3p Weekend: 5 Things Employers Need to Know About Millennials

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Want to learn more? Join TriplePundit, SAP and our special guests at #SAPsocent on October 23 at 9 a.m. PST / Noon EST for a special Twitter Chat about millennials and social entrepreneurship. Click here for more info.

Business MeetingWith a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

According to a study conducted in 2012 by leadership strategist Erica Dhawan75 percent of the global workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025. We all know millennials love their smartphones and are more likely to shun car-centric suburban life in favor of big cities — but those aren’t the only things that make this generation tick.

If employers are looking to attract and retain top talent, they’d be wise to learn these five things about millennials.

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Can Geoengineering Really Fix Climate Change?

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday October 17th, 2014 | 45 Comments

climate_change_geoengineering_NASAEveryone seems to be wracking their brains about how to combat climate change these days. From the conservatively pragmatic to the impressively ambitious, there seem to be no end of theories on what will ultimately slow the heating of the atmosphere. While most of us have already heard of, and probably implemented, solutions like less driving and paring down on landfill refuse, there’s a whole lot of other ideas on the table these days that take a more imaginative tact.

One concept that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has proposed is called geoengineering: a fascinating collection of brainstorms that would mostly be relegated to the extreme of impressively ambitious goals. One approach that you probably heard about a few years ago involved wrapping Greenland in a huge blanket to reduce glacier melt.

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DOE and Abengoa Launch Biorefinery in Kansas

Leon Kaye | Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Abengoa, Department of Energy, biofuels, clean energy, cellulosic ethanol, corn stover, Hugoton, Kansas, food vs fuel, Leon Kaye, Chris Standlee

The new Abengoa biorefinery in Kansas.

Kansas is a political mess right now, and its leaders have hardly been hospitable to sustainable development, but a new biofuels project underway, close to the border with the Oklahoma panhandle, shows that new clean energy technologies do have a future. This morning the Department of Energy and the Spanish multinational Abengoa are officially kicking off the company’s first commercial-scale biorefinery in Hugoton. Once known as Kansas’s natural gas capital, this town of 4,000 may very well become known as the catalyst for next-gen biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, finally scaling and becoming cost-competitive with other fuels.

So why would a €7.8 billion (US$10 billion) company be bothered with this corner of the prairies? A conversation I had with Chris Standlee, Abengoa’s executive vice president of global affairs, shed some light on the future of cellulosic alcohol—which could finally play a role in diversifying our country’s energy portfolio, reduce carbon emissions and generate revenue for farmers. According to Standlee, Albengoa’s investment in the Hugoton plant reflects the company’s confidence that cellulosic alcohol is finally becoming a more cost effective option.

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The Mustang Gets an EcoBoost for Its 50th Birthday

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

2014-10-14 14.44.29I’ve always wanted a Ford Mustang. As a youngster, I often daydreamed about cruising down the highway with the top down and the wind in my hair. Many a homeroom game of MASH ended in disappointment — not because I got stuck living in a shack or married to a boy who pushed me down at recess, but because the luck of the draw left me with something other than a Mustang.

I never would have guessed that the first time I’d sit behind the wheel of my dream car would be as an environmental journalist — about to punch the pedal of the most fuel efficient Mustang ever made.

For the model’s 50th birthday, the folks at Ford Motor Co. decided to do things a bit differently by launching the first Mustang with EcoBoost. Available with both manual and automatic transmissions, the EcoBoost model promises 32 miles per gallon on the highway. Now, before you get too excited, I’m not talking about the V8 version — or even the V6. The 2015 Mustang EcoBoost comes equipped with a 4-cylinder engine. But at 2.3 liters and 310 horsepower, it still has a good deal of pep. The 320 pound-feet of torque doesn’t hurt performance either. In fact, the EcoBoost produces more horsepower and torque than the Mustang GT engines did just 10 years ago.

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Retailers Cite Low Wages as Major Threat to Business

Eric Justian
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

burger king home of the whoperTwo-thirds of America’s largest retailers, most of which pay minimum wage, are citing “flat or falling disposable incomes” as a serious risk factor to their business models. This according to a report by the Center for American Progress. The report isn’t based on squishy personal corporate responses from public relations staff. No … It’s based on the actual Securities and Exchange Commission filings for these companies as they cite risk factors to their businesses. These 10-K filings show that major retailers are highly concerned about how low and stagnant wages among consumers are a threat to business.

Median household incomes are not doing well. In 2013 they were 8 percent lower than in pre-recession 2007 which, according to the report, “leaves the median married couple with two kids with $5,500 less to spend annually on food, clothes and other essentials that retailers sell.”

Low estimates are that the middle class accounts for 30 percent of the 115 million American households. That’s about 35 million households, times $5,500 less per year, for a total of about $193 billion less in available funds each year that could be going to Walmart, Burger King, Kohl’s, Sears or whatever favorite retailer you might have. That’s a huge hit to America’s retailers, and it’s got Wall Street worried. While our leaders in Washington, D.C. keep insisting on the merits of trickle-down economics, retailers, restaurants and Wall Street economists are starting to notice that not only is money not trickling down — but it’s also no longer trickling up.

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Method’s New Factory to Host World’s Largest Rooftop Farm

Alexis Petru
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments
A drawing of Method's planned manufacturing plant.

A drawing of Method’s planned manufacturing plant.

Back in March, eco-friendly cleaning supply company Method broke ground on its first U.S. manufacturing plant, set to be built on Chicago’s South Side. Now the San Francisco-based company has revealed more details about the green roof planned for the factory: Through a partnership with urban farming company Gotham Greens, the facility will boast the largest rooftop farm in the world, producing up to 1 million pounds of produce each year.

Gotham Greens will design, build and operate the 75,000-square-foot greenhouse, the Brooklyn-based company announced in a joint press release with Method in early October. The pesticide-free produce harvested from the urban rooftop farm will be distributed through local Chicago retailers, restaurants, farmer’s markets and community groups – bringing fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables to the food desert that is the Windy City’s South Side. The greenhouse can also provide full-time green collar jobs for residents in the community, Gotham Greens’ Marketing and Partnerships Manager Nicole Baum told Method in an interview on its blog.

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SXSW Eco Interview: Jeff Cheney, Earth911

| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

earth-911-tv-229x150We’ve been fans of Earth911 since back in the day when they were merely a recycling services directory.  Now the site has grown into a major player in eco-friendly news and information and has just launched their first ever eco-marketplace, YouChange.

By encouraging consumers to “vote with their dollars,” the YouChange platform will offer thousands of vetted products that will not only make you feel better about where your money goes, but will also reward companies that are doing the right thing vis a vis the environment.

I had a chance to talk to the “president of earth” himself, Jeff Cheney, last week in Austin…

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Green Building Questions: What Makes Fiberglass Windows Energy Efficient?

3p Contributor | Friday October 17th, 2014 | 1 Comment
New fiberglass windows for apartments

There’s a lot of talk about fiberglass windows, but just how energy efficient are they?

By Paul Kazlov

As more people, homeowners especially, push to go green at home, many are turning to eco-friendly products such as energy efficient windows. As a result, fiberglass windows are gaining popularity due to their energy efficient material.

Have you ever wondered what makes fiberglass windows, or fiberglass in general, so energy efficient? A variety of factors serve as the foundation for the material’s uncanny ability to save home and business owners thousands on heating and cooling bills. Some of the fundamental causes of fiberglass’ flawless energy conservation range from a long lifecycle performing at optimal functionality and a prolonged degradation process. In addition, the materials that comprise fiberglass windows are cheaper to produce and require less raw goods, as compared to vinyl and wood products.

