The Green Brewhaha: What Makes Your Beer Sustainable?

| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Triple Pundit has been investigating what makes the world’s biggest and smallest companies sustainable for over five years. We’re not ashamed to admit that we often end a long day with a cold one. Beer has been a catalyst in our discussions and networking, not to mention something we enjoy in our time off. Now, we’re reaching out to brewers large and small to seek out what
“sustainability” means to them, and to help tell the story of “green,” socially conscious brewing.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you stories from some of the most sustainable breweries in the world. Their tales are quite remarkable since food and beverage is a highly competitive, low margin business. First up: New Belgium Brewing

All our brewery responses can be found on this page. Follow along into January!

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Is there an Impetus for Climate Change Legislation in the Senate?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

us-capitol

While speaking to the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s National Climate Seminar last week, Jeff Sharp, one of Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-MA) staff members, said about climate change legislation, “We expect more things to be moving forward.” Passing cap-and-trade legislation in the Senate “will be a very tough fight,” he added. However, Sharp pointed out that the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act last summer which would create a cap-and-trade program, and set an emissions reduction target of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The Senate Environment Committee approved a version of ACES early last month. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) will have to “put votes together” to pass the legislation, Sharp said. He said there are “solid votes in favor of the bill.” Ten to fifteen votes on both sides of the political aisle “must be picked up in order to pass the legislation. Although climate change legislation will not be passed in the Senate until next year, Sharp said, “There will continue to be impetus for climate change legislation.”

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Why Renewable Energy Developers Must Win Community Support

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 6 Comments

140px-Windmills_D1-D4_(Thornton_Bank)Renewable energy is desperately needed to combat climate change, and communities should support developers of solar and wind energy projects. However, the acronym NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) still expresses well the sentiment of some folks. Take a recent Los Angeles Superior Court case, for example. The Tesoro del Valle Master Homeowners Association (HOA), a 1,100 home community, sued a neighbor who had installed 300 square feet of solar panels “close to a sidewalk.” The jury ruled against the homeowner.

The HOA denied the homeowners application to install the solar panels, and several requests were made to “cease and desist,” according to a press release by the Greenberg Glusker, the legal firm representing the HOA. The release also stated that the HOA allowed other members of the community to install solar panels, but the offending homeowner’s “installation was rejected for reasons of safety and aesthetics.”

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Where Were the Electric Utilities on Cyber Monday?

Bill Roth | Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

cyber mondayWhere Were the Electric Utilities on Cyber Monday?
I post this question drawing upon the following two data-points:

1. Almost 100 million Americans (certainly all of whom are electric utility customers) shopped via the Internet on Cyber Monday, the online retail event following Black Friday.

2. ALL of the top 15 products that consumers searched for on Cyber Monday are consumer electronics, which, of course, use an electric battery or household current for their operation!

But while consumers are increasingly interested in consumer electronics, the ways in which they use electricity are changing. The utility industry’s future could be one of revenue erosion as consumers adopt off grid self-generation and the customer side of energy efficiency solutions.  Additionally, revenue erosion could occur from consumer conservation, sparked by a price backlash against utility rate increases in both average prices and peak period prices. At the same time, smart metering and the potential of plug-in electric cars afford “killer app” opportunities for managed revenue growth that can increase operating margins. So in defining its role in advancing energy efficiency, renewable energy and electric transportation enabled through smart metering and grids, electric utilities have a complex set of messages to communicate.

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Four Game-Changing Technologies You’ve Never Heard Of

| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

finland-shipFinland is a country that is very generous with its entrepreneurs. According to the representatives from Tekes, a publicly funded organization for financing research, development and innovation in Finland, it’s pretty easy for most entrepreneurs to get low-interest grants and loans for 1 million euros or less. That’s obviously pretty appealing to many would-be entrepreneurs (one of the entrepreneurs we spoke to called Tekes the “Finnish rainmaker”), and in turn this easy access to funding makes it pretty easy for game changing technologies to have a shot at reaching the mainstream.

