Trump Sparks More Support For Climate Change Policies

U.S. President Trumped By Public Opinion, Political Support

As U.S. President Trump breaks the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement On Climate Change, grassroots support is rising up.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans, including a majority of people in all 50 states, support the Paris Agreement on climate change. The global climate deal, struck in late 2015, was a historic moment. Trump’s declaration to join Nicaragua and Syria outside the largely symbolic deal is also historic.

The United States Climate Alliance will carry the flag for America in Trump’s absence. The Alliance is a bipartisan group of states in the United States that are committed to upholding the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change within their borders, by achieving the U.S. goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions 26–28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

climate change and extreme weather

With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

“Those of us who understand science and feel the urgency of protecting our children’s air and water are as united as ever in confronting one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Our collective efforts to act on climate will ensure we maintain the United State’s commitment to curb carbon pollution while advancing a clean energy economy that will bring good-paying jobs to America’s workers.”

The alliance was formed on June 1, 2017, in response to the announcement earlier that day by U.S. President Donald Trump that he had decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. formed the Alliance to convene U.S. states committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

The formation of the alliance was thereupon announced by three state governors: Jay Inslee of Washington, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Jerry Brown of California. The association is not a legally binding treaty, but a group of state governments with similar policies regarding climate change.

Jerry Brown California water conservation

A press statement released by Inslee states that “New York, California and Washington, representing over one-fifth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, are committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26–28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.” These three states are governed by the Democratic Party, although both New York’s and California’s governorship will be on the ballot in the United States gubernatorial elections, 2018. By the evening of June 1 the state governors of seven other U.S. states had agreed to maintain their states’ support for the Paris Agreement.

On June 2, Governor Dan Malloy announced that Connecticut would join the United States Climate Alliance. On the same day, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker became the first Republican governor to bring his state into the alliance. Governor Phil Scott of Vermont, another Republican, said his state would join. Governor Gina Raimondo said Rhode Island would also join. Governor Kate Brown said that Oregon would join. Governor David Y. Ige of Hawaii announced that Hawaii would also join, making them the 9th state in the Alliance.

On June 5, Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia would join the US Climate alliance. However, the Virginia Governorship is on the ballot in November of 2017. Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Governor John C Carney Jr of Delaware, and Governor Ricky Roselló of Puerto Rico also joined the alliance.

The member states, which make up 31.4 percent of the U.S. population and 36.3 perent of U.S. GDP as of 2016, emitted 18.1 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2014.

In addition, governors, mayors, businesses, investors, and colleges and universities from across the U.S. or with significant operations in the U.S said they would continue to uphold the tenets of the non-binding international agreement, according to a new consortium, We Are Still In.

Mayors, city councils, tribal groups and more progressive business leaders are responsibly stepping up to fill the leadership void. More than 1,000 state and city government officials and business and university leaders on Monday vowed to follow through on the goals outlined by the Paris climate change agreement, calling out President Donald Trump and his move last week to yank the U.S. from the landmark deal.

A coalition that includes nine U.S. states, more than 200 mayors and more than 20 Fortune 500 companies said in a so-called “letter to the international community” that it would work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

eiffel tower wind energy generator

Officially named We Are Still In the pledge has been signed by 1,370 businesses and investors (along with 9 states, 275 colleges and universities, and 178 cities and counties), and the list is still growing. Of the 1,370 businesses involved in We Are Still In, thirty-five of those are apparel brands like Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, Gap, Levi’s.

Indian tribes and indigenous organizations have pledged to honor the commitments of the Paris Climate Accord in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal, as have dozens of cities and states. Hawaii became the first state to pass laws supporting the agreement as Gov. David Ige signed two bills designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s (Tlingit & Haida) Executive Council issued a call to action to support the Paris Climate Change Accord. They were joined by three tribes, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), among others.

“As Indigenous Peoples, we have a responsibility to protect traditional homelands which are inherently connected to our cultural languages and identities,” declared a statement issued by the Tlingit & Haida along with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Quinault Indian Nation and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

“Alaska tribal governments are living with the early but significant effects of climate change,” said council President Richard Peterson in the statement. “Our traditional knowledge learned over millennia within our aboriginal lands leaves us with no doubt that immediate action to reduce the impacts of climate change is our duty as sovereign indigenous governments. As such, we will seek to participate in the Paris Agreement.”

In response to the U.S. pullout, the indigenous leaders said they would “aggressively address climate change” in their respective homelands and communities. NCAI and NARF also said they “remain firmly committed to representing and advancing Indigenous Peoples’ interests in the ongoing process of implementing the Agreement.”

“We will work to ensure that all parties respect, promote, and consider Indigenous Peoples’ rights in all climate change actions, as is required by the Paris Agreement,” said NARF Executive Director John Echohawk in a statement.

Indigenous communities worldwide are at the forefront in feeling the effects of climate change. The Native Alaska village of Kivalina is nearly underwater, and in 2016 the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw in Louisiana became the first official climate refugees when they were given $48 million by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to move inland.

The Quinault Indian Nation has seen the encroachment of the ocean on the Lower Village of Tahola, the tribe said in a statement, and glaciers on the Olympic Peninsula are melting.

A federal judge has denied the Trump administration’s appeal in a climate change lawsuit, paving the way for the unprecedented suit to go to trial.

global warming solution

Meanwhile, the case — Juliana v. United States — pits a group of youth climate plaintiffs against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The plaintiffs allege that the federal government, through its actions and coordination with the fossil fuel industry, have violated their constitutional right to a livable climate. It is the first climate lawsuit to rely on a version of the public trust doctrine — known as atmospheric trust — to make its case, and adds to a growing number of attempts to force climate action through the judicial branch.

The lawsuit was initially filed in August of 2015, against the Obama administration. The Obama administration, as well as three fossil fuel industry groups as intervenors, all filed motions to have the lawsuit dismissed, which was denied in November by U.S. Federal Judge Ann Aiken. In February, after President Donald Trump was sworn in, the youth plaintiffs filed notice with the court that they would be replacing Obama with Trump.

They will seek to prove that the United States government has taken action to harm their right to a livable climate. They will also argue that the government has failed to protect commonly held elements, like the atmosphere, in good condition for future generations — a legal doctrine known as the public trust. The plaintiffs will then ask for science-based climate action by the federal government.

“The more evidence we gather for our case, the more I realize how decisively we can win at trial,” Alex Loznak, a 20-year old youth plaintiff from Oregon, said in a statement. “It’s no wonder the Trump administration wants to avoid the trial by seeking an unwarranted, premature appeal. Today’s ruling brings us one step closer to trial and to winning our lawsuit.”

public affairs and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications is an international marketing and public affairs firm. It specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting sustainable, resilient and livable cities. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

Most People Breathing Unhealthy Air

Air Pollution An Extreme Threat To Public Health

By Mike Ives, The New York Times

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that 92 percent of people breathe what it classifies as unhealthy air, in another sign that atmospheric pollution is a significant threat to global public health.

A new report, the W.H.O.’s most comprehensive analysis so far of outdoor air quality worldwide, also said about three million deaths a year — mostly from cardiovascular, pulmonary and other noncommunicable diseases — were linked to outdoor air pollution. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths are in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region, compared with 333,000 in Europe and the Americas, the report said.

air pollution Beijing

“When you look out through the windows in your house or apartment, you don’t see the tiny little particles that are suspended in the air, so the usual perception is that the air is clean,” Rajasekhar Balasubramanian, an air quality expert at the National University of Singapore who was not involved in the study, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

“But the W.H.O. report is a clear indication that even in the absence of air pollution episodes, the concentrations of particles suspended in the air do exceed what’s considered to be acceptable from a health viewpoint,” he said.

In previous studies, the W.H.O. estimated that more than eight in 10 people in urban areas that monitored air pollution were breathing unhealthy air and that about seven million deaths a year were linked to indoor and outdoor pollution.

The new study reduced the second estimate to 6.5 million deaths. But María P. Neira, director of the W.H.O.’s Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a telephone interview that “the trends are still going in the wrong direction.”

“Somebody has to pay for those health systems to sustain the treatment and the care for those chronic patients, and this is something that countries need to balance when they make decisions about the sources of energy they are selecting or the choices they make in terms of public transport,” Dr. Neira said. “These economic costs of health have to be part of the equation.”

The W.H.O. study was conducted by dozens of scientists over 18 months and was based on data collected from satellites, air-transport models and ground monitors in more than 3,000 urban and rural locations, agency officials said Tuesday.

greenhouse gas and climate change

The agency defined unhealthy air as having concentrations of fine particulate matter, known as PM 2.5, above 10 micrograms per cubic meter, or 35.3 cubic feet, but it did not measure concentrations of ozone, nitrous oxide or other harmful pollutants.

The study said that major drivers of global air pollution included inefficient energy use and transportation but that nonhuman factors, such as dust storms, also played a role.

Professor Balasubramanian said it was an open question whether countries in Southeast Asia, a region that has densely packed cities and struggles to combat cross-border pollution, would choose to improve urban air quality by switching to cleaner fuels in their power plants, as Western European countries did several decades ago.

Prolonging the decisions will probably increase the health risk from air pollution, he said, because the region’s population is rising and demanding more energy.

About 300 million children in the world breathe highly toxic air, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a new report. The vast majority of these children, about 220 million, live in South Asia, in places where air pollution is at least six times the level that the World Health Organization considers safe, Unicef said.

Air Pollution News via http://nyti.ms/2cSBoVb

New York City LED’s Way With Greener Lighting

Big Apple Gets Greener

When many people think of New York City, beyond the crowds their image of the city is the lights. Soon, the night skyline will be much whiter because all 250,000 street lights are being switched to LEDs in the biggest retrofit project in the nation.

energy efficient buildings
Energy efficiency is one of the cornerstones to sustainable cities.

The switch-over is part of PlaNYC, the city’s climate change mitigation plan. PlaNYC requires the city to cut emissions from government operations 30% by 2017.

Started in 2009 as a pilot, the retrofit is now rolling out across NYC with a completion date of 2017. LEDs already light key corridors, such as FDR Drive – the highway along its east side – and paths that wind through Central Park. They even adorn the city’s bridges.

The $76.5 million project is expected to save $6 million a year in energy costs and $8 million a year on maintenance costs (LEDs last for up to 20 years).

It is the first project to receive funding from the city’s ACE Program (Accelerated Conservation and Efficiency Initiative). The $100 million competitive program launched this fall to expedite government projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions. It funds programs that can be quickly implemented on efficiency and clean heating. It awarded $10 million toward the lighting retrofit.

“Using LEDs for street lighting is more than just a bright idea, it’s a necessity for sustainable cities to operate more efficiently while also delivering clearer, better quality light for New Yorkers,” says Transportation Commissioner Sadik-Khan.

NYC was the first large American city to use LED traffic signals, converting lights at all 12,700 intersections – they now use  81% less energy.  Even the iconic ball that drops at New Year’s is filled with LEDs.

Boston and Los Angeles both recently finished their own city-wide lighting retrofits.

It’s estimated that the 35 million streetlights in the US consume about 1% of all electricity. If every city followed their lead, that would eliminate the need for 2.5 coal plants a year, notes former President Clinton.

Although clear, bright LEDs make city streets safer, not everyone likes their look. They are too bright they say, reminding them of floodlights. While there are soft light versions for use in homes, we wonder why they can’t be applied to  street lights.

Last year, the Department of Energy conducted a lifecycle analysis of LEDs and found while they have significantly lower environmental impact than incandescents, they only have a slight edge over compact fluorescents.

Source: http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25314

Washington, DC Aims To Be America’s Sustainability Capital

Build Smart DC Launched To Promote Efficiency, Resiliency

These days, the nation’s capital city — and the federal government in particular — is not known for getting things done. But the city itself has bold plans, including Mayor Vincent Gray’s Sustainable DC initiative, to be the greenest, healthiest and most livable city in the U.S.

washington dc sustainability
A sustainable Washington D.C.

As part of Sustainable DC, the city’s energy and sustainability office launched Build Smart DC on Thursday to provide transparency and accountability for the municipal building stock, and then make it as energy-efficient as possible.

And after laying bare all of its daily energy information, Washington, D.C. has set a goal of reducing the energy use in more than half of its 30 million-plus square feet of municipal facilities by 20 percent in twenty months.

“We’re trying to embrace truly transparent data to create tremendous savings,” said Sam Brooks, associate director of the city’s Energy & Sustainability office. “Our hope is that it’s nothing less than a groundbreaking and transformational initiative.”

Build Smart DC, which is powered by Honest Buildings, will have next-day interval data from all of Washington, D.C.’s 400-plus municipal buildings.

The city has already benchmarked its building stock with Energy Star scores, but “energy benchmarking is so 2010,” asserted Brooks. Instead, Build Smart DC will gather about 35,000 data points per building per year.

But getting access to interval data was not as easy as the city would have hoped. Although Pepco, the utility that serves the area, had deployed smart meters, it still took six to eight months of wrangling to get the data from the utility. At one point, the program administrators debated double metering the buildings to get the data, because every lost month was seen as lost energy — and money — savings. Washington, D.C. spends about $65 million annually in energy expenditures.

“The goal here is to eliminate energy waste and create effective cash flows back to the city,” said Brooks.

Some of the analytics will look for anomalies, such as schools that have heating or cooling systems staying on until 10 p.m. The data will also provide insight into which buildings need deeper retrofits. Brooks acknowledged that it’s a learning process all around. The administration has been engaging building stakeholders, and has asked each building to come up with an operational plan. Brooks said his team has engaged facility managers about the functionality of the website, but acknowledged they could have been brought in even earlier in the process.

