Doable, Measurable and Sustainable Engineering – GineersNow

 

Doable, Measurable and Sustainable Engineering

It is now time to scale this initiative and integrate measurability as a key element in business sustainability blueprints.

Source: Doable, Measurable and Sustainable Engineering – GineersNow 
Read more at: https://gineersnow.com/engineering/environment/doable-measurable-and-sustainable-engineering#comment-20440

Globally, responsible businesses are taking the lead in embedding sustainability in their operations. It is now time to scale this initiative and integrate measurability as a key element in business sustainability blueprints. The landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 was a powerful clarion call for climate action. Underscoring the unprecedented and immediate need for collective effort to limit global warming, the report emphasizes the role of businesses[1] as an important factor.

The quantifiability of the 1.5-degree-Celsius goal and the measurable steps to achieve it as outlined in the report have created a global sustainability mission that combines social, environmental and economic dimensions.  To save the world, we must strive to move the needle across all three targets.

 

For a business, a measurable sustainability target is a powerful starting point. The concept of measurability is embedded in business thinking, in the form of audits, quarterly and annual reports. Metric-based decision-making enables corporations to vigilantly course-correct towards desirable outcomes.  Similarly, measurability must be the lens through which businesses engage, deliberate courses of action, and ultimately achieve sustainability goals.

Pre-Assessment and benchmarking

The starting point of measurability is understanding the current sustainability status quo and benchmarking the intended goals. A pre-assessment entails analysis of the current environmental, social and economic impact and then contextualizing it with the purpose and overall strategy of the business. The most common performance metric is the mitigation of CO2 emission. With quantification of larger, long-term impact on society, a business can proceed to the next level – making informed decisions to create a more sustainable ecosystem. Considering the immensity of the 1.5 C goal (e.g. reducing greenhouse emissions to net-zero by mid-century), challenging but realistic targets need to be set for measuring performance. These can be distilled down to specific key performance indicators for employees, operations, and the enterprise at large.

Track of progress and proof of impact

Once underway, sustainability needs to be tracked vigilantly so that material issues that arise are addressed swiftly. The short and medium-term milestones also need to be mapped out; these can be examined for delays or inefficiencies. At the same time, an understanding of what is working well for one department can be replicated in others.  Measurability drives action in an organisation. After all, what gets measured properly, gets managed properly and eventually gets done properly. Measurable metrics directly impact a business’s current performance and set the tone for the future as well. Consistent measuring of progress provides clarity on the level of performance or the lack of it. Moreover, tracking progress and communicating milestones within and outside the organisation creates a culture of accountability and transparency. Having a metric also offers two benefits. If underperforming, a company can realign its resources by immediately assessing if there is a lag at any point between intention and outcome. On the other hand, targets achieved ahead of schedule must be made even more ambitious. After all, environmental responsibility is not a one-time campaign to be executed and then forgotten; it is a new transformative agenda for businesses across the globe. Charting a new course is also good for the bottom line. Business sustainability always goes hand-in-hand with long-term profitability and provides a clear incentive to strive to be greener and more sustainable. Customers want products that have a low carbon footprint; employees look up to businesses that can deliver social good on a substantial scale. Climate Action is also part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Achieving them can unlock an estimated[1] $12 trillion in potential growth and generate or retain millions of jobs.

Leading by Example

Responsible business must also define how operations are powered, raw material is sourced, new products are created, and supply chains are made resilient against climate change.  A measurable sustainability-oriented approach is, therefore, at the core of business growth and resilience. Responsible businesses around the world have already started on this path to sustainability. An example is the Ford Motor Company’s[2] measurable sustainability goals: it plans to use 100 per cent renewable energy for all manufacturing plants by 2035 and achieve zero air emissions from its facilities. With these measurable goals, it is streamlining its portfolio, improving fuel efficiency, and lowering emissions, energy use and water consumption. To increase transparency about the resiliency of its climate change strategy, Ford recently published a Climate Change Scenario Report. Despite the climate and business benefits of such plans, greening the business strategy does not get the attention that it deserves. According to a 2018 PwC report[4], only 27 per cent of 700 global companies include the Sustainable Development Goals into their business strategy. The corporate world is an integral stakeholder in the journey towards a sustainable future. It is incumbent upon all of us to not only scale up our efforts but also embed measurability in every step of the way. The time window to curb global warming is slowly shutting. We do not have an option to be oblivious. The time to act is now or never.

Read more at: https://gineersnow.com/engineering/environment/doable-measurable-and-sustainable-engineering#comment-20440

Tall grass.. small gas… every little bit helps!!

‘100-year’ floods will happen every 1 to 30 years, according to new flood maps

‘100-year’ floods will happen every 1 to 30 years, according to new flood mapsby Princeton UniversityResearchers at Princeton University calculated flood risks for 171 counties across four regions: New England (green), mid-Atlantic (orange), southeast Atlantic (blue), and Gulf of Mexico (red). They found that what used to be considered 100-year floods will occur far more often depending on the location. Credit: Reza Marsooli et alA 100-year flood is supposed to be just that: a flood that occurs once every 100 years, or a flood that has a one-percent chance of happening every year.But Princeton researchers have developed new maps that predict coastal flooding for every county on the Eastern and Gulf Coasts and find 100-year floods could become annual occurrences in New England; and happen every one to 30 years along the southeast Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shorelines.”The historical 100-year floods may change to one-year floods in Northern coastal towns in the U.S.,” said Ning Lin, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University.In a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers combined storm surge, sea level rise, and the predicted increased occurrence and strength in tropical storms and hurricanes to create a map of flood hazard possibility along the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Coastlines at northern latitudes, like those in New England, will face higher flood levels primarily because of sea level rise. Those in more southern latitudes, especially along the Gulf of Mexico, will face higher flood levels because of both sea level rise and increasing storms into the late 21st century.

Source: ‘100-year’ floods will happen every 1 to 30 years, according to new flood maps

In staving off climate change, social landscape adjusts | Cornell Chronicle

In staving off climate change, social landscape adjustsByBlaine FriedlanderChris Kitchen/University PhotoLara Skinner explains a climate jobs program for New York state at a panel discussion Feb. 26.Chris Kitchen/University PhotoBob Howarth explains that reducing methane from the atmosphere is “low-hanging fruit” to keep Earth from warming too much.At the intersection of activism and academia, a climate change and clean energy panel gave details of environmental urgency and impending social refinements. The Feb. 26 panel included Cornell researchers, alumnae, New York Assembly representatives and sustainability advocates, and was hosted by student-led KyotoNow! Cornell.“We can … actually make our society more socially equitable and socially just,” said Lara Skinner, associate director for Cornell’s Worker Institute. “It’s the cultural, political and social struggles that we face … the greatest social crisis of our time,” she said, noting how environmental changes resulting from a warming climate will modify the social science landscape

Source: In staving off climate change, social landscape adjusts | Cornell Chronicle

Carbon farming: another low-tech climate solution : TreeHugger

Protecting forests is a low-tech way to store carbon that has earned a lot of attention in the efforts fight global warming. Now, another, less discussed way of sequestering carbon is starting to capture the attention of policy makers: carbon farming.As negotiators in Paris continue to work towards an international agreement to fight disastrous levels of climate change, many side events and agreements are also being made. One of those agreements is the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, which was signed by a number of countries, NGOs and companies, and is aiming to provide practical guidelines for climate solutions. The solutions touch on a number of sectors, from finance to building to forests.One of the climate solutions the agenda is pushing is carbon farming, a type agricultural production that actually increases soil carbon. Supporters of organic agriculture have long called for this type of farming, sometimes called No Till farming, but this is the first time soil carbon has been formally included in an international plan to fight climate change.Most modern conventional farming uses tilling to suppress weeds and make it easier to plant, but this process also releases carbon stored in the soil into the air as carbon dioxide (CO2). The benefits of carbon farming are two-fold. First, it reverses the process of releasing carbon, and instead pulls carbon out of the air. Second, it can help improve the soil without synthetic fertilizers and leads to better crop production.Rattan Lal, a soil science professor and founder of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State University, says that soil carbon is key to soil biodiversity and nutrient storage, and soil with more carbon is also better at retaining water.

Source: Carbon farming: another low-tech climate solution : TreeHugger