Durability: The Missing Piece of the LCA Puzzle

3p Contributor | Monday March 31st, 2014 | 2 Comments

2047270396_9ef98e4a40_m

By Jim Weglewski

Product durability is often an under-represented facet of product stewardship. Cradle-to-grave life cycle analysis (LCA) aims to capture the impact of a single product on the environment, from a “supply” point of view.

While informative, a single item LCA obscures the overall impact of the demand life of the product in question.

Consider the common pen. In selecting an environmentally responsible pen, an enlightened person may consider the LCA data associated with material extraction, manufacturing processes, distribution and disposal of different pen options.

Presumably, the pen with the lowest impact numbers would be the responsible choice.

Maybe not.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

3p Weekend: 5 Celeb-Backed Green Marketing Campaigns We Can Actually Get Behind

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday March 28th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Oscar-nominated actor and longtime environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio recently purchased an EV racing team to inspire drivers to go electric.

Oscar-nominated actor and longtime environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio recently purchased an EV racing team to inspire drivers to go electric.

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.

Celeb-backed environmental campaigns are often sigh-inducing displays of greenwashing, but we’re all for giving a pat on the back when things are done right. Campaigns incorporating celebrities can bring the conversation to a far wider audience — an ultimate necessity if we hope to move the needle forward on issues like climate change and ocean health. With that in mind, this week we rounded up five celebrity-backed green marketing campaigns that we can actually get behind.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Renewables Account for 92% of New Capacity, Still a Slow Start Compared to 2013

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday March 28th, 2014 | 4 Comments

Renewable_energy_MichaelMeesPhotographyWind and solar power proponents are hailing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report on energy infrastructure.  According to the FERC’s February 2014 report, renewable energy topped the list for new energy installations during January and February. Approximately 92 percent of the new installations for energy production during the first two months of the year were for solar, wind, biomass hydro or thermal power generation.

Those numbers include 25 new solar plants, six wind farms, two hydro* and three geothermal plants. New wind installations include the Pheasant Run project in Huron County, Wis. (75 MW), which will generate electricity for DTE Energy Co., and the Fort Hays University’s installation in Ellis County, Kan. (4 MW), to power services at the university. Solar includes a wide range of projects, including four installations by Recurrent Energy totaling 73 MW to generate power under contract for Southern California Edison.

In comparison, fossil fuel-based infrastructure installation was almost nonexistent for January and February, with only one natural gas facility brought online.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Undeterred By Facts, Climate Deniers Will Carry the Torch to Las Vegas

RP Siegel | Friday March 28th, 2014 | 27 Comments

Heartland Las VegasWhy, you might ask, when the verdict is in, the scientists overwhelmingly agree, and the evidence is incontrovertible, are they still at it?

This pie chart sums it up pretty nicely. Of the 2,258 peer-reviewed papers that have been published on the subject of climate change between November 2012 and December 2013, representing the positions of 9,136 authors, exactly one of those, written by a single Russian scientist, rejected the idea that climate change is caused by human activity.

This summation was published in a review paper authored by geochemist James Lawrence Powell. Powell, who is a past president of Franklin & Marshall, Reed and Oberlin colleges, has posted a database listing every one of the articles online, and he invites anyone to examine the list. It would be interesting to see if they can draw a different conclusion from it other than overwhelming consensus.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

How LinkedIn Can Help You Score a Sustainability Job

3p Contributor | Friday March 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments

balls-linked-in-3pBy Shannon Houde

Unless you’ve been hiding under a particularly large rock for the past five years, you’ll know that LinkedIn is the social media account for people who want to make the most of their careers and professional networks.

But did you know that 97 percent of human resources and staffing professionals use LinkedIn to search for candidates and that 77 percent of all job openings are posted there? Making the most of your LinkedIn profile will be one of the best investments you’ll make in your job search and ongoing career and network development.

First, a true LinkedIn success story: My husband (and “client”) was targeted through a LinkedIn second-degree contact for his automotive and finance sector expertise. Now he has reinvented himself from an automotive investment banker to a Silicon Valley VC automotive technology guy — all through LinkedIn.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

The Economic Case for Peace

3p Contributor | Friday March 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments

8338071144_ff309794a6_zBy Michael Kourabas

The conventional wisdom used to hold that nothing was better for an economy than war. Pretty cynical view, built on the notion that the Second World War allegedly helped lift the U.S. out of the Great Depression and, thankfully, a view that has been thoroughly debunked.

Last month, a report from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), further makes the case that violence, in all its forms, is economically devastating and downright bad for business (unless, of course, one is in the business of war).

In its report, titled “The Economic Cost of Violence Containment,” the IEP seeks to quantify the global economic cost of violence in 2012 by assessing “violence containment spending” (VCS), which it defines as as economic activity related to either (i) the consequences or (ii) prevention of violence, where the violence is directed against people or property. The report estimates that the total economic impact of violence containment to the world economy in 2012 was roughly $9.46 trillion, or 11 percent of Gross World Product.

This is more than 75 times the amount of foreign aid distributed worldwide in 2012, and just 15 percent of this figure would be enough pay for the completion of the remaining U.N. Millennium Development Goals, repay all of Greece’s outstanding debt and fully endow the European Stability Fund.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

New $30M Financing Vehicle Helps Create a Mid-Market for Energy Efficiency Projects

| Friday March 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Workers install energy efficient materials on the roof of a government building.

Workers install energy efficient materials on the roof of a government building. Up until now, big players were the major adopters of energy efficiency, but a mid-market is emerging.

Energy efficiency projects and financing are moving down-market – in the sense that they’re increasingly attractive to and viable for medium- and even small-scale commercial and industrial companies, as well as government departments and agencies.

Taking advantage of ongoing advances in clean technology and applying some creative financing, innovative companies such as Noesis Energy are creating new markets and growth opportunities for energy efficiency project developers and energy service companies, as well as offering small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) the opportunity to boost their bottom lines while also reducing their environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Showtime Documentary Series Features the Climate-Coal Connection

3p Contributor | Friday March 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Mary Anne Hitt (Beyond Coal Campaign) and Ian Somerhalder (IS Foundation) at Duke Energy Asheville coal plant

Mary Anne Hitt (Beyond Coal Campaign) and Ian Somerhalder (IS Foundation) at Duke Energy Asheville coal plant

By Dayna Reggero

Years of Living Dangerously, a documentary series premiering next month on Showtime, provides a compelling introduction to the people and places affected by climate change.

Sharing these stories is a roster of major film, television and news figures, including Jessica Alba, Mark Bittman, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and many more. Actor Ian Somerhalder (Lost, Vampire Diaries) visits Asheville, N.C. and interviews Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal campaign director, and Anna Jane Joyner, Western North Carolina Alliance activist, during the episode, “Preacher’s Daughter.”

Filming locations include Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant, the Asheville Beyond Coal rally, and Charlotte, NC.

“Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant is the largest source of climate-disrupting pollution in western North Carolina,” says Hitt. “Duke Energy must commit to phase out the Asheville coal plant and replace it with home-grown clean energy solutions.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Release New Rule To Protect Waterways

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday March 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments

riverThe Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule this week to clarify which waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act.

Two Supreme Court decisions, one in 2001 and the other in 2006, made determining which waterways are protected under the CWA confusing and complex. The proposed rule doesn’t expand waterways protected under the CWA, but only clarifies which ones are protected. Or as EPA head Gina McCarthy stated in an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post, “Our proposed rule will not add to or expand the scope of waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act.”

About 60 percent of the stream miles in the U.S. only flow seasonally or after rain, and about 117 million people, one in three Americans, get drinking water from public systems that rely in part on those streams. The proposed rule would clarify that under the CWA most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected. It would also clarify that wetlands near rivers and streams are protected. Other waterways whose connections with downstream water are uncertain will be evaluated to determine whether the connection is significant. In addition, the proposed rule preserves the CWA exemptions and exclusions for agriculture.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Transparent Panels Signal the Future of the Solar Industry

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 4 Comments
The ultra-thin, 40 percent transparent solar cells unveiled by German manufacturer Heliatek lend themselves perfectly to the integration between glass panes to help buildings become carbon neutral.

The ultra-thin, 40 percent transparent solar cells unveiled by German manufacturer Heliatek lend themselves perfectly to the integration between glass panes to help buildings become carbon neutral.

Imagine a world where every glass surface produces solar power. You’d wake up to the alarm on your fully-charged smartphone, pluck it off the windowsill and hop into a hot shower — courtesy of a solar water heating system powered by your enclosed patio. You stroll out to your electric vehicle and flip on the radio, powered by your sun roof, and head off to your net-zero office building — which skirts the grid thanks to its majestic floor-to-ceiling windows.

This scenario may sound like science fiction, but recent developments in solar technology suggest that it barely scratches the surface of where the industry may be headed in the coming decade. Earlier this week, German solar company Heliatek unveiled a 40 percent transparent organic solar cell that’s ideal for generating energy from windows, façades and glass car roofs.

The development holds potentially groundbreaking implications for the new generation of net-zero smart buildings, as well as the alleviation of electric vehicle range anxiety.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Towns Impacted by Dan River Coal Ash Spill Continue to Struggle

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Danville_VA_water_AaronHeadlyAs North Carolina regulators press to have Duke Energy stripped of protections that would have limited the company’s liability for cleanup of coal ash spills in two regional rivers, communities downstream are struggling to come to terms with the continuing impact of the cleanup and stigma from the pollution.

