What is an ecoATM?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday April 30th, 2010 | 0 Comments

ban-startup-friday

Take a Coinstar type of kiosk and allow people to trade-in/trade-up plus recycle their old cell phones and consumer electronics. Name the kiosks ecoATMs. In 2009, ecoATM was launched, and currently has 11 machines in the Midwest, San Diego, Boston, Dallas and Seattle. The company hopes to expand to 150 machines by the end of this year, and add another 700 by the end of next year.

Customers use the ecoATM in three steps:

  1. Insert portable CE device or handset
  2. Used device automatically valued
  3. Portables automatically binned inside. User receives trade-up coupon, gift card, cash, and/or charitable contribution
Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Greener Pharmaceuticals an RX for Drug Pollution

| Friday April 30th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Compared to the pollution from the millions of tons of toxic waste and garbage generated each year, that from prescription drugs is small potatoes. The FDA requires drug companies that plan on making more than 40 tons of a drug to file a separate environmental impact statement; in 2008, only 20 did so out of a pool of 10,000.

But the relatively small amounts of pharmaceuticals in the waste stream belie their extreme toxicity.

“These are very small volumes of chemicals we’re talking about, but they’re specifically designed to have activity on humans and so could have an effect on other vertebrates,” said Sonia Shah, a journalist who wrote a recent article on the subject for Yale 360. “Unlike pesticides which are designed to have a very limited effect, pharmaceuticals are designed to be as potent as possible.”

The problem of Rx pollution caught Shah’s attention because of the plight of the Gyps vulture in India. Between 2000 and 2007, the population of the birds plummeted; a study of the problem found the vultures had severe reactions to diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory fed to cattle to make them more productive. The birds were eating the dead cattle, accumulating diclofenac in their bodies, and then dropping dead.  

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

On-Site Micro Wind Turbines Provide Power to Sam’s Club

Kathryn Siranosian | Friday April 30th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Cape Cod isn’t the only place making wind energy news this week.

Yesterday, the parking lot of the Sam’s Club in Palmdale, California, made it into the headlines, too.

As part of the company’s commitment to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, Sam’s Club installed 17 micro wind turbines mounted on parking lot light poles to support the energy needs of its Palmdale store.

Construction was completed this week, and the 17 units – supplied by DeerPath Energy, a renewable energy company from Marblehead, Massachusetts – became fully operational on Thursday.

According to Walmart, which owns Sam’s Club, this is the first U.S. retail micro wind turbine installation of this size.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Green Rooftops and Other “Green Infrastructure”: An Overview

3p Contributor | Friday April 30th, 2010 | 0 Comments


By Kathryn Brennar

Building a green infrastructure is no longer a new idea.  However, the ways that people go about doing it can be new and unique.  City developers are beginning to incorporate some creative strategies of their own.  Specifically, there has been a recent spike in the level of interest that communities have had in developing their parks and outdoor recreation areas, as well as housing and building complexes.  While incorporating and maintaining them has always been an important priority, especially within densely populated cities, the latest trends show that community developmental plans are now incorporating “green” design.   They are realizing that there is an opportunity to provide people with a necessary recreation area while creating a positive impact on the global environmental crisis.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

KfW Bankengruppe’s Green Building, Green Loans, and Walking the Walk

| Thursday April 29th, 2010 | 0 Comments

KfW is a German development bank that was created in 1948 as part of the Marshall Plan to help fund post-war redevelopment of Germany. It’s a 100% government owned entity which makes it slightly unusual in the world of banking and subject to certain rules and restrictions. However, it also gives KfW the luxury of offering preferential interest rates for certain types of loans – namely renewable energy projects, water and other resource conservation projects, microlending around the world, and much more. The bank is, in fact, the world’s largest lender for renewable energy projects in developing countries. It’s an interesting testament to the priorities of the German government that such a bank can exist and thrive. A lot more information is available on its well designed corporate sustainability report.

It’s fitting then, that KfW’s soon to be completed Frankfurt headquarters be a showcase of ecological innovation – at least as good as Deutsche Bank’s towers down the street. We had a chance to visit the building as part of last week’s German green building trip, organized by the Ecologic Institute.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Better Place Starts Electric Vehicle Battery Swap in Japan

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday April 29th, 2010 | 1 Comment

News broke early this week that Better Place, the Silicon Valley car-charging infrastructure upstart, is launching the first tests of its battery-swapping scheme for electric cars, starting with EV taxis in Tokyo.

The backstory is that Better Place struck a deal with Chery Automobile Co., China’s largest independent automaker,  to jointly develop switchable-battery EV prototypes with the goal of securing regional Chinese government EV pilot projects. This isn’t very surprising, given that China leads at least one top-10 cleantech list, and given that, as Better Place notes in a press release, “China has set an industrial policy with the objective of becoming the largest EV developer and manufacturer in the world, enabling the country to leapfrog internal combustion engine (ICE) technology and go straight to electric transport.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Two Offshore Scenarios: Clean Wind and Burning Oil

| Thursday April 29th, 2010 | 7 Comments

The contrast between the promise of renewable energy and the perils of fossil fuels was on full display yesterday, and it could not be more stark.

Hours before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced approval for the nation’s first offshore wind farm, which will generate as much as 454 megawatts of clean, limitless energy, the US Coast Guard said it would begin a controlled burn on a massive oil slick floating towards the Louisiana coast from the remains of an oil rig which caught fire and sank last week, likely killing 11 platform workers.

In a post earlier this month — Do Fossil Fuel Disasters Help Renewable Energy? — I hypothesized what the effect on the renewable energy industry would be from an Exxon Valdez-style disaster. The Deepwater Horizon accident has not reached such epic proportions, nor is it likely to (although it’s getting worse). But it is in a more heavily populated portion of the country, and it comes at a time when fossil fuels are under increasing criticism and competition from clean energy.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Indonesia Vs. The Volcano: A $12 Billion Geothermal Dream

Leon Kaye | Thursday April 29th, 2010 | 2 Comments

Visit any of Indonesia’s islands, and chances are a day trip to one of this massive archipelago’s volcanoes will be on your itinerary.  Many of them are still active, beguiling you with their surreal landscapes, with guides enticing you to smear the steamy, grey volcanic mud on your face for a quick facial.  Eventually the smell of the sulfur will lead you to hike back down the mountain or to run back to your tourist bus.  But there is more than the “wow” factor:  the Indonesian government recently announced plans to develop 4000 megawatts of geothermal energy from its volcanoes by 2014.

While the chattering classes debate China’s and India’s future impact on the earth’s energy supply, Indonesia is a sleeping giant that is slowly emerging on the world’s economic scene.  After years of sluggish growth and corruption under Suharto’s regime, Indonesia is reducing its debt, attracting more foreign direct investment, and has implemented financial reforms.  Poverty is declining, but still snares about 18% of its population of about 230 million people, 35% of whom do not have electricity—yet.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

PUMA’s Commitment to Environmental Conservation

3p Contributor | Thursday April 29th, 2010 | 5 Comments

By Alison I. Somilleda for the Green Chamber of Commerce

German sportlifestyle company PUMA, known for its groundbreaking work with environmental and social awareness, and global peace initiatives, has partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to support global awareness of biodiversity through the “Play for Life” campaign. The campaign will promote habitat and species conservation at worldwide football events leading up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and will specifically support the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, a United Nations global initiative to emphasize the importance of biodiversity. International football stars are also contributing through public service announcements that will encourage people to participate in biodiversity conservation. Conservation International has reported that the planet is losing species at a rate of approximately one every 20 minutes, which is a thousand times faster than the normal rate in Earth’s history.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

How Sustainability Can Be Incorporated Into Executive Compensation

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday April 29th, 2010 | 0 Comments

President of Ceres, Mindy S. Lubber, says in a Harvard Business Review opinion piece that global problems like climate change “demand new business models.” Lubber warns that not creating new models will result in more than “another financial-sector meltdown,” but environmental and social problems “on a scale never before seen.” She thinks that bringing pay “into the equation” is a quick way of grabbing attention.

Several reports  agree with Lubber.  A Ceres report, The 21st Century Corporation: The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability, says, “Sustainability performance results must be a core component of the evaluation of senior executive performance and compensation packages.” A report by Pascual Berrone of IESE Business School, and Luis Gomez-Mejia of Arizona State University, published last year in the Academy of Management Journal says firms need “incentive mechanisms to dissuade managers from avoidance.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Chinese Communist Party Tops Green Companies List

| Thursday April 29th, 2010 | 2 Comments

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tops a list of the Top Ten Green Giants created by clean technology industry outlet Greentech Media.

The CCP’s position in first place is a nod to the momentum the Chinese government has given to the development of the country’s cleantech sector, as well as its quick, unilateral decision-making more reminiscent of a private company than a government — especially compared to the conflicted democracy across the Pacific.

The rest of the list is made up of private corporations like General Electric and Nissan, who are market leaders in wind power and electric vehicles, respectively. I strongly encourage anyone interested in the future of cleantech to check it out. An abbreviated version appears below.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Cape Wind Project Approved in Huge Boost For American Clean Energy

| Wednesday April 28th, 2010 | 7 Comments

[UPDATED] This afternoon in Boston, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that a massive wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, would move forward, despite intense local opposition.

Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts said construction on the farm was expected to start within a year. “America needs offshore wind power and with this project, Massachusetts will lead the nation,” Patrick said at a press conference.

Secretary Salazar said at the press conference that it was unacceptable for the project to have taken nine years, and expressed confidence that future wind projects would take less time.

Salazar’s decision sets an important precedent for the development of offshore wind farms in the United States and, indirectly, American clean energy in general, by demonstrating that the administration is willing to push past prominent opposition to move such projects forward. Opponents of the Cape Wind farm include a local Native American tribe and the Kennedy family, whose estate in Hyannis Port overlooks the site of the farm.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Smart Elevators Bring You There Faster & More Efficiently

| Wednesday April 28th, 2010 | 7 Comments

If you’ve ever worked in a large office building you know the rare satisfaction that comes when the elevator is sitting there waiting for you and takes you non-stop to your floor. Likewise, you may know the frustration when the elevator stops 10 times before getting you where you need to be. Leave it to German engineering to address the problem with a fantastic type of intelligent elevator — a technology that’s starting to surface in some innovative new buildings.

We visited two high rise bank buildings in Frankfurt during last week’s green building trip (organized by the Ecologic Institute). I talked a little about the LEED platinum Deutsche Bank redevelopment, and I’ll be doing a post soon on KFW bankengruppe and its brand new building, as well. Both buildings feature new smart elevator systems by Schindler, which are almost as fun to ride as the paternosters we discovered elsewhere. ThyssenKrupp and Otis offer similar technology as well, but we’ll focus on Schindler’s technology here.

Here’s how it works:

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Measuring the Business Impact of Community Involvement

3p Contributor | Wednesday April 28th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Glenn Gutterman

You can’t manage what you don’t measure, or so the aphorism goes. This summer, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship (BCCCC) will launch a framework to assess the business impact of community involvement (CI) programs. The framework will empower corporate citizenship practitioners to make a compelling internal case for their programs. After all, firms will not justify business expenditures as simply “the right thing to do,” and there’s no need when a range of metrics can demonstrate how CI enhances the bottom line.

CI initiatives refer to corporate citizenship that contributes to an external societal issue. It does not include internal corporate responsibility efforts to “do no harm” or to promote greening operations, product safety, transparency and sustainability reporting. The Center chose to limit the new CI framework to business impact because there are ample existing approaches to measuring social impact. Furthermore, there is a growing number of resources to help with process measures (e.g., community and volunteer satisfaction, number of employees involved), but relatively few mechanisms to assess the business impact of corporate community involvement initiatives and fewer still that capture return-on-investment (ROI).

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Fonkoze Aims to Bring Sustainability to Lives of Haitian Women

Jennifer Hicks | Wednesday April 28th, 2010 | 2 Comments

“This is a once-only opportunity to build a whole new country from scratch, perhaps to offer something of the good wishes the new nation should have been given 200 years ago,” AP video of women in Haitiwrites AA Gill in the London Times, in a gut-wrenching account of living conditions in Haiti today, three months after a crushingly destructive earthquake that was followed by dozens of aftershocks.

And, Fonkoze, aims to help that rebuilding.  Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microfinance provider, along with a $4.5 million grant from the Mastercard Foundation made on April 20, hopes to spur the economy from the ground up by enabling the poorest of the country’s women to rebuild or create livelihoods. (Watch a video of Fonkoze and its work in Haiti.)

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »