Writing for a Bluer, Greener World
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28
March
2012

Discussions continued Mar. 13 for a proposed 100MW solar farm on a privately-owned golf course property in Hamilton, NJ. More updates after tonight’s Hamilton Township zoning board meeting.

Pro and con pitted over preserving increasingly scarce open space versus a job-creating, energy-producing project.

Via the Trenton Times:

Environmentalists get heated over would-be solar site in Hamilton

Tuesday night marked another long, tense zoning board hearing as environmentalists and witnesses testifying for the would-be developer of a massive solar site in Groveville squared off for a third time.

The site in question, a 60-acre property off Crosswicks-Hamilton Square Road, would become home to a ground-mounted solar site under plans presented by Hamilton-based developers Barry Black Sr. and his son Barry Black Jr., doing business as BKB Properties.

No decision on the site, which would require a use variance from the zoning board, has been made yet.

The board carried the hearing to a fourth meeting March 28.

Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Business - (0 Comments)
28
March
2012

Walmart is one of the biggest ships in the Sustainability seas. Wither goes Walmart, goes a big swath of American commerce, production,  and consumption. For good or bad.

TriplePundit.com reporter Jeffrey Hollender agrees, saying:

I believed and still believe, that no organization on the planet has more power or potential to very quickly effect positive social and environmental change than Walmart. More fuel-efficient trucks is easy low-hanging fruit, but when Walmart starts telling P&G to reformulate and redesign their products – we’re moving into uncharted territory.

Hollender goes on to say that Walmart’s ship was steering into greener waters in the late 2010s under the leadership of then-CEO Lee Scott. Several years after Scott’s departure, Hollender reports, Walmart has wandered off course:

Via triplepundit.com and MotherJones.com:

Walmart’s Sustainability Efforts Stall Under New Leadership

And even where Wal-mart has made its [sustainability] goals, questions linger.

Wal-mart concedes that the use of murky subcontractors is widespread in China, Africa, the Middle East, and Bangladesh. They won’t provide details about how they have achieved their goals, whether suppliers were asked or compelled to share factory information, and whether any suppliers lost orders or were fired for unsatisfactory responses.

Hat tip to commenter CBKSK for highlighting Walmart’s issues as a Principal-Agent scenario.

This means that when you hire someone to help you, they may or may not do things in a way that matches up with your best interests.

Effective Sustainability practices hinge on paying full freight for all the costs and impacts incurred by a business.

This looks to me like a case of missing and broken accountability links.

Whither Walmart? I’m hopeful the retail giant will veer back on track to results that benefit all parties in their business, including and especially its customers.

Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Business - (0 Comments)
26
March
2012

Join me at the West Orange B.I.G. pod’s meeting tomorrow night.

“Greening Your Business: 9 Smart Steps to Sustainability”
March 27, 7:30 PM, Luna Stage, West Orange NJ

I’m presenting!

This interactive talk will give you concrete ideas to:

  • Strengthen your bottom line
  • Set yourself ahead of competition
  • Serve as a positive force for your community

Bring your questions and challenges about all things green, eco-friendly, and sustainable: energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable development, greenwashing, eco-certifications and more.

Hope to see you there.

Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Business - (0 Comments)
22
March
2012

As the United Nations hosts World Water Day 2012 today, the world is reminded that clean water is vital for life and intrinsically linked to food security:

World Water Day

There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and another 2 billion are expected to join by 2050. Statistics say that each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres.

In New Jersey, water quality protection is front-and-center as Governor Christie appears to be behind the controversial and sudden firing of New Jersey Highlands Council executive director, Eileen Swan.

Via NJ Conservation Foundation:

Politics trumps water protection in Highlands

The firing is the boldest salvo to date in what appears to be a concerted effort by the Christie Administration to undo the protections of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act (the Act), which was adopted in 2004 to secure the water supply for some six million people – over two-thirds of the residents of this state were in.

And right here in Essex County, Rutgers Cooperative Extension offers a highly affordable ($25!) for a professional two-day landscaping course on water-conserving and pollution-preventing Rain Garden Construction.

Via water.rutgers.edu

Attend Rain Garden Training Workshop
April 2 & April 3
Hosted by Rutgers Cooperative Extension in Garibaldi Hall at the Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland
The program is open to all, but tailored for professional landscapers.

A rain garden is a landscaped, shallow depression that captures, filters, and infiltrates stormwater run off at the source. A rain garden removes source pollutants from tstormwater runoff while recharging groundwater. Rain gardens are an important tool for communities and neighborhoods to create diverse, attractive landscapes while protecting the health of the natural environment.

Bid on Artist-Decorated Rain Barrels
The Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program is coordinating the “One Barrel at a Time Co-op,” where artists beautify rain barrels to be auctioned off to the public.

Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Links | Green Living | Green Politics - (0 Comments)
21
March
2012

The Trenton Times covers recent and upcoming New Jersey solar farm developments, including how neighbors feel about living next to one.

What could be greener than a field of local, clean-energy producing solar panels? Well, a productive agricultural field, for one.

I’m interested in these cases and the public conversation about them for the intersection of private property rights, commercial enterprise and municipal oversight and control.

When it comes to maintaining a healthy environment for citizens, business owners, and the environment, today and for the future, what constitutes a “good” outcome?

Via NJ.com:

Even solar power has its detractors — especially when fields of glass replace fields of green

Once found only on the roofs of an eco-conscious few, solar panels are now popping up on business campuses, school roofs and, increasingly, on farm fields and next to homes or neighborhoods.

There are several large ground-mounted solar sites in the Mercer County area and more in the pipeline. A few, like the Lawrenceville School’s 25,000-panel project scheduled to be switched on next month, are used to offset the energy costs of an institution. The 6.1 megawatt project, located on 30 acres of farmland owned by the school, will eventually produce up to 90 percent of the school’s electricity.

Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Politics - (0 Comments)
19
March
2012

Good news for the health of soup-consumers everywhere: Camden-based Campbell’s Soup has announced the company will phase out BPA chemicals from its cans.

Mmm mmm good for them in making a strategic business decision that reaches past short-term profits to consider long-term consumer relationships.

It’s a win-win-win for consumers, the environment, and I’m willing to bet, their profits.

Via grist.org:

Campbell’s to ditch BPA from soup cans

The announcement is big news because the soup behemoth has been seriously dragging its can on the BPA front. Companies like Muir Glen, Eden Foods, and Trader Joe’s eliminated BPA from their products ages ago, and Heinz, Hain Celestial, and ConAgra already committed to phase out the chemical, which has been linked to heart disease, early onset puberty, diabetes, obesity, hyperactivity, and cancers, just to name a few.

The Precautionary Principle asks manufacturers to prove no harm before a product is released to the marketplace. That clearly did not happen in this case.

While a lot of BPA-laced water is already well under the bridge–and in our bodies–this welcome change is better late than never.

Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Business - (1 Comments)
15
March
2012

“People who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of the people doing it.”

Global companies can and should do a better job of measuring and reducing their environmental impact.

For those who say it’s too hard or costly, Rob Bernard, Microsoft chief environmental strategist, says it can be done.

The IT giant has announced a major software deal to help track its environmental impact and drive down emissions and energy bills.

“What really interests me is how we can leverage IT to make savings,” he said. “Although as a society we’re still trying to figure out exactly how to do that.”

Via businessGreen:

Microsoft to track global footprint with CarbonSystems roll out

Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Business - (0 Comments)
14
March
2012

In honor of the EPA’s national “Fix a Leak Week” (yes, that’s a thing), here’s a household tale of a quick flood and a slow leak.

I don’t know why my husband and I decided to come home early, but I’m glad we did. The second we opened the door, we both heard the ominous sound of running water.

We bolted down the basement stairs to discover about an inch of water covering half the basement floor.

The supply tube that brings clean water into the downstairs toilet had given way and water was spewing out across the floor. A quick turn of the stop valve right next to the wall stopped the flood so we could survey the damage.

We were lucky that we got home so soon after the flood started. Mopping up took only an hour. With a new $5 supply tube from the local hardware store, we were back in business.

It got me thinking about how much water we wasted that day down the drain and how much impact it would have on our monthly New Jersey American Water bill.

That math was complicated by my discovery that the upstairs toilet also was wasting water with a slow leak from the tank into the bowl.

The EPA says that an American home can waste, on average, more than 10,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks.

Considering that one out of 8 people on this planet do not have access to safe drinking water, that’s a crime.

An easy way to check for tank leaks is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 15 minutes, you have a leak. (Flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)

Since I wanted to know how much water I was wasting, I checked the water meter before and after a set period when no water was being used.

In one hour, the meter showed three gallons of water gone.

Three gallons of water doesn’t sound like that much, but over a week, it adds up to over 500 gallons of clean, processed water gone literally down the drain. At a few pennies per gallon, over a month, that’s another $5 on my monthly bill.

Fixing this problem required a few tools and a $15 replacement valve and float kit from the hardware store. No more running water, no more leak.

To learn more about fixing common indoor leaks, visit the EPA’s WaterSense site and download New Jersey American Water’s Water Leak Detection Kit.

Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Living - (1 Comments)
6
March
2012

Bank robber Willie Sutton supposedly quipped that he targeted banks because “that’s where all the money is.”

That came to mind when I heard that CFOs are stepping up to manage their company’s sustainability strategy.

Sounds like smart business to me.

I’m glad to see the the dots connect. The things that CFOs care about–profits, position, potential–are the same things that Sustainability can help manage.

The report cites CFO concerns that upcoming resource scarcities –namely water–are a short-term core business risk.

Short-term. As in 3-5 years short-term.

Via Ernst & Young/GreenBiz.com:

Seventy-six percent of survey respondents anticipate natural resource shortages will impact business, CFOs emerging as key players in sustainability

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Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Business - (2 Comments)
5
March
2012

Being green isn’t only good for the planet, it’s good for business.

Here are 5 steps to take to make your business more profitable and sustainable .

1. Cut Energy Costs—You’ve heard the adage that it’s cheaper to save energy than to make it? Put that into practice with a top-to-bottom energy efficiency audit that includes a plan for recouping your upgrade costs.

2. Improve Processes—Boost your green impact by creatively slimming how you work. What elements of what you make, package, and ship can be eliminated without compromising safety and usage? Where can you digitize and streamline steps to reduce hand-offs, bottlenecks and missed opportunities?

3. Pursue a Triple Bottom Line—Consumers are increasingly weighing a company’s sustainability profile before they buy. Measure success by your company’s ability to positively impact People and the Planet, as well as your Profits. You’ll gain a competitive marketing edge as a bonus.

4. Support Sustainable Partners—Strengthen your business community by working with local suppliers who share your green mindset.

5. Share Your Success—Demonstrate your commitment to making the world a better place for everyone, and then make sure your employees, customers, and shareholders know about it.

Need some help getting started? Big or small, I can help you use a green advantage to attract customers, inspire employees and and close sales. Call me to talk about creating a cost-effective social media and marketing campaign for your business’ sustainable success.

Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Business - (0 Comments)