Demand for Grid-Scale Energy Storage Grows

| Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 2 Comments

Greensmith_logo_PMS3268_flatSouthern California Edison (SCE) on Sept. 24 commissioned the nation’s largest smart energy storage system at its Monolith substation near Tehachapi, California, a hub of the Golden State’s wind energy generation capacity. Lithium-ion (Li ion) batteries manufactured by LG Chem provide SCE with 32 megawatt-hours of energy storage capacity.

The combination of falling costs, technological advances and supportive government policies are spurring interest — and investments — in grid-scale smart energy storage systems. Integrated with solar energy generation assets, electric vehicle charging stations and smart grid technology, smart energy storage is being viewed as a keystone element of distributed clean energy microgrids and distribution networks that could make for a low-carbon, sustainable energy infrastructure for the 21st century.

Emeryville, California-based Greensmith, a leading provider of intelligent energy storage management software and services, “is seeing dramatic growth in the grid-scale energy storage market,” the company announced in a Sept. 30 press release. So far this year, 23 megawatts worth of projects that make use of Greensmith’s flagship GEMS intelligent energy storage software platform have been commissioned.

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Helping Millennials Succeed WIth Homewise

3p Contributor | Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in “The Millennials Perspective” issue of Green Money JournalClick here to view more posts in this series.

Homewise logoCecePhotp By Cece Derringer

A new survey published in May 2014 by the Global Impact Investing Network and JPMorgan Chase offers clear evidence of the impressive growth of impact investing.

The survey, the authors’ fourth annual report on the state of impact investing, queried leading fund managers, foundations and development finance institutions in the United States and Europe. It found that the amount of capital they had committed to impact investing increased by 10 percent between 2012 and 2013, and the number of investments increased by 20 percent. The groups surveyed also reported that they committed $10.6 billion to impact investments in 2013 and intended to invest $12.7 billion in 2014 — an increase of 19 percent.

While the popularity of impact investing is reaching unprecedented heights, the practice itself is anything but new. Community investing has long been considered one of the three main strategies that form the foundation of socially responsible investing. What sets it apart from the other two strategies — social screening and shareholder advocacy — is that it offers a way for investors to make a tangible, even visible, difference in the communities where they invest. Indeed, community investing has the power to transform communities and the lives of the people who live in them.

Nevertheless, community investing has never been as widely practiced as social screening and shareholder advocacy. A variety of issues — including the limited number of investment options and a general lack of public awareness of the practice — have checked its growth.

But that is beginning to change.

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Stem to Install Smart Energy Storage at Extended Stay Hotels

| Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Extended-Stay-America-San-Jose-Sunnyvale-Hotel-ExteriorEnergy storage systems are catching on fast in California following passage of AB 2514 – legislation that requires the state’s three principal investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to install 1.325 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2020. It’s not only electric utilities that are deploying smart energy storage systems, however.

California is also offering incentives for installation of distributed, “behind the meter” energy storage systems at utility customer sites. The state government also requires that 200 megawatts of “behind the meter” energy storage capacity be installed, and a growing number, and variety, of organizations are capitalizing on the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CUC) Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) to help meet the state’s goal.

An early leader in the fast developing market for advanced energy storage systems, Millbrae, California-based Stem on Sept, 30 announced it has finalized an agreement with Extended Stay America – the largest company-owned and operated hotel chain in the U.S. – to install and manage a fleet of “energy intelligence systems across 68 hotels in California.”

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Symantec Brings Cyber Security Jobs to HS Grads

| Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

cc_connection_logo_2 Even as the economy continues to recover from the near-collapse of the financial system in 2008, the slow pace of job creation and stagnation of real income of the large majority of Americans continues to constrain economic growth and erode the U.S. middle class. That’s not to say there aren’t lots of job openings. There are – it’s just that many of them apparently go unfilled.

While some say there is a dearth of qualified U.S. candidates, a study from Harvard Business School points out that while “America’s capitalists take every chance they get to remind us that they are our ‘job creators’ … it turns out that their least-favorite thing on earth to do is create jobs.”

Cyber security industry leader Symantec is looking to turn that conclusion on its head. In late June, Symantec joined with Life Journey, NPower and Year Up to launch the Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3). High school graduates enrolled in SC3 — an intensive short course — receive general professional skills and specialized cyber security jobs training. To cap the program off, they intern at supporting partner companies — a step towards possible full-time employment and a long-term career path. The program is now up and running in Baltimore, New York and San Francisco.

