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Why is Renewable Energy Important to Me? by Verna Badenhorst

What is “renewable energy?” Currently the largest part of the world’s electricity supply is produced from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. These traditional energy sources hold various challenges including but not limited to rising prices, growing environmental concerns over the climate change risks and a limited supply of fossil fuels.

Current Renewable Energy Landscape

Governments, businesses, and consumers are increasingly supporting the development of alternative energy sources and new technologies for electricity generation. Renewable energy sources such as solar, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric and wind power generation have all emerged as potential alternatives which address some of these concerns. As opposed to fossil fuels, renewable energy sources are generally unlimited in availability.

One of the most rapidly growing renewable sources of electricity is solar power. Solar power generation has several advantages over other forms of electricity generation: Solar energy does not require any form of fuel to work. Although there is variability in the amount and timing of sunlight over the day, season and year, a properly sized and configured system can be designed to be highly reliable while providing long-term, fixed price electricity supply.

Potential Benefits of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy

Solar power production generates electricity with a limited impact on the environment as compared to other forms of electricity production. Solar panels can be added as the need arises. With more and more technological advances in solar power, it is fast becoming a viable alternative is conventional electricity supply.

The harsh reality of constantly rising energy prices and constant blackouts for the rest of our lives is staring us all in the face. So there has never been a better time to invest in solar energy for your home. With the increasing costs of regular electricity, finding an alternative energy solution is becoming more and more crucial. With the supply of fossil fuels soon not being able to meet the demand it is now time to find a better alternative. With the advances that have been made in renewable energy the cost is no longer prohibitive. And the next time electricity prices increase, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Financial savings aren’t the only reason why homeowners go solar. There are many benefits of going solar, including saving huge amounts of money on electricity bills, you can add tens of thousands of dollars in tax free equity to your property, cleaning up the environment and supporting U.S. energy independence.

The Federal Tax Credit, which is available in all states, also offers an incredible 30% reduction in solar installation cost. But it shrinks to 22% in 2023. Two years may seem far away, but it’ll be here before you know it. So, the time to invest in solar energy is now.

Solar power is one of the most environmentally friendly energy solutions. With little to no impact on the environment it is the ideal choice for supplying power to homes and businesses. With global warming becoming more apparent every year it’s time now to start making a difference by switching to a cleaner source of power.

With energy costs on the rise, rooftop solar can save you money every month. It puts you in control since the rates for solar don’t fluctuate like they do with utility companies. Instead of making the electricity company richer every month, you can rather invest in your own home.

In a large study, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (https://www.lbl.gov/) looked at the value of homes with rooftop solar. They quantified it based on homes sold across eight states, and over a fifteen-year period.

One of the findings was that home buyers consistently pay more for homes with solar installed. In fact, the homeowners who invested in solar made back at least as much they spent buying the system. Plus, homes with solar installed spent less time on the market.

The bottom line is that in terms of renewable energy, Solar energy is:

  • Inexpensive
  • No money up front
  • 100% Financing
  • 30% Tax Credit
  • Quick ROI
  • Clean, renewable, good for your wallet and good for the planet.

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by Energy Consultant, Verna Badenhorst. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content. If you would like to learn more about the work Verna is doing, feel free to check out her Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087851139652 

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NIGERIAN ENERGY LANDSCAPE IN 2022

Nigeria EnergyNigeria is Africa’s energy giant. It is the continent’s most prolific oil-producing country, which, along with Libya, accounts for two-thirds of Africa’s crude oil reserves. It ranks second to Algeria in natural gas (energysustainsoc.biomedcentral.com). Before I go on, I must warn you that these promising traits take a turn as you keep reading.

Nigerian Energy Resources: Bitumen and Lignite

Most of Africa’s bitumen and lignite reserves are found in Nigeria. In its mix of conventional energy reserves, Nigeria is simply unmatched by any other country on the African continent. It is not surprising therefore that energy export is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Also, primary energy resources dominate the nation’s industrial raw material endowment.

Several energy resources are available in Nigeria in abundant proportions. The country possesses the world’s sixth largest reserve of crude oil. Nigeria has an estimated oil reserve of 36.2 billion barrels. It is increasingly an important gas province with proven reserves of nearly 5,000 billion m3 (energysustainsoc.biomedcentral.com).

This is where the surprise comes in as Nigeria continuously suffers from an inadequate supply of usable energy due to the rapidly increasing demand, which is typical of a developing economy. Nigeria’s energy need is on the increase, and its increasing population is not adequately considered in the energy development program. The present urban-centered energy policy is unevenly distributed, as cases of rural and sub-rural energy demand and supply do not reach the center stage of the country’s energy development policy.

People in rural areas depend on burning wood and traditional biomass for their energy needs, causing great deforestation, emitting greenhouse gases, and polluting the environment, thus creating global warming and environmental concerns. The main task has been to supply energy to the cities and various places of industrialization, thereby creating an energy imbalance within the country’s socioeconomic and political landscapes.

Nigeria’s Energy Capacity

Nigeria’s grid has an installed capacity of roughly 12,522 megawatts, but due to poor infrastructure, it is only able to deliver around 4,000 megawatts most days, according to the US Agency for International Development.

Nigeria’s national electricity grid has collapsed more than 200 times in the last nine years, regularly resulting in widespread blackouts. There are also health risks from the emissions of inefficient petrol generators, which are widely used in Nigeria. It is estimated that electricity generator sets consume $22 billion worth of fuel yearly.

The grid collapsed twice in March 2022 within 48 hours. There are a number of factors to explain this situation and thus inform what needs to be done about it. They include insufficiently trained personnel, deficiency in local manufacturing, poor utility performance, theft of grid equipment, weather, gas supply, insufficient funding and the age of grid infrastructure (Theconversation.com).

Hungry for energy, millions of Nigerians put up with noisy, smoky petrol-fueled generators to power their lives. In some situations, the amount of electricity supplied to the grid is lower than the electricity demand. When this occurs, an automatic load shedding plan is activated. But if this fails, the generators switch off one after another until there is a complete collapse of the national grid.

In Nigeria, the system mismatch occurs frequently because demand is regularly beyond available power allocated to distribution companies at certain periods.

The buoyancy of Nigeria’s energy outreach has really taken a turn as you can see from the above information. It is ironic that the most prolific oil producing country suffers from such terrible power struggles. In order to ensure the sustainability of energy supply and subsequently the sustainable economic development of the country, the government has to intensify the further implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. As observed in quite a number of successful countries promoting renewable energy, such as Germany, Denmark, and Japan, a strong and long-term commitment from the government is crucial in implementing any kind of policies which will lead to the development of renewable energies, in particular, and a sustainable development, in general (energysustainsoc.biomedcentral.com).

It’s a movement that has already begun. Hopefully, the Nigerian energy landscape can make an auspicious return that lives up to her great name.

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer and Energy Consultant, Teminijesu Ojo. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content. You can find more information from Teminijesu on her Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087631274569.

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Ethically Environmental: Patagonia’s Priority…The Planet

We don’t see many examples of companies taking a stand for their values, let alone the environment. Most companies are driven solely by profits rather than values. The way that company leaders view values and profits is usually that they belong in two different worlds –

Patagonia Founder, Yvon Chouinard

profits are the important and valuable aspect of business, while values are something that can be swept under the rug. But every once in a while, a company shines through the darkness of corporate hedonism and exemplifies honest values over profit mentality for the sake of humanity.

This past Wednesday, that values and ethically driven company shined it’s light upon the world. That afternoon word spread that the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, had decided to give up his $3 billion outdoor retail company… and not for a reason most people would think. Chouinard gave the outdoor apparel company away in order to help combat climate change. His announcement came via an open letter on the company’s website.

 

He announced that rather than selling the company or taking it public, the company is “going purpose” rather than “going profit,” by making Earth it’s one and only shareholder. 

The overview of the “sale” includes the following:

  • The company’s voting shares—2% of the company—went to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, a trust that is overseen by family and advisors that make important company decisions.
  • The other 98% went to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit that will distribute all profits—about $100 million annually—to environmental causes

“It’s been a half-century since we began our experiment in responsible business. If we have any hope of a thriving planet 50 years from now, it demands all of us doing all we can with the resources we have. As the business leader I never wanted to be, I am doing my part. Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source. We’re making Earth our only shareholder. I am dead serious about saving this planet.” -Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

 

His decision to choose the planet over profits, has sparked conversations and debates around  the world—from consumers scrambling to support the company’s cause to leaders and executives mulling over the idea of following in Chouinard’s footsteps.

It’s no lie that great companies—especially environmentally and socially responsible ones–are loved and respected for their values and the commitments they make to their communities, customers, and employees. The products they produce are great, but they have never put shareholder wealth at the top of the list.

Yvon Chouinard is a legendary rock climber, avid surfer, nature lover, blacksmith, and falconer extraordinaire. He has lived out of his car selling camping gear he made himself to get by, so he could continue to do the thing he loves to do—be in nature.

The birth of Patagonia came when he started selling rugby shirts after a trip to Scotland, where they proved to be extremely durable climbing shirts. The company was built in 1973 for the passionate climbers and outdoor enthusiasts everywhere that wanted products that were long lasting, durable, and environmentally friendly. Along with the launch, the company’s first catalog featured a leave-no-trace, responsible climbing manifesto.

Over the years Chouinard and the Patagonia brand have made it their mission to sell consumers durable clothing with a free fix guarantee to ensure that they never over produced apparel, or created an overconsumption trend with their consumers. They have continuously worked to make the world a better place by supporting social and environmental causes all over the world, as well as educating their employees and customers, and taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. They are the poster child of socially sustainable business. There are numerous examples of how Patagonia has put purpose before profits when the issues are not impacting their company.

Patagonia

Patagonia sells out of “Vote the Assholes Out” Shorts

  • The company donates 1% of its sales (a self-imposed Earth tax) to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment, with over $140 million donated since 1985.
  • Chouinard and Craig Matthews, owner of Blue Ribbon Files, created the 1% for the Planet non-profit corporation made up of an alliance of businesses to encourage others to contribute to protecting the natural environment and pave the way for more corporate responsibility.
  • They offer an Iron Clad guarantee, that guarantees their customers replacement, refund, or repair if the clothing is damaged or doesn’t live up to their satisfaction.
  • Patagonia also has a hub that keeps gear in play, called Worn Wear, where they sell used Patagonia gear, offer trade-in credits for items that customers no longer use, provide DIY repair and care tips, and recycle items at the end of their useful lives. They believe that one of the best things they can do for the planet is cutting down on consumption and getting more use out of products that people currently own.
  • They have a venture fund that invests in start-ups that work on environmental issues, called Tin Shed Ventures, since 2013 they have provided over $20 million to 12 companies working for the social and environmental good of the planet.
  • They launched a food company, Patagonia Provisions, that offers organic and regenerative foods to help mitigate climate change.
  • They are a fierce defender of public lands, and in 2017, they sued the Trump
  •  Administration in an effort to protect the Bear Ears National Monument.
  • To ensure the sustainability and recyclability of their clothing, they permanently transitioned away from adding permanent branding or logos to their gear, since the additional non-removable logo reduces the garment’s life span by a lot.
  • Patagonia released a documentary called “DamNation,” that aims to mobilize support the removal of dams, especially those that are deemed harmful and obsolete on order to revive wild fish populations.
  • In 1996, after a group of employees were arrested for protesting against logging, they established a bail policy. This policy helps any employees who is arrested while peacefully protesting provided they take an optional nonviolent civil disobedience training.
  • The provide an Environmental Internship Program that allows employees to take a two month paid leave to work for any environmental group of their choosing.
  • They have never been keen on Black Friday. In 2011, they took out an ad in the New York Times urging people not to purchase their clothing for Black Friday to bring attention to the company’s Common Threads Initiative. And in 2016, they donated 100% of all Black Friday sales to grassroots organizations.
  • This past year, Patagonia donated $1 million to Black Voters Matter and the New Georgia Project to fight restrictive voting laws in Georgia.
  • They launched We The Power, a campaign and documentary film that shines a light on the citizen-led renewable community energy movement happening across Europe. They also became the first commercial customer in California to commit to purchasing 100% renewable energy.

 

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the causes that Chouinard and Patagonia are committed to. Their website, part clothing store and part educational toolbox, boasts the support of even more of their activism initiatives. Whether or not you agree with their stand, it’s admirable, and honestly astounding that they take such a strong stand for issues aligned with their values especially when they aren’t directly tied to their financial model.

“Environmentalist David Brower was once asked, ‘Why are you conservationists always against things?’ He replied, ‘If you are against something, you are always for something. If you are against a dam, you are for a river.’ I’m also a lover of wild rivers. That’s why our company has been involved in trying to take out obsolete and damaging dams since 1993.” -Yvon Chouinard, Founder/Owner Patagonia

This year Patagonia was named one of the most reputable companies for things like product quality, trust, citizenship, and ethics. The have made their purpose clear and it’s one that extends beyond profits. Patagonia stands for something that people understand and are a very loved purpose-led organization.

We can only hope that Chouinard’s example propels other leaders to become positive influences and light the way for others to assume corporate responsibility and honor company values more than company profits. Because a value driven company always acts in tandem with its mission. And Patagonia has been a leading example in embodying their mission: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

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Sustainable Spotlight: For Days (4 the Planet)

The past few decades we have been living in a “throw away” society—from fast fashions to electronics, from vehicles to food and everything in between. Today we are going to take a deeper look into the fast fashion side of throw away culture and a company that is working to move us toward sustainable clothing.

Chile’s Atacama Desert: Where Fast Fashion Goes to Die

If you are unsure of what exactly fast fashion is, it is a type of fashion that is mass produced, extremely cheap, and on store shelves quicker than one can blink. Fast fashion has made consumers believe that we need to shop more and more to stay on top of current trends. This mindset has turned shopping into an everyday hobby rather than a seasonal event we looked forward to.

The idea behind fast fashion is to get current trends on the shelves of stores as quickly as possible so consumers can buy them up while still at the height of their popularity, and after a few wears (once the trends have changed) consumers discard these clothing items and the cycle starts all over again. This linear and destructive textile economy has led to a toxic system of overproduction and overconsumption, making the fashion industry one of the largest polluters in the world.

Fast Fashion Turning Ghana into Toxic Landfill

In 2018, in total 17,000 tons of textiles were generated, and out of everything that was produced only 2,500 tons were recycled; the remaining 11,300 tons ended up in the landfill. This means that about 85% of all textiles end up in landfills, most of these contain extremely toxic dyes that are either seeping into the ground or into our water. To put it bluntly, the average American throws away about 82 pounds of clothing a year!

Over the past few years, clothing companies have started to look at their fashion practices and have begun modifying them to be less wasteful and less harmful to the environment while other companies have begun creating 100% sustainable and recycled fashion.

Cue For Days.

For Days is a closed loop men and women’s sustainable fashion brand that was founded by Kristy Caylor and Mary Saunders in 2016. Their brand sells trendy and versatile clothes for everyone. All their items are 100% recyclable and produced in a zero-waste system.

Sustainable

They truly cater to the environmentally conscious consumer while helping to keep clothing out of landfills and supports the efforts to make the world more sustainable. The brand uses 100% recyclable materials, which helps the customer save 700 gallons of water every time they send in an item to be upcycled.

Sustainability is their number one principle. They use the highest quality eco-friendly materials while minimizing waste with reusable packaging which leads to company wide carbon offsets.

“We strongly believe that all fashion businesses must take responsibility for what happens to clothes after our customers love them and wear through them. Our job is to figure out how to make participation in the circular economy an easy, seamless and rewarding experience for all fashion lovers.” – Kristy Caylor, Co-Founder and CEO of For Days

 

 

How it works:

For Days will take back any of its clothes and either upcycle or recycle those materials into something new. And as a reward for returning your clothes (and keeping them out of the trash), they will give you store credit.