In fact, fiberglass requires very little natural resources to be consumed, if any at all. Furthermore, fiberglass is certainly more eco-friendly when compared to wood which requires the utilization of trees. Here are some of the features of fiberglass windows that make them remarkably environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

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Text Messaging Can Get You a Job (In Brazil)

Sherrell Dorsey
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Join TriplePundit, SAP and our special guests for a Twitter Chat about millennials and social entrepreneurship. Follow along at #SAPsocent on October 23 at 9 a.m. PST/Noon EST.

woman cell phoneDespite massive growth throughout the years and big companies testing the waters for market opportunities, Latin America still faces historically high unemployment rates and a dismal GDP. For working-class Brazilians, the default means for finding employment — newspaper ads and word-of-mouth — are slow and ad hoc. However, finding work is now becoming as simple as responding to a text message, thanks to entrepreneur Jacob Rosenbloom, founder of Emprego Ligado.

Backed by high-profile investors including 500 Startups, Qualcomm and a new round of Series A funding to increase geographic expansion, Emprego Ligado is successfully taking over São Paulo as a virtual staffing firm that’s connecting blue-collar workers to millions of job opportunities each month.

Launched in 2011, Emprego Ligado serves as a job marketplace for working-class Brazilians with limited access to the Internet. Job applicants simply upload their resumes and filter job opportunities to the system via text message. The process takes as little as 2 minutes to complete, and accepted candidates are able to arrange interviews with potential employers all through the convenience of their mobile device.

I sat down with Rosenbloom via Skype to discuss his venture, the growth opportunities that exist in Brazil, and how he’s charting a new path for economic empowerment that affects on the ground environmental and quality of life issues for the country’s most vulnerable workers.

Here’s an edited version of our conversation:

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Vast Methane Cloud Confirmed Over the American Southwest

Eric Justian
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 3 Comments
The red spot in the Southwest is the single largest concentration of methane emissions in the US.

The red spot in the Southwest is the single largest concentration of methane emissions in the US.

At first NASA scientists didn’t believe it, thinking it was an instrument error. But then came the confirmation. They had found a Delaware-sized methane cloud over the American Southwest at the Four Corners. At 2,500 square miles, it is the largest concentrated area of methane emissions in the United States.

Methane, also known as natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas — 20 times more potent than CO2.

The gas isn’t coming from hydraulic fracturing well leaks, which are indeed a source of methane emissions. The data shows the Four Corners methane cloud pre-dates the fracking boom. So, it’s not from fracking or cow farts. This methane cloud is believed to be coming from leaks from coalbed methane extraction.

Leaks. It’s because of such inevitable leaks that it’s worth taking it with a grain of salt when natural gas is billed as a solution to climate change for its lower CO2 emissions.

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A Slow Smart City: Bangalore’s $6 Billion Traffic Headache

Leon Kaye | Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments
India, Bangalore, smart cities, rail, public transportation, information technology, multi-modal transportation, Leon Kaye

Bangalore traffic is USD6 billion headache

India’s fifth largest city, Bangalore, deserves much of the credit and attention for India’s economic transformation the past 20 years. Home to massive information technology companies including Wipro and Infosys, the Bangalore metropolitan area contributes as much as one-third of India’s IT exports. Many global companies, including SAP, have long set up shop in Bangalore. Many of the technologies that are part of the foundation of the “smart cities” movement underway worldwide have a base in Bangalore.

But as in the case of other cities throughout India, being stuck in traffic gives the feeling one is anywhere but a “smart city.” The frustration in Bangalore is nothing new. An annual report by IBM ranked Bangalore highly in its 2011 “Commuter Pain Survey.” This city of eight million was lodged between Johannesburg and New Delhi, and faring worse than other cities notorious for snarled traffic, including Buenos Aires and Los Angeles. The impacts on local quality of life are all over the map, such as when ambulances take hours to move patients only a few kilometers across town to emergency rooms. But the toll Bangalore’s traffic has on workers gives cities a lesson on why cities have got develop more robust transportation plans in a crowded world: Quartz estimates the annual cost to local IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to reach as much as US$6.5 billion annually. Considering the average salary of an IT or BPO employee in India, that sum is staggering.

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This is Water: Lessons From My ‘4 Liters Challenge’

Michael Kourabas
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 2 Comments

10689547_750193981709206_6747488843991222514_nOn an average day, I waste a shameful amount of water.  So do you.  We all do, and we do it while hundreds of millions of people in other parts of the world live in “water poverty,” consuming less water in an entire day than most of us use flushing the toilet a few times.

