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environment, sustainability
Comments Off on ecology.IT commits 1% of sales to environmental causes

Today ecology.IT completed the process to become a member of 1% for the Planet.  This membership reflects our commitment to live what we teach as a company.  While technology companies cannot help but generate significant pollution as a result of our ever-growing need for power and equipment, we can commit to do our best to offset those demands.

 

Joining the 1% for the Planet organization demonstrates our belief that business can factor sustainability priorities into their operations, and where possible can commit resources toward long-term sustainability goals outside of their corporate sphere.  Programs like 1% for the Planet ensure that investments continue to be made in environmental stewardship – from projects that directly impact the planet to education programs that help foster an environmental focus in science and technology programs.

 

Ecology.IT believes in the need for both technology and sustainability, and we hope that our commitment to 1% for the Planet helps demonstrate that belief.

environment, solar, sustainability
Comments Off on ecology.IT signs APTA Sustainability Commitment

I am happy to say that as of today ecology.IT is an APTA Sustainability Commitment Signatory.  This is the first in a series of steps toward creating a sustainability plan for the consultancy.  As part of this commitment, we are implementing the following practices for the company:

 

  • We commit to be a paperless office whenever possible.
  • When we are required to print, we will use paper with 100% post-consumer recycled content.
  • Our website will always be 100% solar power driven.
  • ecology.IT will participate in community events to further sustainability initiatives at the local level.
  • ecology.IT will actively participate in the APTA Sustainability Committee
  • ecology.IT strives to be a zero-emission operation, and where this proves infeasible carbon offsets will be acquired

 

We look forward to creating our organization’s first Sustainability Report to APTA in June 2013.

public transit, sustainability
Comments Off on German Infrastructure Projects

One of the most impressive things the US Delegation on energy efficiency in public transit saw while on our visit was the Germans’ commitment to greening their cities and improving their public transit options. Again and again, our German American Chambers of Commerce delegation saw audacious infrastructure projects designed for sustainable, livable cities.  Each project seemed destined to both improve the efficiency of public transit balanced with a commitment to creating more walkable and better use spaces.

 

One example was the Stuttgart 21 project.  This project – while certainly plagued with its share of politics and protests – has a plan to transform the Stuttgart landscape by creating an underground “through rail station” to replace the current terminus design.  A main feature of the project is to recover the industrial space used by the current above-ground tracks for multi-use, mixed purposes.

 

The project intends to relocate the majority of the train station underground, and to provide state-of-the art green and clean tech within the facility.

 

Interestingly, from the outside the value of this bold project for the community seems so high that one wonders at the protests from the Green party that would naturally support a project based on such livability goals.  This is where the world economy begins to take its toll on grand vision – the costs of the project exceed €4.5 billion.  Given all of the economic woe in Europe, this does seem an immense amount of money to which to commit.  Corruption, dissension, and politics led to significant protests about this project, and even dramatic changes in the German political sphere as a result.  However, at the end of the day, the region voted in favor of moving forward with the project.

 

As a sustainability professional, the Stuttgart 21 project has the potential to be a shining example of how a focus on livability can improve a city’s landscape.  Hopefully the project architects and engineers will not abandon the sustainability principles that make this program so attractive as they settle into the realities of construction.

I was honored to be invited to give two presentations this year at Oracle’s OpenWorld 2012. While they will be available through the OpenWorld content site, I thought I would just share them on slideshare for anyone interested. The content is somewhat repetitive from the Collaborate presentation earlier this year, but does incorporate some lessons since the project went live.  The second was our feature on the implementation of the Environmental Accounting and Reporting module in JD Edwards.

 

Please see Oracle’s website for the presentations.

environmental accounting, sustainability
Comments Off on Collaborate 2012: Environmental Accounting Presentation

Thought I would provide a link to the 2012 Collaborate presentation on Oracle’s JD Edwards Environmental Accounting module.

environment, solar, sustainability
Comments Off on Electric Vehicle Charging Station Open

evWe completed our work with ECOtality this week and the new electric vehicle charging stations in Oceanside are now open.  The NC Times did an article about them today.

 

This was yet another overly-complicated project, proving to be far more challenging than we originally thought.  From permitting issues to politics, to fighting to sell the business case to allow these chargers to be free, this project seemed nearly doomed.

 

But fortunately for the San Diego EV community, they are now live and users can charge for free off of clean solar power.