Triple Pundit spoke with Donald Ger, Year Up’s National Director for Partnerships and Innovation, and SC3 student Ashley Williams to gain greater insight regarding the SC3 program’s structure and goals, as well as how the initiative is progressing. 

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Climate Change Requires New Approaches to Food Security

Bill DiBenedetto | Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

FAO Local_EWH-7132-0If coping with climate change is central to achieving a sustainable future for the global population, then food security lies at the heart of this effort, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said last week in a speech at the United Nations Climate Summit last week.

“We cannot call development sustainable while hunger still robs over 800 million people of the opportunity to lead a decent life,” he said in a reference to the latest U.N. report on world hunger, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014.

The report found that while the number of people who experience chronic hunger was reduced by 100 million over the past decade, there are still some 805 million people that go without enough to eat on a regular basis.

Despite overall progress, the 57-page report says, “marked differences” across regions persist. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment, with only modest progress in recent years: Around one in four people in the region remains undernourished. Asia, the most populous region in the world, still has the highest number of undernourished people. “Southern Asia has made slow progress in hunger reduction, while more rapid progress has been achieved in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia with the latter having already met the WFS hunger target,” Graziano da Silva said.

In the past, efforts to feed the world focused on boosting agricultural output to produce more food, but today’s challenges – including climate change – demand a new approach, Graziano da Silva said.

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Fair Trade Goes Full Circle on Supply Chains

| Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is part of a series on “The Future of Fair Trade,” written with the support of Fair Trade USA. A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. To follow along with the rest of the series, click here.

Rwandan coffee grower Mukantelina Soline is able to pay for school fees and electricity with the extra income she earns from her Fair Trade cooperative

Rwandan coffee grower Mukantelina Soline is able to pay for school fees and electricity with the extra income she earns from her Fair Trade cooperative.

In honor of Fair Trade month, Fair Trade USA created a great infographic to explain how fair trade really works to improve workers’ lives and, in turn, the health of our ecosystem. While certifications like Organic ensure that farmers and a consumer’s family won’t be exposed to harmful pesticides, Fair Trade USA focuses on the producers and the well-being of their families. What organizations like Fair Trade have found is that a focus on the health of workers far up the supply chain leads directly to a higher-quality product and a healthy planet. That is to say, Fair Trade goes full circle. Here’s how they do it.

Improving lives

Fair Trade means that workers — from farmers to factory workers — get a fair wage for the goods they produce, through a guaranteed minimum purchase price. Workers on Fair Trade farms also have the right to organize into unions if they wish and the right to safe working conditions. Forced child and slave labor are strictly prohibited.

Workers and farmers decide collectively how to spend the Fair Trade premium on community development: building schools, clinics, improving roads, offering school scholarships, or whatever the community needs.

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U.S. Promises Action on U.N. Human Rights Principles

Michael Kourabas
| Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

2767099314_77272ba8b8_zLast week, the U.S. State Department announced that the government would develop a National Action Plan to “promote and incentivize responsible business conduct,” in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).  Once complete, the U.S. will join the U.K., the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Spain as the only states to have released National Action Plans on business and human rights (BHR NAPs).  According to the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Switzerland and Finland are also in the process of developing their own plans.

The announcement comes in advance of official United Nations guidance on the subject, promised by the U.N. Working Group for December 2014, which ought to inform the U.S. process.  While this news may barely register on the radar of even those most interested in corporate social responsibility, organizations like Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) have been publicly pushing President Barack Obama to develop a BHR NAP for some time. (ICAR is also working with the Danish Institute for Human Rights on a larger NAP project that aims to provide guidance for governments in the development, implementation, and review of BHR NAPs.)

What is a BHR NAP and why does it matter?

In short, a BHR NAP is a policy document that explains how a particular state intends to go about fulfilling its duty to protect human rights from corporate abuse.  In general, NAPs are useful tools in the advancement of any particular policy objective in that, among other things, they tend to mobilize various stakeholders, promote collaboration and outline the parameters of expected action. Three years after the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UNGPs, it called on all Member States to develop BHR NAPs in order to promote the implementation of the UNGPs within each state’s national legal framework.

