SnippETS for 04 October 2018

Welcome to this week’s edition of our SnippETS newsletter.

This week in SnippETS we look at the climate change challenge and how our PM went at the recent UN summit, what others are doing in this space globally, and sustainability reporting in big business.

We see how blockchain may help tackle issues of transparency, accountability and traceability in green projects, and then two articles on what’s happening with hydrogen as a fuel.

Next, a couple of articles on green buildings and energy efficiencies in these, and we finish off with a not so positive article on dirt, and the problems (and some solutions) associated with soil erosion.

Our first article notes that Jacinda Ardern has been busy putting New Zealand back on the map and gaining a lot of kudos in the process. Even though NZ has just 0.16% of global emissions, our new found voice and efforts in the climate change area are welcomed. Jacinda received healthy applause when she announced the oil and gas ban to the UN, and has also been popular with US media.

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“It takes energy to make energy” might well have been the title of our next article. When people think of China, they may think “pollution” and “coal”, but China is also driving the world’s renewable energy sector. It’s a double edged sword, but true to say that China is both the biggest polluter AND one of the biggest forces of positive change in the world today. This article lays this out quite well.

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There is a growing movement within the corporate sector to report on sustainability. Recently two of the most important reporting standards organisations, (GRI and SASB), agreed that they will align their standards wherever possible. With approximately half of global assets held under signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment Agreement, it seems that the trend is set to grow.

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Next up, we review how applicable Blockchain might be in in tackling climate change and measuring reductions in emissions. Simply put, Blockchain is a public chain of records in which each new transaction is logged, with all parties who have access to the Blockchain all having the same copy of the record. It is transparent, immutable and traceable. The technology behind Blockchain can however be very energy intensive, for example Bitcoin uses 180,000 times more energy than a Visa transaction. Read more.....

Could hydrogen be the key to decarbonisation? While this article focuses on the UK, it’s clear that hydrogen could be a game changer if technological advances allow it to be used in production of energy and long distance truck transportation, as seems possible. And as a fuel it is 40% more efficient than diesel! There is also the possibility that it could be used as a fuel in shipping and trains.

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Note...A NZ Hydrogen Group has been formed. Read more

Speaking of trains, we next look to Germany where the world’s first hydrogen powered train has been launched. The Coradia iLint trains can run for about 1,000km on a single tank of hydrogen (a similar range to diesels). While initial purchase prices are high, there are a number of benefits: cheaper to run and zero emissions. A win, win for sure.

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A new report from Colliers has found certified Green Star buildings in Auckland and Wellington have higher occupancy rates than market average. Having a low vacancy rate is something investors aim for, so now the data is out that it is not just tenants that receive the benefits of green building practices but also the building owners themselves.

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Along with green building practices, there are many remaining opportunities to reduce the energy (and carbon) efficiency of buildings. In this article the author explores different strategies for reducing the energy intensity of buildings and deems energy efficiency as the greatest economic opportunity we have.

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Our final article examines the state of Earth’s soil. Worryingly, nearly a third of the world’s arable land has been lost to erosion over the past four decades. And with three times as much carbon locked in the soil than is presently in the atmosphere, release of this is a problem. Ploughed fields also lose soil much faster than it is formed. Some partial solutions to soil loss have been suggested, like no till farming, cover crops and using ‘night soil’.

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This week in Innovation, research has found it possible to achieve 85% efficiency in solar energy capture, in the lab, which bodes well for the future of PV.

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