• Efficiency Ratio

    August 13, 2015

    Definition:  No matter what kind of business a company is in, it must invest in assets to perform its operations. Efficiency ratios measure how effectively the company utilizes these assets, as well as how well it manages its liabilities. Source:  Morningstar Read More

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    Sustainability Definitions

  • Efficient

    August 13, 2015

    Definition:  Efficient is the act of working productively with minimum wasted effort or expense; preventing the wasteful use of a resource. Source:  Oxford English Dictionary Read More

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    Sustainability Definitions

  • Energy Efficiency

    August 13, 2015

    Definition Energy efficiency is a way of managing and restraining the growth in energy consumption. Something is more energy efficient if it delivers more services for the same energy input, or the same services for less energy input. For example, when a compact florescent light (CFL) bulb uses less energy (one-third to one-fifth) than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light, the CFL is considered to be more energy efficient. Source:  International Energy Agency Read More

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    Sustainability Definitions

  • Sustainable Agriculture

    August 13, 2015

    Definition   Congress has defined sustainable agriculture as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site specific application that will, over the long-term: satisfy human food and fiber needs; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends; make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm/ranch operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers/ ranchers and society as a whole. Source:  Congress - 1990 “Farm Bill” Read More

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    Sustainability Definitions

  • Sustainable Development

    August 13, 2015

    Definition From a human standpoint, sustainable development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Source:  Brundtland Commission  Read More

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    Sustainability Definitions

  • ALDI plans rooftop solar on 10 NC stores

    August 12, 2015

    Target isn't the only bog box retailer investing in North Carolina's clean energy future. 

  • Record number of turtle nests found at Cape Hatteras

    August 6, 2015

    Photo: US Geological Survey/creative commons The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a prime nesting spot for both loggerhead and green sea turtles, threatened species that only return to the shore after years at sea to lay their eggs. That's why conservationists are celebrating news that a record number of turtle nests have been found this season, as reported by WRAL: The Virginian-Pilot reports that 269 nests have so far been spotted, 15 more than a record set two years ago for that stretch of the Outer Banks. All but nine of the federal seashore's nests belong to loggerheads, a threatened… Read More

  • UNC study: millenials drive less than the rest of us

    July 27, 2015

    Photo: Companies like Durham-based Organic Transit may benefit from a generation that isn't too interested in cars.  From the development of a Chapel Hill-Durham light rail route to the economic boost provided by new bike infrastructure, there are plenty of signs that North Carolina—and the Triangle region in particular—is beginning to think about mobility outside of the car-centric business-as-usual paradigm. That might be a very good thing for our economy, if demographic trends are to be believed.  Researchers at UNC recently compared the driving habits of Millenials—meaning those who were beween 19 and 30 in 2009—to those of "Gen Xers"—meaning those… Read More

  • NC to get region’s first large-scale wind power

    July 13, 2015

    Photo: Iberdrola Renewables/promotional image When Target announced last week it was putting solar on eight NC stores (Charlotte Business Journal reports this figure may actually be 25 to 30 stores), and figures showed that natural gas beat out coal for the first time ever in NC, we suggested that North Carolina's energy landscape was changing fast. This week brings more evidence of this fact, with news outlets across the country reporting that construction will begin on a $600 million wind power installation near Elizabeth City. Not only will it be the state's first utility-scale wind power plant, but actually the region's first.… Read More

  • Target installing solar on eight NC stores

    July 10, 2015

    The big box retailer is investing heavily in renewables, including 8 large rooftop installations here in North Carolina. 

  • Natural gas beats coal in NC electricity mix for first time ever

    July 8, 2015

    Photo: Will Thomas/creative commons Figures just released by the federal government suggest that natural gas beat out coal in April as the primary fuel source for electricity for the first time ever in the United States. And that's not just happening on a national scale. Charlotte Business Journal reports that this trend also holds true for the North Carolina energy mix:  In April, North Carolina produced 2,629 megawatt-hours of electricity from natural gas, or 32.1% of all the megawatt-hours generated in the state that month. Coal-fired power accounted for 1,769 megawatt-hours of electricity, or 21.6 percent of the power produced… Read More

  • Biobased economy created 4 million jobs, says USDA study from NC State & Duke

    July 1, 2015

    4 million jobs, and $369 billion, that's how much the BioBased economy contributed to the US economy in 2013 alone.  

  • Chopped produce initiative brings greens from farm to school

    June 22, 2015

    Collards and cabbages from farms in Warren County are finding their way back into nearby school cafeterias, thanks to Working Landscape’s Chopped Produce Initiative. The initiative purchases greens from three local farmers, chops them in their certified processing facility and delivers them to customers’ cafeterias.

  • NC State’s Wolfpack aims for zero waste

    June 16, 2015

    Starting this fall, NC State’s Carter Finley Stadium is striving for zero waste.

