Archive for the ‘sustainability’ Category

Are you ready for the resource revolution?

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Are you ready for the resource revolution?
Source: McKinsey & Company

Meeting increasing global demand requires dramatically improving resource productivity. Yet technological advances mean companies have an extraordinary opportunity not only to meet that challenge but to spark the next industrial revolution as well.

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Innovative Mobility Carsharing Outlook: Carsharing Market Overview, Analysis, and Trends

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Innovative Mobility Carsharing Outlook: Carsharing Market Overview, Analysis, and Trends
Source: University of California-Berkeley (Transportation Sustainability Research Center)

North American Carsharing:
· As of January 1, 2013, there were 46 active programs in North America with 1,033,564 members sharing 15,603 vehicles.
· As of January 1,2013, 20 Canadian operators claimed 141,351 members and shared 3,432 vehicles. In the United States, 891,953 members shared 12,131 vehicles among 25 operators. In Mexico, 620 members shared 40 vehicles among one operator.
· Between January 2012 and January 2013, carsharing membership grew 24.1% in the United States and 53.4% in Canada. Between January 2012 and January 2013, carsharing fleets grew 23.6% in the United States and 35.9% in Canada.
· As of January 1, 2013, U.S. member-vehicle ratios were 73:1, representing a 0.4% increase between January 2012 and January 2013. In Canada, the ratio was 41:1, representing a 12.9% increase over the same period.

Worldwide Carsharing:
· As of October 2012, carsharing was operating in 27 countries and 5 continents, accounting for an estimated 1,788,000 members sharing over 43,550 vehicles.
· North America remains the largest carsharing region, with Europe and North America accounting for 38.7% and 50.8% of worldwide carsharing membership, respectively.
· Europe accounts for the majority of fleets deployed in 2012: 47.0% in contrast to 36.2% in North America.
· As of October 2012, one-way carsharing was operating in seven countries worldwide including (Austria, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States).

Personal Vehicle Sharing
· As of October 2012, there were 33 personal vehicle sharing operators worldwide, with 10 active or in pilot phase, three planned, and four defunct in North America.

Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security

April 1, 2014 Comments off

Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security
SOurce: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The narrowing of diversity in crop species contributing to the world’s food supplies has been considered a potential threat to food security. However, changes in this diversity have not been quantified globally. We assess trends over the past 50 y in the richness, abundance, and composition of crop species in national food supplies worldwide. Over this period, national per capita food supplies expanded in total quantities of food calories, protein, fat, and weight, with increased proportions of those quantities sourcing from energy-dense foods. At the same time the number of measured crop commodities contributing to national food supplies increased, the relative contribution of these commodities within these supplies became more even, and the dominance of the most significant commodities decreased. As a consequence, national food supplies worldwide became more similar in composition, correlated particularly with an increased supply of a number of globally important cereal and oil crops, and a decline of other cereal, oil, and starchy root species. The increase in homogeneity worldwide portends the establishment of a global standard food supply, which is relatively species-rich in regard to measured crops at the national level, but species-poor globally. These changes in food supplies heighten interdependence among countries in regard to availability and access to these food sources and the genetic resources supporting their production, and give further urgency to nutrition development priorities aimed at bolstering food security.

Reforms in Land Use and Local Finances Will Help Make China’s Urbanization More Efficient

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Reforms in Land Use and Local Finances Will Help Make China’s Urbanization More Efficient
Source: World Bank

  • In the last 30 years, urbanization helped lift half a billion people in China out of poverty
  • Urban strains caused by inefficient urban sprawl are showing
  • New report lays out comprehensive reform agenda toward efficient, inclusive and sustainable urbanization

Speaking of Corporate Social Responsibility

March 24, 2014 Comments off

Speaking of Corporate Social Responsibility
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

