The EPA and Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released new vehicle standards, which would make new vehicles’ fuel economy the highest seen in over 30 years. Sustainability groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), are urging the Obama administration to finalize the standards (and prevent loopholes), a UCS press release reports. If finalized, the proposed standards would potentially benefit the environment, consumers’ finances, and the nation’s energy security.Click to continue reading »
For an average of 60 cents per gallon, the DewPointe DH9 Atmospheric Water Purification System extracts water vapor from the air and converts it to pure drinking water. The system uses similar technology as some home dehumidifiers to pull the moisture from the air.
By pulling moisture out of the atmosphere, the DH9 is said to eliminate virtually all contaminants that might otherwise occur in groundwater. The device then further purifies the water to eliminate 99.99% of contaminants. There’s an electrostatic air filter to remove small airborne particles like pollen and dust, a germicidal uV light that destroys bacteria and other microorganisms, a coconut hull filter that eliminates heavy metals, chlorine residuals and mineral salts, and a reverse osmosis (RO) filter to remove any remaining pathogens or fine particles. Unlike other RO filters, where the wastewater is then flushed (so that the user drinks one purified gallon for each six to ten that are wasted), the DH9′s revolutionary RO filter reprocesses it so that no water is lost. A gravity-fed storage tank holds 6.5 gallons that would be accessible even in the event of a power outage.
Too good to be true?Click to continue reading »
By Carly Smolak
As if our obsessive-compulsive nutrition culture was not frenetic enough with the deluge of conflicting reports and industry funded studies about diet, a new food labeling project called “Smart Choices” has recently unveiled its pseudo certification to help shoppers identify “smarter food and beverage choices.”
“Smarter Choices” for consumers include Froot Loops and Cocoa Crispies. Yes, that’s right, sugar-laden cereals are considered smarter dietary choices according to the certification. Ellen T. Kennedy, a researcher from Tufts who presides over the “Smart Choices” board (apparently unpaid), defended products endorsed by the label in a New York Times interview, arguing that sugary cereals are a better choice than a donut.
Right. And a donut is better than a bag of crack. Perhaps they should reconsider blacklisting fried, sugary confections.Click to continue reading »
Employee engagement is a growing strategy for driving performance and building competitive advantage for companies with a commitment to sustainability.
“The engaged workforce will find more opportunities to get lean and identify more opportunities to innovate and create products and services that lower customers’ environmental impacts. All of this work will improve the top and bottom lines,” comments sustainable business expert Andrew Winston, in his recent book Green Recovery.
Based on his book, and some of the other recent literature available, I offer the following three tips for engaging employees in sustainability:
- Look at the big picture and identify your greatest impacts across the value chain;
- Involve staff in sustainability on multiple levels, both at work and at home; and
- Integrate sustainability into operations and everyday decisions on products throughout their life cycle.
Catalyzing your employees to integrate sustainability into both their lives and work decisions can be a low-cost strategy for saving money, driving innovation and keeping employees happy.Click to continue reading »
2010 is widely expected to be a break-through year for solar power. Cheap PV, new financing models, a rebounding economy, increased consumer awareness, and strengthened government support could combine to push rooftop solar panels fully into the mainstream — like buying a new car, or remodeling the kitchen.
The question is: do people care who they buy their solar panels from?
Brands matter, but their importance in the residential and commercial solar power industry is up for debate. The stakes are high: if they do matter, then companies like Sun Power, who are spending heavily to promote their brand identity, could take a commanding lead as the industry grows.Click to continue reading »
Author John Updike once described Canada as a cool, chaste country, but that’s not how Greenpeace sees it. Earlier this week, the environmental warriors issued a harsh report that described Canada an international carbon bully.
