Change.org Extends Gender-Neutral Parental Leave Policy

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday October 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

babyChange.org announced recently that it will amend its parental leave policy. The site that allows users to create petitions will increase the paid time an employee can take for the birth of a child from six weeks to 18 weeks. This is extended to both fathers and mothers. The new policy also includes people who adopt as being eligible for leave. Change.org has about 200 employees, and about 51 percent are women.

The company’s new policy goes further than federal law. Although the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job protection so parents can take leave, there’s no guarantee of pay during time off. Jennifer Dulski, president and CEO of Change.org, told CNN Money that “giving people unpaid leave only solves half the problem.” The company’s goal was “to create a generous and equal leave policy that supported all parents,” she said.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

North Carolina Cigarette Plant to Switch to Producing Batteries

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday October 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

wind farmFormer Philip Morris cigarette plant in Concord, North Carolina will produce batteries to store energy for wind and solar farms, Fortune reports. The Swiss owned startup Alevo, which manufactures batteries, bought the 3.5 million square foot plant. The batteries are lithium-iron-phosphate and can be charged within 30 minutes, run 24/7 and last for 40,000 charges.

The North Carolina plant used to manufacture a billion cigarettes annually. However, smoking is not as popular and many Americans are either smoking less or quitting altogether. Years ago, Philip Morris stopped producing cigarettes at the plant. Now, it will produce batteries and create jobs while doing so. Alevo says it will hire 500 people in the next year, and within three years it will create 2,500 jobs. When the plant produced cigarettes, over 2,000 people were employed there.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

The Business Guide to Talking About Carbon

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 2 Comments

8211403515_09f016001a_zCarbon offsetting gained international awareness back in 1997 with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, which sanctioned offsets as a way for governments and companies to meet their greenhouse gas emission targets.

After a few years, offsets gained something of a stigma in the environmental community. Thoughts drifted to wealthy celebrities using offsets to justify weekly use of private jets or Coldplay’s infamous mango tree debacle, and critics were quick to bemoan offsets as an easy pathway to greenwashing or a half-hearted attempt to quell eco-guilt. But the market has changed drastically in the past 17 years.

“I know you mentioned in an article about the Coldplay thing, and that’s the ugly elephant in the room that nobody likes to talk about who’s in this industry,” Nancy Bsales, manager of carbon solutions for TerraPass, said with a laugh in a recent interview. “But over the years the transparency and the quality of offsets has improved tremendously. There are so many strong standards out there that a company or an industry can be very confident that what they’re doing is real.”

Rather than a bandage tasked with covering up environmental indiscretions in one fell swoop, today’s carbon market actually offers a deeper fix. “On a corporate level, when companies look at [offsets], they look at them as a way to bridge the gap,” Bsales continued. Even for companies that are on top of their game as far as efficiency and utilizing new technologies, emissions are still created, she noted, and that’s where offsets come in.

“So what do you do with what’s left? And that’s when you take into account the market-based tools of renewable energy credits or carbon offsets,” Bsales said. “And then the real approach is supposed to be: On a yearly basis [companies] are supposed to become so much better at efficiencies and technologies that [they] need less and less offsets. That is the true goal that we want everyone to look at.”

Despite these changes in the marketplace, some companies may hesitate to incorporate offset decisions into their sustainability communications — whether it’s because they’re new to sustainability or simply worried of being nailed for greenwashing. We sat down with Bsales to get her top tips for sharing your offset decisions effectively — and making them a highlight rather than an afterthought in your sustainability communications.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Antarctic Melting Prompts South Miami to Secede

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Antartica_Patagonia_Dimitry_B

Glaciers outside of Patagonia, Chile.

It’s official, folks: The Antarctic polar ice cap is melting faster. After years of debate, scientists have confirmed that within the next couple of hundred years, coastal cities across the world will see a dramatic change to their beachfront with a sea level rise up to 10 feet.

And nowhere in the U.S. is this change liable to be more evident than on the flat, semi-tropical shorelines of Florida, where cities were literally built to the water’s edge, taking advantage of the state’s flat-as-a-pancake vistas.

Not surprisingly, one small city in South Florida isn’t happy with this news. The city of South Miami, a comfortably residential area that has recently been deluged by flooding from hurricanes, has developed a climate change strategy.

It plans to secede from the state of Florida.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Should We View Meat As a Luxury?

Leon Kaye | Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Meat, animal welfare, slow food, meat as a luxury, Lindy and Grundy, Belcampo Meat, Anya Fernald, fast food, Leon Kaye

Should we only eat grass-fed beef, as done in Uruguay?

The discussion over whether we should eat meat foments all kinds of passion. Obviously the moral arguments have long been there, whether the focus is on what happens on factory farms or the outrage over Whole Foods going retro and selling rabbit meat. Ethics aside, the environmental facts are hard to ignore. More land is devoted to growing feed for livestock than food for humans. The global meat industry overall is a bigger polluter than the transportation sector.

