A regionalized energy grid creates a home for California’s wasted …

By Andy Bilich, Lauren Navarro

These days, California’s renewable energy records are regularly broken.

During the summer solstice on June 21, California utility scale solar power set a generation record with solar producing equivalent to about 16 percent of all electricity consumed during the day.

And earlier this year, on April 27, California set two renewable energy records for both instantaneous solar generation: about 10.5 gigawatts), and instantaneous renewable generation: 73 percent of the state’s total electricity demand came from renewable energy.

With renewables deployment poised for more growth, it’s likely even these new records will be surpassed sometime soon. However, to ensure the state’s investment in clean energy is put to use, and not wasted, California has some work to do.

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Despite record generation, wind and solar plants are being intentionally shut down

As demonstrated by the recent generation records, California’s ambitious climate and energy goals are helping add incredible amounts of wind and solar. Fortunately and unfortunately, these renewable resources produce a lot of electricity in the middle of the day and at night, but not in the late afternoon or early evening when most of the population comes home from work. When combined with other factors, this mismatch causes energy system imbalance. To maintain balance, grid managers purposefully, and increasingly, turn off (curtail) renewable energy power plants, even though those plants are otherwise operational.

Curtailing renewable energy wastes the opportunity to utilize the sun and wind energy that is provided by nature at no cost. This approach to managing renewables can make it more expensive for California to meet its clean energy and climate goals. Furthermore, additional investment in renewable energy can be hindered as would-be investors expect lower returns from facilities that may not run at full capacity.

Curtailment is already a significant problem and it is likely to get worse

About 60 percent of the time, curtailment in California is the result of excess generation – where the supply of electricity is more than demand. This typically happens during the middle of the day and at night when there is generally lower energy demand but significant solar and wind, respectively. As the state progresses towards meeting goals of 50 percent renewable energy and higher, and as more rooftop solar is added, excess generation is expected to happen more intensely and more regularly.

About 60 percent of the time, curtailment in California is the result of excess generation.

To put the wasted renewable energy in perspective, conservative estimates show that curtailment of wind and solar doubled from 2015 to 2017 – with enough wasted energy to power about 56,000 California homes for a year. While the state’s extra hydro power exacerbated curtailment in 2017, utility-scale and rooftop solar were the key driver behind the rapid growth of curtailment during this time period.

Source: CAISO

To further contextualize the curtailment problem, in 2017 renewable curtailment occurred in about 38 percent of hours, with an average of 1.4 percent of the total wind and solar energy online in a given hour being curtailed. In some hours, more than 10 percent was shut-down. When considered through an investor’s point of view, that’s a 1.4 percent reduction on investment return, simply because we don’t have systems in place to put that clean energy to work. And again, this is likely to get worse unless California works proactively now.

Combatting curtailment with a regional energy grid (within a portfolio of solutions)

For California to meet the energy demands of tomorrow with increasing heat waves, a ballooning population, and more devices using electricity, a portfolio of solutions is needed. Solutions that change energy consumption patterns, improve efficiency, store energy, improve forecasting of usage patterns, and allow for more flexible operation of power plants are all necessary. Included in this portfolio are both the expansion and creation of new opportunities through a cost-saving regional electricity grid.

Linking with other regional energy markets could give California an opportunity to export excess clean energy to our neighbors – rather than shutting it off.

Linking with other regional energy markets could give California an opportunity to export excess clean energy to our neighbors – rather than shutting it off. In return, a regionalized grid allows California to import clean energy resources from other states instead of burning fossil fuels like natural gas in the evening and at night.

As an example of the benefits of a regional grid on curtailment, California is already doing some energy trading on a small scale with its Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). Since 2015, the EIM has avoided about 587,000 megawatt hours of curtailment and displaced about 250,000 tons of CO2. A regionalized grid, such as that proposed within Assembly Bill AB 813, could supercharge the effort to utilize our renewable resources and help make California’s wasted energy problem a thing of the past. By doing so, regionalization can also substantially reduce procurement costs, and greenhouse gas emissions as well.

With strategies and tools like regionalization, California’s utilities, policymakers, and regulators can and should be acting to create a more flexible electricity system and to reduce the amount of clean resources we curtail. As we move toward a cleaner electricity system, we shouldn’t be letting our resources go to waste.

For more information on the benefits of a regionalized energy grid, read here and here.

Photo credit: Flickr/Solar Trade Association

EU Increases Renewable Energy Target in Preparation for Renewable Energy Directive

The EU has agreed that one third of energy use should be from renewable sources and encourages the use of renewable electricity or biofuels sourced from waste rather than crops.

After 18 months of negotiations, the EU has increased its renewable energy target from 27% to 32% for the years 2020 to 2030. The European Parliament and Council will formally approve the agreement in the near future, so it can be set into EU law in the form of the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED II).

The EU has agreed that by 2030, just under one third of energy use in the EU should be from renewable sources. The trade body for European energy utilities has described the deal as a “well-balanced compromise”. Miguel Arias Cañete, the climate and energy commissioner, noted that “the binding nature of the target will also provide additional certainty to the investors”.

However, some environmental groups — such as Friends of the Earth Europe — have criticised the target for not being ambitious enough to reach commitments under the Paris Agreement. Moreover, some MEPs — including those from Spain and Italy — had hoped for a target of 35%. In order to assuage those who pushed for a higher target, the EU included the 2023 review clause as a key feature of the agreement. Under this clause, according to José Blanco, social democrat lawmaker and lead negotiator for the European Parliament, the target can be revised “in case of substantial cost reductions … or if necessary to meet new international climate change obligations”.

The EU has established an interim target of 20% for 2020. Studies have shown that this target should be achievable, as around 17% of the EU’s energy use was from renewable sources in 2016. However significant discrepancy exists across Member States. For example, in 2016, the UK’s renewable energy consumption was only 9%. Fern, an EU-based non-governmental organisation, noted that “woody biomass is the EU’s biggest source of renewable energy”, as Member States are permitted to count burning wood towards their 2030 target.

Biofuels sourced from soybean and palm oil will be phased out from 2023 and capped at the consumption levels of 2019. This is to encourage the use of renewable electricity or biofuels sourced from waste rather than crops.

Parallel negotiations on changes to the Energy Efficiency Directive concluded with no deal after Member States rejected the European Parliament’s compromise offer of a 32.5% target.

Latham will continue to monitor the progress of the legislation.

This post was prepared with the assistance of Olivia Featherstone in the London office of Latham Watkins.

Analyzing 7 Logo Designs from Companies that Went Green

What does your logo design say about your brand? Creating the perfect green logo for your brand is not a natural process. You need some insight as to what you want to communicate to your target audience as well as the ability to create the design and make it look professional. With more companies looking to be earth-friendly and transition their brands to cleaner images, it’s important that their logo designs reference these changes as well.

To learn more about the process of creating a new logo design to represent transitions within existing companies and brands that want to go green, we got in touch with Varun Aggarwal of Designhill, to ask what design features are required when looking to rebrand a company. Varun specifically went on to say how important it is to have a clean design, but to also have a wide range of draft logos to gain input on as well — before going live with a new public image. Most importantly, having a great logo design is critical if you want to promote yourself or your business in a way that also makes your platform or solution look environmentally friendly. This is something top brands like BP, Holiday Inn, and Whole Foods have done a great job with.

We also had the opportunity to connect with the design team at mysimpleshow, who also made a good point about the importance of making sure a company’s branding is up to date across all platforms. As a whiteboard video creation platform, they have a lot clients using their software to create online videos and are continually updating videos with new company design and logos. This is something that we often see with television commercial advertising as well. The last thing a ‘green friendly’ brand wants to mess up is creating a new logo design to represent the current direction of the company, but still having their old brand design and colors used on various formats of advertising.

Before going live with a new green logo design, it’s best to first take a look at what’s working for other e-companies and how they are rebranding with a fresh and clean image in mind. Let’s now take a look at some logos that have some of the features you want to include in your logo that can help you come up with your unique design.

Earth-friendly Green Logos

In this post, we will take a look at 7 of the top green logo designs from companies that have made a commitment to preserve the environment and promote ecological awareness and conservation. Check out these examples and see which ones spark your imagination.

  1. Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn is one company that went “green” and it shows in their new logo. Before their logo was a large marquee with a green background and white or gold lettering, but now the entire logo is green. Holiday Inn adheres to the standards of earth-friendly practices including using recyclable paper products, low-usage bulbs, and many other ideas to conserve energy.

  1. Carbonfund.org

Carbonfund.org is a portal site for earth-friendly partner companies who wish to communicate eco-friendly ideas for business while moving forward with their business goals. Their green logo features a sun rising on a horizon with the emphasis on the green hills and blue skies. These colors and ideas symbolize an ideal environment, clean from the grass to the sky with the sun shining down on it.

  1. Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is a company now owned by Jeff Bezos, multi-billionaire Amazon CEO and owner. Their new green logo presents the idea of eco-friendliness with a green circular background and white lettering. The “O” in “Whole Foods” also resembles an apple or fruit for an added effect. On their website, the logo is further enhanced by a dynamic green background at the top navigation area.

  1. Cool Earth Solar

Cool Earth Solar has a world globe for the focal point of their logo that is encircled by a blue “e” for the earth. On their main website, you only see their green logo when you scroll down the page a bit, but you are greeted with a solar-powered plant that fuels the earth with earth-friendly power. The emphasis is on the earth logo and this helps to emphasize the focal point of the company and the earth-centered view that they take toward creating and maintaining power for the planet.

  1. Green Works

Green Works Cleaners is a company that believes in the green theme. They have created  cleaning products that focus on ecologically-friendly components to conserve resources and cut down on waste. The muscular sunflower animation that greets you when you enter the site makes people feel more tuned into the idea of green-friendly products and services. The logo itself is a trademarked “green works” lettering that is sometimes backed by a giant sunflower. This gives it not only a green-friendly look but also one with a sunny disposition.

  1. Spotify

Spotify is perhaps a surprising addition to our green logos list. But Spotify takes pride in being a “green-friendly” company that takes a stand on eco-friendly ideals. Their new logo changed from what fans previously called a “broccoli green” to and “all day green” that has customers buzzing. In fact, many of them hate the change. But that hasn’t stopped Spotify from sticking to their choice. They believe this new shade of green that is more a reminder of earth-based topics will perhaps help them solidify their agenda to help the earth and natural resources while still providing one of the best ways to get music online.

  1. BP

BP (British Petroleum) is an example of a company whose logo came back to haunt them. Almost two decades ago, they created their green logo, forsaking their previous auspicious “BP” sign in favor of the eco-friendly one. Then, without any warning or indication, they experienced one of the worst oil spill accidents that were ever recorded. BP was blamed for the mishap, and soon their logo was morphed to include black oil leaking from the middle of the flower-like earth-friendly design. This is a lesson in thinking ahead and how business owners should always consider what could happen in the future that might affect the view of the public on your logo. That being said, it’s good to be green if you want to attract the attention of those customers who care about conservation and the environment or who believe the theory of global warming and that people are in control of their planet’s future.

Summary: Going Green with Your Branding

If you are a business owner, it’s a good idea to consider including a earth-friendly logo that symbolizes your commitment to protecting earth’s natural resources while providing great products and services. If you have a business that you want to promote while including the “green-friendly” aspect, take a look at the examples above to get some inspiration. Take notes on the different aspects that appeal to you and think about how you can use them in your own green logo.

After your research you can help promote your business to new levels by creating a logo that will capture their attention while supporting your commitment to the environment and other issues that matter to you. We hope that these examples will help you to fine-tune your ideas when it comes to your logo.

Even if you have no plans to promote your “green-friendly” image, you can include whatever you want within your logo design to achieve your image. There’s no exact path to take regarding your logo design. But it is important to understand the psychology of color, shape, and design to create the best and most attractive logo for your brand.