Don’t have any For Days clothing yet?! You’re in luck! They also accept all other unwanted or forgotten clothing you may have in your closet, regardless of brand or condition. All you have to do is order a Take Back Bag from their website, (you will instantly receive $20 Closet Cash Credit to shop with them) fill it up with any clothing or scraps you have and send it back to them. For Days will take it from there! With your items either being downcycled, recycled, or resold to partners that service lower income communities.

To date, For Days has 6.9 million pound of CO2, 9.45 million gallons of water, and 875,000 pounds of clothing waste from landfills. In 2019, they participated in the Los Angeles Renewable Energy Program and committed to the UN’s Women Empowerment Principles, and in 2020 For Days was officially a certified carbon neutral company.

Outside of creating an incredible and sustainable circular economy for fashion, they also support the Ellen McArthur Foundation, which also advocates for a circular economy model that keeps products and materials in use while designing to reduce waste and pollution. They have also partnered with beam so that 1% of every purchase is donated to a nonprofit of your choice, from Every Body Texas to SurfRider Foundation, to the Loveland Foundation and more!

For Days has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Inc. and Forbes magazines.

If you’re looking for someplace to send your clothes rather than let companies like goodwill profit off of your closet check them out! Even if you’re not looking to rehome some of your closet, they sell affordable clothing that will not only look good, but feel good too—physically, financially, and ethically.

What you buy is what the industry becomes. You have the power to change the way clothes are made. Shop sustainable.

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

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5 Quick Ways to Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint (Part 3 of 3)

Thanks for coming back for the final portion of this blog series! In the previous two posts we have discussed a few different ways to lessen your company’s carbon footprint—switching your company fleet to electric vehicles, installing solar panels, repurposing old buildings for your company needs, and looking into banking intentionally. The last, but not least, way you can reduce your ecological impact on the world is to switch over to sustainable packaging. I know some company’s offer services instead of products, and in that case buying from companies that use sustainable packaging whenever possible. Let’s dive in!

5. Use Sustainable Packaging

Cutting out single use packaging is paramount to reducing your carbon footprint in today’s world. From plastic bubble wrap to Styrofoam, single use plastics to cardboard, the materials used in product packaging plays a role in our daily lives and impacts the environment in a negative way. Our culture has become reliant on convenience and cheap and quickly made products, which makes it difficult to lead a zero-waste life. Using ecofriendly packaging in your companies’ operations is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.

Carbon FootprintIn 2018, the EPA reported that containers and packaging make up 28.1%—that’s 82.2 million tons—of total waste generation. Out of the 82 million tons generated, landfills received 30.5 million tons of packaging waste that year and 10 million tons of it was plastic containers and packaging.  The packaging materials that end up in the landfills are lost forever as a resource leading to more environmental waste.

Another report done by the Organisation Economic Cooperation and Development in 2022, estimates that the total amount of global waste will almost triple by 2060, two-thirds of it being made up of short-lived items such a plastic packaging. Aside from that, plastic leakages are expected to double by 2060, furthering concerns about plastic pollution in our soils and marine ecosystem.

We can do our part in helping to reduce the amount of packaging that ends up in landfills or in the oceans by switching to eco-friendly packaging. There are a few things to look for when it comes to choosing packaging that is sustainable. Some things to pay attention to when shopping around for ecofriendly packaging are:

  • Raw or 100% recycled materials
  • Choose paper over plastic

Paper is renewable and biodegradable, which makes it a great place to start.

  • Look for FSC certified paper

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies that any product that has come from a forest has been sourced in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible way.

  • Paper with safe non-toxic dyes

Steer clear of toxic dyes like petroleum-based ink, and dyes that are natural and non-toxic such as soy.

  • Aim for acid-free paper

If you use paper for packaging, look for paper that is acid free; not only does it last longer than acid-based papers but it can also be reused more often.

  • Avoid excess packing materials

Less is more in today’s world, especially when it comes to packaging. If you need to use more materials, try to use materials that can be reused instead of new packaging.

To really go the extra mile, aim for truly compostable synthetic alternatives to packaging, while it is more difficult to find truly biodegradable packaging it is out there. Instead of using stryofoam you can use corn foam; which is biodegradable, water dissolvable, and even edible. It can be used to make biodegradable packing peanuts and is also an excellent alternative to bubble wrap.

If you’re packaging breakables, try using mushroom packaging such as, MycoComposite. It’s made from mushrooms and it’s C2C Certified, flame and water resistant, and also biodegradable. You can also look into packaging that has been recycled packaging that is compostable! Some other forms of ecofriendly packaging are corrugated packaging, glassine packaging, and cellulose packaging; which is a great alternative to plastic packaging because cellulose is biodegradable and compostable!

Some of these options may cost a little extra but look at it as an investment to humanity’s future while creating a loyal customer base. PackHelp found that 30% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that deliver on sustainability claims and 37% prioritize sustainability when making purchasing decisions. Keep that in mind the next time you are packaging your products or purchasing products from other companies.

By switching to sustainable packaging or buying from companies that use sustainable packaging you’re taking a step in the right direction of reducing the number of materials that end up in landfills and our environment. Using packaging that can be reused creates a circular economy around the packaging, which extends its life cycle and usability.

 

I know there are plenty of additional ways to reduce your carbon footprint, these five were ones that I felt to be the most important from a company viewpoint. Some of you may be asking ‘why do I need to reduce my carbon footprint?’ The reality of the situation is that climate change is too extreme to ignore anymore and the links between climate change and greenhouse emissions is too evident.

