05 November 2010

Cloud computing cuts carbon? Warming reverses progress? Mn and Parkinson's, trimming jeans' water footprint, BMW EV factory and other sustainable business news

Top Stories

"UN report warns of threat to human progress from climate change"reliability high.
The latest Human Development Report says failure to tackle climate change could put at risk decades of progress in human development around the world. In spite of the global financial crisis, human development measures have shown progress in recent years. "Climate change may be the single factor that makes the future very different, impeding the continuing progress in human development that history would lead us to expect. While international agreements have been difficult to achieve and policy responses have been generally slow, the broad consensus is clear: climate change is happening, and it can derail human development." The 2011 report will focus on sustainability. See The Guardian. Access the report here.

"Pollutants in some urban areas increase Parkinson’s disease risk"reliability high.
"High levels of manganese and copper pollution in urban areas are linked to increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, according to a large-scale analysis of urban pollution and Parkinson's incidence in the United States." The study "found that people living in areas with higher levels of manganese pollution had a 78 percent greater risk of Parkinson’s disease than those living in areas free of such pollution. High levels of copper in the environment increased Parkinson’s risk by 11 percent." From Washington University. Abstract here (paper behind $40 pay wall).

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Coca-Cola Hellenic Improves Energy Efficiency by 31% since 2002"reliability high.
Coca-Cola Hellenic, the world's second-largest Coke bottler with operations in 28 countries, "says it has embedded carbon emissions control across all operational levels in 28 countries, which has resulted in an energy efficiency improvement of 31 percent since 2002." It plans to reduce CO2 emissions another 25% by installing Quad Generation Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology. More on the company's energy efficiency and carbon reduction plans. From Environmental Leader.

Soft Jeans = Water Waste?reliability medium.
Leslie Kaufman posts about efforts at Levi Strauss to reduce the water footprint of bluejeans. A lot of water us used in final finishing to get the desired look, sometimes 3 to 10 washing cycles. "Levi’s brand is announcing a new line of jeans, called Water<less, that it says will reduce water consumption in the manufacturing process by an average of 28 percent and as much as 96 percent in some products." The post points out that the largest part of the product's water footprint comes from irrigating cotton fields: "Irrigating this crop can require 900 to 1,800 gallons per pair of jeans (depending on lots of variables like the aridness of the region it is grown in)." Levi Strauss does participate in the Better Cotton Initiative. See New York Times Green blog. [I remember when Levis came stiff and dark blue. They softened up (and shrank) after a month or two of wear and washing. Now they are industrially washed a few times and otherwise treated during manufacturing. Value added?]

"Microsoft Study Finds Cloud Computing Is Good for the Environment"reliability medium.
A study commissioned by Microsoft and performed by Accenture and WSP says businesses can achieve significant IT energy savings by shifting on-premises business applications to cloud-based equivalents. Businesses with around 100 users can save over 90% of their IT energy use, mid-size businesses with 1000 users can save 60-90%, according to the life cycle analysis. More highlights of report. See eWeek. Access the paper here from GreenBiz.

"BMW Inaugurates First Factory for Electric-Powered Cars"reliability high.
BMW will invest €400 million, or $568 million, through 2013 to expand a factory in Leipzig to build battery-electric vehicles. The "Megacity" is expected to go on sale in 2013. It is thought the new production line will have capacity to produce tens of thousands of cars per year. From The New York Times.

"Panasonic snaps up $30m stake in Tesla"reliability high.
Panasonic has invested about $30 million in Tesla to obtain a 2% stake. "Panasonic is already working with Tesla on next-generation battery cells and packs for its forthcoming Model S, a premium electric sedan set to be released in 2012, and the latest investment is expected to cement that partnership." Naoto Noguchi, president of Panasonic's battery cell business, said: "Panasonic aims to be the number one green innovation company in the electronics industry by 2018, the 100th anniversary of our founding. Our sophisticated lithium-ion battery cell technology, combined with Tesla's market-leading EV powertrain technology, helps us fulfil this goal by promoting sustainable mobility." See BusinessGreen.

"Analysis: For Dow Chemical, solar shingle a new path"reliability high.
Wall Street analysts believe Dow Chemical's solar-power-generating shingle could be a billion-dollar product for the company, and help establish it in a rapidly growing new sector. Rob Stone, a solar industry analyst with Cowen & Co., said: "A product like that, that is tailored to U.S. building practices, is particularly attractive. I think Dow's shingle is going to add incrementally to the size of the solar pie." From Reuters.