Day: February 7, 2012

Getting Beyond the Basics to Embrace the Science of Sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Sustainability has become a new dimension to supply chain competitiveness as organizations are increasingly influenced by the broader environment in which they operate. These influences impact the full range of business operations: from product design to production; from sourcing to sales channels; from regulatory reporting to recruiting.

Sustainability initiatives present a complex measurement and management challenge, but they also allow organizations to cut costs, reduce risks, drive revenues, improve their brand reputation and ensure compliance with new environmental focused regulations.

Schick Unveils a Disposable Razor Made with Recycled Plastic

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Plastic hangers, buckets and trays are being recycled to make the handles for a greener version of the Schick Xtreme3 disposable razor, which made its debut last week.

What Companies Can Learn From Cities on Climate Change

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

How might urban climate change affect business? What can business — and cities — do about it? And how might each help the other prepare for a potential threat to what’s clearly a mutually beneficial relationship?

Who better to answer the questions than Cynthia Rosenzweig, Senior Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Columbia University Earth Institute, and Adjunct Professor at New York City’s Barnard College.

The world-renowned urban climate change expert is the Co-Editor of the recently released book, Climate Change and Cities: First Assessment Report (ARC3) of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) published in 2011 (Cambridge University Press). The UCCRN was hatched at the C40 Large Cities Summit in New York City in 2007, with more than 300 members from universities in cities around the world.

Tuesday Webcast for Industry: Advanced Manufacturing Partnership

Title: Tuesday Webcast for Industry: Advanced Manufacturing Partnership
Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Register at

In 2011, President Obama launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP). This Partnership convenes manufacturers, universities, and federal agencies to invest in the development of new technologies to help keep and create manufacturing jobs in the United States. Presenters Carrie Houtman, Senior Public Policy Manager of the Dow Chemical Company and Mike Molnar, Chief Manufacturing Officer of the National Institute of Standards and Technology will provide an overview of AMP and its objectives, as well as how the Partnership is positively impacting American manufacturers and communities. This webcast will also provide information on how participating universities are developing and sharing materials on replicable best practices for industrial energy efficiency.

EPA Releases Document on Energy Efficiency in Local Government Operations

EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program has released a final version of Energy Efficiency in Local Government Operations: A Guide to Developing and Implementing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs (PDF) (72 pp, 5.3 MB). This guide describes how local governments can lead by example and achieve multiple benefits by improving the energy efficiency of their new, existing, and renovated facilities and their day-to-day operations. It is designed to be used by facility managers, energy and environment staff, other local government agencies, and mayors and city councils.

Readers of the guide will come away with an understanding of options to improve the energy efficiency of municipal facilities and operations, and how to motivate the private sector and other stakeholders to follow suit. Readers will also understand the steps and considerations involved in developing and implementing these energy efficiency improvements, as well as an awareness of expected investment and funding opportunities.

This document is part of the Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series, which is designed to help policy makers and program staff plan, implement, and evaluate cost-effective climate and energy projects that generate economic, environmental, social, and human health benefits.

Sustainable Store Concept Thrives at RISD

Read the full story from EcoRI. This is the Rhode Island equivalent of the I.D.E.A. Store.

A new student-run store at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) offers a break for cash-strapped artists and designers, as well as a boost for the environment.

2nd Life art supply sells and trades repurposed and reclaimed yarn, fabric, wood, power tools, lamps, printers, paint supplies and even bikes at its new storefront on the backside of South Main Street.

Biofuels: Network Analysis of the Literature Reveals Key Environmental and Economic Unknowns

Caroline E. Ridley, Christopher M. Clark, Stephen D. LeDuc, Britta G. Bierwagen, Brenda B. Lin, Adrea Mehl, and David A. Tobias. (2012). “Biofuels: Network Analysis of the Literature Reveals Key Environmental and Economic Unknowns.” Environmental Science and Technology 46 (3), 1309–1315. DOI: 10.1021/es2023253.

Abstract: Despite rapid growth in biofuel production worldwide, it is uncertain whether decision-makers possess sufficient information to fully evaluate the impacts of the industry and avoid unintended consequences. Doing so requires rigorous peer-reviewed data and analyses across the entire range of direct and indirect effects. To assess the coverage of scientific research, we analyzed over 1600 peer-reviewed articles published between 2000 and 2009 that addressed 23 biofuels-related topics within four thematic areas: environment and human well-being, economics, technology, and geography. Greenhouse gases, fuel production, and feedstock production were well-represented in the literature, while trade, biodiversity, and human health were not. Gaps were especially striking across topics in the Southern Hemisphere, where the greatest potential socio-economic benefits, as well as environmental damages, may co-occur. There was strong asymmetry in the connectedness of research topics; greenhouse gases articles were twice as often connected to other topics as biodiversity articles. This could undermine the ability of scientific and economic analyses to adequately evaluate impacts and avoid significant unintended consequences. At the least, our review suggests caution in this developing industry and the need to pursue more interdisciplinary research to assess complex trade-offs and feedbacks inherent to an industry with wide-reaching potential impacts.

Political Leaders Play Key Role in How Worried Americans are by Climate Change

Read the full story from Ohio State University.

More than extreme weather events and the work of scientists, it is national political leaders who influence how much Americans worry about the threat of climate change, new research finds.

In a study of public opinion from 2002 to 2010, researchers found that public belief that climate change was a threat peaked in 2006-2007 when Democrats and Republicans in Congress showed the most agreement on the issue.

But public concern has dropped since then, as partisanship over the issue increased.

Full citation for the research article: Robert J. Brulle, Jason Carmichael and J. Craig Jenkins (2012). “Shifting public opinion on climate change: an empirical assessment of factors influencing concern over climate change in the U.S., 2002–2010.” Climatic Change, online before print. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0403-y.

Abstract: This paper conducts an empirical analysis of the factors affecting U.S. public concern about the threat of climate change between January 2002 and December 2010. Utilizing Stimson’s method of constructing aggregate opinion measures, data from 74 separate surveys over a 9-year period are used to construct quarterly measures of public concern over global climate change. We examine five factors that should account for changes in levels of concern: 1) extreme weather events, 2) public access to accurate scientific information, 3) media coverage, 4) elite cues, and 5) movement/countermovement advocacy. A time-series analysis indicates that elite cues and structural economic factors have the largest effect on the level of public concern about climate change. While media coverage exerts an important influence, this coverage is itself largely a function of elite cues and economic factors. Weather extremes have no effect on aggregate public opinion. Promulgation of scientific information to the public on climate change has a minimal effect. The implication would seem to be that information-based science advocacy has had only a minor effect on public concern, while political mobilization by elites and advocacy groups is critical in influencing climate change concern.

EPA Recognizes DoD Facilities for Emission Reductions and Energy Savings

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized two Department of Defense (DoD) facilities with the Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) award for taking an efficient, clean, and reliable approach to generating power and thermal energy from a single source. By using CHP technology, the award winners demonstrated leadership and a commitment to protecting people’s health and the environment while reporting annual energy savings of $6.8 million.

“I congratulate these military bases for leading by example in the efforts to reduce pollution, improve energy efficiency, and cut energy costs,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “These advanced CHP systems give us reliable, clean and cost cutting ways to keep our military bases powered and our environment protected.”

The CHP awards were presented to the following facilities at today’s International District Energy Association’s Annual Campus Energy Conference in Arlington, Va.:

  • U.S. Army Garrison Fort Bragg, N.C.
  • U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.

CHP technology produces both electricity and steam/hot water from a single heat source, using fuels such as natural gas, biomass, or wasted energy. By using this technology, the bases’ CHP systems achieved operating efficiencies of nearly 65 percent, much higher than the efficiency of separate production of electricity and thermal energy (typically less than 50 percent). Based on this comparison, the CHP systems avoided carbon pollution equal to that from the electricity used by more than 4,000 homes. The CHP systems also increase the bases’ energy security and reliability because the systems can run independently in the event of a power outage. As the largest U.S. energy consumer, DoD recognizes that reliable energy supplies for its military installations are critical to our nation’s security.

Established in 2001, EPA’s CHP Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages the use of CHP to reduce the environmental impact of power generation. The partnership works closely with energy users, the CHP industry, state and local governments, and other energy stakeholders to facilitate the development of new projects and to promote energy, environmental and economic benefits.