Sooner or later, that description is going to stick. Over the last two and a half years, several different environmental groups have used that exact word to characterize one of the world’s most peaceful nations, and they do have a few inconvenient facts to buttress their claims. In the Greenpeace report called Dirty Oil: How The Tar Sands Are Fuelling the Global Climate Crisis author Andrew Nikiforuk argues that Canada has been working with Japan to deliberately undermine progress at the international climate talks for several years. Certainly, that devil could be in the details. The Alberta Tar Sands already release more greenhouse gases than several smaller European nations and — if planned expansion to 2020 goes ahead — the tar sands alone will produce more greenhouse gases annually than either Austria, Ireland, or Belgium.Click to continue reading »
On Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed the French national statistics agency on the adequacy of GDP in measuring a country’s economic well-being. He requested that the agency give greater consideration to factors such as quality of life and the environment (versus solely relying on GDP’s reporting of goods and services produced) in determining the nation’s fiscal health. If realized, what effect would this mentality have on sustainable development in France and worldwide?
According to a report by the New York Times, Sarkozy made the request after reviewing a report by a panel of top economists, which he commissioned in February 2008 to evaluate the adequacy of GDP as a fiscal standard. (The report is known formally as “The Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress Revisited.”) According to the report, while GDP accurately gauges an economy’s overall growth or reduction, it is a poor measurement of social health – a vital component of national well-being. GDP measurements ignore damage to society and the environment by unsustainable activities, and they do not always accurately reflect average citizens’ disposable incomes. Moreover, disproportionate focus on GDP metrics by policy makers (to the exclusion of data indicating increased unsustainable indebtedness of households and businesses – precursors to the recession) contributed to the current financial crisis’ onset.Click to continue reading »
Ford closed its Wixom, Michigan plant in 2007, but last week the company announced it will become a renewable energy park in 2011. That is the year when the redevelopment of the plant by two renewable energy manufacturing companies is slated to be finished. Last week, Ford announced that Clairvoyant Energy (Santa Barbara, CA) and Xtreme Power (Austin, TX) are buying the Wixom plant.
Clairvoyant Energy will manufacture solar panels in the plant, while Xtreme Power will make turnkey power systems for wind and solar projects. Clairvoyant Energy will have the capacity to produce over 2.5 million panels a year in the Wixom plant. When the redevelopment is completed, the plant will be one of the largest renewable energy manufacturing parks in the U.S., according to a press release.Click to continue reading »
We first introduced TriplePundit readers to San Francisco-based Mission Motors back in February after the quintessential whiz-kid start-up unveiled the Mission One motorcycle at the TED conference in Long Beach (and followed-up this summer after it raced at the TTXGP carbon-free grand prix).
The Mission One is ostensibly a high-performance, all-electric motorcycle, but it really is more than that. Like any great entrepreneurial start-ups, it begins with a vision. As we said back in February, that vision for founders Forrest North, Edward West, and Mason Cabot is to show the world that high-performance and cutting edge design need not be mutually exclusive with sustainability. If you think that you need to putter about town on a scooter in order to have a clean machine, the Mission One is out to prove you wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, like the Tesla (for whom North once worked), it doesn’t come cheap. You’d likely not get a Mission One just to tool about town. But the idea is to push boundaries, break new ground, and blaze a path for others to follow.
And earlier this month the Mission One pushed another boundary on the salt flats of Utah.Click to continue reading »
The interest in creating green jobs at the state and federal level has not diminished, nor has the interest by job-seekers in finding a green job. California recently announced $75 M in training for green job programs. Community Colleges in Oregon found that green job training was one of the fastest growing and most requested offerings their industry was seeing, despite the gloomy economic outlook.
The need for green job training is clear. Wind and solar provide limitless free energy. When compared to the costs of producing electricity by burning coal, there are higher up-front costs of setting up renewable energy like wind, solar, and geothermal. But the ongoing cost is considerably less, as the “fuel” is plentiful and free. Workers also benefit with jobs that are harder to export than manufacturing and other sectors.
