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March/April 2014



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A New Fuel Mix By Howard Cincotta


From Plastic to Power By Michael Gallant


2 14

Q & A With David Waskow By Giriraj Agarwal

Playing the Power Game


Mapping a More Sustainable Future By Jane Varner Malhotra


Embracing the ‘Greenovation’ By Anne Walls


Editor in Chief David Mees

Editor Deepanjali Kakati Hindi Editor Giriraj Agarwal Urdu Editor Syed Sulaiman Akhtar Copy Editors Raktima Bose, Shah Md. Tahsin Usmani Editorial Assistant Yugesh Mathur Web Manager Chetna Khera

Art Director Hemant Bhatnagar Deputy Art Directors Qasim Raza, Shah Faisal Khan Production/Circulation Manager Alok Kaushik Printing Assistant Manish Gandhi

Generation Good By Laura Haugen

Front cover: Collage by Hemant Bhatnagar, photographs © Getty Images

Drive the Road to Hana By Megan Gambino




Publisher Walter T. Douglas

Twelve-Month Checklist for Applying to Graduate School: 3 to 1 Months Out By Don Martin and Wesley Teter

The following is a statement of ownership and other particulars about SPAN magazine as required under Section 19D(b) of the Press & Registration of Books Act, 1867, and under Rule 8 of the Registration of Newspaper (Central) Rules, 1956.

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Solar Power

By Carrie Loewenthal Massey


Solar Power Facts: Busting 7 Common Myths


Powered by Waste Heat By Steve Fox

Ceres: Greening Corporations

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Alternative Fuel

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1. Place of Publication:

Public Affairs Section American Embassy American Center 24, Kasturba Gandhi Marg New Delhi 110001

2. Periodicity of Publication: 3. Printer’s Name: Nationality: Address:

Bi-monthly C.J. Jassawala Indian Thomson Press India Ltd. 18/35, Delhi Mathura Road Faridabad 121007 Walter T. Douglas American 24, Kasturba Gandhi Marg New Delhi 110001 Deepanjali Kakati Indian 24, Kasturba Gandhi Marg New Delhi 110001. The Government of the United States of America

4. Publisher’s Name: Nationality: Address: 5. Editor’s Name: Nationality: Address: 6. Name and address of individuals who own the newspaper and partners or shareholders holding more than one percent of the total capital:

I, Walter T. Douglas, hereby declare that the particulars given above are true to the best of my knowledge and belief. Date: February 21, 2014 Research Services Bureau of International Information Programs, The American Library

Walter T. Douglas Signature of Publisher

Published by the Public Affairs Section, American Center, 24 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001 (phone: 23472000), on behalf of the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi. Printed at Thomson Press India Limited, 18/35, Delhi Mathura Road, Faridabad, Haryana 121007. Opinions expressed in this 44-page magazine do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Government.  Articles with a star may be reprinted with permission. Those without a star are copyrighted and may not be reprinted. Contact SPAN at 011-23472135 or

A California company’s technology produces

electricity from the exhaust heat

Š Getty Images

from generators, furnaces, chimneys and engines.


Powered by By STEVE FOX

Photographs courtesy Alphabet Energy

© Getty Images

Waste Heat

World Economic Forum — 2014 Technology Pioneer


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Alphabet Energy

Courtesy Alphabet Energy


From the customer’s point of view, the main point is that there’s a very rapid payback time because this is essentially bolt-on technology—we’re taking advantage of a heat source that’s already there. — Matthew Scullin


Courtesy Alphabet Energy

© Getty Images

Waste heat is common in factories, locomotives, ships, trucks and other machinery. Alphabet Energy’s technology captures this waste heat and converts it into power.

magine this: the electronics in your car are being powered by electricity generated from heat coming out of the exhaust pipe. You charge your cell phone by putting it in your pocket to absorb heat from your body. Science fiction? Maybe not for long. A small California-based company, Alphabet Energy, Inc., has found a way to make advanced thermoelectric material out of silicon—the natural element already widely used in computer chips and solar panels. Alphabet’s material, which is about the thickness of an index card, forms the heart of customized devices that can be attached to furnaces, chimneys, engine exhausts—almost any heat source—to generate electricity. Thermoelectricity has been around for a long time—the basic principle of transforming heat into energy was discovered in 1821—and NASA has used this technology on some of its spacecraft since 1977, with radioactive isotopes supplying the heat. When one side of a thermoelectric material is heated, electrons flow from that side to the cooler side, generating electricity. Until now, commercial thermoelectric technology has relied largely on material made from rare earth elements, which are both scarce and expensive, making thermoelectric projects a costly undertaking for companies. “Alphabet’s breakthrough is that we can make thermoelectric material out of silicon, which is abundant and low-cost, and in our proprietary technology that offers a much more efficient way to connect the material to the heat transfer

source,” Alphabet’s founder and CEO, Matthew Scullin, explains in an interview. Alphabet, which has filed for more than 40 patents in the last four years, was honored as a 2014 Technology Pioneer at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where Scullin met with executives in the mining, oil and gas industries—huge users of energy. “Our first products are going into fairly remote areas where diesel generators are being used to produce electricity,” says Scullin, who holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. in materials science from UC Berkeley. “Alphabet’s technology produces electricity from the exhaust heat from the generators. That means those generators will be more efficient, and of course using less diesel fuel is inherently green because there are fewer emissions. It’s an enormous potential benefit for countries that have a poor electrical grid. At some point, we’ll also get to applications like wearable technology.” Although modern societies require massive amounts of electricity to function, we’re still not very efficient at producing it. For example, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, only about a third of the heat produced by coal-burning power plants is transformed into electricity, with the rest lost into the atmosphere or into the plant’s cooling water. Waste heat is also common in factories, locomotives, ships, trucks and other machinery. “What Alphabet is really doing is enabling a new asset—waste heat—and creating new markets where they hadn’t

© Getty Images

existed before,” Alphabet’s Vice President of Marketing Mothusi Pahl says in an interview. “The future of thermoelectricity is one we don’t fully understand yet, any more than we could envision 25 years ago what GPS would mean. In the near-term, once you make a viable business and financial case that demonstrates the costs and payback times for thermoelectric, then you can start asking the question, ‘Can you as a business really afford not to capture waste heat and convert it to power?’” Scullin believes companies will adopt thermoelectric power widely once they understand the benefits. “From the customer’s point of view, the main point is that there’s a very rapid payback time because this is essentially bolt-on technology—we’re taking advantage of a heat source that’s already there,” he says. “It doesn’t require building a new power plant or changing the way the company is operating. Our technology enables very simple, straightforward thermoelectric systems. There are no moving parts, virtually no maintenance, and everything is very easy to install.” Companies—and investors—are paying attention. CalCEF Innovations, TPG Biotech and Claremont Creek Ventures are some of them. Encana, Canada’s largest natural gas producer, is installing Alphabet thermoelectric devices and also has invested in the firm, as have a number of seasoned venture capital companies. Steve Fox is a freelance writer, former newspaper publisher and reporter based in Ventura, California.


David Waskow

David Waskow is director of the Washington, D.C.-based World Resources Institute’s International Climate Initiative. The Initiative is focused on international cooperation that catalyzes and supports action on climate change at the national level in developed and developing countries. Waskow visited New Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Chennai and Kolkata in February and interacted with students, academics, government officials, business executives, members of NGOs and research scholars. Excerpts from an interview with Giriraj Agarwal.

How important is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 2015 global climate change agreement and what are we trying to achieve through it? This is a critical moment and it’s one that can really provide a turning point in terms of addressing climate change. The world is currently not on the right trajectory. We are headed toward something on the order of 3 to 4 degrees Celsius warming above preindustrial temperatures which will lead to quite catastrophic consequences. Various regions are going to be affected in different ways, but certainly the evidence is that South Asia and southern parts of Africa will be most heavily affected in terms of declines in agricultural production, along with many other serious impacts. Just the increase in temperature—not even storms, not anything having to do with variability in rainfall—is essentially going to bake the crops. Even if we cut carbon emissions to zero today, we will have 30 years of increasing warming and increasing impacts. We are seeing countries moving to take action on climate change, but we also know that it’s not fast enough. MARCH/APRIL 2014



The impacts are here already and we need to take greater action, and that’s where the 2015 agreement comes in. What we see as essential to this agreement is creating a process and an outcome that catalyzes change in countries, both developed and developing. What progress have we achieved so far? What we are seeing now is that many countries are acting. There are over 90 countries that have taken various kinds of commitments and pledges to take action and 60 of those actually have targets for what their emission levels would be, like the one that India has which is a pledge of commitment of 20 to 25 percent reduction in emission intensity below 2005 level by 2020. In the United States, last year the President introduced his climate action plan that is aimed at meeting the U.S. commitment to reduce emissions by 17 percent below 2005 level by 2020. There is still tremendous need to make sure that the public and the policymakers clearly understand the consequences that we are facing. There are several aspects to the new international agreement that I think are quite important. One is, countries between now and March 2015 are meant to develop their proposals for national contributions and to put them on the table in the negotiations next March. There will then be a process of assessing those proposals between March 2015 and the point when they will be agreed at the major climate summit in Paris, at the end of 2015. But right now, we have a year’s period during which countries have the opportunity to have a national dialogue and to look at their economies and to determine what they can do, what they want 6 MARCH/APRIL 2014


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World Resources Institute

to do, what’s going to benefit them and what’s going to benefit the world. Is it possible to have a formula that all countries agree on? How can we ensure equity? We have to really think through in a serious way who takes how much action and who should take how much action. That’s critical to reaching an agreement. We are developing an online equity tool that would allow you to look at equity from a number of different perspectives. We are thinking about it as enabling stakeholders to look at the issues through a number of different lenses. Some of it about historical emissions per capita, some of it about current and projected emissions, some of it about GDP per capita and also human development index, for example. It’s also important to look at the vulnerability of countries to climate impacts and to think about how that can be incorporated in the equity discussion. It is also important to look at questions like relative cost of action, how much it is going to cost in each economy to be able to take action. And then there are benefit issues that are extremely important to consider. If you are reducing carbon emissions from power plants for example, you are also improving health benefits because you are reducing the kind of emissions that can be very damaging to health. How is the World Resources Institute (WRI) contributing in these efforts? One of the things we are doing at WRI is to work as part of a consortium of other research institutions to look at different frameworks for the new international agreement. The consortium, called ACT 2015, is a group of various research institutions, both in developed

and developing countries. We are developing three different models for how the agreement might be designed and also options for the various elements in the agreement. We will be holding workshops in countries around the world, including here, to explore these different frameworks. And we will be taking all of that input and making suggestions about what may work best for creating the 2015 agreement. What are the possibilities of U.S.India collaboration? The opportunities are quite significant. Already we have seen with PACE, the clean energy collaborative between the U.S. and India, the ways in which the two countries can work together effectively, and this can be expanded significantly. There is also a U.S.-India strategic energy dialogue. Energy efficiency is one area where quite a lot of opportunity exists. I think there is a broad recognition among businesses in India that energy efficiency is a win-win opportunity. Given the policymaking importance of states in both countries, there are also significant opportunities for states in the U.S. and states in India to directly collaborate on climate solutions. How challenging is it to make trade policies environment-friendly? What’s really important is for the U.S. and India to have much deeper dialogue about these issues and to really bring a diversity of government representatives to the table. That means bringing not just trade representatives to the table, but also those involved in energy, environment, foreign affairs. What’s essential to create is a dialogue that can make sure that the way that the countries approach trade policies will be positive for renewable energy at the end of the day.

© Getty Images

There are many roads to a

greener future for transportation.


t’s easy enough to describe the ideal green energy source for today’s cars and trucks: low emissions and high fuel economy without sacrificing performance—and all at a reasonable price. Now pick the alternative fuel that best meets those requirements: gas-electric hybrids, all-electric vehicles, diesel, natural gas or biofuels. That’s a far tougher question. Each of these alternatives holds great promise, yet all of them also carry significant economic and technological challenges. “There are no clear winners or losers right now, or even a clear roadmap to the alternative fuel future,” says John O’Dell, senior editor at the automotive research firm

first power system to pass that test in the United States is the hybridengine automobile, which integrates the power and range of the internal combustion engine with the efficiencies of one or more electric motors and a battery pack. Just a few years ago, U.S. hybrids consisted of only several small hatchback vehicles, but today manufacturers offer models across the full range of vehicle types, including SUVs and luxury sedans. Plus a distinctive new category: the plug-in hybrid. In 2013, sales of hybrid vehicles in the United States soared to almost

500,000, and although Toyota’s Prius remains the top-selling brand, the fastest-growing U.S. hybrid model is the Ford Fusion. Meanwhile, sales of all-electric cars, starting from a much smaller base number, hit 47,600 last year— an increase of more than 240 percent over 2012, according to data from Ward’s Automotive. Here, too, U.S. and Japanese brands are jostling for the top sales spot: the General Motors Volt versus the Nissan Leaf. The tale of the electric car illustrates both the promise and pitfalls of green fuel technologies. Like hybrids, all-electric cars have a Courtesy IKEA Orlando/NREL




Hybrid and electric An alternative fuel that hits the mark for emissions, economy and performance is only one part of the equation; the other side is the decision of customers to buy it. The

Right: A car being recharged at a solar charging station in Orlando. MARCH/APRIL 2014


Courtesy NGVAmerica

SARAH GERRITY/Energy Department

Above: U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (left) looks at the fuel cell and motor used to power Hyundai’s Tuscon fuel cell vehicle at the 2014 Washington Auto Show. Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to produce electricity, which powers an electric motor to make the vehicle work. Above center: A fleet of natural gasrun trash trucks being refueled in Livermore, California. Above right: A city bus in Atlanta, Georgia, that runs on natural gas.

Natural gas and biofuels What about fossil fuels that are both significantly cheaper and cleaner than conventional gasoline? Countries lacking either oil reserves or refining capacity, such as Italy and Argentina, have embraced vehicles using clean natural gas. So has India, where many cars are dual-equipped to run on gasoline and compressed natural gas. In the United States, natural gas fuels fleets of city buses, trash haulers and other types of commercial trucks. The total number is a modest 135,000 nationally, but growing rapidly. Only one company, Honda, makes a U.S. natural-gas passenger car—the Honda Civic CNG—and it has won the designation of the greenest, most environment-friendly automobile in 2012 from the American Council for an EnergyEfficient Economy—even ahead of

all-electric vehicles. Electric cars, after all, require factories to manufacture batteries and must plug into a grid whose power may be generated by coal-fired plants. Everything counts when you’re measuring total environmental impacts. As with other alternative fuels, natural-gas vehicles must overcome the infrastructure hurdle of enough refueling stations, whose cost can only be justified if there are enough customers out there. Nevertheless, the attractiveness and cost of natural gas, driven in part by a revolution in U.S. production from domestic shale sources, has triggered new investments and technologies: dual-fuel pickup trucks, natural-gas trains, Below left: Corn harvesting in progress in southern Illinois, much of which will be used as ethanol added to gasoline. Below: A cornfield next to an ethanol plant in Iowa.



higher initial purchase price that must be weighed against the savings in gasoline. Electric cars offer the prospect of no gas bills and zero tailpipe emissions, but they also present significant hurdles: safety and performance concerns, driving range and the perennial question for any new or innovative fuel: where do I fill up or plug in? As a result, sales of electric cars were, for many years, anemic. However, in the last several years, the technology matured and infrastructure started appearing—both home and public plug-in units— winning over increasing numbers of customers. “It is the future of transportation,” said Columbia University energy expert David Sandalow to The New York Times. “The only question is how fast and how soon.”


Sales of plug-based vehicles doubled in 2013

Renewable and alternative fuels

Fuel economy

Howard Cincotta is a U.S. State Department writer and editor.

Success will come to those alternatives that best pull off two large challenges: protect the environment and deliver what car buyers want and need.

Courtesy Honda Motors

Another alternative: biodiesel, which is manufactured from a variety of organic materials ranging from soybean oil to recycled cooking oil and animal fats. All of these alternative fuels offer varying degrees of low, or even zero, emissions and high mileage without sacrificing performance. But all come with their own technical or economic tradeoffs. Electric cars are of little use without a reliable electrical grid, for example, and no one will drive a natural-gas or biofuel vehicle without easy access to a gas station. Success will come to those alternatives that best pull off two large challenges: protect the environment and deliver what car buyers want and need.

© Getty Images

lighter and safer fuel tanks and the conversion of natural gas to liquids for transportation use. Plus you can’t beat the price. When editor O’Dell commutes in his natural-gas Honda, he is paying about 80 cents a gallon—next to drivers whose gasoline costs more than $3.50 per gallon. The success of gas-electric hybrids in the United States has overshadowed other attractive fuel options, such as renewable biofuels that, although a small share of the market now, may well figure prominently in the world’s energy future. Today, ethanol, made primarily from corn, makes up 10 percent of the mix in U.S. gasoline, but new second-generation biofuels will shift to non-food cellulose products such as grasses, straw and wood byproducts that can power a growing number of flexible-fuel cars and trucks.

KQEDQUEST/Courtesy Flickr

Courtesy MARTA

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Alternative Fuels Data Center

From Plastic to Pow By MICHAEL GALLANT

Photographs © Getty Images

By turning waste into oil, Priyanka Bakaya and PK Clean work to make landfills obsolete.


ountless bottles, bags and other plastic trash clog landfills around the world—but what if that same material could be chemically transformed from refuse to resource? Such are the goals of PK Clean, a groundbreaking company that transmutes plastic from troublesome trash into clean, energy-rich oil. American entrepreneur and scientist Priyanka Bakaya co-founded the award-winning venture in 2009. “Plastic is one of the worst types of waste because it can take centuries to decompose, and it’s such a pity that we keep putting billions of tons of it in landfills,” she says. “Plastic is manufactured from oil and, because of that, it has a very high energy value. Our hope with PK Clean is to turn waste plastic back into oil, so it can be used as energy and be less polluting.” Bakaya first discovered the concept of plastic-to-oil transformation as a child in Melbourne, Australia, thanks to a close family friend named Percy Kean. “Percy was an inventor who had never married and had no children, and he was almost like another grandfather to me,” recalls Bakaya. “His house was a gigantic chemistry laboratory. I


remember watching him light oil with a match, oil that he said he had created from waste materials. As a kid, I was very impressed by him.” Kean died in 2007 at the age of 95, having never commercialized the technology that he had invented, or tested it on a large scale. Thanks to copious notes left by the inventor, however, Bakaya was able to pick up where he left off. “When Percy passed away, I was working as an energy analyst in New York,” says Bakaya. “I was seeing prices of oil go up, and also a rise in this thing called ‘alternative energy,’ ” she continues with a laugh. “It made me think of Percy. He had worked on a number of clean energy technologies and this one seemed to make the most sense as far as commercial readiness” was concerned. With that technology at the core, Bakaya developed the idea that would become PK Clean (named in Kean’s honor) while studying energy as a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently, the company operates out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and plans to sell self-

JILL JACKSON/Courtesy PK Clean

Environmental impact of plastic

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PK Clean

Chemistry in Action



contained, automated, plastic-processing units to recyclers throughout the United States by the end of the year. PK Clean ran a pilot program in India in 2010 and Bakaya hopes to expand operations around the globe within the decade. The company has won several awards, including the MIT Clean Energy Prize, 2011, in the Clean Non-Renewables category. Bakaya couldn’t have built PK Clean without teamwork and she recommends strategic collaboration to anyone following in her footsteps. “Creating and commercializing a new technology is a very tough and long process,” she says. “It’s important to have colleagues to help you connect all of the dots.” At PK Clean, Bakaya collaborates daily with co-workers who specialize in chemistry, engineering, business and beyond. “If you want to make something like this happen and make it commercial, you have to find others who share your same goals and dreams,” she says. “Take the time to build a team that can come together to make it a reality.”

© Getty Images

Priyanka Bakaya

he transformation of plastic to oil may sound like modern-day alchemy, but the scientific process behind PK Clean’s patented technique is anything but magic. “Plastic is made up of millions of carbon molecules lined up,” describes Bakaya. “What our process does is break up those long chains into much shorter chains, similar to the oil from which the plastic originally came. Diesel fuel, for example, is made up of just 12 to 20 carbon molecules linked together.” Though the exact details of PK Clean’s process are kept secret, Bakaya says that a combination of heat and a catalyst—an additional chemical or set of chemicals to get the transformation started—are key ingredients. “Seventy-five percent of what you get at the end of the process is very clean, contaminant-free oil,” she describes. “About 20 percent is natural gas, which we cycle back into the system to provide heat, and about 5 percent is residue, which mostly comes from things like labels on the bottles we process. When it comes to creating high-energy oil, that’s a very high recovery rate.” — M.G.

Michael Gallant is the founder and chief executive officer of Gallant Music. He lives in New York City.

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Customers can share their energy conservation successes on Facebook and use the social network to take the competition public.

Simple Energy

Ways to save energy at home


Power Game


Simple Energy uses competition and incentives to make energy conservation a priority.

CEO and founder of Simple Energy Yoav Lurie (far left) and President and founder Justin Segall (left).

hat launches you into action? Is it passion for a cause? A competitive spirit? A material incentive? For Yoav Lurie and Justin Segall, it was their long-held interest in sustainability and protecting the environment—as well as the desire to start a business together, which sparked when they first met at Duke University in North Carolina in 2001—that led them to start Simple Energy, their Boulder, Colorado-based company. Building on that initial spark, Simple Energy strives to ignite in the public a fervor for energy conservation. Lurie, Segall and their colleagues recognize, however, that while it’s passion that drives them, the masses may require some extrinsic motivation to get on board. “Our success lies in finding what different segments of the population care about and then appealing to them in very targeted ways,” says Danny Veksler, Simple Energy’s vice president for client engagement. That targeted product is a software platform that uses gamification, defined by Oxford Dictionary as “the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity,” to encourage people to turn off the lights when they leave the room, raise the air-conditioner temperature a bit on a hot day and commit to using other leading power-saving tactics. The company works directly with utilities, which rely on customer engagement in energy management to help them meet regulatory demands and keep the power flowing during extreme events like heat waves. Simple Energy sells its system to the utilities and helps them with implementation, using detailed behavioral data on the utilities’ customers to tailor customer outreach and encourage participation. In some cases, the most energy savings come from revving up the competition within a group of neighbors or another specific segment of a utility’s customer base. Middle schools have proven especially enthusiastic and Simple Energy helps its utility clients set up contests between schools within their To share articles go to MARCH/APRIL 2014 13



