Guiding Principles for the New Economy

Scott Cooney | Friday November 13th, 2009 | 3 Comments

gbconfAs the Green Business Conference wraps up its second and final day before giving way to the world’s largest green event (San Francisco’s Green Festival, also put on by Green America), Bryan Welch, Publisher and Editorial Director of Ogden Publications, lent his weight to the festivities, giving the keynote address.  In it, he laid out four guiding principles for the new economy and how these questions can help us create a three dimensional vision for the future of business, species, and planet.

Welch’s resume is impressive.  Ogden Publications publishes Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, Herb Companion, and Natural Home magazines.

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SproutBaby: Eco-Friendly Products for Babies & Families

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Friday November 13th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Sprout Baby

As people around the world become more aware of the many environmental issues and challenges we face, finding products that are safe and healthy for our children and also environmentally friendly can be a daunting task.  

Whether you are a new parent or seasoned grandparent, SproutBaby is much more than an online store.  SproutBaby is a one-stop-shop for healthy, eco-friendly products.  Founded by Jody Sherman and Balaji Gopinath, the social shopping site is committed to help parents make healthy and eco-conscious product choices.  The family-friendly products, which include baby food, books, media, gentle mom and baby care items, are all researched, tested, reviewed and approved.

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Relationships: The Key Ingredient to a Green Data Center

3p Contributor | Friday November 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

green-data-centers-banner By Mike Leber, president and founder of Hurricane Electric
Green data centers have been getting more attention in the media in the last six months. Although much of that coverage has been on how green data centers are reducing carbon footprint, they also serve another importance purpose: reducing data center operating costs. Given that energy costs can account for up to 30 percent of a company’s IT budget, there is substantial economic incentive to improve energy efficiency in the data center.

Whether it is an existing data center or a new center in the process of being built, decisions need to be made not only on the type of technologies that will be utilized within a center, but also the facility’s design. Vendor relationships as well as one with the local power company are key to creating an energy efficient data center.

It is critical to have open discussions with vendors to find energy-efficient products. It is not only important to know how the product works, but how it may work in an energy-efficient mode, why it is energy efficient and how much energy may actually be saved. Only through open discussions with vendors, can these answers be found and the right energy-efficient sever, UPS, HVAC system or airflow management solution be deployed.

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Why Copenhagen Could Be a Social Tipping Point

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday November 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

“The world is looking to the United States for measurable, verifiable action,” the New York Times’ Andrew Revkin declared on November 4 while speaking at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s National Climate Seminar. Revkin is not optimistic that Congress will pass a bill reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions before Copenhagen. The House passed a bill this summer that requires a 17 percent reduction in carbon emissions, but the Senate has yet to pass a bill.

“The table I see being set at Copenhagen is with some pretty stark divisions.” Revkin said. Developing countries want $100s of billions in financial assistance to cope with climate change. In October, developing nations asked developed nations to give up to $400 billion a year. Around the same time, the EU’s 27 national leaders agreed that developed countries will have to offer developing countries around $147 billion a year.

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How Target Invests In Sustainability

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday November 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

180px-Illinois_Target_StoreTarget Corporation, one of the largest general merchandise store chains in the U.S., focused on making its stores more energy efficient in 1989 when it began using an energy management system (EMS) to conserve energy. The system at the company’s headquarters allows for company-wide energy policies to be implemented.

In the early 1990s, Target began selling used cardboard to recyclers. The majority of its stores now return their cardboard to distribution centers on the same trailers that deliver merchandise to stores. Target stores recycle electronics, both product returns and company equipment. Target stores also repair and refurbish damaged shopping carts. When the carts are not fit to be used anymore, the plastic and metal is recycled. As of 2007, 983 million pounds of cardboard and 47,000 broken carts were recycled.

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The Impact of Storytelling on International Development

3p Contributor | Friday November 13th, 2009 | 1 Comment

story-tellingBy Mary Solecki

The entrepreneurs of international development work will have a special place in history. These are entrepreneurial spirits that have risked their careers and livelihoods, not to make exorbitant profits or seek the thrill of the IPO, but instead to make life better for their fellow countrymen. These men and women are rarely recorded in history books, but have devoted all their time and talents toward the thankless job of making the world a better place.

