Dubai: A City That Answers Its People

3p Contributor | Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: As a lead-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Jan. 17-24, Masdar sponsored a blogging contest called “Describe the Ideal City in 2030.”  The following post was a runner-up.

Dubai is famous for its skyscrapers, but by 2030 the city may be known as a hub for sustainable development, predicts Masdar blogging contest runner-up

Dubai is famous for its skyscrapers, but by 2030 the city may be known as a hub for sustainable development, predicts Masdar blogging contest runner-up Christina Thomas.

By Christina Thomas

“You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.” – Italo Calvino, “Invisible Cities”

Dubai certainly has its share of wonders and answers. Shellstone minarets and glass skyscrapers once symbolized the city’s tenacity in contest with the harsh desert. But in the years leading up to 2030, Dubai has come closer to reconciling with nature and responding to environmental concerns.

The city has also been answering the many questions continually posed by its millions of residents. Some ask, “Where can my children play?” “Why are the streets flooded whenever we get an inch of rain?” Others ask, “Do they sell local vegetables nearby?”

As an urban planner, my job is to make sure that the city can provide many of those answers, be it though green parks maintained with recycled water or porous roads and sidewalks that collect runoff.

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Report: Offshore Wind Better Job Creator Than Offshore Drilling

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment

offshore windWhile proponents of offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast tout it as a job-creator, the practice would actually cost jobs, according to a new report.

Offshore drilling would put at risk some of the almost 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product that rely on healthy ocean ecosystems. Offshore wind could provide twice the amount of jobs and energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, a new report by Oceana finds. Oceana’s projections only show the amount of jobs that could be created by 2035. However, many more could be created after that date, according to the report.

Gradually developing offshore wind energy on the East Coast would result in 143 gigawatts of power being generated over the next 20 years. That is enough energy to power over 115 million households. In the next 20 years, offshore wind could create about 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling. The energy created by 20 years of offshore wind in the Atlantic could produce 5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) more than the oil and gas that is recoverable in the same area. Extracting and using all of the economically-recoverable offshore oil and gas in the Atlantic would only meet oil demand for 132 days and gas demand for 283 days. Offshore wind could generate more energy in just 13 years than all of the economically-recoverable offshore oil and gas resources, the report concludes.

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Palo Alto in 2030: How One Small City Advanced the ‘Sustainability’ Revolution

3p Contributor | Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: As a lead-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Jan. 17-24, Masdar sponsored a blogging contest called “Describe the Ideal City in 2030.”  The following post was a runner-up.

Bicycles are already commonplace in Palo Alto, but by 2030 the city may be entirely car-free, predicts Masdar blogging contest runner-up Gil Friend.

Bicycles are already commonplace in Palo Alto, but by 2030 the city may be entirely car-free, predicts Masdar blogging contest runner-up Gil Friend.

By Gil Friend

Palo Alto in 2030 is still the beautiful, desirable, park-like suburb it had been for more than 100 years, still the booming heart of Silicon Valley it had been for more than more than 70. Now it is climate positive, car-free and a vibrant laboratory for the innovations that have rapidly transformed the global landscape over the past 15 years.

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A Powerful Tool for Getting Insight into State Energy Policy

Hannah Miller | Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

logo cneeAbout 80 percent of energy regulation goes on at the state level, estimates Jeff Lyng, senior policy analyst at the Center for the New Energy Economy in Denver. But until last year, finding out exactly what states were doing was incredibly labor intensive: One had to go to each individual state government website separately.

Last year, however, the center unveiled the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker – a simple, comprehensive, easy-on-the-eyes database of state-level public policy from across the nation. You can check the status of PACE in Arkansas, feed-in tariffs in Hawaii, or gas-tax replacements anywhere: free and searchable. (The kind of thing that the American Legislative Exchange Council has had for a while.)

“Most of the energy business is regulated at the state level. And states are leading. The mission of this center is to work with states,” said Lyng. (CNEE is a part of Colorado State University, with former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter as its director.)

Energy is a hot topic now, judging from the volume of legislation being proposed: 489 policies were enacted last year and 713 the year before (the drop-off due to the state legislatures that hold abbreviated sessions in even years.)

Last month, the CNEE released its 2014 year-end report of state energy policy, covering the main policy categories (both for and against):

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Best Business Innovations of 2014

3p Contributor | Thursday January 22nd, 2015 | 0 Comments
Google passed

Google’s autonomous vehicles passed 500,000 driver-free miles last year. But that wasn’t the only buzzy-worthy business innovation of 2014.

By Debbie Fletcher

2014 saw a range of new innovations within the business world. Numerous companies won awards for their innovative ideas and services, and below you’ll discover some of the best.

1. Google leads the way

Internet giant Google led the way for innovations, developing numerous projects that could change the world (or at least the way you live and do business). Shopping Express is one of the company’s innovations, experimenting with the idea of same-day delivery. Very few companies offer this service yet it is something that many of us would love.

Another innovation from Google that did quite well in 2014 was its range of autonomous vehicles, which reached a milestone of 500,000 driver-free miles last year.

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Masdar Launching Desalination Project Powered by Renewables

Leon Kaye | Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 4 Comments
Masdar, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Abu Dhabi, desalination, renewable energy, solar, Leon Kaye, Middle East,

Masdar is betting this solar desalination project can transform this growing and energy-intensive industry.

Desalination is one reason why the Gulf region has enjoyed spectacular growth over the past two decades. Harvesting fresh water out of the sea is also one long-term economic and environmental problem that countries such as the United Arab Emirates will have to confront.

Effluent resulting from removing salts and minerals from seawater is often discharged into the Gulf, creating one environmental problem. And while most desalination plants in the Middle East are actually cogeneration plants that generate electricity from natural gas, heightened demand for power in the summer means many such plants generate more potable water than can be consumed. In turn, the unneeded water is released into the Gulf, creating even more ecological burdens. And at a pragmatic level, fossil fuels used to operate power-hungry desalination plants means less of them can be exported or even used for local electricity and power requirements.

Desalination fueled from solar or other renewables offer potential, but as of now the amount of energy required has not made renewable energy a viable alternative. A pilot project launched by Masdar in Abu Dhabi, however, could pave the way to a future where desalination could be possible with less of a carbon footprint.

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Yellowstone River Oil Spill Prompts State of Emergency

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 2 Comments

Glendive_Yellowstone_River_oil_spill_TimEvansonResidents in the town of Glendive, Montana, have been told not to drink their water after an oil pipeline broke on Saturday, dumping an estimated 50,000 gallons of Bakken light crude into the Yellowstone River.

The breach was discovered approximately 10 miles upstream from the town of 6,000, which serves as the agricultural hub for eastern Montana.

A spokesperson for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said the pipeline was shut down quickly.

“We think it was caught pretty quick,” said Dave Parker. “The governor is committed to making sure the river is cleaned up.”

By Sunday, however, residents in town were reporting an odd odor. Initial tests conducted on the town’s water supply indicated elevated levels of hydrocarbons, prompting officials to order a warning against drinking the water.

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Abu Dhabi Project Could Transform Aquaculture and Aviation Biofuels

Leon Kaye | Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 0 Comments
Abu Dhabi, Middle East, United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, biofuels, aviation biofuels, Masdar, Masdar City, Masdar Institute, Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium, halophytes, mangroves, renewable energy, food security, Leon Kaye

A pilot project announced this week could help revive mangroves in the Abu Dhabi region.

The Gulf region is certainly rife with ambition: In addition to the audacious architecture emerging in its cities, Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are competing to build the world’s largest airports — which means far more demand for aviation fuel. Meanwhile the vast majority of food consumed here is imported, meaning more investments to ensure food security that critics say are not much more than a land grab.

The fact this region has one of the world’s hottest and harshest climates has not stopped its rapid growth, in turn bringing up countless questions about the Middle East’s long-term sustainability. Add the questions of water with its demands for more desalination while aquifers have become depleted, and the future with more people and demand for resources does not look too promising. With 97 percent of the world’s water in oceans and 20 percent of its land desert, other countries will have to face this same dilemma.

