February, 2020 – Volume 13, Issue 2
Solar energy researcher wins NSF career award
Cobalt joins TERRA’S “Done with IT” electronics recycling program
Delta Air Lines pledges to go fully ‘carbon neutral’
Project seeks to convert dairy farm manure to natural gas
Economic growth and environmental sustainability
GreenBiz: How big data and AI can make supply chains better for consumers and the planet
Sustainability in Packaging Conference
The 35th International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management (ICSW 2020)
The 2020 Industry Forum on Energy Efficiency
Benchmarking Water & Wastewater Treatment Plants in Portfolio Manager
Fix a Leak with WaterSense and Beat Water Waste
ENERGY STAR – Portfolio Manager Webinars
Sun-powered rickhouses reflect partnership between Kentucky Utilities Company and Maker’s Mark
A new 560-panel solar array is now online in Loretto, marking a milestone in the partnership between Kentucky Utilities Company and Maker’s Mark to produce electricity using the sun. The new array stands just east of the distillery’s rickhouses on its property in Loretto along Highway 52.
Without compromising any part of the unique Maker’s Mark production process that makes its bourbon so distinctive, the new ground-mounted solar panel system will offset the energy needs required to maintain rickhouses where bourbon is stored for aging. This includes energy for security, lighting, barrel elevators and office spaces.
“Much like its signature bottle, hand-dipped in wax, Maker’s Mark is sealing its position as an industry leader and making a resounding commitment to sustainability. Travelers from all over the world visiting the iconic distillery will see homegrown electricity in action,” said Paul W. Thompson, Chairman, CEO and President of LG&E and KU. “Together with our customers, we’re growing Kentucky’s renewable energy legacy and deepening our solar energy roots here in the Bluegrass.”
Constructed by KU’s partner Solar Alliance, the new solar array first began producing power for Maker’s Mark in early February and is expected to produce about 268,000 kilowatt-hours per year.
“Being a thoughtful steward of our community and our environment has been a pillar of Maker’s Mark since my grandparents first started making our bourbon in Kentucky more than 60 years ago,” said Maker’s Mark Managing Director Rob Samuels, an eighth-generation distiller. “The ability of this solar array to offset our energy use is a tangible example of our ever-increasing focus on environmental stewardship, and we’re thrilled to see this meaningful effort come to life with our partners at KU.”
“This solar array is part of a trend that I think you will see a great deal more of this coming year as more and more businesses and utility companies seek to include renewable energy as part of their energy portfolios,” said Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman. “We are fortunate in Kentucky to be able to provide customers with the type of energy generation that best meets their needs.”
KU and sister utility Louisville Gas and Electric Company first launched the Business Solar Program in 2016 for customers like Maker’s Mark, who are leading the way in sustainability by adopting more renewable energy and partnering with the utilities to construct new solar arrays at their sites.
The program, part of the utilities’ Green Tariff, empowers commercial and industrial customers to accomplish solar energy goals without being burdened by the logistics of managing a system.
First city in Kentucky passes resolution to be 100 percent renewable energy by 2035
Louisville became the first city in Kentucky to commit to 100 percent renewable energy. In a resolution, the Louisville Metro Council Parks and Sustainability Committee approved a goal of powering the city’s municipal operations with 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2035.
In a final vote of 15-4, the Metro Council passed the resolution in an attempt to “tackle the challenge of climate change head on and with visionary leadership,” a press release stated. The resolution also aims to be 100 percent clean energy community-wide by 2040.
“I could not be more pleased with the outcome,” Nancy Givens, member of Renewable Energy Alliance of Louisville who had a leading role in drafting the resolution, said. “My hope is that Louisville’s accomplishment will become a model for cities throughout Kentucky and an impetus for changes in state policy…policy that has hampered climate change progress far too long.”
While coal has been “a backbone of Kentucky’s economy,” Louisville has worked to reduce its carbon footprint for the past 10 years, a press release stated. The mayor signed the Global Covenant of Mayors in 2016 committing to cut emissions as well as take the necessary steps to prepare for climate change impacts. The city also set an emissions reduction target as well as completing a community greenhouse gas inventory.
As Louisville takes the lead in transitioning toward cleaner, healthier, more affordable renewable energy in the state, it became the one-hundred-and-sixtieth city nationwide to make the commitment.
“Those of us who have been working for over a year and a half to get this resolution passed are more than thrilled,” Drew Foley, chair of Greater Louisville Sierra Club. said. “We are thankful to the fifteen forward-thinking, passionate councilpersons who passed this Resolution last night; they are leading Louisville into a carbon-free future where everyone can thrive.”
Toyota and Dow pursue renewables for Kentucky facilities
Toyota and Dow are pursuing agreements with Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities Company (KU) to purchase renewable energy from a planned 100-megawatt solar array for their facilities in the state.
Both utilities said today that they had filed for approval of the contracts with the Kentucky Public Service Commission. One contract is with Toyota Kentucky in Georgetown, the largest Toyota manufacturing facility in the world. Another contract is with Dow for the chemical manufacturing company’s silicones manufacturing site in Carrollton.
A third contract is between the utilities and IBV Energy Partners’ Rhudes Creek Solar to supply local electric customers. The new solar photovoltaic facility planned for Hardin County should be completed by 2022. Once built, it’s expected to become the largest solar generator in the state, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
“The utilities will supply Toyota with 50% of the facility’s energy output, Dow with 25%, and the remaining 25% will be used to serve the utilities’ electric customers,” LG&E and KU said. “The 20-year contracts lock in a flat price per kilowatt hour that is expected to translate into cost savings for customers over the life of the agreements.”
Edward Stones, global director of Dow’s energy and climate change business, said that the agreement brings the company closer to its global 2025 goal of securing at least 750 MW of renewable energy.
For Toyota, which previously rolled out bioenergy for its Georgetown plant, the new solar project in Kentucky also connects with the automaker’s environmental goals. “It supports Challenge 3 of the global Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 to eliminate all carbon emissions from manufacturing by the middle of the century,” said Kevin Butt, director of environmental sustainability for Toyota Motor North America.
Solar energy researcher wins NSF career award
Dr. Joshua Spurgeon, Theme Leader for Solar Fuels at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, has been awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award.
Spurgeon, 37, has been with Speed School since 2014. The grant money of $500,000 over the next five years will primarily be used to fund two graduate student researchers who will work side by side with Spurgeon. Spurgeon’s research focuses on economically viable approaches to solar fuels, electro-synthetic fuel formation, and low-cost solar cell technologies.
The resulting discoveries will help advance solar energy technology along a path towards low-cost solar energy storage and sustainable fuel production. Such technologies potentially can revolutionize the energy industry and enhance the energy independence of the United States.
Cobalt joins TERRA’S “Done with IT” electronics recycling program
Information technology asset life cycle management firm Cobalt, Middletown, Ohio, is the latest company to join The Electronics Reuse & Recycling Alliance (TERRA), Nashville, Tennessee, to provide electronics recycling options for residents and businesses of Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
By sponsoring TERRA’s mail-in recycling program Done with IT, Cobalt will build awareness about the negative environmental and health effects of electronic waste (e-waste) and provide access to sustainable recycling to more than 14.4 million residents of 196 regional counties from their Certified R2 facility in Middletown, OH.
E-Waste is a major environmental problem, accounting for 70% of the toxins entering landfills and it requires verifiable processing by Certified recyclers to protect human health and the environment while supporting a circular economy.
“It is estimated that 50 million tons of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2019. Half of it was personal devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets,” said Steven Napoli, President & CEO of TERRA. “Done with IT offers simple recycling options for these devices to millions of people – especially under served communities.”
Only businesses like Cobalt that have earned a R2 and/or e-Stewards certification and adhere to rigorous standards and ongoing oversight can effectively mitigate the dangers to human health and the environment associated with the improper disposal of e-waste.
“Most people don’t understand the importance and value of choosing a Certified business when retiring their uses electronics,” said Nick Oldfield, VP of Marketing at Cohen (parent company of Cobalt). “We specialize in electronics refurbishing and recycling, and our certified processes maximize the value retired technology and devices while ensuring both data security and sustainability.
With the addition of Cobalt, Done with IT serves more than 236 million people in 41 states with its network of 11 certified facilities from coast-to-coast.
“TERRA and Done with IT are actively seeking more certified recycling partners like Cobalt,” Napoli added.
Delta Air Lines pledges to go fully ‘carbon neutral’
Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE:DAL) said it’s going fully ‘carbon neutral’ from the beginning of March 2020 and investing US $1 billion over the next decade to reduce its environmental impact — the first airline to make such a pledge.
Georgia-headquartered Delta wants to become the first carbon-neutral carrier globally and help fund research and projects involving clean air technologies.
Airlines account for around 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions which is why there’s such controversy surrounding air travel.
Many firms have set plans to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 but Delta’s announcement is the largest such commitment.
“It’s a big challenge and it’s a big commitment,” CEO Ed Bastian was quoted as saying by CNBC.
“There’s no greater challenge that I know of that we need to be investing in and innovating in as environmental sustainability.”
Bastian said the group would continue to use jet fuel for as “far as the eye can see”, but will be investing in technologies to reduce the impact of jet fuel.
In December last year, biofuels group Gevo Inc (NASDAQ:GEVO) said it was to supply 10 million gallons per year of advanced renewable biofuels to Delta under a long-term offtake agreement.
The deal with Gevo complemented the airline’s $2 million investment in Northwest Advanced Bio-fuels LLC for the feasibility study of a facility to produce sustainable aviation fuel and other biofuel products in Washington State.
Project seeks to convert dairy farm manure to natural gas
Harmful emissions from the agriculture sector are increasingly scrutinized as the climate changes. Now, energy companies want to help dairy farmers reduce emissions.
Virginia-based Dominion Energy and Vanguard Renewables Ag of Massachusetts have announced a $200 million partnership to convert methane from cow manure into renewable natural gas.
The money will fund projects at dairy farms in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Georgia.
“This is a huge win for the environment, for family farms and for our customers,” Ryan Childress, director of gas partnership business development at Dominion Energy, told the Journal. “It’s exciting to cross industries to team up agriculture and energy.”
Agriculture produced 11% of New Mexico’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, according to the state’s climate change task force report released in November.
As manure breaks down, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas with a greater warming potential than carbon dioxide.
Instead of allowing methane to escape into the atmosphere, the companies capture the gas on the farms by placing manure in anaerobic digester tanks with large inflatable “bladders” on top.
Low-pressure pipes transport the gas to a nearby Dominion-run processing facility, where it is cleaned to industry standards and goes into existing distribution systems as a power source for homes and businesses. Natural gas collected from each cluster of dairy farms could power 2,800 to 4,000 homes.
Dairy farmers will receive payments from Dominion and Vanguard for the manure they place into the digester tanks, which the companies praised as a way to provide another revenue stream to local farmers.
“This allows the next generation of dairymen to focus on sustainable practices and better nutrient management,” said Kevin Chase, CEO of Vanguard Renewables Ag. “This is a 100% investment by our companies, at no cost to dairy owners.”
After methane is removed from the manure, the dairy farmers can use the nutrient-rich waste on their farms for fertilizer. The companies worked with the Dairy Farmers of America to identify where dense clusters of dairies would make transport to processing facilities more efficient.
Economic growth and environmental sustainability
by Steve Cohen, Earth Institute, Columbia University
There are political and business leaders who do not care if economic growth causes environmental damage, and there are environmental advocates who do not believe you can have economic growth without causing environmental damage. In a New York Times piece on the climate and economics discussions at Davos, Mark Landler and Somini Sengupta reported that:
“Critics pointed to a contradiction that they said the corporate world had been unable to resolve: how to assuage the appetite for economic growth, based on gross domestic product, with the urgent need to check carbon emissions. ‘It’s truly a contradiction,’ said Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. ‘It’s difficult to see if the current G.D.P.-based model of economic growth can go hand-in-hand with rapid cutting of emissions,’ he said.”
I find this dialog a little amazing since it completely ignores the history of America’s success in decoupling the growth of GDP and the growth of environmental pollution. This fact of American environmental and economic life began around 1980, a decade after the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and continues today. It’s really quite simple- with public policies ranging from command-and-control regulations to direct and indirect government subsidies, businesses and governments developed and applied technologies that reduced pollution while allowing continued economic growth. This is not a fantasy, it is history. In the 1960s you could not see the mountains from downtown Los Angeles, today you can. In the 1960s you could not ride a bike on a path next to the Hudson River, today you can. Until 1985, we New Yorkers dumped raw sewage into the Hudson River. Today, with rare exceptions, we treat our sewage waste. And both Los Angeles and New York City have larger economies in 2020 than they had in 1980. In case you believe this progress was due to deindustrialization, the two largest sources of air pollution are power plants and motor vehicles and we have many more of them today than we had in 1980. Both utilize pollution control technology required by regulation under the law.
Environmental protection itself contributes to economic growth. Somebody makes and sells the air pollution control technologies we put on power plants and motor vehicles. Somebody builds the sewage and water treatment facilities. Just as someone makes money off of solar cells and windmills and whoever invents the 1,000-mile high capacity battery that will power electric cars someday will become very, very rich. And environmental amenities are worth money. The cleaner Hudson made the waterfront more suitable for housing development. And the building boom on New York’s west side followed the clean-up of the Hudson River. An apartment across the street from a park will bring a higher price than the same apartment a block away. The revival of New York’s Central Park raised the value of the already high-end real estate bordering the park. Clean air and water, healthy food and preserved nature all benefit human health and result in far more economic benefit than economic cost.
The climate problem is not caused by economic growth, but by the absence of effective public policy designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is nothing incompatible with capitalism and environmental protection as long as rules are in place that control the environmental impacts of the products and services we make and use. With those rules in place, a concern for environmental sustainability can and will permeate everyday decision-making in the private, nonprofit and governmental organizations we all benefit from.
I’ve written often about the evolution of the field of management over the past century or so and that a concern for sustainability is the newest trend in the development of more sophisticated organizational management. In the 20th century, we saw the field of management absorb the development of mass production, social psychology, accounting, information management, satellite and cellular communications, globalization and now a concern for the physical dimensions of environmental sustainability. Sustainability managers continue to lead an organization’s marketing, strategy, finance and work processes but they also seek to assess their use of energy, water and other materials and work to reduce waste and environmental impacts. Just as finance staff, reinforced by the Security and Exchange Commission rules learned to identify and reduce self-dealing, conflict of interest and fraud; sustainability staff reinforced by EPA rules look to identify and reduce organizational practices that damage the environment.
On the production side, organizational managers work to increase environmental sustainability, but on the consumption side, consumers are not only buying green but changing patterns of consumption that also help reduce environmental damage. Going to a gym, riding a bike or eating a salad are all activities that add to the GDP. But so does taking your private jet to your ski lodge, driving in your SUV to the ski slopes, and eating a steak. All consumption behaviors are not created equal and do not have the same impact on environmental sustainability. More sustainable lifestyles are emerging and they can be detected in consumption patterns. For example, young Americans seem less interested in owning cars than their older siblings and parents did. Ride-sharing, bike sharing and other transit options have become feasible due to the development of the smartphone. But sitting in an Uber or driving your own car are both economic activities that are counted in the GDP.
GreenBiz – Sustainability news and resources
GreenBiz advances the opportunities at the intersection of business, technology and sustainability. Through its websites, events, peer-to-peer network and research, GreenBiz promotes the potential to drive transformation and accelerate progress — within companies, industries and in the very nature of business. Since 1991, GreenBiz has chronicled and been a catalyst for thought leadership in aligning environmental responsibility with profitable business practices.
Currently on the GreenBiz website by Carol Fung:
How big data and AI can make supply chains better for consumers and the planet
“Big data.” “Artificial intelligence.” “Supply chain.”
These buzzwords are fast becoming a part of our everyday lexicon. And because they’re bandied about so much, it’s worth taking a closer look at each of them and their role in shaping more responsible consumption.
Consumerism isn’t going away — and we don’t believe it needs to — but we do advocate for smarter consumption.
Developing economies such as China are encouraging more domestic consumption, but this leads to greater strain on resources, and potentially greater waste. Is there a way to find a better balance?
As China’s largest retailer, we think about this every day. After all, our business depends on selling more and better items to more customers. And my part of the business — consumer goods — covers untold amounts of items people use daily.
The supply chain behind consumption is critical. Recognizing our responsibility to lead by our actions, we always have done our part to find sustainable, responsible ways to operate our business — such as by using zero-emissions vehicles throughout our sizable fleet of delivery vehicles, building energy-efficient and solar-powered logistics centers and employing reusable and recyclable packaging and actively encouraging our customers to do the same. Such programs are catching on and they can help, but it’s not enough.
It’s time for responsible consumption — and time for companies across the supply chain to cooperate, share data and jointly commit to making a difference.
Now for big data and artificial intelligence. For a retailer, in addition to the billions of physical products that pass through our systems en route to homes and businesses throughout China and the world, massive amounts of data move through the system, too. This information offers powerful insights about what people want and what they buy, as well as when and why they buy. Mining this information can lead to surprising — and surprisingly simple — innovations that can have far-reaching effects.
A lot of people are talking about designing for a circular economy, building the notion of sustainability into the product at the genesis of conception and design. I work with global consumer brands who want to reach Chinese consumers. The more enlightened companies already recognize and embrace their responsibility to sustainability by building it into product plans and supply chains from the beginning. And they are looking for creative ways to do more. This might mean less packaging and less waste, or more efficient and sustainable ways to manufacture products.
Getting to that point requires not only the will, but also the means. Data is the lynchpin to unlocking that potential.
Find the latest articles, videos and resources on the GreenBiz website.
Upcoming Training, Events and Conferences
- Sustainability in Packaging Conference
The Sustainability in Packaging Conference is a platform to learn the latest on everything from ROI on sustainability, compostable packaging, packaging design, and transformation in the aluminum packaging industry, find out how to create a package that your customers will love and that is truly sustainable, and develop partnerships with other organizations throughout the supply chain that will benefit your product and your bottom line.
March 11-13, 2020 – Chicago, IL
Find out more about the Sustainability in Packaging Conference and how to register.
- The 35th International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management (ICSW 2020)
The 35th International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management (ICSW 2020) brings together educators, researchers, consultants, government officials, community leaders, managers and others interested or involved in solid waste to present and discuss topics related to all aspects of solid waste technology and management.
March 22-25, 2020 – Chicago, IL
Find out more about the ICSW 2020 Conference and how to register.
- SWANApalooza 2020
Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)’s premier technical conference showcases technologies and solutions to transform waste into a resource. Come to Atlanta to join industry-changing conversations about your biggest challenges.
March 23-26, 2020 – Atlanta, GA
Find out more about the SWANA conference and how to register.
- The 2020 Industry Forum on Energy Efficiency
This event will explore the opportunities and challenges presented by three energy-intensive industries: Healthcare, Food Services, and Higher Education. This comprehensive look at these critical industries will bring best practices for energy savings and sustainability to the forefront.
April 3, 2020 – Philadelphia Navy Yard, PA
Find out more about the Industry Forum on Energy Efficiency and how to register.
EPA ENERGY STAR webinars:
- Benchmarking Water & Wastewater Treatment Plants in Portfolio Manager
This webinar features EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a powerful online tool that can help you track and manage your system’s energy usage and energy savings from efficiency projects, including related greenhouse gas emissions for your inventories. We will discuss how Portfolio Manager benefits water and wastewater systems, and demonstrate how you can create an account and benchmark your systems at no cost to you.
March 12, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.
- Fix a Leak with WaterSense and Beat Water Waste
Leaks may look small, but they can add up to big water waste. Learn more about how facility managers can assess their water use with an eye toward finding and fixing leaks. We also provide information on how you can leverage the WaterSense Fix a Leak Week consumer campaign to engage staff.
March 18, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.
Portfolio Manager Series
- 101 – March 3, 2020 at 1 p.m. EST – Attendees will learn how to: navigate the Portfolio Manager; add a property and enter details about it; enter energy and water consumption data; share properties; generate performance reports to assess progress; and respond to data requests.
- 201 – March 11, 2020 at 1 p.m. EST – Learn more advanced functionalities such as: managing and tracking changes to your property uses over time; using spreadsheet templates to update property data; setting goals and targets to plan energy improvements for properties; generating and using custom reports; and using the Sustainable Buildings Checklist.
- 301 – March 17, 2020 at 1 p.m. EST – Learn about some advanced features, including: using spreadsheet upload templates to update property data; setting goals and targets to plan energy improvements for properties; creating custom reports; and using the Sustainable Buildings Checklist.
To view these and other sustainability-related events, please visit the KPPC Events Calendar.