Our Clean Tech Future and the Sexiness of Standards

3p Contributor | Monday January 18th, 2010 | 6 Comments

The Tesla Roadster: As hot as the J1772 electric vehicle charging standard?

By Charles Shereda

Next week marks the sixth annual Clean Tech Investor Summit, a gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, and trendsetters who will shape the future of clean tech. The speaker list is loaded with a spectrum of sustainability heavy-hitters ranging from Ray Anderson, chairman of Interface, to Craig Venter, famous for mapping the human genome, to Amory Lovins, chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute, who will deliver his keynote on ‘reinventing fire’ (translation: the shift from burning stuff to not burning stuff to create energy, such as moving from coal-fired power plants to wind turbines). I have the good fortune of being your eyes and ears at the summit. I’ll tell you about the stories and surprises that emerge. Together we’ll figure out where clean tech is headed, and in our spare time, we’ll determine what the investment climate will be like in 2010 for companies looking to get funded. I’ll also listen to your suggestions for topics you’d like to hear about.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Ron Pernick about the upcoming summit and his vision of our clean tech future. Pernick is the co-author of The Clean Tech Revolution and cofounder and managing director of Clean Edge, a market research firm focused on clean tech. He’s also co-producer of the Clean Tech Investor Summit.

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Brand Building in the 21st Century

3p Contributor | Monday January 18th, 2010 | 2 Comments

What is a Brand Manager and how will he/she play a role in building the 21st century?
By Ryan Jones

Given the tough business climate, mind-bending techology changes and the dire need for innovation in the next decade and beyond, some (like Forrester) propose that we ax the command and control “Manager” part of the traditional Brand Manager title and go with something more relevant like “Brand Advocate.” Ad Age followed up with a similar article on this topic near the end of 2009.

Brand Managers today in many companies are really business managers that guide a multifunctional business team (e.g. Finance, PR, Supply Chain, etc.). Marketing promotion is just one part of their job (remember the 4Ps of marketing). Brand Managers create the strategy for the business, making decisions about how to run the business and build the brand.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Heart Shaped Country

CCA LiveE | Sunday January 17th, 2010 | 4 Comments
"Martin Brod, Bosnia and Herzegovina" by Jim Marshall

"Martin Brod, Bosnia and Herzegovina" by Jim Marshall

By Amina Horozic

You’re from where?

I was almost twelve years old when I came to the US in 1994. Since then whenever I mention that I am from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, I am always inundated with all sorts of unusual questions. Occasionally, I have to clarify that it is a country in Southeastern Europe east of Italy; that yes it does consist of two names Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it is oftentimes referred to only as Bosnia; and that Sarajevo is in fact the capital city. More frequently however, the questions typically revolve around the war of the early ’90s: the siege of the city, the genocide of the country, the ethnic cleansing of the people.

Rarely am I asked questions about my homeland outside of the war context, though it has been almost fifteen years since the war has ended. Despite its many positive attributes, to the majority of the outside world Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a scary and foreign place, synonymous with war and destruction. What is less commonly known or recognized about Bosnia and Herzegovina is its untouched natural beauty and ecological wealth.

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Curriculum Vitae Verde – Practical Tips for Refreshing your Resume

CCA LiveE | Saturday January 16th, 2010 | 2 Comments

By Lindsay Wolff Logsdon, Human Resources Manager, frog design

With the Green Jobs Act now over two years old, and President Obama pledging that jobs in sustainable energy and resources will be a keystone of US economic recovery, the next frontier of the American job market is a very green place.   Job seekers pushed out of more traditional markets are pursuing these “green collar jobs”. As they take that step towards a career in green business, they need to consider the best way to highlight their experience and passion.  Whatever your background, a fresh résumé is a great place to start.  In this post I’ll share a few practical tips to help make your résumé a strong reflection of your passion and ethics.

As a recruiter and human resources manager, my zone of experience has mainly been in the design industry – my advice comes from many years of reviewing applications for design, technology, and program management positions within design consultancies.  That said, the design and green industries share many similarities (and in some sectors, they downright converge) – both industries require a high level on innovation, a strong passion for the subject matter, and in many cases, an unconventional approach to career paths.

From a résumé and job hunt standpoint, there are many things someone interested in breaking into a green business can learn from the design industry.

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Partners in Health Does “Whatever It Takes” in Haiti

Kathryn Siranosian | Friday January 15th, 2010 | 3 Comments

Sustainability in health care isn’t only about energy efficient buildings, innovative technology, and effectively using resources. It’s also about people. It’s about access. And, it’s about creating health care solutions that work within the context of other constraints, such as culture, infrastructure and economy.

Need proof? Just look at the medical crisis now unfolding in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. To be clear, earthquakes are acts of nature. But, as Tracy Kidder explains in the New York Times, the Haitians’ “extreme vulnerability to earthquakes is manmade” —and it only serves to underscore the urgent need for sustainable, community-based health care in the world’s poorest countries.

The Boston-based international aid organization Partners in Health (PIH) has been working for more than 20 years to fill that need for several of the world’s most indigent populations.

Since PIH’s flagship project launched in Haiti in 1985, the organization’s community-based health care model has proven successful in delivering effective care both for common conditions like diarrhea, pneumonia, and childbirth —which often prove fatal for poor and malnourished populations—and for complex diseases like HIV and tuberculosis.

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Design Involves More Than Thinking

CCA LiveE | Friday January 15th, 2010 | 2 Comments

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By Jason Linder

In 2008 CCA introduced an innovative new approach to the business degree—the MBA in Design Strategy. In 2009 CCA took this idea even further and began offering a dual-degree MFA/MBA. I am one of three students embarking on this hybrid journey. My curriculum integrates courses from the existing MFA in Design with the new MBA in Design Strategy Program to offer completion of both degrees in three years.

Having worked in interactive design for the last 10 years, both at small agencies and in-house at a large corporation, I have witnessed the mesh of creativity and business many times and am excited about what both disciplines can learn from each other. One term that has become a popular way of describing this crossover is “Design Thinking.”

The core idea—that the creative processes used by designers can be applied to the processes used by business—is compelling and full of promise. But the term “Design Thinking” sets a misguided expectation about how these creative processes work—that it’s simply a matter of switching to a different mental mode. On the contrary, one of the most important tools of the design process is to take the thinking out of the equation.

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Balancing Arrogance and Humility in Business Strategy

| Friday January 15th, 2010 | 1 Comment

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By Ted Ko
Some recent writings by Jay Ogilvy (not yet published) on the opposing styles of systems thinking provide an enlightening philosophical framework behind the evolution of strategy theory and the successes and failures of corporate strategy development processes. Fundamentally, strategy design is a systems thinking exercise and executives would do well to understand the basic approaches to systems theory. Then, optimal design would seem to require active awareness of the “oscillations” between arrogance and humility and strike an appropriate balance.

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Shrink Nanotechnologies Bets on Bioplastic

3p Contributor | Friday January 15th, 2010 | 0 Comments

This post by Bruce Haring, originally appeared on CleanTechies.

Shrink Nanotechnologies is one of several companies that is using bioplastics to find a new way of making devices that will minimize the use of increasingly-scarce rare metals.

The company’s OptiSol Solar Concentrator is billed as a nanotechnology-based plastic solar concentrator and solar film. Traditional silicon solar cells absorb only a small fraction of the total incident solar radiation potential, with a majority of the light either reflected or converted to thermal energy.

Based on electromagnetic non-optical principles and using a proprietary technology, the OptiSol enhances the capabilities and efficiency of existing solar cell designs by focusing and tuning the incident solar radiation from the sun for optimal silicon absorption, with less of the total spectrum lost as heat or reflection. The goal is to deliver immediate and significant improvements in efficiency and power output.

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Bottled Water Bad. Reusable Bottle Good. Tap Water Gross. 321 Water Fixes That, Beautifully

| Friday January 15th, 2010 | 11 Comments

More articles on the controversy surrounding bottled water can be found here!

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Is bottled water bad? You probably by now know that the plastics that go into bottled water are bad for the environment, and perhaps even not so good for you if it’s just nicely labeled tap water. Add to that the possibility the bottle contains BPA and they’re not such a healthy choice after all. And yet, they’re so convenient and obtainable anywhere. And drinking your local tap water? Not going to happen.

If you add into the equation that you’re not even close to hippie, and don’t want to look like one, your healthy, sustainable water choices get slim.

Australian startup Half a Teaspoon has designed a product to answer all these concerns, in a design-, environment- and people-friendly  product: 321 Water.

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Why Monsanto Might Be Worried

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday January 15th, 2010 | 4 Comments

Monsanto made the news several times this past month, most recently for reporting a quarterly loss last week. On January 6, Monsanto posted a net loss of $19 million, or three cents a share, for the first quarter, compared to last year’s profit of $556 million or $1 a share. Net sales decreased $952 million (36 percent) for the period ending November 30. The company cited a decline in herbicide sales and smaller decline in corn and soybean seed sales as the reason for the loss.

Sales of glyphosate-based herbicide, including Roundup, decreased 63 percent in the quarter. According to Reuters, sales decreased “primarily in Brazil and Europe.” Net sales in corn seed and traits decreased nine percent, or $59 million in the quarter largely due to fewer acres planted in Brazil and Argentina.

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Untying and Retying the Knot: Building a New Kind of Leadership

CCA LiveE | Thursday January 14th, 2010 | 6 Comments

By Linda Chang & John Garvie

Teach-Us-Something-in-7-Minutes is one of the keystone introductory projects of CCA’s DMBA program. The project, TUS-7M, as it came to be called, sets up students in pairs to develop a subject of compelling interest to be presented at a public event in CCA’s Timken Auditorium. The constraints were that we address something in the domains of communication, design, business and/or sustainability, that we consider the difference between “telling” and “showing,” and after 7 minutes, we would be cut off, whether we were finished or not. Our presentation, The Girl Who Woke Up in a Knot, was a metaphorical story about knots. Knots represent not only complicated problems, but also interpersonal entanglements that come from our most important conversations – personally and professionally. We wrestle with knots as difficult problems to be solved and unsnarled, but they are also “the ties that bind,” connecting us to what is essential.

