World’s largest source of business sustainability data launches

Data publishing site Ecodesk has profiled the sustainability strategy of 4,000 of the world’s largest companies and their cost savings making it the largest free, public database of business carbon, energy, waste and water scores in the world. These 4,000 case studies have already realised millions in savings from reporting and analysing their data through Ecodesk. These include DHL and Microsoft among many others.

‘We want to encourage transparency and accuracy in carbon, energy, water and waste reporting.’ —Robert Clarke, CEO of Ecodesk.

The site, which officially launches today and is funded by UK Sterling 1.5m private equity and government grants, has made carbon data scores available for free and comparable for the first time. There are over 17,000 profiles in total. → continue reading

New York City to use sewage to generate methane for power

New York City’s sewage presents a daunting and costly challenge: it creates foul odors and often contaminates waterways.

But the city is now casting its sewage treatment plants and the vast amounts of sludge, methane gas and other byproducts of the wastewater produced by New Yorkers, as an asset — specifically, as potential sources of renewable energy.For the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, which is to issue its strategy on Wednesday, it is a shift. Until now, the agency has mainly played the role of water utility and environmental steward rather than energy producer.

But like other cities around the country looking to reduce both the costs of sewage treatment and disposal and the heat-trapping greenhouse gases emitted in the process, New York is beginning to look at its waste as an untapped resource.

Heating fuel can be extracted from sludge and butanol, an alternative fuel to gasoline, from the algae generated by wastewater. Sewage treatment plants could sell methane gas to provide power to homes. Such projects represent a more sustainable long-term approach to managing a wastewater treatment process that costs the city about $400 million annually, not including capital investments.

via New York City Moves on Using Methane for Power – NYTimes.com.

In Portland, Going Green and Growing Vertical in a Bid for Energy Savings

PORTLAND, Ore. — Urban gardening used to seem subversive. People planted tomatoes in public parks, strung their hops to rooftops to make homebrew and reclaimed empty lots as community farms, never mind the property owner.

Yet here in one of the more thoroughly tilled cities in America, subversive has come full circle: the federal government plans to plant its own bold garden directly above a downtown plaza. As part of a $133 million renovation, the General Services Administration is planning to cultivate “vegetated fins” that will grow more than 200 feet high on the western facade of the main federal building here, a vertical garden that changes with the seasons and nurtures plants that yield energy savings.

“They will bloom in the spring and summer when you want the shade, and then they will go away in the winter when you want to let the light in,” said Bob Peck, commissioner of public buildings for the G.S.A. “Don’t ask me how you get them irrigated.”

To read complete article by William Yardley go to NYTimes.com

Physalia – A positive energy amphibious garden to clean European waterways

The interior scenography of Physalia animates the debate on the water future into four thematic gardens dedicated respectively to every four elements bringing by symbiosis their typical aspect and complementarily to the final assembling of an amphibious global landscape.

  • The “Water” garden: marks the main entrance of Physalia between the berthing gates and the square. A great glass platform is in suspension on top of the water surface reflecting thus on the interior vault the causticity of the floods. This reception space dedicated to the temporary exhibitions vibrates under the weightlessness and dances under the reflections of light. The façades of this true aquatic balcony can also open themselves totally on the fluvial landscape and let the space breathe towards the exterior caressed by the fluvial breeze.
  • The “Earth” garden: constitutes the heart of the laboratory dedicated to international researchers who analyse the aquatic ecosystem crossed by the ship. On top of this panoramic room, a planted vault stands up. This vault is a fertile metaphor of earth filtering the stations of work and molecular analysis.
  • The “Fire” garden: is a confined and protecting underwater lounge, truly out of time. The soft relaxation armchairs surround a huge fire timbale burning in the fireproofed hull of the vessel. We feel like in a subaquatic cockpit with delicate golden reflections. We access naturally to this garden from a soft and circular banister that spreads under the planted vault around flames. We can admire the floating line dancing under its sinusoidal volutes as well as the fauna and the flora of the middle through the two panoramic glass portholes. It is a space dedicated to the permanent exhibitions on the aquatic ecosystems.
  • The “Air” garden: is a space of oxygen and light that spreads under a pneumatophorous lens. Actually, this ecologic amphitheatre opened towards the exterior landscape, towards the cities organised with chisels under an oblong ear of pneumatic and photovoltaic cushions. In the centre, we find “H2O” acronym extruded under the shape of a circular and rotating water bar such as a theatre stage. It is the meeting and debate point by excellence, a true citizen forum where we meet to reinvent the world and decide of the eco-political strategies of tomorrow!

Man is in the centre of this bionic project that recommends the balance between the human actions and the respect of environment. The architecture of this nomadic place, powerful concentrate of nature, of biotechnologies and information and communication technologies is thus the simple reflect of the contemporary citizen who wonders about the actions to conduct on its environment. It is an audacious avant-garde project that aims at mixing people around the notion of water respect, sharing in movement and dynamic balance. After the Copenhagen conference, it is a project of transeuropean leadership and a positive innovation of ecologic resilience.

Read the rest Vincent Callebaut Architecte PHYSALIA.

Garbage-to-energy incinerator hunts trash as collections fall because of economy

(Lake County commissioners have authorized solid-waste boss Daryl Smith to seek out fresh sources of garbage to feed Covanta Energy’s incinerator, including trash from Orange and Marion counties.

The count’s hunt for trash is essentially a hunt for cash.

Because of a complicated deal between Lake County and Covanta, the county is contractually obligated to bring 163,000 tons of trash a year to the waste-to-energy facility in Okahumpka — that’s about 3,135 tons a week.

The county earns about $580,000 a month from Progress Energy for electricity produced by the incinerator as long as the county provides adequate monthly “fuel” for the facility's trash-burning operation.

But solid-waste collections have tumbled because of the region’s economic malaise.

via Lake County hunts trash for cash from other counties — OrlandoSentinel.com.

Renewable energy drives alpine caviar farm.

By Julie Hunt

(SwissInfo) The ‘Tropenhaus’ or Tropical House in Frutigen is expected to prove a major attraction for visitors to the Bernese Alps this Christmas, offering a tropical experience for people seeking refuge from the winter chill. The project uses sustainable energy for growing exotic fruit and breeding sturgeon, which will soon produce caviar.

Sustainable caviar – swissinfo.

Elusive Goal of Greening U.S. Energy

The Great Green Hope for lifting America’s economy is not looking so robust.

President Obama, both during his campaign and in his first year in office, has promoted the promise of new jobs in cutting-edge, nonpolluting industries, and such green jobs will be a major issue at his jobs “summit” meeting Thursday.

But, increasingly, skeptics who point to the need for more jobs are wondering why he is not doing more to create green jobs faster.

Growth in clean energy industries and in green jobs has been considerably slower and bumpier than anticipated, industry experts say.

But rather than giving up on its green jobs mantra, the White House will rededicate itself to promoting green industries at the jobs meeting, which will bring together business and labor leaders, politicians and economists.

The initial promise of green jobs was based on governments around the world declaring the fight against global warming to be a priority. The theory was that jobs in environmentally minded companies would grow rapidly as a result. But instead, some green-industry companies have been shedding jobs in the United States, and in some cases moving them to China.

Last week, the Gamesa wind turbine plant in western Pennsylvania announced it was laying off nearly half its 280 workers. Last month, General Electric said it would close a solar panel factory in Delaware, while Evergreen Solar, which received $58 million in state aid to build a 900-employee plant northwest of Boston, said it would move some assembly to China, costing 250 jobs.

To read complete article by Steven Greenhouse go to NYTimes.com

Plantagon: Geodesic Dome Farm of the Future

plantagon-ed001.jpg

Lots of cities have farmers markets, but most — if not all — of the produce comes from rural farmers that use oil-intensive methods of transportation to cart around their food. With 80% of all people on the planet projected to live in cities by 2050, food production will have to move into cities if it is to remain cost-efficient. A Swedish-American company called Plantagon has conceived of an incredible solution: a massive urban greenhouse contained within a geodesic dome. The vertical farm, which consists of a spiral ramp inside a spherical dome, is currently in the development stages.

To read complete article by Ariel Schwartz go to inhabitat.com

15 Year Old Invents Algae-Powered Energy System

algaepower-ed021.jpgThanks to 15 year old Texan Javier Fernández-Han, we feel a little more hopeful about the next generation’s ability to adapt to a world of limited resources. The high school student developed a fully featured algae-powered energy system that combines a dozen new and existing technologies to treat waste, produce methane and bio-oil for fuel, produce food for humans and livestock, sequester greenhouse gases, and produce oxygen. Dubbed the VERSATILE system, the project is this year’s winner of the annual Invent Your World Challenge $20,000 scholarship.

Report: Clean Energy Economy Generates Significant Job Growth

Contact: Brandon MacGillis, 202-88… and Andrew McDonald, 202-55…
Washington, DC – 06/10/2009 – The number of jobs in America’s emerging clean energy economy grew nearly two and a half times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007, according to a report (PDF) released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew developed a clear, data-driven definition of the clean energy economy and conducted the first-ever hard count across all 50 states of the actual jobs, companies and venture capital investments that supply the growing market demand for environmentally friendly products and services.

Pew found that jobs in the clean energy economy grew at a national rate of 9.1 percent, while traditional jobs grew by only 3.7 percent between 1998 and 2007. There was a similar pattern at the state level, where job growth in the clean energy economy outperformed overall job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia during the same period. The report also found that this promising sector is poised to expand significantly, driven by increasing consumer demand, venture capital infusions, and federal and state policy reforms.

America’s clean energy economy has grown despite a lack of sustained government support in the past decade. By 2007, more than 68,200 businesses across all 50 states and the District of Columbia accounted for about 770,000 jobs. → continue reading