Articles from the BSC Library Business Sustainability Articles

  • OFFSHORE WIND COULD BE CLEAN ENERGY GOLD MINE FOR NC

    December 29, 2014

    A new report from Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center estimates that offshore can produce a third of the state’s energy needs, while also creating tens of thousands of well-paying jobs in the state’s coastal region. North Carolina has more offshore wind potential than any other state along the Atlantic coast. This new report estimates that wind farms off the North Carolina coast could produce enough power for 2.7 million homes by 2030. If the state fails to develop its wind potential, the energy these homes need will likely come from burning coal or natural gas, which produce emissions… Read More

  • NFL PLAYER FARMS TO FEED THE HUNGRY

    December 2, 2014

    YouTube screen capture / News and Observer "Jason Brown's Harvest" Giving Tuesday, which celebrates charitable action and the spirit of generosity, is an apt moment to highlight the social mission of a farm business in Louisburg, NC, where the first crops of every harvest go to those in need. Farming is a second career for First Fruits owner Jason Brown, a former Tarheel and St. Louis Rams lineman. Brown walked away from the NFL in 2012, inspired by faith to pursue his dream of feeding the hungry. This year the farm gave its entire sweet potato harvest—more than 100,000 pounds—to… Read More

  • ACORNS BEGINNING TO REENTER HUMAN DIETS

    November 25, 2014

    Photo: princedd/creative commons   Without the help of a single drop of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, our oaks dropped an incredible crop of acorns on our heads this fall. This year is what scientists call a “mast year,” when the acorns are so plentiful that the squirrels, birds, deer, and bears can all eat their fill and still leave plenty to germinate. Until recently, humans were regular participants in the harvest. Most cultures that developed under the shade of the oaks treated acorns as an important source of nourishment for humans and livestock, including North Carolina's Cherokee, Catawba, Saponi, Tutelo,… Read More

  • DURHAM-MADE PEDAL/SOLAR HYBRID NOW COMES IN TWO-SEATER OPTION

    November 12, 2014

    Photo: Sami Grover/creative commons We reported before on the Durham-made ELF, a solar/pedal-powered hybrid "velomobile" that is dubbed by its makers as "the most efficient vehicle on the planet". Until now, the ELF was really only designed to carry one person—limiting its appeal for many families with small children. Organic Transit, however, has just announced that they are launching a two-seater upgrade option called the 2FR. The upgrade costs $499 on top of the standard RRP of $5,495, and the company is currently taking orders with a 6-8 week lead time for delivery.  This author recently took an ELF 2FR… Read More

  • NC-MADE ELECTRIC TRUCK HITS THE STREETS

    November 5, 2014

    EV Fleet's electric pickup trucks, called the Condor after the giant vultures that soar over the Andes and the Sierras, are now in production. The Charlotte-based company has spent years testing and prototyping different models before they arrived at the Condor. The lightweight and aerodynamic truck has the acceleration of a sport car, but can carry as much as 1000 lbs. It is set up to coast and can go as far as 100 miles on a single charge at 65mph, or 140 miles at 45mph. EV Fleet is initially focusing its sales efforts on large fleet managers, worried about what… Read More

  • Zoe B Organics offers baby toys that are better for babies and the planet

    August 10, 2014

    New parents can now get plastic-free toys from Wiston-Salem based Zoë b Organics

  • SIERRA NEVADA’S NEW SOLAR-POWERED BREWERY IN MILLS RIVER, NC

    July 30, 2014

    North Carolina is not short of green-minded breweries. Sierra Nevada's new facility in Mills River is making serious amounts of solar energy. 