But what if it were possible to grow food sustainably in the desert while creating aviation biofuels? A pilot project to launch later this year in Masdar City was announced yesterday at a press conference during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), an initiative of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, has announced what it says will be the world’s first bioenergy pilot project to use desert land, irrigated by seawater, to produce both food and energy.

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Battle Climate Change With Sustain:Green’s New MasterCard

| Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 0 Comments

Green MastercardYesterday, Sustain:Green launched a MasterCard that rewards its users with carbon offsets, giving individuals a way to reduce their carbon footprint and fund the Mata No Peito rainforest preservation project in Brazil.

Numerous studies point to manmade emissions as being one of the biggest factors in global climate change, and on the heels of the hottest year on record, Sustain:Green’s CEO, Arthur Newman, believes that a biodegradable credit card with carbon offset rewards is a welcome solution for customers looking for another way to live more sustainably.

After recycling, reusable grocery bags, and turning down the thermostat, the options most people have to reduce their carbon footprint usually fall into three categories, too difficult, too expensive, or not possible,” Newman said in a press release. “Just by using our card for purchases they would make anyway, consumers can shrink their carbon footprint for free, every day, while also helping to preserve rainforests critical to combatting climate change. We hope they will use the card in conjunction with other carbon reduction lifestyle changes, such as fuel efficient transportation choices.”

For every dollar they spend, Sustain:Green reduces card users’ carbon footprints by two pounds (fine print excludes cash advances and returned merchandise), and by an initial 5,000 pounds upon first use (within 90 days). There is a personal online dashboard where users can track their carbon offset credits and calculate their carbon footprint. The rewards are automatically recorded on the American Carbon Registry and 100 percent of the money spent buying carbon offsets to reduce users’ carbon footprints is allocated to the Mata No Peito project to preserve, protect and reforest Brazilian rainforests.

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Income Disparity and Sustained Economic Growth

Bill Roth | Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 0 Comments

6248906736_725218bf2c_zIncome disparity is again a front-page political issue. Credit Suisse projects that in two years the global 1 percent “… Will have more wealth than the remaining 99 percent of the people.” In the U.S., the top 1 percent earns a mean household annual income of $1,318,200. This is approximately 70 times the annual income of the average American worker.

‘The 1 percent’ now own approximately 36 percent of America’s wealth. Most telling, over the last decade the wealth of the top 1 percent earners has grown, while the bottom 80 percent’s wealth fell from approximately 20 percent of the U.S. economy to around 10 percent.

Wealth concentration restricts sustained economic growth

To appreciate how wealth concentration can blunt economic growth, think Czarist (or modern-day) Russia: A lot of poor people and a few wealthy families does not sustain economic growth. Recovery from the Great Depression provides similar insights. The path to economic recovery was not through enriching the rich. It was through enriching the middle class so they had the capital to start businesses and grow families.

Now consider our current economy: The inability of our economy to achieve sustained economic growth is tied to our middle class being mired in 15 years of no real income growth. Our economically-stagnant middle class is restricted in their ability to financially bootstrap and sustain businesses that have always been America’s lifeblood for job and economic growth.

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Poll: Energy Efficiency is America’s No. 1 Housing Concern

Alexis Petru
| Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 1 Comment

Home InsulationSafety, affordability and privacy – it’s no surprise that these were some of top housing needs identified in a recent national survey of more than 10,000 households. But the No. 1 unmet housing concern, which the Demand Institute that carried out the poll defined as the “satisfaction gap” between what respondents actually have and what they said was important, was not as easily expected: energy efficiency.

Survey respondents were given a list of 52 housing and community concerns and asked to rank them, on a scale of 1 to 10, by how important they felt the issues were and how much their current home satisfied these needs. The result: 71 percent of U.S. households polled placed a great deal of importance on energy efficiency, but only 35 percent felt their homes were very energy efficient with low monthly utility costs (the respondents making up percentages answered these questions with an 8, 9 or 10 ranking).

Based on these numbers, energy efficiency was the housing concern with the largest gap between the rates of importance and satisfaction – beating out consumer needs and wants for updated kitchens, storage space, safe neighborhoods, affordability, landlord responsiveness and more.

Why the strong desire for energy-wise homes?

