From the Web: Germany unveils zero-emissions train that only emits steam

Germany is set to introduce the world’s first zero-emission passenger train to be powered by hydrogen.

The Coradia iLint only emits excess steam into the atmosphere, and provides an alternative to the country’s 4,000 diesel trains.

Lower Saxony has already ordered 14 of them from French company Alstom, and more are likely to be seen around the country if they are judged a success, reports Die Welt.

Testing is set to be carried out by the end of the year, before it opens up to the public in December 2017.

The train was first presented at Berlin’s InnoTrans trade show in August, and it is set to be the first hydrogen-powered train to regularly ferry people over long distances.

The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway have expressed interest.

Learn more (INDEPENDENT) >>

From the Web: These Tiny Houses Help Minimum Wage Workers Become Homeowners

If you live in Detroit and make only $10,000 a year, you still might be able to buy a newly constructed house. On two vacant blocks in the city’s northwest side, a new neighborhood of tiny houses was designed to help people living in poverty become homeowners.

Through a rent-to-own program, residents will pay $1 per square foot in rent each month. For a 250-square-foot house, for example, rent is $250, when a similar home in Detroit might normally cost twice as much. After a maximum of seven years, the house can be fully paid off.

Learn more (via FastCompany) >>

From the Web: BMW gears up for electric buses with Proterra investment

Electric bus upstart Proterra shifted into a higher gear Tuesday with another substantial funding round: a $55 million infusion led by Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and the corporate venture arm of German automaker BMW.

The new backing is intended, at least in part, to fuel Proterra’s investments in additional manufacturing capacity at its plants in Los Angeles and Greenville, South Carolina, said Toby Kraus, vice president of finance and strategy for the 13-year-old company.

Proterra previously raked in about $290 million, including a $140 million round disclosed in January. So far, the company has delivered about 100 electric buses to nearly 40 public transit agencies in locations ranging from big cities such as Seattle to smaller communities in Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina. As of early June, it was sitting on orders for 300 more of them.

Learn more (via GreenBiz) >>

From the Web: Interface: Now You Can Sequester Carbon in the Carpet

“We have a ton of parking lots. Why?” Erin Meezan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Interface, Inc. asked rhetorically in a recent interview, describing the iterative systems-based approach her company takes to sustainability at their Atlanta, GA headquarters, “We can park on grass.” Grass is, of course, permeable and allows rainwater to soak in, creating a living ecosystem and carbon sink as opposed to storm drains which funnel water, and the trash and debris it picks up along the way, directly out to sea. But I digress. This is just one of dozens of examples Meezan shared with me as she described her company’s efforts to treat the “factory like a forest.”

Interface Inc. — a public company with a $1B market cap — was one of the first companies to take a bold, public stand on climate change. But that doesn’t mean they put sustainability ahead of product. Instead, they use sustainability as a differentiator to push innovation. “There are hard-nosed business people on our board who understand the business value of sustainability,” Meezan explains.

Its founder, Ray Anderson, had a personal epiphany that let him to use his carpet company company as a tool to make the world better. The company is sustainable through and through, and prior to Ray’s death in 2011, he was the perfect spokesperson for the movement. He sold plenty of carpet along the way.

Interface has carried on his mission and continued to innovate with research into new products. Their goal is to prove that business can be a climate positive actor. Meezan explains,”We make stuff. How can the stuff we make serve as a carbon sink?”

Learn More (via TriplePundit)

Post-Paris, The Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA Now More Than Ever

From the Editors

In the wake of the kerfluffle over the United States’ exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, we at The Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA believe, among others, two very important things.

First, ain’t no stoppin’ us now. Climate change and sustainability, and resource sustainability, represent the most significant economic and business development opportunities in a generation. The business and economic case for these opportunities — to say nothing of the environmental case — is powerful and, arguably, irreversible. According to the New York Times, these opportunities represent a $6 trillion market by 2030. The shift is happening, and the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement — while discouraging — will do little, if anything, to derail the immense problem solving opportunities, and rewards, around climate change.

Everyday, someone is breaking new ground in the production, conservation, or distribution of clean renewable energy. Everyday, someone is reinventing how we move around — how we transport ourselves and the things in our lives in revolutionary ways that save energy, space, and time. Everyday, someone is innovating and inventing new technologies that change the way we build, rebuild, heat, cool, and live in our homes and businesses while consuming as little as the earth’s resources as necessary.

In short, with or without the Paris Agreement capitalism, disrupted and reinvented, is a force — along with many others — to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems.

Second, our Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA is part of the solution. More important than ever post-Paris, we must develop a new generation of business leaders who will build, innovate, disrupt, and reinvent climate change-focused enterprises in a world that demands it. In other words, UVM’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA is more important than ever and its graduates increasingly more vital to sustainable businesses.

While traditional MBA education simply turns out people educated in business models, approaches, and ethics that are more a part of the problem than the solution, our mission is to prepare leaders to transform today’s businesses and invent tomorrow’s ventures through a lens of sustainability.

We believe our students and alumni are uniquely prepared to be change agents and to lead within enterprises — or start new ones — that are solving the world’s most pressing problems — including climate change, and with or without a Paris Climate Agreement.

And, in this new reality, we believe our students will be in greater demand by businesses, enterprises, and organizations than ever before.

Learn more, and apply to a program that will not only change your life, but change the world, too.

From the Web: Ikea’s solution to peak stuff? Invest in plastics recycling plant

Ikea has bought forest in Romania and the Baltics, wind farms in Poland and now it is investing in a plastic recycling plant in the Netherlands.

For the Swedish furniture giant, extending control across its supply chain in this way could help it become more sustainable by avoiding environmentally damaging activities like illegal deforestation and plastic waste.

Learn more (via The Guardian) >>

From the Web: Solving food waste: There’s an app for that

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Toronto startup is looking to solve what its founder describes as Canada’s “food waste epidemic.”

Josh Domingues, who spent the early part of his career in finance with firms including BMO Nesbitt Burns, launched the Flashfood app in January. He is hoping to prevent a fraction of the more than $6 billion worth of food thrown away by restaurants and grocery stores from reaching landfills, where it is converted into harmful methane gas (including consumers, an estimated $31 billion worth of food is thrown away each year in Canada).

The free app enables users to purchase surplus food from restaurants and grocery stores at what is describes as “enormously” discounted prices. App users can view and purchase the food directly from their mobile device, and pick it up later that day in a designated zone within participating stores.

Learn more (via Canadian Grocer) >>

From the Web: How Foundations Can Use Their Endowments To Push For More Diversity In The Investment World

The Knight Foundation is going to make sure the people charged with investing its vast endowment aren’t entirely homogeneous. It’s not just a push for diversity’s sake–it’s also a push for better returns.

In order to create the cash flow necessary to continue issuing grants year after year, most foundations reinvest the majority of their endowment in the open market. Historically, however, major funders haven’t thought a lot about how to use that process itself to do more good.

Earlier this year, the Ford Foundation rethought wasted financial impact by committing a large portion of its endowment toward mission-related investments, creating more capital for change. Now the Knight Foundation, which works to build engaged and informed communities, is trying to address a more creeping societal issue: discrimination against who exactly is enabled to make these investments.

According to a Knight Foundation report, women and minority-owned money management firms are getting shut out of the asset management industry–not just by philanthropies, but by public funds, high-net-worth individual and family offices, and especially corporate interests. The group hopes to change that practice across the entire investment landscape by calling more attention to it.

Learn more (via Fast Company) >>

From the Web: Light-powered device purifies air and generates clean energy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.5 million people died prematurely because of air pollution back in 2013 – and half of those people lived in India or China. Air pollution continues to plague people around the world today, but now researchers from KU Leuven and the University of Antwerp have found a way to transform that dirty air into energy. They designed an air purifying device able to fit in a person’s hand that only needs light to work.

The groundbreaking device houses two small chambers divided by a membrane. In one chamber air is purified; in the other hydrogen gas is generated. Nanomaterials in the device act as catalysts to both break down pollution and produce the gas. Scientist Sammy Verbruggen of both institutions, who’s lead author on a study published recently about the device in ChemSusChem, said the hydrogen gas can be stored and used as fuel in the future.

Learn more (via inhabitant) >>

From the Web: Higher, cheaper, sleeker: wind turbines of the future

With the UK government ending subsidies for onshore wind and the Trump administration pushing for a return to coal, you might think the wind power revolution had run out of puff.

Far from it.

The cost of energy from offshore wind in Britain has fallen by a third since 2012, and wind accounts for over 40% of new capacity in the US, representing an annual investment of $13 billion. Now next-generation wind technologies promise to make wind energy safer and more affordable – if they can make the difficult jump from research prototypes to commercial products.

Learn more (via The Guardian) >>