Photographs courtesy Simple Energy

Photographs © Getty Images

Playing the


regions. Students encourage their parents to sign on and participants can track their schools’ progress on Simple Energy’s dashboard. The communities that conserve the most energy win rewards for their schools. “In the past, we have targeted middle schools because we’ve found very high levels of engagement there. Parents love to participate in school-based programs with their kids, which gets them on the site and plants the seed for families to be energy conscious for the long-term,” says Veksler. While email is its most common platform for customer communication, Simple Energy also integrates its software socially. The utilities’ customers can promote their conservation successes on Facebook and use the site to take the competition public. They can earn badges and points for reaching certain savings levels, turning the process into a game like the popular Farmville; only this time it’s a quest for less consumption, not more virtual livestock. And for those not motivated by just friendly competition, Simple Energy offers prizes. Discounts, products, gift cards— would you lower your heat in the winter for a free Starbucks latte?—they do it all and it works to get the ball rolling. “The idea is that things become ingrained,” Veksler says. “We use incentives to help people become aware, and once they start liking lower utility bills and understanding more about their environmental impact, we are confident that they’ll want to lead lives that result in leaving the planet better than they found it.” Moving forward, Simple Energy wants to increase its product’s functionality by finding even more focused ways to target different segments of the population and draw in more users, according to Veksler. The company also has an eye on going global. “We’re at the point now where we’ve demonstrated our results across a number of programs for utilities across the country,” Veksler says. “It’s really now about expanding on those opportunities to drive value in this space on a much larger scale.”

Solar Power Facts:

ore and more Americans are discovering the truth about solar: It saves money and helps the planet. In fact, every four minutes another American family installs solar panels on their home. A clear indication that solar energy has become a cost-effective energy option for homeowners. But mistaken beliefs about solar persist—it’s too expensive, too complicated, too unreliable. Going solar really is far easier and less costly than most folks think. Below we debunk the most persistent myths about solar panels. Myth no. 1: Solar panels are too expensive for me. Fact: 97 percent of Americans overestimate the cost of solar panels. The reality is that the cost of solar panels has dropped 80 percent since 2008. In fact, most homeowners choosing solar are middle-income families looking for ways to help keep household costs down. Lease options now let homeowners go solar with zero up-front costs and savings on their energy bill every month

thereafter. If you choose to buy solar panels, they are more affordable than ever—saving homeowners even more money in the long run. Myth no. 2: Installing solar is complicated. Fact: It doesn’t have to be. Once you request a solar quote, most solar companies offer a free consultation. They’ll tell you how much you can save and answer all of your questions. And [in the United States] the solar company often takes care of the permits, inspections and other paperwork for you before installing panels on your roof. Myth no. 3: Solar panels are unreliable. Fact: With no moving parts to wear out, solar panels are very reliable. Most panels produce electricity

Carrie Loewenthal Massey is a New York City-based freelance writer. Copyright © 2013 World Wildlife Fund. All rights reserved.


cold and cloudy weather as well. for more than 20 years and most installers offer 25-year warrantees. Actually, many of the first solar systems installed in the 1970s are still producing power today. The U.S. military is one of the largest users of solar, relying on the technology for dependable energy to power their bases both home and abroad. Myth no. 4: Solar won’t work in cold or cloudy states. Fact: You don’t need bright sunny days for solar to make sense. In fact, cold and cloudy Germany, which gets less sun than every state in the Lower 48, is the world leader in solar power, producing about five times as much solar power as the United States. States such as Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts are right up there with California and Arizona as states

with the most amount of solar energy available per person. Snowy conditions actually help solar panels work better because sunlight reflects off of the snow. Myth no. 5: Solar will hurt my home’s resale value. Fact: Quite the opposite. A study [in the United States] by National Renewable Energy Labs found that homes with solar panels on average sold 20 percent faster than other homes, and for 17 percent more money than non-solar homes. And according to the Appraisal Journal, your home’s value rises $20,000 for every $1,000 in reduced yearly electricity cost. Myth no. 6: Solar panels are ugly and bulky. Fact: Gone are the cumbersome,

© Getty Images

Busting 7 Common Myths It is cheap, reliable and functions in obtrusive-looking solar panels of the 1970s. Modern solar panels give homes a sleek and sophisticated look by closely contouring to your roof. And people seem to like them since homes with solar panels sell faster and for more money than those without. Myth no. 7: I won’t live in my house long enough to get my investment back. Fact: If you choose to lease rather than buy your panels, in many [U.S.] states there are no up-front costs and monthly savings begin immediately. If you sell your home before your lease is up you can transfer the lease (and cost savings) on to the home buyer. For those that choose to buy, the time it takes to recoup your investment may be just a few years since installing a solar system adds to the resale value of your home.

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Solar power begins to shine

Price of solar PV systems in the U.S. continue to decline

Solar homes sold 20 percent faster



Digital tools help

youth bring a fresh perspective to global sustainability challenges.

Mapping a more




gaggle of South Florida teenagers slosh through mucky water along the bank of a tangled mangrove forest. One young woman carries a black shoulder bag holding equipment for the day’s activity: water quality sampling. On the other side of the planet, in the Philippines, a group of high school students conducts a survey of families, tracking annual carbon footprint compared to socioeconomic status. In Bolivia, students explore the impact of shrinking glaciers on their Andes Mountain community, recording a dramatic reduction in the water level of Lake Titicaca. These students are all part of an international program for youth called My Community, Our


Right: MyCOE students traverse through the mangrove forest at Deering Estate.

Courtesy Brian F. Call Photography

Photographs courtesy Deering Estate at Cutler

Left: MyCOE students explore marine life in the Biscayne Bay during the Catching Critters program. Below: The Deering Estate in Florida maintains a large track of the globally endangered Pine Rocklands habitat.



young people were able to

create maps,

collect information, visualize it, connect what’s happening where, and figure out what to do with it to solve environmental problems?

Earth (MyCOE). Through the lens of geography, students conduct local environmental research, and then share their findings with people across the country and around the world, working toward solutions for global sustainability challenges. The program began in 2002 as an initiative for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. First launched as a contest for student projects, MyCOE has expanded to encourage hands-on geography-based learning with meaningful outcomes for middle-school through university-aged students. Several organizations partner to support the program, including the Association of

Above: The picturesque Deering Estate at Cutler, Florida. Below: MyCOE students hike a


American Geographers, NASA, the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Environment Programme. After nearly 700 youth-led projects in over 100 countries during the past 13 years, the program is looking to the latest technology to fuel a new future in worldwide connectivity, and in turn, a brighter future for environmental sustainability. “When we first started, students were doing hand-drawn maps and mailing them to us,” recalls Patricia Solis, director of outreach and strategic initiatives at the Association of American Geographers. Today, students, teachers and mentors can easily upload their projects to the MyCOE website. To conduct their research,

Photographs courtesy Deering Estate at Cutler

What if a good proportion of these

mangrove trail to learn about the estuarine environment and features of coastal habitat. Right: A Deering Estate guide

shows features of a local gopher tortoise to MyCOE students during an endangered species program.

participants take advantage of real-time satellite imagery from NASA, highpowered open-source analytical tools and Skype conferencing to meet each other and share information. Solis sees a shrinking digital divide and increasing use of social media as a powerful combination that could bring geographic literacy to more and more of today’s youth. “Young people make up close to half of the world’s population, and 85 percent of youth live in developing nations. What if a good proportion of these young people were able to create maps, collect information, visualize it, connect what’s happening where, and figure out what to do with it to solve

