Forty percent of total energy is consumed by buildings that are producing 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and 136 million tons of construction and demolition waste are generated each year. This is according to “Buildings and Climate Change,” a recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network. Fortunately, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards are providing guidelines to architects and engineers on areas where they can make a substantial, positive impact on the environment by designing and building more “green.” 

LEED standards, when paired with today’s building information modeling (BIM) technologies, provide architects and engineers with greater ability than ever to conduct previously complex and cost-prohibitive tasks such as building analysis, simulations and documentation. This provides near-instant feedback on their designs and empowers them to make smarter design decisions. In effect, data-rich modeling techniques make sustainable practices a standard part of the design process.

California Governor Jerry Brown recently set some of the nation’s most ambitious goals for his state’s production of electricity from renewable sources. Given the costly impacts California is already facing from climate change, including the current drought, its aggressive position is hardly surprising. 

During his state of the state speech earlier this year, Brown said he would seek to increase the amount of electricity derived from renewable sources in California to 50 percent by 2030 – up from an already ambitious 33 percent – using a range of initiatives including solar and wind production. 

In today’s fast-paced, data-driven economy, reliability is not just an objective on a checklist but a cultural framework for companies to adopt. Companies need to consider how each asset – and the conditions in which it operates – contributes to the larger business lifecycle. A reliability strategy adopted by petrochemical manufacturer SABIC, “lifecycle thinking,” enables the company’s leadership to consider impacts to natural capital across multiple types of environmental events, including potential climate change and cumulative energy demand, as well as across the full product value chain. By placing emphasis on reliability, companies can more easily adapt to changing energy demands and an increasingly connected world.

Are electric utilities still a good investment? An industry that was once ruled by the maxim “bigger is better” is confronting a dramatically changed landscape. The signs are everywhere, from rooftop solar and micro-grids to bi-directional energy and smart meters. While electric utilities remain a good option for long-term investing, there is more complexity than ever before. Investors need to understand what’s happening across the spectrum – in the boardroom, in people’s homes and in statehouses.

The new reality for electric utilities begins with the utilities themselves. Unprecedented technological, commercial and regulatory developments threaten their traditional monopolies. As a result, utilities are taking a fresh look at how they stay competitive now and for the next several decades. Investors are asking many of the same questions, cognizant of the rapid changes confronting the industry. 

Commercial Customers are continually looking for ways to reduce energy usage and costs in their facilities. Although customer motivations to reduce can range greatly, an important element is that the utility can play an invaluable role in helping its customers achieve savings objectives. 

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, here are some opportunities for utilities to support customers’ success. 

Benchmarking Study

Typically the first step is to conduct a benchmarking study to establish your foundational metrics and provide a sound basis for any roadmap forward. Helping customers understand how their buildings use energy can both increase customer engagement and drive projects toward efficiency programs. 

When discussing sustainability and building performance, the common phrase that comes to mind is “energy efficiency.” Energy efficiency is one of the most important aspects in developing an environmentally friendly building. The definition of sustainability can encompass a wide range of approaches that improve the balance of resource efficiency throughout a building’s lifecycle. To enlist in a sustainable building project, one must leverage natural resources such as water, sunlight and wind, and building information modeling (BIM) in developing environmentally friendly design solutions.

The biggest benefit to utilizing BIM in the sustainable design process is the ability to conduct performance analysis and calculations of various scenarios, beginning with the architect early in the conceptual design phase. BIM provides valuable tools and an environment in which the designer can develop massing models and apply a number of measures that enable testing of how certain environmental factors will affect building performance. Such BIM-enabled simulations might include resource consumption and reuse, daylight access and sun protection, and natural ventilation and cooling. 

In any business, it’s good to have the wind at your back in the form of customer demand, new technology development or other growth drivers. The wind energy sector – responsible for all the tall, spinning wind turbine towers that have sprouted across the American landscape in recent years – not only has the wind at its back, but is also converting it into a fast-growing power source.

In fact, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports that new wind energy-generating capabilities that came online in 2014 more than quadrupled the previous year’s figure. Last year, 4,854 MW of new wind-power generating capacity was completed, with the cumulative installed capacity increasing 8 percent and exceeding 65,000 MW. “The U.S. is now No. 1 in the world in wind energy production,” AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan says. “We generate 4.5 percent of our electricity from wind.” 

The behavior of motorists is always a concern when sharing the road – you may be following all the rules, but what happens when the person next to you or behind you isn’t? As a driver you may be concerned with this, but for those on the front lines of America’s waste management infrastructure, every day the actions of motorists can mean life or death for everyone involved. 

The daily commute taken nationwide by waste and recycling collection employees picking up our refuse in our neighborhoods and city streets involves more than a few stops, and the increased danger of road accidents makes employee safety the industry’s top priority. The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) has overseen industry safety standards for vehicles and facilities for four decades, empowering employees to stay safe on the job while also maintaining public safety.

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