Thursday, March 31, 2011

Standard Chartered Bank commits to Sustainability

Standard Chartered has reaffirmed its commitment to being a socially useful bank. In its fifth annual Sustainability Review, released today, the Bank sets out how it has delivered on its strategy to provide a strong return for shareholders, while creating social and economic value in the communities where it operates.

In 2010, Standard Chartered contributed to the real economy by increasing lending to its customers and clients by nearly USD45 billion, or 22 per cent. This included a 32 per cent increase in loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), crucial drivers of growth and employment across the Bank's markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It also provided thousands more people with the opportunity to buy their own homes, increasing mortgage lending by USD13 billion, or 23 per cent, across its footprint.

The Bank believes that, by providing finance efficiently and responsibly, it can have a positive and sustained social and economic impact on its markets. This aspiration is captured in its brand promise, 'Here for good', launched in 2010.

China focuses more of solar power after Japanese nuclear accident makes it reconsider on nuclear power

China is one of the first countries to have reconsidered its plan in nuclear power. This is a direct fallout of Japanese Nuclear accident at Fukushima power plant. China has decided to reduce its nuclear power targets. Instead, it will focus on solar power. An official from National Development and Reform Commission disclosed this. The current target of 80 gigawatts of nuclear power by the year 2020 will be reduced. The solar power target for the year 2020 is 20 gigawatts. This will be increased. However, it may not be easy to change the priorities so easily as China’s hunger of energy and power is increasing with leaps and bounds. It may not be easy to fulfil the energy needs by solar power. The stock market reacted to this development and shares of organizations in the nuclear power sector were affected adversely.

California (U.S.) targets 33% from renewable energy by 2020, approves legislation

It is not only the private sector organizations who are working towards reducing dependency on conventional sources of energy but the various local government bodies are also trying their bit to increase their usage of renewable energy. California government yesterday has approved of a plan to mandate that at least 33% of the electricity in the state should be derived from the renewable sources by the year 2020. Under the current policy the state needs to move towards renewable energy. They have an intermediate target of drawing 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) wants to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Also sets targets on waste, water and emissions

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) wants to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050. They are focusing on the value chain to achieve this.  They have released the 2010 Corporate responsibility report.  By the year 2050 there will not be net emissions from GSK of greenhouse gasses. This would cover the manufacturing, distribution, production, procurement etc. It plans to reduce the carbon footprint by 15% by the year 2015 and by the year 2020, they would reduce the carbon footprint by 25%. The waste generation would be reduced by 25% by 2015 and water consumptions for operations would be reduced by 20% by the year 2015.

American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) has announced ambitious targets for recycling, reducing emissions and other green initiatives

American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) has announced the most ambitious targets for recycling, reducing emissions and other green initiatives. They aim to recycle paper by 70 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by the year 2020. They are also keen on working on their energy efficiency and want to improve on the same by 10%. They also want to work towards people safety and incidents. They want to have zero injuries and have been working towards it by reducing safety incidence by 25%. They are also working with various governmental and non-governmental bodies to reduce illegal logging. They also look forward to increasing their dependence on certified forestland.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

IKEA - Sustainability Report 2010

IKEA, the world's largest home furnishing retailer, has released its 2010 Sustainability Report which highlights its sustainable progress, accomplishments and new opportunities in the areas of social and environmental responsibility.

The report describes the priorities for 2015 that influence the entire value chain from product design and development to the very end of a product's life as outlined in the new IKEA Sustainability direction.

Some of the key highlights:

Product Score Card: The introduction of the IKEA Sustainability Product Score card. This is a new internal tool for more sustainable product development and purchasing that will help classify the IKEA home furnishing range within 11 criteria that have an impact on the environment

Certified Wood: The share of certified wood increased substantially from 16.2% to 23.6%

Renewable Energy: The number of IKEA buildings with solar panel systems nearly doubled, taking us one step further towards the goal of operating all IKEA units on 100% renewable energy

IKEA Foundation: Decision made to invest an additional 7.5 million euros in UNICEF's water sanitation programme in India. This support will help expand the scope of the programme in15 states

More Sustainable Cotton: More than 80,000 farmers in India and Pakistan are now using more sustainable farming practices. The share of more sustainable cotton in the IKEA range more than doubled compared to last year to 13.4% of total IKEA usage

India wins the Cricket World Cup Semi Finals against Pakistan at Mohali : Match displays camaraderie unseen before. Cricket Diplomacy at its best with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The Cricket World Cup semi final between India and Pakistan was touted as even more important compared to the finals, which is yet to be played. The match was eagerly played and watched across all the cricketing nations. However, what was good to see was the friendliness and camaraderie displayed between the two cricketing teams and nations. There were no exchanges of words or sledging. The smiles flowed even as the stress built up during the match.  The who’s who of India Industry and political circle was present in Mohali to watch the match. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani enjoyed and kept the conversation going on during the match. Hopefully this brings about a new era in India Pakistan relationship.  

Office Depot, Symantec, Performance Bicycles, Garnet Hill and United Stationers decide to drop the Sustainability Forest Initiative (SFI) eco-friendly label

Sustainability Forest Initiative (SFI) label has been used by many organizations to portray that they have a concern for the environment. Some non- profit organizations say that the SFI still allow some practices which may not be very environment friendly. On the other hand it gives an impression to the consumers that the products are eco friendly. Some of the organizations who have agreed to drop the SFI label are Office Depot, Symantec, Performance Bicycles, Garnet Hill and United Stationers.

The Cricket World Cup Semi final match is being played in Mohali between India and Pakistan: Sports and Environment

The Cricket World Cup Semi final match is being played in Mohali between India and Pakistan.The stadium is one of the best in India. The stadium has also been built to the best specifications and also adhere to some of the sustainability and green standards. Also the first ever climate neutral cricket match took place in Mohali on 9th April last year.

