Investment Fund Launches Model For Energy Efficiency Financing

| Thursday March 13th, 2014 | 1 Comment
enerco

Ener.co is working with Joule Assets for energy efficiency financing

According to the EPA, buildings in the U.S. account for 36 percent of total energy used in the country and 65 percent of all electricity consumption, so any improvements in building energy efficiency that can be made provide a tremendous opportunity for huge benefits. That said, when it comes to energy, funding has tended to flow more freely towards renewable energy generation projects than towards energy efficiency projects — effectively creating a barrier to necessary work, which would otherwise make the country’s buildings far greener.

One energy efficiency and demand response financier is seeking to address this problem. “What is missing in the energy efficiency industry is akin to what is allowing solar to take off now,” says Mike Gordon, CEO of Joule Assets Inc, “There has been no ability to create investments, which can be re-bundled and sold to investors down the line.”

By doing just this, Joule Assets plans to correct the shortfall in energy efficiency projects by providing access to the necessary financing that will allow small- and medium-size contractors to unlock the potential in the market for energy efficiency work.

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Chipotle Identifies Climate Change As a Risk, Warns It May Stop Serving Guacamole

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday March 13th, 2014 | 7 Comments

Chipotle Chipotle’s recent SEC filing caused quite a stir. Specifically, one of the risks stated in that filing caused a stir.

The company cited “changes associated with global climate change” as having a potential “significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients.” Due to cost increases, Chipotle “may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas.” However, Chipotle spokesperson, Chris Arnold downplays that specific example. “It’s routine financial disclosure,” Arnold told Think Progress. “Nothing more than that.”

Chipotle may or may not have to suspend serving such staples of its menu as guacamole and salsas. However, chances are great that climate change will have an effect on the fast food chain. The filing also mentioned that weather events “such as freezes or drought” could lead to temporary price increases on certain ingredients. The filing goes on to mention drought. “For instance, two years of drought conditions in parts of the U.S. have resulted in significant increases in beef prices during late 2013 and early 2014.”

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RGGI Completes First Cap-and-Trade Auction Since Reducing CO2 Cap by 45 Percent

| Thursday March 13th, 2014 | 0 Comments

co2pic1 Extreme, atypical weather continues to take an unusually heavy toll on the U.S. economy and society this winter, patterns consistent with forecasts made by the world’s leading climate scientists. Those same scientists have been urging world leaders to take action and proactively invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives for at least two decades.

When it comes to mitigating climate change, reducing carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is paramount. Here in the U.S. in 2009, a total of nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states joined in launching the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a power sector emissions cap-and-trade market whereby the proceeds of emissions allowance auctions are invested in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other programs of benefit to consumers.

On March 5, RGGI completed its 23rd auction of CO2 allowances — the first since a new, much lower cap on CO2 emissions from the region’s power plants (those with capacity of 25 MW or more) was set in January. This year’s emissions cap of 91 million tons of CO2 is 45 percent lower than last year’s limit of 165 million.

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Big Ben May Get a Solar Face Lift

Sarah Lozanova | Thursday March 13th, 2014 | 2 Comments

UK carbon reduction goal In an effort by the U.K. Parliament to reach the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 34 percent by 2020, the House of Commons is now looking to the parliamentary estate and considering installing solar panels on the face of Big Ben in London. Parliamentary passholders were submitting ideas for reducing carbon emissions and boosting energy efficiency on the estate, when the solar idea was suggested.

Big Ben, officially renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012, was constructed in 1859 and contains 6.9-meter clocks on a 96-meter tower. It is located on the north end of the Palace of Westminster and has become one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom, particularly in visual media and the chimes in audio media. It is a popular landmark in the United Kingdom, thus installing solar panels would be an iconic gesture.

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Women in CSR: Alice Korngold, Korngold Consulting

| Thursday March 13th, 2014 | 0 Comments

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Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.

Alice KorngoldTriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.

Alice Korngold: I am President and CEO of Korngold Consulting. Together with members of my team, I assist companies in establishing NGO/nonprofit board-matching programs that help them to achieve their objectives for corporate growth and profits through leadership development, stakeholder engagement and productive NGO/nonprofit partnerships. We also train and place corporate executives on NGO/nonprofit boards of directors based on each individual’s interests and qualifications and the needs of each NGO/nonprofit.