My Community, Our Earth

World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002

environmental problems?” Solis estimates that about 18,000 students have participated in MyCOE’s Global Connections and Exchange Program so far. This summer, they will offer international youth tech camps to share more about online mapping and geographic technologies. The camps kick off at the Deering Estate in Florida, a longtime host for MyCOE projects and home to a marshy mangrove preserve. A public park owned by the state of Florida, the Deering Estate includes a 450acre natural preserve with seven different native habitats and trails running throughout the property. Their renowned education and outreach programs offer the

Association of American Geographers

Deering Estate, Florida

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young and the old a unique opportunity to walk into and experience firsthand the variety of endangered flora and fauna, even within the wetlands restoration area. Last year, Deering Estate’s partnership with MyCOE involved dozens of youth-led projects divided according to different themes: environmental pollution, biodiversity, climate change, health and disease and urbanization, says assistant director Jennifer Tisthammer. “Each project had a conservation approach, a field study approach, and a geography or mapping project,” Tisthammer explains, “so that you were understanding the global issue in the space you were in, mapping it, and relating it to another part of the world.” Projects included canoe orienteering, flotsam cleanup, ethno botany and wilderness survival, to name a few. Deering Estate takes a long-term approach to developing a sense of environmental stewardship in young people. “We focus on conservation and what it means to get involved in environmental decision-making,” says Tisthammer. “We try to create informed citizens and develop within them a love for the things they know—our local resources. If later they move to another place, they take with them that knowledge and passion of the local, natural things that were important to them—their sense of place. Hopefully if young adults grow older and become masters of industry, in the corporate world, they’ll know that it exists in the natural environment. They’ll know the ways man can live in harmony with nature. And they’ll practice global stewardship.” Tisthammer appreciates the fresh perspective young people bring to the environmental challenges that adults often struggle to solve. “When kids look at things, they’re unbiased; they look intuitively and simplistically,” she says. And that helps kids make a difference, both in their communities and around the world. Jane Varner Malhotra is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

To share articles go to MARCH/APRIL 2014 19


The five most energy-efficient U.S. cities in 2013.

Embracing the‘Greenovation’ By ANNE WALLS

ast September, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released its 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, a report that ranks 34 of the United States’ most populous cities and their effective energy usage. Boston topped the list, followed by Portland, San Francisco, New York City and Seattle. Cities were appraised and scored on energy-efficiency in five key areas: buildings, transportation, energy and water utility efforts, local government operations and community-wide initiatives. While Boston scored the highest overall, San Francisco tied with the Massachusetts city for the first position in utility and public benefits programs. Portland, Oregon, scored highest in transportation and local government operations. There was a tie between San Francisco and New York City for the overall score and Seattle topped in building policies. But the most surprising result of the Council’s extensive research is not which cities came out on top, but the fact that

even Boston only scored 76.75 points out of a possible 100. Which means there’s room for growth all across the United States. The Council scored cities on their implementation of efficiency policies rather than on the cold, hard data of energy usage. The reason for this, the Council’s official Eric Mackres told The Atlantic, is because the agency wants the report to serve as a “playbook of actions you can take to improve efficiency.” Mackres is the Council’s local policy manager and senior researcher. The things these five cities all had in common were the amount that these energy-efficient policies had permeated all levels of city government, how organized their implementations have been and how the cities themselves have become leading voices for their states as a whole to improve their energy consumption.

Below: The Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant protects the Boston Harbor against pollution from metropolitan Boston’s sewer systems. More than half of the island’s energy demand is provided by on-site, renewable generation. Boston



San Francisco New York City


San Francisco

City Energy Efficiency Scorecard 2013

(Clockwise from bottom) RON COGSWELL/Courtesy Flickr; RAWHEAD REX/Courtesy Flickr; STEVEN VANCE/Courtesy Flickr; SunPower/Courtesy National Renewable Energy Laboratory; The City Project/Courtesy Flickr; DAVID ZEIBIN/Courtesy Flickr



Portland Boston

New York City




Courtesy Boston Public Library


set aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a large part of which come from cars, buses and other modes of transportation. To that end, the city promotes bike share programs and public transit subsidies, all in an effort to get more cars off the road and less greenhouse gases in the air. Boston has also become a strong voice for energyefficiency for the entire state of Massachusetts, which explains why the state was the highest scorer in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s 2012 State Efficiency Scorecard. “We couldn’t be more proud of our progress in creating a greener, healthier city,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino told the Council. “Boston is a world-class city, and we know that our economic prosperity is tied to its ‘greenovation,’ which has helped create jobs and improve our bottom line. Reducing our energy use is just one smart step in improving the quality of life in Boston and around the world.” And Mayor Menino practices what he preaches—his own home has solar panels. NADINE/Courtesy Flickr

Right: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (left) examines a wind turbine in a hangar at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Right center: A recycling and trash receptacle outside Boston Garden. Far right: Atlantic Wharf, Boston’s first green skyscraper. Right: The Brighton branch of the Boston Public Library is one of the first renovated buildings in the city to incorporate the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Commercial Interiors guidelines.

KIM BROOKES/ Courtesy Flickr

eantown, as Boston is often called, is the most energy-efficient city in the United States, according to the American Council for an EnergyEfficient Economy. According to its report, Boston scored well across the board, but “particularly notable are its community-wide programs and utility partnerships, including the Renew Boston initiative.” Renew Boston is a program that helps people weatherize their houses—adding insulation, sealing doors and windows, and more—so they use less energy heating and cooling. Renew Boston also offers incentives to landlords and homeowners who participate in the program. Boston scored the majority of its points (21.5 of them) for its building policies. It recently adopted an energy-use-disclosure requirement for all buildings. The city’s requirement for new and existing buildings to adopt an energy-efficient code put it on the top of the list. Next, Boston scored 19 out of 28 points for its energy-efficient transportation policies. Boston has





Renew Boston

Portland’s Climate Action Plan




uirky, independent Portland was the runnerup for most energy-efficient U.S. city, scoring 70 points overall. Portland’s strongest area of energy-efficiency was transportation policies, where it scored 19.5 points. The city encourages bike share programs, ride share programs and is also working on beefing up its public transportation. The Northwest city also scored particularly well in land use policies, like zoning and offering incentives for compact development. This goes with the national trend that demand for smaller residential developments, called compact development, with convenient public transportation is rising, which makes people less car-dependent and saves large amounts of energy.

Another strong area was in the energy-efficiency of its local government, a category in which Portland scored 13.75 points. According to the report, this green city is adept at “integrating energyefficiency across the everyday activity of local government, such as procurement and asset management.” Having the goal of conserving energy built into the city’s everyday governmental duties makes it clear that Portland-dwellers are committed to having their beautiful city stay that way. Portland is publically committed to reducing its energy consumption, as outlined in its Climate Action Plan. The city has delineated specific goals and benchmarks that it strives to achieve each year, calling for a 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels by 2030. DAVE REID/Courtesy Flickr

Above: Portland boasts the highest percentage of bicycle commuters of any large U.S. city. Right: A streetcar in Portland. Far right: Wind turbines on an apartment building in Portland. Plutchak/Courtesy Flickr




San Francisco: Buildings and Environments Flickr

ROBIN MURPHY/World Resources Institute


Above right: Stephanie Stone, communications manager, points out recycled blue jeans used as insulation in a wall under construction at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in 2007. It is considered one of the world’s greenest museums. Right: Designer Jay Nicolas Sario created an outfit out of recycled water bottles for the Annual Discarded to Divine event in San Francisco. Right: Artist Val Britton works on her piece titled “Index to Selected Starts,” at the Recology recycling center in San Francisco. Below right: The solar electric system mounted on a parking canopy at the U.S. Postal Service San Francisco facility.

© AP-WWP/PRNewsFoto/ Chevron Corporation


oming in right behind Portland is this Northern California city, which is known for being a melting pot of cultures, communities and ways of life. It was also the most well-rounded in its scores, showing that the city takes a broad approach to energy-efficiency rather than concentrating on a specific sector. San Francisco has passed an Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance, which requires buildings not only to track their energy usage, but also to have an “energy audit” every five years, which identifies specific cost-effective ways to save energy. The Golden Gate city is also home to a Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance that requires homes to improve efficiency when sold or renovated. With regard to transportation, the city has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. San Francisco, possibly because of its technologyheavy strengths and savvy people (it’s home to Silicon Valley), is particularly adept at working with its utility companies to make energy consumption data widespread and easy to access. If people can see and track how much energy they’re using, they’re more likely to work on reducing their use.








Above left: Photovoltaic cells laminated to skylight glass at the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in San Francisco.

Above: The rooftop of the California Academy of Sciences has seven undulating green hillocks.

New York’s Greater, Greener Buildings Plan

A hybrid taxi in Times Square in New York City.

CITY YAHOO INC/Courtesy Flickr

Top: Photovoltaic system on a rooftop in New York City. Above: The High Line project has created a vegetated sanctuary for visitors and residents of New York City.

t’s surprising that a city as large, crowded, and—let’s face it—gritty as New York would come in at No. 3 in energyefficiency. But the Big Apple has proved over the last few years that it’s a major player in the “greenvolution.” In fact, it tied with lean and green San Francisco for third place overall in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s rankings. New York City’s strongest area of energy-efficiency is in—no surprise—building policies. The city has a Greater, Greener Buildings Plan that keeps energy tabs on all commercial and multifamily buildings. The city also requires actions to improve energy consumption in the largest buildings, which is a good thing since the newest tallest building in the United States will soon be found in New York. The City That Never Sleeps also scored well in energyefficiency in water utilities. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Drinking water and wastewater systems account for approximately 3 to 4 percent of energy use in the United States, adding over 45 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.” So for the country’s most populous city, which is surrounded by water, to devote its own energy to this topic is quite resourceful indeed. In the wake of the devastating Hurricane Sandy in 2013, New York has put special effort into trumpeting its innovative energy-efficiency policies. The city has one of the United States’ leading examples of efficient public transportation, encouraging other cities to follow suit. New York also has a plan called MillionTreesNYC, a city-wide program committed to planting and caring for a million new trees across the city’s five boroughs over the next decade.


Aeon Solar/Courtesy NREL DAVID BERKOWITZ/Courtesy Flickr



OZinOH/Courtesy Flickr

Anne Walls is a writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, California.

26 MARCH/ APRIL 2014

Anne and Tim/Courtesy Flickr

oming in at No. 5, Seattle is another Northwestern city like Portland, but with a larger population. Both cities are devoted to healthy lifestyles, outdoor adventures and a widespread array of environmental causes. Seattle scored highest of the top five in energy-efficient building policies and has been a leader in energy code adoption and implementation. According to the Energy Information Administration, residential and commercial buildings use about 40 percent of energy in the United States, making them significant contributors to the energy problem. Building energy codes are a critical part of the energy solution and Seattle has responded to the challenge of enforcing these codes across the board. Seattle’s municipal electric and water utilities are also top-notch, with specific programs in place to manage this coastal city’s drinking water, wastewater and storm water utilities. Seattle has also done an excellent job of having its municipal government partner with its energy and water utilities to promote and expand energy-efficiency programs.

CHAS REDMOND/Courtesy Flickr



5 C

Below and bottom: Central Library, a branch of the Seattle Public Library, has a variety of environmental features. A significant amount of recycled material was used in construction and about half the glass used in the curtain wall is designed to reduce heat buildup from sunlight.

Energy Conservation in Seattle

BRIAN HONOHAN/Courtesy Flickr

Left: Seattle Department of Transportation workers lay out a green bike lane. These lanes help increase bicyclists’ safety. Below left: A booth at the Sustainable West Seattle Festival.



Courtesy AIP Foundation

Courtesy TOMS Shoes


Courtesy Pepsico

Left: PepsiCo Inc. works to accelerate access to safe water and sanitation in India. Top: TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie inspires a generation to have fun while building a business and helping underprivileged people across the world. Above: Vietnamese children are safer, thanks to bicycle helmets donated by California-based Pro-Tec.

Generation Good By LAURA HAUGEN

Millennials favor jobs and products they figure might make the world a better place.


ty and a good work/life balance surpass their altruistic desires. Informed consumers, engaged employees Millennials care about the values behind brands. They research products and their makers before buying anything. Through social media, they share information about manufacturers’ safety records, environmental standards and the health of their workers. They raise funds for their favorite small businesses through crowdsourcing sites. By purchasing products from companies they value highly for their “stewardship credentials,” these consumers pressure businesses to be socially responsible. As employees, millennials crave engagement and meaningful work. They often challenge corporate culture from within. They want to “hit the ground running on day one,” said Bruce Tulgan, a management expert, in his book, “Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y.” “They want to identify problems that nobody else has identified, solve problems that nobody else has solved, make existing things better, invent new things.” But, Zukin said, millennials can hit the wall of an entrenched corporate culture when “they find out they have to wait to have their opinions heard.” If they can improve a community or contribute to environmental cleanup while at work,

Net Impact: What Workers Want in 2012

Companies for Good Blog

Thunderbird School of Global Management

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Sodexo Workplace Trends Report


they are more satisfied and productive, according to the Net Impact survey. It is one reason large corporations like IBM Corporation, Pfizer Inc., PepsiCo Inc. and Dow Corning Corporation have established programs to allow employees to volunteer for service projects in the developing world. Such programs, managers say, not only align with their companies’ mission, but also distinguish them at job fairs and thus help them attract new talent. Future business leaders Business schools have heard millennials’ battle cry and are including corporate stewardship in their curricula. Most have established corporate social responsibility programs and submit to being ranked on them. After the Thunderbird School of Global Management adopted a pledge of responsible global citizenship for graduating students, other business schools followed suit. “There’s definitely a movement of people recognizing that we have a responsibility to do good,” said Kellie Kreiser, assistant vice president at Thunderbird. “This generation is confident and equipped to find opportunities in the entrepreneurial sphere to tackle social issues.” Laura Haugen is a contributing writer for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs.

of millennials say they would take a 15 percent pay cut to work for an organization whose values are similar to theirs. Source: 2012 Net Impact study


of millennials entering the workforce say they would consider leaving an employer whose values fall short of their expectations. Source: Sodexo’s 2013 Workplace Trends Report


of global consumers believe that business needs to place equal weight on society’s interests and on financial interests. Source: 2012 Edelman’s goodpurpose study


of millennials say the potential to contribute to society through their job is very important to them. Source: 2012 Net Impact study

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generation plans to change the world. Millennials—or 18- to 29-year-old Americans—are anxious to get jobs, but given a choice, they favor jobs they figure might make the world a better place. They grew up in the digital age, making them well aware of the world’s problems. Today’s university students, especially, have a do-gooder mission, and fulfilling that mission is more important to them than having children or a prestigious career, acquiring wealth or becoming community leaders, according to Cliff Zukin, professor of political science at the Rutgers University in the United States. Their sensibility is sure to affect how businesses operate, because, by 2020, millennials will make up nearly half the workforce. “My generation has been imbued with a sense of responsibility,” said a millennial, Allison McGuire, of the Companies for Good blog. “We grew up learning that our actions directly affect our communities.” As workers, millennials hope to nudge their employers to take responsibility for employees, for society and for the world, she said. But millennials are not idealistic fools. According to a 2012 survey conducted by Zukin for Net Impact, an advocacy group, the recession of the late 2000s made the millennial generation care about survival in the labor market more than anything else, including their change-the-world aspirations. Job securi-

Greening Corporations Courtesy Ceres

An interview with Mindy Lubber.

Collage by HEMANT BHATNAGAR, Photographs © Getty Images


indy S. Lubber is president of Ceres, a coalition of investors, environmental organizations and public interest groups that pioneered corporate partnerships to address global climate change by integrating sustainability into capital markets. She has been awarded Global Green USA’s 2009 Organizational Design Award and Fast Company Social Capitalist Awards in 2007 and 2008. Before joining Ceres, she was the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ceres was founded in 1989 by a group of environmentalists and investors who had, in Lubber’s words, “a joint mission to assure that large companies are factoring in the impact of environmental sustainability issues into what they do and how they work.”


Has interest in sustainability best practices grown? [Nineteen] years ago, when we talked about best practices for corporations fully reporting their sustainability footprint from human rights to the environment, it turned out to be not only about disclosure, but companies learning how to look at their impact. Indeed, we learned that what gets measured gets managed. When companies measure their risks, from water shortages to toxic spills, they manage them better. Now we have 8 trillion dollars’ worth of members in our investor side of Ceres [Investor Network on Climate Risk] saying that these are real investment risks and opportunities. We have 82 companies that are partners in integrating sustainability from the boardroom to the copy room. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) now requires companies to disclose the material risk from climate in their

Does association with Ceres and similar groups enhance the corporate image? Affiliating with Ceres or other organizations sends a very clear message to employees. Companies want to do what is right. They are willing to be transparent, and that’s a good thing.


Global Reporting Initiative

Articles by Mindy Lubber sites/mindylubber

What are the most effective components in corporate climate change partnerships? The most important elements that mean success are companies changing their practices. Not talking about it, but changing. It’s happening, still piecemeal, but it’s starting, and the more we see change, and the more we can help companies change, the better. Does integrating sustainability contribute to profits? Most of the time. The very tricky piece of sustainability is that companies are evaluated on what they spend and make over very short periods of time. The results from sustainability initiatives often don’t show up over these three- or six-month periods. In some instances it takes a bit longer. You can’t see it immediately. Insurance companies that are addressing climate change don’t want more Hurricane Katrinas where they are paying out $40 billion in liabilities. They’d like to see climate change mitigated, but they see results over time. Are you optimistic about the direction corporate environmental partnerships are headed? I think enormous change has come, but there is a long way to go. It is very important that we are no longer debating whether sustainability is a business issue. Wall Street firms are putting out sustainability and climate change analytics every day. Bloomberg has an environmental sustainability platform for how to analyze companies. The SEC has mandated it and companies are doing it. Now the goal is to move companies to act in a much more comprehensive way. The good thing is they are open, they are listening, they understand there is a business proposition, and we are trying to move them ahead as fast as we can.

“ ”

W e haave ve We m oved frrom om moved


iin n woord rd to ssustainability ustainability iin n deeed. ed.

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How long did it take to get corporate attention? It took a couple of years to make the case that it really was in a company’s best interests to address sustainability, climate and other environmental issues. That was a new concept in the early 1990s. We asked companies to support an ethic of environmental sustainability principles. Getting companies’ support takes time. They don’t just support things—their lawyers read it, their boards read it, and their CEOs read it—as they should. People said it was never going to happen, companies would not support a set of serious principles, but they did. We said companies need to be doing more. The first thing to do is disclose their sustainability footprint. We designed something called the Global Reporting Initiative, which has become the international gold standard for corporate reporting on sustainability. We now have 1,695 multinational companies who do sustainability reports built off the Global Reporting Initiative. Just as we expect companies to do a financial report, we expect companies to do a sustainability report. What is their carbon footprint? How are they addressing it? What are their toxic waste dumping practices?

reports to the SEC. The world had progressively changed, we have moved from sustainability in word to sustainability in deed.

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Excerpts from an interview with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs.

Š Getty Images

This is the final article of the series on what to do in the 12 months leading up to submitting your graduate school applications.


Twelve-Month Checklist for

Applying to Graduate School 3 months before applying 1. Now it is time to make sure you have current application materials. You will most likely access applications on the institution’s website. Having reviewed the information on your school spreadsheet (see the Sept/Oct 2013 issue of SPAN for a sample spreadsheet), you should be generally familiar with the deadlines. 2. Verify the requirements for admission interviews, if applicable, and revisit the interview deadlines for each option. You should already have some of this information on your spreadsheet. 3. Start thinking about who you will ask to write letters of recommendation for you. If you are applying to several schools, be sure to have more than one or two individuals selected. A good rule of thumb is: One person could probably do two or three recommendations. Once you have selected those you would like to use, contact them and get their approval. 4. Similar to the school spreadsheet, create an application spreadsheet. Place the names of each of your options alphabetically down the left hand column. Across the top, place the items you want to be sure you remember, or compare, throughout the application process. These will include:


a. The deadline for which you will apply b. Date you actually send in your application c. Interview requirements d. The date your interview was scheduled e. Is the interview to be conducted on campus, in your area or by Skype? f. The date of your interview g. Were you notified that your application had been received? If so, how long after you sent it in? h. Did the admissions office notify you of a decision? i. If admitted, how was the follow-up afterward? Too much? Too little? j. What is the enrollment deposit amount and deadline, if admitted?

k. What information do you need for financial aid purposes, if admitted? l. Is there a campus visit program for newly admitted students? If yes, and you attended, what did you think? Is this a place at which you would feel comfortable? m. If waitlisted, how were you treated? n. If denied, how were you treated? o. Is waitlist, deny or re-application feedback available? p. If you chose to appeal your denial, was the admissions staff friendly and caring? Tip: This is a great time to create outlines of the essays you will write. This also helps to ensure you answer the right questions for the right schools.

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3 to 1 Months Out

2 months before applying 1. Set aside time each day, or every other day, to complete your applications. 2. Address or complete one essay each time you work on your applications. 3. Make sure your recommenders are ready to go with their letters or forms, and confirm that you have provided them all the information they need. 4. Start requesting transcripts. Most universities are familiar with this part of the application process and have procedures in place. If you need additional assistance, USIEF offers attestation services to Indian citizens who are applying to U.S. higher education institutions. 5. Make sure you are ready to schedule any interviews you plan to conduct. Admissions offices will

have different procedures for these and you want to make sure you are following the right guidelines for the right school. Having your application spreadsheet is very helpful here. Tip: With the exception of essays, it may be helpful to complete the same section for each application you are submitting. That way you are going over the same information, and have a sense of accomplishment. 1 month before applying 1. Now it is time to fine-tune your applications. Thoroughly re-check your essays. Then have someone else check them. Go over each of the other sections to be sure you have accurately answered all questions. 2. Be certain, to the best of your ability, your applications are exactly the way you want them to be. 3. Start preparing your application

1 Biggest Blunders in Graduate Admissions 2



3 4 5

6 34 MARCH/APRIL 2014

fees. Keep in mind that some universities and colleges are willing to waive their application fees for financially deserving students. Contact the admissions department to explain your circumstances and request an application fee waiver. It is important to do this well in advance of the application deadline. If you need help requesting a fee waiver, contact an EducationUSA adviser in India: www.EducationUSA. info/India or call toll free at 1800 103 1231. Don Martin is a former admissions dean at Columbia, University of Chicago and Northwestern; and author of “Road Map for Graduate Study.” Wesley Teter is a former regional director for EducationUSA in New Delhi. He is also the editor of the multimedia outreach campaign, 10 Steps to Study in the United States.

