3p Contributor: Bill DiBenedetto

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

Recent Articles

More Utilities Are Shifting to Renewable Energy

| Wednesday July 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

ceres picThe “new reality” facing electricity consumers and their utility companies is that renewable energy is meeting an increasingly larger share of U.S. energy needs, according to a report released this month from Ceres and Clean Edge.

That translates into more and better choices and a clean energy future.

“Renewables — including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, waste heat and small-scale hydroelectric — accounted for a whopping 49 percent of new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2012, with new wind development outpacing even natural gas,” writes Jon Wellinghoff, partner at Stoel Rives LLP and former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the report.

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ExxonMobil to Comply with LGBT Executive Order

| Tuesday July 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Exxon Gas Station_ T N JonesExxonMobil said last week that it will comply with the protections for gay, lesbian and transgender employees required of federal contractors. But it’s unclear whether the oil major will formalize that by changing the language of its equal opportunity corporate policy.

A recent Associated Press story noted that President Barack Obama’s signing of an executive order on July 21 expanded protections for federal workers and contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Labor Department has 90 days to issue regulations for how employers must comply.

“Exxon, which according to government records won more than $480 million in federal contracts in 2013 and more than $8 billion since 2006, has long resisted pressure from civil rights groups and shareholders to enumerate such protections in its formal policy,” according to the AP account.

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One Year On: Bangladesh Worker Safety Alliance Charts Progress

| Friday July 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

bangladesh garment workerBangladesh’s Rana Plaza building collapse and the deaths of more than 1,100 workers in April 2013 triggered calls for better conditions in the garment industry. From that singular event, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety was created to drive improvements, but a year later and despite some real progress, there is still much more to do.

Reversing decades of sweatshop conditions suddenly exposed by the building collapse will take time and a lot of money. Work to bring Bangladeshi factories used by North American retailers up to acceptable fire and building safety standards will cost more than $100 million and take at least 18 months to complete, according to the alliance’s first annual report released this week.

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No Tesla Charging Stations? Chinese Business Man Builds His Own

| Monday July 21st, 2014 | 2 Comments

tesla_chinaYou bought that spiffy new all-electric Tesla Model S, so why not build the charging stations to go along with it?

This is what Chinese businessman Yi Zong decided to do after he purchased his Tesla earlier this year. He realized that charging his vehicle would be a problem in China because, well, there are few stations in that country. Zong installed recharging facilities on his own dime, or yuan as the case may be, in 16 cities between Beijing and his home in Guangzhou — a 3,573-mile corridor.

Zong, one of the first Chinese owners of the Model S, calls his project the country’s “first electric-charging road,” according to a report at Caixin Online, a Beijing-based media group.

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Buying Gas Gets Easier with SAP, Toyota, VeriFone Technology

| Wednesday July 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment

old station_pete zarriaThe day when technology rules the road gets closer all the time. SAP AG, Toyota InfoTechnology Center and VeriFone have developed a prototype system that features a one-touch screen that directs drivers to the nearest gas station and authorizes payment electronically.

And the driver can even receive personalized coupons! Promotions! Loyalty points!

It’s called connected fueling in the connected vehicle — a brave new world for the fossil-fuel consumer. The companies announced the prototype at the 14th SAP Automotive Forum, early this month in Leipzig, Germany.

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Ceres: Half of America’s Largest Companies Don’t Report on Climate Risk

| Monday July 7th, 2014 | 1 Comment

climate changeRisk assessment is risky and often murky business, and it’s generally acknowledged that the globe’s climate is at risk — so how companies assess the financial impact of climate change in their risk portfolios should be an important consideration, both for shareholders and bottom lines, right?

Maybe not so much, it seems. Ceres, a nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on corporate sustainability, contends that not many companies believe climate change will have a material impact on their business. “Roughly half of the 3,000 biggest publicly traded companies in the U.S. say mum’s the word, reporting zilch in their annual filings to U.S. regulators,” it says.

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World Bank: Climate Change Policies Will Boost Global Economy

| Monday June 30th, 2014 | 5 Comments

WorldBank_Smart0Development0MaThe economic argument against taking action on climate change — i.e., “It’s just too expensive!” — is fast becoming passé, with a World Bank report this month noting that policies to cut carbon pollution might actually boost the global economy by up to $2.6 trillion a year.

Yes, that’s trillion!

This is the first time that “climate-smart” project scenarios have been tallied on such a large scale to find out how government actions can boost economic performance and benefit lives, jobs, crops, energy and GDP – as well as emissions reductions to combat climate change.

The 88-page report, “Climate-Smart Development: Adding Up the Benefits of Actions that Help Build Prosperity, End Poverty and Combat Climate Change,” focuses on five countries – Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and the United States – plus the European Union. Big benefits will flow by 2030 if that group implements just three sets of policies on clean transportation, energy efficiency in industry and energy efficiency in buildings, the report asserts.

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Target Pushes ‘Long-Term Value’ in 2013 Sustainability Report

| Tuesday June 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Target turns 50_AllenTarget’s 2013 sustainability report says the ultimate definition of a sustainable business means investing in the “ongoing well-being” of its customers, team, shareholders and communities.

Even during a time of growth and challenges, that is the continuing priority, says John Mulligan, interim president and CEO, EVP and chief financial officer. “It’s not about ‘going green.’ It’s about making sure the partnerships we take, the processes we follow and the products we sell are helping us create long-term value that goes beyond Target and into the communities we serve.”

Worthy words indeed. How is Target doing?

