Easy Green Choice: Better World Books “Eco-Shipping” Makes Company Price Competitive With Amazon

Scott Cooney | Thursday March 4th, 2010 | 5 Comments

Recently, I posted a series of articles on green business books.  I’m an author.  I know the field reasonably well, though I’m no expert in the publishing industry.  Blogging is a terrific outlet for book sales, as I’ve found that by giving away a sample of my writing on Triple Pundit, and letting people decide if they want to read more, they can purchase my book online.  For the last two years, I’ve been merrily blogging away (both for 3p and other green business blogs–yes there are others!), leaving a link at the bottom of each post to my book’s page on BetterWorldBooks.com.  Better World Books is the clear green choice, and as a green author, I want to support them.

By not linking to my book’s Amazon page, however, I had two internal struggles.  One struggle is a reputation thing.  Middle America knows Amazon.  More on that shortly.  But the second is that my book costs more on BWB.  Or at least, I had always assumed it did.  Turns out, BWB’s “eco-shipping,” which is free and eco-friendly, makes BWB price-competitive with Amazon!  So why don’t people know that?

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Film Exposes Overfishing Practices, Fishes for Answers

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday March 4th, 2010 | 4 Comments

I’ve a fear of oceans. Lakes—even the biggest ones—I don’t mind. I love them, in fact, having grown up in Chicago and attending college on the shores of Lake Superior. But oceans, and their rip tides and undertows, have always struck me as sinister.

Ironically, just after returning from a week on a beach in Baja, where I started coming to terms with these fears, I watched The End of the Line, a newly released documentary that makes the case for why the oceans should be afraid of us.

The film, which Ted Danson narrates and Robert Murray directed, delves into the depravity we’ve brought to the world’s oceans through centuries of wanton fishing (and, obviously, consuming) fish from oceans around the world.

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Socially Responsible Financing For-Profit: An Emerging Opportunity

Bill DiBenedetto | Thursday March 4th, 2010 | 0 Comments

This is what the triple bottom line should be all about but maybe a Harvard Business Review article will put a firmer imprimatur on an emerging business opportunity for CEOs in the for-profit finance sector: Linking entrepreneurs and their companies with the necessary resources needed to create lasting social change.

Writing in HBR’s blog this week, Bill Drayton, the founder, chairman and CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public Since 1980, says that since the late 1980s the financial industry has not kept up with the rapid change and growth occurring in the “citizen sector.”  As a result, the “change makers of the citizen sector lack the financing options they need to make their projects successful and scalable.”

Without new sources of private capital “the citizen sector has to continue to rely on funding by governments and foundations,” Drayton continues. And “that’s far from ideal.”

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Empire State Building Reaches New Heights in Energy Efficiency

RP Siegel | Thursday March 4th, 2010 | 5 Comments

On February 25, 2010 the Sustainable Building Industry Council’s (SBIC) 2009 Beyond Green High Performance Building Award was given to the Empire State Building (ESB) Integrated Energy Efficiency Retrofit team, consisting of:  Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Jones Lang LaSalle, Clinton Climate Initiative and Johnson Controls. These awards distinguish initiatives that shape and catalyze the high-performance building market, as well as the real-world application of high-performance design and construction practices. The winners were competing in a field of over forty applicants judged by a panel of distinguished architects. On hand for the presentation were Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), co-chairs of the High Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus.

The ESB team took pains to go beyond the typical 15-20% energy retrofit reductions, to showcase what they believe represents a new generation of building energy retrofit technology, strategy and philosophy.  Rigorous cost/performance analysis models were developed and refined which enabled the team to identify the most cost-effective energy reduction strategies. Among the initiatives selected were:

  • Refurbished windows by using  thin film and pumping in inert gas.
  • Reducing lighting with daylighting, occupancy sensing & high efficiency bulbs.
  • Placing radiative barriers behind radiators to reduce losses.
  • A chiller plant retrofit
  • Variable Air Volume air handling units
  • Direct Digital controls that optimize heating and cooling operation

The resulting package is estimated to achieve a 38% reduction in energy consumption, which translates into $4.4 million annual cost savings with 105,000 metric tons of CO2 avoided over the fifteen year monitoring period.

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Are Texas Oil Companies Funding Initiative to Roll Back AB32?

| Wednesday March 3rd, 2010 | 3 Comments

In 2006, the State of California passed a landmark piece of legislation known as AB32. The bill requires California to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. With California’s prominence as a major economy in its own right, the bill has had national and international repercussions and attention.

