What will it take to put circular thinking into practice?

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Ever take apart a desktop printer? Myriad screws, metal sheets, coated wires, springs, fans, circuit boards and plastic shapes snap together. Wheels are tucked inside with a tightly-fused plastic cartridge holding ink or a laser. Easily a thousand pieces are in one simple desktop printer used in small offices.

Add up all of these individual parts and you get some real value.

Lots of electronic devices need tiny screws, springs, fans, metal, circuit boards and plastic casing.  If they were all made in standard sizes, then reusing them would be easy and a big cost saver — both for manufacturers and consumers.

Reusing the components of a desktop printer or a computer monitor, television, cell phone, etc., would keep those metal parts, wires, screws, springs and plastic casings out of landfills or avoid the toxic burning process that disassemblers resort to in the typically impoverished location where electronics recycling occurs.

Still, most consumer products — electronic or otherwise — are not designed for reuse in the remanufacturing of new things.  And most users don’t think much about what will happen to their old devices as they rush to buy the latest version.

The role of collaboration in implementing sustainability solutions

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Businesses are under increasing pressure to improve the sustainability of their practices, such as where they source their products or how much energy they use. Among business leaders, there is also a growing awareness that sustainable practices such as future-proofing a supply chain, increasing efficiency or improving public image, can be good for business.

The logic of competition dictates that businesses should solve problems alone. Yet many experts say the opposite: structured collaboration can be an effective method for developing and implementing solutions to complex sustainability challenges.

This Water-Saving Faucet Forces You To Wash Your Hands The Right Way

Read the full story in Fast Company.

You might think you know how to wash your hands, but most of us are doing it wrong, at least according to the CDC and some recent studies. A new faucet is designed to force us to do a better job: After you get your hands wet, it stops just long enough—20 seconds—for you to properly scrub with soap. Only then can you rinse. The faucet also automatically saves water, because it uses the exact amount you actually need.

Sewer brewers: Oregon beer-makers challenged to use wastewater in recipes

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Some companies boast of making beer with spring water from majestic mountains.

They won’t be competing in the upcoming Pure Water Brew Challenge, in which an Oregon wastewater treatment operator has asked home brewers to make great-tasting beer from hops, barley, yeast and the key, not-so-secret ingredient: treated sewer water.

The point of the contest is not to find Portland’s next trendy craft beer. Rather, it’s an effort to get people talking about how a vital resource can be reused thanks to advanced water-filtration systems.

Insights from Smart Meters: Ramp-Up, Dependability, and Short-Term Persistence of Savings from Home Energy Reports

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This report, the third in a series on smart meters, presents smart meter data to analyze the ramp-up, dependability, and short-term persistence of savings in Home Energy Reports (HERs)—one type of a behavior-based energy efficiency program.

The analysis presented uses easily available data to determine the ramp-up and dependability of HER program savings over the short-term (day-to-day), which can help utilities, program planners, system planners, regulators, and policymakers improve:

  • HER program design and reduce deployment costs by optimizing report frequency
  • Short-term demand and overall energy forecasts so that daily savings can be predicted with a reasonable degree of accuracy, resulting in more effective hedging strategies for fuel and purchased power procurement
  • HER cost-effectiveness by more accurately predicting program benefits.

See also the other two reports in the series: