Tag: Food & Farming

Ten Nature-Inspired Companies Addressing Enviro and Social Issues from Biomimicry Inst

Ten Nature-Inspired Companies Addressing ESG Issues

Biomimicry Institute announces new cohort of bioinspired startups participating in the Ray of Hope Prize program.

Biomimicry Institute LogoFrom inventing higher-performing and more sustainable renewable energy systems, to reducing food waste, to solving the plastic waste problem, the 2022 Ray of Hope Prize® finalists offer inspiring solutions through their use of biomimicry (also referred to as nature-inspired or bioinspired design). Selected from hundreds of impressive submissions from companies around the world, the Biomimicry Institute is proud to announce the top 10 finalists selected to participate in this transformational program designed to help startups cross a critical threshold in scaling their sustainable solutions. The 10-week virtual accelerator program culminates in the chance to receive the $100,000 grand prize and additional equity-free funding.

“Every year we see more and more breakthrough, nature-inspired companies apply to the Ray of Hope Prize®, indicating that this field is growing to meet the climate and biodiversity challenges facing our planet,” said Jared Yarnell-Schane, Innovation Director at the Institute. “Among them are companies that are creating brand new chemicals and materials that are in tune with those that already exist in nature, and companies that are creating products to make critical infrastructure more efficient and sustainable.”

The 10 participating companies include:

Amphibio United Kingdom
Amphibio has developed a recyclable and PFC-free alternative to traditional waterproof breathable textiles in the outdoor and sportswear industry. This is accomplished via their unique manufacturing process and PFC-free superhydrophobic yarn, which was inspired by water and liquid repellent nano-structures found in nature. Their textiles are made from one source material and do not need any chemical treatments, mitigating two of the biggest barriers of sustainable textile production today.

Biome Renewables Canada
Biome Renewables is an engineering and design firm that learns from nature to create higher performing and more sustainable renewable energy systems. Their first product, the PowerCone®, is a wind turbine retrofit inspired by the aerodynamics of a falling maple seed, which moves through the air with a pattern of least resistance. The PowerCone, which is a second smaller rotor bolted to the hub of existing wind turbines, can increase the annual energy production of a wind turbine, while minimizing the amount of loads and vibrations experienced by the turbine. Currently, they are bringing their second technology to market: a serrations technology that mimics an owl’s wing to deliver quieter wind turbine performance. Recent wind tunnel testing in Germany revealed noise reductions up to 4 dB.

Fusion Bionic GmbH Germany
Fusion Bionic creates laser-generated surface textures inspired by textures found in nature, opening up new possibilities for functionalized surfaces. Their Direct Laser Interference Patterning (DLIP) can create micro- and nano-scale surface textures on which, for example, ice does not stick, (anti-icing for e.g. aviation), glass surfaces of smartphones do not reflect (anti-reflective), and implants are better accepted by the body (biocompatible, antibacterial). All of these surface textures replace ecologically harmful processes, such as chemical de-icing, sand-blasting, or etching, while meeting the demand of increased product performance via industrial-scale surface finishing.

GreenPod Labs India
India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, but ~40% of fresh produce is lost before it reaches consumers. GreenPod Labs have created bio-inspired packaging sachets that release plant based volatiles to activate the built-in defense mechanism within specific fruits or vegetables, in order to slow down the ripening rate and minimize microbial growth. By understanding crop physiology and spoilage types, GreenPod Labs is able to create the right formulation for produce to fight against biotic and abiotic stresses at ambient temperature, lessening the need for cold storage and cold supply chains.

Intropic Materials United States
Intropic Materials is solving plastic waste from the inside out by embedding enzymes directly inside plastics to aid and significantly speed up natural degradation. These plastics rapidly and completely break-down at the end of use into biodegradable or chemically recyclable small molecules without producing microplastics, in accessible life-friendly conditions like warm water baths or compost. This is enabled by their proprietary enzyme stabilization platform, designed to function similarly to chaperone proteins, which protect and preserve enzymatic structure and function in foreign environments. By bringing together natural and synthetic materials, Intropic Materials is unlocking a more innovative and sustainable future.

Metavoxel United States
Low-density, high-performance cellular materials like bone, bamboo, and marine sponges are nature’s way of doing more with less, providing structural efficiency and multifunctionality across scale. The key is in the specific internal cellular geometry. Metavoxel recreates these cellular geometries to produce lightweight and strong metamaterials which can improve structural efficiency and reduce the cost and environmental footprint of the built environment. The goal for Metavoxel is to do more with less—to conserve energy and material resources while accomplishing specific mechanical and structural objectives.

Mycocycle United States
Mycocycle works with nature’s master decomposers, fungi, to break down complex waste streams such as construction materials and asphalt. Using a systems-level biomimicry approach, Mycocycle’s process enables a circular industrial supply chain, becoming ever more important as landfills reach capacity. To accomplish this, Mycocycle first optimizes fungi in a lab to decompose specific waste streams. Then, they remediate the waste on site in collaboration with manufacturers, recyclers, and waste management companies. The resulting by-product can then be used to create new products.

Sóliome United States
Sunscreen has become a part of the daily routine for millions of consumers, however the current market choices often contain toxic chemicals or are damaging to sensitive organisms like coral. Sóliome has created a novel sunscreen inspired by compounds that naturally concentrate in the lens of the human eye to absorb UVA and UVB radiation. By isolating and stabilizing this molecule, Sóliome is able to create a safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly sunscreen.

Strong by Form Chile
In nature, trees are able to withstand high wind and snow stresses by growing the right form, density, and fiber orientations. This allows natural wood to achieve a specific strength that is even higher than the one of steel. By combining material science with the latest digital optimization tools, Strong by Form has developed Woodflow, a fabrication technology that follows these natural form functions. Their proprietary additive manufacturing process can create high performance, ultralight, timber-based structural composites for the construction and mobility industries at a fraction of their environmental impact.

Sudoc United States
Sudoc creates chemical cleaning products that emulate how enzymes work in the human liver to efficiently oxidize harmful and toxic micropollutants. By closely mimicking the mechanism of these peroxidase liver enzymes, Sudoc’s innovative chemistry platform can reduce, replace, and eliminate toxic chemicals in a wide range of applications. The company’s first product outperforms traditional mold stain removal products with 1/30th the chemical content, and they are developing a range of other household and commercial cleaning products, as well as solutions for the treatment of wastewater and waste pharmaceuticals. By creating chemistry in balance with nature, Sudoc is helping to address a massive increase in global chemical toxicity that is contributing to the greater incidence of infertility, diseases such as cancer, and impacted developmental behaviors.

The Ray of Hope Prize participants will now begin the 10-week virtual program and will be delivering their pitches to an expert judging panel in November. During this program, the Institute will help these startups scale more quickly in order to compete in multi-billion dollar, extractive industries; avoid the common push to produce products cheaply, leading to further (unintentional) harm (such as the use of toxic chemicals); and help them to easily communicate their science and biomimicry. The program concludes with an immersive retreat in the California Redwoods for participants to reconnect with the natural world and form bonds with their fellow bioinspired innovators.

“The 10 companies selected to participate in this year’s Ray of Hope Prize give me hope for a more vibrant, sustainable, biodiverse world,” said Yarnall-Shane. “I look forward to supporting these brilliant entrepreneurs and scientists!”

Previous Ray of Hope Prize finalists include breakthrough innovators such as Spintex Engineering, ECOncrete, Biohm, Werewool, Spotless Materials, Impossible Materials, and Nucleário. These companies have gone on to raise millions more in seed funding and have made inspiring impacts to the industries they’ve designed solutions for. For more information about the Ray of Hope Prize and how to support the Institute’s nature-inspired design innovation initiative, visit Biomimicry.org/rayofhopeprize.

 

About the Biomimicry Institute

The Biomimicry Institute is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 2006 that empowers people to seek nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet. To advance the solution process, the Institute offers AskNature.org, a free online tool that contains strategies found in nature and examples of ways they are used in design. It also hosts a Youth Design Challenge to support project-based education; a Biomimicry Launchpad startup accelerator program; and the Ray of Hope Prize® for early-stage biomimetic companies to bring solutions to market. In 2021, the Institute launched a new collaborative initiative called Design for Decomposition which will pilot technologies that convert discarded clothes and textiles into biocompatible raw materials. For more information, visit biomimicry.org.

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2022 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 List of Leaders

2022 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 List of Sustainability Leaders

Image Credit: collage by Julia Vann/GreenBiz Group

Transforming CO2 into concrete and plastics. Designing cutting-edge green university campuses. Sourcing circular materials for consumer electronics, cleaning products and fashion. Expanding diverse talent in sustainability professions.

Those are just a few of the ambitious efforts led by the 2022 members of the GreenBiz 30 Under 30.

This seventh year of celebrating 30 young outstanding leaders in sustainability represents four continents and major cities including Amsterdam, Brussels, Hong Kong, London, Nairobi, Paris and Toronto. In the United States, they hail from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. True to the times, several among this cohort work at home in relatively small towns for big-city offices hundreds or thousands of miles away.

They are inside corporations as varied as Bath & Body Works, Converse, Danone, Dell, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Lineage Logistics, Primark, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Weyerhauser and Whole Foods. Their employers make goods as varied as cars, consumer electronics, soap, yogurt and refrigeration systems. Some offer services from banking to consulting to investments in clean tech. Other honorees are influencing the business world through startups and nonprofits they have founded or through roles at the United Nations and the European Commission.

What they have in common is setting their minds to making a sustainable impact on fields as diverse as banking, fashion, food, transportation, venture capital and waste management.

We’re thrilled to present the 2022 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 below, in alphabetical order by surname. Thank you to Net Impact, the World Council for Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum for helping spread the word and drum up more nominations than we have ever received. We’re excited to see what these individuals do next.

The 2022 30 Under 30 Honorees List:

Michelle Aboodi, 28, Global Sustainability Analytics Product Manager, Converse; Boston

Silvia Ainio, 28, Policy Expert, Sustainable Finance, European Commission; Brussels, Belgium

Vaughan Andrews, 28, Senior Sustainability Analyst, Climate & Carbon, Weyerhaeuser; Seattle

Mel Bandler, 29, Sustainable Sourcing Manager, Bath & Body Works; Bloomfield, New Jersey

Sophia Borroni-Bird, 29, Global ESG Engagement Lead, General Motors; Detroit

Miles Q. Braxton, 25, Incoming Director, Risk Management, Summit Ridge Energy; Co-founder and Director of Strategic Partnerships, BlackOak Collective; Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Shaandiin Cedar, 29, Associate, Powerhouse Ventures; Oakland, California

Roxane Clement, 29, Global Senior Sustainability Manager, Dairy Category, Danone; Paris 

Sydney Covey, 27, Senior Manager of Sustainability, STRUCTR Advisors; Chesapeake, Virginia

Ashley Fill, 28, Director, Sustainability and Whitespace; Procter and Gamble Home Care Canada; Toronto, Canada

Jacob Gisler, 29, Senior Program Manager of Compliance, Whole Foods Market; San Clemente, California 

Jeanette Mwendwa Gitobu, 27, Director, Women in Wind Global Leadership Program, Global Wind Energy Council; Nairobi, Kenya

Sandra Gonza, 29, Impact Program Manager, Global Fashion Agenda; Amsterdam, Netherlands

Eva Grundon, 26, Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, Primark; London

Chante Harris, 28, Director of Climate Investment and Partnerships, Venture For ClimateTech; SecondMuse; New York City

Joshua M. Hellman, 24, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Green Bank of Colorado; Castle Rock, Colorado

Claudia Herbert Colfer, 27, Program Manager, United Nations Global Compact Network USA; New York City

Raven Hernandez, 26, Co-founder and CEO, Earth Rides; Nashville, Tennessee

Sabeeha Islam, 27, Senior Manager, Portfolio Development for Climate and Transportation; Munich Re Ventures, San Francisco

Alex Laplaza, 27, Partner, Lowercarbon Capital; Palo Alto, California

Justin Chongyi Lee, 29, Associate Director, TRIREC; Singapore

Cosmo Lo, 27, Circular Economy Senior Manager, Sustainable Office Solutions Limited; Hong Kong 

Hardik Miyani, 27, Senior Energy and Commissioning Engineer, Baumann Consulting; Chicago

Adam Mohabbat, 28, Senior Manager, Market Development and Public Policy, EVgo; Los Angeles

Holly Moynahan, 28, Sustainability and ESG Manager, Hubbell Incorporated; Boston

Kyle Ritchie, 29, Education Market Sustainable Design Lead, CannonDesign; St. Joseph, Michigan

Brennan Spellacy, 27, Co-founder and CEO, Patch; San Francisco

Jash Vora, 23, Technical Project Manager, Lineage Logistics, San Francisco

Allison Ward, 26, Senior Sustainable Materials Engineer, Dell Technologies; Northville, Michigan

Peter Zhou, 29, Product Development Lead of Composites, Carbon Upcycling Technologies; Calgary, Canada

You can read more about each of these innovators here.

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UNFI Climate Goals validated by SBTI-GreenMoney

UNFI’s Climate Goals Validated by SBTi

Company commits to significantly reduce emissions across its operations and value chain

 

United Natural Foods, Inc. (NYSE: UNFI) (“UNFI”) announced in late May its science-based emissions reduction targets covering the organization’s operations and value chain have been validated and approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), making the Company among the first North American wholesale grocery distributors to adopt these targets. A core element of UNFI’s 2030 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda, Better for All, is a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste, and make progress on other key ESG priorities.

“Climate change continues to pose a serious threat to our planet and UNFI is committed to taking bold action on environmental issues and investing in opportunities to reduce our emissions,” said UNFI Chief Executive Officer, Sandy Douglas. “Through adoption and pursuit of these science-based targets, UNFI is proud to help lead the North American wholesale and grocery distribution industry, and humbly recognizes the critical importance of coordinated and rapid decarbonization.”

UNFI’s emissions reduction targets1 approved by the SBTi are consistent with levels required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The three validated targets below are based on a fiscal 2020 emissions base year and fiscal 2030 emissions target year.

Operations Targets

  1. Reduce scope 1 and 3 heavy freight well-to-wheel GHG emissions from transportation by 38 percent on an intensity basis.
  2. Reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from all other emission sources by 50 percent.

UNFI’s fleet of over 2,000 owned and leased trucks makes 1.37 million deliveries to over 30,000 customer locations each year. These deliveries are facilitated through UNFI’s 56 distribution centers which represent approximately 30 million square feet of warehouse space. Together, distribution centers, retail, fleet and all refrigerant emissions account for less than 5 percent of the Company’s total scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

Value Chain Target

  1. Reduce absolute scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services by 25 percent.

UNFI purchases nearly 300,000 products from over 12,000 suppliers and growers, which account for around 90 percent of total scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. To promote reductions, UNFI created the Climate Action Hub to provide tools and resources, including opportunities for suppliers and vendors to learn from experts and each other, to innovate and scale climate solutions across the food system. Hub visitors will find resources such as a Climate Action Guide which provides tips on how to advance their own emissions reduction work.

“We are excited to take the next step in our emissions reduction journey by having our targets validated by SBTi, but we know we can’t accomplish these goals alone,” said Alisha Real, UNFI Director of Sustainability and Social Impact. “We take the need for business accountability in solving this global challenge seriously and look forward to engaging our value chain in these important efforts.”

“UNFI’s commitment to reducing their emissions, including their scope 3 emissions, sets a strong precedent in the food industry. By working in collaboration throughout their network of suppliers, UNFI is helping to activate and support much needed climate action,” said Courtney Pineau, Executive Director at The Climate Collaborative. 

To see a short video with UNFI Chief Executive Officer, Sandy Douglas, please visit – https://vimeopro.com/user48556009/sbti

  

About United Natural Foods

UNFI is North America’s premier food wholesaler delivering the widest variety of products to customer locations throughout North America including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, ecommerce retailers, and food service customers. By providing this deeper ‘full-store’ selection and compelling brands for every aisle, UNFI is uniquely positioned to deliver great food, more choices, and fresh thinking to customers everywhere. Today, UNFI is the largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America. To learn more about how UNFI is Fueling the Future of Food, visit www.unfi.com.

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding the Company’s business that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties and are based on current expectations and management estimates; actual results may differ materially. Examples of these statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding our emissions reductions targets and related plans to achieve those goals. The risks and uncertainties which could impact these statements include those described in the Company’s filings under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including its annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended July 31, 2021 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on September 28, 2021 and other filings the Company makes with the SEC. Any forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and, as such, speak only as of the date made. The Company may from time to time update these statements, but it is not obligated to do so.

Footnote:
[1] UNFI commits to reduce scope 1 and 3 heavy freight well-to-wheel (WTW) GHG emissions from transportation 38% per tonne kilometer by FY2030 from a FY2020 base year. UNFI also commits to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from all other emission sources 50% by FY2030 from a FY2020 base year. UNFI further commits to reduce absolute scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services 25% within the same timeframe.

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Newday Impact Launches Ocean Health ETF

Newday Impact Launches Ocean Health ETF

Pledges 5% Donation to Non-Profit Working in Ocean Health. The ETF has over 80% of Portfolio Actively Involved in Protecting Ocean Resources

 

Newday Impact, a San Francisco-based asset management and financial technology company that brings authentic responsible investing to those seeking investments that reflect their values, recently launches the Newday Ocean Health ETF (NYSE: AHOY). The fund – Newday Impact’s first exchange traded fund and one of the few ETFs dedicated to protecting and restoring healthy marine ecosystems – builds on the company’s five years of impact investing and strong relationships with grassroots nonprofit organizations working to mitigate environmental damage to the world’s oceans.

The Newday Ocean Health ETF seeks long-term capital appreciation through investments in companies that are diverting ocean-bound plastic waste, supporting sustainable fisheries, controlling ocean acidification caused by CO2 emissions, and actively using other strategies to combat ocean pollution and other threats to marine health. The entire portfolio is also aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals including zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth, responsible consumption and production, climate action, and life below water.

Through its ESG screening methodology and proprietary fundamental research models, the Newday Ocean Health ETF currently has over 80% of the companies that either has a direct or indirect connection to protecting and restoring healthy marine ecosystems and climate change.

Newday Impact has a policy to contribute a portion of revenues from its thematic portfolios to its nonprofit partners. The company will donate 5% of its net revenue of Ocean Health ETF to EarthEcho International, an environmental nonprofit organization established by Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father, Philippe Cousteau Sr., and their grandfather, legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Newday Impact has partnered with Philippe Cousteau and EarthEcho International since 2021 to provide sustainability education to thousands of students and teachers who are part of the SIFMA Foundation’s National Stock Market Game. The EarthEcho team has also provided Newday Impact with important insights into ocean health and sustainability that the company uses in building its investment portfolios.

“Several sustainable investing ETFs are created by financial services companies that see marketing opportunities in the ESG space but include environmentally irresponsible companies to improve the fund’s performance,” said Doug Heske, CEO of Newday Impact. “Our Ocean Health ETF portfolio is 100% focused on companies with effective, legitimate green agendas, based on the knowledge and relationships we’ve built in our five years of impact investing. We believe that affecting positive change can also drive positive financial returns, and this fund is an opportunity for socially conscious investors to make a difference in both areas.”

“Ocean health is critical to the survival of the planet for reasons ranging from its role in absorbing CO2 and supplying oxygen to providing food for billions of people around the world, creating millions of jobs, and even supplying ingredients for life-saving medications,” said Philippe Cousteau of EarthEcho International*. “Newday Impact’s new ETF is an important step in helping fund companies that are investing in protecting the ocean ecosystem for future generations.”

The Newday Ocean Health ETF was developed in partnership with Toroso Investments and Tidal ETF Services.  For more information, visit newdayimpactetfs.com.

* Phillipe Cousteau may be indirectly compensated for this endorsement through Newday Impact’s donation to EarthEcho.

 

About Newday Impact

Newday Impact is a financial services company that provides authentic portfolios for socially responsible investors. Backed by insightful research and recognized community leaders, Newday Impact offers portfolios addressing the major ESG issues in the world. The company also supports its partners by donating 5% of net revenue to nonprofits focused on this transformational change. Newday Impact works with family offices, institutions, investment advisors, financial services platforms, and individual investors, who want both a return on investment and community impact. For more information about Newday Impact’s work and investment opportunities, email info@newdayinvesting.com or visit https://newdayimpact.com.

About Tidal ETF Services

Formed by ETF industry pioneers and thought leaders, Tidal ETF Services, LLC sets out to thoughtfully disrupt the way ETFs have historically been developed, launched, marketed, and sold. With a focus on helping ETF issuers, Tidal offers a comprehensive suite of services, proprietary tools, and methodologies designed to bring lasting ideas to market. We are advocates for ETF innovation on a mission to help issuers efficiently and effectively launch their ETFs and optimize their growth potential in a highly competitive space. Learn more at tidaletfservices.com.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Before investing you should carefully consider the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other information are in the prospectus. A prospectus may be obtained by calling 833-4UN-SDGS or 833-486-7347 or by visiting newdayimpactetfs.com.

Please read the prospectus carefully before you invest. 

Investing in ETFs involves risk including possible loss of principal.  The Fund is a recently organized management investment company with no operating history or track record to evaluate. The Fund’s portfolio composition is dependent on proprietary quantitative models and is subject to data risk. Any decisions made in reliance on the data could have a direct impact on the fund’s performance.

The Fund is non-diversified, which means that it may invest a greater percentage of its assets in the securities of a smaller number of issuers or sector than if it were a diversified fund.  This may increase the Fund’s volatility and cause the performance of a relatively smaller number of issuers to have a greater impact on the Fund’s performance.  The Fund’s investment strategy or emphasis on the Ocean Health sector and utilizing Environmental, Social and Governance criteria may limit the types and number of investment opportunities available to the Fund and it could underperform other funds that do not use this screening methodology.

The Fund may invest in American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) which has the risk that it may not provide a return that corresponds with an underlying foreign share.  Investments in foreign securities are subject to risks associated with adverse political and economic developments including economic sanctions.  Also, there may be less rigorous disclosure or accounting standards and regulatory practices which may cause more fund volatility.  Investing in small or mid-capitalization companies may be more vulnerable to adverse issuer, market, political, or economic developments than securities of large-capitalization companies. The securities of smaller companies generally trade in lower volumes and may be subject to greater and more unpredictable price changes.

The Fund is distributed by Foreside Fund Services, LLC.

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Ceres New Guide to Aid US Food Sectors Climate Transition-Food Emission 50 initiative

Ceres’ New Guide to Aid U.S. Food Sector’s Climate Transition Plans

The report is part of the Ceres Food Emission 50 initiative, an effort focused on decarbonizing the nation’s food sector as investors ramp up pressure.

Ceres Investor Guide to Climate Transition Plans in US Food SectorA new report recently released by the sustainability nonprofit Ceres reveals few companies in the U.S. food sector have disclosed their climate transition strategies nor concrete actions to achieve them, despite increasing investor pressures and the growing threats of climate change. The Investor Guide to Climate Transition Plans in the U.S. Food Sector provides the most comprehensive guidance to help food companies move beyond target-setting to creating and implementing sector-specific climate transition plans that chart pathways to greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

It outlines how, despite greater corporate climate disclosure and commitments to greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, net zero targets and other climate-related goals, many companies fail to adequately disclose sufficient information to investors on how they intend to achieve said ambitions. The quality of consistent disclosure currently varies greatly due to the high-level nature of existing guidance and a lack of clear consensus on what climate transition plans should include, leading to a clear transition disclosure gap.

The report also includes in-depth analyses of key food sector sub-industries such as packaged foods and meats, food distribution, food retail and hypermarkets/supercenters and restaurants. It contains a framework to help investors assess corporate climate transition plans in this sector, including guidance on evaluating corporate emissions disclosure, emissions reduction targets and climate transition strategies and actions.

“The food sector is a critical player in the transition to a net zero emissions economy, but the sector as a whole has been slow to translate emissions reductions targets into action,” said Julie Nash, senior program director for Food and Forests at Ceres. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to climate transition plans, but this new Ceres report offers the support and context needed by companies and investors alike to move into the next phase of corporate climate stewardship. As momentum grows to standardize climate-related disclosures, such as the proposed rule from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get ahead on disclosure and action planning.”

The food sector displays a continued lack of progress when it comes to climate commitment disclosure. As of January 2022, only 21 of the 50 highest greenhouse gas-emitting North American food companies tracked by the Ceres’ Food Emissions 50 initiative have set any short-term emissions reduction targets inclusive of scope 3 emissions, the largest source of emissions in this sector. None have published a climate transition plan. The global food system is responsible for approximately one third of global emissions and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently outlined how global temperature rise stands to negatively affect the global economy, food security and both human and planetary health.

The report is primarily intended to support investor engagements with companies that have already disclosed their full-scope greenhouse gas emissions and have set 1.5°C greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that cover Scope 3 emissions; without these foundational elements in place, companies face the risk of creating plans that are not ambitious enough to truly mitigate climate change. Investors can also use the guidance to engage companies by emphasizing the importance of getting ahead of forthcoming guidance and standards by preemptively aligning their actions with more ambitious standards.

“Decarbonizing the U.S. food sector is key in our efforts to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees,” said Mary Beth Gallagher, Director of Engagement at Domini Impact Investments. “It is not a simple matter of just purchasing renewable energy, we need to see clear evidence of how companies are scaling their climate ambitions and actions. This report gives a framework to help investors evaluate the credibility and authenticity of the full business model alignment to a net zero emissions future, including through procurement, operations, and capital expenditures.”

The report was developed with input from investor signatories of Ceres Food Emissions 50 initiative, food companies, and an expert advisory committee. Food Emissions 50 is Ceres’ strategy for reducing emissions in the food sector as part of the Ceres’ Ambition 2030 initiative, a broader effort to decarbonize six of the highest-emitting sectors in the U.S. by the end of the decade. Investor signatories to Food Emissions 50 seek to move companies to improve their greenhouse gas emissions disclosures, set ambitious emission reduction targets, and implement ambitious climate transition action plans in line with the Paris Agreement.

“As investors wake up to the economic impacts of climate change and treat corporate climate strategies with increasing scrutiny, food companies will need to develop tailored plans that inform business decisions at every level of operations,” said Kate Monahan, a Director of Shareholder Advocacy at Trillium Asset Management. “Companies and investors are actively seeking support and guidance on how to move into the next phase of corporate stewardship. The recommendations contained within this report will help investors – and in turn, the companies in which we invest – create measurable targets against which progress can be tracked and assessed.”

Forthcoming research through the Ceres Ambition 2030 initiative will provide further guidance on climate transition plans for other priority high-emitting sectors.

 

About Ceres

Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies, and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.

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The Climate Crisis is a Health Emergency-by Ebony Perkins

It’s Official: The Climate Crisis is a Health Emergency

By Ebony Perkins, Impact Finance Center

Above – A Self-Help financed solar project in Kinston, North Carolina. Self-Help has invested over $175 million in solar development companies that are providing a clean energy alternative to fossil fuels and opportunities for economic advancement in rural communities. These installations have created 2,250 jobs in the clean-energy sector and have provided over 280 megawatts of clean energy to the grid–enough to power 53,000 homes.

 

Ebony Perkins Impact Finance Center

GreenMoney Journal is turning 30!

The guests have arrived, the music is playing, and the celebration is about to begin.

But wait…don’t pop the champagne just yet. We still have work to do.

It’s natural to want to celebrate our progress in the fight against climate change. Since GreenMoney Journal’s founding in 1992, we’ve had a few wins—we’ve bent the emissions curve, national leaders have committed to cutting emissions even further, electric vehicle sales have skyrocketed, and clean energy costs have declined.

Investors are also strategically using their investments to support communities that are currently experiencing the direct effects of climate change in their everyday lives. Community development financial institutions have received a surge of investments in the last decade. According to the US SIF 2020 trends report, “community investing assets nearly doubled between 2014 and 2016, then increased by just over 50 percent between 2016 and 2018, and most recently grew by 44 percent between 2018 and 2020.”  Money managers have invested $266.3 billion into community investing institutions.

Yet, investments in community investing institutions are still only 1.6% of the $16.6 trillion in ESG incorporated assets. Many communities are in crisis mode as they face mounting health issues and even death because of climate change.

Though we’ve made progress in the fight against climate change, we must remain persistent and continue to protect our most vulnerable populations.

The Climate Crisis is a Health Emergency

Our most vulnerable groups — low-income and minority communities — feel the effects of our declining planet before the general population because they often lack the resources to shield them from the inevitable chain of events that occur resulting from environmental decline and failing infrastructure. They experience the effects of climate change at higher rates, are plagued by water contamination, and are more often located near landfills and hazardous waste sites than other groups. These groups are robbed of the chance to live and raise their families in safe communities where they can enjoy healthy food, drink safe water, and breathe clean air.