Now, one opposition group is attempting to repeal AB32 before it kicks in by means of a ballot measure proposed for this fall’s election – an effort they call the “California Jobs Initiative.” The measure would suspend AB32 until California’s recession-rattled unemployment rate dips to 5.5 percent, however long that takes. But something funny was revealed today: The New York Times reports that, as of now, the only financial backers of the initiative are very likely Texas-based oil companies Valero and Tesoro.

Hilariously, I just got done talking to a group of students at USC about mis-information campaigns in the media and politics and left feeling rather optimistic about their decline. I may have been wrong.

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The Beauty of Planning Ahead: Waste Management at its Best

| Wednesday March 3rd, 2010 | 6 Comments

I’m here in Florida for Waste Management‘s Industry Summit.  The day kicked off with tours of Broward County Florida’s recycling facility (Reuters Recycling) and waste to energy facility (Wheelabrator South Broward).  By no coincidence, this particular community has what is quite possibly the most advanced and integrated waste management system in the country.  A resident of San Francisco, I was shocked to see that a county in Florida, of all places, might have a higher diversion rate.  Turns out that in the mid-80s, Broward County noticed that landfills were scarce and filling fast and they would need an alternative plan.  So they built two waste-to-energy facilities to avoid landfilling waste.  Foresight.  What a refreshing concept.

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How International Business Outsourcing Helps Rural Development in India

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 3rd, 2010 | 4 Comments

By: Rishabh Kaul
A decade ago, the business world started outsourcing its back end work to the Indian megacities. But for a nation with 70% of its population living in rural settings, a new breed of Business Process Outsourcing companies (BPOs) are emerging which hope to tap into this talent pool. They are taking employment cost differentials to a whole new level. With much lower land rates, compared to their urban counterparts, rural BPOs are able to sustain themselves for as low as $1.50 to $2.00 USD, per hour.

Manoj Vasudevan left a high paying IBM job to start-up a rural BPO called SourcePilani in the university village of Pilani two years ago. Today, Source Pilani offers services such as medical transcription, social media marketing and SEO. Vasudevan feels that for a melting pot such as India (29 languages are spoken by more than a million native speakers), the true potential of rural BPOs can be achieved through voice-based services and not just low end jobs such as data entry.

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Angel Wind Energy Shows How Smart Entrepreneurs Can Shift Into the Green Economy

Scott Cooney | Wednesday March 3rd, 2010 | 4 Comments

Entrepreneur Ben Harroun and his family got their start in general construction 30 years ago.  Their aim and business niche, for almost 30 years, was to provide low-cost, quality housing.  And while the low-cost option might seem to have saved them from the economic recession of 2008/2009, Harroun and his family saw the writing on the wall.  “As the housing market began to slow in 2008, we begin [sic] to look for new ways to incorporate our talents in a changing industry,” Harroun said, in a recent interview with Green America.  “We heard about a 200-megawatt wind farm on the horizon in our area, and the answer seemed to be right in front of us; use the wind!”

Harroun and his family started Angel Wind Energy, and are among a growing number of people switching into the green economy from more conventional professions.  Even during a recession, the green economy is doing as well as could be hoped.  The State of Green Business Report recently published by GreenBiz.com showed improvement in many sectors of the green economy, with the majority of sectors at least holding their own during the downturn.

But Harroun is extraordinary, right?  Many would-be entrepreneurs who want to start a green business don’t do so because they’re afraid they don’t have this magic formula for what it takes to be a green businessperson.  So what is Harroun’s secret for his resilience, adaptability, and success? 

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My Missed Obama-tunity

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 3rd, 2010 | 0 Comments

Clothes hung outside the original Fellwood development April 15, 1949

By: Martin Melaver

I’m a sucker for dreams-go-sideways stories. You know the type: You work hard against all odds, you pull off amazing feats as an underdog, you’re on the brink of phenomenal success, and then something pulls the rug out from under you at the last minute. Still, despite the lack of external glory, there’s that intense internal satisfaction of having mastered a discipline and having realized one’s purpose in life. Or am I kidding myself?

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3p & University of Kansas to Tweet Green Jobs

| Tuesday March 2nd, 2010 | 0 Comments

The idea of “Green Jobs” is a favorite subject around here, especially in tough economic times. The idea is that, however you define the term, “Green Jobs” are going to be a cornerstone of economic recovery and indeed a larger re-tooling of the economy to be based on efficiency, clean energy, better, healthier products, services, and so on…

We’ve teamed up with my old colleague Simran Sethi’s Journalism class at the University of Kansas to do an experiment of sorts on the subject. The class is entitled “Green Reporting, Green Building, Green Justice” and as the name implies is a multifaceted course incorporating elements of Architecture, Journalism, Business, and Social Studies.