Japan replans tariff for surplus solar power to encourage adoption

To encourage people and business entities to install solar power installation at their premises the Japanese government will increase tariff for surplus solar power by 67 %. Utility organizations which buy the surplus solar power will now have to pay 48 yen cents for a kilowatt-hour compared to the earlier rate of 24 yen. Similarly homes which generates surplus solar power can earn 42 yen for every kilowatt-hour.

New York plans to charge plastic-shopping bags, Bangladesh has banned them, Bangalore plans to ban them soon

Plastic shopping bags are a menace to the city environment. Various governments have been grappling with the idea of how to deal with the problem. Some countries have banned them. Some governments are trying to levy a extra charge on the shopping bags. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to put in a plan wherein every shopper will be charged 6-cent for every plastic bag. Plastic bags have been banned in Bangladesh long back. The city of Bangalore has been mulling a ban for quite some time but implementing it has been a problem as they are quite popular with the shoppers and the bags are produced by the unorganized sector. These bags do not degrade easily and they choke the drainage system, which causes problems during heavy rains and flood the streets and neighbourhood.

European Commission: From 2050 European Cities will not allow gas powered vehicles according to a plan

Come 2050 gas powered cars will not be seen in European cities. This is according to a plan by which was prepared by the European Commission. According to forecasts European commission sees that by 2030 gas powered vehicles would be halved in number. United Kingdom has already rejected the idea. The other targets that European Plan has is 40% cut in shipping emissions, the aviation industry should be using low carbon aviation fuel which would constitute about 40%. Promoting rail usage instead of road, eliminating deaths caused by road accidents by 2050. By the year, 2030 freight vehicles in cities should not be emitting carbon.

Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates ‘Giving Pledge’ receives lukewarm response from the rich Indians, however that does not mean Indian’s are not philanthropic

Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates were visiting India last week. The idea was to inspire the rich people of India to take part in the giving pledge. However not many people turned up for the events organized for the rich. So where does this lead? Are the Indians not forthcoming as far as philanthropy is concerned?  The lack of participation from India’s affluent families should not be misconstrued as their unwillingness to give money for philanthropy.  It is argued that most of the Indian have just started tasting the wealth. Hence, it might take time for them to make a transition towards philanthropy. The others argue that just because people did not show adequate interest in Giving Pledge does not mean that they are not involved in charity or social causes. Most of the big industrial houses have their own means for donating money for these causes and philanthropy and they may not be the same way as people from the developed country may donate money.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TERI and their 'GRIHA' rating system

It stands for Green Habitat for Integrated Habitat Assessment and in Sanskrit it means 'Abode'. Every building or a human habitat consumes certain resources in the form of energy, water, materials etc and emits municipal waste, byproducts of electricty generation etc. Going by the old adage, 'What gets measured, gets managed', GRIHA attempts to measure metrics of energy consumption, renewable energy adoption, waste generation and many more to ascertain whether these habitats adhere to certain nationally accepted benchmarks.

Essentially it is a rating tool that will evaluate holistically the performance of a building over its entire life cycle thereby providing a definitive as to what constitutes a 'green building'. This methodology has been endorsed by MNRE and is a mixture of qualitative and quantitative metrics. India's varied climate, terrain, unorganized real estate sector pose major challenges to assessment but it surely is a step in the right direction.

Visit the TERI website for more on the methodology.

Applying thought towards sustainability

Setting a benchmark to its peers, IT major Wipro has released sustainability report based on the GRI framework has been rated A+ for the third successive instance.

Sustainability initiative has been evolving rapidly since its inception more than three years back and includes several dimensions, each of which is a separate program in itself.

The programme includes Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation, Water Efficiency, Waste Management, Biodiversity, Health and Safety, Diversity, Education, Community Care and Advocacy, a company release said today.

Wipro also offers an integrated portfolio of green solutions for its customers spanning Green Computing, Clean Energy, Managed Energy Services and IT for Green solutions.

Over a five year period, Wipro has achieved 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency of Wipro’s campus operations over a five year period, 32% of Wipro’s water needs is met through internal recycling and reuse, 76 per cent of generated waste gets recycled.

The goal is to not have more than 5 per cent of waste end up in landfills by 2013, Anurag Behar, Chief Sustainability Officer, Wipro Ltd said.

He said multi-dimensional diversity program addressing Gender, Nationality and the Physically Disadvantaged had been taken up. Wipro’s workforce comprises 29 per cent women and has more than 70 nationalities represented in it.

Jeffrey Immelt CEO of General Electric (GE) acquires Converteam and LBO France in a significant move towards the energy sector

General Electric (GE) has been very much focussed on sustainability. It also firmly believes that sustainability over a period will drive significant business opportunities for the organization. In a recent move GE has agreed to buy Converteam and LBO France for $3.2 billion. The acquisition will give the firm capability to manufacture devices that regulates electricity flows from wind turbines to power grids. Jeffrey Immelt CEO of GE has been concentrating on Energy which includes Oil and Gas and renewable energy like wind and solar. The move synchronizes well with the overall product portfolio of GE.

Apple recycles aluminium surpasses recycling targets. Electronics industry is moving towards aluminium.

Intelligent product design can bring dramatic results. Who knows it better than Apple?  Apple consciously uses aluminium cases in its products. This has helped the organization not only to meet its recycling target but it has surpassed them. This is Steve Jobs Brainchild when in 2007 he thought about this innovative approach. In 2009 Apple achieved a recycle rate of 66.4 %. It has targeted a goal of 70% in the year 2010—2015. It is a general trend that, the consumer electronics industry is moving towards aluminium as a key product component.

