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Wayne Balta, Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, IBM

Wayne Balta, Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, IBM

By Wayne Balta

Creating a smarter planet means taking steps toward a more sustainable planet.

The EPA’s ENERGY STAR® program has been working toward this vision for years. These days, most people recognize the ENERGY STAR seal as a trusted sign of energy efficiency from seeing it on everything from light bulbs to refrigerators. But IBM’s involvement with ENERGY STAR goes all the way back to 1992 when we became a charter member of the ENERGY STAR Computer Program. Back then it was focused on personal computers. Today, however, in an era of the global internet, Big Data and analytics, ENERGY STAR is also addressing computer servers and data centers. Continue Reading »

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Ben Goldhirsch, Founder and CEO, GOOD

Ben Goldhirsh, Founder and CEO, GOOD

By Ben Goldhirsh

From businesses selling vegetables grown locally with less energy than those grown and shipped from different parts of the world, to companies creating sustainability objectives, the proliferation of the smartphone and green initiative apps are influencing, enabling and creating more responsible and sustainable business and consumption decisions.

In fact, as sustainability becomes a greater strategic initiative for organizations, more sophisticated apps are appearing to help them address such pressing objectives as sustainable sourcing, the paperless office, and supply chain management.

The first wave of sustainability apps was focused largely on consumers, providing guidance, for example, on reducing energy consumption at home. But this year, of the estimated more than 400 million green mobile application downloads, an increasing number of them will be aimed at corporate green initiatives and sustainability. Continue Reading »

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Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology,  Harvard University

Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University

By Alán Aspuru-Guzik

What if you could capture and convert sunlight into electricity with a material as inexpensive, versatile and easy to produce as the one used for plastic bags? What if a liquid version of this material could be used to coat surfaces for solar energy production? What if these materials were light enough and thin enough for use in portable devices? And finally, what if these materials were so inexpensive that they could help provide electricity to people in the developing world and others without access to power grids?

Organic solar cells offer us the potential to realize these highly desirable outcomes. With that in mind, we launched the Clean Energy Project at Harvard to discover suitable materials from which to develop devices for generating electricity from sunlight. The Clean Energy Project uses massive amounts of computing power to screen an unprecedented number of organic compounds in an attempt to identify potential high-performance materials.

(This story originally appeared on Citizen IBM.)

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Vince Ward, Project Officer at the Southern Housing Group

Vince Ward, Project Officer at the Southern Housing Group

By Vince Ward

What started out as a community-based energy project on the Isle of Wight has morphed into a bona fide social movement.

Encouraged by the work of IBM Distinguished Engineer, Andy Stanford-Clark, who created a “smart” house that monitored, managed and optimized energy use, three years ago the Village of Chale created the Chale Community Project, which seeks, among other things, to reduce home energy costs by up to 50 percent. While the project has indeed raised awareness and helped residents lower costs, it has also had a serendipitous outcome – it has brought the community together.

From the very beginning of the Chale Community Project – during planning and roll-out phases – we worked on ensuring the local community was on board. Going from door to door, the team would communicate with residents about the plan of action, encourage participation and try to boost morale. Continue Reading »

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Mike Ray, Vice President, Business Integration & Transformation, Integrated Supply Chain, IBM

Mike Ray, Vice President, Business Integration & Transformation, Integrated Supply Chain, IBM

By Mike Ray

It started 40 years ago, before it was trendy or being taught in business school.

Thomas J. Watson, Jr., IBM Chairman at the time, said: “We accept our responsibilities as a corporate citizen in community, national and world affairs; we serve our interests best when we serve the public interest…We want to be in the forefront of those companies which are working to make our world a better place.”  That was 1969.

IBM’s values shape and define our company and permeate all of our relationships; between our employees and our shareholders, our clients, the communities where our employees live and work, and among our network of suppliers. Continue Reading »

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Richard Dicks, General Manager, Global Asset Recovery Services, IBM Global Financing

Richard Dicks, General Manager,
Global Asset Recovery Services,
IBM Global Financing

By Richard Dicks

Today, businesses are making enormous investments in Big Data and analytics to secure new customers, enhance existing client relationships and gain a competitive advantage. Worldwide, the trend is accelerating rapidly.

What you may not know, is that many organizations are turning certified refurbished IT equipment to make it all happen. Refurbished equipment is a cost-efficient and often environmentally beneficial solution to meeting the growing demand for mined data. In fact, according to research firm IDC, up to 70 percent of companies have purchased used, reconditioned equipment in the past two years.1

The facts are clear. Refurbished machines extend the life of older IT equipment that otherwise would require disposal; they serve as an affordable alternative to new equipment; and, they can help a company improve its business case to acquire much-needed analytics solutions that will help them make better decisions and grow. Continue Reading »

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Terry F. Yosie, President and CEO of the World Environment Center

Terry F. Yosie, President and CEO of the World Environment Center

By Terry F. Yosie

Environmental issues are big, thorny problems. Scarcities in water, food and raw materials are too complex for any single company or non-governmental organization to solve on its own.  In order to make a difference, it’s necessary to collaborate with like-minded partners to achieve shared goals.

Collaboration is a normal feature of customer-supplier relationships, government-business partnerships and initiatives with universities and other partners. It’s also typical for organizations looking for new business models that can sustain profitability while addressing societal needs, natural resource management, product and service innovation, and differentiation of brand value, to name a few.  Collaboration can spur organizations to redefine their business purpose by utilizing society as another kind of R&D lab for innovation.  Continue Reading »

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George Elliott, P. Eng., Commissioner of Transportation and Public Works, City of Cambridge, Ontario

By George Elliott, P. Eng.

In the city of Cambridge, Ontario, we’ve always taken pride in our long and proud tradition of delivering quality services to our citizens with the bottom line in mind. We know that with a growing city, our infrastructure needs are also growing. In these hard economic times, we wanted to address funding gaps through efficiencies and limit the impact on taxes. We looked for ways to give us more analytical ability to refine and enhance our systems and gain greater return on investment.

Given the aging physical infrastructure challenges that all Canadian municipalities are facing, we needed to better understand the competing priorities, and look to refine ways we address our infrastructure to avoid costly repairs.

Our team was challenged with addressing preventative maintenance as most of our resources were being increasingly used to respond to emergency repairs.  Continue Reading »

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Robert Waymouth, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University

By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications

Robert Waymouth, Ph.D., maintains the sense of awe that he’s had since his earliest days as a chemist, savoring those “marvelous moments where it just takes your breath away, you can’t believe something worked like that.”

Waymouth, a professor of chemistry at Stanford University, had one such moment in 2004 when he and his grad students discovered a new way to make molecules using organic catalysts. That breakthrough, followed by years of research with colleague Jim Hedrick at IBM Research in Almaden, Calif., has yielded a process to make environmentally sustainable plastics that could lead to smarter recycling methods, a drastic reduction in plastics pollution and even a safer, more efficient way to administer drugs.
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Andrew Hoffman, University of Michigan, Director, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

By Andrew Hoffman and Terry F. Yosie

The students of today are the business leaders of tomorrow. It’s important for them to understand how to solve the big, vexing problems that impact the quality of life for current and future generations.  

With that in mind, the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, together with the World Environment Center, have announced a partnership to get graduate students involved in planning and implementing sustainable development initiatives while working with leading global companies.

The program, which will be called the Erb/WEC Fellowships, will be supported by IBM as part of the company’s long-term commitment to environmental sustainability and developing next-generation skills for the 21st century workforce. IBM was recently recognized for the second consecutive year as the greenest company in the U.S., according to the Newsweek 2012 Green Rankings survey, and the company is working with WEC and other companies to solve major sustainability challenges.

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