As we write, at the end of 2009, the crisis of the American economy remains an open question. Jobs are no longer being shed at the astounding rates of the last year-plus, but unemployment percentages remain at double-digit highs. Meanwhile, expert economists have claimed that the economy is growing again, yet the Federal Reserve has pledged to keep interest rates “exceptionally low” for a foreseeable “extended period.”

Most would agree that the cause of The Great Recession of 2009 has been an overarching institutional focus on short term gains, in place for decades, not just a cyclical few years. People stopped being people and became merely opportunities for companies to make a quick buck no matter the social cost. People who were supposed to have been America’s best-and-brightest, people who should have known better, were seduced by easy money and quick returns. Meanwhile, most others seemed to have lost sight of being citizens first, consumers second.

Regardless of whether the economy bounces back, the focus on short-term goals with simplistic growth paradigms needs to change. So, how can we make the shift? We need a new way of thinking and acting within business. Like many, we desire a strong business community that integrates new priorities.

We can start with a new kind of MBA. After one semester of learning, growing, stretching our minds and asking questions in our DMBA program, we would like to propose here a view of management for the future and what some of the outcomes may be when managers and businesses start truly cultivating a conscious form of capitalism.

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This Just In: Hybrids Will Not Save Us

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday January 14th, 2010 | 11 Comments

We nominate two analysts from financial services firm Raymond James for the Downer of the Year (so far) Award. The analysts, J. Marshall Adkins and Pavel Molchanov, did some number-crunching that revealed hybrids aren’t making much of a dent in our demand for oil, reports the New York Times.

The research does not rocket science make, and the analysts admit as much, calling their findings “blindingly obvious.” They took the numbers of hybrids sold domestically and globally in recent years, extrapolated out to 2020 and determined that even if hybrids’ market share (including plug-in hybrids) continues to rise aggressively, the amount of oil savings they’ll represent will remain minuscule when compared to demand.

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Why the Wood Pellet Industry Is Growing

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 14th, 2010 | 5 Comments

The European demand for biomass pellets is fueling a growth in the North American wood pellet industry, according to a New York Times article last month. The British publication, The Timber Trades Journal, said that the North American wood pellet industry grew “six-fold from a capacity of just over one million tons to more than six million tons in the last five years.”

The Timber Trades Journal article said the U.S. South, with its abundant forests, is expected to become the leading wood-pellet region in North America. The New York Times mentioned Arkansas-based NexGen Biomass, a start-up with plans to build a 150-employee plant capable of producing 440,000 tons of wood pellets a year. NexGen Biomass officials said pine pulpwood will be converted into wood pellets to be used as fuel in Europe.

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FrontlineSMS:Medic Co-founder on Mobile Healthcare at PopTech Conference

| Thursday January 14th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Text messages save lives. So says Josh Nesbit, co-founder of FrontlineSMS:Medic. He discovered a while back one of the key devices in providing adequate healthcare. It has nothing do with lasers or imaging equipment, devices made in the back lab of some highly funded biotech firm. Healthcare, to him, is best delivered by cell phone.

The mission of FrontlineSMS:Medic is to advance healthcare networks in under served communities using innovative, appropriate mobile technologies. The centerpiece of its system, according to its website, is a free, open-source software platform that enables large-scale, two-way text messaging using only a laptop, a GSM modem, and inexpensive cell phones.

A central clinic laptop runs FrontlineSMS software, enabling community health workers to use text messages to coordinate patient care, offer mobile diagnostics, and map health services.

Here’s Nesbit talking at last year’s PopTech Conference on mobile technologies, and the future of healthcare.

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WalMart’s “Sustainability 2.0″ Video Worth a Watch

| Thursday January 14th, 2010 | 5 Comments

Walmart remains the company many love to hate for a lot of reasons, some sound, some irrational. But regular readers know we’ve been generally excited by the myriad changes that have come out of Bentonville in the last few years. With the help of visionaries like Adam Werbach, WalMart has evolved considerably from the days when pondering the nuances of slapping up a big box in a parking lot were about as deeply as Wal Mart considered things.

Though many challenges remain, Walmart has made an honest effort toward reducing waste and becoming a vastly more efficient operation. Not only that, but it has used its clout to force its suppliers and vendors to follow suit. Through the Personal Sustainability Projects program, Walmart has introduced every one of its employees to the basic principals of sustainability and seems to have genuinely affected many in a positive way.

Although financial savings is still the main driver behind most of Walmart’s efforts, there seems to have been a real awakening of consciousness at some levels in the company. How much exactly I’ll leave you to judge, but former CEO Lee Scott says, sustainability represents “the greatest opportunity for the next generation.” Personally, I’d say the current generation has a lot to gain from it too, but the recognition of sustainability as an opportunity makes me feel optimistic. Whoever can help people understand the world more deeply in a time of potential conflict and resource stress is doing something right.

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