British Petroleum Sustainability report does not mention Gulf of Mexico oil spill (Deepwater Horizon) figures

British Petroleum has brought out its sustainability report. This is the first Sustainability report that the organization has published after Deepwater Horizon ( Gulf of Mexico Oil spill). Surprisingly the organization has not included the figure of Gulf of Mexico Oil spill in the report. This portrays an incorrect picture that oil spill in 2010 was less than that of 2008. The company has justified this figure by saying there is no reliable and universally acceptable estimates of how much oil spill has actually happened during the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Wipro get good ratings in Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Oekom and GRI

Wipro has been working earnestly towards sustainability for the last couple of years. The organization’s effort has paid rich dividends. The GRI sustainability report, which Wipro publishes, has been rated as A+. In the Dow Jones Sustainability Index the organization has been ranked 1 in the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (India). Oekom has ranked Wipro No.2 in the Global IT services Industry. The organization has managed to improve energy efficiency by 20% over the last six years. It also has a very effective water recycling plan. Today about 32% of the water needs of the organization is being made through recycled water.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Parivartan Sustainability Leadership Awards 2011

Food Packaging major Tetrapak, Auto sector giants TVS and Kirloskar Oil; Textile leaders Welspun and Ginni; and IT majors Infosys and Cognizant were amongst 16 large and small Indian corporates that bagged the Parivartan Sustainability Leadership Awards for 2011.

The awards were presented at the Parivartan Sustainability summit, India's first market development forum on Sustainability and Innovation, held on March 24.

The Parivartan Sustainability leadership awards, organized by India Carbon Outlook, seek to recognize Indian companies who have embraced sustainability in their business operations and supply chain and have shown leadership by taking initiatives for making their products, processes and facilities sustainable.

The winners were arrived at after evaluating the second stage shortlist of 200 + companies from an initial outreach of around 4500 companies actively engaged in the respective sector value chains. The nominations from these leading companies were judged by industry veterans and experts from the respective sectors such as Lars Domer of H&M, the leading European retailer; Avi Sahi of Nike; Arvind Goel of Tata Auto Components; Neeraj Garg of Piramal Enterprises and Vinay Awasthi of HP.

The Parivartan Sustainability Leadership Summit and Awards were supported by market leaders like SAP, GIZ, Shell Foundation, Intertek, CIIE- IIMA etc. and were focused on sectors that are increasingly being driven to adopt sustainability measures in their extended supply chains.

Adidas lays out its 2015 environmental and sustainable supply chain objectives

Adidas has been focusing on Sustainable Supply Chain. The group has met the targets for launching its 2015 environmental objectives. The 2010 sustainability report of the group aims to reduce the organization’s emissions and environmental footprint by 15% relative to the sales. It covers supply chain, product design and creation, sourcing and production and various other departments elated to the supply chain. The targets (relative to the sales) include 20% reduction in energy consumption, 30% reduction in carbon emissions, 20 % reduction in water consumption per employee and 25% reduction in waste. The report also mentioned that the organization has prepared audit checklists and other guidelines. It also talks about the status of their suppliers.

Vibha Premier League: Cricket match scheduled to raisie funds for under privileged children

Public Service Notice:

Vibha Premier League: Cricket match scheduled to raisie funds for under privileged children ...

When was the last time you were part of a fun filled activity that was helping out a good cause?

Welcome to the inaugural Vibha Premier League 2011. Vibha Premier League is a fun filled cricket tournament where teams will play each other over two days to become Vibha Premier League 2011 Champions. The tournament is an exciting way to help raise funds for Vibha's charitable activities which focus on helping under privileged children.
Registration Dates: Last date for registration is March 31st 2011.

Match Dates: The matches will be held in April 16-17th 2011.

Venue : Holy Cross School Ground, Near Hope Farm, Whitefield (Two kms from New Forum Value Mall).

Other Details :

Repair at Nuclear reactors no 2 and 3 in Fukushima, Japan stopped due to radioactive water. Dead and missing people due to earthquake and tsunami stands at 27110

Nuclear reactors no 2 and 3 are still in critical condition. The floors of the reactors are filled with radioactive water, which have radiation levels which are 100000 time more than the normal. It may not be easy to drain out the radioactive water as all the condenser tans are already full. The radiation levels are at 1000 millisieverts, which will cause vomiting, hair loss, and diarrhoea. The number of dead and missing people due to earthquake and tsunami has been put at 27110.

Denmark based Dong Energy will raise funds by selling stake in Anholt project

Denmark based Dong Energy is planning for a fund raising activity for more investments. The firm is the world’s largest owner of offshore wind farms. Danish pension funds PensionDanmark and PKA will invest money in the fund raising activity. Dong Energy will sell 50 % stake in the Anholt wind park for$1.13 billion. The construction of the wind park will start next year. The park will house 111 wind turbines with an installed capacity of 400 megawatts.

Anti –Nuclear sentiments ( due to nuclear incident in Japan Fukushima ) go against German Chancellor Merkel in the recent elections

People in Germany have voted for anti- nuclear approach. In the recent elections the people have voted against German Chancellor Merkel’s coalition and she is forced to reconsider her energy policies. In recent elections, people have elected the Greens who will be a part of the regional governments. These regions have four nuclear plants and experts say that the recent nuclear crisis in Japan have tilted peoples opinion against nuclear power and have given rise to grave concerns about the safety of these power plants. Merkel will now have to reconsider her stand on nuclear power.

Wind and Solar Hybrid Systems: Food for thought

It goes without saying that renewable energy sources will play a big part in times to come. Wind, Solar, Geothermal etc. all have a part to play in the sustainability and it is upto us to harness these to our benefit.

