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Business Leads the Way In Supporting National Parks

There is a clear lack of environmental protection for national parks in the Trump administration. President Trump issued an executive order in April instructing the Secretary of the Interior to review all lands declared national monuments since January 1, 1996.

Sustainable Brands Detroit 2017 Confronting Challenges, Building Bridges

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Here are some more takeaways from Sustainable Brands17 Detroit.

If we are to realize any kind of vision of a sustainable society, we must confront the idea that truth is negotiable. As author and consultant Andrew Winston said, “We need a working democracy, checks and balances, a free press.” We need the truth.  But what is the truth? For scientists and judges, the truth is found in facts. For most of the rest of us, the truth lies in the stories we choose to believe. As Upworthy’s Jennifer Lindenauer said in her “Trust is Tribal” talk, “facts fade, stories stick. Donald Trump tells stories that stick even though they are lies.” Why do they stick?  How does a liar get away with calling the bastions of journalistic integrity fake news? According to Lindenauer, it’s because the opposite of fake is authentic. Trump may have a myriad of deplorable qualities, but he is authentically Trump, and for better or for worse, for many, that authenticity begets trust. What that means for us is that we need to confront self-serving lies, with authentic stories of a sustainable future, that people will trust.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan said, ‘trust but verify,” with respect to a nuclear-arms deal with the former Soviet Union. Author Andrew Zolli described an ongoing effort by Planet Labs to take a complete, high-resolution picture of the entire Earth every single day. This will allow us to not only verify, but discover countless things that are happening on Earth, both as a result of human activities and the everything-else that we refer to as nature. For example, the images were able to detect a rapidly expanding illegal gold mining operation in Peru. As a result of the discovery, the operation was quickly shut down. While some might consider this type of truth and its consequences a form of “burdensome government regulation,” most of us would applaud it as a win for the planet. These photos could also be used to track deforestation, the growth of electricity, agricultural productivity, the growth or decline of deserts, rivers and lakes, the expansion of refugee camps, and with the help of sophisticated algorithms-- the loss of carbon due to land use changes. All these facts, could be used to fuel new and urgent stories that could potentially cut through the ideological fog. For example, as Zolli said, once we have a price on carbon, we can put a value on the forest that is being lost every day. At a time when EPA administrators are making policy that could impact the future of the entire biosphere, based on rumors and amateur science, such as the notion that there was a leveling off of warming over the past two decades, we need to verify before we can trust, as a number of scientists just did.

Sodexo Trends Report Shows Connectivity, Innovation & Uncertainty Are Rewriting the Workplace

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – There are so many trends in the news that it is difficult for businesses to keep track of everything and know what is relevant. Yet it is critical for business and its leaders to be able to recognise the underlying trends driving change, to evaluate their significance and stay ahead of—rather than follow—them.

Women In Technology Face Many Unique Challenges

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – “Women in the technology industry face many unique challenges that are often beyond their control,” says Dennis Kennedy, founder and chairman of the National Diversity Council.

The Surprising Role of Fuel Cells in Today’s Clean Economy

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - While few were looking, and while there seemed to be little energy news beyond the occasional automotive announcement (which most people dismiss as a futuristic longshot), fuel cells have quietly been finding valuable niches, particularly in the industrial world.

A recent report by the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association says that 9% of Fortune 500 companies and 23% of Fortune 100 companies are using fuel cells in some aspect of their operations. The primary uses are for backup power generation and material handling equipment (MHE). The current market in industrial fuel cells has hit the $2 billion mark with more than 13,500 units deployed.

While one might question the practicality and affordability of using fuel cells for backup power, it turns out that they are well-suited to the role. Companies cite a variety of reasons for using fuel cells for distributed power generation (DG) including:

  • An assured, reliable electricity supply
  • Better energy management control.
  • Clean, renewable energy boosts the company’s image
  • DG reduces energy costs

Backup plants can also be used for peak shaving and other demand management schemes. Large electric customers typically pay demand charges that raise costs during periods of high demand. By producing their own power during these periods, industrial customers can save money. Fuel cells tend to have rapid startup times as compared to diesels and are also far cleaner.

