The Courts Might Be Blue But the US Open Is Thinking Green

| Wednesday September 9th, 2009 | 2 Comments

us-open-logoUnderlying the general excitement of 700,000 fans that populate the two-week 2009 US Open – Elite Athlete Eye Candy! Unseeded Player Dreams! Open Seating Options! – is the USTA’s ongoing, long-term commitment to greening its enterprise.

What’s the sweet spot? According to Rita Garza, Senior Director of Corporate Relations, USTA, “Outdoor tennis and a concern for the environment is a natural fit. We’re just making the connection.” 2009 marks year two of the center-wide greening initiative and the USTA’s operational strategy takes a strong external and internal approach in an number of obvious and behind the scenes ways.

Walking through grounds of the USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center – the world’s largest outdoor tennis facility – it’s hard to miss the 500 blue recycling bins, one to partner with each conventional garbage can around the 42-acre campus.

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Responsible Jewelry: The Search for Credibility

3p Contributor | Wednesday September 9th, 2009 | 10 Comments

diamond-miningWith the failures of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), as evidenced by ongoing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, pressure is building for mining and jewelry companies to become transparent, accountable, and fair. But will the new certification systems be credible?

At this year’s Fair Trade Diamond Conference in Las Vegas, discussion of competing certification systems was rigorous. At one table sat a representative from the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC); at another sat a representative from the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM). Both organizations are establishing vital new standards for socially responsible—or in ARM’s case Fair Trade—gems and precious metals. But their divergent approaches highlight the importance of involving local stakeholders in creating standards that are effective and credible.

RJC, a participant in the United Nations Global Compact initiative, has nearly completed its standards for certification of large-scale mining operations and is seeking input from civil society mining organizations that promote social and environmental justice. RJC standards would require sensible practices like protecting ecosystem biodiversity and ensuring that “the interests and development aspirations of affected communities are considered.”

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Health Care Debate Could Slow Passage of Climate Legislation

| Wednesday September 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Congress’ debate over health care reform could slow the passage of climate legislation, since, practically speaking, lawmakers must choose one battle over the other for now. This lag could potentially jeopardize the success of December’s UN Climate Change Conference, the Wall Street Journal reports.

President Obama will plead his case on health care to Congress this week. Accordingly, Majority Leader (Democrat) Harry Reid has pushed deciding on the climate bill to the end of this year – a deadline that will allow Democrats to determine whether they have enough political strength left over from the health care battle to fight for the climate bill’s passage. The deadline could be pushed back even further if the health care debate drags on into the 2010 congressional midterm elections.

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Plants Need CO2, Therefore It Doesn’t Cause Global Warming?

| Wednesday September 9th, 2009 | 3 Comments

HLeightonStewardI’m sure the Internet has its fair share of wackos trying to prove that global warming is not human-made nor dangerous. But I’m going to focus on this one, because he’s just so adorable.

His reasoning: Plants Need Co2. Therefore, how could CO2 be a pollutant? In fact, he’s so emphatic about this that he named his organization just that: “Plants Need CO2”

The mission of this 501(c)(3) nonprofit? “To educate the public on the positive effects of additional atmospheric CO2 and help prevent the inadvertent negative impact to human, plant and animal life if we reduce CO2.”

Yes, we all learned in 3rd grade biology that plants breathe in CO2. This does not mean that it’s not a pollutant.

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TGIT: The Workweek Goes Green

| Wednesday September 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment

banner-green-labor-day
calendarIntroducing six reasons to say “Thank Goodness It’s Thursday.” The novel 4-day/40-hour workweek might just mean saving energy and reducing carbon emissions, alleviating traffic congestion and improving commuter health, boosting the budget and creating a happier, healthier workforce. According to a recent article from the Associated Press, the closing of Utah state offices on Fridays has resulted in a 13 percent reduction in energy use.

Over half of the state’s 24,000 executive branch employees have been working 10 hours a day, four days a week, over the course of the past year in an effort to reduce energy consumption and cut utility costs. According to the “Working 4 Utah” website, the initial projected energy reduction from the program was estimated to be 22,452 Mbtu’s, the environmental equivalent of over 600 vehicles annually. After only nine months the state of Utah had saved $1.8 million.

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Snow Leopard Packaging Fails Green Test

| Tuesday September 8th, 2009 | 17 Comments

snow-leopard-package

Like millions of other Mac owners I dutifully plonked down $29 for the new Snow Leopard operating system last week. It’s a nice improvement and well worth the price. But, why in the modern world I am required to send for a physical DVD to make my installation possible has left me somewhat dumbfounded. To make matters even more hilarious, Apple sent me a cardboard box 15.6 times the size of the DVD case contained within (I did the math).

With all of Apple’s green claims, this just doesn’t compute.

They could have popped the DVD into a NetFlix style envelope, saved massively on shipping and handling and made me feel less like a wasteful chump. For that matter, the whole thing should have been downloadable.

Why, dear Apple, why?

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The 5 Stages for Achieving Innovation Through Sustainability

| Tuesday September 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Prahalad thumbnail“There’s no alternative to sustainable development” begins the recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation.” Sustainability and green initiatives are no longer optional contend the article’s authors — Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad and M.R. Rangaswami. Not only is the business case getting stronger, but embracing a sustainability agenda can stimulate innovation, pushing companies to rethink their operations, products and business models.

The authors studied the sustainability initiatives of 30 large companies and discovered what they describe as a “mother lode of organizational and technological innovations that yield both bottom-line and top-line returns.” From their research, they’ve developed five distinct stages of change that transforms a company from sustainability laggard to leader. Each stage has its challenges, required competencies and abundant opportunities as the authors illustrate through case study examples.

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Microfinance in the US: Will There Be a Green Focus?

Scott Cooney | Tuesday September 8th, 2009 | 6 Comments

logoLeafy3Kiva.org, the world’s largest microfinance site, is so successful in part because Kiva itself is so fun, interactive, and imaginative in its presentation. They work with a host of field partners that fund small loans. People give small donations that finance these loans, and can see pictures of the businessperson, read about their idea, and decide to chip in to help that person rise above poverty. It truly is an amazing ‘feel-good’ story. What may be loose change to many citizens in developed countries is truly life-blood for many in the developing world. Kiva’s giving out $1 million in loans weekly in this way, and are the #1 most trafficked microfinance site. Despite the bad economy, Kiva’s had a record year.

Kiva has recently brought this model home to the U.S. by partnering with microfinance lenders (MFL’s) such as Opportunity Fund. The loans are bigger than some of the ones we’re used to hearing stories about (i.e., a $250 loan to a vendor in Uganda looking to sun-dry mangoes so that they have goods to sell in the offseason), but otherwise, it’s still microfinance. In the first week of doing so, someone in Cambodia lent money to someone in the U.S. It was a real moment of inspiration for everyone at Kiva, according to Giovanna Masci, Microfinance Partnerships Manager for the Americas at Kiva.

But let’s talk frankly about this “feel-good” story for a moment. Do I really feel good about Joe the Plumber getting a microloan? Well, yes, sure…but what would really make this a feel-good story is if Kiva decided to focus loans to green business startups.

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Disney Spotlights Everyday Superheroes of Change

| Tuesday September 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hollywood & green
friends-for-changeThe blogosphere’s been a-buzz the past few days about Disney’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of Marvel, but there hasn’t been much press about the million dollars in donations they’re planning as part of their “Friends for Change” initiative. In fact, though I hesitate to admit this publicly, if I hadn’t gotten sucked into The Jonas Brothers marathon on the Disney channel over the long weekend, I wouldn’t even have known about it. Granted, I’m not their target audience, but after digging deeper, it’s actually a worthwhile program that makes effective use of popular icons like Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers in making kids and teens aware of the important issues facing our planet in a memorable way.

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Goodwill: A People Recovery Enterprise

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

banner-green-labor-dayGoodwillBy James David, Communications Manager, Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties

While people around the world generally think about Goodwill in terms of our retail stores, we think of Goodwill as a value recovery enterprise, or in other words, one huge recycling center. As our retails stores demonstrate, we offer up people’s unwanted or discarded goods, and recover their value. Similarly, we take society’s unwanted or discarded people, and help them recover, and for many of them, discover, their value through training and work.

The people portion of the triple bottom line, which we too have embraced as our mission, is at the heart of every retail transaction, every material or financial donation, and every pound of goods we divert from landfill. Goodwill’s participants have been discarded by society due to substance abuse or addiction, incarceration, and seemingly insurmountable barriers to employment. These are people who are desperately in need of training and education, which we work hard to provide for them through the programs we offer.

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Maps Are Worth Ten Thousand Words: Where Cleantech Jobs Are in the US

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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By Carol McClelland, PhD and author of Green Careers For Dummies


View 101 Cleantech Startups in a larger map

Thanks to the power of Google Maps, organizations that are researching the viability of green jobs and the green economy have a powerful tool at their fingertips. With a bit of data, these organizations are creating maps that show where green companies are located, which provides job searches and green career seekers with a powerful tool.

In this map, you see a map of 101 Cleantech start ups with distinctive icons that indicate which 12 clean tech industries they represent. Hover over the icon and some summary information about the company including what the business focus is, who the key players are, where their funding is coming from and links to blog posts about the company. (If you want to see more details, click on the link below the map and check out the left side of the page to see the companies that fit under each of the following categories.)

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Clean Tech Training for All

Frank Marquardt | Tuesday September 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Cleantech Training Just five years ago, there were a mere handful of educational and training programs available for those interested in clean tech, primarily in advanced-degree university programs. Today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, with new ones popping up every day as a result of stimulus funds flowing to colleges and universities to fund green jobs training.

These programs are targeted to candidates at every level of experience, from those with a GED to engineering and chemistry graduates looking to develop next generation solar technologies. And while a clean tech training program won’t guarantee you a job in the industry, it will help you stand out—and deliver marketable skills as stimulus money gets spent.

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Dow Corning CEO’s Take On Green Jobs

3p Contributor | Monday September 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

The following is a guest post by Dr. Stephanie Burns, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Dow Corning Corporation:

This month’s second annual National Clean Energy Summit was an amazing opportunity for me to discuss the transformation of United States’ energy policies with some of this country’s influential names in innovation, sustainability and energy efficiency. The energy, commitment and concern expressed by former President Bill Clinton, former Vice-President Al Gore, President Obama’s cabinet secretaries Steven Chu and Hilda Solis, T. Boone Pickens, and organizer Sen. Harry Reid was contagious and I, as well as the thousands of others who attended, left with optimism that we are on the forefront of a clean-energy revolution that will create millions of jobs nationwide and place us firmly on a path toward energy independence.

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The Dangers of Haphazard Hiring in Building the Clean Economy

3p Contributor | Monday September 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

banner-green-labor-dayHiring PracticesBy Nick Ellis, Managing Partner of Bright Green Talent

If you’ve applied for a job—green or otherwise—in the past year, you’ve probably found that it’s often a messy, slow, unsatisfying process.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, “current hiring practices are haphazard at best and ineffective at worst. And even when companies find the right people, they have difficulty retaining them.”

I run an environmentally-focused recruiting firm called Bright Green Talent in San Francisco, and have been working for the past few years to help environmentally-minded companies grow out their teams. I’ve seen first hand how something is hugely amiss in the hiring practices of most organizations—and yes, this includes green companies.

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Michigan’s Windspire Inspires New Green Jobs

3p Contributor | Monday September 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

windspire-capitolBy Amy Berry

Last April, amid a freezing cold rain and intermittent snow showers, more than 600 people stood in and around a tent to hear Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm celebrate the opening of the Windspire wind turbine factory in Manistee, MI. The crowd cheered as Granholm and Windspire parent company Mariah Power’s CEO Mike Hess spoke of the transformation of the facility: from manufacturer of automation equipment for the automotive industry to near closure and then finally now to the manufacturing of small wind turbines. The hero of the day was the factory’s general manager John Holcomb, who received the loudest cheers from the Michigan crowd when he challenged businesses across the state and country to think bigger about what is possible.

A veteran of the automotive industry, Holcomb’s business was devastated by the automotive industry’s crisis. His clients, all of the major car makers, stopped ordering equipment. He was forced to lay off almost his entire staff. Working with local community entities, Holcomb convinced Mariah Power that his team could make the Windspire wind turbines for a cost that was competitive with overseas manufacturers and with far better quality. The facility was retrofit with new machinery and the laid off workers were rehired to start building the Windspire turbines.

In honor of Labor Day, John Holcomb answered some of our questions about his new green job:

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