  • 2050: 100% renewables possible in NC (and every other state)

    June 10, 2015

    Photo: The Solutions Project/creative commons When Apple, Google and Facebook warned NC legislators against freezing renewables targets, they hinted very strongly that the state's growing prowess in renewable energy was a key factor in their investments here. Yet, whenever discussion about renewable energy comes up, many detractors still cite economic cost and technical challenges as a major reason to stick with the status quo. A new study led by Stanford civil and environmental engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson, and published in Energy and Environmental Sciences, suggests that a 100% renewable energy future is not just possible for North Carolina, but… Read More

  • Apple, Google, Facebook warn against NC renewable energy freeze

    May 29, 2015

    Image credit: Apple North Carolina has been enjoying a solar boom of late, not least because tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook have chosen to locate some of their huge, energy-hungry server farms here and to power them using solar energy and other clean technology. Now, as reported by Greentech Media, the three tech giants are flexing their political muscle in support of renewable energy, signing on to a letter in support of maintaining the state's current renewable energy targets. The move comes in response to a North Carolina Senate panel rushing through legislation that would freeze the amount… Read More

  • NC universities consider biological water treatment facility

    May 28, 2015

    Emory University's new WaterHub. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Water. Representatives from North Carolina State University, Duke and University of Chapel Hill were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony at Emory Universities’ WaterHub. The WaterHub uses a variety of biological organisms to clean waste water and reduce the university’s draw on Atlanta’s water supply.  The treated waste water is sent to chiller facilities, and is used for flushing toilets. The facility will treat 40% of the water that Emory uses, saving 146 million gallons annually and drastically cutting its municipal water bill. Emory’s system is the first of its kind… Read More

  • Raleigh recognized as four STAR community

    May 21, 2015

    In April, Raleigh became the first community in North Carolina to achieve certification through the national STAR Community Rating System. The rating system uses city data to measure participants sustainability efforts, as well as economic, social and cultural goals. Raleigh received four out of five possible stars, thanks to its commitment to sustainability, its strong local economy and its thriving art scene. From the city of Raleigh’s press release: “The City of Raleigh has a long commitment to sustainability with a focus not only on environmental stewardship but also on economic strength and social equity,” said Mayor McFarlane. “The 4-STAR… Read More

  • Waste to Green recognized for environmental impact

    May 11, 2015

    Waste to Green, a minority and woman-owned electronics recycling company, made the “B Corp Best for the Environment” list for the second year in a row. The Henderson-based company is on a mission to divert as much electronic waste from landfills as possible. Waste to Green works with individuals and companies to make sure electronic waste is recycled to its highest possible use, and that all data is entirely destroyed. Currently, much of the electronic waste that the developed world generates gets shipped to developing countries, where it often piles up in slums, leaching toxic chemicals into the environment. Co-founder… Read More

  • Will NC lawmakers set a higher standard for business?

    May 6, 2015

    Image Credit:  You Tube / Screen Grab State lawmakers have introduced a bill to recognize benefit corporations as a separate category of corporate structure, providing legal recognition for companies with socially responsible missions that extend beyond profit. Proposed House Bill 534, the North Carolina Benefit Act, would establish a legal status for busineses that include one or more declarations of public benefits in their laws of incorporation. Similar laws have been passed in 29 states. The benefit corporation status shares similar goals but is not to be confused with B Corp certification, a third-party audit that measures a company's social,… Read More

  • Water scarcity breeds innovation

    April 29, 2015

    Nathan Kaufman of Viridis Aquaponic Growers explains how their system uses 95% less water than conventional growing methods. Photo credit: Jacob Levin Part one of this article explains why competition over water is becoming fierce in North Carolina. The following article looks at some of the innovative techniques that people living in water scarce regions are developing to make the best possible use of this precious, life-giving resource. Although a severe drought may seem like a plague, scarcity leads to incredible innovation. Out west and in water-scarce regions around the world, humans are developing ways of farming and living that… Read More

  • What does the California drought mean for NC?

    April 29, 2015

    Raleigh's primary water supply, Falls Lake, lost 70% of its volume during the 2007 drought. Photo Credit: LearnNC The western United States are parched. California is now in the fourth year of a severe drought. The Sierra Nevada mountains have less than a tenth of the snow they usually have at this time. In normal years, this snowpack provides a third of the water that California uses during summer and fall. For the first time in the state’s history, Governor Jerry Brown has ordered a mandatory 25 percent statewide reduction in urban water use. Farmers and rural residents have already seen… Read More

  • North Carolina Sustainability Center passes the torch to Poole College‚Äôs Sustainability Initiative

    April 21, 2015

    The North Carolina Sustainability Center (NCSC) on April 21 officially transferred its role as an online sustainability community to the Sustainability Initiative at the NC State University Poole College of… Read More

  • The Piedmont Farm Tour turns 20

    April 20, 2015

    John Dorsey, Cecilia Redding, and Matt Ball of Down 2 Earth Farms. Photo credit: Anna Kirby Photography. Next weekend, on April 25 and 26, forty local farms will open their gates to thousands of visitors on an annual pilgrimage. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Piedmont Farm Tour, an opportunity for local eaters to seek a deeper connection to the people and land that sustain them. The farm-to-table movement: 20 years of growth Much has changed since 1996, when Betsy Hitt of Peregrine Farm first suggested the farm tour as a fundraising idea for the Carolina Farm Stewardship… Read More

  • Sydney Swain on path toward her goal: improving sustainability in global supply chains

    April 15, 2015

    It’s been an eventful week for Sydney Swain, a junior in NC State’s Poole College of Management. On March 11, she learned that she had been awarded a John Philip… Read More

  • NCEast Alliance celebrates sustainabile manufacturing practices

    April 15, 2015

    Bridgestone's Wilson tire manufacturing facility has not sent waste to the landfill since 2013. Photo credit: Bridgestone On March 26, NCEast Alliance hosted the “Sustainability in Manufacturing” conference in Wilson, N.C. The conference brought together representatives from three manufacturing companies with plants in eastern NC to discuss sustainability initiatives and share best practices. Michael Darr, plant manager of Bridgestone’s Wilson tire manufacturing facility, was on hand to talk about how the plant managed to eliminate landfill waste and use energy more sustainably. From Bridgestone’s press release: “During the panel discussion, Darr shared the sustainability journey of the Wilson passenger and… Read More

  • Researchers release strategic plan for North Carolina wine and grape industry

    April 6, 2015

      Roanoke Island's Mother Vine is one of the oldest in the state. Photo credit: NC Culture Grape vines have been an important part of North Carolina’s coastal plains and foothills since long before European colonists arrived and started planting vineyards. At the start of the 20th century, North Carolina was the leading wine-producing region in the nation, until prohibition destroyed the industry. Since the start of the 21st century, North Carolina’s wine and grape industry has seen explosive growth, with the number of wineries more than quadrupling in the last fifteen years. With funding from the North Carolina Wine… Read More

  • Bringing It Home conference looks to strengthen NC’s local economies

    March 31, 2015

    Photo credit: Bringing It Home On March 18th, close to two hundred people gathered at Asheville-Bumcombe Technical Community College to discuss strategies for strengthening local economies. The inaugural Bringing It Home conference brought together new economic pioneers from across North Carolina to share promising initiatives and models that are helping keep money circulating locally. Note: The following reports on specific panels are drawn from Mountain Xpress’s excellent write up of the conference—please take a look at the full article for a deeper overview of everything that was discussed. Some of the panels looked at particular sectors of the economy, like food,… Read More

  • Business community signs up to Durham Living Wage

    March 23, 2015

    Photo: Durham Living Wage From high speed fiber broadband to the proposed Durham-Orange County light rail, there are signs that Durham's economy is on a major upswing. Many in the community, however, still struggle to get by on low and stagnant wages, and a new voluntary certification scheme is hoping to change that—providing recognition for employers who pay a true living wage and, organizers hope, creating market demand for more businesses to raise their pay.  Durham Living Wage launched this month at a packed meeting of the Durham People's Alliance at Fullsteam Brewery in downtown Durham. It is modeled after the successful Living… Read More

  • How will fiber broadband impact sustainability?

    March 19, 2015

    Fiber Optic Spools. Photo credit: woodleywonderworks North Carolina is well on its way to having some of the fastest and cheapest broadband in the whole country. With private companies, municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives all investing in fiber, people across the state will soon enjoy significantly faster speeds at a much lower cost. These new networks have the potential to move our state towards a more sustainable future. They can change how work gets done, and reduce the need to travel or own a car. Abundant bandwidth creates new opportunities to develop sensors to track and communicate environmental indicators, like… Read More

  • Clean energy creates jobs in NC

    March 16, 2015

    Anticipated Job Growth in 2015. Photo credit: North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association The NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) completed its seventh annual North Carolina Clean Energy Industry Census for 2014. This years’ report shows steady growth in the clean energy sector, outpacing the growth of any other sectors of the economy.  From the NCSEA press release: “According to the 2014 Census, North Carolina has experienced approximately 15 percent annual increase in revenues generated by clean energy activities since 2012, reaching $4.8 billion in gross revenues in 2014, up $1.2 billion from 2013. The Census also reports significant job growth in… Read More

  • NC BREATHE forum focuses on clean air

    March 12, 2015

    Photo: Creative Commons NC BREATHE, a free one-day event focused on clean air quality across the state, will be held in Raleigh on March 26. The conference will provide a forum for researchers, advocates, and policymakers to examine the intersection of environment, health, and air quality, and to discuss how improved policies can benefit the health and economy of state residents. Featured speakers include Michelle Bell of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Drew Shindell of Duke’s Nicholas School for the Environment, and a range of other leading healthcare and environmental professionals. The conference is sponsored by Clean Air… Read More

  • How an architect is reimagining the food system

    March 8, 2015

    Image: Community Food Lab/screen capture Food and farming isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think about architecture, yet design plays a crucial role in influencing our food choices as a society. That's why Erin White (NC State master’s in architecture) has applied his design skills to improving the Triangle’s food system. White is the founder of Community Food lab, a design and consulting firm focused on local food systems.  The News and Observer recently profiled White's important, and perhaps counterintuitive, work: “He is a founding member of the Capital Area Food Network, which seeks to… Read More

  • NC GreenPower tests new focus on solar for schools & community

    March 4, 2015

    Photo Credit: Alex Snyder / Creative Commons NC GreenPower has announced two new pilot projects that signal a shift in the organization's focus. After more than a decade of helping to boost the state's voluntary renewable energy portfolio through production-based incentives, the group is transitioning its direction toward school solar installations and other community impact projects more likely to galvanize contributor support. A Changing Landscape for Renewable Energy Launched in 2003, NC GreenPower is a Raleigh-based non-profit that has supported nearly 1,000 projects across the state, with emphasis on residential solar PV. The first initiative of its kind in the… Read More

  • Is the Piedmont ready for rabbit?

    March 1, 2015

    Pastured rabbits at Polyface Farm in Virginia. Photo credit: Jessica Reeder Rabbit is a popular menu items at many local food restaurants in the Piedmont, but a lack of local certified processing facilities prevents farmers from meeting the demand locally. Rabbit raisers, like Mary DeMare and Dan Shields of Fatty Owl Farm, can sell their farm-processed meat directly to customers, but not to anyone who will re-sell it, like restaurants, catering companies or food trucks. Chefs wanting to include North Carolina rabbit on their menu must purchase it from a North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) certified processing facility in… Read More

  • Concord-based Alevo leads largest US energy storage deployment

    February 25, 2015

    Alevo / Screen grab Last fall we reported on Alevo's plans for a new battery plant in Concord, NC, that could bring thousands of jobs to the state. Now, the company has announced it is teaming up with energy services provider Customized Energy Solutions (CES) in the largest ever energy storage deployment in the country. Using Alevo's “Gridbank” technology, the two companies will coordinate to provide 200 megawatts of energy storage capacity across CES's operational network, which spans across more than 350 major companies in the U.S. and Canada. Gridbank is a frequency regulation technology that can facilitate the stable… Read More

  • Could carbon farming help reverse climate change?

    February 18, 2015

    New technologies like the roller crimper help farmers grow crops without releasing the carbon from their soils. Photo credit: SARE Outreach This is the second part of an article about the Climate Adaptation Conference. The previous article can be found here. Although agriculture is currently a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, some farms do the exact opposite, pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and sinking it into soils. If these carbon sequestering techniques spread to agricultural lands all across the globe, we could offset a huge portion of our yearly emissions and eventually bring the amount of carbon dioxide… Read More

  • Farmers prepare for changing climate

    February 18, 2015

    Orchardist Guy Ames shared a story of not being prepared for a drought and having to use every container he had to haul water to his trees. The next year he invested in a farm cistern. Photo credit: Ames Orchard and Nursery Farmers, researchers and activists gathered in Pittsboro recently to discuss what climate change will mean for North Carolina’s agricultural producers. Abundance NC has hosted the Climate Adaptation Conference annually since 2013 in order to help farmers learn what types of climactic shifts they can expect, share practices that increase resiliency and connect to available resources. This year, Peter… Read More

  • Funds available for longleaf pine restoration

    February 16, 2015

    Bill Owen has completed several controlled burns on his longleaf pine stands through a burn contract with NRCS. Photo credit: US Department of Agriculture The USDA Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers funds to farmers, ranchers and forest owners who want help covering the cost of adopting or maintaining conservation practices on their land. Landowners who apply by February 27 will be eligible for the $100 million that the USDA has allocated to the CSP this year. For the first time this year, a portion of the CSP funds will be dedicated to specific conservation goals, including recovering longleaf pine ecosystems.… Read More

  • America’s leading producer of brewers yeast coming to Asheville

    February 10, 2015

    Photo: White Labs North Carolina brewers make some of the best beer in the country, but they can’t take all the credit. At the heart of every great tasting brew is a specialty yeast culture. Until now, most Carolina brewers had to rely on yeasts produced in California or Washington state, but that is about to change. In January, White Labs, America’s leading producer of brewers yeast, announced it will open a branch in Asheville, solidifying Asheville’s place as the craft brewing capital of the east coast. White Labs is a worldwide leader in fermentation sciences for brewers and winemakers.… Read More

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