Last summer I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to intern with a non-profit organization in Nicaragua. During my experience, I lived in rural Nicaragua, and spent a lot of time not only watching the hard efforts of a social entrepreneur, but trying to wrap my mind around the differences between my origins and the Nicaraguans. The whole summer, and most days since, I have tried to envision how not only my life, but I might be different if I was born there. After all, I did nothing to earn the opportunities I have in my life. Just as Nicaraguans were simply born there, I was simply born in the United States. A simple act of fate and geographical convenience that permanently alters the paths a life might take. It is the realization of my blind luck that drives me to appreciate and create these opportunities for others.

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Join me at the Academy Awards of Cleantech

| Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 1 Comment

cleantech openThis year’s Cleantech Open Awards Gala (Tues Nov 17th in San Francisco) is not to be missed.  Along with Bill Roth, I’ll be covering the event for TriplePundit.  Last year’s event was phenomenal and this year promises to be bigger and better.

The Cleantech Open launched in 2006 and has grown tremendously since.  The mission is to “find, fund and foster the big ideas” that address today’s toughest challenges and to date 125 cleantech start-ups have benefited from the organization’s funding and resources.  A tribute to the the organization’s strength in finding and nurturing high potential companies, Cleantech Open startups have raised $130 million in private funding, and have created 500 jobs to date.  Each year the quality of the applicants has grown as well — a good sign for a still quite nascent industry.

This year’s gala brings together finalists from three Cleantech Open regions – California, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountain - to select a winner, who will receive $250,000 in cash and services.  From the all-star line-up of contending start-ups I’m excited to learn more about:

  • How Green Lite Motors commuter vehicle gets 100 miles per gallon
  • How Micromidas converts raw sewage into biodegradable plastic
  • How SunTrac Solar makes a solar hot water heater which captures 50 to 70% of solar energy
  • How Alphabet Energy plans to convert waste energy into electricity at low cost
  • How tru2earth’s Life Cycle Roof Tile made of recycled plastic bottles is as cheap as asphalt and captures rainwater
  • Plus interact with 120 cleantech companies at the pre-gala expo.  Register here.

Who are you rooting for?

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Speed Dating Meets Green Business at Green America’s Conference

| Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 5 Comments

speeddatingBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

Green America’s Green Business Conference was the yenta of the green business world yesterday when it hosted its Product Expo:  Marketplace and Community Connections.  Participants were invited to set up a business display at this product expo that was modeled after the ever so popular speed dating concept.

The idea last night was to get all the conference attendees networking and doing business with each other.  One of my complaints about conferences is that they don’t do enough to promote networking and Green America has done a great job at this conference on integrating creative ways to encourage us to meet each other.

At a traditional speed dating event, you spend only three minutes speaking to a potential love interest and then move on.  If there is mutual interest, you follow-up on your own after the event. While the networking last night was a bit less structured, we were encouraged to circulate and meet as many businesses as possible.

Since Scott Cooney has been doing a great job of highlighting some of the sessions, I thought I would focus on a few of the businesses that made it onto my final dance card last night.

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Woody Tasch: What Happens After Stimulus Money is Gone

Scott Cooney | Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

slow moneyWoody Tasch, author of Slow Money, and President and Chairman of the Slow Money Alliance, spoke on day 2 of the Green America Green Business Conference.  He had a tough act to follow, getting up on stage right after Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins of Green For All.

Tasch, in his characteristic charismatic and down-to-earth style, was more than up to the task.  The final question asked of Ellis-Lamkins was ‘What happens when stimulus money dries up?  Where will the green jobs come from if the green labor force Green For All is working with don’t have entrepreneurial skills to create their own?’  Tasch was thrilled to be able to pick up the ball and run with that question, as a beautiful segue to the financial side of the new green economy.

“I’m so glad that young man asked that question.  Where’s that money going to come from?” he asked. 

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Green For All at the Green Business Conference

Scott Cooney | Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 1 Comment

green for all logoMillions of new jobs.  An inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.  Dignity.  The ability to support one’s family.  All done in an environmentally friendly way.

A worker owned cooperative that salvages building materials.

Efficiency audits for homeowners and small businesses.

Horticultural and permaculture companies creating local food from dilapidated landscapes in inner cities.

Many of us know the story of Green For All.  It’s a beautiful congruence of old school environmentalism, sustainable economic development, and social justice.  It’s one of the great feel-good stories of the new economy.  But then Van Jones was badgered out of Washington by right wing nut-jobs because of some supposedly over-exuberant activism in his past.

So where is Green For All now?  Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins spoke to the Green Business Conference about their vision for the future. 

