: Magazine : Newlines
: May/June 2003
New Environmental Benefits
The emerging New Economy created by the Internet is producing more than just
a business revolution. It also is generating enormous environmental benefits,
according to a study released by the Center for Energy & Climate Solutions.
By reducing the amount of energy and materials consumed by business—often
dramatically—and increasing overall productivity, the Internet stands to
revolutionize the relation between economic growth and the environment.
Authors of the report, “The Internet Economy and Global Warming: A Scenario
of the Impact of E-Commerce on Energy and the Environment,” believe the
revolution is already manifesting itself as a sudden shift in the country’s
energy diet. While the economy grew more than nine percent in 1997 and 1998,
energy demand stayed almost flat in spite of very low energy prices. Such gains
mark a major departure from recent historical patterns.
“The Internet economy could allow a very different type of growth than
we have seen in the past,” says Dr. Joseph Romm, lead author and executive
director of the center. “It means there is also a new energy economy that
will have profound impacts on not only the environment, but also economic forecasting.” Dr.
Romm previously headed the $1 billion energy efficiency and renewables program
at the U.S. Department of Energy.
For example, the ratio of building energy per book sold in traditional bookstores
versus the on-line retailer Amazon.com is 16 to 1. Internet shopping uses less
energy to get a package to your house. Shipping 10 pounds of packages by overnight
air—the most energy-intensive delivery mode—uses 40 percent less
fuel than driving roundtrip to the mall. Ground shipping by truck uses just one-tenth
the energy of driving yourself.
If present Internet trends continue, major environmental benefits will accrue
By 2007, the Internet could avoid the need for some five percent of commercial
building space, including up to 1.5 billion square feet of retail space, one
billion square feet of warehouses, and as much
as two billion square feet of commercial office space, the equivalent of almost
450 Sears Towers.
The resulting energy savings from operations and maintenance alone total 53 billion
kilowatt hours per year—the output of more than 21 average power plants—and
67 trillion BTUs worth of natural gas (67 billion cubic feet), preventing the
release of 35 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Avoided
construction of all those buildings saves the equivalent of 10 more power plants
worth of energy, and another 40 million metric tons of greenhouse pollution.
The Internet could save 2.7 million tons of paper every year by 2003, despite
increased use of office paper. The resulting annual cut in global warming pollution
equals some 10 million tons of carbon dioxide. Both figures could double by 2008.
Each minute spent driving to the mall uses more than 10 times the energy of a
minute spent shopping on line. On-line shopping avoids car trips and reduces
congestion. Already, nearly 40 percent of people with Internet access say they
go to the store or the mall less often.
“The Internet can turn buildings into Web sites, and replace warehouses
with supply chain software,” says Romm. “It can turn paper and CDs
into electrons, and replace trucks with fiber optic cable. That means significant
Most Americans know names like Amazon.com, E-bay, Travelocity.com. But the lesser-known
names of business-to-business e-commerce dwarfs the consumer sector in both economic
and environmental terms. While consumer e-commerce is
expected to grow from $7.8 billion in 1998
to $108 billion in 2003, business e-commerce is expected to rise from $43 billion
to more than $1 trillion, according to Forrester Research. As of mid-1999, General
Electric alone was doing more than $1 billion worth of Web-based business annually.
The Internet Uses Little Energy,
Saves A Lot
The authors found that the Internet itself is not a major energy user, largely
because it draws heavily on existing communications and computing infrastructure.
They report the average PC and monitor uses just 150 watts of power. Today’s
new computers are more than twice as efficient as those they are replacing. As
for the fast-growing information technology sector in general, the report concludes
it is far less energy-intensive than most conventional industries.
Something Big is Already Going on in the Energy Economy
Remarkable statistics published this fall by the Energy Department suggests a
giant shift in the U.S. energy economy is already underway. Despite historically
low prices, energy intensity, the amount of energy consumed for every dollar
of economic output fell four percent in 1997, and another four percent in 1998,
the biggest gain in half a century. The Federal Energy Information Agency says
1999 figures will continue to show large gains. By contrast, the average yearly
improvement from 1987 to 1996 was less than one percent.
About one-third of the gain over the last two years is attributable to expansion
in sectors with relatively modest energy needs—especially the double-digit
growth in information technology. The rest is due to increased efficiency throughout
the economy. If the new pattern holds, Dr. Romm says it would double the average
rate of energy intensity gains for the next decade.
Ramifications for Kyoto Climate Treaty
A recent EPA analysis concluded that the structural shift alone means standard
estimates for U.S. energy and carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 may be overstated
by the equivalent of 175 power plants and 300 million metric tons, respectively.
