BMW i8 Plug-in Hybrid Deliveries Begin in June

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday March 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

BMW i8 hybrid The highly anticipated  BMW i8 plug-in hybrid electric car is entering production in April, with customer deliveries beginning in June. It will be available on the European market first and is sure to make a splash, with this highly differentiated plug-in hybrid.

i8 vehicle specs

The complete specs of the car that were recently released were more impressive than initial estimates, with fuel consumption of 112 mpg for this plug-in hybrid, helping to strategically position the i8 for commercial success. The electricity consumption was rated at 19.1 kWh per 100 miles, an impressive figure for a sports car. It can go 62 mph in 4.4 seconds and reaches a top speed of 155 mph (electronically limited).

As a plug-in hybrid it has an all electric range of 23 miles from the 7.1 kw battery, which can be charged 80 percent in less than two hours using a 230-volt socket. The combustion engine is activated when the battery drops below a specified minimum or at high speeds.

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Cape Wind Offshore Energy Project Wins Important Legal Victory

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday March 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

offshore windCape Wind is an offshore wind energy project in Nantucket Sound which will consist of 130 wind turbines producing up to 420 megawatts of energy. The first of its kind in the U.S., it has been in development for more than 10 years.

A U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C. ruled against opponents of Cape Wind in four lawsuits that challenged the project’s permitting approval by the U.S. Department of Interior. The judge upheld the Department of the Interior’s review and approval of Cape Wind, a permitting process that took nearly 10 years. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound originally filed four legal challenges in 2010. William Koch, the billionaire oil man, is the group’s largest funder. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound previously filed 14 lawsuits against the project and all of them failed.

Opponents of the project had a list of legal claims which included environmental impacts. However, national and regional environmental groups support Cape Wind. The project was reviewed by 17 federal and state agencies, producing an administrative record of more than 400,000 pages. The nine-year approval process was “much longer than a traditional coal power plant, which typically gets approval in just two years,” according to the National Resources Defense Council. The project underwent two federal environmental reviews from the Department of Interior and Army Corps of Engineers, and both agencies approved the project. In addition, there were state and local environmental reviews and approvals.

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Apple Brings iPhone Buyback Program to Canada

Alexis Petru
| Wednesday March 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Apple enthusiasts in the U.S. looking to upgrade their iPhones have been able to trade in their old devices for a newer model at Apple stores since last summer. But now the tech giant is expanding its iPhone buyback and recycling program to Canadian stores, the Vancouver Sun reported, offering store credit of up to $275 for working but unwanted iPhones.

The trade-in program is an affordable way for consumers to move up to a newer iPhone model, the Calif.-based company said in a statement, and represents a larger trend of retailers and mobile carriers jumping into the growing market for refurbished electronic devices already occupied by companies like Gazelle. There will be approximately 396 million idle or inactive mobile devices in the U.S. by the end of the year, marketing analytics firm Compass Intelligence predicts, and of all those electronics, only 80 million will be recycled – clearly indicating an opportunity for increased collection and recycling.

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New Gallup Survey Shows Americans are Ambivalent About Climate Change

| Tuesday March 18th, 2014 | 4 Comments

fight global warmingEarlier this month, the news was filled with stories about recent studies that showed the growing, and often devastating, impacts of climate change – from an increase in malaria cases in Africa and South America to heavier losses in global crop yields to spikes in crime.

Yet, Americans don’t seem to be overly concerned. A new Gallup survey looking at the degree Americans worry about different issues found that only 24 percent of Americans worry a great deal about climate change. Fifty-one percent of them worry about it very little or not at all.

So what do you think when you read that?

I know it’s very easy to get upset about these results or wonder if this is that surprising given the American record so far on climate change, but if you leave these emotions aside for a minute you can actually find some interesting lessons in this survey that might even give us a clue about the way to change these results.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk Calls New Jersey Direct-Sales Ban an ‘Affront’ on the Free Market

Alexis Petru
| Tuesday March 18th, 2014 | 3 Comments

Tesla Model SIf you’re a New Jersey resident thinking about buying a Tesla Model S, you’d better act fast: You have until the end of the month to purchase the all-electric sedan from the company’s stores in the Garden State. Starting April 1, the luxury electric car maker will not be able to sell cars from its New Jersey stores, according to a ruling made last week by the state’s motor vehicle commission.

New Jersey joins Texas and Arizona in prohibiting car manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers, in favor of having franchised dealerships make auto sales. Tesla does not use dealerships to sell its Model S sedan, but instead, markets it cars online and at company-owned stores.

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GM Opens LEED Gold Plant in Brazil

RP Siegel | Tuesday March 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

GM Brazil plant photoGeneral Motors announced the opening last week of its latest LEED Gold engine factory in Joinville, Brazil — the first LEED Gold automotive plant in South America.

The plant features a 350 kW solar CHP array that provides enough electricity to handle all the lighting for both the factory floor and the offices. That’s equivalent to powering 220 homes. At the same time, it heats 15,000 liters (3,962 gallons) of hot water per day. Together, the heat and power generated provides a combined savings of 28 tons of CO2 per day: 10.5 tons from the electricity and 17.6 tons from the hot water heating.

The plant, which is GM’s sixth LEED-certified plant worldwide, also contains a reverse-osmosis water purification system that recycles wastewater for industrial purposes such as cooling towers. This filtration system, an automotive first, saves an estimated 22.9 million liters (6 million gallons) per year, enough to fill nine Olympic-sized swimming pools. The plant also harvests natural light and utilizes plantings to pre-filter wastewater.

The plant’s completion was delayed by strong rains and floods in the area.

Santiago Chamorro, president, General Motors do Brasil, said: “The environmental performance of this plant has been on our minds since Day One of construction. This operation embodies GM’s outlook on integrating sustainability into every decision we make – from building efficient facilities to designing efficient vehicles.”

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Minnesota Crafts a Formula to Calculate the Value of Consumer-Generated Solar Power

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday March 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Rooftop solar panelsYes, everyone values solar power—except maybe Big Oil—but how much is it actually worth in terms of dollars and cents? At least the start of an answer came last week from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Minnesota is the first state in the nation to craft a “value-of-solar” formula for calculating the value of solar power generated by consumers. The big deal is that the methodology is not just about how much solar power is worth to the utility company and its customers, but to society and the environment, according to a ThinkProgress article.

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Upcycling Food Waste into Fertilizer: Q&A with California Safe Soil

Alexis Petru
| Tuesday March 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Dan MorashYou’ve heard of recycling leftover food scraps into a soil amendment for farms, but now a California startup is transforming food waste from grocery stores into a fertilizer that can compete with conventional nitrogen-based soil conditioners that leach chemicals into groundwater, rivers and oceans.

We interviewed Dan Morash, founder of West Sacramento-based California Safe Soil (CSS), to learn more about how its Harvest-to-Harvest (H2H) fertilizer saves resources, reduces pollution and improves soil.

TriplePundit: How is your product, H2H, environmentally responsible?

Dan Morash: It makes productive use of something that is otherwise being wasted. Each 1,000 pounds of food waste generates 700 pounds of carbon dioxide and methane greenhouse gas emissions, as well as hydrogen sulfide – swamp gas – which is poisonous and leaches into ground water. We cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing truck traffic, since our facilities are located near the supermarkets [where CSS picks up food waste], rather than in remote locations.

On the farm side, farms can cut their use of nitrate fertilizer and still increase crop yield, reducing the rate of nitrate runoff into groundwater.  H2H can be delivered directly through drip lines to the crop root zone. Drip line technology is over 90 percent efficient in [transporting water]. The alternative technology, flood irrigation, is less than 50 percent efficient. Now, farms have every incentive to convert to drip, since they can deliver water, fertilizer and organic material, all through their drip lines.

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California Targets List of Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday March 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

bassinette_chemicals_shinglebk California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control has announced the beginning of a new program that will be designed to monitor and regulate toxic substances found in consumer goods.

On Thursday the DTSC implemented the first phase of the agency’s new “Safer Consumer Products” program by releasing the names of three types products it says contain substances that are toxic to the human body and are under regulatory consideration by the state.

The three Priority Products are:

  • Children’s padded sleeping products like sleeping mats and bassinets that contain unreacted diisocyanates, a known carcinogen
  • Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) materials used for insulation that contain unreacted diisocyanates, a suspected carcinogen
  • Paint and varnish strippers, and surface cleaners that contain methylene chloride, a known carcinogen

Debbie Raphael, the director of department at the DTSC, stressed that at this stage, the department was not banning these substances. “We are starting a conversation with manufacturers.”

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Costa Rica May Keep Carbon Neutrality Goal

| Monday March 17th, 2014 | 1 Comment

costa rica wind turbines “Costa Rica opposition group says to scrap 2021 carbon neutrality target,” reads the headline of a recent Reuters news article. Standing on its own, the headline is accurate. However, lacking context, it could be misleading, causing readers who don’t venture beyond the headline to conclude that Costa Rica will be dropping its goal of achieving carbon neutrality completely.

Reading further, Reuters reporter Marcelo Teixeira makes it clear that while Costa Rica’s “leftist” opposition PAC (Citizens’ Action Party) party, whose candidate Luis Guillermo Solis appears to be a shoo-in to win the presidency in an April 6 runoff election, believes the 2021 goal of achieving carbon neutrality is too optimistic, it doesn’t intend to drop the carbon neutrality goal or other climate change mitigation and adaptation policies.

To the contrary, PAC doesn’t intend to drop Costa Rica’s carbon neutrality goal; the party believes the Central American country just needs more time to achieve it. Already a world leader when it comes to low carbon emissions and the use of renewable energy, further gains are harder to come by, particularly when it comes to transportation and diversifying its renewable energy base.

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Method Breaks Ground on Its First U.S. Factory in Chicago

Alexis Petru
| Monday March 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Method Chicago manufacturing plantEco-friendly cleaning supply company Method is known for pushing the envelope even in the sustainable business community: encouraging a work culture of “weirdness” to keep employees happy and recycling plastic litter from the Great Pacific garbage patch into product packaging.

Now the San Francisco-headquartered company is working on another cutting-edge initiative — unveiling design plans for its first U.S. manufacturing plant that it hopes will be the first LEED Platinum certified factory in the consumer packaged goods industry.

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World Bank Highlights Biodiversity’s Central Role in Alleviating Poverty

| Monday March 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

srilankaelephants It may seem quaint to some, but at a fundamental level, there are ethical, moral, even spiritual motives for we humans to do our best to conserve wilderness, ecosystems and biodiversity. Then, of course, there are the most pragmatic and self-interested: all our economic activities and the health and well-being of all our societies is dependent on healthy ecosystems, and biological diversity is central to assuring health ecosystems.

Though perhaps best known, and criticized, for bankrolling development of large-scale infrastructure projects such as coal-fired and hydroelectric power plants, the World Bank has likewise been instrumental in helping conserve biodiversity and sustainably utilize the numerous and varied services diverse ecosystems provide.

The World Bank has also been a key agent in helping realize the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Though results to date are very much mixed, researchers, agents and policy makers have found that there are ways of achieving the MDG goals that are self-reinforcing and effective. Such synergy exists, for instance, when it comes to achieving two MDGs: reducing poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability.

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New IRS Video Guides Same-Sex Couples Through Tax Filing

Alexis Petru
| Monday March 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

TaxesNext month, legally married same-sex couples are going to be filing their taxes differently than in previous years, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently released a video introducing changes to the filing process, resulting from last summer’s Supreme Court decision to strike down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The most radical feature of these new tax implications is that the federal government recognizes the marriage of same-sex couples as long as they wedded in a jurisdiction that allows same-sex unions, regardless of where the spouses live now. That means that the federal government would consider a gay or lesbian couple to be legally married – and receive all the corresponding federal tax benefits – if the duo got hitched in their home state of Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, but then had to move to Colorado, a state that does not authorize same-sex unions. The government would also acknowledge same-sex marriages performed in foreign countries that authorize such unions, meaning a married couple from New Zealand could move to the U.S. and still have their union recognized, or an American couple vacationing in Canada could get married, come home to Louisiana and be considered married by the federal government.

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How Cloud Computing Can Help Shrink Corporate Energy Consumption

3p Contributor | Monday March 17th, 2014 | 1 Comment

ComputerWith the world population now hovering around 7 billion and the increased strain put on the environment by developing nations such as India and China, the need for environmentally friendly business practices is more important than ever. Although the United States still has much to do to improve its reputation in this area – per capita, the United States trails only a few nations in energy consumption, all of which have much smaller population sizes – individual business owners can do their part, starting today.

If you own or operate a business and are interested in reducing your company’s environmental impact, consider cloud communications solutions from leading providers such as Mitel. Storing data and information in the cloud can help you minimize your carbon footprint by taking advantage of shared resources. Think of it this way: Why dedicate your own resources to solve a problem when you can call upon pre-existing resources? That is just one of the many promises of working in the cloud.

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3p Weekend: 7 Booming Job Sectors Fueling America’s Green Economy

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday March 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Freer Water Control and Improvement District (FWCID) Manager Diana Adame tests for arsenic using a test strip.

Freer Water Control and Improvement District (FWCID) Manager Diana Adame tests for arsenic using a test strip.

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.

Before we get on to this week’s 3p Weekend, let’s pose a question: What is a green job? It’s a simple question but one that has no official answer. In March 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) took a crack at defining green jobs and calculating their saturation in the market in a detailed survey of the green economy. There are some limitations to their definition, but it’s consistent with most that came before it (and it makes sense to us for the most part). So, let’s decide to use it as our go-to for this list.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part: It’s tough to deny that the green jobs sector is making waves across the country, even as overall unemployment rates are slow to decline. BLS determined that green employment is growing at a faster rate than the overall economy, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

The saturation of green jobs is growing across all industries, but a select few are leading the charge. Read on for seven booming green job sectors set to explode in the 21st century. 

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