Ford’s Parking Spotter Could Keep You From the Endless Hunt

RP Siegel | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments

ParkingSpotter_01If you’re a car company and you want to do something to help reduce carbon emissions, what do you do? You start by making your cars more efficient by bringing on new technology, like hybrid powertrains. Then you incorporate electric cars, and possibly fuel cells and, of course, clean up your own internal operations. Happily, most car companies today are doing all of those things, to one degree or another.

All of these are on the critical path, with many more improvements in the pipeline. Are there any other stones left unturned in the search for improvement? Ford thinks so.

The company recently announced that it’s teaming up with Georgia Tech to develop a Parking Spotter app. As the name suggests, this app will help users locate a parking spot more quickly and directly. Sounds helpful, but will it have an impact?

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Renewables Mandate in Colorado Survives Rollback Attempt

Hannah Miller | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Pie chart of energy sources in CO

Still a long ways to go — but renewables are up 15 percent in 10 years in Colorado.

On Monday, the Colorado state legislature voted down a challenge to the state’s successful and popular Renewable Energy Standard, originally passed as the first of its kind in the country in 2004 by statewide ballot initiative.

Originally mandating that utilities and rural co-ops generate 15 percent of their power from renewables, the standard has since been expanded by state legislators twice. The most recent expansion raised the bar to 30 percent for city utilities and 20 percent for rural electric cooperatives, which serve a sizable chunk of the state — more than 600,000 customers.

A recent poll showed that 76 percent of Coloradans support pro-renewable candidates, so it’s unclear which Coloradans bill sponsor Rep. Dan Thurlow (R-Grand Junction) has been talking to when he says he thinks “we’ve done enough.”

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Artisanal Mining: “Many Stakeholders, But No Winners”

3p Contributor | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments
"This work is harder than you imagine my friend," this small-scale Colombian miner told photographer Alejandro Arango in 2010.

“This work is harder than you imagine my friend,” this small-scale Colombian miner told photographer Alejandro Arango in 2010.

By Paul Klein

“They live thinking the future is this afternoon,” said Juan Pablo Duque in describing the lives of artisanal and small-scale miners in Colombia.

Duque, senior vice president of Equilibria and formerly the CEO of Four Points Mining, has seen how artisanal and small-scale miners live and work first-hand. According to Duque, there are virtually no safety procedures, working conditions are extremely dangerous and serious accidents are frequent. “It’s very often that you hear about a mine that crashed down and killed many miners, and it was an informal mine,” he says. “It also happens in South Africa. It happens in Nicaragua and in many other parts of the world.”

Globally, approximately 100 million people – including miners and their families – depend on illegal and informal mining, compared with about 7 million in large-scale industrial mining, according to the 2002 Global Report on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining produced by the International Institute for Environment and Development

Tragedies such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh have put a spotlight on unacceptable working conditions for garment workers in developing countries. In response, initiatives such as the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety have the potential to improve the lives of workers and their families. However, the dangerous conditions in which artisanal and small-scale miners work remains largely invisible outside of the mining industry.

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The Latest and Loudest DC Lobby Force: Pizza

Leon Kaye | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 1 Comment
Pizza, American Pizza Community, USDA, FDA, Dominos, obesity, Leon Kaye, school lunches, public relations, lobbying

The message is clear–do not mess with pizza

Pizza is definitely more American than apple pie, judging by all the restaurants and take-out joints you pass by during your commute. From your favorite corner eatery to the behemoths like Domino’s and Little Ceasar’s, pizza is part of the United States’ food, landscape and culture. Every day at least 40 million Americans eat pizza; one in four boys and teenagers consume at least a slice daily. All that fat and carbs on average provide at least one quarter of that American’s caloric intake, and one-third of the recommended amount of sodium. But pizza also provides one-third of a daily supply of calcium and half a day’s intake of lycopene.

Therein you have the foundation of a food fight with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on one side, against what first sounds like a benign organization, the American Pizza Community (APC). But the latter has become a formidable lobbying group that is fighting school lunch and calorie disclosure regulations tooth and nail.

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5 Best Latin American Cities for Startups

| Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments

dafiti_dealHaving grown rapidly to become “Latin America’s leading e-commerce site,” Dafiti is touting five of the region’s major cities as hubs for launching new Internet-driven businesses.

Buenos Aires (Argentina), Medellín (Colombia), Monterrey (Mexico), São Paulo (Brazil) and Santiago (Chile) are becoming viable alternatives to the likes of Silicon Valley and counterparts in Europe, the company said.

