What’s in Store for Waste Management?

| Monday March 1st, 2010 | 12 Comments

Ever since I was a small child I’ve wondered what happened to things when we threw them “away.”  When I figured it out, I did all I could to prevent the tossing out of anything.

From the little experience I’ve had in the waste management industry in general, I’ve learned that landfill disposal can be very profitable, recycling can be profitable when played right but has tighter margins, and radical ideas like composting may not add to the bottom line at all, except to make your tree-hugging stakeholders happy.  Knowing that, and knowing just how many of us there are producing tons of waste, I’ve always seen waste as a key problem area in need of attention and innovation.

It is for that reason that I have the good fortune of being able to attend Waste Management’s Industry Summit next week in Florida. 

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An End To Greenwash? Interview With Marcello Manca Of Underwriters Laboratories, “UL Environment”

John Laumer | Monday March 1st, 2010 | 2 Comments

Marcello Manca, VP & General Manager, UL Environment

Marcello Manca is Vice President & General Manager of UL Environment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a global leader in product testing and safety certification for more than a century. UL Environment (ULE) was launched in January 2009, and the organization has more than doubled in size over the past year.  Read on for Marcello’s insights into the future of environmental standards setting and claims making.

John Laumer: What is UL Environment and what does it do?

Marcello Manca: UL Environment is an environmental evaluation company which provides independent confirmation of claims, certification to standards, and develops standards to provide transformation to the marketplace.

We are:
• A part of the UL family of companies.
• A local business with global capabilities.
• Interested in helping companies bring products to market.
• A trusted source for environmental information.

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Olympics Create a Green Business Tipping Point in Canada

3p Contributor | Monday March 1st, 2010 | 2 Comments

By: Dave Sherman, Blu Skye

On the eve of the Winter Olympics, over 300 CEOs and senior executives of Canadian businesses met in Vancouver to accelerate the implementation of sustainable business practices.  The highly interactive day not only gave the executives an opportunity to explore new opportunities for collaboration, but may yet prove to have been a green business tipping point in Canada.

David Cheesewright, Walmart Canada’s CEO and the host of the event, kicked off the day by challenging the delegates to use the summit as a vehicle to “build a bigger team” – to share lessons learned and best practices that will benefit all businesses, large and small.  He encouraged the delegates to create stretch goals and foster experimentation in their organizations, with the understanding that the road to sustainability is full of unknowns.

David Suzuki put the present moment in context for the Summit participants: our grandparent’s and parent’s generations did not understand that they were destroying the very systems that support our lives but, us–we are the first generation that does understand.  

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For a “Crash Course” Sustainable MBA, Here’s Your Homework

Scott Cooney | Sunday February 28th, 2010 | 6 Comments

The results are in!  The 3P reader poll we conducted 2 weeks ago received a lot of attention and traffic, and generated an interesting list of green business books that our readers consider important. They span the gamut from manufacturing to strategy to sustainable food to clean energy.  And, importantly, they represent a nice cross section of the green economy that would behoove any aspiring or current green business person to become familiar with.

I will begin with the disclaimer that this poll is not scientific.  It is simply a readers’ poll, and inherently has biases.  However, Triple Pundit readers are some of the most well-read, in-tune, and knowledgeable voters on subjects of sustainable business that we may find in the blogosphere, and therefore, this poll carries some not insubstantial weight.

Every book that was nominated has value, and some will be more applicable to your particular field of green business than others.  As they say, it is truly an honor to just be nominated.  Here, I attempt to summarize my take on the top ten vote getters.

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Creating a Successful Elevator Pitch for Sustainable Businesses

Scott Cooney | Sunday February 28th, 2010 | 6 Comments

Entrepreneurs need an elevator pitch like a plant needs water.  Even the hardiest will eventually wither without one.  Sound preposterous?  It’s not.  The elevator pitch summarizes your business in an exciting, intriguing way that gets clients, the media, investors, and your employees excited about your company and ready to find out more.  And quite simply, it’s your chance to make a good first impression.  And we all know how many chances you get to do that.
The name ‘elevator pitch’ derives from the legend of an entrepreneur unable to get an appointment with a venture capitalist, so instead he waits outside the VC’s office until he has the chance to jump on an elevator with the man.  Now a ‘captive audience’, the VC listens patiently to the entrepreneur as he pitches his great idea….for 3 floors.  At the bottom, when the doors open, the VC raises an eyebrow and says, “I’ll have my secretary schedule you for next week.”

