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News Archives

October 25, 2013

All of NYC's street lights will be LEDs by 2017, saving $14 million

NYC Mayor Bloomberg announced that all 250,000 of New York City's street lights will be replaced with energy efficient, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) by 2017. The move, which was announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, will reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs in NYC. It comes as part of PlaNYC, the city's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from city government operations by 30% by 2017.

The replacement of the 250,000 street lights is expected to be the biggest retrofit in the US and save around US$6 million in energy and US$8 million in maintenance costs a year, due to the more efficient, longer-lasting design of LED lights.

The Climate Group partnered with the New York City Department of Transportation in 2009 to collect data on the performance of LED fixtures on the FDR Drive and Central Park as part of our LightSavers program. The results showed that LEDs saved up to 80% energy compared to traditional lighting.

Read more at The Clean Revolution.

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October 25, 2013

World’s first UV-powered path absorbs energy to give light

British firm Pro-Teq Surfacing has paved the way for a new type of sustainable lighting source in the United Kingdom, creating a spray-on coating that allow pathways and like surfaces to capture energy during the day for use at night.

This patented re-surfacing technology, called Starpath, is a liquid-based product mixed with natural earth aggregate material. It is the result of an extensive trial period refining the chemistry behind the particles that absorb ultraviolet (UV) rays, which then enable the coated surface ? whether concrete, tarmac, timber or other solid forms ? to glow. The renewed road serves as an alternative to street lighting and it also minimizes carbon footprint.

In addition to this energy-producing feature, the Starpath extends the life cycle of existing paths and lanes, as it is a re-surfacing technique, Pro-Teq explains. This means there is no need to remove and replace the current surface, doing away with consuming unnecessary energy and resources and such. The Starpath spray-on coating, instead, gives it a new layer and sheen, complete with a protective top layer for longevity.


Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 25, 2013

Advanced plasma holds talks on Philippines trash-to-power plant

Advanced Plasma Power Ltd., a U.K. waste-to-energy developer, is in talks to build a 200 million-pound ($323 million) power station in the Philippines that will use trash to generate electricity. The company is speaking to the operator of a landfill site about building a 60-megawatt plant fed by commercial, industrial and household waste, said Chief Executive Officer Rolf Stein.

Clean-energy producers get premium payments for their output in the Philippines, where utilities are required to source a portion of their electricity from renewables. The nation is among several target countries for Advanced Plasma in Southeast Asia, where growing cities are straining available electricity supply and producing larger quantities of waste.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 24, 2013

Walmart turns green roofs into research labs

Walmart and Oregon's Portland State University are working together on research to advance the use of green roofs. Over the next two years, researchers from the University's Green Building Research Lab will collect data from the largest green roof in Portland, which just happens to be on a Walmart store.

The green roof is being installed in three sections, each designed to test various kinds of green roof design, such as materials and soil depth. The rest of the roof - 52,000 square feet - is a white, cool roof, which will also be monitored to compare how it performs. Sensors will detect surface temperature, water flow and building operations.

Researchers are also collecting data from Walmart's biggest green roof - a 70,000-square-foot "EcoGarden" in Chicago. Comparing the two will result in a comprehensive view of green roof performance in various climate conditions.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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October 23, 2013

Sainsbury's debuts 'water neutral' store

Sainsbury's Weymouth Gateway store will be fully "water neutral", after the retailer installed measures to capture rainwater and sponsored local water efficiency initiatives to cover its entire demand.

Around 70 percent of the building's water needs will be met through rain water harvesting and other water efficient infrastructure. The remainder, some 4.5 cubic metres a day that needs to be drinking quality water, will be offset through investment in water-related projects at nearby Weymouth College and Wey Valley School.The supermarket claims that as a result, the total water used within the local catchment area will not increase as a result of this new store, meaning the development meets the government and the Environment Agency definition of "Water Neutral".

Neil Sachdev, property director at Sainsbury's, outlined in a lecture earlier this week how water shortages are among the biggest global challenges faced by retailers and warned that water risks are likely to increase as the climate changes.

"Water scarcity is becoming a very real challenge and to ensure we have water in the future, we need to find ways to reduce what we use right now", he said. "We believe we can help safeguard what we'll need in the future by taking action now.

Read more at Business Green.

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October 18, 2013

WalMart tops list of US commercial solar users

WalMart remains the United States’ commercial solar leader with 89MW of capacity installed at 215 locations. Research by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Vote Solar Initiative places the retail giant ahead of Costco, Apple and IKEA in a ranking of the top 25 companies by number of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems deployed.

The SEIA said the consistent decline in the cost of PV systems, which has dropped 30 percent since the beginning of 2011, is improving the cost proposition of solar PV systems to businesses. Huge companies such as WalMart and IKEA, both of which have set targets to be 100 percent supplied by renewable energy in the near future, are also able to use their size and buying power to leverage further savings, the report said.

SEIA president and chief executive Rhone Resch said "solar has turned the corner, and found itself on Main Street, USA. The list of companies moving to clean, affordable solar energy reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the most successful corporations in America. These iconic brands are leading the way when it comes to efforts to reduce our nation’s dangerous dependence on foreign energy sources. They’re also helping to create thousands of American jobs, boost the US economy and improve our environment. At the same time, they’re reducing operating expenses, which benefits both their customers and shareholders.”

Read more at Business Green.

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October 18, 2013

Singapore's first "green" factory embraces environmentally friendly practices

Greenhub - Singapore's first "green" factory - was officially opened on Thursday by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. The factory embraces environmentally friendly processes all the way from its construction down to its daily operations.

It has self-tinting windows that act as a natural cooler, regulating excess sunlight and heat. There are also solar panels on the rooftop which help offset the office space's annual energy consumption of 160,000 kilowatt-hours per year. The excess electricity generated is sold off to Singapore Power.

Greenhub is owned by Greenpac, a company that offers redesigned packaging solutions that encourage environmental sustainability.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 17, 2013

Air pollution causes cancer - WHO

Pollutants in the air we breathe have been classed as a leading environmental cause of cancer by the World Health Organization. Sources of pollution include car exhausts, power stations, emissions from agriculture and industry ? as well as heating in people’s homes.

The WHO said the classification should act as a strong message to governments to take action. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of WHO, has now classed air pollution as the same category as tobacco smoke, UV radiant and plutonium. It said that air pollution had been known to cause heart and lung diseases, but evidence had now emerged that it was also causing lung cancer.

Dr. Kurt Straif, from IARC, said: “The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer causing substances. We now know that outdoor air pollution is not only a major risk to health in general, but also a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths.”

Read more at BBC News.

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October 11, 2013

UN: Treated waste could be ‘gold mine’

Recycling and waste treatment can be a “gold mine,” perhaps literally, according to a UN report that finds treated waste can be put to profitable use. Many waste products can be reused and, if waste is separated at source, the uncontaminated organic fraction can be composted or digested anaerobically, the report says.

For example, 1 metric ton of electrical and electronic waste contains as much gold as 5 to 15 metric tons of typical gold ore, and amounts of copper, aluminum and rare metals that exceed by many times the levels found in typical ores. As a result, printed circuit boards are probably the “richest ore stream you’re ever going to find,” according to the Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies: Moving from Challenges to Opportunities.

The UN estimates that 3.5 billion people, or half of the world’s population, are without access to crucial waste management services, posing significant environmental and health hazards and harming economies.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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October 10, 2013

Target, GoodGuide launch sustainable product standard

Target has teamed up with Underwriters Laboratories’ product-rating website GoodGuide to rate the environmental impact and sustainability of thousands of products.

The retailer says it will use the Target Sustainable Product Standard to make merchandising and product-placement decisions. Beginning this month, it will ask vendors representing 7,500 products in household cleaners, personal care and beauty, and baby care to complete the UL Transparency Platform assessment.

Target will then assign each product in these categories up to 100 points based on the sustainability of ingredients, ingredient transparency and overall environmental impact.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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October 8, 2013

Staples honored by EPA for continued commitment to green technology

Staples Inc. was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the Green Power Leadership Awards ceremony for its achievements in “Sustained Excellence in Green Power”. Staples was one of 21 organizations recognized at the event, alongside the likes of Cisco Systems, Apple, Microsoft and The Ohio State University, for leadership in supporting green power development and installation.

By improving two key areas of its business practice, Staples has become a leader in green infrastructure and corporate sustainability: reduced energy use and increase onsite generation and improved logistics.

