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October 25, 2012

Experts warn ‘archaic’ practices are hampering green IT efforts

According to a major new industry-backed report, businesses are wasting billions of pounds every year by cooling their datacenters far more than is necessary due to an ‘archaic’ view of the environmental tolerance of modern equipment.

The Green Grid group released “Data Centre Efficiency & IT Equipment Reliability”, a report that indicates that datacenters can run at significantly higher temperatures and humidity levels than the current norm “without affecting overall equipment failure rates”, potentially delivering huge savings in terms of energy bills and carbon emissions.

“The common perception of IT network, server and storage equipment is that it operates within very tight environment tolerances, but this is a belief based on datacenter practices from the 1950s,” said Harkeeret Singh, contributor to the report. The report concludes that based on historical data, “datacenters can achieve operation cost savings without substantially affecting IT reliability or service availability by adopting a suitable environmental control regime that mitigates the effect of short-duration operation at higher temperatures.”

According to some estimates, datacenters account for one to three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with cooling one of the most energy-demanding aspects of typical server farm infrastructure.

Read more at BusinessGreen.


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October 25, 2012

UK makes biggest emission cuts in Europe

UK has cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than any other European country last year, over-achieving on targets under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. France and Germany also made sizeable cuts in emissions but Spain and Italy are lagging and are in danger of missing their Kyoto targets.

The EU as a whole will meet its target under the 1997 treaty which required developed countries to cut their emissions by a total of just over 5% from 1990 levels by the end of 2012. Currently, EU member states are the only major countries pledging to continue the Kyoto Protocol beyond the end of this year when its current provisions expire. If countries cannot cut their own emissions sufficiently, their only option is to buy “carbon credits” under the United Nations’ emissions trading system. However, this could represent a substantial cost for economies that are falling behind.

“The European Union as a whole will over-deliver on its Kyoto target,” said Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency. “In two months’ time, we will be at the end of the first commitment period under the Kyoto protocol. Considerable progress has been made since 1997 but all member states need to deliver on their plans.”

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.


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October 25, 2012

Pollution as big a health problem as malaria or TB, finds report

A new report has found that waste from mining, lead smelters, industrial dumps and other toxic sites affects the health of an estimated 125 million people in 49 low- and middle-income countries. This unrecognized health burden is on the same scale of malaria or tuberculosis (TB).

This year’s World’s Worst Pollution Problems report was published by the Blacksmith Institute in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland documenting the public health impact of industrial pollutants ? lead, mercury, chromium, radionuclides and pesticides in the air, water and soil of developing countries.

The health impact of exposure to these toxins at the 2,600 sites identified in the report was estimated using the disability adjusted life years (DALYs) metric which the World Health Organization (WHO) and other bodies use to measure overall disease burden. The metric is expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death, with one DALY equivalent to one lost year in healthy life. The estimate for the impact of the pollution from toxic sites is 17m DALYs which is greater than malaria’s annual toll of 14m DALYs, according to WHO.

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.


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October 25, 2012

World Bank urges nations to end ‘wasteful’ gas flaring

New estimates show that gas flaring in 20 of the world’s major oil-producing countries contributes as much to climate change as a major economy like Italy. While flaring has been cut by 30% since 2005, $50bn worth of gas is still wasted annually, says the World Bank.

Introduction of bans, fines and newer technology in oil fields has significantly reduced the pollution and waste in some countries but has failed in others. Azerbaijan has cut flaring by 50% in two years, Mexico by 66% and Kuwait now only flares 1% of its excess gas. Other countries like Qatar and the Democratic Republic of Congo now use large volumes of previously wasted gas to generate electricity.

The bank’s estimates show that flaring was reduced to 172bn cubic meters in 2007 to 142bn cubic meters in 2011. However, most of the reduction came between 2005-2007 and only six of the world’s big 20 oil-producing countries managed to reduce flaring in 2011. Oil companies agreed that the waste of the gas from flaring is a problem as this could be used to generate power but also said that it needed time, money and technology as well as infrastructure developments by host countries in order to make cuts.

“Gas flares are nothing short of crimes against humanity. They roast the skies, kill crops and poison the air. These gas stacks pump up greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, impacting the climate, placing everyone at risk. Gas flares goes on because it is cheap to kill, as long as profits keep on the rise,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Director of Lagos-based Environmental Rights Action and Chair of Friends of the Earth International.

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.

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October 23, 2012

Vietnam province targets 25% power mix from renewables

Vietnam’s Dak Lak Province is aiming to make renewable energy account for 25 percent of its energy mix by 2015 through a combination of hydro, solar, biomass and wind. Although lacking in major population centers or vast rice fields like other Vietnam provinces, officials say that Dak Lak possess major potential for developing renewable energy.

The Dak Lak Province Department of Industry and Trade’s statistics reported that as of August, the province had commissioned 12 small hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 73.14MW, three small to medium-sized hydropower plants now in construction and another eight are in the planning stages.

Dak Lak also began moving into solar energy and now has all 180 household in Cham Hamlet in Ea H’leo District with access to solar power. A large-scale solar battery installation plan has also been submitted and if approved, would provide about 100kWh of solar power to every household in 33 provincial hamlets.

According to the provincial agriculture extension center, Dak Lak had trained 21 biogas plant technicians and construction workers to help with the national biogas project which funded 3,947 biogas plants. Provincial residents also constructed 6,000 biogas plants taking the total number up to 10,000 in the province. The province has abundant firewood, bagasse, wood scraps, sawdust and agricultural by-products which could be exploited to create energy from biomass.

Infrastructure investment and urban business joint stock company from Hanoi has installed two wind measure towers to exploit wind power potential in Dak Lak while similar projects are also being carried out by the Binh Thuan wind power joint stock company.

Read more at CleanBizAsia.


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October 18, 2012

Greenwire £6bn plan to import Irish wind power

The UK government is considering plans to import wind power from Ireland to the National Grid via cables under the Irish Sea to north and west Wales.

Element Power said the Irish-based giant wind farms in its Greenwire plan could power three million UK homes and the £6bn scheme could save consumers billions of pounds as it is cheaper than off shore wind generation. With the UK government committed to achieving 15% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, Element Power has told BBC Wales that this plan could provide up to 10% of that target.

Under the plan, 40 wind farms with a total of 700 wind turbines would be based in Bog of Allen in the midlands of Ireland and the electricity would be sent under the Irish sea. The cables would resurface at two locations in Wales, Pentir near Caernarfon and Pembroke, which are both located near existing power stations, substations and pylons.

This wind is surplus to Ireland’s requirements and is a great export opportunity for Ireland. It will also create lots of jobs, lots of economic benefits for the UK. Mike O’Neill, President of Element Power, describes the scheme as a “win-win situation”.

Read more at BBC News.

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October 18, 2012

EU acts against harm from biofuel crops

European Commission says that clearing land in order to plant biofuel crops can often cancel out the environmental benefits from biofuel. Clearing land to plant food for biofuel releases greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide (CO2) through ploughing and can involve deforestation, which reduces the “carbon sinks” ? the trees that absorb CO2.

The EU is putting a 5% cap on food-based biofuel allowed in the renewable energy used in transport with the total renewable energy target for transport is 10% by 2020. By requiring new biofuel installations to meet a minimum of 60% threshold in terms of efficiency in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, EU is now trying to shift biofuel production from food crops to farm waste, algae, and straw.

Read more at BBC News.

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October 18, 2012

Accounting for the values of ecosystems can play key role in efforts to achieve international biodiversity targets

According to a new series of guides published by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), assessing and taking into account the economic, social and cultural value of ecosystems and biodiversity can play a key role in efforts to achieve international biodiversity targets.

The TEEB guides were developed by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research ? UFZ on behalf of the German Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and focuses on three of the so-called “Aichi Targets”, a set of 20 biodiversity goals agreed by governments under the CBD in 2010.
> Biodiversity and National Planning
> Subsidies and Incentives
> Biodiversity and Protected Areas

The guides provide practical support for national governments, regional policy-makers, and other groups in making use of the finding of TEEB to support efforts to achieve the Aichi targets by 2020. They summarize key findings and recommendations from major TEEB studies relating to the Aichi targets as well as case studies, lessons learned and links to other studies and relevant publications.

Read more at UNEP.

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October 16, 2012

Singapore 1st to mandate green standards for old buildings

For the second half of next year, all building owners in Singapore will have to comply with the city state’s Green Mark standards, following an amendment to the Building Control Act.

The act already requires new buildings with gross floor area of more than 2,000 sqm to achieve a Green mark certified rating. Now, with the new amendment, older buildings ? starting with hotels, retail and office buildings with a minimum gross floor area of 15,000 sqm are being obliged to fulfill three requirements:
> Achieve minimum Green Mark standard for existing buildings when a cooling system is installed or retrofitted
> Carry out three-yearly energy audit on building cooling systems
> Submit building information and energy consumption data annually

Dr. John Keung, CEO of Singapore’s Building Construction Authority, explains: “A building cooling system consumes about 30 to 50 percent of the building total energy consumption with a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Since building owners have to change their cooling system when they are running out of their useful life, they should ensure that the replacement systems are more energy efficient to last another 15 years or more. The payback period for such retrofitting work can be as short at three to seven years, depending on the extent of the retrofitting work. After the payback, the rest is net gain by the owner.”

Read more at CleanBiz.

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October 16, 2012

WBCSD launches program to drive effective ecosystems management among Indian industry

In the context of the COP11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India (8-19 October 2012), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) announces the development of a “Business Ecosystems Training India” (BET India) program. The initiative aims to advance companies’ knowledge and build practical skills related to biodiversity and ecosystems in India.

With the rapid expansion of India’s industry, many companies are facing ecosystem-related challenges that result in operational shut down due to resource constraints or negative impacts on operation costs due to degraded environment. Companies need to understand how they impact and depend upon ecosystems and the services that they provide.

For that purpose, BET India builds on the existing global BET program released by WBCSD in collaboration with an advisory committee that brings together some of the world’s largest companies, NGOs, UN related organizations, and academic institutions. BET India will comprise the development of an India-specific training material covering Indian public policies and case studies from companies with operations in India.

Read more at WBCSD.

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October 11, 2012

US researchers map carbon emissions at street level

US scientists have developed a new software that can accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions down to individual buildings and streets. The system combines information from public databases with traffic simulations and energy consumption models. Researchers believe that it could help identify the most effective places to cut emissions and could aid international efforts to verify reductions in carbon.

The new measuring system, Hestia, uses data from a number of sources including air pollution report, traffic counts and tax offices and the combines this with a modeling system for quantifying CO2 emissions down to individual building levels.

“We can go to any city in the US and do the quantification and we know it will be utterly consistent from city to city and consistent from city all the way up to nation level,” says Dr. Kevin Gurney, one of the leaders of the project.

The scientists behind the system say it can be extremely used for cities, helping them to target where to make emission cuts. And once those cuts have been made, the system can verify their effect. Verification is also a hugely contentious issue at international negotiations on global climate treaties.

Read more at BBC.

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October 10, 2012

PepsiCo launches new Facebook-inspired carbon calculator

For a company like PepsiCo which oversees more than 20 brands and hundreds of different products around the world, calculating the carbon footprint of just one of its products can take weeks, and at a significant cost to the company. To save time and money, PepsiCo teamed up with researchers from Columbia University’s Earth Institute to create a tool that can measure the carbon footprint of thousands of products all at once.

The calculator was developed to follow carbon footprinting standards such as GHG Protocol Product Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) standard and PAS20:2011. The methodology and software helps businesses identify which materials or activities in their supply chain and operations have the biggest effect on the total carbon footprint of one of their products, product lines, brands or regions. The tool also provides certifiable product footprints to be used in ecolabeling and for environmental measure groups such as The Sustainability Consortium and GoodGuide.

The new tool “dramatically reduces the time and effort as well as required LCA expertise that company employees or outside consultants have to spend on the tool and its associated databases before it can spit out any meaningful carbon results,” said Pepsi’s TerKuile.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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October 10, 2012

How California is harnessing P2 to make safer products

The Pollution Prevention Act marked a significant change in how US companies manage hazardous waste twenty-two years ago as it was shifted from an “end of pipe” approach to controlling chemical hazards at their source which gave a major change in how people think about protecting human health and preserving the environment.

Building on the foundational efforts of several countries and at least four states, California has released the nation’s first comprehensive approach for reducing toxics in its products. The proposed Safer Consumer Products Regulation requires manufacturers to ask the questions: “Is this toxic ingredient necessary?” and “Is there a safer alternative?”

Instead of reducing the use of chemicals that threaten health and contaminate the environment, the new approach mandates the rethinking of ingredients during the design phase of the product and that is a fundamental change in the way toxics in consumer products are being regulated. If a safer alternative is not feasible or cannot be found, the department is now authorized to impost a number of regulatory responses including mandating end-of-life management, use restrictions, engineering or administrative controls, the funding of research to design safer alternatives and ultimately a ban on sales in California.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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October 10, 2012

The first European film festival dedicated to the Green Economy 9-23 October ? online & in Brussels

The Green Up Film Festival is about to engage all Europeans in the first ever online documentary film festival.

For 15 days, Europeans can view 26 documentaries on topics relevant to Green Economy including sustainable development, rational consumption, and fair trade via streaming free of charge from the festival website. The films and the festival website invites viewers to learn and reflect on what they can do to help preserve our environment.

“As we can no longer disassociate the economy and the environment in a globalised, growing and changing world, the Green Economy presents itself as an overarching theme that merits promotion,” explains Anne-Laure Detilleux, Festival Director.

Read more at UNEP.

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October 9, 2012

Puma launches biodegradable shoes to aid nature, lift sales

German sportswear company Puma, announced a range of biodegradable shoes and clothes on Monday, seeking to lead in protecting nature as it tries to catch up with rivals Nike and Adidas in sales. The new collection which is going on sale in 2013, includes biodegradable sneakers and shirts and recyclable plastic track jackets and backpacks which at the end of their useful life, the products can be returned to stores for processing.

Chief Executive Franz Koch said “biodegradable” did not mean that the products were not durable. “You can’t just dispose of it in the garden at home, dig a hole and hope that a tree is going to come out,” he said. The sole of the sneaker would be made of biodegradable plastic and the upper of organic cotton and linen. After going through a shredder, it could become compost in six to nine months.

The company also said that it was starting to rate the environmental impact of individual products. A new biodegradable T-shirt, for instance, would have environmental costs of 2.36 euros in terms of greenhouse gases, water, waste, air pollution, and land use associated with its production, compared to 3.42 euros for a conventional T-shirt. The numbers aim to help make consumers aware of the environmental impact of their choices and guide them to less damaging options.

Read more at Eco Business.

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October 9, 2012

Beijing air quality to be better monitored

Beijing authorities have completed a network of monitors that will more accurately measure air quality in the smog-ridden city after being pushed into by public pressure and pollution reports from the US embassy.

Chinese citizens have prodded their government into publishing more detailed pollution data since the US embassy started publishing PM2.5 readings from its rooftop on Twitter. PM2.5 are tiny pollution particles that may result from the burning of fuels in vehicles and power plants that can penetrate deep into the lungs that can cause respiratory damage.

Beijing started releasing PM2.5 data in January and now, a total of 35 monitoring stations have been set up in central Beijing and its suburbs including favorite tourist attractions. The monitors will run for a three-month trial with PM2.5 being formally used to monitor the city’s air quality rather than relying on the larger particles it currently measures.

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.

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October 4, 2012

Vietnam unveils its Green Growth strategy

Vietnam has outlined its commitment to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions with the implementation of the Green Growth strategy as approved by the Prime Minister last week. The strategy sets a number of targets for improving the environmental situation of the country between now and 2020 by reducing its GHG emissions by 8 to 10 percent based on 2010 levels.

The Director of the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment, Nguyen Van Tai, said that although GHG emissions in Vietnam has been increasing rapidly in the past few decades, it still remains low compared with other developed countries. “Technically, Vietnam has not been subject to any international mandatory obligations to cut down its emission level. However, Vietnam has formulated its Green Growth strategy on its own initiative to make use of international assistance on this issue,” Tai said.

The strategy outlines a number of key measures to achieve this target. The main plan is for energy use to be more efficient with the reduction of energy consumption in industrial activities, transport and commerce which is hoped to be achieved via technology renovation, adaptation of advanced operation process and development of modern infrastructure.

Read more at CleanBiz and VietNamNet.

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October 4, 2012

Plan to build UK’s first building entirely out of waste

The UK’s first building to be made entirely out of waste is to be built in Brighton this autumn. The building is designed by Brighton-based architect, Duncan Baker-Brown, and will be built on the University of Brighton’s campus in the city center made from waste and surplus material from local building sites and other local industries.

“There is a huge pile of construction waste that’s building up in this country and to ignore it is quite frankly sinful,” said Baker-Brown, co-founder of BBM Sustainable Design and the senior lecturer at the arts faculty. “Through this project we are going to show that there is no such thing as waste.”

The building will feature the latest eco technologies such as fully integrated solar panels, whole-house ventilation and a heat recovery system. It will be used as a pilot for prototype construction systems, components and technologies. It will also contain an exhibition and workshop space for use by local community groups and the upstairs will be the university’s headquarters for sustainable design.

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.

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October 2, 2012

After years of pondering, FTC releases marketers’ Green Guides

After nearly five years of deliberations, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finally issued the revised “Green Guide” aimed at helping marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive.

The revision now includes updates to the existing guides as well as new sections on the use of carbon offsets, environmental certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims. The FTC also modified and clarified sections of the previous guides and provided new guidance on environmental claims that were not common when the guides were last reviewed.

Among other modifications, the guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” or “green” because the FTC’s consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits. The commission notes, “Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.”

FTC also released several business and consumer education resources designed to help users understand the Guides such as “Environemental Claims: Summary of Green Guides”and “The Green Guides, a video explaining the highlights of the changes”.

Read more at CleanBiz.

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October 1, 2012

ADB provides $600M for eco-friendly projects in China

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing USD600 million for a package of green projects that will transform waste into clean energy, reduce CO2 emissions, expand eco-friendly transport, and protect fragile wetland areas in fast-growing second-tier cities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“These four projects support PRC’s transition to a lower-carbon growth path built on a long-term commitment to green urbanization, better energy efficiency and environmental preservation,” said Robert Wihtol, Director General of ADB’s East Asia Department. “We still have a long way to go but with forward-looking planning and investment, the Chinese cities of the future can have clean air, blue skies, clean water and more green areas.”

The USD600 million is broken down into several projects: USD 200 million for the development of biomass power plants, USD 150 million for district heating systems, USD 100 million for infrastructure development for pedestrians and bicycle riders, and USD 150 million to facilitate sustainable urbanization of emerging towns.

Read more at CleanBiz.

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