Category Archives: Energy Consumption

United States Carbon: Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility

benefits-of-corporate-social-responsibility

 

No longer is the term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ a novel idea amongst businesses. A 2011 sustainability study by MIT showed that sustainability, in the US at least, now plays a permanent part in 70% of corporate agendas.

Organisations such as Unilever haven’t simply been championing sustainable business as a form of corporate philanthropy. Since implementing their Sustainable Living Plan, they have increased growth and profits. Quite simply, doing good is good for business.

How have Unilever achieved this growth? By being a responsible, sustainable business, they have saved money (energy, packaging etc.), won over consumers, fostered innovation and have managed to inspire and engage their people.

Benefits of corporate social responsibility

The Unilever success story is well publicised, but it can be hard to identify with a business of such size. However, the great news is that even the smallest of organisations benefit when putting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at the heart of their business.

Whilst profit may be the end goal for any business, responsible businesses have managed to attract more investors, reduced their risks and addressed stakeholder concerns. With there barely being a day in the news where a business hasn’t made an embarrassing error of judgement, more interest is being show in business demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The benefits from adopting CSR can be less obvious than say, helping the environment. For example, a survey from Net Impact found that 53% of workers said that “a job where I can make an impact” was important to their happiness. Interestingly, 35% would take a pay cut to work for a company committed to CSR.

Examples of corporate social responsibility

CSR isn’t about giving money to charity, or just asking people not to print emails for the sake of Mother Earth! First and foremost, businesses exist to make profit, and this isn’t meant to change as a goal. The reality is that no organisation operates in isolation; there is interaction with employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders. CSR is about managing these relationships to produce an overall positive impact on society, whilst making money.

So how do you put CSR into action? Below are a few examples of what businesses around the World are doing.

Making ‘green’ fashionable: The Body Shop

The Body Shop forged a reputation as a responsible business long before it became fashionable. They were one of the first companies to publish a full report on their CSR initiatives thanks to founder Anita Roddick’s passionate beliefs of environmental protection, animal rights, community trade and human rights. The company has gone so far as to start The Body Shop Foundation, which supports fellow pioneers who would normally struggle to get funding.

Over 20 years ago the company set up a fair trade programme, well before the term ‘Fair Trade’ started to become popular on supermarket shelves. Of course, The Body Shop is famous for its anti-animal testing stance. Whilst this makes testing their products more difficult, especially in markets such as the USA and Japan, their position has created a loyal customer base. The results? From opening her first store in 1976, 30 years later Annit Roddick’s empire was taken over by L’Oreal for £652m, where it has continued to make annual profits of over £40m.

Putting the fun into CSR: Walt Disney

Moving beyond making cartoons, today the Walt Disney Company additionally owns the ESPN and ABC networks, holiday resorts and publishing businesses to name a few. The result is a lot of social and environmental impact, as well as the ability to influence a huge amount of people.

Importantly, Disney recognised that you can’t entertain a family on the one hand and then disregard the world and circumstances in which they live. Acting responsibly gives the company credibility and authenticity. Accordingly, they have set themselves strict environmental targets and disclose their figures in the Global Reporting Initiative which provides a comprehensive set of indicators covering the economic, environmental and ethical impacts of a company’s performance

Setting ambitious financial targets together with environmental performance targets may sound like an oxymoron, but Disney has managed to do this with initiatives such as running Disneyland trains on biodiesel made with cooking oil from the resort’s hotels. They also created the ‘Green standard’ to engage and motivate employees in reducing their environmental impact when working, having meetings, travelling and eating lunch. With more than 60,000 staff, the results are enormous when everyone is pulling in the same direction.

A clear example of financially benefiting from reducing environmental impact is made with this simply statistic: a 10% reduction in the corporation’s electricity use is enough to power the annual consumption of 3 of their theme parks. Whilst their CSR efforts may have taken a great deal of organisation, dedication and investment, 2012 was a record year for Disney’s profits.

Haagen-Dazs and honeybees

This might sound odd at first, but honeybees are an important part of the global food chain as they pollinate one-third of all the food we eat! With numbers lower than ever, this is bad news for companies such as Haagen-Dazs and their all-natural ice creams. To raise awareness, they created a website, started a social media campaign and donated a portion of proceedings to research.

As you can see, a campaign like works fantastically from a number of different angles. Not only is it helping society as a whole, in keeping with the company’s CSR goals, it helps to show a human side to consumers, which can’t hurt sales. In fact, research shows consumers are more likely to pay a premium for a product linked to a charity donation.

How can CSR translate to a smaller business? The issues are the same, just on a smaller scale. The key is to start by conducting a review of what impacts your business has. This could be from environmental issues (energy use, waste etc.), to how your employees are treated, your supply chain and the local community. Below is a look at some examples a small business would recognise, and could act on.

The environment

Even the smallest of office-based businesses can make big changes when it comes to the environment. When you consider an average office worker can use up to 11 sheets of paper a day, are you really reusing and recycling as much as you could?

A common lapse is forgetting to turn off your PC’s monitor come home time. Left on overnight, that is the equivalent of printing 800 A4 pages! Multiply that by the varying IT equipment in your office and you’re looking at a lot of unnecessary energy use.

The above examples ideally illustrate how thinking sustainability isn’t just good for the environment; it saves overheads and helps the bottom-line too.

Staff welfare

For a smaller business, extravagances can be hard to justify. However, happier staff doesn’t simply mean bonuses and pay rises.

What employees value is participation: do they get a fair say? Keeping staff updated on the business and inviting opinions keeps them motivated and loyal. Investing in them with internal and external training helps them do a better job and helps in retraining them, too. Would you rather invest less and have a poor performing, unmotivated team with a high attrition rate instead?

Community

You can incorporate your staff welfare plans with your aims to boost community relationships too. If you’d like to support a local charity, why not let your staff vote for their favourite? It’s now common for businesses to allocate charity days where staff get hands-on with their chosen charity, the effects going far further than monetary donation.

In uncertain financial times, employment rates are always an issue. Could your business offer part-time work or training to those in long-term employment, or students looking for their first work experience?

Finally, there’s the supply chain. Do you have a policy to purchase locally? With the internet opening up the world, it’s surprising how far away some suppliers are. Not only could sourcing locally boost the local economy, you’re helping the environment by avoiding unnecessary travel and consequent emissions.

It’s surprising when you break down your organisation’s activities to see how many people are affected by it. It’s also clear that CSR isn’t a cynical marketing ploy for big businesses; there are tangible benefits to be had by all. The key is not to treat CSR as an ‘initiative’, but to simply view it as the way you do business. Applying CSR is just redefining aspects of what you’re already doing; it needn’t be exotic or costly. Instead, start small and gain momentum.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

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United States Carbon: Smart Power Opens Minds, Opens Markets

“Why give money to people that don’t like us?”

“We’re broke at home, so how can we afford to send money to people abroad?”

These are the two most oft-repeated objections heard by many US senators and congressmen to spending money on international affairs programs. So why would the US Chamber of Commerce and the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a coalition of over four hundred businesses and non-governmental organizations along with over one hundred thirty retired generals and admirals, call on Congress this week to do exactly that?

It’s just smart business.

A senior sales executive at a major US company recently told me, “We’re the best in the world at designing the next generation of products in [our industry]. But we’re terrible at figuring out the next generation market for those products.” For many American companies, from aviation to pharmaceuticals, the lead-time for product development can take decades. According to this executive, “As a company, we need to be in these developing markets now…investing through our corporate responsibility and citizenship programs,” she said. “That’s why we need partnerships with NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and folks like USAID…they’ve got intimate knowledge, on the ground in developing nations and can help us build trust in those countries now so we don’t show up late to the party after the Chinese beat us to the punch.”

Programs funded by the International Affairs Budget create enabling environments for American businesses to succeed in overseas markets today.   

Unlike many of our counterparts in Europe and Asia, American businesses don’t always think about export markets.

That has to change. “Outside our borders are markets that represent 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power, 92 percent of its economic growth, and 95 percent of its consumers,” testified John Murphy, Vice President of International Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday.

As these data indicate, the American economy simply can’t afford to ignore export markets any more. In fact, according to Murphy, many American businesses already grasp this reality and take advantage of it, “One in three manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on American farms is planted for hungry consumers overseas. Nearly 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses export, accounting for more than one-third of all merchandise exports.”

