Business Developments


Courtesy of BioCycle Magazine

The design by KMD Architects for a new l2-story headquarters of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will demonstrate energy efficiency, water recycling and reduced carbon footprint. “Our intent from the beginning was to create the most energy-efficient building,” says PUC manager Anthony

Irons. The $178 million, 254,000-sq ft headquarters will include wind turbines on the roof, solar panels in outer walls, and a “thermal chimney” to supply 40 percent of its own energy needs. Faucet sensors, waterless urinals and on-demand water heaters will cut use to five gallons per occupant per day (compared to average use of 25 gallons a day.) A greywater wastewater recycling system enables reuse of water from faucets and sinks in the building's toilets and cooling system. The building is designed to exceed LEEDs-Platinum as well as Title 24 requirements by 60 percent.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) 2007 Manufacturer Survey shows U.S. organic food sales totaled $16.7 billion in 2006, representing 2.8 percent of all retail sales of food and beverages. According to the results reported, sales of organic foods grew by 20.5 percent in 2006 - from $13.831 billion in 2005. Nearly 31 million hectares were certified as organic in 2005, with the global market reaching 25.5 billion Euros.

Iowa State University economists released study results that show the potential regional impact of organic crop production exceeds that of conventional crop production. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture study found that organic rotation farming produced 52 percent more gross sales revenue, 110 percent more value-added income, and 182 percent more labor income than from the same 1,000 acres farmed using conventional corn-soybean rotations.

A large-scale shift to organic agriculture could help fight world hunger and bring environmental improvements, researchers said at a United Nations conference on “Organic Agriculture and Food Security.” A Minnesota Department of Agriculture report says there were more than 525 certified organic farms in the state in 2006, and slightly more than 129,000 organic acres as of 2005. The state is number one for organic corn and soybean acres, and seventh for dairy cows.

In Washington State, organic acres rose to 64,325 in 2006 - up from 46,181 acres in 2005, according to a report by David Granatstein and Elizabeth Kirby of Washington State University. Certified organic producers grew to 554 from 529 in 2005, with organic farm sales growing to $101.5 million from $77.5 million.
A research team at the University of California at Davis found that organic kiwi fruit had much higher levels of total polyphenol content than conventional kiwi fruit - resulting in higher antioxidant activity than their conventional counterparts. The study also showed that organic kiwi fruit had higher levels of vitamin C.
These figures were published in the Summer 2007 What's New in Organic issue, from the Organic Trade Association.

Based on results by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, there was a 24 percent increase in the number of wineries and vineyard businesses in the state using practices that are sensitive to the environment and society at large. “The California wine industry has embraced sustainable wine growing because it is comprised predominantly of families and businesses committed to the land and their local communities,” says Bobby Koch, CEO of the Wine Institute. Adds Karen Ross, president of the Winegrape Growers Association: “Our environmental commitment also contributes to the state's appeal as a great place to live, work and visit.” Greater increases included use of reduced-risk pesticides, up 18 percent; employee training, up 16 percent; predatory mite releases, up 44 percent; and weed monitoring, up 22 percent.

After an extensive survey, Cempre News reports trends on recovery, processing and other data for Brazil. The update presents figures for paper, steel, tires, PET, aluminum, glass and aseptic cartons.

The Brazilian Paper and Pulp Association (Bracelpa) reveals that Brazil consumed 3.4 million tons of recyclable paper types in 2005. Recycling rate for this material was 46.9 percent on “apparent paper consumption.” In the South and Southeastern regions, recycling rates varied from 44 to 64 percent; in other regions, the rate drops to 16 percent. About 128 recycling companies account for over half the total fibers in the country, and another 19 recycle smaller amounts. Per capita consumption in Brazil is one of the lowest in the world (39.5 kilos), and Brazil ranks eleventh in world paper production and seventh in pulp production.

Steel drink cans have been present in Brazil since 1997, and today account for eight percent of metal drink cans with the greatest market share in the Northeast region (51 percent). Scrap is reutilized in such other applications as girders and sheet steel.

A study by the Institute of Technological Research shows the rate for glass fell from 47 to 45 percent. “Even so, the country is ahead of great industrial powers such as the U.S. (40 percent),” declares the Brazilian Business Commitment for Recycling.

An authority on marketing and merchandising trends in the wellness industry, Patty Spence has developed the Nature's Gate Rainwater Organics line in Chatsworth, California. He has also set up a sustainability agenda for manufacturing processes that bring a wider availability of organic ingredients. Spence had previously served as sales vice president for the Kashi Company, a natural cereals manufacturer in La Jolla, California.

Rainwater Organics is part of the Levlad Organic Systems plan for the supply chain which ranges from raw materials to finished goods. “Our goals were threefold,” explains Spence: To create a line of personal care products that delivered purity and efficacy; To leverage our sophistication to serve as a model for manufacturer in the organic food, beverages and cosmetics industries; and To use our leverage to drive changes through the supply chain, resulting in greater availability of certified organic raw materials for all industry participants.

From exotic Lemongrass Spice or Bergamot Patchouli, to refreshing Citrus Ginger or Orange Zest Mint, each of the four Nature's Gate Rainwater Organics lotion features Aççai oil, a sustainable rain forest botanical rich in antioxidant benefits.

The list of what isn't in the products is just as compelling as what is in them. The lotions are free of petrochemicals, parabens, artificial color, synthetic fragrance and phthalates.

Blocks of recycled polystyrene and cement are being used as traditional construction materials. Called the Apex Block - their manufacturer calls them the most energy efficient block on the market, they keep 2,830 pounds of polystyrene out of landfills per home built. “There is a demand for better green building materials, and this new plant will serve the market well,” says an executive with Apex Construction Systems, Inc.

Apex makes alternative and sustainable building panels that can replace wood, steel and insulating framing products used in construction of residential homes, multifamily properties and commercial buildings. Each block is described as having a tested thermal value of R-52 - cutting heating and cooling costs by at least 60 percent. Blocks weigh 51 pounds, are fire resistant and insect retardant.

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