Half a Million Homes and Businesses Now Powered By Solar

Mike Hower
| Monday September 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

solar The U.S. solar market hit a major milestone in the second quarter of this year, with more than half a million homes and businesses now generating solar energy, according to a new report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

According to the Q2 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the United States installed 1,133 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the second quarter of this year. The residential and commercial segments accounted for nearly half of all solar PV installations in the quarter.

The residential market has seen the most consistent growth of any segment for years and is expected to continue on its upward path. Across the U.S., cumulative PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) operating capacity has surpassed 15.9 gigawatts, enough to power more than 3.2 million homes.

This expansion of solar power also has been a boon to the economy, the report’s authors say. Today, the solar industry employs 143,000 Americans and pumps nearly $15 billion a year into the economy. Much of this can be credited to effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), net energy metering and renewable portfolio standards (RPS).

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Do ‘Clicktivism’ and the Online Petition Really Go Too Far?

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday September 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

ChangeOrgClicktivism. It has a great ring to it, no? It says everything about our online culture these days where just about anything can be accomplished with enough single, willing clicks – including the viral success of an online petition.

Micah White, the well-known activist and former editor of Adbusters, first enlightened us to this issue in 2010 with his controversial article on the insidious petitions that are said to now populate the Internet. Petitions like that half-page appeal a friend sends you that urges more government money for Ebola treatment, or the letter demanding banks stop increased charges to checking accounts. For some, clicktivism represents a growing apathy in American social life — an erosion not only of activism, but of core values.

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Human Values and Corporate Social Impact: Learning and Foresight

3p Contributor | Monday September 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This is the final post in a six-part series examining the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision that affirmed the legality of treating corporations as persons. Using JPMorgan Chase as an example, Donald J. Munro of the University of Michigan focuses on how certain human moral values and some corporate behaviors are incompatible. You can follow the whole series here

In this six-part series, Donald J. Munro of the University of Michigan examines the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision using JPMorgan Chase as an example.

In this six-part series, Donald J. Munro of the University of Michigan examines the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision using JPMorgan Chase as an example.

By Donald J. Munro

Foresight is not prognostication or fortune telling based on finding signs about the future. Rather, it refers to some awareness of the probable risks or advantages likely to follow as consequences of our actions. It is usually based on factual information about these risks and consequences.

This value derives from our primitive instinct to seek out survival resources and avoid predators and dangerous paths that can cause injury or death. In other words, experience and learning influence evolution; “…individuals that learn to predict during life also improve their food-finding ability during life.” It involves the ability to come up with creative responses to hunger and to avoiding danger.

Experience results in learning or new knowledge, as when we make or revise choices, based on earlier instances of successful or unsuccessful choices. At the cellular level, existing synapses are strengthened by the outcomes of choices, as when the brain causes dopamine to flag certain neurons. So being able to learn and revise choices helps us to cultivate foresight.

Biological basis of foresight

As Antonio Damasio put it, “Eventually, in a fruitful combination with past memories, imagination, and reasoning, feelings led to the emergence of foresight and the possibility of creating novel, non-stereotypical responses” (Antonio Damasio, “Looking for Spinoza,” p. 80). Steven Pinker described the brain function this way: “The faculties underlying empathy, foresight, and self-respect are information-processing systems that accept input and commandeer other parts of the brain and body” (in “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature,” p. 166).

Foresight may also involve predictions of how the law or fellow citizens will respond to our choices, as in the expectation of rewards or punishments. In the case of corporations, if they care about human moral values, foresight would go beyond the factors predicting financial profit/loss. It would also include predictions about impact on people’s health and well-being, on their families and communities, and on their self-respect.

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Proposed Dredging of Searsport Harbor Threatens Maine Lobster Industry

Sarah Lozanova | Monday September 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a three-part series on environmental business issues facing Mid-coast Maine.

