Day: January 5, 2015

Sustainability 2015: the devil will be in the detail

Read the full story in The Guardian.

2014 saw many welcome examples of sustainability, but Tensie Whelan believes successful implementation of policies lies in understanding nuance.

Webinar: The Future of Microplastics

Jan 15, 2015 at 1:00 PM Central Time
Register at

Microplastic pollution is a global dilemma that has received an increasing amount of attention over the years due to the harmful effects being caused to the aquatic environment. Microbeads fall under the category of microplastic pollution found in many personal hygiene / beauty products. Due to its miniscule size, fish and other aquatic animals mistake the microbeads for food. Microbeads are capable of absorbing persistent organic pollutants which can affect both the fish consuming the microbead as well as humans consuming the tainted fish. Studies are being conducted to determine if Publically Owned Treatment Works (POTW’s) have the technology in place in order to filter the microbeads. Environmentally favored alternatives are being considered for future implementation as well.

Feds want ‘zero-energy’ building standards

Read the full story in The Hill.

The Department of Energy (DOE) wants regulators and the private sector to agree on standards for zero-energy buildings.

In a notice due to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, DOE asks the public for input on a variety of questions about standards.

New diet guidelines might reflect environment cost

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

For years, the government has been issuing guidelines about healthy eating choices. Now, a panel that advises the Agriculture Department is ready to recommend that you be told not only what foods are better for your own health, but for the environment as well.

How Green Businesses Can Avoid Misleading Consumers

Read the full story at Triple Pundit.

To environmentally conscious consumers looking to make more responsible purchasing decisions, there’s nothing more frustrating than being confronted with vague or misleading “green” labels. A bottle that reads “100 percent environmentally happy” might trick some consumers into buying it, but it’s going to turn off those eco warriors who see right through the marketing malarkey.

When companies make claims about their environmentally friendly practices that aren’t backed by facts or that are downright false, their credibility takes a hit. And for a business that’s identified as a “green” company, the damage might be irreversible.

But what can well-intentioned business owners do to make sure they avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing?

Four 2014 year in review stories from GreenBiz

While I was on holiday break, GreenBiz published several year in review stories. Here’s the round-up.

Let 2015 be the year green businesses engage in policy fights

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

On public policy initiatives that sustainable businesses care about, the lessons from 2014 contain good news, bad news and even worse news.

The good news included the Obama administration’s expanding rules on emissions from power plants, providing a real path forward on tackling climate change. It also included clarifications of clean water protections and success in preserving a program that supports safer products and chemicals.

Unfortunately, the bad news in public policy lessons from 2014, is that steps like these easily can be rolled back. Indeed, as described below, efforts already have begun to do just that.

The worse news is that unless business owners become stronger advocates for these policies, they surely will be dismantled by opposition pressure from the entrenched lobbies that claim to speak for business.

If 2014 was a year that offered hope for new gains, 2015 will be the year that these victories face their toughest tests yet. As the first of the three examples below shows, passing those tests requires business owners to engage in public policy advocacy as if the future depends on it — because it does.

The top 10 GreenBiz stories of 2014

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

2014 started out with a splash as GreenBiz chairman and executive editor Joel Makower broke the news that McDonald’s planned to serve up “sustainable beef.” Readers also turned to us for edgy trend pieces about energy, water and food; as well as articles offering strategies in sustainable marketing, supply chain management and education. Here are the most-read articles of the year just passed.

Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Perspective on Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas from the United States

Download the document.

This analysis calculates the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for regional coal and imported natural gas power in Europe and Asia. The primary research questions are as follows:

  • How does exported liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. compare with regional coal (or other LNG sources) for electric power generation in Europe and Asia, from a life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) perspective?
  • How do those results compare with natural gas sourced from Russia and delivered to the same European and Asian markets via pipeline?

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) exercised its life cycle analysis (LCA) model to represent unconventional natural gas production and transport to a New Orleans liquefaction facility, liquefaction, and then transport to an import terminal in Rotterdam, Netherlands to represent a European market and to Shanghai, China to represent Asian Markets. LNG from Oran, Algeria was modeled to represent an alternative regional LNG European market supply source with a destination of Rotterdam and LNG from Darwin, Australia was modeled to represent an alternative regional LNG Asian market supply source with a destination of Osaka, Japan. Conventional natural gas extracted from the Yamal region of Siberia in Russia was modeled as the regional pipeline gas alternative for both the European and Asian markets. Regional coal production and consumption (i.e., Germany and China) were also modeled. Scenario specific variability was modeled by adjusting methane leakage for natural gas production, coal type (bituminous and sub-bituminous), transport distance (ocean tanker for LNG and rail for coal), and power plant efficiency.

This analysis is based on data that were originally developed to represent U.S. energy systems. In general, the NETL natural gas and coal LCA models were adapted for this study. U.S. natural gas production and average U.S. coal production were modeled as representative of foreign natural gas and coal production. No ocean transport of coal was included to represent the most conservative coal profile (regionally sourced or imported). The specific LNG export/import locations used in this study were chosen to represent an estimate for a region (e.g. New Orleans as U.S. Gulf Coast). Specific locations were required to allow for the estimation of LNG transport distances and do not imply the likelihood that LNG export or import will occur from that exact location. The same assumptions hold true for the Russian natural gas cases.

Behind many great beers is a Great Lake

Read the full story in Grand Rapids Business Journal.

The Great Lakes basin supplies breweries with some of the freshest water in the country.

But if brewers like what they taste, some experts suggest they make some changes in how they use that water.

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