By lowering your carbon footprint, you can help contribute to the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  When companies start reducing their ecological footprint, consumers will follow suit and start taking steps to reduce theirs. If you are curious to know what your companies or even your own personal carbon footprint looks like, you can find out here. Hopefully these tips have helped to start your journey to living a net-zero life. With our powers combined, we can save the world!

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

 

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5 Ways to Quickly Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint (Part 2 of 3)

Welcome back everyone! On our previous blog post, we discussed the first two ways to quickly reduce your company’s carbon footprint—transitioning your company fleet from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles and installing solar panels—today we will touch on two more ways that can quickly reduce your carbon footprint.

Like I mentioned in the previous post, getting to net zero will take everyone working together to achieve this goal. Once businesses—from small businesses to large corporations—start exhibiting these behaviors, it will be easier for their customers and competitors to follow suit.

Now, the third way to reduce your footprint is by repurposing existing office spaces. This is one of my favorites and we will dive further into this one in a future blog post.

3. Reuse Existing Office Spaces

 Most people never think about what goes into creating a building from the ground up, but a vast amount of energy goes into a building creation—from extracting and processing raw materials required for construction, to hauling and disposing waste from a job site—also known as “embodied energy.” This embodied energy is projected to make up 49% of the total carbon emissions of global new construction between now and 2050, according to Architecture 2030.

Adaptive reuse instead, focuses on taking a building that’s past its prime and renovating it for new purposes in line with current technological and social needs. If we want to make our cities more sustainable, adaptive reuse is one of the best strategies that we can implement. It also bridges the gap between the old and the new to create more unique and memorable spaces.

NYC – the historic Farley Post Office Building transformation into the new Moynihan Train Hall—a part of the Penn Station redevelopment

By choosing to adaptively reuse buildings, we are actively bypassing the cost of demolition and construction while extending the lifespan of already existing resources. A Deloitte blog post states that “compared with a new construction, adaptive reuse and restoration can be 16 percent cheaper in terms of construction costs and take 19 percent less execution time.”

Climate change has made adaptive reuse a more viable option, now more than ever before. It is also a compelling one in terms of business and finance too. On top of saving costs, there are also federal tax initiatives for creating sustainable and economically valuable alternatives to new construction thanks to the Tax Reform Act of 1976.

In a report on the global status of buildings and construction, The International Energy Agency found that the building and construction sector worldwide emitted 39% of all global carbon dioxide emission in 2019. On top of that, according to ArchDaily, it could still take anywhere from 10 to 80 years to zero out the carbon costs that come from construction even if choosing to build with energy efficient technology.

Carbon emissions are not the only thing that makes construction problematic; waste from a new build is also a massive issue. For example, when a 50,000-square-foot commercial building is torn down, about 4,000 tons of material end up in the landfill. Aside from that, demolishing a building wastes its initial investment, and a building can only be considered truly sustainable if it is in use long enough to justify the resources used for its creation.

Retrofitting existing buildings to meet high-performance standards is the most effective strategy for reducing near- and mid-term carbon emissions, the most important step in limiting climate disruption.”Kermit Baker, American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chief Economist

In 2014, the construction and demolition industry generated 534 million tons of debris, based on Dorma Kaba’s recent research; and a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report shows that building related construction and demolition debris accounted for 26% of all non-industrial waste generated in the United States.

“As more cities each year pledge to cut carbon emissions, adaptive reuse is an essential component of sustainable development. Creative solutions to renew the buildings we already have will make the difference in the fight against climate change.” – Frank Mahan, Design Principal, Adaptive Reuse Practice Leader at SOM, an innovative architectural firm.

It’s not that it doesn’t take energy and resources to restore an existing building — but rather, that it takes far less of both compared to constructing a new building and when we shift our thinking from “new is best,” to “reuse what’s left;” we are actively considering the environmental impacts associated with demolition and building anew. So, let’s put our hard hats on and tackle this together!

4. Bank Intentionally

When thinking of how to reduce your carbon footprint, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not who you bank with; especially when looking at climate solutions and environmental justice. Oddly enough, intentional banking is one of the easiest and most effective ways each of us can quickly create positive impact.

By banking intentionally, consumers can choose a bank that favors investing in renewable energies and socially responsible businesses over businesses that are destructive to the environment, like fossil fuel companies. These banks pledge their commitment to sustainability principles and align themselves with environmentally conscious customers and investors; helping them to fund a low-carbon future.

Banks play a major role in the American economy; each year trillions of dollars flow through them to fund the growth of various industries—whether that industry or company invests in fighting climate change or worsening climate change. Where banks decide to give their loans helps determine the direction of the economy, and to some extent, the future of our societies.Carbon Footprint

In 2020 alone, natural disasters accounted for about $210 billion in damages around the world. The challenges brought about by climate change and the pandemic have led to increased calls for banks to take a greater role in addressing where money is flowing to.

Climate change has been a top agenda for several banks. A growing number of financial institutions have realized that financing fossil fuels, and other projects that harm the environment, is bad for their long-term future. An Ernst & Young report found that in 2020, 52% of banks considered climate change as a key risk to their business within the next five years. Climate change development – such as the wildfires in Australia, winter storms in central Texas, the unprecedented London heatwaves, and the historical flooding in Pakistan – have created a sense of urgency that impact the growth or business and threaten company and client assets.

