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What’s on the Horizon at Como Zoo

Como Zoo Study

By Mary Stokes

 

As the first light of morning brightens the enclosure, the King of the Jungle cracks open one eye, surveying his domain with interest.

 

Something is different.

 

The quality of the indoor light, usually so brash and glaring is softer, somehow, hearkening to the gentle rays of the morning sun.

 

Schroeder is his name, and as the gorilla shakes the fine layer of condensation from his fur, he savors the flavor of the air with wide nostrils.  It is humid, with the slight morning chill characteristic of the lowland tropics.

 

More…natural.  More pure.

 

He is more at home in the enclosure than he’s been in years, the humidity and heat of the morning slowly building as the sun rises, and the lights and air control compensate, creating the atmosphere of the jungle.

 

Around King Schroeder, his troop is waking: Alice, Nne, Dara, and the latter’s 2-year-old child, Arlene.  In the distance, the sounds of the bachelor troop waking ring out, their noisy voices loud and hoarse.  Jabir, Samson, and Virgil, a group of related males, are the other inhabitants of the enclosure.

 

Schroeder tolerates them, but if they get too close to his consorts, he will warn them off.  Oftentimes, just a look from the King is enough.

 

What have the humans done now?

 

Ignoring his troop for the moment, Schroeder climbs the nearby trees and ropes to investigate.  While the others are starting their day of feeding and resting, he prods at the covered lights and discreet air vents.  A light mist is released from them, feeding the humidity of the air.

 

What Schroeder sees is only the outer shell of a complex system of climate control, lighting, and energy management.

 

In order to create the best habitat for the primates, the atmosphere is as close as possible to the animal’s natural environment while still remaining green and sustainable.  Every part of the exhibit has purpose, from the vegetation that will be used as graze for the gorillas to the harmony of lights and natural lighting.  The utilities are streamlined and highly efficient, so no energy or resource is wasted in the care of the gorillas.

 

These measures are not simply to provide Schroeder and his family with an ideal environment.  As the number of wild gorillas dwindles, it is up to the Como Zoo and other establishments like it to encourage population growth and preserve the breed.  This, in turn, requires sensible solutions to the conservation of not only animals, but energy use as well.

 

Como Zoo is creating a future for its gorillas and giving them room to grow.  Schroeder will be the father of a new generation of gorillas, thanks to the zoo staff and the new, sustainable exhibit.

 

The enclosure is a harmonious work of art and efficiency.  From the trees that provide browse for the gorillas to the climate control and lighting, its design has the future of not only the animals in mind, but the future of the establishment and future generations of gorillas.

 

Schroeder looks down on the enclosure from his perch, taking in the view.  His troop is foraging below him, little Arlene romping around and pestering the other gorillas.  He can see the multitudes of humans that pass through, eyes wide and sparkling.

 

He breathes deeply, nostrils flared, before swinging down to join his family.

 

The air is clear and fresh, the light constant and natural, and the climate comfortable.  While he may not understand the finer points of his surroundings, he is content in his tenement.

 

This is my home.

 

SES, Inc. recently completed a Gas and Energy Study of the facilities and enclosures at Como Zoo where we identified energy saving strategies such as LED lighting that will produce an annual savings of 23,912 Dtherms of gas and 1,615,311 kWh of electricity. We at SES, Inc. are very excited to have gotten to work with the Como Zoo and to look ahead at what is on the horizon.

Photo Credit: Forest, by werner22brigitte-5337 licensed under C.C. by 2.0

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Rethink Energy: Manufacturing for The Future

Effective Solutions for ManufacturingWritten by Amon O’Connor.

Minnesota’s manufacturing sector is arguably the backbone of the state’s economy, 14.7 percent in fact. According to Enterprise Minnesota, it represents the largest portion of the state’s $255 Billion GDP and makes up 13 percent of the workforce. Moreover, for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, an additional $1.40 is added to the economy. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, this is the highest return factor of any economic sector.

 

Here in Minnesota, the combination of our location by the Great Lakes and a strong manufacturing economy provides incentive for innovation. Manufacturing has historically fallen behind the curve when it comes to sustainable energy, connectivity, and technology integration. In these times however, there is substantial evidence to suggest that manufacturers of any size should be making business decisions that connect, streamline, and improve your facility, leading to reduced energy cost and increased efficiency in production.

 

Solutions such as smart sensors, devices that make “dumb” work-horse manufacturing machinery into intelligent, adaptive devices along the entire value chain, are now being implemented in many industry sectors. This type of device-level energy management is an auspicious approach to revamping an outdated system that can add value to an already highly lucrative industry.

 

With sustainability in the limelight, the pressure in 2017 for modernization is high. If you are a manufacturer in Minnesota, the chances of there being profit from such changes is incredible designerfashionconsignments.com. Companies like Sustainable Energy Savings, Inc. are creating answers and multifold returns to the growing need for strategic energy solutions, bringing manufacturers in line with both shareholders and the environment.

Sustainable Energy Savings, Inc. is proud to be part of this thriving, robust Minnesota community.  Our commitment to game-changing innovation is backed with more than seven years of expertise, bringing energy solutions that impact your bottom line.

 

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Sustainable Energy and the Road Ahead

Sustainable Energy and the Road Ahead

Jason Ackermann, CPPM

 

With the changes that are taking place in Washington and the selection of Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, many of the subsidies for renewable projects could very well be scaled back, if not phased out completely.  As a country, we have spent the better part of two decades weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Renewable energy was an industry in its babyhood with almost unlimited potential and most renewable energy projects were easy to sell with a major portion being funded by large government grants and subsidies. Now that the era of incentivization is coming to its conclusion, will the Sustainable Energy sector be sustainable?

 

Or, is this the end of renewable energy projects?

 

 

Riding with the Big Boys

 

In all new sectors of business, there comes a time when the government subsidy training wheels must come off.  This is the test of any good industry.  Can Sustainable Energy become the “big-boy-bike-riding” industry that it has been touted to be for the past 20 years?

 

The answer is absolutely.

 

Now more than ever before, those that want to see sustainable practices and increased use of renewable energy sources need to change how we communicate the beneficial impact of energy projects. It is no longer enough to tout the environmental impact of these projects. Times have changed and the conversations around energy projects must also change in order to still be relevant today.

 

Bumps & Scrapes

I know it may be hard to believe, but not every company or the executives that run them, give a second thought about the environment. This doesn’t make them bad companies or executives.  To some, the capital outlays need to bring a return, because their role within the company is to steward the limited resources that they have, to bring the biggest ROI. With the potential of losing some or all government incentives, we need to better understand how to communicate to those that lead the financial realm of our companies. If you’re not a numbers guy, there is a great tool, provided by Xcel Energy here, to assist you in making your case.

 

Gaining Momentum

The benefits of renewable energy are proven to save money for many companies as well as provide an additional connection point with energy conscience consumers.  Technological advances are also continuing to improve upon the efficiency of captured energy (i.e., solar panels designed by Elon Musk’s company, Tesla), which add considerable promise for the future of many forward-thinking companies looking to shave expenses.

 

Beyond a simple cash on cash return there are many other factors within energy projects that need to be quantified in order to compete head to head with other projects. Studies have shown that energy projects not only can save on operating costs, but may lead to increased productivity and overall employee health creating a much greater impact to the bottom line than just the easily quantifiable monetary gain, check thelockboss.

 

As the industry grows from adolescence to adulthood it will prove time and again, that for the money, Renewable Energy Projects not only pay, but create the greatest value for the organization. Looking forward, it is a very exciting time to be involved in the renewable energy sector, watching it take its first few wobbly trips down the block.  It’ll soon enough be yelling, “Look Ma, no hands!”

 

 

Jason Ackermann, CPPM, is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at SES, Inc and a Senior Consultant at Legacy Road, Inc.

 

Photo Credit: “Cycling” by Unsplash, licensed under C.C. by 2.0

 

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Why Tesla’s new solar roof tiles and home battery are such a big deal

Why Tesla’s new solar roof tiles and home battery are such a big deal

On October 28, Tesla unveiled its new solar roof tiles. Few of us in attendance, if any, realized the solar roofing tiles were actual functional solar panels until Elon Musk said so. Sure, it’s a neat trick, but what’s the big deal?

Why does it matter that Tesla is making a fashion statement when the point is green power and a future where we aren’t so dependent on fossil fuels?

I’ve heard from some people suggesting that this is nothing new, because of other similar previous projects, including Dow Chemical’s canned solar shingle project, for example. Others are wary of Tesla’s ability to sway consumers with a solar solution that sounds like it’ll still be quite expensive in terms of up-front (or, with payment plans, deferred but net) installation costs. Still others aren’t clear on Tesla’s goals with this product, or how it fits into the company’s overall strategy relative to its electric vehicles, like luxurious car service.

Looks matter

It’s easy to dismiss the aesthetic import of how Tesla’s tiles look, but it’s actually important, and a real consideration for homeowners looking to build new homes or revamp their existing ones. The appearance of the tiles, which come in four distinct flavors (Textured Glass, Slate Glass, Tuscan Glass and Smooth Glass) is going to be a core consideration for prospective buyers, especially those at the top end of the addressable market with the disposable income available to do everything they can to ensure their home looks as good as it possibly can.

As with other kinds of technologies that are looking to make the leap from outlier oddity to mainstream mainstay, solar has a hurdle to leap in terms of customer perception. Existing solar designs, and even so-called attempts to make them more consistent with traditional offerings like the above-mentioned Dow Chemical project, leave a lot to be desired in terms of creating something that can be broadly described as good-looking.

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It’s like the VR headset — Oculus and Google can make claims about their use of fabric making their headsets more approachable, but both are still just options somewhere along the curve of things with niche appeal. Neither is very likely to strike a truly broad audience of users as acceptable, and neither are solar panels that don’t succeed in completely disguising themselves as such.

Halo effects

Tesla has been referred to as the Apple of the automotive world by more than a few analysts and members of the media, and if there’s one thing Apple does well, it’s capitalize on the so-called “halo effect.” This is the phenomenon whereby customers of one of its lines of business are likely to become customers of some of the others; iPhone buyers tend to often go on to own a Mac, for instance.

For Tesla, this represents an opportunity to jump-start its home solar business (which it’ll take on in earnest provided its planned acquisition of SolarCity goes through) through the knock-on effects of its brisk Tesla EV sales, including the tremendous pre-order interest for the Model 3. It’s strange to think of halo effects with big-ticket items, including vehicles and home energy systems, but Tesla’s fan base shares a lot of characteristics with Apple’s, and because they’re already purchasing at the level of an entire automobile, the frame of reference for what constitutes a valid halo purchase is actually appropriate.

tesla-powerwall

Tesla, like Apple, scores well with customer satisfaction and brand commitment, and that’s something that no one trying to sell a solar home energy system at scale can match. As strange as it sounds, “buying a roof because you like your car” might be the new “buying a computer because you like your phone.”

Benefits beyond basic solar

Tesla’s solar tiles claim to be able to power a standard home, and provide spare power via the new Powerwall 2 battery in case of inclement weather or other outages. Musk says that the overall cost will still be less than installing a regular old roof and paying the electric company for power from conventional sources. But Musk’s claims about the new benefits of the new solutions don’t end there.

Tesla’s tiles will actually be more resilient than traditional roofing materials, including terra-cotta, clay and slate tiles. That’s because of the toughness of the glass used in their construction, according to Musk, who demonstrated the results of heavy impact from above, using a kettlebell as you can see in the video below.

Originally posted on TechCrunch.com

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Standards To Improve Sustainable Manufacturing

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Anyone who’s ever covered a wall with sticky notes to clearly map all of the steps in a process knows how valuable that exercise can be. It can streamline workflow, increase efficiency and improve the overall quality of the end result. Now, a public-private team led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a new international standard that can “map” the critically important environmental aspects of manufacturing processes, leading to significant improvements in sustainability while keeping a product’s life cycle low cost and efficient.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, manufacturing accounts for one-fifth of the annual energy consumption in the United States–approximately 21 quintillion joules (20 quadrillion BTU) or equivalent to 3.6 billion barrels of crude oil. To reduce this staggering amount and improve sustainability, manufacturers need to accurately measure and evaluate consumption of energy and materials, as well as environmental impacts, at each step in the life cycles of their products.

However, making these assessments can be difficult, costly and time consuming, as many manufactured items are created in multiple and/or complex processes, and the environmental impacts of these processes can vary widely depending on how and where the manufacturing occurs. Additionally, the data collected are often unreliable, frequently not derived through scientific methods, and do not compare well with those from other types of manufacturing processes or from processes at different locations.

Graphic showing sustainability aspects for measuring and evaluating the performance of manufacturing processes. A new international standard created by a public-private team led by NIST guides manufacturers with a formal method for characterizing their processes to achieve environmental goals. Credit: NIST

 

These issues are beginning to be addressed through a recently approved ASTM International standard for characterizing the environmental aspects of manufacturing processes (ASTM E3012-16). The guide provides manufacturers with a science-based, systematic approach to capture and describe information about the environmental aspects for any production process or group of processes, and then use that data to make informed decisions on improvements. The standard is easily individualized for a company’s specific needs.

 

“It’s similar to using personal finance software at home where you have to gather income and expenditure data, ‘run the numbers’ and then use the results to make smart process changes–savings, cutbacks, streamlining, etc.–that will optimize your monthly budget,” said NIST systems engineer Kevin Lyons, who chaired the ASTM committee that developed the manufacturing sustainability standard, check sanmembers.

“We designed ASTM E3012-16 to let manufacturers virtually characterize their production processes as computer models, and then, using a standardized method, ‘plug and play’ the environmental data for each process step to visualize impacts and identify areas for improving overall sustainability of the system,” Lyons said.

For their next step, Lyons and his colleagues on the ASTM sustainability committee plan to define key performance indicators (KPIs)–metrics of success–for manufacturing sustainability that can be fed back into the E3012-16 standard to make it even more effective.

“In the long term, we’d also like to establish a repository of process models and case studies from different manufacturing sectors so that users of the standard can compare and contrast against their production methods,” Lyons said.

Through a collaboration with Oregon State University, NIST held regional industry roundtables in Boston, Chicago and Seattle to learn how best to introduce the benefits of the sustainability standard to U.S. manufacturers, especially small- and medium-size firms. A report about those meetings will be published later this year.


Story Source:

Materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Photo Credit: “Pumpjack” by Skeeze used with permission from C.C. by 2.0

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Like It Or Not, Sustainability Is Now Core to Your Business

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What used to be considered green virtue has now morphed into a crucial competitive tool.

 

That business has a role to play in improving the environment and dealing with climate change is certain. What is much less so is how to do that, and for some, whether to try. After all, companies feel comfortable doing business as usual, and few want to threaten their competitiveness in favor of green virtue.

Our point is that this is not an either or question. A growing number of examples—from diverse industries—show that sustainable business practices can be good for business from the bottom-line up. For example, Unilever (UN -1.70%) has developed washing-up fluids that use less water—and sales are growing fast, particularly in water-scarce markets. And most everyone can name a favorite product or two whose brand is intimately associated with its green credentials. My point is that sustainability can be much more—that it has a role in any and all sectors.

Here are a few examples that McKinsey has been involved with that prove the point. (For confidentiality reasons, we cannot use the company names).

 

⦁ A major brewer identified some 150 possible improvements that could reduce GHG emissions—while saving $200 million over five years.

⦁ When a water utility benchmarked its performance against that of other utilities, it figured out where the biggest opportunities were—in this case energy and chemicals. After four years, the results were in: less leakage, fewer customer complaints—and $178 million in savings—a 25 percent reduction in operating costs.

⦁ A state-owned industrial company in China increased the energy yield of its coal significantly simply by tracking it better, making sure the first mined was the first used. That improved energy efficiency as well as carbon intensity, while reducing costs 13 percent.

The nitty-gritty of sustainability programs can get complicated. But the principles are actually pretty simple—and should be familiar to executives. First, and most important, is to acknowledge that sustainability is serious. The case is not that difficult to make. In a McKinsey survey of 340 executives, more than 90 percent said risk management—whether from consumers, regulators, or the market (for example, high resource prices)—was an important factor in pushing them toward sustainability initiatives, check  chiropractic techniques.
Once the decision is taken, define priorities, set measurable targets, evaluate costs and benefits, and create consistent incentives, including those related to executive compensation. For example, Nike (NKE -2.05%) tracks its suppliers on a range of metrics, including quality, timeliness, cost—and sustainability. Falter for long on any of these, and the consequence is fewer orders. Result: many more suppliers are hitting their sustainability mark. DuPont (DD -1.22%) has no trouble justifying its sustainability initiatives to shareholders: it is generating billions in revenue from products that reduce emissions. Intel (INTC -0.32%) has a dedicated finance analyst whose job is to calculate the value of its sustainability efforts. To reduce emissions and improve other environmental metrics in its food chain, Wal-Mart (WMT -1.48%) tracks not only GHG output, but also yield, water use, and other factors per ton of food produced. In addition to achieving environmental improvements, it cut the price of food and vegetables in the United States by $3.5 billion.

It is important to define targets that are both specific and achievable; it’s better to say “Eliminate X million pounds of packaging,” than the vague “Reduce the footprint of our packaging.” As of August 2014, though, a McKinsey analysis found that only one in five companies in the business marketing 500 had explicit, long-term sustainability goals, even though more than a third (36 percent) said sustainability was a top-three priority.

The larger point is this. Real sustainability efforts are core business efforts; because they are not always easy, they can help a company to raise its game and perform better in all kinds of ways. In mid-2014, McKinsey did a study that found a strong correlation between resource efficiency and financial performance; the companies with the most advanced sustainability strategies did best of all. In a study for the Harvard Business School that drew similar conclusions (higher return on equity and assets for higher-sustainability companies), the authors concluded, “developing a corporate culture of sustainability may be a source of competitive advantage in the long run.”

To think of sustainability as a niche gets it wrong. To do it right, companies need to be rigorous, goal-oriented, and accountable. The evidence is building not only that sustainability initiatives work, but that they are an important factor in creating long-term value.

 

Jeremy Oppenheim is a director of McKinsey & Company, based in London and a global leader in the Sustainability & Resource Productivity network. In 2014, he served as program director for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Martin Stuchtey is Director of the McKinsey Center for Business & Environment and is based in Munich.

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3BL for the People, Planet, & Profit

 

 

By Mary Stokes

Despite it’s catchy name, 3BL isn’t the newest craze in boy bands.  3BL , also known as The Triple Bottom Line, was a phrase first coined by John Elkington in his 1994 book, Cannibals With Forks.  He identified it as a method of reporting profit that considers a business’s impact on the environment and society, in addition to its regular bottom line.  Its foundation – sustainability of people, the planet, and profit – is just as applicable today as it was 22 years ago.

Clients and employees alike pay more attention to businesses if they are committed to people and the environment.  Utilization of 3BL positively affects a business’s publicity by creating accountability to the public concerning societal and ecological bottom lines.

Clients want to purchase products and services that come from responsible businesses; in fact, in the Cone Communications 2015 consumer study, “91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues.”

Employees are more engaged when they feel their employing business has the same values they do.  3BL also encourages businesses to give back to their communities through charity, volunteering, and other means.  Implementing 3BL also has the benefit of both short-term and long-term profitability, just as other formats of sustainability do.

The key is that 3BL is more than just sustainable practices with regard to environmental impact; it’s about a balanced approach to business.  While actual measurements for 3BL can be tricky, it is vital to study the interactions of each bottom line and understand how they affect one another.  As a business begins to equalize each bottom line, profit does not decrease in importance. However, as each area becomes a focal point, the overall profit shifts from financial value alone to societal and ecologic value combined.

Some notables that have embraced 3BL are Patagonia, Southwest Airlines, and Seventh Generation.  While these companies are somewhat larger, there is a movement within smaller businesses to utilize 3BL as well.  Though they are not always as visible with regard to societal and ecological impact, there are similar benefits to implementing the practices of 3BL for smaller businesses, including “increased employee engagement, improved standing in the local community and the building of a sustainable business model.”

3BL is an invaluable system for evaluating your business’s profits on several levels.  As Mitch Tyson, Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Electron Beams puts it, 

“You can rationalize that the triple bottom line will make your company more successful, which it will, or you could pursue it because it reflects your values as a person. . . .  The triple bottom line and sustainability aren’t new management techniques.  They aren’t the latest management fads. They are concepts that challenge each of us to balance the way we successfully run our business and the world that our children’s children will inherit from us.  3BL is about creating a future for your business-a future in which it is financially, ecologically, and societally prosperous.”

 

Mary Stokes is a technical and creative writer based in Minneapolis, MN. Photo Credit: “Hands” by stokpic, licensed through C.C. by 2.0

 

Sponsored by SES, Inc.

SES image

 

 

 

 

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