3p Weekend: 10 Cities On the Cutting Edge

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday January 23rd, 2015 | 0 Comments

2460648191_df0c37ff33_zWith 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.

While we’ve been busy predicting trends for 2015, major cities around the world are already making it happen. This week we tip our hats to 10 cities hard at work building the urban centers of tomorrow. The future is now.

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Volkswagen, BMW Join Forces to Create EV-Charging Corridor

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday January 23rd, 2015 | 0 Comments

(Anders Krusberg/Newscast Creative)At the 2015 Washington Auto Show, two top automakers announced an initiative to create express-charging corridors on the East and West coasts.

Together with ChargePoint, the world’s largest electric vehicle charging network, the American divisions of Volkswagen and BMW hope that increased access to fast-charging stations will speed U.S. adoption of electric vehicles, the companies said in a press conference on Thursday.

If this sounds familiar, that’s probably because it is. The ever-elusive “electric highway” has been in the making for years, and many companies have tried and failed to make it happen. But this latest endeavor, which will add to the growing ChargePoint network of more than 20,000 locations in North America, just may bring Americans closer to the dream of an electrified road trip.

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EU Considers Allergy Warning Labels for Herbal Products

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday January 23rd, 2015 | 1 Comment

Herbal_soaps_lavender_James_PettsAllergy sensitivities have been on the rise for some time, particularly in the cities of developed countries like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, where as many as 1 in 5 individuals have been diagnosed with allergies to pollen, dust or types of food. In most cases, these allergies are more a bother than a life-threatening health risk, but the spike has attracted attention in the European Union. Physicians are seeing an increase in exposure to substances we normally think of as pollen-generators: herbal plant-based substances. 

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Trust Theory in Natural Resource Management

Virginia Tech CLiGS
Virginia Tech CLiGS | Friday January 23rd, 2015 | 0 Comments
Marc Stern in Bali

Marc Stern, a fellow of Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, presenting in Bali, Indonesia.

By Iris Picat

Trust is key to any relationship. That is a well-known truth excessively written about in popular literature. The distinction with a recent article titled “The Multidimensionality of Trust: Applications in Collaborative Natural Resource Management,” co-authored by Marc Stern, associate professor at Virginia Tech and fellow at the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS), is the way it approaches trust. It decomposes its elements and describes four of the forms it takes under the natural resource management umbrella: dispositional trust, rational trust, affinitive trust and procedural trust.

A blanket definition for trust used by the authors:

“a psychological state in which one actor (the trustor) accepts some form of vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another (the trustee) despite inherent uncertainties in that expectation.”

Within the context of natural resource management, trustees and trustors can take on many shapes, whether they are an entity such as a managing agency; an environmental nonprofit or a park superintendent; a process such as public scoping meetings; or even regulations created to manage resources. Thus, trust can sway compliance and minimize resistance to planning efforts if nurtured appropriately.

While no single process is likely to be befitting of every situation, the authors hope that by offering a consistent lexicon and framework, this article can help guide leadership approaches in the human dimension of natural resource management.

To gain more insight on Marc Stern and the role trust plays in natural resource management, we asked him a few questions.

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Life in 2030: Will London’s Tube Tunnels Become Underground Cycle Paths?

3p Contributor | Friday January 23rd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: As a lead-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Jan. 17-24, Masdar sponsored a blogging contest called “Describe the Ideal City in 2030.”  The following post was a runner-up and was originally published on the Flaneur.

London's

London’s tube tunnels may one day be home to underground cycle paths, predicts Masdar Blogging Contest runner-up Jonathan Powell.

By Jonathan Powell

2030 sounds so far in the future that surely by then we’ll all be taking time machines to work and eating calorie-free food grown on Mars. Unless we’re the abject subjects of a master race of robots that took control when laptops learned to walk and we were too busy checking Facebook to notice.

However, on sitting down to imagine the intricacies of life in this far distant time, it becomes clear that 2030 is in fact only 15 years away, which isn’t even long enough to see Halley’s comet again. So, all the really life-changing stuff – water supplied from clouds, nuclear toasters and even the self-laundering socks — will not be yet be mainstream inventions. Sadly, the truth is this: The world of 2030 will not be radically different from that of today. Germany will still be beating England at football and “The Mousetrap” will still be playing in the West End.

So, in 2030 your phone won’t be embedded in your head, but there will be changes, particularly in large metropolises like London.

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2014 Was the Year of Impact Investing: What’s Next For 2015?

3p Contributor | Friday January 23rd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Beth Sirull,

By Beth Sirull

Last year, here on TriplePundit, I proclaimed 2014 the Year of Impact Investing. Whether it was or not — and what that would really mean — is open to argument. Clearly, a lot happened in the U.S. and around the world — and a lot of impact capital was deployed — in 2014.

Capital deployed in 2014

Accurate estimates of the sheer volume of impact capital deployed in 2014 are difficult to come by. Starting with the broader universe of socially-responsible investing, the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (USSIF), in its 2014 Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends, notes that nearly $7 trillion in U.S.-domiciled assets employ at least one socially-responsible investment (SRI) strategy. This up 40 percent from $3.74 trillion in 2012. These SRI strategies include: incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision making; shareholder advocacy; direct investing for measurable impact; or some combination.

But SRI funds and impact investing are not perfect overlays for one another. Impact investing requires not just the intention to affect a specific social change, but also the commitment to measure and report on that positive social change.

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New Year’s Day in Portland: 2030

3p Contributor | Friday January 23rd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: As a lead-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Jan. 17-24, Masdar sponsored a blogging contest called “Describe the Ideal City in 2030.”  The following post was a runner-up.

In 2030, Portland's skyscrapers will be transformed into , predicts Masdar Blogging Contest runner-up

In 2030, Portland’s skyscrapers will be transformed into vertical farm habitats, predicts Masdar Blogging Contest runner-up Ozzie Gonzalez. 

By Ozzie Gonzalez

Julio, my compadre from Minas Gerias, Brazil, is being dropped on the roof of my vertical farm habitat by a DroneCab.

Although he was the best man at my virtual wedding last month, Julio and I have never met in person. Last night during our telepathic Skype session, he impulsively booked a seat on the Mach-5 Skylon from Brazil to my home in Portland, Oregon, 6,800 miles away. (Of course he complained about the boring 2-hour flight to get here.)

Julio is justifiably proud that, way back in 2014, his state of Minas Gerais created an international model of regional planning. Its bold concepts for sustainable housing, transportation and resource management inspired the transformation of other regions around the world.

But when Julio arrives it will be my turn to show off. Like so many international communities in recent years, my city has an impressive sustainability story to tell.

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Calculating the True Cost of Energy Storage

3p Contributor | Friday January 23rd, 2015 | 5 Comments
A researcher tests batteries at the Idaho National Laboratory testing lab.

A researcher tests batteries at the Idaho National Laboratory testing lab.

By Anna W. Aamone

With regard to energy storage systems, many people erroneously think that the only cost they should consider is the initial – that is, the cost of generating electricity per kilowatt-hour. However, they are not aware of another very important factor.

This is the so-called LCOE, levelized cost of energy (also known as cost of electricity by source), which helps calculate the price of the electricity generated by a specific source. The LCOE also includes other costs associated with producing or storing that energy, such as maintenance and operating costs, residual value, the useful life of the system and the round-trip efficiency. Some of these factors will be discussed in this article, so if you want to get a solid grasp of the matter, check the information provided below.

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Will China’s Mining of the Moon Make It the Indisputable Global Power?

Leon Kaye | Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 6 Comments
Helium-3, moon, moon mining, Leon Kaye, renewable energy, fusion, space exploration, China, moon exploration, renewables, Chinese space program

Some suggest it is time to not man, but mine, the moon.

China is close to becoming the third country, after the United States and Russia, to land spacecraft on the moon. As a result, the blogosphere has been buzzing with one of the reasons why the Chinese have apparently decided to invest in space exploration: to explore the possibility of the isotope helium-3, rare on Earth but possibly plentiful on the moon, in order to research its viability as a clean and powerful form of energy.

Such potential is a reminder of the movie “Avatar,” the premise of which was based on humans traveling long distances across space to exploit valuable natural resources from a planet in order to meet the insatiable needs for humankind.

In the case of Chinese moon exploration, the reason is to test the viability of helium-3 as a perfectly secure form of energy. For years the buzz was that cold fusion could solve Earth’s energy conundrum without the nasty effects of pollution and greenhouse gasses. That hype has long died down, but now helium-3 could be that Holy Grail. The oft-quoted claim bouncing across the Internet suggests that 25 tons of helium-3, when reacted with deuterium, would generate enough electricity to power the United States for one year.

Considering the wars over oil and the challenges that renewables pose, you’d think it would be easy to make the case that we should be hauling lunar rocks from the moon, extracting the helium-3 and solving all of our energy problems. After all, the Chinese are looking into it, so shouldn’t we? One author suggests the U.S. would do it, too, but powerful corporate and political interests are getting in the way.

If it were only that simple.

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Solar PV: Own or Lease?

| Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment

vivint-solarSolar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) have supercharged installation of residential photovoltaic (PV) energy systems in the U.S. At least this is the case in states such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and others where energy industry regulators permit them to be offered.

Due to a variety of factors, including the scheduled ratcheting-down of the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of 2016, U.S. solar energy finance-and-installation companies, such as market leader SolarCity, are increasingly turning to solar loans as a means of financing, however.

In two new reports, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) compares the costs and benefits of financing PV installations via third-party ownership (leases and PPAs) and direct ownership via solar loans and low-cost financing.

