This post looks at a real world case, the Gai Building in Orlando Florida that was built to LEED Silver standards and uses this to talk about some of the reasons the developer chose to go with the LEED Silver standard. It uses this example to address some of the advantages of building green and a few of the shortcomings of the LEED certification standards. It makes the case that only when a developer can determine that a proposed sustainable project is economically viable and will give the developer a definable market advantage will these projects get built in practice.
Bio-domes are a sustainable low cost water treatment technology that uses just one third the energy of traditional mechanical aeration systems and is also suitable for rural and other communities that currently rely on essentially unimproved treatment lagoons. They work by providing an optimal environment that promotes flourishing communities of beneficial bacterial biofilms that naturally process the dissolved and suspended pollutants in order to cleanse the water.
Company management should evaluate and prioritize green options while remaining aligned with their organization’s overall business mission. In this post, Susan Buchanan advises organizations that are just beginning the approach to sustainability to start with the low hanging fruit, i.e. the relatively achievable and lower cost green initiatives that can deliver short-term paybacks by reducing energy and natural resource consumption. Starting with an objective evaluation of their current state of sustainability and the options for change both in terms of financial metrics of course, but also looking at other metrics such as footprint and life cycle costing. Once these baseline metrics are established then the many green opportunities become more clear.
A newly-released Pew Center report “From Shop Floor to Top Floor: Best Business Practices in Energy Efficiency,” documents that US companies are increasingly pursuing innovative energy efficiency strategies to boost productivity and cost savings, while reducing their carbon footprint.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), one of the largest combination natural gas and electric utilities in the United States and based in San Fransisco, CA announced that it has contracted with Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., the U.S. arm of the world’s largest provider of wind power, to purchase and operate a major wind generating plant to be built in Southern California to serve the utility’s electric customers.
New Reports Grade Social Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting of 48 U.S. Energy and Utilities Companies
The Roberts Environmental Center of Claremont McKenna College (CMC) recently released a detailed analysis of the social responsibility reporting efforts of America’s top energy and utilities corporations. The two reports contain a compilation of Pacific Sustainability Index scores evaluating the environmental and social reporting of the 48 U.S. energy and utilities companies on the 2008 Fortune 1000 list.The reports score companies based on the reporting, intent, and performance of environmental and social sustainability efforts. The research, based entirely on material released on the firms’ Web sites, found that two of the smallest firms – Mirant (energy sector) and Pinnacle West Capital (utilities sector) – did the best jobs of describing details of their socially beneficial actions and environmental management. The lowest scores were also shared by small firms – Adams Resources and Energy, Inc., and Atmos Energy Corp. – but there was a good mix of firms of all sizes throughout the range of scoring. In neither sector is size a predictor of good reporting.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently announced 17 grants, totaling more than $7.5 million dollars, to provide approximately 3,000 veterans with job training to help them succeed in civilian careers. The grants are being awarded under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program (VWIP).
Increased public awareness of environmental issues has forced American industry to address these issues. However, many of these companies resort to greenwashing. Greenwashing is the act of misleading the public regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product, service, or business line. 24/7 Wall St. has put together a list of the Top Ten Greenwashers in America.
Earlier this month, First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) announced that it has reduced its manufacturing cost for solar modules in the fourth quarter 2009 to 98 cents per watt, becoming the first solar cell manufacturing company to break the $1 per watt price barrier. This is a major price milestone for the solar photovoltaic manufacturing sector and represents a significant step towards achieving what is known in the industry as as grid parity, the price level where the per watt cost for solar electricity reaches the current averaged cost of electricity on the grid a goal First Solar plans to reach by 2012.