Can sharing goods and services help save the planet? That was one of a number of provocative questions posed by Van Jones in a Master class offered by the Presidio Graduate School. You may recall Jones as the passionate human rights and green jobs proponent who served briefly in the Obama Administration. The problem statement with which he launched the class was that consumerism is threatening the planet’s future as we extract more and more resources and throw away more and more things, i.e. waste. Collaborative economics was described as a “nation of neighbors”, where we share with one another and rely more on our social capital than strictly upon financial capital. Jones capsulized it as follows: “do we want to treat our planet as if we are locusts (consuming the planet) or as honeybees (living, building and producing together)?”
Sharing can be part of the solution to the ecological problems that come from excess consumerism.
Applied’s Varian Semiconductor Equipment business unit is moving full steam ahead with the installation of a 2.5 megawatt wind turbine at the Gloucester, MA site—one of the largest turbines on the eastern seaboard at one of the strongest land-based wind production sites in the state.
In honor of International World Water Day and with the ever-present backdrop of water as a precious, dwindling resource, I couldn’t help but reflect on the innovative technology which has enabled water managers across the world to gain greater insights on regional water resources and distribution. It is encouraging to hear that today’s technology has resulted in more sophisticated and more powerful tools that are improving water distribution, and therefore the way we live.
There is compelling new evidence that well designed standards for energy consuming products can drive innovation and save consumers enormous amounts of money over the life of those products. This is a thesis that I have expressed support for on more than one occasion.
A new report entitled “The Efficiency Boom” is the work of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and a multi-stakeholder group called the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (“ASAP).
The report takes a retrospective look at the various energy standards that have been adopted since the 1980s as well as potential new or updated standards in 34 categories (e.g. industrial boilers, dishwashers, microwaves, computers, televisions, lighting fixtures and so on). The energy and dollar savings from these standards are truly impressive.
Recently I had the opportunity to use a Nissan Leaf™ for several full days, a much more interesting exercise than a simple test drive. As someone working in the sustainability area, as a co-chair of the California Clean Cars campaign and as a likely car buyer in 2012 (my current vehicle has over 230,000 miles on it) I am very interested in the electric vehicle (EV) market.
Nissan’s Leaf™ is among the handful of low emission cars that are presently authorized to carry a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker, entitling a single occupant to use the carpool lanes during rush hours – a very nice side benefit to EV ownership that helped speed my commute this week.
My general impression of EV driving is very favorable.
Last week I attended an interesting community forum on the future growth of the San Francisco Bay Area. Sponsored by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (an organization with which Applied Materials has often partnered) and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 80 or so members of the community gathered to explore various scenarios for the anticipated growth of the area.
It is projected that by 2035 the Bay Area will add 900,000 households and 1.2 million jobs. The tough questions we were asked included: “Where will this growth take place?” and “How will we grow?” The assumption is that we need to grow sustainably in order to maintain the many great qualities the region possesses.
In 1993 the United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day. The theme for World Water Day 2011 is Water for Cities, calling attention to the growing demand for clean water in the world’s cities. A few relevant factoids:
Every month the world’s cities grow by 5 million new residents;
In Africa and Asia, the urban population will double by 2030;
827 million people live in slums where sanitation is inadequate and clean drinking water is hard to find.
Worldwide, nearly 500 million people share their sanitation facilities. In 1990, that number was only 250 million;
Poor sanitation causes cholera, malaria and diarrhea.
The opportunity that is presented by this situation is something called “integrated urban water management,” such as increased recycling and reuse of water and wastes. While our cities have many ecological advantages, such as the availability of mass transit, they are clearly unsustainable without the infrastructure necessary to distribute water and to safely remove wastes.
Applied Materials employees used a bit of engineering and sun power to raise money for the Capital Area Food Bank in Austin, Texas. The third annual Solar Car Race, challenges engineering teams to compete for the fastest solar car design.
Whenever I hear from the deniers of climate change I am reminded of the above political cartoon from Joel Pett. The cartoon gets to the heart of the matter whether you believe the science behind climate change or not as it highlights the benefits of going to a cleaner mix of energy and creating a better world.
I just returned from speaking at the Atlantic Monthly’s Green Intelligence Forum 2010 which I told you about earlier this week. In several respects, the Forum presented an interesting contrast to the West Coast events I have attended recently. The crowd of 200+ was comprised mostly of Congressional staffers, Federal agency personnel and a mix of individuals from environmental nonprofits and Washington-based think tanks. The bigger departure was the non-stop discussion of the role politics and policy are playing in sustainability.
Recently the Global 1000 listing of Sustainable Performance Leaders was released by CRD Analytics and the nonprofit JustMeans. Applied was ranked #64 on a relatively new screen called the Global 1000 Sustainable Performance Leaders. CRD Analytics uses a fairly rigorous statistical approach with 200 metrics to rate the top 1000 companies globally (i.e. market cap of $1 billion or more). The screen is used by a number of other indices and funds, most notably some of the NASDAQ indices such as the Global Sustainability Index 50.