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June 29, 2013

Empire State building retrofit lights the way for new projects

Energy efficiency upgrades to New York City’s Empire State Building have been so successful that they are seen as a model for building retrofits being rolled out across the United States. For the second consecutive year, the building exceeded its “guaranteed energy savings.” In 2011, the Empire State Building beats its year-one energy-efficiency guarantee by 5 percent, saving $2.4 million, and in year two, it beat it by almost 4 percent.

The upgrade focused on eight key areas: refurbishing all 6,514 windows; installing insulation behind all radiators; a chiller plant retrofit; new building management system controls; new revenue-grade meters serving the entire building; and a web-based tenant energy management system. They also upgraded to 100 percent LED lighting, and each of the 68 elevators are 30 percent more efficient and can send excess energy back to the building’s grid.

The core building retrofit is completed except for the build-out of high-performance space for new tenants. Once that’s finished, $4.4 million is expected to be saved each year, about a 38 percent cut in energy consumption. In total, the retrofit will cost $550 million. Johnson Controls guaranteed the energy savings through a $20 million performance contract; the retrofit is paid through the energy saved over the life of the contract. If the savings aren’t realized, Johnson Controls pays the difference.

In 2009, the building was retrofitted under the Clinton Climate Initiative Cities program and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. A coalition of leading organizations focused on energy efficiency and sustainability was assembled to develop the program, including the Empire State Building, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle and Rocky Mountain Institute.

Now, Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle are rolling out the program across the U.S. They jointly implemented the program at all 13 properties in Malkin Holdings NYC-area commercial portfolio and One Worldwide Plaza in New York. Separately, they have replicated the model at 70 commercial buildings.

“The success from the Empire State Building retrofit project further demonstrates that thoughtfully applied energy-efficiency investments can deliver unparalleled returns through a combination of lower energy, lower operating costs, and increased building valuation,” says Iain Campbell, Vice President of Global Energy and WorkPlace Solutions for Johnson Controls Building Efficiency. “When implemented under a performance contract, the energy savings are guaranteed, ensuring a no-ris investment and a smart business decision.”

Read more at GreenBiz.

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June 26, 2013

Businesses now generating £80m of onsite renewable energy a year

According to a new report by utility SmartestEnergy, the number of independently-owned green energy projects boasting at least 50kW of capacity increased by 24 percent to 2011 last year. These commercial scale projects now have a combined capacity of more than 4.7GW, generating £768m worth of power, and accounting for 12 percent of all renewable energy generation in the UK.

Specifically, the number of onsite projects developed by businesses on manufacturing or retail sites increased by 53 percent and generated more than £80m worth of electricity, according to the report, which is based on an analysis of figures from Ofgem. The food and drink industry, manufacturing and retail sectors delivered strong growth for the onsite renewable sector, as they looked to drive down energy bills and take advantage of feed-in tariff incentives.

Solar power accounted for nearly half of the new onsite capacity, while wind turbines accounted for 37 percent of new capacity. But the biggest increase in independent generation last year came from farms, where 347 new projects represented a 74 percent increase on 2011, generating more than £22m of revenue for the agricultural sector. Most of the new projects installed last year were onshore wind turbines.

Ian Robertson, SmartestEnergy head of generation, said the report highlighted the rapid growth being seen in the independent generation sector. “For businesses and organizations faced with steep rises in energy costs, investing in their own renewable energy projects can generate significant savings and help them remain competitive,” he said.

Read more at BusinessGreen.

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June 25, 2013

Windmade unveils product label in latest attempt to boost green markets

Businesses that source the majority of their power from renewable sources are being urged to carry the new WindMade label on their products to prove to customers that they back the expansion of green energy. WindMade unveiled the new product label, which is a step up from the original corporate label launched in 2011.

The labeling scheme already has 65 members including Bloomberg, Motorola, Deutsche Bank and Lego, and the organization is hoping the new standard will encourage a wider number of manufacturing and services organizations to carry the label on their products. While the corporate label requires companies to source 25 percent of their energy from renewable, companies will only be able to use the new product label if they source at least 75 percent of their energy from renewable sources.

WindMade said it would assess the product’s entire supply chain before awarding the independent accreditation. Only those that source three-quarters of the electricity they use from cradle-to-gate from renewable sources will be able to carry the label.

The new label is designed to help environmentally conscious consumers choose products that have lower carbon footprint and help companies to improve the reputation of their brands.

Read more at BusinessGreen.

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June 24, 2013

Businesses must get real about environmental threat says UN

The future of existing private sector companies will increasingly hinge on the ability of businesses to adapt to the world’s rapidly changing environment, according to a new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). To stay ahead of competitors, it says, they need to develop goods and services that reduce impacts of climate change, water scarcity, emissions of harmful chemicals, and other environmental concerns. Jointly produced by the UNEP and independent think tank SustainAbility, the new report entitled GEO-5 for Business: Impacts of a Changing Environment on the Corporate Sector, is based on UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5), which is its most comprehensive assessment to-date of the state of the global environment.

The report documents how changes in the global environment will increasingly impact operating costs, markets for products, the availability of raw materials and the reputation of businesses, from finance and tourism, to healthcare and transport. While the risks are significant, the report’s authors also point out that such environmental changes also represent major opportunities for businesses that successfully manage them, and seize the demand for sustainable technologies, investments and services.

“The report speaks to the reality of climate change and natural resource scarcities and outlines how more creative decisions by the private sector with longer term horizons ma assist in meeting these challenges. It makes the case that whether it be in water saving, or climate-proofing infrastructure, the world is going to look for solutions that, in turn, will drive corporate competitiveness, reputational risk and a transition to an inclusive green economy,” said UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

Read more at CleanBiz Asia.

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June 21, 2013

Sainsbury’s accelerates recycling push with 100th new collection center

Sainsbury’s has cut the ribbon on its 100th revamped recycling center, significantly increasing the range of materials it can collect and process for customers at its Watchmoor Park store in Camberley, Surrey.

The new “comprehensive customer recycling center” is part of a major new initiative, which was kicked off last September with the retailer’s partner Palm Recycling. Under the plan, Sainsbury’s is aiming to introduce standardized recycling collection points at around 300 stores across the country, which are capable of collecting a wider range of recyclable materials than that supported by some local councils.

The company said the aim of the scheme was to complement curbside recycling collection by providing customers with a single point where they can recycle mixed paper and card, mixed glass, mixed plastics, mixed cans and textiles, and books and DVDs that are donated to Oxfam for re-sale.

Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s head of engineering, sustainability, energy and environment, said the recycling push would play a key role in the company’s wider 20x20 sustainability plan. “Despite tough times, our customers still expect us to do the right thing including caring for our environment,” he said in a statement. “Providing convenient facilities to recycle is part of this and where we’ve introduced the new recycling centers, we’ve seen measurable increases in the amount of materials being recycled. Customer feedback about the new centers have been very positive, particularly, that a wider range of items can now be recycled.”

Read more at BusinessGreen.

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June 21, 2013

Green Star certifications continue to increase, despite challenges

Green Star-certified buildings are growing in Queensland, said the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) in a statement this week, reflecting how building green is now a business imperative for the property and construction sector.

Green Star is Australia’s official mark for sustainable projects. The certification is given to any type of building that passes the GBCA’s comprehensive rating system, which assesses the design, construction and life cycle of a project. The design is akin to the United States LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) label and rating system.

“We know the Queensland property and construction sector is experiencing challenging times, and another cost-of-living budget is causing a tightening of belt buckles. However, the industry is demonstrating that Green Star-rated buildings make smart economic sense,” said Robin Mellon, GBCA chief operating officer.

Buildings that are designed with sustainability in mind and are built to be future-proofed bring about significant savings, especially in the long run. But aside from cost effectiveness, the Green Star certification is about environmental sustainability. The rating system checks the amount of resources used, waste generated and emissions produced in order to reduce impact. In terms of emissions, according to the GBCA, Green Star-rated buildings only produce one-third the amount of greenhouse gas emissions coming from non-rated buildings.

“Committing to more sustainable buildings in not about ‘green tape’,” Mellon said. “It is about boosting the economy, increasing green skills and jobs and making healthier, more productive and more efficient places to live, work and learn. Rather than support ‘development at any cost’, the GBCA would like to see Queensland adopt policies that encourage and promote efficient and sustainable development.”

Read more at EcoBusiness.

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June 20, 2013

Los Angeles poised to bin plastic bags for good

Los Angeles is on the brink of becoming the largest city in the US to ban plastic grocery bags, which officials say will prevent about two million single-use bags being distributed next year. The City Council backed the plan in a 11-1 vote earlier this week, but a unanimous verdict will be needed in a subsequent vote next week to enact the ruling. City authorities estimate two billion plastic bags are distributed across LA every year, many of which end up clogging gutters and polluting beaches.

The ban would apply to large stores from the beginning of next year and extend to smaller stores in July 2014. Stores would be prohibited from handing out single-use bags or face fines ranging from $100 to $500 for violations. Customers, meanwhile, will either have to bring their own bags or pay 10 cents for each paper bag requested. The charge will be used to offset any additional costs stores have in making the switch, with the remainder of the funds likely to be put towards public education programs.

In Europe, charges on plastic bags have been successfully implemented in Northern Ireland and Wales, while Italy is attempting to overcome opposition from the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands to become the first EU member state to impose an outright national ban.

Read more at BusinessGreen.

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June 17, 2013

Bloomberg set to roll out New York composting plan for food waste

The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, is preparing to roll out a new composting plan for the city, aimed at diverting some of the 100,000 tons of food scraps that ends up in landfill every year.

The city has hired a composting plant to handle up to 100,000 tons of food scraps a year ? or about 10% of the city’s total food waste, according to the New York Times, which first reported the story. Last April, about 100 city restaurants joined a voluntary composting plan, the food waste challenge. By next year, 150,000 households will be on board along with 100 high-rise buildings and 600 schools. The entire city could be recycling food scraps by 2015 or 2016.

The composting program will at first be voluntary. But a city official told the Times that after a few years, New Yorkers who do not separate out their food scraps could be liable to fines ? just as they would be now if they do not recycle paper, plastic or metal. The composting plan will make up a big part of New York’s efforts to divert up to 75% of its solid waste from landfills by 2030. Reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills also reduces greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Food waste from all sources makes up about a third of the 20,000 tons of trash the city generates everyday.

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 14, 2013

Trash to cash: Norway leads the way in turning waste into energy

For a country blessed with bountiful oil supplies, it may appear incongruous. But Norway is importing as much rubbish as it can get its hands on in an effort to generate more energy by burning waste in vast incinerators.

The Eurotrash business may sound like an unpromising enterprise, but it’s one that is increasingly profitable. The UK paid to send 45,000 tons of household waste from Bristol and Leeds to Norway between October 2012 and April this year. “Waste has become a commodity,” says Pal Spillum, head of waste recovery at the Climate and Pollution Agency in Norway. “There is a big European market for this, so much so that the Norwegians are accepting rubbish from other countries to feed the incinerator.”

Norway is not alone. Waste to energy has become a preferred method of rubbish disposal in the EU, and there are now 420 plants in Europe equipped to provide heat and electricity to more than 20 million people. Germany ranks top in terms of importing rubbish, ahead of Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands. But it’s Norway that boasts the largest share of waste to energy in district heat production, according to Danish government-funded State of Green.

There are worries that burning rubbish may discourage recycling. Julian Kirby, of Friends of the Earth, says: “Waste for energy isn’t as green as it’s made out to be. We estimate that 80% of what’s in the average waste stream is easily recyclable.” Kirby argues that the incineration system creates confusion: “If you think your waste being burned is a good thing then you are more inclined to just chuck things away rather than recycling them.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 13, 2013

Ford drives first European Electric Focus cars off the production line

Ford has produced its first zero emission Focus car in Europe, as it seeks to accelerate into the ultra low emissions vehicle market. The auto giant confirmed the first Electric Focus had rolled off the production line at its Saarlouis plant in Germany, where it already makes the internal combustion engine Focus, Focus ST, and Kuga.

Ford has integrated Focus Electric production directly into the established Ford Focus production line at Saarlouis. As such orders will be taken on a case-by-case basis, with the production line remaining the same for both the conventional Ford Focus and the new Focus Electric.

Offering a 100-mile range, the Focus Electric features an advanced electric motor and lithium-ion battery power train that achieves a top speed of 84mph. It is the latest in a string of electric plug-in hybrid vehicles that should hit European roads in growing numbers over the next year, including the new version of the Nissan Leaf, the Toyota plug-in Prius, and the Tesla Model S.

Read more at Business Green.

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June 13, 2013

Sainsbury’s reaches zero waste to landfill milestone

Sainsbury’s announced that it has met its target for sending none of its waste to landfill, just three years after the initial goal was set.

Alongside trading results that showed that like-for-like sales for the first quarter rose 0.8 percent excluding fuel, the supermarket giant released a quarterly progress report on its high profile 20x20 sustainability program in which it confirmed it had followed last year’s milestone of diverting all food waste from landfill by now avoiding all landfill waste from its operations.

The company revealed that it had reached the target through a variety of partnerships with charities, recycling firms, and energy-to-waste facilities. For example, a long-standing partnership with charity FareShare has meant that usable food is donated to charity, while waste bakery products that are not fit for human consumption are now processed into high energy biscuit meal for animal feed. Additional food waste is sent to anaerobic digestion facilities where it is used to generate energy and produce fertilizer, while all non-food waste is sorted for recycling, with non-recyclable material turned into fuel for waste-to-energy plants.

The company also stressed that it was taking steps to help its customers reduce waste levels, by cutting down on unnecessary packaging and improving labeling to help limit food waste.

Read more at Business Green.

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June 12, 2013

Four energy policies can keep the 2C climate goal alive - IEA

Warning that the world is not on track to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has urged governments to swiftly enact four energy policies that would keep climate goals alive without harming economic growth.

“Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities. But the problem is not going away ? quite the opposite,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in London at the launch of World Energy Outlook Special Report, Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map, which highlights the need for intensive action between 2020.