We argue that the language spoken by corporate decision makers influences their firms’ social responsibility and sustainability practices. Linguists suggest that obligatory future-time-reference (FTR) in a language reduces the psychological importance of the future. Prior research has shown that speakers of strong FTR languages (such as English, French, and Spanish) exhibit less future-oriented behavior (Chen, 2013). Yet, research has not established how this mechanism may affect the future-oriented activities of corporations. We theorize that companies with strong-FTR languages as their official/working language would have less of a future orientation and so perform worse in future-oriented activities such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) compared to those in weak-FTR language environments. Examining thousands of global companies across 59 countries from 1999 to 2011, we find support for our theory and further that the negative association between FTR and CSR performance is weaker for firms that have greater exposure to diverse global languages as a result of (a) being headquartered in countries with a higher degree of globalization, (b) having a higher degree of internationalization, and (c) having a CEO with more international experience. Our results suggest that language use by corporations is a key cultural variable that is a strong predictor of CSR and sustainability.

Asia — Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth

March 21, 2014 Comments off

Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth
Source: World Bank

Cities in Southeast Asia (SEA) are growing twice as fast as the rest of the world and by 2030, it is expected that 70 percent of SEA population will live in cities. Worldwide, cities account for around two-thirds of global energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While cities have always been the engines of economic growth, now they also hold the key to a sustainable development in SEA. Given their size and dynamic growth, SEA cities today have a unique opportunity to also become global engines of green growth by choosing energy-efficient solutions for their infrastructure needs.

Improving energy efficiency isn’t just good for the environment; it’s good for economic growth, says a World Bank report, “Energizing Green Cities in Southeast Asia – Applying Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning.” According to the report, there is a clear correlation between investments in energy efficient solutions in infrastructure and economic growth, based on a study of three cities – Da Nang in Vietnam, Surabaya in Indonesia and Cebu City in the Philippines. By improving energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions, cities not only help the global environment, but they also support local economic development through productivity gains, reduced pollution, and more efficient use of resources.

Sustainable Energy and Transportation Strategies, Research, and Data

March 8, 2014 Comments off

Sustainable Energy and Transportation Strategies, Research, and Data
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Conference Proceedings on the Web 14: Sustainable Energy and Transportation Strategies, Research, and Data includes summaries of plenary session presentations that were made during a November 2012 conference in Washington, D.C. The conference explored potential research needed to further advance the development of alternatives to petroleum-based transportation and to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Assessing global land use: balancing consumption with sustainable supply

March 7, 2014 Comments off

Assessing global land use: balancing consumption with sustainable supply (PDF)
Source: United Nations Environment Programme

This report explores how the management of land-based biomass production and consumption can be developed towards a higher degree of sustainability across different scales: from the sustainable management of soils on the field to the sustainable management of global land use as a whole.

CRS — Energy-Water Nexus: The Water Sector’s Energy Use

February 11, 2014 Comments off

Energy-Water Nexus: The Water Sector’s Energy Use (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Water and energy are resources that are reciprocally and mutually linked, because meeting energy needs requires water, often in large quantities, for mining, fuel production, hydropower, and power plant cooling, and energy is needed for pumping, treatment, and distribution of water and for collection, treatment, and discharge of wastewater. This interrelationship is often referred to as the energy-water nexus, or the water-energy nexus. There is growing recognition that “saving water saves energy.” Energy efficiency initiatives offer opportunities for delivering significant water savings, and likewise, water efficiency initiatives offer opportunities for delivering significant energy savings. In addition, saving water also reduces carbon emissions by saving energy otherwise generated to move and treat water.

This report provides background on energy for facilities that treat and deliver water to end users and also dispose of and discharge wastewater. Energy use for water is a function of many variables, including water source (surface water pumping typically requires less energy than groundwater pumping), treatment (high ambient quality raw water requires less treatment than brackish or seawater), intended end-use, distri bution (water pumped long distances requires more energy), amount of water loss in the system through leakage and evaporation, and level of wastewater treatment (stringency of water quality regulations to meet discharge standards). Likewise, the intensity of energy use of water, which is the relative amount of energy needed for a task such as pumping water, varies depending on characteristics such as topography (affecting groundwater recharge), climate, seasonal temperature, and rainfall. Most of the energy used for water-related purposes is in the form of electricity. Estimates of water-related energy use range from 4% to perhaps 13% of the nation’s electricity generation, but regional differences can be significant. In California, for example, as much as 19% of the state’s electricity consumption is for pumping, treating, collecting and discharging water and wastewater.

Integrating vegetation and green infrastructure into sustainable transportation planning

January 30, 2014 Comments off

Integrating vegetation and green infrastructure into sustainable transportation planning (PDF)
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Although development patterns that limit urban sprawl and vehicle miles traveled can have a major impact on reducing GHG emissions, these plans, as well as similar proposals in other localities, concen- trate development along major trans it corridors. The result is to increase the local population’s exposure to emissions generated from the high-volume freeways.

Transit-oriented development and similar policies increase the population’s access to services and transportation options and lead to regional reduc- tions in vehicle miles traveled and air pollution. Nonetheless, these practices often bring people closer to the sources of air pollutant emissions, such as traffic activity. As a result, ways to reduce the exposure of people residing and working near high-volume roadways are needed.

A workshop in Sacramento, California, on June 5–6, 2012, gathered a multidisciplinary group of researchers and policy makers to discuss roadside vegetation as an option for mitigating the health impacts of air quality near roads. The following is a summary of the workshop discussions, including an overview of the role that roadside vegetation may play in reducing population exposures to air pollutants emitted by traffic. Roadside vegetation also is examined as a sustainable mitigation option in the context of other potential benefits and disbenefits.

Recycling Best Practices—A Guidebook for Advancing Recycling from Aircraft Cabins

January 15, 2014 Comments off

Recycling Best Practices—A Guidebook for Advancing Recycling from Aircraft Cabins
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 100: Recycling Best Practices—A Guidebook for Advancing Recycling from Aircraft Cabins describes procedures for recycling airport, airline, and flight kitchen waste and includes action plans designed to improve recycling and reduce waste disposal costs for airports of varying sizes and characteristics.

Multimodel assessment of water scarcity under climate change

December 18, 2013 Comments off

Multimodel assessment of water scarcity under climate change
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Water scarcity severely impairs food security and economic prosperity in many countries today. Expected future population changes will, in many countries as well as globally, increase the pressure on available water resources. On the supply side, renewable water resources will be affected by projected changes in precipitation patterns, temperature, and other climate variables. Here we use a large ensemble of global hydrological models (GHMs) forced by five global climate models and the latest greenhouse-gas concentration scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways) to synthesize the current knowledge about climate change impacts on water resources. We show that climate change is likely to exacerbate regional and global water scarcity considerably. In particular, the ensemble average projects that a global warming of 2 °C above present (approximately 2.7 °C above preindustrial) will confront an additional approximate 15% of the global population with a severe decrease in water resources and will increase the number of people living under absolute water scarcity (<500 m3 per capita per year) by another 40% (according to some models, more than 100%) compared with the effect of population growth alone. For some indicators of moderate impacts, the steepest increase is seen between the present day and 2 °C, whereas indicators of very severe impacts increase unabated beyond 2 °C. At the same time, the study highlights large uncertainties associated with these estimates, with both global climate models and GHMs contributing to the spread. GHM uncertainty is particularly dominant in many regions affected by declining water resources, suggesting a high potential for improved water resource projections through hydrological model development.

CRS — U.S.-Mexico Water Sharing: Background and Recent Developments

November 26, 2013 Comments off

U.S.-Mexico Water Sharing: Background and Recent Developments (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States and Mexico share the Colorado River and Rio Grande pursuant to binational agreements. Compliance with these agreements becomes more complicated and controversial as water demands near or exceed available supplies and when drought and high heat further reduce availability and increase demand.

Benefits and Costs of Energy Standard Adoption in New Commercial Buildings: State-by-State Summaries

November 12, 2013 Comments off

Benefits and Costs of Energy Standard Adoption in New Commercial Buildings: State-by-State Summaries
Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Energy efficiency requirements in current commercial building energy codes vary across states. Energy standards that are currently adopted by states range from ASHRAE 90.1 1999 to ASHRAE 90.1 2007. Some states do not have a code requirement for energy efficiency, leaving it up to the locality or jurisdiction to set their own requirements. The six National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publications (1147, 1148-1, 1148-2, 1148-3, and 1148-4) use the Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability (BIRDS) database to analyze the impacts that the adoption of newer, more efficient commercial building energy codes would have on building energy use, operational energy costs, building life-cycle costs, and energy related carbon emissions for each state by Census Region. This study summarizes the results from the series of documents for each of the 50 states into a two-page section.

Army 2020 and Beyond Sustainment White Paper

October 31, 2013 Comments off

Army 2020 and Beyond Sustainment White Paper (PDF)
Source: U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command

Our nation and armed forces are transitioning from more than a decade of war to a future that presents us with a range of challenges. Significant change in security policy over the past 18 months, combined with fiscal uncertainty means that we must re-think how the Army sustains itself in the next war, particularly as we transition from being an Army at war to an Army in preparation for the next conflict.

This white paper is a key document for change in the sustainment community and will inform both the revision of the Army Functional Concept for Sustainment and the broader force modernization process. It leverages the Global Logistics 2020 effort, looking at the contemporary issues that will drive change in how the sustainment community shapes the future. It provides a broader, integrated view of national strategic issues, the industrial base, the generating force, and the operating force executing sustainment activities in support of the warfighter.

This white paper proposes an approach called Globally Responsive Sustainment. This approach identifies a range of attributes that will shape the future sustainment force. It follows the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations, which describes the need for Globally Integrated Operations. Globally Responsive Sustainment is the Army’s contribution to meeting the need of Globally Integrated Operations. Globally Responsive Sustainment seeks to produce a sustainment system that is optimized, integrated, and synchronized, while ensuring that it is affordable, relevant, and avoids unnecessary redundancy. Globally Responsive Sustainment proposes a future sustainment force that is agile and flexible, integrated, protected, trained and ready, precise and responsive, and affordable. Although much of this approach for the future has yet to be realized, the “Big Ideas” that the sustainment community is pursuing have been identified in this white paper. These will evolve toward our vision of Globally Responsive Sustainment.

Reducing Livability: How Sustainability Planning Threatens the American Dream

October 31, 2013 Comments off

Reducing Livability: How Sustainability Planning Threatens the American Dream
Source: Cato Institute

In response to state laws and federal incentives, cities and metropolitan areas across the country are engaged in “sustainability planning” aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In many if not most cases, this planning seeks to reshape urban areas to reduce the amount of driving people do. In general, this means increasing urban population densities and in particular replacing low-density neighborhoods in transit corridors with dense, mixed-use developments. Such planning tramples on property rights and personal preferences. To increase urban area densities, planners use containment policies such as urban-growth boundaries or greenbelts.

Owners of land outside these boundaries are restricted from developing their land. Inside the boundaries, housing prices rise, making homeownership in general, and single-family homes in particular, unaffordable to large numbers of people.

Surveys show that people of all age groups aspire to own and live in a single-family home with a yard. Yet planners in Portland, San Francisco, and other urban areas seek to reduce the share of households living in single-family homes to well below 50 percent. They are doing this by restricting the construction of single-family homes while subsidizing multifamily housing. To make matters worse, these policies are simply not effective at reducing green house gas emissions. Plan Bay Area, a plan recently approved for the nine-county San Francisco–Oakland–San Jose metropolitan area, proposes to spend $14 billion in subsidies for high density housing and $5 billion in subsidies for rail transit. Yet the combined effect of these subsidies will be to reduce the region’s green house gas emissions by less than 2 percent, at a cost of nearly $1,200 per ton of abated emissions. By contrast, a separate “climate initiative” program for the region includes projects such as car sharing, van pooling, and incentives for people to buy more fuel-efficient cars. It is expected to reduce the region’s emissions by nearly 3 percent, at a cost of just $22 per ton of abated emissions. Planners are undiscouraged by the wastefulness of their density-and-transit programs.

Laws passed in California, Florida, Oregon, and Washington require cities to implement such programs no matter how costly, and the Obama administration is offering cities in other states grants to encourage them to write such plans as well. These plans should be abandoned because they intrude on property rights and personal housing preferences and are cost-ineffective at saving energy and reducing emissions.

What do leading companies and investors really think about climate change?

October 16, 2013 Comments off

What do leading companies and investors really think about climate change?
Source: PriceWaterhouseCoopers
What do companies and investors think about climate change? Results from the Carbon Disclosure Project point to an increased focus on embedding sustainability into the business, measuring the results, and taking a holistic approach to business strategy and operations.

2013 Ocean Health Index

October 16, 2013 Comments off

2013 Ocean Health Index
Source: University of California-Santa Barbara
From press release:

In the 2013 Ocean Health Index (OHI) –– an annual assessment of ocean health led by Ben Halpern, a research associate at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management –– scientists point to food provision as the factor that continues to require serious attention.

The OHI defines a healthy ocean as one that sustainably delivers a range of benefits to people now and in the future based on 10 diverse public goals. The 2013 score of 65 out of 100 demonstrates the ongoing need for more effective management of this precious resource.

Present and future nitrogen deposition to national parks in the United States: critical load exceedances

October 13, 2013 Comments off

Present and future nitrogen deposition to national parks in the United States: critical load exceedances
Source: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

National parks in the United States are protected areas wherein the natural habitat is to be conserved for future generations. Deposition of anthropogenic nitrogen (N) transported from areas of human activity (fuel combustion, agriculture) may affect these natural habitats if it exceeds an ecosystem-dependent critical load (CL). We quantify and interpret the deposition to Class I US national parks for present-day and future (2050) conditions using the GEOS-Chem global chemical transport model with 1/2° × 2/3° horizontal resolution over North America. We estimate CL values in the range 2.5–5 kg N ha−1 yr−1 for the different parks to protect the most sensitive ecosystem receptors. For present-day conditions, we find 24 out of 45 parks to be in CL exceedance and 14 more to be marginally so. Many of these are in remote areas of the West. Most (40–85%) of the deposition originates from NOx emissions (fuel combustion). We project future changes in N deposition using representative concentration pathway (RCP) anthropogenic emission scenarios for 2050. These feature 52–73% declines in US NOx emissions relative to present but 19–50% increases in US ammonia (NH3) emissions. Nitrogen deposition at US national parks then becomes dominated by domestic NH3 emissions. While deposition decreases in the East relative to present, there is little progress in the West and increases in some regions. We find that 17–25 US national parks will have CL exceedances in 2050 based on the RCP8.5 and RCP2.6 scenarios. Even in total absence of anthropogenic NOx emissions, 14–18 parks would still have a CL exceedance. Returning all parks to N deposition below CL by 2050 would require at least a 50% decrease in US anthropogenic NH3 emissions relative to RCP-projected 2050 levels.

Careers in Water Conservation

September 24, 2013 Comments off

Careers in Water Conservation (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Water is society’s most valuable resource. Without it, we cannot sustain life. Water is also important to the wildlife, including fish, migrating waterfowl, and other animal species, that need water to survive.

However, our supply of fresh water is limited. Fresh water makes up less than 3 percent of the water on the Earth’s surface, but most of this water is trapped in polar ice caps, glaciers, or located in very remote areas. This means humans have access to about 1 percent of the water on Earth. Water conservation pertains mostly to fresh water, because it is a limited resource. Although it is important to protect other types of water, fresh water is vital for civilization. Water conservation helps to ensure that available water supplies are used in the most efficient ways possible. Individuals and households can conserve water, as can businesses, and local, regional, and federal governments practice and encourage water conservation as well. Water conservation focuses on household, municipal, commercial, industrial, and agricultural water use.

This report describes where water comes from in the first section, and explains what water conservation is in the second section, who has a role in conserving water in the third section, and how water is conserved in the fourth section. The fifth section profiles key occupations in water conservation. The information for each occupation includes a brief job description; the credentials needed to work in these occupations, such as education, training, certification, or licensure; and wage data.


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