Not answering the question. Remember RTQ—Read The Question! Errors and sloppiness. The essay “hall of shame” is full of misspellings, inconsistent style, etc. Be sure to carefully edit your personal statement and essays. Plagiarism. It is absolutely essential that you write your own essays. One of your best assets is communicating in your voice. Generic essays. Each essay should be tailored to the institution where you are applying, not simply a general motivation letter. Writing an autobiography. The admissions committee is not interested in your complete autobiography or a list of personal milestones. Instead, use one or two compelling stories to illustrate your point. Overly complex sentences. International applicants,

7 8 9

including applicants from India, are sometimes guilty of trying to impress the committee with complex sentences and flowery language. Keep your writing clear and simple. Mentioning rankings. U.S. institutions are fully aware of rankings, but this factor should not be among your top reasons for applying to a particular school. Not saying what you mean. Words like challenging, beautiful, wonderful, etc. are vague. Be specific and reflect deeply on your own experiences and point of view. Missing information. Follow all directions—if they ask for it, answer it. And most importantly, remember RTQ.

Sources: Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher; Road Map for Graduate Study by Don Martin; Peterson’s—Graduate & Professional Programs

Drive the Road


MICHAEL BUCK/Courtesy Flickr

The zigzagging road may take long to traverse for only being 52 miles long, but the eye candy alone makes it worthwhile.

Copyright Š 2012 Smithsonian Institution. Reprinted with permission from Smithsonian Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any medium is strictly prohibited without permission from Smithsonian Institution. Such permission may be requested from Smithsonian Magazine.

OLGA/Courtesy Flickr



GORD MCKENNA/Courtesy Flickr

Left and top right: The Road to Hana in Maui is ranked as one of the most scenic drives in the world. Above right: Colorful flower found along the road. Right: Entrance to the Wai’anapanapa State Park. Below: The Hana Ranch. Below left: The view near the end of the journey on the Road to Hana.

PEDRO SZEKELY/Courtesy Flickr

DAVE CLARK/Courtesy Flickr





INTIAZ RAHIM/Courtesy Flickr


Above left: The black sand beach of crushed volcanic rock in Wai’anapanapa State Park. Above: A red sand beach in Hana. Right: The Waimoku Falls in Haleakala National Park. Below left: The Hana Farms. Below right: A rainbow eucalyptus in a small grove on the way to Hana.

The Road to Hana is “one of the few places where you can actually almost experience waterfall fatigue.”

RYAN GREENBERG/Courtesy Flickr

CHAD PODOSKI/Courtesy Flickr

he 52-mile, serpentine Road to Hana on Maui’s eastern coast is consistently ranked as one of the most scenic drives in the world. But, with over 50 bridges (many one lane) and 600 curves, it is no cakewalk to drive. “You know that yellow line down the middle of the road that’s supposed to separate it into two sides?” says Ward Mardfin, treasurer of the Hana Cultural Center. “We use that like an airplane. You center your car on that and go right over the middle of it.” It can take upwards of three hours to navigate the road, built in 1926, from Kahului in the north to Hana in the south. (Be sure to fuel up in Paia, the last sizable town before the highway.) But the slow pace is to tourists’ benefit. On the lush jungle road, it just means more time to stop and smell the ginger blossoms. Away from Maui’s congested resort areas, the Hana Highway, says Nav Singh, chief of interpretation and education at the nearby Haleakala National Park, is “where you get to see some of the more natural aspects of the island.” Around mile marker 17 is a turnoff for the Kenae Peninsula, a rugged coast of black lava rock. “If James Michener’s ‘Hawaii’ made an impact or if Gauguin’s paintings in Tahiti draw you to the Pacific, you’ll just fall in love with the place,” says Mardfin. He


GYPSY AND THE FOOL/Courtesy Flickr

MATT MCGEE/Courtesy Flickr

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Road to Hana in Maui

Hana Cultural Center and Museum

Pipiwai Trail & Waimoku Falls


WASABI BOB/Courtesy Flickr


Megan Gambino is an editor and writer for

JOHN HYUN/Courtesy Flickr

first visited the area in 1961, at age 17, and returned two to three times a year thereafter until 2001, when he became a fulltime resident of Hana. Closer to the town of Hana is a black sand beach of crushed volcanic rock in Wai’anapanapa State Park, where there are caves and waterspouting blowholes in the rocky cliffs. In the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park, ten miles past Hana, there is a trailhead to Pipiwai Trail. Five years ago, I hiked two miles up to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls, swimming afterward in tiered pools, fed by waterfall after waterfall, in the lower Oheo Gulch. The Road to Hana, says Singh, is “one of the few places where you can actually almost experience waterfall fatigue.” At Kipahulu, drivers can either turn back north or continue on in a circular route. Before deciding, be sure to thoroughly read your rental car agreement, advises Singh. Past Kipahulu, the landscape changes quite abruptly from jungle to desert and, though hard to believe, the road gets even dicier.

Above: A bamboo forest along the Pipiwai Trail on the way to the Waimoku Falls in Haleakala National Park. Above left: A coastal scene from the Kahekili Highway in Maui. Left: A short trail from the picnic area in Pua’a Ka’a State Park, Maui.

ollywood actors Priyanka Chopra and Anil Kapoor visited the University of South Florida (USF) in February during an IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) Awards promotion tour of the United States. The IIFA Awards will make its U.S. debut in April at Tampa in Florida. The actors, who were welcomed by USF President Judy Genshaft, philanthropists Kiran and Pallavi Patel and hundreds of fans, planted trees to demonstrate IIFA’s commitment to sustainability.



.S. Ambassador Nancy J. Powell visited Kolkata in February, where she met business leaders and interacted with students and faculty of the Modern High School for Girls. “Before I became a diplomat, I was a teacher, so it always brings me great pleasure to come to schools and speak to students. Education is close to my heart because of my background and because of its tremendous role in elevating people out of poverty and providing women and girls a chance to succeed,” she said in her remarks at the school. She added that the issue of gender equality “is important to all of us because reports show direct linkages between women’s engagement in the economy, politics, and society of a country and that country’s status across a range of social indicators.”

irst Lady Michelle Obama honored Laxmi, a campaigner for Stop Acid Attacks in India, at the 2014 International Women of Courage Award Ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on March 4. The Secretary of State’s annual International Women of Courage Award was established in 2007 to honor women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality and social progress, often at great personal risk. U.S. Department of State


Photographs courtesy USF News

s part of the American Music Abroad program, the all-female string group Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards performed and held workshops in Mumbai (above), New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the group expresses its love of traditional American music through original compositions, arrangements and interpretations of Old-Time, Bluegrass, Country and Celtic music.

Illustration: Daniel Craig

Registered under RNI-6586/60

Each year, the State Department celebrates Earth Day with a poster that underscores the importance of conservation. This year’s poster highlights the importance of conservation of migratory birds. As pollinators, predators and prey, migratory birds keep Earth’s ecosystems in balance. As harbingers, they warn of habitat, climate and environmental changes through their movements, their song and their demise. As creatures of beauty, they contribute to nature-based tourism economies.

March/April 2014  

Green Innovations

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