3p Weekend: Last-Minute Stocking Stuffers From Our Favorite B Corps

Mary Mazzoni
| Saturday December 20th, 2014 | 1 Comment

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If you waited until the last minute for stocking stuffers (again), bypass those dollar-store trinkets, and give  a gift you believe in.

We’re big fans of the B Corp movement, having received our B Corporation status earlier this year, and shopping from B Corps is a great way to know you’re getting an ethically made product.

With more than 1,000 companies already in the B Corp community, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list. Here are 10 of our top picks to get you started. 

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3p Weekend: 10 Crowdfunding Campaigns to Support This Holiday

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday December 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 6.52.46 PMWith a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

As is always our motto around the holidays: It’s better to give than to receive. With that in mind, this week we’re rounding up 10 crowdfunding campaigns to support this season. For extra brownie points, donate in a loved one’s name to make everyone’s holiday a bit merrier.

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Luxury Tourism: Going Green in China

Virginia Tech CLiGS
Virginia Tech CLiGS | Friday December 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Brian Linden - Luxury TourismBy Bruce Hull and Michael Mortimer

How do you go from being an art dealer in Wisconsin to a successful hotelier and influential green business advocate in China? Brian Linden did it by pioneering the market niche of sustainable luxury tourism emerging within the larger multi-trillion dollar tourist industry.

China is relatively new to domestic tourism, but as is typical of most things Chinese, its tourism industry is developing on a grand scale, experiencing double-digit growth. The extraordinary economic development that lifted out of poverty and urbanized hundreds of millions of people is fueling an equally dramatic explosion of domestic tourism.

Tourist preferences in most cultures follow a similar pattern: Tourism begins with the pursuit of mementos and novelty, and matures into a quest for meaning, connection and self-actualization (for examples of the latter, think eco-tourism, agri-tourism, heritage-tourism and yoga-tourism).

Chinese national policy actively promotes tourist destinations with massive infrastructure investments and marketing. Chinese tourist sites such as Dali and Lijiang, in Yunnan province in southwest China, offer examples of mass tourism developments dominated by trinket shopping, foot massages, cosmopolitan bars and glitzy shows. These attractions target novelty-oriented tourists who buy mementos and want to be entertained, a market segment that seems likely to grow as millions more Chinese join the middle class. But surely there are also visitors who are looking for a more transformative experience or cultural immersion. Where will they go?

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New York State to Ban Fracking Due to Health Risks

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday December 19th, 2014 | 3 Comments

New_york_state_Gov_Cuomo_MTAThis week, New York state joined the growing list of states and communities to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within its boundaries. After years of contentious debate over the safety of fracking, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday that he would move to unilaterally ban fracking was not completely unexpected. Still, environmental groups are counting the Department of Health’s report that “[high volume hydraulic fracturing] should not proceed in NYS” as a victory.

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South Africa Fights Blackouts with Concentrating Solar Power

| Friday December 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

AbengoaSolana-300x171 South Africa is a nation rich in renewable energy resources. It’s finally capitalizing on them, thanks in large part to opening up its power market – previously a regulated monopoly – to independent power producers (IPP) and instituting short- and long-term national targets for renewable energy generation capacity.

Experiencing rolling blackouts and committed to developing its renewable energy resources as a path towards sustainable development, South Africa’s government on Dec. 11 announced it would triple electricity production from renewable energy sources in order to help alleviate power shortages. In the midst of auctions to procure 3,725 megawatts of energy from biomass, wind, solar and hydropower sources, and an additional 3,200 MWs thereafter, South Africa is now aiming for renewable energy resources to contribute 11.4 gigawatts to the grid as of an as yet unspecified date.

Add at least another 100 megawatts to South Africa’s total renewable power generation capacity: It is to come in the form of a concentrating solar power (CSP) plant to be built and operated by Spain’s Abengoa, and it will do more than generate clean, renewable power. Making use of molten salt thermal energy storage technology, the Xina Solar One power plant will be able to store five hours worth of energy, doling it out as needs demand even after the sun sets.

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Has the Global Trade Engine Stalled?

Eric Justian
| Friday December 19th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Container ShipFor over 40 years, global trade has grown at a pretty decent clip relative to GDP. That is, up until now.

For the first time in nearly half a century, trade between nations has grown slower than the global economy.  Some economists believe trade may be at a peak, at least for a while. “Peak Trade” suggests the world could hit a long-term ceiling in terms of the effects of trade growth as an economic driver.

Why would this be a problem? Because international trade accounts for about 60 percent of the world’s GDP. In the 1990s, it accounted for about 40 percent of the world’s GDP. So, a good chunk of economic growth for decades came from (and resulted in) increased trade. This reduction in trade growth over the past few years could explain why economic recovery has been somewhat sluggish. Maybe the engine that fueled rapid international economic growth has maxed out.

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TrendPoint Announces Expansion of Partnership with Facebook

| Friday December 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Facebook custom server racks - enhanced reliability and efficiency from TrendPoint metering systemsThe data center is the factory floor of the information age. How well it is managed can mean the difference between profit and loss, an angry or satisfied customer, or money and resources conserved or needlessly wasted. Efficiency underpins successful management of IT infrastructure as the scale and complexity of some of the world’s biggest data center networks continues to expand.

We introduced readers to TrendPoint last year, a growing company manufacturing utility-grade data center power and cooling monitoring systems for mission-critical applications. TrendPoint designs and engineers a powerful set of cost-effective sub-metering devices, allowing users to more effectively track power consumption, maximize uptime and manage power distribution resources throughout an entire facility. As the old adage goes: You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

This fall, TrendPoint released its latest addition to the EnerSure line of products, the EnerSure Enkapsis 3-Phase Power Quality Meter (PQM). The PQM provides full power quality monitoring, environmental sensor support and the addition of high-speed waveform capture at 133 samples per cycle.

Say what?

Essentially, the ability to capture waveform data at high speed enables data center managers to quickly spot and assess power spikes and anomalies for better decision making and rapid problem solving.

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The New Markets Tax Credit Program: It’s a Big Deal to Rural America

3p Contributor | Friday December 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sawmill OperatorBy Leah Thibault

As the year winds to a close, the fate of the 14-year-old federal New Markets Tax Credit program was decided in the final moments of business on Capitol Hill. The potential of this incentive to create and preserve thousands of jobs and improve the quality of life for low-income Americans was renewed for another year.

It’s too bad the renewal was only for a year, short of the permanent extension its supporters pursued. In the course of conducting due diligence on proposed projects and deciding where to deploy these federal credits, New Markets practitioners witness firsthand the revitalization they ignite, especially in rural places.

How excited would you be if a new Hampton Inn were built in your town? In Presque Isle, Maine it’s a big deal. The New Markets-funded Hampton Inn there is the only branded hotel within two hours. It’s no laughing matter, as the effect of this single hotel project will be felt for years to come. Its presence made the key difference in the region winning hosting rights to a World Cup Biathlon competition, attracting millions of dollars to this remote corner of Maine, rippling through the local economy.

It’s similarly a big deal in the numerous medically-underserved rural counties, where the New Markets program provided lynchpin financing for the construction of 68 community health centers. According to research by Stanford University, despite rural communities accounting for about 20 percent of America’s population, less than 10 percent of physicians practice in these communities. Meaning that although rural residents have higher rates of age-adjusted mortality, disability and chronic disease than their urban counterparts, they have less access to doctors and healthcare providers.

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The Key to Reducing Food Waste

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday December 19th, 2014 | 3 Comments

food wasteFood waste is a worldwide problem. Globally an estimated 30 to 50 percent (or 1.2 to 2 billion tons) of all food produced is wasted. Food waste is also an American problem. The average U.S. family throws away $1,500 worth of edible food every year, yet one in six Americans struggles with food insecurity. In the U.S. almost 40 percent of all food grown and processed is never eaten, but thrown into the trash, adding up to $180 billion a year.

A new report by BBMG titled “Waste Not, Want Not” looks at the problem. The report highlights businesses with food waste reduction initiatives ranging from donations to food banks, composting, converting food waste to energy, and branding unappealing looking produce:

  • BJ’s Wholesale Club partners with Feeding America to donate over 20 million pounds of food a year, about 16.7 million meals.
  • The Kroger Recovery System processes food waste from Ralphs and Food4Less grocery stores in California and Nevada, turning an estimated 55,000 tons of organic food waste into renewable energy a year, enough to offset over 20 percent of a distribution center’s energy needs.
  • TGI Friday’s has offered smaller portions to its customers since 2007.
  • The French supermarket chain, Intermarché found a way to brand misshapen fruits and vegetables to appeal to consumers and that has inspired other retailers to market produce that usually is rejected. The Intermarché campaign increased traffic by 24 percent and leading to the selling out of all stocks of fruits and vegetables.
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Conferences and Carbon: The Impact Behind the Event

3p Contributor | Thursday December 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Creative Company Conference 2011By Kristi Kaiser

Conferences and events are an integral part of getting business done in today’s world. Even with technologies that make virtual meetings possible — and there are many options for that — there’s still something to be said for getting together for a good, old-fashioned face-to-face event where we can connect with our peers, listen to great content, and engage in learning.

But conferences and events have an inherent impact on the communities where they’re held: some good, some bad. A boost to the local economy is welcomed, for example, but an influx of people can overwhelm local infrastructure or leave behind a significant amount of waste. Events can also generate a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions, leaving behind a big carbon footprint.

The single biggest contributor to an event’s carbon footprint is travel, which accounts for about 90 percent of the carbon emissions from an average event.* Yet accounting and taking responsibility for these emissions often falls to the wayside. It can be overlooked, or it may seem overwhelming, especially with so many moving parts to run an event. Focusing on the carbon emissions associated with travel can easily be ignored — isn’t it enough just to get everyone there?! But if your company has made a commitment to the environment and social responsibility, it should extend to your meetings and other events, too.

So, what’s the right way to address sustainability when there are so many other details to focus on?

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PG&E Smart Grid Lab Tests Battery Storage

| Thursday December 18th, 2014 | 2 Comments

PNNL Battery Continuing to lead the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, California in October 2013 enacted AB2514, legislation that requires the state’s investor-owned utilities to acquire 1.325 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2020.

Earlier this month, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison issued their first request for proposals for energy storage assets that will help meet projected long-term local capacity requirements.

California grid and energy market regulators are joining with industry players and already taking the next step in the U.S. renewable energy-smart grid transition. They’re building and testing microgrids in which solar photovoltaic systems are integrated with a variety of advanced energy storage technologies and the latest in real-time energy management software platforms.

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Six Enviros Pledge to Go Public on Diversity

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday December 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

diversity_environmental_groups_OregonDOTNorth American environmental groups have been admitting it for years: The movement needs diversity in its representation. Organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club and others have come forward over the years to admit, often at the nudging of critics, that honoring diversity in the global environment starts with reflecting diversity in its numbers — including its management.

The problem is: Until recently there hasn’t been much of a global roadmap on how to attain that goal. Tracking diversity numbers has largely been left up to organizations with little public transparency.

But that changes next year, say six of the world’s largest environmental organizations. The Sierra Club, NRDC, Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, Resources Media and EarthJustice have pledged to release their diversity numbers by February 2015. The announcement was made by Green 2.0 at the Breaking the Green Ceiling forum, which it and New Media hosted on Dec. 9 in Washington D.C. Environmental groups will submit their numbers to their Guidestar profiles.

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Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room Merge

Leon Kaye | Thursday December 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Yesterday Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room announced they will merge, allowing the new organization more leverage as it fights climate change.

Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room have joined forces

Two NGOs that have been at the forefront of combating climate change through promoting innovation and market-based solutions have now joined forces. Yesterday Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Carbon War Room (CWR) announced they will merge, allowing them to leverage each other’s strengths and find solutions to expand their vision of a low-carbon economy.

This new organization could benefit from what had been two very approaches. RMI, which was founded over 30 years ago, focuses on research and analysis. CWR, one of Richard Branson’s many ventures, takes a more brash approach toward promoting a global low-carbon economy—and has also been fixated on how capital solutions can help renewables and clean technologies scale. The trick, of course, is whether two different organizations with different work cultures and survive as one entity: a frequent challenge within the private sector when two companies merge.

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Tropical Countries Vow to Fight Deforestation at Lima Climate Conference

3p Contributor | Thursday December 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

15737021818_91ec093557_zBy Jeff Hayward

I recently returned to the U.S. from Lima, where I was part of a delegation to COP20 from the NGO Rainforest Alliance.  Coverage of it ranges from cheers and applause to anger and frustration, but my own experience is somewhere in between.

There is reason to criticize what the Lima agreement didn’t say.  It called for countries to submit their action pledges in advance of COP21 in Paris next year, but didn’t specify what those pledges needed to include or how they’ll be reviewed.  But it was progress that, for the first time, all nations agreed to take responsibility for their greenhouse gas emissions.  For all the delay and brinksmanship of the negotiations, COP20 was also an affirmation that all nations, developed and developing alike, have important contributions to make. 

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What Role Will Mushrooms Play in a Sustainable Future?

RP Siegel | Thursday December 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

static.squarespace.comAs we move forward to a more sustainable and flourishing future, we’re going to need to increase our understanding of our role in the biosphere and request the assistance of some of our fellow planetary occupants, many of whom can do things that we can’t.

One of these we’ll likely need are mushrooms. Of course they are delicious on pizza and in soup, but they also have some amazing properties that make them essential for the maintenance of the soil, on which we all depend. Not only are they one of nature’s best recyclers, breaking down waste matter into simpler compounds that feed the soil, but they can also break down toxins and render them harmless.

From this comes the idea of mycoremediation. That’s the practice of using mushrooms to clean up contaminated soil.

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