Additionally, we consult to the boards of directors of global, national, and regional NGOs/nonprofits—including addressing board composition, recruitment, and leadership succession planning—to advance NGOs/nonprofits in achieving their greater ambitions and long-term sustainability.

I’ve been working in CSR since 1993, when I founded, built and ran a social enterprise in Cleveland, Ohio to provide CSR advisory services to corporations, in addition to nonprofit board-matching services for over 1,000 corporate executives and board development services to several hundred nonprofits. Our organization also trained and advised leadership programs in other cities, throughout the country, seeking to replicate our nonprofit board-matching model, which was financially self-sustaining through fees for services.

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Learn to Feel the Planet’s Pain: Sustainability Lessons from a Medical Missionary

3p Contributor | Thursday March 13th, 2014 | 0 Comments

A version of this post was published on the Center for Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) “The Daly News” blog

RiceTerrace_by-AlainBy Herman Daly

Dr. Paul Brand grew up in South India as the son of British missionary parents. He returned to England to study medicine, then went back to take care of people with leprosy in India, mainly doing reconstructive hand and foot surgery — some 3,000 operations over many years. He also spent some time in Ethiopia doing similar things, and finally ended up as director of the only leprosy hospital in the U.S., located in Carville, La. I believe that hospital closed about 10 years ago, after Dr. Brand retired. He died in 2003.

His son happened to be a student of mine at Louisiana State University (LSU). Medically, he is credited with having established that leprosy is not the direct cause of decay or necrosis of the hands and feet universally observed in people with leprosy. Rather the damage to extremities is self-inflicted, resulting from the loss of sensation and inability to feel pain. Without pain there is no feedback to tell you that you are damaging yourself. Brand developed routines and practices to help avoid self-inflicted injuries, and wrote a book entitled “Pain: the Gift that Nobody Wants.” He also wrote the standard medical textbook on hand and foot surgery.

LSU is a big football school, and an assistant coach invented a super-cushioned helmet that much reduced head pain on impact. This was thought a great thing until Dr. Brand pointed out that head pain was what kept football players from breaking their necks. Would you rather have a headache or a broken neck?

So much for background. I want to focus on a paragraph that Dr. Brand wrote in 1985:

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Recap: Live Chat with Dr. Neil Hawkins, VP of Global EH&S and Sustainability at Dow Chemical Co.

Marissa Rosen
| Wednesday March 12th, 2014 | 3 Comments

Dr. Neil HawkinsEvery 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.

On Wednesday, March 12 at 1 p.m. PST / 4 p.m. EST, TriplePundit’s Founder and Publisher, Nick Aster, spoke with Dr. Neil Hawkins about sustainability at The Dow Chemical Co.

What are ecosystem services? Ever thought about putting a price on nature? We learned about Dow’s work with the Natural Capital Hub, a project recently launched by The Nature Conservancy and Corporate EcoForum promoting natural capital, as well as some of the ways the company is working with nature to improve otherwise expensive and possibly toxic processes like water treatment.

If you missed the conversation, you can watch it right here or on our YouTube channel.

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How the Power of Story Can Save Our Oceans

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday March 12th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Boat

This is the first in our new series of articles on Sustainable Seafood. Please follow along on our main landing page here

In many ways, the ocean is an open history book — relaying grim tales of waste, pollution and shortsighted management of our planet’s natural resources. The ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contains 97 percent of its water, yet a growing number of factors continue to threaten the health of our oceans and, by extension, the sustainable future of our planet.

As the Earth warms, so do the oceans — causing increasing rates of acidification that concern scientists and lawmakers alike. President Barack Obama noted acidification as a key climate-related concern in an Executive Order he issued last year urging Americans to embrace climate change awareness. Scientists note that acidification has happened before in Earth’s history — but never at such rapid rate. The most comparable event, which took place about 65 million years ago, is estimated to be 10 times slower than current acidification.

