Posts tagged ‘Sustainability’

USF Green Initiative Fund for Tomorrow: Enabling USF students to make an Impact

The Green Initiative Fund for Tomorrow (GIFT) provides funding for projects that reduce USF’s negative impact on the environment. GIFT will allocate funds to projects that increase the amount of renewable energy used on campus, increase energy efficiency, and reduce the amount of waste created by USF. Portions of the fund will support education initiatives, student aid, and internships. GIFT is supported by student fees and administered through a student-majority governance board.

GIFT is a dual-purpose fund:

1. Provide resources for immediate response and action
2. Create a growing capital base over the long-term to ensure maximum net benefits

GIFT will receive re-occurring funding through student fees and will grow over time. Through a revolving mechanism drawing cost-savings from projects, GIFT will replenish the fund while providing cost-savings to USF. GIFT will make it easy and efficient for students and other USF community members to design projects. This will provide an unrivaled hands-on opportunity for individually structured environmental education while raising the awareness of the entire community. Furthermore, it will demonstrate that a synthesis between student fees and self-funding sustainability projects are optimal to ensure impact and fiscal stability

Roughly $18,000 will be generated annually from this fee increase to support these initiatives. The increase in student fees will not take affect until Fall 2011, pending approval by the Board of Trustees.

Important aspects of sustainability include minimization of the negative effects of producing and consuming energy, preservation of environmental and economic resources, equity to insure social justice, and reverence for the future.

Vote for GIFT

Step 1. Click https://eballot.votenet.com/usfca/login.cfm

Step 2. Login

Step 3. Click on ASUSF Senate General Elections- Spring 2010

Step 4. Vote YES on GIFT

Go to www.votegift.org to learn more

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April 20, 2010 at 11:07 AM Leave a comment

Wal-Mart Unveils Plan to Make Supply Chain Greener

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced on Thursday that it would cut some 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain by the end of 2015 — the equivalent of removing more than 3.8 million cars from the road for a year.

The company plans to achieve that goal by focusing on popular product categories with the highest embedded carbon — milk, bread, meat, clothing — and by pressing its suppliers to rethink how they source, manufacture, package and transport those goods. Essentially, suppliers are being asked to examine the carbon lifecycle of their products, from the raw materials used in manufacturing all the way through to the recycling phase.

Wal-Mart’s sustainability executives will work with suppliers to help them figure out what measures to take. Any costs related to making products more energy-efficient — redesigning packaging or using a different fertilizer — will be the responsibility of each supplier, not of Wal-Mart.

Jim Stanway, who oversees Wal-Mart’s supplier initiatives involving energy, said in an interview on Thursday that suppliers would be willing to spend money if “it’s an investment where everybody’s sure it makes the supplier more profitable.”

And while the initiative may be good for the environment, it may also be good for Wal-Mart. Driving costs out of the supply chain could result in savings for Wal-Mart that can be passed along to consumers — enabling the company to uphold its reputation as a destination for rock-bottom prices.

Also, as Michael T. Duke, Wal-Mart’s president and chief executive, said in a Web cast on Thursday, “We know we need to get ready for a world in which energy will only be more expensive.”

At the beginning of the decade, Wal-Mart began taking an industry-leading role in environmental sustainability, in part to burnish its image. Soon, Wal-Mart was wielding its heft to change industry practices.

Wal-Mart said supplier participation in its effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would not be mandatory. But the giant retailer — with sales of more than $400 billion last year — made it clear that it was interested in doing business only with suppliers that share its goals.

Critics argue, though, that rather than change its business model, Wal-Mart pressures suppliers to change theirs — which can lead them to cut corners and produce shoddier products.

“You can’t argue with asking companies to reduce packaging,” said Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, an advocacy group. “But if durability is not part of what matters in retailing anymore — and Wal-Mart arguably has been the leader in making that the case — that’s something we have to grapple with.”

Ms. Mitchell added that large stores have been shown to encourage consumers to drive farther from home, increasing emissions. And as Wal-Mart accelerates its growth overseas, putting more stores around the world, its carbon footprint will expand.

Wal-Mart has started many environmental initiatives in recent years, from improving the efficiency of its truck fleet to creating a global index to measure the environmental impact of products. In the last couple of years, the chain worked with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, which produces DVDs, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the plastic knob in the center of its CD cases.

For the latest initiative, Wal-Mart is collaborating with organizations including the Environmental Defense Fund, PricewaterhouseCoopers, ClearCarbon, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas. The groups will help advise Wal-Mart and its suppliers, as well as evaluate and measure reductions.

Already, Wal-Mart is working to change the labels on clothing it sells to indicate the products can be washed in cold water (therefore lowering customers’ electricity bills), and to sell private label compact fluorescent light bulbs in Mexico. The company said the 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions it intends to cut from its supply chain by the end of 2015 is 150 percent of the estimated growth in carbon emissions from its own operations over the next five years.

Matt Kistler, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president for sustainability, said the initiative was also a way of getting ahead of pending energy legislation. For “suppliers who could be adversely affected,” he said, “this will just put them further ahead.”

Click HERE for article

February 26, 2010 at 12:41 PM Leave a comment

Attention USF Business Students!!!

Are you interested in attending a graduate school that focuses on sustainability, environmental issues, social governance, and related fields? Check out the Aspen Top 100, ranking MBA programs that incorporate these issues into their core.

Click HERE for the list.

About the project:

Beyond Grey Pinstripes is a research survey and alternative ranking of business schools that spotlights innovative full-time MBA programs leading the way in the integration of issues concerning social and environmental stewardship into the curriculum. These schools are preparing students for the reality of tomorrow’s markets by equipping them with the social, environmental, ethical and economic perspectives required for business success in a competitive and fast changing world.

The Aspen 100

This ranking is the result of over 18 months of rigorous research – designing the survey, outreach to MBA programs around the world, data collection and analysis – looking at how well MBA programs incorporate social, environmental and ethical issues into the training of future business executives. Approximately 80,000 pages of data were collected from 149 participating schools.

Quick Facts

The number of participating schools continues to grow:

2007: 111 schools in 18 countries
2009: 149 schools in 24 countries

The number of elective courses per school that feature some degree of social, environmental or ethical content has increased over time:

2005: 12 courses per school
2007: 17 courses per school
2009: 19 courses per school

The percentage of schools surveyed that require students to take a course dedicated to business and society issues has increased dramatically over time, but at a slowing rate:

2001: 34%
2003: 45%
2005: 54%
2007: 63%
2009: 69%

The most popular place to find courses with business and society content is not the CSR/Business Ethics Department. The top disciplines, in order, teaching about social, environmental and ethical issues are:

1. Management
2. Finance
3. Marketing
4. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)/Business Ethics
5. Accounting

Approximately 7% of faculty at the surveyed business schools published scholarly articles in peer-reviewed, business journals that address social, environmental or ethical issues. The titles and abstracts of the 1,211 articles are available on this website.

The percentage of schools requiring content in a core course on how mainstream business can act as an engine for positive social or environmental change remains low, at 30%.

We are always willing to investigate particular questions or issues from the media or other researchers. Our research survey also has information on the social and environmental issues in MBA courses related to:

Academic Disciplines
Accounting
Business and Government
Business Law
Corporate Social Responsibility/Business Ethics
Economics
Entrepreneurship
Environmental Management
Finance
Human Resource Management
Information Technology
International Management
Management
Marketing
Operations Management
Organizational Behavior
Public and Non-profit Management
Quantitative Methods
Strategy

Survey results also contain information on non-classroom activities such as:

Speakers and Seminars
Internship Programs
Career Services
Specializations and Concentrations
Joint Degree Programs
Centers and Institute
Student Clubs

learn more at http://www.beyondgreypinstripes.org/index.cfm

February 9, 2010 at 10:36 AM 1 comment

Will it be possible to feed nine billion people sustainably?

Sometime around 2050 researchers estimate that the global population will level-out at nine billion people, adding over two billion more people to the planet. Since, one billion of the world’s population (more than one in seven) are currently going hungry—the largest number in all of history—scientists are struggling with how, not only to feed those who are hungry today, but also the additional two billion that will soon grace our planet. In a new paper, published in Science, researchers make recommendations on how the world may one day feed nine billion people—sustainably.

The difficulties are many and large, according to the paper: “growing competition for land, water and energy, and the over-exploitation of fisheries, will affect our ability to produce food, as will the urgent requirement to reduce the impact of the food system on the environment.”

The finiteness of arable land and freshwater will be further strained by what the authors call “higher purchasing power”, which increases the demand in the developing world for “processed food, meat, dairy and fish, all of which adds pressure to the food supply system.”

Further complicating the problem of limited—and over-stretched resources—will be the need to adapt to a changing climate.

To continue reading this article click HERE

February 1, 2010 at 10:27 AM Leave a comment

Many Shades of Green: Diversity and Distribution of California’s Green Jobs

Click to download report

This report from Next 10 tracks the growth of green jobs in the Golden State over the last 14 years, and finds big growth and regional hotspots for different types of environmentally oriented careers.

With an annual increase of 2.4 percent per year, jobs in a wide number of green areas have far outpaced employment rates in other industries. The research found some regions of the state fared better than others, and each region developed a niche market for different green jobs. The Sacramento area was the clear leader in job growth, with an 87 percent improvement since 1995; San Diego found a 57 percent growth in green jobs in that timeframe, and the San Francisco Bay Area and the Orange County / Inland Empire region grew by 51 and 50 percent, respectively.

Sacramento was a hotspot for jobs in biomass energy generation, while the Bay Area led in energy research and consulting jobs; the San Diego region ranked highly in a number of areas, but was the overall leader in jobs in co-generation technologies.

Among the highlights of California’s Core Green Economy:

• Between 1995-2008, green businesses increased 45 percent, green jobs grew 36 percent while total jobs in the state grew only 13 percent.
• Even in rural areas with a smaller economic base, green jobs are growing faster than the overall economy.
• Between 2007-2008, green jobs grew 5 percent while total jobs dropped one percent.
• Manufacturing represents 21 percent of all green jobs, and grew 19 percent, while manufacturing represents only 11 percent of all jobs in California (January 2008.)
• Half of all manufacturing jobs are split between Energy Efficiency and Energy Generation.
• Services accounted for 45 percent of all California green jobs, the largest portion in Environmental Consulting.
• With nearly 43,000 jobs in 2008, Air & Environment is the largest of California’s green segments. While this segment’s jobs remained steady, hovering around 35,000 from 1995-2005, since 2005 the number of green jobs in this segment has increased 24 percent.
• From 1995-2008, Energy Generation employment expanded 61 percent by nearly 10,000 jobs. Solar makes up the largest portion, and strongest growth (63 percent).
• Employment in Energy Efficiency increased 63 percent from 1995-2008.
• Employment in Green Transportation has increased 152 percent since 1995. Green Transportation Jobs are primarily in Motor Vehicles & Equipment and Alternative Fuels, with the latter growing faster at 201 percent, and representing 48 percent of all jobs in this segment.
• Green Logistics is an emerging field, only in the Bay Area at present, with employment growing by 1144 percent since 1995.

More details about the report are available at NextTen.org.

January 20, 2010 at 11:08 AM Leave a comment

NYU has made a wake. Let’s Surf it USF!!

Dining’s bottled water ban a small step for sustainability
by Pratik Mehta, NYU

As part of NYU Dining’s incremental push toward environmental sustainability, both the Kimmel Market Place and Upstein have removed bottled water from their meal plan options. They now provide compostable cups made from plant material to students who wish to drink water or fountain soda.

Bottled water, like several other convenience items, is an environmental disgrace. According to the Earth Policy Institute, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year, and more than 17 million barrels of oil are needed annually to satisfy this demand in the U.S. alone. NYU Dining made the right decision in removing bottled water from the thousands of meals students consume each week.

However, this action is a small step. Despite boasting about sustainability efforts on its website, NYU Dining has been painfully slow in making other reforms that are equally logical and worthy of attention.

First, Kimmel and Upstein still offer paper cups alongside the more eco-friendly compostable ones (or they did when I visited them earlier this week). In fact, the paper ones were larger than the compostable ones. Like any reasonable college student, my first instinct was to make the most of the money spent on my meal plan and to grab the bigger cup, which utterly defeats the lofty rhetoric on the NYU Dining website.

If NYU Dining is serious about sustainability, it should offer equally-sized paper and compostable cups, and, really, it shouldn’t offer paper cups at all. Although paper cups are a step up from bottled water, they are no match, sustainability-wise, for the compostable cups.

Second, the carry-out cartons at traditional dining halls do not mesh with NYU Dining’s commitment to “reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable planet.” These cartons are more eco-friendly than previous containers (as the stickers slapped on them remind diners), but the fact remains that most of these cartons will be thrown in the trash and inevitably find their way to landfills. When you count the thousands of carry-out meals that are eaten each week, the environmental damage adds up quickly.

Smith College in Northampton, Mass., requires students who want take-out meals from dining halls to bring their own Tupperware containers. Instead of incrementally improving the quality of carry-out cartons, Smith’s policy eliminates the problem of pollution in one fell swoop.

A similar situation exists with disposable cups, even the compostable ones. I agree it is fantastic to have cups that degrade into soil and nutrients over a period of years, but why hurt the environment at all? Many environmentalists quibble over the benefits of paper vs. plastic; biodegradable vs. compostable; and recycling vs. reusing an environmentally harmful product. Often they’re missing the point.

The real solution is reducing the amount of products we use every day. This would diminish our environmental impact and circumvent the original problem of pollution. To this end, the University of Maryland distributes reusable hot/cold mugs to students, eliminating the need for disposable cups. A similar action where NYU Dining distributes metal or Nalgene bottles to all students with a meal plan would eliminate thousands of cups in the garbage, regardless of whether they’re compostable.

NYU Dining was right to remove bottled water from its meal plan options at Kimmel and Upstein. However, if it is to truly stand up to the rhetoric and image of sustainability presented on its website, there are several options that still must be implemented.

USF: We need to catch on to this.

December 7, 2009 at 10:08 AM Leave a comment

Greening the Las Vegas Strip- Resorts sprinkle sustainability in with sizzle, splash

The resorts along Las Vegas Boulevard sit not just in the middle of a desert, but at a crossroads where conspicuous consumption meets scarce resources.

Las Vegas wouldn’t be what it is if not for Hoover Dam and the Colorado River water impounded behind it. On average, the city receives just four inches of rainfall a year, relying instead on Lake Mead for 90 percent of its water needs.

Making matters worse, the city and surrounding region have been gripped by drought for much of the last decade. In October 1999, the elevation of Lake Mead at Hoover Dam stood at 1,212 feet; 10 years later, it barely reached 1,093, a drop of almost 120 feet.

Las Vegas also sucks up an inordinate amount of energy — in July, electricity usage hit 5,586 megawatts, a peak for 2009. Approximately 90 percent of the city’s power is generated from non-renewable resources, including oil and natural gas.

The Las Vegas Strip

So, when it comes to sustainable design, the Strip is not likely the first place that comes to mind. The flashing lights, the flowing fountains, the air conditioning by the acre — the place doesn’t exactly scream conservation.

Leading the charge
And yet, sheer size aside, the resorts along the Strip are actually leading the conservation charge.

Harrah’s Entertainment, which owns Bally’s, Caesars Palace and Paris Las Vegas, among others, has spent $60 million on conservation projects over the last six years. In Las Vegas, major efforts include a multi-resort laundry facility that cuts water use by 30 percent — despite a 40-percent increase in capacity — and a five-megawatt cogeneration plant at the Rio that generates enough electricity to power one of the hotel’s two towers.

“We’re an unusual suspect for conservation efforts,” admits Gwen Migita, Harrah’s director of corporate social responsibility. “People come here for the gaming and the experiences, so we take care of the bigger impact issues behind the scenes.”

CityCenter, MGM Mirage’s 67-acre resort complex set to open two weeks from now, was built green enough that the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has declared four of its properties LEED Gold certified, its second-highest designation. The property will feature, among other things, a cogeneration plant that will provide 10 percent of electricity needs and use the waste heat to warm the resort’s water supply, low-flow fixtures that will cut indoor water usage up to 45 percent, and glass and sunshades that let in light but deflect the desert heat, cutting down on lighting and air-conditioning.

Cindy Ortega, senior vice president of energy and environmental services for MGM Mirage, said even the biggest projects can be good for the environment: “Yes, we could’ve built it smaller and stayed within the same code and had the same environmental impact. Or we could’ve pursued LEED certification, made it harder on ourselves and built it the way we did. That’s what we chose to do.”

Ultimately, the issue comes down to what constitutes true sustainability.

“Is sustainability about being less bad than you might have otherwise or is it about being regenerative?” asks Jim Nicolow, director of sustainability at the architecture firm of Lord, Aeck & Sargent. “I don’t doubt that [MGM Mirage] is making legitimate improvements to what would be practice as usual, but is developing 70 acres in the desert the direction the world needs to go?”

Best of both worlds
Philosophical debates aside, the resorts along the Strip have all made major moves to improve energy efficiency. “If they can have that spark and sizzle with less energy consumption, you get the best of both worlds,” says Mark Severts, project communications director for NV Energy, the state’s primary supplier. “It’ll still look like, ‘Wow, Las Vegas,’ but they’re not spending as much money as people think they are.”

Which, it turns out, plays directly into the idea that the Strip wastes natural resources willy-nilly. “The Strip is a place of images and illusions,” says Nicole Lise, public information coordinator for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, “but the illusion isn’t limited to the clubs and the shows; it’s also about the use of water and energy. The reality is that the resorts on the Strip only use about six percent of our water.”

As for building bigger rather than smaller, both Nicolow and Ortega agree that big projects, and by extension big business, play a crucial role in the evolving arena of sustainability.

“If you want to change markets and have a faster and more comprehensive solution, then big business is the answer,” says Ortega. “CityCenter has fundamentally moved the needle on sustainable design.”

November 17, 2009 at 10:34 AM Leave a comment

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