A number of organizations are setting up green job training in their communities. Boots on the Roof is an organization founded by two groups of people: experienced green businesspeople and professional educators. This convergence is one of Boots’ strengths, as students receive training from qualified industry professionals at the same time as professional educators that can help enhance the learning experience.Click to continue reading »
When the EPA recently announced the 2009 winners of its Green Power Leadership Awards, the list included a number of corporate heavyweights (including Wal-Mart, Deutsche Bank AG, and Intel Corporation) as well as several smaller companies. These companies aren’t typically the first to come to mind when I think of environmentalism. Are the awards a step in the right direction in terms of making sustainability more mainstream, or are they awarding close-but-no-cigar “sustainability”?Click to continue reading »
Ed Note: This is the first post in a series on the business of sustainable agriculture by the folks at Bon Appétit Management, a company that provides café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities. We invited Bon Appetit to lead this conversation because they want to focus on difficult questions to which they don’t have answers. We think it’s a bold step when a company puts itself on a line to seek answers to tough questions. We may not solve them all, but we hope we’ll make a start.
At Bon Appétit Management Company we track our progress in sustainable food sourcing via a living document called the “COR Matrix.” COR stands for Circle of Responsibility and refers to our sustainability-related commitments. As a food service management company with over 400 cafes on corporate and school campuses across 30 states, we needed a way for us to track our promises and our dreams. Borrowing the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch stoplight system, the Matrix has three categories:
• Green - commitments we’ve made publicly; system-wide policies for all our 400 accounts such as buying at least 20% of our food from small, local farms or artisans
• Yellow – initiatives that we’re working on behind the scenes but haven’t announced yet (i.e. before we spoke externally about our Low Carbon Diet we gave our chefs and managers a full year to meet several purchasing initiatives so we knew our program would mean change in the supply chain, not just marketing fluff)
• Red – issues we’d like to tackle but don’t know where to start
California lawmakers passed legislation Friday that would bolster the state’s already-ambitious renewable energy goals – a potential victory for clean energy proponents in California and nationwide. However, the bill hangs in the balance, awaiting Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision about whether or not to veto it.Click to continue reading »
Over the last few years, bisphenol A (BPA) has become a green-household word, thanks to government and academic studies that link the monomer—a building block in many plastics we use every day—with developmental and other human health problems. Concerns over the chemical’s safety led to regulators in many states proposing bans on BPA in food and beverage containers, and many packaging manufactures started removing BPA from their products voluntarily—or at least it led them to profess the safety of their products.
One such company, Sigg, suffered a backlash earlier this month after its CEO admitted that the company hadn’t really been above board on the whole BPA thing… You can read more about that dust-up here. But consumers aren’t the only ones who feel shafted by Sigg’s reversal. Outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia announced last week that it had terminated its partnership with Sigg, through which it had developed a co-branded water bottle. (It is also offering consumers full refunds for their Patagonia-branded Sigg bottles.)
In a statement, Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s VP of environmental initiatives, said the retailer asked Sigg on a number of occasions whether its water bottles contain BPA (in the bottle liner) and that Sigg “clearly said there was not.” Later in the statement he refers to this as “thorough due diligence.”
I called Jen Rapp, Patagonia’s director of communication, to ask whether there was more to this due diligence process, outside of making these queries of Sigg. There was not, she told me.Click to continue reading »
If you’re reading this, it’s pretty likely you recycle. You sort. You do your best (most of the time) But what about those plastic Scotch Tape dispensers you use? Most recyclers don’t take them. You don’t have much use for them, being empty. What do you do? Toss them in the recycle bin and hope for the best, or just toss them out in the trash?
We’d like to propose a different option, one we hope encourages other companies to do the same. Starting in September we will be collecting Scotch Tape dispensers from the public, giving them the choice of which charity 2 cents for each goes.
But instead of doing what we’re known for, taking packaging and finding a different use for it as is or sewing it like fabric into bags, umbrellas etc—we will be giving them back to 3M to use for the exact same use they were before—tape dispensers. This is as close to Cradle to Cradle design as we’ve seen, but without the need to radically redesign the product packaging. Or redesign at all, in this case.Click to continue reading »