Reflections from Jen
So I found this interesting: yesterday I wrote two different articles about big companies that are investing in environmental management technology, from water management equipment to high-efficiency HVAC products to LEDs and beyond. The companies – Home Depot, Best Buy, and Nestle Waters – made a point (either in press releases or in their sustainability reports) of announcing that one of the ways they plan to reach their environmental and emissions reduction goals was to invest in technology that can help improve operations.
I know that technological advances, combined with the continued environmental efforts of organizations large and small, have continued to drive the growth of various environmental management equipment markets: recent studies have shown that the smart water metering market is expected to grow by 8.8% over the next decade, and the green building materials global market is expected to by 11.9% per year through 2022, for example.
But the news this week got me thinking about the actual equipment companies are using to decrease water use, improve manufacturing processes, reduce transportation costs, and more. The connection I made is obvious but it struck me in a new way: often – maybe almost always? – environmental management success for companies goes hand-in-hand with the products they use to drive their initiatives. Duh, right?
Curious, I looked back at some of our recent Environmental Leader Project of the Year Award winners, and each of them were driven by technology and included the use of top-notch equipment. Examples:
- Fetzer Vineyards partnered with Chile-based BioFiltro to install their patented BIDA System to treat 100% of the winery’s wastewater. The system uses microbes and red worms to naturally remove up to 99% of contaminants from wastewater in four hours.
- Panasonic worked with Younicos for battery storage solutions (along with other stakeholders) on a unique solar and storage microgrid for the Pena Station transit development in Denver.
- Honda and General Motors announced a master collaboration agreement that established the co-development arrangement for a next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies. Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC will operate within GM’s existing battery pack manufacturing facility site in Michigan. Mass production of fuel cell systems is expected to begin around 2020; the companies are investing $85 million total in the joint venture.
- Lincoln Centre is a 32-acre office property in Dallas, Texas, that has a park-like landscape. Banyan Water installed on-site hardware including controllers, flow monitors, and weather tracking technology that integrated with the property’s existing irrigation system. Irrigation water use immediately dropped by 66%.
It seems to be an accepted fact that technology in this arena will continue to evolve and investments in the resulting products to rise. Businesses know that they must deal with the physical reality of a changing climate by ‘building infrastructure solutions’ and ‘sourcing cheaper and cleaner sources of electricity,’ wrote David W. Richardson, managing director of Impax Asset Management, on CNBC earlier this year.
To meet growing demand of natural resources, he continued, the world economy will need to undergo huge structural changes in the energy, manufacturing, transportation, food production, and waste management sectors. “Companies providing solutions to these sustainability challenges are poised to benefit the most from this economic transition now underway around the world,” he wrote.
Now I’m curious: what technologies are you investing in to improve your environmental management? Where, exactly, are you getting the most bang for your buck? What’s working and what’s not as useful? I’d love to hear from you at [email protected].
Key vendors mentioned:
- Fuel Cell System Manufacturing
- Banyan Water
Image: BIDA System at Fetzer Vineyards