Here are four interesting startups we learned about during my visit to Finland last week:

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Money Talks: Cash Prizes Spur Innovation

Steve Puma | Monday December 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

D0789-1.jpg

In the glorious Past Before Television, adventurous men and women gained fame and fortune by testing their skills in competitions designed to expand the limits of human knowledge and innovation. Several organizations are bringing back this kind of “innovation prize” in a big way, with competitions designed to solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges, and expand its horizons beyond terrestrial limits.

One of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in history was the result of a prize offered by the British government in the 18th century. At that time, many ships were being lost due to the inaccuracies involved in calculating their longitude at sea. The previous method, dead reckoning, introduced greater errors the farther the ship got from a known point, usually ending in loss of life and heated discussions about the velocity of various types of swallows. The British Parliament offered the modern equivalent of $4.56 million for a solution to the Longitude Problem.

One of the potential solutions to the problem required invention of a marine chronometer of such high accuracy that even Sir Issac Newton doubted that it could be created. But, in 1730, clockmaker John Harrison set himself to the task, and effectively solved the multiple problems of corrosion, temperature, humidity and durability within five years, (although it took him another thirty to collect his prize) a task which has been compared to the landing of men on the moon in the 1960s.

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McDonald’s Gets Green…In Its Logo

| Monday December 7th, 2009 | 4 Comments

mcdonalds

McDonald’s is doing things a little backwards. Usually, how it works is: companies go green, and then change their logo to reflect these new, sustainable practices.

But McDonald’s Europe has decided to go ahead and make that logo switch first. An Associated Press article reports that European McDonald’s is exchanging its traditional red color for a deep hunter green in an effort to project a more environmentally friendly image.

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Electric Vehicles: The News Keeps Coming

Steve Puma | Monday December 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

In years to come, we may look back on 2009 as the year that electric vehicles became mainstream–at least as far as the media is concerned. The past few weeks have been no different as a number of organizations from all over the automotive industry made EV-related announcements. One of these organizations, the Cleantech Group, seems to be bucking the trend with its prediction that so-called Smart Mobility will overtake EVs in 2010, although AutoBlogGreen’s Sebastian Blanco disagrees, and argues that, as far as the media is concerned, 2010 will be even bigger for EV news.

Fueling the Imagination

Fxprize-logo-lg.jpgor example, just hearing the words “X-Prize” is bound to conjure up images of maverick entrepreneurs competing for millions of dollars of prize money to achieve new milestones in air and space flight. That’s exactly what the founders of the X-Prize Foundation want you to think about when you hear about the Progressive Automotive X-Prize, a new competition which focuses on environmentally-friendly automobiles instead of airplanes and rockets. As we reported in a previous article, the competition awards a $10 million dollar prize to the car that, in addition to being the winner in a series of speed and endurance trials, must achieve an effective 100 miles per gallon, have a 200 mile range, and adhere to a large number of very stringent design and safety criteria.

According to the New York Times, the new X-Prize is receiving a boost from the Federal government in the form of $5.5 million of stimulus money from the Department of Energy. This support of competition seems like a good way to promote fairness and innovation, especially since the DOE has been previously accused of stifling innovation in the automotive sector with its Advanced Technology Manufacturing Loan program.

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New Global Study: Not All Salmon Are Created Equal

| Monday December 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

sockeye-salmon-raceFood production, in aggregate, is considered to be the single largest source of environmental degradation globally. Fisheries around the world are suffering, and while the ecological impacts of this destruction could be catastrophic if not corrected, the environmental, economic and social impacts are also staggering. For concerned consumers, it’s important to think about how food was produced and transported and not just where it was produced.

A global study of salmon conducted by Dalhousie University, Ecotrust and the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology shows that sustainable food production may not be so sustainable. This three-year study points the way to sustainable salmon production and, along the way, debunks some food sustainability myths. Rather than pushing for organic or land-based production, or worrying about “food miles,” the study finds that the world can achieve greater environmental benefits by focusing on improvements to key aspects of production and distribution. The researchers chose salmon as their focus because it exemplifies important characteristics of modern food systems and offers unique opportunities for comparison.