India had been growing fast in the area of wind power generation and as you guessed it right, the US leads the pack with a generation capacity of 35GW (end of 2009) followed by Germany (25.7GW) and China(25.1GW). India's total installed capacity is around 13.1GW accounting for 6% of total installed capacity and 1.6% of power generation. India is in the process of preparing its Wind Atlas which will enable it to identify potential areas for setting up wind farms in future.

A wind farm requires huge tracts of land if it is setup on land and some argue about its impact on flora and fauna. People that are against wind farms argue that the blades do not only occupy agricultural land, but damage crops. Professor of atmospheric science Somnath Baidya Roy of the University of Illinois, in a study published in October 2010 shows that in the immediate vicinity of wind farms, the climate is cooler during the day and slightly warmer during the night than the surrounding areas. According to Roy, the effect is due to the turbulence generated by the blades. However, there has been no credible proof of adverse impacts and mankind stands to gain more from Wind Energy than it stands to lose.

Anyway, moving away from this discussion about wind farms, I wonder what could be done on the land between two wind mills. Agriculture as we all know is one such activity. My mind wanders around the hybrid variety, a combination of neatly arranged wind mills with solar PV panels occupying the area between them so as to make use of both sun and wind. We can back it up with a generator running on biofuels for constant energy supply during hiccups. As I think about this idea, I wonder as to which part of India would have abundance of wind and sunshine along with decent supply of bagasse (biofuel). It is a fact that the western part of India including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka recieve in excess of 215 days of sunshine and places close to the coast say in Gujarat also recieve fairly good amount of wind. The analysis can be done with the help of a software called HOMER.

Sanand in Gujarat could be a possible location to try out a solution like this is what my friend suggested. That is where many of the industrial houses are setting up shop including the Nano plant and being away from the cities along with access to bagasse from Maharashtra, this can be a feasible option. Although the technical details have to be validated along with the commercials (govt policies, pricing, mode of operation etc.) but isnt it good to be a little over the top sometimes?!! Many such small hybrid systems are operating in villages in India and many companies have mushroomed around such solutions but the cost of a hybrid system remains high compared to standalone systems and it is only in places where the economic benefit outweighs the initial capital outlay, that this can be explored. Finally, I leave it to the readers to ponder on this.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Greening at the cost of sustainability

The race for biofuels has led to limited resources and land being diverted from food for the poor.

Spectators at February's Daytona 500 in Florida, US were handed green flags to wave in celebration of the news that the race's stock cars now use gasoline with 15% corn-based ethanol (biofuel). It was the start of a season long campaign to sell the merits of biofuel to Americans. 

The 'greening' of Nascar (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) is unfortunately an exercise in 'greening' without heed to 'sustainability'. The US spends about $ 6 bn a year on federal support for ethanol production through tax credits, tariffs and other incentives. Thanks to this financial assistance, 1/6th of the world's corn supply is burned in American cars. That is enough corn to feed 350 mn people for an entire year.

Government support of rapid growth in biofuel has contributed to diarray in food production. In2010, biofuel consumed more than 6.5% of global grain output and 8% of world's vegetable oil. Biofuels were initially championed by environmental campaigners as a solution to global warming. However research showed that biofuels from most food crops did not significantly reduce greenhouse emissions. Some green activists supported mandates for biofuel hoping that it would pave the way for next generation ethanol which would use non-food plants. This has not happened. 

Even former US Vice-President and Nobel laureate Al Gore has admitted that the policy was a 'mistake'. It is refreshing that Gore has changed his viewpoint whereas there are lobbies which want to keep it going. 

Point of view: It is becoming increasingly important to bring in a holistic view to designing change programmes towards greening and sustainability. Often in trying to mitigate one aspect of the challenge the change programme would impact adversely the very cause of the change. Greening and sustainability has to go hand-in-hand and cannot be achieved in isolation.    

Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola Bayer AG, Virgin Group, McGraw Hill , Hyundai, Vodafone, General Electric , Banco Bradesco SA won awards in CR Reporting awards by Corporate Register

Corporate Register  announced the CR Reporting awards for 2011. Hewlett-Packard won the award for Best Report. The IT major was followed up by Coca-Cola and Bayer AG. The first time report was won by Virgin Group, followed by McGraw Hill and Hyundai. Carbon Disclosure award was won by Vodafone followed by General Electric and Banco Bradesco SA. The voting is open for Corporate Register users.

General Mills achieves some and misses some target on Sustainability as per the 2011 CSR report

It is a mixed bag of results on Sustainability from General Mills. As per the Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR ) report published in 2011 General Mills has just about been able to meet just half of its target that it set for itself on Sustainability in 2010. It exceeded the targets it set for solid waste generation and water usage but it fell short on energy usage and GHG emissions. It had set a target of 15 % to cut GHG emission and energy consumption. It has been able to cut energy consumption by 6% and GHG emissions by 8 %. The company has a new set of target for the year 2015. It plans to cut energy consumption, GHG emissions and water usage by 20%. It also plans to cut solid waste by 50% and transportation fuel consumption by 35%.  

Ela Bhatt who founded SEWA Self- Employed Women’s Association) pioneered the concept of Microfinance and microlending. Grameen Bank founded by Mohammed Yunus was founded two years later.

A simmering and bitter battle is being fought between the founder of Grameen Bank Mohammed Yunus and Bangladesh government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Things stared turning sour when the political equation between the two broke down. It may not be appropriate to get into the debate about who is on the right side of law. However, it is interesting to touch another interesting aspect of the fact that Mohammed Yunus is often considered as the person who conceptualized micro finance. In fact micro finance as a feasible concept was first demonstrated by an organization called SEWA ( Self- Employed Women’s Association). It was formed in the year 1974, two years before Grameen Bank was founded by Mohammed Yunus. SEWA has been financially viable since its inception and has given 9-12% dividend every year. It has been under Reserve Bank of India’s regulation since it was formed. It was founded by Ela Bhatt from Ahmedabad.

Fast Breeder Reactors ( Nuclear reactors ) : World over they have had a bad record on safety as their design makes them prone to accidents

After the nuclear radiation scare at Fukushima Japan Nuclear, safety has been the top of the mind of governments and people around the world.  Nuclear audits were done in a moment and a self proclaimed pat was given and taken by various authorities. We do not know how seriously these audits were done and the credibility of the reports. In India some concerns are being raised on the Jaitapur nuclear reactors. The complex is on a seismic zone, which has been rated higher compared to the other nuclear complexes. In addition, the French nuclear reactors for the complex are yet to be proven. Also the other question mark that is being raised is that of the inherent design of the Fast Breeder Reactors. These reactors have been designed indigenously by India and are capable of using Thorium, which is abundant in India. However, these reactors are cooled by liquid sodium. Liquid sodium reacts violently with water as well as air. Hence in a situation like the one that happened in Fukushima were sea water was sprayed and pumped to cool down the reactors, in these reactors sea water cannot be used. Also  according to experts the containment chambers of these reactors are not as strong as one would like them to be. These bring down the cost of the reactors but may prove to be costly in the event of an accident. Fast Breeder Reactors have been a bane for the nuclear power industry around the world as they have been fraught with accidents.   

Saturday, March 26, 2011

SAP has shown dramatic improvement on Sustainability: renewable energy, GHG emissions

SAP has been taking on aggressively the cause of sustainability and Green. They have been launching products like Sustainability performance management , Carbon Impact which was earlier known as Clear Standards and their flagship product the EH&S ( Environment Health and Safety). They have also used some of these products within the organization to actively pursue the cause. According to their Sustainability report of 2010 have showed dramatic results. They have reduced greenhouse gas emission, energy consumption per employee has also reduced which includes energy consumed by the data centres. The energy from renewable sources have also increased three times from 16%  to 48%. Some of their offices like the SAP Labs premise in Palo Alto is powered only from renewable energy. In some of the countries like in India SAP has been giving incentives to encourage them to buy electric cars.

Wipro’s Chairman Azim Premji, Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan and corporate honchos feel Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR ) should not be made mandatory but voluntary and more transparent

Indian government is contemplating making Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR ) mandatory. However, some of the industry chiefs are not very happy of the move. They feel that it should be voluntary and not mandatory. However there should be proper disclosure guidelines for CSR. Most of the CEOs. expect that more stress should be to make the CSR activities more transparent. A committee headed by the former finance minister of India had proposed that companies who have a net worth of INR 5000 million or revenue of INR 10000 million or companies with a net profit of INR 50 million would be under the corporate social responsibility guidelines and norms.

The Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney Australia has become a worldwide phenomenon

The Earth Hour Started in 2007 in Sydney Australia has become a worldwide phenomenon. It primary objective of the movement was to create awareness among people about the looming danger of climate change. It has caught the attention of people worldwide. Last year around 127 countries participated in it. It is celebrated on the last Saturday of March been 8:30 and 9:30 pm. Every year millions of people and organizations switch off the lights and other power consuming devices during this hour to show their support for the cause of climate change. Some of the organizations have even gone a step ahead and have started observing this on the Friday ( a day before) the actual Earth hour is celebrated on Saturday. This is primarily because of the fact that Saturday is a holiday. Various organizations are supporting Earth hour in various ways. In some airports, passengers are being given baggage tags spreading the message of Earth hour. Some banks are launching Solar powered ATMs on this day.

IT Strategy and Business Solutions - Going beyond applications in Dynamic Global Business for Organizational Sustainability

During my travel to a famous travel location, I chanced to have an encounter with members of a business group (let us name this as Bought Inc.) recently acquired by a larger group (let us name this as Buyer Plc) who were in similar (but not the same) line of operations.
The members whom I met were employed with Bought Inc. Some of them had recently joined Bought Inc from Buyer Plc. Bought Inc had an ERP application (let us name this as Bought ERP) which was running in servers located or split physically at each of its locations. Buyer Plc which was larger in terms of operations had an ERP (let us name this as Buyer ERP) sourced from a different vendor

Buyer Plc has been treading a route to align its IT strategy across its different locations and operations for some time now. There were lots of challenges as the operations were quite diverse across cultures and beyond national geographies. Acquisitions like Bought Inc were not making the travel along the path of aligning IT strategy any easier.

Some of the interesting things which I could garner from the conversations are being put down below:

- Most people who have been working with Bought Inc was happy with ERP that has been in place for some time – i.e. Bought ERP
- People who joined Bought Inc from Buyer Plc wanted to throw out Bought ERP and start with Buyer ERP from next day!
- People who felt there were limitations in the existing Bought ERP wanted to know how can Buyer ERP address these limitations without loosing on existing features which were mostly tailor made for their requirements

Change Management
I personally felt relevance of change management is unquestionable in such a situation where the Buyer Plc was very sure of its intend to put Buyer ERP across its operations. Change Management could involve many functions or operations:

- People may be required to be moved around without affecting operations but should ensure existing lobbies and caucus within Bought Inc is altered
- Top Management set up at Bought Inc along with key people from Buyer Plc has to ensure that significance, importance and relevance of change to Buyer ERP is high on their priorities
- System studies should be undertake to ensure that existing business practises in Bought Inc are aligned with basic structure of Buyer Plc
- Training and assurances to employees of Bought Inc should be provided so that they feel included in the entire change process

ERP Project for Buyer ERP implementation in Bought Inc
ERP Project should take into consideration the following aspects for ensuring its success:

- Time lines and resources should consider slippages (time lines and effectiveness) in execution of change management that precedes ERP Project
- The configuration of the Buyer ERP should ensure that existing operation support from Bought ERP is retained, and delivered features meet up to the changed operation situations of Bought Inc
- The project may have to deliver more than ordinary features associated with a traditional transactional ERP so as to justify the change over cost and effort

Friday, March 25, 2011

Earth Hour

Earth Hour is on 26th March, Saturday, from 8.30 to 9.30 pm (IST).. show your support by switching off the lights at your home.

...share your thoughts on the Earth Hour movement and conserving energy on this forum... you could post your comments on this post.
Commit to actions that go beyond the hour.

Green challenges in the data center

A clean and secure supply of power is critical to today’s data centers and IT facilities.and there’s certainly no arguing with the evident truth of that statement. With Greenpeace estimating in its recent report, titled Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change, that by 2020 data center power consumption could approach 2m MW hours,the industry has little choice but to look beyond simple energy efficiencies to examine the kind of electricity it will be using in future. According to experts there are two big problems for data centre operators today in regards to renewable sources. “Renewable power sources tend to be either expensive or unreliable – and quite often both,” For technologies such as wind and solar photovoltaic (PV), generation can vary too much (just think of fluctuating wind speed or light levels), deeming it impossible to use for baseload demand. Cooling devices in data Centre dissipate lot of heat. Usually 1 ton of cooling can dissipate 12,000 BTU of heat, where as 1 BTU of heat is the amount of energy needed to raise or lower the temperature of one pound of water by one degree *F .Hence every KW of energy source used by a server requires another KW for cooling, airflow, lighting. Generally data centre power uses, 25% of energy in cooling systems,50% of resources in IT Equipments, rest in lighting, air movement and etc.In some cases Power Costs accounts for 40-50% of the total data center operation budget.

A day before 'Earth Hour' day - let us learn to make our homes sustainable !!

''Change happens through example and not through just talking about it,'' Greg Olsen says. Olsen and his wife, Leeanne, have sparked a mini revolution. They began making their home more sustainable two years ago and the results have been so impressive, neighbours have followed suit, installing solar panels and solar hot-water tanks.
The Olsens began retrofitting their home in 2009 after getting an email from Randwick City Council about the rebates available. Combined with federal and state government rebates, the council money made solar hot water, rainwater tanks, greywater systems, downlights and insulation much more affordable. A solar hot-water system and photovoltaic panels cost the Olsens $26,000 but with rebates, they were out of pocket only $14,500. Mr Olsen expects to recoup his expenses within six years.

Before the retrofit, the Olsens averaged 20 kilowatt hours a day, now they average 9.2kWh. They earn $1200 a year through their solar hot water and panels. Thanks to a 60¢ tariff rate, they got $400 back on their last energy bill. But the NSW government has changed the Solar Bonus Scheme so new customers get only 20¢. ''I would like to see them change it to at least 45¢, that would be more fair,'' Mr Olsen says.

As a result of their work, the Olsens' yearly carbon footprint is less than six tonnes - the average household is about 14 tonnes. ''We want to see a change in the way everyone is living,'' Mr Olsen says. ''We won't have a future if we don't do something about it now.''

Many of the rebates the Olsens took advantage of no longer exist, including the federal government's $10,000 interest-free green loan. But the price of most green fittings has come down, Mr Olsen says, making a retrofit more affordable than ever. He says families can now retrofit their homes for about $11,000. 'People spend thousands on holidays and gas-guzzling cars but if they were to buy an energy-efficient car, they would have enough money left for a retrofit,'' Mr Olsen says.

However, retrofitting needs some capital and the Olsens are far from high earners: he is a guitar teacher and she is out of work due to injury. ''Getting a retrofit is admittedly a middle-class thing to do because even though you know you are better off financially in the long term, you do need to pay the money up front,'' he says. ''That's why I think the government green loans should be brought back.''

Not all the Olsens' green habits require a lot of money.
  • They use a compost bin.
  • They use a bucket to catch cold water in the shower before it heats up and then use it on the garden or to flush the toilet.
  • Lights are always turned off and appliances are switched off at the power point and unplugged. They have no airconditioning.
  • Mr Olsen has placed a weight on his toilet flusher that allows him to hold it down only for as long as necessary because he says even a half-flush can use more water than needed.
  • Their entire house, including drinking water, runs off the rainwater tank thanks to their water-filtering system.
  • They have water-saving shower heads and taps, use low-energy light globes and have native plants in their garden to minimise watering.
  • On top of all of this, they open their house to the public once a year as part of ''sustainability day'' and run workshops about worm farms.

Google’s support for Green and Sustainability initiatives

Google has been a dream company. From being a start-up it has evolved to be one of the largest internet and profitable organizations. It is also one of the most employee friendly organizations in the world. Over the years they have also been very much focused on Sustainability and green initiatives. They have been trying to make their operations green and way back in 2007 they decided to be carbon neutral. They have invested in green data centres. They have designed green workplaces and have increased the usage of renewable energy .They have also designed some of the most innovative green products like the Google Earth engine which enables one to monitor the environmental changes at the global level. Google Power Meter is another product, which would help consumers to monitor their energy consumption on a daily basis. Google also supports various non-profit organizations in various capacities.

Radiation could have leaked from reactor no. 3 at Fukushima Diaichi power plant. Two workers were hospitalized yesterday with radiation burns

Japan’s Nuclear and  Industrial Safety Agency has said that it could be possible the reactor no. 3 at Fukushima Nuclear plant has been breached and has leaked radiation. The source of radioactive water could be the core or the spent fuel pools. The repair work has been hampered by the various incidents of fires and explosions at the plants. The situation is still very much critical at the plant. Two plant workers were injured yesterday when they stepped into pools which had radiation levels of 10,000 times as compared to the one used for cooling. They  suffered radiation burns.

U.K. annual budget on Green, Clean and Carbon

U.K. has presented the annual budget yesterday. It has many new provisions for clean energy and carbon finance. According to the budget, the carbon floor price will be $ 25.60 per ton of CO2 in 2013. It is expected to rise to $48 per ton by 2020. People say that carbon price is not high enough for people to make investments for reducing carbon emissions. For the energy intensive organizations discounts have been increased if they show commitment towards energy efficiency improvement. The government has also removed the rule under which all homes will have to source their electricity from carbon neutral sources by 2016. The government has also increased the capital base of Green Investment bank by £ 2 billion.

Most U.S. customers misunderstand the word Green and Eco friendly

“Green”, “Eco friendly” has become buzzwords in marketing. Customers have started noticing these words on products and marketing campaign. However, there was a marketing survey done by a research agency to check how much importance these words are given by the customers in US. It also tried to gauge if the customers understood these words correctly. It was found that most of the people thought that they have no or positive environmental impact. Green only means that the product has less environmental impact. Most of the customers felt that as long as the company has been honest and transparent with them they are going to continue using the products. Being environmentally friendly then becomes secondary.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Auroville: Land of Divine Consciouness!

Dear Readers,

I visited Auroville a few months back and what struck me the most was the greenery leading up to the place and within it as well. A relatively hot and humid Pondicherry makes Auroville a very uplifting and relaxing spot to spend a few quiet hours (or even days and years!! Ask the westerners). My motive in this article is not a travelogue but more to do with the initiatives that Aurovillians have embarked upon to make the place a sustainanble one.

1. When the first Aurovillians arrived in the 1950's and 60's, the land was barren (due to deforestation ranging over 200 yrs) and the topsoil loose. They dug, planted, created 'bunds' and they moved on to more advanced scientific monitoring, water and soil conservation techniques making the place a pleasant one now. Auroville's 'greenworkers' are now invited to forums across the globe to share their experience.

2. "From the insistent and repetitive cry of the 'brainfever' bird to the milder chirping of the smaller songirds, forests across Auroville resound with clear melody. Occasional thickets of mature green and yellow bamboo reach towards the sky and sway in the ocean breeze". Kottakarai, Edaanchavadi and Kuilapalayam are the main villages around Auroville and their increased propsperity can be attributed to trade with Auroville and the constant swarm of visitors.

3. Everything around the place is based on the word 'green'. They grow their own fruits and vegetables, the area is litter-free, products on sale (like clothes, baskets, paper products, etc) are extremely beatiful influenced by the various cultures within Auroville but more importantly are hand-made!!

4. The other striking feature is the architecture of the place. Its very contemporary built from eco-friendly materials and the contours allow for abundance of natural light and wind. Large open spaces make for a good gathering space allowing less of cooling systems to be put to use. Some materials being currently used are Ferro-cement (chicken mesh in mortar!!) and earth blocks. The landscaping is done in such a way so as to take advantage of the terrain.

There are many other features and sustainability initiaves on their website but I recommend that the place is a must visit plainly for the reason to experience the fact that so many cultures reside in one place with the common motto of peace and harmony and building a place for the future. It is great getaway from the hustle-bustle of Pondicherry and to be one with nature for a while. More information can be found on thier site.

Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado ( U.S. ) is reeling under the worst drought in the last 44 years, leads to soaring food and meat prices

Texas has been hit with the worst drought in the last 44 years. The wheat crops have been damaged. The prices of food grains and meat in U.S. have been rising. Texas is the lasrget cattle producer and the second largest wheat producer in U.S.. It has just received 4.7 inches of rain in February the least in the last 44 years. Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado have also been affected by dry conditions. The yield of wheat is expected t be quite low and this has lead to a 50% increase in wheat futures. Drought in Russia and floods in Australia have already affected the food prices.

Sustainable Sustainability Strategy and Road map

The devil lies in the details, implementation and execution. It is very easy to draw up a board room strategy, but often strategies fall down like a pack of cards when it come to execution and implementation. It is advisable to check the nitty gritty (which often every one claims to have done) and if possible run a small pilot project to see how the ecosystem and people react to your plan. Setting aside budget may be easy ( offcourse not in recessionary times) it might be even easier when it is someone else’s money but please make sure that it just doesn’t fall apart when it’s come to execution and die its own natural death. Let’s make sure that lack of attention to details and oversight on planning doesn’t play a spoil sport. The idea is good but let’s make sure that this is not one of those plans that have a honest intention but difficult to implement in true spirit.

Warren Buffet , Bill and Melinda Gates land up in Delhi, India for spreading their ‘Giving Pledge’ mission

"Life's about planting trees for others" - Warren Buffett Warren Buffet lands up in Delhi after starting his India visit in Bangalore earlier this week. Bill and Melinda Gates joined him in Delhi. He came to Delhi after visiting Bihar where they have been reviewing their philanthropic work. Giving Pledge is way to encourage the rich to set aside a large part of their wealth for philanthropic activities in the lines of what they themselves have done. They went on a similar mission to China last year. Warren Buffet is also scheduled to meet the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the cabinet ministers.

Walt Disney Corporate Citizenship Report: GHG emission decreased by 4.6 % and electricity consumption went down by 6.6 % between the year 2006 and year 2010

Walt Disney has published the corporate citizenship report. The report shows that greenhouse gas (GHG) emission decreased by 4.6 % between the year 2006 and year 2010. The electricity consumption during the same period fell down by 6.6 %. The organization has an ambitious long-term target to achieve zero net GHG footprints. However if we see a year-to-year comparisons it has its own ups and downs. It also has a plan to increase renewable energy consumption as a part of the overall roadmap to reduce energy consumption. Walt Disney has also invest a lot of money of afforestation and forest conservation.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

GRI Unveils G3.1 : Updated Sustainability Reporting Guidance

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has released guidelines that it describes as the most comprehensive sustainability reporting guidance.

The G3.1 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines feature expanded guidance on issues including local community impacts, human rights and gender, as well as environmental, product responsibility, labor, governance and other existing GRI categories.

Also today, GRI is launching guidance to help companies determine what to measure and report on. The organization says that this publication, Technical Protocol – Apply the Report Content Principles, will allow companies to produce relevant reports more easily.

Companies that are just beginning to report on sustainability issues should begin by adopting G3.1, GRI says.

Research by accounting firm KPMG indicates that 79 percent of 250 companies surveyed are reporting sustainability information.

Iberdrola Renovables SA (IBR) is building the largest wind power complex in Romania

The Largest Wind-Energy Complex is being built by Iberdrola Renovables SA ( IBR ). The company has started construction of the first wind park in Romania. This is the first wind park the company wants to build as a part of the complex. The complex would have about 50 such wind park. This would make it the largest wind power complex anywhere in the world. Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA will manufacture the turbines. The first wind park would have a capacity of 80 megawatt and will be operational by the year-end.

Who bears the cost during an nuclear accident, in Japan it may be the Taxpayers. Tokyo Electric Power Company may not bear the brunt

Japan nuclear incident is a revelation for most of the people and nations. Whereas the nuclear clean up may cost billions of dollars, however the company’s liability is just limited to $2.1 billion under Japanese law. In case the government declares that the damage has been caused by an act of God then the company may not be paying even a single penny.  While countries like China, France, Germany Indian and U.S. reviewed the safety of their nuclear facilities after the incident, they are still grappling with the problem of who bears the cost of compensation in case of an accident.

Japanese government issues warning of radiation contamination of water and vegetables. Nikkei drops 1.7%

Tokyo authorities issued warnings that the water flowing in the city taps may be contaminated and if drunk over a long period may pose health hazard. Even though the government clarified that, there is no immediate threat of radiation there was some sense of panic among the people. The government has also been issuing more iodine tablets to control the after effects of radiation. With the issue of warning, the Nikkei tanked 1.7 %. The health ministry has also issued a warning against eating vegetables, which have been grown in the damaged Dai- Ichi nuclear power plant.

Bridgestone is trying to start the plants in Japan affected by earthquake. Trying to minimize energy consumption

Necessity is the mother of invention. Bridgestone is trying to use all means available at its disposal to reduce energy consumption at its plants. The organization is trying to start four plants out of the five plants affected by earthquake. The employees have been asked to minimize the use of office equipments, IT infrastructure, elevators, economize on the usage of lights etc. The organization is closing its corporate museum. The usages of billboards have been minimized. Since some of the power plants have been affected, Japan has been undergoing power cuts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Understanding Snake-bites and Soil Salinity – Science communication over "New media"

This paper was published as part of the proceedings of 11th International Conference on Public Communication of Science and Technology, Delhi, Dec 2010

Authors: Rao A and Dasgupta P

Abstract: The Understanding of and application of scientific principles holds the key to technological progress and developmental goals of any nation. Rural India is characterized by poverty, illiteracy, infrastructural inadequacies and the myriads of ills that plague those below the poverty line in the third world
stemming largely from the lack of scientific awareness, and spread of community knowledge.

Over the past decade information and communication technology (ICTs), specially new media like the Internet has brought information access far closer to the rural populace. Information Kiosks have been set and cellphone coverage has scaled rapidly. These new forms of media provide unforeseen opportunity in spreading scientific awareness that can help overcome superstition, improve health care and even provide access to income.

However technology options are not sufficient by themselves. Public communication for dissemination of scientific knowledge needs to be participative in nature and focus on the needs and benefits of the community itself. Implementation of such projects needs to take a holistic view that encompasses a multidisciplinary approach towards the problem.

This paper presents some experiences as well an approach and a plan for a large scale intervention of scientific knowledge with community participation that can be successfully implemented utilising the existing investments in basic infrastructure. This is largely drawn on our previous experience in working with the rural
community and building a successful effort of capacity-building and livelihood generation for the rural community in Sunderbans.

Read full paper
Conference Link

Certification for Sustainable Biofuels - a new standard emerges

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels launched the first global third-party certification system for sustainable biofuels on March 22. The RSB Certification System includes environmental, social and economic principles and criteria and features a unique set of online tools aimed at taking the complexity out of compliance and streamlining certification.

“It’s one thing to say your product is sustainable and another to prove it,” said Barbara Bramble, Senior Advisor for the International Climate and Energy Program at the National Wildlife Federation. “This new system makes it easy to differentiate between biofuels that are environmentally destructive and biofuels that deliver on the promise of sustainability.”

The certification system covers the major issues of concern in biofuels’ production, including their contribution to climate change mitigation and rural development; their protection of land and labor rights; and their impacts on biodiversity, soil and water pollution, water availability and food security.

The certification system will be operated by RSB Services, which is the business arm of the RSB, providing access to the certification process, licensing, and auditors’ training among other activities.

Under the new system, biofuel producers that receive RSB certification will be able to:

  • Assure their customers that their product is responsibly produced, positioning RSB-certified operators favorably in their markets.

  • “Know their biomass/biofuel” by being able to trace the origin of the product along the entire supply chain through various chain-of-custody models.

  • Receive market recognition as leaders in biofuels’ sustainable production, which is increasingly important to major fuel buyers and to regulators.

  • Benefit from a competitive advantage resulting from the RSB members’ active work to build market demand for certified fuels, especially for certification of entire supply chains.