How Walmart Is Empowering Women in Business

Shared Value Initiative
Shared Value Initiative | Monday March 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments
walmart

The retail giant is creating shared value by achieving business goals that help empower women.

By Meghan Ennes

Believe it or not, Walmart is taking on big social issues to build a stronger business. Through the Empowering Women Together Initiative, launched in 2011, they’re making that strategy a reality.

“Walmart is using our size and scope to help women-owned businesses around the world succeed and grow,” says Andrea Thomas, SVP of Sustainability. Setting the precedent for similar social initiatives at Whole Foods and Starbucks, this strategy shift from America’s largest retailer could signal a “turning point in socially-conscious retail” (Forbes).

But Walmart’s strategy is attempting to go beyond social consciousness. They’re creating shared value by achieving business goals that help alleviate a societal problem. Beth Keck, senior director of women’s economic empowerment at Walmart, believes her company can give more women the opportunity for success through the shared value mindset. “All of these initiatives are improving our bottom line,” she says of the company’s sustainability efforts.

One of these goals is to give women in business access to Walmart’s huge customer base, and the company plans to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses across the world.

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Feds, State Investigate Duke Energy for Illegal Pumping of Coal Ash

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday March 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Duke_Energy_coal_ash_USFWS_SoutheastA small handful of environmentalists that were expelled by police from boating on a local waterway in North Carolina are being hailed as national heroes this week. After members from Waterkeeper Alliance, who were trying to take water samples from a stream, were told by police on March 10 to leave an area bordering the Duke Energy Cape Fear River facility, they resorted to aerial surveillance of the area.

The following day they released photographs showing that Duke Energy has been pumping coal ash into a local tributary of the Cape Fear River, a local source for drinking water.

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‘War on Coal’ is Not the Real Reason Your Utility Rates Will Go Up

| Monday March 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

7681112366_6e465d4d17_zWith new EPA regulations for coal-fired power plants looming ahead, the coal and utilities industries have issued sharp warnings about the impact of another “war on coal.” The argument goes that the cost of installing pollution-scrubbing equipment, and/or shutting down outdated coal-fired power plants, is passed directly along to the consumer in the form of higher rates. The U.S. economy also feels the impact, so the argument goes, in terms of higher business costs, lost employment opportunities and a competitive advantage for coal-using companies overseas.

However, given the past record of accuracy for those warnings, it looks like a bad case of déjà vu all over again. According to a history of similar warnings about coal regulation compiled by the Center for American Progress (CAP), those predictions fail to account for the positive impact of innovation, as well as the economic counterbalance of improved public health.

Meanwhile, within the broader issue of U.S. infrastructure, CAP draws out an important point: In the coming years, the main driver of utility rates will not be the power plants or the fuel they use, it will be the urgent need to overhaul the nation’s aging, badly outdated electricity distribution and transmission grid.

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AT&T, EDF Promote Conservation Toolkit In Water-Stressed U.S. Cities

| Monday March 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

waterpipejapan“Conserving water conserves energy, and conserving energy conserves water,” was a key message of 2014 World Water Day and the World Water Development Report. It’s a message that business executives across the economy, not just those in the agricultural and industrial sectors, are increasingly taking to heart.

The search for ways to minimize waste and conserve water, other natural resources and energy is making for what may seem like strange bedfellows. Some of the world’s largest corporations have been joining with leading environmental organizations to find what amount to triple bottom line solutions — solutions that can turn business risks and threats into opportunities and benefits.

Working together at the water-energy nexus, AT&T and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) over the past few years have developed a set of tools to help businesses reduce water, and hence energy, use for cooling buildings. Setting a target of reducing their own annual water use by 5 percent (some 150 million gallons) and annual energy use by 400 million kilowatt-hours (enough for 35,000 U.S. households), the two unlikely partners are setting out to promote and foster adoption of their water-energy conservation toolkit in five water-stressed U.S. cities.

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First Interstate Water Credits Program Launched in the Ohio River Basin

Mike Hower
| Monday March 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Ohio RiverThe Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on March 11 officially launched the first water quality pilot trades in the Ohio River Basin. The pilot, which is the world’s only interstate water quality trading program, is part of a new initiative to test water quality improvement strategies. Duke Energy, American Electric Power and Hoosier Energy were the first buyers of the interstate water credits.

Water quality trading is a market-based approach that could enable facilities to meet permit limits using nutrient reduction credits from farmers who implement conservation practices, EPRI says.

Several parties, including industrial sources, farmers and the general public, contribute to nutrient loading — which may lead to serious ecological problems. The transactions will produce cleaner watersheds, advance sustainability practices and test more cost-effective regulatory compliance options, according to EPRI.

The companies altogether purchased 9,000 stewardship credits, agreeing to retire the associated nutrient and ecosystem benefits, rather than apply them towards possible future permit requirements. The buyers can use the credits to meet corporate sustainability goals, and the credits may also be considered for future flexible permit compliance schedules by the participating states.

