The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

Residential Electricity Use

Customers of an undisclosed mid-Atlantic utility in 2011 received a series of five postcards in the mail informing them that their electricity use would be studied for a month. Their role was passive; they needn't do anything to participate. Just act normal and be studied.

The Carnegie Mellon researchers who dispatched the postcards were flirting with the sin of omission. They did hope to study the customers' electricity use — specifically, how it might change as they received postcards informing them of a study. Turns out it did. "Residential customers who received weekly postcards informing them that they were in a study reduced their monthly use by 2.7% — an amount greater than the annual conservation goal currently mandated by any state."

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Fire and Water: China's Looming Coal Problem

Majority Of China’s Proposed Coal-Fired Power Plants Located In

World Resources Institute -- To maintain its economic growth and provide for its massive population, China must reconcile two powerful, converging trends: energy demand and resource scarcity. One prime example of this tension is the country’s coal use and water supply.

According to a new WRI analysis, more than half of China’s proposed coal-fired power plants are slated to be built in areas of high or extremely high water stress. If these plants are built, they could further strain already-scarce resources, threatening water security for China’s farms, other industries, and communities.

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14 Smart Inventions Inspired by Nature: Biomimicry

Companies seeking breakthrough products tend to ignore the greatest invention machine in the universe: life’s more than three-billion-year history of... Read more »
Janine Benyus

Evolution has handed down to us in the form of plants and animals — for free! — more than 3 billion years of design and engineering research.

That's the theme throughout the work of Janine Benyus, a biologist whose 1997 book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, makes the argument that inventors, designers and engineers should scour the natural world for useful and adaptable innovations. The book led to the creation of her consultancy, Biomimicry 3.8, and a nonprofit that educates students and trains professionals to seek design solutions in nature.

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London's Battersea Power Station Site

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told reporters earlier this month that "there is no war on coal."

Read it as you like — as a true statement, or as exactly what you'd expect someone to say who's waging a war on coal. Either way, political warfare is preceding literal explosions, as utilities count demolition and redevelopment as options in a future projected to have reduced reliance on coal, the carbon-based fuel most dangerous to the climate.

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UBS Banker Launches New Company to "Accelerate the Velocity of M

While activists and industry compete for the president's ear over fracking or the oil sands pipeline, while courts clear the books of laws preventing marriage equality, some financial professionals say markets can steer the world toward a cleaner, more equitable, healthier and more profitable future.

Erika Karp, who recently left her post as head of global sector research at UBS, on Friday launched a new company, Cornerstone Capital Inc., designed to work toward that goal. The company has several missions, which include helping small and medium-size businesses access capital more reliably, and advocating for the inclusion of environmental, social and governance (ESG) data into investment analysis.

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Most Investors See Climate Change as Risk

Bloomberg BNA — Climate change remains a material risk for a majority of investors and, in many cases, it is increasingly influencing their investment activities, according to a report released Aug. 5 by a coalition of global investor groups.

About 81 percent of asset owners and 68 percent of asset managers said they view climate change as a material risk across their entire investment portfolio in the third annual Global Investor Survey on Climate Change. Most of the remaining respondents identified climate risks only for certain asset classes, such as real estate and infrastructure.

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A Climate Catch-22: How a Carbon Tax Could Save Coal

American Coal Industry

Here's coal's Catch-22: A tax on carbon dioxide emissions, which are driving global climate change, would raise the costs of coal-fired power, negating the fuel's price advantage over cleaner sources, like wind and solar power, and reduce its use.

On the other hand, a tax could provide the impetus for investing in technologies to capture and store carbon that have largely floundered in the marketplace. That could save coal.

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SASB Issues First Sector-Specific Standards for Reporting

Bloomberg BNA — The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) July 31 released its first set of sector-specific standards for reporting on environmental, social, and governance issues, starting with the health care sector.

Health care is one of 10 sectors for which SASB has been developing voluntary standards for disclosing nonfinancial information as part of mandatory U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, such as annual 10-K reports.

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Ernest Moniz

Bloomberg BNA — Coal and other fossil fuels will be “a major part of our energy future for decades,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said July 29 during a speech in which he said research on the development of clean coal technologies is needed to combat climate change.

“No discussion of U.S. energy security and reducing global CO2 emissions is complete without talking about coal—and the technologies that will allow us to use this resource more efficiently and with fewer greenhouse gas emissions,” Moniz said, according to excerpts of prepared remarks made available by the Energy Department.

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor

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