The World Health Organization estimates that in 2012 environmental factors contributed to 12.6 million deaths globally, nearly 23% of all deaths. In the United States, physicians are speaking out about the health risks that pregnant women, children, the elderly, and others with chronic health conditions are experiencing because of climate. They are seeing more patients with increased allergies, respiratory complications, heat-related difficulties, or mosquito-borne illnesses, among other issues.

Many individuals are now taking their health into their own hands after realizing the damaging effects of gas. Clean Energy Credit Union member John from Texas turned to the credit union after experiencing a storm that affected him and his family. He said, “I [decided] to go solar after the huge storm in Texas in February of 2021. After losing power for almost 48 hours and having to huddle around the gas fireplace just to survive, we had enough and decided to take control of our own energy production. We purchased a system large enough to produce 100% of our energy needs, with a battery backup that is generator ready. We feel much safer in our own home now that we have this system.”

Many green financial institutions recognize that no one should continue to jeopardize their health because of expensive financing options from traditional lenders. Nicole Buford, Marketing Director at Clean Energy, doubled down on their efforts to build healthier communities: “We recognize that there is a strong connection between health and the environment, and we are committed to leveraging clean energy to reduce pollution for the public’s health.”

In the future, investors will tailor their strategy in the fight against climate change to address the growing health problems vulnerable communities face. Some institutional investors are already investing in affordable housing that provides safe, environmentally-friendly living conditions. Others are increasing diversity in healthcare so patients experiencing environmentally-caused health conditions can work with a doctor or other healthcare professionals that can both identify with their plight and meet their needs.

West Oakland Community Foods Market
Community Foods Market is a full-service grocery store, health resource center and community hub that engages residents to lead healthier and more socially-connected lives. Self-Help’s $1,985,000 loan helped fund construction of the 14,000 square-foot grocery store to support the vibrant community of West Oakland.

How You Can Build Healthier Communities & Fight Climate Change

You don’t have to decide between either fighting climate change or building healthier communities. Below are a few ways you can achieve both:

  • Invest your cash with green financial institutions providing healthy alternative products: Some credit unions specialize in affordable clean energy loans. Consider placing your savings at Self-Help Credit Union in a CD, IRA, or money market account so they can help others lead healthier, environmentally-friendly lives.
  • Give to nonprofits addressing the public health effects of climate change: Many organizations are serving communities experiencing these health issues. Consider donating to organizations like The Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health or PUSH Buffalo to help them continue to raise awareness and address health inequities.
  • Speak up for populations experiencing the brunt of this health crisis: As you continue to advocate for climate change, verbally acknowledge the people currently suffering from these health issues. Although we can continue to address carbon emissions and rising sea levels, we must not forget the growing number of human lives lost each day because of this current health crisis.

 

Article by Ebony Perkins, Senior Advisor, Impact Finance Center

Ebony Perkins is a dedicated, solution-oriented social entrepreneur whose heartbeat is community. She has a demonstrated ability of working with investors and philanthropists to help them make smart and strategic decisions. As the Director of Impact Investments for a Fortune 5 company, Ebony advances their social impact and tax credit investment strategy across the country. Before that role, she served as the Vice-President & Director of Investor Relations at Self-Help Credit Union. Ebony managed a national team that helps groups and individuals invest funds in a socially responsible financial institution that supports communities of all kinds, especially those underserved by conventional lenders.

Ebony co-hosts the Renegade Capital Podcast: The Activist’s podcast for finance and investments. She interviews thought leaders who go into the ring every day to fight against the racist, sexist, and exclusive norms established by traditional financial and capital systems. Ebony is also a Senior Advisor with Impact Finance Center and is supporting the creation of a membership organization that provides shared due diligence for a diverse asset manager database. 

Ebony’s commitment to community investing is evident by her service and contributions to Clean Energy Credit Union, Conservation Trust of North Carolina, US SIF, and Women In Philanthropy. She was also recognized on the SRI Conference’s inaugural 30 Under 30 List.

Ebony holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Claflin University as a summa cum laude graduate. She also has an Executive Certificate in Financial Planning from Duke University.

Energy & Climate, Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

What would Nature do - What would Nature have ME do - by Katherine Collins

What Would Nature Do? What Would Nature Have Me Do? The Next Thirty Years

By Katherine Collins, Putnam Investments

Katherine Collins - Putnam InvestmentsWhen I was pensive as a child, I’d hop on my bike and ride to a little creek down the lane, where I could watch the caddisflies assemble their crazy pebbly houses.

When I was yearning to consolidate my thoughts after divinity school, I walked 500 miles through the fields of wheat and sunflowers in northern Spain.

When I was returning to practice in a large financial institution, I endlessly studied the interactions my honey bee hives.

In the early days of the pandemic, I began to stop on my daily walk to lean against a 200 year old oak, though it was weeks until I was aware of this habit.

And once, at a conference in Las Vegas, I hid amidst the branches of a big potted ficus tree, the only thing around that was not flashing lights or bleeping at me.

 

It is perhaps no surprise, then, that I see a great reconnection in business and investing taking root – a joining-up of finance and the wisdom of our natural world. I don’t mean a focus on investing in nature, though in many ways that is vital. I mean a focus on investing as nature, a shift in how our decisions are considered and made and monitored. This shift goes beyond the changing jargon and labels and frameworks of our profession, important though they can be. It reflects a deeper level of reunion, a reconnection of investing with the world it is meant to serve.

I acknowledge that this trend is not so visible some days.

Here in our “now,” things are pretty complicated.

Over the past two years, we have witnessed the tragic and disruptive impacts of the pandemic; continued evidence of racial injustice in the United States; record-breaking fire, hurricane, drought, and flood conditions across many parts of the world; and the ongoing polarization of civil discourse. Recent months have brought news of the horrific invasion of Ukraine, inflationary pressures, and tumult in economies and financial markets. The opportunities to improve the systems that support our well-being, livelihoods, and societies are enormous, sometimes overwhelming.

And yet.

When times are difficult, both shortcomings and strengths are revealed. Individuals, communities, companies, and societies have the chance to rediscover our most valuable assets. Amid the challenges noted above, we have also experienced the joy of reunion, the power of effective collaboration, and the glory of our natural environment. We are reminded daily of the power of social connection, positive technological advances, and effective systems of care and governance.

What are the common characteristics of these newly vivid assets?

Effectiveness over efficiency.
Connection over isolation.
Adaptation over rigidity.
Partnership over predation.

These are also the design principles at work in healthy natural systems, the ideas that sit at the heart of the practice of biomimicry.

What Would Nature Do?

Biomimicry asks us to look to nature as our most magnificent library of wisdom, not just a warehouse full of stuff. It asks us to stop before we design a process, or invent a taxonomy, or create a product, and to ask, What Would Nature Do? How is this function I’m considering present in natural systems, and what can I learn from the billions of years of cumulative experience all around me?

