Method’s New Factory to Host World’s Largest Rooftop Farm

Alexis Petru
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 1 Comment
A drawing of Method's planned manufacturing plant.

A drawing of Method’s planned manufacturing plant.

Back in March, eco-friendly cleaning supply company Method broke ground on its first U.S. manufacturing plant, set to be built on Chicago’s South Side. Now the San Francisco-based company has revealed more details about the green roof planned for the factory: Through a partnership with urban farming company Gotham Greens, the facility will boast the largest rooftop farm in the world, producing up to 1 million pounds of produce each year.

Gotham Greens will design, build and operate the 75,000-square-foot greenhouse, the Brooklyn-based company announced in a joint press release with Method in early October. The pesticide-free produce harvested from the urban rooftop farm will be distributed through local Chicago retailers, restaurants, farmer’s markets and community groups – bringing fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables to the food desert that is the Windy City’s South Side. The greenhouse can also provide full-time green collar jobs for residents in the community, Gotham Greens’ Marketing and Partnerships Manager Nicole Baum told Method in an interview on its blog.

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SXSW Eco Interview: Jeff Cheney, Earth911

| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

earth-911-tv-229x150We’ve been fans of Earth911 since back in the day when they were merely a recycling services directory.  Now the site has grown into a major player in eco-friendly news and information and has just launched their first ever eco-marketplace, YouChange.

By encouraging consumers to “vote with their dollars,” the YouChange platform will offer thousands of vetted products that will not only make you feel better about where your money goes, but will also reward companies that are doing the right thing vis a vis the environment.

I had a chance to talk to the “president of earth” himself, Jeff Cheney, last week in Austin…

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Green Building Questions: What Makes Fiberglass Windows Energy Efficient?

3p Contributor | Friday October 17th, 2014 | 1 Comment
New fiberglass windows for apartments

There’s a lot of talk about fiberglass windows, but just how energy efficient are they?

By Paul Kazlov

As more people, homeowners especially, push to go green at home, many are turning to eco-friendly products such as energy efficient windows. As a result, fiberglass windows are gaining popularity due to their energy efficient material.

Have you ever wondered what makes fiberglass windows, or fiberglass in general, so energy efficient? A variety of factors serve as the foundation for the material’s uncanny ability to save home and business owners thousands on heating and cooling bills. Some of the fundamental causes of fiberglass’ flawless energy conservation range from a long lifecycle performing at optimal functionality and a prolonged degradation process. In addition, the materials that comprise fiberglass windows are cheaper to produce and require less raw goods, as compared to vinyl and wood products.

In fact, fiberglass requires very little natural resources to be consumed, if any at all. Furthermore, fiberglass is certainly more eco-friendly when compared to wood which requires the utilization of trees. Here are some of the features of fiberglass windows that make them remarkably environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

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Text Messaging Can Get You a Job (In Brazil)

Sherrell Dorsey
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Join TriplePundit, SAP and our special guests for a Twitter Chat about millennials and social entrepreneurship. Follow along at #SAPsocent on October 23 at 9 a.m. PST/Noon EST.

woman cell phoneDespite massive growth throughout the years and big companies testing the waters for market opportunities, Latin America still faces historically high unemployment rates and a dismal GDP. For working-class Brazilians, the default means for finding employment — newspaper ads and word-of-mouth — are slow and ad hoc. However, finding work is now becoming as simple as responding to a text message, thanks to entrepreneur Jacob Rosenbloom, founder of Emprego Ligado.

Backed by high-profile investors including 500 Startups, Qualcomm and a new round of Series A funding to increase geographic expansion, Emprego Ligado is successfully taking over São Paulo as a virtual staffing firm that’s connecting blue-collar workers to millions of job opportunities each month.

Launched in 2011, Emprego Ligado serves as a job marketplace for working-class Brazilians with limited access to the Internet. Job applicants simply upload their resumes and filter job opportunities to the system via text message. The process takes as little as 2 minutes to complete, and accepted candidates are able to arrange interviews with potential employers all through the convenience of their mobile device.

I sat down with Rosenbloom via Skype to discuss his venture, the growth opportunities that exist in Brazil, and how he’s charting a new path for economic empowerment that affects on the ground environmental and quality of life issues for the country’s most vulnerable workers.

Here’s an edited version of our conversation:

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Vast Methane Cloud Confirmed Over the American Southwest

Eric Justian
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 7 Comments
The red spot in the Southwest is the single largest concentration of methane emissions in the US.

The red spot in the Southwest is the single largest concentration of methane emissions in the US.

At first NASA scientists didn’t believe it, thinking it was an instrument error. But then came the confirmation. They had found a Delaware-sized methane cloud over the American Southwest at the Four Corners. At 2,500 square miles, it is the largest concentrated area of methane emissions in the United States.

Methane, also known as natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas — 20 times more potent than CO2.

The gas isn’t coming from hydraulic fracturing well leaks, which are indeed a source of methane emissions. The data shows the Four Corners methane cloud pre-dates the fracking boom. So, it’s not from fracking or cow farts. This methane cloud is believed to be coming from leaks from coalbed methane extraction.

Leaks. It’s because of such inevitable leaks that it’s worth taking it with a grain of salt when natural gas is billed as a solution to climate change for its lower CO2 emissions.

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A Slow Smart City: Bangalore’s $6 Billion Traffic Headache

Leon Kaye | Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 1 Comment
India, Bangalore, smart cities, rail, public transportation, information technology, multi-modal transportation, Leon Kaye

Bangalore traffic is USD6 billion headache

India’s fifth largest city, Bangalore, deserves much of the credit and attention for India’s economic transformation the past 20 years. Home to massive information technology companies including Wipro and Infosys, the Bangalore metropolitan area contributes as much as one-third of India’s IT exports. Many global companies, including SAP, have long set up shop in Bangalore. Many of the technologies that are part of the foundation of the “smart cities” movement underway worldwide have a base in Bangalore.

But as in the case of other cities throughout India, being stuck in traffic gives the feeling one is anywhere but a “smart city.” The frustration in Bangalore is nothing new. An annual report by IBM ranked Bangalore highly in its 2011 “Commuter Pain Survey.” This city of eight million was lodged between Johannesburg and New Delhi, and faring worse than other cities notorious for snarled traffic, including Buenos Aires and Los Angeles. The impacts on local quality of life are all over the map, such as when ambulances take hours to move patients only a few kilometers across town to emergency rooms. But the toll Bangalore’s traffic has on workers gives cities a lesson on why cities have got develop more robust transportation plans in a crowded world: Quartz estimates the annual cost to local IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to reach as much as US$6.5 billion annually. Considering the average salary of an IT or BPO employee in India, that sum is staggering.

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This is Water: Lessons From My ‘4 Liters Challenge’

Michael Kourabas
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 6 Comments

10689547_750193981709206_6747488843991222514_nOn an average day, I waste a shameful amount of water.  So do you.  We all do, and we do it while hundreds of millions of people in other parts of the world live in “water poverty,” consuming less water in an entire day than most of us use flushing the toilet a few times.

I learned all of this when I decided to take DIGDEEP’s4 Liters Challenge” — a pledge to use a total of only 4 liters of water for one entire day.  The challenge was not pleasant.  Far worse than the experience was coming to terms with just how much water we waste.

Context

Does the 4 Liters Challenge sound hard?  I actually wasn’t sure until I put it in context.  First, most of us use nearly 4 liters of water — in other words, all of the water allotted in the challenge — every time we wash our hands or face.  Most Americans use more than 400 liters of water (!) every single day, or 100 times what the challenge requires.  A single toilet flush uses about 6 liters of water, and a mere three flushes amounts to more water than most other people in the world use all day to clean, cook, drink and bathe.  The average dishwasher uses 23 liters of water, and running the water while you brush your teeth could waste 9 liters. The all important shower?  Newer shower models use about 9.5 liters of water every minute, so a quick, five-minute shower uses about 47.5 liters of water and a 10-minute shower — a little longer than the average — uses (wastes?) almost 100 liters.

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Sustainable Seafood at SXSW Eco: A Tale of Two Fisheries

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

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From left to right: Hoyt Peckham, Cheryl Dahle, Brian Caouette and moderator Meg Busse, community centered designer for Context Partners.

Ocean health issues took center stage at the 2014 SXSW Eco conference in Austin, Texas last week. On the second day of the conference, renowned oceanographer, explorer and author Sylvia Earle, who you may also know as the founder of Mission Blue, gave a keynote speech on her vision for more sustainable seas. Her speech was one of the most buzzed-about at the conference, and the subject definitely hit home.

The following day, a group of sustainable seafood experts assembled for a panel discussion on how networks are the future of fish. What do they mean by ‘networks,’ you ask? To put it simply: 200 million people directly or indirectly depend on fishing for their livelihoods, many in developing countries. In nations where infrastructure  is limited and regulations lax — and cost-effective, sustainable solutions are not readily available — fishermen often choose unsustainable and even illegal catch methods in order to make a living.

For these fishermen, the only networks they know for catching and selling their fish are unsustainable. This contributes to the rampant overfishing of our oceans and the opacity of the seafood supply chain. But introducing more sustainable networks to fishermen and fishing communities around the world just may help solve the problem.

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The Pathway to a Stronger Clean Power Plan

| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 2 Comments

energy-coal-power-plant-smokestacks-with-tailingsThis past June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced its Clean Power Plan – the Obama administration’s strongest measure yet to avoid the risks of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In a report released Oct. 14, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) outlines a practical, effective way to strengthen the Clean Power Plan by delivering much greater cuts in power plants’ carbon dioxide and GHG emissions.

Power plants are the largest sources of carbon dioxide and GHG emissions in the U.S., accounting for around one-third of overall GHG and 40 percent of national CO2 emissions. For the first time ever, the proposed Clean Power Plan would require existing U.S. power plant CO2 emissions to be reduced 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Building on the EPA’s flexible, state-by-state approach to implementation, in its report UCS makes the case that much greater cuts in emissions could be realized – “especially by taking greater advantage of cost-effective renewable energy options.” In fact, U.S. states can produce nearly twice as much emissions-free, renewable electricity than the EPA calculates in the Clean Power Plan – and do so in a way that is affordable, UCS asserts.

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SXSW Eco Interview: Angela Mason, Chicago Botanic Garden

| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

cbg_logo_1Green jobs – any work in agriculture, research, service or fields that contribute substantially to environmental quality – have become an increasingly enticing opportunity. Beyond providing vital opportunities for personal growth and development, green jobs engage individuals in work that simultaneously can improve their lives and the communities in which they live.

The Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship is a great example of a program seeking to prepare people for green jobs.  It’s an offshoot of the Chicago Botanic Garden and annually enrolls 15 to 20 students in a nine-month classroom and hands-on certificate course in sustainable urban agriculture.

I had a chance to talk with the program’s director, Angela Mason, in Austin last week:

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3 Businesses That Give Back to the Environment

3p Contributor | Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

5677021215_d8ac7abd5a_zBy Dennis Hung

Indisputably, large national corporations, as well as regional and locally owned businesses, play a pivotal role in economic development in the United States. However, they also contribute to ecological, environmental and natural resource destruction, which impedes the interaction between humans and their surroundings. Recent environmental issues, such as climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and ozone depletion, continue to plague the nation and the world.

Fortunately, a number of companies are taking momentous and proactive initiatives toward environmental stewardship. Motivated to make a difference through impact avoidance, ecosystem restoration and natural resource protection, these companies are finding innovative ways to incorporate novel approaches in their business practices that foster a long-term vision of sustainability. Here are three of my favorites:

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Why Environmentalists Should Care About Net Neutrality

3p Contributor | Wednesday October 15th, 2014 | 5 Comments

net neutralityBy Hannah Miller

Environmentalism as a field has progressed over the decades by expanding analysis of new areas of our society, from mining policy to manufacturing to agriculture. Areas of human life that were once considered outside the purview of environmentalism are now central to our thinking about how to create a saner, more sustainable and just culture: legalizing backyard beekeeping or banning BPA in plastics, topics that weren’t even on the radar a few years ago.

In order for environmentalism to continue to progress, we must include a new plank as central to our work: an Internet that is sustainable, democratic, and that is structurally adapted to facilitate and speed up the world-wide transition from fossil fuel to renewables.

Our world, and the future of our movement, is dependent on a green Internet, for both the communications and political work we must do, and the coming economic transitions.

So what is the Green Internet? Well, when you talk about the Internet, at first you think of the physical infrastructure: billions of computers networked together and sharing files (including thousands in the “server farms” operated by the giants: Apple, Google, Amazon, etc.).

Then there are the phone and cable networks, wireless towers, and handsets and laptops where we all join this network. So far, environmentalism has addressed the impact of this physical infrastructure, mostly as a critique of energy consumption. But the Internet is so much more than wires and computers – to reduce it to this is like saying our power system is just a grid that transmits electricity, without discussing mountaintop removal at one end or catastrophic weather events the other. What passes through both sets of wires has dramatic consequences, on both ends of the cable. What content is allowed to pass through the Internet – what corporations are allowed to buy or sell, and what information voters and consumers receive – is the most important matter.

When environmentalists or sustainability pioneers do “media work” now, we are usually trying to activate the public through existing channels; we need to go further, and shape those channels itself as seriously as we are re-working streets to be more bike-friendly.

As a massively powerful and hopeful communications technology, the Internet is still new, so it is still being formed right now. Historically, media technologies from the telegraph to radio have followed a similar pattern: they are invented as non-commercial forms, used by a niche, but when they become popular are co-opted by established business interests.

The Internet has already started going this way, and in fact, this is perilously close to happening: the Federal Communications Commission is currently proposing to change the Internet drastically to bias it in favor of corporate power, incentivizing Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon to feature and promote the Shells, Walmarts, and FOX News of the world. If we want the Internet to remain the viable organizing and educational resource needed for the vast challenges ahead in transitioning to a renewable society and a life-based economy, then we have to ensure that it remain free, open, and accessible to all.

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How to Find the Perfect Carbon Offset

| Wednesday October 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

wind turbineCarbon offsets have emerged as a key tool for businesses looking to transition toward more sustainable ways of operating. Selling them can help a company finance clean energy projects or take other sustainability measures that fit its business operations. For businesses that can’t leverage those opportunities on their own, buying carbon offsets can still help raise their green profile in meaningful ways. If your business has already gained some progress, carbon offsets can also help you embrace a broader field of action.

In other words, carbon offsets can provide your business with the flexibility to support more effective action than it could maintain individually. That all seems pretty simple, but in practice, it’s not. There are literally hundreds of legitimate carbon offsets available, and more are emerging every day. Not all of them are a particularly effective match for an individual business, especially when it comes to branding.

The good news is: Carbon offsets have been around for a while, which means that there is a vast amount of research and guidance available to assist you with your purchase.

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Vestergaard’s Success Secret: Its Culture

RP Siegel | Wednesday October 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: Triple Pundit’s RP Siegel visited Kenya to learn more about the LifeStraw Follow the Liters campaign. This is the third post from his trip. Read the first and second pieces here and here. Travel expenses were covered by Vestergaard. 

Mikkel1

Mikkel Vestergaard at Emusanda Health Centre.

In 2008, Mikkel Vestergaard had an idea. Based on results obtained in collaboration with the Carter Center, which enjoyed significant success in addressing multiple diseases at once (such as distributing bed nets along with measles vaccines), he decided to try an experiment to help address the HIV epidemic that was sweeping across Africa.

One of the biggest problems was the unwillingness of people to get tested. But if people did not know they were positive, they would have no reason to change their behavior. What Vestergaard did was to develop a CarePack consisting of a long-lasting treated bed net, as protection against malaria, a LifeStraw filter to protect against water-borne diseases, and 60 condoms as well some educational material. He then organized a campaign, in which people would be given these CarePacks at no charge, if and when they came in to be tested for HIV.

The campaign was a phenomenal success. In one week’s time, 47,000 people came in for testing. That represented more than 80 percent of the target population of sexually active adults in the area. That was the good news. The bad news was that the number of people identified as positives overwhelmed the health care capacity of the Provincial General Hospital. Unwilling to allow the project to end in failure, Vestergaard worked with the Ministry of Health to construct the Emusanda Health Centre, which was built on a piece of land donated by a local farmer, Matthew Olumatate, who had lost two sons to malaria. The clinic has helped to handle the excess ever since.

Emusanda provides HIV treatment and counseling services as well as maternal and child health care and a lab. It was clear from my visit there that this facility plays a vital role in the life and health of this community.

So, what is it that makes this exceptional company tick, and what is responsible for its tremendous success in humanitarian entrepreneurship?

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Berkeley Takes on the Sugary Drink Industry

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday October 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

sugary_drinks_supermarketBerkeley, California has been called the epicenter of many things. In the 1960s, it played a pivotal role in the anti-war movement, the counter-culture movement and the free speech movement. And as Robert Reich, University of California, Berkeley Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, recently pointed out in his blog, the area may soon have one more attribute to add to its fame: the first city to tax sugary drinks.

If this doesn’t seem like much of an accolade, consider New York. The indefatigable ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to push through a ban on sugary drinks a few years back and was soundly rebuffed by the courts for executive overreach. The credit for that failure was attributed to the soda industry, which lodged a vigorous campaign to stop the restriction and has been equally focused on dispelling criticisms of the sugar industry.

But just because New York is big, populous and has lots of lobbyists and good lawyers, doesn’t mean the fight is over concerning food regulation and sugar, apparently. After all, if our national neighbor to the south can push through a soda tax, well, why not a little American city with a world-famous research center?

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