Industrial Materials Reuse in Tennessee

On March 27th we presented a new initiative to engage Tennessee-based companies of all sizes to create closed-loop systems in which one company’s waste is another company’s raw material. As we ended the presentation, we put out a call to action for Tennessee businesses and organizations interested in the project to get in touch – if this means you, fill out this form!

During this hour long session, representatives from General Motors, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conversation and the US Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) presented on:

  • The concept and implementation of business-to-business material reuse and the plethora of business opportunities that can be uncovered.
  • The US BCSD’s Materials Marketplace, a new tool being used in Austin and other regions around the US to help companies easily post materials available or desired, identify reuse opportunities, and exchange underutilized materials.
  • Our next steps and plan to engage with Tennessee automotive businesses and manufacturers to facilitate and launch a materials reuse network in the state.

Waste is just a resource out of place – lets work together to keep these high value resources out of the landfill and put them back into the hands of the Tennessee businesses that can use them best.

Travis County Launches Texas’ Inaugural PACE Program, Unleashes Private Funding for Energy and Water Efficiency

travis CTY

Today marked a milestone for Texas’ clean energy economy. Travis County voted to adopt the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, making it the first county in Texas to do so. This means Austin and the surrounding area will soon reap the economic and environmental benefits from giving energy-intensive, thirsty Texas a reprieve with water efficiency and clean energy.

“The US Business Council for Sustainable Development ignited interest in PACE in 2011 after working on its implementation in Connecticut and California. Two attorneys with the Thompson and Knight law firm, Jim Morriss and Stephen Block, learned of this innovative energy financing concept at a Tucson meeting of the US BCSD and became infected with the idea of making it happen in Texas,” said Andrew Mangan, executive director of the US BCSD.

“Together we created a new organization called Keeping PACE in Texas, hired an executive director, Charlene Heydinger, who prepared the way for legislative action in the 2013 session. And now, after years of hard work, Travis County has stepped up as the first government in Texas to launch a PACE energy efficiency in buildings program,” Mangan said.

What is PACE?

PACE, enacted during the 2013 Texas Legislature with support from both sides of the aisle, has the potential to unlock a considerable amount of private funding for clean energy projects in the state. Specifically, it is an innovative financing program – completely free of government mandates and public funding – that enables commercial, industrial, multi-family, and agricultural property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for water conservation, energy-efficiency, and renewable energy projects. Participants will then repay these loans for clean energy projects through their property tax bill.

A PACE loan simultaneously offers building owners cheaper financing options and lenders secure repayment terms. In exchange for funds provided by a private lender to pay for the project, the property owner voluntarily requests that the local government place an assessment secured with a senior lien on the property until the assessment is paid in full. The assessment is owed to the local government, which forwards the payments to the private lender.

State Program, County Project, Local Support

Travis County Commissioners Gerald Daugherty (R) and Brigid Shea (D) united to cosponsor the resolution with tremendous support from a large local coalition of PACE advocates in Travis County, as well as by County Tax Assessor Collector Bruce Elfant.

This means that within the next several weeks, private funding for water and energy efficiency upgrades as well as renewable energy projects in Travis County will be unleashed for local businesses.

Benefits to Businesses

PACE has great potential to directly affect the bottom lines of small and medium sized businesses. To be eligible for PACE financing, a project must show that the savings in utility costs will offset the cost of installing the project. In most instances, this will result in an immediate positive cash flow. This mechanism can be used to equip buildings with the latest in efficiency technology, including lighting, HVAC, and water conservation tools. In addition, PACE can be used for renewable energy additions, such as roof-top solar panels.

Nationally, almost 75 percent of PACE projects were less than $250,000 in size, demonstrating PACE’s popularity as a tool for small and medium-size businesses. Further, these project installations lead to increased property value and lower utility bills, making PACE projects attractive for both property owners and tenants alike.

The Future of PACE in Texas

Texas now has its first PACE program. But it shouldn’t stop here in Travis County. The state of Texas accounts for about 12 percent of the entire country’s energy use, and Texas’ unique PACE framework makes implementation across the state easy and predictable. In the next few months, we’ll be looking to help other counties follow with PACE programs of their own. If you’d like to bring PACE to your county in Texas, please contact Keeping PACE in Texas.