The proposed dredge site is located between Mack Point (bottom), Sears Island (left) and Islesboro (top)

The proposed dredge site is located between Mack Point (bottom), Sears Island (left) and Islesboro (top)

The last 200 years have left their mark on the Penobscot Bay and River in Mid-coast Maine, which show the effects of things like commercial fishing, dam construction, industrialization and logging. Although historical accounts from the Penobscot Indians tell of salmon runs so thick that people could walk across the river on the backs of fish, the Atlantic salmon was listed as an endangered specie in 2009. The recent removal of two dams on the Penboscot River restored access to 1,000 miles of fish habitat, while maintaining hydroelectric power production, and aquatic life is expected to increase.

The newest threat to the bay ecosystem is the proposed dredging of Searsport Harbor at Mack Point in Searsport, Maine by the Army Corps of Engineers. The plan is to deepen the port’s entrance from 35 to 40 feet and widen it from 500 to 650 feet. This harbor is the second busiest in Maine and is located in Penobscot Bay, near the mouth of the Penobscot River. The proposed project would involve moving 929,000 cubic yards of material and relocating it further down the bay. This controversial $12 million project is supported by some who believe it will encourage regional economic activity and opposed by others for numerous reasons.

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Longfellow Clubs Cuts Its Footprint and Engages Its Community

Sustainability4SMEs
| Monday September 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a two-part series on sustainability initiatives at Longfellow Sports Clubs in Sudbury, Wayland and Natick, Massachusetts. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here.

Tennis CourtsIn Part I of this two-part article, we showed how this Massachusetts-based health club company has made dramatic improvements in waste reduction, water usage efficiency and toxic chemical elimination — significantly enhancing its financial performance and providing a safer and healthier environment for club patrons. Here, we discuss its energy efficiency improvement initiatives as well as its highly successful efforts to encourage sustainable practices in the communities in which it operates.

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Hyatt Sets New Environmental ‘Vision’ for 2020

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday September 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Hyatt_ChampaignUrbana_exterior

In its latest corporate social responsibility report, Hyatt Hotels revealed a new set of environmental goals that it’s calling the Hyatt 2020 Vision.

One of the goals involves sustainable design: Starting in 2015, Hyatt will require all new construction and major renovation projects contracted for managed hotels to follow sustainable design guidelines. Starting next year, all new construction and major renovation projects for wholly-owned, full-service hotels must achieve either LEED certification or an equivalent certification.

The 2020 vision also includes reduction goals: Each of Hyatt’s three regions will reduce energy use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent per square meter. The goal for water-stressed areas is to reduce water use by 30 percent. Additionally, every managed hotel will recycle or some how divert waste from landfills by 40 percent.

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3p Weekend: 15 Fall Conferences We Can’t Wait to Check Out

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday September 5th, 2014 | 1 Comment

newco san franciscoWith 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.

Just like everyone else, we’re sad to see the summer go. But the good news is: With the fall season comes loads of thought-provoking conferences to get the creative juices flowing. Here are 15 we can’t wait to hit this year.

1. NewCo San Francisco

For a third consecutive year, San Francisco’s most innovative companies will open their doors to executives, entrepreneurs, investors and future influencers during NewCo San Francisco. Notice is a bit short for this one (the SF event takes place next week), but Newco is going around the world with similar conferences in host cities like New York, Los Angeles and London.

September 11-12 in San Francisco
Click here to register (discount to VIP reception with code “TriplePunditSF2014″), or follow along at #NewCoSF

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SOCAP14: Q&A with Impact Weaver Award Winner Lindsey Engh

| Friday September 5th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lindsey EnghThe first annual Impact Weaver Award recognizes the internal leaders that work behind the scenes to build the team and operational infrastructure that make up a successful organization.

Friday Consulting, in partnership with Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) launched this award to recognize the unsung heroes of social entrepreneurship. Friday Consulting’s Founder, Shivani Ganguly, notes, “We frequently praise the founders of social enterprises for their vision and willingness to take on the challenges and great risks that come along with building a successful venture. However, we tend to forget about the internal leaders that build the team and make the hundreds of strategic and tactical decisions needed to bring the vision to fruition.”

Triple Pundit: Congratulations on winning this year’s Impact Weaver Award! Can you tell us a little bit about you and your company?

Lindsey Engh: Hi! I’m Lindsey, and I’m lucky enough to work with an incredible team to make Impact Hub Seattle a reality. Our revenue model is based on coworking, events, and educational workshops, but at our core we are a community of individuals working at the intersection of technology and social good. We believe that strong human relationships underline everything we do, and we also recognize that everyone has a unique set of skills and passions that, when recognized and activated, can change their sense of self-worth, which in turn, changes the world one person at a time. Our mission is to equip every individual who walks through our doors with the tools they need to make their most impact possible.

As for myself, most of my time is spent at Impact Hub — I’m a co-founder and manage most day-to-day operations. I’m pretty easily excited by a delicious Jasmine Pearl tea, T-shirt cycling weather, excellent non-fiction, my bike, going to bed early and waking up even earlier (4 a.m.!), dancing, and a cozy grey Seattle day spent curled up reading.

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PepsiCo Releases New Water Modeling Tool for Latin America

Leon Kaye | Friday September 5th, 2014 | 0 Comments
PepsiCo, Pepsi, Inter-American Development Bank, water scarcity, Latin America, Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, Peru, Leon Kaye, Hydro-BID

São Paulo could run out of water in several weeks.

Latin America overall has bountiful supplies of water; in fact, the World Bank estimates that 31 percent of the world’s freshwater resources can be found in this region. But that does not mean citizens necessarily have equal access to this vital resource, and climate change could have a drastic effect on future supplies of water. PepsiCo, working with the Inter-American Bank (IDB) and European governments, has released a new data management program with the aim to assist Latin American nations with forecasting future water availability and supplies.

The modelling tool, which the IDB has named Hydro-BID, is an open-sourced program that has already projected water supplies in Argentina, Brazil, Haiti and Argentina. Pepsi announced Hydro-BID’s launch at the annual World Water Week in Stockholm.

Access to such a tool is important for managing water supplies throughout Latin America because the evidence suggests climate change has already had in impact on water management within the region.

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Berkshire Beyond Buffett? Not So Fast

Michael Kourabas
| Friday September 5th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet speaks at the Fortune Most Powerful Women conference in 2013. Can Berkshire survive without its

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet speaks at the Fortune Most Powerful Women conference in 2013. Can Berkshire continue to thrive without its ‘Oracle-in-Chief?’

A few weeks ago, Class A shares of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway topped a staggering $200,000 a share.  Berkshire, which came in at No. 4 on the latest Fortune 500 list, has 300,000 employees spread across 59 subsidiaries, and more cash on hand — $55.5 billion — than any other company in America.  Its market value is roughly $330 billion, and it is often cited as one of the “most admired” companies in the world.  Berkshire has achieved all of this in the fashion of an old-school American conglomerate, refusing to focus on just one sector or industry.  As a result, Berkshire’s stock and subsidiary portfolios include such behemoths as American Express; Burlington Northern Santa Fe; Coca-Cola; GEICO; Heinz; IBM; Walmart; and Wells Fargo, to name just a few.

Yet, the company’s growth has slowed: Over the last five years, it underperformed the S&P 500 for the first time in its history — and Berkshire skeptics question whether such a large and tentacular entity can continue to thrive without its Oracle-in-Chief.  Lawrence Cunningham, a law professor at George Washington University and author of the thoughtful “Berkshire Beyond Buffett:  The Enduring Value of Values” (Columbia Business School Publishing), is betting that it can.  While Cunningham’s book works quite well as a testament to Warren Buffett’s unassailable vision and leadership, as well as to what Berkshire embodies and may continue to embody after Buffett, it comes up a bit short as an argument for why Berkshire’s greatness will outlive its leader.

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SOCAP14: Q&A with Impact Weaver Award Winner Mary Voelbel

| Friday September 5th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Mary VoelbelThe first annual Impact Weaver Award recognizes the internal leaders that work behind the scenes to build the team and operational infrastructure that make up a successful organization.

Friday Consulting, in partnership with Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) launched this award to recognize the unsung heroes of social entrepreneurship. Friday Consulting’s Founder, Shivani Ganguly, notes, “We frequently praise the founders of social enterprises for their vision and willingness to take on the challenges and great risks that come along with building a successful venture. However, we tend to forget about the internal leaders that build the team and make the hundreds of strategic and tactical decisions needed to bring the vision to fruition.”

Triple Pundit: Congratulations on winning this year’s Impact Weaver Award! Can you tell us a little bit about you and your company?

Mary Voelbel: I’m a Minnesota native with a penchant for social justice issues and a passion for international experiences. I earned my BA in Psychology from The Colorado College before launching my career as the Center Director for SCORE! Educational Centers in the Bay Area. Following my passion for travel and culture, I spent a year teaching English in Chile through the Ingles Abre Puertas program designed in collaboration by the United Nations and the Chilean Ministry of Education. Before returning to the U.S., I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina to continue my work in teaching, community outreach, and customer relations roles. After two and a half years working abroad, I had a soft landing back into the States, when I earned my Master’s in Human Development & Psychology from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Upwardly Global brought me back to the Bay Area! We are a national nonprofit that connects highly skilled immigrant and refugee professionals with U.S. employers looking for global talent. There are 1.8 million skilled immigrants with the legal right to work, who are unemployed or severely underemployed — engineers that are driving cabs, accountants working as security guards and doctors working as nannies. Upwardly Global provides the training needed to navigate the U.S. job search and partners with employers to access this often hidden talent pool. We currently have offices in the Bay Area, Chicago, New York and Detroit and are serving job seekers through our online program in 40 different states.

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Human Values and Social Impact: Can Trust Exist Without Accountability?

3p Contributor | Friday September 5th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth post in a six-part series examining the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision that affirmed the legality of treating corporations as persons. Using JPMorgan Chase as an example, Donald J. Munro of the University of Michigan focuses on how certain human moral values and some corporate behaviors are incompatible. You can follow the whole series here

In this six-part series,

In this six-part series, Donald J. Munro of the University of Michigan examines the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision using JPMorgan Chase as an example.

By Donald J. Munro

Trust is a state of mind in which an individual expects benefits from another person or organization to which she gives something of value, while understanding that the other person could possibly cheat her. For example, a candidate for office may tell me that he will support policy X. I trust him. I believe in his integrity. He gets my vote. But then he is in a position to vote for policy Y, to my detriment. The candidate gets an advantage — my vote — which helps get him in office. But he does not have to give back any benefit to me.

At first, I believe in the integrity of the other person. My trust is enhanced by transparency in relevant actions and in sharing relevant information. Trust is essential for non-coercive relations between the leaders and the led. It promotes cooperation and enables people to have some justified foresight regarding matters of concern. The cooperative behavior is reinforced in part because trust is pleasurable, measured at the objective level by examining the oxytocin and dopamine levels of trusting parties.

Cooperation involves some conformity with group rules, which results in predictable, consistent behavior. Among the reasons people seek it is that is that it reduces stress and provides a sense of being in control of situations. Evidence of this can be found by measuring levels of the hormone cortisol.

Scientists have investigated the association of stress and levels of hormones; they have found elevated levels of cortisol in people who are under stress. Thus they have been able to demonstrate that people engaged in cooperative behaviors have less cortisol — less stress — than people engaged in non-cooperative behaviors, whose cortisol levels are higher than normal. In this sense, cooperation can be said to foster group evolutionary survival.

Can there be a trust relationship when the purchaser of a home loan does not know who owns the mortgage?

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Sustainable Renewable Energy Storage: Are We There Yet?

3p Contributor | Friday September 5th, 2014 | 6 Comments

2890673599_98882246b5_zBy Debbie Fletcher

Wind turbines and solar panels both utilize natural resources to produce clean, renewable energy. But in order for these technologies to make a real difference in the way we produce power, energy companies will need to find an effective way to store the power that can accommodate the fluctuations caused by intermittent sun and wind. Here we will explore the current state of the industry and some of the steps that are being taken to bring renewable energy to the next level.

Wind and solar industry growth

Both wind and solar have grown significantly in recent years and can help to provide valuable sources of renewable energy for future generations. According to Clean Line Energy, the United States has the potential to produce nearly 10 times the country’s existing power needs using wind alone. Wind power has also become increasingly cost-effective as technology has improved and the industry in the U.S. has grown. There are now more than 400 manufacturing plants across the U.S. using dedicated equipment and facilities like bespoke blast rooms to produce large volumes of towers, turbines and blades.

Similarly, the price of solar panels has continued to drop as technology improves. The industry employs over 100,000 Americans, and there are now over 13,000 megawatts of cumulative solar capacity operating in the U.S., enough to power more than 2.2 million homes.

Energy storage potential

Wind turbines and photovoltaic installations now produce enough energy to sustain themselves. However, there is an issue in that both types of technology require extra, large-scale infrastructure to store the energy so that it is available on demand and not just when it’s windy or sunny. A study by a team of Stanford researchers concluded that the wind industry will be able to afford to invest in these large-scale technologies and remain sustainable, while the solar industry will find it more difficult due to the extra energy required to produce photovoltaic panels.

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How to Genuinely Offset Your Emissions

3p Contributor | Friday September 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments

By Emil DimantchevWind power

The practice of offsetting carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits has come under some deserved criticism.

Instances of fictitious carbon credits have created understandable skepticism — which, coupled with information barriers, can make it difficult for us to confidently purchase a carbon offset. This is a shame because carbon offsets can effectively reduce our environmental impact or that of our companies. But to do this, offsets must be carefully selected and used for the right reasons.

A genuine carbon offset

The purpose of a carbon offset is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for, or “offset,” emissions that are practically unavoidable, such as flights on important personal or business occasions. To represent a genuine reduction of emissions, a carbon offset must be permanent, additional and third-party verified. ‘Additionality’ implies that a carbon offset must result in emission reductions which would not have occurred without the offset payment.

There are two ways to genuinely offset emissions: buying an offset credit generated from a high-quality offset project, and buying a CO2 permit from a credible emissions trading system.

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New Technology Helps Companies Choose Products, Ingredients Based on Sustainability

Alexis Petru
| Thursday September 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments
 PurView is UL’s new cloud-based software that helps manufacturers and retailers choose products based on their environmental and social responsibility profiles.

PurView is UL’s new cloud-based software that helps manufacturers and retailers choose products based on their environmental and social responsibility profiles.

How can a manufacturer reformulate a cleaning product to contain fewer harmful chemicals, and how can a retailer stock its shelves with more eco-friendly merchandise? UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a product safety testing and certification company, thinks it may have a solution: a set of data tools that helps businesses search and choose ingredients and products based on their environmental and social responsibility profiles.

Managed by UL’s recently launched Information & Insights division, the collection of tools build upon several databases with information on product ingredients and the consumer product index GoodGuide – all of which UL acquired – to allow manufacturers and retailers to essentially track products and materials across the supply chain.

UL’s search engine Prospector allows engineers and designers to look up materials they might want to use to create new products or reformulate existing ones – like developing a shampoo that rinses faster or a toothpaste that also whitens teeth. But, in addition to searching for ingredients that change the abilities or characteristics of a product, engineers can also identify materials that are more sustainable – ingredients that are free of certain chemicals, have received an environmental certification or comply with environmental regulations.

“Our grand vision [with Prospector] is to help people make healthier, safer products,” said Mathieu Guerville, director of strategy and business development at UL Information & Insights.

The Prospector database is especially suited for chemical-containing products at this time, he said, including personal care products, household and industrial cleaners, lubricants, and sealing and binding agents. But in the future, Guerville said that the company will be adding a platform for conflict materials and a search engine for materials used to make electronics and appliances.

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