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EPA Data Center Cuts Waste, Finds Savings

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The Green Grid, an IT industry consortium that is studying and seeking to standardize metrics, processes, methods and new technologies to make data centers more energy efficient, partnered last year with the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to assess the energy consumption at typical small to mid-sized data centers, set in motion energy-saving measures, and then develop a set of recommendations for energy efficiency improvements.

In the study, the EPA acted as the guinea pig—the study centered on its data center located at One Potomac Yard near Washington, DC.

By making a number of changes—many of them simple and requiring little capital, the center was able to increase its energy efficiency by 20 percent. The steps will also save the center $15,000 per year in energy costs.

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Tips From UPS: Why and How to Start Greening Your Data Center

Kathryn Siranosian | Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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UPS delivery truckWe’ve all heard the good news: Improving efficiencies at your data center is a sure-fire way to cut energy costs and reduce GHG emissions.

But, let’s face it. The prospect of greening a data center can seem overwhelming. After all, data centers are complicated, unwieldy and high-tech. Even the most intrepid sustainability manager may take a look around, and be left scratching his head, wondering, “Where do we start?”

“That’s a very good question,” says Joe Parrino, Facilities Engineer of UPS’s Windward Data Center near Atlanta. “You start by getting educated and fully understanding the problem.”

That’s how they did it at Windward, one of UPS’s two largest data centers. Originally constructed in 1995, Windward monitors all of the information about the 15 million packages UPS delivers daily worldwide.  Recently, Parrino led the facility through a dramatic energy makeover, a series of varied changes that cut energy consumption by 15% and reduced UPS’s CO2 emissions by 5.5 million pounds annually.

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The Hurdles and Heroes of International Development

3p Contributor | Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hurdleBy Mary Solecki

I frequently tell people I’m ‘into’ international development. I recently received a raised eyebrow at this statement, reminding me just how vague the term is. Is it sinister international globalization plans? An underground tunnel to China (finally)? When asked to describe what this means to me, I tend to go for the explanation “helping people to meet their basic needs of clean water, food, and education.”

Now, this might sound like pure humanitarian efforts, but I have a very negative impression of humanitarianism. I envision crates of food dropping to people on the ground, canned in English they do not understand nor have the can openers to open without bodily laceration. International development is the sustainable version of humanitarianism, based off the ‘Teach a Man to Fish’ life lesson #218. Rather than a crate of canned food, the international development plane might drop off a fishing pole and a fly-fishing guide that knows a few local jokes and swimming holes.

While the world seems to have growing enthusiasm for international development, the hurdles and risks associated with this work have not gone away. As social entrepreneurs are sprouting up throughout developing countries, governments of these countries are relaxing their own efforts, and becoming more dependent on these organizations to provide services in their place. Social entrepreneurs face a huge obstacle in their very existence. They exist to help improve lifestyles and meet basic needs to some of the world’s poorest. In order for an organization to consider itself ‘social’, they cannot turn too much of a profit off the very people they are trying to help. The amount of creativity required to help meet people’s needs while still fulfilling bottom line needs walks the fine line between exhilarating and exhausting.

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Increasing Pessimism on Copenhagen, US Climate Bill

| Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 3 Comments

dead+globeA bad week for climateers. Several news reports out Wednesday pour cold water on imminent climate change change.

The Wall Street Journal reports “Climate Bill Likely on the Shelf for Rest of the Year.” Obviously it’s not over until the fat lady sings, but a key Democratic senator, Max Baucus, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said “it’s common understanding that climate-change legislation will not be brought up on the Senate floor and pass the Senate this year,” according to WSJ.

Baucus’ comment was reinforced by one from Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who told the Washington Post “I don’t see any climate bill on the table right now that I can support.”

The New York Times meanwhile gossips that at a symposium Tuesday of climate change experts and representatives from China, Brazil and other nations sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, the general consensus was that achieving a broad, global agreement at Copenhagen was “very very low,” in the words of Atul Arya of BP, the British oil company.

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Odd Couple, or Where Coffee Grounds and Mushroom Meet

Bill DiBenedetto | Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

BTTR_venturesBTTR (as in Better) Ventures has a thing about mushrooms, while Peet’s Coffee & Tea of course has a very big thing about coffee (and tea). This unlikely duo has joined forces in a clever and delicious waste-to-food recycling venture that produces gourmet mushrooms out of coffee grounds.

Some 16 billion pounds of coffee beans are used each year, most of which eventually wind up in landfills. Cal Berkley Haas School of Business grads Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Aorara founded the company to turn one of the largest waste streams in America into sustainable local food. They do this by using coffee grounds as the substrate to grow different varieties mushrooms.

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