In a sense, the creation of a NAP is akin to the crucial step of domestic implementation of a treaty or other international instrument (and the future of the rights or obligations it purports to protect/enforce), including international human rights treaties, like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), or those creating international institutions, like the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

By ratifying the ICCPR, for instance, the U.S. committed to “prevent and protect against discrimination and ensure equal treatment for all … without any limitations or exceptions.”  Yet, domestic implementation of the ICCPR has been lacking.  Who, for instance, can argue that the federal government has come close to accomplishing this (admittedly lofty) aim?

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North American Beekeepers Sue to Stop Pesticides

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

honey_bee_beekeepers_ Rakib_Hasan_SumonLast year, beekeepers and environmental organizations took to the court in what was to be one of the first legal efforts to protect declining bee populations. The move was bold: Citing the Environmental Protection Agency’s purview over the approval of a class of chemical pesticides called neonicitinoids (neonics), they sued the EPA for circumstances that they say led to Colony Collapse Disorder. The suit maintained that through the approved use of pesticides like clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the EPA failed to prevent conditions that have led to mass deaths of bees and untold financial losses for beekeepers.

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Speaking the Unspeakable: The Business Case for Embracing Taboos

3p Contributor | Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments
Unilever will help 25 million people gain access to toilets by 2020.

Unilever will help 25 million people gain access to toilets by 2020.

By Jean-Laurent Ingles

Poo. The topic that no one wants to talk about, yet one we must face up to. One child dies of diseases related to poor sanitation every two minutes. One billion people practice open defecation. Two and a half billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation. And because these issues make us uncomfortable, we aren’t doing enough to change things. Neither Millennium Development Goal 4 (to reduce under five child mortality by two-thirds) nor Millennium Development Goal 7 (to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation) will be met by the 2015 deadline. This simply cannot continue.

At Unilever, we believe in tackling taboos head-on and engaging consumers with important global issues through our brands. Why? Because a brand can bring an issue to life and make it accessible. Because a brand can make an issue relevant to consumers’ lives. Because a brand can entertain, intrigue and inform without turning people off.  But, most importantly, because a brand can take a taboo, turn it into a business opportunity, and in the process help address pressing social issues.

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VIDEO: “Creating Resilient Cities” with Siemens and Arup

| Wednesday October 1st, 2014 | 1 Comment

creating resilient cities graphic-1

 

WATCH A RECAP OF TODAY’S CONVERSATION BELOW

The world is rapidly urbanizing and the majority of the global population will experience the effects of climate change in urban cities. Yet while cities are vulnerable, they are also uniquely positioned to lead the efforts of mitigating and adopting to climate change. How do we ensure that our cities will remain attractive places for people and businesses against a backdrop of increasing climate risk? Join TriplePundit’s Founder, Nick Aster, live on Google’s hangout platform to discuss how cities may be able to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Our featured panelists are:

  • Michael Stevns, Project Manager of the Toolkit for Resilient Cities, Siemens
  • Stephen Cook, Associate Director, Energy and Climate Change Consulting, Arup

The conversation will cover how to future-proof our cities; resilience in the fields of technology, finance, and risk management; and global best practices for creating resilient cities.

Let us know you’re coming! RSVP HERE.

 

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SOCAP14 Interview: Plum Organics & Campbell’s Soup

| Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This video is part of our ongoing coverage of SOCAP14.  To see the rest please visit our SOCAP 14 page here.

plum-campbellsPlum Organics is a certified B Corp and benefit corporation that makes nutritious, organic baby food.  About a year ago, Plum was acquired by Campbell’s Soup Co., joining a long list of sustainably-minded companies who have been acquired by larger, publicly-traded corporations.

The level of transparency and commitment to sustainability that being structured as a benefit corporation entails is difficult to translate to a publicly-traded company — regardless of that company’s own commitments.  But according to Plum and Campbell’s, the acquisition is going well and will ultimately enhance the sustainability of both companies.

I sat down with Plum’s co-founder, Neil Grimmer and Campbell’s VP of CSR and Sustainability, Dave Stangis at SOCAP14 a few weeks back to discuss…

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Can B Corp Certification Help You Raise Capital?

Ryan Honeyman | Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is the eighth in a weekly series of excerpts from the upcoming book “The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good”(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the series.

InvestorsBy Ryan Honeyman

Ahh–the perennial debate: will becoming a Certified B Corp help or hurt my ability to raise capital?

Like most things in life, it’s not a 100% black or white answer. It depends on where (and from whom) you are trying to raise capital. In my opinion, however, it is starting to look pretty good for B Corps (just ask CircleUp, which recently partnered with Collaborative Fund to invest $4 million exclusively in Certified B Corporations).

While researching and writing “The B Corp Handbook,” I found that B Corp certification can help you attract: mission-driven or impact investors who consider social, environmental and financial criteria in their investment decisions; mainstream investors who are primarily interested in strong financial returns; and larger companies interested in acquiring a cutting-edge and innovative brand.

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CDP Connects Climate Action and Financial Results

RP Siegel | Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 2 Comments

586px-New_York_Stock_Exchange_EntranceLike it or not, most decisions today are based on economics. It’s the way our system is put together and it has been, in many ways, successful in generating innovation and prosperity, for many if not for all. That fact is not one that is likely to change easily, though the system’s shortfalls are beginning to show up like cracks in a once impenetrable façade. Prominent questions that arise, for anyone when pondering a choice, whether it’s an individual or a large company, tend to fall along the lines of:

  • Can I afford it?
  • Is it a good investment?
  • Will taking this action lead to more prosperity?

When we talk about large-scale change, we can talk about two kinds of change — one that works within this paradigm, or one that challenges it. I’m not here today to argue the respective benefits of each, but instead to acknowledge the fact that working within the system, if possible, has distinct advantages, given the deep interdependencies between the financial world and the world at large.

So, within this context, looking at an issue like climate change and the large-scale actions required to adequately address it, the question of whether these actions can have an economic upside is critical. If we had to rely strictly on a sense of civic duty and social responsibility, that would surely be a harder road.

With that in mind, the CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report 2014, from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is good news.

CDP was engaged by a group of 767 major investors representing an enormous amount of money, some $92 trillion, to assess all the companies in the S&P 500 Index based on two things:

  • Their level of disclosure regarding carbon emissions
  • Their performance in responding to the need for action.

If you think that’s a lot of money, you’re right. In fact, if there is no double-counting here, $92 trillion represents over 38 percent of all the money in the world. So if the group of people and institutions representing 38 percent of the world’s wealth want to know, as investors, what the companies in the S&P 500 are doing about climate change, that ought to give some people pause as to how truly important this is.

So what did they find out? After looking at these metrics and correlating them with the financial metrics of the companies that participated, CDP made the following statement.

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Sierra Club Takes Coal Fight to Supreme Court

| Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 4 Comments

Dunkirk1 The Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign recently scored a big victory in Indiana. The Indiana chapter of Beyond Coal was a central player in putting together the coalition of grassroots groups that managed to prod Indiana Power & Light to stop burning coal at its Harding Street power plant — the only coal-fired power plant remaining within the limits of a major Midwestern city. The campaign isn’t stopping there.

On Sept. 26, the Sierra Club announced it was joining with Ratepayer and Community Intervenors to file a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court that challenges a Public Service Commission ruling that would levy a $140 million subsidy on state residents’ electricity bills to upgrade and expand the Dunkirk coal-fired power plant in Chautauqua County. The plaintiffs are being represented by Earthjustice.

Deeming it a “bailout” at ratepayers’ expense, the upgrade and expansion plan “would result in a plant three times larger than necessary to maintain reliable operation of the region’s power grid,” Sierra states in a news release. Moreover, at a time when the EPA is readying President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the plant – though it would be able to burn both coal and natural gas – would add greenhouse gases and air pollution in the region, contributing to climate change, the environmental NGO highlights.

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McKinsey Touts Bioenergy as Coal Replacement

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Bioenergy_510x175While coal goes kicking and screaming into a dark and pollution-filled goodnight, it is becoming more evident and economically plausible that biomass energy, or bioenergy —energy derived from organic matter —can replace it.

McKinsey & Co., a global management consulting firm, makes this point in a recent article — “Can bioenergy replace coal?” — that examines the situation in Europe.

The article notes that like all renewable energy options in the European Union, “bioenergy has struggled against low-priced coal imports, low carbon dioxide prices in the emissions-trading system, and an economic and regulatory backlash against renewable-energy policies, including substantial cuts in government support.” But McKinsey writers Marco Albani, Nicolas Denis and Anna Granskog assert that biomass-based energy should not be counted out just yet. “Although today it fails to compete on cost with other renewables such as wind and solar, we believe bioenergy not only has the potential to significantly improve but could even become cost competitive with coal.”

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