2017 Greenest Cities in America – WalletHub Study

With October being National Energy Awareness Month and New York recently becoming the first city to unveil a plan that upholds the Paris Climate Agreement among nearly 250 cities that pledged to do so, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Greenest Cities in America.

To determine which cities promote a “green” lifestyle, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 22 key indicators of environmental friendliness and sustainability. The data set ranges from greenhouse-gas emissions per capita to green job opportunities per capita to number of smart-energy policies and initiatives.

Greenest Cities in America
1 San Francisco, CA 
2 San Diego, CA 
3 Fremont, CA 
4 Honolulu, HI
5 San Jose, CA
6 Washington, DC 
7 Sacramento, CA 
8 Irvine, CA 
9 Portland, OR 
10 Oakland, CA 

Least Greenest Cities in America
91 Oklahoma City, OK
92 Cleveland, OH
93 Lexington-Fayette, KY
94 Toledo, OH
95 Tulsa, OK
96 St. Petersburg, FL
97 Louisville, KY
98 Jacksonville, FL
99 Baton Rouge, LA
100 Corpus Christi, TX

Best vs. Worst
Lubbock, Texas, has the lowest median air-quality index, 21, which is 4.3 times lower than in Riverside and San Bernardino, California, the cities with the highest at 90.

Anchorage, Alaska, has the most green space, 84.2 percent, which is 56.1 times more than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the least at 1.5 percent.

Lubbock, Texas, has the lowest annual excess fuel consumption, 4.1 gallons per auto commuter, which is 8.5 times lower than in New York, Washington, as well as Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey, the cities with the highest, each at 35 gallons per auto commuter.

New York has the highest walk score, 89, which is four times higher than in Chesapeake, Virginia, the city with the lowest at 22.

Honolulu has the most farmers markets (per square root of population), 0.1197, which is 63 times more than in Newark, New Jersey, the city with the fewest at 0.0019.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-green-cities/16246/

4 Ways Companies Are Helping the Environment

Many of the world’s top organizations are investing billions of dollars into environmentally sound processes and procedures. The consumer climate has changed, and customers are switching to green products. Buyers are paying closer attention to what they purchase and how it affects the environment, remaking the current marketplace of many industries for the better.

While this is great news for the environment and our future, switching over to green solutions has also become a sound financial investment. Here are four methods various companies and industries are using to be more sustainable and help the environment.

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Switching Out The Small Things
The easiest way to begin going green is to start small. Go around your office and switch out your regular light bulbs with LED bulbs or T8 lamps that might not to replace the ballast and/or fixtures. Switch out light switches with motion detector options. Include more in-office plants and shrubbery to improve the air quality of your office, and get your janitorial team to change from harsh chemicals to more natural and eco-friendly cleaning supplies.

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Go Green Lighting

Talk to your Human Resources Department to ensure a safe, non-toxic environment. Replace your vending machines and other unhealthy break room foods with sustainable brain food options. These include nuts, organic fruits and vegetables and health drinks. Eliminate your use of plastic bottles and other disposable tableware. Instead, encourage the use of plates, silverware and cups that can be cleaned and reused.

Going Paperless
Going paperless at the office might not seem viable but thanks to the today’s technology, paper is becoming more obsolete as the years go by. Email on its own has changed business communication forever, but with the invention and prevalence of smartphones and tablets, which are basically small computers, we can share and transfer information much more easily.

Rather than printing out document after document for our coworkers to read, we can go over business information on screens that fit in our pockets. Consider investing in a projector or large screen for company presentations as this can eliminate the need to pass out documents for people to use. Instead, you can keep everything digital and save trees.

Wind power
Source: Bloomberg

Embracing Innovation
Levi’s have begun selling jeans made from recycled plastic bottles. General Electric’s “Ecomagination” business strategy is boosting the energy production via wind farms by 20%. New commercial jet turbines are under development that are intended to cut fuel burn and carbon emissions by more than 10%. And unless you have been living underneath a rock for the last decade, you know about the surge of the electric car industry.

All of these inventions and ideas are reshaping age-old industries and bringing them into the future. Part of the reason for this surge of innovation and improvement is the fact that companies are making green thinking a part of company culture. Instead of seeing nature as something separate from industry, environmentalism has become an inspiration for invention and investment.

Changing Traditional Business Ideas
Believe it or not, some companies are persuading their customer base to buy less of their product. It’s called green purchase behavior or green purchasing and it goes against every established business practice ever conceived. The idea encourages consumers to consider the environmental impact of their purchases, including usage and disposal. While the notion contradicts traditional retail models, it fosters corporate responsibility for future developments and investments.

These are only a few examples of the change in corporate culture in connection to the environment and the future of the planet. While there are still many issues involving pollution and waste within the business world, change is occurring and gaining speed thanks to shifts in the consumer marketplace.

Through Pollution Prevention Let’s Talk about Solar!

Happy Belated Pollution Prevention Week! Been a bit busy! LOL

The EPA had dedicated a week to increasing efforts to reduce and eliminate sources of pollution to prevent damage to the environment, as well as maintain the planet’s resources and move towards sustainability.

One technology that has advanced these efforts greatly across the United States and the world is solar power. In the United States, .005 percent of all energy consumed comes from solar. This may seem like an insignificant number, but it’s actually quite substantial. In addition, between 2014 and 2015 alone, there was a 33 percent increase in solar power generation across the globe! Currently, the total photovoltaic (PV) power generation capacity around the world stands at 231 gigawatts.

As the solar industry grows, the demand for people working in the industry is growing too. The number of people working in the solar industry is expected to grow by 24% by 2021. Looking to get into the industry? California might be a good place to start as they have a 34% market share in solar as of 2016.

Want to learn more about the future of solar power? Check out the infographic below created by New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Electrical Engineering program.


NJIT Online

Toyota Takes the LEED in Texas

Toyota Headquarters Campus Achieves LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council, The Largest Commercial LEED Platinum Project in The State Of Texas, To Date

Plano, Texas (Sept. 22, 2017) – Everything is bigger in Texas. Everything, that is, except Toyota’s environmental footprint. 

Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) headquarters campus in Plano, Texas has officially achieved LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Jonathan Kraatz, executive director, USGBC Texas Chapter, presented the prized Platinum plaque to Jim Lentz, TMNA president and chief executive officer, today at the new campus. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Toyota’s new campus is the largest commercial LEED Platinum project in the state of Texas, to date.


“At Toyota, we have a longstanding commitment to sustainability and preserving our natural resources,” said Lentz. “With the installation of greenspaces, thousands of solar panels, a massive rain water capture system, and natural light wells, we have designed our new headquarters to reflect the local habitat and enhance its biodiversity. Recognition as a LEED Platinum facility is a testament of our efforts to become a model for energy efficiency and sustainability, and speaks to our challenge to ourselves to create a net positive impact on the planet by 2050.”

“USGBC is proud to award LEED Platinum to Toyota, for their thoughtfulness in their campus energy planning and space design as well as the overall net positive impact on the community and environment,” said Kraatz. “Our mission at USGBC has challenged organizations to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Toyota’s new Texas campus is a great example of what can be accomplished with the right leadership.”


The state-of-the-art, 100-acre campus boasts a Platinum-sized list of sustainability aspects, from renewable energy to drought resistant landscaping:  

Renewable Energy

Largest onsite corporate solar installation among non-utility companies in Texas

8.79-Megawatt solar power system, designed and installed by SunPower Corp.

Produces up to 33 percent of daily electric needs for headquarters campus

Reduces annual carbon dioxide emissions by 7,198 metric tons

Creates enough energy to power 1,200 average US homes for a year

Installation of high efficiency lighting and building envelopes to reduce energy usage on campus

Specialized rooftop design teeming with plant life to manage rainwater, reduce heat and further insulate the buildings

Flexible energy contract to preserve and resell excess power generation back to the grid

Grid energy offset by Texas wind farm renewable energy credits

Repurposed Rainwater

State-of-the-art rainwater capture system will provide up to three months of water supply for irrigation use

Cistern water storage with a capacity to hold 400,000 gallons of harvested rain water

Estimated to save more than 11 million gallons of potable (drinking) water annually

Excess drain water will be collected and repurposed for sanitary facility use

Recycling

More than 99 percent of the construction waste was recycled

Construction waste was sorted offsite at North Texas’ first Construction and Demolition waste processing facility

Sustainable Landscaping

Exterior landscaping features drought-tolerant, North Texas indigenous plants like savannah, oaklands and wildflower meadows

Campus landscape will provide a natural habitat for endangered pollinators and monarch butterflies

Approximately 1,300 trees planted onsite by Toyota

More than 80 mature trees saved or relocated onsite, including a 100-year-old oak tree

Landscaping will be managed without expensive mowing, fertilizers, chemicals or artificial irrigation

Historic wetlands on the northeast corner of the campus were preserved to protect its natural state


Professionals who led this project include a host of Dallas-based firms: KDC Real Estate Development & Investments to develop and build the campus, architect Corgan Associates to design the campus, and Austin Commercial to manage the construction.

In late 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation announced the 2050 Toyota Environmental Challenge, a set of ambitious environmental goals to reach beyond net zero, and create a net positive impact on the planet. To learn more, please visit http://www.toyota-global.com/sustainability/environment/challenge2050/.

 

How Data Centers are Using Renewable Energy to Lessen their Carbon Footprint

Data storage is big business in today’s world. In fact, there’s a good chance all your photos, videos, documents and files are stored somewhere in the cloud. Moreover, setting up automated backups and syncing across all our devices is so effortless that we forget where this information really lives: huge data centers spread around the world. And these data centers consume a lot of energy.

So how do some of the biggest energy consumers lower their carbon footprint? That’s easy: through renewable energy sources and other innovative means to keep those servers cool. These are how today’s data centers are preparing for tomorrow’s world of energy.

Small Business

While one mega data center may have a large carbon footprint, its use of technology and systems pales in comparison to all the servers used by small businesses across the country. As you might imagine, small-to-medium-sized companies don’t have access to the same energy-efficient technology that major corporations employ — and those on-site server rooms take up a lot of space and plenty of energy needs.

How Data Centers are Using Renewable Energy to Lessen their Carbon Footprint
Of course, the cloud isn’t just for smartphones and PC and laptop backups. Small businesses are opting out of using local storage and instead are adopting enterprise-level cloud-based services like those sold by Mozy. Removing server rooms from small-to-medium-sized companies — and instead turning to cloud-based technology — allows data to be accessed anywhere, anytime.

Dell’s Liquid Cooling

Anyone who has ever assembled their own PC knows there are two ways to cool a CPU — by using a heatsink and fan, or a liquid pump and radiator. The latter means is more expensive upfront, but reduces heat much easier and faster. Likewise, data centers produce a lot of heat, which takes even more energy to cool.

That’s why companies like Dell are creating innovative ways to cool servers using liquid technology. Liquid-cooled data centers usually use ground or city water from central pumps, which can use a lot of energy to distribute. But Dell’s cooling technology, which is used at data centers owned by eBay, store water in towers above the servers and let gravity do most of the work to bring it into the server racks. In the end, there’s no central pump to contend with and much less power is required.

Apple’s Green Initiative

iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage system and the home to almost every uploaded photo, video and backup by iPhone users, now runs on 100 percent renewable energy. This is no easy feat, and Apple goes into great detail about how it reached that pinnacle in its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report.

You may not know that most of Apple’s data centers operate in rural areas, where huge wind and solar farms power 100 percent of their energy needs. But because Apple relies on using so much of this land, the company has made it a point to create more renewable energy sources.

Next Steps

Major players like Google, Apple, Dell and Amazon have all committed to “going green” with Big Data. Indeed, these corporations certainly have the resources to build large solar and wind farms, but the next step in truly eliminating their carbon footprint is to improve efficiency — both in cooling and the servers themselves.

The Intel Xeon, a chip commonly used in servers, consumes more energy than CPUs in your standard PC. But Intel has made efforts to reduce the required wattage with each generation of processor it develops. Reducing energy dependency by five or 10 watts may not seem like much, but multiply that by hundreds or even thousands of servers and it adds up. Small increments like these can save enterprise-level companies millions of dollars on their utility bills.

Nearly 10 years ago, we talked in gigabytes, while today we talk in terabytes. And in the near future, we’ll be talking in petabytes. Big Data is growing exponentially, and it’s up to the big players as well as small-business owners to create new ways to power these data centers without increasing their carbon footprint.