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Sustainable Business - Building A Sustainable Environment PDF Print E-mail

Chicago Tribune 9/30/2010 -

Sustainability is on a Roll

Sustainability is on a roll and the competitive marketplace is a big driver. When we buy products or services, we are buying both the good and the bad associated with their entire life cycle. Stepping up and taking ownership of supply chain impacts, direct impacts and waste streams gives companies multiple paths for making positive sustainability improvements.  There are a few key areas we will address here: greening the supply chain, sustainable green buildings, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Greening the Supply Chain
The best thing about greening your supply chain is that it provides one of the lowest cost opportunities for improving a company’s sustainability. Currently large retail companies have launched programs that gather supply chain data and these companies are rapidly moving to implement green requirements for providers in the supply chain.  Green requirements may include recycling of byproducts, more efficient transportation, greener packaging, better product design and redesigning production systems to be more efficient.

The driver for implementing green requirements will emerge from IT innovations such as cloud computing that offer ways of harnessing data in ways that were not previously accessible. As a result, supply chain accountability will organically evolve from the old mainframe based infrastructure to an integrated green machine.  Once this gets rolling, greening of supply chains will become inevitable in the cloud-connected world. Each company and organization should be asking itself: “Are we ready?” and “Are we getting ready fast enough?”

Sustainable Green Buildings
As the green building market continues to grow, LEED® certification is becoming part of the expectation for Class A buildings. In the leasing market, more tenants are recognizing that the space they lease has direct impacts on their environmental footprint and health. Building tenants and occupants are starting to understand that LEED for New Construction certification shows a building was designed and built with green in mind. However, ongoing recertification under LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EB: O&M) is needed to assure that green design and construction translates into green operations over the life of the building. LEED-EB: O&M addresses many important facets of green operations, such as energy and water efficiency, sustainable procurement, and waste reduction. Whether or not building owners attempt LEED certification, focusing on these four areas will ensure greener operations over the long term.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
We have heard about the goal of zero net energy buildings. Since building use consumes 40% of the total fossil energy in the US and European Union, energy efficiency, renewable energy and innovative design are key components of our sustainability and achieving the goal of zero net energy.  While programs like LEED and Energy Star push for more sustainable energy consumption, it is up to each individual to adapt their lifestyle to more efficient energy use and to demand renewable energy from the marketplace. In addition, the demand for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency measures has led to over a 50 percent increase of renewable electricity generating capacity in 2009, and 24 states have enacted energy savings goals. 

Despite the programs driving these changes, the principle strategy in achieving a sustainable building and realizing the goal of zero net energy remains the same. Energy conservation is the most critical component for both new and existing buildings in maximizing the investment in renewable energy and achieving a sustainable future.

Clean diesel, cleaner air PDF Print E-mail

By Allen Schaeffer and Angela Tin  - Aug. 21, 2010 - 

In today's politically-charged climate in Washington, D.C., it's rare to find a program that has near universal bipartisan support among Democrats and Republicans. It's also unusual for a policy to bring together environmentalists, industry and government officials for a common cause, much less one that actually provides a $13 to $1 positive return on investment to taxpayers and the federal government.

This unique program is called the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and it was created to improve America's air quality by upgrading and modernizing older diesel engines and equipment through engine replacements and the application of new exhaust emissions filters and catalysts.

DERA is considered vitally important by government, industry and environmental officials as it can fund upgrades that reduce emission in older engines by up to 90%. Even the National Academy of Sciences calls DERA one of the most cost effective air quality projects in the nation.

Why? Diesel engines last a long time and play a vital role in key sectors of the Wisconsin and national economy. Wisconsin is one of the top 10 agricultural states in the United States and relies heavily on off-road diesel farm machinery. Over two-thirds of the more than 35,000 pieces of construction equipment in the state and virtually all of the truck and rail freight and passenger trains are diesel powered. Wisconsin's key commerce centers - the 15 commercial ports - handle more than 44 million tons of freight each year and the ships and equipment used in the ports are almost exclusively diesel powered.

Three Wisconsin organizations - the state Department of Natural Resources, the Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee, and the Leonardo Academy in Madison - have recently been selected to receive DERA funding for new clean diesel projects.

These projects included upgrades of older diesel school buses, work boat engines, construction equipment and municipal buses with the most modern clean diesel retrofit technologies to reduce emissions.

In addition, Milwaukee County recently unveiled 90 new clean diesel buses that were partially funded with DERA money in the federal stimulus package.

But there's a problem: DERA will disappear next year if it isn't reauthorized by Congress. Sens. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) are crafting new legislation to extend and improve the program, but they will need assistance to pass the bill by the 2011 deadline.

DERA was enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support to reduce emissions from existing diesel engines. It is an innovative voluntary program of national and state grants and loans for the installation of the most modern technologies for existing diesel vehicles and engines.

These DERA upgrades are important because the low-emission standards that began in 2007 don't apply to the more than 11 million pieces of diesel equipment and vehicles that were already in use. This is no small matter because diesel engines are extremely durable and it is not uncommon for it to take 20 to 30 years to turn over an entire fleet. A farm tractor, for example, can easily last 25 years.

Since its enactment, the program has been successful from an economic and public health perspective, and it has yielded one of the greatest cost-benefit ratios of any federal program, according to both the Office of Management and Budget and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Air pollution poses a serious threat to our nation's health. Public health organizations like the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest work on DERA-funded projects to ensure that the air is clean and safe. Of special concern are the effects of diesel air pollution on the health of vulnerable populations that have respiratory disease and lung cancer. Through this effort, substantive benefits to the environment and public health are being realized on local and regional levels.

Nationally, DERA is supported by a unique coalition of more than 150 environmental and public health organizations, industry representatives, and state and local government associations including the National Association of Clean Air Agencies and Natural Resources Defense Council. These groups are urging Congress to reauthorize the DERA program this year with no shortage of eligible projects needing funding.

Our coalition of Wisconsin and national organizations are continuing to work with Congress to ensure continued funding for clean diesel retrofit projects this year, as well as for DERA's reauthorization. As we all work for a clean energy future, clean diesel is playing a major role in improving America's air quality.

Allen Schaeffer is the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum in Frederick, Md., and Angela Tin is the vice president of environmental health for the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest.

IFC HQ Scores LEED-Platinum Rating with Leonardo Academy's Assist PDF Print E-mail
Published May 20, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC — The headquarters of the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank member that provides financing for private sector investment in developing countries, has earned a LEED-Platinum rating, the most prestigious of the U.S. Green Building Council certifications.

The 13-story building, whose 1,138,000 gross square feet house 2,000 employees, stands on the former site of the Marquette Apartments and several low-rise buildings on a nearly triangular area bounded by Pennsylvania NW, 21st Street NW and K Street NW in Washington, D.C.

The non-profit Leonardo Academy, which was the LEED consultant for IFC in its project to achieve certification for sustainability improvements and ongoing green measures, announced this week that those efforts were recognized by the USGBC. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and the green building rating and assessment system includes standards for the operations and maintainenance of existing buildings, called LEED-EBOM

The IFC building is the first structure in Washington, D.C., to receive platinum-level certification under LEED-EBOM -- and the second one nationwide --  since the standards were upgraded last summer.

A study released this week by Pike Research noted that existing buildings represent the major portion of the commercial green building certifications market. About 60 percent of total net green building space is in existing buildings, the study said, echoing findings of Executive Editor Rob Watson's Green Building and Market Impact Report 2009 and his Green Building Impact Report 2008.

To attain the platinum certification, Leonardo Academy worked with the IFC and the Brandywine Realty Trust, which manages the building, on measures to:

  • Reduce water consumption by 1,106,750 gallons annually. Water-efficiency  improvements had a payback of three months.
  • Divert 100 percent of furniture and electronic equipment waste from landfill as part of a comprehensive recycle program.
  • Purchase renewable energy from Wind Current equal to 100 percent of the IFC's annual energy usage.
  • Achieve an Energy Star rating of 89 out of a possible 100 points, making them eligible for the Energy Star Label.
  • Document an emissions reduction of 100,996 metic tons of CO2 equivalent when compared to the national average through Leonardo Academy's Cleaner & Greener Program.
  • Install native and adapted plant species onsite that will reduce irrigation water consumption by 65 percent, require less maintenance and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Implement a green cleaning policy mandating the use of 100 percent green cleaning products in the building and on the grounds.
  • Develop a lighting plan that reduced the average amount of mercury to 43 picograms per lumen-hour per lamp.

Image courtesy of the Leonardo Academy and IFC.

Read more:
Leonardo Academy's LEED Seminar at Green Energy and Building Expo PDF Print E-mail

CSR Minute: Eastman Kodak's Eco "Natralock" Packaging; Leonardo Academy's LEED Seminar

The Phoenix Convention Center's Green Pedigree PDF Print E-mail
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