 

Photo courtesy of the North County Times by photographer Hayne Palmour IV.

environment, sustainability
Comments Off on Preparation for Oracle Webinar on Environmental Accounting

This week I was fortunate to be invited to work with Jon Chorley and Rich Kroes from Oracle on a webinar discussing their new Environmental Accounting and Reporting modules for Oracle and JD Edwards. We selected this tool as the foundation of our internal emissions, waste generation, power generation, and water usage accounting processes. We discovered in filing our first Climate Registry baseline year assessment and our first American Pubic Transportation Association sustainability report that manually gathering this data is an intense and expensive process.

 

Thought I would share the slides I compiled for the webinar. We’ll be broadcasting next week, so I’ll post a link to that afterward.

 

data center, energy consumption, green computing, public transit, solar, sustainability
Comments Off on Press Article on NCTD IT

nctimes-millerAs much as I am not happy with the photo, I am happy that the North County Times decided to feature my team in an article today.  The focus is on our sustainability and technology programs.  Thanks to Paul Sisson for the kind words.

 

In the background is our new solar installation at the Buena Creek SPRINTER station.  This is an exciting new technology by Uni-Solar called “photovoltaic laminate”.  Basically it is a flexible solar membrane-like material that can be glued down to the supporting structure.  It is highly durable – used by the military in harsh installation conditions.  It is not as efficient per square foot as other technologies, but we chose it to prove that solar can be installed in some pretty challenging environments.  You can read about the material here:  uni-solar_laminate.

Photo courtesy NCTimes.com taken by Hayne Palmour IV

alternative energy, environment, sustainability
Comments Off on Sustainability Case Study for Small-to-Medium Business

This week I was lucky to be able to participate in the American Public Transportation Association’s 2011 Sustainability Workshop.  This time the workshop really seemed to get its focus around sustainability initiatives that could work for every agency and business partner – not just the really large agencies.  It is always impressive to see what entities like New York MTA and San Francisco Muni can accomplish.  But this does not always translate well to the smaller guys.  And sustainability by its very nature will make greater progress if it is permeated through smaller agencies as well.

 

I started participating in this workshop just three short years ago.  In that time, the North County Transit District has gone from no sustainability initiatives, to a comprehensive portfolio of work – most of which has driven significant operating cost savings for the agency and lead to smarter decisions and business plans.

 

To me, sustainability is not a political movement.  It is not a badge of honor.  It is not a marketing campaign.  It is a means to ensure we can continue to deliver on our primary mandate as a company – to provide safe access for our community to their education, jobs, doctors, grocery stores…  It is a means to ensure that over the long run, NCTD can exist.  Good for the environment, good for our employees, and good for our community.

environmental accounting, sustainability
Comments Off on First Experience with The Climate Registry

I am very excited to say that working with our consultant TrustElement, we were able to join the Climate Registry this week.  I struggled with this concept initially for NCTD: what taxapayer or ridership value would we bring to the table for making the investment in measuring and reporting emissions, waste, and water usage data to this nonprofit organization?

 

At the end of the day, the concepts of auditing, data quality, and transparency seemed important to our community.  It has become too easy to say one is engaging in projects that are “green” or “sustainable” without some independent validation of these statements.  The Climate Registry requires that all reporting entities be validated by an independent and certified third party.  This means that our communities and riders could have confidence that the data the NCTD is reporting is in fact accurate.  This to me seemed worth the investment.

 

There is a downside to all of this work; however.  I am afraid to say that our initial baseline year does not measure up well to other industry entities.  In transit, one important metric is the amount of carbon public transit offsets.  So for every ton of carbon generated by our agency in conducting operations, we in theory offset an amount by having our riders avoid independent emissions from their choice to ride our more efficient service rather than driving their own car.  In New York, the MTA is able to achieve an emissions factor of 12 – for every 1 ton of carbon, they offset 12 tons.  Chicago achieved 5 this year.  Philadelphia 3.  The industry average is 1.9.  Unfortunately, NCTD is 1.6 for calendar year 2009.

 

The good news is that this gives us a new set of targets and goals to achieve to improve this number.  As part of our plan, in 2010 we turned on the green data center, we started deploying solar installations, we installed emissions controls on a segment of the Breeze bus fleet, and in September 2010 we installed a driver feedback system on the buses called GreenRoads to try to improve gas mileage.

 

Regardless of the numbers we achieved in our baseline year, by measuring ourselves and by having that number audited and verified, our community can now see the progress we make and trust that the numbers are real.