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Today is America Recycles Day

Today is America Recycles Day. The Environmental Protection Agency has prepared helpful information for businesses to help us recycle more and waste less. Three areas for action are particularly important for small businesses: the first is green procurement policies. Large enterprises are increasingly “greening” their supply chains; small businesses with eco-friendly policies are more competitive vendors to win contract awards from such large enterprises. Government agencies are also trying to be greener. For example, government agencies that continue to require  that bids be submitted in hard copy often stipulate that the paper on which the bid documents are printed be from recycled sources. Second, eCycling is an important consideration to ensure that hazardous materials from electronic devices do not wind up in the waste stream. At Prisere, we extend the lives of our computers by upgrading media and memory before replacing entire units. Finally, as the holiday season approaches, consider ways to avoid creating needless waste, such as wrapping gifts in reusable bags.

Developing Benchmarks for the Sendai Framework

A third and final round of meetings is underway this week in Geneva to agree to benchmarks of success of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a fifteen-year agreement reached  by the international community. Sendai is the successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action, that had been agreed to just weeks after the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. The Hyogo Framework, which was in effect from 2005 to 2015, identified five priorities for reducing disaster risk, but did not set specific targets. Prisere LLC had delivered analysis, reporting and recommendations to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, in respect of implementing the Hyogo Framework in Europe:

  • http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/publications/48254
  • http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/publications/44673
  • http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/publications/39593
  • http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/publications/33275
  • http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/publications/19690

During the ten years that the Hyogo Framework was in effect, 130 UN Member States submitted reports on progress made in implementing disaster risk reduction measures. Over that period, countries reported progress on risk reduction policies even as disaster-related losses continued to increase. Prisere LLC argued that the divergence was the result of moving goal posts: countries were making progress in reducing disaster risks, but emerging risks from climate change and man-made hazards made progress appear more elusive. The Sendai Framework attempts to quantify measures of achievement to bring clarity to the implementation of disaster risk reduction policies.

Affordable Electric Vehicles

Battery GraphicThe costs of electric vehicles, or EV’s, is coming down as batteries are becoming more powerful and less expensive. The technological innovation in batteries as well as the offerings of new consumer buying groups are making electric vehicles more affordable. In addition, federal tax credits of up to $7,500 are available for purchases of select models of electric vehicles. (A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar offset against your tax liability and therefore more valuable than a tax deduction.) Many states also offer tax credits to motivate purchases of electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions. In some areas that impose automobile excise taxes, such taxes are waived for electric vehicles, as well as the sales tax on the purchase. It is well worth the effort to investigate incentives to purchase or lease an electric vehicle for your business or household.

More Affordable Way to Drive Green

Electric Vehicle GraphicLocal electric vehicle (“EV”) buyer’s groups offer significant discounts (as much as $10,000 off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price) on the purchase of select models of EV’s. Switching from a gasoline-powered to an EV can significantly reduce your household or business carbon footprint. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 metric tons of CO2 annually. Operating a battery-powered electric vehicle on basic service in New England, which is getting cleaner every year, produces 32% of the emissions of a gasoline-fueled car; the 68% reduction in CO2 emissions equates to 3.2 metric tons of CO2. Other options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.2 metric tons of CO2 annually are:

  • Drive 7,669 fewer miles. The average passenger vehicle in the U.S. drives 11,346 miles per year.
  • Consume 360 fewer gallons of gasoline. The average passenger vehicle in the U.S. consumes 533 gallons annually.
  • Burn 315 fewer gallons of home heating oil. The average household in New England uses 600 gallons of home heating oil annually.
  • Reduce household electricity usage by 47 per cent.

Clearly, the switch from a gasoline-powered vehicle to an EV is the easiest way to reduce household emissions by 3.2 metric tons of CO2 annually. The switch is easier to do with “range anxiety” becoming a thing of the past. New EV’s can run in excess of 100 or even 200 miles on a single charge. For more information about the New England EV buyer’s group, please click this link. EV buyer’s groups are available in Utah, Colorado and other states; you can see if there is one in your area by searching online.

The French Perspective

TV5 MondeTV5 Monde, the French television channel available on U.S. cable, had an excellent short program about disasters in California. Television news media tends to cover stories with engaging visuals; hurricanes provide dramatic visual images of homes underwater and high winds. Chronic disasters, such as drought and famine, tend to be under-reported. The result is the public often does not appreciate that human losses and economic damages arising from such disasters often exceed those of hurricanes and earthquakes, for example.

This particular program did an excellent job of highlighting the devastation caused by the drought in California, particularly its impacts on central part of the state, where the economy is based on agriculture. Sandwiched between two areas of extreme wealth – Silicon Valley to the north and Hollywood to the south, the challenges of central California have profound implications, particularly as most major crops grown in that area stock supermarkets across the U.S. If you missed the broadcast, you can see the program online.

After the Deluge

Baton Rouge, Louisiana experienced historic flooding in August of this year, with the region receiving between 19 and 31 inches of rainfall. Six weeks later, Congress appropriated $500 million in flood aid for Louisiana. Yet Louisiana’s Governor reported that he expected more than 150,000 households in his state to apply for assistance with more than 80% of them located outside the 100-year-flood plain and lacking flood insurance. The total losses from the flooding, not including the public infrastructure, are estimated to be $8.7 billion. It bears repeating: everyone lives in a flood zone. Over the past five years, floods have occurred in all fifty states. Approximately 20 per cent of flood claims filed are for losses occurring outside defined flood plains. So make sure your business and home are properly insured.

 

A Familiar Face

Swiss Re ExecutiveNational Geographic’s Emmy Award-winning series on Climate Change, “Years of Living Dangerously“, is now in its second season. The second episode was taped in Miami where, notwithstanding the impacts of rising sea levels, real estate developers have $20 billion of projects in the pipeline. Apparently they are not encountering opposition in securing permits to build in hazard-prone locales. It is probably not fair to single out Miami for this practice, which appears to be ubiquitous, but for the purposes of visual media, it is stunning to look at one high rise apartment building after the other directly on the waterfront of an area vulnerable to hurricanes. The episode contained a delightful surprise: a brief interview with Swiss Re Vice President Alex Kaplan, who commented on the inability of the insurance industry to continue to underwrite such reckless construction, given what is known about climate-related hazards. If you missed the episode on television, you can stream it online.

Uber Pitch Accelerates Business Growth

uberpitchThe Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is once again finding an extraordinary way to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week. {Prisere LLC was selected for the GEW 50, the 50 most innovative start-ups in 2011, the year of our founding, by a panel of judges from the Kauffman Foundation.}  Together with business accelerator The Refinery and the ride-sharing service Uber, the Kauffman Foundation announced a nationwide pitch competition for women-owned businesses that are ready to scale. Business owners were invited to submit their written applications and those advanced to the next round of the competition took a 15-minute Uber ride in selected cities to pitch their business to an investor while driving about town. The investor provides immediate feedback on the pitch.

Prisere LLC participated in this “Fueling the Growth” Competition and were fortunate enough to pitch to an investor who had led a Boston-based company in the Inc. 5,000 and happened to have expertise in our area of work. Prisere received very thoughtful, detailed feedback that will inform our work going forward. If the “Fueling the Growth” Competition comes to your town, be sure to apply and many thanks to Uber for offering this innovative program to accelerate small business growth.

Climate Capitalism

climate-capitalismWeekends afford the time to catch up on important reading and this weekend it was Climate Capitalism, a business title that did what few business books do: it addressed the needs of small businesses. (True, you can read about small business needs in small business titles, but it is rare that you find a general business book intended for a broad audience that considers small businesses, despite the fact that they account for most employment.) One section on page 39 was particularly relevant to Prisere LLC as we are undertaking an energy efficiency project:

Small businesses are the economic engine of any country, in North America generating more than half of non-farm private gross domestic product. They represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms, employing nearly 60 million workers, or about half of all private-sector employees. For the past decade they have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs each year. They confront correspondingly promising opportunities and bear significant responsibility for global sustainability. Energy efficiency remains one of the best investments that a small business owner can make.

The sections that follow present example of small businesses that have achieved returns of 20 to 30 percent or greater on their investments in energy efficiency. The authors address a timely topic with pragmatic, action-oriented steps. If you have not yet read Climate Capitalism, consider putting it on our reading list.