Daily Archives: July 17, 2013

Why sustainability metrics need to mix simplicity with complexity

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a multi-part series that examines the pitfalls of sustainability measurements while drawing on lessons learned from outside the business world. For additional context, see Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.

Recent events in Egypt have cast doubt on the belief that a democracy-felling coup never could be justified. As of this writing, it’s hard to tell if the Egyptian Army’s move to bring down President Morsi is for the better or worse.

This has us thinking about the faith the sustainable business world places on metrics. We think we know which direction is better and which is not, but how sure should we be and how could we enhance our confidence?

Over the course of this series, we’ve described pitfalls where steps that look like the right course sometimes backfire. Life cycle analysis, for instance, may lead to a surprise about the assumed high priority of recycling for every item.

Further, neglecting the possible outcomes from non-linear systems, as we showed in Part IV, can lead to nasty unexpected outcomes. A current example is the proposal to take down the last green space in a park in Turkey, which spurred a nationwide revolt.

We’ve also noticed an undeclared and fascinating debate on GreenBiz about whether to keep things simple or to think big (the systems thinking camp).

We think you really need to do both. In part, this offers the best prospects that our actions really are moving us forward. On one hand, plan to do the incremental: the basic things that in good faith appear to improve sustainability — and simultaneously, give some thought to the systems-informed pitfalls in this series. The latter provides a perspective for the former, including possibly providing an alert about one of those non-obviously wrong incremental steps.

But systems thinking is hard. So in this piece, while we continue to provide additional reasons why it’s essential, we add some “practically idealistic” ideas to make it more feasible.

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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Green business, Measurement


Energy Efficiency in U.S. Manufacturing: The Case of Midwest Pulp and Paper Mills

Download the document.

This report highlights the critical role of energy efficiency in improving the economic and environmental performance of Midwest pulp and paper mills. WRI’s analysis finds that less efficient facilities could realize significant annual energy cost savings, and decrease their greenhouse gas emissions, by investing in initiatives to meet the industry’s national average efficiency level.


Pulp non-fiction: How paper mills cut energy and boosted profits

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

While manufacturing is a critical part of the U.S. economy, it’s struggled over the last several years, both financially and environmentally. Overall U.S. manufacturing employment has dropped by more than one-third since 2000. Meanwhile, U.S. industry — of which manufacturing is the largest component — still uses more energy than any other sector and serves as the largest source of U.S. and global greenhouse gas emissions.

The good news is that energy efficiency can help U.S. manufacturing increase profits, protect jobs and lead the development of a low-carbon economy. The Midwest’s pulp and paper industry is a case in point. New analysis from the World Resources Institute (WRI) finds that the pulp and paper sector — the third-largest energy user in U.S. manufacturing — could cost-effectively reduce its energy use in the Midwest by 25 percent through use of existing technologies. These improvements could save hundreds of thousands of jobs, lower costs and help the United States achieve its goal of reducing emissions by 17 percent by 2020. As the White House moves to cut carbon dioxide pollution in America, energy efficiency improvements in Midwest pulp and paper mills are a tangible example of the win-win-win emissions-reduction opportunities in U.S. industry.


Policy Pathways: A Tale of Renewed Cities

Download the document.

Transport currently accounts for half of global oil consumption and nearly 20% of world energy use, of which approximately 40% is used in urban transport alone. The IEA expects urban transport energy consumption to double by 2050, despite ongoing vehicle technology and fuel-economy improvements. While increased mobility brings many benefits, the staggering rate of this increase creates new challenges. Urgent energy-efficiency policy attention will be needed to mitigate associated negative noise, air pollution, congestion, climate and economic impacts, all of which can cost countries billions of dollars per year.

This report highlights lessons learned and examples of good practice from countries with experience implementing a wide range of measures to improve energy efficiency in urban transport systems.

Part of the IEA Policy Pathway series, A Tale of Renewed Cities sets out key steps in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation to achieve improved energy efficiency in urban transport systems. The Policy Pathway series aims to help policy makers implement the IEA 25 Energy Efficiency Policy Recommendations.

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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Energy, Publications, Transportation


After the ‘Crying Indian,’ Keep America Beautiful Starts a New Campaign

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The environmental group and the Advertising Council are following up their 1970s-era anti-litter advertisements with ones focusing on recycling.
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Green lifestyle, Recycling


Drought response identified in potential biofuel plant

Read the full story from Penn State University.

Drought resistance is the key to large-scale production of Jatropha, a potential biofuel plant — and an international group of scientists has identified the first step toward engineering a hardier variety.

Jatropha has seeds with high oil content. But the oil’s potential as a biofuel is limited because, for large-scale production, this shrub-like plant needs the same amount of care and resources as crop plants.

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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Biofuels


Call For Entries: Up-cycle Art and Designs

Get your upcycled and repurposed art and design published in Art Without Waste: 500 Upcycled and Earth-Friendly Designs by Patty K. Wongpakdee.

Art Without Waste is announcing a call for entries for all forward thinking visual communicators from around the world who are working with non-traditional materials and surfaces to create unique upcycled, recycled and green art and designs.

They are looking for designers, illustrators, artists, DIY enthusiasts who have harnessed their creative passion into the materials they manipulate, resulting in dynamic forms that encourage the viewer to perceive discarded items in an entirely new light. Winners will be published in a new showcase series on the Rockport Publisher’s list, which will feature 500 projects—similar to the 1000 series.

To participate:

or visit Facebook:

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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Art, Sustainable design, Upcycling


U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather

This report—part of the Administration’s efforts to support national climate change adaptation planning through the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force and Strategic Sustainability Planning process established under Executive Order 13514 and to advance the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of promoting energy security—examines current and potential future impacts of these climate trends on the U.S. energy sector. Report updated July 16, 2013.

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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Climate change, Energy, Publications


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