greenfutures No.86 October 2012
Sound of starlight Can we bring about a quieter, darker world?
Bring back the wild: breathing life into dying lands Brand new world: marketing sustainability, not stuff Industrial symbiosis, or what happens when lions share
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Green Futures October 2012
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Editor in Chief MARTIN WRIGHT Managing Editor ANNA SIMPSON Production and Development KATIE SHAW
For decades, the cri de coeur of conservation has been the same: preserve the rainforest or lose it forever. You can’t recreate pristine habitats. Once gone, they’re gone for good. It was an article of faith among environmentalists. But now, a bunch of heretics called ‘restoration ecologists’ are daring to question it. They are pointing to evidence that lost landscapes can indeed be resurrected, or at least brought back from the brink of extinction, to something approaching robust health. In ‘Recall of the wild’ [p26], Katherine Rowland surveys the contours of this brave new world, and asks whether we might even dare to dream of making nature ‘better than before’. There’s one magical landscape in particular which has long been lost to urban dwellers, despite being the inspiration for countless works of music, art and poetry down the ages. Yet it can be recreated at the flick of a switch – or switches, rather. We’re talking, of course, about the landscape of the night sky: of moonglow and starlight. It’s not just a whimsical quest, either. As Duncan Graham-Rowe points out in ‘See no evil, hear no evil’ [p16], bright lights and loud noise aren’t just some urban irritation: they are actively bad for our health, and that of wildlife, too. Dimming the lights and hushing the din would not only improve the quality of our everyday lives: it would save energy, carbon and money as well. A different kind of energy saving comes under the spotlight in ‘Staying power’ [p22]. The full potential of ‘intermittent’ renewables, like solar and wind, can’t be realised unless we can keep the energy they produce, and release it when it’s needed. Sounds simple enough. But cheap, practical power storage has long proved elusive. Now there are signs that at last it’s coming into view, and for anyone frustrated at the slow progress of renewables, the results could prove very exciting. It’s also one of the rare areas where action is, to some extent, being driven by government. Such instances these days are pitifully few. Earlier this month, I chaired a roundtable in Delhi where both Forum for the Future’s founder, Jonathon Porritt, and India’s leading environmentalist, Rajendra Pachauri, agreed that in the absence of government ambition for practical action, business had to take a lead. Encouragingly, it was a sentiment echoed by the assorted Indian CEOs around the table. It’s a theme taken up in ‘Brand new world’ [p20], where Emily Pacey explores the power of brands to promote sustainability, and not just stuff. I’m in Delhi to work on Forum’s new programme, India: Innovation Nation. We’ll be picking out the leading sustainability success stories in this huge and crucial economy, and asking how they can best be brought to scale. You can read more about this exciting initiative at www.forumforthefuture.org/india-innovation-nation. I’ll be back in the new year. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you in the more than capable hands of Anna Simpson, who will be acting editor for the rest of this year.
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Green Futures October 2012
Contents 8 7 00
16 S ee no evil, hear no evil Light and sound pollution take a significant toll on our health and productivity, and on wildlife. Duncan Graham-Rowe looks for solutions to bring back the beauty of the night sky and the sound of silence.
26 R ecall of the wild Environmentalists have long deplored the loss of precious rainforests, species and marine life. Can restoration ecology turn things around? Katherine Rowland investigates.
The latest in green innovation, including:
20 B rand new world Could a new dynamic between brands and consumers help to shape our desires for a better world, and nudge us towards it? Emily Pacey finds out.
30 W hen lions share As disposal costs and resource constraints bring waste streams to the attention of big industry, Jon Turney finds out how one company’s surplus can meet another’s needs.
8F ruit machine A chip to sift good food from bad
22 S taying power The lack of cheap, efficient means to store power obstructs the potential of renewable energy. But this could soon change, say Matt Scotland and Caspar Henderson.
Green Futures October 2012
5C rowd-funding solar A new model for clean energy finance 7F rom pastries to plastics Biorefinery puts food waste to purpose
9W ashing with diamonds Breakthrough looms on low-temperature laundry 11 S ingapore’s high tech haven Superpark takes inspiration from Eden 12 C ardboard commuter The humble bicycle takes a new turn
Number 86, October 2012
4 T he future in context Water will overtake oil as a political force, says Peter Madden
40 T wo for one The business case for projects that both cut carbon and improve lives ClimateCare
43 S wedish style How Scandinavian design could change the UKâ€™s housing market Skanska
41 S niffing out fish How US food stores traced all the seafood on their shelves. Delhaize
44 T he new adventurers The rise of de-couplers, zeronauts and net positives WWF-UK
42 H anging on costs Should we print our inbox to save energy? Pureprint Group
45 A mbition agents Accreditation schemes are helping companies stretch themselves Arjowiggins Graphic
24 A thousand words The transformational power of a dip 35 F orum update Data hackers take on the food chain; how farm-based energy could revitalise communities; and Sally Uren on version 2.0 of brands and sustainability 46 Feedback Readers respond online and in print 48 J onathon Porritt Many of us play down the full horror of accelerating climate change
Green Futures October 2012
The future in context Water force How will H2O shape the future?
In 2030, will water, rather than oil, be the central factor in global geopolitics and economic success? Will India find that over-exploitation of aquifers, a major reduction in the Himalayan melt waters, and the increasing demands from its population of 1.5 billion, bring its economic development crashing to a halt? Will China, also facing huge water availability challenges, become the global centre for innovative environmental technologies and management systems, which it then exports around the world? Will we see those countries with abundant fresh water – Canada, Chile, Colombia – exploit their new comparative advantage? Experts predict that, within two decades, demand for water will be 40% higher than it is today, and more than 50% higher in the most rapidly developing countries. Supply pressures will mean that available water acts as a magnet, with communities developing around fresh water sources. When water runs out, people will move. Huge coastal desalination plants, water grids, and deep earth drilling (often several kilometres down) will provide temporary fixes, but will also bring new vulnerabilities and unwanted environmental side effects. For individuals and communities, local water management will become a much bigger part of their lives. Expect to see dew and water vapour harvested, widespread use of hydroponics, and closed-loop water systems joining up waste water systems with food production and aquaculture, even in cities. These coming shortages will hit us in the pocket, too. Water pricing will have been introduced in some countries to prioritise water use and drive its conservation. In other places, those who hold water rights are likely to squeeze the maximum economic value out of them. And there will be increased attention to the water ‘embedded’ in exports.
Green Futures October 2012
We can already see signals of this world to come. In Peru, fog catchers dot the deserts around Lima. In Cyprus, researchers are using concentrated solar power for a desalination scheme that will ultimately create an extra 5 million litres of water a day. And the Chinese Government recently announced that it will introduce a pricing scheme for water, where rates will rise exponentially as water consumption increases. I think that water is bound to become more important than oil, simply because there are no alternatives. We need water for life, and we need water for food. Agriculture accounts for over 70% of global water use. This vital resource is very unevenly distributed. China has 18% of the world’s population, yet only 8% of its freshwater. The Middle East, already suffering serious water issues, expects a doubling of population over the next 40 years. Add to this the impacts of climate change, and the severity of the situation becomes clear. The tensions this will bring have led some to talk of ‘water wars’. Certainly, if we carry on down the same paths, desperation may well force countries into armed conflict, and also into geoengineering – seeding clouds and diverting river flows. This is going to be a big challenge for our generation. Of course, as with any shortage, it should stimulate technological innovations, increase intelligent management and improve efficiency – and there are many examples of this in the accompanying Green Futures Special Edition ‘Water Works’. Yet we will undoubtedly need international political cooperation, too, if we are all to have access to our most precious resource.
Peter Madden is Chief Executive, Forum for the Future.
Briefings Crowd-funding solar California’s new model for clean energy finance The upfront costs and logistical challenges of installation have prevented solar panels from blanketing American rooftops. But that could change: a start-up called Solar Mosaic aims to make distributed solar affordable for buildings and businesses, through a crowd-funding platform that resembles KickStarter and Kiva. Unlike those companies, however, Solar Mosaic may soon offer returns on investments, and transform clean energy funding. Solar Mosaic’s model is simple: the company helps groups whose missions it supports, such as homeless shelters, lease solar panels for their roofs using donations from online givers. The recipient later pays back donors with its energy savings. Since its inception in 2010, the Berkeley, California-based start-up has provided panels for five buildings in California and Arizona, generated 73kW
of energy, and saved recipients a total of $600,000. While the company has focused on helping mission-driven organisations, Lisa Curtis, Solar Mosaic’s Community Builder, says that it hopes to “expand into financing other types of projects, such as schools, commercial buildings, and residential sites”, as well as developing projects in other states. The company recently received a combined $4.5 million from the Department of Energy and the venture capital group Spring Ventures to scale up its operations. Solar Mosaic has so far been barred from offering returns to its online donors by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations that prevent nonaccredited investors from receiving interest. In April, however, President Obama passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a law
that, among its other provisions, permits companies in the US to sell securities to small-scale investors. While Solar Mosaic is in a mandatory quiet period as it negotiates with the SEC, founder Billy Parish has stated that the company expects to offer returns of 5-10% on Solar Power Notes in coming months. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Nathaniel Bullard, Solar Mosaic is developing a promising instrument. “Putting your money into a physical project is more exciting, and less exotic, than giving it to an investment bank”, he says. “Secondary markets are likely to emerge, which is when it will really take off.” As investors realise that solar is stable and profitable, Bullard expects crowd-funding to gather “billions of dollars … facilitating solar installations in states across the country”. – Ben Goldfarb
Facing up to the light
Photo: Mosaic, www.solarmosaic.com / Goodshoot/thinkstock
PV panels track the sun, passively “Om Suryaya Namah”: the Vedic mantra which places the energy of the sun at the core of spiritual awakening. Also bowing to the source of all life – or rather raising its face – is the sunflower, which rotates from east to west through the day to absorb maximum light. Now, an electrical and computer engineer from the University of WisconsinMadison, Hongrui Jiang, has developed solar panels that mimic the sunflower’s motion, increasing their efficiency by 10%. Jiang isn’t the first to develop sun-seeking panels, but his are the first to track the sun passively – without using energy. Current systems rely on GPS and motors to realign the panels with the sun’s position, but use 2-3% of the energy collected by the panels, whereas the new system responds to the heat generated by the sun. These energy savings give the new system a competitive edge, Jiang believes. The system comprises a solar panel with mirrors underneath, each focusing
on an actuator comprised of carbon nanotubes, which absorb a wide range of light wavelengths from visible to infrared, and a liquid crystalline elastomer (LCE), which shrinks upon heating. When the sun directly hits a mirror, the carbon nanotubes absorb the light and heat up, increasing the temperature difference between the actuator and outside environment. The LCE shrinks, forcing the entire system to bow towards the strongest sunlight. As the sun moves, different actuators shrink whilst others cool and re-expand, letting the panels follow the sun. With a prototype in place, Jiang and his team are exploring ways to refine their materials for use in larger solar panels, with a view that, in 5-10 years’ time, it will be ready for large-scale use in industrial solar farms. The team is now seeking funding for further work. Professor Philip Jennings, an expert in photovoltaic efficiency at Murdoch University, Australia, is impressed by the
advancement: “The idea is clearly feasible and the materials required are relatively inexpensive and widely available. The efficiency improvement is impressive ... [and] the invention has clearly passed the first test of ‘proof of concept’. The challenge now is to show that it is cost effective.” – Eleanor Devenish
Green Futures October 2012
Reinventing the leaf Panasonic patents efficient artificial photosynthesis Electronics giant Panasonic has announced the development of an artificial photosynthesis system which can convert carbon dioxide into organic materials, with record efficiency. The company says its system is as efficient as a living plant, at 0.2% – a big improvement on the 0.04% announced by Toyota Central R&D Labs in 2011.
The key to its technology is a nitride semiconductor, typically used in LEDs, which produces a flow of electrons to split water into oxygen and hydrogen in the presence of light. A metal catalyst then triggers the breakdown of CO2, producing formic acid. This chemical can be used in everything from livestock feed to cleaning products, and is a strong contender for
the future of fuel cells. With 29 patents relating to the technology, Panasonic is well-placed to profit if the market for formic acid were to expand. The company plans to use the technology to capture and convert CO2 from incinerators and power plants. Research in the field of artificial photosynthesis has so far focused on the production of hydrogen for fuel, the most promising being the ‘artificial leaf’ system developed last year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but efficiency has always been a problem. Whereas conventional systems have been limited by their complex structures, Panasonic’s all-inorganic system is low energy loss: the reaction rate is exactly proportional to the light power provided. Despite the system’s impressive efficiency, for commercial viability it will need further improvement to levels beyond that of a plant, says Devens Gust, Director of the ASU Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production. – Annabelle Bladon
Robot sunrise The price drop for solar panels [see ‘Is solar the new normal?’ GF84, p30] has turned up the heat on the economics of fitting them. Labour is now a much bigger proportion of the whole system costs. So is automating the process part of the answer? Cue the GPS-guided robot photovoltaic panel fitter. German company PV Kraftwerker has built themselves one, and it’s working.
Up to a point, that is. Put together from off-the-shelf components so it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, their first plant assembly robot should pay for itself within a year of regular use, they reckon, on the large-scale solar PV projects that are their speciality. The robot, named ‘Momo’, is equipped with sensors, a 3D camera and a gripper system, and has been shown off at trade fairs in Automatic precision, to a point
Green Futures October 2012
Munich and San Francisco. PV Kraftwerker’s Managing Director Eberhard Schulz claims that it is accurate to a millimetre, eliminates assembly errors and can save fitters from related injuries. But so far, it still depends on humans to install metal frames first. And more to screw down the panels when the robot has put them in place – and then wire them up. But robots can get smarter – and PV Kraftwerker is developing simpler ways of fixing panels and wiring plugs, too. Ned Ludd, where are you now? There’s no place, in this modern industrial vision, for a reincarnation of the mythical smasher of early cotton mills, beloved of the handloom weavers who feared being out of business. Then again, there are some places where you wouldn’t want your worst enemy to have to work. Fukushima, for instance – where the Japanese Government is looking to put PV Kraftwerker’s innovation to good use, setting up a PV power station with minimal human intervention in the radioactive wasteland. – Roger East
Photos: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/Science Photo Library / Kiener and BeBConsulting
Will automated fitters boost the march of PV power?
From pastries to plastics Biorefinery puts food waste to new purposes New technology in Hong Kong could address the issue of food waste while providing a sustainable supply of bioplastics. Starbucks Hong Kong has invested in the development of new biorefinery technology which converts food waste into succinic acid, a key chemical in the manufacture of high-value products such as plastics and detergents. Carbohydrates in the food are broken down by fungal enzymes into simple sugars, before bacterial fermentation – of which succinic acid is a by-product. Hong Kong produces over 3,200 tonnes of food waste every day, the majority of which is incinerated or placed in landfills. Processing this waste in a biorefinery would not only reduce reliance on environmentally damaging methods of disposal, but could also offer a sustainable alternative to the petroleum products currently used in the manufacture of plastics – while at the same time consuming CO2 in the fermentation process. What’s more, these bioplastics are completely biodegradable. Leading the research is Dr Carol Lin, a mechanical engineer at City University
of Hong Kong. Last summer, she was approached by Hong Kong-based non-profit The Climate Group about the possibility of developing a biorefinery to process coffee grounds and bakery waste from Starbucks, one of its corporate members. In addition to providing this waste, Starbucks helped fund the research by donating a portion of proceeds from its ‘Care for our Planet Cookies’ gift sets. The Climate Group intend to show that research and collaboration among thought leaders can bring innovations like this to a local market, without the need to wait for global markets to transform. “The technology promises a local-scale solution to a local resource issue”, the Group says, “allowing city-level incentives and regulation to play a part in boosting local business opportunities.” Lin’s team has already successfully mastered the process in the lab and, by next year, hopes to have set up a pilot plant. The next step will be to work on the logistics of collecting the waste and transporting it to the plant, though she points out that within a city economy like Hong Kong’s, feedstock and markets
for the products can be co-located, reducing long supply chains and transport costs. Lin is certain that the technology is commercially viable, but large-scale adoption is still dependent on funding. The question begs, could companies like Starbucks do more to reduce their food waste in the first place? Dan Crossley, Principal Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future, warns against a culture of waste-dependency. “If pilots are scaled up, the thing we should guard against is getting locked into a whole new set of infrastructure that relies on steady streams of waste”, he says. – Annabelle Bladon
Cooking up a charge
Photos: Astrid & Hanns-Frieder Michler/Science Photo Library / BioLite
Clean stove generates electricity from waste Three billion people around the world cook on open fires, putting a billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Clean stoves have been developed, but the latest innovation also offers a source of electricity: an attractive prospect for the 1.3 billion without access. The BioLite HomeStove, a new product launching in 2013, uses a small fan and thermoelectric generator to give two watts from waste heat, while consuming half the wood and reducing smoke by 95%. A couple of watts may not sound like much, but it’s enough to charge a mobile phone or LED lamp, extending the number of productive hours in the day. At $40, the HomeStove still isn’t cheap, but should pay for itself within seven months according to Ethan Kay, BioLite’s Managing Director of Emerging Markets. Instead of paying up to 7% of their income to charge phones in nearby villages, families can do it at home. And, since it reduces carbon emissions, the distribution of the
stove can also be supported by carbon offsetting programmes. Of course, there are still barriers to wide-scale adoption – one of which is “to make sure that the cook likes the stove”, says Anne Wheldon, Knowledge and Research Manager at Ashden. “Otherwise, it won’t be used and won’t generate electricity.” The HomeStove also faces strong competition from existing PV products, she adds. “Would someone choose a $40 stove incorporating a phone charger, if they have the option of a $10 PV charger?” How will the start-up address these challenges? “Our current focus is on getting a solid understanding of the key drivers of consumer adoption and developing sustainable distribution models before we bring the product to market”, says BioLite’s Erica Rosen. But she anticipates success. “Once we officially launch the HomeStove, we aim to distribute one million cookstoves over the next five years.” – Michael Ashcroft
Green Futures October 2012
Fruit machine A chip to sift good food from bad One-third of food produced worldwide never makes it to the plate. The UK alone disposes of nearly 9 million tonnes of food annually, including a quarter of all the food that households purchase – at a cost of £10 billion to the nation. Spoilage is part of the problem, but determining when food is no longer good is often a guessing game. Now, chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a sensor that monitors the ripening of produce. Each sensor, no bigger than a
computer chip, is composed of thousands of carbon nanotubes designed to respond to the presence of ethylene, a chemical released as produce matures. The sensors could be attached to boxes of fruit and vegetables, according to lead scientist Timothy Swager, and scanned with a handheld device to assess their ripeness. This would inform retailers of pending spoilage, signalling when it’s time to place items on sale – and thereby cut losses by up to 30%, Swager claims. While ethylene monitoring is commonplace, existing systems are pricey, often costing well over US$1,000 for a single unit. But rising demand and increased production have led to a precipitous drop in the price of carbon nanotubes, bringing the cost of the new sensors down to just 25 cents each. This could make it viable to track the ripening of produce for an entire warehouse or shipping container. To streamline the process, the MIT team is also investigating radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that track sensors with the wave of a handheld device. “With
RFID, you can quickly check the ripeness of all your fruit wirelessly”, says Jan Schnorr, a chemist involved with the project. Nanotechnology stands to enhance food packaging in numerous ways: extending shelf life, alerting retailers to pathogens, and even eliminating harmful bacteria. But the health effects of nanotechnology are not fully understood, and regulators are examining possible risks, such as skin and respiratory conditions. Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist at the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said that although nanotechnology does not have a large presence in the food retail market, the FSA “fully expect that to change”. Schnorr says the MIT invention has elicited “an overwhelming response from companies in the food and sensing sectors”, but that it’s premature to name investors. The team has patented the sensors and plans to market them next year. – Katherine Rowland
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Green Futures October 2012
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Less heat, more work The Stirling engine cools down The basic principle behind the Stirling engine – harnessing heat to make a fluid expand and push a piston – could have much more mileage in it if it can be run effectively with less initial heat. A smart company claims to have cracked it well enough to work from the waste heat of a conventional power station smokestack. CoolEnergy they are called, and they’ve got backing from the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. Hitherto, Stirling engines have typically needed temperatures of 1200 degrees and over to get their pistons moving properly, using the pressure created by the expansion of a fluid when it vaporises in a confined space. CoolEnergy’s innovation, marketed as ‘SolarHeart’, depends on the use of heat exchanger pipes and a nitrogen-based fluid that will
do the business at ‘just’ 200-500 degrees. It potentially widens the technology’s applications enormously – putting it within a temperature range that’s satisfied by a lot of industrial exhaust. CoolEnergy is targeting military and remote settings, where fuel is both costly and hard to come by, and industrial facilities that generate vast amounts of waste heat, in both gas and cooling fluids. The company says the installation could pay for itself within two years. The technology can also be adapted for use in the home, by combining the engine with a solar thermal system. This way, any heat that isn’t required by the host building can be converted to power. The company claims its integrated SolarFlow System provides 80% of heat, 100% of hot water and 60% of electricity in an average size US home.
The efficiency gains are promising. But, at a time when the US coal industry is pulling out all the stops to clean up its act and stay competitive with ‘unconventional’ shale gas, will this mainly be used to delay the death of that dirty dinosaur? – Roger East
Diamonds are for lather
Breakthrough looms on low-temperature laundry
The cool wash that gets dirty clothes really clean just might rely on diamonds, at the nanoscale. The energy savings could be colossal, if the latest research lives up to its early promise. Whatever we’re told about today’s laundry products, enough stubborn dirt clings on at 30˚C to push millions of us into cranking up the heat on our weekly wash. Sometimes, admittedly, that’s just a bad habit, rather than a hard calculation. But a UK research team has discovered a possible way to break the cycle. Twice as much crystallised fat, they’ve found, can be loosened from fabrics at 25˚C by the simple addition of tiny diamonds. Really tiny, that is. Nanodiamonds, five nanometres across. These could stand in their thousands on a single human hair. And they seem to be so effective, that they’d even work in water as cool as a mountain stream. What else they can do, remains to be seen. Procter and Gamble are co-financing the research in this
so-called Cold Water Cleaning Initiative, which is being led by Andrew Marsh at Warwick University. “Even at temperatures as low as 15˚C, otherwise hard-to-remove fat could be solubilised from a test surface”, thanks to the nanodiamonds, explains Marsh. The findings are still a long way from commercialisation, but the manufacturers behind Daz and Ariel are at the ready. – Roger East
More jewels, fewer joules
£4.21 The total annual cost saving (including purchase price and energy usage cost) of switching an incandescent 40W bulb to a corresponding LED bulb, according to IKEA, which has announced plans to convert its entire lighting range to LED by 2016.
Green Futures October 2012
Squeezing the wind A cutting-edge turbine, without the blades The new face of windpower
Innovation always pushes boundaries, but what about pushing the laws of physics? Tunisian start-up Saphon Energy claims it can do exactly that with the Saphonian, a bladeless turbine that harvests more energy from the wind than previously thought possible. The makers claim that the turbine exceeds Betz’ Law, which caps the amount of kinetic energy that a turbine can harvest at 59.3% of the wind’s total energy. “The basic idea is that you can’t take all the energy out, because the air would stop moving”, says Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. The Saphonian replaces the blades and rotor with a concave disk. The wind pushes on it in a “back-and-forth 3D knot motion”, explains Hassine Labaied, Saphon’s CEO. The kinetic energy of the wind is first converted to mechanical energy via pistons (connected to the disk), then to hydraulic energy, and then to electricity. Labaied claims to have “very promising results”, showing the turbine
is 2.3 times more efficient than a bladed turbine – a level of efficiency that would put it above Betz’ limit. But not everyone is convinced. Caldeira described the claim as “wacky”. The company plans to address such skepticisms in a detailed demonstration that will be published later in the year. Whether or not the questions over the turbine’s efficiency are resolved, other advantages it offers are undisputed. It’s quieter than standard turbines, and doesn’t pose a threat to birds. But its cutting edge will likely be its lower cost. Saphon expects total investment costs to be 30-45% below that of current turbines, since the most expensive parts – the blades and the gearbox – have been replaced with less expensive plastics, fabrics and a hydraulic motor. That’s an advantage that even Caldeira would be willing to embrace. “The efficiency of extraction is not the issue right now”, he says: “It’s really if you can do it cheaper.” – John Eischeid
A new crest for wave energy Technology to predict wave power could double the harvest
Green Futures October 2012
The research focuses on point absorbers: floating structures, like buoys, with components that move relative to each other in response to the wave. This motion generates energy which can be fed back to the grid. The team has developed an algorithm that can be run by a processor attached to the point absorber as often as five times per second. It predicts the height of coming waves, allowing the absorber to respond to each wave individually, by fine-tuning the resistance of its inner components in order to collect the maximum energy possible. Critically, it can also be programmed to minimum resistance when waves are too strong, avoiding damage. Dr George Agiddis of Lancaster University, a leading wave energy engineer, says the research is a positive step forward. The research is now set to be tested on a larger scale, with further EU funding, and as part of a broader existing partnership with Ocean Power
Buoyed up by algorithms
Technologies, a developer of wave energy devices. The prizes could be high. The development of marine energy may be as much as 30 years behind that of wind power, but it has the potential to provide the UK alone with electricity twice over. – Virginia Marsh
Photo: Saphon Energy
Wave energy developers have long had their eye on the UK’s south-west coastline, particularly northern Cornwall and the Scilly Isles. It faces the powerful Atlantic swell and has been earmarked for significant EU and UK Government funding to support leading-edge research in the region. The latest move is a promising two-year experiment to predict wave power that its backers say could double the amount of energy extracted. A team of mathematicians and engineers from Exeter and Tel Aviv universities has developed software to predict the height of oncoming waves, just 10 to 30 seconds before they hit the turbine. Until now, says Exeter’s Dr Markus Mueller, developers have been reliant on Met Office data that predicts average wave lengths and amplitudes in periods of 30-60 minutes, and over relatively long distances. This statistical approach is limited, he says, because every single wave varies from the average.
Concrete catch Can carbon capture help clean up construction? Concrete, the world’s most abundant manmade substance, ranks second to coal as the world’s dirtiest industrial material. Now, a company in Halifax, Canada, is working to make concrete plants carbon neutral, using captured CO2 to improve their product. By injecting CO2 into concrete during production, CarbonCure sequesters stores that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere. According to Sean Monkman, the company’s Vice President of technology development, CO2 makes concrete stronger and more durable – qualities that translate into reduced waste and energy consumption, and reduced costs for manufacturers and builders. “CO2 isn’t just a harmful greenhouse gas”, says Robert Nevins, CEO of CarbonCure. “We can use it to make better materials.” Nevins isn’t alone in spotting this potential. California-based Celera sends its emissions through seawater to create a chalky bicarbonate by-product that, when mixed with concrete, improves its quality. Celera has built a demonstration plant
in Monterey to showcase the “beneficial uses” of CO2. Carbon Sciences, also in California, offsets CO2 emissions from coal and steel production plants by sequestering the greenhouse gas in concrete, thereby strengthening the material. And Novacem of London says that its magnesium silicate cement absorbs enough emissions to make it carbon negative. To date, however, companies have not demonstrated that clean concrete can be produced to meet industry demands, or that the energy used to build new “green” production plants won’t counter its ecological benefits. According to Noel Morrin, Senior Vice President of sustainability at Skanska, effective carbon storage in concrete is “never going to be more than an interesting lab experiment”. But Nevins’ model may have an answer to these concerns. Rather than building new production plants, CarbonCure is partnering with North American manufacturers, including Basalite and Atlas Block, to bring their concept to facilities that already have established markets and
A prison for carbon
the capacity to produce large quantities. Currently, they’re working with three plants in the US and Canada. Plans to expand include the development of other product types, including pipes and pavements. – Katherine Rowland
Singapore’s high tech haven
Photos: Stockbyte/thinkstock / Gardens by the Bay
Superpark takes inspiration from The Eden Project Singapore has raised the bar on green space, by integrating innovative green technologies and biological diversity on a massive scale with its newly opened Gardens by the Bay. Built on the redeveloped Marina Bay for over £504 million, funded by the Government, the 101 hectare super park includes three gardens, inspired by the Eden Project in Cornwall. Tim Smit, cofounder of Eden, calls it “a great achievement and a statement of intent and ambition bearing in mind the value of land there”. It could be “a powerful tool for raising awareness in the region”, he adds. The largest garden, at 54 hectares, is Bay South, designed by British landscape architecture firms Grant Associates and Wilkinson Eyre, working with environmental design consultants Atelier 10. Greeting visitors is the notable Conservatory Complex, consisting of two biomes with a total volume of 135 Olympic swimming pools. The Flower Dome and the Cloud Dome house over 250,000 rare and endangered plant species, procured for about £100 million. Rare plants aside, the conservatories
steal the sustainable practice show with a biomass furnace feeding on urban horticultural waste from the North Park to generate heat and power, and also fertiliser in the form of ash. Waste heat is captured to regenerate a liquid desiccant that dehumidifies the air before it is cooled. As Meredith Davey, Senior Associate Director of Atelier 10, explains: “Other buildings have used elements of the technologies we have used, [but] it is the combination of them in such an integrated manner, and the scale, that makes the project so special.” East of Eden
Exhaust air from the conservatories is captured by 18 ‘Supertrees’: giant futuristic structures, rising 25-50m, which provide breeding sites for important birds and insects. They are covered in a living skin to support 162,900 plants comprising 200 non-native species, and also feature photovoltaic cells and rainwater harvesting systems. These ‘trees’ are already attracting attention from developers looking to use them as a striking way to integrate green technology into the landscape. – Suchi Rudra
From bus yard to wetland park Los Angeles transforms ugly site for ducklings
A 9-acre bus maintenance yard in Los Angeles has been transformed into a stormwater wetlands park and community asset. The South Los Angeles Wetland Park was officially opened this February as part of a city-wide initiative to improve water quality, clean up pollution, provide habitat for wildlife and bring benefits to the community. The park is an important part of the city’s work to meet legal requirements for water quality, and treats runoff from the surrounding urban area which then drains
into the Los Angeles River. Stormwater is passed through a treatment facility to filter out rubbish and chemicals, and is held in pools while bacteria clean the water of any remaining pollutants. The park also provides a green space for local residents, with walkways, wildlife viewing and educational facilities. Michelle Vargas, Department of Public Works, Los Angeles, says: “We have seen people from the neighbourhood come by and walk around the wetlands. This area used to be
blighted and fenced up. Now, it’s a green space that is enjoyed by the community.” One of the project’s objectives was to create a habitat for wildlife, and it is already being used by birds, with numbers expected to increase over time. The park was planted with drought tolerant vegetation native to California, and is expected to be fully grown by 2013. Michael S. Rolband, President of Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc, says: “Urban wetlands can protect our built environment and improve water quality, but their greatest benefit is for education. They allow people to gain ecological values, helping them understand the relationship between the wetland environment, water quality, and preservation of habitat for wildlife.” The South Los Angeles Wetland Park is part of Proposition O, a $500 million initiative through which the City of Los Angeles funds projects to improve water quality, clean up pollution, provide habitat for wildlife and protect public health. Proposition O provided $8.1 million of the $26 million budget for the South Los Angeles Wetland Park. Additional funds came from LA Sewers, the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the US EPA Brownfields Grant. – Rebecca Nesbit
Cardboard commuter A bicycle made from recycled cardboard could bring cheap, fuel-free transport to more people than ever before. Israeli engineer Izhar Gafni’s creation is manufactured out of only $9 worth of recycled materials. The cardboard is strengthened through multiple folds to carry a weight of up to 220kg, and is both water- and flame-resistant, thanks to a coat of resin. The company managing its commercial development, ERB, expects it to retail for $60-90 (depending on various add-ons, including an attachable electric motor), if made available through regular channels. ERB is in discussions with private investors, which, if successful, would bring three models to market in 2013. They include the Alpha, an adult bike weighing just 9kg; a smaller version, weighing just 3.5kg, and with a production
Green Futures October 2012
price of $8, designed for children in rural areas who currently walk miles to school every day; and a balance bike, to help novices learn to ride. ERB is also exploring ways to fund the distribution of the bikes in the developing world. Gafni’s hope is that local manufacture, creating new jobs for disadvantaged people, will help the product to attract incentives and grants. For Shigeru Tanaka, Director of Engineering at product design and development firm Speck Design, however, it’s the creativity behind the product itself which could have the most significant impact, inspiring future innovation. “Gafni embarked on his own journey to create his cardboard product, challenging conventional ideas
around materials, transportation and engineering”, remarks Tanaka. “The cardboard bike may get people thinking about possibilities and solutions beyond what is available today.” The lifespan of the product, and any plans for its after-life, are still in question, but Gafni expects it to withstand at least two rainy winters. – Elly Earls
Photos City of Los Angeles, LA Stormwater Program
The humble bicycle takes a new turn
Convertibles and swappables Can lateral thinking bring down the cost of EVs? Full-size electric cars cost significantly more than their petrol and diesel equivalents. Attempts to bring the costs down fall into two camps: some attempt to bypass the cost of the body, others the cost of the battery. Somerset-based Alternative Vehicle Technologies is taking the first route. If you fancy an electric Citroen 2CV, it will convert a standard model to battery power for you. Prices start at £15,132 for the conversion. You might pay £17,000 for a complete e-2CV, ready to go – as opposed to £24,000 for a brand new EV (after the UK Government’s Plug-in grant). Two universities in North America are on the same track. Research scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, have developed a kit to convert the 2001-2005 Honda Civic, bypassing some of the costs of manufacture. However, at £20,000 for a complete car (based on a £3,000 secondhand Civic), it offers little saving over a brand new car. It’s More promising is the work at Middle Tennessee State University, which has converted a petrol car into a hybrid by adding a DC electric motor to each rear wheel, plus a lithium-ion battery. It needs no mechanical changes to the engine, gearbox or other parts, and the projected price for the conversion is £1,900.
However, the most expensive component in any electric car is the battery: both to buy new and to replace when the time comes. A new battery for a full-size electric car such as the Nissan Leaf costs around £400 per cell. Leasing the battery spreads this over a longer period, making the financial commitment more akin to buying fuel for a petrol car: pay-as-you-go, not pay-everything-at-once. Renault is the only manufacturer currently offering leased batteries on its electric cars. Leasing costs vary according to mileage and length of lease, but start at £76 per month for the Fluence ZE (the monthly cost goes up if you cover more miles or opt for a shorter lease of one or two years). This cuts
the upfront price of the Fluence to £17,495, which is a good £6,000 less than a Mitsubishi iMEV, the next cheapest full-size electric car. That saves up to £3,795 over three years. Leasing also looks like a cheap option for two-seater city cars. The Renault Twizy starts at £6,990, with battery leasing from £45 per month – making it significantly cheaper than its nearest rival, the REVA G-Wiz, at £11,950. The leasing model also fits well with the battery exchange scheme being pioneered by California-based Better Place, which allows drivers to swap their dying battery for a fully charged one in a matter of minutes. A pilot scheme is underway in Copenhagen. – Peter Henshaw
Photos: Civic / istockphoto/thinkstock
Cleaner future for diesel engines? Start-up firm’s new exhaust catalyst cuts emitted pollutant Petrol engines good, diesel engines bad: correct? Well, yes and no. Most people are aware that engines using petrol produce lots of CO2 while diesel engines don’t. But there is growing concern about other gases that pour out of diesel exhausts – notably nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Researchers at Nanostellar, a start-up company co-founded by a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), say they have devised a way of reducing diesel engine pollutants by up to 45%. The innovation could be applied to cars, lorries, planes, ships and heavy machinery. The research, published in Science magazine, was backed by the Texas Advanced Computing Centre and the National Research Foundation of South Korea. The precious metal platinum is used as a catalyst in diesel exhaust convertors to cut levels of noxious emissions. The Nanostellar team says it has successfully replaced platinum with a man-made version of mullite, a silicate mineral used in porcelain. The result, they say, is a reduction of up to
45% in the pollutants emitted. “Mullite is not only easier to produce than platinum, but also better at reducing pollution in diesel engines,” says team member Kyeongjae Cho, a professor in materials science, engineering and physics at UTD. The researchers also plan to explore the use of mullite to replace platinum catalysts in fuel cells, which generate electricity using chemical reactions. Already, the innovation is being offered for commercial applications in automotive diesel exhausts under the trademarked name Noxicat. Nanostellar says it is also interested in working with potential partners to develop non-automotive applications of the catalyst technology, such as converting coal or biomass into liquid fuels, and capturing waste heat for vehicle air conditioning units. – Bob Cervi
Green Futures October 2012
Triple energy chip Self-powering electronics bypass batteries Batteries not included
Changing batteries in some electronics might be a thing of the past, if researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have their way. They have developed a new chip that can harvest energy from the sun, heat and movement. The breakthrough with this chip is that it can get energy from all three sources at once, and use it in real time. “Today, there are devices to scavenge
energy from solar or vibration. This can replace [them] to provide more power by combining several sources”, says Anantha Chandrakasan, the MIT professor who led the chip’s development. The chip powers itself through integrated solar cells, thermoelectric generators and vibration harvesters, bypassing the need for a battery. This also makes for more efficient use of the energy,
asserts Saurav Bandyopadhyay, a doctoral student who assisted with the project. Its applications are limited, however, since the amount of energy it can generate is capped at five volts. So where might it crop up? Expect to see it in biomedical devices – such as an ECG monitor – environmental sensors, and any hard-to-reach spot where replacing a battery would be difficult. “[The chip] opens up the door to deploying technologies in environments that would previously have been considered unfeasible […] environments that are too poor, remote, or undeveloped to have reliable energy infrastructure”, says Ahmed Amer, an Associate Professor in computer engineering at the University of Santa Clara. This might include military applications, according to Chandrakasan. Not unlikely, given that the research was funded by the Interconnect Focus Center, which is home to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Chandrakasan says the chip “would be ideal for distributed sensors where replacing a battery is not feasible”. So, if you don’t spot the chip in coming years, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there… – John Eischeid
Bringing the sunshine in New technology brings natural light to windowless rooms
Green Futures October 2012
CEO Tony Han, the company has already implemented its large commercial-scale technology (CS version) in three industrial locations in South Korea. Among them are the POSCO Steel Mill in Pohang and the Chungpyung Pumped Storage Plant, both of which were looking to replace older lighting systems. Dong Gyu-Oh, POSCO’s Plant Facilities Manager, declared the system was “a major asset for energy saving as well as for our environmental policy”.
Sunportal has also managed to secure two major contracts in office buildings in Spain and Austria. Jong H. Kim, its Global Sales and Marketing Director, estimates that the technology will lower energy costs by an average of 20-25%. He also claims the natural light will have a beneficial impact on workforce productivity, citing a study by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory. – Alan Fookes
Beam me down Photos: Christine Daniloff MIT/ Sun Portal
Innovative technology from Sunportal, a recent South Korean and British joint venture, promises to deliver natural daylight to windowless spaces through a series of high-tech pipes, without heat gain or loss. A mirror tracks the sun throughout the day, reflecting its rays onto a parabolic dish, which then focuses the reflected daylight into a small ‘light pipe’ aperture. The concentrated light then travels through a series of relay lenses “over any distance and in any direction”, according to the company. A diffuser ensures that light evenly reaches the desired areas. The patented Sunportal offers luminance beginning at 80lux and peaking at 500lux (one lux is equivalent to light intensity during early twilight). What happens when the sun gets too faint? An integrated high-efficiency LED light kit, which can be connected to the mains, kicks in. Founded last year after five years of research and development, and funded by
Reef reactions An underwater lab monitors acidification impacts An underwater mini-lab off the northeast coast of Australia offers a novel way to focus coral reef conservation. Scientists from the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute have developed an experimental system to study the impacts of ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems. Submerged just a few feet below the surface of the water at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, this mini-lab, or FOCE (Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment) system, could prove instrumental in predicting the responses of our reefs to rising levels of atmospheric CO2, and therefore in directing conservation efforts. Oceans absorb more than one quarter of atmospheric CO2, helping to slow the rate of climate change. But with an increase in dissolved carbon comes an increase in ocean acidity: bad news for coral reefs, which hold enormous value in terms of shoreline protection and the marine life which they support. Until now, simulations of ocean acidification have been confined to labs and aquaria. This project, an international collaboration, led by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and David Kline at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, is the first attempt to simulate the process of acidification on an actual reef, the advantage being that while conditions in the semi-enclosed mini-lab can be controlled, the organisms within it respond to future acidity scenarios in their natural environment. The system uses a network of sensors that monitor water conditions, ensuring through feedback control that experimental elevations in
acidity are maintained relative to natural variations in pH. Kline is now working to develop the next generation of the system, which he hopes to install globally within the next 5-10 years. It will be portable and deployable to greater depths, allowing comparative studies to be carried out across different reefs and reef zones. If successful, the implications for coral reef conservation will be great. “Reefs around the world are going to experience ocean acidification at different rates”, says Lida Teneva, a Stanford PhD student involved in the study. “There will be winners and losers on the scale of whole reef systems as well as among organisms within reefs.” If the FOCE system could be
used to identify those reefs most robust and resilient to ocean acidification – and therefore most likely to act as strongholds for the future – strategic steps could be taken by the conservation community to enhance this resilience through protection and careful management. “This is just the beginning of a whole new approach for studying and understanding the effects of ocean acidification”, says Christopher Sabine, Director of the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. “More work needs to be done to understand the limitations and potential of the system, but it is an exciting start and the scientific community will be watching closely to see what they do next.” – Annabelle Bladon
Another day, another acid trip
Photo: David I. Kline, 2012
“On almost all of our metrics – reporting a water strategy, policy or plan; reporting concrete water targets or goals; or the ability to report volume of water withdrawals – food and drinks companies are ahead of their peers in other sectors.” Marcus Norton, Head of Water and Investor Climate Change Programmes, Carbon Disclosure Project
Green Futures October 2012
See no evil, hear no evil
Take a trip to Galloway Forest Park, 40 miles west of Dumfries, and like many tourists you’ll discover 300 square miles of stunning Scottish woodland. Pay a visit at night and you’ll find you’re not alone. A growing number of these tourists flock to the area not for the stunning landscape, but rather for the very fact that none of the surroundings are visible. That’s because since 2009 Galloway has held the status of Dark Sky Park, the first in the UK, and only one of a handful of places around the world to receive recognition for how utterly devoid it is of artificial light pollution. As such, it’s a magnet for amateur astronomers who are willing to travel great distances for a rare chance to see the stars without their view being impaired by the almost ubiquitous nightglow of civilisation. While some people seek out darkness, others crave silence – an equally rare commodity in the 21st century. And sound and light pollution are not just aesthetic concerns: there’s growing evidence that they can have a seriously damaging effect on the health of humans and ecosystems alike. The World Health Organization cites noise-induced hearing impairment as the single most prevalent irreversible occupational hazard, causing a disabling
Green Futures October 2012
effect on 120 million people. Both light and sound pollution have also been linked to a range of seemingly unrelated diseases, from heart conditions and high blood pressure to cancer. There is even growing evidence that light pollution is playing a significant role in the rise in obesity – more of which later. Meanwhile, such pollution is taking its toll on wildlife, too. Brightly lit office buildings, for example, can confuse night-flying migratory birds, leading to collisions or starvation as they lose their way. And, as if the odds aren’t already stacked against their survival, newborn sea turtles can suffer a similar fate. During their nighttime dash for the sea, bright lights can confuse these hatchlings to the point that they end up crawling inland instead, to almost certain death. Sound can confuse animals, too. Military sonar has been found to disorientate migrating whales, leading them to become repeatedly beached. In fact, there is also evidence that anthropogenic sounds have changed the way whales and birds communicate, forcing them to demonstrate the so-called Lombard vocal response, where they effectively have to raise their voices to be heard over the noise, which of course only worsens the problem. In humans, too much sound can lead to higher levels of aggression and increased blood pressure, and by
Photo: Tunç Tezel
Duncan Graham-Rowe goes in search of the quiet dark.
extension the encouragement of a shouting society: if you don’t make a big noise you won’t be heard. “There’s a clear distinction between sound and noise,” says Philip Evans, an occupational health consultant with RPS Group who has more than 25 years’ experience specialising in acoustics and vibration. “Noise is sound you don’t want to hear”, he says. And in terms of its impact on most humans, the vast majority of this comes from transportation: cars, trucks and planes in particular. The definition of light pollution, on the other hand, is less straightforward. There is no consensus, says Christopher Kyba, a physicist with the Institute of Space Sciences at the Free University of Berlin, who has been researching the subject. “Some people say that all human light is pollution, while others believe it only begins at certain thresholds”, he says. Part of the problem is that lighting is often associated with safety, so one person’s light pollution could be another’s (real or imagined) security. In occupational health, the link between exposure to noise and direct damage to the auditory system is well established, but for less direct health effects the evidence is less clear, says Evans. Even so, the WHO warns of the effects that noise can have in provoking disturbed sleep, including raised blood pressure
and cardiac arrhythmias. And noise seems to affect cognitive performance too. Studies have shown that children in schools around airports tend to under-perform, while children from noisier areas in general have increased stress hormone levels and elevated resting blood pressure. With light pollution the evidence is even more damning, says Kyba. Normally when the sun goes down, our bodies are wired to start producing the hormone melatonin. But for most of us this is generally suppressed because of artificial lighting. “Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant,” he says. So besides helping to explain why some people find it so difficult to get to sleep, its suppression should also carry an increased risk of cancer – and indeed it does, says Kyba. “Shift workers tend to have higher incidences of breast and prostate cancer.” It’s even been shown that breast cancer rates are higher in places with higher lighting levels, he adds. Even dim light at the wrong time – the soft glow of an LED clock or standby display of a DVD player in the bedroom – can have a negative impact on people, Kyba claims. The disruption of our circadian rhythms also has a knock-on effect on how we metabolise food. In animal studies it has been shown that eating food at different times can alter the rate at which it’s
Architectural lighting can bring a city’s nightscape into elegant relief, but also adds to skyglow
Green Futures October 2012
Prambanan, Indonesia, during Earth Hour
metabolised, resulting in an increase in weight. There is now a growing body of evidence to suggest that this is also happening in humans, to the extent that it is contributing to obesity levels, says Kyba. Hardly surprising, then, that the American Medical Association announced earlier this summer a new policy recognising the need to understand the risks posed by excessive light at night and its disruption to sleep. So what can we do about these menacing problems? While it’s easy enough to unplug devices in the bedroom, though often not very practical, it’s harder to block out the glow of the city and the sound of traffic filtering in through our windows. To get a sense of the scale of the challenge, stop, look and listen during WWF’s Earth Hour, an annual campaign held in March which encourages people and businesses to switch off for an hour. Campaigners for action on both sound and light pollution can point to the fact that, in general, things that are bright and noisy consume more energy and produce more carbon emissions than their dimmer, quieter equivalents. In some cases, they also cost more, too. According to the Carbon Trust, UK businesses and public sector organisations
Green Futures October 2012
could each year save £350 million and the equivalent of 2.2 million tonnes of CO2 just by switching off unnecessary lighting. So, it’s no surprise that tackling these pollutants is rising up the political agenda. But, as it does so, there are some awkward trade-offs emerging. Take the recent fashion for architectural lighting. It can bring the nightscape of a city like London into elegant relief – but it also adds to skyglow. Then there’s street and security lighting, the spread of which has been driven by concern over personal safety. It certainly helps make people feel secure (although the actual impact on crime levels is much less certain), but it also saturates the night sky – in part thanks to badly designed lamps, which waste much of their energy sending light upwards. Poor design can make things worse. Street lamps should illuminate a road to make it safer for drivers and pedestrians, but if done poorly, such as having lights that shine out in all directions, as is often the case, then it can actually increase glare, making the road less safe and more confusing. In fact, shining light just above the horizontal is more of a problem than pointing it directly up into the sky, says Kyba. Straight up there’s a good chance that most of that light will escape the atmosphere. But horizontally it has further to travel, where eventually it becomes scattered and reflected back down to earth, contributing to that familiar nightglow that hovers over urban landscapes. This can be avoided with so-called ‘full cutoff lights’, which ensure that none of the light is emitted above the level of the horizon, directing it downwards only. This becomes obvious when you drive along a road lit by these kinds of lights, says Kyba. The light is so efficiently directed downwards that it cuts glare to the point that it appears as if the lamps ahead are turned off and only switch on as you approach them. This is now being used in cities and on streets around the world, although it remains very much a minority practice. Combining this approach with other new technologies can yield huge benefits, as was demonstrated recently by a group of researchers led by Chintan Shah at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. They experimented with using motion sensors, wireless communications and dimmable streetlights to ensure that lighting levels remained very low unless there was activity in the area. The results suggested this could cut the Netherlands’ €300 million annual streetlighting electricity bill, and the 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 associated with it, by as much as 80%. In the UK – where lighting accounts for one fifth of all electricity consumed – the use of smart sensors could equally help to mitigate against that other contributor to skyglow and light pollution: the office block. While some companies have started to do this, far too many leave their lights on throughout the night, says John Meacham, of the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies. They say that they need them on constantly for cleaners and for security, but that argument simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, he says. Indeed, there’s growing evidence that bright lights in general do not in themselves make places safer, even if there’s a widespread belief that they do.
Photos: Campaign for Dark Skies / WWF Earth Hour
Loving the low glow: efficient lighting in a London carpark
Photo: Jason Felmingham
A black hole for broom brooms: Melbourne’s ‘sound tube’
“Recent energy saving late night switch-offs of street lighting in Essex, Buckinghamshire, West Sussex and other areas were not followed by increases in crime rates, says Meacham. On the contrary, “there was a substantial fall in crime rates”. The UK Government’s report on Home Security and Crime Reduction advice now states that harsh glaring lights are not a deterrent to criminals. Perhaps surprisingly, offices can also be a significant source of sound pollution. It used to be the case that any new installation of an external heating, ventilation or air-conditioning unit to a building was required to be no louder than the background levels in the area, says Evans. However, this led to an effect similar to whales having to sing louder to be heard. “Each new installation raises the baseline, so you get ‘creeping background’”, he says. Now, regulations require new installations to be set at 10 decibels below the existing background, so there won’t be any net increase, says Evans. But what about the biggest source of sound pollution: transportation? It has been suggested that, as we move away from combustion engines towards electric vehicles, so sound pollution will drop significantly. In fact, EVs are so quiet that some manufacturers are looking at introducing artificial sounds so people can hear them coming. There has even been a proposal to mount a speaker in the front of one model, emitting ‘conventional’ engine noise. But Evans is not convinced that EVs will have much impact on reducing noise pollution, even without these artificial sounds. Even if you replaced half of all cars with EVs, this would only reduce ambient levels by around 3dB, he says. And this is only taking engine noise into account. “At higher speeds a lot of the noise comes from the tyres,” he says. There are some porous road surfaces that help to reduce the sound of traffic, but these need regular maintenance to keep them free of dirt. Noise remains the Cinderella of pollutants, attracting little attention. But there are some whispers of activity under way. At the European level, the Environmental Noise Directive requires all member states to map noise levels. And, in the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [Defra] is attempting to create Quiet Areas, a concept not that dissimilar to Dark Sky Parks, but for
noise. It is currently working on new standards for noise safety thresholds. However, Defra has yet to come up with any hard values and the noise maps of Europe only cover main roads, says Evans. Aviation is also being muffled – to some extent. As tougher regulations come into force on noise produced during take-off and landing, older planes will eventually be replaced by a new generation of jet engines which, unlike their predecessors, are capable of controlling the amount of air that bypasses the main jet turbine – one of the chief causes of high noise levels. The US military and a handful of private engineering firms are even working on ways to enable aircraft to travel at supersonic speeds, but without the sonic boom that so dogged the Concorde throughout its lifespan. Flight tests have shown that it is possible to shape the nose of planes so that they cause any shockwaves produced – which are the cause of sonic booms – to travel upwards only. In the long term we might even see some aeroplane flights replaced by airships: an almost infinitely quieter alternative. Meanwhile, though, with aviation the fastest growing form of transportation, it is questionable whether these technologies will result in any net reduction of noise pollution. Indeed, as with any mitigation strategy, there is always the risk of making things worse thanks to the rebound effect. Making aircraft quieter and more fuel efficient could easily lead to more flights and so more noise. And making lights cheaper to run could remove the incentive to turn them off, adds Kyba. But that’s no reason to despair. As energy costs rise, evidence of health impacts grows, and concerns over safety shift from fear of the dark to fear of climate chaos, the tide could turn. In time, with the mass deployment of new technologies such as EVs, adaptive jet engines, noise-absorbing road surfaces and smart lighting, we might be able not just to slow the increase in the amount of light and sound pollution, but actually to reduce it, creating a quieter and darker world. Perhaps then we could all live as peacefully as the residents of Galloway.
Things that are bright and noisy consume more energy and produce more carbon
Duncan Graham-Rowe is a science and technology journalist based in Sussex.
Green Futures October 2012
Brand new world –
The rise of peer review sites, like TripAdvisor, is transforming the way reputations are made
Back in the day, brands offered themselves as a mark of style and stamp of quality on products bought to last, from kitchenware to trench coats to watches. Then, with the rise of corporate social responsibility, they sought to realign themselves with emerging ideals. In 2002, the global banking group HSBC launched an advertising campaign describing itself as ‘local’. In 2003, fast food giant McDonald’s introduced a line of salads with low fat dressings, alongside the staple burger and fries. Today, saying the right thing, with the odd action to back it up, isn’t enough. The rise of peer-to-peer review sites, from TripAdvisor to Facebook, means that brands no longer have the last word about their character. If they want a lasting reputation, they’ll have to merit it. Again and again. Social media gives non-profit campaigns and consumers the clout to stand up to massive multinationals, challenging them as never before. Take Greenpeace’s ‘Give the Orangutan a break’ campaign, which in 2010 went viral on sites like YouTube, asking Nestlé to stop using palm oil from ‘trashed rainforests’. “You’ll never guess what”, says Greenpeace’s site now: “Nestlé has only gone and agreed to our campaign demands! And you’ve made this possible.” This shift in power means brands will have to change, engaging consumers in a much more dynamic conversation, based on shared values. It’s time for “brands 2.0”, says Sally Uren, Forum for the Future’s
Green Futures October 2012
Deputy Chief Executive [see her regular column on p37]. Uren anticipates a new generation of brand behaviour, in which they’ll build their reputation, not through talk, but through action. They’ll ‘be’ the change they want others to talk about. And, importantly, they’ll enable others to be that change, too. So, instead of simply describing themselves as local and healthy, they’ll be the ones empowering a community to run their own bank, or the ones offering courses in kitchen skills based on fresh, seasonal produce. Take the US-based caterer Sodexo, which runs hundreds of American hospital, university, corporate and government canteens. In 2011, it launched a campaign to reduce meat consumption called Meatless Monday, which seems to have taken on a life of its own. With its snappy tagline, the Meatless Monday initiative is what Lucy Shea, Chief Executive of sustainability communications company Futerra, calls a campaign “with sizzle”: the sort people want to be part of and tell their friends about. Crucially, Meatless Monday has attracted the attention of the media, which has acted as a pollinator for the idea. The Washington Post exhorted readers to “adopt the Meatless Monday routine as a relaxed and fun way to introduce vegetarian meals to your family”. And according to FoodSafetyNews.com, Meatless Monday is now used as “a banner phrase for a war against excessive meat consumption”. WWF-UK’s Head of Business and Industry, Dax Lovegrove, describes the Meatless Monday campaign as “a step-change in the journey to engaging consumers in a green agenda”. Arguably, what made Meatless Monday so successful is that it didn’t just emulate existing consumer expectations: it set a new aspiration. And not just for something they could buy and own, but for something they could do. Another component of its success was that it didn’t just ask one consumer to change their behaviour: it could have said, ‘Give up meat for one day a week’. But instead, its message was ‘Join our Monday thing’ – thereby creating a movement. The promise of these (still fairly rare) sparks of brand genius is great. Imagine what might be possible if more marketing and communications agencies applied their talents to sustainability! Some young companies are already adding a touch of sass to low-cost, low-carbon and traditionally low-status activities such as staycationing and sharing lifts: think Airbnb, Zipcar… “The work we see in this field has exploded”, says Shea. “We feel that we are on a cusp: that brand teams
A new dynamic between consumers and brands could be a real catalyst for change, says Emily Pacey.
are now seeing how sustainability can drive consumer loyalty. It actually makes the hairs stand on my arm when you see how fast this is happening.” In May, Futerra produced Planet Brands, a ‘call to action’ for 100 of what Futerra identified as the brands best-placed to change our behaviour. “Big brands have the dream attributes you need to run a behaviour-change campaign”, says Shea. “They have frequency and status, they are everywhere, they are the makers of manners and we expect them to change our behaviour.” Some brands already see themselves as leaders in social change. One much-vaunted campaign came from the Proctor & Gamble-owned washing brand Ariel. In 2006, it launched what Giles Gibbons of Good Business calls the “best ever” piece of behaviourchange marketing. Ariel’s ‘Turn to 30’ advertising campaign let customers know that they could wash whites at just 30 degrees, saving energy. Gibbons praises the fact that the adverts communicated on two levels: “First, they talked about the power of Ariel’s product to wash clothes whiter, which totally supports their positioning of having the best formulation of washing powder. Second they communicated that Ariel is a good business that helps people to be aware that they can lower the temperature that they wash at. And that is genius – every marketing director afterwards said to their agencies, ‘I want an Ariel’.” The public is also looking for a greater commitment to sustainability from brands. According to the 2011 Meaningful Brands Index, published by Havas Media, 85% of 50,000 global respondents said they expected companies to become “actively involved in solving important environmental and social issues” – an increase of 15% from 2010. Figures published in The Co-operative Bank’s Ethical Consumerism Report 2011 indicate that at least a small portion of those 85% are putting their money where their mouth is. The Report found that in the UK, sales of ethical goods and services rose by 9% in 2010, despite the economic downturn. It seems plausible that ‘ethical’ brands certified by organisations like the Soil Association, Fairtrade, the Rainforest Alliance and MSC, are taking market share from the mainstream. But, says Forum’s Uren, in these straitened times, it’s the mainstream that will really make the difference. “Consumers may want change, but they don’t always want to pay for it, and nor should they have to”, she argues. “Attaching an unnecessary premium to green has put the mainstream consumer off, whereas the economies of scale that accrue from large-scale manufacturing and supply chain eco-efficiencies should be passed to the consumer.” This doesn’t necessarily mean under-valuing resources. In the past year, Good Business worked with Fiat on its eco:Drive computer application, which helps people to save money and reduce emissions by driving more efficiently. “They managed to reduce emissions by about 12%”, says Gibbons, “but Fiat realised that to go further it would need to get other organisations on board.” The automotive brand has now set up a forum, bringing together traffic management authorities, traffic charities, petrol companies and the RAC, to educate drivers about fuel-saving techniques. It’s a smart move: by playing the role of teacher, Fiat builds trust among its consumers, as well as saving them money.
Of course, consumers aren’t always driven by good old money-saving logic: they’re also driven by desire. And fostering this is what brands do best. As Lovegrove says, “If Nike can make us fall in love with trainers, maybe they can make us fall in love with nature.” Indeed. Lovegrove believes that our disposable culture is going into reverse, soon to be replaced by a cool, high-tech, low-consumption ethic. Remember Patagonia’s ‘Don’t buy this jacket’ campaign? The savvy brand reversed the logic of advertising, urging consumers to think twice before investing in even a “60% recycled [and] exceptionally durable” item of clothing. Sounds far-out – but Patagonia may only be the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to reverse consumption. Uren believes that in as little as five to 10 years, people could easily be producers as much as they are consumers. Some will be hacking their own goods, with the aid of trusty tools from programmable materials to 3D-printers. Others will be making the most of resources to hand: spare rooms, old clothes, leftover food – you name it. Evolution requires fresh ideas, and so those companies that work with their audience, listening to them and welcoming their creativity, will have an edge. Former Head of Interbrand, Rita Clifton, observes that the “most enlightened companies” are using consumer feedback to co-create goods and services. There are Lego’s Mindstorms and DesignByMe kits, which allow users to create their own designs and robotic toys. Prizes are awarded to the most creative and interactive, raising the profile of both individual consumers and the brand. In the same vein, Nike launched a shoe design app for customers, with the option to use more sustainable materials – offering the chance to learn about innovative new products, as well as a creative platform. And Proctor & Gamble has come up with successful designs for face cream, toothbrushes and more by involving consumers in its R&D processes. Perhaps the leading brands of the future will behave much like a good party host, bringing people together, creating conversations, and letting new catch-phrases and cultures bubble up through the fun. We’re entering a new age of decentralised creativity – the “third industrial revolution” to quote Jeremy Rifkin. Brands could help this powerful collective to shift things in the right direction. The question is, are they listening? Emily Pacey is a freelance journalist specialising in design. Additional material by Anna Simpson.
In five to 10 years, people could be producers as much as consumers
Focus on the view, not the shoes
Green Futures October 2012
Staying power Among the obstacles in the way of the triumph of renewable energy, one stands out: the lack of cheap, efficient means to store power. Now, it could just be starting to crumble. Matt Scotland and Caspar Henderson report. during what was seen at the time as the white heat of a new industrial revolution, major investments in nuclear power in Britain, Canada and other countries were complemented by large-scale construction of pumped hydropower storage. This was seen as a necessary standby for when such supposedly reliable ‘base-load’ generators went offline. Pumped storage uses electricity to send water uphill to a reservoir, from where it can be released as needed to produce power via hydro turbines when there’s a ‘generation gap’. One of Britain’s largest ever construction projects, at Dinorwig in North Wales, hollowed out a large mountain for this purpose. It’s a tried and tested technology, with around 127GW of installed capacity worldwide. But it’s limited by topography. Pumped storage relies on being able to site two adjacent reservoirs at substantially different heights. And there are only so many locations where this is possible – particularly in Europe. But if not water, what about air? Compressed air energy storage (CAES), which usually entails injecting air into underground reservoirs for release when
Photo: John Warburton-Lee/Getty Images
Solar, wind and other renewables are booming as never before. On the face of it, there’s nothing to stop them becoming the dominant source of our electricity sometime during the course of this century. Except for one big, black fly in the ointment. Our limited ability to store the electricity they generate. Energy storage is the holy grail for renewables, since many of the most promising can only produce power on an intermittent basis (the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow). But to date, no technology has proven cheap – or practical – enough to provide this on the (massive) scale required. But this could be starting to change. Several new or modified technologies are coming close to market, while a number of governments, with an eye to achieving energy security, are putting financing and policy mechanisms in place to encourage them. Storing power generated intermittently is nothing new. The first commercial electric system, set up by Thomas Edison in New York City in the 1890s, depended on batteries to balance its somewhat erratic generators of direct current. And in the 1950s and 60s,
Dinorwig, Wales: power from on high
Green Futures October 2012
Photo: Thedore Gray, Visuals Unlimited/Science Photo Library
needed, was first developed in Germany in the 1970s, and is in the spotlight again thanks to investments by companies such as Dresser-Rand and start-up General Compression. As with pumped storage, CAES is limited by the availability of suitable sites – it requires very specific geological formations. But now US company Sustain X has developed an above ground system, with a full-scale demo due in 2013. While issues over efficiency, safety and spatial requirements remain, it has injected fresh interest in the sector. Then there’s thermal storage: this typically uses heat to melt salts or similar substances stored in tanks, with the heat then used to drive steam generators. It’s ideal for concentrated solar power (CSP) facilities, helping them generate electricity long after the sun’s gone down. So far, though, it has found few other applications. Now a British company, Highview Energy Storage, is pioneering a liquid nitrogen thermal system that it claims can store hundreds of megawatts of electricity cheaply and efficiently. It harnesses surplus power to liquify air, which is stored in a tank. The process of bringing it back to ambient temperature releases high pressure gases which can be used to drive a turbine. Backed by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, it’s already won a clutch of awards, and Highview now plans to build a commercial scale system within the next year. At present, the system is only 50% efficient (that is, it can recover around half the electricity fed into it), but this could rise to 70% if a source of waste heat is available to reheat the air to higher than ambient temperatures. Most homes, of course, are full of simple energy storage devices: the humble battery. Now there’s an array of innovations coming on stream which is bringing batteries into contention for larger scale storage. Some are old technologies with revamped components, such as large advanced lead-acid batteries (smaller ones are found under car bonnets); some are the new breed of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries most commonly associated with mobile phones and laptops; and others, more recent battery technologies such as flow batteries, metal-air batteries and sodium-nickel chloride ones. Energy storage expert Dr Ali Nourai of DNV KEMA believes these could play a major role in the sort of ‘Third Industrial Revolution’ advocated by Jeremy Rifkin. This envisages an electricity grid composed of interconnected small-scale generation and storage systems, which would function like an ‘energy internet’ [see GF83, p26]. “Both GE and Fiamm have developed a sodium-nickel chloride battery that is cheaper, denser, smaller, safer and less expensive than traditional grid-scale ones”, he says. “They can be shipped, dropped on site and connected in a fraction of the time of larger systems.” These units, which may only be capable of storing kilowatts, can essentially be assembled like building blocks to store tens to hundreds of megawatts. The more units bought, the greater the economies of scale. For the moment, costs remain dauntingly high, but as the various competing systems start to mature, so energy-conscious governments are starting to intervene. Across the gamut of technologies, nations seeking first mover advantage are breaking new ground. South Korea is notably ambitious. In 2011, it announced a multi-year, $5.4 billion energy storage investment
programme, with the objective of making the country the global leader in the field. About a third of the total was allocated to research, with the remainder going to demonstration projects and the development of a nationwide storage infrastructure. A Smart Grid test bed on Jeju Island off the south coast of the country, where each house has either a wind turbine or photovoltaic array, is being touted as a national pilot for energy storage and management at micro-grid scale. The German Government is also looking to help integrate its rapidly expanding renewable capacity with new storage technologies. Federal ministries allocated €200 million in 2011 to energy storage, with wind turbines linked to hydrogen storage or CAES seen as among the most promising avenues. And we mustn’t forget the US, which is supporting several storage start-ups through grants and loans. This has led to sharp criticism for profligacy during turbulent economic times, following the bankruptcy of energy storage companies Ener1 and Beacon Power. Despite this, Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced a new Energy Innovation Hub that would fund $120 million in advanced research over the next five years. At present, there’s no silver bullet solution to energy storage. Yet there is much to suggest we are getting closer to a viable solution – whether it is because the likes of GE are backing battery development, the sheer number of start-ups out there researching and testing the next generation of storage technologies, or the emergence of government backing for energy storage development. It’s too early to pick winners for certain, but it’s perhaps just a matter of time until, out of the turbidity, a technology emerges with the right cost and technical performances to sweep away the barriers to energy storage – and so trigger a surge in renewable power. Matt Scotland is a freelance journalist specialising in energy, climate change and sustainability. Caspar Henderson is a writer and journalist living in Oxford.
Innovations are bringing batteries into contention for larger scale storage
Liquid nitrogen: storing energy as air
Green Futures October 2012
Source of life There’s nothing like immersion to change your mood. Laughter rings round public pools. The rite of baptism reflects its transformational power, making us clean both inside and out. But clean water – and water of any quality – is not something that can be taken for granted, as Will Day asserts in his foreword to our Special Edition ‘Water Works’. There’s a cost to maintaining resources and treating supplies, and there’s an even greater cost to not doing so. Putting the right price on water is something that policy-makers the world over are still struggling to do. No wonder. What price would you put on the joy of a dip? What price on life...?
Image: Camila Massu/Getty Images
Green Futures October 2012
Green Futures October 2012
Recall of the wild Once a rainforest is gone, it’s gone forever, right? Not necessarily. Katherine Rowland surveys the brave new world of restoration ecology: the art of breathing new life into dying lands.
Man-made disasters can be at least partly reversed
Ever since Aldo Leopold warned of a world irrevocably diminished by human appetite, conservationists have urged that we ‘act now, before it’s too late’. But what if nature’s end was not a foregone conclusion? Imagine if we could recreate lost rivers, meadows, rainforests even… A few years back this would have been wishful thinking. But the science of restoration ecology is a fast moving one. Across the globe, from the Aral Sea to the arid Sahel, ambitious programmes to revive and recreate degraded ecosystems are challenging the assumption that once destroyed, nature is gone for good. They are boosted by the growing realisation of the value of ‘ecosystem services’ – the tangible and intangible goods derived from nature, which add up to $72 trillion of benefits to the world economy every year. That’s the conclusion of economist Pavan Sukhdev, who led a series of landmark studies for the UN on ‘the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity’, or TEEB for short. Sukhdev’s analyses suggested that restoring ecosystems can yield benefit-cost ratios of around 75-to-1. Factor in their “invisible” components, such as contributions to human health and wellbeing, and the benefits of restoration may even exceed quantification, he says. According to Dax Lovegrove, Head of Business and Industry Relations for WWF-UK, “There’s a slowly dawning recognition that protecting natural capital serves to future-proof the economy.” If you want to know what that looks like in practice, go to central Asia. For decades, the Aral Sea has shouldered the dubious distinction of being among the most degraded watersheds on earth. Years of aggressive agricultural expansion to boost
Green Futures October 2012
Soviet cotton exports had reduced what was once the world’s fourth largest freshwater lake to an arid wasteland. Images of fishing boats adrift in sand, and ports marooned miles from the sight of water, became clichés of environmental destruction. Over the last decade, though, the tide has turned. An initiative launched in 2001 by the Kazakh government and the World Bank is revitalising the North Aral. The waters have returned to wide swathes of the lake bed, and local fishing fleets are at work again. As World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in 2009: “The return of the North Aral Sea shows that man-made disasters can be at least partly reversed.” As the Aral’s tides were rising, so a green wave was starting to sweep across Africa – not of water, but of trees. Its aim: to push back the Sahara by planting a “Great Green Wall” from Djibouti in the east to Dakar in the west. With nearly US$2 billion in funding from the World Bank’s Global Environmental Facility, the initiative has so far successfully planted over 50,000 acres in Senegal. Rolling back the Sahara may sound like a vain hope. But today’s vast desert is a recent phenomenon. In prehistoric times, the Sahara was relatively lush. Even in the Roman era, parts of what are now desert were known as the breadbasket of the empire. Planting trees may not restore the desert to the verdant hills of prehistory, but it could halt and reverse what was once seen as an inevitable process of desertification. So it’s no surprise that, as land management specialist, Chris Reij says, “the idea of re-greening Africa is spreading like bushfire”. He contrasts that enthusiasm with the 1970s, when “the conditions then were so bleak, it was impossible to imagine what could be achieved”. Reij works with the Africa Regreening Initiative, which supports small farmers, mainly in the western
The notion of reforesting desert may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Since 1982, China has planted more than 40 billion trees along the southern edge of the Gobi Desert, and plans to cover a further 100 million acres by 2020. This will not only generate newly forested areas the size of Germany, but also contribute to the emerging vitality of the Loess Plateau, which lies to the south. Home to more than 50 million people, this is one of the poorest regions in China, after centuries of
Above: The tide turns in the North Aral Sea
Below: Wild horses graze the Campanarios de Azaba reserve, in the province of Salamanca, Spain, thanks to Rewilding Europe
Photos: Antoine Gyori/Corbis / Juan Carlos MuĂąoz Robredo/Wild Wonders of Europe
Sahel, to protect and manage trees growing in and around their fields, effectively transforming whole landscapes into â€˜agroforestry parklandâ€™. Satellite imagery from the US Geological Survey suggests that this has resulted in five million hectares of new tree growth in Niger alone. Tentative evidence is even emerging of higher crop yields in the newly greened areas, as the trees help prevent soil erosion and conserve water.
Green Futures October 2012
Not all landscapes are re-created equal
over-farming left it “the most eroded place on earth”. But a project launched in 1995 by the World Bank and the Chinese State Forestry Administration is slowly transforming the region into a landscape of terraced tree belts and newly fertile fields. As a result, says the Bank, average household incomes have doubled. Rainforests, meanwhile, have long been considered irrecoverable once destroyed. But new growth in depleted soils is offering evidence to the contrary. In Costa Rica, a project begun by the late plant physiologist Carl Leopold (grandson of Aldo Leopold) has successfully recreated rainforests in degraded cattle pastures. In Borneo, microbiologist Will Smits has similarly replanted rainforests in clear-cut areas. Motivated by wanting to develop habitats for orangutans under threat from deforestation, Smits discovered that ecological rehabilitation would not only benefit dispossessed apes, but improve human livelihoods, too. Working with the local community, Smits introduced more than 760 species of trees onto 2,000 hectares of logged land, effectively producing a new ecosystem: a rainforest built by man. The new growth has brought on increased cloud cover and rainfall has risen by 30%. But not all landscapes are re-created equal, and doubts abound over whether man-made versions can ever replace the real thing. David Moreno-Mateos, an ecologist at Stanford University, warns that restoration often falls short of full recovery. “Every ecosystem is different, and once destroyed they can take centuries to recover.” he says. “There’s a long way to go before we understand how to make restoration successful.” Gauging “success” is not just a challenge for scientists, says Hugh Knowles of Forum for the Future. “When comparing ecosystems we often use a narrow definition of ‘better’”, he says, “[which] tends to assess their function based on how they serve our needs.” Lovegrove agrees: cultural, social and economic factors “complicate how we measure the value of an ecological loss or an ecological gain”. That doesn’t stop some from dreaming on a grand scale. Among them is ecologist Josh Donlan, Director of Advanced Conservation Strategies. He argues that
Green Futures October 2012
Katherine Rowland is a journalist based in New York City; her work on health and the environment has appeared in Nature and the Financial Times, among other publications. Additional research by Eleanor Devenish.
Photo: Jim Richardson/National Geographic/Getty Images
Replanting the Loess Plateau
restoration is, by definition, an exercise in history and determining what ‘original’ means in the first place. “It’s not just about stopping extinction,” he says. “We can look back in time to recreate nature.” In what he calls “pleistocene rewilding”, Donlan proposes to reintroduce species “that have been absent from the ecosystem for thousands of years”. Large mammals such as lions and camels were a vital part of North America’s landscape before humans arrived some 10,000 years ago. “We know that big creatures tend to be very important to ensuring biodiversity in the long run,” says Donlan, who believes such initiatives could bring economic bounties in the form of tourist dollars and land management jobs. “Just look at the names of our sports teams and cars: we love big animals.” While Donlan’s schemes may seem far out, less grandiose variations are already in place. Wild horses and aurochs now graze in the Netherlands. The grey wolf, once hunted to the brink of extinction, now roams Yellowstone Park. A new consortium, including WWF Netherlands and Ark Nature, has launched a suite of pilot projects aimed at linking ecological restoration and economic recovery. Targeting abandoned land, Rewilding Europe works with local governments and community groups to repair degraded ecosystems and introduce “wildernessbased” business activities, such as eco-tourism and natural product industries. It envisions a “Yellowstone Park” in the Carpathians, and for Western Iberia a “European Serengeti”, full of wild grazing species and a bustling eco-tourism sector. Neil Birnie, the group’s Business Director, says: “There’s a common misconception that rewilding is an attempt to remove people from the environment. It’s not at all like that.” Rather, he maintains rewilding can serve to harmonise human activity, economic growth and nature. This contention, while optimistic, may very well be the benchmark for restoration initiatives as they grow in scope and ambition. “Nine billion humans on the planet will mean we need to figure out new social and economic models that integrate people and ecosystems,” says Knowles. The large-scale projects currently underway, the “pockets of progress,” as Lovegrove calls them, may offer a glimpse of what the world could look like. So just how far could this go? Some argue that one of the reasons we have not seen any evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy is that any sufficiently advanced civilisation would be indistinguishable from their ecology. Unlike the earth observed from a distance, we would not see any rapid changes to the biosphere or signs of a degraded ecosystem. Knowles suggests that we might even have reason to rework atomic scientist Robert Oppenheimer’s adage to read: “We are become as gods, restorers of the world.” But he adds: “We must remember that we are dealing with incredibly complex ecosystems which we are only just beginning to understand. So we would need to be very careful, humble gods.”
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Green Futures October 2012
When lions share
The South Wales plant of Sekisuki Alveo makes plastic foam for car panels, and lots of it. There are always some bits left over, and the plant re-uses what it can. Now, thanks to contacts made through the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP), the surplus is picked up by another company in the area. That’s hundreds of tonnes of a year which is reprocessed to make building material for houses. Industrial symbiosis – or in other words, making the most of any underused resources (materials, water, energy, expertise and so on) by asking how one company’s surplus can meet another’s needs – sounds like a no-brainer. More often than not, it’s a win both financially and environmentally. Effluent, offal, slops, husks, swarf, ash dust, sewage… These are all raw materials, if you find the right way to use them. Just think how biological systems work. They reuse anything they can, scavenging energy and materials wherever they are left idle – because efficiency translates into fitness. Dead bodies decompose because other organisms use them to live. Even faeces usually get eaten. It is surprisingly difficult to get this kind of thing
Green Futures October 2012
going in manmade industry, though. It can happen spontaneously, and grow into a rich network of recycling, reprocessing and information sharing. The shining (and much cited) example is the industrial town of Kalundborg in Denmark. There, a core of big plants, including an oil refinery, a waste water plant, enzyme and insulin factories and a coal-fired power station, maintain a web of energy and waste transfer. They also link with other enterprises ranging from a fish farm to a bioethanol plant. The yeast from insulin production is used as fodder for some 800,000 pigs. Kalundborg is now criss-crossed by a specialised network of pipes which simplify the logistics, and make it easy for each business to take a systemic approach. The benefits include low energy use, carbon savings of about 250,000 tonnes per year, cuts of around 30% in water consumption, and minimal waste for disposal. So why are there not more Kalundborgs in the world? Shouldn’t all industry work in this way? Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. The tightly coupled symbioses in this small Danish town emerged spontaneously in the 1960s because
Photo: Lo Mak/Redlink/Corbis
With the help of worms and maggots, the natural world can put most ‘shit to purpose’, while some big industries seem to generate more waste than worth. Jon Turney explores a more promising approach to resource use.
Photo: Lo Mak/Redlink/Corbis
company executives knew each other, and they took 40 years to mature. But the rarity of such self-organised exchanges has spurred some governments and regional authorities to try to create similar systems by design. The most common model for doing this is a so-called eco-industrial park: a purpose-built estate which aspires to the kind of recycling seen in natural systems. The US, the Netherlands, China, India, the Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka have all experimented with this sort of top-down approach. But decreeing the exchange of materials and waste streams is not the same as achieving it. According to academics who have studied the issue, such as David Gibbs of the University of Hull, efforts to create viable industrial symbiosis in such projects have often faltered. Several US parks had to abandon their original standards for waste handling and recycling in order to attract commercial tenants. And forging partnerships between the companies that move in can be hard. An alternative approach is not to tie symbiosis to any particular location, but to draw on the needs and resources of a network of companies – or “to work with the willing”, as Peter Laybourn puts it. Laybourn is the founder and head of International Synergies, a company that runs symbiosis projects across the world, including its flagship in the UK: the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP). In his experience, willingness comes when companies see a clear route to benefit, usually a financial one. And we’re not talking small change. In its seven years, NISP has saved companies over £1 billion in costs and generated £993 million in additional sales – whilst at the same time producing environmental benefits, including
saving 39 million tonnes of CO2. So how did it do it? First, it built up a large network to help companies identify and meet partners with complementary needs. This network offers a variety of matchmaking methods. There’s the profiling stage: NISP gets to know individual companies by paying them a visit and trying to understand the processes they use. These companies join thousands of others in a database (like an online dating site for industry). This is a valuable resource for NISP’s staff, who are aces at spotting potential links between industries. Themed workshops give the companies an opportunity to spot potential in each other – a bit like speed dating. “The market failure that industrial symbiosis tries to address is that of information”, says Laybourn. But as well as having it, you have to make sure it reaches the right people: “The key ingredient is facilitation”. The results can be impressive. Thanks to NISP, the nitrogenous chemicals producer GrowHow UK pumps 12,500 tonnes of CO2 a year to a 38-acre greenhouse in Billingham, County Durham, where 300,000 tomato plants are grown each year. The plant also supplies steam to heat the greenhouse. Similar stories can be found across the country. In Cambridge, the track for a new 26km guided bus system harbours 1.8 million shredded car tyres in its bedding – just the right sort of material for drainage. And in Staffordshire, meat and bone meal from an animal rendering plant is being used to fuel cement kilns, instead of going to landfill. Diversity is the rule, and careful matching of partners is vital. It was money set aside from the UK’s landfill tax that got NISP off the ground back in 2005, and diverting waste from landfill is one of its primary
From greenhouses to power plants: will Binhai (left and above) be the next Kalundborg?
Industrial symbiosis may not trip off the tongue, but it’s a thing worth backing
Green Futures October 2012
the current state of industrial symbiosis in the UK with efforts in other countries – including Denmark, China, Korea, Mexico, the US and Australia. There are various approaches, ranging from the self-organised method à la Kalundborg, to facilitators operating independently in Australia, to the networking approach of NISP. “All these models can be complementary”, says Laybourn. Indeed, International Synergies is now working with Birmingham City Council to include symbiosis in the regeneration plans for an industrial area. In some ways the scheme will be planned in a topdown way, but it will also make use of networks to spot further opportunities for collaboration. Laybourn argues that NISP shows that some possible problems which have been highlighted by academics – such as confidentiality, distribution of benefits and the need for co-operating companies to be close together – are not serious in practice. “These issues are not barriers to progressing”, he asserts. In his experience, knowledge transfer and access to expertise can be as important over time as the direct exchange of energy or materials. And although exchanges of bulky wastes, water or heat tend to be short range, those involving higher value materials like specialty chemicals or precious metals need not be tied to a single locality like an industrial park. A well-established network like the UK’s NISP programme can also look beyond unilateral links, where one outfit has the answer to another’s problem. It can also prove a breeding ground for new partnerships, new technology and innovation. Laybourn cites a recent example: Betts Envirometal, in Birmingham. Betts started off smelting precious metals for the city’s jewellery quarter, but now also specialises in handling valuable waste. Advice from the University of Birmingham a few years ago allowed it to substitute a planned £2 million incinerator for old X-ray films with a new process for chemical recovery of silver. As radiographers turn to digital media, Betts Envirometal continues to work with the university to find new ways of getting valuable metals out of other waste streams, thus safeguarding its future business. As well as promoting innovation, the main job now is spreading the word. Industrial symbiosis may not trip off the tongue, but is recognised by the European Commission, the World Bank and OECD as a thing worth backing. “It is not a solution to everything”, says Laybourn, “but we can do it now, with immediate benefits”. His vision is broadening. “I can see, in my lifetime, a pan-European network.” There are already first efforts in several other European countries, and he hopes backing from the European Commission will encourage others to follow suit. Laybourn would like to see the principles of International Synergies applied worldwide. And why not? It’s an industrial version of good housekeeping. Jon Turney is a science writer, editor, and author of ‘The Rough Guide to the Future’. For more information about International Synergies’ projects, including NISP, visit: www.international-synergies.com
Green Futures October 2012
Growing fat on waste
goals – although the benefits reach much further. It has easily met the targets set by the Government for carbon reduction, more efficient use of materials, cost savings and even extra income for the companies involved. Moreover, the Government received an excellent return of investment – of the order of eight to one – through increased tax revenues from companies that became more profitable. So can the success of the NISP be replicated? If it’s ever going to reach its potential as a global solution for reducing the environmental impact of industrial activities, says Laybourn, we’ll need a much better understanding of the time and effort it takes to establish productive relationships. Building eco-industrial parks isn’t enough, he argues: they need to be carefully orchestrated, developing networks of individuals and companies who can promote the flow of resources, and gather information about who needs what. In September 2012, International Synergies transitioned the UK NISP public investment model to a commercial subscription network model – which means that it can now operate outside of pre-determined Government metrics. Laybourn is working hard to build high-level support for industrial symbiosis as part of broader strategies for sustainability, and is cheered by a recent decision that the European Union’s Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community will support the development of an industrial symbiosis platform for Europe. His company, International Synergies, is already working with an ambitious scheme in Northern China, as part of a four-year partnership funded by the European Union. The Switch-Asia Project covers a series of industrial parks in the Binhai New Area, Tianjin, and aims to recruit over 1,000 companies spread over 2,250 square kilometres to a new network for the comprehensive use and exchange of resources. The 2012 International Working Conference on Applied Industrial Symbiosis in Birmingham brought together policy makers, companies and practitioners from all over the world, and compared
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Forumupdate Data soup
A hackathon harnesses digital genius to code the food system.
Hatchtag: an app that connects small-scale, local growers with people who want to buy their produce. Get on my land: a website which brings budding food producers through the eight steps to becoming fully-fledged farmers. Food EQ: a mood and food tracker which makes the link between what you eat and your happiness clear over time so you can take positive action. Given just 24 hours, and armed with laptops and a huge body of data from supporting organisations including Ordnance Survey and Sustaination, these were some of the winning ideas to come out of the Wired for Food hackathon, hosted by Forum for the Future at the University of Bristol in September. The event was part of the Wired for Change series, designed to inspire and engage the digital community in global problems across the food, finance and energy systems. It brought together coders, hackers and designers to help transform the way we produce, find and consume food. “Whether it is growing obesity, pressure on natural resources or water scarcity, business as usual is not going to solve the issues we face in the food system”, says James Taplin, a digital innovation expert at the Forum. “We ran this hackathon because we wanted to engage and inspire the digital community to get involved in these problems. This community is a powerhouse of new ideas – capable of innovative thinking, prototyping, and scaling things very quickly. Many of them hadn’t realised how this entrepreneurial spirit could be used to tackle some pretty big issues. And similarly, people in the food industry weren’t aware
of the capabilities of the latest digital technology. Both groups soon became fascinated by the potential...” Forum for the Future will help the best ideas develop further, through direct support and by making the most its global network of accelerators, tech companies and big businesses. With further Wired for Change projects being planned in Mumbai, New York and the UK, there’s huge potential for a quick proliferation of innovative and exciting ideas. As a whole, these could have huge impacts across the sectors that Forum is working with. “The change we require is too important to be left to the few: we need the brilliance of the many. We want to launch 1,000 experiments so that one might cause disruptive change”, says Taplin. “The rewards will be immense – not just for the successful businesses that we help launch, but for the wider systems they operate in and society at large.” – Jacqueline Culleton If you’d like to get involved in Wired for Change, please contact email@example.com www.forumforthefuture.org/project/ wired-change/overview
New to the Forum Network Since the last issue of Green Futures, United Biscuits has joined Forum for the Future as a Partner, and Hammerson and The Crown Estate have joined Forum for the Future as Members. ClimateCare has joined as a Green Futures partner.
Green Futures October 2012
Tomorrow’s leaders Since 1996, Forum for the Future’s Masters in Leadership for Sustainable Development has been training the sustainability leaders of the future. Each issue, we track the career of a Forum alumnus.
something, or to react to work they’d done – everything is so interlinked. So, although wherever you are you can make a difference, you’re always going to rely on others, also, to make change happen.
Rowena Ganguli Class of: 2005 – 2006 Currently: Fruit buyer at Innocent and Trustee of The London Orchard Project Why I chose the MProf I’ve always made my choices in life based on what feels right. The moment I saw the Forum Masters, I knew it was what I wanted to do – both because of the subject matter, and the way it’s approached: the vocational training, mixed with understanding the philosophy behind sustainable development. What I learnt Sustainable development doesn’t start in one particular place. Through the work placements, I saw how each sector can be dependent on another to start
Career to date As soon as I finished the Masters, I went to work for the organic food retailer Abel & Cole. I was originally recruited as a trainee Project Manager, but the role was very fluid as it was such a fast-growing organisation at the time. One of my main responsibilities was sustainability so I created, designed and implemented a new system of ethical auditing, looking at its whole supply chain. I also devised their sustainability policies, and made specific recommendations based on research I carried out for them. After Abel and Cole I set up my own charity, The London Orchard Project, with a fellow scholar. After a tough first year, we secured funding to plant 10 orchards around London and train around 100 people from different community groups in how to manage orchards. Since then, we’ve been backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, and now have over 1,000 beneficiaries a year. We have funding to run the project for a further three years,
and our intention is that the project will continue into the future. We’ve got a great brand, and had lots of media coverage with minimal PR, so the world is definitely interested in what we’re doing. Once The London Orchard Project had taken off, I moved back into the commercial world and became a fruit buyer at Innocent Drinks, where I’ve been for the last year and a half. What I plan to do next I have a lot planned for the next year at Innocent. The great thing about this company is that sustainability forms the basis of doing business: at its heart there is a strongly stated purpose to leave the world in a better state than we found it. Culturally, it’s also a very entrepreneurial organisation. So, when I come up with ideas, people really want to listen. Advice for future leaders Being a sustainability leader is not for the faint-hearted. You need to love what you’re doing in order to keep up the energy and passion it needs, especially if you encounter setbacks. Rowena Ganguli was in conversation with Katie Shaw.
Forum for the Future is spearheading an ambitious initiative to transform every farm in the UK into a power station by 2020. The Ashden Trust
Green Futures October 2012
recently agreed to fund the three-year project, which will look at how to generate long-term sustainable energy so that farms become a vital part of local, secure and resilient energy infrastructure. Communities across the UK will get to experience local energy ownership and generation, and will be encouraged to experiment with new models for control of assets. It is envisaged that this will bring not only financial benefits but a greater sense of awareness and involvement in clean energy, strengthened communities and vital job-creation in struggling rural areas. Over the coming months, Forum will be pulling together a wide group of stakeholders to tackle the barriers to sustainable farm-based energy and
develop new funding, support and outreach mechanisms to support it. Giles Bristow, Forum’s Head of Energy says, “This timely and vital project goes to the heart of our vision for a sustainable future energy system. By bringing together stakeholders from across the rural economy and energy sector, it has the potential to generate innovation, new business models and pioneering new practice – each of which is very exciting, but together may be truly transformative.” – Jacqueline Culleton If you’d like to get involved in Forum’s ‘Farm as Power Station’ project, please contact Iain Watt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Widespread local energy ownership set to revitalise communities.
SallyUren Brands for change 2.0 We’ve come a long way since ad campaigns featuring plaintiff polar bears clinging onto fragments of glaciers were the norm, as a way of urging consumers to be green. From packaging to recycling to provenance, sustainability issues are now communicated in brand campaigns with increasing sophistication. This is important, as brands remain a key way of addressing a systemic barrier: the one where sustainability issues are seen as the equivalent of going to live in a cave with a candle. While mainstream consumer demand for sustainability is latent at best and non-existent at worst, businesses remain reluctant to unleash the full might of their forward-thinking strategies into their products and services, and into their communications. So, sophisticated campaigns are a step in the right direction, but is the pace of change enough? Not really. We are running out of time to address our love affair with consumption, which is fuelling all sorts of impacts, social and environmental. Brands need to step up a gear. It’s time to move to version 2.0 of brands and sustainability – which means they need to do four things. First, they must move from raising awareness to activation. Consumer understanding of sustainability issues has never been
higher. But the so-called ‘value-action gap’ still hangs around like a bad smell. Brands need to start to encourage behaviour change, not simply tell a story. Then, they must shift from competition to collaboration. Rather than try and be the smartest at communicating a sustainability issue, they need to collaborate, so that the consumer receives one clear message about what to do – and not multiple, conflicting ones. They also need to switch from giving these messages via a single channel to multi-channel communication. Simply running an ad campaign in the papers, or peppering a store with some point of sale information, doesn’t create change. And when it comes to digital channels, this means a whole new conversation. Finally, they have to kill the eco sub-brands, and integrate sustainability into the main brand: the one that the mainstream consumer trusts. Use this trust to convey the message and prompt action. There’s one more thing a business can do that will make all of this easier. And that’s to integrate sustainability into its own culture. A shared sense of priorities might mean that the marketing departments listen more actively to the CR or sustainability departments – and even anticipate the future demands of consumers. Most insight data looks backwards, with the result that marketing campaigns often address yesterday’s issues. Looking forward means that the chances of delighting and exciting your customers increase several-fold. Look at what Steve Jobs did. He didn’t ask the world if they would like an iPhone. He imagined a future where technology could unleash a new wave of possibilities. And then he provided the market with something people didn’t even know they wanted. Most people don’t know that a sustainable future is something that they want. Let’s use the next wave of sustainability and brands to delight and inspire. Sally Uren is Deputy Chief Executive at Forum for the Future. @sallyuren
A new guide to disruption at work Many of today’s sustainability challenges – such as food security, climate change and resource constraints – have the potential to render certain products and even whole markets unsustainable in the future. Incremental, positive changes are all well and good, but in order for businesses to thrive in the long-term they need to take a radical approach, argues Forum for the Future’s recent work, ‘Breakthrough innovation: Your guide to innovating for a brighter future’. The guide was written in collaboration with Forum’s Sustainable Business Models group, which includes Unilever, Kingfisher and Marks and Spencer. “Transformative business is needed to address the major issues we are facing
– and we know big companies struggle with how to do it”, explains David Bent, who leads the group. “This guide will help them ensure that it becomes part of their culture, and that management structures protect good ideas from business-as-usual bureaucracy.” Matt Sexton, CSR Director for B&Q adds: “We all need to do things which don’t necessarily match with what our consumers are telling us today. If you look five or 10 years down the track at a radically different world, then it forces you to take risks. Disruptive innovation is critical.” – Jacqueline Culleton
becoming part of the Sustainable Business Models group, then please contact Zoe Le Grand: email@example.com
Read ‘Breakthrough Innovation’ at: www. forumforthefuture.org/project/breakthroughinnovation/overview If you’re interested in
Green Futures October 2012
Forum for the Future’s Network brings together business and government globally to create a brighter, more sustainable future for everyone, inspire new thinking, build creative partnerships and develop practical solutions. We share what we learn so that others can benefit – and act. Working with pioneering partners, we transform the essential systems of food, energy and finance to secure a more fulfilling life for us and future generations. For more information, visit www.forumforthefuture.org ABN AMRO www.abnamro.com AECOM Daniel Hobbs, firstname.lastname@example.org www.aecom.com AkzoNobel Elizabeth Stokes, +44 (0)1928 511 695 Alliance Boots Ltd Richard Ellis, Richard.Ellis@allianceboots.com
Crest Nicholson Plc Dr Elizabeth Ness, +44 (0)1932 580 555 www.crestnicholson.com The Crown Estate Sustainability@thecrownestate.co.uk www.thecrownestate.co.uk David Lloyd Leisure www.davidlloyd.co.uk
AMEC Francesco Corsi, +44 (0)191 272 6128
Delhaize Group Megan Hellstedt email@example.com www.delhaizegroup.com
Arjowiggins Graphic Shannan Hodgson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Delphis Eco Mark Jankovich, +44 (0)20 3397 0096 www.delphisworld.com
Arup Will McBain, Will.McBain@arup.com
Ashden Jane Howarth, +44 (0)20 7410 7023
eBay Inc Lorin May, email@example.com
Aviva Investors Steve Waygood, +44 (0)20 7809 6000
Ecover Mick Bremans, +32 3 309 2500
Azaria International firstname.lastname@example.org, +91 22 2285 6161 www.azaria.in
EDF Energy Darren Towers, +44 (0)7875 110 289, email@example.com
Balfour Beatty Plc Chris Whitehead, firstname.lastname@example.org www.balfourbeatty.com
Ella’s Kitchen Sarah Bright, email@example.com
Bank of America Merrill Lynch Matt Hale, +44 (0)20 7996 2054 BASF Geoff Mackey, firstname.lastname@example.org www.basf.com
EnergyDeck Benjamin Kott www.energydeck.com Energy Saving Trust +44 (0)20 7227 0398 www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
Benchmark Software Simon Harvey, +44 (0)1458 444 010
The Environment Agency Brian Francis email@example.com
Birmingham City Council Sandy Taylor, +44 (0)121 303 4026
Finlays Michael Pennant-Jones, +44 (0)20 7802 3239
BP Shipping www.bp.com/shipping
Firmenich SA Neil McFarlane, +41 227 802 435
BSkyB Daniella Vega, firstname.lastname@example.org
FirstGroup Plc Terri Vogt, +44 (0)7748 118 343
BT Plc Eric Anderson, +44 (0)7730 426 189 Eric.Anderson@bt.com
Food and Drink Federation Nicki Hunt, +44 (0)20 7420 7132
Bunge www.bunge.com Bupa Andrew Smith, +44 (0)20 7656 2343 Burberry Limited Jocelyn Wilkinson, +44 (0)20 3367 3100 Cafédirect Robyn Kimber, +44 (0)20 7033 6022 Capgemini Ltd James Robey, +44 (0)870 904 5761 Cargill Fiona Cubitt, +44 (0)1932 861 916 Carillion Plc Louise Perry, +44 (0)1902 316 258 Carnival www.carnival.com Certis Europe www.certiseurope.co.uk Chi Group www.chigroup.co City of London Simon Mills, +44 (0)20 7332 1431 ClimateCare +44 (0)1865 591 000, email@example.com www.climatecare.org The Co-operative Group Chris Shearlock, www.co-operative.coop The Converging World Wendy Stephenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
GallifordTry Infrastructure Guy Wilson, Guy.Wilson@gallifordtry.co.uk Gearbulk www.gearbulk.com The Geo Group UK Limited Paul Starkey, email@example.com GSH Group David Whiteley +44 (0)20 7015 0350 firstname.lastname@example.org www.gshgroup.com Hammerson www.hammerson.com Heineken UK Richard Heathcote, +44 (0)1432 345 277 Hewlett-Packard Nancy Keith Kelly The Highways Agency Dean Kerwick-Chrisp Dean.Kerwick-Chrisp@highways.gsi.gov.uk www.highways.gov.uk/ HSH Group Natalie Chan, www.hshgroup.com
Interface Europe Ltd Ramon Arratia, +44 (0)20 7490 3960
RWE npower Anita Longley, +44 (0)1793 892 716
Interserve Constuction Ltd Chris Williams, email@example.com
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd Stuart Wright firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaguar Land Rover Fran Leedham, email@example.com John Lewis Partnership Moira Thomas, +44 (0)20 7592 4413 Johnson Matthey Sean Axon, +44 (0)20 7269 8400 The Jordans & Ryvita Company Ltd David Webster, +44 (0)1767 319 415 Kingfisher Becky Coffin, firstname.lastname@example.org Kimberly-Clark Corporation Tom Berry, Tom.Berry@kcc.com Kraft Foods David Oliver, email@example.com Kyocera Mita UK Ltd Tracey Rawling- Church, Tracey.Rawling. Church@KyoceraMita.co.uk Lafarge UK Emma Hines, www.lafarge.co.uk Leeds City Council www.leeds.gov.uk/ Lloyd’s Register www.lr.org Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) James Simpson, +44 (0)20 7811 3315 Marks & Spencer Plc Rowland Hill, PlanA@marksandspencer.com Maersk Line www.maersk.com Mars Drinks www.marsdrinks.co.uk National Grid Mike Elmer, firstname.lastname@example.org OgilvyEarth Kathleen Enright, +44 (0)20 7309 1226 email@example.com Panasonic UK Ltd Simon Eves, +44 (0)1344 853 325 PepsiCo UK & Ireland Andrew Slight, Andrew.Slight@pepsico.com
SC Johnson Ltd Chris Lambert, +44 (0)1784 484 100 Skanska Jennifer Clark, +44 (0)1923 776 666 Small World Henry Rawson, +852 2799 3998 www.interiorsourcing.com Sony Europe www.sony-europe.com Sustaination Ed Dowding, firstname.lastname@example.org Swire – China Navigation Co www.cnco.com.hk Target www.target.com TalkTalk Simon Richards Simon.Richards@talktalkPlc.com Tata Global Beverages Ajow Misra email@example.com www.tataglobalbeverages.com Telefónica UK Simon Davis, simon.davis@O2.com Tesco Plc Helen Fleming, +44 (0)1992 806 790 Technology Will Save Us www.technologywillsaveus.org Tetra Pak International Rupert Maitland-Titterton +44 (0)870 442 6000 Thames Water Utilities Ltd Helen Newman, +44 (0)118 373 8343 Triodos Bank William Ferguson, +44 (0)117 980 9770 Tsakos www.tsakos.net TUI Travel Plc Jane Ashton, +44 (0)1293 645 911
Powys County Council Heather Delonnette, +44 (0)1597 826 165
Twin Jessica Frank firstname.lastname@example.org www.twin.org.uk
Pret A Manger Ltd Nicki Fisher, +44 (0)20 7827 8888
Unilever Plc Helen Fenwick, +44 (0)1372 945 000
Pureprint Group Richard Owers, +44 (0)1825 768 811
United Biscuits Alice Cadman Alice_Cadman@unitedbiscuits.com
Quintain Estates and Development Plc Louise Ellison, +44 (0)20 7478 3430 email@example.com RAC Foundation Elizabeth Box Elizabeth.Box@RACFoundation.org www.racfoundation.org Rail Safety and Standards Board Shamit Gaiger, +44 (0)20 3142 5380 Recyclebank +44 (0)20 3205 3980, firstname.lastname@example.org www.recyclebank.com
United Utilities Andy Pennick andy.pennick@uuPlc.co.uk Veja Aurélie Dumont, email@example.com vento ludens Vanessa Ravenscroft, +44 (0)7850 779 024 firstname.lastname@example.org www.ventoludens.co.uk Volac Andy Richardson, +44 (0)1223 208 021
Rexam Plc email@example.com, www.rexam.com
Warburtons Sarah Miskell, +44 (0)1204 556 600
Rio Tinto www.marine.riotinto.com
Royal Dutch Shell Plc Elfrida Hughes, +31 610 974 798
Wessex Water Plc Dan Green, +44 (0)1225 526 000
Ingersoll Rand www.ingersollrand.com
Royal Mail Group James Kokiet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Willmott Dixon Ltd Rob Lambe, +44 (0)7814 003 046
Innovia Films Lucy Cowton, +44 (0)1697 342 281
RSA Insurance Plc Paul Pritchard, +44 (0)20 7337 5712
WWF-UK Dax Lovegrove, +44 (0)1483 412 395
IGD Dr James Northen, +44 (0)1923 851 919 IBM John Rushton John.Rushton@uk.ibm.com
Green Futures October 2012
Green Futures October 2012
Two for one Edward Hanrahan makes the business case for projects that both cut carbon and improve lives. organisations and individuals to offset their carbon footprint) to help fund the distribution of safe water to 4.5 million people in Kenya. This Climate and Development project saves 2.4 million tonnes of carbon every year, and provides safe drinking water, dramatically reducing the incidence of lethal water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea. It won the 2012 Environmental Finance Award, amongst others. Efficient cookstove projects tell a similar story. Working in partnership with blue chip clients such as The Co-operative and Barclays, ClimateCare has funded the distribution of over 820,000 efficient cookstoves to some of the world’s least developed communities. This has cut more than two million tonnes of carbon emissions and improved the lives of 2.9 million people by reducing fuel expenditure and cutting indoor air pollution – a major cause of respiratory disease and one of the developing world’s biggest killers. As Ben Norbury from The Co-operative explains, “Tackling climate and development challenges together makes simple business sense. We also gain focus, internally, by taking a joined up approach. It helps us to take responsibility for our unavoidable emissions, and achieve our Ethical Plan objective of tackling global poverty, more effectively.” Forum for the Future’s report, ‘Making Carbon Markets Work for the Poor’, highlights that this ‘offset plus social’ approach is critical to drive clean development. As Will Dawson, Principal Advisor in new financing at the Forum, remarks, “It’s great to see ClimateCare taking a leading position by promoting high local benefit offset projects to companies in this scheme.” As the deadline for fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals draws closer, the international community, through the UNFCCC Green Climate Fund, has expressed the need to attract private sector investment to tackle climate change and ‘deliver low-emission and climate-resilient development’. These projects, that have both Climate and Development outcomes, are successfully using private sector finance and ClimateCare believe that they could provide the blueprint for attracting the new, large-scale funding required to successfully face these global challenges. Edward Hanrahan is a Founder and Director of ClimateCare. ClimateCare is a Forum for the Future partner. www.climatecare.org
Green Futures October 2012
Photo: Vestergaard Frandsen
Carbon for Water: Environmental Finance Award-winner
You might not immediately associate carbon offsetting with large-scale health improvements and climate-resilient development. Historically, carbon offsets have been one distinct element of a company’s wider approach to sustainability, often dealt with on a transactional basis, once an offsetting policy is adopted. Now, through groundbreaking ‘Climate and Development’ projects across the world, environmental and social health experts ClimateCare are proving that an integrated approach can reap benefits for business, people and the planet. Single projects can meet multiple business targets by rigorously measuring their development (public health and poverty alleviation) outcomes, as well as their environmental ones. The case for taking an integrated approach is simple: it’s better value for money, which is essential in the current economic climate. Brand reputation remains a key driver for business to engage with offset providers such as ClimateCare. Supporting particular projects can help to secure existing relationships and facilitate expansion into emerging markets, where a demonstrable commitment to social responsibility can be a license to operate. And with compulsory carbon reporting on the horizon for many UK organisations, tackling emissions is high on the agenda. Another advantage is that it helps businesses focus on results, encouraging departments to pool budgets and work with NGO and government partners. So how can a single project deliver these multiple climate, development and business benefits? One example is the pioneering Carbon for Water project. A world first, it uses climate finance (money paid by
Sniffing out fish
Photo: Delhaize Group
How US food stores traced all the seafood on their shelves: Jon Turney reports. When the Delhaize Group supermarkets in the US – including Hannaford, Food Lion, Sweetbay, Bottom Dollar Food, Harvey’s and Reids – set out to track all their seafood products back to source, they really did not know what they were taking on. But three years later they can say that all 2,500 seafood items, be they fresh, frozen or canned, in their stores are sustainable. This policy puts them ahead of any other major chain. It ensures that all the fisheries supplying them meet management standards developed in collaboration with the independent Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) in Portland, Maine. Farm-raised seafood is certified and reviewed to ensure that production does not harm communities, workers, the environment or human health. Deciding on the goal was easy, according to George Parmenter, Sustainability Manager at Hannaford. In a world where demand is rising while the UN estimates that four fifths of global fisheries are already either overfished or at full stretch, they did not want to be “the retailer that sells the last fish”. Achieving blanket coverage was harder. “Just asking the question, ‘What products do we sell containing fish as the primary ingredient?’ was a much more complicated business than we appreciated”, says Parmenter. There are fish products sitting on the canned goods shelves and among the frozen foods, but some only show up when you review the list of ingredients. On the other hand, keyword searches highlight items which turn out not to contain any fish. In a country where market-leading seafood products are branded as “Chicken of the Sea”, you have to look, once, twice, maybe three times to find all the fish. Then came the lengthy business of tracing origins and talking to suppliers. Encouragingly, Jennifer Levin, Sustainable Seafood Program Manager at GMRI, finds that “companies are really investing in traceability technologies” – whether paper or electronics-based. Tuna, for instance, may now carry information on the vessel which hauled them out as they pass through many hands from boat to cannery, most often in the form of a barcode which is transferred to each new container. In the US, the vessel of origin is even likely to be certified nowadays by an official onboard observer. For Parmenter, getting the right assurances about fisheries’ policy involved a big effort educating suppliers. “We had a lot of difficulty explaining ourselves. They tended to say, ‘Tell me what I can sell you!’ They wanted a list of banned species.”
That would do little to drive change, though. Instead, the US-based Delhaize Group supermarkets put the onus on the supplier to document fishery management. They were required to measure biomass levels in the fishery, document the action to be taken if they fall to a danger point, and say how it is enforced. “Then you have a well-managed fishery”, says Parmenter. Resistance to this standard means tough decisions. “Removing products from the shelves, that’s a difficult decision to make if you are in the business of selling things”, he acknowledges. Still, around fifty lines have disappeared from the stores, including some brands of canned shrimp and most octopus. Some suppliers of fresh fish such as red snapper have also had to find other customers. The better alternative is for the fishery to develop a new plan. For Levin, “the most exciting parts of the work were the fishery improvement projects prompted by this customer’s requirements”. Parmenter cites improvements in management of crab and tuna fisheries as notable examples. Hannaford is now using in-store information and the web to educate its customers about the benefits of the new policy, which it announced in May, and the other supermarkets will follow. The initial response suggests they are more interested in where their fish comes from than in sustainability, but it’s early days. The policy will soon be extended to other US supermarkets owned by Belgian parent company, Delhaize Group – 1,548 in all. The Group’s supermarkets in Belgium and Greece are also moving to 100% sustainable seafood. Elsewhere, supermarkets are making headway with sustainable fish and seafood by working with independent certifiers. In the UK, for example, Sainsbury’s select fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council whenever possible, and has declared the aim to source all stock sustainably by 2020.
He knows exactly what he’s dealing with
Jon Turney is a science writer and author of ‘The Rough Guide to the Future’. Delhaize Group is a Forum for the Future partner. www.delhaizegroup.com
Green Futures October 2012
Hanging on costs
No extra cost for a quick flick
“Please consider the environment before printing. Then print.” In essence, that’s the message coming from print media people who are increasingly bullish about their industry’s sustainability credentials – when it’s acting smart. And increasingly prepared to take on the facile belief that electronic communication will automatically have less environmental impact. Laurel Brunner’s company Digital Dots helped set up the Verdigris Project to get to grips with printing’s footprint. She recently posted a blog provocatively entitled “Print out your emails”: those that aren’t essentially ephemeral, that is. Once they’re in your hands, she argues, the documents you want to keep need no further inputs. Brunner contrasts the print industry’s one-off costs, and paper’s reliance on “a crop that can be harvested and replenished”, with the digital media’s massive electronic infrastructure, and dependence on energy that must be deployed in perpetuity. It’s an argument that only holds water, so to speak, if printers can certify their paper sourcing as sustainable, and credibly calculate – and minimise – their other impacts. Which is why Brunner devoted what she disarmingly describes as “a stupid amount of time and energy” into helping develop the international standard ISO 16759 for calculating
the carbon footprint of print media. Now in its final round of voting, it should be ready for publication early next year. With print buyers increasingly asking for clear and reliable reassurance, there has already been something of a proliferation of carbon calculators in the graphics industry. Anyone who went to this September’s international Ecoprint gathering would have felt they’d gone naked into the conference chamber if they couldn’t show they had such sums at their fingertips. And companies like Munich-based Climate Partners are on hand to help them go one step further, offering to arrange carbon offsets to balance the customised stats that emerge from their Footprint Manager. We’re not just talking books, magazines and office printing here – far from it. Footprinting cuts more and more ice these days in areas like point of purchase (POP) displays. Indeed, Nick Widdowson, the range and merchandising manager at Unilever UK, says unequivocally that “the most important development in sustainability for me” is a new tool by POP Advertising International (POPAI). In simple terms, this allows people like him to benchmark their suppliers against the combined impact of their materials, processes and other factors such as distance to travel, recycled content and end-of-life destiny. Might all this interest in measuring suggest an industry longing for some laurels to rest on? Hardly plausible, in the light of public perception. And still less so, given that pretty much everything is up in the air in terms of what we want to print, when, where and how. The advent of 3D printing, for instance, offers the chance of a sea-change in the range of what the industry can aspire to do. Even for books, seemingly the most traditional of all print products, we are surely living in what the Chinese sages would call “interesting times”. It has been calculated, by The Economist, that 30% of UK output gets sent back to the publisher unopened – but digital on-demand printing is now beginning to make real inroads into this depressing truth. The flexibility it allows, says HP’s Stephen Goddard, can help make economic sense of print runs of between one copy and several thousand: a critical factor in cutting waste and environmental impact. You can’t get much more down to earth than that. Roger East is a freelance writer and editor. Pureprint is a Forum for the Future partner. www.pureprint.com
Green Futures October 2012
Should we print our inbox to save energy? A shocking proposition, but one carrying more weight, says Roger East.
Photo: Max Grizaard
Scandinavian design could make sustainable housing all the rage in the UK, says Emily Pacey. British home buyers may not yet have sustainability at the top of their tick lists – but an influx of smart Scandinavian design could turn this around. The Brits have grown accustomed to modern developments of small-windowed Edwardian-style homes which express nostalgia for the past, yet fail to charm. Things look very different at Seven Acres, a plot of 128 homes in the new district of Great Kneighton, Cambridge. Here are sharp-angled, flat-roofed buildings with floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows, offering views of lofty rooms. This is design with zero tolerance for net curtains: you see right through from front to back. They are being built by Skanska – a familiar name on office building site hoardings in the UK, and most notably the group behind London’s Gherkin. Now, the Swedish construction company, which has been building homes in Scandinavia for over 30 years, is bringing its sustainability expertise and Scandinavian aesthetic to the UK housing market. One design feature to set this development apart from tradition is the value placed on the public realm. No cordoned-off gardens with hedges and gates: instead, each porch features a built-in wooden bench, inviting residents to sit and chat on with their neighbours – a new take on chatting over the garden fence. There’s a large central lawn for residents to share, which the architects, Formation and Place Design + Planning, hope will offer the neighbourhood space to relax and throw the odd party. And, as one-in-five UK residents grow their own food, the design includes raised planters for fruit, veg and herbs. Shifting the focus away from private space is only the ‘soft’ side of Skanska’s commitment to sustainability. The ambitious construction company is also keen to beat the current market’s energy efficiency standards. The homes here will meet a minimum of level 4 in the Building Research Establishment’s Code for Sustainable Homes, which mandates a 44% improvement on 2006 regulations. (For level 5, the homes must be 100% more energy efficient, while at level 6, they must be completely carbon neutral.) To achieve level 4, Skanska uses a range of sustainable technologies from the ancient to the cutting-edge, including water butts to collect rainwater for watering the garden, triple-glazed windows to prevent heat loss, roof-mounted photovoltaic panels to harvest sunlight for energy, and heat recovery ventilation. “There is definitely a growing demand for sustainable homes in Britain and we have identified a niche for us to expand into here”, says Magnus Andersson, President of Skanska Residential UK. “We are bringing Scandinavian thinking to Britain,
and if we can serve as an inspiration to other housebuilders, then great.” The design emphasis is on style, though, not sustainability. The PV panels are invisible, shielded by a parapet on the flat roof. As Michael Richter, Director of Formation Architects, says: “You could celebrate features like wind turbines or PV panels, but no one actually wants a house that looks particularly green.” Stewart Baseley of the Home Builders Federation adds, “The Government has committed to a target that all new homes must meet a zero carbon standard by 2016; if this is what the code level four and five homes are going to look like, we have few fears.” Skanska is preparing to rise to the challenge, with a prototype house, named Eve, built to level five. “It is being constructed differently”, explains Richter, “using thick polymer Structural Insulating Panels that mean hardly any heat can be lost through the walls.” An office at the bottom of the garden has a green roof, while the main building’s roof features 18 PV panels (compared with one for the other homes) with a combined capacity of 4500 KWh: enough to fulfill the house’s energy needs. So why aren’t all the new homes here at level five? The cost is simply too high: “Until demand for new high performance materials reaches a level where they become cost competitive this will remain the case”, says Andersson. Nor are these cheap homes. Prices start at £295,000 for a two-bed apartment, and rise to £925,000 for a four-bed house: about twice the price of a new build four-bed Barratt home a few minutes up the road. Yet Skanska is pleased with its sales – in just six months, 21 of the 35 properties put on the market have been snapped up. Emily Pacey is a freelance journalist specialising in architecture and design. Skanska is a Forum for the Future partner. www.skanska.co.uk
Open house: letting the light in, and the neighbours...
Green Futures October 2012
The new adventurers Many of us often complain about the slow pace of change, this trudge towards a green economy – but there are reasons to be excited. So many business plans are getting a real make-over. It seems ‘re-imagining’ is all the rage. There is a steady realisation that many businesses will have to reinvent themselves if they want to be around in years to come, and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in various recent corporate explorations. Just over the last few weeks, there have been some impressive ‘deep dives’ into the raison d’etre of companies, involving many of their staff. Moreover, inquiries such as these are increasingly well structured. National Grid brought together about 300 of its staff from both sides of the Atlantic and a few external guests. They embraced the ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ process (designed to increase what an organisation does well, rather than cut out what it does badly), to ‘discover, dream, design and deploy’ new ideas. I was amazed by the appetite of so many engineers for testing the company’s boundaries. They came up with all kinds of thoughts on how it needs to flex to meet changing energy systems and disruptive innovations. National Grid is unique in that it has to plan for our energy needs decades into the future. There is an overwhelming sense among its teams that, although our energy landscape has not changed dramatically in the last forty years, it will do so in the next forty. The Chief Executive arrived on day two, and faced with the direction of travel at this colossal workshop, you’d have forgiven him for appearing nervous. But knowing Steve Holliday, he was bound to be excited by it all – and his feedback confirmed this. Talking of a changing energy landscape, retailers are starting to get in on the act. Sainsbury’s has secured one of the largest solar deals in Europe, installing photovoltaic panels throughout most of its estate. The move is part of its ambitious ‘20 by 20’ Sustainability Plan: a set of commitments that Sainsbury’s will not only deliver, but also sense-check with 200 external experts – a bold move. As part of this, CEO Justin King ‘met the crowd’ at an event in London delivered by Green Monday, the organisation that offers insights to sustainability professionals. It’s
Green Futures October 2012
the first of a new series in which its audience of experts will dissect a business plan and deliver a verdict. Fizzy drinks companies are also revisiting their purpose, as health concerns gain momentum. Coca-Cola convened a group of international staff to explore how it can rethink the provision of drinking water to inspire a generation of more conscious consumers. The goals are ever more ambitious, signalling a new age of adventure for the private sector. It’s emerging against a backdrop of three different camps, into which today’s leading sustainability plans fall. There are the de-couplers, such as Unilever, which aim to grow the business but not the environmental impacts. Both Sainsbury’s and Coca-Cola openly aspire to financial growth while stabilising carbon emissions. Then there are the zeronauts – or as John Elkington calls them, the ‘intrapaneurs’: the ones aiming to do business without any negative impacts. InterfaceFLOR’s Mission Zero has established its ambition in this space, and M&S reported reaching carbon neutrality earlier this year. In the third camp are those with ‘net positive’ plans. There’s Kingfisher, which says that the positive impacts it has on society and the environment through home improvement outweigh any negative impacts – and the mobile phone operator O2, which claims to generate carbon savings to dwarf its direct emissions through the services it provides to its customers. Siemens and Ecomaginantion could fall into the net positive camp, if their services to low carbon industries and clients come to outweigh the parts of their businesses that could be said merely to support the optimisation of high carbon industries. I suspect they will… The ‘net positives’ actively drive the green economy. WWF and B4E will explore this agenda further during the ‘Net Zero, Climate Positive’ B4E Summit in London in November. Dax Lovegrove is Head of Business and Industry at WWF–UK. WWF-UK is a Forum for the Future Partner. www.wwf.org.uk
Photo: Eyecandy Images/thinkstock
De-couplers, zeronauts and net positives herald an age of ambition, says Dax Lovegrove.
Photos: Digital Vision/thinkstock
Shannan Hodgson shows how accreditation schemes are helping companies stretch themselves. Imagine you’re the one running ‘Mission Sustainable’ at a multinational firm. Like the majority of your competitors, you’ve published your plans to cut carbon and waste, and you think you’re on track. More and more, you’re hearing stories of other companies smashing their environmental targets, riding out the recession, and even boosting their shares. You’re ambitious. You’d like to be the one hitting the headlines, but where to begin? According to new research that we at paper manufacturer Arjowiggins Graphic carried out to identify the issues facing paper purchasers at corporates, 37% of high-profile companies in the UK think that the biggest environmental challenge they face in the next two to three years is understanding what to do next on sustainability. This is where environmental accreditation schemes can help. Get someone else, a trusted expert, to work out how well you’re doing and map out your best next steps. Then, when customers and stakeholders come to you with difficult questions, you can be sure you’ve got the right information to hand, demonstrating your commitment to the future of your business. One such scheme is WWF’s Climate Savers. Since its creation in 1999, member companies – including Coca-Cola, Volvo, Sony and Nike – have cut their CO2 emissions by over 100 million tonnes. The programme pushes members to maximise carbon cuts while increasing shareholder value – through strategies based on the long-term interests of the business and the resources on which it depends. It also prompts each company to set more ambitious targets than the management might have thought achievable. So, when the pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson decided to invest a total of $40 million in carbon reduction projects, Climate Savers pushed for these to have a 15% internal rate of return. Each project also had to demonstrate that its carbon cuts would reflect the level of investment, with a benchmark of $1,000 to a metric tonne. The wider aim, according to Bruce Haase, Head of Climate and Business Engagement at WWF, is to “effect change throughout the entire sector by pushing sector leaders to take on ever more ambitious CO2 reduction targets, [and demonstrate that] low carbon solutions exist even within sectors that are generally considered difficult”. Back to the paper industry. There’s certainly potential for it to be sustainable, with robust accreditations to help consumers make informed decisions. Paper is, after all, a renewable and recyclable material. But production can result in high emissions, and put critical resources (such as water) under strain – even when using recycled pulp.
So what more can we paper manufacturers do? This was the question that prompted Arjowiggins Graphic to seek advice. Working with Climate Savers, we came up with a new commitment: to reduce our absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 23%, from a 2007 baseline, by 2014, with a sub-target of 10% reduction for each tonne of paper produced. The plans include increasing the proportion of recycled paper we produce and a commitment to source the same volume of UK office waste paper we take to produce the amount of recycled pulp at our Greenfield Mill for our UK recycled paper market. Already 15-25% of the waste paper used in the entire production process at the Greenfield mill is sourced from the UK. It was a natural next step to guarantee customers that, for all the recycled content of Arjowiggins Graphic papers sold in the UK, we would source the waste paper equivalent volume from the UK. This limits the impact of Arjowiggins Graphic papers on landfill, something that is especially high on the sustainability agenda in the UK. Independent technical experts at energy consultancy Ecofys will monitor the progress on a yearly basis to ensure that we comply with our targets. It’s this transparency that really inspires trust in accreditation schemes: there’s no chance of greenwash if an independent expert has put their stamp on it. Moreover, the companies signed up may well find some of this trust rubs off on them: a clear win for any business. But what’s arguably more important to you, as your company’s sustainability pioneer, is confidence in a way forward that’s both practical and impressive. Shannan Hodgson is Corporate Affairs Manager at Arjowiggins Graphic. Arjowiggins Graphic is a Forum for the Future partner. www.recycled-papers.co.uk
Spotting their potential
Green Futures October 2012
www.greenfutures.org.uk email@example.com @GreenFutures Comments may be edited for publication.
to focus on a specific skill set or course, such as math or research. Thanks for your post. – easextthari
No.85 July 2012
Giant leap Giant leap Where will small steps in human engineering take us?
Where wil l small engineering steps in take us?
human A catwalk to copy: cool models for future business Toying with the future: the rise of green gamification Supermarket surprise: making a shop a community hub A catwalk to copy: coo Toying with l models for future the future: business Supermarke the rise of green gam t surprise : making ification a shop a community hub
Future human A thoughtful piece [see ‘Humanity 2.0’, GF85, p17]. We can eliminate the disadvantage people suffer through what we regard now as ‘disabilities’. Let’s pinch the technology from the military and get people walking, climbing, dancing, living... Some silly sods will abuse the new possibilities, but the dignity and autonomy we can give our ageing and damaged friends outweighs the worries. – Stephen Granville Let’s see: I’d like more hair, no ‘love handles’, and better knees (though not the titanium variety). Can you arrange? A smaller nose would not be bad, but I can manage if there are no deals on noses. Seriously, there has been quite a bit written about breeding smaller humans who eat less, take up less space, and fit into airline seats. As I recall, the numbers show that in 1860, the average Yale freshman weighed about 125-130lbs and was between 5’5” and 5’6” – and these were guys from the privileged classes who presumably had plenty of food to eat. – Woody Hunter, Singapore
A very wise ‘Change Agent in Residence’ at Bainbridge Graduate Institute spoke to the school about gamification of green: “The best way to spread sustainability is to make it fun and engaging for everyone.” Great article. – Dave Ventresca
Bean there, done what? A word on the ethics of the Kraft/Rainforest Alliance collaboration [see ‘Woke up, smelt the coffee’ in GF Special Edition ‘Food for the Future’, p8]. Considering Kraft donated somewhere between $100,000-$999,999 in 2008 to Rainforest Alliance and their former executive now sits on the board of directors for Rainforest Alliance I think there might be some vested interest. In fact, I’d bet on it. This might not be a problem if Rainforest Alliance certification standards were independently set, but they’re not. And what do these standards cover? There is no critical or non-critical standard set by Rainforest Alliance on minimum pay. Coffee beans qualify for the standard if only half of the critical factors are met. And coffee can be branded as Rainforest Alliance provided 30% of the beans meet these loose standards. So, when buying a
Six of the best Woke up, smelt the coffee Big brands tend to get a bad rap when it comes to sustainability. But a company with 50,000 metric tonnes of coffee beans passing through their doors and selling millions of jars of coffee every year is in a position to make a big difference – and quickly. In 2005, Kraft Foods’ coffee brand Kenco decided to begin sourcing from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, a certification programme that ensures land is farmed in an environmentally sustainable way while also protecting the rights of workers. Over five years, Kenco has transformed their entire range, and Kraft Foods is now one of the largest purchasers of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee worldwide. For Kenco, ensuring the wellbeing of their coffee growers made business sense, but brand manager Stephanie Okell says there was a further business case to be made: selling ethically sourced coffee could be used to “increase consumer engagement.” “We’ve had a lot of growth on the back of becoming certified and launching the Eco Refill (a lightweight reusable plastic alternative to coffee jars),” says Okell, pointing out that, since 2008, there has been over one million additional consumers buying Kenco coffee. “Sustainability has been a key business driver”, she says. Central to this success is brand owner Kraft Food’s ability to make more ethical coffee accessible for a mainstream audience. As a large company, it can absorb the extra cost of buying certified coffee in exchange for a larger market share. “We can make sure people don’t have to pay a premium to enjoy great quality coffee. There are more niche brands of ethical coffee out there, but we are bringing it to an everyday consumer.” Kenco’s advertising strategy has also been important, Okell believes. Instead of lecturing about saving the world, they focused on how Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee brings direct benefits to real people. And the lighthearted adverts for the Eco Refill helped. “There was no preaching. We just made it easier to make a sustainable choice.”
Green Futures June 2012
Green Futures October 2012
How to make the chocolate last On the basis of sales figures alone, it’s tempting to conclude that chocolate is one industry which could blithely ignore the fragile state of the worldwide economy. Last year’s revenue topped $100 million for the first time. But far from celebrating, the industry is worried. Behind the scenes, shrinking cocoa harvests are leading to predictions of a serious slump in supply, while a striking lack of young people willing to take over family farms is compounding the problem. No surprise, then, that one of the world’s largest purchasers of cocoa beans should be concerned for the future security of its vital supplies. In 2008, Cadbury launched the Cocoa Partnership, made up of governments, international organisations, NGOs and farmers, to help restore the dwindling industry and to promote sustainable livelihoods for those involved. Since Kraft Foods acquired the company in 2010, it has maintained and expanded the programme and works in cocoa-producing
Leading food companies, large and small, are starting to shift to sustainable production. Sarah Lewis-Hammond finds six examples which show what’s possible.
Video games are normally serious in nature with the main focus on learning rather than leisure [see ‘Everything to play for’, GF85, p20]. Although, there’s an entertainment feature to keep your sons or daughters engaged, every single game is usually designed
This article seems to take a snipe at Fairtrade and gives a false idea that Rainforest Alliance is just as ethical as Fairtrade, which is not true. It seemed a simple promotion of Kenco/ Kraft with no real analysis or balance. I would like to request a follow-up article explaining the differences between Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance. – Jenny Foster, Bristol and South West Fairtrade Co-ordinator Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms meet the comprehensive standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a coalition of not-for-profit conservation organisations. These standards were developed and are managed by grassroots groups, in the same countries where the crops are grown, and are continually reviewed by independent environmental and social experts. Fairtrade, the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified share the goal of transforming the world’s production systems and value chains to make them more sustainable and promote credible third party certification as a viable solution. With the majority of the global
Shrink the footprint, not the food “We’ve got an absolutely ace bunch of people who work in the factory who are very keen” [on sustainability]”, says Peter King, the quality resource manager and environmental coordinator at Portable Foods in Wrexham, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kellogg’s. “They want to do it, they’re always coming up with ideas, and the management want it done as well.” In fact, the management is so keen to see the factory reach high environmental standards that in 2009 they took the Food and Drink Federation targets for 2015 – and decided to meet them four years early. Because of this, the Portable Foods plant, which manufactures many of the Kellogg’s bars such as Rice Krispies Squares, has cut energy use by a third and reduced water use by 17%. It’s also reached the target of sending zero waste to landfill. After halving the amount of general waste leaving the site, the rest is incinerated, with the energy being recovered. This year, the amount of waste headed for incineration should be cut from 17 tonnes a month to five. Energy is also on the hit list for 2012. Despite a public commitment to a 2% year-on-year reduction, management set the in-house figure at 5%. “Those are pretty aggressive targets really”, says King, pointing out that their office space doubled over Christmas. Additionally, the plant is only 14 years old, meaning their machinery is relatively new and energy efficient, so there’s no obvious ‘low hanging fruit’. Instead, any serious reductions have to happen on a human scale through training and awareness. “I do think it’s the mentality in Portable Foods that makes a big difference”, King says. “We are a smaller plant. It’s easier to be a family, a community. I look at what we’ve achieved and I think ‘bloody hell, that’s good stuff’.”
nations across the world. One of the most important of these is Ghana, home to around 700,000 cocoa farmers, and the main source of supply for Cadbury Dairy Milk. To date, the partnership has been able to help 60,000 farmers in over 200 cocoa-growing communities. In Bonkuku in the West Achim District, for example, nearly 100 farmers meet regularly to work on a community action plan with help from Cocoa Partnership partner Voluntary Service Overseas. Since 2009, they have established new seedling nurseries to improve production, secured second incomes through soap and pomade making, raised literacy levels and committed to securing electricity for the whole community by connecting to mains electricity by 2015. According to Anna Swaithes, Head of Development at the Cocoa Partnership, it is now planning to use programmes of knowledge sharing and political engagement to take livelihood improvements “beyond farmers who supply Kraft Foods, to the broader cocoa sector”.
Key ingredients: wind and wood
Photos: Rainforest Alliance; Kellogg’s
No.85 July 2012
bag of Rainforest Alliance coffee, 15% of beans are covered by some self-selecting standards. The other 85% can be as unethical as the coffee provider chooses. I think I’ll stick with the independently set Fairtrade standard, which covers 100% of the beans. – Green Giant
Photos: The Macphie Biomass Plant; The Macphie Glenbervie Estate
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The Glenbervie Estate in north-east Scotland has been cared for by the Macphie family for over 700 years. The grounds are looked after meticulously and passionately, from the Victorian walled garden which houses a wide variety of plant species, to the quarter of a million trees planted on the estate over the last four decades. But it’s no ancestral pile preserved in aspic. It’s also home to family firm Macphie of Glenbervie, the UK’s leading independent food ingredient manufacturer. In keeping with the family’s commitment to safeguarding the heritage around Glenbervie, Macphie has recently made a number of environmental investments in its factory. In 2008, the company installed a biomass steam boiler to produce steam for its UHT factory. It runs on woodchips sourced sustainably from nearby woodlands, and saves around 2,100 tonnes of CO2 annually. Soon, it will be complemented by two wind turbines, each with a capacity of 2.3MW – saving an additional 8,200 tonnes of emissions. All this will put Macphie on track to meet the target of getting all its electricity and steam from renewable sources by 2013.
The other significant target is to send no waste to landfill by 2015. That’s a big ask, but some relatively simple ideas, such as the introduction of reusable transit packaging and other packaging initiatives, mean that 17% of waste has already disappeared from the supply chain. So can this all be achieved without compromising business aims? Absolutely, says executive director Alastair Macphie. The company has some “very ambitious growth plans”, and these green measures help protect it from the unsettling impacts of a volatile energy market, while also ensuring that resources are used as efficiently as possible. Solid sustainability policies are vital for business success, he says, “which is why robust environmental management standards are embedded into our strategy”.
Green Futures June 2012
6/28/12 10:10 AM
coffee supply not certified under any system, we recognise the need to work together, and with consumers, to transform this industry and many others. To this end we released a joint statement that publicly acknowledged our aligned goal and mutual respect for one another (see www.isealalliance.org). – Rainforest Alliance Martin Wright, Editor-in-Chief, responds: Thanks very much for your comments on this piece. The article is one of a number of case studies in ‘Food for the Future’ on the way in which food businesses, large and small, are endeavouring to adopt more sustainable practices. You are absolutely right to highlight the tremendous achievements of Fairtrade, which we’ve covered at some length elsewhere in the Special Edition.
Olympic records I couldn’t agree more [see ‘An extraordinary quality of leadership’, GF Special Edition ‘Beyond the Finish’, p2]. I was fortunate to be asked to contribute to what was then called the London Olympic Games Environment Commission back in 1998. Before we even knew the bid would become reality, sustainability was at the very centre of the discussions. I am completely in awe of what has been achieved since to bring sustainability to the heart of a truly international gathering. I now have three children and it is plain to see how the Olympics has inspired them. This is nothing to do with money or sponsorship: it is simply the sheer joy of seeing humans’ power and determination to succeed. I hope that we can apply that same determination in making this a sustainability legacy to proud of. – Sarah Ratcliffe
responsible to local conservationists. Nor did reducing Old Ford Island, the Olympic site’s one remaining nature reserve, to a fraction of its original size by shoving a water processing plant on it at the eleventh hour. Another reserve, Bully Point, was lost entirely. Converting a tidal waterway to standing water by constructing a lock at Three Mills would also have resulted in a sad loss of interesting habitat. Invertebraterich brownfields tend to support greater biodiversity than reedbeds, but are less popular because they don’t fit people’s idea of how safe, tidy ‘nature’ should look. – Vespula David Stubbs, Head of Sustainability, LOCOG, responds: We always acknowledged there was existing ecological interest across the site of the Olympic Park. But the original site was badly polluted and difficult to access; it was not a safe and welcoming environment. It may have been fine for a few diehard urban naturalists, but it was not a resource for the wider community. By contrast, the eventual transformation has created an accessible parkland of high ecological value that will be of benefit to many, many people for years to come. The new parklands are a triumph of ecological restoration and engineering. The re-profiled river corridor has enabled the creation of extensive wetland habitats which are already proving highly attractive
a greenfutures Special Edition
Can London 2012 give sustainability a sporting chance?
Ecological ‘restoration’ would have been less necessary [see ‘Restoration Drama’, p4] had they not bulldozed large swathes of sites of importance for nature conservation (SINC) in the first place. Reneging on original agreements to keep the Channelsea Gorge area for wildlife by chopping all the trees down, diverting the waterway and gassing all the rabbits did not endear those
Brands on balance The problem with the majority of corporate sponsors is they don’t know how to be good social leaders [see ‘Green wave or greenwash’, in GF Special Edition ‘Beyond the Finish’, p9]. They look for the bang for their buck with mainly short term perspectives in mind and communicate in the blandest of ways. A truly effective sponsor is like a good host at a cocktail party. They are accruing social capital that will create a halo effect for their brand. Sponsorship marketing that tries to horsewhip people down the narrow funnel of product purchase is missing a big opportunity for deeper engagement. – Annemcx
Beyond the Finish
to wildlife, while at the same time taking 5,000 properties out of a one in 100 year flood risk. The meadows are not intended to be purist facsimiles of natural grasslands, but a vibrant celebration of wildflowers that form large swathes of attractive, colourful meadows throughout the site, and in turn attract a rich diversity of invertebrates and other wildlife. These parklands attracted widespread acclaim from people visiting the Olympic Park during the Games. They have changed perceptions and thinking about urban park design and provided a platform for a whole new audience to become interested in biodiversity. None of that would have been possible if the site had remained in its original state.
Green Futures July 2012
What is it with the Brits that we don’t like business? Being in sales is not a highly rated job either. Maybe that’s why so many of our ideas are commercialised elsewhere and we lose the jobs created. These businesses exist outside of the Olympics, so what a great opportunity to help transform them with the milestone that is the sustainable Olympic Games. There is no incentive for companies to transform themselves and lead if they get shot down for trying. Most of us have a car, most of us like chocolate, and both McDonald’s and Coke are widely popular, so don’t be so prudish. Watching the Olympics on TV, I saw very little corporate branding. Perhaps they should get their money back. – Whyrwenotgrnr
Green Futures October 2012
Many of us are now playing down the full horror of accelerating climate change
So here I am, writing this on a flight out to join Forum for the Future colleagues in New York (I know, I know…), pondering, as always, how to manage the advocacy challenge that lies ahead. I’m leaving on the day the British media went into overdrive on the latest data from the Arctic on the extent of melting in the summer sea ice. Superlatives abound: ‘worst ever’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘no known comparison in at least three million years’ etc. But the thing that really grabbed me in all the coverage was the personal testimony of some of the scientists involved: shocked, horrified and astonished as they clearly are at the prospect of an ice-free summer Arctic by 2030 – decades earlier than the same scientists were predicting just a few years ago. The Guardian’s headline says it all: “We have changed the face of the planet. It is staggering and scary”. Scary. A word that’s hopelessly understated, and yet seriously difficult to use effectively – especially in the US. In his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney mentioned climate change only once, and used speech marks around it to demonstrate his contempt for Barack Obama’s marginally more committed position. It’s election time, and both parties still get a lot of money from the oil, coal and gas lobbies. Money talks louder than science or even basic reason. Just check out the official platform of the Republican Party in Texas: “We strongly oppose all efforts of the extreme environmental groups to disrupt and stop the oil and gas industries. We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished. We support the freedom to continue to use and manufacture incandescent light bulbs. We strongly support the immediate repeal of the Endangered Species Act. We strongly oppose the listing of the dune sage brush lizard either as a threatened or an endangered species.” Now that is scary. Especially if you’re a dune sage brush lizard. Fortunately, I suspect I won’t have to deal with any Texas Republicans on this visit, though I have in the past. But I will be engaging with many people
Green Futures October 2012
who may still describe themselves as ‘climate sceptics’, if not full-on ‘denialists’. No doubt I’ll end up moderating the message to avoid alienating them. To ensure that ‘scary’ doesn’t lead to denial rather than enlightenment. Keeping people on side is a precondition of making any progress on sustainability issues. I feel bad about that. All the more so having just read the latest broadside from the redoubtable Kevin Anderson at Manchester University, taking to task the vast majority of climate scientists for their mealy-mouthed inability to tell it as it really is: “Contrary to the claims of many climate sceptics, scientists repeatedly and severely underplay the implications of their analyses. When it comes to avoiding a 2°C rise, ‘impossible’ is translated into ‘difficult but doable’, whereas ‘urgent and radical’ emerge as ‘challenging’ – all to appease the god of economics. Put bluntly, climate change commitments are incompatible with short to medium-term economic growth.” He’s right about this. In one way or another, many of us are now involved in playing down the full horror of accelerating climate change. I even do it with my own children, both of whom have started to ask me how, after 40 years trying to narrow the gap between what needs to be done and what is being done, I haven’t collapsed into utter despair! “Never too late”, I tell them. Not as in “never too late” to avoid some pretty horrendous shocks to the system, but “never too late” to avoid total apocalyptic meltdown. I spent much of my summer holiday reading books by people wrestling with that very demarcation line, including the latest reworking of the original (1972) Limits to Growth analysis by Jorgen Randers. This time round, he’s casting his somewhat gloomy Norwegian perspective out to 2052, and here’s his conclusion. “Don’t let the prospect of impending disaster crush your spirits. Don’t let the prospect of a suboptimal long-term future kill your hope. Hope for the unlikely! Work for the unlikely! Remember, too, that even if we do not succeed in our fight for a better world, there will still be a future world. And there will still be a world with a future – just less beautiful and less harmonious than it could have been.” I suspect I’ll avoid even those uplifting exhortations in the US. Just too scary! Jonathon Porritt is Founder Director of Forum for the Future. www.jonathonporritt.com
2013 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit Theme: ‘The Global Challenge of Resource Efficient and Low Carbon Development’
To register, visit: http://dsds.teriin.org Launching at the event: the latest Green Futures Special Edition, ‘India: Innovation Nation’. A major collaboration between TERI and Forum for the Future.
at g in 13 ch 20 un S La DSD
Plenary sessions include: • Adapting to the impacts of climate change • Mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases and associated co-benefits • Employment and growth potential of a green economy • Choices before the BRICS and a new economic constraint • Sustainable development and the new knowledge economy • Defining the future we want
INDIA: INNOVATIONATION INNOVATION
ON A FAST TRACK TO SUSTAINABILITY?
To find out more, visit: http://www.forumforthefuture.org/india-innovation-nation
Green Futures October 2012
What would you like for Christmas? A 3D printer? A foldable car? An amphibious house?
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