I learned all of this when I decided to take DIGDEEP’s4 Liters Challenge” — a pledge to use a total of only 4 liters of water for one entire day.  The challenge was not pleasant.  Far worse than the experience was coming to terms with just how much water we waste.

Context

Does the 4 Liters Challenge sound hard?  I actually wasn’t sure until I put it in context.  First, most of us use nearly 4 liters of water — in other words, all of the water allotted in the challenge — every time we wash our hands or face.  Most Americans use more than 400 liters of water (!) every single day, or 100 times what the challenge requires.  A single toilet flush uses about 6 liters of water, and a mere three flushes amounts to more water than most other people in the world use all day to clean, cook, drink and bathe.  The average dishwasher uses 23 liters of water, and running the water while you brush your teeth could waste 9 liters. The all important shower?  Newer shower models use about 9.5 liters of water every minute, so a quick, five-minute shower uses about 47.5 liters of water and a 10-minute shower — a little longer than the average — uses (wastes?) almost 100 liters.

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Sustainable Seafood at SXSW Eco: A Tale of Two Fisheries

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

C

From left to right: Hoyt Peckham, Cheryl Dahle, Brian Caouette and moderator Meg Busse, community centered designer for Context Partners.

Ocean health issues took center stage at the 2014 SXSW Eco conference in Austin, Texas last week. On the second day of the conference, renowned oceanographer, explorer and author Sylvia Earle, who you may also know as the founder of Mission Blue, gave a keynote speech on her vision for more sustainable seas. Her speech was one of the most buzzed-about at the conference, and the subject definitely hit home.

The following day, a group of sustainable seafood experts assembled for a panel discussion on how networks are the future of fish. What do they mean by ‘networks,’ you ask? To put it simply: 200 million people directly or indirectly depend on fishing for their livelihoods, many in developing countries. In nations where infrastructure  is limited and regulations lax — and cost-effective, sustainable solutions are not readily available — fishermen often choose unsustainable and even illegal catch methods in order to make a living.

For these fishermen, the only networks they know for catching and selling their fish are unsustainable. This contributes to the rampant overfishing of our oceans and the opacity of the seafood supply chain. But introducing more sustainable networks to fishermen and fishing communities around the world just may help solve the problem.

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The Pathway to a Stronger Clean Power Plan

| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 2 Comments

energy-coal-power-plant-smokestacks-with-tailingsThis past June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced its Clean Power Plan – the Obama administration’s strongest measure yet to avoid the risks of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In a report released Oct. 14, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) outlines a practical, effective way to strengthen the Clean Power Plan by delivering much greater cuts in power plants’ carbon dioxide and GHG emissions.

Power plants are the largest sources of carbon dioxide and GHG emissions in the U.S., accounting for around one-third of overall GHG and 40 percent of national CO2 emissions. For the first time ever, the proposed Clean Power Plan would require existing U.S. power plant CO2 emissions to be reduced 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Building on the EPA’s flexible, state-by-state approach to implementation, in its report UCS makes the case that much greater cuts in emissions could be realized – “especially by taking greater advantage of cost-effective renewable energy options.” In fact, U.S. states can produce nearly twice as much emissions-free, renewable electricity than the EPA calculates in the Clean Power Plan – and do so in a way that is affordable, UCS asserts.

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SXSW Eco Interview: Angela Mason, Chicago Botanic Garden

| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

cbg_logo_1Green jobs – any work in agriculture, research, service or fields that contribute substantially to environmental quality – have become an increasingly enticing opportunity. Beyond providing vital opportunities for personal growth and development, green jobs engage individuals in work that simultaneously can improve their lives and the communities in which they live.

The Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship is a great example of a program seeking to prepare people for green jobs.  It’s an offshoot of the Chicago Botanic Garden and annually enrolls 15 to 20 students in a nine-month classroom and hands-on certificate course in sustainable urban agriculture.

I had a chance to talk with the program’s director, Angela Mason, in Austin last week:

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