Scaling Up to Save Water: Bringing our Water Efficiency Toolkit to 5 Thirsty U.S. Cities

This year, the focus of World Water Day is on how intertwined our energy and water use are, with water supplies across the country growing increasingly strained – in areas that depend on flows from the Colorado River, like California, for example – and demand for both freshwater and energy continuing to grow.

Former EDF Climate Corps fellow Jen Snook with an AT&T representative

Former EDF Climate Corps fellow Jen Snook with an AT&T representative

In the U.S., 36 states faced water shortages last summer, and the 2012 drought cost the U.S. an estimated $35 billion from crop losses and business interruptions. U.S. water prices have doubled or even tripled over the past dozen years, and rates are expected to continue to climb.

Water is a critical business issue as well, and not just for the agricultural and industrial sectors. Increasing droughts and water shortages are causing companies to pay more attention to their water use throughout their operations. In particular, when it comes to buildings, companies are learning that their water and energy use are closely connected. Read more

Methane Emissions Are Risky Business

benI came to Environmental Defense Fund from the management consulting world, and was fortunate to bring a couple of lessons with me. A simple one is that successful companies keep a finger on the pulse of the returns and risks in their industry and core businesses. The oil and gas industry has a growing risk on its hands, and that risk is methane emissions.

Study after scientific study has shown that methane emissions from oil and gas are a leading source of that powerful greenhouse gas. At more than 100x the climate impact of carbon dioxide when it is first released, methane is a supercharged contributor to climate change.

Methane escapes into the atmosphere from oil and gas production wells and associated equipment, gas compressors, and many other sources. Every ton of methane pollution is resources being wasted. Every ton contributes to an unstable climate in our lifetimes. Read more

Co-loading Your Way to Green

By Homayoun Taherian

As transportation costs continue to rise, many companies are searching for ways to reduce spending by looking beyond their supply chain boundaries and collaborating with like-minded peers.

This type of horizontal collaboration – sharing supply chain assets with competitors – is known as co-loading in the freight transportation domain. Co-loading allows multiple companies to share space on the same transportation vehicle. It’s like ride sharing for freight. Co-loading does not only help save on transportation costs, it reduces carbon emissions, wear on transportation infrastructures and air pollution, in turn, creating healthier living environments across the nation.

To better understand the significance of co-loading, we need to look at the traditional utilization of truck capacities in the US. According to various DOT statistics:
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  • 15-25% of all the miles traveled in the US by freight trucks are empty miles. That means the vehicle carries no load while traveling. These are due to empty backhauls and deadhead miles.
  • The utilization of the remaining 75-85% of the non-empty miles is on average 64%. Another way of looking at this is that we are leaving 36% of our capacity for moving freight on the table. Co-loading is a way to get the full value of each move – leading to an overall reduction in necessary trips. Read more

New Report Shows Path Forward on Cutting Methane Emissions

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Environmental Defense Fund was the first environmental group to hire a full-time economist, way back in the 1970s. At the time, many wondered what economics had to do with protecting the environment. We saw an opportunity and seized it because we believe prosperity and stewardship can go hand-in-hand, and solutions that make good business sense have the best chance of catching on and delivering environmental benefits that stick. That idea remains one of our guiding principles today.

So, it should be no surprise that EDF recently commissioned a detailed economic analysis of opportunities to cut methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas industry. Our objective was simple – show how leading companies can cut methane emissions quickly and cost-effectively.

Why focus on methane emissions, and why now? Because pound for pound, methane is a very potent greenhouse gas – 84 times more potent in the short term than CO2 when released into the air. Whether intentionally vented or inadvertently leaked, methane from the oil and gas sector is America’s largest industrial source of U.S. methane emissions.

It’s a serious problem… but after extensive analysis and discussion with industry leaders and other experts, this study shows us it’s a solvable one. Better yet, it makes a solid case for immediate action.

Read more