The big news this week is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their proposed Clean Power Plan.  Environmental groups and climate change activists have been eagerly awaiting these carbon emission standards for coal-fired power plants.

Power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and generate approximately one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions.  The EPA’s proposal, released Monday, will help lower carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The proposed rules are the latest under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.  The EPA is charged with proposing commonsense approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. 

Last June, President Obama announced a series of executive actions to reduce carbon emissions, prepare the country for the impacts of climate change and lead international efforts to address global warming.  Learn more about the President's Climate Action plan on the White House web site.

For good or ill, climate change continues to be a politically charged issue, often dividing along party lines.  However, many companies recognize that global warming is already impacting their daily business operations and that the problem is only going to get worse if we do not take steps now to embrace a low-carbon future. 

Sustainability advocacy nonprofit Ceres coordinated letters of support for the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution rule to the Obama Administration and Senate and House majority and minority leaders from 125 companies including the likes of Unilever, VF Corporation and Mars.  The letters were also signed by 49 investors managing $800 billion in assets.

Read more about the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule.

Spring is here – weekend warriors are out in droves, trying to create a special oasis in their back yards.  Homeowners in the greater Boston area with a yen for natural and easy-care landscaping have an advantage – they can have their own "everyday getaway" with the help of Land Escapes Design Inc. 

Land Escapes brings a passion for the natural world to environmentally friendly, low-maintenance landscape designs and custom cutting edge floral inspirations.  They’ll help  create an "everyday getaway" in your outdoor living space, a sanctuary  where you can unwind, relax, entertain and enjoy your natural surroundings. 

Land Escapes is serious about its commitment to the environment, for client landscaping designs and for its own business operations.  A Carbonfree® Business Partner for the past five years, Land Escapes makes an annual donation to Carbonfund.org each year to neutralize the carbon footprint from its operations.  Over those five years, Land Escapes has mitigated the impact of almost 350,000 pounds of carbon emissions, the amount of greenhouse gases sequestered by 4000 tree seedlings planted and grown over a ten-year period.            

“Carbonfund.org has helped us achieve our sustainability goals in two ways.  The first is by ensuring that our donation goes toward worthy necessary causes to heal our planet and help offset our portion of the damage done,” explains Trevor Smith, Principal of Land Escapes Design.  “The other is by helping us assure our clients that we mean what we say and practice what we preach.  By having the Carbonfund.org logo on our site and literature clients and potential clients alike can be sure they are making a wise choice and choosing a company with a conscience, concerned with the role they play in the world. Having the Carbonfund.org logo also helps us set the bar for our peers and competition as well causing them to rethink their roles.”  

Land Escapes specializes in landscape design, water features, rain harvesting systems and rain gardens, living wall and living roof systems, as well as complete event design for all occasions and seasonal decorating.  

Land Escapes Design partners with its landscaping clients to design unique “everyday getaways” and partners with Carbonfund.org to ensure that its own operations do no harm to the natural environment it seeks to enhance. 

ClimateStore Inc., located in Boston, MA, officially became a Carbonfree® Partner with CarbonFund.org.  The newly launched retail brand has a mission to make it fun and easy for people to reduce their carbon footprint, and launched its on-line brand, climatestore.com, this past Earth Day. The company seeks to close a gap in the retail space, namely, the lack of an easily recognizable retail brand focused entirely on climate change. 

ClimateStore hopes to tap into a growing market of climate conscious consumers, and carbon offsets play an important role in its sustainability strategy. To help realize its mission, ClimateStore purchased offsets from a portfolio of reforestation and forest conservation projects to offset emissions from its operations including energy use at its offices, freight and parcel shipping, employee commutes, and business travel. The company also relies on partnerships with like-minded organizations, like Carbonfund.org and 1% for the Planet, to support climate change awareness programs and forest conservation initiatives. 

“With the recent release of the latest UN IPCC report and U.S. National Climate Assessment, there can be no doubt this is a critical issue current for future generations. More people are asking what they can do to reduce their carbon impact” says Steven E. Bushnell, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of ClimateStore Inc. “There is a false perception that moving to a lower carbon economy will require giving things up or need extra effort. We take the opposite view; lowering one’s carbon footprint should be fun, easy and rewarding as we collectively secure the stable climate we all hope to live in.” 

The ClimateStore.com website provides summaries of climate science, issues an urgent call for action, suggests plans to reduce personal carbon emissions, and provides products to help people achieve a lower carbon footprint. The company launched with about 250 carbon saving products, including: energy efficient lighting, water saving devices, smart home technology, home décor, laundry items, travel gear and accessories. Each product is evaluated by ClimateStore staff to identify exact how it saves carbon - including the production, use, and disposal phases of the product’s lifecycle - and communicate their findings with a simple icon system and detailed product descriptions. 

Although the focus of the initial products are energy efficiency and upcycled materials, the company plans to expand its product offerings through partnerships including home solar and wind power. ClimateStore invites everyone from the Carbonfund.org blog to visit ClimateStore.com and welcomes suggestions and comments which can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Within one generation, by 2050, the U.S. can gradually and almost completely eliminate coal and nuclear power finds a new report out from Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council.  The report, "Energy [R]evolution – A Sustainable USA Energy Outlook," released last week details the steps we need to take to change greenhouse gas emitting systems such as electricity, heating and transportation.  If we follow the groups' blueprint, the country is estimated to reduce carbon emissions 39% percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and 60% below 2005 levels by 2030.

This report is the latest in a series of global, national and regional Energy [R]evolution scenarios found at www.energyblueprint.info.  "The Energy [R]evolution demonstrates that transitioning to a renewable energy economy can free resources for economic development. It means more and better jobs, greater energy independence, and it is more democratic as citizens attain more control of energy production. Compared with the Energy Information Agency energy outlook, the transition to renewables creates more jobs at every stage of the energy transition, with more than 34% more jobs by 2030."

The Energy [R]evolution's goal is to, "wean the economy off dirty fuels as thoroughly and quickly as possible, and in a way that is technologically, politically, and ecologically realistic."  Although this report focuses on the United States, it is, "part of a global analysis showing how the international economy can transition to nearly 100% renewable energy by 2050, while assuming no new 'breakthrough technologies'."

Specifically, the report outlines how by 2050 renewable energy sources could provide:

  • Roughly 97% of U.S. electricity production
  • 94% of the country’s total heating and cooling demand
  • About 92% of America’s final energy demand

"The most recent National Climate Assessment makes it very clear that we need national policies to expedite a clean energy economy," said Kyle Ash, senior legislative representative for Greenpeace USA.

"Fortunately, the energy market is phasing out coal and phasing in renewable energy at a rapid pace, but this must be quickened to avoid climate consequences much worse than the wildfires, droughts, and superstorms the country is already experiencing," said Ash.

Indeed, the Energy [R]evolution sounds like a good way to start putting the brakes on global warming and engender the truly transformative change we must undertake immediately to avoid catastrophic climate change.  The time has come for us to embrace a low-carbon future.

This is the third in a monthly blog series about our forest conservation projects in Brazil.  This month's blog highlights the extraordinary community benefits at the Russas and Valparaiso Projects.

The Southwestern Amazon, specifically along the Juruá and Valparaiso Rivers in the State of Acre, Brazil, is home to our Russas and Valparaiso Projects.  These forest conservation projects collectively cover approximately 158,000 acres and are being designed and implemented in tandem.  The Valparaiso Project is currently undergoing validation to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS), while the Russas Project recently achieved validation to the VCS and to the Gold Level of the CCBS for the Project's exceptional community benefits.

To achieve Gold Level of the CCBS for exceptional community benefits, projects need to demonstrate that at least 50% of the communities living in the Project Zone earn less than the national poverty line.  Next, projects need to specifically involve the poorest community members and must have a specialized community impact monitoring plan with the ability to monitor the projects' impact on these poorest community members.

The Russas and Valparaiso Projects both use a Basic Necessity Survey for their specialized community impact monitoring plan.  The way a Basic Necessity Survey works is by beginning with a local focus group to identify the top 20-30 assets or services which were believed to be basic necessities, or things that no one in the communities should have to live without.  Then the Project Proponents, comprised of CarbonCo, Carbon Securities and the private landowners, individually surveyed local families and only those assets or services which at least 50% of the families deemed a basic necessity were included in the final calculations of a poverty index and poverty score.  In addition to a poverty index and poverty score, the Project Proponents will continue to monitor community impact variables such as the value of owned assets, value of owned assets per person, inequality of owned assets, and the inequality of owned assets per person.

The Project Proponents identified the particular needs of the families within the lowest 25% of the families surveyed via the Basic Necessity Survey and then designed the Project in order for these families to benefit substantially from the Project. This includes addressing some of their specific needs, such as increasing access to transportation and focusing on agricultural extension courses.  The Project is also designed with the goal of increasing their incomes in order for them to eventually purchase additional assets, such as a telephone or television, to satisfy their other basic needs.  Furthermore, the Project Proponents identified and actively work to avoid scenarios which might prevent the poorest 25% of communities from benefiting substantially from the Project.

The Russas and Valparaiso Projects reduce tropical deforestation and preserve the area's rich biodiversity, which is a critical need in and of itself, but they surpass that need by directly improving the livelihoods of local families.  Creating a win-win is what CarbonCo, LLC is all about.  We love when our projects benefit both the environment and local communities and we thank you for your ongoing support to continue making these win-wins happen!

 

For Colorado residential and commercial property owners faced with construction defect issues, there’s a leading law firm that specializes in effective case verdicts and settlements, and that’s also a leader in managing its own environmental responsibilities. 

Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson, P.C. is one of the leading construction defect litigation law firms in Colorado, representing property owners with construction defect claims against builders, subcontractors, and their insurance companies.  The firm takes a unique approach to construction defect cases, developing and implementing several alternative approaches to construction defect claims that often resolve claims without their clients ever stepping foot in a courthouse. 

This leadership in creative and effective construction defect case settlement parallels the firm’s leadership in its ongoing commitment to maintaining environmentally sustainable business operations. 

Six years ago, Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson, P.C. committed to offset 100% of its carbon footprint created by office activities, including electric usage and business car travel, in partnership with Carbonfund.org.  Each year, the firm makes a donation to Carbonfund.org to neutralize its annual estimated operational emissions by supporting third-party verified renewable energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation projects. 

To date, the firm’s carbon footprint offsets have neutralized almost 1.4 million pounds of greenhouse gases, the same quantity as is sequestered in a year by five acres of US forest lands preserved from conversion to cropland. 

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Carbonfund.org,” states Doug Benson, Founding Partner.  “We hope that our commitment to offset our carbon footprint will serve as an example to other law firms, community associations and their vendors.” 

Carbonfund.org is proud to partner with Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson in their ongoing efforts to maintain environmentally responsible business operations.

 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 16:43

Combating Climate Change Makes Good Business Sense

Written by

Global warming and extreme weather caused by climate change are costing companies millions finds a new report from CDP released this month. The white paper titled, Major public companies describe climate-related risks and costs says, "Each year, CDP requests climate-change-related disclosures from public companies on behalf of a growing number of institutional investors. In 2014, the request for disclosure was sent on behalf of 767 institutional investors with $92 trillion in assets. This report presents key findings and responses provided by S&P 500 companies across economic sectors to the risk-related questions in CDP's annual disclosure requests from 2011 to 2013."

Companies reported risks such as damage to facilities, reduced product demand, lost productivity and necessitated write-offs, whose totals run into the millions of dollars.

The paper goes on to say, "Findings show that S&P 500 companies assess physical risks from climate change to be increasing in urgency, with physical disruptions and cost impacts already being felt.

  • 45% of risks were described by companies as current or predicted to fall within the next 1-5 years in 2013, up from 26% in 2011

  • 50% of the risks disclosed were described as more likely than not to virtually certain in 2013, up from 34% in 2011

  • 68% of the disclosed physical risks were direct to operations in 2013, up from 51% in 2011"

This is not merely theory either. Approximately 60 companies gave examples of current and potential future risks and their associated costs in the research, including:

  • Wildfires in San Diego caused Sempra Energy’s costs to exceed its $1.1 billion of liability insurance coverage

  • Consolidated Edison’s costs related to Superstorm Sandy topped $431 million.

  • Gap reported higher material costs for cotton arising from precipitation changes and drought in China

Companies are poised to make a real difference in the fight on climate change while strengthening their bottom line. Mitigating the risks from climate change simply makes good business sense considering a study by Business for Social Responsibility published last month which says the exposure to the risks from climate change are on the rise. Some estimate the cumulative global cost could be as high as $4 trillion by 2030. The time to act is now. These costs are only going to increase the longer we delay investing in a low-carbon future.

How does a progressive building design firm demonstrate its commitment to sustainable architecture beyond its client projects?  One way is to incorporate a commitment to environmentally responsible operations into the company’s core mission, as The Tower Companies has achieved. 

The Tower Companies strives to develop eco-progressive real estate and sustainable building projects that surpass traditional approaches to the built environment, teach people how to engage with their surroundings, promote the balance of body and mind, optimize human achievement, and respect our planet. 

As a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR® Partner and Green Power Partner, The Tower Companies consistently works to reduce its impact on the global environment by completing a corporate-wide inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  The company sets long-term reduction goals and annually reports progress to the EPA, The Climate Registry and to stakeholders through the Tower Companies Sustainability Report.

 In 2008, The Tower Companies met their stated goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, officially becoming “carbon neutral.”  The Tower Companies has continued to maintain this status, working with The Climate Registry, to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings by further reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as electricity and water usage.  In 2013, Carbonfund.org assisted The Tower Companies in neutralizing its annual Scope 1 and 3 emissions that could not be reduced any further.  The Tower Companies chose to support a renewable energy landfill gas project that measurably reduces its operational emissions by capturing methane gas produced by the landfill and using it to produce electricity.  For its ongoing commitment to sustainability, The Tower Companies have been recognized with National Leadership Awards by both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy. 

Green building starts with efficient use of resources. It moves to how the site selection, construction and ultimate operation affect the environment - today and for generations to come.  The Tower Companies’ own commitment to measuring, reducing and neutralizing is operational emissions demonstrates this commitment to green building strategies, and Carbonfund.org is proud to assist in these efforts.  

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