Yearly Archives: 2018

Restaurants ready for a flavor of sustainability

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When it comes to dining out, most people have eyes bigger than their bellies. As a result, restaurants across the world are becoming hubs of food waste.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly one-third of the world’s food goes to waste every year. That’s 1.3 trillion kilograms of food–enough to feed the 800 million people who go hungry worldwide, twice over. Further, when food rots it creates methane, which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

The consequences of waste have been food for thought for the hospitality industry, which needs sincere involvement from restaurants and retailers to adopt innovative solutions, cut food waste and practice sustainability measures.

Sustainable thinking gathers steam

As consumers are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and where the waste goes, big food service brands are taking a greener approach.… Read More

Decarbonizing real estate: Why businesses are on-board

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In the business world, a growing number of companies are recognizing climate change as a present or future risk. According to a report by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, 90 percent of the multi-national, blue chip companies on the Standard and Poor’s Global 100 Index identify climate change as a major risk to business. Their major concerns include damage to assets and facilities, failure of critical infrastructure, higher costs and disruption to supply and distribution chains. Resiliency is becoming a cornerstone of future-proofing businesses, as well as essential to remaining competitive.

The concept of resilience can be viewed through two lenses: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation aims to curtail climate change by reducing or offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation purposes to limit one’s own vulnerability to the impacts of climate change without necessarily addressing the underlying causes. The paradox with real estate is that climate change affects the resiliency of buildings just as buildings largely contribute to the problem of climate change. The building sector alone accounts for nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions in the U.S. per year.

Even as industry traditionally tends to favor less rather than more regulation, nevertheless some of the world’s largest corporations are pushing for more aggressive climate change mitigation through government policies and market mechanisms. In a “Business Manifesto” presented at Davos in 2015, for example, executives from Unilever, KPMG, Philips and others called for world leaders to design a new architecture for sustainable development based on transparency, accountability and market forces.… Read More

Voluntary carbon reporting: Why bother?

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There are five main platforms to report carbon. Which one is right for your organization?

The geopolitical and economic fall-out of climate change is prompting the world’s largest investors to decarbonize their portfolios. To do this, they need to know how the companies they invest in are addressing climate change risks.

Reporting quantitative data on sustainability and carbon emissions can be challenging for a complex organization. The fact that many companies do it voluntarily is because this data is becoming increasingly more important to remain attractive to investors who must protect their portfolios against environmental risks.

The trend of voluntary disclosure has resulted in a proliferation of carbon reporting platforms, including the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), the Global Reporting Index, GRESB, GreenPrint and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

These carbon reporting platforms vary in focus, so it’s important to choose the right one for your organization. Some address a broad range of corporate social responsibility issues and business operations; others focus more narrowly on just carbon emissions or the environment; while yet others focus on specific sectors, such as the buildings sector.… Read More

Mandatory disclosure programs (and why they work)

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As cities expand and multiply, their citizens and infrastructure are greatly affected by the environmental risks and associated costs of climate change. For this reason, many cities and some states are requiring that the energy performance and/or carbon emissions of buildings be disclosed. These mandatory disclosure programs have been so successful in reducing carbon emissions that a growing number of states, counties and cities are now adopting them.

How mandatory disclosure programs operate

Typically, these programs require annual disclosure for commercial and sometimes multi-residential buildings over a certain size. In New York City, for example, the policy applies to buildings over 50,000 square feet. These buildings constitute only 2 percent of New York City’s buildings, but account for 50 percent of the total floor area of commercial buildings. The relatively small number of buildings makes the program manageable, while the large floor area that they represent can make a significant impact. Many U.S. cities have set ambitious goals. Portland, Ore. set a goal of cutting carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Atlanta projects that its ordinance will drive a 20-percent reduction in energy consumption by 2030.… Read More

Floating energy: a new era of renewables

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As land becomes increasingly expensive and planning consent for large-scale renewable energy projects is more difficult to acquire, floating renewables projects, especially solar-powered ones, are on the rise worldwide. The global market for ‘floatovoltaics’ – floating solar panel installations – is expected to reach $2.7 billion by 2025.

Although floatovoltaics are not new, floating solar panel projects are now being installed all over the world on a massive scale. In 2016, a floating energy farm was installed on the Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir in Surrey, England. With more than 23,000 solar panels and the size of eight soccer fields, it is the largest floating solar installation in Europe. Coming in at twice that size is the floating solar project currently being installed on the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Japan. Once completed, the project’s more than 50,000 floating solar panels will generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes.

In 2017, however, the rule book was rewritten when China switched on what is now the world’s largest floating renewable energy plant in the nation’s Anhui province. With a $45 million price tag, the giant installation of 120,000 solar panels covers an area equivalent to over 160 football fields and generates enough energy to power 15,000 homes.

Why floatovoltaics are rising to the top

One of the prime reasons for floatovoltaics’ worldwide popularity is their unique design, which addresses multiple efficiency and planning issues. These floating apparatuses are convenient to install in areas with limited land availability and, due to their small size, can be arrayed in unusual shapes. Additional benefits include reduced water evaporation and algae growth and increased solar cell performance.… Read More