From the "greening" expert:
My 4 essential sustainability podcasts


You’re busy. And if you’ve read the title of this post you probably just want to skip this intro and get to the list. I won’t be offended if you do. After all, the rapid rise in the popularity of podcasts is due largely in part to exactly that - everyone’s busy-ness. They’re quick, easy entertainment, a multi-tasker's friend, and more importantly, they’re great for keeping up with ever-evolving news in almost any industry. Apparently 17% of Americans listen to podcasts weekly, and in fact, podcast listeners are 68% more likely to have a post-graduate degree and 45% more likely to earn more than $250,000 per year. If you find those stats validating or motivating, I bet you’re now wondering what you should be listening to next. Why not start with these?

We at Urbanstrong recently prepared this list of the top 'iPod broadcasts' (yes, that’s the origin of the term) that influence the way we work. We offer financing, consulting, design, build and maintenance services for green roofs and living wall gardens, so, naturally, our list is all about sustainability, energy and green living. Whether you’re exploring green business, clean tech, or urban farming, we’ve got something for you here:

Encouraging selfies at the Rosé Wine Mansion in Manhattan.
A government building green rooftop with solar in Manhattan.

GreenBiz 350 is a weekly podcast about the people and companies behind the headlines in sustainable business and clean technology. It’s co-hosted by Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group Inc, and Heather Clancy, GreenBiz editorial director and business journalist specializing in coverage of transformative technology and in translating tech-speak into business benefits. Our Urbanstrong takeaways are the prescient insights into “Big Corporate’s” activities. We often get hints at upcoming plays in real estate or build-outs of office spaces that create opportunities for us to pitch roof-greening or office-greening with our living wall design-build practice.

Integrated Solar Green Roof. Image: Urbanstrong.

Seeds and the City explores all the ways New Yorkers manage to grow and eat food in the concrete jungle. These are discussions about how city-dwellers all around the globe can stay connected with their food systems given that by 2050, 70% of the world population is going to be living in urban areas. The show is hosted by a pair of friends living in NYC, each working in a different aspect of urban agriculture. One spends her days working on clean energy and finance, and the other, a registered dietitian nutritionist, oversees marketing at a world-leading indoor agriculture company. Together they mix into the conversation their shared experiences with tech, sustainability, and New York City’s very particular culture as they interview innovators in urban agriculture, green building and technology. Expect a lot of insights and a lot of laughs.

Oh, and full disclosure, I might be a bit biased here as I’m a co-founder and member of the NYC Agriculture Collective, to which both hosts also belong, and I’m the guest of the SATC season finale, dropping April 23rd! …. or so I’m told.

Alan Burchell of Urbanstrong with Seeds and the City Host Elyssa Rothe.

The Energy Gang is a weekly digest on energy, cleantech and the environment produced by Massachusetts-based media company, Greentech Media. The show features engaging debates and between an energy futurist, an energy policy expert, and a GTM editor. They delve into the technological, political and market forces driving energy and environmental issues.

I enjoy this podcast for its frequent discussions of "distributed energy generation" – technologies like rooftop solar or geothermal which either produce, convert or harness energy on the same site where it is being consumed. I'm all for raising awareness that there are alternatives to giant, central, all-eggs-one-basket energy production sites and their requisite expensive transmission infrastructure. You can take energy production back into your own hands (hence my Energy Gang inspired hashtag #energyFreedom). When people invest in producing their own on-site electricity and excitedly track every kilowatt produced, they naturally then start tracking their consumption of it. This leads to increasing the efficiency of their usage and minimizing wastage -- like insulating their building with a green roof!

"Those who invest in taking energy production back into their own hands are likely to also then invest in energy efficiency. #energyFreedom "

And finally, for those so busy they prefer to efficiently get their entertainment and news at the same time, there’s Sustainababble. It’s been called a mash-up of a well-researched sustainability podcast with night of improv comedy. Timely, topical, and relaxed, there’s several episodes per month. With so much climate news being rather dreadful these days, the Urbanstrong team enjoys this podcast for its focus on the good climate news or at least a comical, sugar-coated delivery of the bad news.

Want to go deeper? There are several more podcasts we've curated together into this blog post Essential Green Podcasts For The Environmentally Conscious.

This post was written by Alan Burchell, Founder & Principal at Urbanstrong and a Brick & Wonder Member. The original piece and even more podcast picks are here. Top image is of IFF’s R&D Facility Lobby Living Wall by Urbanstrong in Union Beach, NJ.