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Why This Top College Apparel Company Pays Living Wages

| Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 2 Comments

JP.-SHIRT-2-popupAs college football season drew to a close, fans were certainly more fixed on the final score of the championship than on the “made in” label on the back of their college T-shirts and hoodies. Take a closer look at your (or your kid’s) college sweatshirt, though, and you’ll discover a college apparel company with values at its core.

In an industry that manufactures most of its apparel in developing countries that pay garment workers a little more than subsistence wages, Alta Gracia Apparel – a clothing factory in the Dominican Republic that pays employees 300 percent above the legal minimum wage – is a one-of-a-kind social enterprise.

Through a partnership with Follet Corp., one of the nation’s largest campus retailers, Alta Gracia Apparel makes college T-shirts, sweaters and sweatshirts for more than 350 U.S. colleges. Alta Gracia gear is sold in more than 800 college bookstores across the country.

The four-year-old company, owned by South Carolina-based sports apparel giant Knights Apparel, is the only apparel factory in a developing country to pay workers a living wage, maintain high health and safety factory conditions, and negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with a workers’ union. And all of these accomplishments have been verified by the independent labor rights organization Worker Rights Consortium.

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Marketing for Good: The (Often Overlooked) Power of Design

3p Contributor | Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment

This is a recurring series of excerpts from Marc Stoiber‘s new book, “Didn’t See It Coming.” 

didnt see it comingBy Marc Stoiber

I’ve made a career of connecting dots. Working in advertising, design, sustainability and innovation, I’ve found myself in the interesting position of being a conduit between disciplines that often didn’t communicate or share terribly well.

But if we’re going to change the world, we desperately need to share.

In that spirit, I have a few observations on design – a field we should pay far more attention to if we’re going to bring more consumers aboard the good ship Sustainability. 

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U.N. Global Compact Expels Hundreds for Non-Compliance

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 8 Comments

Logo_of_the_United_Nations2014 was a mixed year for the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) initiative, which has been working to increase the adoption of sustainable practices in the global business sector.

The organization announced last week that it had expelled 372 companies in the last half of 2014 for not submitting their Communication of Progress (COP) reports, which members are required to submit on a yearly basis. The COP details the member’s progress in meeting the 10 goals of the UNGC.  So far, the number of expelled companies for 2014 stands at 657.

“These expelled companies represent 10 percent of the 3,760 participants due to submit a Communication on Progress (COP) within the second half of 2014,” said the UNGC, which pointed out that the organization also took on 729 new members in the last half of 2014.

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Dubai: A City That Answers Its People

3p Contributor | Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: As a lead-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Jan. 17-24, Masdar sponsored a blogging contest called “Describe the Ideal City in 2030.”  The following post was a runner-up.

Dubai is famous for its skyscrapers, but by 2030 the city may be known as a hub for sustainable development, predicts Masdar blogging contest runner-up

Dubai is famous for its skyscrapers, but by 2030 the city may be known as a hub for sustainable development, predicts Masdar blogging contest runner-up Christina Thomas.

By Christina Thomas

“You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.” – Italo Calvino, “Invisible Cities”

Dubai certainly has its share of wonders and answers. Shellstone minarets and glass skyscrapers once symbolized the city’s tenacity in contest with the harsh desert. But in the years leading up to 2030, Dubai has come closer to reconciling with nature and responding to environmental concerns.

The city has also been answering the many questions continually posed by its millions of residents. Some ask, “Where can my children play?” “Why are the streets flooded whenever we get an inch of rain?” Others ask, “Do they sell local vegetables nearby?”

As an urban planner, my job is to make sure that the city can provide many of those answers, be it though green parks maintained with recycled water or porous roads and sidewalks that collect runoff.

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Report: Offshore Wind Better Job Creator Than Offshore Drilling

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment

offshore windWhile proponents of offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast tout it as a job-creator, the practice would actually cost jobs, according to a new report.

Offshore drilling would put at risk some of the almost 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product that rely on healthy ocean ecosystems. Offshore wind could provide twice the amount of jobs and energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, a new report by Oceana finds. Oceana’s projections only show the amount of jobs that could be created by 2035. However, many more could be created after that date, according to the report.

Gradually developing offshore wind energy on the East Coast would result in 143 gigawatts of power being generated over the next 20 years. That is enough energy to power over 115 million households. In the next 20 years, offshore wind could create about 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling. The energy created by 20 years of offshore wind in the Atlantic could produce 5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) more than the oil and gas that is recoverable in the same area. Extracting and using all of the economically-recoverable offshore oil and gas in the Atlantic would only meet oil demand for 132 days and gas demand for 283 days. Offshore wind could generate more energy in just 13 years than all of the economically-recoverable offshore oil and gas resources, the report concludes.

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