Trends in Sustainability
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Trends in Sustainability
An observation of sustainable trends, thinking, solutions and opinions.
Curated by Olive Ventures
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Electric Buses Test Wireless Charging in Germany

Electric Buses Test Wireless Charging in Germany | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Passengers on the 63 bus route in Mannheim, Germany may notice their ride got a little quieter. That’s thanks to a trial of two electric buses in the city, but it’s the use of inductive charging to stay on schedule without hanging wires or long recharge times that’s far more interesting.

 

The project, part of Bombardier’s trial of their PRIMOVE inductive charging technology, is designed to demonstrate that an electric bus can operate a demanding passenger route without stopping to recharge. The secret is inductive charging, which uses a charging pad buried under the road’s surface to send energy to the bus batteries when the two are magnetically “tuned.” In the case of the PRIMOVE system in use in Mannheim, the charging pads are only switched on when a vehicle passes above.

 

Because the bus is on a fixed route, induction charging makes quite a bit of sense. Since charging pads will be installed at stops along the route that the 63 bus in Mannheim takes, it will be able to run without interruption and charge while it’s picking up passengers.

 

It’s a concept called “opportunity charging” – topping off the battery whenever there’s a chance to do so, rather than parking in a depot for an overnight charge or swapping out batteries, which might lead to delays or schedule adjustments. In the case of PRIMOVE, it also means that batteries can be smaller, since they won’t have to hold enough charge for an entire trip. And that also maximizes passenger space.

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Four tiers of sustainability | Green Prospects Asia – Connecting Sustainable Businesses

Four tiers of sustainability | Green Prospects Asia – Connecting Sustainable Businesses | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The next tier on sustainability is to go “beyond compliance”. Here, the organisation undertakes sustainability-related initiatives as driven by its vision/mission and goals/objectives, and is not solely directed by the needs of compliance. So, in the interest of resource conservation, an organisation may install rainwater harvesting units, undertake vermi-composting of waste matter to promote recycling or implement solar water heaters in the canteen to reduce consumption of fossil fuels. The organisation may follow a policy to use only CNG-powered vehicles for its material transport to reduce GHG emissions. The idea is to minimise the environmental impact of business operations. Many of these initiatives, however, also provide returns or operational savings due to the rising cost of resources like water and energy, and this helps improve overall resource security. Going beyond compliance is therefore more of practicing “smart sustainability”. Strategies and tools such as “cleaner production” and “green productivity” help in this endeavor.

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Manchester United training ground installs electric car charger

Manchester United training ground installs electric car charger | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Manchester United stars are going green after an electric car charger was installed at their training ground.

 

They are following in manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s footsteps and taking delivery of hybrid cars.

 

Ex player and United’s academy director Brian McClair, writing in the Inside United magazine, said: “By the first-team car park at Carrington there is an outside tap with a hose attached where the first-team lads wash their new Chevrolet cars on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

 

“I was wandering past trying to stay out of range of the hose recently when I noticed cables attached to a couple of the cars.”

He added: “It seems these were in fact electric cars and were plugged into a charging device, which had a slot for the coins/credit cards to pay for the power.”

 

Sir Alex was one of the first people at Old Trafford to take delivery of one of the environmentally friendly electric cars.

 

The boss, who drives a Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid car, said: “I think the Volt is absolutely phenomenal.

 

“A friend of mine drove one in the States and kept going on and on about it, so when I had the opportunity to drive one I wanted to try it because it’s the car of the future.

 

"I’m very pleased with it.”

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First Solar's new world record for solar cell efficiency and why it's important

First Solar's new world record for solar cell efficiency and why it's important | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

One of the important ways to make solar energy cheaper is to improve the amount of sunlight that solar cells can convert into electricity. So it’s a big deal to see that First Solar announced on Tuesday that it’s managed to create a record 18.7 percent solar cell, up from the 17.3 percent cell it touted in July 2011.

 

That 18.7 percent sets a new world record for cells made from the material cadmium-telluride. It represents the best the company could achieve, but to make cells with that efficiency in mass production will likely take a few years.

Boosting the efficiency helps to reduce production costs of solar cells.

 

Efficiency is correlated with how much power a panel of a given size can produce – more power means higher efficiencies. There is a fixed cost and amount of time for making each panel. If the company produces each panel with a higher power rating (in watts) for the same amount of time as it did before, then that panel’s cost-per-watt is lower.

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The corporate conservation revolution

The corporate conservation revolution | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Recently, a global association of 400+ leading retail and manufacturing companies, called the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), committed to insuring that their agricultural-based, product supply lines would become sustainable and deforestation-free by the year 2020. A CEO-driven organization, the CGF includes international corporations such as Unilever, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, General Mills, Cargill, Tesco, and others. Together, the CGF members have combined revenues of over $3 trillion, representing between 4-5% of global GDP. The CGF’s pledge represents a significant change in the purchasing practices of this group, and will have a profound and unprecedented effect on redirecting market forces toward sustainable agricultural practices and ending deforestation.

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Will 3D printing change the world?

A Short but enjoyable documentary from PBS Off Book on 3D printing.

 

Much attention has been paid to 3D Printing lately, with new companies developing cheaper and more efficient consumer models that have wowed the tech community. They herald 3D Printing as a revolutionary and disruptive technology, but how will these printers truly affect our society? Beyond an initial novelty, 3D Printing could have a game-changing impact on consumer culture, copyright and patent law, and even the very concept of scarcity on which our economy is based. From at-home repairs to new businesses, from medical to ecological developments, 3D Printing has an undeniably wide range of possibilities which could profoundly change our world.

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The Gruen Effect. Victor Gruen and the Shopping Mall

The Gruen Effect. Victor Gruen and the Shopping Mall | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Victor Gruen was maybe the most influential architect of the twentieth century: He is regarded as the father of the shopping mall. How fundamentally his concept would change the world was something that not even this immigrant from Vienna, who was noted for thinking big, could have foreseen. In the nineteen fifties, Gruen built large-scale “shopping towns” in the suburban sprawl of the United States. Based on the model of European city centers they were not only to facilitate shopping but also to strengthen social ties in the isolated suburbia with a mix of commercial and social spaces. However, in the context of an increasingly consumption- and speculation-driven economy the polyfunctional shopping center turned into a gigantic sales machine, which had a formative impact on the development of cities all around the globe.

 

Thus, in architecture, the Gruen Effect describes the maelstrom introduced by seductively designed sales spaces that makes us give up purposeful shopping and get lost in the shopping experience. Since the principles of the shopping mall have little by little been transferred to downtown areas, today this phenomenon produces the city as the place of commercialism, the staging of lifestyle, distinction and event; it outlines the creation of a type of downtown, which serves the gods of consumer culture and defines consumption as the prime principle of urban planning.

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Environmental Concerns "At Record Lows": Global Poll

Environmental Concerns "At Record Lows": Global Poll | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Canada-based research group GlobeScan surveyed 22,812 people from 22 countries, asking them to rate the seriousness of six issues – air pollution, water pollution, species loss, automobile emissions, fresh water shortages and climate change.

 

On average, 49 percent of people surveyed said climate change was a “very serious” concern and 50 percent said the same for biodiversity loss. The highest level of concern was about fresh water shortages, with 58 percent of people rating this as a “very serious” concern.

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At Earth Hour 2013 media launch

At Earth Hour 2013 media launch | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

At Earth Hour 2013 media launch.

 

Olive Ventures are a partner for this year’s event, where we will be delivering our sustainable events programme.

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How to Change the World and Still Pay Your Bills - Forbes

How to Change the World and Still Pay Your Bills - Forbes | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

“You MBAs are the root of all our financial troubles,” an old friend told me after the market collapse in 2008—shortly after I had quit my job and enrolled in a full-time MBA program.

 

Aside from being offended, I was perplexed. The MBA was once a gold standard of achievement; the degree for skilled engineers ready for management-level positions, or for middle managers ready to take the reins and drive strategic decisions.

 

Unfortunately, following the economic collapse, the MBA halo tarnished, but there are still more than 100,000 MBAs granted annually. What are tomorrow’s MBAs to do to ensure that their degree can make a positive difference?

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CHOOSE.

Olive Ventures's insight:

www.choose.sg

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Billboard Generates Drinking Water Out of Thin Air in Desert of Peru

Billboard Generates Drinking Water Out of Thin Air in Desert of Peru | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Lima, Peru, gets about half an inch of rainfall per year. Yet the atmospheric humidity is around 98 percent. UTEC, the country’s major university of engineering and technology, took this peculiar problem and—with help from ad agency Mayo Draftfcb—devised a unique solution: a billboard that draws moisture out of that humid air and turns it into potable drinking water. Check out the case-study video below to see how it works. The billboard wasn’t just a nice gesture, either. It served as a recruitment tool to get more students to apply to the university.

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Peel-and-stick solar panels

Peel-and-stick solar panels | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Unlike standard thin-film solar cells, peel-and-stick thin-film solar cells do not require any direct fabrication on the final carrier substrate. This is a far more dramatic development than it may initially seem. All the challenges associated with putting solar cells on unconventional materials are avoided with the new process, vastly expanding the potential applications of solar technology.  

 

Thin-film photovoltaic cells are traditionally fixed on rigid silicon and glass substrates, greatly limiting their uses, says Chi Hwan Lee, lead author of the paper and a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering. And while the development of thin-film solar cells promised to inject some flexibility into the technology, explains Xiaolin Zheng, a Stanford assistant professor of mechanical engineering and senior author of the paper, scientists found that use of alternative substrates was problematic in the extreme.

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Becoming a Truly Sustainable Fashion Brand: Learning from H&M

Becoming a Truly Sustainable Fashion Brand: Learning from H&M | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The Swedish brand has made a commitment to offer clothing, shoes and accessories that are “produced, transported and sold with care for people and the environment.” The company understands that it is customer needs and desires which need to be put at the centre of their business in order to establish closer relationships with consumers and deliver true value to them. H&M also knows that the public now increasingly demands corporate conscience, which is why a sustainable approach can be a massive corporate strength to drive customer loyalty, but also employee commitment, better business performance and so become a competitive advantage. Here’s where the retailer’s Conscious Collection fits in, which demonstrates that green fashion does not undermine design or looks. For example, one of the company’s CSR targets is to source all cotton in the range sustainably by 2020 the latest.

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Energy-rich nations must lead on climate

Energy-rich nations must lead on climate | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Four months ago today, U.S. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for five states and the District of Columbia over the approach of

Hurricane Sandy. The super storm was a reminder that climate change is blind to faith, socio-economic status and geography. It also underscored that supplying cheap, sustainable energy and mitigating climate change is not a challenge for future generations – it is our challenge today.

 

And energy-rich nations have a shared responsibility to do more. After all, they have the financial and technical ability, as well as decades of expertise, to create the necessary growth of a new energy industry balanced by renewable sources of power.

 

But beyond having the resources and expertise, energy-rich nations also have an essential element for any sustainable solution: taking action now is in their own interests. In fact, it is an economic and environmental opportunity that it would be almost foolhardy to miss. Oil and gas are finite. Renewable energy is forever. To extend their energy leadership into the future, countries rich in hydrocarbons should seize this opportunity to invest profits into long-term economic growth.

 

Recent investments are demonstrating that energy-rich countries have recognized the potential payoff.

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Infographic: What Does Being "EcoFriendly" Really Mean in Advertising?

Infographic: What Does Being "EcoFriendly" Really Mean in Advertising? | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

“It’s hard to know what products mean when they say they are ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘fully compostable’, but there are rules about what companies can and can’t claim about their products.”

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The conundrum at the heart of sustainability

The conundrum at the heart of sustainability | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The puzzle that Ian Cheshire at Kingfisher, Saker Nusseibeh at Hermes Fund Managers and John Steel at Cafédirect are trying to solve, each in their own way, is how to encourage people to take action to confront key challenges such as climate change, water scarcity and ecosystem collapse.

 

We can talk about the power of technology to create change till we are blue in the face, but what all three recognise is that we truly need a powerful human response.

 

None of the attempts to incite action have had much impact so far. Highlighting the enormous damage we are doing to society and the planet is not generating much of a response, and neither is talking up the opportunities.

 

At the core of the problem is the fact that the vast majority of people do not feel connected to the issues.

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Can Humans Really Break The Planet?

Can Humans Really Break The Planet? | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

As for Planet Earth, a paper published Thursday in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution suggests that while human society does a very thorough job of modifying and, often enough, permanently and abruptly changing the dynamics of local and regional ecosystems, the collective impact of all this on a planetary scale is too often overstated.

 

Dire warnings that our localized impacts could trigger global-scale "tipping points," after which the spinning cogs and gears that underpin our entire terrestrial biosphere are thrown abruptly and permanently out of whack, have no scientific basis, the authors argue. Global-scale changes, such that they are, come about smoothly and slowly, they say.

 

"This is good news because it says that we might avoid the doom-and-gloom scenario of abrupt, irreversible change," Professor Barry Brook, lead author of the paper and director of Climate Science at the University of Adelaide in Australia, said in a statement accompanying the study's release. "A focus on planetary tipping points may both distract from the vast ecological transformations that have already occurred, and lead to unjustified fatalism about the catastrophic effects of tipping points."

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Why business needs to concentrate on value – not just profit

Why business needs to concentrate on value – not just profit | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Trade has played a vital role in the social evolution of humankind. It allowed people to specialise, which raises both skill levels and efficiency. It brought people from different lands together, co-operating rather than competing over resources. And, despite its imperfections, the market remains an essential mechanism for ensuring supply matches demand.

 

So important is trade for human life as we know it that we could credibly define our species as homo cambiens: humans who exchange. There is, however, a competing form of humanity: homo economicus. For homo cambiens, trade is about people and things; for homo economicus, it is only about the maximisation of profit. What homo economicus doesn't realise, however, is that sustainable profit needs homo cambiens.

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Carbon Footprinting Services (ISO 14064 / GHG Protocol)

Carbon Footprinting Services (ISO 14064 / GHG Protocol) | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Increasingly, organisations are required to report their sustainability efforts. Increasingly as well, many (in Singapore) see that there is a benefit to moving past traditional CSR type non-financial metrics to include measures of material use, water consumption and carbon footprint.

 

Carbon is increasingly an important aspect of these trends in sustainability reporting, due to the urgent global attention to climate change. Relating back to sustainability reporting, it is for example, one of the items within the Global Reporting Initiative framework, and increasingly, “Green” Certifications are stipulating a requirement or advocating that companies measure their GHG emissions.

 

From business perspective, we see carbon footprint as the “ultimate metric” that is on one hand, an indication of environmental performance, and on the other, a demonstration of efficiency (both in terms of cost, and energy). In other words, companies that measure their carbon footprint are able to make sound business decisions, and committing to reduce carbon is a financially sustainable strategy.

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Can we live again in 1964's energy world?

Can we live again in 1964's energy world? | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The engineer's bottom line is sobering, if not completely politically incorrect. Over the last 100 years the world has spent trillions of dollars building the most extensive energy network ever conceived. Millions of machines now essentially run on 14 trillion watts of coal, oil and natural gas. The quality of these fuels is declining, and keeping the whole show going is getting more and more expensive every day.


Refashioning what Smil calls the world's costliest "supersystem" into something cleaner and sustainable will be a gargantuan task that requires "generations of engineers."

 

"Yet everyone is broke. So how are we going to build hundreds of billions worth of solar and wind farms?"

 

To Smil the only moral response remains a "significant reduction in fossil fuel use." The scientist proposes going back to the future -- or the 1960s, to be precise.

 

"In the 1960s people didn't have three car garages, fly to Las Vegas to gamble or drive SUVs, but they lived comfortably," says Smil. More importantly, they consumed 40 per cent less energy than people today.

 

"We can return to 1964 with no problem. Living in 1964 is not a sacrifice."

Olive Ventures's insight:

Good primer on the history of energy and the current situation.

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What California’s Carbon Market Is Doing Right

What California’s Carbon Market Is Doing Right | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

The California Air Resources Board, which currently runs the world’s second largest carbon market, confirmed Friday that permits to emit greenhouse gases for the rest of 2013 closed at $13.60 a ton, $3.53 up from last year, $2.90 above the minimum price, and $1.30 up from analysts’ peg. These results stand in stark contrast to the world’s largest market, the European Emissions Trading System, where prices plunged to less than $4 a ton this month. In other words, California’s cap and trade system is working: Companies are buying carbon credits at market rates to make sure they aren’t penalized by the state for emissions they produce later.

 

"Of the $176 million generated from the sale of current vintage allowances, just under $140 million will be returned to the state’s electric utilities for the exclusive benefit of their customers," wrote Alex Jackson of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "For the millions of California households that draw power from one of the state’s three large electric investor-owned utilities--PG&E, Southern California Edison, and SDG&E--that will take the form of a historic climate dividend."

 

The good news came amid some embarrassing news that a trading "glitch" in the first auction, last November, led to the utility Southern California Edison erroneously putting in 72% of all bids in the auction.

 

That said, environmental groups lauded the successful auction last week, which will show up in the pockets of Californians.

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Cool Blue Roofs May Be The Secret To Energy Savings

Cool Blue Roofs May Be The Secret To Energy Savings | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Many of these new reflective colors, it turns out, are not even white. Much of the sun’s energy is emitted in the near-infrared spectrum, which is invisible to the human eye, heating up only after it is absorbed on the ground. Given the right chemical properties, even dark pigments, such as a brilliant blue invented by Oregon State University researcher Mas Subramanian, turn away much of the sun’s heat, and even provide an attractive hue for your home. Subramanian discovered his brilliant blue accidentally several years ago by cooking manganese at 2350F with a combination of yttrium and induim oxides yielding a stable, cheap and highly reflective compound. Now, car and building companies are coating their products with it to cash in on energy savings and durability, reports National Geographic.

 

Other new pigments and materials are likely on the way. The Department of Energy has committed (PDF) to installing roofs wherever it is practical, and U.S. Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds are flowing into basic research for new reflective pigments. The building sector is also adopting the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program requiring roofs reflect 29 to 78 percent of the sun’s energy (compared to 10 or 20 percent for conventional roofs).

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Oxfam report shows multinational companies failing on CSR goals

Oxfam report shows multinational companies failing on CSR goals | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Oxfam's Behind the Brands report also accuses businesses of being overly secretive, making claims of sustainability and social responsibility difficult to verify on the ground.

 

What Oxfam highlights is the limits of corporate social responsibility, which focuses on iteratively improving the current capitalist system, rather than transforming it.

 

It points out that up to 80% of the global population considered 'chronically hungry' are farmers, yet huge tracts of fertile land is used for the production of unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks.

 

Oxfam further argues that although the relationship between the food and beverage industry and endemic poverty and hunger is now well understood, the sourcing of commodities – cocoa, sugar, potatoes, tomatoes, soy, coffee, tea and corn – "is still plagued with injustice and inequity, much as it was 100 years ago."

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Ross Andersen – Humanity's deep future

Ross Andersen – Humanity's deep future | Trends in Sustainability | Scoop.it

Nuclear weapons were the first technology to threaten us with extinction, but they will not be the last, nor even the most dangerous. A species-destroying exchange of fissile weapons looks less likely now that the Cold War has ended, and arsenals have shrunk. There are still tens of thousands of nukes, enough to incinerate all of Earth’s dense population centers, but not enough to target every human being. The only way nuclear war will wipe out humanity is by triggering nuclear winter, a crop-killing climate shift that occurs when smoldering cities send Sun-blocking soot into the stratosphere. But it’s not clear that nuke-levelled cities would burn long or strong enough to lift soot that high. The Kuwait oil field fires blazed for ten months straight, roaring through 6 million barrels of oil a day, but little smoke reached the stratosphere. A global nuclear war would likely leave some decimated version of humanity in its wake; perhaps one with deeply rooted cultural taboos concerning war and weaponry.When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?

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