The company has improved its business practices and is benefiting financially. According to Morningstar, Staples’ 2013 revenue totaled $24.3 billion, a steep increase from the $13.1 billion in 2004. Earnings per share have more than doubled in the same time period. Clearly, sustainability has been part of Staples’ plan to not only encourage sound environmental practices, but increase savings and total revenue.

Read more at The Clean Revolution.

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October 7, 2013

Local businesses get help kicking their plastic habit

The resort island of Bali produces 890 metric tons of garbage every day. But rather than throwing up their hands in defeat, four environmentalists based in Sanur, 30 minutes from Ngurai Rai International Airport, banded together in 2012 and launched PlastikDetox, an educational effort to turn the tide on the island’s excessive use of plastic, which accounts for 10 to 12 percent of Bali’s trash.

The PlastikDetox campaign, which includes cafes, restaurants, fair-trade shops and laundry services in the area of Sanur, is very simple. Organizations willing to reduce plastic usage are praised on PlastikDetox’s website and Facebook page and are also featured on a map of Bali highlighting eco-friendly establishments.

“We provide free training and technical support to businesses whose owners or managers are committed to reducing their use of plastic,” Anna Sutanto, co-founder of PlastikDetox says. “When these businesses succeed, we try to reward them through placement opportunities in local media so they get exposure for their efforts.”

PlastikDetox doesn’t advocate for a 100 percent plastic-free way of life and Anna says it’s just raising awareness about cutting needless plastic use. The idea now is to scale up the Sanur campaign in bigger cities like Jakarta.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 3, 2013

Fuel cells that power buildings

Besides moving forward in transportation, fuel cells are also making headway powering buildings, especially if "The Cube" makes it successfully to market. Maryland-based Redox Power Systems, which is developing The Cube, thinks it has the answer. The company, which started up last year, is commercializing University of Maryland technology that could potentially be game-changing for distributed energy.

The Cube fuel cell is slightly bigger than a dishwasher (10% of the size of fuel cells today) and costs 90% less than fuel cells currently on the market. It connects to a natural gas line and electrochemically converts methane to electricity and produces both heat and electricity. It has no engine and virtually no moving parts and operates silently and constantly.

The first models - entering the market next year - have a 25 kilowatt (kW) capacity - enough to provide energy for a moderate-sized grocery store. Future generations will be 5 kW in capacity for homes and 80 kW for bigger buildings.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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October 2, 2013

Walmart launches affordable LED lighting line in the U.S., while IKEA offers solar kits in the U.K.

Walmart announced that it is introducing its Great Value line of super efficient LED light bulbs for under $10 in its U.S. stores and online. The array of products includes 26 different types of bulbs, with the least expensive ? a non-dimmable 60-watt equivalent ? selling for $8.88, and the dimmable version for just a dollar more. LEDs have enormous advantages over traditional incandescent bulbs in that they consume only 20% of the energy and last as much as 25 times longer.

Meanwhile, IKEA just announced a plan to sell 3.36 kW solar photovoltaic kits in all ten of its UK stores for the U.S. equivalent of $9,200. IKEA will also offer a leasing option.

These announcements highlight a broad trend occurring: the mainstreaming and reduction in price of once costly technologies when they get to scale. LED costs have fallen as Walmart used to offer 60-watt equivalent LEDs for around $20. Meanwhile solar costs have declined as well ? over 605% in the past 18 months.

Read more at Forbes.

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October 1, 2013

McDonald’s ditches polystyrene coffee cups

McDonald’s has agreed to use paper cups rather than polystyrene foam cups to hold hot drinks at all its 14,000 US outlets following a concerted campaign by green groups. The move comes after sustainable shareholder advocacy group As You Sow filed a shareholder proposal in 2011 asking the company to stop using the foam, which had already been phased out from its hamburger boxes in the 1990s.

As the resolution gained 30 percent of shareowners’ vote, McDonald’s last year trialed double-walled paper hot cups at around 2,000 restaurants mainly on the West Coast. Having dubbed the pilot successful, the company last week announced the paper cup will now become the standard hot beverages cup at all its US outlets.

Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, congratulated McDonald's on ditching polystyrene but urged to company to consider taking further action to keep up with its rivals. "McDonald's has made a great start by phasing out foam," MacKerron said in a statement. "We hope they will also incorporate recycled fibre in the cups and develop on-site systems to collect and recycle food packaging."

Read more at Business Green.

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