Smarter Energy: Zero-Down Financing For Intelligent Power Storage

| Monday March 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

greenstationchart For commercial, industrial and municipal power consumers, intelligent energy storage, coupled with demand response, is emerging as an economically viable means of realizing gains in energy efficiency and paring down electric utility bills. That, in turn, may have much broader social and environmental ramifications and positive outcomes, spurring smart grid development and more widespread adoption of distributed solar, other forms of renewable energy generation and electric vehicles (EVs). And that could well lead to realizing big reductions in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other pollutants that result from generating electricity by burning fossil fuels.

An initial group of intelligent energy storage-demand response startups is beginning to make some waves in the U.S. power industry. Nurtured by federal funds and private-sector venture capital, they are now being given a boost by state government initiatives such as California’s AB 2514, “Procurement Targets for Viable and Cost-Effective Energy Storage Systems.”

Intelligent energy storage startups, such as Green Charge Networks (GCN), are also taking a page out of the residential solar playbook. Last week, independent equipment finance and asset management company TIP Capital and GCN announced the creation of the first fund of its kind: a $10 million TIE fund that will enable GCN to offer its commercial, industrial and municipal customers zero-money down financing to deploy its GreenStation smart energy storage-demand response and reduction platform.

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New “EPA” Report Trashes LEED Standards… No, Really!

| Monday March 10th, 2014 | 3 Comments

PR company linked to new LEED reportWhen the EPA releases a research report claiming that LEED-certified buildings don’t perform as well as their non-certified counterparts, that’s bound to turn heads in at least some sectors of the blogosphere so consider this mission accomplished. Last Friday, a group called the Environmental Policy Alliance (EPA, what else?) released a bombshell report claiming that LEED (Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design) certified buildings “actually use more energy than uncertified buildings.” The report has been making waves around the tubes all week long.

That’s all well and good if you’re only interested in culling information from their press release. However, if you are interested in whether the Environmental Policy Alliance is an organization with a solid track record in research or if it’s just another one of those PR efforts masquerading as a think tank, you can follow the links to their website and your answers are right there.

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Illinois Clean Energy Report Shows the Power of Community Choice

| Monday March 10th, 2014 | 1 Comment

91 Illinois communities get 100% clean powe, Chicago gets more windThe tubes have been buzzing over a new report announcing that 91 Illinois communities now get 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, but that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg. According to the report, “Leading from the Middle,” more than 500 other communities in the state have signed on to the same community choice program that the “clean 91″ have used, and several have already begun using it to improve their electricity footprint.

Within that larger group is Chicago, which is highlighted in the report. Though it still relies heavily on natural gas, Chicago has already used community choice to get from 40 percent coal down to zero in practically the blink of an eye.

As for how that is possible, let’s take a remark by Chicago’s chief sustainability officer, Karen Weigert, who sums it all up in “Leading from the Middle” with this comment: “[Electricity] is a market, and when you ask a market for something, they can provide it.”

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Distill Those Used Plastic Shopping Bags for Fuel

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday March 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

plasticbagsResearchers at the University of Illinois have developed a way to make those ubiquitous plastic shopping bags that litter both land and seascapes useful — by converting them into diesel, natural gas and other petroleum products.

According to a ScienceDaily article, the conversion “produces significantly more energy than it requires and results in transportation fuels — diesel, for example — that can be blended with existing ultra-low-sulfur diesels and biodiesels.” Other products, such as natural gas, naphtha (a solvent), gasoline, waxes and lubricating oils such as engine oil and hydraulic oil also can be obtained from shopping bags, researchers said.

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Natural Food Expo: Consumers Demand Healthy Convenience

Bill Roth | Monday March 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

natural product expo west 2014 Bill Roth Green Business Coach The food industry’s revenue growth is now being driven by a consumer mega-shift from fast foods to healthy convenience food. This trend has catapulted Chipotle’s stock to more than $500 per share. It is reshaping your local 7-Eleven convenience store that now offers healthier food featuring freshly made sandwiches and fruits. And this consumer mega-shift is why the sale of the Coca-Cola Co.’s iconic sugary drinks are falling. Positive evidence on the health implications of Americans adopting a better diet is now surfacing with an encouraging report that the rate of diabetes for our youth is falling.

Natural Food Expo attendance explosion

I have been attending the Natural Food Expo West for years. It used to be a niche event held in a modest facility. The 2014 Expo was one of the most heavily attended events I have ever attended across industries (rivaling the solar industry for its attendance growth over the last few years). Healthy food vendors now fill several floors of the huge Anaheim Convention Center. The line to secure an attendance badge involved hundreds of people, stretched the length of the center’s main hall and remained that way for much of the morning. Healthy food has leaped from a marketing niche to a revenue growth engine for the food service industry.

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Teaching to the Future: A Design School Where Nature is Always the Client

3p Contributor | Monday March 10th, 2014 | 1 Comment

ecosaBy Antony Brown

Design is a magical profession that creates our reality through a mysterious process of visualization and imagination called creativity. The design process gives shape to everything that surrounds us and, in turn, that reality shapes the way we perceive the world. Like all powerful magic, the practice of design carries with it a profound responsibility. Every object created by design, be it product, building or metropolis, has a powerful impact on us and the environment.

As soon as this latent power of design is understood, what becomes disturbing is the superficiality of most design education. Too often design professionals are educated in an environmental and spiritual vacuum. Learning is structured in an Descartian abstract reality full of style and empty of substance with little connection to the underlying reality of the world.

With the accelerating deterioration of the natural environment, it is essential to educate designers that are skilled in finding solutions that enhance our planetary ecology rather than consume it. We are fast becoming a beleaguered species whose survival is by no means secure. Environmental problems continue to burgeon and the real impact climate change is still yet to be fully felt.

Designers are not educated to solve the ecological challenges we face, yet design is a problem-solving skill that is ideally suited to proposing solutions to environmental, social and even economic challenges. But without a deeper design education that addresses these broader issues, design will continue to pursue style over substance.

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A Carbon Tax to Rule Them All

3p Contributor | Monday March 10th, 2014 | 4 Comments
Thousands gather at the Price the Polluters Rally in Melbourne, Australia in 2012.

Thousands gather at the Price the Polluters Rally in Melbourne, Australia in 2012.

By Brendon Steele

Here’s the beginning of a joke: Citizens Climate Lobby, ExxonMobil, climate scientist James Hansen, and a conservative Heartland Institute spin-off walk into a bar. No, a bar fight doesn’t erupt. Instead, what do they agree on when they walk out?

Not many realize, but they already agree on a carbon tax shift.

Put simply, a tax shift means to cut one tax and replace it with another—such as to cut income and/or payroll taxes, and put a carbon price in their place. This is called a “tax swap” or “revenue neutrality.”

Former NASA scientist James Hansen, the godfather of climate advocacy, has long thought this is a great idea. He argues a carbon tax is the most efficient and effective way to shrink our greenhouse gas emissions, and by refunding the tax instead of just adding it on top, it protects people—and the poor—while keeping government’s “hands off money.”

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Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. Program Empowers Women on the Factory Floor

Sarah Lozanova | Saturday March 8th, 2014 | 2 Comments

international women's dayWomen work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, yet earn a mere 10 percent of the world’s income and own less than 1 percent of the world’s property. In the developing world, the garment industry is a leading employer of low-skilled female workers, second only to agriculture. Although 80 percent of garment workers are women, very few make it up the ladder to management positions.

“Many garment workers are coming from rural areas, and most do not recognize that there are opportunities to advance their careers,” says Dotti Hatcher, executive director of Gap Inc.’s global P.A.C.E. program. “Many of them have very challenging lives and have many duties at home in addition to their work lives. There is a lot of data that will tell you that women in unskilled work in the developing world don’t have a belief in self, and it can be more difficult for them to obtain the knowledge they need to advance their careers.”

Gap Inc.’s highly successful P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program addresses this barrier and assists women in developing the foundational life skills to advance in their personal lives and the workplace, in a collaborative, holistic and sustainable initiative.

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ConEd’s Energy Storage Program Will Allow Renewables to Offset Nuclear

RP Siegel | Friday March 7th, 2014 | 4 Comments

tmp_ConEd581758375 Nuclear power has long been controversial in this country, due to concerns about safety. Those concerns were exacerbated after the Fukushima disaster, whose impacts are still not fully understood. A lot of attention has been focused on the Indian Point nuclear plant, in Buchanan N.Y., on the east bank of the Hudson River, just 38 miles from New York City. The license for Unit 2 actually expired last September, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would like the plant closed. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is evaluating it for a possible 20-year extension.

In the meantime, Con Edison of New York, commonly known as ConEd, and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), have developed a program to reduce demand, which would help reduce the need for generating capacity, making the prospect of eliminating the plant more feasible.

The program, which is called the Indian Point Energy Center Energy Efficiency, Demand Reduction and Combined Heat and Power Implementation Plan, is looking to cut out 125MW of demand through the three types of measures named in the title.

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3p Weekend: 8 Clean Tech Trends to Watch in 2014

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday March 7th, 2014 | 1 Comment
A supporter of climate action holds up a sign at the Walk Against Warming in Melbourne, Australia in 2007. A great deal has changed in clean tech since then.

A supporter of climate action holds up a sign at the Walk Against Warming in Melbourne, Australia in 2007. A great deal has changed in clean tech since then.

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

Clean tech is a hot topic in sustainable business – combining sustainable thinking with high technology. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, this week we rounded up eight clean tech trends to watch in 2014. Have something to add? Tell us about it in the comments. 

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Who’s Who in Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday March 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

PALM_FOREST_FallaciaThe push for sustainably sourced palm oil has been gaining prominence in the past few years. Quite a number of organizations have stepped up to the plate recent months to lobby for improved sourcing methods that don’t destroy forests in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Environmental advocates ranging from Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network to local zoos like Woodland Park, Cheyenne Mountain and St. Louis have taken a stand to encourage oil producers and purchasers to make the switch to sustainable sources.

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Indonesia’s 2nd Largest Pulp And Paper Company “APRIL” Falls Short In Forest Management Policy

| Friday March 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments
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Natural Rainforest, Sumatra

At the end of January, environmental science and conservation news site Mongabay, reported that Indonesian Paper giant, Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Ltd (APRIL) had announced a new environmental policy aimed to stem criticism about its forestry practices, which continue to be deleterious to Indonesia’s natural rain forests.

APRIL is Indonesia’s second largest pulp and paper producer after Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), and the two account for about 80 percent of the country’s total pulp and paper output. In recent months we have written extensively about APP’s ongoing commitment to their forest clearing moratorium and increasing transparency under their Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) – so APRIL’s announcement at face value is a welcome one; However it’s also one, as Mongabay says, that has been “immediately blasted” by activist groups.

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Bridgestone Arena Recycles Cigarette Butts with Help from TerraCycle

Alexis Petru
| Friday March 7th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Cigarette ButtsDespite a nearly 30 percent decline in cigarette smoking in the U.S. over the past decade, cigarette butts are still the most littered item across the country and the planet, according to Keep America Beautiful.

To tackle this litter problem locally, Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s Predators, has teamed up with the Nashville Clean Water Project and upcycling company TerraCycle to collect and recycle cigarette butts discarded at the sports and concert venue. The arena is one of the first venues in North America to launch a recycling program for this traditionally difficult-to-recycle material.

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New Commercial Refrigeration Standards to Save Billions in Energy Bills

| Friday March 7th, 2014 | 4 Comments

freezercase When it comes to energy efficiency, even small improvements can go a long way.

Following through on President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Department of Energy (DOE) on Feb. 28 issued new energy efficiency standards for commercial refrigeration equipment. Over the ensuing 30 years, it’s projected that the new standards will reduce carbon pollution by 142 million tons – the equivalent of that produced by generating electricity for 14.3 million U.S. homes – while also saving businesses as much as $11.7 billion on energy bills.

An update of standards set in 2009, the new energy efficiency standards will yield on the order of a 30 percent improvement in the energy efficiency of commercial refrigeration equipment as compared to current standards, according to the DOE.

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Another Banner, Record-Breaking Year for U.S. Solar

| Thursday March 6th, 2014 | 0 Comments

SolarA new report shows that 2013 was another banner, record-setting year for solar energy in the U.S., with 4,751 megawatts (MW) of new photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed–a year-over-year increase of 41 percent–with another 410 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) coming online. A record 2,106 MW of solar power capacity was installed in the fourth quarter alone, amounting to 44 percent of the annual total. That bests the old quarterly record by 60 percent.

As of year-end, there were more than 445,000 solar electric systems generating clean, renewable electrical power in the U.S. That amounts to more than 12,000 MW of PV and 918 MW of CSP capacity–enough for some 2.2 million average U.S. homes, according to the GTM Research-Solar Energy Industry Association’s (SEIA) “Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013.”

Solar accounted for 29 percent of all new electricity generation capacity added in 2013, second only to natural gas, which accounted for 46 percent. In the aggregate, 2013 statistics indicate that solar energy is on the cusp of going mainstream in the U.S., if it isn’t already there. A geographic breakdown of solar installations shows that this is indeed the case, but only in a few U.S. states.

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