Fittingly, my introduction to biomimicry was itself a re-rooting. I was visiting with the incomparable Hazel Henderson at her home in Florida, where visionary scientists and teachers Janine Benyus and Dayna Baumeister introduced us to the core principles of biomimicry and natural systems design. At one point, Janine summarized by saying, “so this is how the world functions,” and I felt a huge whoosh of my own exhaled breath. This is how the world – our home – already functions. It is not so hard to imagine realigning our puny, brand-new financial systems once this reality is clear.

In some ways an investment practice or business operation aligned with natural systems might still seem a faraway dream. But I see the green shoots sprouting up everywhere I look. When a CEO reports on the benefits of their products to customers before talking about operating margins, that’s a sprout. When a CFO tells me with eyebrows raised that increasing wages is an investment and not just a cost, that’s a sprout. When my own team shares stories of the best things in our weeks before diving into our spreadsheets, that’s a sprout. When analyst and CIO commentary recognizes that all of these activities contribute to financial returns, that it’s not a zero sum, fixed pie world, that is more than a sprout; it is a sapling!

What Would Nature Have Me Do?

A more recent reframing of this core question has recently come to me through reunion with the Harvard Divinity School community, and particularly with the legacy of Reverend Peter J. Gomes. I’m sorry to report that one of my main lessons from Divinity School is, unless you are Reverend Gomes, no one really wants to hear your sermon! Thankfully we still have the records of his orations to draw upon for inspiration and guidance.

Rev. Gomes famously upped the ante on the popular Christian phrase, “What would Jesus do?” by asking instead, “What would Jesus have me do?” This has me wondering, what if we extend our inquiry to ask, What would Nature have me do?

These two tiny words make all the difference. They move us from a place of judgment to a place of responsibility, from analysis to action. Whatever we honor, this edit tilts the question inward, and forward.

In this demand we find love.
In this demand we find hope.

Like the green shoots of biomimicry design principles, I see sparks of this hope everywhere. The buttoned-up CFO who tells us about sharing personal struggles with his team during the pandemic is a spark. The analyst whose enthusiasm for the circular economy earns the attention of a cranky old colleague is a spark. The manager who insists on a higher standard of substance over a check-the-box approach to reporting is a spark.

As I compose this curious combination of reflection and prediction, dear Hazel has just “gone virtual” (in her words). She leaves us with great bushels of seeds from her far-ranging wisdom, and great arcs of illumination from the sparks of her spirit. As we go forward with the planting, as we try to light a path ahead, how fitting it would be for us to also take up her mantra, “the wealth is in the network!” This work is joyful, and also sometimes lonely. But we are not alone.

These seeds and these sparks are my hope for the next thirty years. They are the source of my faith in what could lie ahead. Here is the work of our time, to reconnect all that has been held falsely separate.

What rewards it could bring!

Study Nature. Love Nature. Stay close to nature.
It will never fail you. – Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Putnam Investments 2022 Sustainability ReportArticle by Katherine Collins, Head of Sustainable Investing at Putnam Investments and portfolio manager for Putnam’s Sustainable Leaders and Sustainable Future strategies, with approximately $8 billion in assets under management. 

Ms. Collins has over thirty years’ experience as an active fundamental investor and was named to the inaugural Forbes “50 Over 50” list of leaders who are shaping the future of finance in 2021. She is the author of Month of Sundays and The Nature of Investing, and founder of Honeybee Capital, an independent investment research firm focused on sustainable investment themes. Earlier in her career, she served as Head of Equity Research, Portfolio Manager, and Equity Research Analyst at Fidelity Investments.

Katherine serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Santa Fe Institute, Omega Institute, and Harvard Divinity School Dean’s Council. She earned a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. from Wellesley College, and is a CFA charter holder

Energy & Climate, Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

The Way You Invest Matters by Amy Domini

The Way You Invest Matters: Setting the Stage for the Next 30 Years

By Amy Domini, Domini Impact Investments

Amy Domini, Domini Impact Investments(Article graphics from the Domini Funds 2021 Impact Report)

The first phase of the responsible investment movement has matured. We find our approach of arguing that scrutiny of the way companies respect their relationships with people and the planet adds value to the investment decision-making process. Our stakeholders include the natural ecology, work forces, suppliers, customers, investors, taxpayers, and communities, both locally and in the global sense. We have demonstrated value and so regulators, large investors, investment banks and partner-nonprofits mobilized to begin the process of standardizing data and providing it to investment decision makers.

Roughly every fifty years a new awareness of a better way for investors to make money emerges. In 1934 Benjamin Graham published Security Analysis which forever shaped the way professionals approached the investment decision making process. He argued that being disciplined, investing in the company—not simply the stock—and staying invested for the long haul allowed one to achieve superior results. His stock-by-stock approach prevailed for roughly fifty years before the next tidal wave of insight appeared: The Modern Portfolio Theory, which argued that a thoughtful diversification would reduce risk and enhance return revolutionized portfolio management. Although Harry Markowitz introduced the concept in 1952, it did not sweep institutional investing until David F. Swensen famously built the highly successful Yale endowment by utilizing the theory in the late 1980s. Today we witness a global rush to investing with values, frequently referred to as Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG investing, although impact or sustainability investing is favored by many.

Modern Portfolio Theory did not remove security analysis—it is used alongside it. ESG will not cause the demise of security analysis and will not cause the demise of diversifying portfolios. Instead, it sets out to strengthens investors’ capacity to make sound investment decisions that help outcomes for their clients. Many on Wall Street did not expect this outcome, but as the idea spread, these people have become converts. In fact, we are now headed to universal acceptance that there is a value add.

Thirty years ago, socially responsible investing, as it was called, was generally ignored by professional investors as a tool for making investment decisions. When it was discussed, concerns were raised. Was it possible to perform with such constraints? Was it legal? Who decides what is good and how do they weigh its pros and cons? Today we have set aside most of these concerns. There is plenty of academic literature and lived experience to give comfort to those who are hesitant.

I anticipate that the next several years will see an increase in standardized reporting on topics of interest to responsible investors. Many of these data points will result from demands by regulators. We have already seen the Securities and Exchange Commission mandate disclosures relating to executive compensation and board makeup. Some data points will continue to be collected voluntarily.

Carbon Disclosure Project is an example of what can be accomplished without specific regulation when investors voice an interest in a disclosure.

The question of who decides what is good is quickly emerging as a hot topic. Recent news that S&P Global does not consider controversial behavior that happened more than ten years ago drew some criticism. But I thought ten years was more than adequate and as I generally consider four years as adequate for the aging off of a concern. A difference of opinion is a good thing. All investors have identical information of earnings per share and the price of a security, yet some are buyers and some are sellers. It is, as they say, what makes a market.

2021 Domini Funds Impact Report-2

Nonetheless, for the sake of a strong outcome, advocates of the integration of social and ecological considerations into the investment process could benefit from a greater convergence over “what matters,” even if we do not agree on how to interpret it.

In 1989 Peter Kinder, Steven Lydenberg and I created the metrics to identify a company’s impacts on several stakeholders in an even-handed way. With this tool, we could create a splatter of data points. We did not assign values to each data point, arguing that the investor should stand back from the canvas, stare, and see the points form a picture. Certainly, we had to decide which companies to put into the Domini 400 Social Index*, but there was no simple numerical entry point.

Currently, the largest research vendors have a tendency to use data points to come up with a single score for a company. It is an approach that is, in my opinion, unlikely to continue to be much sought after. As a portfolio manager, I am somewhat interested in buy and sell recommendations, but I certainly don’t take someone else’s opinion blindly. I want to know why and I want to know in detail about the tidbits of information that have helped me in the past, such as qualifications of top management or cash flow trends. The same is true for stakeholder analysis. I want to judge for myself whether the company has taken steps to address their ecological damage, or to attract and retain a diverse and empowered workforce. I have my own prejudices as to what matters with what companies.

Domini Funds 2021 Impact Report-3One of these prejudices is that the treatment of the taxpayer deserves greater scrutiny. If your employment base must rely on public assistance to make ends meet, your company is not, in fact, a functioning capitalist company. It is living on handouts and needs to be priced as such. I raise this only as an example of potential areas to explore for greater understanding of whether a corporation is in fact a good place to invest money.

In addition to how we, who manage impact portfolios, look at companies, a shift has occurred in how investors look at us. The issuer of investment products labeled as responsible or green is being asked to demonstrate consistency. If a mutual fund is green, the fund management is expected to vote green on proxies. This may seem simple and obvious to insiders in the field, but it was in reality not the case and has led to claims of greenwashing, confusing the public. Nonetheless, it is effectively moving mountains. Large asset managers are integrating value across proxy voting, headquarter building, diversity programs and a host of other areas. Consistency will grow.

Intentionality is also under scrutiny. When Morningstar began to rate mutual funds for ESG, shock waves were set off as dozens of funds with a special purpose and no intentionality to be ESG were given good scores. Was a fund that bought only solar panel manufacturers really a “better” ESG investment than a diversified portfolio that intentionally engaged with its portfolio companies and had a prospectus stating that it used environmental standards to make investment decisions?

What do the next thirty years hold? I believe there will be universal acceptance of ESG as a valid and useful tool for investment advisors; a move towards greater disclosure of granular data; a move away from top line scores; and an avalanche of new research on the approach. This is not, however, as important as what the byproduct of our growth will bring. With data comes knowledge and with knowledge comes corrective action. That will be our legacy.

We have always believed that investors matter in assuring that there is a tomorrow, and that tomorrow includes a livable planet and lives worth living. And our field is built on the idea that we are more alike than different from each other, that our combined impact will be an important source of engaging finance in creating a better world. We are on the cusp of seeing our goals met. Our simple concept, the way you invest matters, will have positive real world results.

 

Article by Amy Domini, Founder and Chair of Domini Impact Investments (“Domini”). She has been a leader and innovator in the development of impact investing for over 30 years. Widely regarded as one of the world’s eminent authorities in the field, she was named to Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2005.

Ms. Domini began her career as a stockbroker and became especially interested in working with clients that were concerned with ecological sustainability and universal human dignity. She co-founded KLD Research & Analytics and, in 1990, was instrumental in the launch of the Domini 400 Social Index. She later co-created the Domini Impact Equity Fund. Ms. Domini serves as a voting member of Domini’s Impact Review Committee and Standards Committee. She also serves as co-Portfolio Manager for the Domini Impact Equity Fund, Domini International Opportunities Fund, and Domini Sustainable Solutions Fund.

Ms. Domini was acknowledged with the Clinton Global Initiative citation for innovation and finance. She has also received an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree from Northeastern College of Law, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Flagler College, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale University’s Berkeley Divinity School. Ms. Domini was named to Directorship magazine’s Directorship 100, the magazine’s listing of the most influential people on corporate governance and in the boardroom, and Barron’s selected her as one of the 30 most influential people in the mutual business. In 2009, she was named to Time magazine’s list of 25 “Responsibility Pioneers” who are changing the world.

Active in her community, Ms. Domini is a board member for the Center for Responsible Lending. She is also a past board member of the Church Pension Fund of the Episcopal Church in America; the National Association of Community Development Loan Funds, an organization whose members work to create funds for grassroots economic development loans; and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the major sponsor of shareholder actions. A frequent guest commentator, Ms. Domini has appeared on CNBC’s Talking Stocks and various other radio and television shows.

Ms. Domini holds a B.A. in international and comparative studies from Boston University and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Select Publications:

Ms. Domini is the author of Thoughts on People Planet, & Profit (2021), Socially Responsible Investing: Making a Difference and Making Money (Dearborn Trade, 2001) and The Challenges of Wealth (Dow Jones Irwin, 1988), and a coauthor of Investing for Good (Harper Collins, 1993), The Social Investment Almanac (Henry Holt, 1992), and Ethical Investing  (Addison-Wesley, 1984). 

Footnote:
* Now known as the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index, owned by MSCI, Inc. MSCI and Domini Impact Investments LLC are not affiliated.

This commentary reflects the views of the author and are subject to change as market and other conditions warrant. No forecasts are guaranteed. This commentary is provided for informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of any security, mutual fund, sector, or index.

Energy & Climate, Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Introducing the GoSun Grid – Outdoor Fun & Resilience

GoSun-LogoGoSun is focused on building resilience and supporting outdoor enthusiasts, and for creating products that are good for the planet and good for you. And since GoSun has a registered CF offering, GoSun also provides a unique Green Investment Opportunity.

GoSun has created a micro-grid of self-reliance that integrates nearly 30 products designed to work in unison, or as stand-alone portable energy solutions. These appliances that have been developed are some of the most efficient appliances possible, so you only need a small amount of energy to get the job done in the first place. Indeed, a conventional oven needs up to 4000wh to cook a meal, the GoSun oven only needs 150wh.

Designed to maximize versatility and compatibility – and unlike many other offerings – the GoSun Grid is an open ecosystem. All of these energy efficient appliances run on solar energy or 12 volts, the most common port in the world, and these products can continue to run even if the utility power grid goes down.

The following is an overview of the GoSun Grid and how each area can support self-reliance:

REFRIGERATION – GoSun’s top selling portable refrigerators, the Chill and Chillest, feature Tesla inspired, highly efficient brushless compressors, that only draw 40 peak watts of power when cooling is needed, and a lightweight lithium battery. Now there is never a need to buy ice again- and no more wet sandwiches. Both the Chill and Chillest come with their own battery, providing around the clock power regardless of weather or location. The coolers have a reflective white top paint so the unit never heats up, and when used in combination with the optional solar table can essentially run continuously.

COOKING – GoSun’s most remarkable products are their patented vacuum-insulated solar ovens that make meals in any sunlight; even the clouds, plus they can continue to cook even after the sun sets, with the compact lithium battery. These solar ovens can reach temperatures of 550 degrees! From backpack to BBQ there are now small, medium and large; there is the Go, great for hiking, the very quick Sport, and the impressive 150 watt Fusion that can cook an entire meal for a family day or night.

GoSun

WATER – Clean drinking water is critical, so the portable GoSun Solar water filter is capable of purifying from any water source, whether it’s a lake, stream, creek or even rainwater runoff. Thanks to an amazing micro USB powered pump, one doesn’t have to do the work, or wait for gravity to drain the filter. With the push of a button one can have purified water, a kitchen sink and even a shower. Make that a hot shower with the Fusion in the Sun or drop the 130 watt Submersion Heater into the vacuum tube.

BREWING – GoSun wants to keep everyone energized out there, so there is now an all-in-one coffee brewing travel mug and French press, called the Brew. The brew can run off any 12-volt battery-including your car, boat, RV or the GoSun portable power pack. Add up to 14 ounces of water, plug in the 130 watt heater, then add coffee or tea and your fresh, hot beverage is made anywhere you’re going.

LIGHTING – Gosun doesn’t want the darkness of nighttime to slow one down, so GoSun makes a range of lighting solutions to guide your way whether camping, working, or when the lights go out. The Solar Lamp weighing only 6 ounces can light for 6 hours with just one day’s worth of sunlight. It also can provide up to 50 lumens of light.

HEATING – Staying warm without a fire can be difficult, so GoSun developed a completely portable heated blanket to get comfy while you work, play, or rest, or if the power ever goes out. Use as a cover, a heated seat, or just on your couch. This battery-powered, solar rechargeable blanket is also great for taking to those cold football games.

COOLING – With all this fun in the sun, things can heat up and when they do, GoSun has a high-power fan to push out the sweaty, dog days of summer, helping you stay cool indoors or out. The fan includes a highly energy efficient brushless motor, so it can run on 12 volts or solar yet still put out a powerful breeze.

POWER – Now it’s time to get into the power generation and storage devices. Packed with energy and ports, these powerbanks run our technology when they aren’t running directly on solar power. They come in a range of sizes depending on how long you’re staying off-grid, and are named for the watt hours stored when fully charged. To re-charge the powerbanks, you can use AC power or 12 Volt.  Now with these solar generators, you can still have the power you need, without the noise, or pollution.

GoSun Power

SOLAR CHARGING – And since we are GoSun, we make a wide range of lightweight and portable solar panel solutions that also range in size to match your energy needs. Keeping the Go in GoSun, everything is designed for portability and durability to help you have more resilience and independence. The foldable solar panels can charge your phone or other electronic devices wherever and whenever you need a boost.

So there you have it, Portable Power for the People. Versatile, compatible, and complete, we invite you to start building your GoSun Grid. Check out all of the products of this micro grid at gosun or look at becoming part of Gosun at startengine.

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Why the World of Vertical Farming has become so hot

Why the World of Vertical Farming Has Become So Hot

An A-list of Hollywood celebrities and Wall Street investors are scaling up vertical urban farming in a quest for big returns and climate action.

Climate and Capital Media Featured NewsIn 1999, an environmental and health sciences professor at Columbia University challenged his graduate students to figure out how much food they could produce on rooftop gardens in New York City. The results were disappointing, producing only enough for about 1,000 people out of a population of millions. Undeterred, Professor Dickson Despommier continued to work with students to find better ways to grow crops in New York’s urban jungle. He was determined to prove that food could be grown vertically. The idea of a skyscraper farm was born.

Vertical city farming was once little more than a cover for pot growing but it’s now rapidly scaling up and attracting some of the world’s biggest investors who see a chance to build a new industry, accelerate a climate solution and make money.

Two decades after Despommier’s efforts, a new generation of data-driven urban farmers are taking growing food indoors to new heights –– and doing so with technology that turns agriculture outside in. While the U.S. vertical farming market is still highly fragmented with more than 2,000 small indoor farms, it has now drawn more than a billion dollars in capital from some of the world’s largest investors –– and celebrities.

Leading the pack is New York-based Bowery Farming, which recently raised more than $300 million, attracting A-list celebrities such as actress Natalie Portman, chef José Andrés, singer Justin Timberlake and Phoenix Suns’ point guard Chris Paul. They join some of the world’s leading investors including legendary KKR co-founder Henry Kravis, Google Ventures, Fidelity and Temasek, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund. This brings the valuation of the privately-held company to $2.3 billion, making it the largest vertical farm company in America.

Produce from Bowery Farming is now sold in more than 850 supermarkets across America including Whole Foods Markets, Walmart and Amazon Fresh. “There is a critical need for new solutions to our current agricultural system – as well as an enormous economic opportunity,” says Irving Fain, CEO and founder of Bowery Farming. “This is just the beginning.”

With farms located in near urban areas like Kearny, New Jersey and Nottingham, Maryland, Bowery Farming bears little resemblance to early horizontal farms. Its growing techniques benefit from a powerful network of data that would have taken traditional farmers generations to collect. At the heart of each farm is its proprietary BoweryOS operating system that integrates software, hardware and sensors to grow pesticide-free produce ranging from strawberries and tomatoes to herbs and microgreens, in precisely controlled, indoor environments.

The big bet on Bowery Farming is to see if a niche area of farming that was once the provenance of hippies and pot growers can now be done at scale. If successful, vertical farms will not only transform modern agriculture but will be an important climate change solution, reducing carbon emissions, eliminating pesticide runoff and using less water to grow more food.

“Agriculture accounts for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions today and is predicted to reach 40% of global emissions by 2050,” Fain says. “Our system needs to change.”

And change it will. Vertical farming uses 2-5% less of the water used by traditional farming for the same amount of crops. It also requires 10 to 20% of the nutrients of traditionally-farmed crops, meaning less carbon is produced in their production. Another big vertical farming plus is that there is no need for pesticides. Because of closed-loop watering, there is also no chemical runoff polluting waterways.

A key benefit of vertical farming is location. Crops are grown in large warehouses close to urban centers, reducing the need to transport produce across the country, says Henry Gordon-Smith, CEO and founder of Agritecture, urban agriculture and AgTech advisory firm. This means fewer carbon emissions for getting food to market and it cuts the cost of fossil-fuel-powered farm equipment and tractors, although Henry also admits that vertical farms powered by non-renewable energy sources have a higher carbon footprint due to the energy consumed by lighting and climate control.

Instead, indoor crops are planted on shelves stacked in vertical rows. Using a closed-loop watering system, plants are watered or misted depending on the plant’s needs.

Indoors, temperatures are constantly maintained and monitored, reducing the need to worry about inclement weather or severe storms destroying crops. Vertical farms do, however, require electricity. In place of the sun, plants grow under fluorescent, LED and high-tech lights, often powered with solar energy. A sharp drop in the cost of lights coupled with a doubling in their efficiency is making indoor farming more viable, Fain says in a 2021 podcast.

Vertical farming could also be an important alternative to traditional farming that is increasingly at the mercy of drought and extreme weather due to climate change.

“We need to shift our thinking to a drier future,” says Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for water policy at Arizona State University. “Technology is one of the big drivers in looking at ways to manage water and grow food.”

A decade after Despommier’s publishing: “The Vertical Farm: feeding the world in the 21st Century” vertical farming is still no panacea to solving world hunger. And it faces significant technological challenges. One power blackout can become an instant drought, killing off floor after floor of produce. For investors, however, it does offer a tasty alternative to the increasingly over-invested renewable energy sector. It’s also an opportunity to underwrite a key element of future circular economies.

 

Article written for Climate and Capital Media by Barbi Walker-Walsh, a freelance journalist and currently pursuing a Master of Journalism at NYU. A veteran flight attendant with a serious case of wanderlust, she has spent a lifetime traveling the globe and seeing the world from different perspectives. Walker-Walsh brings the same broad worldview, curiosity, and adventurous spirit to her reporting and writing. She’s as interested in telling stories from those often overlooked to taking readers inside local hotspots, hangouts, and hideaways. She graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and has written for The Arizona Republic, Green Living AZ, Phoenix Home & Garden, The West Wing, Zoniereport.com and other periodicals.

Jim Gold contributed to this story.

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Food & Farming, Sustainable Business

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