Banking on Climate ChaosConsider looking into which banks finance fossil fuel companies and instead, banking with one that supports green financing, fights climate change and aligns with your own personal values. By doing this, you are ensuring that your deposits are being put towards building the tomorrow you want to live in.

There are a few groups of banks that have come together to help align customers and investors with banks and financial institutions that are working toward a sustainable future. One of these groups is The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). The GABV is a network of independent banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. You can find a bank that invests in fighting climate change and aligns with your personal values by visiting their website in the link above.

Another group that has come together to help the banking and financial sector is The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). The UNEP FI was created when six banks came together at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit with the same concerns regarding sustainability and the state of the global climate. There are now more than 450 financial institutions that are members of the UN’s largest partnership with the finance industry. In the past year, member banks have given 113 million customers access to financial services and advised over 15,000 companies on their climate strategies.

By choosing to bank with financial institutions and demanding that these institutions uphold environmental standards; you’re not only helping people and the planet, you’re also helping secure the future of financial stability. With their cooperation, banks can help to finance companies, projects, and loans that support a green economy and help reduce our carbon footprint. Their role should not be underestimated when working towards a more sustainable future.

Becoming more environmentally sustainable requires us to redesign our company’s business models and turn towards the adaptive reuse of buildings and learning to bank intentionally to forecast the future. These two ways of reducing our carbon footprint have shown that this decade is critical to the determination of the future of this planet and it’s in our hands to act now and provide a sustainable and responsible framework for other companies to follow.  The last part of this blog series will be posted Monday, so make sure to check back for the final tip on reducing your company’s ecological footprint.

 

 

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

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5 Quick Ways to Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint: Part 1 of 3

Now, more than ever, our world is being impacted by climate related mega disasters, due to extreme climate change. We as a whole, need to act quickly to lessen our carbon footprint to save the planet, otherwise there will be dire consequences.

Over the past two weeks, five areas across the United States alone, have experienced flooding that happens once every thousand years. Areas in Dallas, St. Louis, eastern Kentucky, Mississippi and southeastern Illinois have been inundated with historic levels of rainfall. According to the Washington Post, this amount of rainfall usually has a .1 percent chance of happening in any given year; it has happened in five different areas in less than two weeks!

This type of flooding and other massive natural disasters is not uncommon for people to experience anymore. Natural disasters have been gradually getting worse while becoming more frequent as global temperatures continue to rise, in fact the United States experiences the highest number of natural disasters every year.

Carbon FootprintTo reduce the number of natural disasters and lessen their impacts, we need to balance the carbon equation. Per the Paris Agreement, the United States has pledged to eliminate its emissions and work towards capping the global temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2050 before climate change turns calamitous. If we fail to reach this goal the natural disasters happening around the world will be amplified to biblical proportions.

There’s good news though, we as consumers and businesses can help to reach this goal! It will require radical and rapid changes across the entire American economy, but by working together to reduce our ecological footprint we hold the keys necessary to counteract climate change.

According to Seth Godin, best-selling author of The Carbon Almanac, states that “it’s not too late.”  He believes we can start to solve the problem of reducing our carbon footprint with businesses leading the charge in sustainability and ecological innovation and technologies. With businesses spearheading this revolution, consumers will start to follow suite until it’s a normal idea to support companies that are backing green initiatives.

Building businesses that create more demand for carbon-zero products or services is not something that can be accomplished overnight, but there are ways you and your company can quickly take steps in the direction of reducing your carbon footprint. By supporting sustainable causes and ideas, we can all start building a sustainable and hopeful future.

In today’s blog post, we are going to look at the first two ways you and your company can start reducing your carbon footprint!

1. Buying Electric Vehicles

Our first way to help shrink your ecological footprint is to look into switching fleet vehicles your company currently uses from gas to electric, especially if those vehicles put on a lot of miles in a year.

Transportation is a growing source of global greenhouse emissions that is helping drive climate change. A PBS article on global warming states that, “in 2019, 23% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions came from transportation and contributed to 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.”

Not only can switching to electric vehicles cut emissions by 60% over fossil fuel vehicles, but they can also save an average of 1.5 million grams of carbon dioxide! Since electric vehicles do not have tailpipes, they emit nothing when operating, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, most models can go more than 200 miles on a fully charged battery.

In other great news, EV batteries can now be recycled! The Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched the first lithium-ion battery recycling center, The ReCell Center, in hopes of creating a profitable method to improve recycling rates and reduce the reliance on supplies from foreign countries. Recycling EV batteries reduces the production costs by 10 to 30% along with reducing emissions, waste, and the need for new materials.

Outside of government incentives that lower the price of purchasing electric vehicles, they also have a lower operating cost. The DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center states that “the operation and maintenance costs of EV’s averages about 3 cents per mile and they achieve their best fuel economy during stop-and-go driving conditions.”

While some companies don’t need a fleet of vehicles; the ones that do have fleet vehicles should take consideration into moving the company fleet to electric. There are a wide range of electric vehicle options available from your typical run of the mill electric vehicle to off-road EVs, forklifts, mowers, tractors, school buses, and public transit.

If we work towards transforming how we fuel our transportation needs, electric vehicles could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions anywhere from 80 to 90% of current levels by 2050!

2. Installing Solar Panels

The second way to reduce your carbon footprint is to harness the suns energy by installing solar panels. What’s cool about solar energy is that it’s completely renewable and one of the cleanest sources of energy out there.

