3p Contributor: Bill DiBenedetto

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

Recent Articles

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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Volvo Group Studies an Electric Avenue

| Friday May 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Volvo_hyper busThere are electric satellites from Boeing and electric planes from Airbus, so why not electric roads, brought to you by Volvo Group?

Volvo, in collaboration with the Swedish Transport Administration, is studying the potential for building electric roads where city buses—built by Volvo, of course—can be charged from electricity in the road while the bus is in operation.

Talk about hot pavement! “The benefit is quieter and more climate-smart public transport,” Volvo says. A 300- to 500-meter (328 to 547 yards) road in central Gothenburg, Sweden is under consideration for construction as a test track next year.

“Vehicles capable of being charged directly from the road during operation could become the next pioneering step in the development towards reduced environmental impact,” says Volvo Group’s Niklas Gustavsson, executive vice president, corporate sustainability and public affairs.

He noted that “close cooperation between society and industry” will be needed for this kind of development to get rolling.

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Book Review: The Dance of the Sustainable Product and Brand

| Friday May 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Campher_coverWhat exactly is a sustainable brand, and how does an entrepreneur or company get there? Better yet, how does a consumer know what he or she is getting when a brand is labeled as “sustainable”?

These are not easy questions but Henk Campher has some clear thinking on the subject in a new e-book, “Creating a Sustainable Brand: A Guide to Growing the Sustainability Top Line.”

Is there a template for creating a sustainable brand, a fusion of product and branding? Campher’s answer is yes: “It’s when these two dance that we create consumer breakthrough and the magic happens.”

To establish a sustainable brand, “Look at the dance between the product and the brand.” Before the dance occurs look at both how the product is made and at its impact. The same dual approach should be applied to the brand. “We need to know how sustainability comes to life in the action it takes and the stories it tells, as well as how deep (or not) sustainability is embedded into the brand value proposition and identity.”

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Airbus Electric Airplane Flies—For an Hour Per Charge

| Monday May 12th, 2014 | 2 Comments

E-Fan Technology Demonstrator (2)_loAirbus Group’s E-Fan, an all-electric trainer aircraft made of composite material, made its first flight last month–proving once again that it is possible to fly without jet fuel.

That’s with one caveat however: The plane can fly for about an hour on a single charge. But still, this seems like a big deal mainly because the largest aerospace and defense company in Europe and the world’s leading commercial aircraft manufacturer is backing it.

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Spanish Island Powered by 100 Percent Renewable Energy

| Monday May 5th, 2014 | 0 Comments

la gorona del viento_gomezThe possibilities of renewable energy are on display as El Hierro, the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, is set to become the world’s first land mass to be fully energy self-sufficient, when an 11.5 megawatt wind farm goes online late next month.

El Hierro, with a population of a little over 10,000, already has a water turbine that generates electricity, so it will be the first island to secure a steady supply of electricity by combining wind and water power, according to an article in the U.K.’s Daily Mail. The island has no connection to any outside electricity network.

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West Virginia Landfill Wastewater Shows Elevated Radioactivity Due to Fracking

| Monday April 28th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Fracking a well_WV FrackGreat, why not have some radioactivity in wastewater with your fracking?

The list of perils and impacts from the hydraulic fracturing method of extracting natural gas is mounting, and the latest is that radioactivity is showing up in wastewater from gas field landfills in West Virginia that serve as disposal sites for Marcellus Shale cuttings, Public News Service reports.

Bill Hughes, chair of the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority, is quoted in the report as saying tests on water leaching from the Meadowfill landfill near Bridgeport show “widely varying levels of radioactivity, sometimes spiking to 40 times the clean drinking water standard.” The radioactivity occurs naturally in the drill cuttings and brine that come from Marcellus gas wells, he said, so it is in the waste dumped in Meadowfill and other landfills.

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Big Job: More Than 50 Percent of Worker Safety Inspections Complete in Bangladesh

| Tuesday April 22nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Bangladesh _8719712845_ef0d805516_zThe Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has completed inspections at more than 50 percent of the nearly 700 factories from which members of the alliance source.

The alliance, formed last year in the wake of the February 2013 garment factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers, has a five-year mission to address garment-worker conditions in Bangladesh. The incident also exposed unconscionable conditions there, including child labor, staff beatings, ignoring fire safety rules and threatening trade union members with murder, recent investigations have revealed.

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Pennsylvania Shale Gas Report Finds Little to Complain About

| Monday April 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments

DCNR_report pic (326x400)Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources this month released its first report that describes efforts to “track, detect and report” on the impacts of gas development on the state’s forest lands.

The 265-page “Shale-Gas Monitoring Report” is just that: a comprehensive and carefully worded document about the results of the monitoring that the state has conducted since 2011, while avoiding the use of the term hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” almost entirely. It’s “shale-gas development,” not fracking here, and there’s a raft of “key findings and points,” but no conclusions.

“People may have different perspectives on how monitoring is defined, but they want to know that staff is on the ground observing and managing gas development activity that is occurring in our state forests,” explained Ellen Ferretti, secretary of DCNR.

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Boeing: Something Electric in Space

| Tuesday April 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

ABS F1All-electric satellite propulsion is becoming a big deal, and Boeing says it is “on track” to deliver the world’s first all-electric xenon-ion propulsion satellites in late 2014 or early 2015 after meeting key production milestones on its initial 702SP (small platform) satellites.

Boeing announced that it has completed static qualification testing, verification and assembly of the primary structures for 702SP inaugural customers ABS and Eutelsat, meaning the satellites are well on their way to launch. The initial contract for the satellite was signed in 2012 between Boeing and Satmex. Eutelsat acquired Satmex in January 2014.

The four 702SP communications satellites will launch in pairs, and once in orbit, they will be entirely powered and propelled by electricity, rather than relying on rockets.

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EPA Port Grants Help Spur Clean Diesel, Sustainable Technologies

| Tuesday April 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA new Environmental Protection Agency initiative will recognize U.S. ports that act to improve their environmental performance.

It’s a good idea because port areas generate some of the worst diesel emission problems in the nation, whether it’s from the cargo ships that dock at terminals without powering down their engines, the terminal equipment that services the ships, or the hundreds of trucks moving to and from terminals to load and unload the cargo.

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