Tag Archives: By Owain Jones

IBM Using Technology to Improve Water Sustainability

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis Some things that people may take for granted on a day-to-day basis is the availability of freshwater. Our world is made up of massive amounts of water, however, the majority of this is salt water, about 97.5%. The remaining 2.5% is freshwater but only 30% of these freshwater sources are groundwater, the main source of water for human consumption. For a world population that is continually growing and consuming more and more resources, this staggeringly small amount of available freshwater cannot sustain it. This is highlighted by the fact that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in areas with an extremely scarce water supply (UN Water Statistics). Thus, a need is created to be able to better utilize our current freshwater resources and improve the sustainability of these resources. The root of water resource sustainability is water conservation, preached and advocated for all over the world. International Business Machines, most commonly referred to as IBM, has been developing computers and technologies for businesses for many years and has grown into one of the largest companies in the US. Currently, IBM has pushed a business solutions focus that involves analytics,  Continue Reading »

Emerson Helps Milwaukee Turn Waste into Energy

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis Recently, Emerson Electric Company has been airing a fairly strong television advertisement campaign on many channels again, resurrected from a few years ago. The gist of the advertisements is that Emerson is providing cities and companies with solutions to problems that have “never been done before.” Originally these commercials were developed back in 2009 as the “It’s Never Been Done Before” campaign and they can be seen on Emerson’s YouTube Channel and explained in this Emerson news release. As it relates to sustainability, there is one very intriguing part of this campaign that seemed very out of the ordinary. It was the way in which Emerson has helped the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin increase its initiative to produce a substantial amount of electricity through its wastewater program. What the City of Milwaukee had developed was a methane producing system in its wastewater treatment plants to create electricity. Microbes are introduced into the wastewater tanks, where they digest the sewage to expel methane. The methane is then captured and turned into energy. This process is nothing new and Emerson was not the one to develop this for Milwaukee. However, what Emerson did was show  Continue Reading »

The Bluesign Standard

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis Since sustainability initiatives are beginning to become very common, almost all industries are trying to figure how or what they can do. With this comes the rise in other businesses designed to help those attain their sustainability goals and New Leaf is one of them. It is a great opportunity for businesses to be able to have access to experts who they would otherwise have to hire or train, which can prove to be time consuming and more expensive than consulting firms. However, there has been an increase in large companies specifically hiring sustainability personnel because they feel it is worth their while and sustainability is not just a fad, it is important and here to stay. But when a company needs to dramatically overhaul their product line to become more sustainable, an outside organization can prove to be an easy route. For the textile industry, Bluesign is just that organization. A Swiss scientist, Dr. Peter Waeber, began to develop sustainable products in the 1980s, with a project for the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) to create a “green” cotton. Throughout the development of this and the introduction of sustainable dyes, finally  Continue Reading »

The Larger Costs of Sustainability: The Shipping Industry

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis It is obvious that doing the little things to become sustainable, like reducing energy and paper consumption and trash reduction, can be very rewarding and cost relatively little to implement. However, what about the major operations that can end up costing billions of dollars to implement substantial sustainability initiatives in their sector? The transportation sector has been able to implement more fuel efficient vehicles in their fleets to help reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, but there is still an even bigger energy user that may be commonly overlooked. Almost all consumer goods are shipped from their manufacturing origin to their destinations by overseas shipping, something many may not usually think about. As you recall these massive shipping vessels, you may clue in to how much fuel it may take to transport those thousands of shipping containers processed at ports around the US a day. This then represents a very massive area of human existence that is extremely unsustainable. As with many of the sustainability problems, this one does have solutions that have been developed through modern technology to create more sustainable overseas shipping. However, it is not as simple as  Continue Reading »

The Concept of Natural Capital

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis Every company deals with capital when figuring out how to operate their business and observing how the business is performing. Companies in the United States operate under a capitalist economic system, where capital goods are owned by individuals who use them to create a product or service to sell for a profit. This is nothing new of course, but it then feeds in to how some people feel that the dwindling free natural resources of the world need to be accounted for economically. This brings about the concept of natural capital, which was first foreshadowed by President Roosevelt in 1937 when he talked about how the Earth’s permanent capital, natural resources, were being transformed into wealth faster than the real wealth was being replaced. The term natural capital was first used by E.F. Schumacher in 1973 in his book “Small is Beautiful.” What natural capital does is essentially place a value on the things we amass from the Earth for free, like clean water, air, and trees. In the dollars of today, a 1997 research group valued the entire biosphere at $47 trillion dollars. It seems like this notion has been  Continue Reading »

Banning Hard to Recycle Materials

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis As we all know, there are materials out there that are so synthetic and manufactured that breaking them down into something that can be reused again is very difficult. The ability for these materials to even breakdown over time in landfills is barely there. This then provides a significant obstacle to sustainability initiatives, namely zero waste ones. However, most big businesses can easily do away with the materials to achieve zero waste because they control what comes in. But what about public facilities or whole cities that are attempting to step up their sustainability and lessen their impact on the environment? The much discussed Mayor of New York City (NYC) has proposed a solution to this, on top of his already highly publicized handling of high sugar beverages and smoking. In his last State of the City Address on February 14, 2013, Mayor Bloomberg proposed a ban on polystyrene foam, or the trade named Styrofoam. What this will do for NYC, Bloomberg proposes, is dramatically decrease the cost to taxpayers while increasing the sustainability and decreasing the overall environmental impact. NYC currently has to absorb the cost to collect and house  Continue Reading »

Interior Secretary Nominee Sally Jewel’s Sustainability Leadership with REI

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis As sustainability and having a conscious effort to protect the environment have become more important, government has shifted to attempt to adopt good environmental policies. A very important government sector to this is the Department of the Interior. Since the new government has taken office there must be someone to take the head of this department as the Interior Secretary. This position is very important for sustainability and environmental consciousness because of how much land the department manages. President Obama has the position to elect such a person to head the Department of the Interior as the Interior Secretary and the person that has been named is Sally Jewell. She is currently the CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), a popular outdoors company that is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Jewel also has experience in the oil sector, working for Mobil and Exxon in the past, giving her a very well rounded experience in the important things that the Interior Secretary would deal with. Currently, Jewell’s work at REI has been a highlight in sustainability, making her a standout for President Obama. She has driven REI to implement sustainability on  Continue Reading »

The Waste Management Phoenix Open Steps up Sustainability

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis Being a huge golf fan I usually tune in to watch the professional tournaments every weekend. This past weekend of January 31 to February 3 was no different with the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona being held. However, the difference is in the company sponsoring the tournament, Waste Management, Inc. The tournament is one of the largest attended tournaments of the year, bringing up to half a million spectators in the week long activities. It also produces a one-of-a-kind golf atmosphere with the stadium 16th hole, a huge attraction for these spectators. With all day events every day, the attendees need to purchase food, drinks, and possibly souvenirs. This produces an enormous amount of trash that would usually be thrown in garbage bins and sent to the landfill. Since Waste Management (WM) sponsors the Phoenix Open, you think they would have a real easy job to get all that trash to the landfill by getting their own trucks to pick it all up. Now we get into why this topic relates to sustainability. WM has taken the pledge to make this event a zero waste event, providing the closest to a  Continue Reading »

Sustainability: A Brief History

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis   It is no secret that in the days of resource abundance and industrial domination, the environment was on the receiving end of much abuse and destruction. As populations grow and resource demand increases, sustainable development becomes more and more important. Turning a blind eye to sustainable development means that all the efforts to restore the environment and lessen the human impact on it would be for not. Businesses are very important to sustainable development because they have the ability to provide sustainable services and products to people, instead of the environment-harming ones of the yesteryears. However, it is important to understand how exactly we are at this point in time where sustainable business is so vital, instead of simply focusing on the fact that through the years the environment was harmed and resources were overused.   Ancient cultures, like the aboriginals of North and South America, the Chinese and the Egyptians, were maintained for thousands of years with primitive tools and ideals. This was possible through the ideals of sustainability that our current cultures are still attempting to implement. The ancients knew the main sources of life needed to be  Continue Reading »

Carbon Neutrality

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis   Let’s face it, becoming completely carbon emission free as a business can be very hard and especially so when your business involves transportation. However, if your business must put carbon emissions in the air, as even hybrid vehicles do, sustainability can be achieved through something called carbon neutrality. So, what does this mean? Becoming carbon neutral means that for every carbon emission produced there is a reduction of carbon emissions of an equal amount. Thus, neutrality is achieved through net carbon emissions of zero. This step is what can take a business from being environmentally conscious to sustainable. Even though it is not a perfect sustainability, it is a solution for a time in which fossil fuels are still readily used, cheap, and where there are cases wherein carbon emissions cannot be feasibly taken to zero. The goal is to use carbon neutrality as a stepping stone to having a completely sustainable business operation. The first step in becoming carbon neutral is a measurement of the business carbon footprint for a set amount of time. For example, the amount of emissions from the company cars, vans, busses, trucks, or  Continue Reading »