The best part about shrinking your carbon footprint with solar energy is the reduction for demand of fossil fuels and less greenhouse gas emissions are produced. By going solar, users can eliminate the same amount of carbon emissions that would result from burning over 5,000 pounds of coal each year.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) also found that widespread adoption of solar energy can significantly reduce nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter emissions.

Solar energy is becoming one of the fastest growing sources of sustainable energy. According to the International Energy Agency, “solar and wind energy account for almost 10% of total electricity generation.” The U.S. is now the third largest market in the world for solar energy. 23.6 gigawatts of solar were installed in the U.S. in 2021. The United States receives so much solar energy that an array of solar panels in the Mojave Desert could generate a year’s worth of our energy needs in a single day.

In fact, solar power will account for almost half of United States’ new electricity generation this year. At the beginning of 2022, The U.S. Energy Information Administration expected solar generating capacity to grow by 21.5 gigawatts, which would surpass last year’s 15.5 gigawatts of solar capacity additions, with many of these additions in Texas (6.1 gigawatts, or 28% of the national total).

Not only is solar energy great for the environment, but it’s beneficial to its users too! Solar energy is the most affordable source of energy in the world and the coast of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2008. In December 2016, the cost of building and installing new solar electricity generation dropped to $1.65 per watt; it’s renewable counterpart—wind—was $1.66/watt.

Aside from solar energy being extremely affordable, there are also incentives to switch to solar power. Users can receive 30% system costs back from equipment and installation as a federal income tax credit, along with receiving Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) by selling any excess energy produced to utility companies.

In order to reach our goal in 2050 set out by the Paris Agreement, almost 90% of global electricity generation needs to come from renewable sources, with solar PV and wind together accounting for nearly 70%.

 

Now that we’ve covered the first two ways you and your company can decrease your ecological impact, come back Saturday for the second portion of this post! I’ll be detailing three and four in how to quickly reduce your company’s carbon footprint!

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

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Here’s How to Go Green: 5 Easy Lifestyle Changes to Implement Today

So you want to go green? Living an eco-friendly lifestyle that is both personally rewarding and environmentally viable is all the rage these days and for a good reason. You’ll see your carbon footprint decrease, electricity bills go down, and property value skyrocket. If you’re looking for compelling ways to live more green this year, SUNTEX breaks it down below. 

 1. Start with Your Home

GreenIf you’re shopping for a new home, this is the perfect time to start your eco-friendly mission. Look for specific features in potential homes that will support your sustainable ethos. For example, homes that come with Energy Star appliances are a good sign, as these appliances conserve energy and power. Next, consider the home’s building materials. Are the materials used eco-friendly? For example, pre-cast concrete and recycled steel structures will lower your gas usage while reducing the negative impact on the carbon footprint (you can learn more about how pre-cast concrete helps with carbon foot-printing by visiting Informed Infrastructure). Lastly, look for pre-existing LED light fixtures, which are great for reducing energy consumption.   

2. Go Solar 

 According to Solar Power World, one out of every 600 U.S. homes are installing solar panels every quarter. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint and reliance on depleting resources like fossil fuels, going solar comes with significant economic benefits. solar power can cut down on your electricity bill by half each year, and the government also offers solar tax rebates and incentives if your home is powered by solar energy. For more information on adding solar panels to your home, connect with SUNTEX today. 

 3. Watch That Insulation 

 Be sure to check for drafts in your new home. Drafts are a good indication that your insulation isn’t working as it should, which means you’re using more energy for heating and cooling. Patching up any holes or leaks in insulation will be critical here, but luckily, the fix is simple with a little bit of caulk. You could also spring for a complete renovation to overhaul your insulation system to a more robust, eco-friendly option (if you have a bigger budget). 

4. Green Up Your Landscaping 

Green

Growing a lush, green lawn is the dream of many homeowners. However, traditional lawns are high-maintenance, requiring regular watering and fertilizing. They can also be damaging to the environment, as chemical runoff from lawncare products can pollute waterways. For a more sustainable option, implement eco-friendly landscaping in your yard. Opt for drought-friendly plants or native flowers, add more hardscaping, and ditch the sprinkler system. If you need help pulling this off, connect with local landscapers that get top marks for eco-friendly design and execution. Start by reading online reviews and customer testimonials to find the ideal provider in your part of town.  

 5. Look at Those Small Details

Last but not least, watch out for those small details. It doesn’t quite add up if you’re using solar power but also cleaning your home with toxic and harmful chemicals. Create an exhaustive list of all the products and items you use regularly, and consider more environmentally-sound swaps. You can also cut back on consumption and waste starting by swapping paper towels for reusable rags or ditching plastic baggies for beeswax wraps. Consider powder detergent over giant plastic bottles, and purchase refills instead of buying new hand-soap containers. You can even start composting on a small scale.  

Green

Going green is more than implementing a few strategies around your house. Instead, it is a holistic lifestyle that you will need to practice in all your decisions for it to make a difference. Start by working toward solar power, or update your landscaping to avoid water waste. Implement a kitchen composting system, and change out your cleaning products. The good news is that consistent effort in the eco-friendly department can stack up to real and tangible environmental benefits, so keep on keeping at it!

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Emma Grace Brown. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

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SUNTEX Appoints Megan Brannen as New Chief Executive Officer

SUNTEX

SUNTEX CEO: Megan Brannen

NEWS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

Dallas, Texas, July 15, 2022. SUNTEX announced today that Megan Brannen of Austin, Texas has been appointed the new CEO of the company. An experienced business leader and developer, Brannen will succeed Alejandra Mendoza and assume responsibilities on July 15. After almost 4 years as CEO, Mendoza will now serve in the company as Managing Director.

Megan Brannen worked as VP of Operations of another Texas solar company back in 2017 for two years. Before that, she worked as a Consultant with Deloitte Consulting, and as a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Health and Sanitation in Guatemala.

“It was immediately clear that Brannen was the right fit to be my successor and lead the company to new heights,” said Alejandra Mendoza, Co-founder and Managing Director.

“We’ve (Jose and Ally, Co-founders of SUNTEX) been aware of her skills and ability to stay on top of the continuous changing solar processes, we have known her work before she joined SUNTEX as our Executive Administrator and we know she will lead us well in the next chapter for our company.”

As Executive Administrator, Megan really helped solidify the vision for SUNTEX. Hiring new members, and creating training and onboarding materials, she helped to shape company leaders and train them in how we at SUNTEX do honest business within the solar industry. For more information on her background, check out our ‘About Me’ page here: https://suntexllc.com/team/megan-brannen/, and her Linked In Profile, here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-brannen-86522848/.

She is gifted not only in servant leadership, but also has key organizational and project management skills that have allowed her to tackle multiple projects and grow this company organically since she came on board in 2020.

While at (other companies), Megan Brannen made a number of improvements to the supply chain that led to increased savings, and launched a range of new services, increasing revenue by 40%.

SUNTEX

About SUNTEX, LLC

SUNTEX LLC is a family-owned company based out of North Texas. With an emphasis on high-quality solar power with the highest level of customer service, we’re dedicated to providing the best energy solution and experience to our customers.

Media Contact:

Ally Mendoza, Managing Director of SUNTEX

[email protected]

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SUNTEX Updates: Thank you to Ally and Jose Medoza, and their Journey to Oklahoma!

SUNTEX Mendoza

Mendoza Family: The Heart of SUNTEX

Pues, que puedo decir? Les agradezco mucho a Alejandra y Jose de SUNTEX.

This fall, the Mendoza family starts a new adventure to Oklahoma, and will also be accompanied by their four children. While they will still of course be Board members of SUNTEX LLC, and will continue to oversee the administration of this incredible company, but they will also be passing the torch to someone who has worked with them (and with you all, dear readers) for years – Blog Author and former Executive Administrator, Megan Brannen. For more on her background, please feel free to check out our former highlight, here: https://suntexllc.com/team/megan-brannen/.

Megan has worked passionately and ardently to help SUNTEX grow organically – while putting a few of the nuts and bolts in place behind the scenes – and will continue to support the team in her new capacity as CEO of SUNTEX. Her knowledge of the solar industry, specifically in commercial and residential operations, as well as the research she has conducted to understand the renewables industry at large uniquely qualifies her in this role.

Additionally, because of her background experience working in Consulting for Deloitte Consulting, LLC, as well as her experience as a former Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), she is not only organized, but also gifted in solving problems, in Spanish.

SUNTEX Mendoza

SUNTEX CEO: Megan Brannen

Please do Congratulate her when you see her! She is very excited for what’s to come for SUNTEX in 2022, and beyond.

So far this year, we’ve had the opportunity to attend events such as the ACORE Inaugural Accelerate Member Forum in March, where we met with several small companies – and much larger companies – currently working in renewable energy across the United States. In mid-May, Alejandra and Megan had the chance to attend the Clean Power Conference and hear from industry leaders and policy makers that more renewable infrastructure was on the horizon, as well as potential funding sources which would enable better equality in terms of implementation.

That’s where we would like to help. Todos de nuestros empleados y/o contratistas hablan español. Lo se, que el acento mío tiene que mejorarse bastante todavía, pero es cierto que puedo hablar y escribir español a veces. Básicamente, nos gustaría ser el proveedor de energía solar número 1 en Texas, Nuevo México y Colorado para los hispanohablantes. Nuestro negocio creció desde la idea que todos deben tener acceso al energía renovable, y sostenible también, con Servicio al Cliente mejor que lo demás. Eso es la visión de SUNTEX que crecieran sus fundadoes, Alejandra Olguin Mendoza y Jose Ismael Mendoza, y por eso, seguimos adelante.

This year we’re looking to continue to grow the business and expand training for our team, as well as our customers. We’ve got a fantastic team behind us whom are poised behind our Sales Team Manager, Martha Mavita, to educate primarily Spanish-speakers on how to complete an energy assessment in your home, and what steps you can take to mitigate your carbon footprint. Our team is well versed in product knowledge, industry knowledge, and most importantly, how to save customers money long-term.

Only time will tell what the future holds for us, but before stepping into this role, I know the entire team at SUNTEX, and likely several of our customers as well, would like to thank the Mendoza family for everything they have done to bring us to this next moment. Ally and Jose have worked tirelessly for over 20 years in Construction and Project Management, and for the past 5 years in the solar industry in Texas.

Having worked alongside them, I know they can tell you firsthand what an exciting and cumbersome journey it has been! Again and again they have proven their ability to lead their team-members to become leaders themselves, solve complex and unique problems in terms of customer service, and really deliver on the promise to serve others better than they would serve themselves. Working alongside them for the past three years at SUNTEX, I am incredibly grateful that they have asked me to step into their giant, strategic shoes and take the next step in my career with SUNTEX. I am so very grateful, and only have the future to prove it. Thank you for this opportunity.

SUNTEX

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