Day: May 9, 2012

Microsoft goes green, commits to becoming carbon neutral from July 1

Read the full story at The Next Web.

Microsoft has become the latest technology company to commit to reducing its environmental footprint, today announcing that it wants to make its data centers, software development labs, air travel, and office buildings carbon neutral.

Seafood Sustainability Toolkit

Via Docuticker.

Source: Food Marketing Institute

From the press release:

At the FMI2012 Sustainability Solutions Center, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) released its first Sustainable Seafood Toolkit, a free resource providing food retail answers to the integration and implementation of seafood sustainability procurement policies and procedures….

Created by FMI’s Sustainable Seafood Committee (SSC) and funded by Bumblebee Foods, LLC, this guidance document cites industry expertise on how to approach sustainable seafood sourcing. The SSC provided helpful steps for development and implementation across data collection, procurement, education and reform. The toolkit features best practices and case studies among retailers, suppliers and non-governmental organizations.

+ Link to full report (PDF; 814 KB)

Creating a Culture of Sustainability: Leadership, Coordination and Performance Measurement Decisions in Healthcare

Download the document.

Sustainability seeks to balance and simultaneously optimize environmental, social and financial concerns. Sustainability in healthcare represents a particularly challenging undertaking as it necessarily encompasses the wide variety of facilities, operations and activities in a typical healthcare organization. This exploratory study examines the organizational approaches of eight healthcare systems with relatively successful sustainability initiatives.

The organizations studied have embraced sustainability as a core organizational value, and consequently have committed significant resources and personnel to support their sustainability efforts. Nonetheless, they have realized significant financial benefits from the efforts. Environmental resource management — especially energy and waste — serves as the initial and often central focus of many sustainability initiatives. Improving energy efficiency is associated with reduced operating costs, as is increasing recycling and more carefully managing all waste streams. Managing energy and waste more sustainably was, for these health care organizations, critical for building organizational capabilities that could be applied to other areas, such as environmentally responsible purchasing and food management. Most of the organizations created new positions or hired new people to help manage and coordinate the sustainability initiatives. The sustainability coordinators are charged with identifying focus areas, developing sustainability-related goals, tracking performance, integrating environmental and social concerns into organizational processes, identifying significant external resources and helping to build important sustainability-related organizational capabilities.

Sharing Green Patents

Read the full story in E The Environmental Magazine.

This past year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted nearly 250,000 new patents—allowing various innovations to be exclusively owned by an organization or individual. These patents form the backbone of our consumer society, but, until now, they haven’t offered much benefit to the environment.

Enter the Eco-Patent Commons. Established by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, WBCSD, the initiative has fostered efficiency and environmental sustainability by making patents that are good for the environment available for anyone to use. Björn Stigson, the former president of the WBCSD, says: “The free sharing of these patents leads to new collaborations and innovation aimed at helping others become more eco-efficient and operate in a more sustainable way.” Over 100 patents have now been gifted into the Eco-Patent Commons in areas such as energy efficiency, energy conservation, waste reduction and recycling, allowing everyone free access.

Webinar: EPA’s Suite of P2 Measurement Tools Calculate GHG Reductions and Economic Savings

Thursday, June 7, 2012 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM EDT
Register at

Kathy Davey and Natalie Hummel of EPA’s Pollution Prevention Program will present an overview of the Pollution Prevention (P2) green house gas (GHG) and Cost Calculator tools developed to assist the P2 community and beyond in calculating GHG emissions and financial savings from on the ground Pollution Prevention activities.  Come hear how these tools demonstrate the unique multi-media perspective that P2 brings to reduce (MTCO2e) metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and enhance economic savings. Hypothetical examples will be presented.

Summary of P2 GHG Calculator:
The P2 GHG Calculator calculates GHG emission reductions from electricity conservation, green energy, fuel and chemical substitutions with lower GHG-intensities, water conservation, and improved materials and process management in the chemical manufacturing sector.

Study: Plastic in ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ increases 100-fold

Read the full story at MSNBC.

The amount of plastic trash in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has increased 100-fold during the past 40 years, causing “profound” changes to the marine environment, according to a new study.

Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego found that insects called “sea skaters” or “water striders” were using the trash as a place to lay their eggs in greater numbers than before.

In a paper published by the journal Biology Letters, researchers said this would have implications for other animals, the sea skaters’ predators — which include crabs —  and their food, which is mainly plankton and fish eggs.

Smartly designed playgrounds could produce renewable energy

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Children’s energy seems to have no bounds, so why not make use of its potential?

A trio of industrial designers have imagined a blueprint for playgrounds in which play structures would harvest kinetic energy to produce power. The designers, Andrew Simoeni, Joel Lim and Funfere Koroye, have dreamed up some objects that would be fun to play on even without the added bonus of energy generation, such as a new take on the old standby, the see-saw.

Find out what’s dramatically increasing biking in London

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

If you’ve ever paid a toll you already have a good idea what congestion pricing is. But rather than collect money for using a highway, this tool is used by cities to encourage transportation uses other than the car, in busy city centers at busy times. The money collected in the congestion zone goes back into public transportation systems and congestion is, theoretically, reduced. (See more on how congestion pricing works here.)

It’s been nearly 10 years since London implemented a congestion fare and so far it seems to be working.

Advanced Manufacturing Office Announces Support for Pilot Institute for Manufacturing Innovation

A Broad Agency Announcement for the first pilot Institute, part of the proposed National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), has just been released by the Defense Department (DOD). This interagency collaboration, initiated by the President is led at the Energy Department by the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and includes DOD, the Commerce Department and other agencies. The pilot, the first of up to 15 Institutes proposed by the President, will serve as regional communities of manufacturing excellence that can help make U.S. manufacturers more competitive and encourage investment in the United States.

The pilot Institute will develop a broad spectrum of additive manufacturing technologies for a range of structural and functional materials with defense and energy applications; demonstrate technologies at a convincing scale; reduce the life-cycle energy cost of products and processes; transition technologies to manufacturing enterprises within the U.S. and ultimately promote U.S. economic competitiveness.

Stakeholders interested in submitting a proposal may attend the Proposer’s Day planned for May 16, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia and learn more about the pilot Institute concept and associated technology needs. Attendance is not a prerequisite for submitting a proposal; however, this event will provide a valuable opportunity to ask questions. Visit the NNMI pilot Institute website for further details on the Proposer’s Day. For specific questions regarding the pilot Institute contact:

Repurposing Schools Gives Life to Vacant Buildings

Read the full story in Governing.

As student populations and school budgets have shrunk, classes are emptying out of school buildings, consolidating into others and leaving their former homes as vacant lots in neighborhoods nationwide. According to the National Centers for Education Statistics, more than 1,900 public schools (out of nearly 99,000) closed during the 2010-2011 school year.

Municipalities and school districts are then left with huge assets in an anemic real estate market, unable to draw property taxes or any other revenue while forced to spend money to prevent those empty buildings from falling into disrepair.

So, some have taken action: district-wide initiatives in Kansas City, Mo., and Tulsa, Okla., have aimed to turn these abandoned school sites into financial opportunities that will simultaneously improve the surrounding neighborhoods.

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