SunEdison Invests $5M To Boost Solar Workforce Diversity

Alexis Petru
| Monday March 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Solar panel installationThe U.S. solar workforce grew nearly 20 percent faster than the national average employment rate last year, according to the Solar Foundation’s 2014 National Solar Jobs Census. But like the rest of the tech industry, this sector of the renewable energy field has a problem when it comes to diversity. Women make up only 22 percent of the solar industry, while 16 percent of the solar workforce is Latino, 7 percent is Asian and 6 percent is African American, last year’s Job Census found.

But a new program from renewable energy development company SunEdison and nonprofit solar installer GRID Alternatives aims to build a more diverse solar workforce. Last month, the organizations announced the launch of the RISE (Realizing an Inclusive Solar Economy) initiative, which will provide women and members of underserved communities with solar job training and job placement through GRID Alternatives’ workforce development program. SunEdison and its foundation will be contributing $5 million to the partnership – in both the form of funding and solar panels.

“The solar industry is adding jobs at a rate of more than 20 percent year over year,” said Erica Mackie, co-founder and CEO of GRID Alternatives, in a statement. “This is an incredible opportunity to connect an industry that needs good people with people that need good jobs, and that’s just what this partnership is doing.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Incentivizing Investment In Climate Change Infrastructure

3p Contributor | Monday March 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Maddie Keating--Flickr Creative CommonsBy Peter Weisberg

However you frame the environmental challenges ahead of us, the need for investment in new infrastructure is staggering. Credit Suisse, World Wildlife Fund and McKinsey estimate that “to meet the need for conservation funding, investable cash flows from conservation projects need to be at least 20-30 times greater than they are today. “ The World Economic Forum reports $5.7 trillion will need to be invested annually by 2020 to build the infrastructure needed to mitigate catastrophic climate change. Much of this investment is additional—meaning it faces new risks and, without intervention, it will not otherwise occur.

Given this context, it’s essential for the public sector to use its limited dollars in a way that mitigates risks and attracts private capital to needed infrastructure investments.

Patrick Maloney, an advisor to investors interested in social and environmental results, has a great series of blog posts about why true “impact investments” must be in addition to investments the rest of the market is currently willing to make. The trouble is the rest of the market stays away from these new investments because the risks (real or perceived) are higher than other investments with similar returns. True impact opportunities are often new, novel, or unproven and rely upon new markets, technologies and companies.

The Climate Trust has explored options for raising capital to invest in building new GHG offset projects, and has identified a variety of new models for using public financing to mitigate and manage the risks associated with true impact investments—models that attract private capital to new ideas that otherwise wouldn’t be funded.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Y Combinator Invests in Mexican Solar

Leon Kaye | Monday March 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments
Mexico, solar, solar energy, clean energy, Bright, Y Combinator, power purchase agreements, Leon Kaye, renewables

Solar energy’s potential in Mexico, courtesy of SolarGis

Y Combinator has had an impressive track record investing relatively small amounts of money (US$ 120,000 annually) into over 800 start-ups the past 10 years. Its list of companies to which it has granted seed money reads like of what assumedly is an alumni of premier venture capital firms: Dropbox, AirBnB, Reddit, Scribd and Disqus are just a few of Y Combinator’s success stories. Now Y Combinator’s first investment in a clean energy company could add to the US$ 30 billion in valuation this seed funder already has in its portfolio. The start-up Bright Exchange, Inc. (branded as Bright) believes it can transform solar energy in Mexico.

Bright aims to address the high costs of electricity while benefiting the environment. Utilities take too much out of Mexicans’ wallets—by some accounts electricity rates in Mexico ranks eighth highest within the 34-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Bright promises to slash those costs by 20 to 30 percent with its rooftop solar programs.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Cool Planet’s Biochar Reduces Water Use, Increases Crop Yield

| Monday March 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

biocharIn the past several years, Cool Planet has rocketed from inception to the pilot stage to producing commercially available biochar, a product that could have a significant impact on California’s severe drought conditions. Farmers that use Cool Planet’s biochar can use up to 40 percent less water on the same crop surface area and maintain the same yield, or use the same amount of water and harvest a significantly bigger yield.

The enhanced biochar (the commercial name is CoolTerra) is created from biomass, which can include agricultural waste but the preferred source is wood chips, Cool Planet’s Commercial Director, Neil Wahlgren, explains. Living trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but when the tree dies, the carbon is released back into the air. Cool Planet’s biochar process uses locally sourced biomass (within 30-50 miles of each plant, reducing transportation) and captures the carbon, keeping it permanently in the soil so it is not released back into the atmosphere. This helps reduce the total amount of greenhouse gases.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Salmon Skin Accessories a Clutch Above Conventional Leather

Leon Kaye | Monday March 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments
Heidi Carneau , Adèle Taylor, Heidi & Adèle, leather, salmon skin, salmon leather, Korea, endangered species, fashion, Leon Kaye

Salmon skin card holders by Heidi & Adèle

Salmon skin: it’s not just for sushi anymore.

Ever wonder what happens to that skin that was once part of your lox, dinner or the fishy pate in a tube that you were brave enough to buy while passing by the food market in Ikea? Well, it turns out that it usually just discarded after salmon is harvested.

But two fashion designers, Heidi Carneau and Adèle Taylor, have decided salmon skin is a beautiful and resilient material for their fashion accessories. With years of designing leather goods under their belts, the two long-time friends have joined forces and now design handbags and wallets using more sustainable options than conventional leather, including the skins of salmon and eel. Together they launched their own designer line, Heidi & Adèle.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Farm-to-Table Greets Visitors at 1620s Jesuit Monastery

Sarah Lozanova | Monday March 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Hacienda Chorlavi

Our family ecotourism adventure in continues on the outskirts of Ibarra in Northern Ecuador to what was the northern end of the Inca Empire when the Spaniards first arrived. We stayed in the historic Hacienda Chorlavi, a country inn which was previously a Jesuit Monastery. Founded in 1620, the oldest building was constructed in a European style by local tradesmen that used adobe and wood. Today the inn brings fourth centuries of history, in an artful manner. Cobblestone paths lead to thick-walled guest rooms with decorative touches throughout.

After acquiring the property, the Tobar family used it for agricultural production for a few generations before José and Pilar Tobar transformed their home into a country inn in 1973. The barn transformed into a conference room and the laborer’s quarters became guest rooms. In the last forty years, other Ecuadorian haciendas have followed suit, making this once innovative transformative idea much more widespread.

All the rooms in the inn possess a colonial-era feel, with antique furniture, and some containing a wood-paneled ceiling, fireplace, and wood flooring.

From a social responsibility standpoint, Hacienda Chorlavi stands out.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Still Doubting that Organics are the Future?

3p Contributor | Monday March 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Organic Cherries

By Tim Sparke

The words ‘organic’ and ‘sustainability’ are bandied around quite a bit. While some won’t eat anything but organic, others deny that there’s any future in organic farming. After all, with a population that’s seven billion-strong and growing, how can we possibly expect organics to feed the world? Or so the critics ask. In their view, feeding the masses simply can’t be done without strong chemicals and genetic modification.

However, organic farming has far more capacity than many people imagine. It goes way, way beyond growing a few tomato plants on your back verandah. Besides, if we want to live on a clean, healthy planet, going organic is the only way forward – not only for gardeners and farmers, but also for all businesses related to agriculture, from your local café to your nearest supermarket, from your preferred beautician to your favorite clothing boutique. In fact, when you think about just how many industries depend on agriculture, it’s clear that a shift towards sustainable, chemical-free practices is essential.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

3p Weekend: Women in Corporate Leadership Twitter Chat

| Friday February 27th, 2015 | 0 Comments

tweet-jam-pwc-northern-trustMary is taking a break this week so in lieu of our usual 3p-Weekender here’s a special announcement about a new twitter chat we’re putting on with PwC & Northern Trust next Friday, March 6th.

Longtime TriplePundit readers have repeatedly asked us to do more with our Women in CSR series which has been one of our longest running and most popular columns. With that in mind, we’re excited to announce, in honor of International Women’s Day, a one hour conversation with Shannon Schuyler, Pwc’s Principal CR leader, and Connie L. Lindsey, Executive VP and Head of CSR for Northern Trust.

Over the course of an hour, we’ll invite you to explore ways to foster female leadership and overcome gender inequality in the workplace. The conversation will cover topics such as obstacles to advancement today, how companies can proactively approach gender diversity on boards, and specific things we can do to foster confidence and leadership skills among girls in school today so that they may become the women leaders of tomorrow. We’ll also discuss the role men can play in the workplace to empower their female colleagues. And we’ll address your questions!

Learn more here, or click here to RSVP for the chat!

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

TJ Maxx Follows Walmart’s Lead, Promises to Boost Wages

Leon Kaye | Friday February 27th, 2015 | 0 Comments
TJ Maxx, Retail Sector, TJX Companies, wages, minimum wage, Walmart, Minnesota, Leon Kaye, Costco

TJ Maxx’s parent company has promised to boost wages

Is retail finally starting to become more humane in the United States? It is not anywhere close to becoming a job that can lead to a decent middle class — or even a lower-middle class — lifestyle, but wages are starting to inch up.

Walmart started the ball rolling with its announcement last week that it will increase wages to $9 an hour. Now TJX Companies, the operators of TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, is the latest nationwide retailer to announce it will also give many of its workers a raise.

In a press release discussing its recent financial performance, the company announced it will raise the minimum wage for its employees to $9 an hour starting in June. That is a slight uptick from current wages, which now range from $8.25 to $8.50 an hour. By 2016, all employees who have six months’ tenure with the company will make a wage of at least $10 an hour.

So, why is the stubborn retail sector slowly changing its ways?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Shell Backs Out of Alberta Oil Sands Project

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday February 27th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Shell_oil_sands_HowlArtsCollective

Royal Dutch Shell‘s recent announcement may speak volumes for the future of the Alberta tar sands — at least for now. On Monday, the oil company announced that it was pulling the plug on its massive 200,000-barrel Pierre River mine project, which also happens to be the largest of its kind in the Alberta oil sands.

Pierre River isn’t the only oil sands project the company operates, however. It also runs the Muskeg River mine and the Jackpine mine, which together account for 17 percent of Canada’s oil production. The Athabasca oil sands project, which contains these mines, is a joint development between Shell, Chevron and Marathon Oil.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Jordan’s 6,000 Mosques to Be Powered by Solar Energy

Leon Kaye | Friday February 27th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Jordan, Middle East, solar, solar energy, renewables, clean energy, mosques, Leon Kaye, Masdar, Abu Dhabi, Tafila, Arab Gas Pipeline, Amman, zakat

The massive King Abdullah I Mosque in Amman will be one of 6,000 mosques soon powered by solar.

The Middle East may be mineral-rich, but that does not mean oil and gas are distributed evenly across the Gulf and Levant. Jordan, for example, has to import more than 95 percent of its energy needs. The result is an economy that spends as much as 16 percent on energy, or more than 40 percent of the nation’s budget.

The capital, Amman, has a budding entrepreneurial spirit, and the nation is culturally and geographically rich from Petra to the Dead Sea. But tourism is hardly enough to sustain an economy for 6.5 million people — a number on the rise because of the Syrian refugee crisis and continued chaos in nations from Egypt to Iraq. Jordan has numerous other challenges, but it is rich in one resource: sunshine. Now the kingdom is accelerating the adoption of solar, starting with the country’s 6,000 mosques.