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What’s Next For CR? Thoughts and Predictions for 2015

3p Contributor | Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 2 Comments
To kick of 2015, Shannon

To kick off 2015, Shannon Schuyler of PwC participated in a TriplePundit Twitter chat to discuss emerging CSR trends. This week, she’s sharing her predictions for the year to come. 

By Shannon Schuyler, PwC

2014 was a landmark year. Megatrends like demographic shifts, technological breakthroughs and rapid urbanization collided with milestone events — such as India’s 2 percent give-back mandate and the People’s Climate March — to re-shape how the world views businesses’ responsibility in the marketplace.

I recently participated in a Twitter chat, on behalf of PwC and the PwC Charitable Foundation, with TriplePundit and Dave Stangis of the Campbell Soup Co. During the chat, we touched on these issues and how they will impact the way we think and act as responsible business organizations in 2015. While there were many important insights and trends, there are seven that I believe will transform the landscape in 2015.

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A Metamorphosis in Our Midst

3p Contributor | Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 0 Comments

butterfly1 By Giles Hutchins

We are now settling into 2015 — transformational times, no less, which quite naturally invoke a feeling of trepidation. Tectonic shifts in our socio-economic models, strategic and operational management, and leadership development are metamorphosing our prevalent paradigm into something as different in look and feel as a butterfly is from a caterpillar.

In the early stages of a pupa’s metamorphosis, cells quite different from the caterpillar organize into groups. These ‘imaginal cells’ run up against the opposition of the old caterpillar’s immune system, which perceives them as a threat to the caterpillar’s existence. Over time, as the system of the old caterpillar begins to break down, these new formations spawn forth the structures, processes and logic of the butterfly; ditto for the metamorphosis in our midst.

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Telecoms, Data Center Trends Heighten Climate Risks, Vulnerability

| Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 0 Comments

GSA climate risk ICT study titleLike water, energy and waste management, digital telecommunications and data centers have become utilities essential for modern societies to function sustainably. It is generally accepted that the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events — and the onset of gradual, long-terms shifts in weather patterns and climate — pose existential threats to critical information and communications technology (ICT) supply chains, as well as infrastructure.

But a recent report from Riverside Technology and Acclimatise found that the business risks of climate change as they relate to telecommunications and data centers are poorly recognized — particularly with respect to infrastructure and supply chains. Similarly, climate change resiliency and adaptation plans in this critical segment of the U.S. ICT sector are poorly developed, concluded the report, which was conducted on behalf of the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA).

“Despite the importance of these sectors, the climate risk they face is poorly understood. Even less understood are climate risks to the supply chains both sectors rely upon,” the authors of Climate Risks Study for Telecommunications and Data Center Services highlight. Furthermore, though it boosts operational efficiency and the bottom line, the recent trend that has seen more and more companies sharing ICT resources – platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), for instance – increases the vulnerability of critical ICT infrastructure and supply chains to the impacts of extreme weather events and more gradual shifts in climate.

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Pitfalls in Measuring Corporate Sustainability

Sustainable Management at Bard | Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 2 Comments

Graph With Stacks Of CoinsBy Amy Kalafa

Are you one of those people who gets excited when the price of a Tesla becomes almost affordable, or when you can buy a toothbrush made from recycled plastic, or a lipstick certified cruelty-free? If so, then you may be glad to know that there are a whole host of tools in the business world that give companies a way to report on their corporate sustainability practices.

Business directors are fond of the phrase, “What gets measured gets managed.” According to a 2013 report by KPMG, 86 percent of large American companies use some form of sustainability reporting, up from 74 percent in 2008.

To date, all sustainability reporting in the U.S is voluntary self-reporting, but a growing number of indexed stock portfolios are based on corporate environmental and social governance (ESG) metrics. Firms like MSCI and ENSOGO scrutinize report contents and provide detailed evaluations to stock analysts, and companies that don’t file a corporate sustainability report are now perceived as laggards in corporate citizenship.

The Dow Jones Stock Exchange even has its own index — the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) — for publicly-traded companies.

The field of sustainability reporting is still a bit of a minefield, however, stewing in an alphabet soup of acronyms. Analysts struggle to standardize metrics and measurements.

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