3p Contributor: Clara Kuo

Clara lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and considers herself an international citizen. She has an MBA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and currently works in San Francisco as a marketing analyst. You can find her tweeting, blogging or simply continue an existing 3P conversation by commenting on a post.

Recent Articles

Alphabet Energy is the New Clean Tech Millionaire

| Friday May 7th, 2010 | 0 Comments

ban-startup-fridayalphabet energy logo thermoelectric effect clean tech

Berkeley, Calif.-based Alphabet Energy announced on Tuesday that it will receive $1 million in seed money to develop prototype devices of its proprietary thermoelectric technology.

Alphabet Energy’s technology is a balancing act: using laws of thermoelectrics, it harnesses excess heat which would otherwise be left unused in “normal” electricity production practices. The extra heat  becomes an incremental add in electric volume.  While the science is nothing new—it’s a recognized idea in science that creating electricity produces extra heat that is “wasted”—Alphabet Energy says that its technology has the “possibility of offsetting as much as 500 million metric tons of carbon per year.”

Alphabet’s new funding, recent grants and four awards at the 2009 Clean Tech Open is certainly telling of what the VCs are thinking right now: solar is no longer trendy. When solar started showing up on household roofs and commercial buildings, the renewable energy dream became reality. Now, solar is just another established market, and there’s been a lot of talk about using solar as part of the answer to job creation recently. That means solar is now “old school” and you won’t find too many VCs getting excited about solar.

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Starbucks Holds Cup Summit, More Talk About Reducing Environmental Impact

| Saturday April 24th, 2010 | 5 Comments

This week Starbucks released their 2009 Corporate Social Responsibility report. There are 10 goals in total that run the gamut from coffee production to storefront design. Among these goals, Starbucks tracked 2009 initiatives such as increasing loans to the coffee producers that work for them, reduce water waste, develop more LEED-certified stores, and encourage Starbucks partners to increase community service hours.

Starbucks has a long way to go before reaching their goals. As of today, only 299 stores have a recycling program in 7,529 company-owned stores in US & Canada. That is as little as 3 in 10 stores. In addition, licensed stores in places like Target, do not have any recycling program in place whatsoever, although Starbucks says they are working on the issue.

Current Starbucks Initiatives: More Branding Opportunities
One of Starbucks goals is to develop a “comprehensive recyclable cup system by 2012.” That’s basically jargon for saying Starbucks wants to improve on the type of cup they use, how it is recycled and figuring out ways to educate partners and customers on recycling. Starbucks has an interesting way of justifying this goal.

It’s important to realize that their paper cups are very important to their branding. There’s nothing more iconic than seeing someone on their way to work with a Starbucks cup in hand. And, the fact that they are crating this goal points to the fact that the “to-go” market is a huge part of Starbucks business. However, Starbucks says their biggest barrier to creating the right solution is that recycling programs differ from city to city, and really, it’s not whether a cup is recyclable, rather “will it be recycled?” It’s also an interesting development given shareholders recent negative vote on another recent recycling proposal we covered a couple weeks ago.

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Will Farmer Janes Lead the Local Food Revolution in Your Neighborhood?

| Thursday April 15th, 2010 | 2 Comments

The role of women as food providers is changing in AmericaAmerica today is still run by a fast food culture: about 31% of the food that we eat is most likely to be processed foods, and about 20% of children in the US struggle with childhood obesity. These are concerning statistics, but there is also some evidence to suggest that women could be the spark for a more mainstream "local" food economy.Clearly, we've come a long way since the 1940s. In the new millennium, women are principal decision makers in the home,  and they are the fastest growing minority group to  run or own farms, as the national total of farms declines, according to  the National Agriculture Statistics Service. So,  there’s really powerful story about women in the agricultural industry.That is the point Temra Costa, a sustainable food advocate in the SF Bay Area, is trying to highlight with her new book, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat. The book tells the stories of 30 women who are driving the sustainable food movement today. Some are farmers, some lawyers, others are restaurateurs…all working towards changing our local economic landscape. She said she wanted to write the book because she noticed that a very high number of women (about 61%) were executive directors of food-based non-profits.

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Opinion: Why we need social and environmental entrepreneurship

| Monday October 20th, 2008 | 0 Comments

If there are two problems that I can’t stand, it is the environmental crisis and human crisis that many are facing worldwide on so many complex levels. It affects everyone spanning North America, South America to Asia. That is why we as individuals and businesses are more responsible as ever for doing what we can to drive change in ways that may not have been thought possible.
Recently, I went up to Redwood Shores Cinemas to see a “rockumentary” that was being considered by the UN, titled “Call + Response.” (Find the movie in your area here.)
I will argue that art can inspire business ideas. In other words, if you’re not familiar with any of these issues and you are an entrepreneur looking for a cause or a new problem to solve, this movie could be one springboard for you. (It hasn’t been too long ago since the SoCap08 Conference.)

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West Coast Green: Former California Governor Jerry Brown and VP Al Gore Remain Optimistic on the Financial Crisis on Wall Street

| Saturday September 27th, 2008 | 1 Comment

al_gore.jpgEven as the US is at the cusp of a $700 bn bailout of Wall Street and stock prices are fluctuating like crazy, both closing keynote speakers former California Governor Jerry Brown and Vice President Al Gore remain optimistic about the state of the US economy.

The danger we are facing is quite grave, but the opportunity is right front of us.”

The past thirty years and and rapid climate change reflects the recklessness of the US government and a general disregard for the laws of basic economics. “Everything has a limit–our bodies have a limit, the earth’s resources have a limit,” Jerry Brown said.
“Ecology and economics are closely tied together”
Vice President Al Gore echoed these sentiments by stating, “We need to stop bailing out the financial crisis and bail in green energy. Green revolution is the solution to the financial crisis.”
SubPrime and the Short Term View
Gore pointed to the subprime mortgage, which the finance world assumed that a greater volume of subprime mortgages backed up by securities would handle the risk, and that assumption was wrong.
It is particularly not sustainable for solar companies who have included renewable tax credits in their business plans when government has allowed renewable tax credits to expire at least 17 times. This causes investors to turn over 80% of their portfolios, because they are driven mainly be short-term quarterly earnings.
To be sustainable, businesses have to look at the long term view and recognize the limits of natural resources.

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West Coast Green: IDEO’s Approach to the Demand Side of Sustainability

| Friday September 26th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Where does innovation take us now that words like green, organic, recyclable, locally-sourced are flying around? Is it enough for businesses to simply cut costs to improve efficiency?
IDEO says it’s not enough and companies need to look at how to improve demand for innovative products by looking at individuals to understand their needs better and to tell stories that help consumers understand what it is that they are buying.
Transforming Green Hype into Sustainable Demand
IDEO is a creative design firm headquartered in Palo Alto that looks at opportunities to change products, services, and other offerings. Yesterday, IDEO hosted a workshop called “The Demand Side of Sustainability” to answer questions about how to get consumers attracted to sustainable products. With all the hype around “green” and some companies claiming they are green, more eco-conscious customers are more likely to be dubious about how sustainable a product really is.

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West Coast Green: Greenwashing and the Business of Branding

| Friday September 26th, 2008 | 1 Comment

sustainable%20life%20media.jpgAt a talk from 1:30 to 3:00 at the San Jose Convention Center, attendees gathered to tap into the power of sustainable branding.
It is both good news and bad news for green building businesses that more people are entering the marketplace. The growth of the sustainable or green building industry leaves many questions for business owners, namely, “How can we differentiate ourselves from one another?” and “How can we distinguish ourselves from the hype and greenwashing?”
Koann Skrzyniarz of Sustainable Life Media has been working towards helping companies to become sustainable since 2004. She and her her colleagues Celia Canfield of Ecovertex and co-chair of Sustainable Brands International Pam Van Orden, spoke to a varied audience to make the distinctions of how good branding works.
Sustainable branding means taking innovation to a whole new level beyond simply telling stories from the ground level up.

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Get Ready for West Coast Green

| Tuesday September 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

Get ready! We’re gearing up for West Coast Green, the residential green building expo–happening on September 25 to 27–and we’ll be posting live on various keynotes, seminars and exhibits throughout the event.
This year’s West Coast Green coordinators promise that this year’s lineup will be even better than last year. Green building and a model home made up of shipping crates won’t be the only highlights of the show. There will be something for everybody for everyone to talk about. Seminars run the gamut from green building and design to business and innovation.
If you’re there, come by and say hello at the West Coast Green media lounge or introduce yourself if you see us at one of the seminars.
Curious to know who else is going to be there? Check out the schedule here.
Also, if you regret not having signed up earlier, or you just found out that former Vice President Al Gore will be speaking on Saturday, it’s still not too late to register!
You can register here or register at the door.
Hope to see you there!

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PG&E strikes new solar deals; Sunpower closes at 17.8% high

| Friday August 15th, 2008 | 0 Comments

sunpower_logo.jpgPG&E strikes two solar deals today, which underlines a growing commitment to meet energy demand in California.
On July 22 of this year, PG&E announced a plan to enhance existing energy efficiency plans and ensure ensure reliable supply of power, according to this press release.
Following through on its promise, PG&E’s deal with Optisolar and solar giant Sunpower will bring solar photo-voltaic to the mainstream. Optisolar is set to deliver 1,100,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy on its 550 MW thin-film PV Topaz Solar Farm.
Sunpower is expected to deliver just about half the amount (550,000 megawatt hours annually) in a 250 MW solar ranch in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.
This amount of power, according to PG&E will generate power for 239,000 homes in California every year.
Of course, in case you were wondering, this is not the first solar deal that PG&E has made. Last year, PG&E secured 177 megawatts of solar thermal energy from Ausra, so at least we know PG&E doesn’t prefer one type of solar energy over the other.

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Lululemon’s competitor Horny Toad acquires Nau assets

| Tuesday June 24th, 2008 | 2 Comments

Look out lululemon!
Sustainable yoga and athletic sports apparel behemoth, lululemon has got some competitors on the way…
There’s no better time to buy sustainable clothing than Nau. The stringent fashion line that appeals to sports enthusiasts to fashionistas alike was close to shutting down until Horny Toad, entrepreneurial adventure clothing company in Santa Barbara decided to take up Nau’s assets, as was announced in WendMag today.
Horny Toad will be launching a new line of Nau clothing in August, but through the month of July, Nau enthusiasts and environmentalists can find spring and summer clothing on sale at 50% off to the end of July.
Saving money, the earth’s environmental and contributing to social change in one single mouse click: Nau is what I’m talkin’ about.
A quick browse through Nau’s website and I found most clothing in shades ranging from carbon black to a cloudy sky blue. Pieces like the Flection Skirt for women ($39) looks great for a Casual Friday while keeping you cool for a stroll in the park on a hot summer’s day.
In the same vein, men will appreciate the Gauzian SS Shirt ($38) which suggests trendy and sporty all in one cool glance.

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3P SoundBite: Clark Wilson CEO of Green Builders Inc.

| Thursday June 19th, 2008 | 5 Comments

3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
Clark Wilson, a longtime builder for 30-plus years saw a market opportunity during his retirement to revitalize the Austin, Texas area by offering a suite of green homes. Readers, if you have ever been house hunting, prepare to feel a tinge of nostalgia when you view pictures of model homes onGreen Builders, Inc.’s website.
Could this really be a green home? If it doesn’t have vines growing off the walls or look like a scene from Star Wars, then it can’t be green, can it?
TriplePundit asks Clark these questions and more.

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3P SoundBite: Emily Utter of ChicoBags

| Thursday June 5th, 2008 | 4 Comments

ChicoBag-Beauty-Shot-10-200.jpg3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
Ever heard of an anti-plastic bag lobbyist? You haven’t until you meet Emily Utter, brand evangelist of ChicoBags in Chico, Calif. She knows her politics and readily points out that San Francisco was the first city to ban plastic bags in grocery stores. Formerly an employee at the San Francisco Department of the Environment, Emily worked with the city of San Francisco to propose grocery bag fees.
Today, Emily asks TriplePundit to reach out to the community to aid her in her cause.
Read inside to find out how you can help!

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3P SoundBite: Tim O’Shea of CleanFish

| Wednesday May 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
Inspired by the initiatives taken by Niman Ranch where small family farms did not have to sell out their farms, in 2004, Tim O’Shea of CleanFish started intensive conversations with a seafood distributor to initiate a grassroots, guerilla marketing approach to change the fishing industry’s mass producing attitude towards fish. While the news continued to broadcast the problems with farm salmon and wild fisheries. Tim felt that both the media and environmental groups were sending out the wrong message of “Farm bad, wild good.”
His curiosity about the food chain and human detachment from getting the animal to your dinner plate led him on a quest to understand what was happening. As he tells it, after looking around for someone else to solve this huge problem, Tim finally decided that had to just “be a man” and take charge of this initiative.
Read on to learn more about food detachment, Read Full Article » Discuss This »

HP introduces Eco Highlights Label and announces new company goals for sustainability

| Friday May 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

deskjet.jpgWhile there is a movement to avoid printing printing emails, and attachments can be read in PDF, resumes, photos and legal documents are often items that still require printing.
HP’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) continues to push the envelope with an announcement yesterday to reinforce their position as “a leader in environmental sustainability for the imaging and printing market.”
To underline HP’s longstanding commitment to eco-efficiency and to address the growing demand of consumers, SMBs and the enterprise for more changes, HP is announcing three initiatives to “green” the world, and most notably, they are introducing a deskjet printer, the HPD2545 made of up to 85% of recycled plastic gleaned from their “closed loop recycling program.”

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3P SoundBite: Kandy Kidd of Real Estate Brokerage, Studley, Inc.

| Thursday May 22nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

studley.jpg3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
This week, we went to Green Drinks in Palo Alto, Calif. to find out what’s new with people in sustainability.
The concept of the “integrated triple bottom line” means that businesses need to change their approach and influence stakeholders, no matter which industry.
Kandy Kidd is a relative newcomer to the sustainability approach: she is now one of three real estate brokers for Studley, Inc. that holds a LEED Professional Accreditation status as of this year.

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