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

Is Apple the Model of a Sustainable Company?

Is Apple the Model of a Sustainable Company?

Here’s an overlooked metric among the hundreds available for evaluating how sustainable a company is: The ability to scale change far beyond its own organization.

The model sustainable company generally looks like this. It has a phenomenal track record of stock growth and a full bucket of cash. It militantly roots out inefficiency from its operations and supply chain and invents new products that take into account social change and resource availability. It increases the transparency of its operations and invites outside scrutiny to make sure it’s in compliance with the highest legal and social standards.

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Styrofoam Battle Takes to the Hill

By Ari Natter

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to continue using foam cups and other polystyrene products, the latest salvo in a congressional food fight over the sustainability of the Capitol’s restaurants, eateries, and cafeterias.

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Kiva Brings Light to the Poor

Kiva Microfunds, which raises about $1.5 million a week to fund small projects in poor countries, wants to help farmers turn piles of manure into fuel and fertilizer.

The main technology is called a biodigester, which is a treatment system that uses bacteria to break down livestock waste. "It's like a bouncy castle of excrement," said Michelle Kreger, Kiva's senior director of strategic initiatives, in a phone interview. "You have to mix up the sludge. Kids running around on it usually takes care of it."

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Venus Crosses the Face of the Sun

Bloomberg's Erik Schatzker reports on a once in a lifetime sight, the transit of Venus, as the planet moves between the earth and the sun. The rare event is next scheduled for 2117 and has happened only 8 times since the invention of the telescope. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "Inside Track." (Source: Bloomberg)

Running Time: 00:40

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Venus Gets in Our Way for the Last Time

Venus Crosses the Face of the Sun

Unless you think you’ll live to see the year 2117, today is your last chance to witness one of astronomy’s great marvels: the transit of Venus. It’s a rare event, when the solar system’s second planet makes a rare passage directly between the Earth and the sun.

The transit can’t compete with the celestial fireworks of aurora borealis or a full solar eclipse. However, the transit has few parallels as a symbol for how far humans have come in our understanding of the Solar System and how collaboration stretching several generations can solve big problems.

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Sustainability Indicator: 81% Domestic Energy

81%

Today's sustainability indicator, 81 percent, is the proportion of U.S. energy demand met from domestic sources last year, making it the most self-sufficient the county has been for almost 2 decades. Oil accounts for almost all imported U.S. energy.

This month's indicators:

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Bain's Sustainability Contrasts With Romney's Rhetoric

Mitt Romney Discusses Energy

Bain & Company, the global consulting firm where Governor Mitt Romney started his career and returned in the 1990s, yesterday announced it has effectively reduced its global carbon dioxide emissions to zero. A Bain press release cites Steven Tallman, a partner and head of global operations: “This accomplishment is a major step in our commitment to sustainability.” The announcement, unremarkable were it not for the company’s profile in U.S. presidential election coverage, contrasts with Bain’s most famous alumnus’s political statements about climate change and policy stances on government support for emerging renewable energy technologies.

Search for “climate change” on www.mittromney.com and you’ll mostly find material quoting President Barack Obama’s statements on the need for climate policy. Nowhere that we found is Romney’s position on the two fundamentals of the U.S. energy-and-climate debate: (a) the reality of manmade climate change, and (b) what, if anything, to do about it. Romney said last fall: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.” Never mind that the phrase "trillions and trillions of dollars" is an inapt characterization of reasonable studies of the costs and benefits of climate policy. As the Yale climate change economist William Nordhaus recently wrote about the current cost of inaction on climate change, "the loss from waiting is $4.1 trillion. Wars have been started over smaller sums."

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How to Clean Five Billion Pounds of Carpeting: Interface

Daniel T. Hendrix

Five billion pounds. That’s roughly how much carpet Americans throw away each year, making it one of the bulkiest and least biodegradable ingredients in America’s overflowing landfills.

Interface, the Atlanta-based carpet maker with more than $1 billion in yearly sales, realized in 1994 it was on a collision course with then environment and began a transformation that would earn it influence far beyond its own operations.

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Carbon Traders Feel Wind in Their Faces Biking to Expo

Wunderland Kalkar, a German amusement park

The road from Rotterdam to Cologne is lined with ancient Roman forts, quaint Dutch villages and German industrial facilities. Three dozen bankers, traders, policy experts and I noted these and much else on a three-day, 360-kilometer (224-mile) cycling trip organized as a prelude to a major annual climate change finance event.

We biked more than 100 kilometers through the Netherlands on the first day, snaking along artificial levees built to keep out the North Sea and windmills built to pump water off land. Experts from around the world are converging in Cologne, Germany, this week for the Carbon Expo, a conference charged with finding ways to boost direct investment into greenhouse-gas emissions-cutting projects in a fractured global policy environment. Even as global climate policy has faltered, Australia, China, New Zealand, South Korea and California are among the latest group of governments that are, or shortly will be, road-testing markets for tradable CO2 pollution credits.

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'Manhattanhenge' Proves the Sun Orbits New York

Manhattanhenge on 42nd Street

At Stonehenge, England, thousands of revelers gather annually on the longest day of the year, when ancient stone megaliths frame the rising sun. In New York City, a similar alignment occurs. It's called Manhattanhenge, and tonight is the night.

On May 30 at 8:16 p.m. and again on July 11 at 8:24 p.m., Manhattanhenge reaches its point of perfection as the full setting sun aligns with the city's grid of East-West streets, according to the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium. The best places to view the fiery canyon of skyscrapers are at 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th Streets. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building offer especially good views.

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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
eroston@bloomberg.net

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor
trandall6@bloomberg.net

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