MyMeter Provides Energy-Saving Tools to Homes and Businesses

RP Siegel | Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

mymeter-445x304 On a sunny summer day in Los Angles, a thousand air conditioners might easily turn on at the exact same moment. That would elicit a surge of electrical power to get all of those compressors running, driving up what is known as peak demand. Typically, a power plant must have enough capacity to meet that demand whenever it occurs. That requires the power plant to be much larger than what is needed most of the time, which makes it inherently less efficient. But if starting those thousand air conditioners could be spread out — using tiny delays, over a period of less than a minute — that would reduce peak demand, and the required plant capacity, considerably.

This is the idea behind demand management, an essential element of a smart grid architecture. Overall, a smart grid relies on a number of elements from the various domains. Generation includes the various sources and generating types, both variable and non-variable. Distribution includes storage, switches and transmission lines. Both of these domains have become smarter through the use of technology to control, measure and record the amount of power passing through them, as well as to protect the various elements from surges or overloads.

The customer domain is regulated primarily through the smart meter, which helps the user to optimize efficiency and manage demand. Software applications like MyMeter, from Accelerated Innovations LLC, help to “empower electric, gas, and water utilities and their customers to better manage end-use demand and consumption. It’s the engaging, intelligent connection that transforms meter data into insights for action.”

If knowledge is power, MyMeter provides power in that form, to both the customer and the utility, about the other kind of power being provided and consumed — allowing each to optimize their own interests.

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Nominate Your Favorite Nonprofit to Win $10,000 from Tom’s of Maine

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Through the Tom's of Maine

Through the Tom’s of Maine 50 States for Good program, anyone can nominate their favorite nonprofit to receive $10,000 in project funding through Sept. 30. Participants can also show their support online to renovate a distressed park in Detroit.

Now in its sixth year, the Tom’s of Maine 50 States for Good program rewards grassroots nonprofits with a total of $500,000 in project funding. But the natural personal care brand doesn’t pluck these groups out of thin air — it allows the public to weigh in on how funding is dispersed through a simple online nomination.

Nominations are open to anyone 18 years of age or older – including nonprofit representatives and supporters. Any qualifying 501(c)3 nonprofit in good standing with an operating budget under $2 million is eligible for nomination.

After the nomination period ends on Sept. 30, an independent panel of judges will pick the winners. This year, for the first time, the program will feature 51 winners across the country, one from each state and the District of Columbia — bringing this year’s project funding total to $510,000.

In addition to nominating a nonprofit, participants can also show their support and make an immediate impact on revitalizing a distressed park in Detroit with just a few clicks. Also new for 2014, Tom’s is asking consumers to be “Virtual Volunteers” and use their collective social media power to bring much-needed park equipment to Knudsen Park along Detroit’s historic 8 Mile Boulevard.

Participants can visit 50StatesforGood.com and use the social sharing buttons to show their support for park needs ranging from swing sets to picnic tables. Renovations will be made possible by consumer support online and a $25,000 donation from Tom’s to the nonprofit Eight Mile Boulevard Association, the company said.

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How to Tell Your Company’s Sustainability Story

3p Contributor | Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

4181767596_0d0f971143_zBy Nicole Skibola

Building a narrative around a social enterprise is tricky. You need to appeal to the bottom line, convey social/environmental impact, resonate with a variety of different stakeholders, and every team member needs to feel personal passion when they tell the story or make a pitch.

At Centurion Consulting, we began working with a technology-driven sustainable agriculture enterprise in its startup phase last month. (That’s all I can say until they launch officially, but our work with them is a mix of sustainability, economic development, technology, and business model and product design). Going in, we had read a lengthy business plan. We had a sense of what our clients were trying to accomplish, but there were many moving parts and we knew the product was complex. We also gathered that the client team didn’t have a crystal clear understanding of what the product was.

In the old world of business plans, this would be a problem. We, however, saw it as an opportunity to bring the team together to craft a shared narrative. We knew that the only way we could help them to accelerate both their product development and prepare them for telling a cohesive story was through the Running Lean world of product experimentation and validation.

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Hershey Expands Ivory Coast Cocoa Farmer Program

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

HersheyEarlier this month, Hershey announced the expansion of its cocoa farmer training and community initiatives in the Ivory Coast. The company will partner with Cargill to expand the initiative, called ‘Learn to Grow Ivory Coast,’ to include seven farmer cooperatives and investments in education and teacher housing. Through the initiatives, 10,000 cocoa farmers will be trained in agricultural and social practices that are certified with the UTZ Certified standard. The farmers will receive higher premiums for the cocoa as a result.

