlic cloves • 1 vegan stock cube • 1 plain oat-based yogurt • 300ml vegetable stock • 300ml oat milk • 1 large bunch of fresh nettles (available at most parks in London, for free) • 1 pack of eggless tagliatelle Start by finely chopping the onion and grating the garlic cloves, then add both to a large pan with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Let the onion and garlic fry for a few minutes until caramelized. Give the nettles a thorough wash (use gloves) and place straight into the pot. Cover the pan with a lid and let the nettles sweat for 2-3 minutes, then add 300ml of vegetable stock to stop the frying process. Leave the lid off and reduce by half. Once the ingredients have softened and start to break up, add in oat milk and oat-based plain yogurt and stir thoroughly. You can now add seasoning with a pinch of salt and black pepper (to your own preference — general rule, you can always add more but it’s difficult to take them out). With the lid slightly at an angle, let the sauce reduce by a third to a thick creamy consistency. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta (preferably fresh) until it is soft and silky. Once ready, drain the pasta and place straight into the nettle sauce. Mix the two thoroughly and leave for a few minutes to rest with the lid on under its own heat. Serve with a fresh rocket and tomato salad (add salt, black pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar to your own preference). Thai Sweet Potato Noodles This warming dish would be delicious any time of year, but it is especially so on colder days. The colorful, fresh ingredients make it a healthier option, too! Many thanks to Suzanne P. for sharing this tasty, nutritious meal idea. • 4 oz Thai rice noodles • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 1/2 medium onion, chopped • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped • 1 medium sweet potato, skin removed and chopped • ½ inch piece of ginger, chopped fine • 1/2 tsp salt • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste  • 1/4 C lime juice • 2 tbsp brown sugar • 1 can coconut milk • 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits • 2 tbsp chopped peanuts Cook the noodles according to the package directions and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno, sweet potato, ginger and salt and sauté until the onion is soft, but not browned. Add the red curry paste and 1/4 cup of water and sauté for another minute. Add the lime juice, brown sugar, coconut milk and pineapple and simmer until the sweet potato is cooked through. If the sauce gets too thick, you can thin it with a few tablespoons of water. Stir in the noodles and continue to heat for another minute. Top with the chopped peanuts and serve. Baked Melanzane in Spiced Holiday Sauce Essentially an eggplant parmigiana recipe, this submission from Sandhya S. offers a festive touch by adding both red and white sauces, the latter of which is especially impressive to make vegan. • 1 large brinjal (eggplant), blue or purple with smooth skin • 100 g moist tofu •200 g of extra virgin olive oil • 1 1/2 tsp salt • 1 tsp crushed black pepper • 3/4 cup gluten-free yellow corn flour or bajra flour • 1/2 C powdered flax seeds or bread crumbs • 1/2 tsp oregano • 1/2 C water Ingredients for white sauce: • 100 g water • 2 tbsp gluten-free smooth flour or wheat/white flour • 200 g of soya or walnut drink, unsweetened • 1 tsp salt • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger • 1 tsp dried thyme • 1 tsp olive oil Ingredients for red sauce: • 5 plum tomatoes • 1 red bell pepper • 6 cloves of garlic • 1 tsp salt • 2 tsp basil seeds • 200 g water for boiling To prepare red sauce: Cut the tops off the tomatoes and red pepper. Boil in water for few minutes until the skins come off easily. Remove the skins and retain the pulp. Drain most of the water, and set the pot back to the stove on low heat. Crush the tomatoes and pepper using a potato masher or hand blender. Add salt and basil seeds, then cook for 5 to 6 minutes, mixing continuously with the masher or mixer, until a smooth sauce is formed. Turn off the stove and set aside. To prepare the white sauce: Heat a skillet with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and dry gluten-free flour on low flame. Stir for just a minute until the flour is mixed with the oil. Add water, soya or walnut milk and salt and bring to a low boil while mixing continuously for 2 minutes. The sauce should be smooth and not lumpy. When the mixture starts to splutter, carefully stir and turn off the heat. Add thyme and grated ginger to the white sauce. Tip: To make the sauces smoother, blend the sauces separately before adding the ginger and thyme seasoning. To prepare the brinjal and tofu: Wash and cut the brinjal into 1/8 inch thick slices; they will look like round discs. Set aside on a plate, sprinkle with salt and cover with a paper towel or cloth. Slice the tofu into 1/4 inch slices and set aside on another plate. Sprinkle salt and crushed black pepper and a pinch of turmeric on the tofu slices. Set aside and cover with paper towel or cloth. Make a smooth paste with the gluten-free yellow corn flour and water. It should be a free-flowing custard consistency, not too thick. On another plate, lay out the dry bread crumbs or flax powder mixed with oregano. Heat 200 g olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dip the brinjal slices one by one into the flour paste and then into the dry breadcrumbs, coating both sides lightly. Deep fry each slice in the heated oil until golden brown. Sit the slices on a paper towel-lined plate or wire rack to remove excess oil. If there is any flour paste and breadcrumbs left after the brinjal is done, repeat the process of dipping tofu into the flour and crumbs and deep fry for a minute. Tofu can also be used as-is without frying if the paste and crumbs are gone. Preheat the oven at 170°C (about 340°F). While the oven is preheating, lightly grease a shallow glass pan. Pour half of the white sauce into the pan. Arrange the brinjal crisps on the sauce in one row. The discs may overlap slightly. Pour half of the red sauce over the first layer of brinjal. Place the rest of the brinjal slices on the red sauce. Pour most of the remaining red sauce on the layer of brinjal to cover it lightly. Place one layer of tofu on the red sauce. Pour nearly all of the remaining white sauce on the tofu layer. Place all the remaining pieces of tofu, if any, on the white sauce. Use the last of the white and red sauces on the plates, drizzling in a zig-zag pattern. Lightly shake the casserole dish to let the layers settle. Lightly drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven. Just before serving, heat the dish for 5 minutes at 150°C (about 300°F) to get a light brown color on the tofu, similar to melted cheese. Runners-up for side dishes Sides are key to a vegan’s heart. The following recipes stole ours for their creativity and extra care given to presentation. Lacey’s Vegan Green Bean Casserole Lacey L., you’ve really accomplished a lot here. Veganizing a cream-based dish and making it taste good isn’t easy, but you’ve made it look effortless. • 3 cans cut green beans • 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk • 1/2 C vegetable broth • 2 tbsp flour (more flour = thicker gravy) • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or more to taste — don’t be shy!) • 1/2 tbsp salt • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (or replace salt and garlic with garlic salt if necessary) • 1/2 onion, finely diced (optional) • Pepper to taste • Fried onion crunchies (if available, also get crispy garlic) Preheat oven to 350°F. Put drained green beans in a casserole dish. Add onions and garlic. Mix almond milk, nutritional yeast, flour, broth and seasonings in a bowl. Pour the mixture over the green beans, add half of the onion crunchies. and mix. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir up casserole and add more flour to thicken if necessary (keep in mind it will thicken a bit more as it cools as well). Add more onion crunchies to the top, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add more onion crunchies as desired. This dish is incredible fresh, but it doesn’t reheat as well. I suggest only making what you need for the upcoming meal. Sweet Potato Pecan & Pomegranate Medallions with Mexican Cashew Chipotle Crema From the base to the garnish, this recipe by Areli B. is crafted with attention to detail. The addition of pecans and pomegranate seeds offer traditional flavors in an exciting new way. • 2 large sweet potatoes • 1/2 tsp paprika • 1/2 tsp cumin • 1/2 tsp cinnamon • 1 tsp kosher salt • 2 tbsp olive oil • 1 C candied pecans • 1/2 C fresh pomegranate For the Mexican Cashew Chipotle Crema: • 1 C raw cashews • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar • 1 tbsp chipotle in adobo • 1 tsp lime juice • 1 tsp kosher salt • 1/4 vegan nut milk or vegetable broth For the garnish: • 2 green onions, clean and cut (green part only) • Zest of 1 lime • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar reduction (heat 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar on low for 5 to 8 minutes until it reduces to 2 tbsp) Preheat oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, combine paprika, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Mix well and add olive oil to make a paste. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch-thick rounds. Brush sweet potatoes with olive oil paste. Place them on a large baking tray without touching each other. Bake sweet potatoes for 8 to 10 minutes on each side until golden, flipping them half way through. Transfer to a serving tray and set aside. Soak the cashews in water for 4-6 hours. Drain the cashews, then add them to a blender along with vinegar, chipotle, lime juice, salt and nut milk or vegetable broth. Blend the cashews for a 3-4 minutes until completely smooth. If the mixture is grainy, continue blending until the cashews are smooth. Add 1/4 cup of liquid if needed. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid in the fridge. It will last one week. Assemble medallions by placing sweet potatoes on a plate, add a couple of pecans on each medallion, drizzle Mexican crema and now add pomegranate seeds. Drizzle balsamic vinegar reduction and garnish with green onion greens and lime zest. Finish with salt and paper. Enjoy! Festive Holiday Wild Rice and Purple Potato Medley This recipe from Emily F. combines rice and veggies with warming spices and tops it all off with fresh herbs like cilantro and mint as well as pomegranate arils to give it a festive touch. • 1/4 C canola oil • 1/2 C carrot, diced • 4 cooked purple fingerling potatoes, sliced • 1/2 C yellow bell pepper, cut in chunks • 4 C cooked wild rice • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice • 1/2 tsp salt • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper • 1 tsp ground garam masala • 1 tsp ground turmeric • 1/4 C shelled pistachio nuts • 1/3 C pomegranate seeds • 2 tbsp mint leaves, torn • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves In a saucepan, sauté carrot in canola oil until just soft. Add cooked potato, bell pepper, cooked wild rice, lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper, garam masala and turmeric; toss well. Remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl. Toss in pistachio nuts, pomegranate seeds, mint and cilantro. Runners-up for desserts The moment we’ve all been waiting for … dessert! So many desserts are made with eggs, butter and milk, so veganizing them can be a challenge. Vegan Cinnamon Roll Cake We were drooling instantly as we read the recipe for Alison F.’s cinnamon roll cake. Don’t judge us for eating this for breakfast and dessert. For the cake: • 1 3/4 C gluten-free, all-purpose flour • 1 C white sugar • 1 tsp baking soda • 1/4 tsp sea salt • 1 C almond milk • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar • 1/3 C coconut oil, softened • 2 tsp vanilla extract For the filling: • 1/4 C vegan butter, softened • 1/2 C coconut sugar • 1 tbsp cinnamon • 1 tbsp gluten-free, all-purpose flour For the frosting: • 1/2 C vegan cream cheese • 1/2 C vegan butter • 2 C powdered sugar • A shake of cinnamon • 1 C chopped walnuts (optional) Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch cake pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the almond milk and vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, beat together the almond milk mixture, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda and sea salt. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into cake pan and set aside. In a small bowl, beat together the filling ingredients. Once smooth, drop by spoonfuls over the cake batter. Swirl into the batter using a knife. Bake cake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. While cake is baking, beat together the frosting ingredients. Once cake is cooled, spread frosting generously over cake, making sure to frost the sides. Add walnuts if using. Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream with Warm Miso Caramel Pecans The secret to this creamy, dairy-free ice cream by Hidemi W.? Avocado. Consider our minds blown. Best of all, you don’t even need an ice cream machine to make this. • 2 medium avocados • 1/2 C almond milk, unsweetened • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder • 1/4 C granulated sugar • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 1 tsp white miso paste • 2 tbsp granulated sugar • 2 tbsp and 2 tsp water • 2 tbsp pecans, chopped Halve each avocado, remove the pit and scoop out avocado flesh. Cut avocado into a small pieces and put into a resealable bag. Freeze overnight. The next day, remove the avocado from the freezer and put it into a food processor. Add almond milk, cocoa, 1/4 cup sugar and sea salt. Pulse until avocado is almost crushed and mixture is well blended. Scoop the mixture out and put into 4 serving glasses. In a nonstick skillet, put miso, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and water. Turn on the heat to medium. When the sugar begins dissolving and big bubbles start to appear, stir the mixture until well blended and slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and stir in pecans. Pour these miso-caramel pecans over the ice cream. Orange Kissed Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies Not only are Kim V. D.’s orange-and-chocolate gingerbread cookies vegan, they’re also gluten-free! The gingerbread, chocolate and orange blend together for an explosion of seasonal flavors. • 1/2 C dairy-free butter spread (I used Melt) • 3/4 C light brown sugar • 2 tsp pure vanilla • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg • 3 tsp ground ginger • 1/4 tsp ground cloves • 1 tbsp molasses • 1 C finely ground almond flour • 1/2 C gluten-free flour blend with xanthan gum • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder • 1 tbsp orange zest • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1 C sifted powdered sugar • 1 tbsp unsweetened cashew or almond milk • 1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a stainless steel baking sheet with parchment paper. With a mixer, cream together the dairy-free spread, light brown sugar, spices, molasses and vanilla until smooth. Add in the almond flour, gluten-free flour, cocoa, orange zest and baking soda to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined. Using a 1 tablespoon-sized spring-loaded scoop, scoop out level tablespoons of dough. Roll the dough between the palms of your hands to create a ball. Place the ball onto the cookie sheet. Cookies should be spaced 2 inches from each other, as these cookies do spread. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then, using a thin spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely. In a bowl, stir together the sifted powdered sugar and almond/cashew milk and orange juice until smooth. Dip a fork into the drizzle and drizzle back and forth over the cookies. Allow to set completely before serving or storing. Images via Adobe Stock and Unsplash

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How to talk about racial justice in sustainability

December 16, 2020 by  
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How to talk about racial justice in sustainability Victoria Gilchrist Wed, 12/16/2020 – 00:30 Editor’s note: The opinions and conclusions that appear in this piece do not necessarily represent the position of Intel. 2020 has become a reckoning for American culture through the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the ominous storms in the east and the apocalyptic wildfires of the west. We are inherently linked through our biology, ecology, economy, the legacy of white supremacy and oppression. Now is the time to shake the foundation of how we operate as a society. Systemic racism infiltrates every aspect of who we are and how we interact with each other. Sustainability centers around leaving the world a better place for the next generation. This implicitly covers all people with no qualifiers. However, sustainability practices have notoriously catered to the wants and needs of the wealthier majority, while excluding the most vulnerable communities by lack of engagement and practice. Sustainability must become synonymous with racial equity. But how?  First, say the words. “Racial Justice.” “Racial Equity.” “Discrimination.” Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Denounce white supremacy. And if you don’t think it exists, educate yourself . Noted author Beverly Daniel Tatum reminds us, “It is important to understand that the system of advantage is perpetuated when we do not acknowledge its existence.” A recent example from the New York Times includes a biracial couple living in an affluent neighborhood who received a substantially lower home appraisal  — until they removed their family photos of the Black wife and white husband. On Oct. 7, the Chicago Times reported that a Black resident experienced a $60,000 difference in an appraisal because of her race. This discrimination extends to healthcare and environmental harm. A June medical study links air pollution and extreme heat from climate change to pregnancy risk that disproportionately affects Black women. Now is the time for us to make equity the cornerstone of this vision for a greener, livable future. Second, ask who is affected and what could go wrong? We need to dismantle the standard paradigm that designs sustainable products and services only for the top 1 percent. “Intent isn’t as important as impact,” explain diversity experts Project Inkblot . For example, designers made medical grade face masks for white men and many don’t fit women very well. The nursing profession is dominated by 91 percent women . The mask issue illustrates a clear design disconnect. Another example is a 2017 study by the NAACP and the Clean Air Task Force that showed that African-American citizens are 75 percent more likely to live in a “fence-line” community that borders a toxic industrial facility. Companies must consider these types of impacts moving forward and minimize harm to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. In fashion, which has dealt with criticism of horrible working conditions for decades , we need more brands that not only offer sustainably sourced apparel (from recycled material to fair labor), but also sell it at an affordable price point.  Third, act on the input from BIPOC communities. All aspects of sustainability including community development, building design and product engineering require user input. Urban planners need to have affected communities at the table, not simply to “approve” projects, but also to advocate for their needs. Manufacturers of green products must serve BIPOC communities and affirmatively reach out to ask how they can be better partners. It’s not enough to hear feedback; sustainability leaders need to act on the on BIPOC communities’ advice, needs and requests. And then they need to repeat steps 1 through 3 and keep learning. More voices in sustainability and more awareness on how to support racial equity will translate into better design, services and products. With this in mind, we can heed the words of Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”  Now is the time for us to make equity the cornerstone of this vision for a greener, livable future. The reason becomes crystal clear when one considers the peer reviewed literature on environmental threats. Communities where the majority of the population are Black, Indigenous and people of color suffer more environmental harm than white communities yet tend to be excluded from reforms. Yes, economics plays an important role, but race is a stronger factor . Similar to the impacts of COVID-19, pollution disproportionately affects BIPOC communities. This reality is why poll after poll shows that BIPOC communities care more about climate change and strongly support action.  Talking about racial equity in sustainability is easy, but implementing it requires more than a perspective change . Business leaders, elected officials and educators must commit to a different way of working. From selling green cosmetics in local drugstores to building energy efficient structures in BIPOC neighborhoods, we must intentionally advance racial equity. If we get it right, this new movement for equity in sustainability can snowball by not only providing a “cooling effect” for climate change but also resulting in thriving, healthy, equitable communities.  Pull Quote Now is the time for us to make equity the cornerstone of this vision for a greener, livable future. Contributors Heather White Topics Racial Issues Environmental Justice Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Protesters march against police shootings and racism during a rally in Washington, DC on Dec. 13, 2014. Shutterstock Rena Schild Close Authorship

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A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda

November 17, 2020 by  
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A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda Aron Cramer Tue, 11/17/2020 – 01:30 This article originally was published in the BSR Insight . Now that the results of the United States presidential election are in, it is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy.  The U.S. government has been either absent or counterproductive on sustainability issues the past four years. This will change in a Biden-Harris administration. How much it changes will depend greatly on the actions and influence of the business community. BSR exists to catalyze business leadership to achieve a just and sustainable world. We believe strongly that sustainability is a primary source of strategic business advantage. We believe that comprehensive business action calls for companies to “act, enable, and influence,” creating change both through actions in the “real economy” and also in advocating for policy solutions. With a new government coming into power, now is the time for business to use its voice and influence to call for decisive action from a more receptive administration in Washington. With this in mind, here is the agenda that BSR urges businesses to call on the Biden administration to adopt, in the spirit of the campaign’s “build back better” mantra. It is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy. Employment and economic Repairing the safety net:  It is time for business to engage with government in remaking the social safety net for the 21st century. 2020 has exposed the serious holes in the safety net, not least access to health care. It is also time to develop a consensus on portable benefits for people who change jobs or who work outside traditional jobs. Innovations such as the tax-deferred “401(j)” accounts proposed by Al Gore to allow employees to save for lifelong learning also would be a good step. These steps not only would enable economic security and mobility, they also would ensure opportunities for innovation and a dynamic workforce that businesses need. Income inequality: t is long past time for Americans to reverse the deep and widening inequality that plagues our country. While there are multiple reasons for this problem, three topics deserve to be made a priority. First is the need to raise the minimum wage to a level that is a genuine living wage. This would both enable families to support themselves and also reward labor in an economy in which capital has been rewarded more than it should be. Second is executive compensation, which has continued to rise far too fast. It is time for business leaders to take voluntary steps to reduce executive pay and for boards to commit to the same. Third, income inequality strikes communities of color especially hard and all pathways to prosperity need to address the wealth gap directly. Future of work: The changing nature of work is accelerating due to the confluence of COVID-19 and automation. Contingent or non-traditional work is the fastest growing category of work. There is no consensus on the rules governing such work or universal benefits people can access regardless of how their work is classified. Dialogue between business, government and workers’ representatives is needed to establish the rules of the road. Climate and environment Net zero target for the U.S.: Returning to the Paris Agreement will happen Jan. 20 — that is only the start. The U.S. should commit to a net-zero target the way that the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea and others — including many U.S. states and cities — have. The need for renewed climate diplomacy, with the U.S. playing a crucial role along with the EU, China and Japan, could not be more important in the run-up to COP 26. Climate justice/just transition: Awareness of the disparate impacts of climate — mainly hitting communities of color and those with less formal education — means that environmental justice should come to the forefront. The shift to net-zero is a generational opportunity for progress, not only removing the most toxic elements of the existing energy system but also generating economic opportunities in the clean energy economy as a means of combatting poverty and discrimination. Business should insist that the transition to net zero include policies that prioritize the phase out of toxic impacts on communities of color, incentives for investments that ensure that the clean energy economy delivers training, and employment for people who need opportunities the most, in both rural and urban communities. Green infrastructure:  Even with divided government, investment in green infrastructure is possible as a means of generating employment at a time when it is badly needed and to reduce the operating costs of U.S. infrastructure. Business should advocate for built environment and transport systems that accelerate and prepare for the net zero economy. The long debated Green Infrastructure Bank should become a reality, not least with the rise of green and “olive” bonds. And this is also the place where serious — and badly needed — resilience objectives can be achieved. Regenerative agriculture: At long last, there is mainstream recognition of the deep intersections of climate, human health and the vibrancy of America’s agricultural economy. What’s more, the political opportunity to bring the country together through heartland interest in thriving agriculture and coastal interest in climate action is one that could help unify a country that is divided against itself on climate action. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. Social Racial justice: The Biden campaign made clear that racial justice was one of its four priorities, along with climate action, economic opportunity and public health. In fact, these four topics are interrelated and should be addressed as such. The business community should make sure that the many statements of support for Black Lives Matter in 2020 are strengthened by a long-term commitment to ensure that decisive action is taken to end the centuries-long scourge of systemic racism. As noted above, the wealth gap that exists in communities of color is a legacy of longstanding oppression. Steps taken to address climate, strengthen the social safety net, restore public health and invest in green infrastructure offer great promise in addressing the wealth gap, and business should support this objective vocally. In addition, business also should make clear its support for criminal legal system reform, starting with policing, but also including access to the court system and incarceration rates. Finally, business should call for mandatory disclosure of employee demographic information, which leverages transparency in support of greater equity. Technology and human rights/privacy: It is well understood that policy moves more slowly than technology. At a high level, the U.S. government should establish the principle that new technologies should adhere to international human rights standards in their design, development and use. In addition, the U.S. government can introduce a federal privacy law along similar lines to the GDPR, ensure that any revisions to Section 230 of the Telecommunications Decency Act of 1996 are consistent with the protection of human rights, and introduce sector-based approaches to regulating disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and biometric technologies. Companies from all industries should advocate for a technology policy and regulatory context that protects interdependent rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, security, freedom of assembly, non-discrimination, public health and access to remedy. Restoring support for human rights and democracy: The U.S. government has provided implicit and explicit support for some of the governments most responsible for the worst human rights abuses over the past few years. The business community shied away from calling this out the way they challenged the Trump administration’s approach to climate. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. Human migration and refugee policies: The xenophobia unleashed in the first days of the Trump years must be relegated to the past. Business consistently has called for immigration policies that enable the U.S. to welcome the breadth of human capacity that comes from literally every corner of the world. This is needed both for humanitarian reasons, which speak for themselves, but also because of the positive impact open societies have on economic vitality and innovation. What’s more, this will also help to restore America’s soft power around the world, something that benefits U.S. businesses and which has been seriously damaged since 2016. Governance Corporate governance reforms and listing requirements: It is time for boards to reflect more fully the world in which business actually operates. This means diversifying board composition. It also requires that so-called “non-financial” considerations be embedded in corporate governance and listing requirements. A good first step towards integration of ESG into corporate governance would be business advocacy for making the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) mandatory. This then can be extended to other steps including mandatory human rights diligence, executive compensation and workplace diversity. All these steps will strengthen the resilience of business and bring America’s trading rules in sync with advances in Europe and elsewhere. Restoring democracy: 2020 has made clear, yet again, of significant structural flaws in American democracy. Business associations stepped up to call publicly for democratic processes to be honored — and have continued to call for this post-election. This remains important as many have chosen not to honor the clear outcome of the election. Despite this, American democracy appears poised to survive in the wake of this unusual election, but issues remain. Business should use its voice to call for reforms that address voter suppression, campaign finance, gerrymandering and a judicial system infected by hyper-partisanship. This is an issue that many CEOs will seek to avoid for fear of appearing to pick sides, and that is understandable. But the reforms called for here should not be seen that way, as they are necessary for our system to function, for all people to have their voices heard and for faith in the system be restored. 2020 has made clear, yet again, that there are significant structural flaws in American democracy. Rules-based trading system with multilateral agreements: The U.S. was the primary architect of the rules-based trading system in the wake of World War II and the primary protector of that system over the past 75 years. While this system certainly needs significant reforms, the past four years have taken a scorched-earth approach that leaves us no hope of managing an interdependent world well and fairly. Business could not have more of a stake in restoring support for the concept of multilateralism and more of a need to make sure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Procurement: Finally, business should call on government to partner more aggressively on procurement policies. The U.S. government has immense purchasing power and it is not being used as fully as it could be to promote the creation and efficiency of markets for sustainable products and services. This is also a uniquely valuable way to address the wealth gap, with government partnering with BIPOC-owned businesses as suppliers. There will be a time to get more specific on policy solutions. For now, however, it is essential to define the areas where progress is necessary. Much of what is advocated here is also found in BSR’s call for business action to promote a 21st century social contract . The temptation to “go back to business as usual” will be strong for many, but that would be a mistake. Building a just and sustainable world never has been about opposing any single political leader. It always has been about building a future in which we can all thrive. It is about what we are for, not what we are against. After four years when the U.S. government failed to embrace — and often thwarted — the achievement of sustainable business, the business voice remains a powerful tool in creating an economy that works for all. Pull Quote It is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. 2020 has made clear, yet again, that there are significant structural flaws in American democracy. Topics Policy & Politics Policy & Politics Paris Agreement Climate Justice Resilience Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on stage at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware during the 2020 election campaign. Photo by  Stratos Brilakis  on Shutterstock.

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4 ways businesses can connect with their communities to create a clean economy

November 6, 2020 by  
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4 ways businesses can connect with their communities to create a clean economy Marian Jones Fri, 11/06/2020 – 01:00 Companies often struggle with building community trust as they navigate between profit-making and authentically engaging on climate change and environmental justice matters. Last week at GreenBiz Group’s virtual conference and expo on stimulating the clean economy, VERGE 20 , community leaders and businesses from across the country came together to network, share insights and explore solutions to these challenges. During the panel “Connecting Communities to the Clean Economy,” experts shared their experiences working with private companies, their fights for green jobs and why businesses need to think of themselves as part of the community. The talk featured two women of color and leaders within the environmental and economic justice movement: Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE (founded as the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park); and Rahwa Ghirmatzion, executive director of PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing); with Heather Clancy, editorial director at GreenBiz, acting as moderator. PUSH Buffalo is a nonprofit grassroots community organization working to build and execute a comprehensive revitalization plan for West Buffalo’s West Side. This stimulus plan includes affordable housing rehabilitation, building weatherization and other green infrastructure projects. UPROSE is Brooklyn’s foremost Latinx community organization. Its work involves community organizing, supporting sustainable development and community-led climate adaptation in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Communicating genuinely and authentically listening are two key components. Panelists explained how their community organizations and business partners have successfully collaborated in the past. The conversation provided an insight into how companies can understand the communities they serve, the area they’re in and the people they employ. Communicating genuinely and authentically listening are two key components . Here are four key takeaways: 1. To build real, authentic community trust, businesses must be willing to listen to community concerns and respond with effective community-oriented solutions. Ghirmatzion talked about PUSH Buffalo’s work with a local hiring hall that connects New Yorkers to jobs. This initiative provides both hands-on training for people in the Buffalo area who have been underemployed for long periods of time and employment opportunities in renewable energy projects and green construction. According to Rahwa, at least “99.9 percent of them were folks of color.” For example, a few years ago, about 24 of PUSH’s trainees experienced racist harassment and open hostility from their white coworkers and supervisor. When PUSH brought their concerns to the company’s CEO, the organization investigated the matter and fired the supervisor. Workers and community members alike appreciated the company’s quick action and zero tolerance, Ghirmatzion said. Listening to the community and taking their issues seriously is crucial for building trust, she observed. 2. Private entities should think of themselves as community members and view local residents as political and economic partners. For Yeampierre of UPROSE, the most successful partnerships have been ones in which businesses joined local initiatives and shared the same political and environmental goals as the community. According to Yeampierre, UPROSE has had excellent relationships with some companies and terrible relationships with others. The excellent relationships have been with businesses that seek input from UPROSE on climate adaptation and embrace UPROSE’s best practices for environmental justice and community resiliency. Yeampierre cited two successful partnerships. Sims Recycling Solutions worked with UPROSE from the beginning to become a carbon-neutral state-of-the-art facility that would serve community needs but not be an eyesore or polluting facility on the industrial waterfront. Additionally, UPROSE has received support from Patagonia since 2011. In this mutually beneficial relationship, Patagonia also provides financial support for UPROSE’s environmental work. UPROSE has helped Patagonia have an office culture in which its employees join in UPROSE’s grass-roots organizing. As Yeampierre said, “Sometimes businesses don’t see themselves as part of the community, and see our community as a front for wealth for them.” She encouraged private businesses to view the community they operate in not as a resource but as a partner. 3. Businesses and developers need to embrace resilient thinking rather than viewing job creation and profit-making as their key goals. Yeampierre got a chance to provide a brief overview of UPROSE’s work to protect Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront from land speculation. UPROSE was at the center of a triumphant seven-year-long struggle against the rezoning of Industry City in Brooklyn. However, the rezoning would have created thousands of jobs. Developers viewed this project as a win-win, but activists and community leaders opposed it because the jobs would have been mostly low-paying. Plus, the influx of high-end retail and new office jobs would spur gentrification. Yeampierre argued that waterfronts such as Sunset Park are where we need to start building for “climate adaptation, mitigation and resilience.” “It’s what we call a green reindustrialization of our industrial waterfront,” she added. Businesses should avoid trying to fight long, drawn-out battles that ignore the wishes of the community. Making a resilient New York means investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency retrofits, construction, sustainable manufacturing and food security, all of which would create thousands of jobs. We need these things now, because as Yeampierre said, “We know that climate change is here.” The campaign to preserve the waterfront was a significant victory for industrial communities all over the U.S., who are told they ought to accept new jobs that rely on the extraction of fossil fuels and displacement. Sunset Park’s future could become a model for converting an industrial zone into an environmentally friendly infrastructure through green manufacturing. Businesses should avoid trying to fight long, drawn-out battles that ignore the wishes of the community. Instead, it’s vital to support community-led proposals consistent with a resilient green future from the beginning. 4. Companies can use their communications resources to showcase community climate activists’ voices and a voice in the fight for a just transition . Both UPROSE and PUSH Buffalo are a part of NY Renews, a coalition of over 140 community, labor and grassroots organizations working to end climate change in New York while safeguarding workers. Moderator Clancy asked how being members of this coalition amplifies their work. Both panelists agreed that the legislation NY Renews fights for, such as the Climate Mobilization Act, which passed last year, makes it easier for smaller social justice-based organizations to show their communities it’s possible to have a just transition. This legislation would generate thousands of jobs, lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy prices. Companies also can benefit from supporting the work of NY Renews because a just transition is an idea that appeals to workers and communities who fear that the process of reducing emissions could lead to a future with fewer jobs and more poverty. For UPROSE, being in NY Renews “helps us build locally, but it also helps us build the scale, and it helps us create the kind of regional impact that climate change demands. We need to be thinking big and locally,” Yeampierre declared. Supporting or doing similar work as NY Renews, creating green and decent jobs, can help private enterprises show that they want to support resiliency and want communities to thrive. In their closing remarks, both panelists reiterated their earlier comments on authenticity and seeking community input as soon as they start planning a project. Authentic was the word the panelists most used to describe the kind of relationship and behavior they would like to see from businesses. “Authentic” is the characteristic you should want the community to think of your company as, and you should meet that expectation, the tow community organizers observed. That is, authentic businesses genuinely communicate; they find out what their community wants and take the impact they have on the community seriously. People who live in the community can offer many solutions and critical perspectives because they’ve been working on these issues for generations, they concluded. Pull Quote Communicating genuinely and authentically listening are two key components. Businesses should avoid trying to fight long, drawn-out battles that ignore the wishes of the community. Topics Cities Social Justice Corporate Strategy VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A scene from a youth climate protest in San Francisco, California. Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash. Close Authorship

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