Branding is what it is all about. When you get your branding right, you will be able to promote your ideas in a way that will appeal to your target audience and draw them into your brand. Plan your design by first checking out many other designs and logos before deciding which one you will do before focusing on the finer details of your professional logo.

Good luck with your logo design and remember that it’s always best to find the best professional logo design company first and then work out your ideas with them for a personalized, customizable logo that will give you the results you need. Your logo is not everything, but it is important. So, work out some ideas and then see what you can do. The world is waiting.

Bioproducts are seeing major tailwinds in renewable tech

Although Silicon Valley seems to have largely forgotten about cleantech after failures in solar, wind and batteries, there are still major strides being made across new and exciting renewable technologies. However, because these companies can take a decade or more to come to market — a timeline that is anathema to Sand Hill venture capital — media coverage has died down significantly over the last few years. So what’s going on?

It turns out… a lot.

In particular, there are significant developments across the waste-to-fuel and waste-to-product industries, in the form of thermal (pyrolysis, hydrothermal, gasification) and non-thermal technologies.

The driver for this is somewhat simple: The human population is creating more waste every year and there are fewer options for disposal. Incentives around building a “circular economy,” where renewable products are created from that waste, are growing and making more financial sense.

Basically, companies are learning how to turn trash into cash.

Today, entrepreneurs are approaching the space head-on, and there are dozens of cutting-edge companies coming to market and breaking through with major projects and customers. Companies in the space can be divided between the developers like Fulcrum BioEnergy, Red Rock Biofuels, RES Polyflow and Envia, and the technology providers, such as TCG, TRI, Velocys and many others.

These companies are targeting a variety of waste types, including household garbage (plastics and organics), as well as agricultural waste (like wood) and livestock waste (like manure). Waste is then converted into various products, including synthetic crude oil, natural gas, electricity, refined products (from diesel to high-value waxes) and specialty chemicals.

In short, we’re seeing some major tailwinds for bioproduct companies as we near 2020. Here’s why.

The value of waste removal and disposal has increased

As population and urban density grow and environmental concerns mount, there are fewer places to store waste. Just recently, China — which recycles nearly half of the globe’s waste — banned the import of certain plastics, as well as 23 other waste products, leading to overflowing landfills in many countries, including Australia and Great Britain. Landfill permitting is becoming more stringent, while countries can no longer just ship their trash somewhere else to be dealt with. Gate or tipping fees (the cost of disposing waste at a landfill) are also increasing.

So, with more pressure on these systems around the world, waste disposal has increased in value, making waste-to-product facilities and technologies more economically attractive to developers.

These projects have become even more financially sound when paired with government incentives for cleaner fuels and lower emissions. These often come in the form of renewable credits and fuel standards, such as the EPA’s Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) and the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program (LCFS). In many cases, these credits are a significant portion of revenues, and similar government-market support can be seen in Europe and Asia.

RINs, in particular, were enacted about 10 years ago, initially for corn ethanol projects. In the last few years, however, the advanced biofuels RINs requirements have started to come in to force and generate a new market. For companies that can sell their product in California and take advantage of the LCFS, these policies, in tandem, can support more than 50 percent of the revenues of some plants, making them economically possible. The effects of these mechanisms are hard to overstate.

Old science, new goals

What’s most surprising, though, is that the science behind many of these companies and technologies is not actually new. In fact, some of the science was developed in the early 20th century in Germany, primarily used to convert coal into oil during World War II to overcome small domestic oil reserves. Later, in the 1970s, the idea of peak oil and price shocks around OPEC’s formation pushed major oil producers, like Exxon, to look for alternatives, refining and advancing these processes and creating fuels and products (once again primarily from coal).

However, oil producers focused on massive-scale projects because the goal was to supplant a portion of oil production. So they were looking at $5-10 billion facilities, which were not feasible for waste-to-fuel and waste-to-product processes. Trying to feed such huge facilities with sufficient waste day in, day out would be a logistical impossibility. Moreover, once cheap oil returned, there was no longer an economic rationale for alternative fuels, and much of the technology was shelved.

Today, rather than building $10 billion refineries, developers like Fulcrum BioEnergy or Red Rock Biofuels are looking at $100 million to $500 million in capital expenditure projects — still large sums for a startup. They are taking these systems initially developed for coal processing and using them for all kinds of waste, from household trash to wood to manure. These are smaller-scale systems that fit more specific needs for specific customers and geographies. However, this shift toward smaller scale has presented a new set of engineering challenges that many companies are just now beginning to overcome.

Luckily, developers today are using their experience building and financing similar facilities in the ethanol market and applying it to these new waste-to-fuel projects. High oil prices and ethanol subsidies in the late 2000s led to a resurgence of interest in renewable energies, and the last decade has seen engineering techniques applied to waste-to-fuel for the first time, such as small-scale, temperature-regulated Fischer-Tropsch, small-scale gasification and supercritical water pyrolysis. These big investments into engineering, as well as logistics, have been instrumental in bringing together technologists, developers and customers.

Corporate interest has improved both logistics and market opportunity

For these new projects and technologies to be successful, developers need to secure a reliable source of waste to feed the facility, as well as “offtake partners” — customers who commit to purchase the fuel or product before they can finance and build a large facility. Increasingly, companies are stepping up to the plate. The necessity and value of environmental and carbon credits, as well as growing concerns around sustainability, are pushing corporations to become more involved.

Partnerships have made securing sufficient feedstock possible. This includes waste disposal companies like Waste Management that want to preserve landfill space and reduce methane emissions, forestry companies looking for new forms of lumber byproducts and livestock companies looking to dispose of manure.

In addition, some companies are becoming investors or buyers of the end product. For example, airlines (United, Cathay, JetBlue, Southwest, Qantas, British Airlines, Canada Air) are investing in and buying biofuels because of international policy requirements. Grocers (Whole Foods, Tyson) and food and beverage companies (Coca-Cola) are also looking for sustainable waste disposal, packaging and reduction of their environmental footprint.

