5 Reasons Companies Should Utilize the Cloud

3p Contributor | Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 1 Comment

7557181168_91f4af2d99_zBy Jessica Oaks

Trends in business tend to change often and quickly, but one trend that can’t be ignored is the move towards the cloud. Put simply, more and more businesses are adopting cloud-based storage and software solutions with each passing year. In fact, it is estimated that by 2015 spending on cloud storage solutions could reach $180 billion. Suffice it to say, a decentralized approach seems to be the golden ticket these days.

The question, then, isn’t whether cloud-based systems will catch on – as the numbers show, they already have – but rather why are cloud-based solutions becoming the go-to for businesses large and small? And, should you be a business owner yourself, are cloud-based storage solutions right for your organization? In short, there are many reasons why companies should utilize the cloud, and yes, that includes your business. Let’s take a look at why that is the case.

There are numerous benefits to adopting a cloud-based solution. Chief among them, however, are the following:

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Is Your Outdated Office Technology Hurting the Environment?

3p Contributor | Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Macintosh Plus :: Retrocomputing on the greenBy Aleks Szymanski

Outdated office technology is often left as it is, only being replaced when it finally dies or becomes utterly obsolete, as many business owners tend to avoid the cost to upgrade or change their technology.

What these businesses may not realize is that not only is this going to cost them more money in the long run, but there is also the environmental impact of outdated technology to consider.

Many businesses believe they have ‘green credentials,’ when in fact there is more they can do to reduce their carbon footprint.

1. Improving server rooms

Data centers and servers are the biggest offenders when it comes to IT inefficiency. There are a number of ways that a business can reduce both cost and carbon emissions by improving the efficiency of their server rooms. Most small server rooms were not designed to operate as server spaces, with configurations that compromise energy efficiency and limit upgrade options, resulting in higher carbon emissions. On average, it has been calculated that a low-range server in the U.S. generates 793 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

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Panera Bread Shares Animal Welfare Progress

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

chickensIn late December, Panera Bread shared its progress on reducing antibiotic use and cruel confinement for farm animals in its U.S. supply chain.

The company introduced its food policy in June, and part of that policy is being transparent and making a positive impact on the food system.

Panera owns 1,845 bakery-cafes in 45 states and in Ontario, Canada that operate under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co. or Paradise Bakery & Cafe names.

“For years, Panera has been working closely with farmers, ranchers and experts, to learn how we can tangibly improve conditions for the farm animals in our supply chain. We’ve intentionally reduced or eliminated the use of antibiotics and confinement because we believe those are among the most critical animal welfare issues we can impact,” said Blaine Hurst, executive vice president and chief transformation and growth officer for the company.

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Business Sustainability Prompted by Activism in 2014

3p Contributor | Thursday January 1st, 2015 | 0 Comments

tripunditBy Michael Green

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently posted a “top 10” list of the most important sustainable business stories of 2014. Given the gravity of the situation, it’s appropriate that the first five stories are around climate change (although it’s a little troubling that the No. 1 story for sustainable business is described as “climate change is now.” Wasn’t that a top story of 1999? Are sustainable businesses really just figuring this out?)

For health and environmental advocates, an even more compelling aspect of the HBR 2014 review is the number of top stories showing that businesses are changing in response to citizen activism. Five of the 10 stories reflect issues that were first brought to light by grassroots activism, including four that directly relate to activists’ role in influencing corporate behavior.

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New York State Wineries Dodge a Fracking Bullet … Or Maybe Not

| Thursday January 1st, 2015 | 4 Comments

natural gas frackingIf you heard that loud sighing sound coming from New York state earlier this month, that was probably a sigh of relief as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo finally agreed to a statewide ban on fracking. The ban followed the release of the state’s Department of Health study, which basically concluded that the known unknowns of this unconventional method of drilling for natural gas amounted to a significant potential for adverse public health impacts that could not be ignored.

We’re also guessing that business considerations came into play. In the past, fracking was generally confined to thinly populated areas of the western U.S. Now that it has become more common in the more heavily developed Northeast, fracking has been bumping up against pushback from stakeholders in established, local businesses. News of the fracking ban was probably most welcome by New York’s thriving upstate tourism and agriculture sectors, both of which come together in the growing popularity of winery tours.

However, the cheering had barely died down before news items from communities in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio reminded us that the fracking operation itself is only one part of the complex natural gas lifecycle. New York’s wineries are not out of the woods yet. When you consider the transportation and storage issues involved in getting natural gas out of the ground and into market, additional risks for local businesses emerge. The fracking ban does not address those risks.

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Let’s Change Your Name to ‘Single': The Impact of Defining Homeless People By What They Lack

3p Contributor | Thursday January 1st, 2015 | 0 Comments

HGP allWhat is the most important thing that you would like to have but lack?

Perhaps you don’t have a significant other. Or a job that fulfills you. Or maybe you have not traveled very far.

Whatever it may be in your case, odds are that what you lack does not define you, at least in the eyes of others. You are a friend, you are a colleague, you are a runner, you are a painter, you are funny, you are you. You may lack something very important, but it is probably not your primary identity.

Unless you are homeless.

People who live on the streets — people like Silas, Jessica, Adam and my Uncle Mark, before he passed away — are defined by what they lack. During their period(s) on the streets, their identity is cemented. Can you imagine being described by others primarily as a “housed” person? This would feel dehumanizing and reductionistic, and yet it is still something you possess. Being labeled solely as “homeless” is extremely awful in and of itself.

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5 Places Transformed by Climate Change in 2014

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday December 31st, 2014 | 24 Comments

climate_change_epa_planetlightThis past year could be called a test case for climate change. Scary as that sounds, 2014 has seen a broad spectrum of quirky events, ranging from drought and flooding to the loss of sea ice and glacier mass. There’s been some oddly good news as well: Some species continue to find their own way to adapt to climatic changes, opting for new environmental zones or alternative food sources. What will be our new way of adapting? Will we lead the pack, or follow suit?

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Nominate Your 2014 Sustainability Winners and Losers

Bill Roth | Wednesday December 31st, 2014 | 11 Comments

11684332733_cc8e41417b_zHave you been grinding your teeth all year wishing you had a forum to tell it like it is on who is helping or hurting the adoption of sustainable solutions to economic growth and enhanced human health? Here is your chance! The following are some of my observations. But more importantly, post what you think in the comments section below this article.

2014 in review

2014 was definitely a year of conflicting results in terms of sustainability. Dishearteningly, the World Meteorological Organization reported a “carbon surge” in climate-changing emissions to 142 percent of pre-industrial levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change analysis raised an alarm that this carbon surge was approaching a point of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

2014 also saw milestone growth in the green economic revolution: American consumers, lead by the millennial generation, are buying into a green economic revolution that in 2014 generated trillions of dollars in global commerce and investments. But the question raised in 2014 is whether this green economic revolution will be a case of too little, too late.

So, with these conflicting results who were 2014’s sustainability winners and losers?

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California Plastic Bag Ban Could Be Delayed Until Fall 2016

Leon Kaye | Wednesday December 31st, 2014 | 3 Comments
Senate bill 270, California, plastic bags, plastic, recycling, plastic bag ban, plastics industry trade association, American Progressive Bag Alliance, Leon Kaye,

Even with a bag ban, plenty of plastic bags will lurk around

California Senate Bill 270, passed by the state legislature and signed into law in September, would ban many retail stores from dispensing single-use plastic bags as of July 1, 2015. But in another example of a special interest perverting democracy when it does not get its way, the Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) has announced it has collected over 800,000 signatures to qualify for a statewide up-or-down vote in November 2016. Once that tally is confirmed, the July ban would be postponed until the following year.

You probably saw the sign gatherers at stores such as Target, where I was greeted with an appeal to sign my name and take sides with the “American Progressive Bag Alliance” in order to reverse this “backdoor deal” — until the fellow with the clipboard saw my reusable bags. “Oh, you’re one of those,” he said with an eye-roll, because as you know, someone like me who likes to wear labels, shops at Costco and makes mac-and-cheese out of a box (when no one is looking) is such a hippie.

So why do I support the bag ban? Why should California stick to its guns?

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My 2014 Sustainability Moment of Optimism

Raz Godelnik
| Wednesday December 31st, 2014 | 0 Comments
TED@Unilever

Keith Weed speaking at TED@Unilever

Looking backwards at 2014 I can find plenty of events that made me more optimistic. At the same time I can also find plenty of events that made me more pessimistic.

I’m probably not the only one in this space having these mixed feelings, but at the end of day I’d rather stay optimistic (how otherwise can you drive change?), which is why I’d like to share with you the most optimistic moment I had in 2014 when it comes to sustainability.

Now, let’s be clear – when I talk about optimism, I’m not talking about burying your head in the sand or daydreaming about a utopian future, but about a very realistic “hopefulness and confidence about the future,” which is exactly what I found in September at TED@Unilever.

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California Law Banning Confinement Crates Takes Effect In 2015

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday December 31st, 2014 | 2 Comments

caged hensIf hens realized the better conditions that Proposition 2, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, ushers in for them they would be holding celebrations. In 2008 California voters passed Proposition 2 requires egg-laying hens in California to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their wings. In 2010 California lawmakers passed AB 1437 which requires all shell eggs sold in California to comply with Proposition 2, acts as a virtual ban on egg factory cages. California voters approved Proposition 2 by 63.5 percent. At the time the ballot initiative received more votes than any other in American history.

Proposition 2 extends to other farm animals. As the law states, “a person shall not tether or confine any covered animal, on a farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents such animal from: lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs.” A covered animal includes “any pig during pregnancy, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen who is kept on a farm.” That means sow gestation crates, a small space pregnant pigs are confined in, are banned in California as of January 1. Veal crates, a small space calves are housed in, are also banned.

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10 Ways Politics Shaped the Environment in 2014

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Environment_and_SilverLakeRPU_JonathunderThe environment and the effects of climate change were at the center of legislative debate in many countries this year. The release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 draft treatise on global warming helped center legislators’ attention on the task at hand, but some countries still opted for the wait-and-see approach over regulatory fixes.

Here in the U.S., the response was equally inconsistent, thanks in part to a hearty push-back from the oil and gas sector and the gold-rush boom of the fracking industry in several states. But in those areas where climate change, dwindling resources or water issues were a concern, legislative options often took center stage.

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Report: Energy Industry Spent $721 Million on Midterm Elections

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 1 Comment

ourmoderndilemma_AndrewHartIf there’s one number that says all you need to know about the influence of the energy industry on the nation’s political discourse and direction, it’s $721 million.

A ThinkProgress report last week on the 2014 midterm election cycle found that after adding up direct contributions to individuals and political groups, including spending on TV ads and lobbying, the energy industry spent more than $721 million, citing an analysis from the Center for American Progress.

Not to put too fine a point on it: That huge amount of campaign spending buys a huge amount of influence in Congress. It helped elect fossil fuel-friendly candidates who will set the anti-environment agenda of the next Congress, which will be controlled by Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

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O3b Aims to Offer Real Broadband to the World’s ‘Other 3 Billion’

| Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

O3b sat launch-1Global, real-time communications would not be possible were it not for the 1,200-odd satellites orbiting the earth. By extension, globalization of culture, markets and the assembly of global businesses may well not have proceeded nearly as fast or to the degree it has were it not for satellite technology.

There were 1,235 satellites serving various purposes – from amateur radio to astrophysics – in various types of Earth orbit as of July 2014, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists’ database. Over half – 639 – are for communications. The majority of communications satellites – or comsats – are in geostationary orbit, moving at the same speed as the Earth’s rotation at fixed points along the equator, some 22,238 miles above our planet’s surface.

We can add four more satellites to the roster of comsats orbiting Earth: Aiming to provide broadband Internet access to the “other 3 billion” human inhabitants that still lack high-speed voice and data network communications, “next-generation network” provider O3b Networks on Dec. 18 celebrated the successful launch of four comsats into medium-Earth orbit (MEO). That brings the number of satellites O3b has put into MEO in the past five months to eight. O3b’s globe-spanning constellation of communications satellites now totals 12.

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Climate Change is Impacting the Flavor and Quality of Wine

RP Siegel | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 4 Comments

4933018843_675a73551f_zIt has been a challenge at times to get well-heeled and sometimes highly influential people to care about climate change. After all, having a great deal of money can serve to insulate someone from problems that afflict those less fortunate. Food prices going up, for example, not that big a deal. Coastal areas flooding out, go somewhere else for vacation. Many of those at the top of the heap are finding that business-as-usual is working very well for them, thank you very much. Besides, they might have significant investments in industries that could be threatened by changing to a more sustainable model

Perhaps, what is needed to get their attention is something that hits closer to home. Here is an item in England’s The Telegraph that might fit the bill: Apparently, rising temperatures in areas like France, Italy and Spain are affecting the flavor of certain wines. The grapes that are used in the production of certain wines, like pinot noir, are growing more quickly than before.

What that means, according to Kimberly Nicholas, a wine industry consultant, is that “as the atmosphere warms, the desired ratio of acid to sugar occurs earlier in the season.” That challenges the vineyards to deduce the ideal time to pick the grapes.   Ms. Nicholas, an associate professor of sustainability science at Lund University in Sweden, warned that vineyards are finding it difficult to know the perfect moment to pick the grapes in order to retain a wine’s signature taste. The grapes may no longer produce the unique flavors that wine fanciers have come to associate with their favorite reds and whites.

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