The Learn to Grow Ivory Coast program will accelerate Hershey’s purchase of sustainably-sourced cocoa. Hershey has committed to sourcing 100 percent certified cocoa for all of its products globally by 2020. It is committed to sourcing cocoa certified through UTZ, Fairtrade USA and Rainforest Alliance, three of the most recognized cocoa certification programs.

In 2013, Hershey sourced 18 percent of its cocoa from certified sources. By 2016, the company hopes to increase that percentage to between 40 and 50 percent.

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World Leaders Respond to U.N. Call for Climate Change Action

| Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

climatesummit2014At the United Nations Climate Summit 2014, held at U.N. headquarters in New York City on Sept. 23, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for bold commitments to catalyze climate change mitigation and adaptation actions. In response, leaders spanning government, business, finance and civil society announced new initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change.

New climate change action initiatives were announced in the areas of finance, farming and forests. New coalitions between cities, businesses and citizens were formed that aim to reduce GHG emissions and strengthen resilience to climate change, according to a Climate Summit 2014 news release.

“Change is in the air. Today’s Climate Summit has shown an entirely new, cooperative global approach to climate change,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “The actions announced today by governments, businesses, finance and civil society show that many partners are eager to confront the challenges of climate change together.”

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Carbon Offsets 101: A Simple Guide to Buying Quality

Alexis Petru
| Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 3 Comments
The Arcata City Forest Barnum Tract is a community forest located in Northern California creating verified carbon offsets through the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Forest Project Protocol. The land was purchased from a timber company and was determined to be at high risk of intensive harvesting or cutting.  Image courtesy Terrapass.

The Arcata City Forest Barnum Tract is a community forest located in Northern California creating verified carbon offsets through the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Forest Project Protocol.

Carbon offsets used to be maligned as a way for individuals to assuage their eco-guilt or for companies to falsely promote a green image without changing their behavior – a system no better than the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences during the Middle Ages. But the market for carbon offsets has come a long way in recent years, and now, with more regulation and oversight, carbon offsets are a valid way to reduce your individual or company’s carbon footprint, as long as they’re accompanied, of course, with measures to green your personal lifestyle or business operations.

As TriplePundit launches its new series this week – a business buyer’s guide to carbon offsets – we thought we’d start with the basics, reviewing what exactly a carbon offset is, how the market works and how companies can go about purchasing offsets.

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Campaign Calls for 100 Companies, 100 Percent Renewable Power

| Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

RE100TCG A consortium of leading climate change nonprofits and multinational businesses have joined to launch an initiative that aims to see 100 of the world’s largest companies power their businesses solely from renewable energy resources by 2020. Led by the Climate Group, the campaign — dubbed RE100 — counts Ikea, Swiss Re, BT, Commerzbank, Formula E, H&M, Mars, Nestlé, Philips, Reed Elsevier and J. Safra among its founding business members. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) also are working with the Climate Group to see the RE100 through to fruition.

Launched Sept. 22 during Climate Week NYC, the RE100 campaign aims to lead by example. It will serve as a showcase that highlights the economic, social and environmental benefits businesses can realize by going 100 percent renewable — and just how leading businesses are moving towards the goal of 100 percent renewable power. It will also assist companies looking to make the switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources, including “providing guidance as to selecting and implementing the best approach to utilizing renewable power, and information on the financial implications, risks and rewards of different options.”

“We are delighted with the ambition of leading companies to go 100 percent renewable,” Ben Ferrari, director of partnerships for the Climate Group, was quoted in a news release. “We plan to continue to grow this group and expand our outreach in China and India over the coming year. It is an exciting time for renewable power.”

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Greenpeace India: Tea Leaves Show DDT Pesticide Residue

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 7 Comments

Greenpeace_India_pesticides_GPITea is a $2 billion industry in India, which is the fourth-largest producer in the world of the sought-after beverage. The rich, fragrant chai is also unquestionably a domestic market-driver, since more than 80 percent of the product grown in India is sold at home. So when Greenpeace recently released a report stating that tested samples of India’s most prolific brands had traces of pesticides – including the banned substance DDT – well, you can imagine it wasn’t an easy swallow.

The India Tea Board immediately released a statement that all samples met India’s stipulated limits of pesticides and were within safety parameters. With equally rapid speed, Crop Care Federation, which represents the country’s agricultural-chemical industry, demanded a retraction — asserting that Greenpeace had made up the numbers. Within days, Crop Care launched a suit against Greenpeace, stating that the environmental organization had refused to share data with outside sources.

“Greenpeace’s effort to keep essential data away from Indian experts is a clear indication that the report is not just unscientific and fabricated but also done with malicious intent to harm Indian economy at the behest of its foreign donors,” said Crop Care Chair Rajjul Shroff.

This statement piqued our interest. Why would Greenpeace do the extensive research it boasted, and yet refuse to share data with outside sources?

The fact is, it did share the data, said Neha Saigal, senior campaigner for Greenpeace India’s sustainability campaign.

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Business Risks and Opportunities in a Carbon Surge Economy

Bill Roth | Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments
A supporter of climate change action holds up a sign at the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday.

A supporter of climate change action holds up a sign at the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday.

Business now operates within a carbon surge economy: Carbon surge — rapidly rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases —  is rapidly raising the risks and cost of doing business. Extreme weather tied to the carbon surge is reducing business revenues by disrupting customer access to stores and websites. Increasing evidence of climate change tied to the carbon surge is pushing consumers, especially the millennial generation, to question what they buy and who they buy from.

This consumer shift is threatening utility revenues while growing the sales of smart, energy efficient technologies. The net result is the emergence of an economy defined and shaped by carbon surge.

Carbon surge evidence

The World Meteorological Organization’s latest report finds that a carbon surge in climate-changing emissions has pushed atmospheric CO2 concentration to 142 percent of the pre-industrial era, with methane and nitrous oxide levels at 253 percent and 121 percent of pre-industrial levels. The ocean’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases may have reached its limits — with ocean acidification now at levels unseen for over 300 million years.

Carbon surge’s threat to business costs

A carbon surge economy is a costlier place to do business. Examples of how carbon surge and the inceased incidence of extreme weather are increasing business costs include:

  • Rising electricity and fossil fuel costs tied to increased regulation of climate changing pollution;
  • Increased commodity costs, plus increased price volatility, as extreme weather events disrupt or destroy supplies;
  • Increased property insurance tied to the increase in extreme weather damage claims;
  • Lost productivity due to electrical service disruption;
  • Lost productivity due to storm and weather related worker attendance disruptions.
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Work More and Warm Less: Integrating Jobs and Climate Solutions

3p Contributor | Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Participants carry signs at the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday. As Climate Week NYC continues, Robert Wolcott of Get America Working argues that climate change and jobs are inextricably linked.

Participants carry signs at the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday. As Climate Week NYC continues, Robert Wolcott of Get America Working argues that climate change and jobs are inextricably linked.

By Rob Wolcott

As citizens and world leaders converge on New York City seeking a way to address climate change, across the U.S. tens of millions are also out of work. The political challenge of achieving a climate policy consensus is hard. There is no broad agreement that the U.S. even has a climate problem. But there is bedrock consensus that we have an unemployment problem, and tackling it may be one of the best ways to help the climate.

Monthly jobs reports indicate U.S. unemployment a little over 6 percent, representing about 11 million people. But that ignores at least another 10 to 12 million Americans who want to work, but are so dejected by the lack of jobs that they have given up looking. The labor force participation rate (the percent of healthy, working-aged adults with jobs) is 62.8 percent, the lowest in 35 years. That means almost 40 percent of Americans are jobless — many by choice, but many, many others for lack of opportunities.

Factors driving this crisis include a skills/needs mismatch, labor-saving mechanization, globalization, a hangover from the Great Recession and a chronic, self-inflicted problem of double taxation of labor. On top of personal income taxes, our payroll taxes raise hiring costs and encourage employers to use more energy and less labor. Labor and energy/materials are relative substitutes in the overall economy: In general, the more a business uses one, the less it uses the other.

That’s why, even though at first glance jobs and climate seem to be distinct policy questions, they are in fact deeply intertwined. For more than a century through tax policy and other means, development and use of fossil fuels have been incentivized and subsidized. Today with only 5 percent of the global population, the U.S. consumes 20 percent of the world’s fossil fuels. Fees or taxes on energy would cut greenhouse gas emissions more efficiently than regulation, yet we’ve failed to put a price on carbon, and therefore failed to curb energy consumption driving climate change.

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Lyft, Uber Dethroning Taxi Industry in San Francisco

Mike Hower
| Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 7 Comments

taxi The San Francisco taxi industry is on the verge of being dethroned by transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Lyft and Uber. Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) reported that the average trips per taxicab in the city had declined from 1,424 a month in March 2012 to only 504 as of July 2014 — a nearly 65 percent drop.

The taxi industry’s health “overall is being impacted clearly” by competing transportation network companies, said Kate Toran, director of Taxis and Accessible Services for the SFMTA.

Fueled by copious amounts of venture capital, Uber and Lyft have been locked in a vicious battle for the transportation throne. In a bitter conflict for users and drivers alike, the leading TNCs have left a festering taxi industry in their wake.

“There’s been a real reduction, but obviously this doesn’t tell the whole story. Part of the story is we don’t have hard data yet from the [transportation network companies'] side to really analyze the full impact on the streets and our air quality.”

Toran has approached the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) about conducting a joint study with the SFMTA on the impacts of taxis and TNCs competing in the for-hire transportation industry. CPUC established the new business category in September 2013 and is responsible for regulating TNCs such as Uber and Lyft.

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Sustainable Seafood is On the Rise, New Reports Show

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

MSCAlthough 29 percent of the world’s oceans are overfished, 10 percent of global wild caught seafood comes from fisheries involved in the Marine Stewardship Council’s program. Since 1999, more than 220 fisheries have undergone independent assessments of their environmental sustainability, and those who have achieved MSC certification have made hundreds of improvements to their fishing practices. MSC-certified fisheries committed to making 600 additional improvements by 2020.

Two recently released MSC reports, the Global Impacts Report 2014 and the Annual Report 2013-14, show that there are more MSC-labeled products than ever before. Over the past five years the amount of MSC-labeled products have more than doubled. More than 23,000 products from MSC-certified fisheries were available in over 100 countries — a tenfold increased since 2009. The amount of fisheries participating in the MSC program with habitat and ecosystem impacts at or above best practice has increased from 71 percent in 2009 to 82 percent in 2013. The amount of fisheries in the MSC program with stocks mained at or above maximum sustainable levels has also jumped from 80 percent in 2009 to 94 percent in 2013.

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The Most Common CV and Resume Mistakes, Part 1: It’s All About Me

3p Contributor | Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

CV-resume-help-sustainabilityBy Shannon Houde

The most common mistake a job applicant can make is to think that their CV is all about them. As a sustainability career coach and former HR manager, I know this only too well. “But I can’t delete that sentence!” a client will cry. “That project 10 years ago was really important!” I hear it all the time and, frankly, yawn. Because guess what? You can extract parts of your history and still be okay. In fact, you will be more relevant and marketable.

No matter what your college career advisor told you, your CV is most definitely not about you. It’s a marketing tool. Therefore, it should be all about the market: appealing to the hiring manager, meeting the company’s needs, using the organization’s language, communicating what your audience wants to hear. A CV that goes into every tiny detail of your entire career history is absolutely not what a hiring manager wants to read. You have to do the screening work for them.

If you’re still not convinced, put yourself in their shoes: You’ve got 30 seconds to find out whether this person can do the job or not, what motivates them, whether they fit the company culture, and whether or not you want to work with them.

So if you want to avoid making this simple error, there is some work to do before you start writing your CV, and — counterintuitively — that work does start with you. Specifically, knowing yourself. The reason? By knowing yourself, you are in a better position to market and ultimately sell yourself. My bespoke framework was developed specifically for this purpose. It takes the pain out of the self-scrutiny by focussing on how you’d answer a hiring manager’s four key questions before they’ve even asked them, and I’m going to share it with you here.

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How B Corp Certification Helps Benchmark and Improve Performance

Ryan Honeyman | Tuesday September 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is the seventh 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.

Example 16 - BIA Distribution copyBy Ryan Honeyman

Many B Corps report that one of the biggest benefits of the certification process is taking the B Impact Assessment, a free tool that measures the social and environmental performance of the entire company on a scale from zero to 200 points.

This enables any business to measure the impact of its operations on its workers, its community, and the environment; compare itself to its industry peers; and compete to improve its performance over time. The B Impact Assessment is particularly valuable because no matter how sustainable your business already is (or is not), you will undoubtedly find blind spots that you can address to further benefit your stakeholders.

“Before the B Impact Assessment, we struggled with aligning our internal processes and assuring our deep-thinking team members that the company was being guided for maximum impact. Now we have a road map and partners that help us establish effective governance practices and policies. Becoming a Certified B Corp put it all together for us.” —Regina Wheeler, CEO, Positive Energy Solar

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Companies Sign on to Report on Climate Change

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday September 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

climate_change_monopoly_philip_taylor

As we’ve observed in several posts this week, one of the really beneficial outcomes of the increased focus on the United Nations summit on climate change, which launches today, has been the groundswell of companies that have been willing to publicly step up or announce their efforts to offset global warming.

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board and its consortium of signatories has actually been in place since 2007, but its most recent statement is an example of the kind of momentum that is continuing to gain speed from the private sector.

Members of the CDSB have agreed to “to report and make use of climate change information in mainstream corporate reports (such as an Annual Report) to support the U.N. climate change negotiations,” Michael Zimonyi, a Project Officer with the CDSB Secretariat, said in an email.

CDSB offers a suggested Climate Change Reporting Framework that will allow shareholders to have a better sense of how their investments impact or are impacted by climate change, but signatories are not required to use this framework. The CDSB signatories, says the announcement, “believe shareholders and plan beneficiaries have an inherent interest in the completeness and comparability of climate-related information available in annual and other mainstream corporate reports.” The reporting framework also has the support of the U.N. Environment Program.

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