A new use for Google Maps: calculating a city’s carbon footprint

Looking at a city’s Google Maps data, in combination with other data, a new tool from Google can estimate the carbon footprint of all of its buildings–and the carbon footprint of all the car trips, bus and subway rides, and other transportation used by the people living there.

The Environmental Insights Explorer, an online tool that launched in beta on September 10, is designed to help cities take the first step to reduce emissions: knowing what their current carbon footprint is. More than 9,000 cities have already committed to cut emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, but more than a third of those cities haven’t yet built an inventory of emissions. The process can take months or even years, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, making it particularly challenging for smaller cities.

The new tool, which Google created along with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, can help cities calculate a large chunk of those emissions at no cost. “This is looking at the thousands of cities that are out there today that don’t typically have the resources to spend on digging up the data or analyzing the data,” says Nicole Lombardo, who leads partnerships for Google’s environmental insights team, which is creating the tool. “This tool helps to do some of that and reduce some of the complexities and the cost in that process, so you have more people spending less time data gathering and data crunching and more on the action planning.”

Using Google Maps data, the tool can infer whether buildings are homes or businesses, and then can use the estimated size of each building and data about the regional grid to estimate both how much energy the buildings use and the emissions of that energy use. Using location data from Google Maps, the tool can infer traffic and modes of travel, and then estimate the emissions from that transportation.

Cities can go deeper into the tool to adjust the data to estimate how the footprint would change if the amount of housing grew, for example, or if the city added a new subway line. The tool also pulls in Google’s Project Sunroof, which uses AI to analyze satellite images to determine which roofs are well suited for solar power, so cities can consider solar power as they begin to plan how to cut emissions.

Why it’s hot: This technology is saving cities major costs and letting them focus on the real issue at hand: cutting emissions.

Source: FastCo

Lifetime label




Mimica Touch, is a food label that decays at the same rate as food. The Mimica label is filled with gelatine, which decomposes in the same way as packaged foods. The gel is calibrated to each product line using shelf-life testing data, and it also takes into account the temperature at which it is stored.

When new, the label is smooth. But as time goes by and the gel decomposes, it becomes bumpy to touch, signalling that the food is no longer safe to eat.

The Mimica Touch was developed with visually impaired people in mind. It is also easy to assemble, so that manufacturers can make the label – which consists of a plastic tray, gel and a lid – on site.

Why its hot?
90% of Americans prematurely threw away food because they misinterpreted sell-by and use-by labels as indicators that food had gone rotten and become unsafe. 

Source: Mimica Lab

Food Computers Use AI To Make ‘Climate Recipes’ For The Best-Tasting Crops

It’s no surprise that climate change is inciting detrimental effects on our planet, but one of the most troubling is its effect on agriculture. The MIT Media Lab is hoping to remedy this by using special “food computers” to create the perfect climates for growing food, no matter the location or time of year. That means that not only could countries farm their local crops all year round, but they could also grow crops that are not native to their region of the world, meaning they could have fresh produce on-demand. Say goodbye to having to wait for shipments!

The Open Agriculture Initiative Personal Food Computer was first created in 2015, and can study and replicate the best growing conditions for specific plants with the use of sensors, actuators and machine vision. The Personal Food Computer can alter the light, nutrients and salinity of water. As the computer watches a plant, like basil, grow, it picks up data that can be used on the next set of crops. The research team is also trying to make the food itself tastier by maximizing the number of volatile molecules inside the crop, which is made possible by leaving the computer on constantly.

Babak Hodjat, CEO of Sentient says it’s all about engineering food in a totally different way: “Ultimately, this is non-GMO GMO. You’re not messing with the plant’s DNA. You’re just allowing it to exhibit the behavior it would in nature should that kind of environment exist.”

Source: PSFK

Why it’s Hot

Rolling with the punches, so to speak. In the case of environmental change, we can adapt. Looking at something like this at scale — could be an innovation that shifts how we approach agriculture and could also inspire additional environmental innovation.

Patagonia Launches Its First TV Ad To Protect A Region

CLICK FOR VIDEO

Patagonia has had a long history of advocating for the environment. Beyond ‘greening’ their supply chain, the company also gets involved in external affairs, hoping to help save significant natural habitats from human destruction. Believing it is part of their moral obligation, Patagonia has partnered with Google to create an immersive VR series that advocates for the protection of Utah’s Bears Ears region.

The region is home to five Native American tribes and also is known for its rugged terrain that is perfect for climbing. Additionally, there are archaeological treasures that span back thousands of years. The significance of the area led President Barack Obama to declare it a national monument, protecting it from fossil fuel companies. Unfortunately, the Utah legislature requested that the ruling be rescinded in order to transfer this public land to private land so there can be more fossil fuel development.

As a response, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote an open letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, stating that, “Politicians in the state don’t seem to get that the outdoor industry—and their own state economy—depend on access to public lands for recreation.” Instead of pulling just a typical PR move, the company has also moved forward to create an amazing VR experience. These short films take anyone to the region to see the landscape for themselves, while telling the stories of tribes and athletes who value the space.

This Is Bears Ears National Monument is available for anyone to see and take action. The site encourages viewers to contact the Utah government to defend the Monument, providing an easy link to do so.

VR technology allows anyone to get a realistic glimpse of how the Bears Ears National Monument looks like and what it means for the people who occupy and visit the land. The brand has partnered with local communities, engaged in phone calls with the governor, and boycotted events to try to protect the territory. This VR film series is directed to galvanize the public to join the fight for the environment because even this large brand cannot change legislation alone.

WHY IT’S HOT:

  • Great use of Virtual Reality and storytelling to urge the public to take action to protect the environment. This type of technology puts the audience in the shoes of Bears Ear’s regions locals to understand the beauty and history of the region, compelling them to want to protect it!
  • Clear CTA for viewers to take action and contact the Utah government
  • Further reinforces Patagonia’s socially responsible brand positioning

Source: PSFK

As if though we need one more excuse to drink…

While the world collapses around us here in the States, New Zealanders are kicking back, enjoying life, and catching some surf. Right? Wrong. They are dealing with their own set of problems too. A sand drought (gasp!). Apparently, those pesky grains you keep finding in random body parts days after going to the beach are used in everything from construction to pharmaceuticals (weird). The demand is such that two-thirds of the world’s beaches are retreating.

DB Export, a Kiwi Brewery, took note of this, and the fact that one-fourth of beer bottles never make it to recycling centers and instead end up in landfills. The result? They rolled up their social-responsibility-sleeves and said “We got this”.  The brand developed a fleet of Beer Bottle Sand Machines that lets drinkers instantly turn their beer bottles into 200 grams of sand substitute in just 5 seconds, which will later be donated to one of New Zealand’s biggest producers of bagged concrete.

And how valuable is doing something good, if no one sees it, right? Which is why drinkers can also document and share the footage of their environmentally-friendly activity thanks to an in-built web camera.

It’s rare when a brand can triangulate efforts that solve an environmental challenge by increasing their product’s consumption. It’s even rarer to have it be done through such an out-of-the-box-use of tech.

Now, if we could only develop tech that puts Donald Trump to sleep for an hour for every beer bottle that is drunk…Something to work towards, People!

Why It’s Hot

  • It’s SO smart to line up brand engagement and consumption with a noteworthy social cause
  • DB Export was able to connect seemingly unrelated topics (sand drought and beers) to solve a brand and a social challenge
  • Activation enables consumers to feel good, and do good, just by drinking a cold one

 

 

Supermarket Chain Uses Food Waste For Fuel In Delivery Trucks

British supermarket chain, Waitrose, already a leader in sustainability practices, is now using biomethane gas (provided by CNG Fuels) from food waste to power its delivery trucks. Similar to the efficiency efforts in food distribution of Norway supermarket delivery trucks, Waitrose trucks can travel up to 500 hundred miles on a batch of vegetables.

Consider this: in the United States, commercial trucks only get six miles to the gallon of gasoline, and we throw away 40 percent of our food waste per year. Quieter and more cost efficient, the Waitrose trucks pose a convincing model not only for other food purveyors (like fast food chains), but also industries that rely on trucks for distribution.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

Sustainability is key for brands today — because more and more consumers are rallying around brands that care about causes, and care about the greater good. It becomes really interesting when a brand leans on technology to erase it’s own footprint. Imagine the impact if every brand and everyone was challenged to do the same?

72andSunny Wins Seventh Generation, Breaks Smart Ad Targeting Carefree Millennials

72andSunny just picked up the ad account of Seventh Generation, the environmentally minded cleaning, paper and personal care products company. And its first work for the new client is for Bobble, its water bottle brand—the satirical commercial below is packaged as a takedown of the too-carefree approach to drinking water out of single-use plastic bottles.

The conceit is a touch silly when distilled. The 60-second spot, from 72andSunny New York, consists mainly of twentysomethings bounding around and tossing off empty plastic bottles (all bearing the fictional label “Once”) like confetti.

But the ad so perfectly nails the generically earnest YOLO themes that have plagued advertising (not to mention the broader culture) in recent years, that brilliant sight gags like back seats and swimming pools filled with garbage barely register as out of place—making them all the more entertaining.

And ultimately, that kind of absurdity is the whole point: A message that could easily come across as self-righteous instead reads as charming common sense. (Then again, it probably helps that the argument itself is intelligent—a luxury not every advertisers has.)

Seventh Generation, which also sells green household goods ranging from paper products and detergents to diapers and tampons, announced it has hired 72andSunny’s New York office as its lead creative agency after a review.

Why It’s Hot

I am very interested in environmentally conscious products, and while there are more people that are becoming environmentally conscious as well, we as a society have a long way to go.  This ad was very clever to play off the Millenial idealogy, YOLO, to show that maybe WE only live once, but you should still live for tomorrow, so the world is a great place in the future.  Smart thinking on then agency side.

Specially Printed Beer Packaging Helps Prevent Malaria

A beer post with purpose.

SP Brewery is improving the beer drinking experience by attacking its fiercest competitors- mosquitoes. The 62-year-old Heineken subsidiary partnered with agency GPY&R Brisbane to develop mosquito-repelling packaging for its most popular lager.

To gain customer loyalty in the growing Papua New Guinea beer industry, SP Brewery wanted to demonstrate that it knows its customers best. Thus the “Mozzie Box” was born, a eucalyptus-treated carton that behaves like a mosquito coil. When burned, the box releases the natural insect repellent into the air and wards off the pesky bugs.

The carton is solving real problems for SP drinkers – people want to drink outside, but the mosquitoes are a threat to anyone who does. The carton is bypassing that problem at a low cost. In fact, manufacturing the boxes is about as cheap as printing one extra color, so the design is quite easy to execute.

SP_Mozzie_Box_Fire_Repellent_PSFK-964x644

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

This is a good example of an insight-led innovation that is simple, and shows understanding of audience needs outside of the immediate product.

Swedish McDonald’s Let’s You Pay for Burgers in Cans

How do you get young people to care about recycling? Free burgers couldn’t hurt.

DDB Stockholm and McDonald’s collaborated on a campaign in Sweden which allows customers to pay for hamburgers, cheeseburgers and even Big Macs with recycled cans. Billboards placed around Stockholm announce the campaign with a roll of plastic bags that can be used to collect cans for recycling. Each bag also explains the custom pricing for the promotion: 10 cans nets you a hamburger or cheeseburger, while 40 will get you a Big Mac. The billboards are mostly centered around parks or summer festival areas, where, as DDB Stockholm puts it, “you’ll find a lot of young people with empty drink cans and empty wallets.”

McDs

The campaign makes a lot of sense for McDonald’s, since it not only aligns the often criticized brand with a cause, but also gets a younger crowd inside the store—an age group which the brand has struggled to appeal to (at least stateside). And once in the store, many customers could opt for fries or a drink to go with the burger, increasing sales of such items.  See full article here.

Why It’s Hot

  • Cause marketing- trying to entice consumers to recycle/go green
  • In a time where people are more and more health conscious, McDonald’s found an angle where they can get a younger crowd to come in and spend a little money, while still “doing good”

Concrete House Filters Rainwater

According to PSFK.com, “The RAINHOUSE is a building that collects rain and turns it into high quality drinking water. The building is made with IVANKA’s bio-concrete, a material that has a PH neutral orientation and is bio-compatible with water. The technology built into the RAINHOUSE filters rain water physically and in a natural way to produce sun-distilled drinking water of the highest quality.”

The prototype has been tested for six months along Lake Batalon in Hungary.  It is Europe’s largest freshwater lake and accounts for many of the frequent rainstorms in the area.

Why It’s Hot

Turning rainwater into high-quality drinking water could help out farmers, businesses and populations get access to clean water while leaving a minimal impact on the environment. It could have a huge environmental impact at a relatively low cost.