According to Amman’s English daily, the Jordan Times, government agencies are working together to install solar panels at mosques, financed by a combination of grants and contributions through zakat (one of the five pillars of Islam that requires charitable donations). The projects will start with tenders to retrofit 120 mosques with solar and then the program will expand across the nation.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Dietary Guidelines Consider Planet’s Health

Alexis Petru
| Friday February 27th, 2015 | 1 Comment

Vegetables“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” These seven words are author and sustainable food advocate Michael Pollan’s sage advice on how to eat a diet that is healthy for both people and the planet. And now it appears the U.S. government is poised to adopt similar nutritional recommendations.

Last week, the nation’s top nutrition panel, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, released its latest report — which argued for a “sustainable diet” high in plant-based foods and lower in calories and animal-based foods. The findings, which serve to provide the scientific basis for the next version of the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines (think the old food pyramid and now, MyPlate), urge Americans to consider the environmental impacts of their diets, saying that food that is more environmentally responsible is usually healthier for people.

This is the first time the advisory committee has incorporated the environmental impact of food production and consumption in its report, which is published every five years.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

KFC and Seattle’s Best Present the Edible Coffee Cup

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday February 27th, 2015 | 0 Comments

KFC_seattles_best_TerryWhaleboneWhat do you think about when you dig into a bucket of fried chicken? Potatoes and gravy? A fresh salad? A tall soft drink?

Well, in the U.K., apparently it’s fresh-cut grass and the aroma of coconut sun screen — oh, and fresh brewed coffee.

This interesting factoid is the basis for a new edible coffee cup that KFC and Seattle’s Best Coffee have pioneered and are due to release at KFC outlets. The Scoff-ee cup, which is made of cookie and lined with chocolate, is designed to be eaten. The new concept is due to be released soon when KFC starts offering the Seattle’s Best brand.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Water Reflections: A Traveler Stumbles Upon Dry Land

Virginia Tech CLiGS
Virginia Tech CLiGS | Friday February 27th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Jeremy Orr - WaterBy Jeremy Orr

As a native Michigander, I grew up around one of the largest freshwater systems in the world, the Great Lakes — not to mention the countless inland lakes, ponds, rivers and streams that were carved into Michigan’s landscape by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago. Surrounded by so much fresh water, the words “drought,” “water famine” and “water scarcity” didn’t seem too imminent a threat to me, as I usually applied them to arid landscapes in the western United States or deserts elsewhere in the world. In fact, they were so foreign to me, they may as well have been alien species from a distant planet.

It wasn’t until I started traveling for work that I realized how scarce water could be. When I first worked overseas, I spent a great amount of time in the Middle East, staying for brief periods in various places in the Persian Gulf. It didn’t take long to notice a common denominator in all the places I visited in the region: a lack of fresh water. It’s not that I wasn’t aware that these countries weren’t giant freshwater swimming pools like states in the Upper Midwest; I was just ill-prepared for such a dearth of water, period.

The region’s parched landscape had me thinking of both water scarcity and access to potable water worldwide. Aside from the obvious, what were the implications of a lack of fresh water in the region, and elsewhere? Does a shortage of potable water in a region as large as the Middle East affect the world’s water supply, and if so, how? What role does climate change play in all of this? Of course, these questions, among others, were not easy to answer.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

How Driverless Cars Will Impact the Environment

3p Contributor | Friday February 27th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Image credit: GmanViz, Flickr By Scott Huntington

When hybrid cars first came onto the scene and were promoted as a potential solution to climate change, the world took notice. It seemed developed nations were finally going to be able to curb their carbon emissions and enter a new paradigm of eco-friendly road technology.

Despite the hype surrounding hybrid vehicles and what they represented — something that attracted a wide variety of comments from both sides of the fence and a great many debates — the real-world application of these vehicles required humans to adopt the design and function of the vehicles in question.

Hybrid cars were not something everybody wanted, and now in 2015, there is a new contender in a service that people have praised in recent times. We’re of course talking about “driverless cars.”

Are driverless cars going to provide solutions?

Across the U.K. and the U.S. in particular, driverless cars have surged in popularity due to companies such as Google and Uber entering the ring in attempts to corner the market. But what does this really mean for the environment? And are automated cars actually going to have any impact at all in the medium- to long-term?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »