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Boeing: sustainability is ‘the right thing to do for business’

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The leading aircraft manufacturer talks energy efficiency, ‘green diesel’ and reducing aviation emissions.

This article originally appeared in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Transport 2014.

A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) previously estimated that 2% of manmade carbon emissions came from aviation. This was expected to increase to 5% by 2050. Whilst the aerospace industry has made progress, questions remain about whether it is doing enough to cut emissions and become more sustainable.

Terry Mutter, director of enterprise strategy for Boeing Environment, Health and Safety, admits that although each time the industry improves it “gets harder and harder” to carry on advancing its sustainability performance, there have been recent examples of demonstrated progress such as Boeing’s 787 improving fuel efficiency by 20%.

He adds that emissions increasing past the IPCC’s estimated 2% was “something the industry is working hard to address”. The sector has worked together to set up a framework for improving the impact aviation has on the environment. It has not only considered how efficient vehicles and fuels are, but the overall system the planes are used in, such as air traffic control.

Mutter explains, “What’s important for all industries is to understand where you compete and where you collaborate within the industry. So we’ve agreed that whilst we compete on how efficient our aeroplanes are with other manufacturers, we collaborate with the industry when it comes to the areas of traffic management and sustainable biofuels because if we can make sure those parts of the system are efficient the industry has a much better chance of being able to grow whilst reducing its overall footprint.”

Through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the industry has made a commitment to have carbon neutral growth by 2020 and for emissions to be reduced by 50% by 2050, from a 2005 baseline.

To my knowledge, aerospace is the only industry that has come up with a framework and has made commitments in terms of reducing carbon emissions as an industry not just a company”, Mutter adds.

In order to achieve these targets, the industry needs to make improvements across the whole aviation system. The sector is growing, so emissions would continue to rise if the industry only focused on creating more efficient aeroplanes. The sector predicts it can cut its emissions by 12% by effectively implementing current technology that will improve the efficiency of the air traffic management system.

Boeing has proved that it is possible for the industry to grow whilst taking positive action when it comes to the environment. Following a complete restructure of the company’s environment programme in 2007, it set five-year targets, including cutting emissions, water use and waste. It exceeded them all.

Over this period, greenhouse gas emissions were cut by 9% whilst internal operations continued to grow with production rates increasing by 50%. The company has now committed to zero growth in absolute terms in the areas of greenhouse gases, water and solid waste to landfill by 2017.

Mutter explains that Boeing succeeded because it had linked environmental projects to the business plan and economic benefits.

“Not only is it the right thing to do but it is the right thing to do for business. We have never implemented any sustainability project that did not have a positive return on investment”, he says.

Technological advancements are key to reducing the negative effects aerospace has on the planet. In January, Boeing identified ‘green diesel’ as a significant new source of sustainable aviation biofuel that emits at least 50% less carbon than fossil fuels over its lifetime. Green diesel offers the industry an alternative to traditional fuel sources. It is already in production and, unlike other biofuels, is competitively priced.

Boeing also partners with airlines to test future technologies related to various environmental improvements –such as adaptive trailing edges, fuel cell technology and vibrations sensors – through its programme ecoDemonstrator. This gives it an opportunity to test different technologies and highlight what it should be aiming for in the next launch in the commercial sector.

When you compare how far the aerospace industry has come in terms of cutting emissions, it surpasses other forms of transportation. Comparing the Boeing 707, which began development in 1958, with the newer 777 model, newer planes are 70% more fuel efficient and have a 90% lower noise footprint.

Mutter concludes, “The industry has a history of huge innovation and technological gains. We’ve cut emissions before, it certainly gets harder and harder, but we’re optimistic we’ve got the right plan and we’ll continue to innovate.”

Further reading:

The return of the airship: under the bonnet of the world’s longest aircraft

A journey to the future: five transport inventions that could change the world

Sustainable transport: to fly, or not to fly?

Investing in sustainable transport, and not destroying the world

The Guide to Sustainable Transport 2014

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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