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Oakland City Council Moves on Coal Transport Ban

| Wednesday June 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment

2113747638_33ca920f07_zThe Oakland City Council just approved resolutions opposing the transportation of coal and other fossil fuels in Oakland and the East Bay.

The council  unanimously approved the resolutions by consent Tuesday evening, citing the problems with using coal trains through the urban area. Such problems included environmental threats, public health hazards, economic pitfalls, and public opposition to exports, specifically coal. 

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EDF: Green Trucks Good for the Planet and Business

| Monday June 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

class 8 tractor-trailer A report released last week by the Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres says that strong fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for freight trucks could slash fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent compared to 2010 levels, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits.

In fact, the report suggests that American businesses could save more than $25 billion if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopt stringent fuel efficiency and GHG standards. The two agencies were tasked by President Barack Obama to come up with proposed target standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March 2015.

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Horrors! Seattle is Moving to a $15/hour Minimum Wage

| Thursday June 12th, 2014 | 3 Comments

Seattle_SkylineSeattle’s move to phase-in an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour (from the current $9.32) is described variously as: audacious; a “step too far;” a misguided experiment; a worthy experiment; built on dubious economics; and a move that will “destroy the economy.”

It can’t be all of that, can it? The volume of the punditry and spinning on this one is shrill, and the scope of the alarmed, breathless opinion and analysis by the “very serious people” about Seattle’s bold move obscures the bottom line: A region is trying to do the right thing for its workers in these parlous economic times. (Conflict of interest alert: The author lives in — and loves — Seattle.)

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Investor Ready Cities: From London to Rio de Janeiro

| Tuesday June 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Ed note: This article is part of a short series on financing smart city infrastructure, sponsored by Siemens. Please join us for a live Google Hangout with SiemensPwC and Berwin Leighton Paisner on June 12 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, where we’ll talk about this issue live! RSVP Here.

The ‘Metro Cable, Linea K' cable car in Colombia stretches 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) into the neighborhood of Santo Domingo -- creating a link directly from the city center into one of the city’s poorest areas.

The ‘Metro Cable, Linea K’ cable car in Medellin, Colombia stretches 1.2 miles into the neighborhood of Santo Domingo — creating a link directly from the city center to one of the city’s poorest areas.

Yesterday, we went over a few success stories told in timely and valuable report from Siemens, PwC and  Berwin Leighton Paisner. Entitled Investor Ready Cities: How cities can and deliver infrastructure value, the report examines in some detail how cities that have “the appropriate foundations of institutional stability can leverage financial mechanisms to their advantage to help deliver the infrastructure that is so critical to their future.”

Here are three more inspiring snapshots that tell the story of cities moving towards a more sustainable future.

Medellin

The second-largest city in Colombia, with a population of nearly 2.2 million in 2005, saw a threefold increase in population over a 20-year period. This came at a time when governance and power was concentrated at the national level and control of financing was distributed to nationally important projects. As a result, informal settlements appeared on the city fringes and up onto the precarious hillsides that surround the city, leaving residents disconnected from the commercial heart of the city and the employment opportunities they had sought to access.

“Poor infrastructure and lack of opportunity led to Medellin experiencing some of the highest levels of crime endured by any city across the globe,” according to the report.

In 1991, a new constitution increased the influence and powers of municipal governments. For Medellin, this meant the power, authority and responsibility to tackle these issues through strategic intervention that was to literally change the city landscape.

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Add Some Spice to GDP with Sex and Drugs

| Tuesday June 10th, 2014 | 1 Comment

GDP_CunninghamFor many years a discussion about what Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should include to accurately measure the scope and health of a country’s economy has continued in more or less desultory fashion with little movement to change the indicators — until now.

Why not include sex and drugs in the GDP mix, as Italy and the United Kingdom have done? After all, those are economic activities, right?

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Investor Ready Cities: From Delhi to Chattanooga

| Monday June 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Ed note: This article is part of a short series on financing smart city infrastructure, sponsored by Siemens. Please join us for a live Google Hangout with SiemensPwC and Berwin Leighton Paisner on June 12 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, where we’ll talk about this issue live! RSVP Here.

The Delhi Metro

The Delhi Metro was made possible through public-private partnerships from Delhi to Japan.

It’s almost a cliché these days to say that infrastructure development is a crushing and highly complex problem, mainly because there’s so much to do but not enough financial resources available to do it. The trick, then, is how to address infrastructure needs.

That’s why a new report from Siemens, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Berwin Leighton Paisner, entitled Investor Ready Cities: How cities can and deliver infrastructure value, is both timely and valuable.

The report examines in some detail how cities that have “the appropriate foundations of institutional stability can leverage financial mechanisms to their advantage to help deliver the infrastructure that is so critical to their future.” It looks at the needed steps to “create a governance, legal and regulatory environment which will support harnessing the full range of potential sources of funding.”

The 108-page report illustrates its basic themes through a series of case studies than span the globe to show how cities are addressing their infrastructure needs. Snapshots of the studies follow.

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EPA Report: Los Angeles Buildings are ‘Energy Stars’

| Tuesday May 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Etched Decal Photo 2013BIG (535x640)Los Angeles is at the top of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ranking of cities with the most energy efficient buildings in the nation—it has 443 to be exact.

This is the agency’s sixth annual list of the top 25 U.S. metropolitan areas with the most Energy Star certified buildings. “The cities on this list demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits achieved by facility owners and managers when they apply a proven approach to energy efficiency to their buildings,” EPA said in last month’s release. The voluntary program was established by the EPA in 1992.

The Top 10 cities on the list are: Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; New York; San Francisco; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Philadelphia; and Houston.

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