NREL Report Reveals the Steady Rise of Renewables

| Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 5 Comments

US NREL Wind Cvr The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on Jan. 20 released its latest report on U.S. and global renewable energy. Published annually, NREL’s 2013 Renewable Energy Data Book reveals new renewable electricity accounted for over 61 percent of total new U.S. generation capacity in 2013, rising to represent nearly 15 percent of total installed capacity and 13 percent of total U.S. electricity generation.

Worldwide, renewable energy resources accounted for 23 percent of electricity generation. Solar electricity was the fastest growing segment of U.S. electricity generation technology: Cumulative installed solar electricity capacity surged nearly 66 percent higher in 2013.

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After Davos: Lessons for Impact and Social Investors

3p Contributor | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Aerial photograph of Davos, Switzerland

Davos: Returning to normal after WEF15, but what will the forum mean for us?

By Marta Maretich

The World Economic Forum has come and gone, leaving the Davos snow more than a little trampled. Now that 2,500+ of the world’s most powerful people have flown home in somewhat fewer (it seems) than 1,700 private jets, what do we know about what’s coming in 2015? And, more specifically, what lessons did the Forum hold for impact and social investors?

Impact and social investing are part of the global economic reality, so the larger trends identified at Davos will be felt in our sector, too. Quantitative easing in the Eurozone, the unpredictable fallout from the Grexit, the slowdown in growth in China and India, its surge in the U.S., will all shape the world economic outlook for 2015 and will inevitably have their effects on the social sphere. And yet it was interesting to notice certain issues — some of our own favorite topics — were more prominent on the agenda than they have been in previous years.

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14 Outdoor Companies Pledge to Boost Women’s Leadership

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 0 Comments

REI_OIWC_Womens_LeadershipThe Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition, along with REI and 13 other outdoor companies, have announced a new goal: boost and support women’s participation in key leadership roles.

The pledge to accelerate women’s leadership, which was developed by the OIWC, was unveiled by REI CEO Jerry Stritzke last week at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. REI, along with other big-name signatories like Patagonia and The North Face, hope the pledge will “drive change across the industry.”

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Can the Trucking Industry Help Boost Fuel Sustainability?

Leon Kaye | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 1 Comment
Trucking efficiency, trucking, trucking industry, renewable energy, clean energy, biofuels, electric vehicles, EVs, biofuels, climate change, Leon Kaye, battery technology, renewables

BSR calls for more fuel sustainability within the trucking sector

We grit our teeth when we see them on the road, but the stubborn truth is that trucks are an integral part of the North American economy’s foundation. The movement of goods from port to storefront or warehouse is a huge economic multiplier and employer. At the same time, in addition to the fact that trucking is a brutal job entailing long hours, many truckers are independent contractors. True, cheap oil may lighten their wallets, but the history of fossil fuel prices suggests at any point in the future they will be susceptible fuel cost shocks. More sustainable sources of fuel would be a huge benefit to the industry in the long run.

To that end, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) has issued another one of their energy and fuel reports. The latest study focuses on transportation fuel in North America, and its timing is on point considering 2014 was the hottest year on record. Transportation causes 14 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions and 23 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Clean energy technologies are slowly gaining traction within the transport sector, but the process will be slow: the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests renewables will at best make up 15 percent of the globe’s transport mix by 2035. Hence the industry faces massive challenges, but also opportunities for companies as the sector will continue to grow at a rapid pace.

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Prison Reforms Offenders While Serving Gourmet Meals

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 1 Comment

Cardiff_Prison_le_restaurant_jennydowning2A prison in Cardiff, Wales, offered an awkward challenge to the city’s 900 or so restaurants recently when its prisoner-staffed diner was named the best restaurant in the city.

The Clink Cymru restaurant, located in Wales’ capital and largest city, outpaced 3- and 4-star classic Cardiff venues like Jamie’s Italian, the Potted Pig and the Mint and Mustard for the top score as locals’ favorite eatery. Voters weighed in on TripAdvisor, and the results of the 395 votes were picked up by the South Wales Evening Post.

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Utilities Look to Leverage Smartphones for Connected Home Analytics

| Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 1 Comment

Bidgely_Logo Proving themselves to be the ultimate utilitarian consumer devices, smartphones are providing individuals untethered access to an increasingly wide range of personal devices. These range from computers and TVs to lights, heating and air conditioning and household appliances.

The installed base of “things” connected to the Internet will expand to number some 30 billion by 2020, according to a November 2014 IDC forecast. Among the ever-growing number of “connected” devices, smartphones are emerging as the preeminent choice for accessing the rapidly expanding “Internet of Things.”

