Day: July 18, 2013

Turns Out the CIA Really Is Trying to Control the Weather

Read the full story in Atlantic Cities.

The Central Intelligence Agency is funding a scientific study that will investigate whether humans could use geo-engineering to alter Earth’s environment and stop climate change. The National Academy of Sciences will run the 21-month project, which is the first NAS geo-engineering study financially supported by an intelligence agency. With the spooks’ money, scientists will study how humans might influence weather patterns, assess the potential dangers of messing with the climate, and investigate possible national security implications of geo-engineering attempts.

Look to nature for lessons in building resiliency

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

The Earth is changing at a climatic level, and we humans, in the wake of a growing list of extreme weather events and years-long trends, are scrambling to react. Within the built environment (which includes everything from utility grids to residential homes), designers and architects are turning the focus toward what is emerging as a buzzword: resiliency.

EPA Debuts Upgraded Energy Star Portfolio Manager Benchmarking Tool

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the release of an upgrade to its popular online energy management and tracking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager. The upgraded tool can help businesses achieve the President’s call to make commercial buildings at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. The new Energy Star Portfolio Manager delivers a more user-friendly interface, enhanced data sharing capabilities, better reporting, and for the first time, the ability to manage buildings across their lifecycle from design through occupancy.

Tens of thousands of organizations—including school districts, retail chains, hospital systems, and local governments—currently use Energy Star Portfolio Manager to measure the energy performance, water use, utility costs, and greenhouse gas emissions of more than 40 percent of the nation’s commercial building space.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Janet McCabe, principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. “The new ‘turbo-charged’ Portfolio Manager makes it easier than ever for building owners and managers to make strategic business decisions that are good for the environment and good for the bottom line. Consistent with President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, this tool helps businesses cut wasted energy, reduce harmful carbon pollution, and save money.”

The tool will continue to deliver the nearly 150 energy, greenhouse gas (GHG), and water performance metrics that owners and managers of commercial buildings use to make strategic management decisions. One of these metrics—the 1–100 Energy Star score, rates a building’s energy efficiency against similar buildings nationwide. A score of 50 represents median energy performance, whereas a score of 75 signifies that a building outperforms 75 percent of its peers. Buildings in the United States that score a 75 or higher, and have their data verified by a Professional Engineer or Registered Architect, are eligible to earn EPA’s Energy Star certification.

Energy Star certified buildings use, on average, 35 percent less energy and generate 35 percent fewer GHG emissions than typical buildings. Studies have shown that they have lower operating costs, increased asset value, and higher occupancy rates. Additionally, there are benefits to simply measuring and tracking a building’s energy performance in Portfolio Manager—a recent EPA study showed that buildings that benchmarked consistently over a three-year period logged an average energy use reduction of 2.4 percent each year. For commercial building portfolios with annual energy bills in the millions of dollars and that emit tens of thousands of metric tons of GHG emissions each year, these reductions can be substantial.

Products, homes and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. In 2012 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $24 billion on their utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to those of 50 million vehicles. From the first Energy Star qualified computer in 1992, the Energy Star label can now be found on products in more than 65 different categories, with more than 4.5 billion sold over the past 20 years. Over 1.4 million new homes and 20,000 facilities, including offices, schools, hospitals, and industrial plants, have earned the Energy Star.

 

Developing Your Own Waste Reduction Plan

Read the full post from the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.

If your business is serious about wanting to reduce its waste, the first step is to develop a waste reduction plan. Plans can range from simple one-step recycling plans to complex strategies focusing on all aspects of operation. Whether you want to develop a simple or complex plan, here are the basic steps to get started.

The Era of Corporate Silence on Climate Policy Is Ending

Read the full story from the HBR Blog Network.

“Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities.” So proclaims the Climate Declaration, a public statement signed by a fast-growing list of U.S. corporate giants, including GM, Nike, Intel, Starbucks, Unilever, eBay, Swiss Re, and even The Weather Channel.

This new attempt to encourage companies to lobby for climate action is gaining steam. President Obama gave the movement a boost in June when he highlighted the declaration in his big climate speech.

More companies are taking a proactive role in climate policy, and for good reasons.

New Green Vision: Technology As Our Planet’s Last Best Hope

Read the full story at Yale Environment360.

The concept of ecological modernism, which sees technology as the key to solving big environmental problems, is gaining adherents and getting a lot of buzz these days. While mainstream conservationists may be put off by some of the new movement’s tenets, they cannot afford to ignore the issues it is raising.

LEED brings Cradle to Cradle into green building certification

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

As pressure builds from special interests for the federal government to ditch its preference for LEED certification of buildings, the latest version of LEED has been approved, making it more powerful than ever.

Members of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) voted overwhelmingly (85 percent) to include Cradle to Cradle certification in LEED V4, which will even more stringently enforce the environmental qualities of materials used in green buildings, the opposite of what industry interests want.

CDP water scores: The next wave in reporting

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Over the past several years, companies are increasingly taking into account environmental issues, such as water and ecosystems; quantifying their sustainability performance; and reporting that performance to external stakeholders.

Starting next year, reporting water risks and opportunities through the CDP will move to a new level of expectations. In 2014, scoring will be applied on a private basis to Fortune Global 500 companies, and from 2015 onwards to other respondents.

The CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project)  played an important role in driving companies to report on carbon and climate-change risks and opportunities. Companies voluntarily responded to the CDP’s questionnaire, and built carbon and climate change mitigation and energy strategies.

In a similar fashion, CDP Water Disclosure (WD), on behalf of several hundred institutional investors, for several years has asked companies to report on water-related risks and opportunities. This reflects the rising expectation by investors, civil society and non-governmental organizations for transparency and quantitative measurement of progress.