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New Study Reveals the Workings of China’s Pilot Emissions Cap-and-Trade Systems

| Monday March 24th, 2014 | 1 Comment
The haze over eastern China is often visible from space.

The haze over eastern China is often visible from space.

Environmental and ecosystems degradation – air pollution in particular, most recently – has become a hot-button issue for the Chinese government and society. With increasingly polluted lakes, rivers and coastal waters, desertification and land degradation, and toxic air, perhaps nowhere in the world are the profund and far-reaching costs of an unconstrained, unregulated quest for rapid economic growth better illustrated.

Responding to rising public alarm and protest, China’s government earlier this month pledged to tackle its pollution an environmental problems. Declaring a “war on pollution” in his first speech in office to open this year’s session of the National People’s Congress, Chinese Premier Li Kequiang stated, “Smog is affecting larger parts of China and environmental pollution has become a major problem, which is nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development.”

Pioneered by the European Union (EU), the Chinese government is turning to emissions cap-and-trade systems as a foundational element in its war on pollution. With pilot markets now up and running in seven major Chinese cities and provinces, Beijing-based consulting firm Environomist and contributing organizations recently released the first comprehensive study of China’s nascent emissions cap-and-trade systems.

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House Vote on National Parks Could Make or Break Local ‘Gateway’ Communities

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday March 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

YosemiteThe House of Representatives will vote this week on a bill that would require public participation before a president designates a national park. The proposed bill, H.R. 1459, strips presidents of the power given to them under the American Antiques Act of 1906  to designate a national park.

Specifically, the bill seeks to classify national park declarations under the Antiquities Act as a major federal action and would would require the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to be applied. To meet NEPA requirements, federal agencies must prepare a detailed statement called an environmental impact statement (EIS).

The bill would also limit national park declarations to one per state during a president’s four-year term in office, unless otherwise approved by Congress.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) who criticized President Barack Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act earlier this month to expand the Coastal California National Monument to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. Bishop characterized Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act as “disappointing to say the least.” He added that it “is also purely political and undermines sincere efforts to reach consensus on questions of conservation.” Bishop described H.R. 1459 as being “about transparency and fairness.”

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Why 500 Everyday Americans Are Test-Driving Life Without Clean Water

3p Contributor | Saturday March 22nd, 2014 | 0 Comments
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

It’s World Water Day, a time to celebrate global efforts to bring clean water to the 800 million people who still don’t have it. But if all of this talk about the water crisis seems distant or vague, here’s a statistic that should hit closer to home: This year, a majority of the world’s population will live within 31 miles of an endangered water source.

Americans are notoriously oblivious to water issues. A recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the average American uses more than double the water he or she estimates, and that most of us are unsure of which practices or appliances consume the most. Americans use more than 450 liters (118 gallons) of water at home every day, more than any other group.

Our cluelessness – coupled with growing scarcity and the specter of climate change – raises an interesting question: How do we change the way we use water before places like Southern California start looking more like South Sudan?

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3p Weekend: 8 New Electric Vehicles and Plug-Ins We Can’t Wait to Drive

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday March 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments
The BMW i8, set to ship in June 2014.

The BMW i8, set to ship in June 2014.

With 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.

Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are inching closer to the mainstream. U.S. plug-in electric and hybrid vehicle sales nearly doubled in 2013, and EV production worldwide is projected to increase by 67 percent this year. Almost all automakers have at least one electric vehicle in their portfolios, and some truly drool-worthy rides are set to hit the market in 2014. Everyone has their favorites, but here are eight new EVs and plug-ins that we can’t wait to drive.

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A World Water Day-Themed Google Chat w/ Michael Kobori, VP of Sustainability, Levi Strauss & Co.

Marissa Rosen
| Friday March 21st, 2014 | 2 Comments

KoboriEvery Week, TriplePundit takes 30 minutes or so to chat with an interesting leader in the sustainable business movement. These chats are broadcast on our Google+ channel and embedded via YouTube right here on 3p.

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On Friday, March 21st at Noon Pacific / 3:00pm EST, TriplePundit’s Founder and Publisher, Nick Aster, spoke with Michael Kobori, Vice President of Sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co. 

This special chat coincided with the week of World Water Day, and the overarching theme focused on the role of resource conservation in sustainable fashion. Michael provided an overview of Levi Strauss & Co.’s lifecycle assessment strategy (including why the jean manufacturer is focusing on water), product innovations like Water<Less, the company’s involvement with Better Cotton, how LS&Co. is changing processes (including recycled water efforts in the finishing process), and the importance of changing consumer habits.