Then you have the health arguments: meat consumption in the U.S. has almost doubled during the 20th century, hence the public health concerns over obesity and heart disease. Most medical professionals would advise small portions of meat occasionally has minimal, or even a positive effect, on one’s health, provided you limit those portions to four ounces (113 grams). But in an era where fast food restaurants are ubiquitous and steakhouses pitch the 16 ounce manly-man steak, it is not always easy to avoid meat.

So, should we start to view meat as a luxury?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Photo Gallery: How e-Golf Batteries Are Made

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Christian Buhlmann (center), Volkswagen Product Communications, shows a cut-away model of a completed e-Golf battery to a group of journalists at Volkswagen's battery plant in Braunschweig, Germany.

Christian Buhlmann (center), Volkswagen Product Communications, shows a cut-away model of a completed e-Golf battery to a group of journalists at Volkswagen’s battery plant in Braunschweig, Germany.

Last month, I was lucky enough to be one of the first Americans to hop behind the wheel of the 2015 e-Golf, Volkswagen’s first fully-electric vehicle for the North American market. The car offers a smooth ride and a good deal of pep, with a best-in-class torque of 199 foot-pounds (the standard torque measure).

Its 24.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery is no slouch either, providing 70 to 90 miles of range on a single charge. Like the e-Golf’s electric motor and transmission, the battery was developed in-house and is made at Volkswagen’s manufacturing facility in Braunschweig, Germany.

The Braunschweig plant, the oldest in operation for Volkswagen Group, has been manufacturing conventional batteries for more than 75 years. Eighteen months ago, it began producing batteries for the automaker’s first electric vehicle, the E-Up! (available in European markets only). Earlier this year, Braunschweig added batteries for the European and North American e-Golf models to its portfolio, and it’s now the only plant to churn out batteries for Volkwagen’s two electric vehicles.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Beetcoin: A New Way to Invest in Local Agriculture

3p Contributor | Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in “The Millennials Perspective” issue of Green Money JournalClick here to view more posts in this series.

TaschPhoto1 By Woody Tasch

For the past five years, Slow Money has been working along the boundaries of angel investing, impact investing and philanthropy to catalyze the flow of capital to small, organic food enterprises that are rebuilding local food systems. As the preceding sentence implies, this work takes a number of different shapes, including local networks, investment clubs, pitchfests and, very recently, our Beetcoin campaign. The campaign combines online donations with event-driven, interest-free loans to create what we hope will become a long-term, scalable funding resource deployed alongside local Slow Money investing activities.

As of mid 2014, more than $38 million has flowed into small food enterprises in the U.S., Canada, France and Switzerland, via 21 local networks and 13 investment clubs. Our first Beetcoin campaign began Oct. 1 and will end Nov. 12, at Slow Money 2014 Gathering in Louisville, Kentucky, where 21 entrepreneurs will present on stage and the top two vote-getters will share Beetcoin proceeds. (More details here.)

The overall context for Slow Money, and the introduction of Beetcoin, are described below, which is excerpted from Commons nth: Common Sense For A Post Wall Street World,” a pamphlet available free from Slow Money.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Volkswagen Launches New Auto Apprenticeship Program

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment

ApprenticeAcademy_VWVolkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant is well known for its accomplishments in environmental sustainability. It claims the record as the world’s first Platinum LEED certified automotive facility, and its 9.5 million watt solar array, cool building strategies and water catchment systems have garnered environmental awards and global recognition. Just as importantly, the plant’s design has proven to industry leaders that sustainable approaches can have a place in high-energy-usage industrial settings.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

James Beard Foundation Examines Food and Health

Tori Okner | Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 2 Comments

JBF Conference LogoHealth & Food: Is Better Food the Prescription for a Healthier America? – a two-day conference hosted by the James Beard Foundation (JBF), showcased the good food movement’s effect on the culinary world. JBF, a revered culinary arts institution, brought some of the biggest names in food advocacy before an audience of advocates, entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, industry reps, producers and, yes, chefs.

JBF put together an all-star line up to stimulate dialogue on the health impacts of the modern American diet. Ezekiel Emanuel, former senior health policy advisor on health care for the White House, gave the keynote. His speech was followed later by Laurie David, executive producer of “Fed Up,” and Marion Nestle, food politics author and professor at New York University. On day two, the crowd heard from Sam Kass, President Barack Obama’s senior policy advisor for nutrition policy, and author Michael Pollan. Yet, it was the lesser-known voices that stole the show.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Annie Leonard: Reconnecting to Your Role as a Changemaker

| Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

musclesIn the wake of the success of the Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard, now executive director of Greenpeace, had the opportunity to travel to dozens of colleges and universities.  In her keynote talk at the opening ceremony of the AASHE 2014 conference in Portland on Sunday, she shared that while in college she thought of the journey to sustainability as a sprint.  Today, she has matured into thinking about it as a relay race, where we might not be around to see the results we are working toward.

According to Leonard, change is slow and hard.  Below are several tips from Leonard on how to reconnect with your role as a changemaker and recommendations on leverage points that can make a real difference, including commit to 100 percent renewable energy, divest from fossil fuels, leverage purchasing and encourage student engagement, as well as some great advice on how to stay positive on the path to sustainability (don’t miss the last quote at the bottom of the post). While targeted toward higher education professionals, many of these tips apply to any company or institution.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

EU Leaders Called Out For Lackluster Climate Change Package

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 3 Comments

coalplantEuropean leaders agreed to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030. Two targets of 27 percent were also agreed on: one for the market share of renewable energy and another for energy efficiency improvement. The renewable energy target is binding on all EU member countries, but the energy efficiency target is optional.

“This 2030 package is very good news for our fight against climate change,” said President of the European Commission Jose Barroso in a statement. “No player in the world is as ambitious as the EU.”

Environmentalists are not very happy with the EU’s targets. “It is clear that all of the targets could have been – and should have been – more ambitious,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of climate and energy programs at the World Resources Institute. Morgan cites recent analysis that shows the EU can reduce carbon emissions by 49 percent by cutting natural gas imports in half and investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

How to Create an Action Plan for B Corp Certification

3p Contributor | Tuesday October 28th, 2014 | 3 Comments

This is the twelfth in a weekly series of excerpts from the new book “The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the series.

feature_impact-report_patagoniaBy Ryan Honeyman

Welcome to week three of the six-week, turbocharged Quick Start Guide to becoming a Certified B Corporation.

Week one focused on getting a baseline assessment of your social and environmental performance, and week two focused on motivating your team towards B Corp certification.

Week Three: Create an action plan

Time estimate: One to three hours

OBJECTIVE: After you have identified your core project team, work with them to set a target B Impact Score and create an action plan with short-, medium- and long-term goals. For example, if you started out with a score of 53, see whether you can implement enough practices to earn an additional 10 points by the end of this six-week Quick Start Guide.

END RESULT: An action plan with specific people assigned to take the lead on each question, a target B Impact Score, and a rough timeline for completion.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Cloud Service Promises Unparalleled PV Performance Tracking

| Tuesday October 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Locus VI mapIntense competition has driven the costs of manufacturing solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules down sharply in just a few short years. That’s led downstream solar industry participants to focus on reducing solar’s ‘soft’ and balance-of-system costs. Some innovative solar energy sector participants see great promise in eking out and amassing small gains in efficiency — gains that can that collectively make a big difference to commercial and utility-scale PV system operators, as well as consumers.

Locus Energy, the developer of an enterprise-class, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that’s said to provide operators unprecedented data collection, analytics and reporting capabilities, is offering just such a solution. On Oct. 22, Locus announced that Swinerton Renewable Energy will make use of its SolarNOC and PVIQ analytics suite to optimize the management of its portfolio of solar PV assets.

Leveraging public and proprietary data sets gleaned from satellites and on-site sensors, Locus is able to provide its users actionable data on the performance of PV systems at a much greater level of geographic resolution and analytic detail than has ever been possible — remotely or on-site. That, in turn, enables the company to identify and account for the factors that lead to divergences in forecast and actual performance of solar PV systems — whether distributed, commercial or of utility-scale — and take action to remedy them, Adrian De Luca, Locus Energy’s vice president of sales and marketing, explained to 3p in an interview.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Adobe Corporate Responsibility Zeros in on Social Impact

Leon Kaye | Tuesday October 28th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Adobe, Silicon Valley, social impact, corporate responsibility, Adobe Voices, digital media, Michelle Crozier Yates, Leon Kaye, skills training

Adobe is focusing more on youth programs.

Adobe recently released its most recent corporate responsibility report, which is chock full of data on where the $4.1 billion Silicon Valley software giant made headway on environmental, diversity and governance issues. The recent overall focus for Adobe, however, is on how the company believes it can make an impact on society, especially youth. Other companies in the information technology space, including SAP and Microsoft, have made massive commitments in money, resources and employees to youth employment and empowerment programs.

Adobe, however, takes a slightly different approach. To learn a more about how Adobe’s corporate responsibility stands out within an industry where a lot of progress has been made, I spoke with Michelle Crozier Yates, Adobe’s director of corporate responsibility.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Disruptive Sustainability: How to Be a Transformational Leader

3p Conferences
| Tuesday October 28th, 2014 | 1 Comment

By Deborah Fleischer

Sharp3The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference got off with a bang on Sunday, with pre-conference workshops and a keynote by Annie Leonard, of the Story of Stuff acclaim, who is now Executive Director of Greenpeace (more on Annie’s comments tomorrow). More than 2,000 sustainability professionals and higher education leaders have gathered in Portland around the AASHE mission to “inspire and catalyze higher education to lead the global sustainability transformation.”

I joined over 30 sustainability leaders for Disruptive Sustainability, an inspiring pre-conference workshop led by Leith Sharpdirector of executive education for sustainability leadership at Harvard University’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. A key theme that ran through Sharp’s and Leonard’s comments: We need to go beyond slowing down and ‘doing less bad’ to real transformation.  And the key to getting there, according to these two women leaders, is to adopt a new, more engaging and more collaborative leadership style. Both share a hopeful, positive vision for the future.  “A better world is possible and inevitable,” said Leonard. Both stress that change is hard. And both offered concrete tips and tools, targeted to higher education but also applicable to business.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »