I’m in rainy Copenhagen this week attending Novozymes’ 2013 Household Care Sustainability Summit. As its name implies, the summit brings together sustainably-minded makers of laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and other household cleaning products. It might sound like a dry topic without a great deal of impact on the world, but when you look at the indirect effects that cleaning products have, it gets a lot more exciting.
Case in point: most 3p readers are familiar with the story of Cold Water Tide. To refresh your memory, some years back Procter and Gamble did a life cycle analysis of Tide laundry detergent and found that when it came to its energy footprint, by far the most significant component was not the manufacturing or the transportation. It was, in fact, the heating of water at people’s homes to run their washing machines. Not content to shrug their shoulders at something outside their direct control, P&G redesigned a version of Tide to work in cold water. When used this way, Tide’s energy footprint and customer’s electric bills were drastically cut.
They key to making a detergent that functions well in cold water? Enzymes.
If you’re not already familiar with the concept of “natural capital,” take a gander at the video above, which debuted this morning to open the first ever World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh. Produced by creative studio Nice and Serious for the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (and others), the video is a great way to explain the concept of “natural capital” to a wider audience. It also provided a an excellent opening to the conference now underway.
The fundamental concept is this: The best way to save the planet is to put a price tag on its resources. Doing so is the only way to get business to take stewardship of the environment seriously, and only business can save the planet (after all, it’s economic activity that started the problem!). If an acre of rain forest can be shown to be “worth” more standing up than cut down for palm oil, then it’s likely to stand. Likewise, a business can be sent a bill for damages it causes by gobbling up land, polluting, or creating other externalities.
That’s the concept anyway.
Missed our live broadcast? Check out the recording below.
From Tuesday, November 5th, with support from Edelman and Janssen, this is our LIVE broadcast to kick off the 2013 BSR conference.
Please join us tonight at 7pm pacific for a conversation about “the power of networks” to solve our sustainability challenges.
Tonight’s panel will feature:
Karen Mansen, (Communications & Public Affairs, Janssen)
Chris Librie (Senior Director – HP Sustainability Programs)
Henk Campher (SVP, Business & Social Purpose and Managing Director, Sustainability at Edelman)
Megan McFadden (Manager, Impact HUB SF)
Nick Aster (Founder, TriplePundit.com)
Join us TODAY at 9am PST/noon EST for a Twitter Chat with Yalmaz Siddiqui, Office Depot’s Senior Director, Environmental Strategy to discuss environmental transparency and its role in sustainability reporting.
Missed the chat? Check out our Storify summary below:
Rounding out our set of interviews from this year’s SXSWeco is Emma Stewart who is the head of sustainability solutions for Autodesk. We’ve long been impressed with Autodesk’s contribution to the smart or “green” building design movement so it was only logical that I ask Emma how that contribution spreads to the greater idea of smart cities.
The idea is pretty simple – take what we’ve learned about making buildings greener and more efficient, then find ways to simulate the myriad connections that exist between buildings that make up an entire city. Autodesk is working with civil engineering firms, developers, and directly with city agencies who recognize they may not have enough data to build an effective 3d model of their cities. An effective model can become a “single source of truth” on which to start making more intelligent decisions.
Learn more in the short video after the jump….
Continuing the theme of “smart cities” at SXSWeco, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk to some folks actually working to bring clean technology companies together in a city to make a smarter city and economy work. Jose Beciero is the Director of Clean Energy for The Austin Chamber of Commerce. Among his responsibilities are encouraging more diversity in the Austin technology sector by developing new clean technology startups in central Texas as well as to recruit companies to relocate to the area.
Despite Texas’ reputation as an old-school oil & gas economy, Jose’s work is well received by the greater business community who recognize the need for a more diverse energy portfolio – particularly wind and solar. In fact, in 2013, the Austin Chamber was recognized as the top cleantech chamber in the nation by Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) for its work in shaping Austin into a nucleus for the industry.
I spend a few minutes talking to Jose about what he does, as well as learning about an interesting smart grid demonstration project called “Pecan Street Inc.” Find out what it’s all about on the short video interview below….
Ceiva made their name producing good looking picture frames for digital photos that can interface with the internet. Now, Ceiva has taken that intelligence one step further by incorporating a display of household energy data in the frame.
It’s pretty logical when you think about it: people like displaying photos, and they like having a better take on their household energy use. But they don’t necessarily like having energy data displayed at all times for everyone to see. By partnering with utilities, Ceiva offers customers a display at reduced cost, killing two birds with one stone.
The result? Much better energy management options for both consumers and utilities. Learn more in my short video with CEIVA’s VP of Marketing, Jack McKee below…
Special thanks to everyone who joined us yesterday for our Twitter chat on Sustainable Leadership with with the The Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, a program within the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. The chat turned out to be one of our liveliest yet!
The chat was be co-hosted by professors George Basile, Senior Sustainability Scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability and Professor of Practice at ASU’s School of Sustainability, and Bruno Sarda, Director of Global Sustainability Operations at Dell and professor and consultant for ASU.
After the jump, we’ve got a storify synopsis of the major questions that we asked and answered during the chat, including as many of your as we had time to answer. Please feel free to keep the conversation going by tweeting your thoughts with the hashtag “#sustleadership”.
Darden restaurants is parent company to Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Capital Grille and other up-market chain restaurants. As a result, they serve over 1 million meals a day across North America – that’s a lot of food and a large potential resource footprint. We’ve heard from Brandon Tidwell, Darden’s Manager of Sustainability, from time to time as a guest poster on 3p and I finally had a chance to sit down with him and chat.
Darden has already almost met recent goals to reduce water and energy use by 15 percent by 2015. I talked to Brandon a bit about what comes next. Secondly, we talked a bit about seafood. As one of the world’s largest buyers of seafood, Darden has the opportunity to have tremendous impact on the seafood supply chain.
Hear what Brandon had to say in the video below…
“Making sustainability sexy” is the tagline of online fashion portal, Modavanti.com. The company is an online retailer that works with dozens of fashion brands representing eight different aspects of sustainability called “badges” on which a brand is scored. The badges cover issues ranging from recycled content, labor, being made in the U.S., and other issues. A customer can tailor their fashion search toward brands that score the highest among the badges they care most about, but can rest assured that all of the brands on the site have been vetted.
I had a chance to sit down with David Dietz, Modavanti’s founder, at SXSWeco last week to learn a little bit about the company, and the kind of impact he expects to be able to make – in addition to running a successful company.
Video after the jump….
EcoFactor is a software company that enables “communicating thermostats” to better manage energy use in homes. The idea is to automate energy management in ways that a human being would never be able to do alone. Once up and running, EcoFactor says they can typically provide savings in the ballpark of 10-15 percent – a payback that winds up being instant for most consumers who purchase the service through channels such as Comcast.
EcoFactor’s software actually builds a schedule around household behavior, doing things like turning down the heat or air conditioning when a homeowner is not in the house. To top it off, data is provided to customers offering them information about where they’ve made strides in saving energy and how one’s household use stacks up to their neighbors.
I sat down with EcoFactor’s CEO Roy Johnson to learn more…
As television evolves to be a more independent, internet based medium, entrepreneurs are ready to use it to provide quality, conscientious programming. According to recently launched evox, such programming “inspires positive changes in the way people live and work.”
I had a chance to sit down with evox’s founder, Xav Dubois to learn a little bit about the new channel, how it works, and how the channel aims to enhance the quality of life of its viewers while raising awareness of sustainability.
Learn more on our short video interview below…
BEF is an environmental non profit based in Portland that works with companies to address three big environmental challenges: energy, carbon, and water. BEF looks to use market based solutions such as renewable energy credits, carbon offsets, and water restoration credits to help companies meet their goals of reducing environmental impact.
Of particular interest at SXSWeco this year has been the issue of water. I sat down with Val Fishman, BEF’s VP of corporate partnerships to learn a little but more about how BEF’s various projects are having a positive impact on global water issues and specifically the Colorado River watershed.
Among many corporate partnerships, BEF has also recently helped launch a portal called ChangeTheCourse.us which offers opportunities for individuals to get directly involved in watershed restoration.
Learn more in the short video below…
As something of a cheese aficionado, I’ve always been fond of a high quality Vermont white cheddar. Cabot Creamery Cooperative has been one the more familiar brands out there with a reputation for quality and an eye towards making sure all the members of their cooperative are treated fairly. A certified b-corporation, Cabot’s stated mission is “to provide quality, award-winning dairy foods and exceptional service to our customers, which will generate profitable growth so as to benefit our farmer owners and employees.”
The nearly 100 year old coop has always operated under principals that we might call a part of “sustainability” today, whether they’ve chosen to explicitly talk about it or not. I had a chance to talk to Cabot’s Director of Sustainability, Jed Davis about how the company thinks about sustainability and what they’re doing to advance it.
Please enjoy the short video below…
Biomimicry is a hot topic here at 3p. The basic idea behind biomimicry is that nature is the ultimate product designer. By studying how nature, over millions of years, has managed to solve major problems (metabolizing toxic substances, protecting organisms against harm, or even locomotion) we can learn to mimic nature’s solutions in modern product design. Ideally we not only solve the same problems but we can do so in a way that fits into nature’s ecosystems rather than conflicting with them.
I sat down with Sprint’s Darren Beck to learn a little about how his company has been exploring biomimicry to address some of their sustainability challenges. Specifically, while working with experts at the San Diego Zoo, Sprint found inspiration among Armadillo shells as a way to make product packaging both stronger and lighter.
Learn more in the short video below…