Expanding from its initial base in São Paulo, Dafiti has launched e-commerce brands and businesses in all four of the other Latin American cities on the list. “The entrepreneurial scene has improved significantly in Latin America in the past decade and is emerging as as a strong competitor to its American and European counterparts,” Dafiti stated in a recent press release. “Entrepreneurs from all over the world are flocking to the continent to benefit from a number of brilliant funding programs and networking opportunities.”

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The Sharing Economy Comes to Facility Management

3p Contributor | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments

13903385550_39f7316982_zBy Kim Tjoa

Our society is changing. ‘Us’ is becoming the new ‘me.’ Access to items is becoming more important than actually possessing them. We are in the midst of a transition to a circular, sharing economy in which we make more efficient use of everything we already have. We are now looking to share, lend/borrow and exchange anything and everything.

The development to a sharing economy presents a huge chance for procurement and facility professionals. Why should we stay focused on buying while everybody else is sharing? Why not explore the possibility of sharing underutilized company assets (equipment, services, real estate and personnel) to save money or generate additional income?

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Startup Uses Biomimicry to Create High-Performance Metal Alloys

| Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments

ModumetalUsed widely in nature, lamination – the deposition of fine layers of materials on top of one another – has long been known as a means of manufacturing stronger, more durable and longer lasting metals. Founded in 2006, Seattle’s Modumetal is applying the process of lamination at nano-scale, enabling engineers to design and fabricate metals with superior performance characteristics and at lower cost than conventional methods.

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Ford Announces E-Bikes for Urban Commutes

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ford_e-bike_1

The 2015 Mobile World Congress, which kicked off yesterday, has already dropped a few bombshells. The impending breakup of Google+, Ikea’s new wireless charging lamp displays and the (presumably) must-have facial recognition-blocking glasses from AVG are all the talk at the moment. Oh, and let’s not forget Twitter’s tiff with ISIS, which has threatened Twitter’s employees for blocking its account.

But few gizmos seem as user-friendly as Ford‘s two e-bike prototypes, which are designed to almost read the minds of their riders. After years of testing, Ford on Monday unveiled the MoDe:Me and the MoDe:Pro, both of which are designed to work with the Apple iPhone6. The Me version is designed for the bike commuter, while the Pro is for couriers and others who use their bikes for work and need carrying capacity.

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New Partnership Promises Biodegradable Microbeads

Leon Kaye | Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 1 Comment
PHAs, microbeads, Metabolix, Honeywell, personal care products, Leon Kaye, plastic, polyhydroxyalkanoate, bioplastics, biodegradable

Is there a future in biodegradable microbeads? Honeywell and Metabolix believe so.

Microbeads were one of the great recent innovations in the personal care industry. We were told that they were fantastic for dental health and exfoliation (no manky loofahs stinking up the shower). They also inspired beauty tips backed up by brilliant marketing but not necessarily science.

Then the science started to kick in, and it was not pretty: Those microbeads, often less than 1 millimeter in size, were not necessarily filtered out by wastewater facilities. Instead, they ended up in streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. Along the way, they have a knack for picking up pesticides and other toxins, and then becoming eaten by small creatures. If those tiny creatures did not starve to death because their digestive systems were clogged with plastic, then they were eaten by bigger creatures, then even larger creatures and then, eventually, humans, who thought they only ordered fish for dinner but had a good chance of also ingesting a small dose of microbeads.

The problem with microbeads reached a point where Illinois banned them from personal care products last year after research suggested the Great Lakes were rife with this plastic pollution. California and New York have passed similar bans, and similar legislation is underway in Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey. But a partnership between the bioplastics firm Metabolix and Honeywell, announced yesterday, could find a solution to the pesky microbead dilemma that in turn could benefit consumers, companies and the environment.

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Three Megatrends That Suggest the ‘Time is Now’ for Clean Tech

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 0 Comments

JL-book-coverBy Jeremy Leggett

For the last 25 years, I have fought hard against defenders of finite carbon fuels, careless of the impact they have on our world by clinging to coal, oil and gas. And I have lost battle after battle against the dark side. But in 2013, something changed and the tide began to turn. Now, as we build up to the Paris climate talks in December, an event described by many observers as something of a ‘last chance saloon,’ I’m genuinely hopeful the light side can win the war.

The world has witnessed an extraordinary series of events that have combined to develop a ‘tipping point’ in the decline of fossil fuel industries, driven by three emerging mega-trends.

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The Renewable Energy Juggernaut Gains Momentum

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) blog.

The 43-megawatt Starokazache Solar Station. located in the Odessa Oblast in southern Ukraine.

The 43-megawatt Starokazache Solar Station, located in the Odessa Oblast in southern Ukraine.

By Tim Buckley

Powerful evidence continues to emerge on the global energy economy’s transition to renewables.

Witness this week the release of a new study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, a think tank based in Freiberg, Germany, that sees solar energy on track in many countries to become cheaper than coal- or natural-gas fired electricity by 2025.

These aren’t just developing countries Fraunhofer is talking about, although developing economies are huge players in this unfolding change.

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Healthy Corners Program Tackles Urban Food Deserts

Leon Kaye | Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 1 Comment
Washington DC, healthy corners, DC Central Kitchen, food deserts, social enterprise, Fresh & Easy, organic, Leon Kaye, bodegas, public health, obesity

Healthy Corners in D.C. says it has a solution to the food desert challenge.

In large cities across the world, from Seoul to Stockholm, the corner market is a fact of life. Prepared foods, staples, beer for that last-minute party and, yes, fresh produce are the norm. In Europe and Latin America, fresh food is everywhere, on corners and in stores crammed between apartment buildings, offering seasonal produce that is easy to pick up on the way home from work. But in the U.S., the bodegas in New York and corner markets in other cities often have a nefarious reputation for carrying overpriced, unhealthy and processed foods.

In Washington, D.C., however, a new initiative is helping these corner stores stock fresh fruits and vegetables. Its long-term success may prove that ‘food deserts‘ — or areas lacking grocery stores — really do benefit when more healthful options are available to residents. It may also determine if our emphasis on fresh and even organic food as a tool to solve poverty and public health problems is just another health fad backed up by little than high doses of pseudoscience.

D.C. Central Kitchen is a nonprofit social enterprise that runs a bevy of programs, including training unemployed adults for food service careers, delivering unwanted food to those who need it, serving healthier school meals and now, distributing fresh produce to small corner stores that can try selling it at a profit with almost no financial risk.

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Heineken Lager Brand Zaps ‘Skeeters, Fights Malaria

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 1 Comment

mozziebox_GPY&R_smScience has made great strides in the battle against malaria in recent years. Increased funding for research and public education have helped to beat back the spread of the disease, which is found on every continent on the planet. Still, as healthcare workers in countries like Papua New Guinea can attest, we’re a long way from eradicating the disease.

More than 3 billion people across the world are at risk from the parasite, which thrives in moist, tropical and sub-tropical climates and is transmitted by the lowly mosquito. In Papua New Guinea, one of the common means of transmission is through mosquito bites at night. Improved mosquito netting and indoor pesticide sprays help to combat the disease indoors. But for those who enjoy sitting outside around the fire at the end of the day, say, sipping on a brew — a common favorite pastime in the Oceanian nation — staying protected from the pesky insect is still a challenge.

So, the makers of the popular SP Lager, an offshoot of the Heineken label, came up with a low-cost option to ward off the ‘skeeters: the Mozzie Box.

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Solar Crowdfunding Startup Offers Attractive Returns

| Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 1 Comment

REVOLV_logo_color_HighRes_Square Crowdfunding provides the means for innovative startups to raise capital. That includes the solar industry, where grassroots-based startups, such as Mosaic, enable Americans to invest in projects that install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on U.S. homes, schools, businesses and municipal buildings.

Joining their ranks, San Francisco nonprofit RE-volv on Feb. 24 announced it raised over $50,000 for its Solar Seed Fund through its crowdfunding platform. Its third such crowdfunding campaign, RE-volv will use the money to finance installation of a 36-kilowatt solar PV array for the Other Avenues Food Cooperative in San Francisco.

Community-driven solar crowdfunding platforms are creating green jobs, stimulating local economies, and improving local and state government finances. They’re also helping assure a better environment for this and future generations by taking action to reduce the risks and costs of climate change, RE-volv Executive Director Andreas Karelas highlighted.

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Energy Efficiency Solutions for Retail Chains

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 0 Comments

14195687760_5f31ca258e_zBy Yaniv Vardi

Twenty billion dollars.

That is a lot of money. $20 billion is roughly the Gross Domestic Product of Nepal. It’s also rumored to be the annual budget of the NSA. $20 billion also happens to be the value of energy used each year by the retail industry in the U.S. According to Adam Siegel of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, this creates a savings potential in the industry of roughly $3 billion (more than the GDP of Aruba).

At the macro level, a $3 billion industry-wide opportunity for savings (not to mention the potential environmental improvements) is a big deal. Even at the micro level, when we examine individual retail chains, we discover that excess energy consumption in retail can exceed 30 percent of total profits. With solutions that promote energy and operational efficiencies, we can do away with the waste and inject the savings directly to the bottom line.

Forward-thinking retail chains are accepting energy as a strategic asset. And, as such, they are finding ways to manage their energy consumption intelligently to minimize off-hour consumption and wrong building automation system (BAS) scheduling, antiquated technology solutions, poor maintenance and inefficient equipment, and eliminate undetected and resource-intensive failures.

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