Greening New Jersey: Ideas & Solutions for a More Sustainable State

In my last post, I wrote about the 2013 New Jersey Green Information Communication Technology Summit. Today, I want to highlight some of the key takeaways from the event, including ideas and solutions for a greener New Jersey.

According IBM corporate strategist Florence Hudson, "... tackling sustainability challenges is good for the planet and the economy," to which she provided compelling points to make her case:

  • Six to 10 percent of the energy we produce is lost because grids are not "smart"
  • Gridlocked transportation in U.S. cities produce a $115 billion annual loss in wasted fuel
  • Information communication technologies can drive potentially $1 trillion in energy savings per year by 2020
  • Water supply constraints have a six fold increase in demand -- faster than the population growth
  • Buildings consume 70 percent of U.S. energy and generate 38 percent of greenhouse gases

Dr. Marina Thottan, director at Bell Labs/Alcatel-Lucent, discussed the role the smart grid could play in energy optimization, control and new services across New Jersey and the United States. She explained to the group that we are moving beyond meters to smart meters – ones that will empower homeowners with "improved insight into their energy bills, which will help them make more informed energy consumption decisions."

On the future of transportation, General Electric's lead product manager of EV Infrastructure Seth Cutler shared insight into the electric vehicle rollout in New Jersey. It doesn’t just start with building and selling electric vehicles -- it also includes building a robust infrastructure for the owners of the vehicles. The major barriers to electric vehicle adoption and building out a charging station infrastructure include "range anxiety, cost and payback, as well as awareness and education."

But charging station infrastructure isn't the only sustainability problem. According to Dr. Thierry E. Klein, head of Green Research at Bell Labs / Alcatel-Lucent, "In terms of energy consumption, if the Internet was country, it would be the fifth biggest country on the world."

These alarming statistics are why Verizon’s Chief Sustainability Officer James Gowen has been focused on reducing the company’s carbon intensity -- the amount of energy that it costs to move data across its network. According to Gowen, "Our overall sustainability goal is to reduce our carbon intensity by 50 percent by 2020."

Gowen believes that Verizon’s environmental impacts are "our responsibilities and our opportunities." In fact, he has led Verizon's efforts to collect e-waste through a series of free recycling rallies across the country. "The rallies are collecting more than 350,000 pounds annually at free events across the country," said Gowen. "Since 2010, Verizon has collected more than one million pounds of e-waste, and we aim to collect more than two million pounds by 2015... By businesses and communities working together, we can continue to make great strides in creating a greener future for not just our businesses, but the state of New Jersey and our families that live here."

How do you think New Jersey businesses can further reduce their environmental footprint? Tweet me at @Verizon_John!