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3p on Carbon Trading: Will Markets Solve the Climate Crisis?

| Tuesday March 2nd, 2010 | 2 Comments

Carbon offsets, carbon exchange markets, emissions credits, cap and trade, emissions trading. These assorted terms all describe the various forms of carbon trading, from the individual wishing to offset his or her airline flight, to heavy industry compliance with federally mandated emissions reductions schemes, to the speculator simply plying the market for profit. While the mechanics may differ from one program to the next, the fundamental idea is the same – the commoditization of carbon emissions.

By putting a price on carbon, market forces are brought to bear on the   costs of emissions on the environment, sustainability, and human health. Costs that without such a mechanism are simply externalized. But sooner or later these market externalities must be accounted for. When the true costs are assessed through carbon trading, emissions are reduced, and investments in the transition to the coming new energy economy are given priority. Or at least that is the idea. What is the reality?

Follow along with Triple Pundit’s new carbon trading series as we pick the brains of some of the top experts in the field of carbon trading, carbon markets, and emissions reduction programs.

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Carbon Emissions Meets Financial Reporting: No Time to Waste

3p Contributor | Tuesday March 2nd, 2010 | 3 Comments

Image Source: Responsible Investor

By Lawrence E. Goldenhersh, president and CEO, Enviance, Inc.

In January of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) implemented unprecedented new reporting that mandate thousands of companies—many for the first time—track and report their carbon emissions for 2010. Companies have quickly realized that auditable GHG data tracking and management will quickly move from a “nice-to-have” to a mandatory component of financial reporting. (Editor’s Note: for more info on the SEC reporting, please see our Gina-Marie Cheeseman’s coverage from January).

Because of the financial implications of carbon going on the balance sheet, organizations must be able to verify CO2 emissions, not just loosely estimate them with “spreadsheet” data collection. The snowball effect of GHG emissions included in financial reporting is a heightened risk for inaccurate data, but also a call-to-action for companies to reduce carbon emissions to meet EPA and SEC regulations.

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State of the World Forum Moved to Brazil as Washington Disappoints

RP Siegel | Tuesday March 2nd, 2010 | 6 Comments

In early February, the State of the World Forum announced a decision to cancel their Climate Leadership Summit scheduled for this week in Washington because, in the words of Forum President Jim Garrison, “this is simply not the right time to convene a major conference of this kind in the nation’s capitol.” Because, as the conference organizers concluded from the lack of commitment in Copenhagen and events thereafter, “it would have virtually no impact on either the thinking or the agenda with which the U.S. Congress and the president are now engaged.”

Citing the “paralysis to which Washington has succumbed with regard to any action on global warming,” the forum has turned their eyes to other nations that might serve as more convincing role models in the quest to take the kind of urgent, large scale, meaningful action that the consensus of the scientific community deems necessary with ever-deepening alarm.

Forum President Jim Garrison elaborated his position in an exclusive statement to Triple Pundit:

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WSJ’s ECO:nomics Conference Kicks Off This Week

| Monday March 1st, 2010 | 2 Comments

The Wall Street Journal’s Environmental Capital blog may have closed up shop earlier this year but the name lives on in the Journal’s third annual ECO:nomics conference: Creating Environmental Capital. The event, focusing on the “most urgent issues in business and the environment,” continues to draw a host of prominent executives, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders. Robert Iger, Disney President and CEO, Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, and Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, are among this year’s speakers. The format of frank, highly strategic, executive-level discussions has apparently struck a chord, with many participants returning year after year. Three days in Santa Barbara can’t hurt either.

I will be writing from the conference starting this Wednesday and I invite your comments on what promises to be a stimulating agenda. Against the backdrop of carbon regulation uncertainty and the lingering recession, the 2010 program has a stronger focus on energy than in years past, with a series of sessions on oil, coal, wind, solar, and even genomic approaches to biofuel production. Later, a clean-technology elevator pitch session will feature execs from eMeter, Recycle Bank, and Suniva. New to the lineup this year are working group sessions (closed to the press) on topics ranging from Financing Green Projects to Working with NGOs, in which participants discuss and determine action priorities.

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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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