Under the unratified Kyoto global warming treaty, the U.S. pledged to cut
greenhouse pollution to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Current
business-as-usual projections put 2010 emissions from energy 33 percent above
1990. Such a drastic revision in that figure would significantly reduce both
the difficulty and the cost of hitting the treaty targets.
The Center for Energy and Climate Solutions is a non-profit organization outside
Washington, DC, that helps companies and public institutions reduce their greenhouse
gas emissions. For more information, visit www.cool-companies.org.
WRI Commits to Zero CO2 Emissions
As part of increased global climate protection efforts, the World Resources
Institution (WRI), an international research organization focusing on issues
of the environment and sustainability, announced its commitment to reduce emissions
of carbon dioxide (CO2) to zero or better by 2005. The institutional decision
for a zero net emissions commitment was made following a vote by WRI staff.
Although the organization does not have smokestacks or large industrial
machinery, the office electrical use, travel, commuting, paper use and
all lead to emissions of CO2, the primary agent of human-induced climate
change (the “enhanced greenhouse effect”). By going to zero
net emissions, WRI hopes to demonstrate that significant and early action
of climate change
is technically and economically feasible. To help track progress, WRI will
annually measure and publicly report its emissions starting in October
WRI is already starting on the emissions reductions options that can be controlled
in its own offices. These efforts include:
• Ensuring that office equipment is turned off each night. (A computer and
monitor can each use 200 watts per hour; by turning them off each night, about
2.5 tons of CO2 emissions can be prevented annually, and $159 saved each year.)
• Reduction of paper use. (WRI used about 3,750 reams of paper last year; by
cutting use by 10 percent, it would save over $1,300 and reduce the related
CO2 emissions by about four tons.)
• Looking farther ahead, it will replace some of its travel with videoconferencing
(for short trips by air, for example, roughly 40 kg, or 88 pounds, of CO2 are
emitted for each 100 miles of travel by one person).
• Beyond its own walls, WRI will work on options like urban forestry projects,
and assist in making green power
(electricity from renewable and low-carbon sources) available in the Washington,
WRI has taken the first step toward its goal by completing a preliminary estimate
of its 1990 and current CO2 emissions. Going forward, it will reduce emissions
to seven percent below its 1990 levels by October 2000. This milestone reflects
the reduction commitment the U.S. would assume if it ratifies the Kyoto Protocol.
By October 2005, WRI will reduce to zero net emissions or better, meaning that
it would achieve a net sink of CO2 (i.e., more
carbon sequested than emitted) through emissions reductions and offsets. It
will include greenhouse gases other than CO2 in its goal with further development
For more information, visit www.wri.org.
Recycling Leaders Honored
The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) honored three companies for their outstanding
commitment to the conservation of natural resources through recycling. Ford
Motor Co., the U.S. Postal Service and the Steel Recycling Institute were cited
for their leadership role in recycling
Ford Motor Co. is the first to issue worldwide recycling guidelines to its
suppliers and engineers; the first automaker to equip a high-volume vehicle
with tires made from recycled content; the first automaker to use recycled
household carpeting in its vehicles and is also the first automaker to recycle
salvaged plastic parts from previous models back into new Ford vehicles.
From using post-consumer recycled materials in its stamps to building Green
post offices to annually purchasing more than $160 million of products with
recycled content, the U.S. Postal Service is a national leader.
Since its founding in 1988, the Steel Recycling Institute has helped make America
aware of the environmental benefits of recycling steel cans, automobiles, appliances,
construction materials and other steel products. SRI offers a wealth of hands-on
assistance to recycling officials, private recyclers, haulers, ferrous scrap
dealers, end markets and consumers.
Can $500 Billion Be Saved?
Yes, according to a new study issued by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient
Economy (ACEEE), which states that the U.S. can achieve its greenhouse gas
emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol while saving households and businesses
$500 billion. “Meeting America’s Kyoto Protocol Target: Policies
and Impacts” recommends 10 major domestic policies that would stimulate
widespread adoption of more efficient appliances, vehicles, buildings, power
plants and industrial facilities. The policies also accelerate the use of renewable
energy sources and the shutdown of older, dirty coal-fired power plants.
“These 10 initiatives could cut U.S. carbon emissions in 2010 by 500 million
tons per year—28 percent of the business-as-usual projection,” said
Howard Geller, executive director of ACEEE and co-author of the study. “The
global warming pollution cut could exceed one billion tons per year by 2020 as
efficiency improvements continue to be made and the use of renewable energy sources
The 10 policies proposed and analyzed in Meeting America’s Kyoto Protocol
New appliance efficiency standards and product labeling.
Stronger energy codes for the construction of efficient new buildings.
Stimulating the upgrade of existing buildings to save energy.
Public benefit trust fund as part of electric utility restructuring.
Renewable portfolio standard as part of electric utility restructuring.
Tougher fuel economy standards and market incentives for efficient new vehicles.
Greenhouse gas standards for motor fuels.
Reducing barriers to combined heat and power production in factories and buildings.
Voluntary agreements and incentives to reduce industrial energy use.
Tighter emissions standards on coal-fired power plants.
“The key to meeting our Kyoto target without pain is to increase energy
efficiency on a wide scale. This would cut energy bills, yielding savings that
more than pay for the cost of the efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies.
We estimate that the 10 policies would save $200 billion net through 2010 and
over $500 billion net through 2020 for the nation as a whole,” said Geller.
“Meeting America’s Kyoto Protocol Target: Policies and Impacts” was
prepared by ACEEE and the Tellus Institute, a non-profit research and consulting
based in Boston, Mass. Copies are
available from the ACEEE publications office: 202-429-8873;
Livable Communities Agenda
Leaders from 10 national associations concerned with livable communities and
associated smart growth issues met in December for a one-day symposium to begin
drafting a vision statement and a list of shared legislative goals for presentation
to Congress to help shape their agenda for the year 2000. Congressional Task
Force on Liveable Communities co-chair Bob Weygand (R-RI) and Congressman Douglas
Bereuter (R-NE) led the bipartisan session.
The vision statement touches on six areas held to be key to livable communities:
education, housing, the physical environment, economic development, health/safety/security
and transportation. Congressional actions discussed include full funding of
TEA-21, and the Land and Water Conservation Act as well as passage of pending
legislation such as the Brownfields Redevelopment and Liability Mitigation
(HR 2580 and HR 1300), Outer Continent Shelf (S-25 and HR 701), Commercial
Tax Credits for Inner City Revitalization (HR 2305) and Better America Bonds
(S. 1558 and HR 2446).
Organizations represented at the
meeting included the American Society
of Landscape Architects, the American Institute of Architects, American
Planning Association, American Society
of Civil Engineers, American Society
of Consulting Planners, Community Association Institute, National Association
of Home Builders, National Society of Professional Engineers, Surface Transportation
Policy Project and the
Trust for Public Land.
World Bank Approves Loan
The World Bank has approved a $15 million loan for a project in Brazil that
addresses natural resource and pollution issues. Funds will be targeted toward
improved environmental management of water and air quality, as well as the
identification of problems and solutions at a local level in order to assure
ownership of project activities.
The two primary components of the project include:
Institutional strengthening: licensing, monitoring water quality and coastal
zone management; and
Environmental assets: technical assistance leading to states’ prioritization
of more advanced environmental policies, prioritization of environmental problems,
and the identification and preparation of subprojects designed to enhance or
protect the services provided by specific “environmental assets” through
the establishment of participatory management systems.
The project is the first phase of an Adaptable Program Loan for the Second
National Environmental Program, which aims to increase the effectiveness of
environmental institutions at local, state and national levels in Brazil. The
APL format would provide a total of $150 million over a 10-year period divided
into three phases.
Calvert Creates Socially-screened Index
Calvert Group, Bethesda, MD, is creating a new socially-screened index, the
Calvert Social Index*. Calvert will screen stocks for inclusion in the index
from approximately 1,000 of the largest companies in the U.S., analyzing each
company’s record and policies with respect to the following five criteria:
environment, workplace issues, product safety and impact, international operations
and human rights, and weapons contracting. Accordingly, it seeks those companies
that stand out positively in their environmental policies, actively hire and
promote minorities and women, provide a safe and healthy workplace, and respond
promptly to product safety problems. It avoids those involved with tobacco,
alcohol, gambling, or nuclear power, or that violate fair labor practices and
equal employment opportunity standards.
“This will be the broadest-based, most rigorously constructed benchmark
in the marketplace for measuring the performance of large, U.S.-based socially
responsible companies,” says Barbara Krumsiek, president & CEO of
Calvert Group. Calvert plans to release the list of component companies in
the index in February 2000. The list will be available through its Web site.
The Calvert Social Index will be
different from any other socially screened benchmark in two ways. First it
will screen a larger segment of the U.S. market—a universe of approximately
1,000 stocks, rather than the S&P 500. Second, its composition will be
determined entirely through a passive, disciplined screening process; there
is no mechanism for adding to or eliminating the stocks these screens produce.
The Calvert Social Index will provide the basis for the first true passively-managed
socially-responsible equity funds.
The Vanguard Group, the nation’s second largest mutual fund firm and
a leading provider of company sponsored retirement plan services, has already
announced that it is planning to launch the Vanguard Calvert Social Index Fund,
a no-load fund that will track the Calvert Social Index. In addition, Calvert
Group plans to offer its own new fund tracking the new Calvert Social Index.
Calvert will distribute the planned fund through its traditional third party
“Many clients have asked us to offer a fund with a social orientation for
more than a decade,” said Vanguard chairman and CEO John J. Brennan. “But
we wanted to follow a passive strategy, and a suitable index was simply not available.
Calvert Group is a premier organization in the world of social investing and
we are pleased that they will develop an index that coincides with our philosophical
preference for broad diversification. With this index, we will be able to accommodate
both our clients and other investors who consider social criteria in their investment
Calvert Group is a leading provider of socially responsible investment products,
and fixed income and money market portfolios, offering more than 26 mutual
funds that span a range of asset classes and investment styles. Calvert has
been active in socially responsible investing since 1982, and currently manages
$2.2 billion in socially-responsible portfolios.
Saving Tiger Habitats
American Forests and Exxon have announced an expansion of the Global ReLeaf
2000 campaign to the Russian Far East. Beginning next year, Exxon will sponsor
the planting of 100,000 trees in the Russian Far East to restore tiger habitat.
This initiative is part of Exxon’s six-year, $1 million pledge to plant
one million trees by the end of 2000. The program in Russia complements Exxon’s
international tiger conservation efforts and American Forests’ interest
in expanding to international locations. Exxon’s commitment is the largest
single international tree planting in the 10-year history of American forests’ Global
ReLeaf program and represents a new level of overseas involvement for American
“Protecting wildlife habitat is one of the most important benefits of our
Global ReLeaf projects,” said Deborah Gangloff, American Forests’ executive
director. “Exxon’s sponsorship will help us restore a forest ecosystem
critical to the survival of endangered tigers.”
Working with American Forests is The Pacific Institute of Geography of the
Russian Academy of Sciences and the Department of Forestry for Primorsky Krai,
the region in the Russian Far East where the plantings will occur. These agencies
will monitor site conditions over three years, provide data on reforestation
areas, and determine the most critical habitat sites.
The planting will benefit large portions of the Primorsky Krai region that
have been damaged by forest fires and human development. Home to most of the
400 endangered Siberian, or Amur, tigers, the region also is a habitat for
deer, wild boars and elk. More than 250 acres of Korean pine trees will be
planted near established natural reserves to create ecological corridors, encouraging
tiger and wildlife conservation. In addition to the environmental benefits,
the planting will provide jobs for Russian workers.
Exxon has committed $9 million
over eight years to tiger conservation. The centerpiece of this commitment
is the Save the Tiger Fund, established by
Exxon and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to save the tiger in the
wild. The Save the Tiger Fund has contributed more than $1 million to 15 projects
in the Russian Far East for habitat expansion, anti-poaching programs, ecological
research and community
Good Design is Good Business
Business Week and Architectural Record magazines are accepting entries for
the 2000 Business Week/Architectural Record Awards (BW/AR), an annual global
awards program recognizing distinguished collaboration and result between clients/architect
building teams who
use architectural design to achieve
Created to show that “good design is good business,” the BW/AR
Awards are sponsored by The American Institute of Architects (AIA). The entry
registration deadline is March 16, 2000. The entry submission deadline is April
Now in its fourth year, the BW/AR Award recognizes the very best examples of
creative management practices coupled with architectural design. The BW/AR
Awards showcase the work of architects and clients who, together, are creating
the most innovative and successful
facilities in the world.
Interested entrants can get information on ordering a BW/AR Awards submission
packet by calling 888-242-4240. Information also is available by visiting the
AIA Web site at www.aiaonline.com.
Lighting Efficiency Standards
Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced a new agreement between lamp
ballast manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates to improve the energy
efficiency of fluorescent lighting in commercial and industrial applications.
The parties to the agreement have produced joint recommendations for new efficiency
standards for electronic ballasts; these recommendations are expected to be
accepted and written into the final standards during a fine rulemaking by the
Department of Energy (DOE). Under the terms of the agreement, the new efficiency
standards will go into effect on April 1, 2005. Adoption of these standards
could reduce residential and commercial energy use by more than 14 percent,
which in turn will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.