What is a Zero Energy Building?

Most buildings today use a lot of energy — to keep the lights on, cool the air, heat water, and power personal devices. Even installing solar systems will not significantly counter the heavy energy load.

There are, however, some buildings that strike a balance; or even tip the scales the other way! These are called zero energy buildings.

Startup upcycles discarded chopsticks into new decor & furniture (Video)

Read the full story from Treehugger.

Chopsticks have a long and storied history, dating back to 2100 BC when Da Yu, the founder of the Xia dynasty, was trying to reach a flood zone. In his haste, he didn’t want to wait for his food to cool down, and adapted two twigs to help him eat his food quickly. With the popularization of Asian food all over the world, chopsticks — especially the disposable kind — are now being used all over the world.

But throwaway chopsticks are an unmitigated environmental disaster. In China alone, 80 billion chopsticks are thrown away each year, requiring hundreds of acres of forest to be cut down every day just to keep up with the demand. In response, the Bring Your Own Chopsticks (BYOC) movement is gaining ground in places like Japan, China and Taiwan (most notably, in Korea metal chopsticks are used — a good idea).

But what to do still with all those discarded chopsticks? Vancouver, Canada’s Chopvalue has a great idea: cleaning them up and turning them into home accessories and furniture.

Rethinking the water cycle through corporate collaboration

“Business as usual will lead to a 40 percent gap in supply demand of water by 2030,” said Emilio Tenuta, vice president of corporate sustainability at Ecolab. However, despite water conservation projects, since 2011, corporate water use has declined only by 10 percent.

According to Tenuta, if the world is to address the pressing issue of water quality scarcity, “we’re going to have to create partnerships that accelerate change and reinvent the way we work.”

Success and resilience in a water quality constrained world will require ingenuity and collaboration to go beyond conservation to reuse, recycling and stewardship. One of these partnerships includes Ecolab, a global services provider; software solutions provider Microsoft; and Trucost, a natural capital accounting expert.

Together, they are aiming to be part of the solution by improving water risk analysis in the next-generation Water Risk Monetizer tool, which they launched in March. Collaboration helps leverage perspective and expertise to be part of the solution, said Tenuta: “Water conservation alone is delaying the inevitable.”

Scientists really aren’t the best champions of climate science

Facts and data alone won’t inspire people to take action in the fight against global warming. So what will?

This is the sixth episode of Climate Lab, a six-part series produced by the University of California in partnership with Vox. Hosted by Emmy-nominated conservation scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan, the videos explore the surprising elements of our lives that contribute to climate change and the groundbreaking work being done to fight back. Featuring conversations with experts, scientists, thought leaders and activists, the series takes what can seem like an overwhelming problem and breaks it down into manageable parts: from clean energy to food waste, religion to smartphones. Sanjayan is an alum of UC Santa Cruz and a Visiting Researcher at UCLA. Taking action on global warming doesn’t stop here.

Symposium: Investing in the Age of Climate Change

On April 28, 2017, the University of Oregon held “Investing in the Age of Climate Change.” Organized by students, faculty, staff engaged in sustainability issues on campus, and the University of Oregon Foundation, the forum tackled the question of how climate change is affecting businesses and investors. The forum was videotaped and is now available free of charge at http://media.uoregon.edu/channel/archives/category/office-of-sustainability

The nine videos posted track the speakers throughout the day:

Steve Mital, UO Director of Sustainability, Quinn Haaga, President of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, and Clay Hurand, UO student activist, started things off with introductions to the forum.

Paul Slovak, UO Psychology, provided a psychologist’s perspective on understanding risk.

Susan Gary, UO Law, discussed fiduciary responsibilities for those who make investment decisions for others and explained investment strategies that use environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.

Jay Namyet, CIO of the UO Foundation, and James Shephard, Chair of the UO Foundation, explored how the Foundation invests and its success with using ESG factors in analyzing risks and opportunities.

Max Fleisher, UO MBA student, introduced the four finalist teams from the Impact Investing Pitch Competition who proposed new investment ideas for consideration by the UO Foundation.

University President Michael Schill introduced the keynote speaker, Kate Gordon, of the Paulson Institute, who described the Risky Business Project’s research analyzing the risks and opportunities associated with climate change.

Dave Chen, Founder and Chair of the Equilibrium Capital Group, explained how investment managers manage climate risk.

Emilie Mazzacurati , Founder and CEO of Four Twenty Seven, explained the need for climate-competent boards of directors.

Stephen Brence, UO Philosophy, David Lewis, Consultant, Ethnohistory Research, and John Bellamy Foster, UO Sociology, explored our ethical responsibilities related to the environment.

6 insights for creating a great sustainability video

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

“I’d love to create a video about what we’re doing!” I hear this line frequently from people who are doing fantastic work and want to showcase their innovations or be a sustainability role model and inspire others to follow suit.

It’s a noble idea, but it’s not that simple. For starters, it generally requires analyzing the big-picture, including getting clear about who your audience is and establishing what your goals are for the video before charging forward. The answers can influence almost every decision you make along the way.

I’ve been producing videos on sustainability topics for 25 years. (View some examples here, including a recent video for the University of San Francisco’s Office of Sustainability that I’ll reference going forward.) I’d like to offer six insights that can help your project succeed.