Friday, August 20, 2010

Organic Packing Material - by S L Baker (NaturalNews.com)

It sounds like a futuristic sci fi idea: a non-toxic, earth friendly packing material that grows itself and, after it's used, makes a great garden compost. But this isn't fiction - it's mushrooms.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), two former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute undergraduates, Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer, came up with the idea to make a composite of mushroom roots that could be used as a packing foam substitute. Their product, which they dubbed Mycobond, is now hitting the market and, according to a NSF press statement, has several advantages for the environment.

First of all, the manufacture of Mycobond requires just 1/8 the energy and 1/10 the carbon dioxide of traditional foam packing material. In fact, most of the manufacturing process is virtually energy-free with the mycelia (the vegetative parts of the mushrooms which consist of masses of branching, thread-like hyphae) simply growing by digesting agricultural starter material (mostly cotton seed or wood fiber) in a dark, room temperature environment.

The growth take place within a molded plastic structure which can be customized for whatever needs to be packed with the mushroom material. That means no energy at all is required for shaping the products. "We don't manufacture materials, we grow them," McIntyre explained in a statement to the media. "We're converting agricultural byproducts into a higher-value product."

The material has another economic benefit as well, he added, because the cost of mushroom packing material isn't tied to the price fluctuations of synthetic materials that are derived from sources like petroleum. "All of our raw materials are inherently renewable and they are literally waste streams," McIntyre said. "It's an open system based on biological materials."

Once fully formed, each Mycobond piece is heat-treated to stop the growth process and then delivered to the customer. Bayer and McIntyre, whose business is called Ecovative, are working to turn the entire process into a packaged kit that will eventually allow shipping facilities, and even homeowners, to grow their own Mycobond materials.

With support from NSF, McIntyre and Bayer are also developing an even less energy-intensive method to sterilize the agricultural waste starter material they use. Sterilization is a necessary step for enabling the mycelia to grow because it kills any spores that would compete with the growing-for-packing-material mushrooms. McIntyre and Bayer have been using a steam-heat sterilization process but they've now come up with a treatment made from cinnamon-bark oil, thyme oil, oregano oil and lemongrass oil that will allow the Mycobond mushroom product to grow in the open air, instead of their current clean-room environment.

"The biological disinfection process simply emulates nature in that it uses compounds that plants have evolved over centuries to inhibit microbial growth," McIntyre said in a press statement. "The unintended result is that our production floor smells like a pizza shop."

For more information:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Green Project Management: 30 Tips for Environmental and Sustainable Management - by Haley Montgomery

These 30 tips for green project management make it easier than you think to "go green" with projects and the workplace in general. This article offers green project management techniques for making project culture, project workflow and project solutions environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Buying Green by Claudia Girrbach


Recently the project I am managing acquired new software and services. Purchases made during a project provide a great opportunity to deploy more sustainable solutions.

Benefits

A compelling reason to make a green purchase is to save on the operating costs. This can include reduced natural resource use, but also a green purchase can reduce spending on toxic disposal and reduce overall risk.

A compelling reason to buy green is to save green.
Even if green features are less important than other criteria, they can be used as a tie-breaker. They can be a good indicator of operational excellence and innovation.

Including green criteria will also signal to vendors that sustainable products are important. There is likely to be a green champion at provider companies who can use the “voice of the customer” as evidence to continue to improve products.

RFP
The first step is to include green criteria in the RFP (Request For Pricing). Your company may already use a standard RFP format, but most are easily augmented with additional green criteria. I have found sourcing, purchasing and project team members are supportive of including green.

The goal of the RFP is to uncover the environmental impact when operating the product, but also in building, acquiring, deploying and disposing of the product. The specifics may vary by type of product [Note 1], but the topics to consider for any RFP include:


Lifecycle – Has an end-to-end lifecycle analysis been completed for the product or product family? What areas utilize the most natural resources? Any certifications or eco-labels received?

Materials – What toxic materials are used? What are the plans to reduce and eliminate toxic materials? What recycled materials are used? What are plans to increase use of recycled materials?


Manufacturing – How much energy, water and other natural resources are consumed during the manufacturing process? How much waste is produced? How is waste handled?


Packaging – Is packaging right-sized to avoid excess while ensuring product arrives undamaged? Are manuals available electronically? What recycled materials are used in the packaging? What are plans to increase use of recycled materials?


Transportation – Can products ship together to avoid extra miles? Can more efficient modes of transportation be requested (water/rail). What are carriers transportation efficiency rating (energy used per ton-mile)


Operations – What is energy consumed during operations? Does product use variable energy depending on its load? Is there a hibernate mode? What is planned life? What other natural resources are consumed in operations? What waste is generated during operations – solid, water, atmosphere (including indoor air quality if applicable)? What is recommended use for optimal energy efficiency? How should configuration be tuned for different loads?


Disposal – Is an end-of-life service provided to properly dispose of product? Is the product easily recyclable? Is there an active market for the recycled materials?
Selection Process
Comparing the various candidates across these criteria can be complicated and a few key items that support your company’s eco goals may be more appropriate. For example, my company participated in the EPA’s Climate Leader Program that emphasizes energy savings and consequently our team placed a higher priority on energy use during operations.
One other way to simplify the environmental selection criteria is to rely on certification or eco-label, should the product segment be supported actively. Energy Star is a well established eco-label that provides simple metrics to compare energy use among products. [Note 2]

When comparing candidates, the total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) will provide the most comprehensive financial analysis. What appears to be the better deal when considering just purchase costs could become less attractive when operational and end-of-life expenses are taken into account. For example, a less expensive computer that uses more energy during its operations is a poor choice, both financially and environmentally.


Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis exposes the complete costs to avoid sub-optimal decisions.  
To improve the return-on-investment, there may be grants, tax rebates, utility and other incentives available to defray the capital costs. Federal, state, local government and utilities should be checked to determine if any programs are available. [Note 3]

Although we selected the product primarily due to its functionality and commitment to innovation, we were pleased to find it required fewer computer resources than the current solution or some of the alternatives. We estimated that a 50% reduction in computing resources can occur.


Acquisition

Rather than acquiring a product, it may be greener to receive it as a service; especially if the incentives are aligned to make the provider behave greener to be more profitable. It may also be easier to negotiate green practices with a third party then with your colleagues, given priorities and workload.

It can be greener to receive the product as a service.
In my case, we decided to host the new software at a third party for one of the business groups. We found that a third party hosting service is incented to run its data center as efficiently as possible since the data center is its primary cost of operations.

During the project, it is prudent to establish regular tune-ups to ensure that the product is being used as efficiently as possible. For example, a building’s environmental system (HVAC) should be tuned by season or when significant change in occupants. Paying for these tune-ups upfront during the project will ensure they occur and make the change sustainable.



References


Note 1: Green Criteria

Image and green tutorial on life cycle assessment at EcoDesign Guide

Check with industry organizations for more specific criteria for a particular segment.


One other source is governmental agencies since they are mandated to support greener purchasing. Since 1995, the
Federal Government’s Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) program promotes the use of recycled material. Buying recycled-content products ensures that the materials collected in recycling programs will be used again in the manufacture of new products.

For more details on packaging best practices,
check-out an earlier post
Note 2: Eco-labels reference

Check out certification information


Note 3: Grants, incentives


Government website
sharing info on grants and other incentives.

Businesses may also want to use
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funding.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shoreline Amphitheatre Gone Green - by Rob Sidon (Common Ground Magazine)

This summer, whether your musical taste ranges from John Mayer to the San Francisco Symphony to Sarah McLachlan, or Rush to Rihanna to the Country Music Throwdown Tour or American Idols Live, you can experience your favorites at the iconic Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View knowing you’re an active participant in the greening of the music industry. Shoreline is the first major music venue in the country to be officially recognized with the Green Business certification, marking a milestone in a pilot program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and waste generated by music venues.  
 
Owned and operated by Live Nation, Shoreline, which attracts approximately 330,000 visitors per year, is also the largest outdoor concert venue to receive the certification. The Bay Area Green Business Program imposes an extensive verification process, thus making the environmental benefits of implementation significant at a venue such as Shoreline, given the size and frequency of its shows.
 
In order to understand the environmental impact of its business operations, Live Nation SF has been recording sustainability metrics for the last four years for all of its venues, including water and energy use and diversion of waste from landfills. Venues are thereby able to quantify the impact of sustainability initiatives.
 
According to Aaron Siuda, vice president of marketing for Live Nation in Northern California, Shoreline has implemented multiple initiatives to reduce its environmental impact, including:

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  Greenhouse gas emissions from audience travel are the greatest environmental impact of any concert. At Shoreline, carbon offsets are purchased for the emissions from audience travel, as well as employee commuting and artist travel to the venue.  Shoreline also purchases Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for their electricity use.  For every megawatt-hour of electricity used, Shoreline purchases a megawatt-hour of renewable energy for the electric grid.
 
To reduce the emissions from artist trucks, Shoreline has installed shore power, which allows truck engines to be turned off and instead plug into electrical outlets at the venue. This reduces fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions from idling engines.
 
Energy conservation.  Shoreline has insulated all hot-water pipes, water heaters, and storage tanks, as well as replaced 1,332 incandescent light bulbs with more-efficient compact fluorescent lamps. Light bulbs have also been replaced in exit signs for greater efficiency, and staff members in the office have been educated to conserve.
 
Water conversation.  Shoreline practices weather-based irrigation control. The system responds to weather forecast data using reclaimed water for irrigation. Mulch  ground cover is in place to prevent evaporation.  All 172 old toilets in the venue have been replaced with high-efficiency fixtures, saving 611,460 gallons of water per month.

Waste reduction.  The venue has recycling stations adjacent to every trashcan. From 2006 to 2009, diversion of waste from landfills increased from 27 percent to 39 percent.  In 2010, Shoreline expects to improve these diversion rates through a training program for all concert staff and educational materials for audience members. There are battery recycling receptacles in all backstage areas, and artists and their crews are encouraged to recycle batteries from electronic equipment. All toilet paper, hand towels, and napkins are made from recycled content.

Sustainable treatsLast but not least, to keep our favorite entertainers (and their roadies) happily fed and hydrated, organic, locally sourced produce is used in the backstage kitchen where possible.

Shoreline Amphitheatre is a founding member of Green Music Group (GMG), a high-profile coalition aiming to bring musicians, industry leaders, and music fans together to create widespread environmental change within the music industry and around the globe. This a great step forward. Common Ground magazine salutes you. Rock on!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Green ICT & Energy Efficiency Trade Mission

Green ICT & Energy Efficiency Trade Mission

As part of our ongoing efforts to support technology transfer and international trade in the green marketplace, the Green Technology Alliance (GTA) is proud to support the first ever Green Information and Communications Technologies and Energy Efficiency Trade Mission in Mexico City. This unique event is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce through their Commercial Service program that supports U.S. companies that desire expand their markets in other countries.

The U.S. Commercial Service in Mexico City flagship event this year is the first ever Green ICT & Energy Efficiency Trade Mission to Mexico City from September 27-29, 2010.

Learn more here... http://www.buyusa.gov/mexico/en/greenict_mission.html

Monday, June 14, 2010

Virgin Airlines: Powered by Pond Scum? - by Bruce Falconer (Mother Jones )

Virgin founder Richard Branson has set out to create a viable biofuel. Will his ecofriendly venture take off?

Before meeting with Al Gore over breakfast in 2006, Richard Branson, the swashbuckling founder of Virgin Ltd., an amalgam of over 200 companies sharing the Virgin brand, was long a global warming skeptic. But then the former vice president (and recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to combat climate change) spent two hours at the billionaire entrepreneur's home laying out his case. "Sadly, I'm now convinced that the world has a serious problem," he told ABC's Good Morning America that September with Gore at his side. Joining the former vice president in his environmental crusade, Branson pledged to funnel all profits from his rail and airline holdings over the next 10 years—an estimated $3 billion—into developing a non-ethanol-based, sustainable biofuel to power the world's cars, trains, and airplanes. Last fall, he and Gore went on to establish the Virgin Earth Challenge, a $25 million award for the development of technology that can suck greenhouse gases from the atmosphere for 10 consecutive years and "contribute materially to the stability of Earth's climate."

For more:  http://motherjones.com/environment/2008/01/virgin-airlines-powered-pond-scum