Burlington, Vermont — home to the University of Vermont and our beloved Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA (SEMBA) — recently earned the distinction of being the first city in America to draw 100 percent of its power from renewable sources.
And it wasn’t an accident.
A recent Politico Magazine article profiles how we got there, through decades of deliberate effort and planning by people who understood — and continue to understand — that sustainability is not a fad, but an important ethic in building livable communities.
It is the same ethic that drives SEMBA to educate and launch the next generation of leaders who will leverage business to solve the world’s most pressing economic, environmental, and social challenges.
It’s another reason to come learn and live with SEMBA, in a place where sustainability is a way of life, and not a marketing slogan.
Scientists have managed to make a synthetic process that converts CO2 into organic compounds faster than plants.
In a study published in Science, the researchers detail how they managed to make a synthetic pathway that converts CO2 into organic compounds faster than plants. In order to find an enzyme to improve CO2 fixation, the researchers carefully selected 17 enzymatic compounds from nine organisms. These were engineered together using stepwise optimization to form a synthetic pathway that converts CO2 into organic molecules.
The technology is still under development, but holds great promise for carbon fixation.
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A new type of solar panel turns moisture in the air into clean drinking water. A single solar panel can produce enough clean water for a family of four.
“We started this company to provide water to everyone, everywhere,” says Cody Friesen, CEO of startup Zero Mass Water.
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Tesla‘s new Gigafactory opened at the end of July in Nevada, with much excitement from both the media and the general public. Only 14 percent of the massive structure has been built, with the rest of the $5 billion project to be concluded by 2020.
According to Tesla, battery cell production will start in 2017; by 2018, the Gigafactory should be cranking out cars to the tune of 500,000 Model 3s per year. A big part of Tesla’s need to build the Gigafactory lies in the reduced expenses for lithium-ion battery production it provides.
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The Dutch parliament voted recently to shutter the nation’s coal industry in order to achieve a 55-percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The vote, which is not yet binding, would require shutting down the five coal power plants currently operating in the Netherlands, three of which just came online in 2015.
Slashing CO2 emissions by 55 percent would bring the country’s emissions in line with the targets set by the Paris climate deal last December, and set a strong precedent among European nations for policies to slow the effects of climate change.
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A new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) describes the role renewable energy can have in elevating the livelihoods of the millions of rural poor, specifically in terms of the impact it can have on the billions of people employed in the agri-food chain. In the study, the agency uses data from the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a SEMBA Advisory Board member.
SELF has pioneered the use of solar power for a wide range of applications including household lighting, water pumping, school electrification, drip irrigation and wireless Internet access.
Off-grid renewables can support productive activity at all stages of the agri-food chain, from irrigation to support food production, through post-harvest processes, including agro-processing and food preservation for storage and transport. Modern renewable technologies also allow sustainable food preparation and cooking.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was previously published on Impakter.com. It was written by Jason Wiff, a member of the SEMBA Class of 2017
With the introduction of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, we are faced with the challenge of implementing these goals into the way we live, impact communities and use business as a catalyst for change. Stuart Hart, one of the world’s leading experts of sustainable enterprise explains his framework for making these changes a reality. This interview has been edited for clarity. Highlights of our conversation are below.
What is your definition of business sustainability?
Stuart Hart: There can be sustainability at many levels. Business sustainability provides functionality that make[s] people’s lives better in ways that are inherently cleaner or regenerative. You’re able to serve and uplift many people in the world, not just a few. Business sustainability has two components: environmental sustainability, social sustainability and financially to propel business forward.
This story was written by Lauren Hesterman, SEMBA ’17.
EDITOR’S NOTE: SEMBA regularly brings in business icons, executives, and entrepreneurs for hands-on, face-to-face workshops on issues ranging from sustainability to organizational leadership. In mid-October, John Abele, co-founder of the pioneering medical device company Boston Scientific, sat with the SEMBA cohort and talked about innovation and collaboration.
Not surprisingly, I found myself Googling new and exciting ideas no less than a dozen times while listening to John Abele speak to our SEMBA cohort last month. A dozen times – and it most certainly was not because I was distracted or disengaged. Rather, it was quite the opposite.
John is one of those people that has inspiration oozing out of him. His relentless curiosity is apparent through and through. He had me searching for a new Irish company that is selling light instead of bulbs, a human anatomy chart, and the economic theories of Elinor Ostrom. Co-founder of Boston Scientific, where scientific innovation and humanitarian collaboration meet, John Abele has been driving innovative medical solutions for more than four decades. While John’s list of tangible accomplishments is enough to fill up a CV many times over, perhaps his greatest asset is his remarkable ability to collaborate.
This article was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17.
To kick-off the autumn SEMBA Advisory Board Meeting, the program’s co-directors and coordinators planned a reception and speed networking event to bring students and advisors together in a formal yet familiar atmosphere. As a SEMBA candidate, one main benefit (among many) is the unique opportunity provided to connect with a variety of seasoned professionals in a range of fields from local, sustainable-energy to impact investing and global healthcare. These prestigious industry leaders have committed to serve on the SEMBA advisory board and invest in its students as well as in the direction and future of the program.
We had the good fortune of getting to know them personally as they welcomed us with enthusiasm at the Advisory Board dinner at Hotel Vermont on October 27, 2016. This intimate event fostered the ideal environment for us to learn more about these industry leaders and their work in sustainable business, as well as the motivators that lead them into their current roles.