National Geographic : 2002 Sep
business. This mindset had surfaced at the 1999 World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, where attendees first declared climate change to be the most pressing global problem facing businesses. Healthier Buildings Environmentally sensitive build ings are reducing energy use. Examples include European buildings outfitted with solar roof tiles and a Gap Inc. office in San Bruno, California, whose roof is covered with insulating native grasses. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland, might be the greenest of them all, with composting toilets, cisterns that collect rainwater, and solar pan els to generate electricity. The building uses one-third the elec tricity and one-tenth the water of comparably sized buildings. Acid Rain Reduction The U.S . and Europe have proved how quickly the planet's face can be cleaned by lowering emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. In the 1980s developed nations began curb ing the release of sulfur dioxide, a product of coal-fired power plants, by switching to natural gas and cleaner coal to generate electricity. And thanks to cata lytic converters and cleaner fuels, automobiles are emitting lower levels of nitrogen oxides. The acidity of rain in the United Kingdom, for example, has been reduced by half in 15 years.