Danville, Va. is just miles downstream from where a pipe connected to a coal ash pond owned by Duke Energy failed and spewed toxic sludge into the Dan River in February. The city of 43,000 has been working hard in recent years to revitalize its image and its future. A former tobacco and textiles town, its growth has depended on this waterway, which served at times not only as a resource for drinking water, but as a disposal site for nearby industrial waste and rinse water. It’s a history that Danville has gradually been moving away from.

These days, the Dan River fulfills another, more elegant purpose as one of Virginia’s state-designated Scenic Rivers. Approved last October, the designation encompasses a 15-mile stretch in the vicinity of Danville. The scenic recognition is expected to draw in much-needed tourism dollars from travelers interested in seeing Virginia’s rural beauty. Danville’s economic development, and its transition away from an industry that once painted the river currents in color, is now dependent upon that designation — and the tourism that is meant to follow.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Housing the Homeless Saves Taxpayers Money, (Another) Study Shows

Eric Justian
| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

3795168896_98b8242c60_zA new analysis from Charlotte, N.C. once again shows what we’ve learned from many other case studies: It costs taxpayers less money to house the homeless than it does to leave them to the elements.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina examined Moore Place, a housing complex with 85 units, constructed in 2012 specifically to meet the needs of homeless individuals in the Charlotte area. Moore Place requires residents to pay 30 percent of their income (which includes things like veterans and disability benefits) toward the cost of rent. The remaining housing cost per person, per year is about $14,000 — which Moore Place pays for through Federal and local grants.

If that $14,000 seems like somebody is soaking the system, keep in mind it costs about $30,000 per year or more to imprison somebody. Sometimes a lot more. Which is one important reason that giving the homeless a place to live can save taxpayers money. The population at Moore Place saw a 78 percent drop in arrests and 84 percent fewer days in jail compared to living on the streets. That’s fewer people in expensive prisons, less police work, a reduction of caseload for the courts, and the aversion of a whole range of taxpayer costs that occur when people run afoul of the law. 

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

The Quick & Dirty: A Tale Of Two Cities — Rankings, Awards and Other Popular Myths

Henk Campher
| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Worst Company in America 2014“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Wow… And I thought this was the opening paragraph of “A Tale Of Two Cities.” Maybe it was, but it best describes how I feel about rankings, ratings, awards and everything else the experts do when they try to tell us which company just passed sliced bread as the best sustainable thing ever. Better than the real thing. Better than all the rest. Simply the best.

This time it wasn’t the usual daily-inbox-flooding set of Top 100 or Best Of or Greenest or Most Loved lists that got me going. This time it was one of my favorite morning reads, the Consumerist — usually the place I go for a quick chuckle about who got into what trouble while I was sleeping. But this time it got me a bit worked up because it is the start of their 2014 Worst Company In America competition.

There were a few names on there that I don’t like and would put on my personal list, too. But the thought that hit me first when I read the list was the Twitter joke #firstworldproblems.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Nest ‘Protect’ Raises the Bar on Smoke Alarms

RP Siegel | Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

NestLast month, Google paid $3.2 billion to acquire Nest Labs, Inc., the maker of upscale home gadgets with high-tech interfaces, most notably the Nest Learning Thermostat (NLT). Most observers feel the acquisition was to help Google participate in the home energy management market, which is becoming increasingly connected to the “Internet of things, which Cisco estimates to be worth some $14.4 trillion over the next decade.”

Nest had only recently announced it’s take on the smoke alarm, the Nest Protect, which is a combination smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector, done-up with the same kind of panache that made their thermostat stand out from the crowd.

The Nest Protect has a variety of features, providing the kind of performance that you might expect from a “smarter” smoke alarm.

Starting with the same kind of elegant styling as its thermostatic cousin, as well a similarly premium price ($129), it’s clearly aimed at a discriminating market. Here’s what your investment will get you.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Women in CSR: Suzanne Apple, World Wildlife Fund

| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

women-csr-banner
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.

Suzanne Apple Official PictureTriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.

Suzanne Apple: I am Senior Vice President of Private Sector Engagement at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization. I lead our corporate engagement with major U.S.-based companies and their supply chains to ensure that the natural resources and ecosystems which are essential to their operations are managed sustainably.

I joined WWF almost 11 years ago following more than 10 years at The Home Depot as Vice President of Community Affairs and Environmental Programs where I oversaw the company’s CSR and sustainability initiatives.

3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your organization?

SA: I think what has been most satisfying in my career is to have seen the conversation about sustainability evolve from the right thing to do, to a business imperative. Sustainability is now front and center on many boardroom agendas, becoming integrated into companies’ core business strategies. Previously, many companies saw the environment as something separate from their business, but they are beginning to see the bigger picture and now understand that responsible environmental practices are essential to the long-term viability of business and the license to operate.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »