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green@work : Magazine : Newlines : May/June 2003

Newslines

New Economy,
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 because:

• 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 energy savings.”

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 other activities 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 2000.

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, DC, area.

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 of the program.

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 activities.

• 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 accelerates.”

The 10 policies proposed and analyzed in Meeting America’s Kyoto Protocol Target include:

• 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 firm based in Boston, Mass. Copies are available from the ACEEE publications office: 202-429-8873;
email: ace3pubs@ix.netcom.com.

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 in Brazil

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 distribution system.

“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 selection.”

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 forests.

“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 education.

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 strategic goals. 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 18, 2000.

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.


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