Elevator pitches are not just used for potential investors.  They are crucial for networking gatherings, trade shows, cocktail parties, and any other event where a potential client, employee, volunteer, partner, investor, or journalist may be willing to give you 30 seconds of their undivided attention.  Grab enough of these peoples’ attentions, and your business may benefit greatly….all because you’ve honed a 30 second ‘elevator pitch’.

Sustainable businesses have a tremendous advantage in creating elevator pitches, which, if they could harness, would help them not only gain more customers, but potentially attract a lot more financial investment in small, green businesses, including investors, VC’s, equity partners, and angels.

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Bloom Energy’s Bloom Box Public Relations Coup d’Etat

| Sunday February 28th, 2010 | 47 Comments

Bloom Energy’s remarkable fuel cell energy server, the so called “Bloom Box“, has garnered more interest than almost anything else we’ve written about in months. By the sheer volume of traffic to this site you’d think the holy grail itself had been found. The bloom box does seem to hold a legitimate promise to improve the efficiency and ease of electricity generation and just might be a little bit greener. It still produces emissions, though very few people are talking about that. It seems, as we suggested last week, that the biggest efficiencies the bloom box provides will come from the elimination of transmission costs – bringing more electricity to the end user without losing it along the powerlines and other bottlenecks that usually get in the way.

There are dozens of other companies, however, who are working on similar fuel cell technologies. Some critics even pointed out that even Bloom’s proprietary technology is hardly unique. Sam Jaffe points out four more potential pitfalls with the product: That it may in fact be less efficient, more expensive, and even dirtier than competing forms of electricity generation – all while missing some of the technology’s biggest advantages (generating heat,and energy storage).

But that hasn’t dampened what has to the biggest cleantech PR coup of the year so far.

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How Has Microfinance Changed Since 2005?

| Friday February 26th, 2010 | 4 Comments

five year anniversaryMicrofinance, something now fairly common and even mainstream in 2010, was a novel concept when we first wrote about Kiva in 2005. At that time, you could only lend to people in Uganda. Now you can lend to people around the world, and in a clear sign microfinance has moved beyond being only about helping those in developing countries, it now includes North America.

Entrepreneurs needing funding is a universal thing, it seems.

The model has shifted since then, in useful ways:

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GDP vs. “Happiness”: Economics Are Getting Smarter

| Friday February 26th, 2010 | 3 Comments

five year anniversary

Five years ago, 3p reported that GDP does not correlate with happiness, and that another, more holisitic metric—GPI, or Gross Progress Indicator—would be more apt. Now, in 2010, some say this is still true. This finding has been repeated and reported almost constantly in the last five years, which begs two points. First, that happiness is not related to income. Second, that GDP is the wrong metric for measuring a country’s value.

Mo’ money mo’ problems

If I recall an undergrad environmental studies lecture on this topic, The Easterlin Paradox predates 3p’s report and is probably the origin of thinking about GNH, or gross national happiness. The Easterlin Paradox, a 70’s era economic theory, refers to the phenomenon that once basic human needs are met (food, shelter, community stability, etc) human happiness does not quantitatively increase through fiscal gains.

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The Cleantech Open – A Bridge over the Valley of Death?

3p Contributor | Friday February 26th, 2010 | 5 Comments

Ed Note: This is the second in a handful of guest posts we felt worth publishing on behalf of Chevron. Although we have mixed feelings about many aspects of the oil industry, Chevron’s sponsorship of today’s cleantech open speaks to their willingness to enter into a productive dialog with entrepreneurs building a new energy economy.

By Jim Davis, President, Chevron Energy Solution

The “Valley of Death” is a well known concept in the business startup and technology community. It’s the place where good ideas go to die. If small businesses are the lifeblood of economic growth and job creation, entrepreneurs and startup companies are the marrow. While the entrepreneurial path has never been easy, it has become even tougher in today’s economic climate.

Let me give you an example of the challenges for clean technology entrepreneurs that I see every day. In a business such as ours, which is “technology agnostic” in the sense that we aren’t tied to any one manufacturer or product, innovation and access to new technology are critical success factors.

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How To Cut Costs Through Energy Efficiency

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday February 26th, 2010 | 4 Comments

Is it possible to cut cost without cutting meaning? Robert Verganti of the Harvard Business Review thinks it is possible. Verganti, the author of the book, Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating what Things Mean, pointed out that people care about price, but they also “do not want to feel poor.” Verganti added, “So the challenge for companies is to cut costs without cutting meaning.”

Companies can cut costs by implementing energy saving measures. A report released last summer by McKinsey found that the U.S. could save $1.2 trillion through 2020 by investing $520 billion by making improvements such as replacing inefficient appliances with new, energy-saving ones. The industrial sector accounts for 40 percent of end-use efficiency and the commercial sector for 25 percent.

The website, Business.gov proclaims, “Good energy management is good business.” The website lists “simple, low-risk, high-return” energy efficiency improvements businesses can make in the following categories: lighting, water heating, refrigeration, equipment, heating and cooling systems (HVAC), and buildings. Some of the improvements businesses can make include:

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Three Big Companies Gave USCAP The Shaft

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday February 26th, 2010 | 6 Comments

This article has been updated since it was originally published.

ConoccoPhillips recently pulled out of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of businesses and environmental groups. Conocco is the third company to pull out, after the British oil giant, BP, and equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar. Conocco’s chairman and CEO, Jim Mulva said in a statement, “House climate legislation and Senate proposals to date have disadvantaged the transportation sector and its consumers, left domestic refineries unfairly penalized versus international competition, and ignored the critical role that natural gas can play in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

Mulva continued, “We believe greater attention and resources need to be dedicated to reversing these missed opportunities, and our actions today are part of that effort. Addressing these issues will save thousands of American jobs, as well as create new ones.”

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Chevron Acts to Reclaim Contaminated Land with Sunshine

RP Siegel | Friday February 26th, 2010 | 0 Comments

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson announced today that Chevron’s mining subsidiary Chevron Mining, Inc. will build a one megawatt concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar facility on the tailing site of their molybdenum mine in Questa, New Mexico. This demonstration project will be the largest concentrating solar photovoltaic installation in the U.S.

Concentrating photovoltaic systems uses lenses to concentrate sunlight on high efficiency cells which results on a higher overall efficiency and a smaller footprint. According to the National Renewable Energy Lab, efficiencies of up to 40% are possible. This compares favorably with the efficiencies of the more common crystalline silicon (around 20-25% ) or thin film cadmium telluride cells (around 15%).

This installation will be built by Chevron Technology Ventures.  CTV serves as one of Chevron’s technology “scouts,” always searching for emerging technologies that could enhance the company’s strategies. “CTV identifies, acquires, tests, validates, and – if appropriate – helps integrate those technologies into the company’s core businesses. Alternatively, technologies may be studied then “shelved” for future consideration.”
The 175 concentrating solar panels, which were developed by Concentrix Solar of Freiburg, Germany will occupy twenty acres of reclaimed land.

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Quantifying Progress: Whole Foods vs. Milton Friedman

| Thursday February 25th, 2010 | 5 Comments

five year anniversary

Spooner's Milton Friedman

Five years ago, 3p founder Nick Aster covered the exchange between Milton Friedman and John Mackey featured on Reason.com. On one side of the ring was Friedman, swinging away on behalf of profit at all social and environmental costs, echoing his infamous assertion that the only “social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”  On the other side was Mackey counter-punching, explaining that by focusing on creating value for all of its stakeholders instead of just shareholders, Whole Foods built a lucrative empire of happy people and shareholders alike.

Aster asked, “[Profit] is certainly a lot easier to quantify than something like ‘happiness’, but the intangible benefits of good, honest business clearly go way beyond pure finance….Must the word ‘profit’ always refer to money in the strictest sense?”

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Why a National Renewable Energy Standard *Is* a Jobs Bill

| Thursday February 25th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Last week, the American Wind Energy Association held a webinar that went through a study by Navigant Consulting, pointing to the many ways passing a national renewable electricity standard would lead to an economic boon across the U.S.

It seems that the FOXNews message that a climate change bill would hurt job growth is untrue. (Surprised?) Paired with rigorous renewable energy standards, Navigant Consulting suggests that 274,000 blue collar construction jobs could be added in areas of the country that need both jobs and renewable energy. While Navigant based its assumptions on the big “if” that climate change legislation passes both houses, however its study should increase the momentum toward such a result.

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Recycling Is the Winning Ticket at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Thursday February 25th, 2010 | 4 Comments

The Dunkin’ Donuts Center, located in Providence, Rhode Island, is taking a different approach when it comes to recycling.   According to a recent company press release, two TOMRA UNO reverse vending machines (RVMs) have been installed in the food court at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.  The 31,000 square-foot facility serves as the premier events arena in the area, hosting sporting events, concerts and a variety of shows.

The machines, each about the size of a standard beverage vending machine, not only provide a clean and simple way to dispose of glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers, they provide an extra incentive to recycle. Using high-tech, patented bottle recognition technology, each machine can sort, collect and store.  Each machine is capable of handling up to 20 containers per minute and can hold up to 500 beverage containers.  And both user-friendly machines, provided by Coca-Cola, display positive messages, like “give it back” and “live positively.”

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