Though human activity indirectly impacts ocean health through climate change, direct actions may pose even greater concerns. To keep up with demand for certain species, massive commercial fishing vessels empty large swaths of water in one pass, then simply move on to another. Known as overfishing, the serial depletion of fish populations that leaves few adult fish to repopulate the seas, this phenomenon poses a real and imminent threat to ocean biodiversity — which could endanger sea life all the way up the food chain and have potentially devastating effects on underwater ecosystems. Meanwhile, currents draw millions of tons of trash to an area the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean, known as the North Pacific Gyre or trash vortex, where it swirls in perpetuity and grows larger by the day.

Outspoken consumer advocacy, thoughtful legislation and greater industry transparency can go a long way to ensuring a healthier ocean for our children. But another factor may play an even greater role in determining a brighter future for the world’s fish — the power of story.

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‘Tech Backlash’ Perfect Time for Silicon Valley to ‘Disrupt’ CSR

Lauren Zanolli
| Wednesday March 12th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Google BusIn an article posted last month on Salon.com, Julia Carrie Wong outs Silicon Valley for a lackluster response to the tech backlash embodied by protests of Google employee buses in San Francisco. She says “charity is not enough” and rightfully points out the relative stinginess of “community benefit agreements” that the city signed with tech companies in exchange for tax breaks. And while skyrocketing rents and higher-than-average eviction rates have their roots in a long-term housing shortage caused by intense bureacracy and local opposition to new developments, the effects of a booming tech industry in an otherwise slow-moving economy are very real in the Silicon Valley.

But to charge that tech companies and their now infamous employees are THE cause of displacement and gentrification seems misguided. It begs the question: Exactly how should tech companies be responding to their outsize effect on the local economy?

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Is There a Sustainable Big Mac in Your Future?

RP Siegel | Wednesday March 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments

mcdonalds logo Giant corporations such as McDonald’s and Walmart cast a long shadow across the planet with the enormous amount of resources that they use, process, consume and sell. McDonald’s flips and bags 70 million hamburgers every day and is responsible for a full 2 percent of the world’s beef consumption. So when you consider the impact that beef production has on the environment, particularly with regard to climate change, a move by them to sustainable beef could be a really big deal.

After all, according to a 2009 article in Scientific American, the meat industry was, at that time, responsible for somewhere between 14 and 22 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. So, the article says, if you drove your 3,000-pound car five miles to buy a hamburger, the emissions given off by producing the meat for that burger were equivalent to those given off by your car as your drove there and back home again.

That report, which came from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, turned out to be significantly understated. An updated analysis performed by the World Bank, which was published in Forbes of all places, showed that the more accurate number is closer to 51 percent. That means you’d have to drive somewhere between 23 and 36 miles to equal that patty’s footprint.

In fact, the article goes so far as to say that replacing meat with with alternative foods such as dairy products and soy analogs, for people around the world would, “have far more rapid effects on greenhouse gas emissions and their atmospheric concentrations — and thus on the rate the climate is warming — than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”

So McDonald’s pledge to switch to sustainable beef production starting in 2016 could have a huge impact, depending, of course, on what they mean by sustainable and how different emissions figures would be compared to those produced today. Considering the fact that Walmart is also making similar noises the stakes are even higher.

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Mars Inc. Raises the Bar for Sustainable Palm Oil

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday March 12th, 2014 | 3 Comments

Sustainable_Palm_Oil_Mars_bar_bitten_Asim18 Mars Inc. is upping the ante regarding the sustainable palm oil market. The manufacturer of the popular chocolate candy bars Mars Bar, 3 Musketeers and Twix announced its commitment yesterday to transition to 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil in its products by the end of 2014.

At present, Mars adheres to the guidelines of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil, which allows it to purchase sustainable palm oil in accordance with the organization’s “mass balance program.” The program is set up to assist companies as they transition to fully certified sustainable oil, by allowing them to mix the sustainable oil they purchase with conventional sources. According to the RSPO, it also helps support the fledgling sustainable palm oil market, by upping the demand in a way that can be met by suppliers.

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Policy Points: Spilling Light on Poor Toxic Chemicals Regulations

American Sustainable Business Council
| Wednesday March 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Members of the West Virginia National Guard draw water samples to determine levels of contamination remaining in local water supply during Operation Elk River Spill.

Members of the West Virginia National Guard draw water samples to determine levels of contamination remaining in local water supply during Operation Elk River Spill.

