Articles from the BSC Library Business Sustainability Articles

  • 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

  • NC FIRM TO BUILD TENNESSEE’S LARGEST SOLAR FARMS

    August 8, 2013

    Photo: R Walker/creative commons With Triad universities exploring cheaper concentrated solar for the Southeast and Camp Lejeune staging a major solar surge, there's plenty for clean energy advocates to cheer in North Carolina. They can also take heart that the NC solar industry is busy making waves well beyond the state's borders. The News & Observer reports that two new solar farms planned for McNairy County, near Selmer, TN will become the largest in the State if they get the go ahead. The installations will be built by Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar:  "According to a news release from the Tennessee Valley… Read More

  • FROM OLD WAREHOUSE TO HUB FOR GREEN GROWTH

    July 29, 2013

    The industrial landscape of East Durham is not the first place you’d think of when talking about farms and farmers. But the divide between agriculture and the urban environment has always been an imaginary one. Projects like Asheville's Urban Farm School and Durham's Mini-Farmery are already showing that serious amounts of food can be grown within city limits. And even for larger rural growers, access to urban markets, retail outlets and the transportation infrastructure which tends to coalesce around cities can be a huge boon in their efforts to stay competitive.  A new warehouse facility in a neglected industrial neighborhood in Durham… Read More

  • COULD COLD-HARDY MUSCADINE GRAPES BE THE DRIVER OF ECONOMIC GROWTH?

    July 24, 2013

    Ask most people and they'll tell you that muscadine grapes don't grow in the mountains of Western North Carolina. It's too cold. But grape grower and wine expert Chuck Blethen kept hearing from locals about a variety of native, wild muscadines that could survive the cold winters and thrive in the mountains. So he went out and found them - and he's now cultivating muscadine vines using biodynamic methods from the seeds he harvested in the wild.  This isn't just a horticultural endeavour, argues Blethen, these grapes could hold the key to economic revival in some of the struggling rural… Read More

  • HOW SUSTAINABILITY IS SPURRING TRIANGLE BUSINESSES

    July 11, 2013

     Sustainability and environmental responsibility is often talked about as a burden for the business environment.  But it's also an opportunity for innovation and differentiation in the market place.  An inspiring article in the News and Observer recently looked at how Triangle businesses are leading the way to sustainability, talking to business leaders, community representatives and sustainability experts about how the business culture has developed to embrace social and environmental responsibility.  Important takeaways from the piece include:  Clean tech companies have invested over $700bn in the region since 2009 Over 2,600 jobs created in the same period Cities across the region are… Read More

  • THE FARMERY: TRIANGLE START UP HOPES TO INTEGRATE AGRICULTURE AND RETAIL

    June 20, 2013

    Local food doesn't get more local than this.  Raleigh resident Ben Greene is working on The Farmery, an urban farming concept utilizing shipping containers and a greenhouse space to grow fresh, local produce including herbs, vegetables and gourmet mushrooms. The produce is grown aquaponically - meaning a hydroponic grow system is fed with water from aquaculture (fish farming) - which in turn filters out the nutrients from the water so it can be returned to the fish.  Theis is by no means the first urban vertical farm concept out there. What makes the Farmery a little different to most high… Read More

  • CHATHAM CO. BEEKEEPER USES HONEY TO BUILD COMMUNITY

    June 18, 2013

    Just Bee Apiary Hometown Honey Taste Off Fundraiser from Haley Dona on Vimeo. Honeybees have been in crisis for the last few years. And that's not a good thing for any of us. A mysterious affliction known as colony collapse disorder - characterized by mass die-offs and even disappearances of whole colonies - has been reported by beekeepers across the Globe. And because a large number of the crops we humans rely on for survival are pollinated by honeybees, any threat to bees is a very serious concern for modern agriculture as a whole. Communites Mobilize to Support Bees If… Read More

  • MAKING SOCIAL MEDIA PARTNERSHIPS PAY OFF

    December 18, 2012

    v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";} Guest Post By Leah Quintal When social media is done well, it can engage audiences, grow a supportive community, promote branding, and may even make money. Most organizations, however, fail to use social media effectively. Let's be honest - many businesses use social media to sell stuff. In doing so they often end up treating Facebook like a storefront window. But… Read More

  • BUSINESS LEADERS SUPPORT SUSTAINABILITY IN NORTH CAROLINA

    November 25, 2012

    In a statement released Nov. 27, 2012, more than 100 North Carolina businesses have expressed support for sustainability efforts as good for business and NC's economy. Signatories include large corporations like Duke Energy, SAS, and Ingersoll Rand, as well as well-respected local firms like Harrington Bank, Eastern Carolina Organics, and Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels.  The statement and complete list of signatories are published below. Statement of Support As leaders of businesses big and small in North Carolina, we support the principles of sustainability in our businesses and in North Carolina’s communities. Access to high-quality education, healthy living, outdoor recreation, green… Read More

  • TAMASHII: BRINGING SUSHI AND ‘SOUL’ TO THE NC COAST

    November 5, 2012

    By Leslie Lammers Wilmington, NC’s Tamashii restaurant is among a growing number of sushi restaurants across the country to offer a sustainable seafood menu. Tamashii, which means ‘soul’ in Japanese, is striving to teach locals the merits of making sustainable seafood choices, says co-owner, chef, and self-proclaimed “sushi snob” Mark Scharaga. “As a chef, there is some education you have to do. People don’t know what sustainable means. They don’t realize there is a lot that is labeled incorrectly or not managed properly and a lot of misinformation out there.” Scharaga had his own sustainability ‘ah-ha’ moment after working under… Read More

  • FIVE ESSENTIAL SUSTAINABILITY RESOURCES FOR NC MANUFACTURERS

    October 18, 2012

    By Anna Mangum In consulting with manufacturers across the state, I’m often asked by small and medium-sized manufacturers for advice about where to find sustainability guidance and technical assistance.  North Carolina has some terrific free and low-cost resources to help manufacturers achieve better performance, improve efficiency, and adopt more sustainable business practices. The following five resources are, in my experience, excellent starting points.  I have heard from manufacturers who have taken advantage of these programs that they have provided true value.  These resources help NC manufacturers uncover opportunities for improvement and create an action list of real steps they can… Read More

  • FINANCING THE FOOD SYSTEM: HOW SLOW MONEY GROWS LOCAL FOOD

    October 8, 2012

    Cows at Lilly Den Farm. An affordable Slow Money Loan helped farner Tucker Worthington purchase a used skidsteer, instead of renting one. Photo: Bett Wilson Foley   By Sami Grover “When you run a small business for years, it’s like you see a snapshot of what is going on with the wider economy.”  That’s how Carol Peppe Hewitt describes her entry point into Slow Money. She had been running a successful artisan pottery business with her husband Mark for decades, and observed how hard it was for small businesses to access affordable credit. This was particularly true within the local… Read More

  • SUSTAINABLE CRAFT BREWERY EARNS RECOGNITION IN EASTERN NC

    September 24, 2012

    By Lesley Lammers Asheville, NC may be known as “Beer City USA” but across the state, in tiny Kinston, Mother Earth Brewing is making its mark on the craft beer industry—and on eastern North Carolina.  In an area of the state hard hit by losses in other sectors, Mother Earth Brewing is growing rapidly.  Sales doubled in the past year, and the company is expanding its product line with the construction of a new craft distillery.  And, it’s doing it all with deep-seated conviction that what’s good for business can also be good for the environment. Stephen Hill and his… Read More

  • DIRTBALL FASHION MAKES A (MADE-IN-AMERICA) STAND

    September 9, 2012

    By Lesley Lammers What do skate parks, Widespread Panic and 700,000 recycled water bottles have in common? These strange bedfellows are pieces of the story behind Dirtball Fashion, the Hickory, NC-based apparel company started by professional race car driver Joe Fox.  “I was burned out on where I was with my career and decided to make a change.”  Fox's transition from race car driver to sustainability-minded business owner may seem odd at first glance, but it makes sense when you sit down to chat with Fox and witness his passion for creating American jobs, supporting local industry in his home… Read More

  • NC MANUFACTURERS SAVE MONEY, REDUCE FOOTPRINT WITH HELP FROM E3

    August 28, 2012

    by Katie Kross “Our lean and green manufacturing review produced enough opportunities for them to work on for two years. Three days of time [doing the assessment] yield two years’ worth of opportunities.” Anna Mangum, director of the E3 North Carolina Initiative at NC State University, can cite dozens of examples like this. In just two years’ time, the E3 program—which stands for Economy, Energy, and the Environment—has helped more than 33 NC manufacturers identify process efficiency improvements, waste reduction strategies, and lean manufacturing tactics. These efforts often have the triple benefit of saving money, creating jobs, and reducing impact… Read More

  • IN RANDOLPH COUNTY, TEXTILE COMPANY RISES TO MEET WALMART SUSTAINABILITY GOALS

    August 10, 2012

    by Lesley Lammers Sustainability may be a new term, but it’s not a new idea. Not, at least, for Acme-McCrary, a 100 year-old textile manufacturer in Asheboro, which was in the sustainability game long before ‘sustainability’ was ever a buzzword. But you won’t find them bragging about their green initiatives with fanfare or showy marketing. CJ Plummer, Director of Process, Sustainability and Environmental Engineering, explains that sustainability is simply integrated into the business model. “We look at not only sustainability of the environment, but the sustainability of Acme so that we are here another 100 years, hopefully.” MEETING WALMART'S GOALS… Read More

  • SUSTAINABILITY? BUSINESS GETS IT

    July 6, 2012

    An energy-saving "green roof" is just one of the sustainabilty features at SAS's headquarters in Cary, NC by Katie Kross This opinion article first appeared in The News & Observer, Friday, July 6, 2012   ~ "The most formidable challenge we face is global climate change.” That statement comes not from an academic, political pundit or environmental advocacy organization, but from America’s largest bank: Bank of America, headquartered in Charlotte. In recent weeks, as North Carolina legislators were battling over the use of the word “sustainable” in the government-funded NC Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council, Bank of America was announcing… Read More

  • GROWING GREEN: NC BUSINESS INCUBATORS NURTURE SUSTAINABLE STARTUPS

    June 4, 2012

    by Katie Kross North Carolina has long offered a wealth of opportunities and business support services for entrepreneurs, but lately, a new breed of business incubators is gaining attention. Across the state, socially- and environmentally-minded entrepreneurs are finding startup support tailored to their unique niches. From business incubators to accelerators and co-working spaces, these groups offer programming specifically for social entrepreneurs and sustainable startups. BLUE RIDGE FOOD VENTURES, CANDLER, NC Blue Ridge Food Venture’s 11,000-square-foot “kitchen incubator” and natural products manufacturing facility in western NC offers a space for bakers, farmers, and restaurateurs to produce specialty food products ranging from… Read More

  • WALMART SHARES SUSTAINABILITY RESOURCES WITH NC SUPPLIERS

    April 2, 2012

    by Katie Kross By its own estimates, Walmart spends more than $5 billion for merchandise and services with over 1,500 suppliers in the state of North Carolina each year.  As Walmart continues to ask more and more from its suppliers’ sustainability efforts — it intends to start rating suppliers’ sustainability practices by 2013 and incorporating those ratings into buying decisions — North Carolina companies that take a proactive approach to sustainability may see opportunities with Walmart buyers. Walmart’s Director of Sustainability, Miranda Ballentine visited NC State on Mar. 28 to discuss its sustainability goals with Walmart suppliers and product manufacturers.… Read More

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