24
Sat, Feb

  • Chevrolet's Carbon Initiative Program, Part Two

    In the U.S., the best wind resources are in the Northern Plains – but it’s virtually impossible for a single individual to build a multi-million dollar turbine. But if a group of individuals come together, they can work with an enterprising electric company to create a community- supported wind farm. As part of its Carbon Initiative Program, Chevrolet is supporting the Crow Lake Wind Project, a 108 turbine, 162 MW wind project owned by the Basin Electric Cooperative, a public power entity serving rural cooperative power customers principally in the north central plains states. The project was built utilizing a first-of-its-kind community wind investment partnership. In addition, this is the largest project currently operational in South Dakota. The first 100 turbines, owned by Basin Electric Cooperative, enabled the two smaller projects to be developed. Seven turbines are owned by a group of around one hundred local community investors (farmers, ranchers, local businesses). The last turbine is owned by the Mitchell Technical Institute, a school providing vocational education to local students – including training in construction, operations and maintenance of wind farms. Fully operational since February 2011, the Crow Lake Wind Project introduces wind energy into a system heavily dependent on conventional coal combustion, diversifying the resource base. It also supplies and supports rural consumer-owned electric cooperatives and creates community jobs in construction and operations. >> Read the Full Article
  • Revenge of the internal combustion engine

    At the Chevrolet dealership here, customers want to see and touch the Volt, the gasoline-electric hybrid hailed by enthusiasts as the kind of innovation that could secure the future of General Motors. But they usually kick the Volt's tires and move on, often to a Cruze. The compact Chevy gets up to 42 miles per gallon, and you can buy two of them for the cost of one $40,000 Volt. Call it the revenge of the internal combustion engine. Major automakers and the Obama administration have bet heavily on hybrids and pure electric vehicles. But new and more efficient gas engines are winning on the showroom floor, an inconvenient truth that could slow the acceptance of electric cars. "They come in to look at a Cruze. They drive a Volt. They go back to the Cruze. It really helps us with sales of the Cruze," said Michael Mosser, general manager of Suburban Chevrolet of Ann Arbor. The plug-in Volt has become General Motors Co's high-mileage halo car. But the hybrid has also been outsold by its simpler sibling by 200 to 1. Globally, GM has sold about 5,000 Volts versus 1 million Cruzes. >> Read the Full Article
  • International Sustainability Standards: Pros and Cons

    Sustainability is an economic, social, and ecological concept. It is intended to be a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society and its members are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals indefinitely. Sustainability affects every level of organization, from the local neighborhood to the entire globe. With that said how do you specifically define what is sustainable? Economic needs are fairly easy to figure out; ultimately it is do you make a profit or not. Social needs will depend on the society involved and every society is different. There is a difference between urban and rural needs for example much less North Africa, China, and the US. Ecological standards will also vary because it is far from clear how much resilience that an ecosystem has and as a result there will be constant and shifting debate on those standards. Over the past two decades a growing number of voluntary sustainability initiatives and other multi-stakeholder alliances have emerged to improve the livelihoods of the millions of commodity-dependent producers and manufacturers around the world. The growth of such initiatives represents an important opportunity for all stakeholders to participate in the greening of global supply chains and improvement of producer livelihoods. The multiplication of these initiatives makes it increasingly challenging for all stakeholders to stay abreast of the latest developments and best practices across the voluntary sector. Moreover, it is exceedingly difficult to assess their utility and performance, let alone the steps required to mainstream best practice. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate change imperils global prosperity, UN warns

    A new report from the United Nations Development Program warns that if drastic measures are not taken to prepare nations for the impacts of climate change, the economic progress of the world's developing countries could stall or even be reversed by 2050. This year's annual report, approaches the issue of climate change and environmental degradation from the standpoint of economic development and the eradication of poverty. "Even if someone's a climate skeptic, this report says, 'Put that aside for a second,' " said William Orme, a spokesman for the United Nations agency. "If you believe in something like a moral commitment to the global community and in getting people out of poverty, we must address these environmental problems." Each region of the world faces unique challenges between now and 2050, the report warns, but most are linked to environmental complications arising from climate change. >> Read the Full Article
  • Enterprise Leads the Car Rental Market with its First Ever Sustainability Report

    The car rental market is one of the markets that are constantly getting greener, offering a growing number of green services from the newest electric cars to car sharing programs. Yet surprisingly, none of the major car rental companies, until now, have published a sustainability report. Well, that was true until last week when Enterprise Holdings (which owns and operates the Alamo, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car brands) took the lead and announced the release of its first ever sustainability report. >> Read the Full Article
  • Toymaker Hasbro cuts deforestation from its supply chain

    Hasbro, the second largest American toy company, today announced a new packaging policy that excludes the use of fiber produced via destruction of rainforests, reports Greenpeace. The policy requires suppliers of forest products to "demonstrate compliance with all applicable international and national legal requirements for forest management, harvest, manufacturing and trade." It mandates third party verification of legality in cases when a supplier is sourcing from areas determined to be "high risk" for illegal logging. >> Read the Full Article
  • Chrysler Touts Turnaround, Emissions, Diversity in Sustainability Report

    Having endured a painful restructuring, Chrysler Group LLC for now is on the path towards recovery. The company, of which Italy-based Fiat owns a majority stake, released its first ever sustainability report last week. The 100-plus page report, written using the Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) sustainability reporting framework, is a solid first start towards Chrysler sharing its environmental, social and governance performance. The report lucidly responds to its internal and external stakeholders, and answers a bevy of questions on issues from concerns over its long term viability to fuel economy and vehicle emissions. >> Read the Full Article
  • Everything you might want to know about Carbon Offsets

    Companies, and individuals concerned with their impact on climate try a number of measures to reduce their emissions of air pollutants which impact the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is the reality that our atmosphere traps a portion of the heat we get from the sun, and from fires (both natural and man made) and other anthropgenic heat sources. Some of the gasses released by our industrialization, home heating and cooling, and transportation activities contribute to the atmosphere trapping more heat than would occur in the absence of these activities. There are emissions which CANNOT be eliminated or reduced as much as we would like. For these, companies turn to Carbon Offsets. What are Carbon Offsets? When companies or individuals purchase Carbon Offsets they are paying someone else to reduce THEIR carbon emissions (a major contributor to global warming). There are companies which assist other companies and individuals in purchasing Carbon Offsets. As in any new market, there is a learning curve for participants. Are the offsets real, are the being sold more than once? These and other questions illustrate how much needs to be learned. >> Read the Full Article
  • Why Population Matters to the environment

    Environmentalists agree on the issues facing us, including collapsing diversity, climate change and resource insecurity. We also agree on the causal factors, including pollution, invasive species, resource over-exploitation, waste, population growth, global industrialisation, unsustainable consumption and poor business practices. Solutions are harder. None will solve all our problems and all face obstacles and opposition. Technological solutions, such as biofuels, fracking, shale oil, GM foods and nuclear have side effects, while renewables have limited scope. Environmentally conscious lifestyles, including less waste, travel and consumption, are increasingly adopted, but the impact may by limited given the billions seeking to improve their low living standards. Changes to corporate and governmental practices have occurred, but are far from universal, particularly in the developing world. In my lifetime, human numbers have grown from 3 billion in 1960 to 7 billion today. By 2085, they are projected to grow to 10 billion. One can argue about the impact this makes, but it clearly does not help. We believe that a smaller population would help us to preserve the environment and live within the limit of renewable resources, as part of a comprehensive approach to the environment and sustainability. Most would agree that improving living standards for the poor, women's rights and access to health, including family planning, are desirable and they all tend to lead to women choosing to have smaller families. We would argue that aid for family planning to developing countries should be prioritised, both for environmental reasons and because it contributes to poverty alleviation, women’s empowerment and better health. While individual consumption in those countries is low, growing populations do affect the environment and they will not always be poor as the world industrialises. >> Read the Full Article
  • Nest Learning Thermostat: Shiny Toy or Serious Tool?

    It looks a bit like a hockey puck, but it's designed to keep your home warm in the winter, while cooling it in the summer. But while it is indeed slick, it's a lot smarter than a hockey puck; so smart, in fact that it can learn. I'm talking, of course, of the Nest Learning Thermostat. >> Read the Full Article