Cap & Trade for CO2: Great Solution or Not?

| Tuesday January 12th, 2010 | 9 Comments

Annie Leonard’s Story of Cap & Trade, which we wrote about a while back, throws a critical and generally dismissive eye on the concept of a cap & trade solution for carbon emissions. The film argues that such a solution is at best a distraction from real cuts in fossil fuel use, and at worst a crony-capitalist scam that ends up rewarding the worst polluters and doing little to change the fossil fuel basis of our economy.

However, many commenters on that post, including myself, found the film to be a disappointment which “threw the baby out with the bathwater.” Cap & trade, as currently written, is not flawless, but most of the film’s critiques were about enforcement and the distribution of CO2 credits, not about faulting the basic principal of trading credits. Worldchanging even outlined a full catalog of errors in the film.

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Ford Ups the Ante on EVs

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday January 12th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Ford is investing another $450 million in electric vehicle development and facility retooling, bringing its total investment in this area to a cool $1 billion.

The latest monetary infusion, a part of its “Electrification Strategy,” paves the way for the Dearborn, Mich. carmaker to engineer, produce and launch new electrified vehicles, battery systems and hybrid transaxles, while creating up to 1,000 new jobs in the state.

Ford will build what it calls a next-generation hybrid vehicle and a plug-in hybrid vehicle at the Michigan Assembly Plant beginning in 2012, in addition to producing the new Ford Focus and Focus Electric at the same plant in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

In addition, the company announced it will design advanced lithium-ion battery systems for the next generation hybrid in Michigan and move production of battery packs from Mexico to Michigan.

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Stryker Ups Commitment to Sustainability by Acquiring Ascent Healthcare Solutions

Kathryn Siranosian | Tuesday January 12th, 2010 | 0 Comments

A few weeks ago, Stryker, an international powerhouse in medical technology and one of the largest players in the $35.6 billion global orthopedic market, acquired Ascent Healthcare Solutions, the  leading provider of medical device reprocessing and remanufacturing services for hospitals and surgery centers across North America.

It’s an acquisition that underscores the delicate balance the health care sector must strike between three seemingly disparate elements: quality care, cost and sustainability.

Ascent helps customers reprocess and recycle medical products—such as reusable blood pressure cuffs, compression sleeves, and orthopedic external fixation devices—that they would otherwise  needlessly throw away.  In fact, according to the Ascent website, in 2007, the company saved hospitals and their patients in excess of $100 million dollars in supply expenses, while diverting 3.4 million pounds from community landfills (an estimated $1.6 million in waste savings).

Triple Pundit asked Patrick Anderson, Vice President, Corporate Affairs of Stryker, to fill us in on the details of this new acquisition and what it says about the growing importance of sustainability in the health care sector.

Stryker’s products include:  implants used in joint replacement, trauma, and spinal surgeries; endoscopic, surgical navigation, communications and digital imaging systems; and patient handling and emergency medical equipment.

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United Airlines Demonstrates How to Lose Customers: Death by 1000 Cuts

| Tuesday January 12th, 2010 | 16 Comments

An often overlooked aspect of sustainability concerns positive relations between a company and its myriad stakeholders – with the customer usually the first and most basic stakeholder to maintain good relations with. It’s not rocket science – treat people well and you’ll get treated well, customers will return and so on. Fail to do that and eventually your competitors will take your place – even stealing away your most loyal former customers. If you can’t even manage to build goodwill among the people you serve, then how can your company take on the greater challenges of sustainability – more abstract stakeholders, the environment, and so on?

The airline industry is in flux – driven by high fuel prices, insane security restrictions, environmental challenges, and a general economic malaise. It’s no surprise therefore that cuts have to be made and inconvenience tolerated by all. But there are lines that, even when under stress, a company shouldn’t cross. It’s time to pick on United Airlines. This isn’t to say other airlines haven’t declined in their general customer service outlook in recent years, just that United has made some of the most egregious boondoggles I’ve personally encountered.

Let’s start with a website trick:

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Communication Tools and Seed Bombs

CCA LiveE | Monday January 11th, 2010 | 4 Comments

By Anna Acquistapace

Feelings have never been a part of my past educational experience. We are taught to approach education as a purely intellectual endeavor that requires learning the material then proving you know it when exams come around. However, as we grow into adulthood through our school years, our emotional education develops unguided and intuitively. What we learn is that knowing and feeling are two separate realms that exist in two different spheres, public and private.

In our dMBA LiveE course on communication, we learn that effective communication is informed as much by what we know in an intellectual way as by what we feel in an emotional way. There seems to be a myth that communication in business is about asserting solutions to problems and proving these solutions using numbers and calculations. By doing this, you will be able to convince people that you are in control and have the answers. But, what I’ve realized is that the real value of communication is learning, understanding and connecting. While numbers and information can play an important supporting role, building communication paths based on open dialogue, exchange and feelings lead to richer, holistic solutions.

One exercise from this class involved a performance piece called “Teach Us Something in 7 Minutes.” From this experience, I learned several tools for effective communication that I will carry with me.