Eventually, there will likely be competitions between buildings, which can be powered by Lucid, which partners with Honest Buildings. Ultimately, Brooks would like to expand the effort across the nation — and the globe. “In my utopia, there would be a Biggest Loser-type competition,” he said. The C40 Cities group would be the likely place to launch such an effort.

But for now, it’s a matter of cutting energy waste from the biggest offenders, all while documenting it online for the public to see.  “Embracing something like this takes real guts,” Brooks said of Mayor Vincent Gray. “He’s the guy that allows us to swing for the fences.”

Tracking and taking action on interval electricity use, however, is just the beginning. The platform could someday bring in building energy management data, and there are already plans to include natural gas, recycling and water data in the future. “Better, more robust data will bring efficiency,” said Brooks. “Culturally, you have an immediate change when you embrace transparency.”

Source: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/washington-d.c.-wants-to-lead-the-nation-in-energy-efficiency

Silver Spring Networks Lightens Load For LED Cities

 Energy Efficiency A Bright Move For Everyone

By Joel Makower

How many technologies does it take to change a city’s light bulbs? That’s a question being addressed, more or less, around the world as major metropolitan areas retrofit their street lights, traffic signals and signage with higher-efficiency bulbs and technologies, notably LEDs. Such efforts are often part of a larger project to modernize and digitize much of the information around energy use — the so-called smart grid — making it easier to control and optimize it.

paris lights LED
LED lights will transform the Paris streets.

For a city, lighting can be a “gateway drug” to a larger smart-grid implementation. A smart grid is a complex puzzle of utilities, buildings, cities, vehicles and devices using electricity — not to mention the transmission and distribution lines that distribute it. Throw in the so-called Internet of things — billions of computer-addressable objects and devices — and you’ve created a complex system.

Like all such systems, they can be powerful tools or an unwieldy mess. Creating the former, and doing so profitably, will be one of the great business opportunities of the 21st century.

Much of that action is happening inside cities, which are spawning grounds for a wide range of technologies designed to optimize city services while reducing their citizens’ energy use and carbon footprints. Many of these technologies are nascent, continually improving in both price and performance. For cities, figuring out which technologies to deploy — and when, and from which vendors — is a complicated and sometimes confounding question.

But sometimes it all comes together. Consider the case of Silver Spring Networks and the city of Paris. The Silicon Valley-based company develops equipment that creates wireless mesh networks and transmits real-time energy consumption data between meters, consumers and utilities.

Paris, for its part, is known as the City of Light. Can these two partners — an iconic city and a technology upstart — find success?

At GreenBiz’s Convergence Paris event last month, I met up with Sterling Hughes, Senior Director of Advanced Technology at Silver Spring. Hughes heads up development for new market initiatives, including its international and smart cities businesses. At Convergence Paris, Hughes participated on a panel on “future cities.”

Earlier this year, Silver Spring was selected to participate in a streetlight and traffic signal management project for Paris, part of the city’s efforts to reduce its public lighting energy consumption by 30 percent over 10 years. The project in which Silver Spring is participating is the first part of a multistep process to manage a complex array of thousands of streetlights, streetlight control boxes, traffic signal control boxes, and other elements of Paris’ public lighting and traffic control infrastructure. It’s also part of an effort to upgrade Paris’ electricity grid and turn Paris into a “smart city.”

Lighting first. Smart grid later

Doing the latter requires first doing the former. That is: A city can cost-justify a citywide rollout of the wireless network it needs for a smart grid because light poles are pretty much everywhere.

“Smart cities is a very broad term, but for us it starts with a network throughout the city for all of the city services. It then enables people to build software applications on top of that,” Hughes told me. Those additional applications can be used to improve a range of city services, from electricity delivery to traffic control.

Retrofitting street lighting with efficient LED bulbs makes sense beyond the reduced electricity costs, though those can be considerable: New York City expects a 35 percent reduction in lighting energy costs when its citywide retrofit is completed in 2019. That’s lower than other cities report, however. According to Hughes, energy savings from LED street lighting is more typically around 65 percent.

There are also maintenance cost savings — primarily, the labor it takes to replace bulbs when they are no longer effective. (Unlike other light sources, LEDs usually don’t “burn out”; instead, they get progressively dimmer over time, referred to as “lumen depreciation.”) Good-quality white LEDs in well-designed fixtures are expected to have a useful life of 30,000 to 50,000 hours or longer. In comparison, a typical incandescent lamp lasts about 1,000 hours; a comparable CFL lasts 8,000 to 10,000 hours. The cost of replacing a single streetlight bulb — sending a crew out with a bucket truck, sometimes having to close lanes or roadways — can be hundreds of dollars, many times the cost of the bulb itself.

“There are a few applications that pay for themselves,” says Hughes. “One is smart parking” — which typically results in higher revenue from parking meters. “The other is smart street lights.”

The difference with street lights, says Hughes, is that “you get much more ubiquity across the city so you’re able to have that network infrastructure. It basically finances the rollout of a network across your city. If you implement LEDs and you choose a network that can support multiple applications, every additional device you choose is going to be way cheaper.” The alternative to a wireless network, says Hughes, is to dig trenches to install fiber optics throughout the city.

In the case of Paris, there are actually two separate projects, each attached to different city budgets. One has to do with LED traffic lights, enabling them to be not just more energy efficient, but also digitally networked in order to improve traffic flow. The other is for street lights, providing operational savings from energy as well as detecting that a street light is out (or degrading) without physically inspecting it.

Europe’s drive for smart lighting

Much of this kind of work is playing out in Europe first. “Europe has a few more drivers for smart lighting,” explains Hughes. “One is there’s roughly double as many lights in Europe as there are in the United States, even though the U.S. is much larger. The engineering standards on roadway lighting here in Europe much more specific.”

One key metric is pole-spacing on roads — the distance from one light pole to the next in order to have sufficient illumination on roadways. “In Europe there’s a very well-defined classification and system of roads that is defined by the CIE [International Commission on Illumination], which is a standardization body for lighting. Not only do they define what the pole spacing is in order to have enough light on the road, they also define the traffic conditions and the light on the road based upon the traffic conditions.”

Hughes explains: “Road classifications are based on their traffic — the number of cars per minute or per hour. Based upon that it’s either called a highway, a thoroughfare, or a pedestrian roadway. The way dimming schemes work is, essentially, if the highway at 2 a.m. has only the traffic of a pedestrian roadway, you can de-rate the road to a pedestrian roadway in terms of your lighting level, which means you can reduce the light level by 50 percent, and therefore save a bunch of energy in the middle of the night.”

Equivalent standards don’t yet exist in the United States.

And then there are the societal benefits of smarter, more energy-efficient city lighting. “The light from LEDs is massively better,” says Hughes. “I didn’t really think they were anything that special before I started looking at street lights, but the light from LEDs can actually demonstrably reduce crime. In Los Angeles, it’s reduced crime by 15 percent. In Chattanooga, certain public parks have gone from three or four gang incidents a week to none.”

Suffice to say, such societal benefits need to be part of the calculation for cities investing in smart lighting systems. We know how to put monetary values to social benefit, from reduced law enforcement needs to higher property values and resulting property tax revenues, not to mention resident safety and satisfaction. They are as important as the reduced energy and maintenance costs.

“Cities don’t quantify the societal benefit,” Hughes acknowledges. “That’s one of the things you learn right away. There’s always some societal benefit that never gets captured.”

Source: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/07/29/how-silver-spring-networks-saw-light-led-lit-cities?src=linkedin8113

India Schedules Sustainability Summit

Sustainabilty stakeholders in India will convene in New Dehli next month to discuss green buildings and cities. Green Habitat Summit India 2013 is scheduled for August 20-21.

The Summit will focus on technologies, strategies, and financial mechanisms that can help the ULBs and states achieve sustainability goals – from building infrastructure and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to promoting a thriving green economy.

India's booming economy and population must address sustainability issues fast.
India’s booming economy and population must address sustainability issues fast.

The summit will bring in government agencies, entrepreneurs, private enterprises and the civil society to share their experience and deliberate on areas like sustainable buildings, energy efficiency, renewable energy, building materials, wastewater management, solid waste management, and waste-to-wealth initiatives and to chalk out a sustainable and green roadmap for habitats, including buildings, housing projects, townships and cities.

Green Habitat Summit India 2013 aims to identify green technologies and direct the ULBs and states towards sustainable and eco-friendly development.

Dr. Sukumar Devotta, Former Director, National environmental Engineering Research institute (NEERI) and convener of the event, said, “It is a compelling case for sustainable infrastructure projects to have a clear and well-structured road map. I hope that The Green Habitat Summit 2013 will bring together all stakeholders including leading think-tanks and practitioners and provide valuable insights, which can be put into action.”

Mr. Nesar Ahmed, Former President, Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI), founder of Universal Knowledge Foundation (UKF) and Adviser with HexaGreen, said, “Measuring impacts on environmental, social, and economic aspects of our buildings and cities is only a first, albeit essential, step towards a sustainable future. We need to create financial framework to help sustain the urban future of India.”

Thought provoking issues that the summit will deliberate on:

  • Energy Efficient Buildings: What are all stakeholders up to?
  • Solid Waste Management: Enough or require more innovative ideas?
  • LEDs: Green vs. Price
  • Urban Design in 21st Century: Where have we been mistaken and what is the way forward?
  • Beyond BRTS & CNG: What do we need in Urban Transportation?
  • Green Building Materials: Breaking the barrier
  • Sustainable Water Management: Where are the gaps and how do we bridge them
  • LEED & GRIHA: Do they need to change?
  • Green Investing in India: Has it gone well over the years?
  • Getting environment clearance: Perception Vs. Reality

HexaGreen is an initiative by DevCom Media Pvt. Ltd. with a vision of bridging the information and communication gap in the environment sector through websites, events, and research. It provides a digest form of all important happenings, policy matters, and actions taken in the sector, trend reading of the future of the business and representation of the same in pithy to-the-point anecdotes culled out from worldwide sources with high degree of India-centricity, opinion and analysis from corporate executives and thought leaders offering insight and inspiration on trends and best practices and valuable resources to help increase the effectiveness of online browsing.

The details related to the summit can be obtained at http://hexagreen.com/ghsi

Contact:

Lakshmishree Sinha, +91-98110-06805, lmshree@hexagreen.com

Microsoft Hopes To Help Create Sustainable Cities

US software giant Microsoft launched a new initiative called CityNext to spur innovation and encourage leaders to create sustainable cities at its annual Worldwide Partner Conference in the US city of Houston on Wednesday.

Microsoft sees a window of opportunity in the sustainable city movement.
Microsoft sees a window of opportunity in the sustainable city movement.

Laura Ipsen, vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector, announced the initiative in her keynote at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston. The initiative leverages Microsoft’s vast Partner Network and the company’s technology solutions like Windows Azure and other devices and apps.

“Working with our vast Microsoft Partner Network, we can scale solutions and services to do ‘new with less,’ enabling cities to better compete in the global marketplace, drive citizen engagement, and foster economic, social and environmental sustainability,” Ipsen said.

Through CityNext, Microsoft will work with city leaders and focus on eight core functions: energy and water; buildings, planning and infrastructure; transportation; public safety and justice; tourism, recreation and culture; education; health and social services; government administration.

Nine places have already embarked on the initiative including southern China’s Hainan province and Zhengzhou in the central province of Henan, according to Sandy Gupta, national technology officer with Microsoft China.

CityNext empowers cities to make the most of existing investments and find the right combination of solutions, applications and programs to transform their cities.

Navigant Research forecasts that the smart city technology market will grow from the reported US$6.1 billion last year to US$20.2 billion in 2020, generating a total revenue of US$117.3 billion over the next seven years.

Source: http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?cid=1102&MainCatID=11&id=20130712000002

South Korea Will Host World EcoMobility Festival

Located 30km from South Korea’s capital of Seoul, Suwon is one of the fast-growing Asian cities battling with mounting urban challenges associated with climate change, including road nightmares.

The road to a sustainable future requires sustainable transportation alternatives. Suwon, South Korea will become a showcase for case studies and best practices in September.
The road to a sustainable future requires sustainable transportation alternatives. Suwon, South Korea will become a showcase for case studies and best practices in September.

But the city is determined to bid farewell to bottle-neck traffics and congestion, as well as the energy and pollution problems associated with urban transportation. This September, Suwon will host the EcoMobility World Festival with ICLEI and UN-Habitat.

Held in Suwon, South Korea from 1 to 30 September 2013, the EcoMobility World Festival 2013 offers a peek into the ecomobile city of the future by transforming an urban neighborhood into a people-oriented environment.

By designating one of the most crowded neighborhoods Haenggung-dong as a car-free zone for an entire month, where the world’s most cutting edge sustainable vehicles will also be showcased, the city will demonstrate to cities worldwide that alternative – eco-friendly, healthy and resource-efficient – means of transportation and lifestyle are possible in the age where climate change and its impacts are becoming more visible and relevant to the urban population.

To transform the car-centered neighborhood into a more people-friendly one, works have already been done to regenerate the city old town. For example, more trees have been planted and footpaths were widened to create more space for pedestrians. During the Festival, these usually crowded streets will also see ecomobile vehicles running on designated lanes, while all kinds of cultural activities, concerts, street art, bike and film shows will take place in other parts of the Festival area.

Describing the Festival as a meaningful attempt to create an “alternative urban transportation system that does not rely on fossil fuel in an era of oil depletion”, Yeom Tae-Young, Mayor of Suwon City, is calling his fellow citizens to change their mindsets and help create a greener and more sustainable community by adopting an ecomobile lifestyle – but also to cities worldwide, where heavy traffics are happening daily and costing commuters a huge amount of time and financial costs, not to mention the environmental costs that we have already been paying for decades.

To learn more, please visit www.ecomobilityfestival.org Find out how you can participate now!

Corporations Share Secrets On Energy Savings

Several corporate leaders, including Kohl’s, HEI Hotels and Resorts, Staples and Walgreens, have volunteered to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2020 as part of a challenge initiated by President Barack Obama. But that’s not the big deal.

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The big deal is that they have agreed to publicly disclose how they’re doing it. Factories, data centers, stores and other large energy users often balk at revealing their energy efficiency strategies. After all, saving energy reduces the cost of doing business and gives them a competitive edge. By sharing details, they tip off the competition to better practices.

By not sharing details, however, they force others to reinvent the wheel — if they invent it at all — thus slowing U.S. progress in reaching national energy productivity goals aimed at bettering the economy.

“The real goal is to figure out who is leading in the space and how we can learn from their learning and replicate their activities in the marketplace quickly,” said Maria Vargas, director of the Better Buildings Challenge at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Vargas described the Obama strategy June 18-19 at the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships’ (NEEP) annual summit, an event that drew more than 300 people to Springfield, Mass.

“I have children, and they watch a show called ‘Mythbusters,'” she said. “So the way I think about the Better Business Challenge is as ‘barrier busters.'”

Some companies participating in the program have pursued energy efficiency for a decade or more, so can bust a lot of myths and offer substantial guidance. She relayed two examples where participants offered a useful strategy or technology.

Kohl’s was interested for years in pursuing energy efficiency, but the energy team could not convince the department store’s chief financial officer. It was largely a communications problem, as Vargas tells it.

“The CFO kept looking for different criteria than they had. They finally said, ‘This is crazy. We’re literally speaking different languages,'” she said.

Then, Kohl’s added someone from the CFO’s office to the energy team. That changed everything.

“All of a sudden, they move to the different country, and they are forced to speak the language,” she said.

As a result, Kohl’s is now “very much moving down an energy efficiency path and seeing tremendous savings across its portfolio,” she said.

Vargas also told the story of HEI Hotels & Resorts, owner of the Hilton, Marriott, Westin and other hotels. The company has developed an “easy, yet sophisticated” energy dashboard. “It was very proprietary,” she said.

Energy Looking Glass A snapshot of the Energy Looking Glass, HEI’s energy management tracking tool.

But after getting a direct request from Obama, Kohl’s CEO said, “‘The president asked me to share, and I’m going to share,'” Vargas said. “So they have.”

Ultimately, though, Vargas sees the federal program as a way to bolster innovation for communities, cities and states — the true launching pad for an energy-efficiency revolution.

“I firmly believe that all politics, all success, all life is local,” she said. “The Department of Energy can tell somebody what to do, and people will be like, ‘That’s nice, pass the muffins.'”

NEEP, host of the conference where Vargas spoke, works within one of the nation’s most active regions for energy efficiency. In keeping with the idea that it helps to get information about successful companies out there, NEEP announced several business leader awards. Videos or written profiles are available about the energy efficiency efforts of the 12 companies and organizations.

This year’s winners were American University, Atlas Box & Crating Company, Anheuser-Busch (New Hampshire and New York), Baystate Health, Boehringer Ingelheim, Boston College, Cape Cod Commercial Linen Service, Covidien, ESPN, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Woodstock Inn Station and Brewery.

Source: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/06/25/kohls-hilton-share-energy-efficiency-secrets?page=0%2C0&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRokuKjOZKXonjHpfsX56%2BQlX6e2lMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4DTsNiI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFSLHEMa5qw7gMXRQ%3D

Military Report: Fighting Climate Change Top Priority

A new report from the U.S. Center for Naval Analyses and the London-based Royal United Services Institute, two of the NATO alliance’s front-line strategy centers, recommends putting more effort into fighting global warming than securing reliable supplies of fossil fuels.

The authors call the habitual American fixation on winning energy independence through expanded North American production of oil and natural gas “misguided.” They say the “only sustainable solution” to the problem of energy insecurity is not through more drilling, but through energy efficiency and renewable fuels, like biofuels to replace oil.

Despite the steady supplies provided by the current U.S. drilling boom, “the increased domestic production of oil and natural gas is not a panacea for the country’s energy security dilemma,” they say.

And in blunt language, they criticize American policymakers and legislators for refusing to accept the “robust” scientific evidence that emissions of carbon dioxide are already causing harmful global warming, and for refusing to take actions that, if taken swiftly, could ward off its worst effects.

“Political leaders, including many in the United States, refuse to accept short-term costs to address long-term dangers even though the future costs of responding to disasters after they occur will be far greater,” said their report, published this month.

The report, in the works for a year, was released as President Obama prepared to ramp up the administration’s efforts on climate change, and while the State Department was immersed in its review of whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in the United States.

In a major policy speech on Tuesday, Obama is expected to renew his commitment to regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants, as well as other measures involving renewable energy and green technologies, but not to tip his hand on the Keystone decision. Many in Washington believe that he wants to offer strict controls on power plants, the nation’s leading source of greenhouse gases, as a quid pro quo for approving the controversial pipeline, which is seen by opponents as a contributor to the global warming problem.

Keystone’s proponents have described the project as important for energy security.

The military embraces solar and other forms of alternative energy.

For several years, the view that global warming caused by burning fossil fuels is an overwhelming national security threat has been taking firmer hold in national security circles. In 2007, a report from CNA’s military advisory board called climate change a “threat multiplier.” In 2008, a formal National Intelligence Assessment found that climate change poses a serious threat to national security and long-term global stability. The Department of Defense’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, a major planning document, warned that climate change may fuel conflict, put new strains on military forces operating in the field, and cause damage to military bases, especially ports exposed to rising seas and intense storms.

In an article published in Foreign Affairs online in June, Tom Donilon, the former National Security Adviser to President Obama, wrote: “The Obama administration’s National Security Strategy recognizes the ‘real, urgent, and severe’ threat posed by climate change in no uncertain terms, stating, ‘change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of land across the globe.'”

But the focus of Donilon’s piece was on energy, not on climate change, and it spoke expansively of the importance of increased energy production to America’s strength in the world. For example, it claimed that by helping to provide plentiful oil to satisfy world demand, the United States could more effectively squeeze Iran with an embargo, a strategy that otherwise would harm oil-deficient allies.

The new American-British report looks mostly at the other side of the coin, the risks presented by the burning of fossil fuels no matter where they come from.

It acknowledges the problems caused by Western reliance on imported oil, especially from unstable parts of the world. But the new report says that even more important is the compelling need to stop using fossil fuels in the first place, since the steady addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is now posing imminent dangers to national security.

Even though the United States gets just 20 percent of its oil imports from the Middle East, the lowest share in four decades—and it could be headed toward being an oil exporter two decades from now—”the U.S. economy is highly sensitive to supply shocks and price fluctuations, regardless of the source of the oil,” it says. “Even new, domestic sources of oil and gas do not free the United States from the risks of over-reliance, because the prices of these commodities will be determined by global markets,” the report says.

The bigger problem, says the report, is global warming, which will cause upheaval, and military challenges, across the globe in the coming decades.

“Our consumption of oil and other fossil fuels contributes to climate change, which poses growing risks to our infrastructure, livelihoods, and national security,” it says in its primary conclusion. “Using more natural gas and oil, even if domestically produced, neither frees our economies from global oil prices nor checks the greenhouse gas emissions that threaten future generations. The only sustainable solution to this dual challenge is to improve our energy efficiency and diversify our energy sources to include cleaner and renewable power.”

Experts outside the military have also been increasingly alarmed by the possibility that climate change, by spreading famine, drought, disease and poverty, would lead to migration, competition for resources, and war, especially in poor regions of Africa and Asia. Rich countries might easily be drawn into these conflicts.

But the World Bank, in a new report that predicted many dire consequences for a warming planet, was cautious in predictions that climate change would lead to war.

“The potential connection between environmental factors and conflict is a highly contested on, and the literature contains evidence both supporting and denying such a connection,” it said. “However, given that unprecedented climatic conditions are expected to place severe stresses on the availability and distribution of resources, the potential for climate-related human conflict emerges as a risk—and one of uncertain scope and sensitivity to degree of warming.”

Strategists frequently note that dealing with uncertain risk is a central feature of military planning, and that whether the risk is of nuclear proliferation, terrorism, or climate change, it must be addressed long in advance of becoming real.

The new Center for Naval Analysis report quotes the “voice of experience” of General Charles E. Wald, a retired Air Force officer who was deputy commander of the U.S. European Command: “The biggest thing we could do right now to address climate change and its national security effects would be to decrease the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere, and the biggest thing we could do about that would be to have a comprehensive energy policy that addresses not only the amount and diversity of our energy, but how clean it is.”

The report hits hard at those in Congress who deny the scientific consensus on climate and use national security arguments to encourage more production of coal, oil and natural gas.

“Many elected leaders in the United States fail to grasp or distrust the scientific evidence for global warming,” it says. “To some, the revelation of newly accessible oil and gas reserves across North America seems to resolve the problem of relying on oil imports—a position we regard as misguided.”

Source: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20130624/military-report-america-has-misguided-fixation-domestic-drilling