Recent GAO reports of interest

Batteries and Energy Storage: Federal Initiatives Supported Similar Technologies and Goals but Had Key Differences. GAO-12-842, August 30.
Highlights –

Solar Energy: Federal Initiatives Overlap but Take Measures to Avoid Duplication. GAO-12-843, August 30.
Highlights –

Water Pollution: EPA Has Improved Its Review of Effluent Guidelines but Could Benefit from More Information on Treatment Technologies. GAO-12-845, September 10.
Highlights –

Most Large Companies ‘Lack Long-Term Water Strategies’

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

The majority – 60 percent – of the world’s 250 largest companies lack a long-term water strategy, according to a KPMG analysis of corporate responsibility reports.

This may mean companies do not see the need to detail water strategies in their CR reports, according to Sustainable Insight – Business Responses to Water Scarcity. Or, at worst, it means companies do not realize the potential impact of water scarcity on their business.

What sustainable consumption looks like

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

Three “green” products that recently arrived at my house got me thinking about the idea of sustainable consumption.

Which of these three do you think moves us closer to sustainable consumption?

Which takes us farther away?

Is the Paradox of Choice an Opportunity for the Sharing Economy?

Read the full post at Shareable.

Would you rather watch cat videos or read Nate Silver’s latest election projections? Snack on traditional frosted flakes or ones dusted with maple and apple flavoring? Use a smartphone with a 3.5” or a 4.25” screen? And do these largely arbitrary decisions really improve our quality of life? In his 2005 book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, psychologist Barry Schwartz made the case that this bounty of consumption options instead contributed to a general social malaise of “anxiety, dissatisfaction and regret.”

It’s not a new idea, but an articulation of a dilemma growing increasingly resonant in a time of seeming overabundance of products, resources, and information. Minor differentiation between products creates an illusion of freedom and self-determination, Schwartz argues. It’s a costly illusion. During a 2007 TED talk, Schwartz reflected on the personal, social, and environmental toll of our addiction to options.

Illinois launches Open Technology Challenge

Read the full post from CivSource.

The state of Illinois has launched a new technology challenged aimed at helping local governments expand the amount of data available to the public. The Illinois Open Technology Challenge is a pilot initiative that will make Illinois’ open data platform, Data.Illinois.Gov, available to municipal governments statewide. The challenge will launch in the pilot communities of Belleville, Champaign, Rockford, and Chicago’s South Suburbs, and will promote the availability of public data and encourage the use of technology to address government challenges through innovation and entrepreneurship. The challenge comes after announcements earlier this month pushing the Chicago metro area toward its goal of becoming an technology hub.

The initiative, ILOpenTech seeks to build on the state’s leadership role around open data and Governor Quinn’s recently issued Executive Order establishing a new state Open Operating Standard. The state’s support of 2011’s Apps for Metro Chicago Illinois competition produced winners like iFindit, an innovative application that provides information on food, housing and medical care to the homeless and OkCopay, which is a directory of affordable medical care for those without insurance. The initiative brings together local governments with developers, area universities, nonprofits and community leaders in a common mission to use public data to create digital tools that serve civic needs and promote economic development across Illinois.

California launches paint recycling program

Read the full story at U-T San Diego.

A California law that went into effect Friday, Oct. 19, requires paint manufacturers to develop a take-back system for leftover paint from household and commercial consumers.

The new California Paint Stewardship Program will be the second of its kind in the United States. Oregon’s pilot program started two years ago. Connecticut and Rhode Island are planning similar programs.