Check our events page for three new upcoming events

Head over to the events page to check out three upcoming events:

  • March 27th – a live, online Google Hangout introducing the concept of business-to-business materials reuse for businesses in and around Tennessee.
  • April 8th – an in-person working meeting for the ROC Detroit project which will be held at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan.
  • July 16-17th – our next US BCSD – WBCSD – Yale Center for Business and Environment conference to be held at Yale University.

Action plan to improve the competitiveness of Houston’s building stock


Houston, Texas, 4 March 2015 – An action plan designed to significantly improve the market competitiveness of Houston’s buildings and attract investments in energy efficiency was released today by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) at a ceremony at Rice University.

The action plan is based on the recommendations of the Houston Energy Efficiency in Buildings Laboratory (EEB Lab) held jointly by the WBCSD and the US BCSD in October 2014.

Download the Report

Research shows that energy savings of 30% from Houston’s commercial sector alone would contribute over half a billion dollars to the Houston economy. This is equivalent to the investment required to build 10 new mid-size power plants. Savings of this magnitude would add to the employment created by the increased activity in energy efficiency retrofits and other energy services, and could translate into nearly 20,000 new jobs over a five-year period.

The action plan is grouped into four themes and actions are targeted primarily at Class B and C building owners, who have less history of making EEB investments. All EEB Lab participants agreed that this market is a priority action area. Implementation will be driven by a team of local public and private sector leaders across the following areas:

  1. Raising awareness of the multiple benefits of Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) – Targeted communications to emphasize the benefits of EEB, with the aim of motivating regional real estate professionals to take action on energy efficiency.
  2. Financing EEB Solutions – The coordination, promotion and development of energy efficiency financing options and tools, in tandem with improving access to these solutions. All financial tools, such as utility on-bill financing, energy service agreements, and Keeping PACE in Texas, will be presented under an energy efficiency financing umbrella.
  3. Building Capacity to deliver EEB Solutions – Identification of industry best practice and allocation of EEB training resources to scale up energy efficiency projects in Houston. Training will address the nature of energy efficiency investments, achieving maximum value and realizing energy savings that can be sustained.
  4. Increasing Houston’s real estate market competitiveness with EEB Solutions – Public policy development to improve the long-term competitiveness of Houston’s buildings. The implementation team will serve as a sounding board for proposed policy and regulatory action.

While much remains to be done, proactive leadership from the City of Houston has helped to significantly improve the energy efficiency of its buildings. Overall, Houston is now ranked fifth in the US for the number of LEED certified projects within the city, and has a total of 369 LEED certified projects. Additionally, Houston mayor Annise Parker made a public commitment at the UN Summit on Climate Change on 23 September 2014, that Houston would cut CO2 emissions by 80% from 2005 levels by 2050.

To oversee the implementation process of the action plan, a new platform entitled Energy Efficiency in Buildings – Houston, has been established. Led by the WBCSD and the US BCSD, and managed locally by the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), a coalition of public and private sector volunteers will build and sustain the momentum. Key leaders from the Gulf Coast Green Building Council, the City Energy Project and Keeping Pace in Texas will convene and coordinate actions between stakeholder groups while providing governance to ensure effective implementation.

The platform will enable members to complement each other’s activities and exchange experiences; collaborate with the public sector on the development of a long-term energy-efficient buildings strategy; and engage in policy consultation through the channels offered by the partner organizations.

Building sector stakeholders are encouraged to study the report and join the platform to coordinate actions towards market transformation.

WBCSD member companies Schneider Electric and United Technologies (co-project leaders), AGC, Lafarge and Siemens have supported the Houston Lab and will help drive implementation.

Roland Hunziker, Director Sustainable Buildings at WBCSD, says “EEB Laboratories foster a shared understanding of the specific barriers a building market is facing. Most importantly, they allow the creation of partnerships that are necessary to drive action to overcome these market barriers.”

More information can be found on the WBCSD and US BCSD websites.

About the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a CEO-led organization of some 200 forward-thinking global companies, is committed to galvanizing the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. Together with its members, the council applies its respected thought leadership and effective advocacy to generate constructive solutions and take shared action. Leveraging its strong relationships with stakeholders as the leading advocate for business, the council helps drive debate and policy change in favor of sustainable development solutions.

The WBCSD provides a forum for its member companies – who represent all business sectors, all continents and a combined revenue of more than $8.5 trillion, 19 million employees – to share best practices on sustainable development issues and to develop innovative tools that change the status quo. The council also benefits from a network of 70 national and regional business councils and partner organizations, a majority of which are based in developing countries. Web:  |  Twitter: @wbcsd

About the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD)
The US BCSD is an action oriented and member-led nonprofit business association that harnesses the power of collaborative projects, platforms and partnerships to develop, deploy and scale solutions to ecosystems, energy, materials and water challenges. Web:  |  Twitter: @usbcsd

Water Institute, US Business Council for Sustainable Development Form Strategic Alliance

water_institute_600x500      US BCSD with Text

BATON ROUGE, La. and AUSTIN, Texas (February 9, 2015) — Nearly a decade after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill ravaged the Louisiana coastline, two groups that have separately tackled a number of issues involving the protective role played by the region’s eroding wetlands and the importance of Louisiana’s water resources are now joining forces.

The Water Institute of the Gulf and the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) today announced an agreement that will allow the organizations to collaborate on applied research aimed at finding solutions to water challenges in the region and around the world.

The agreement creates an alliance between two groups that have been working to help industries and their surrounding communities find sustainable solutions to water resource issues. It joins The Water Institute, a Louisiana-based non-profit research institute, and the US BCSD, a Texas-based non-profit that uses collaborative projects and partnerships to develop, deploy and scale solutions to ecosystems, energy, materials and water challenges.

The US BCSD is composed of 55 U.S. companies sharing a commitment to pursuing sustainable development. It is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a global network of more than 200 international companies that serves as the umbrella organization for 65 similar national business councils worldwide.

“We’re extremely excited to add the US BCSD to our strong network of partners,” said Chip Groat, Ph.D., president and CEO of The Water Institute. “The council’s relationships with the private sector will add valuable capacity to efforts to meet challenges and develop solutions across the Gulf Coast, the nation and beyond.”

“This collaboration will provide valuable technical expertise to project participants as they tackle water challenges that are key to their businesses and communities,” said Andrew Mangan, Executive Director of the US BCSD. “Together, our two organizations will seek ways to convert water challenges to economic opportunities in ways that benefit people, ecosystems and businesses.”

The US BCSD’s Louisiana Water Synergy Project will serve as the platform for the organizations’ initial cooperative venture. The project, which began in May 2012, provides a forum for business leaders with infrastructure investments in southern Louisiana to collaborate on efforts to help ensure sustainable water supplies while protecting wetlands and improving water quality in the region.

The project involves 21 companies representing a wide range of industrial sectors, including manufacturing, beverages, oil and gas, chemicals and utilities. Participants also include representatives from the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

A key objective for the pilot is to develop a replicable work process that can be applied in other watersheds and regions.

About The Water Institute of the Gulf
The Water Institute of the Gulf is a not-for-profit, independent research institute dedicated to advancing the understanding of coastal, deltaic, river and water resource systems, both within the Gulf Coast and around the world. This mission supports the practical application of innovative science and engineering, providing solutions that benefit society. For more information, visit

About the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD)
The US BCSD is an action oriented and member-led nonprofit business association that harnesses the power of collaborative projects, platforms and partnerships to develop, deploy and scale solutions to ecosystems, energy, materials and water challenges. For more information, visit

Louisiana Water Synergy Project highlighted in The Advocate


Industries in Louisiana have been working with environmental groups, state agencies and university scientists to brainstorm potential solutions addressing water quality issues. Ranging from wetlands restoration to reducing the size of the annual low-oxygen “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, the collaboration through the Louisiana Water Synergy Project is meant to deal with potential risks to water in the Baton Rouge-New Orleans industrial corridor and beyond.

The project got started several years ago through the efforts of the nonprofit United States Business Council for Sustainable Development, said Susan Fernandes, manager of the project with the council. “Water is critical to business, but it’s also critical to agriculture, the cities where we live and the environment,” Fernandes said Wednesday. Fernandes’ comments came on the first day of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association annual meeting in New Orleans. Read more.

Repurposing Chevy Volt Battery Covers as Nest Boxes


DETROIT, MICHIGAN – General Motors, ROC Detroit project champion and US BCSD member, is repurposing Chevy Volt battery covers into Scaly-sided merganser nest boxes. The Scaly-sided merganser is endangered, and General Motors is working through the US BCSD and Wetlands International to help these beautiful waterfowl. John Bradburn, chairman of the US BCSD Executive Committee, designed and built the boxes after discussing the requirements with Wetlands International. John based his design on similar nest boxes built for the North American Wood Duck, however the size is scaled up to nearly three feet tall since the Scaly-sided merganser is larger. 10 boxes have been sent to China so far.

Materials Management as Carbon Reduction Strategy

Let’s make materials management a recognized and rewarded carbon reduction strategy of the proposed UN Climate Change Agreement

By Andrew Mangan, US BCSD and Marian Chertow, Yale University

Modern society has an intense thirst for physical resources to meet daily human needs, wants, and desires, which, in turn, is supported by the businesses and industries that collectively service these requests. The processes that provide physical resources generate significant quantities of waste at every step of the way, exposing us all to vast environmental, energy, and resource availability challenges. Once again much of the world is focusing on global climate with the upcoming meetings in 2015 in Paris following another year of bewildering weather and readily apparent land change. Years of research have shown that waste reduction is repeatedly associated with lowering greenhouse gases (GHGs) that exacerbate climate change. It is time we recognize the good actors and reward them by making waste reduction a recognized carbon reduction strategy in the upcoming UN climate negotiations.

While waste and materials management have not been on the front line of climate solutions, current emphasis on lifecycle approaches reveals that it is time to reconsider their role. If we break the climate problem down into different economic sectors, we see that energy and transport are nearly 2/3 of where GHG emissions originate – based primarily on fossil fuels burned to generate electricity and also to power vehicles (Figure 1). Yet, a recent US EPA report suggests that we slice the pie chart a bit differently to increase understanding of what EPA now calls “materials management” described as “serving human needs by using and reusing resources most productively and sustainably throughout their lifecycles.” (source) From a materials management perspective, the second chart below, based on a systems rather than sectoral approach, becomes quite relevant (Figure 2). As seen here, materials management systems for providing food and other goods accounts for 42% of GHG emissions. This figure embraces a lifecycle perspective that considers the extraction of natural resources, production, transport and disposal of food and other goods.

US GHG Emissions

Source: US EPA 2009. Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas. Emissions through Materials and Land Management Practices

Great work is going on in industry toward materials management that not only creates new revenues and saves on landfill, but also reduces climate impacts when virgin materials can be avoided and efficiency can be increased. Some interesting ways that industries we work with are having success fall into three categories: internal reuse and recycling within a firm or facility, online material trading with other firms, and trading across unrelated facilities in the same geographical area. These are discussed below:

  1. Trading across unrelated facilities in the same geographical area – While geographic concentrations of industry are often heavy generators of GHGs associated with global climate change, impacts can be modulated through collaborative approaches. Emerging from industrial ecology is the notion of “industrial symbiosis” – where a cluster of geographically proximate firms exchange material by-products, energy, and water in a mutually beneficial manner such that waste from one industrial process becomes the feedstock for another. Through such systems, transportation costs and emissions are minimized and materials and energy already embedded in products is conserved, enabling GHG emissions to be greatly reduced at the industrial scale. For example, in Austin, Texas, the Austin Materials Marketplace is bringing together businesses of all sizes and entrepreneurs in the City of Austin and Travis County to create closed-loop systems in which one company’s waste is another company’s raw material. Other networked clusters have been found across the world from the mineral processing region in Kwinana, Australia to China’s enormous Tianjin Economic –Technological Development Area to Kalundborg Denmark, and the industrial cluster of Ulsan, Korea. And the Reuse Opportunity Collaboratory began in Detroit, Michigan, USA to bring together urban entrepreneurs and community economic development organizations to find ways of reusing materials such as deconstructing old buildings rather than demolishing them to repurpose resources for alley repaving and to construct new sidewalks.
  2. Andrew Mangan presents materials reuse in Lima, Peru on 12/4/14.

    Andrew Mangan presents materials reuse in Lima, Peru on 12/4/14.

    Internal reuse and recycling within a firm or facility – In addition to traditional materials management that has gone on as long as there has been industry, the US Business Council for Sustainable Development is seeing an upsurge in members paying careful attention to by-product reuse. General Motors and Nike, for example, both operate with the mindset that waste is merely a resource out of place, and both have set billion dollar goals based on material reuse. They emphasize improving material yields, reusing remaining scrap in a closed loop back into their own products and maximizing recycling of the rest.

  3. Online materials trading – old fashioned “waste exchanges” once served the purpose of letting one firm know that another had a discarded resource to offer for sale. Today most of this happens on line and systems are getting more sophisticated. An outpouring of interest at the business organization level this year indicates that this collaborative big data approach may be getting ready for primetime. This summer, the US BCSD joined with companies from the Corporate Eco Forum in launching a new online Materials Marketplace aimed at scaling reuse across hundreds or potentially thousands of companies. In November, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development expressed its interest in the marketplace through its newly formed Safe and Sustainable Materials Cluster. The new software takes advantage of user-centric design and standardized and accessible data templates, to make it possible for companies to share information about the materials flowing through their operations in a confidential, safe environment. Having access to this kind of information has led to material reuse opportunities such as reusing fibrous wastes in ceiling tiles, waste heat from cement kilns drying brewery grain for bricking and shipping; and converting ephemeral packaging products into a range of cascading product forms as companies recognize there is value in what they used to think of as waste.

Recognizing and rewarding the climate benefits of material reuse is needed now to provide a positive path for decarbonized economic progress. Characterizing the values, both direct life cycle benefits and broader societal advancements, achievable through this frugal, inclusive approach will be necessary. But related systems exist and can be applied, tailored for materials management. Devising such a system is not a simple matter and would take a ramp up in our understanding of GHG accounting and the most recent climate models. This move would also require taking on the types of issues that have been difficult to resolve with, for example, the Clean Development Mechanism regarding additionality – so that waste managers would not be rewarded for “business as usual” but rather for innovative development. By adopting materials management as a core strategy of the climate agreement, governments will be empowering companies, communities and countries to move toward a more circular economy where wastes become resources that can be used over and over again as they are in the natural world. At the same time, adopting rewards for carbon reductions in materials management would bring a whole new community into the realm of climate solutions.

Andrew Mangan is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development and Marian Chertow is Associate Professor of Industrial Environmental Management at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Other news: COP20: Gobiernos de Suiza y Perú resaltan la importancia del uso eficiente de recursos para la creación de Eco-parques Industriales

Great BPS Work Coming Out of the Austin Materials Marketplace

We’ve been especially busy over the last few weeks with our project in Austin – the Austin Materials Marketplace. We’re currently up to 27 participating businesses and organizations, ranging from large corporations like 3M and Spansion, down to local nonprofits like Any Baby Can.

On 11/12, we hosted a live Google Hangout to look specifically at brewery by-products and waste, and talk about some good reuse solutions we’re itching to help facilitate in Austin. Watch the recording below, and get in touch with us if it inspires any creative thinking.

And on 11/14 we hosted a medical devices-specific Google Hangout on how to transform medical device manufacturing waste into product. We discussed current industry best practices, some of our biggest waste challenges, and chatted about some interesting potential reuse opportunities. Watch below or click the Youtube link.

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