Why should you embrace Sustainability – Part 2 of 2

This blog post is a continuation from the post I had made previously here where I spoke about how the language of Sustainability is changing. In this post, I focus on some cases where Sustainable practices followed by companies are putting them in good stead while in some cases, how lack of sustainability thinking and planning has risked their revenues and reputation. First, we start with some positive stories. CEMEX – The Patrimonio Hoy Program So when you are a giant construction materials group with over $15 billion in revenues, but seeing a 50% drop in revenues, what do you do? Cemex went back to basics, understood that there is a large market at the bottom of the pyramid in poor people constructing their own homes, and decided to work this market. Integrating sustainability into their core business model, Cemex started a financing program called Patrimonio Hoy. It provided poor people access to building materials (not just cement), financing options to purchase material and technical help through CEMEX team comprising …

World Environment Day – Think.Eat.Save – The carbon perspective

Happy World Environment Day – 2013. Yes, to all the sceptics and realists, there is nothing much to be happy about the state of environment the way it is now. But having said that, World Environment Day, just like many other days like AIDS or Cancer Awareness days, highlight the cause and what we can do to help the cause. This year’s theme is all about Food sustainability and how the food choices we make are affecting the planet. And we are not talking about shark fin soup or Iceland killing whales to make Japanese pet food or any exotic animals under threat due to our food habits and beliefs. We’re talking about our everyday food choices like the veggies you eat or the meat and dairy products you consume. So how do our food habits affect the planet. Lets take it from the top then: If I don’t exist, I don’t need food to eat. If I don’t need to eat, someone (a farmer) else doesn’t need to produce …

Safeguarding Biodiversity – The Conference of Parties on Biodiversity, Hyderabad, 2012

Today, the CoP on Biodiversity Convention of 2012 starts in Hyderabad. To last till 19th October 2012, the CoP is going to be one of the largest activities in the world to safeguard and promote bio-diversity. The World at Risk! Life on Earth can be as simple as a fly, or as complex as an ecosystem of coral reefs. The most unique feature of Earth is the existence of life, and the most extraordinary feature of life is its diversity. Tragically, today biodiversity is disappearing at 1,000 times the normal rate due to human civilization. As human population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, the biodiversity crisis will only get worse as more people consume more resources. When one species disappears, it imbalances the food chain, which may cause some critters to over populate while others starve – the loss of one can impact many. The major causes of biodiversity decline are Habitat loss and destruction, Global climate change, Invasive alien species, Over-exploitation, Pollution and contamination. Even our …

Every house in every village of India will be provided electricity by 2017: PM

Source: Newstrackindia.com The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday said that his government would initiate measures to ensure that every house in every village of India would be provided with electricity in the next five years i.e. 2017. Addressing the nation on the occasion of the country’s 65th Independence Day from the ramparts of the historic 17th century-built Red Fort, Dr. Singh said: “When the UPA Government came to power in 2004, we had promised that we would provide electricity to all villages. To fulfill this promise, we launched the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme. More than one lakh new villages have been provided with electricity connections under this scheme and now almost all the villages in the country have been electrified.” “Our next target is to provide electricity to each and every household in our country in the next 5 years and to also improve the supply of electricity,” he added. India currently suffers from a major shortage of electricity generation capacity, even though it is the world’s fourth largestenergy consumer after United …

Too May Eco-Labels ‘Overwhelming,’ Companies Say

Source: Environmentalleader.com Consumers and companies alike are becoming “confused” and “overwhelmed” by eco-labeling, according to a survey of more than 1,000 international companies including Hewlett-Packard, Nestlé, Canon, Sara Lee and E.On. The joint study by the International Institute for Management Development and the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne concludes that eco-labeling has nearly reached the saturation point with companies and consumers increasingly concerned about the practice’s over-proliferation and credibility. Germany’s Ministry of the Environment introduced the world’s first eco-label, the Blue Angel, in 1978. Now more than 400 are used across 25 industries in 250 countries. Only a minority of customers, called “dark green” in the report, are especially cognizant of the notion of sustainability. Their “light green” counterparts are unaware or uninterested, while “mid-green” consumers may think sustainability is important but they don’t want to take the time to find out why. Because of this, study authors say the idea that the average buyer will spend time sifting through eco-labels is unrealistic. In interviews, companies listed brand strengthening, addressing consumers’ sustainability demands and …

The true cost of food

Source: greenbiz.com Trucost analyzed three common food products: breakfast cereal, fruit juice and cheese. We examined the stages of production from farm and orchard to the supermarket shelf. The embedded carbon, water, waste and pollution were calculated for generic products in each category. (No brand has been harmed in the generation of these metrics!) Trucost then calculated the “natural capital” cost of each of these. For carbon we used the social cost. For water, a local issue, we correlated the volume of water required to produce the raw materials with local scarcity by gathering data on the location of production and pricing water accordingly. To view the full analysis, click on the image below. The percentages show each item’s share of the product’s total environmental impact. Our analysis indicates that, on average, the true cost of a block of cheese should be 18 percent higher than the retail price, breakfast cereal should be 16 percent more expensive and fruit juice 6 percent more. Water is the most significant natural capital dependency for all …

Carbon Sequestration’s Got an Earthquake Problem, Too

Source: Cleantechnica Fossil fuels seem to be running out of places to go. Back in March, officials in Ohio put new restrictions on the natural gas drilling method called fracking after seismologists linked it to earthquakes, and last Friday the National Research Council issued a report detailing the impact of conventional gas and oil drilling on seismic events, along with other underground activity including carbon sequestration. Now a whole new report focuses squarely on the risk of earthquakes from underground carbon sequestration. That apparently closes the door on what was supposed to be an effective way to manage greenhouse gas emissions… or does it? Carbon in, carbon out… The new report was prepared by Mark D. Zobackand and Steven M. Gorelick of the departments of Geophysics and Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University. Aptly titled “Earthquake triggering and large-scale geologic storage of carbon dioxide,” it is a response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in 2005 proposed underground carbon sequestration as a viable strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants …

Bigger Is Better for Wind Turbines

Source: Cleantechnica Scientists have concluded in a new study that, the larger the wind turbine, the greener the electricity it produces. The report appears in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. Marloes Caduff and colleagues concluded that wind power is an increasingly popular source of electricity, providing almost 2 percent of global electricity worldwide, a figure that is expected to reach 10 percent by 2020. The size of turbines is also increasing One study recently showed that the average size of commercial turbines has grown 10-fold in the last 30 years, from diameters of 50 feet back in 1980 to nearly 500 feet today. Unsurprisingly, super-giant turbines approaching 1,000 feet in diameter are on the horizon, which pushed the authors into wanting to determine whether larger was better. Their study showed that bigger turbines do in fact produce greener electricity, for two primary reasons: Manufacturers now have the knowledge, experience, and the technology to build big wind turbines with great efficiency, minimizing the need for research and development. …

Microsoft Commits to Carbon Neutrality in FY 2013

Source: Environmental Leader Microsoft will charge an internal carbon offset fee starting in fiscal year 2012-2013 in its effort to be carbon neutral beginning July 1, according to the company’s blog. The carbon price will be based on market pricing for renewable energy and carbon offsets, and Microsoft will apply it to operations in more than 100 countries. The pricing is part of the software company’s strategy to achieve net-zero emissions in its data centers, software development labs, offices and employee air travel, outlined in a white paper published this month. Continue Reading..

Daniel Martin’s Freeform Solar Panels Could Hexagonally Transform Architecture

Source: GreenGoPost Daniel Martin Ferraro is an architect in Madrid who wants to transform our notion of solar panels. Solar is constantly touted for its potential to bring us to energy independence and greater energy efficiency. But those pesky Darth Vader-esque solar panels are also derided for their relative inefficiency and appearance. Ferraro wants to change how we interact with solar. His hexagon-shaped FreeForm Solar Powered skins do not just lie on top of buildings: they are an integral part of a building’s architecture. Made from photovoltaic laminated glass, Martin’s flexible skins nudge solar out of the domain of engineers and into the realm of architects and designers and can add beauty to their customers, cities. They not only could provide much needed energy for buildings but offer an aesthetic for which architecture in Spain is already renowned. Continue Reading..

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