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IT Leaders Set Major Efficiency Goals with Green Touch

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Monday January 11th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent’s research arm, is spearheading a major research consortium, called Green Touch, which includes academic and government-funded research labs, telecommunications service providers and chip makers. The organizations are putting their efforts toward creating technologies needed to make communications networks 1,000 times more energy efficient than they are today. The effort was announced today at a press conference in London.

Ben Verwaayen, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent, said that despite the energy-savings innovations made to date, the total carbon footprint from information and communication technology (ICT) networks is still growing. “And if we don’t do something radical, it will go up even further,” he said.

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Clean Tech Projects Awarded $2.3 Billion

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday January 11th, 2010 | 4 Comments

President Obama announced the award of $2.3 billion in tax credits, called the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits (AEMTC), for clean energy manufacturing projects on Friday, January 8. The funds are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). A total of 183 projects in 43 states will receive tax credits.

The AEMTC, according to a White House press release, are worth up to 30 percent of each project, and “will leverage private capital for a total investment of nearly $7.7 billion in high-tech manufacturing.” The companies selected say they will create more than 17,000 jobs. Approximately 30 percent of the projects will be completed in 2010.

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Review: 12 Tips for Ethical Marketing to the New Consumer

| Monday January 11th, 2010 | 5 Comments

Chris Arnold’s new book Ethical Marketing and the New Consumer discusses how marketing must change to reach today’s consumers.  If you are interested in any aspect of ethical marketing – Arnold covers product development and design, messaging, positioning and more – this is a recommended read.

Eco-ethical marketing requires creativity and an openness to experimentation and learning from failure. While Arnold admits, “This book is no rule book,” here are 12 key tips from the book:

  1. People beats planet. Between people and planet, consumers are more likely to pay more for perceived human benefits, such as Fair Trade or proceeds benefiting charity, than environmental benefits, such as organic or low carbon footprint.  Community-based values are particularly compelling.
  2. Values are a must. “Consumers are looking for the ethos behind the brand…consumers want to know that a company isn’t just driven by money,” Arnold states.  Gone are the days when profit as sole motivator could fly.
  3. Heartstrings win over logic. Consumers respond to emotional angles more than rational ones.  Luckily, ethical and environmental aspects can be highly emotive, so make sure to position them that way.
  4. Honesty is king. Make an honest gesture about where you are – even if you’re still working to become green – people will appreciate your honesty.  For God’s sake, don’t greenwash.
  5. Get creative with your packaging. Make your product’s packaging a selling point, or design a second life into the packaging so that consumers can continue to use the package for another purpose once they get it home.  (While you’re at it, design a second life for your product.)
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Getting Started in CSR Social Media: Examples from Intel & Timberland

| Monday January 11th, 2010 | 7 Comments

If one of your resolutions for the new year is to better utilize social media to tell your company’s sustainability stories, take a look at how Intel and Timberland are tapping the potential of the Web 2.0  In a recent webinar hosted by the National Association of Environmental Managers, these web-savvy CSR managers described how they’re integrating blogs, Twitter, and other social media into their overall sustainability communications strategies.  And, they offered advice for social media beginners.

 CSR@Intel

Intel’s CSR reporting has come a long way since 1994 when it published its first Environment, Health and Safety Report.  For starters, it now publishes a full corporate responsibility report prepared according to the  GRI reporting guidelines.

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The Working + Going to Graduate School + Being a Mother Manifesto

CCA LiveE | Sunday January 10th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Dear (Corporate) World:

We need to talk. We’re just not connecting. You haven’t changed over the years, but I have. I think we want the same things. But we’re not doing a very good job of listening to one another. I feel like we have different ideas regarding time and what it means to be a productive, engaged, happy employee. You seem to want all of me. All of the time. Enough for me is not enough for you!

Were on the same side, you and me! You want productivity, creative ideas. You want to get things done and make some money. Me too! I want to do these things for you. Make you happy. But not at the expense of myself. What I need is some flexibility. Your emphasis on “butts in seats” as a measure of work being done and productivity is draconian. The world has changed, but your management practices are still based on work and working styles from the 1930’s. It’s time to live in the present.

Freedom + efficiency = happy, engaged employee. Allow me to have control over my time. I’ll get more done, I promise. You see? Do you want my time? Or do you want my work? These are not necessarily the same things. I suspect what you want is the service that I provide, and haven’t considered that hours in the office is only one way to measure and define work. Lets look at the results-only work environment. Have you heard of it? It works like this; people are paid for a chunk of work, rather than a chunk of time. This idea creates a workforce that is energized, focused, disciplined, and happy. Plus, it’s good for your bottom line.

Leisure time is not wasted time. Let me repeat that. Leisure time is not wasted time. It’s valuable. Important. Necessary. People who take time out for themselves to unplug are happier, more engaged workers who do a better job for YOU. John de Graaf co-founder and executive director of Take Back Your Time found: “It’s actually a common finding in epidemiology that health goes up during economic downturns,” he said. “It very much has to do with people having more time. Working hours are down.” See?! I need to take vacations for YOU!

We need to be able to trust one another. This hasn’t been easy for us. In part because there’s the whole “mom” thing. There I said it. It’s out in the open. You have a bias. Because I’m a mother you see me as something of a burden. “Oh, god, she’s going to have to take her kid to the doctor. She has to take some time off for parent teacher conference, what happens when the kid gets sick? And worse…. she’s going to want to talk about them.” Yes. I will do those things. So what? Seriously, so what? That’s life. It’s messy and it’s unpredictable, and children and mothers and fathers have to function within the world of work. You see, with more control over my time, (see above) with the idea of flexibility, trust, and results built into the mindset of the workplace, this becomes a non issue, doesn’t it?

School: I’m doing this for our relationship. Continuing my education is my gift to you! ;) Being involved in the dMBA program has already improved our relationship and helped our communication. We were never able to speak this openly before. Sure I may be becoming more demanding, but I think you secretly like it.

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Improvisation as a Communications Skill-Set: Redefining Fun

CCA LiveE | Friday January 8th, 2010 | 0 Comments

I often think about our everyday life being improv. When the pressure is on though it’s easy to get off track.

Communication is not only important, but without it, human life would be non-existent. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when I discovered I would be taking a communications course called “Live Exchange” (LiveE) in the MBA Design Strategy Program at The California College of the Arts. Having taken the course, I can compose a list of valuable things LiveE has taught me about communication.

While I have taken away a lot from this course and could have an endless list, one of the most important and fun things I learned is how effective communication entails verbal and non-verbal skill-sets. Did I ever think that improv would be a non-verbal communications skill-set or even a skill at all to help me overcome my fear of public speaking?

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Green Jobs: Wind Power Provides Dream Job for Climbers

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Friday January 8th, 2010 | 10 Comments

Wind turbine rope access technicianWith a “high” unemployment rate, many people are scrambling to find a job.  Whether you or someone you know is hunting for work or simply considering a different career path, turbine maintenance is not only challenging, it is guaranteed to have you reaching for the stars.

Combining climbing and caving techniques with green technology, specialized rope access technicians, also called rope specialists, utilize their techniques to inspect, clean and repair wind turbines, reports the New York Times. According to rope-based service provider Ropeworks, “Rope access technicians descend, ascend and traverse ropes for access and work while suspended by a harness or a work seat.  For years, these fearless workers scaled the likes of oil rigs, skyscrapers, bridges and mountain cliffs.  But today, rope access technicians are keeping our green technology in good working order.

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Why Energy Efficiency Is Worth the Investment

| Friday January 8th, 2010 | 10 Comments

Investing in energy efficiency is a critical piece of the climate change puzzle. Given that the built environment accounts for 39 percent of total energy use in the US, real estate investment represents one of the most effective ways to implement energy efficiency strategies. A recent report from Ceres and Mercer, reviewed in Environmental Leader, outlines the business case that investing in energy efficiency enhances value in real estate portfolios. The report draws on key industry and academic research on building efficiency’s economic impacts and outlines steps and best practices for leveraging efficiency in real estate investments, including pertinent case studies about TIAA-CREF and CalPERS.

Furthermore, the results of the report indicate that companies who fail to factor energy efficiency into their real estate investment decisions might be assuming significant risk in the future and could be overlooking substantial opportunities to enhance returns.

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Not All Coal Is the Same; Research Uncovers Extra Deadly Chinese Vein

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday January 8th, 2010 | 3 Comments

Forget, for a moment, the debate over “clean coal” and “dirty coal,” and consider the rock’s impact on human health.  Wired.com reported on Thursday that coal being mined in China is linked to an unusually high lung cancer mortality rate among women and nonsmokers in the rural Chinese county of Xuan Wei in Yunnan Province.

Alexis Madrigal reports that in a paper published in December in Environmental Science and Technology, Chinese, British and American researchers have ferreted out a link between the silica in the coal and the massive event that nearly wiped out life at the Permian-Triassic boundary.

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Recycle Match: The eBay of Recycling?

| Friday January 8th, 2010 | 4 Comments

startup-friday.jpg

Waste. Every company creates it, in some form or another. For some materials, the path to recycling is clear – paper, plastics, and industry specific waste that has a known reuse within your sector or a related one.

But what about the less obvious materials, the ones for which you have no feasible reuse, and therefore pay disposal fess, month after month? Is that the end of story, a “necessary evil” you must resign yourself to?

Not if Recycle Match can help it.

Much like eBay has created a global market on the consumer items that previously sat in people’s homes or were thrown away, Recycle Match seeks to match up those who generate either one-time or regular streams of hard-to-recycle materials, with those seeking that material for their own use.

The source company gets revenue from that which they previously paid to have taken away, and the recipient finds a resource they need, likely at a lower cost, and definitely with less of an impact on the environment.

What does Recycle Match get out of it?

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