Wednesday, 15 September 2010 16:12 Written by Ivan Chan
Monday, 13 September 2010 16:43 Written by Ivan Chan
The White House has released the first Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans designed to achieve environmental, economic and energy goals. The plans were made pursuant to the Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, signed by President Obama in Oct. 2009. Similar to corporate social responsibility or sustainability plans in the private sector but sometimes larger in scope, the agencies' plans are to be implemented and updated annually. Under the Executive Order, plans should prioritize actions based on the return on investment for taxpayers and meet energy, water and waste reduction targets. Agencies plan to cut emissions by, for example, making infrastructure improvements, reducing fossil fuel use and implementing better maintenance practices. The General Services Administration (GSA) plans to use its purchasing power to help improve the supply chain of products the government uses, and The Interior Department plans to install renewable energy systems at wildlife refuges and its other lands. Agencies also plan to reduce energy use from data centers, among other initiatives. You can view the agencies' plans from the White House Council on Environmental Quality web page here. Also, learn about how Carbonfund.org is working with businesses, organizations and government in reducing their impact on climate, such as through CarbonFree® Certified Products and programs to reduce carbon emissions.
Monday, 13 September 2010 16:35 Written by Greg Taylor
One of our newest partners, All American Bail Bonds, illustrates a growing trend in the insurance industry– taking care of the planet. Though not typically seen as large carbon emitters, the insurance industry is heavily weighed down with paperwork. If you haven’t taken out a homeowners or life insurance policy, you’ll be astounded at the number of copies of documents you’re required to sign and receive. My recent homeowners insurance policy ran almost 40 pages. Two weeks ago we wrote about the unfulfilled concept of the paperless office. Promisingly, more companies are signing up to reduce their environmental footprints and invest in carbon reduction projects. Joining Transamerica, Infiniti Insurance and others, All American Bail Bonds has taken steps to reduce and offset its carbon footprint. By instituting a comprehensive electronic data system, the company has reduced its paper usage by over half and converted all remaining printing to recycled paper. On a related note, more than 100 of the world’s top insurance companies recently issued a UN-backed call for governments to use risk management techniques and insurance know-how to help developing nations adapt to climate change. Read more here.
Monday, 13 September 2010 11:56 Written by Ivan Chan
About one-quarter of all the food prepared in the U.S. gets thrown out, according to the EPA. That's 31 million tons of food each year, much of which decomposes in landfills to produce methane—a heat-trapping gas about 23 times more potent than CO2. The foodservice company Sodexo is creating awareness about food waste among college students, linking waste to climate change. Sodexo's campaign, "Stop Wasting Food," is a follow-up to an Earth Day campaign in 2008 which resulted in 340 campuses eliminating the use of food trays. The current campaign urges students to take only what they can eat at campus dining facilities. Tom Post, Sodexo's president of campus services, said, "We are so careful to source and serve food for our customers in a sustainable way but if locally-sourced food ends up in a landfill then we're simply creating another environmental problem. The good news is that by simply thinking before we eat, we can trash our wasteful habits and dramatically reduce food waste today." In addition to methane from food waste, it entails disposal and therefore carbon emissions from transporting the waste. Food waste is also wasted resources. To reduce waste, Sodexo said it had helped National Geographic reduce water consumption by 18 percent in its cafeteria between 2006 and 2009. The company also assisted Cox Communications with improved recycling and composting, cutting waste by 80 percent. Learn more about how you can reduce your climate impact by visiting Carbonfund.org's Save Energy page: www.carbonfund.org/saveenergy.
Friday, 10 September 2010 17:25 Written by Greg Taylor
CarbonFree® Events Partner Paul Mitchell Schools takes its best effort to make its Owners Summit as sustainable as possible twice a year, every year. In addition to calculating and offsetting the summit’s footprint, the hair design program completes a comprehensive checklist when planning the event to reduce waste, save energy and change behavior. This last part–changing behavior–helps the event create a legacy of sustainable behavior that extends beyond the event itself by changing the way its attendees live, its suppliers operate and its facilities function. Without revealing their entire checklist, I want to highlight a few of the broadly applicable sustainability practices any event can borrow from Paul Mitchell Schools: 1. Print paper materials on recycled paper–if possible using vegetable-based inks. Also, reduce paper usage by, e.g., printing double-sided. This isn’t as trivial as it sounds. Citigroup found that if each of its employees saved only one sheet of paper per week by printing double-sided, the company could save over $700,000 per year. 2. Make visible reduction, reuse and recycle services for people to use. Make it easy for your participants to make the right decisions and they will. Many events now label their trash receptacles “landfill” to drive the point home. 3. Ask your caterer to minimize the number of disposables. Ask for non-disposable plates, silverware, napkins and coffee mugs if possible or use recyclables. 4. Inform attendees on going green & ask them to participate. If you make this a priority, so will your attendees. Provide attendees tips on reducing their own carbon footprint and/or an option for your attendees to support carbon reduction projects. Carbonfund.org provides tips on our Save Energy page. 5. Use left over paper as packing material to cushion boxes being shipped to and from your office. Be creative with the way you cut down on waste. Please share your own tips in the comment section below.
Friday, 10 September 2010 16:52 Written by Ivan Chan
China's Vice Premier, Li Keqiang, said today that the international community needs to work together to overcome the challenges of climate change, working within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC/Copenhagen) and Kyoto Protocol while respecting the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities." Li was referring to China having signed on earlier this year to the Copenhagen Accord, which essentially calls for limiting the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels. China has said it plans to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide per unit of economic growth, or "carbon intensity," by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. India also signed on to the Accord and set an intensity reduction target of 20 to 25 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels, excluding its agricultural sector. The United States has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent by 2020 (a target that is not tied to economic growth or carbon intensity) from 2005 levels. Li made his remarks in conjunction with briefing UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres in Beijing on the country's present policies and measures to reduce energy consumption, develop green jobs and promote environmental protection. China will host a session of the follow-up U.N. climate change talks in Tianjin this October. Currently, China’s energy consumption is growing faster than any other country’s, but on a per-person basis, China still consumes far less energy than other leading economies such as the U.S. To produce more clean energy and mitigate climate impact, China, already the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, aims to produce 20,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2020. Together with wind power and biomass, renewable energy in China is expected to contribute about eight percent, or double the current level, of electricity generation in less than a decade. However, improvements have come with substantial costs. Upgrading the country's electricity grid alone cost China last year about $45 billion.
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 15:10 Written by Michelle Lam
There is a lot of talk out there about how to “green” your home, but what if you rent? For instance, you cannot replace your windows with more efficient ones without your landlord’s permission. However, there are still steps you can take as a tenant to reduce the carbon footprint of your home.
- The most basic thing you can do is reduce water usage. According to the EPA, we consume about 2 to 5 gallons per day when we brush with the water running continuously. Of course, it takes energy to pump and heat water, so conserving water makes a difference.
- For paper goods, minimize their use but also choose recycled paper. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, if every household in the nation swapped just one roll of traditional toilet paper for one made with recycled paper, the effort could save about 424,000 trees.
- Opt for energy-efficient alternatives to the traditional lightbulb, e.g. LED or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.
- Install faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads. Aerators break up streams of water with air. You get the same water pressure but reduce the actual volume of water.
- Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. "Vampire" energy loss accounts for approximately 5-10 percent of residential energy use in the U.S.
Friday, 03 September 2010 13:00 Written by Ivan Chan
The Obama administration today reiterated its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and will rely on EPA regulation if Congress does not legislate to curb emissions. “I think EPA will be an important piece of the total equation, and there will be legislative progress also, though I cannot tell you when it’s going to be,” said U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern at a press conference following further international climate talks in Geneva. “I’m in no sense whatsoever writing off legislation over time, and I’m quite sure the president isn’t either,” he added. The administration might achieve an emissions reduction of 17 percent, compared with 2005 levels, by first implementing EPA regulations planned for next year that would set national limits on greenhouse gas emissions.