These projects are highly susceptible to market changes, so company commitments to longer-term agreements for purchasing products like fuel — particularly ones that include price-floors in exchange for decreased upfront cost — can help bridge price gaps and mitigate project risk for lenders. Luckily, we’re seeing more of this happen.

Still, major challenges remain

It’s not all rosy, though. The most challenging aspect of scaling up these bioproduct operations are the significant capital requirements and funding. The process toward economic feasibility has not been an easy one, and unfortunately is littered with stories of failure — but these are high-risk ventures, and failures, are how the market navigates new technologies and learns from mistakes.

Indeed, we’ve seen a few green shoots over the last few years that have served as a boon for companies looking to hit scale.

Tax-exempt bonds and government funding have served as an alternative to traditional loans from risk-averse banks. Solid-waste processing facilities are allowed under the IRS rules for tax-exempt private activity bonds that can be issued by states. This financial mechanism isn’t new, but the use of it by renewable energy developers has helped project financials by lowering the interest rate on the debt that the project has to pay. However, the pot for tax-exempt bonds is also limited by state and federal governments, so developers have to fight to be given an allocation with other projects, which has limited availability of this kind of financing.

In addition, guaranteed performance of these facilities has been a significant weakness in the field. One response to this has been the creation of insurance and warranty products that guarantee reliability of new facilities, thereby reducing the risk for lenders, leading to better financing terms from banks and bond investors, and increasing customer adoption.

Lastly, nearly all of waste-to-product companies today rely on credits to make their projects financially sound. In many cases these are a significant portion of revenue. As mentioned above, RINs and LCFS have been key drivers for domestic projects.

However, not all sectors are treated the same way by these support systems. One of the major drivers in wind, solar and fuel cells has been investment tax credits, which do not apply to waste facilities. Moreover, oversupply of RINs is possible, which could lead to a market price collapse. Of course, the market is also susceptible to political squabbles. So far, the RINs market has survived the EPA transition under Scott Pruitt — they are prized by the farm lobby after all — and it seems increasingly likely the market will remain in place. In fact, the EPA just released its proposed 2019 biofuel requirements and continues to increase the number of available RINs beyond prior levels.

Support and demand for these technologies and processes are accelerating as stakeholders from across the marketplace align to bring these projects to life. Moreover, because of the local and regional nature of these projects, it is unlikely for global forces to derail progress, like China aggressively entering the market and undercutting prices as they did with solar a decade ago.

However, a number of factors still pose a threat, including volatility within the market for renewable credits, as well as government support structures, or risks around commercial and technological viability that scare financiers away from backing these new projects. Only the most robust projects that address a variety of risks and shore up their commercial and technological viability will succeed over the long-term.

Overall, though, given renewed corporate interest in biofuels, new sources of financing and new feedstock and regional focuses, we may soon see a quiet boom in renewable biofuels and products.

Local restaurants are moving towards a more sustainable future

As important as it is to serve healthy and appetizing food, local restaurants in Tucson are also working towards a greener, more sustainable future.

“It was hard to find a place where you can get delicious food and not be filled with so much stuff I would never put in my body as I’m growing a baby,” said Renee Kreager, owner of Renee’s Organic Oven. 

Thirteen years ago, when Kreager was pregnant with her son, she realized how “toxic food is when dining out.” For her, being a healthy, pregnant mother instilled in her how having a child can facilitate “caring deeply about the future of the planet and the impact we have on it.”

According to Kreager, “healthy” food inspired her to start her business. At Renee’s, food and drinks are organic and delicious, but the production process is equally eco-friendly and healthy as well. 

Renee’s environmental efforts manifest as gluten-free pizza, zero-waste produce, avoiding styrofoam, recycling water, oil, paper and foil and more. 

On the other side of town, Rita Boutwell, director of training and development at Hotel Congress, said that “sustainability wasn’t an idea that was born.” It was something the owners have always been passionate about. 

“Recyclable and compostable” are two areas owners at Hotel Congress work on to ensure they keep their business greener and eco-friendly. 

“Our trash has gone down considerably, and our recycling has gone up considerably,” Boutwell said. 

The hotel is an environmental hub. They source local herbs and produce, eliminated straws, use compostable takeout containers, installed energy efficient light bulbs, heat water through solar panels, compost their waste and recycling cups and plenty more. Boutwell said the ultimate goal is to “make sure this planet is around for future generations.” 

While such businesses aspire to become greener and more sustainable, they still encounter challenges. Often, these challenges require sustainable solutions.  

Kreager knows that Renee’s financial stability takes careful planning. She understands the importance of providing necessary information about their food, prices and sustainability mission to customers.  

“We had to become a sustainable restaurant for our own financial stability,” Kreager said. “We took a lot of times to educate our staff and a lot of times communicating to our guests what we are doing.” 

Kreager said it’s challenging to help people realize the importance of running an organic, sustainable restaurant and why owners would, for instance, charge higher prices for their services. It’s easier to go somewhere that costs less, as quality food and services in eco-friendly businesses can cost more. 

Boutwell said the success of any environmentally-conscious businesses lies in maintaining a clear channel of communication with customers to ensure they understand why services are delivered in a certain way.

“Being in customer service, if you don’t have that clear communication of your goals to your guests and customers, sometimes that message can get lost,” Boutwell said. “Sometimes we have issues where guests feel like they are not getting proper service because they are not getting a straw, or a beverage napkin, things like that. So it’s really important to be clear in your communication and your staff understands why you’re really doing this.”

While it is crucial to maintain clear communication with customers, Boutwell knows that maintaining an informed, educated “green team” adds to their success. For that, they seek assistance from experts like Mrs. Green’s World to train their staff and ensure they are adopting the best sustainable techniques and services. 

“Mrs. Green’s World is an environmental, education organization,” said Founder and CEO Gina Murphy-Darling. “We work to engage and inspire to make changes that benefit individuals’ health, their families’ health, and the health of the planet.”

According to Murphy-Darling, she focuses her work to educate people and train them to become healthy and sustainable.

Local First Arizona, which serves four statewide offices in Arizona, is another destination for businesses and individuals looking for guidance and training on sustainability growing stronger local businesses. 

According to Southern Arizona director Michael Peel, small businesses have a need for smaller loans, and are looking for access to knowledge needed in implementing a sustainability plan. 

As finances and planning challenge restaurants, Peel works to connect and partner these businesses with different green organizations in the metro area.

The Scale Up Program, for instance, is a recent initiative that brings together local businesses and nonprofits and trains them to implement sustainable practices. 

For Boutwell, Scale Up not only allows her to explore new methods and gain skills to help her team grow more sustainable, it further connects her with other businesses to exchange expertise. 

The City’s Environmental Services Department also plays a role in providing sources for restaurants regarding waste collection, disposal, diversion and energy management, according to public information officer Cristina Polsgrove. 

“We work with businesses in the community in the areas of waste collection and disposal and recycling, or waste diversion for businesses if they want it,” Polsgrove said. “And for customers, it is a choice that they have. Approximately 10 percent of the businesses that we provide these services to are currently recycling.” 

According to Polsgrove, food waste and scraps from restaurants or grocery stores, as well, are collected and composted at the University of Arizona Compost Cats. 

“We recycle and reuse about 98 percent of the materials that we collect,” Polsgrove said. 

Recent data from Pew Research Center depicted how Americans are moving towards appreciating the environment and setting its protection as a top priority. 

In 2016, 55 percent ranked the environment as a top policy issue. Among U.S. adults, 75 percent are particularly concerned about helping the environment, though only one-in-five Americans make an effort to lead a lifestyle that helps protect the environment “all the time.” 

“The planet is worth preserving,” Murphy-Daling said.  

Dalal Radwan is a University of Arizona journalism student and Inside Tucson Business intern.

How Green Buildings Are Shaping the Future

World Green Building Council


By Scott Huntington

Going green is a popular buzzword, as many businesses are trying to make their facilities a little bit better for the environment. But making the leap to being entirely eco-friendly can be daunting. Green buildings, power and equipment don’t come cheap, after all.

How are green buildings starting to shape the future? Here are five ways.

  1. More Businesses Want to Go Green

For a long time, going green was something a company did if it wanted to look good or appeal to a different clientele, but more and more businesses are starting to go green as a way to reduce their environmental impact rather than for the good PR that it generates.

In 2010, the number of businesses with green programs increased by 54 percent and that number is still growing. Of the companies polled, more than 90 percent of them saved money because of their environmentally friendly investment.

  1. Building New Instead

Right now, in the United States, less than five percent of buildings in the retail and hospitality industries are certified as green. Part of this is because many are already established in buildings that were built before green construction became a priority. In other cases, it is cheaper to tear down an old building and completely rebuild it than it is to try to make an old building greener.

But that doesn’t mean cities are slacking. More than one-third of the office space in Philadelphia is certified as green, and Pittsburgh is catching up with 10 percent of their office space being similarly certified. Green buildings are becoming the thing to do in most industries, no matter where their other priorities lie.

  1. Energy Priorities

Lighting in businesses accounts for nearly a quarter of all business energy expenditures in the country. This is why many companies are opting for greener energy sources such as solar or wind, depending on where the business is located. Many companies are working toward a zero-net energy building, where they don’t need to rely on the existing grid for power.

In 2014, a survey was able to identify more than 160 buildings that are currently zero net energy buildings, along with another 50 that were capable of being set up in this way.

  1. Water Is Life

Power isn’t the only resource eco-friendly building owners are concerned about. Water — both potable water used indoors and recycled water used outdoors — is a dwindling resource, so buildings that can reduce their water usage can improve their environmental status.

One university hall in Reno, Nevada, was able to reduce its indoor water usage by 40 percent and their outdoor usage by 50 percent. By using things like low flow toilets and showerheads and improving their outdoor landscaping with drought-resistant and native plants, the crew was able to reduce the building’s total water usage by nearly half.

  1. The Future Is Existing

There are hundreds of thousands of buildings in each city that are zoned commercial, and the future of green businesses is in these existing buildings.

While in some cases it might be cheaper to destroy an old building in favor of green construction, many of the structures that aren’t classified as green have been built within the last 10 to 15 years and are still in excellent shape. Converting these buildings to more green-friendly alternatives would reduce the cost of going green while still minimizing our environmental impact.

Going green isn’t an option anymore — it’s a necessity. Converting existing buildings to make them more environmentally friendly is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to make your building a little better for this planet that we call home.

Renewable Natural Gas Produced in California by CR&R Flows into SoCalGas Pipelines for First Time

Renewable Natural Gas Produced in California by CRR Flows into SoCalGas Pipelines for First Time


Locally-produced carbon-neutral renewable fuel harnesses wasted energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and conserves landfill space.


LOS ANGELES, July 2, 2018 – Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and waste management company CRR Environmental (CRR) today announced they are now injecting renewable natural gas produced at CRR’s anaerobic digestion facility in Perris, Calif., into SoCalGas pipelines. This is the first renewable natural gas produced within California to be introduced into SoCalGas’ pipeline system. Renewable natural gas is a carbon-negative fuel produced from waste that can be used in trucks and buses, to generate electricity, fuel heating systems in home and businesses, and for cooking. The renewable natural gas from CRR’s digestion facility is used to fuel about 400 of CRR’s waste hauling trucks.


“SoCalGas is committed to delivering cost effective solutions to our customers that both reduce emissions linked to climate change and keep energy bills affordable,” said Sharon Tomkins, SoCalGas vice president of customer solutions and strategy. “The relationship with CRR is a great example of a smart investment by CRR that delivers immediate and meaningful air quality improvements to communities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state.” 


“California is transitioning to low-carbon transportation fuels and zero emission vehicles in order to meet our climate change goals, clean air standards, and petroleum reduction goals,” said California Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott. “There are multiple pathways to reduce and eliminate pollution from our transportation sector. The Energy Commission is pleased to invest in projects like CRR’s anaerobic digestion facility to help demonstrate one of these pathways and to grow in-state production of low-carbon transportation fuels.”


“We need clean fuels to achieve clean air,” said Wayne Nastri, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. “This local production and distribution of renewable natural gas will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and enhance our ability to reduce emissions from the region’s heavy-duty vehicles.”


CRR is producing renewable natural gas using organic waste collected in Southern California cities’ green waste bins and processed in an anaerobic digester believed to be the largest and most automated in the world. This biogas is upgraded to the same standards and specifications of traditionally-sourced natural gas and then put into a new 1.4-mile section of SoCalGas pipeline.


Another source of renewable energy for California

As California policymakers have sought to expand the production and use of renewable energy, SoCalGas has been working to increase the amount of renewable natural gas produced in California and delivered to its customers. Renewable natural gas can be produced from waste at landfills, wastewater treatment plants, food processing and dairies.


The collection of methane from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, agriculture and dairies is essential for California to meet the climate change and air quality goals outlined in existing law. That methane can then be used as renewable natural gas for transportation, home heating, hot water, cooking, industrial uses, and to generate electricity.


Consumer preference polls support the increased production and use of renewable natural gas. Research shows nine out of 10 California families use natural gas in their homes and prefer it by a margin of 4 to 1 over electricity.  In addition, strong majorities of consumers—nearly 80 percent—prefer to use natural gas for cooking in their homes, and nearly two-thirds of consumers believe gas is their most affordable energy choice. According to the American Gas Association (AGA), households that use natural gas for water and space heating, cooking and clothes drying save an average of $874 per year compared to homes using electricity for those applications.


In addition, unlike solar and wind energy, renewable natural gas is available when needed—day or night—for use in homes or electric generation. 


Renewable natural gas from other states has already begun to clean the air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California’s transportation sector, which accounts for more than 80 percent of smog forming emissions and about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.  The latest generation of natural gas engines for heavy duty vehicles can reduce smog-forming emissions by more than 90 percent. When fueled with renewable natural gas, they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent or more.  Already, more than 60 percent of natural gas trucks in California are fueled by renewable gas delivered by SoCalGas pipelines.


For more information on renewable natural gas, go to: socalgas.com/smart-energy.



About SoCalGas

Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable natural gas service to 21.7 million customers across 22,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes or other uses. Natural gas delivered through the company’s pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  


SoCalGas is committed to investing in its natural gas system infrastructure, while keeping bills affordable for our customers. From 2013 through 2017, the company spent nearly $6 billion to upgrade and modernize its natural gas system to enhance safety and reliability. The company is also committed to being a leader in the region’s clean energy future, and is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas from dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants and the development of renewable energy storage technologies. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visitsocalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook


About CRR Environmental Services

CRR Incorporated is Southern California’s most innovative and successful waste and recycling management company, serving more than 3 million people and over 25,000 businesses throughout Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Imperial and Riverside counties. In addition, the company has operations in Southern Arizona and Colorado. Thanks to groundbreaking technologies and pioneering reclamation programs, CRR recycles over 500,000 tons of materials each year, creating cleaner communities, reducing air and water pollution, conserving landfill space and extending natural resources.  This anaerobic digestion plant located in Perris, California is currently the only renewable natural gas plant delivering into SoCalGas’ pipeline system.

Seven-Eleven, Toyota team up to spread use of fuel-cell vehicles

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. are joining forces to make convenience stores friendlier to the environment by using fuel-cell trucks for deliveries with the aim of popularizing the eco-friendly vehicle.

Toyota has expertise in the development of fuel-cell cars that run on hydrogen and do not emit exhaust fumes, while Seven-Eleven Japan has more than 20,000 stores in the nation.

Fuel-cell trucks are expected to be introduced from next spring at Seven-Eleven outlets, helping drastically spread the use of what Toyota calls the “ultimate eco-friendly vehicle” in the country at a time when sales of that type of car remain sluggish.

“We are looking to introduce fuel-cell trucks in all areas across Japan in the future,” said Kazuki Furuya, president of Seven-Eleven Japan, at a news conference on June 6.

Seven-Eleven and Toyota unveiled a small fuel-cell truck with a load capacity of 3 tons on the same day in Tokyo.

The newly developed truck uses the same type of fuel-cell as Toyota’s Mirai passenger car, released in 2014, and will use electricity generated from hydrogen to keep the products in the back of the truck cold.

Under the plan, Seven-Eleven will introduce two fuel-cell trucks for use in the Tokyo metropolitan area to deliver sandwiches, milk-based drinks and other refrigerated products to a store with a hydrogen station in Tokyo’s Ota Ward and other outlets.

While the fuel-cell trucks can cover 200 kilometers a day, they can also provide electricity to Seven-Eleven shops during times of natural disasters.

Seven-Eleven uses 6,000 trucks across the nation for deliveries. Whereas eco-friendly vehicles account for more than 15 percent of them, the convenience store chain aims to raise the ratio to 20 percent by 2020.

Fuel-cell trucks can run longer distances and be filled up with fuel quickly, making them more efficient than electric cars.

The joint effort is also expected to give Toyota, which describes its fuel-cell cars as the “ultimate eco-friendly vehicle,” a burst of momentum.

While the commercial launch of the Mirai gave Toyota a head start on other automakers developing comparable vehicles, the fuel-cell model is priced at more than 7 million yen ($63,500).

In addition, there are only 100 hydrogen stations across Japan, although there are thousands of fuel stations for other green vehicles.

Due to those factors, fuel-cell cars are much less popular than other cars.

While domestic sales of gas-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric cars were 1.38 million units, 36,000 units and 18,000 units, respectively, in 2017, only 800 fuel-cell vehicles were sold that year, according to the economy ministry and other sources.

Toyota now holds high expectations for trucks and buses. As those vehicles operate on predetermined routes, it is said to be easier for truck and bus operators to introduce fuel-cell vehicles for their businesses.

Toyota in March marketed its fuel-cell bus Sora, which has been adopted by the Tokyo metropolitan government for its metropolitan bus services. The automaker is also conducting tests of a large fuel-cell truck in the U.S. West Coast.

Shigeki Tomoyama, an executive vice president of Toyota, said June 6 that Toyota has high hopes for the joint project with Seven-Eleven to promote its fuel-cell cars.

“There are limitations to selling fuel-cell passenger cars alone,” he said. “The nationwide convenience store chain’s introduction of our trucks will offer great potential.”

Meanwhile, Toyota and Seven-Eleven are also planning to work together to make convenience stores more energy-efficient. Under the plan, not only fuel-cell generators will be introduced, but also special storage cells based on hybrid car batteries that can store electricity produced from solar power will be put into practical use at Seven-Eleven’s “next-generation outlets,” starting in autumn 2019.

(This article was written by Azusa Ushio, Eitaro Takeyama and Tomohiro Yamamoto.)

Cielo Kicks Off Start-Up and Commissioning of its First Commercial Renewable Diesel Refinery at Aldersyde

Vancouver, British Columbia (FSCwire)Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. (“Cielo” or the “Company”) (CSE:CMC) is extremely pleased to announce that, as anticipated in previous news releases, the Company has initiated the start-up and commissioning of its first commercial refinery in Aldersyde, AB (the “Refinery”), which signifies the transitioning of the Refinery from the construction stage to the commercial operation stage.


Don Allan, President and CEO of Cielo, stated “These are very exciting times for Cielo and its shareholders. We have kicked off the commissioning of our first continuous flow refinery that converts cellulosic waste into high grade renewable diesel.  This is a monumental occasion as we have spent years and millions of dollars to move our technology forward, which utilizes our proprietary processes to convert, on an extremely cost-effective basis, multiple different garbage-derived feedstocks, including all plastics, sorted municipal solid waste (garbage), wood and agriculture waste, tires and virtually any other cellulous waste product into high grade renewable diesel.  The renewable diesel that is going to be produced at the Refinery is forecast to receive approximately a 25% premium over biodiesel. It is expected to be higher grade and lower in sulfur and water, allowing year-round supply and longer shelf life.” 


Mr. Allan further added, “We are ecstatic that, over the course of the third quarter of this year, we expect to be able to demonstrate that our produced diesel commands a premium price and to validate our technology on a continuous flow basis. This is the turning point for Cielo, moving from construction to commissioning, with a view to proving to the world that this is a game changing technology in both the waste and renewable fuel industries. Cielo has been very fortunate to have an exceptional team working extremely hard to get this over the goal line.  This major milestone is due to their expertise and devotion to Cielo.”


Commissioning Overview


During Cielo’s commissioning process, the Refinery begins to operate and is prepared for optimal performance and production. Each step of the commissioning process is performed separately to reduce start-up risks and expenses.  The first major step focuses on the thermal oil, including preparation for and heating of the oil to a specific temperature range. Once the oil is sufficiently heated, the carrier fluid is mixed with feedstock and catalyst.  Raw distillate is produced during the next major step, during which the Company will determine the best methods of removing sulfur and including fuel additives to achieve the best product and industry specifications as well as to confirm the volume per hour for the Refinery.  Finally, once enough raw distillate is produced, the final major step is to prepare the final fuel products, including the separation of the naphtha, kerosene and diesel from the renewable fuel stream and the inclusion of any final additives.  It is anticipated that the total time to complete the commissioning of phase 1 will be 45-90 days, depending on unforeseen events.


The completion of the commissioning phase 1 will also mark the completion of the next major milestone of the operation of the Refinery and Cielo’s technology generally.  Following this and once the Refinery have been operating for a few months, Cielo plans to upgrade from the phase 1Refinery to its phase 2 refinery.  It is anticipated that the beginning of phase 2 construction will occur in the fourth quarter of this year.  The productive capacity of the phase 2 refinery is still anticipated to be approximately 2,000 litres/hour of renewable fuels, and with ongoing engineering and improvements, management is confident that it will meet or exceed these expectations upon the completion of phase 2.



For more information please contact:


Cielo Waste Solutions Corp.
Don Allan, President CEO
(403) 348-2972 Ext. 101
[email protected]


Michael Yeung, CFA, VP, Business Development Capital Markets
(403) 348-2972 Ext. 103
[email protected]


About Cielo Waste Solutions Corp.


Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. is a publicly traded company with its shares listed to trade on the Canadian Securities Exchange (“CSE”) under the symbol “CMC”. Cielo holds the exclusive license for the global rights to a transformational, patent-pending, technology engineered to convert garbage-derived feedstocks to renewable diesel, at a significantly lower cost than biofuel companies. With landfills being one of the world’s leading contributors to Green House Gas emissions and being projected to double in size over the next 7 years, Cielo can potentially resolve this crisis, on a cost-effective basis, by converting multiple different garbage-derived feedstocks, including sorted municipal solid waste (garbage), wood and agriculture waste, tires, blue-box waste, all plastics and virtually any other cellulous waste product into high grade renewable diesel.


Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements


This news release contains certain forward-looking statements and forward-looking information (collectively referred to herein as “forward-looking statements”) within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities laws. All statements other than statements of present or historical fact are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are often, but not always, identified by the use of words such as “anticipate”, “achieve”, “could”, “believe”, “plan”, “intend”, “objective”, “continuous”, “ongoing”, “estimate”, “outlook”, “expect”, “may”, “will”, “project”, “should” or similar words, including negatives thereof, suggesting future outcomes.

Forward looking statements are subject to both known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which are beyond the control of the Company, that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward looking statements, including but not limited to: the use of proceeds of the offering, receipt of all necessary approvals of the offering, general business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties; negotiation uncertainties and other risks of its industry. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended.


Forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of future performance and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, some of which are described herein. Such forward-looking statements necessarily involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause the Company’s actual performance and results to differ materially from any projections of future performance or results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statements are made as of the date hereof and, except as required by law, neither the Company assumes no obligation to publicly update or revise such statements to reflect new information, subsequent or otherwise.


The CSE has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of the content of this news release.

Source: Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. (CSE:CMC, FWB:C36)

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How to Design an Eco-Friendly Bathroom

We’re always looking for new ways to make our homes eco-friendlier. We invest in solar power and double pane windows to reduce our energy consumption, recycle and compost our organic and inorganic waste to reduce the amount of material that ends up in the local landfill, and drive electric cars and hybrid vehicles to reduce our overall carbon footprint. One room that often gets overlooked is one of the most important rooms in your home – the bathroom. How can you turn your bathroom into an eco-friendly paradise?

Here’s how:

1. Keep an eye on water usage.

Unless you’re watering your lawn every day (please don’t, but if you must, use grey water), most of your home’s water usage comes from your bathroom. Water conservation is one of the best ways to make your bathroom a little bit eco-friendlier, but how can you use less water without impacting the quality of your daily shower?

Low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads help you save water. The showerheads are designed to aerate the water so you get the same sort of water pressure that you’re used to without using a ton of extra water. While that doesn’t mean you want to take showers that are twice as long as normal, it means that you can enjoy your showers without using up too much of our planet’s fresh water supply.

Designing an Eco-Friendly Bathroom - Watch your water usage

2. Think about air quality.

Air quality in your home is important for human and particularly mental, health. In the bathroom, you’ve got the humidity to contend with, and perhaps fumes from cleaning chemicals you choose to use. There are a few things that you can do to make your interior air quality a little eco-friendlier (aside from stopping the use of toxic cleaning products), including:

  • Adding some greenery – NASA released a list of plants that help to improve air quality and remove things like ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene from the air. For the bathroom, choose plants that love humidity like ferns or English ivy.
  • Ventilate – If your bathroom doesn’t have a fan installed or any sort of ventilation, it might be time to install one. This can help improve air quality and keep mould or mildew from growing in your bathroom, simply by keeping the air moving.
  • Invest in an Ionic Air Filter – Go a little high tech for your air filtering. This uses traditional filtering combined with an ionic blast to destroy organic dirt and contaminants.

Designing an Eco-Friendly Bathroom - Plants to improve air quality

Related Post: #LifeOverStuff Minimalist Experiment – Bathroom

3. Switch up your cleaning products.

Most of us go straight for the ammonia or bleach-based products when it comes time to clean the bathroom because of their antibacterial and antifungal properties. While they work well, they’re not exactly the greenest option.

Instead of using bleach or ammonia, opt for some more natural cleaning products. You can even make your own cleaning products using white vinegar and lemon, or choose green-friendly cleaning products if you’re not a fan of the smell of vinegar. Some products you can try are:

  • Seventh Generation Cleaning Products – This company offers everything from dish soap and floor cleaner to green bathroom cleaning products that are non-toxic, eco-friendly, natural and uses essential oils for fragrance.

Seventh Generation Cleaning Products Eco-Friendly Bathroom Products

  • ECover Bathroom CleanerIf you’ve got hard water or difficult-to-remove bathroom scum, this is the cleaner for you. The business is B-Corp certified, doesn’t test on animals and the product is biodegradable; even the packaging is biodegradable because it’s made from sugarcane!

ECover Bathroom Cleaner Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

  • Martha Stewart Clean Bathroom Cleaner – Yup, even big names like Martha Stewart are getting into the green cleaning business. This is a totally biodegradable cleaner that is based on plant and mineral products and is safe on all sorts of surfaces, including marble!

4. More natural lighting.

Your bathroom is one area where you definitely want to be able to see well, especially if you’re applying makeup or doing your hair before an event celebration. Instead of installing a bunch of artificial lights, why not remodel your bathroom a little bit to let in more natural light? Skylights or sun tunnels are a great way to reduce your reliance on artificial light and cut your utility bills.

If your bathroom doesn’t have any windows, this can be a great way to bring some natural light in without cutting holes in your wall.

For those bathrooms where lighting is required, opt for compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. These use less power and provide the same amount of lighting.

Related Post: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Green Home

Designing an Eco-Friendly Bathroom - Natural Lighting

5. Go tankless.

Your hot water heater stores gallons and gallons of hot water, just waiting for someone to turn on a hot tap. You can reduce the amount of water that you use in the shower by switching from a tanked water heater to a tankless model. Not only does this reduce your water use, but it reduces your energy consumption.

A tankless water heater doesn’t have a tank of water that it has to keep heating over the course of the day to keep it at the proper temperature. It only heats what is needed, reducing the amount of energy it takes for you to enjoy a hot shower.

Related Post: Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper That Inspires You to Create Bathroom Poetry

Designing an Eco-Friendly Bathroom - Watch water usage

6. Opt for natural materials.

For things like towels, robes, and bath mats, you’ve got plenty of options – cotton, polyester, microfiber, bamboo, hemp…. you name it, they probably make bath towels out of it. The materials you choose can help make your bathroom a little greener. Choose towels and mats made out of sustainable materials like organic cotton, organically grown bamboo, hemp – they grow fast and have a smaller carbon footprint than other materials like cotton or polyester.

It’s a small thing but if everyone did a bunch of small things, they would start adding up quick. So when you’re greening up your house, don’t overlook your bathroom. There are plenty of things that you can do to make the smallest room in your house a little greener and most of them won’t throw off your daily routine either!

Make sure to sign up for our newsletter if you’re interested in receiving more sustainable lifestyle tips. We’ll also shoot over our 12-page Sustainable Lifestyle Guide that lists 101+ tips on how to live more planet-friendly. You can subscribe to our newsletter here.