How to Make a Free Things Box

Read the full post at Shareable.

Knowing that people like to share things they no longer need with their neighbors, Berto Aussems decided to construct an easy way to do so. His Free Things Box is sturdy and weatherproof, and it only comes with three rules:

  1. Open only during the daytime.
  2. Take only things you can use.
  3. Take only one thing at a time.

An up-close assessment of Walmart’s sustainability index

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

In Marc Gunther’s recent article about Walmart and its efforts to make toy production more sustainable, he calls the Walmart supplier Sustainability Index “the biggest environmental initiative in the company’s history,” and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) agrees. He also questions whether “Walmart is taking this too far””and “how the world’s largest retailer is exercising its market power.”

With a 25-year track record challenging companies to make decisions that are good for the environment and the economy, we at EDF are used to asking such tough questions.

That’s precisely why we have an EDF office based in Bentonville, Ark., dedicated solely to working together with Walmart to advance sustainability. Because we don’t take money from the company, we can push hard to achieve the kinds of transformational change of which it is capable.

When it comes to the Sustainability Index, we’re on board. And here’s why…

Sustainability and Our Horizontal Infrastructure

Read the full story in Governing.

Green building-rating systems have been around for well over a decade. The best known in the United States is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the certification system administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is for the “horizontal infrastructure” world of buildings. But what about “horizontal infrastructure” — our roads, bridges, railways, landfills, water and wastewater-treatment plants, power-transmission lines, and public spaces in our cities and towns?

At a recent sustainability conference, I learned about an intriguing effort to bring to infrastructure what LEED brings to buildings. It’s called the Envision Rating System, and it’s a joint project of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) and Harvard University’s Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure.

Better Appliances: An Analysis of Performance, Features, and Price as Efficiency Has Improved

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Efficiency standards have played a major role in saving energy and water and reducing utility bills. This report analyzes how the choices available to consumers have changed over time as efficiency standards have taken effect for ten residential, commercial, and lighting products. The report compares the performance, features, and price of products available before and after each standard was implemented. As products have become more efficient, product performance generally stayed the same or improved, and manufacturers offered new features to consumers. Prices declined or stayed the same for five of the nine products for which price data were available, and for the other four products, observed price increases are outweighed by electricity bill savings.

Next Steps for Campus Sustainability: Connection, Integration & Transformation

When sustainability has been included in a few courses and all of the light bulbs have been changed, what comes next? Taking place August 26-28 at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, this AASHE workshop will focus on helping you build the connections across disciplines, across campus and into the community, that will transform the way your institution works toward sustainability. You will leave this workshop with: the ability to identify both opportunities for and barriers to transformative change in academics, operations and administration; and the skills to initiate strategies for meaningful change for sustainability. The deadline to register is July 25.

SEED Center ‘Building Sustainable Campuses’ Report

This update on 2012 SEED Center Green Genome Awards winners reveals how these community colleges are using their winnings to further sustainability initiatives on campus.

Bio-oil and Biochar as Additional Revenue Streams in South American Kraft Pulp Mills

Marcelo Hamaguchi, Jussi Saari, Esa Vakkilainen (2013). “Bio-oil and Biochar as Additional Revenue Streams in South American Kraft Pulp Mills.” BioResources 8(3), 3399-3413. Online at
Abstract: Pulp and paper companies are seeking opportunities beyond the traditional production of market pulp. One interesting alternative is to expand their revenue streams by adding value to the wood residues that they generate. Considering that excess heat and electricity can be used for biomass pre-treatment and conversion, the aim of this work is to show how the integrated production of bio-oil or biochar would affect the operation of a 1.5M t/a kraft pulp mill in South America. Detailed balances with a focus on modern eucalyptus mills are then developed for this purpose. Since the attractiveness of increasing renewable energy is often influenced by energy policies or local market development for the new products, the target was not to determine the best investment decision. Nevertheless, an economic analysis was performed to observe the main variables affecting the viability of these technologies. The results showed that satisfactory internal rates of return can be achieved for multiple technologies depending on the price of electricity, torrefied pellets, or bio-oil.