Climate Through A Different Lens: Poverty, Inequality, Sustainability

Read the full post from Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

The COP discussions have revolved around targets for decarbonization to mitigate climate change. I think this needs to be a discussion about how the development of a renewable energy platform can lead to sustainable and inclusive economic growth of all sectors of society in the world. Uplifting the poor, while a moral imperative, may not actually translate beyond political slogans. Perhaps, this is why the debates are not framed in this light. The 20th century showed us that the rich get richer as the poor are uplifted. Let the 21st be about how to improve conditions for all living beings on the planet.

Illinois to lead NSF Midwest Big Data Hub

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

In the future, big data could help unlock the mysteries of fields ranging from the natural sciences to medicine, and Illinois has a new opportunity to take a leading role.

To accelerate advancements in the rapidly emerging field of big data analysis, the National Science Foundation has given $5 million to establish four regional Big Data Hubs. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will lead the Midwest Big Data Hub, a consortium of public and private partners. Catalyzed by an initial award from the National Science Foundation called SEEDCorn, which stands for “Sustainable Enabling Environment for Data Collaboration,” its goal is to provide a “big data brain trust” that will allow researchers to better collect, mine, and analyze data, leading to greater efficiency and, ultimately, a higher quality of life…

Joining Illinois in the Midwest Big Data Hub are the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Iowa State University, Indiana University, the University of North Dakota and dozens of other partners from academia, industry, government, and non-governmental organizations. The Midwest BD Hub will focus its efforts on three sectors:

  1. Society (smart cities and communities; network science; business analytics)
  2. Natural & Built World (water, food, and energy; digital agriculture; transportation; and advanced manufacturing)
  3. Healthcare and Biomedical Research

Food Shift Launching Systemic Approach to Food Recovery with Alameda Kitchen

Read the full post at Sustainable Brands.

It’s difficult to swallow the contradictory statistic that 50 million Americans are food insecure while 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. is wasted, according to the NRDC. Food recovery entrepreneur and advocate, Dana Frasz — founder of Oakland, Calif.-based food-recovery non-profit Food Shift— suggests that the sustainable food movement could use a new recipe. Those working on hunger should not just look at providing food, but how they can create jobs.

Illinois Companies, Organizations Honored for Achievements In Sustainability

Nineteen Illinois companies and organizations were honored October 27 for their demonstrated leadership in implementing sustainable principles and practices. The Governor’s Sustainability Awards, the “Emmy Awards for Sustainability,” were presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) during a ceremony in Chicago. ISTC is a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Since 1987, ISTC has presented Governor’s Awards to organizations in Illinois that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. Any Illinois public or private organization is eligible to apply for the award. Winners are selected through a rigorous process of review and examination by ISTC technical assistance experts.

“Businesses that invest in sustainability drive a thriving Illinois economy by creating jobs and making an investment in our future,” said Governor Rauner. “The Governor’s Sustainability Awards foster sustainable innovation and encourage our public and private sector to build a stronger, more sustainable Illinois.”

Sustainable economic growth is essential to the long-term competitiveness of the state, according to ISTC Director Kevin O’Brien. “These awards demonstrate that you can preserve natural and cultural resources and simultaneously grow your business,” he said. “That is why this award is very critical. It demonstrates it can be done, it’s being done in Illinois, and it is what sets us apart as Illinoisans.”

The complete list of 2015 award winners is listed below.

2015 Governor’s Sustainability Award Winners

  • Abbot Laboratories – Abbot Park
  • Abbie Inc. – North Chicago
  • Argonne National Laboratory – Lemont
  • Caterpillar – Morton Parts Distribution Center
  • Clarke – St. Charles
  • ComEd – Oak Brook Terrace
  • Cook County – Chicago*
  • Golden State Foods Chicago – McCook*
  • Griffith Laboratories – Alsip*
  • Hoffer Plastics Corporation – South Elgin*
  • Illinois Tollway – Downers Grove
  • J.L. Clark – Rockford
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium – Chicago*
  • McHenry County Government – Woodstock*
  • Public Building Commission – Chicago*
  • Saratoga Food Specialties – Bolingbrook*
  • Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation – Rochelle*
  • University Housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign*
  • Western Illinois University – Macomb*

 * Indicates a first-time winner of the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award.

Additional information on the Governor’s Sustainability Awards program, lists of previous winners, and information on technical assistance for Illinois companies and communities are available from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, One Hazelwood Drive, Champaign, IL 61820, phone (217) 333-8940,

To Request Photos of Winning Teams, please contact

7 questions that will shape the future of sustainability

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

It’s a challenge for everyone: Where should I focus my effort? What’s worth trying now, and what do I need to prepare for? To answer these questions, you need to be scanning what’s changing in the world.

Here at Forum for the Future, we’re just concluding our annual scanning cycle. Our Futures Centre, based in Singapore, scans what people are talking about, what they are innovating and what is being financed on sustainability solutions.

We feed in our experiences with leading companies around the world. And we take a view — part analysis, part instinct — on what will be more important on sustainable business the next two years.

Here’s our current list, which covers climate change, European turmoil, gender empowerment, manufacturing, citizens and better scaling of innovations. Each trend also includes a question for your business.

What do you think?

Giving Low-Income Families Access to Clean Energy and Efficiency

Read the full story from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

In June, RMI—along with its partner organizations—launched eLab Leap in New York to identify the unmet needs and create solutions that empower and improve the lives of low-income communities and households in a clean energy future.

Forty diverse groups joined eLab Leap’s first meeting including low-income and consumer advocates, environmental groups, government entities, housing organizations, utilities, regulators, foundations, and financiers.

The meeting attendees created four initiatives to collaboratively implement and test solutions for low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities in New York. These initiatives are:

  • REVitalize: Fund a community-generated, clean energy plan that leverages New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding to bring economic and environmental justice to all members of the community.
  • Public Participation Initiative: Drive more effective engagement, participation, and communication between government agencies and stakeholders working on low-income issues in New York.
  • Community Energy Project: Conduct and implement holistic and complete energy efficiency, weatherization, and DER audits, retrofits and upgrades all at once, and at scale in a particular neighborhood, and develop a sustainable funding model.
  • Guide to Community-Owned, Local LMI Microgrids: Develop a guide to help communities interested in pursuing community-owned, local renewable energy infrastructure to understand the decisions they need to make and the actions they need to take to achieve their goals.

RMI and eLab Leap hope to scale successes from these initiatives across New York and, in the future, nationally.

While developing the framework for eLab Leap, RMI interviewed several key stakeholders in New York. A recurring and intriguing question was how entrepreneurs and others in the private sector can better serve LMI customers.

Can NASA’s far-out travel plans bring sustainability to Spaceship Earth?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

America’s space agency is going long. Its next generation of explorations will send travelers on journeys beyond the moon, to Mars and maybe beyond.

What on Earth does this have to do with sustainability? In a word: Everything.

In its quest to explore the great unknown, NASA is encountering a new set of challenges. Among them is how tomorrow’s travelers can sustain life for long periods of time — far more than today’s residents of the International Space Station are likely to endure. And, unlike the Space Station, their journeys will take them so far from the blue planet that they won’t be reachable via resupply missions or repair or rescue vehicles.

So, they’ll have to take what they can in order to be self-sufficient, perhaps for years.

All of which requires a new generation of technologies to provide everything from life’s essentials such as breathable air, clean water, energy and food; to everyday comforts, such as clean clothes and personal hygiene; to tools and materials that astronauts will need to build things when they get where they’re going to set up shop on another heavenly body. All using ingredients and materials that are nontoxic, efficient and that can be endlessly put back into service.