April, 2013

April 13th, 2013

Companies Unite in Call for U.S. Climate Change Policy

This article first appeared on April 11th in the Huffington Post.

Leaders from the business community made one thing clear when they came together on Wednesday toBetsy Blaisdell, Timberlandannounce a 100-day corporate campaign in support of climate change policy: This is not a right or left issue. It is not about appealing to a base of liberals or conservatives. According to signers of the campaign, it is about tackling one of the greatest economic challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

“The longer we wait, the higher the risks will be to our business, to our consumers and to society as a whole,” said Betsy Blaisdell, Senior Manager of Environmental Stewardship at Timberland. “We’re motivated to see progress made on the issue of climate change, and it will take everyone to get it done.”

Timberland is just one of more than 30 companies that have signed on to the Climate Declaration; an effort spearheaded by Businesses for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, or BICEP, which, in turn, is quarterbacked by Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors and public interest groups.

When asked “Why now?” BICEP director, Anne Kelly, responded, “The president has made it clear that climate change is on his second-term agenda, and, honestly, we think it’s important for Members of Congress to recognize that business leaders are wholly supportive of comprehensive climate policy.”

The U.S. has long been seen as slow to act when it comes to embracing climate change legislation. In 1997, President Bill Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol, a global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but the Senate refused to ratify it, citing potential damage to the U.S. economy. Now, in somewhat ironic fashion, it is major economic contributors like Nike, Starbucks, Levi Strauss & Co., Intel, and eBay that are rallying Congress to enact legislation.

Of particular note about the Climate Declaration itself, however, is the absence of hot button issues like the Keystone XL Pipeline, carbon taxes and hydro-fracking that congressional leaders may find repellent. Wood Turner, Vice President of Sustainability Innovation at Stonyfield Farm and one of the key drivers behind the Declaration, attributes this to not wanting to detract from the message by incorporating prescriptive

elements into the text. “We realize the path toward climate policy will not one without compromise,” says Turner, “but we must first all come to the table with the understanding that it is simply the right thing to do.”

While addressing climate change may indeed be seen as a moral obligation, signers of the initiative are quick to point out the direct economic consequences associated with extreme weather.

“As a global company, L’Oreal has a vested interest in the markets we serve,” says Pam Alabaster, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development and Public Affairs for L’Oreal. “We’re seeing impacts on our business in North America as a result of climate change, and we’d like to see policy that adequately addresses the issue.”

To be sure, L’Oreal isn’t the only global company that is pressing U.S. policymakers to push the issue back onto the national agenda. Of the corporations that are currently signed on to the Climate Declarati

on, at least six are headquartered outside the United States, including Adidas, IKEA, Unilever, Nestlé, Swiss Re, and L’Oreal.

But, when asked to crystallize why companies would make an overtly public appeal for domestic climate policy, it was someone representing a U.S. company (albeit one that is owned by Unilever) who said i
t best. Quoting Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, the company’s activism manager, Chris Miller, put the world in the context of ice cream by saying, “If it melts, it’s ruined.

April 9th, 2013

The Benefits of Energy Efficiency

Guest Post By Cory Lowe of Whirlwind Steel Buildings, Inc.

Nowadays, we have come to rely on energy for many different things. From providing us with light and warmth to powering our vehicles, energy has become an essential part of our lives. However, our use of energy has grown way out of control. As such, it is important for us to support energy efficiency.

Cleaner Air

There are many benefits to becoming more energy efficient. However, perhaps the best benefit is that conserving energy can help to provide us with cleaner, healthier air. Nearly half of the electricity used in the U.S. is generated from power plants that burn fossil fuels to produce energy.

When these fossil fuels burn, harmful gases are released into the air. These gases can be quite damaging to your health and the health of the environment. In fact, air pollution is a serious concern when it comes to the ecosystem. Furthermore, pollutants can linger in the air for extremely long periods of time and travel for miles before dissipating.

Less Chance of Diseases

Being more energy efficient can actually reduce your chances of becoming ill as well. When you keep your appliances clean and well-maintained, you will help them to work properly and prevent them from becoming a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria. Additionally, when appliances work properly, air will circulate better reducing the possibility of diseases.

Save Money

Choosing to use energy efficient products and appliances can help you save money on your utility bills. Some of the products that can help you save cash include energy-saving heating and air units, light fixtures, refrigerators, hot water heaters and televisions. Low-voltage light bulbs can help as well. Since they have a longer life span, you will not need to replace them as often.

Leave a Good Impression

If you have a business, you can make a good impression by being energy efficient. When you care enough to try to help save energy, you are in a sense telling your clients that you care about our environment as well. Even if you do not have a business of your own, being energy-conscious at home, sets a good example for your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.

What Can You Do?

There are many steps you can take to help conserve energy. This includes installing energy efficient windows, programmable thermostats, energy-saving heating and air units, and better insulation. You can also consider purchasing energy efficient refrigerators, hot water heaters, televisions, stoves, light bulbs and light fixtures.

Look for ENERGY STAR certified products when shopping for electronics and appliances. In this way, you can be sure that you are buying the most energy efficient products available. When shopping for vehicles, make sure you find out about the fuel efficiency information for the car or truck you are considering.

You Can Make a Difference

In closing, changing some of your behavior patterns can help save energy as well. Simply turning off lights, computers and office equipment when you are done with them can help a lot. These are just a few of the steps you can take to becoming more energy efficient, saving our resources and saving money.

Whirlwind Steel is a manufacturer of metal buildings and components. As part of their commitment to reducing the impact of building construction on the environment, they produce energy-efficient metal roofing that is cost efficient and durable.

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