Friday, September 25, 2015

Volkswagen "not so clean after all" - One of the biggest Green Hits seen

"Not only will you get much better mileage consumption with our cars, saving you gas money and less gas used is better for the environment, but our diesel gas engines burn cleaner than all other car engines".

- a typical Volkswagen salesman "pitch" to a car buyer.

Dats VolksVagon.

Selling large numbers of “Clean Diesels” was central to VW’s scheme for cracking the American market, a weak spot, which in turn was a vital part of the plan to overtake Toyota of Japan as the world’s largest carmaker. The grand strategy that Mr Winterkorn had overseen now lies in ruins.

Yet the biggest effects of the scandal will be felt across the Atlantic. VW’s skulduggery raises the question of whether other carmakers have been up to similar tricks, either to meet Europe’s laxer standards on NOx emissions or its comparable ones on fuel economy—and hence on emissions of carbon dioxide. BMW and Mercedes, VW’s two main German peers, rushed to insist that they had not. However, in Europe, emissions-testing is a farce. The carmakers commission their own tests, and regulators let them indulge in all sorts of shenanigans, such as removing wing mirrors during testing, and taping up the cracks around doors and windows, to reduce drag and thus make the cars burn less fuel. Regulators also tolerate software a bit like VW’s, that spots when a car is being tested and switches the engine into “economy” mode. This is why the fuel efficiency European motorists achieve on the road is around 40% short of carmakers’ promises.

At least America’s regulators, unlike Europe’s, sometimes stage their own tests to verify the manufacturers’ findings. But it is time this whole system was swept away and replaced, everywhere, with fully independent testing of cars in realistic driving conditions. Now, with outrage at VW’s behaviour at its height, is the moment to act. That would mean overcoming the objections of carmakers. But it also requires European regulators to change their attitudes to diesel, which accounts for half of cars sold on the continent. Diesel vehicles can be very economical on fuel (and thus emit relatively little carbon dioxide) but often at the cost of increased NOx emissions. That trade-off has been decided in diesel’s favour by Europe’s lousy testing regime and more lenient NOx-emissions standards.

See no diesel

Even if other makers of diesel vehicles have not resorted to the same level of deception as VW, the scandal could mean that these cars struggle to meet standards applied rigorously to both types of emission. Some fear that this may be the “death of diesel”. So be it. There is still scope to improve the venerable petrol engine; and to switch to cleaner cars that run on methane, hydrogen and electricity, or are hybrids. A multi-billion-dollar race is already under way between these various technologies, with makers often betting on several of them as the way to meet emissions targets. If VW’s behaviour hastens diesel’s death, it may lead at last, after so many false starts, to the beginning of the electric-car age.

From the print edition: Leaders

full article:

saverio manzo

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Going Green is Expensive - Myth or Not?

Why you should care about going green, even if you don’t care about the planet

Some executives believe the myth that going green is expensive—and I don’t blame them. When Conservative MP John Baird was Environment Minister, he told a 2007 Canadian Senate hearing that meeting our Kyoto goals would manufacture a recession. I ran into John in Toronto shortly thereafter and asked if he’d seen the just-released McKinsey & Company study showing that 40 per cent of the CO2 we have to cut in North America to meet our Kyoto goals would be highly profitable, and if society invested those profits in the next lowest-cost solutions, we’d get all the way to achieving the Kyoto targets at no cost to society.

He hadn’t seen the study and wasn’t interested when I offered to send it to him.

There are a couple of important points in this story. First, the study wasn’t from an environmental group; this was one of the preeminent management consulting firms worldwide, the kind of people you’d expect Conservatives to trust. And second, McKinsey was alerting business leaders to the fact that going green is highly profitable.

Sustainability is profitable because it cuts costs, raises revenue and mitigates risks. And I can prove it.

Carpet maker Interface has been on an aggressive sustainability journey for the last 15 years, driving US$450 million to the bottom line in cost savings, equal to 28 per cent of the company’s cumulative operating profit over the period, and helping it double profitability.

General Electric’s Ecomagination initiative, launched in 2005, has seen GE grow revenues from green products and services by US$85 billion over the period. And GE’s green revenues are growing at twice the rate of the rest of the company, so the initiative is great for the top line, not just the bottom line.

And finally, going green mitigates risk. When oil rose to US$147 a barrel, General Motors, once the most mighty and powerful U.S. company, went bankrupt as consumers turned away from buying fuel-inefficient cars. Is your business and value chain prepared for oil to spike to US$225 a barrel, as predicted by Jeff Rubin, former chief economist of CIBC World Markets?

Energy and fuel efficiency are not only a strategy for mitigating risk against rising energy prices, they’re also a critical strategy for attracting and retaining the best and brightest employees. In North America, we are about to experience the largest number of retirements ever, as baby boomers head for the golf course. Younger employees are more idealistic, so if your company, organization or industry is not aggressively pursuing sustainability, then recruitment and retention will prove to be both costly and challenging.

Radical fuel efficiency

But wait, there’s more.

The financial benefit of going green is far beyond what most people realize. The fuel efficiency of the average North American mid-size car Ontario  is 21 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Shell sponsors the annual fuel efficiency Eco-Marathon competition, and the current record is 12,665 miles on a single gallon. As a caveat, what teams submit to the competition really aren’t cars, they are ultra-light, aerodynamically designed vehicles. Nonetheless, the competition highlights just how little innovation on fuel efficiency there has been among North American car companies. In this competition, even mass-produced cars have been modified to achieve almost 400 miles on a single gallon.

But it’s not just our transportation system that’s grossly inefficient: so is the way we produce electricity in North America. Co-generation is a simple technology that would triple the efficiency of our electric grid. Two thirds of the energy from burning coal, gas or uranium to generate electricity in North America is wasted as heat that’s vented from the process. By contrast, Denmark is the global leader in co-generation—also known as combined heat and power (CHP), which makes use of “waste” heat to heat buildings and even whole cities. The Danish also use very high temperature storage to store heat when energy isn’t needed.

And there are practical and proven existing technologies we could use to dramatically cut energy use. Take, for instance, lighting. The majority of North Americans still use a 100-year-old technology: Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb. This is a grossly inefficient device: 80 per cent of the electricity it burns generates heat, not light. In fact, incandescent light bulbs are misnamed; they should be called heat bulbs. And lighting accounts for 24 per cent of the electricity consumed in North America, and 18 per cent worldwide.

Shifting from incandescent lighting to LEDs (light emitting diodes) cuts electricity use by 80 per cent. According to the US Department of Energy, the adoption of LEDs will save Americans the equivalent of 334 million barrels of oil a year. We are at the start of a lighting revolution: the price-performance ratio of LED lights is currently improving 200-fold every decade, so by 2020 it will be the dominant form of lighting in Western developed nations.

Sears Canada

And the revolution is already underway. Sears Canada has just completed a US$4.5 million LED lighting retrofit that has a 13-month payback. Sears replaced 130,000 incandescent 60-watt spotlights with 15-watt LEDs in 170 stores across Canada. The change is saving Sears more than 20 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, making it the largest-ever LED lighting retrofit in Canada.

Because LEDs last for 50,000 hours compared to 4,000 hours for incandescent lights, there’s a significant labour saving in not having to replace burnt out bulbs: $800,000 a year, a 94 per cent reduction in maintenance costs over the lifetime of the bulbs. But these savings were not even included in the payback calculations, as no maintenance staff is going to be laid off because of the changeover. Instead, their time will be redeployed to other work.

The impact of energy efficiency on profitability is significant. Sears Canada reported a loss for its most recent fiscal year, but if the company was operating on three per cent net profits—as Walmart does—saving US$4.5 million in a year due to energy efficiency would be equal to generating US$150 million of additional top-line sales. In a challenging market, energy efficiency is a powerful profit driver.

With a payback of 13 months, shouldn’t every company be aggressively pursuing energy efficiency retrofits?

And Sears’ payback accelerates as electricity rates rise. And rise they will: Ontario’s electricity prices are predicted to rise 30 per cent from 2010 to 2015. Therefore, investing in energy efficiency pays financial returns that will increase over time.

Sustainability offers companies fantastic financial returns by cutting costs, raising revenue and mitigating risk. And members of corporate boards who are not ensuring their companies are doing so are failing in their fiscal duty. 

Compliments:  Jim Harris, June 21, 2012

Saverio Manzo

Ontario car insurance regulator, The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), regulates over 30 car insurance providers that provide Ontario car insurance quotes to consumers, all of which are in good standing. Recent legislative changes are attempting to prevent ongoing fraud and reduce car insurance costs. 

Ontario Provincial Police sergeant Dave Woodford notes that Canada, and in particular Ontario, has some of the strictest distracted driving laws and other regions in North America are looking to the province when modelling their own programs. Distracted driving has become one of the top four factors in collisions resulting in fatalities or serious injuries. Where many regions focus only on text use, Ontario’s driving laws cover texting and cellphones, plus factor in other acts of carelessness not related to technology like applying makeup or fumbling with coffee.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Simple, Helpful and Useful Winter Conservation Tips

Some simple, helpful and useful winter conservation tips:
  1. Install a programmable thermostat: When properly set, a thermostat can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 10 per cent. Set your thermostat to 20°C when you're at home and 18°C when sleeping or away.
  2. Protect against drafts: Install weatherstrip around doors, fireplace dampers, attic hatches and air conditioners. Reducing drafts can save up to 30 per cent a year on heating costs.
  3. Flip your furnace filter: Change your furnace filter monthly. It's also a good idea to have your furnace serviced by a professional every year to ensure it is running at maximum efficiency.
  4. Go off-peak: Take advantage of lower energy prices during off-peak hours. Run your dishwasher, washer and dryer early in the morning, in the evening or on weekends when electricity rates are lowest.
  5. Unplug it: Be sure to unplug electronic items not in use. Devices like computers, TVs, and cell phone chargers continue to consume small amounts of electricity unless they are unplugged. Try plugging these items into a power bar with a switch or timer, so you can easily turn them off when they are not needed.
  6. Lock in the heat: Block heat from entering unused areas of your house, like a storage room or crawlspace, by closing doors. Keep closet doors shut too.
  7. Opt for efficient lighting: When it's time to replace a light bulb, choose energy-efficiency compact florescent lights (CFLs, LEDs), rather than incandescent lights.
  8. Let the sun shine in: During the day, keep your curtains open to draw in sunlight. Solar energy can help naturally warm your home.
  9. Clean your fridge coils: Be sure to regularly brush or vacuum your refrigerator coils to make them more energy-efficient.
  10. Ditch the drip: Make an effort to quickly repair leaky faucets. Even a small drip can waste litres of water per month and add to your water heating costs.


Unlike other Ontario car insurance brokers, we at InsuranceHouse believe that cheap Ontario car insurance doesn't have to be at the sacrifice of great coverage. And unlike most car insurance carriers, we just give you what you want - or need in coverage. No more, no frills if you choose not to have any. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting Sustainable in German and How They Lead the World

Check out the living breathing sustainable city of Freiburg...

When it comes to sustainable cities, Germany is fast becoming the country to take a look at. Frankfort scores particularly well in terms of transportation and renewable energy. Berlin is good in air quality, CO2 emissions and water use. Bremen ranks high in buildings and environmental management. These are the impressive findings shared by a study done by the Sustainable Cities Collective.

The city that is creating the biggest impact in the area of sustainability however, is Freiburg. Freiburg has, through sincere commitment, become the epitome of a living, breathing sustainable city. Their deep respect for both cultural and architectural roots, coupled with innovative and unconventional planning decisions makes them worth taking an even closer look at. A truly impressive model of sustainability for us all.

Freiburg is a 900 year old city of under 250,000 people, perched in the wine growing region of southwest Germany. Freiburg’s energy policy has three pillars: energy conservation, the use of new technologies such as combined heat and power, and the use of renewable energy sources like solar to meet new demand, instead of fossil fuels. Their goal is to realize an ecologically-oriented energy supply. They have an even deeper goal: to create sustainable regional development for the area as a whole.

Curious why Freiburg? It’s interesting that back in the 1970’s plans to build a nuclear energy plant just 30 km from Freiburg led to a major protest with civil disobedience. The result was a defeat of this plan in 1975. The people had spoken. A reminder that the power is with the people. This event raised the environmental awareness of Freiburg’s citizens and soon the city developed a reputation as Germany’s “ecological capital”. What happened next, adds to the city’s already rich history. Soon the city was attracting a wide network of environmental organizations, businesses and research institutes. The city was well on its way to realizing its goal.

Take a look, at Freiburg, Germany. An inspiring example of what is possible with a commitment to maintaining the beauty of our past, married to the need to work towards a sustainable future. Kudos to all the people of Freiburg who continue to live this possibility and show us all it is indeed within our grasp. 

saverio manzo


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Ontario Car insurance for High Risk Drivers — 09/16/11
Whether you are currently shopping around for Ontario car insurance, your policy is about to expire, something in your record has changed, you’re looking to save money on your current policy or you have been refused car insurance coverage, a policy is out there for you. Here’s how to get your coverage with the best car insurance quote in Ontario
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Monday, August 1, 2011

Cradle to Cradle: what if we think about the entire life cycle of...

How thinking about a product’s entire life cycle is changing the way new products are designed
When a new pair of shoes, a desk chair, or even an envelope are designed, often the creators try to imagine every conceivable use and situation it might encounter in its life. But, what about afterwards? What happens once you've worn out the shoes, broken the chair and ripped open the envelope?

Vision for the future
That's where "cradle to cradle" or C2C design comes in. The concept evolved in the 1990s after architect William McDonough and German chemist Michael Braungart looked at the difference between how humans and nature create things.
They duo quickly realized nature creates no waste. In fact, one of the tag lines from their research is "Waste Equals Food."

Learning from nature
"What we do is take a leaf out of nature's book," said Ken Alston, CEO of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), a consultancy firm created to provide businesses with C2C expertise. "We look at processes in nature that are predominately cyclical. So, when leaves fall off a tree, worms and bugs recycle those leaves back into nutrients that are used by the tree to create more leaves."

Ultimate Recycling
Every product needs the right environment to be recycled. For instance, composters will turn biological food scraps into healthy soil. But, put a car in your composting and it will take forever to break down into something useful for plants and animals.
Looking at this problem lead McDonough and Braungart to realize that are two nutrient cycles: the biological cycle and the technical cycle. The problems occur when the crossover happens. Take plastics as long as it stays in the technical cycle they can be used very effectively, but they make lousy biological nutrients.

Unfit candidates
"Most people only think of recycling as good, but it's only good if it is designed for that," said Alston. "If you recycle something you shouldn't have used in the first place, now you are poisoning the system a second time."
Alston describes how many products were recalled in the past few years because of unsafe levels of lead. Lead should never have been used in the first place in those materials.

Choosing the right material
Using the right materials ensures that the recycled material is of the same quality as the original product. C2C design does not believe in "downcycling", where a product is recycled into something less worthy. That means shoes don't get turned into tarmac, they get turned back into shoes.

C2C Certification
A huge component of MBDC's work is helping companies choose safe materials and design products with the end of its life and rebirth in mind.
For example, think of a desk chair. Many desk chairs are designed very well to sustain the kind of abuse an officer worker inflicts on them. However, when the chair is discarded they are almost impossible to be broken down into parts that can be recycled.

MBDC has worked with several chair manufacturers to design chairs that not only stand up to the rigors of an office but can also be taken apart in a few minutes with simple household tools for recycling.
Companies building sustainable and recyclable products with the help of MBDC are given a ranking and certification. There is a wide variety of products available at that can be viewed on the MBDC's certification website, everything from diaper liners to carpets, and whiteboards to U.S. Postal Service envelopes.

End of life cycle restructuring
But, while many companies begin to seriously re-imagine their products to be more sustainable, Alston notes that there is one crucial part missing in the cycle: the return mechanism.
"We have an incredible distribution loop. We can get a product around the world to our city and to our homes, but where's the reverse side of that? What do we do with packaging or washing machines to be recycled and turned into new products? We need to start looking at the infrastructure as well as the product."

Read the book
For more sustainable design for the future, check out McDonough and Braungart's book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. And, if you notice the book looks a little funny that's because it is isn't made of paper. Instead it is made of plastic resins that make the book more durable and waterproof and can be perfectly recycled in the technical nutrient cycle.

Written by:  Graeme Stemp-Morlock


Posted by: saverio manzo

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Waste Nothing! Try this...

I once read about a couple that decided to go one entire year without producing trash! As much as possible, they reduced their waste, reused containers and recycled packaging, composted, donated unused items and clothing and and borrowed or made by hand what they needed. 

At the end of the year, their entire garbage collection for disposal - recyclable packaging, dull razor blades, etc. - fit within an average sized shoebox!

The feat was without question impressive. Though it didn't inspire me to imitate their example, it did heighten my awareness. I learned to appreciate leftover fragments and waste as little as possible to this day.

Saverio Manzo
Source:  Julia DiSalvo

About me: I give Economic, Social and Global trend briefings from some of the world's brightest minds at my blog and I also provide true and tested financial planning and wealth advice. Most recently, over the past few years, I have become socially conscious and have been attempting to practise ways in which I can live my life more environmentally friendly.   Along with some truly exceptional friends, we provide consulting and business development for small-medium sized businesses.  In addition, I truly believe in being philanthropic, giving and doing unto other as we would have them do unto us. Some of my fondest resources are from Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture, David Rosenberg and what Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway is up to behind the scenes, as an example. saverio manzo

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Very cool Eco-speedy cars!

Did you think that speed would come with electric?