Broadband network connectivity, which feeds enormous quantities of data into powerful software applications residing in data centers, is essential in the drive to make “things” smarter. This trend is clearly evident in the energy market space. Presenting its latest offerings at the upcoming DistribuTECH 2015 Conference and Exhibition, home energy analytics provider Bidgely is introducing “a suite of products that transform utilities’ big data into powerful insights to drive long-term customer engagement and energy savings.”

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The Key to Marketing Sustainability: Make It Sexy

3p Contributor | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 0 Comments

staircase-600468_640 By Sandra Stewart

Sexy sustainability. You always put those two words together, right?

Stop laughing. Sustainability is a lot of things, but for most of us, sexy isn’t one of them. That needs to change.

Polls consistently find that people want products and services to have sustainable attributes, and they plan to buy them. Just as consistently, actual purchases don’t match up with stated intentions. There are plenty of reasons for this disconnect, ranging from how much people know to how much people care. But marketing is surely part of the problem, and it may be the easiest part to address.

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Amazon to Power Data Centers With Renewable Energy

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 0 Comments

amazon packagingFor years, Amazon has received criticism of its environmental policies. In 2012, an article published in the Guardian pointed out that Amazon hadn’t published a sustainability report. Try looking for one on Amazon’s website, and you still can’t find it. However, last summer Amazon hired Kara Hartnett Hurst, CEO of the Sustainability Consortium, as its first sustainability executive. And this month, the company made a big announcement concerning renewable energy.

Amazon Web Services is planning to buy the energy generated by a 150 megawatt wind farm in Benton County, Indiana, the company announced last week. The wind farm, called the Amazon Web Services Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge), is expected to start generating power by January 2016. It will generate enough electricity, 500,000 megawatt hours, to power about 46,000 homes a year, and will be used to run both current and future AWS Cloud data centers.

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A New Vocabulary for Responsible Business: Words That Encourage

3p Contributor | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 1 Comment

6826303487_b1e529a4f7_mBy Mark Brownlie

Are you tired of re-conceptualizing the paradigm to optimize competencies? Sometimes the words we use at work do more to baffle than to communicate clearly.

In reality, we speak many languages in our companies — legalese, engineering 301, advanced human resources, fluent finance — all sorts of corporate-speak.

If we keep using language that doesn’t communicate well, or worse, that gives the wrong impression, we’ll continue to have problems in becoming better businesses and a better society. I’m not proposing that we adopt a new language, but we do need to infuse our current lingo with some words and concepts that encourage a better future.

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A Sustainable Supply Chain “Race to the Top”

Michael Kourabas
| Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Levi StraussLevi Strauss is hoping that, by incentivizing its worldwide web of suppliers to operate more responsibly, it can create what it is calling a sustainability “race to the top” in its supply chain.  The program, which the world’s most-recognized jeans maker and the World Bank jointly unveiled last November, is startling simple.  In exchange for improving their performance across a number of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) metrics, Levi Strauss’s suppliers will be able to access a sliding-scale of lower-cost financing arranged by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

If the program succeeds, the IFC could eventually expand it sector-wide, fundamentally changing the way the garment industry operates.  Yet, even if the program significantly improves the behavior of Levi Strauss’s suppliers, the program’s real success may be measured by the impact it has on the company itself.

An overview of the incentive program

The Levi Strauss-IFC program is being rolled out country by country, beginning in South Asia — a particularly problematic region and where many of Levi Strauss’s suppliers are based. The IFC recently held an explanatory meeting in Pakistan for all of the Levi Strauss vendors in Pakistan, for instance, at which the IFC explained the incentive program and answered questions from suppliers.  Once the program is introduced in a country, any vendor is eligible to participate, and thus far participation levels have been encouraging.

According to Levi Strauss VP of sustainability, Michael Kobori, all of Levi Strauss’s suppliers based in Bangladesh and Pakistan have expressed interest in the program.

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New Investment Fund Finds Promising Startups in Sustainable Fish Farming

RP Siegel | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Calysta feed

Calysta Microbial Protein Feed

In many ways, the sustainability journey is one of growing our capacity to provide critical production outputs like energy, food and water in a manner that does not deplete the natural resources upon which they depend. This needs to be done in a way that also does not produce unwanted byproducts that challenge the carrying capacity of the environment.

Exciting new innovations are being developed and introduced every day. One area that really seems to be heating up is aquaculture. Fish are becoming more and more popular due to their lower fat than other meats, but as their popularity and our population continue to grow, overfishing is becoming a problem. We have written about sustainable fisheries, and the growing community supported fishery (CSF) movement, but there seems to be little doubt that farming fish in a controlled environment can be far more productive than catching it in the wild.

For example, Lake Erie, which encompasses some 4,000 square miles, produces around 11 million pounds of yellow perch per year (down from about 38 million pounds 50 years ago).  According to Norman McCowan of Bell Aquaculture, a sustainable operation in Indiana we wrote extensively about last summer, 11 million pounds of perch could be raised indoors on about 7 acres.

This week brought an announcement out of Holland of a new investment fund called Aqua-Spark that is focused exclusively on sustainable aquaculture. The fund was launched in 2013 and has since raised $10 million. This week, Aqua-Spark announced its first two investments.

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Why Stella Artois Wants You to “Buy a Lady a Drink”

Leon Kaye | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Water scarcity, water.org, Stella Artois, buy a lady a drink, Matt Damon, Leon Kaye, India, microfinance, cause marketing

Stella Artois wants you to buy a lady a drink

At first glance this campaign reminds you of the 1980s bar scene and may elicit an eye roll. But in too many parts of the world, the thirst for water and hours put into collecting it trumps political correctness. To that end, the Belgian brewer Stella Artois has partnered with Water.org to launch an eye-catching campaign to halt one of the most onerous tasks faced by women in developing nations: the hours-long daily route of hauling water, usually by foot, over long distances. The “Buy a Lady a Drink” campaign opened last week at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

Indeed, this cause marketing campaign is a knife in a massive gunfight as NGOs, private companies and governments try to find ways to expand access to clean water in an era of growing water scarcity. Nevertheless, more knives like that of Stella Artois’ initiative are needed. The statistics are overwhelming. At least 760 million people lack access to safe, secure and clean water. Women and children spend about 140 million hours a day collecting water. And while mobile technology has opened more economic doors, one disturbing fact is that more people worldwide own a cell phone than own a toilet. Stella Artois’ campaign, which enlists Water.org’s founders Matt Damon and Gary White, is a step in raising awareness about this massive problem.

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Report: Pollution is the Leading Cause of Death in the Developing World

Alexis Petru
| Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Indian PollutionIt was only after Seynabou Mbengue saw five of her 10 children die that she realized the culprit: her job extracting lead from used batteries by hand. The Senegalese mother watched as her five youngest children, all born after she started her toxic recycling job, began to have seizures and convulsions until they finally passed away before their second birthdays.

Unfortunately, the tragic deaths of Mbengue’s children are not uncommon. Pollution is the leading cause of death in low- and middle-income countries, according to a report from the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), an organization whose members include the World Bank, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and various United Nations’ bodies and national governments.

In 2012, pollution – in the form of contaminated soil, water, and both indoor and outdoor air – was responsible for 8.4 million deaths in developing countries, finds Pollution: The Silent Killer of Millions in Poor Countries. That’s almost three times more deaths than those caused by malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined: Malaria claimed 600,000 lives in 2012, HIV/AIDS caused 1.5 million deaths and tuberculosis killed 900,000 individuals.

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Sustainability Ranking for Large Companies Announced at World Economic Forum

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 1 Comment

biogen_idec_sustainableFraming the perfectly sustainable company has always been a challenge, but never one that Toronto-based Corporate Knights has shied away from. The well-known media and financial products company released its eighth annual tally of the top 100 multi-billion-dollar companies this week. And there was no better place to announce the findings than the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland.

It’s a heady list of who’s-who from every corner of the industrialized world. The U.S., which was represented by 20 companies, took the lion’s share of kudos.

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Boomers’ Sustainability Diet: What Not To Do

Bill Roth | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: 3p correspondent Bill Roth used sustainability principles to get healthy, lose 20 pounds and keep it off. He documented his experience — and what he calls the Boomers’ Sustainability Diet — in a three-part series. This post is part three. In case you missed them, you can read the first part here and the second part here.

The new thinner Bill Roth!

The new, thinner Bill Roth!

I have lost 20 pounds and kept it off by incorporating core principals of sustainability into my diet and lifestyle. My Boomers’ Sustainability Diet is the easiest diet you have ever considered.

In my last article, I explained how I have lost weight by eating all I want of good food that I like to eat. I lost weight without being hungry! I even get to enjoy my happy hours. This diet is what we baby boomers are all about: You can still live life to the fullest while addressing health concerns tied to tummy fat.

This last article in my three-part series explains why good intentions are not enough. There are things we have been doing our entire lives that have gotten us into this situation where we are overweight and confronting serious health challenges because of our diets. Here is the list of five things you just have to stop eating if you are going to achieve sustained weight loss and improved health.

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