  • DURHAM’S 100% LOCAL, SUSTAINABLE, IN-SEASON FLORIST

    July 14, 2014

    Photo: Pine State Flowers For all of the growth in NC's local food movement recently, there's been less attention on other, non-edible agricultural products like fresh cut flowers. There are, of course, flowers available at many farmers' markets, but the florist section of most supermarkets—even supermarkets with an active local food program—tend to be shipped in from all over the world.  That's where Pine State Flowers hopes to find its niche. Selling only fresh, local, seasonal and sustainably grown flowers, this flower shop and small flower farm is looking to provide Durham residents with an alternative to the year-round offerings… Read More

  • APPLE BUILDING 17.5MW SOLAR FARM IN CLAREMONT, NC

    July 9, 2014

    Photo: Apple/video screen capture Apple's massive solar farm in Maiden, NC, has already helped put North Carolina toward the top of the State rankings for new solar installations. Now the Hickory Record reports that the company is building another solar farm, this time in Claremont. According to the Recorder, this will be the third large-scale solar array owned by Apple in Catawba County alone: This would be the company’s third solar farm in Catawba County. One is located on the company’s campus in Maiden. And paperwork filed in 2013 with the N.C. Utilities Commission by SunPower Corporations Systems transferred to… Read More

  • NEW RESEARCH TOOL EMPOWERS SUSTAINABILITY PROFESSIONALS WITH QUALITY DATA

    June 23, 2014

    Photo: G-Bit/screen capture When the day comes to start incorporating plant-based, paint-on solar panels into green building designs, many cutting-edge green building professionals may first hear about it on g-bit, a new online service designed to help professionals in the green building, clean energy and corporate sustainability sectors to keep track of the latest relevant research and trends. It is hard to predict the tipping point when a technology transforms from a costly mistake to a wise investment. Many too well-intentioned green business projects end up bankrupt because decision-makers paid more attention to hype than to reliable data. For example,… Read More

  • HIGH POINT COMPANY TURNS WASTE PLASTIC INTO DIESEL FUEL

    June 18, 2014

    From old computers through scrapped cars to post-consumer carpets, an awful lot of plastic-based waste ends up in landfill because it is too difficult, or too expensive, to recycle. Clean Blue Technologies, a High Point based technology start up is hoping to change all that, turning waste plastics into commercial grade diesel fuel, syngas and carbon black. Founder John Blair explains more on the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter website:  Clean Blue works with the less desirable and unable-to-be-reused higher numbered plastics, which typically wind up in landfills. Larger companies already contract with municipalities to take the more popular recyclable plastics;… Read More

  • ONLINE SUSTAINABLE GROCERY SERVICE LAUNCHES IN DURHAM

    June 10, 2014

    Photo: Relay Foods/screen capture Western North Carolina is not the only place with a strong local food scene. The Triangle area has also become known for its farmers' markets, farm tours and farm-to-table restaurants and cafes. Now a new grocery service aims to build on that culture, offering online grocery shopping with a strong focus on local, organic and sustainably produced goods.  Originally launched in Charlottesville, Virginia, Relay Foods now serves five regional markets including Richmond, Baltimore and Washington DC. Zach Buckner, CEO and Founder of Relay Foods, told Charlottesville Newsplex that the decision to come to Durham was based on… Read More

  • START-UP TO MARKET GLEANED, LOCAL FOOD IN YEAR-ROUND, READY-TO-EAT FORM

    May 28, 2014

    Photo: Seal the Seasons Would North Carolinians consume more local produce throughout the year if it were inexpensive, and already in processed, “ready-to-use” form, available for purchase in grocery store freezer sections? Daniella Uslan is looking to find out with an innovative business model she developed entitled Seal the Seasons. What began as a concept to reduce food waste and make local produce more affordable for low-income populations has gained momentum and become a way to improve profits for farmers and make it easier for schools, hospitals, and restaurants to incorporate more local food in their menus, throughout the year.… Read More

  • GREENSBORO TEXTILE COMPANY RESCUES MILLIONS OF BOTTLES FROM LANDFILL

    May 12, 2014

    Image: REPREVE Greensboro-based Unifi is helping to green America’s textile industry. At the company’s REPREVE Recycling Center in Yadkinville, materials that otherwise might have ended up in a landfill are spun into high quality polyester and nylon yarn. Millions of used plastic bottles arrive at the factory each year to be washed and broken down into polymer chips. Unifi and its partners in the textile industry use these chips in the production of synthetic fibers. Recycling scrap fibers Unifi is also working with other textile manufacturers to recycle scrap fibers and yarns. In garment manufacturing, 8-15% of fabric typically ends… Read More

  • HOW MUCH MONEY CAN NC HOMEOWNERS SAVE BY GOING SOLAR?

    May 7, 2014

    Image: NC Solar Center Utility-scale solar may be taking off in North Carolina but, so far, distributed residential installations are nowhere near as commonplace as in other parts of the country due, in part, to less favorable economic incentives. There are, however, several incentive programs available to Duke Energy customers, and choosing which one best fits each household can be a challenge. The North Carolina Solar Center—a public service center in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University—has now published a report to help North Carolinians understand the costs and savings associated with installing solar panels on private residences. The guide walks readers… Read More

  • DUKE’S 300MW SOLAR RFP OVERSUBSCRIBED

    May 1, 2014

    Photo: Activ Solar/creative commons In a sign of just how vibrant NC's solar energy scene is right now, Duke Energy's recent RFP for 300MW of solar projects is already oversubscribed. And not just oversubscribed. It's oversubscribed nearly three times over. This is big news for clean energy advocates. Here's how Cleantechnica reported on the success of this effort:  The 300 MW request for proposals — for solar PV plants over 5 MW — that Duke Energy put out just a few months ago, only just in February for that matter, has already been oversubscribed nearly three times over, according to recent… Read More

  • How sheep farming can help maintain solar farms

    April 23, 2014

    Photo: Sun-Raised Farms, screen shot The solar industry is growing rapidly in North Carolina, thanks in large part to the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards law, which requires utilities to source 3% of their energy from renewable sources this year, increasing to 12.5% by 2021. Some people have raised concerns that renewable energy generation could crowd out agricultural uses of land. But NC-based Sun-Raised Farms has a potential solution: Let hungry sheep mow the fields. Chad and Jodi Ray started using sheep to maintain one of O2 Energies’ solar fields in Bunn, NC in 2011. They managed to lower O2 Energies’… Read More

  • COULD SUSTAINABLE OYSTER FARMING REVIVE NC ECONOMIES, COMMUNITIES AND COASTAL WATERS?

    April 16, 2014

    Photo: Alpha/creative commons Oysters are an integral part coastal ecosystems, and were once a major industry in North Carolina. Today, oyster harvests are a fraction of what they were at the start of the 20th century, due in large part to dwindling wild populations. Over-harvesting, loss of habitat and pollution all contributed to a 50-90% decrease in the number of oysters in North Carolina waters. A dedicated group of fisherman and researchers believe that oyster farming could help turn the tide, bringing ecological and economic benefits to our coasts. Oysters raised in bags and cages can be harvested year round,… Read More

  • HOW TO RELOCALIZE THE APPAREL INDUSTRY

    April 8, 2014

    Photo: TEDx/video screen grab 98% - that's the percentage of apparel bought in the US that's currently made overseas. It wasn't too long ago, says Eric Henry, that 98% was made here. At a recent TEDx talk, Eric Henry - who's work on agriculture and climate change we've featured previously - explained how Cotton of the Carolinas and his company, TS Designs, are seeking to relocalize the apparel supply chain, creating transparent networks between farmers, processors, manufacturers and consumers that take you from "Dirt to Shirt" in less than 700 miles.  Read More

  • CROWDFUNDED TEA HOUSE PROMOTES COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE

    April 3, 2014

    Photo: Honeysuckle Teahouse "Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates The wisdom of this ancient Greek physician is the first thing a visitor will come across if they visit the website of the newly launched Honeysuckle Tea House, a crowdfunded community gathering-place that sits just outside of Carrboro. The background concept for the teahouse came from two of the teachers at Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute, ethnobotanists Frank Cook and James Duke (author of The Green Pharmacy). “Both were experts in natural remedies, in particular the benefits of herbal medicine.  They drew upon ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine,… Read More

  • WHY YOUNG FARMERS NEED BUSINESS SKILLS & FINANCIAL RESOURCES

    March 27, 2014

    Photo: USDA/creative commons Adapting to the changing climate and the shifting seasons are part of a farmer’s daily life. But as older generations of farmers transition out of the profession, and as our food system changes hands, is the new generation prepared with the proper tools needed to create and carry on successful, financially-sustainable farms? Tadj Schreck and Brett Evans are both young North Carolina farmers. We asked them what, if any, resources they have received to help guide them through the business side of farming.  “Young people usually want to jump into farming. There is always lots of beginning… Read More

  • RALEIGH CONFERENCE & FASHION SHOW PROMOTES ECO-TEXTILES

    March 19, 2014

    Photo: Redress Raleigh/video screen capture North Carolina has a rich heritage in the textiles and fashion industries. But as evidenced by the challenge of balancing water resources and textile industry needs, sustainability has not always been the top concern.  Redress Raleigh aims to change that.  This local fashion company has a strong focus on sustainability, creating an annual fashion show featuring designs made solely from recycled, reclaimed and/or sustainably produced materials. Having attracted hundreds of attendees to its sold out shows in previous years, Redress Raleigh is hoping to build on that success this year, hosting a two day eco-fashion… Read More

  • DURHAM-MADE SOLAR PEDAL HYBRID VEHICLES TAKE OFF

    March 13, 2014

    Photo: Organic Transit "I saw three ELFs on the way to work this morning, honey." That's the kind of statement that tends to get you funny looks from your significant other. But it's exactly what happened for this author, driving between Watts Hillandale and downtown Durham. The ELF solar pedal hybrid vehicle, made by Durham-based Organic Transit, has become a familiar sight on Durham streets. Offering the work out and environmental benefits of a bicycle with the weather protection, cargo capacity and convenience of a car, the ELF is aimed at getting urban commuters out of their cars.  Designed by… Read More

  • GREENING THE SUPPLY CHAIN: TARBORO ELECTRONICS PLANT RECOGNIZED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE

    February 24, 2014

    From Wal-Mart through Ikea to Nissan, global consumer brands have begun to take sustainability and environmental responsibility extremely seriously. That's one of the reasons why North Carolina has seen an unprecedented solar boom in the last year, with businesses like Apple investing in multi-megawatt solar farms.  What's less often talked about is that this focus is working its way up the supply chain, as suppliers are being increasingly rewarded for improving their performance too.  That's the case with Keihin Carolina System Technology (KCST), an electronics manufacturer based in Tarboro, NC. Already recognized by Honda (their customer) and NC DENR for their… Read More

  • CRAFT DISTILLING TAKES OFF IN NC

    February 20, 2014

    Craft distilling is a growing industry across the US, and North Carolina is now exception. While early craft distilleries here focused on the state's heritage of moonshine production - albeit a more legal version than previous generations - but increased competition is leading to a broader selection of NC-distilled spirits, including some with a strong focus on sustainability and the local supply chain. Intensely local focus At a recent NC Distillers Guild Meeting, Tami Schwerin, co-founder of Devil's Distillery in Pittsboro, learned that Devil’s Distillery will be the fourteenth craft distillery in North Carolina, and there are 4 more in… Read More

  • BUILD LOCAL: IN SEARCH OF BIOREGIONAL CONSTRUCTION

    February 3, 2014

    Photo: DIG Southeast Conversations about green building often focus on building performance – energy use, water use, comfort. Increasingly, however, the industry is also beginning to focus on the embodied energy, resource use and waste involved in the actual construction of a building. One company – DIG Southeast – is well placed to capitalize on this shift, producing “bricks” (technically Compressed Earth Blocks) that are local, biodegradable and have a low embodied energy. They are the product of a vision brought to life by Jeff Gannon of Green Door Design/Build in Pittsboro, North Carolina.  "The thing I love about CEB… Read More

  • Clean energy jobs grew 20% in 2013

    January 29, 2014

    Photo: Southern Energy Management With big business investing large amounts in NC solar projects, it was little surprise that NC ranked among the top states for solar installations in 2013. But what does this mean for the state's economy, and is solar an outlier, or part of something bigger? According to the NC Sustainable Energy Association's 2013 Census, the entire NC clean tech sector exhibited robust growth in 2013, growing jobs to 18,404 full-time equivalent employees - up by 20% from the year before. And while RTP may be positioning itself as a clean tech/smart grid cluster, this growth seems… Read More

  • EXPLORING LOCAL, SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS? MAKE A LOCAL FILM.

    January 8, 2014

    "When I'm making a film, I try to align the way it was produced with the subject matter it presents. So our production process was our version of a local supply chain." That's how award-winning film make Jesse Borkowski describes the production decisions that went into the making of Real Value, a new documentary film that explores how aggressively sustainable businesses in North Carolina are stepping up to the challenges of climate change and resource depletion.  Focused more on solutions than problems, Burkowski says the idea behind Real Value is to tap into the real, human stories behind the challenges… Read More

  • GREEN ROOF INDUSTRY PUTS DOWN ROOTS IN DOWNTOWN DURHAM

    December 4, 2013

    The First Green Roof in Downtown Durham’s Historic District Photo: Xero Flor America Green roofs are an increasingly popular feature on new sustainably designed and built structures - managing storm water, reducing air conditioning needs and promoting biodiversity in the process. Because of the additional weight, putting a green roof on an existing building, however, can be challenging - especially in a designated historic district. This is where “extensive” green roofs come into the picture. “Extensive” green roofs typically range from 2 to 6 inches in depth, and are relatively light weight, making them a possible option on retrofits without significant… Read More

  • RALEIGH BREWERY DELIVERS BEER BY BIKE

    November 27, 2013

    Photo: Crank Arm Brewing What is it with beer and bikes? There's something about the combination of person-powered transportation and a cold, frothy brew that seems like a match made in heaven.  Crank Arm Brewing is a craft brewery and tasting room in the warehouse district of Raleigh, North Carolina. The brewery focuses on green transportation, by way of a custom designed keg-delivering rickshaw. Bikes are woven throughout Crank Arm’s culture. The names of the artisan beers say it all: Rickshaw Rye IPA, Whitewall Wit, Uphill Climb, Reflector Red. If their Facebook page is anything to go by, the brewery… Read More

  • A GREEN-BUILT MCDONALD’S SHIFTS THE FAST FOOD PARADIGM

    November 26, 2013

    North Carolina students are already leading the way with sustainable design. Perhaps more surprisingly, so is a North Carolina McDonald’s. QSR Magazine recently ran an article highlighting the effort put forth by Ric Richards designing a McDonald’s in a way that “treats the Earth well.” The freshly redesigned location is aiming for 43 to 44 LEED credits, enough to reach a LEED Gold rating. Key sustainable elements include: ·       Demolition of the old structure resulted in 99.1% of material being reused or recycled ·       An on-site solar canopy generating 7.5% of the restaurant's energy ·       92% of the building is… Read More

  • NC’S CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE: A CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL SHORE

    November 19, 2013

    At the 2013 NCSEA Making Energy Work Conference, Michael Shore was honored with a lifetime achievement award – and for good reason. A co-founder and former CEO of Asheville-based FLS Energy, Michael has helped develop some of the state’s most high profile solar installations – including the major solar surge at Camp Lejeune.  He was also influential in the drafting of North Carolina’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, played a lead role in development of our state’s landmark Clean Smokestacks Act and was a founding board member of NC Green Power.  We got on the phone with him to talk about some… Read More

  • HOW A RALEIGH-BASED ACCELERATOR IS NURTURING DISRUPTIVE NEW IDEAS

    November 7, 2013

    This article originally appeared on StartUp Beat. Reproduced with permission. Why invest in environmental startups? The answer to this question is not simple. In fact, it actually raises more questions. Do investments in these ventures produce lower financial returns in favor of environmental goals? Are policy makers and non-profits better equipped to manage environmental problems? Despite this noise, we at the Cherokee-McDonough Challenge think there are many reasons to invest in this sector. We run an annual competition and accelerator in Raleigh, North Carolina, designed to identify, fund, and develop high-impact environmental startups. By providing select early-stage companies with $20,000 in Seed… Read More

  • NC TRAVEL INITIATIVE EXPANDS ITS REACH

    October 9, 2013

    Whether it’s a trip to the coast, a search for epic fall foliage, or even a whitewater adventure at the US National White Water Center, travelers already have many options open to them for hotels and B&Bs that are making an effort to mitigate their impact on the environment. Since 2012, NC GreenTravel has been helping NC travel businesses to green their operations, offering no-cost advice to business owners to help them cut energy use, reduce waste, conserve water and save money. The initiative has now joined forces with TripAdvisor and the GreenLeaders program to reach a broader, national audience.… Read More

  • WATER & TEXTILES IN NORTH CAROLINA: THE NEED FOR A NEW APPROACH pt.2

    October 2, 2013

    Photo: Images of wet processing of textiles across North Carolina. (The plants photographed requested anonymity.)  Jon Clift is a graduate of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, where he studied the interrelationship between the textile industry and the State’s water resources. In the part one of this two-part series on this issue for NCSC, Jon explored the interrelationship between the textiles industry and water resources from a historical perspective. In part two, he looks at how this issue will shape the future of textiles in North Carolina in an age of climate change and population growth. An in-depth and complete discussion… Read More

  • WATER & TEXTILES IN NORTH CAROLINA: A CRITICAL CHALLENGE pt.1

    September 19, 2013

    Photo: Images of wet processing of textiles across North Carolina. (The plants photographed requested anonymity.) Jon Clift is a graduate of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, where he studied the interrelationship between the textile industry and the State’s water resources. In the first of a two-part series on this issue for NCSC, Jon explores the history of the industry and the challenges presented by its water use. An in-depth and complete discussion of his findings can be found in “North Carolina’s Textile Complex: Water Risks and Opportunities”. A CHANGING IDENTITY The Textile Complex has been a critical driving force… Read More

  • NC ranks second in nation for installed solar in Q2

    September 13, 2013

    Photo: johncallas/Creative Commons From Duke energy expanding its massive solar farm to NC firms building major capacity in neighboring states, there have been a lot of solar stories coming across our radar in recent months.  It almost seems like the solar industry is taking off in a major way here.  The numbers would seem to back this up, with clean energy blog Clean Energy Authority reporting that North Carolina ranked second out of all the United States for installed solar capacity during Q2 of 2013: The surge in solar activity is credited in part to the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard… Read More

  • SUSTAINABLE FURNITURE INDUSTRY GATHERS AT ELON

    September 3, 2013

    Image: Zpine Lounge Chair, an entrant in the One Good Chair competition co-sponsored by the Sustainable Furnishings Council There's no doubt that the State's furniture manufacturers have been battling tough economic times in recent years. In order to stay competitive, these businesses need to position themselves on the cutting edge of the industry.  The Chapel Hill-based Sustainable Furnishings Council, in collaboration with Elon University, is holding a one-day program entitled "Innovations in Sustainable Furnishings: The Road Ahead". Taking place on Friday, September 20th, the keynote speaker will be  Dr. Jonathan Chapman from the University of Brighton speaking on “Emotionally Durable… Read More

  • NUMBER OF SMART GRID COMPANIES UP 60% IN RTP

    August 22, 2013

    Image: State Library NC/creative commons As the ad above from The Fifties demonstrates, North Carolina's Research Triangle Park (RTP) has long been positioning itself as a hub for high tech innovation. New figures suggest that it is now at the forefront of one of the most critical sectors for long-term sustainability, namely the development of a truly smart electrical grid. In fact, the Research Triangle Research Partnership reports that there are 60% more firms in RTP working on smart grid related technology than there were just two years ago: The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) released findings today showing the… Read More

  • NC RUG MANUFACTURER PROVES THAT “MADE IN AMERICA” MAKES SENSE

    August 14, 2013

    Photo: Capel Rugs Contrary to popular belief, there's still plenty of manufacturing going on here in North Carolina. And while US-based manufacturers do have to compete with lower wages and other overheads abroad, they also have a distinct advantage over their competitors.  Location.  Not only does US-based manufacturing enjoy lower transportation costs for reaching the American consumer, it is also perfectly positioned to take advantage of the fact that retailers and distributors are increasingly keeping less product in stock. This fact was highlighted in a recent article in Furniture Today, which featured the work of Capel Rugs based out of… Read More

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