By Bryan McGannon

If you needed a reason to take chemical reform seriously, you got it in the form of the Elk River chemical spill in West Virginia in January. Besides the human cost, which left many communities without running water for days and made residents sick from the chemicals, there were massive business and economic impacts. According to the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University, businesses in the Charleston, W.Va. area lost about $61 million (PDF) in just the first week after the spill.

Or perhaps we can look to North Carolina and the massive spill that dumped nearly 40,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River on Feb. 2, coating 70 miles of the river with toxic contaminants such as arsenic, mercury and lead.

These accidents shine a spotlight on the potential for damage from poorly regulated toxic chemicals. But, in fact, they only hint at how poor current regulations really are for these chemicals.

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Unilever CEO Paul Polman Pockets Extra $722K for Sustainability Work

Lauren Zanolli
| Wednesday March 12th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Together with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Unilever CEO Paul Polman opens a new Unilever wastewater treatment plant in St. Petersburg in 2013.

Together with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Unilever CEO Paul Polman opens a new Unilever wastewater treatment plant in St. Petersburg in 2013.

Proving that being green really can get you more of that other green stuff, Unilever CEO and leader in corporate sustainability Paul Polman received a £431,775 ($722,230) bump to his already hefty annual bonus in large part for his work on the company’s sustainability goals.

As Bloomberg reported earlier this week, in Unilever’s Annual Report the Board of Directors mentioned Polman’s “leadership, including progress against the delivery of [Unilever Sustainable Living Plan] goals and his overall contribution to making sustainable living commonplace,” as a factor in choosing a 137.5 percent “personal performance multiplier” on his year-end bonus.

In comparison, Unilever’s CFO, Jean-Marc Huet, received a 110 percent personal performance multiplier.

Among his fellow multi-national CEOs, Polman has been one of the most vocal proponents for integrating environmental and social goals into overall business planning. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan was formed under his watch and aims to halve the company’s environmental footprint by 2020, among other metrics. He has also broken away from the pack in his approach to shareholder duty. Rather than focus exclusively on shareholder returns, he has actively sought out the kind of investors that agree with his “build a bigger pie” approach to business, which emphasizes the long-term value companies can reap from a more environmentally and economically stable world.

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Fair Trace Tool Makes Supply Chain Transparency Fashionable

3p Contributor | Tuesday March 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Indigenous Trace ToolBy Matt Reynolds

Fashionistas now, for the first time, can see beyond clothing labels with the Fair Trace Tool developed by my company, fair trade fashion retailer INDIGENOUS along with Worldways Social Media. This new tool, a QR code on hang-tags, offers transparency throughout the garment’s supply chain, including a glimpse of the artisans who actually made it and insight into the product’s social impact. The content is delivered in text, video and animated map format.

We founded INDIGENOUS on the principle that great design starts with paying workers fair wages, having fair working conditions and using materials that do not harm our environment. As my co-founder, Scott Leonard, CEO of INDIGENOUS says, “No one should suffer or die to make clothing. Just the opposite – they and their families should prosper. That’s how it is with our supply chain. That’s how it can be with others. Let’s not make this harder than it is.”

The global fashion industry is a trillion-dollar business, rampant with social and environmental injustices. Child labor, slave labor and hostile working conditions exploit workers. Pesticides used in cotton fields and toxic dyes used in yarns and fabrics devastate lives, land and water. The good news is that we can do something about it.

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CSR Lessons From Mobile Industry’s ‘Kill Switch’ Opposition

| Tuesday March 11th, 2014 | 1 Comment

smartphoneYou love your cell phone and can’t spend a minute without it, right? If the answer is yes, here are three facts you should be aware of.

First, in 2012 1.6 million Americans were the victims of smartphone-related crimes. Second, one in three robberies in the U.S. include the theft of a mobile device. Third, cell phone thefts are now the single biggest source of property crime in many American cities.

In other words, not only is your beloved phone in danger of getting stolen, but it can also get you into trouble, from being the target of a robbery to even getting murdered in some cases.

Is this inevitable? Not necessarily, according to a growing number of policymakers and law enforcements officers. They believe consumers deserve better and that a “kill switch” that would make smartphones useless when stolen is the best solution to the “epidemic of violent smartphone thefts,” as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman calls it.

But not everyone is convinced a kill switch this is such a great idea.

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