Noting that the energy sector accounts for around two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, she added: “This report show that the path we are currently on is more likely to result in a temperature increase between 3.6C and 5.3C but also finds that much more can be done to tackle energy-sector emissions without jeopardizing economic growth, and important concern for may governments.

The new IEA report presents the results of a “4-for-2C Scenario”, in which for energy policies are selected that can deliver significant emissions by 2020, rely only on existing technologies and have been already been adapted successfully in several countries. In the 4-for-2C scenario, global energy related greenhouse gas emissions are 8% lower than 2020 than the level expected otherwise.

Read more at CleanBizAsia.

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June 11, 2013

Green Investment Bank mulling £50m anaerobic digestion investment

The Green Investment Bank (GIB) has said anaerobic digestion (AD) projects are “at the heart” of waste investment strategy, revealing that it is currently considering direct investment of up to £50m in the sector.

The news comes in a report the government-owned institution published yesterday assessing the investment potential of the UK’s AD sector, which currently amounts to around 106MW of capacity in operation or under construction, with a further 148MW in the latter stages of planning.

The UK’s AD plants process over five million tonnes of food and farm waste each year, generating electricity, biogas, and a nutrient rich fertilizer known as digestate. AD has been hailed as a sustainable way of dealing with food and agricultural waste and according to the industry the technology is capable of meeting 10 percent of the UK’s gas domestic demand, while contributing up to £3bn to the economy and creating 35,000 jobs.

Read more at BusinessGreen.

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June 11, 2013

UK recycling industry has potential to create 10,000 new jobs

Pursuing recycling and more efficient resource use could lead to a UK industry with net exports of more than £20bn and 10,000 new jobs in the recycling sector by 2020. Business outside the sector could also reduce their costs by £50bn a year on savings in raw materials and energy, says the report, Going for Growth, published by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) and the government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap).

If activities such as the research and development of new design techniques that would minimize the need for recycling, and better ways to reuse materials are included, the opportunity could be for 50,000 new jobs and a £3bn boost to the UK’s annual GDP.

The findings reflect the potential opened up by a “circular economy” ? one in which used material is not regarded as waste but as a resource, to be reused first, as that is the most efficient option then recycled as necessary. As raw material prices rise owing to increasing global competition for resources, the UK could reduce its reliance on key raw materials ? including rare earths, used in wind farms and electronics ? by as much as one-fifth by 2020.

Liz Goodwin, chief executive of Wrap, said a circular economy would keep resources in the use for as long as possible. “Reuse makes sure we get the maximum value from materials and brings significant business benefits. It is the complete opposite of make, use, throw away, make another ? the way of doing things now,” she said.

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 10, 2013

Waiting on new climate deal ‘will set world on a path to 5C warming’

The world cannot afford to wait for a new global climate change agreement to come into force in 2020, because doing so will mean an end to hopes of limiting global warming to moderate levels, one of the world’s foremost authorities on energy has warned.

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy rose by 1.4% in 2012 to a record high of more than 31bn tonnes, according to a report from the International Energy Agency. Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, and one of the world’s most respected energy experts, expressed that greenhouse gas emissions were continuing to rise so fast that pinning hopes on a replacement for the Kyoto protocol would set the world on a path to 5C of warming.

Birol urged governments to take urgent action on improving energy efficiency, replacing fossil fuels with low-carbon power, stopping the construction of inefficient power plants and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, as low or no-cost ways of reducing emissions quickly. “This will not harm economic growth, and they are policies that can be taking in fragile economic context,” he said.

Governments are negotiating under the United Nations to forge a global deal on emissions that would be signed in 2015 but not come into force until 2020. Until then, most countries have their own voluntary goals to curb carbon, but these fall well short of the cuts that scientists say are needed to limit temperature rises to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, which is regarded as the limit of safety beyond which warming is likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 5, 2013

Dell’s New Goal: Waste Free Packaging by 2020

Dell has been leading on using sustainable packaging for its computers and other products and today announced a goal to achieve a waste-free packaging stream by 2020.

It will do that in two ways: 100% of packaging will be sourced from sustainable materials, including recycled and rapidly renewable content or material that was formerly part of the waste stream; and 100% of packaging will be either easily recyclable or compostable at the end of its life. More than half of Dell’s packaging already meets the criteria.

“Packaging is often the first part of our products that customers see and touch. From that first interaction, we want to ensure our customers know we’re dedicated to operating in an environmentally responsible manner, and we want to make it easier for them to be sustainable as well,” says Trisa Thompson, vice president of corporate responsibility for Dell.

As of last year, Dell cut the size of packaging by 12%, increase the amount of recycled and renewable content by 40% and met its goal of ensuring that 75% of packaging can be recycled at the curb. This work eliminated more than 20 million pounds of packaging material and saved $18 million since 2008.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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