The most forward-looking companies increasingly use their own “smart power” partnerships with international development agencies and NGOs as a way of opening markets. While a country uses smart power when it intelligently combines hard military power with soft – diplomatic, development, economic – power, companies combine their hard power – revenues, contracts, supply chains – with their soft power – brand, corporate citizenship, public-private partnership, philanthropy. A senior corporate responsibility officer at a major US corporation recently described the use of, “CSR and philanthropy in the ‘pre-competitive’ stage,” as a way of investing in new markets before his products and those of his competitors have reached developing countries in order to build both trust and purchasing capacity. These smart power partnerships are another way the international affairs budget pays dividends for American companies.

In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bill Lane, head of Caterpillar‘s Washington Office and Co-President of the USGLC, pointed out that many developing countries have limited ability buy American products and services today. “In these countries the road to development – and the investment, commerce, and trade that follow –may begin (literally) with a road,” testified Lane, “referring to the basic infrastructure that must be improved and, in some cases, created from scratch using machinery and expertise often supplied by companies like Caterpillar.”

Lane said businesses need, “conditions where there are stable governments, transparency, predictability, adequate financial infrastructure, free market economic policies that allow for competition, and rule of law.” Lane voiced the collective conviction of USGLC’s four hundred business and NGO members that, “…programs funded in the International Affairs Budget are vitally important for America’s economic future, national security, and global influence.”

Both Lane and Murphy urged America not “unilaterally disarm,” in the face of growing competition from Chinese and other potential competitors. In their view, the smart power combinations of American businesses, NGOs, and government agencies can level the playing field abroad and expand the economy at home. For firms like Caterpillar, the math is simple, according to Lane, “The more trucks and tractors we sell overseas, the more jobs… in places like Peoria where those vehicles are manufactured.”

Modest investments – the international affairs budget represents just over one percent of the federal budget – can pay big rewards for shareholders, America, and the world. After all, as Bill Gates has said, “Investing in the world’s poorest people is the smartest way our government spends money.”

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: No More Free-Pass for Carbon Pollution

For more than 40 years, the Clean Air Act has proved itself an effective, efficient and flexible tool that has safeguarded public health while fostering economic growth and innovation.

My colleagues and I at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a new analysis today that finds curbing carbon pollution from power plants using the Clean Air Act would have similarly positive results.

In the analysis — “Less Carbon, More Jobs, Lower Bills” — we found that NRDC’s proposal to cut carbon pollution would create new jobs nationally and lower the average American’s monthly electric bill. This analysis is based on a proposal detailed in our December 2012 report “Closing the Power Plant Carbon Pollution Loophole: Smart Ways the Clean Air Act Can Clean Up America’s Biggest Climate Polluters.”

Specifically, we found that our proposed carbon standards would, in 2020, increase national employment by a net total of 210,000 jobs, lower average residential electricity bills by $0.90 per month and have essentially no overall impact on the nation’s GDP.

Total net jobs added by state (select U.S. states) in 2020 from carbon standard
Total net jobs added by state (select U.S. states) in 2020 from carbon standard.
Credit: NRDC.

The analysis

In December 2012, NRDC shared its proposalfor how the EPA could set carbon standards for power plants that would achieve big reductions at far lower cost than conventional wisdom would have suggested. At the same time, these actions would create vast benefits for the American people, including a surge of investment in energy efficiency. The plan would give EPA the flexibility it has under the Clean Air Act to set carbon reduction goals based in part on states’ current electric generation mixes. It would also allow power companies to draw from a wide range of options to meet emissions reduction targets.

With that kind of practical, flexible approach, we showed that EPA could reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020 (relative to the peak levels in 2005), while at the same time lowering electricity prices. The price tag? About $4 billion in 2020. But the benefits — in saved lives, reduced illnesses and avoided environmental damage — would be worth $25 billion to $60 billion, or six to 15 times greater than those costs.

That report outlined the big picture. Today, we are releasing a companion analysis that digs into the details and examines how our proposal would affect jobs, GDP and electricity bills for average Americans. This analysis also examines how our proposal would look in several states around the country.

Nationally, we see a total net gain of 210,000 jobs in 2020. Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia jobs would increase and electric bills would decrease. Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota would see job gains, and Maine residents would save on their electric bills.

Energy efficiency upgrades are the primary driver of job gains in the analysis, responsible for 236,000 additional direct jobs in 2020. Shifts in other sectors (including not just power plants, but also industries that supply inputs to the production of these plants) would reduce the net increase to 210,000; some job gains are also offset because households would be spending money on energy efficiency measures instead of other economy-wide goods and services.

Energy bill savings occur even though the efficiency programs add costs to electricity bills. This is because these charges are still lower than the cost of electricity required without such efficiency changes. While electricity rates (cents per kilowatt-hour) could go up modestly in some cases, electricity bills (rate multiplied by usage) go down, on average, because energy efficiency improvements reduce overall electricity consumption.

Carbon Standard Bills changes
Changes in net job years and utility bills in the United States and in selected states from carbon standard in 2020 (policy case relative to business-as-usual).
Credit: NRDC.

Conservative estimates

Our estimates are conservative.

In the report, changes in utility bills capture savings from energy efficiency only for the year 2020, yet energy efficiency upgrades installed up to that point will continue to have benefits for consumers for many years beyond. The bill savings we estimated reflect up-front charges on electricity bills for energy-efficiency programs and investments in cleaner generation, all of which occur in 2020, minus savings gained from avoiding some energy generation in 2020 alone).

Additionally, the analysis did not include two positive impacts our proposal would have on GDP; due to modeling limitations, we had to leave these effects out. First, we did not calculate productivity improvements to the economy that would result from the $25 billion to $60 billion in health and environmental benefits. These improvements could be significant: a series of studies led by Dale Jorgenson at Harvard University concluded that the healthier workforce resulting from the Clean Air Act increased GDP by as much as 1.5 percent by 2010. Similar to other environmental damages , climate change disrupts worker productivity because of work days lost to extreme weather (e.g. from damages to homes, businesses, and transportation and other infrastructure) and climate-related illnesses (e.g. exacerbated respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, and emergency room visits during heat-waves for various health impacts). Extreme heat also directly lowers the productivity of outdoor workers.

Second, our proposed carbon standard reduces wholesale electricity prices in the regions we studied in the eastern part of the country due to reduced electricity demand and the form of the output-based standard (the regulatory limit on power-plant outputs). However, we did not estimate the positive effect this price drop would have on businesses and economy-wide production.

Details aside, though, the big picture is clear. Climate change is fueling extreme weather, heat, drought, forest fires, asthma and many other effects that are harming our children’s health and their future. Yet, one of the largest sources of the dangerous heat-trapping gases driving climate change, our nation’s power plants, emit with no carbon limits whatsoever. They areresponsible for almost 40 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution in the United States.

President Obama has laid out a robust plan for tackling climate change, noting that we have an obligation to protect future generations from its effects.

“Today, for the sake of our children, and the health and safety of all Americans, I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants, and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants,” he announced in presenting his climate plan on June 25, 2013.

The centerpiece of that plan is the task of cleaning up dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. These plants are our biggest source of carbon pollution, and while they must observe strict limits for arsenic, mercury, lead and other emissions, they face no limits for their carbon dioxide pollution.

As President Obama said, “That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop.”

So the president is outlining a common-sense step, using a common-sense tool: the Clean Air Act. Just as we used this act to set limits for arsenic, mercury, lead and other dangerous pollution coming from power plants, we can set limits to efficiently cut the carbon pollution these plants emit.

Our two analyses demonstrate that NRDC’s proposal for reducing carbon pollution from power plants by 26 percent in 2020 will add over 200,000 jobs to the U.S. economy, save Americans money on their electric bills and avoid up to $60 billion in health impacts and other climate-related costs.

When we consider that climate change is already happening in the United States, already affecting communities all across the nation, we think that having a path forward to less carbon, more jobs and lower bills is the right path to take.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Buildings Account for 39% of CO 2 emissions in the United States

The commercial and residential building sector accounts for 39% of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions in the United States per year, more than any other sector. U.S. buildings alone are responsible for more CO 2 emissions annually than those of any other country except China. Most of these emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels to provide heating, cooling and lighting, and to power appliances and electrical equipment. By transforming the built environment to be more energy-efficient and climate-friendly, the building sector can play a major role in reducing the threat of climate change.

A growing source of CO2 emissions:
  • In 2004, total emissions from residential and commercial buildings were 2236 million metric tons of CO 2 , or 39% of total U.S. CO 2 emissions—more than either the transportation or industrial sector
  • Over the next 25 years, CO 2 emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than any other sector, with emissions from commercial buildings projected to grow the fastest—1.8% a year through 2030
  • When other CO 2 emissions attributable to buildings are considered—such as the emissions from the manufacture and transport of building construction and demolition materials and transportation associated wi th urban sprawl—the result is an even greater impact on the climate

Buildings consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S. The most significant factor contributing to CO 2 emissions from buildings is their use of electricity:

  • Commercial and residential buildings are tremendous users of electricity, accounting for more than 70% of electricity use in the U.S.
  • The building sector consumed 40 quadrillion Bt us of energy in 2005 at a cost of over $300 billion. Energy use in the sector is projected to increase to 50 quadrillion Btus at a cost of $430 billion by the year 2025.
  • The energy impact of buildings is likely to be even greater when taking into account other energy use attributable to buildin gs. For example, the energy embodied in a single building’s envelope equals 8-10 times t he annual energy used to heat and cool the building.
  • Buildings have a lifespan of 50-100 years during which they continually consume energy and produce CO 2 emissions. If half of new commercial buildings were built to use 50% less energy, it would save over 6 million metric tons of CO 2 annually for the life of the buildings—the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road every year.

Green buildings are a vital tool in the fight against climate change

Scientists predict that left unchecked, emissions of CO 2 and other greenhouse gases from human activities will raise global temperatures by 2.5ºF to 10ºF this century. The effects will be profound, and may include rising sea levels, more frequent floods and droughts, and increased spread of infectious diseases. To address the threat of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be sl owed, stopped, and reversed. Meeting the challenge will require dramatic advances in technologies and a shift in how the world economy generates and uses energy.

Building green is one of the best strategies for meeting the challenge of climate change because the technology to make substantial reductions in energy and CO 2 emissions already exists. The average LEED certified building uses 32% less electricity and saves 350 metric tons of CO 2 emissions annually. Modest investments in energy-saving and other climate-friendly technologies can yield buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthier places to live and work, and that contribute to reducing CO 2 emissions.

Green buildings provide abundant opportunities for saving energy and mitigating CO 2 emissions

Building green can reduce CO2 emissions while improving the bottom line through energy and other savings. Examples of measures that can be taken to improve building performance include:

  • Incorporating the most efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, along with operations and maintenance of such systems to assure optimum performance
  • Using state of the art lighting and optimizing daylighting
  • Using recycled content building and interior materials
  • Reducing potable water usage
  • Using renewable energy
  • Implementing proper construction waste management
  • Siting the building near public transportation
  • Using locally produced building materials

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Business Leaders Call to Action on U.S. Climate Policy by Signing Climate Declaration

Two weeks after President Obama announced plans to address climate change in a major speech, large American businesses are continuing to express their support for U.S. policy action on climate change. Eight more leading businesses, including several multi-billion dollar enterprises, have signed the Climate Declaration, which calls on U.S. policymakers to capture the American economic opportunity of addressing climate change.

The new signatories include leaders in the IT, healthcare, media, hospitality and consumer products sectors: Akamai Technologies, AMD, Dignity Health, K2 Sports, Participant Media, Saunders Hotel Group and The Weather Company. In addition, Mars, Incorporated, one of the nation’s largest private companies, recently endorsed the Climate Declaration when it joined CeresBICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy) network in June.

By signing the Climate Declaration, these business leaders join more than 600 other companies, including Starbucks, Nestle, adidas and Patagonia, in asserting, “Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century … We cannot risk our kids’ futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong … There must be a coordinated effort to combat climate change—with America taking the lead here at home.”

“For us, climate change isn’t a political issue; it’s a scientific issue, and the science tells us we have to act,” said David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company. “The Weather Company believes there is an economic opportunity as well as a moral obligation as a good corporate citizen in responding to climate change, and we will continue to inform our viewers and users about the science behind this important issue.”

“Responding to climate change is not only an imperative for the U.S. economy, but it is also an important issue of public health,” said Susan Vickers, RSM, vice president of community health at Dignity Health, the largest hospital system in California. “Reducing the harmful pollutants from power plants will improve air quality in our communities, which are already experiencing the destructive effects of pollution and the changing climate.”

“While there is no debating the scientific evidence of climate change, it is certain there is more debate ahead on the policies needed to combat its effects,” said Anne Kelly, director of BICEP. “The business community has been a strong supportive voice behind climate action, and you can see that reflected in this broad array of business leaders who have joined us in signing the Climate Declaration.”

Over the course of an ongoing campaign organized by Ceres and BICEP, other businesses, as well as individuals, are encouraged to sign the Declaration and join the call to action, along with other advocacy efforts. For more information about the Climate Declaration, please visit www.climatedeclaration.us.

About Ceres
Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $11 trillion. For more information, visit www.ceres.org.

About BICEP
BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy) is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy – an economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate. BICEP is a project of Ceres. For more information, visit www.ceres.org/bicep.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: How Green Trends Will Impact Your Business

The term “green” evokes a wide array of meanings, spanning political ideology, lifestyle choices, and climate change. So when businesses hear the term green, it’s no wonder there’s so much confusion.

Here are three trends where green is a key element, but not the key driver.

Sharing Is Changing Consumption and Commerce

The sharing economy permeates nearly every facet of every industry. From cars to the driveways left empty when they’re gone, the Internet has made it easier than ever to sell idle resources. Lisa Gansky, one of the catalysts helping companies tap into sharing, describes a perfect storm of accessible data, the open Web, and connected communities as a “cocktail” being tested by businesses in every vertical.

Companies should be looking inward at their own idle resources and figuring out how to provide that information to other businesses, or municipalities. New revenue streams will come from services that can be reconfigured or modified to operate within these sharing communities and networks.

“Data is a kind of connective tissue and when we liberate data (between communities, companies, investors, governments), we play better, faster,” Gansky said in a recent interview. She says that sharing is being accelerated by the next big social network, and it’s not Facebook FB +4.18%. It’s the neighborhood.

The Economist built on that notion in a profile of the sharing economy’s impact: “The idea of renting from a person rather than a faceless company will survive, even if the early idealism of the sharing economy does not.”

Tapping Into Greener Transportation

Businesses are finding ways to tie into the rise of walk-able communities. Marketing opportunities are everywhere as smartphones become more connected to the open data available on the Web. Companies like RideScout can now deliver multiple transit options to its users, whether they prefer pedicabs or ZipCars.

The transparency of transit data has much larger implications, especially when it comes to cities. That’s one of the areas where opportunity exists for small business. Faced with rising populations, traffic congestion and parking woes, city officials are taking matters into their own hands.

Portland is a prime example, highlighted in a CitiWire article: ”It has a 35-year-old urban growth boundary to curb sprawl, plus America’s only regional governance structure. It leads in transportation – not just regional light rail but America’s first streetcar service of recent times.”

That’s an approach that should buoy businesses in every sector, certainly ones that adapt their products and services to complement the urban density model that continues to develop. It’s an obvious step to see all sorts of businesses eventually appear alongside the bus routes on RideScout’s app.

The nation’s capital has similar initiatives for which sustainable transportation is the centerpiece of economic development.

The CitiWire article goes on to report, “[Washington D.C.] Mayor Vincent Gray has just unveiled proposals to create the ‘healthiest, greenest and most livable’ city in America with a raft of measures to curb energy use, reduce traffic and boost use of fresh fruits and vegetables. By 2032, a quarter of all commuter trips would be by bike or foot and at least half by public transit. Major chunks of energy would be delivered from nearby wind farms.”

Other cities are sure to follow as fuel prices rise, populations increase, and better infrastructure emerges. Businesses that capitalize on these trends will reap the early awards.

The Built Environment and Boosting Your Profile

Improving productivity and differentiating your business are constant challenges. An easy way to boost both is by plugging into the green building movement. Aligning with local providers that can help with energy rebates can easily spur some economic gains. Beyond the numbers, productivity can also be lifted through smarter and more efficient design. Healthier employees are happier and more productive.

A recent New York Times article highlighted research from an affordable housing community in Seattle that showed how small changes can have big effects. Spurred by medical research, a local coalition of architects, designers and citizen-led groups were able to impact asthma rates within 60 ”Breathe Easy Homes” with better air filters, less carpet, and low-allergen landscaping.

The Times reports, ”A study in 2010 performed by the University of Washington School of Public Health found that the Breathe Easy residents had reduced emergency room and urgent care visits by 67% and that symptom-free days had increased by 61%. As designers, that was the first time that we had really seen a direct relationship shown between the built environment and the health of residents.”

It’s easy to see how that could translate to your workplace.

Another project that promotes healthy work sites is the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI), an organization started to accelerate best practices in sustainable land development and management. It has pilot projects across the country that are taking green spaces beyond atria and waterfalls.

By using SSI’s framework for “healthy ecosystems,” commercial businesses can cut costs and drive efficiency with better land-use decisions. Whether it’s a restaurant, corporate campus, or small business, standards are emerging to address everything from native landscapes and irrigation, to zero waste and air quality.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), an SSI partner, says it anticipates certain guidelines and benchmarks might be included in future iterations of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System.

United States Carbon’s commitment shows how the big picture is starting to play out for businesses in every industry. Companies of all sizes are being judged not only by how much they’re growing, but how that growth impacts surrounding communities.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Maryland Shores Up Support For Ambitious GHG Reduction Goal

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is advocating more than 150 programs and initiatives that support his state’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% by 2020, a plan that goes farther than any other state except Massachusetts.

With more than 3,000 miles of shoreline, Maryland is one of many US states at highest risk for sea level rise.

Aside from supporting a 55 million metric ton reduction in GHG emissions, the plan will generate $1.6 billion in economic benefits, create more than 37,000 jobs and positively impact public health, Governor O’Malley told business leaders, scientists, and environmental and renewable energy advocates who attended his state’s summit on climate change last week in Linthicum, Md.

Climate change is not an ideological issue any more than gravity is: it’s not about whether we move left or right, but whether we make the right choices for Marylanders. As severe weather events continue to grow in size and impact, and elongated trends of poor air quality continue, the costs of inaction would grow exponentially,” says Governor O’Malley. “In Maryland, we are moving forward and taking action by creating green jobs and protecting our land, water, air and public health.”

 

For more than six years, Governor O’Malley has been one of the most vocal national leaders for taking action on fighting climate change. Many of the programs announced in late July are expansions of existing efforts, meant to accelerate progress toward the bigger goals. He signed the state’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009, requiring Maryland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% from a 2006 baseline by 2020. The act will be up for another vote in 2015, which means state lawmakers will have to decide whether to stick with it or develop a new framework.

Governor O’Malley’s administration isn’t waiting around for that. Here are some of the main strategies that support the state’s reduction goal:

Accelerated renewable portfolio standards – The state currently requires for Maryland power providers to source 18% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, increasing to 20% by 2022. The new plan seeks an increase beyond the 20% to drive additional GHG emissions reductions. Earlier this year, Maryland became the first state to subsidize offshore wind development, which is being held back by huge upfront costs for developers. It is also one of the “Dazzling Dozen” states leading the way in solar installations.

Strengthened energy-efficiency measures – The EmPOWER Maryland program aims to reduce both Maryland’s per capita total electricity consumption and peak load demand by 15% by 2015, but the governor is calling for a higher goal.

A zero waste target – The state is adopting a strategy to ensure all products in Maryland can be reused, recycled or composted. Currently, the state requires that 60% of “government managed” waste be better utilized or recycled by 2020. The average county recycling rate is 45%.

Tougher emissions standards – The Maryland Clean Cars Program directly regulates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, effective with model year 2011 vehicles.

Improved regional cooperation – Maryland is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the cooperative cap-and-trade initiative that includes nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. The RGGI voted to lower the regional emissions cap, and Maryland will work on changing its own standards this summer.

Many of these programs are in place; they will be strengthened through new policies and policies, says Governor O’Malley.

They have strong support within the state: a recent George Mason University report shows that 86% of Marylanders believe climate change is happening, while three-quarters of them believe that state and local governments should take action to protect communities from the impacts.

“Science is clear that climate change is occurring, is caused primarily by human activities and poses significant risks to Maryland as it does to the rest of the world” says Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Significant reductions in emissions must be made over just a few decades to avoid the worst of the consequences and Maryland has an opportunity and a responsibility to lead.”

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