Los Angeles IS cool! Even the roofs!

Los Angeles, the second most populous city in the U.S., has made history by becoming the first major city to require all new and refurbished homes have a "cool roof." On December 17, 2013 the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed an update to its Municipal Building Code. A cool roof is one that "reflects and emits the sun's heat back to the sky instead of transferring it to the building below," according to the Cool Roof Rating Council.

Shell Puts an Internal Price on Carbon Pollution

There is a section within Royal Dutch Shell’s 2012 sustainability report, released last spring, which describes the oil company’s self imposed carbon pollution price. Yes, you read those last three words correctly and they are not a typo.

IKEA Invests In Canadian Wind Farm

IKEA is the world’s largest home furnishings retailer, with over 340 stores in 40 countries, including 38 in the U.S. That’s one big reach. IKEA would like its reach to be powered with renewable energy.

Plastic Bag Ban Passes in LA

The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday, June 18 to approve a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The Coucil voted 11 to 1 in favor of the ordinance, and a final vote is scheduled for next week. Last year, the Council voted 13 to 1 to move forward on banning single use plastic shopping bags. The ban will go into effect for large stores on January 1, 2014, and for smaller stores on July 1, 2014. Paper bags will not be included in the ban, but stores now have to charge 10 cents per paper bag. When the ban goes into affect, one in four Californians will live in a city that bans single-use plastic shoppings bags, according to the environmental group, Heal the Bay. There is good financial reasoning behind the ban. Only five percent of single use plastic bags are recycled every year across the state and California municipalities spend almost $25 million a year to collect and throw away plastic bags that litter the streets and clog storm drains. Currently there are almost two billion plastic shopping bags and 400 million paper bags are distributed every year in Los Angeles.

Vancouver Uses “Warm Mix” Paving Process, Uses Recycled Plastic in Asphalt

The Canadian city of Vancouver is using innovative materials to pave its new roads: asphalt made up of wax from recycled plastic. The city is calling the asphalt mix a "warm mix" paving process, according to Fast Coexist. Using a warm mix, as Fast Coexist explains, allows asphalt to be "produced and transported at lower temperatures." Using lower temperatures means that 20 percent less gas is used to heat the warm mix asphalt. Produced by GreenMantra Technologies, a Toronto-based company, the warm mix asphalt is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic waste.

American Meteorological Society confirms Climate Change and Man’s Role

Weathercasters in the U.S. not only tend to not ever mention climate change, but the majority of them do not even believe it is human-caused, as an article I recently wrote shows. However, that may change. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) released an official position statement on climate change this week which not only said that it is occurring, but it is human-caused. What is so great about the statement by the AMS is that it includes so much information about climate change, including that there is scientific consensus. The AMS makes it clear that the statement is "based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature and is consistent with the vast weight of current scientific understanding." The statement details how the climate is changing, both in the U.S. and around the world. The changes listed include increases in globally averaged air and ocean temperatures, the widespread melting of snow and ice, and the rising of globally averaged sea level. As the statement puts it, "Warming of the climate system now is unequivocal, according to many different kinds of evidence." That is not good news for the world's population, but it is good news that the AMS is acknowledging that climate change is real and is occurring.

Environmental Advertising Increases When the Economy Is Stronger

Environmental concern is greater when the economy is stronger, a study found which looked at environmental advertising in National Geographic over three decades. Specifically, the study, conducted by three researchers at Penn State University, found that consumers are more receptive to environmental appeals and marketers do more environmental advertising when the economy is improving. There is a strong statistical correlation, the three researchers discovered, between the GDP and the amount of environmental advertising. As Lee Ahern, one of researchers said, "We found that changes in GDP do indeed predict the level of 'green' advertising." "Results support the idea that key economic indicators affect the level of green strategic messaging," said Ahern. "This perspective argues that environmental concern will be greater in stronger economies and better economic times. By extension, consumers will be more attuned and receptive to green appeals when the economy is improving, and marketers will employ more green advertising."

Can Making Rum be Sustainable? Serrallés thinks so!

Rum production produces rather nasty wastewater which needs to be disposed of some how. The Serrallés Rum Distillery in Ponce, Puerto Rico produces DonQ, its main brand of rum, which is the most popular rum in Puerto Rico. It is one of the largest rum distilleries in the Caribbean with an annual output capacity of 15 million proof gallons. The company has spent a decade and $16 million on a new filtration system. Serrallés used to dump its wastewater into nearby fields, but during rainy season the waste would run off and the distillery would have to shut down when flooding starting which cost the company $200,000 a year. A Fast Company article claims that Serrallés has turned the "$75 million distillery into one of the cleanest in the world."

Majority of Americans Agree: Protecting the Environment Creates Jobs

The majority of Americans (58 percent) think that protecting the environment improves economic growth and creates new jobs. The results are from a recently released poll by Yale University and George Mason University's climate change communication program. Only 17 percent of the poll's respondents think that environmental protection hurts the economy and job growth, and 25 percent think there is no effect. When there is a conflict between protecting the environment and improving the economy, 62 percent think it is more important to protect the environment, and only 38 percent thought economic growth is more important.

Bill To End Fossil Fuel Subsidies Introduced Into Congress

The End Polluter Welfare Act would end fossil fuel subsidies, and save over $10 billion a year and more than $110 billion over 10 years. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Keith Ellison announced they would introduce the bill to Congress during a press conference with 350.org. The bill would specifically end tax breaks for fossil fuel companies, plus eliminate special financing, end taxpayer funded R&D, and set fair royalties policies.