Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
The number of courts that resolve environmental disputes has nearly doubled in the last five years as the complexity of environmental law and public awareness have increased, according to a new study.
There are 354 environmental courts in 41 countries, with more than 170 created since 2005, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI). Only a handful existed in the 1970s.
“While such specialist courts and tribunals have been created from time to time, their accelerated growth is a 21st century phenomenon,” the report says. (more…)
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
Biofuels in Europe are struggling to meet the most basic thresholds for sustainability, according to the Times of London, which claims to have seen a government study that shows fossil fuels are better for the environment than “green fuels” made from crops.
The findings show that the United Kingdom’s biofuels mandate would result in millions of acres of forest being logged or burnt down and converted to plantations.
The study finds that some of the most basic crops used to make biofuels fail to meet the minimum sustainability standard set by the European Commission. (more…)
Friday, February 26th, 2010
The European Commission confirmed on Thursday that it believes legally binding sustainability criteria for biomass used to generate heat and power are not necessary in Europe, thus ending a long process by which the European Union body has debated the utility of a supranational scheme.
The Commission, however, adopted a report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid biomass and biogas in electricity, heating, and cooling. The report makes recommendations on sustainability criteria to member states and encourages them to introduce schemes at the national level.
This strategy minimizes the risk of the development of varied and possibly incompatible criteria at the national level, leading to barriers to trade and limiting the growth of the bio-energy sector in the European Union. (more…)
Sunday, February 7th, 2010
“All indications are that we should be alarmed about the future of sea level rise and should be doing something about it now.”
So say Orrin Pilkey and Rob Young, eminent coastal scientists, who wrote The Rising Sea to provide substance for that alarm and to offer suggestions as to how we can plan ahead to reduce the severity of the impact of the rising sea.
The authors begin by reminding us that it’s not a distant prospect. They describe what is happening to Alaskan shoreline villages such as Kivalina and Shishmaref, the Pacific atoll nations such as Kiribati, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu, and the city of Venice, places already grappling with rising sea level.
Rising tide gauge data and an increase in coastal erosion along many of the planet’s shorelines provide clear evidence of the rising sea and of the warming of the planet.
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
This is the last of three posts on the Executive Council’s “Value-Based Sustainability” event last week (read previous posts here and here). As official sponsor of the event, CleanTechies raffled off five free tickets to our Facebook fans, Twitter followers (@CleanTechies) and Newsletter subscribers. The author of this article was one of the lucky winners. Fan us and follow us to learn about upcoming raffles like this!
Many companies easily jumped on the ‘green’ bandwagon in 2007 and 2008 when the economy was growing. Now that the U.S. is in a recession, unless sustainability was already a guiding pillar for your company, making the business case for green, clean, and lean initiatives can be challenging. At last week’s Executive Council summit on Value-Based Sustainability: the Business Case for Clean, Green, and Lean, several best-of-breed companies shared their thoughts on sustainability and the role of consumers.
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
This is the second of three posts on the Executive Council’s “Value-Based Sustainability” event last week (read the first post here). As official sponsor of the event, CleanTechies raffled off five free tickets to our Facebook fans, Twitter followers (@CleanTechies) and Newsletter subscribers. The author of this article was one of the lucky winners. Fan us and follow us to learn about upcoming raffles like this!
The Executive Council’s Value-Based Sustainability Forum in San Jose, CA on January 26th was one of a few “road shows” taken around the country. Focusing on strategy in making the business case of sustainability, resonating themes of the forum included transparency; measurement; and communication or engagement internally with employees, and externally to customers and clients.
An exuberating opening keynote by Adam Werbach, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S, started the day. Werbach defined sustainability as social, economic, ecological and cultural streams which flow into an integrated one. Transparency, engagement and networking are enablers of sustainability that are to be exercised internally and externally for maximum value. To connect the core of a business with a social issue is to create a “North Star goal” which, according to Werbach, will ignite passion within the organization, engaging employees. For example, P&G’s North Star goal: “Sell $50 billion worth of sustainability innovation products by 2012.”
Monday, February 1st, 2010
This is the first of three posts on the Executive Council’s “Value-Based Sustainability” event last week. As official sponsor of the event, CleanTechies raffled off five free tickets to our Facebook fans, Twitter followers (@CleanTechies) and Newsletter subscribers. The author of this article was one of the lucky winners. Fan us and follow us to learn about upcoming raffles like this!
First of all, a big thank you to Bob Johnston, Eric McNulty, April Lo and the rest of the Executive Council staff for putting together an excellent event last Tuesday. Value-Based Sustainability: The Business Case for Green, Clean and Lean brought together a high caliber of sustainability professionals and thought leaders from many sectors. Thank you Ceylan Thomson for bringing the event to our attention on www.CleanTechies.com.
This event had excellent speakers throughout. Some of the speakers highlighted what their specific companies were doing and what were the drivers for those priorities. This component provided excellent examples of early wins and highlighted the importance of proper metrics. The keynote speakers, Adam Werbach, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S (and author of the book “Strategy for Sustainability” – see cover on the left) and Rupert Davis of MontaRosa discussed more generally, the state of sustainability and what needs to happen to make sustainability viable long-term. Werbach emphasized that sustainability must incorporate social, cultural, economic, as well as environmental aspects in order to withstand the downturn. To be successful, these four elements must be combined into a single corporate “North Star” goal that is transparent, engages stakeholders (at a personal level) and expands networks.
Saturday, January 30th, 2010
Twenty-six projects have won funding of up to $200,000 each to develop their concepts in the 2009 IDEAS Energy Challenge. Jointly sponsored by Global Village Energy Partnership International, GTZ, IDB and the Government of Korea, the competition supports project ideas which demonstrate an innovative response to tackling the energy challenges facing Latin America and the Caribbean today.
GVEP International highlights three cases where the scheme is expected to facilitate considerable growth in the renewable energy framework of impoverished regions of Central America.
Amid the valleys, mountains and volcanoes of the highlands of southern Guatemala lies one of the country’s largest lakes, Lake Amatitlan. Located just 16 kilometers south of Guatemala City, the unique landscape surrounding the lake means it is used by many people as a recreation area.
Friday, January 29th, 2010
A ranking of 163 nations based on environmental public health and the vitality of their ecosystems places Iceland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Sweden, and Norway in the top five, with the U.S. trailing in 61st place and China and India ranking 121st and 123rd respectively.
The Environmental Performance Index, compiled by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities, ranks countries based on 10 main categories such as environmental health, air quality, water management, biodiversity and habitat, forestry, and climate change. Iceland ranked at the top because of its excellent environmental public health and reliance on renewable sources of energy such as geothermal and hydropower.
Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
There are plenty of companies and individuals that are cashing in on the green building market proliferation, but how is a designer, contractor, or home buyer supposed to decipher the information and separate greenwashing from legitimacy? Unquestionably, there is no shortage of information on the subject – right or wrong. Unfortunately, there are very few adequate resources that have mainstream appeal and effectively represent the sustainability movement from the various perspectives of all of the individuals that need to be involved.
I came up with this long list of rhetorical questions. My intention is to illustrate the disconnect that seems to be prevalent among industry professionals, design clients, the media, and the general public regarding sustainable building.