The printing industry has made a lot of progress in helping its member organizations analyze and reduce carbon emissions from various aspects of the commercial printing process.  These efforts to pursue industry sustainability have resonated with CarbonFree® Business Partner Digital Hub in very tangible ways. 

Now in its fifth year as a CarbonFree® Partner, neutralizing its annual shipping emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects, Mikal Martzel and Digital Hub has developed a broad range of environmentally responsible initiatives.  

"We chose to partner with Carbonfund.org because we are on a mission to achieve as close to a zero carbon footprint as possible," explains Mikal Martzel, VP of Marketing, Sales and Environmental Policy at Digital Hub.  

Over the past five years, Digital Hub has mitigated almost 400,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions through the CarbonFree® Business Partner program, equivalent to taking 37 cars off the road for a year.

Digital Hub produces all printed materials in-house, giving their staff complete control over the paper, inks and chemicals used to produce printed materials. This eliminates the chance of non-environmentally safe materials being used by an outsourced print vendor.  Digital Hub also uses a waterless printing process when possible and reduces the chemicals used in traditional water-based offset printing methods. 

In 2009, Digital Hub switched to 100% wind power for its electricity usage, further reducing its operational emissions. And their internal policies of “one stop” lunch service, in which all employees order lunch for delivery by the same local restaurant, paper and products recycling and food composting programs in their office adds to their sustainability initiatives. 

Carbonfund.org is honored to partner with an industry leader like Digital Hub and commends their broad commitment to maintaining an environmentally sustainable business.

 

In a blog post last month, I wrote about how climate change science is set to be taught unevenly in the US curriculum.  It’s great that middle and high school age kids in the US are going to learn about climate change.  Unfortunately, the Next Generation Science Standards are voluntary and could take years to implement.  So is there an option if we want our children to learn about global warming now?

The non-profit Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) fills this need.  Their mission is to, “educate high school students on the science behind climate change and inspire them to take action to curb global warming”.  One look at their website and you can see they are on the right track in reaching their target audience.  It’s packed with social media links and interactive blog entries. 

Since the fall of 2009, ACE has reached more than a million high school students at over 1,550 schools.  While this is impressive, there are some teachers and parents who oppose the presentations, believing climate change to be a controversial and/or political issue.  However, all of the climate science ACE presents comes from peer-reviewed published science articles, with a focus on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC AR4).  The IPCC AR4 is one of the most heavily researched science reports in history.

ACE’s efforts don’t end with their presentations.  They also offer Student Action Programs to help get kids started right away.  Then ACE grooms student environmental leaders who influence peers and lead change. 

With the help of an ACE grant, Daniela Lapidous and Shreya Indukuri installed energy monitoring technology at their school.  Saving both energy and money led them to expand the project to other local schools.  Their project’s success brought them to the White House’s attention, where a mere two years after their first ACE presentation, they advised Energy Secretary Steven Chu on their smartmeter project that reduced their school's electric bill by 13%.  Daniela wrote about her experience on ACE’s blog, “Hot and Bothered” and is a co-founder of SmartPowerEd.org.

It’s inspiring to see the ripple effect that climate change education can bring about.  And getting information about global warming to high school aged kids is critical and a conscious choice.  "They're going to be the generation to feel the impacts [of climate change] hardest and first," says Matt Lappe, ACE's education director. "And so in some sense we target high-schoolers and young people in general, because they really have a right to know climate science."

We should all take a page out of the next generation’s book.  Not only are they learning about global warming, but they are taking the next steps to do something about the problem.  Taking charge of the future is what it is all about since they’re the ones that will have to live with the consequences if we don’t.

ENFIELD, NH May 8, 2013 – Leading Edge Design Group (LEDG), a leading national provider of energy optimization services, announced today that it will offset its carbon emissions with the Carbonfund.org Foundation, one of the country's leading carbon offset organizations. In addition to their existing effort to reduce emissions by advancing corporate recycling initiatives, improving office-wide sustainable products and systems procurement, and establishing team car-pooling mandates for customer visits to reduce travel related emission, LEDG’s CarbonFree® program participation supports their employees, partners, and customers who are striving to increase their own commitment to carbon neutrality. 

“We are proud of our ongoing efforts to help our customers significantly reduce their carbon footprint but understand that this effort necessitates travel and the associated consumption of natural resources, “ said Todd Boucher, Principal, Leading Edge Design Group. “Our partnership with Carbonfund.org allows us to maintain our commitment to our clients while offsetting the carbon emissions required to support the successful implementation of our solutions.” 

LEDG’s emissions offset purchase will go toward supporting reforestation projects in the US and abroad.  

“LEDG has taken a significant step in recognizing that, despite concerted efforts to reduce operational emissions, there remains a portion of their carbon footprint that cannot yet be eliminated,” explains Eric Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org. “By becoming a CarbonFree® Business Partner, LEDG joins leading businesses and organizations around the world that have made this simple and affordable commitment to neutralize all annual carbon emissions and support our carbon reduction projects.”

ABOUT LEADING EDGE DESIGN GROUP Leading Edge Design Group is a leading national provider of energy optimization services that delivers significant energy savings to the public and private marketplaces through efficient data center designs and emerging LED lighting and wireless lighting control technologies. Founded in 2007 with the goal of pursuing, promoting, and providing the finest energy optimization solutions available, we help our customers minimize the environmental impact of their businesses while improving operational reliability and reducing costs. Leading Edge Design Group is dedicated to encouraging, challenging, and contributing to energy industry innovation with an ongoing commitment to our community and our environment. Visit us at http://www.ledesigngroup.com, review our work in the photo gallery, and connect with us on Twitter @ledesigngroup.

 

There have been a variety of studies published in recent years showing that vegan and vegetarian diets produce a lower carbon footprint than omnivore or carnivore diets.  Raw vegans further reduce their dietary footprint by greatly reducing the energy used to prepare foods.  But what about the locavore movement and efforts to source food as close to home as possible?     

 

Live Superfoods, a purveyor of raw, organic, vegan foods and nutritional supplements, recognized that their healthy diet options often came from distant lands, thus increasing the carbon footprint due to packaging materials and shipping emissions.  In order to reduce these emissions, Live Superfoods took several steps to reuse and recycle shipping cartons and packing materials wherever possible, use recycled paper tape for sealing shipments and recyclable fill materials instead of bubble wrap and Styrofoam peanuts.  Then, to neutralize the remaining shipping emissions, Live Superfoods joined the CarbonFree® Business Partnership program four years ago.  The CarbonFree® Partner program makes it simple and affordable for Live Superfoods to mitigate its remaining operational emissions, including all shipping emissions and all employee commuting emissions, on an annual basis.        

Live Superfoods purchases enough carbon offsets from Carbonfund.org to offset the shipment of products not only from their warehouse to their customers, but also from their global suppliers to the distribution warehouse.  Consequently, their products have a lower carbon footprint than what most locavores consider local.  

"As individuals, we're extremely excited about the locavore movement. But since Live Superfoods specializes in superfoods that are typically grown in exotic places, our company hasn't been able to participate,” explains Tom Burke, CEO of Live Superfoods.  “Now, by purchasing carbon offsets from Carbonfund.org, we're able to import and deliver our foods to the ultimate consumer carbon-free. Our products now have a smaller carbon footprint than foods delivered by farmers to the local farmers' market!"

Live Superfoods also participates in their power company’s Blue SkySM Renewable Energy program, which supports a blend of 100% Pacific Northwest renewable resources from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.  This initiative further neutralizes Live Superfoods’ annual operational emissions, and together with the CarbonFree® Business Partnership, underscores Live Superfoods’ leadership position as a truly sustainable provider of healthy raw vegan foods, supplements and personal care products. 

In a previous blog post about The Art of Climate Change Communication, I covered the six American publics and how they perceive climate change.  The Dismissive is one of the smallest groups, making up a mere eight percent of the American public.  They do not believe climate change is happening, nor do they believe it is human caused or a serious problem.  Although small, they are very vocal.  Sometimes it’s easy for climate change communicators to be discouraged by this group.  Nonetheless, now there is evidence that more than half of Americans (58%) say, “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”

The Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind report is based on findings from a nationally representative survey – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.  These two organizations interviewed 1,045 adults between April 8 and 15, and found that “many Americans believe global warming made recent extreme weather and climatic events ‘more severe,’ specifically: 2012 as the warmest year on record in the United States (50%); the ongoing drought in the Midwest and the Great Plains (49%); Superstorm Sandy (46%); and Superstorm Nemo (42%).”  The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

Typically, climate scientists avoid making a connection between climate change and the day-to-day weather.  Their stance used to be that no single weather event is caused by climate change.  In recent years, however, climate science has advanced to the point where researchers can see climate change’s impact on individual heat waves, droughts, hurricanes and other storms.  At the very least, many are ready to admit that climate change makes extraordinary weather worse.  And most of the American public agrees.

The report released this week also highlighted that, “overall, 85 percent of Americans report that they experienced one or more types of extreme weather in the past year, most often citing extreme high winds (60%) and extreme heat (51%).”  It is part of The Psychology of Climate Change that humans need to tangibly experience phenomena in order to connect with it on a deeper level.  We comprehend global warming is a serious threat more easily when we see the effects of extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy.

While it is vindicating to climate change communicators that our country is beginning to make the important connection between climate change and extreme weather, I am hoping the knowledge coalesces into further global warming realizations and ultimately stimulates a grass-roots movement that engenders meaningful change.  Knowing there is a problem is an important first step.  Doing something about the problem is an even more important next step.

The Environmental Working Group released a new Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health that explains the relative benefits, both for health and for the environment, of eating more legumes and vegetables and less meat.  The report recommends some simple actions that everyone can take to reduce the impact of the human diet on the environment, and perhaps shed a few pounds and improve heart health along the way.  The main tenets of the report to achieve a healthier and more environmentally sustainable diet are very basic:  eat less and waste nothing; eat more plants; eliminate meat and cheese at least once a week, and substitute sustainably-fished seafood or poultry for beef or lamb whenever possible.

 

GHG data based on lifecycle assessment by CleanMetrics.  Click here to review the chart in detail.

One diet that rates highly in environmental sustainability is the macrobiotic diet, an ancient diet proven to be effective for healthful living.  Originally from Japan, the principle behind the macrobiotic diet combines tenets of Zen Buddhism with a Western-style vegetarian diet.  The word "macrobiotic" comes from the Greek and essentially means "long life" or "great life."  If you're drawn to the concept of eating a natural, organic, plant-based diet and embracing a Zen-like spirituality in both your life and food selections – and lowering your diet’s carbon footprint along the way -- then a macrobiotic diet may be for you.

But a macrobiotic diet requires time to prepare and diligence in sourcing the proper ingredients.  This time and effort requirement has made it difficult for many to pursue a macrobiotic diet lifestyle, until now.

CarbonFree® Business Partner Macro-Mediterranean Holistic Nutrition provides a simple solution – they offer nationwide meals home delivery service of their 100% vegan meals, incorporating traditional Mediterranean foods and spices, and utilizing macrobiotic principles of food preparation. And Macro-Mediterranean Holistic Nutrition has taken an extra step to enhance the sustainability of their operation by making the commitment to be a CarbonFree® business.  They’re neutralizing all annual operational emissions while recycling and composting over ninety percent of the waste generated by production en route to becoming a “zero waste” company. 

Delivery to the Boston area is free and they offer economical and carbon neutral shipping options to the rest of the country. 

“We have partnered with Carbonfund.org to help us achieve the goal of having a positive effect on the planet that sustains us by working with them to calculate our carbon footprint, and then donating in excess of that amount to help fund Carbonfund.org's carbon reduction projects that invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, reforestation and avoided deforestation,” explains Jeremy L. Hayward-Thomas, President of Macro-Mediterranean Holistic Nutrition.  “Through these donations, we try to do our small part to help support Carbonfund.org in their initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions at a global scale, and feel like this way our efforts can go beyond just what we could achieve on our own.”

Evaluate the carbon footprint of your weekly diet and consider making some changes that will reduce the carbon emissions from your meal choices and may well improve your health along the way. 

Luggage Shipping Company’s Carbon Offset Program Marks Fifth Anniversary

BOSTON, April 26, 2013 – Luggage Forward, the leading provider of doorstep to destination luggage delivery, marks the fifth anniversary of offering carbon-neutral door-to-door luggage shipments for travelers worldwide. Luggage Forward’s Carbon Offset Program began in 2008 in partnership with Carbonfund.org, the leading nonprofit provider of carbon offset and climate solutions.

Since the program’s inception, thousands of clients have chosen to offset the carbon emissions generated shipping luggage from their home directly to their destination. The amount of carbon offset during the life of this program is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from more than 41,000 gallons of gasoline consumed, or the equivalent of taking 76 passenger vehicles off the road for a year.

“Many of our clients appreciate having the option to offset the carbon impact of their travel, so that the spectacular places they visit can be preserved for generations to come,” said Zeke Adkins, Co-Founder of Luggage Forward, “we’re pleased to have given our clients this choice since 2008.”

Luggage Forward was the first, and remains the only, door-to-door luggage delivery service to offer such a program. However, many major shipping providers have since joined this effort and now offer carbon neutral shipping. To mark the fifth consecutive year of participation in the CarbonFree® Shipping Program, Carbonfund.org will be planting 50 trees in recognition of Luggage Forward at the end of the year.

About Luggage Forward
Since 2004, Luggage Forward has set the standard in door-to-door delivery of luggage and sports equipment. The smart alternative to carrying and checking bags, Luggage Forward’s service is transforming today’s travel experience for those who demand the utmost in convenience, reliability and predictability. By leveraging a worldwide network of shipping partners, innovative technology and honest, unparalleled customer care Luggage Forward guarantees that bags will be delivered safely and on-time.

In addition to being a Virtuoso® Preferred Supplier, the company is the exclusive luggage delivery provider for many of the world’s leading travel brands including Abercrombie & Kent, American Express Vacations, Exclusive Resorts, Holland America Line and Seabourn Cruise Line. Luggage Forward has been twice named to the Inc 500|5000 list, ranked as the #9 fastest growing privately held travel company in the United States in 2012. For more information, visit www.luggageforward.com or call 866-416-7447.

For decades, fossil fuel companies have enjoyed the benefit of master limited partnerships (MLPs).  A MLP is a business structure that acts like a corporation with its corporate stock trading on the open market, but is taxed as a partnership rather than at the corporate tax rate.  This allows investors to buy and sell their shares in the public markets, and project developers to access cheaper capital through the markets.  It’s an attractive tax benefit to be a MLP; an advantage that is inaccessible currently to renewable energy investment.

Since the 1980s, Congress has enabled investors to bundle energy projects like oil and gas pipelines and other fossil fuel developments from companies that extract, process or transport “depletable” natural resources and exempted them from corporate income taxes.  The word “depletable” specifically excludes renewable energy.

U.S. Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, introduced a bill last year that would give wind, solar and other renewable projects the same tax benefit.  The Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act was re-introduced this week by a bipartisan group of senators.

In order to effectively combat climate change, renewables need to be priced at, or better yet, lower than fossil fuels.  It’s easier to sell shares to individuals and institutional investors such as pension funds when renewable projects are set up as MLPs.  Widening the pool of potential investors adds new competition, which could lower the cost of financing projects, and in the end reduce the cost of renewable power.

Is leveling the playing field for wind, solar and other renewable projects the magic bullet to renewable energy investment?  No, but it is a step in the right direction.  The Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act is actually part of a broader toolkit, one that the federal government has used successfully in the past to develop domestic energy resources.  Tax benefits such as the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit remain essential tools within the renewable energy industry.

Other tax reforms the industry and its supporters say will help level the playing field with fossil fuels include allowing renewable companies to organize as real estate investment trusts (REITs) and letting renewable tax credits be claimed by more types of investors.  In December of 2012, a bipartisan group of 29 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to the President calling for changes to both MLPs and REITs.

Even with bipartisan support in a deeply divided Congress, the bill faces some serious obstacles.  A 2011 Congressional Research Service report estimated that extending MLPs to renewable energy companies would cost the U.S. Treasury about $2.8 billion between 2010 and 2014.  At the moment, the broad political momentum in Congress involves eliminating loopholes and exemptions in order to raise revenue and lower tax rates.  The report suggests that if leveling the playing field is the endgame, the alternative is closing the tax loophole for oil and gas companies.

Personally, I want to stop global warming and move into a sustainable energy future.  Let your Congressional Representatives know you want them to support the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act.

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