PepsiCo Launches New Facebook-Inspired Carbon Calculator

 By Alison Moodie, GreenBiz.com, 10-9-2012

For a company like PepsiCo, which oversees more than 20 brands and hundreds of different products around the world, calculating the carbon footprint of just one of its products can take weeks, and at a signficant cost to the company. To save time and money, PepsiCo teamed up with researchers from Columbia University’s Earth Institute to create a tool that can measure the carbon footprint of thousands of products all at once.

The calculator, which lacks an official name, can calculate the carbon emissions of different materials and activities in a company’s supply chain and operations, and within minutes pinpoint which of these carries the largest carbon footprint.

‘The objective was to give companies several capabilities at once with only a single effort,’ said Christoph Meinrenken, the tool’s lead researcher and associate research scientist at the Earth Institute.

The calculator was developed to follow publicly known carbon footprinting standards such as the GHG Protocol Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) standard and PAS20:2011. The methodology and software helps businesses identify which materials or activities in their supply chain and operations have the biggest effect on the total carbon footprint of one of their products, product lines, brands or regions. The calculator also reveals the accuracy of this information and how this accuracy can be improved so a company can make better business decisions.

“We saw the opportunity to use our carbon/greenhouse gas analysis as a base for building a broader decision-making tool that could help us identify other efficiency opportunities throughout our supply chian, drive innovation and improve our overall operations,” said Rober terKuile, PepsiCo’s senior director of environmental sustainability.

The tool also provides certifiable product footprints to be used in ecolabeling and for environmental measuring groups such as The Sustainability Consortium and GoodGuide. This certification requires an intensive, bottom-up assessment of each product’s entire life cycle in order to provide the required microscopic level of detail and to be auditable outside the company, said Meinrenken.

The tool is not the first of its kind. Earlier this year, Danone announced it had developed a system, in partnership with SAP, that can calculate the carbon emissions of individual products. Meinrenken said the inner workings of the Danone tool hadn’t been made public, so it was hard to adequately compare the two. He said PesiCo’s tool was developed before Danone unveiled its calculator.

The PepsiCo tool takes inspiration from sites like Facebook and Netflix, which mine huge swaths of data to figure out what users like. It analyzes data already stored in a company’s database to infer information, like what materials are in a product and where they come from. This process saves a company time and money, said Meinrenken.

‘This is just a general argument of being smart and efficient with companies’ existing data to mine and ‘milk’  it if you will, to learn additional things from the same data, rather than hiring additional staff and building up new data,’ he said.

To learn more about this approach to carbon footprinting, finish reading the article HERE.

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month – Meatless Mondays

Hey FIT: Try a Vegetarian Monday for the rest of October. You will be doing yourself and the planet a favor. Why not visit your local green market and get in on some of the Fall Harvest or order up the Vegetarian option at Aramark?

COME TO THE FIT CULINARY ARTS  SALSA DEMONSTRATION on THURSDAY 10/11 at 1PM in A734

Environmental Benefits

  1. REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
  2. MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
  3. HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.

Health Benefits

  1. LIMIT CANCER RISK: Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.
  2. REDUCE HEART DISEASE: Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (for example, meat and full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (for example, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%
  3. FIGHT DIABETES: Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  4. CURB OBESITY: People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. A recent study from Imperial College London also found that reducing overall meat consumption can prevent long-term weight gain.
  5. LIVE LONGER: Red and processed meat consumption is associated with increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.
  6. IMPROVE YOUR DIET. Consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.

Open House New York

Every year on one of the first weekends in October the door of interesting buildings in the city open up to the public. It is an amazing opportunity to learn about old and new architecture of New York. This year I had a chance to participate in a tour of newly open Visitors’ Center at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Elegantly designed by Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, the Center proves that the building can be environmentally responsible and beautiful at the same time. BBG is reaching for LEED NC Gold and employs many wonderful strategies that limit its’ environmental footprint.

Fritt on the glass controls glare and heat gain, and prevents birds from colliding with windows.

The building responds to the location in its form that brings visitors gently into the gardens. The interiors are skillfully detailed and benefit from high level of transparency and views of the surroundings.

The ceiling in the main space reference a leaf, echo floor design, house indirect lighting, and provide superb acoustics.

You can learn about all environmental features of the building from very informative signs placed in and around the Center. I highly recommend a visit!

NY Academy of Sciences: Green Sciences & Sustainability

ACADEMY EBRIEFINGS

The Implications of a Data-driven Built Environment

Data about energy consumption in buildings can revolutionize energy use and, if analyzed effectively, has the potential to transform buildings’ market value. This eBriefing examines ‘big data’ in the real estate industry and focuses on new systems for energy management.

Can Oysters Save New York Harbor?

Award-winning journalist Andrew Revkin led a panel discussion with some key players in the movement to restore New York oysters, who hope to revive the Harbor and train the next generation of environmental leaders. This eBriefing also features a special presentation by students from the Harbor School.

Nature and the City: What Good Is Urban Conservation?

Across the United States, people are newly inspired to recapture nature in cities, but can these efforts rebuild biodiversity? In this eBriefing, leading scientists, authors, and urban conservationists discuss the science behind and the promise of today’s urban conservation efforts.


ACADEMY EVENTS

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 | 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Pride: Flying Cars and Other Broken Promises

Society has often looked to science to create a utopian future free of worry and disease and full of gadgets and toys. Join us as we explore the potential world of the future and the unfulfilled scientific promises of the past. Part of the Science and the Seven Deadly Sins Series.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Sloth: Is Your City Making You Fat?

Join a panel of scientists, urban planners, and fitness experts for a talk on how designing and building better cities and towns may make us a healthier—and leaner—nation. Part of the Science and the Seven Deadly Sins Series.


Free Webinar: Improving Product Lifetime Through Sustainable Design

FREE WEBINAR: Sign Up Now!

Improving Product Lifetime Through Sustainable Design
Thursday, Sept. 6, Noon PST / 3 pm EST

While some products should last a lifetime, improving a product’s life isn’t always just about making it last. Learn how to decide on the right strategies for optimizing a product’s life and end-of-life and how to get the most use out of the materials and energy that your product uses throughout its lifecycle. To register: http://students.autodesk.com/?nd=form__365