Other savings accrue from “cost savings on electricity or fuel purchases; emissions savings from being a more efficient, non-combustion technology; time savings from less maintenance, fewer fuelings and longer run time; and water savings at a time where droughts are hitting some states so hard that restrictions are being imposed on water use.“

Greening the Web with Efficient Data Centers

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Mostly, we think of the Internet, the cloud and the explosion of mobile technology as things that save us energy: letting our fingers do the walking, avoiding unnecessary trips, being more precise when we do go looking for something, and buying online. And for the most part, that is the case. Those UPS trucks running up and down your street, even though they are bigger than anything you’re driving (I would hope), they are running a specific route that passes near your house anyway. That makes them more efficient than your going to the store is likely to be. But that is not to say all that convenience comes without a cost.

In 2013, US data centers used 91 billion kWh of electricity. That’s enough to power NYC twice over. That number is expected to grow by half again by 2020. It’s become enough of a concern, that electricity providers have warned that they might not be able to keep up with demand, causing some data center operators to seek their own dedicated power sources, including some, like Apple, Microsoft and Google to use solar  or wind power for theirs.

Apple And JPMorgan Respond To Europe’s Refugee Crisis

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – An emergency meeting took place in Brussels with leaders from the European Union (EU) on 23 September to tackle the relocation of 120,000 refugees.

GM Receives CDP Top Rating for Climate Disclosure and Performance

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - There is a now-famous quote attributed to Charles Wilson, who, in 1953 was the CEO of General Motors. What Wilson supposedly said was, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.”

While that was never entirely true, GM has recently been doing some things that have been good for America, and the rest of the world, which has also been good for themselves as well.

What GM has been doing is taking action to minimize their carbon emissions and being highly transparent in their reporting of those actions. Enough so that CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, gave them a perfect score of 100 in their 2014 assessment of all the companies in the S&P 500 based and disclosure and performance.

The CDP report, entitled “Climate Action and Profitability,” was undertaken to provide a massive group of investors representing some $92 trillion in assets with information on the climate actions and disclosure practices of all the companies in the S&P 500. Surveys were sent out to all 500 companies. A total of 348 responded. The report found strong correlation between climate action and profitability, specifically, return on equity (ROE).

Utilities Dive into Home Energy Services and Products

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - We’ve written in the past about the challenges facing the utility industry, with Barclay’s downgrading the entire industry as a poor investment prospect. The phenomenon of grid defection, customers cutting their ties with the utility in favor of a solar array with batteries, or a grid-tied system enabled through net metering is taking its toll on profitability. Traditional electric utility business models have rather suddenly become an endangered species. Not that the companies will necessarily disappear. Some might, of course, but those that remain will look very different than they do today.

Take a look at NRG, one of the nation’s largest power companies, operating in the Midwest, that has traditionally burned coal for about a third of its power. CEO David Crane, who has a degree in Public Policy from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard, has apparently seen the writing on the wall. The company has taken dramatic steps over the past year including natural gas conversions and plant closings to reduce its dependence on coal. One plant is even being converted to run on low-sulphur diesel. When combined, these changes will result in a 25% reduction of coal purchases.

There was a time not long ago when such moves would be considered iconoclastic for such a staid industry. But that is just the beginning of this latest chapter in the NRG story. Last week NRG announced the acquisition of Goal Zero, a manufacturing start-up that produces small solar charged battery packs. Their products are popular in big box sporting goods stores, ranging from solar powered speakers for camping to 1250 Watt-hour solar home generators.

“It allows us to expand the opportunity of solar,” said Crane. “Our ultimate goal is to energize people wherever they are.”

It sounds reasonable enough, though it’s a big move for a utility company to start selling consumer products. That might just be what it takes to stay afloat in this changing world.

Does Apple Want a Bite of the Wind Power Market?

Media reports indicate that Apple has plans to develop wind turbine technology.

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