New writing…Pleased to say I have had another article published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on the Future of Infrastructure.
The piece explores how rising interest in responsible investment, which considers environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors , has transformed the conversation in the infrastructure sector. For major projects seeking funding it pays to get ESG right – in fact, getting it wrong can prove highly problematic, maybe even fatal. Whilst the importance of the new criteria might be clear in principle, the issue for infrastructure is understanding what actually constitutes ESG in practice. Positive engagement with the issues calls for more than just a box-ticking exercise, if values are to be truly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To read the article in full, complete with expert insights, comment and analysis, please click the following link:
Just when you thought environmental sustainability had become so mainstream as to be safe and tame, maybe even have sold out its rebel roots a little in the race for acceptance… Politics in the US and UK lurch to the right – suddenly, the fight is back on. With eco more warrior than worrier, once more, we are outlaws again!
New writing… My latest piece for Eniday is now live, looking at the cutting-edge innovation being employed by breweries, comparing the approaches of three well-known leading beer producers: Adnams who have long produced the UK’s first carbon neutral beer (in bottle and on draught); Heineken, owners of the world’s first carbon-neutral brewery, opened this year in Göss, Austria; Sierra Nevada, the US pioneers of sustainable craft ales. Pour yourself a cold one and raise a glass to the pioneers ‘Brewing great beer, clean and green’!
A version of this article first appeared in a Special Report on ‘Future Cities’, published in The Times, 26 March, 2013.
According to data from the UN, in 2008, the proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas passed the 50% mark, heading for 70% by 2050. By 2030, the total for city dwellers globally is estimated to hit around five billion. These inhabitants already consume 75% of the planet’s natural resources and contribute to urban activities responsible for 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions. All this happens on a mere 2% of global land mass.
A version of this article first appeared in a Special Report on ‘Low-Carbon Business’, published in The Times, 3 September, 2012.
What do New York, Oregon, Colorado and North Carolina have in common with Norway, Finland, Iceland and New Zealand? The answer is that all are home to ‘green’ data centres. The physical carbon footprint of virtual lives lived online and in the cloud is real and growing. In response, albeit belatedly, energy use and emissions reduction have now become the focus of significant commercial investment and intense public scrutiny.
The list of brands involved reads like a roll-call of major corporates, including: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, FedEx, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo. Performance is mixed, to say the least: For ‘Renewables & Advocacy’ in the report ‘How Clean is Your Cloud’, Greenpeace recently scored Google an ‘A’, Apple a ‘D’ (subsequently raised to a ‘C’) and Amazon an ‘F’.
Neither technology nor design are insurmountable obstacles to deeper-green solutions, as completed facilities prove: First Verne Global, then Green Mountain, have developed zero-carbon new-build data centres, in Iceland and Norway respectively, taking advantage of cheap renewable energy, plus low ambient temperatures for ‘free’ cooling.
However, ‘Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good’ as they say – ‘better’ is still better than nothing. Just as population growth relies on retrofit of current housing stock to meet demand, so growth in the digital universe also calls for investment in existing operational facilities, services and software for better measurement and management of data to optimise performance. Upgrading old centres, as well as old ways, is vital to scaling and speeding progress.
The future for sustainable low-carbon business is plain to see: Data can only get bigger; so, energy must get smarter.
To view the Special report in full online, please click here.