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UN Report Highlights Risks (And Rewards) At The Water-Energy Nexus

| Friday March 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments

ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIESThe United Nations (U.N.) shines a light on the critical issue of freshwater resources – and linkages with energy – with the March 21 release of the 2014 World Water Development Report (WWDR). Produced by the U.N.’s World Water Assessment Program (U.N.-Water), WWDR 2014 is being released in conjunction with special events sponsored around the world as part of this year’s World Water Day celebrations on Saturday.

Forecasting that the global population will need 40 percent more water by 2030, the ambitious report highlights the threat to water supplies posed by the conflicting interests of a growing global population for energy and food, as well as water itself. The list is extensive, including regulations and governance that lead to perverse outcomes, along with threats from water contamination, pollution, climate change and the often profligate ways in which we use and manage freshwater resources.

WWDR 2014 also offers potential solutions, focusing in particular on governance at the water-energy nexus. “Energy and water are at the top of the global development agenda,” Rector of United Nations University David Malone, this year’s coordinator of World Water Day on behalf of U.N.-Water together with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said in a press release.

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New EPA Emissions Standard Saves Lives, Creates Jobs

Eric Justian
| Friday March 21st, 2014 | 2 Comments

Chevy VoltNew fuel efficiency and emissions standards are creating stronger automotive jobs in the U.S., as research and development firms wind up to meet the challenges, refineries retool and American manufacturers build  new components. That wasn’t one of the big headlines from the EPA’s announcement earlier this month that it finalized the Tier Three Motor Vehicle Fuel and Emissions Standards. But it’s definitely one of the real-world effects.

The new emissions standard takes effect by 2017 and “sets new vehicle emissions standards and lowers the sulfur content of gasoline.” The new standard is on top of the fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama administration in 2009, pushing for cleaner more fuel efficient automobiles.

A 2014 report commissioned by the Emissions Control Technology Association shows the Tier Three standard will create of thousands of new jobs operating new refinery equipment and about 24,000 new refinery jobs over three years as refineries retool to meet the new EPA standards for lower sulfur emissions. An earlier Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report from March 2010 showed higher fuel and emissions standards would create 150,000 jobs in the U.S. across a spectrum of job sectors.

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EU Renewable Electricity Rises Above 23 Percent But Employment, Investment Falters

| Friday March 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments

eurobserver2013graphRenewable energy accounted for 14 percent of gross final energy consumption across the European Union (EU), up from 12.9 percent in 2011, while renewables’ share of gross electricity consumption rose from 20.4 percent to 23.4 percent, according to the 2013 edition of EurObservER’s “The State of Renewable Energies in Europe.”

Renewable energy employment, economic activity and investment indicators didn’t fare as well, however, reflective of ongoing fiscal and economic problems that have caused EU renewable energy leading nations to cut back on subsidies and incentives, or eliminate them completely.

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New Ford F-150 Is the First Light-Duty Pickup Truck With LED Headlamps

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday March 21st, 2014 | 1 Comment

2015FordF-150_SKV_9468The Ford F-150 has something that no other light-duty pickup truck has: LED headlamps. They use 63 percent less energy than the halogen bulbs used in other pickups and will last more than five times longer. The headlamps contain an innovative design that magnifies the light which means the road is more illuminated for drivers. Their design and manufacture also helps create jobs for one of Ford’s go-to lighting developers, OSRAM. More than 30 jobs were created at OSRAM’s Hillsboro, N.H. facility.

The LED headlamps give new meaning to the advertising slogan, “Built Ford Tough.” They use semiconductor chips to control the light, which makes them more durable, and that means they last longer. Ford lighting expert John Teodecki  is convinced of the durability of the LED headlamps because he knows all the tests conducted on them. “We fire stones at this headlamp, expose it to extreme sun, soak it in saltwater, shoot rocks, rock salt and ice – this thing is very tough to crack,” said Teodecki.

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Innovators Aim to Prevent Water-Borne Illnesses During Natural Disasters

3p Contributor | Friday March 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments
Ben Park pictured with the Maji, an IV hydration solution that can save lives.

Ben Park pictured with the Maji, an IV hydration solution that can save lives.

By Ben Park

“Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.”
- Samuel Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Coleridge was describing a sea journey when he wrote these words in the late 18th century. But those same words, slightly updated for modern times, could be used to describe the Philippines after the 2013 typhoon or Haiti after flooding in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

While scarcity due to climactic and economic conditions receives the bulk of attention, there is another form of water crisis that comes on the heels of natural and man-made disasters: too much water of the wrong kind.

Less than 3 percent of the Earth’s water is fresh, and only 0.3 percent of that water is found on the Earth’s surface in lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. When natural disaster strikes, the sources of improved, fresh water are compromised. In the case of the Philippines where fresh water was already in limited supply during normal conditions, the situation becomes desperate.

After the typhoon, the Associated Press reported that Filipinos “resorted to scooping from streams, catching rainwater in buckets and smashing open pipes to obtain what is left from disabled pumping stations. With at least 600,000 people homeless, the demand is massive.”

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