To tackle climate change, we need big solutions. What’s bigger or more symbolic than the Empire State Building slashing its carbon emissions by 40%?

How about the fact that it’s on track to slash another 40% in the next 10 years?

Each week we summarize three pieces of news that give us hope for a greener, brighter future. Our goal is to break up the gloom and doom of climate change coverage, and to inspire individual action.

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Empire State of Green

By Sarah Kaplan and Aaron Steckelberg, The Washington Post, May 27, 2020

  • Over the last 10 years, the Empire State Building has been undergoing energy efficiency upgrades that have successfully slashed its carbon emissions by 40%. Constructing, heating and cooling, and electrifying buildings accounts for 39% of global CO2 emission, and two-thirds of New York City’s emissions.
  • Upgrades include:
    • Improved insulation in exterior walls and window panes
    • Automated blinds that open and close with the sun
    • Automated LED lights, four times more efficient than flourescent
    • Automated control power use to avoid “vampire energy”
    • Regenerative braking on the buildings 68 elevators
    • Smaller, more precise heating and cooling devices
  • Per the article: “The “deep retrofit” — which added $31.1 million to previously planned renovations — was completed in 2010. A decade later, the Empire State Building saves more than $4 million a year on its electric bill; the project is expected to pay for itself twice over.

EU green recovery package sets a marker for the world

By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, May 28, 2020

  • In response to coronavirus, the European commission laid out a green recovery package to rebuild economies and confront climate change simultaneously.
  • The EU’s plan calls for: “€91bn (£81bn) a year for home energy efficiency and green heating, €25bn of renewable energy, and €20bn for clean cars over two years, plus 2m charging points in five years. Up to €60bn will go to zero-emissions trains and the production of 1m tonnes of clean hydrogen is planned.”
  • The recovery package also puts a tax on carbon imports from other nations and is projected to create at least a million green jobs

The end of plastic? New plant-based bottles will degrade in a year

By Jillian Ambrose, The Guardian, May 16, 2020

  • Dutch biochemicals company Avantium is eyeballing a project to “to make plastics from plant sugars rather than fossil fuels.” Early investors include Danish brewer Carlsberg, Coca-Cola and Danone, a multinational food company based in Paris.
  • Per the report: “Globally around 300 million tonnes of plastic is made from fossil fuels every year, which is a major contributor to the climate crisis. Most of this is not recycled and contributes to the scourge of microplastics in the world’s oceans. Microplastics can take hundreds of years to decompose completely.”
  • In trials, plant-based plastics decomposed in one year in compost setting, and took a few years longer in outdoor conditions. It can also be recycled.

While we wait for plant-based plastics to take over, check out these plastic free products in the Emeraldology Shop!

Feature photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash.