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

Energy Star Appliances

Electronics manufacturers are threatening to drop out of Energy Star, saying recent changes have made participation in the federal government's voluntary energy efficiency labeling program too costly.

Among the chief complaints is a requirement that companies seeking an Energy Star label have their products' energy usage tested in third-party labs. Previously, companies were allowed to conduct the tests themselves after signing an agreement "committing" that their products met Energy Star specifications.

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How to Scrub Carbon From 40,000 Products at Once

Tesco Shoppers in London

Tesco Plc expects that by working more closely with its suppliers the U.K.’s largest supermarket owner will by 2020 cut 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions associated with products it sells.

With operations in 14 countries, Tesco is encouraging the makers of an estimated 40,000 products sold in its stores to share ideas on pollution reduction measures via a private web portal managed by 2degrees, a sustainable business network based in Oxford, U.K. About 500 Tesco suppliers have joined the group so far.

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‘Ick Factor’ Fouls Toilet-to-Tap Sewage Water Recycling

Author Rose George

For all the concern about how we’ll feed a projected 9 billion people by 2050, there’s little talk about where everyone will go to the loo. How we'll move all that waste away from where people live -- plumbing -- is just one issue. With some 2.6 billion people, or 40 percent of the world’s population, already lacking adequate drinking water, building the right sanitation infrastructure today is a foundation for public health and economic development for decades to come.

Rose George has probed these issues for years, most notably in her 2008 book The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters, a look at toilets, sewers and water around the world. We spoke last month about the world’s dwindling supply of fresh water and its ever-increasing volumes of sewage.

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Environmental Movement Has Lost, Says Patagonia Founder: 10Q

Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard, the 73 year-old founder of Patagonia, has a low opinion of business books. “I quit reading them 20 years ago,” he says, “when I realized that they had one simple idea that they expanded to fill the required space.” All the same, he has now written two. The first, Let My People Go Surfing (2005), tells the story of how he and others built the closely held outdoor apparel company into a leader in corporate sustainability. Patagonia employs 1,200 and had $414 million in sales last year. Chouinard’s second book, The Responsible Company publishes May 1 and was co-written with Vincent Stanley, editor of Patagonia’s supply-chain information website, the Footprint Chronicles. The Responsible Company is a primer, with to-do lists, for businesses that are striving to be more altruistic and reduce their ecological impact. Chouinard and I spoke by phone from his office in Ventura, Calif. on April 25.

Q: Your environmental ethic is widely admired, but how do you respond to those who say: ‘Yvon, the people who buy Patagonia are already halfway there. The environment isn’t as big a priority for my customers’?
A: I tell them: You better get on it. Otherwise you're going to be too late. You go to good restaurants now, they tell you the name of the farmer who grew the lettuce, for Christ's sake. Customers are starting to demand it. This generation is going to do zero for climate change or any of the big environmental problems that we have. But the millennial generation -- I'm talking 13 to 25 or whatever -- they're different than us. And they're dead serious. Those are the new consumers.

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Sustainability Indicator: 59% Payback


Today's sustainability indicator, 59 percent, is the proportion of corporate emissions-reductions efforts that pay for themselves in 3 years or less.

This month's indicators:

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USA's Microgrid: Soldiers Grove Solar Village

Most of us who enjoy lighting at home couldn't explain in detail how that web of electrical complexity -- the power grid -- moves electrons from there to here. Maybe it’s better to start with something smaller and more manageable. Maybe we should talk more about microgrids.

A microgrid is exactly what it sounds like -- a scaled-down electricity distribution system that can provide power to military bases, homes, municipalities, university campuses and office buildings. Microgrids can turn buildings into “islands” of self-sufficient power by linking together small generators such as diesel generators, fuel cells, microturbines, solar panels and others. This forms a network to provide power on the same spot it's produced.

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Good-for-Nothing Polluted Land May Be Good for Renewables

Solar 15% Returns Beat Treasuries for Buffett to Google

The federal government and the private sector have launched new efforts to determine ideal sites for solar and wind energy projects in the United States.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department posted new tools April 25 for evaluating commercial and industrial rooftops, parking lots, and contaminated lands for solar and wind energy potential.

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Water Bottles at London Marathon

Wilson Kipsang of Kenya led a field of 36,000 runners on Sunday in the London Marathon.  Competitors ranged from elite athletes to former "Dr. Who" actor Christopher Ecclestone, to ordinary punters like me  and 101-year-old Fauja Singh, who I first met at the marathon when he was a mere 93.

Relatively cool temperatures meant runners needed to drink less water than our colleagues who ran the Boston Marathon in 30 degrees Celsius (87 degrees Fahrenheit) of heat on April 16, but I still grabbed a bottle every mile, and threw it away. I'd take a couple of swigs and toss them to the side of the road. And so did everybody else.

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Good, Old-Fashioned Soot Traps Heat as It Fouls Air

Diesel Exhaust Fumes

Diesel engines and burning of biomass are responsible for the lion's share of black carbon emissions in the United States, according to an EPA report to Congress on emissions of the carbon particulates. EPA's report on black carbon-- the most effective form of particulate matter, by mass, at absorbing solar energy--holds some interesting facts in regard to the largest U.S. sources.

First, here’s the breakdown of total U.S. black carbon emissions that appears in the agency’s Report to Congress on Black Carbon released March 30:

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Playing in the Sun

When will American business wake up to the scientific reality of climate change?

When the common-sense moderate middle wakes up. When pragmatic entrepreneurs and investors realize an intransigent, inflexible and, worst of all, factually incorrect political stance could lose the U.S. global influence and mountains of cash. We risk our technological and engineering -- and moral -- leadership to other countries if we continue to deny and debate established science.

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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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