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Kohl’s Plans Carbon Neutral (That’s Zero) Footprint Next Year

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday December 7th, 2009 | 3 Comments

kohlsKohl’s Department Stores is going all-in on carbon neutrality.

The Wisconsin company says it’s the first retailer to commit to reaching a net zero greenhouse gas emission as part of a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leader program.

It’s a bold assertion but Kohl’s appears ready to back up it with action.

It will continue to invest in projects to reduce the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions that it emits into the atmosphere. And it wants to accomplish this net zero status by the end of 2010.

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Endgame: Understanding a Global Climate Imperative

| Monday December 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

beach well 400

Photo Credit: Philip Blenkinsop / NOOR

More than 20 years ago, David Wirth, at the time a senior attorney at the NRDC, wrote about the imperative of climate protection in global politics. “The international community cannot afford to delay elevating the greenhouse effect to the top of the foreign-policy agenda,” Wirth wrote in Foreign Policy.

The editor’s note of Endgame, the latest installment of Dispatches, a quarterly focused on issues ranging from the environment to the economy to the war in Iraq, opens with this historical claim of the importance of environment in the world’s socio-economic discourse. Two decades ago, people were saying practically the exact same thing as we are now. Though the lexicon of Wirth and James Hansen and several other notable environmental commentators from the time has slightly shifted—now the lingo is climate change or global warming—the underlying notion is still very much intact: The way we live our lives is unsustainable.

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COP15 Begins: Here Are the Solutions We Need Now

| Monday December 7th, 2009 | 6 Comments

Today marks the start of UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, or COP15 as it’s widely known. A culmination of years of planning, months of lobbying by pressure groups such as those coordinated by TckTckTck. There’s a lot of anticipation and speculation as to what’s going to happen. Not all of it optimistic.

While the outcome of these meetings isn’t clear, one group is doing its best to offer hope, knowledge, and actions for us mere mortals. Ode Magazine has created The Solutions We Need Now, a publication it will be distributing 50,000 copies of to delegates and participants in Copenhagen. A free digital version of it is available to everybody else for a limited time here.
ode-solutions-layout
It pragmatically addresses these solutions in three sections: What needs to be done; how to do it; and what you can do.

Sustainability heavyweights such as Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, Al Gore and Lester Brown weigh in here with encouraging words and big ideas, but it’s the real world examples happening globally that are intriguing:

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Hara and Sustainable Silicon Valley Announce a New Partnership

| Monday December 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

SSVHaralogo_smallSustainable Silicon Valley (SSV), a cross-sector collaboration of more than 100 leading businesses, governmental agencies and NGOs working to improve Silicon Valley’s environmental quality, and Hara, the providers of a comprehensive carbon and water footprint tool (click here to read an earlier 3P post on Hara), today announced a new partnership at SSV’s Water Summit. The partnership is aimed at helping SSV partners reduce carbon emissions, water use and waste.

SSV partners are encouraged to measure and report on sustainability efforts and resource consumption through a regional registry. With today’s announcement, SSV will be transitioning to a data collection system powered by Hara’s Environmental and Energy Management (EEM) solution.

According to the Hara web site, the EEM gives organizations “auditable transparency and control of their ‘organizational metabolism’ — the collective resources consumed and expended by an organization — including energy, water, waste, carbon and other natural resources.”

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Why “ClimateGate” Is Irrelevant to Business

| Sunday December 6th, 2009 | 79 Comments

man-bear-pigIn case you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt been aware of a fiasco which emerged in the last few weeks from the University of East Anglia in the UK concerning unprofessional bickering between climate scientists exposed by an apparent email hacker. The FOXNews crowd is calling it proof that climate change (at least the human induced kind) is a hoax perpetrated by a grand conspiracy among corrupt scientists bent on installing a global uber-government and so on and so forth… It’s therefore not the least bit coincidental that the conspiracy has emerged immediately before the COP15 talks in Copenhagen.

First things first, some of this is a really big screw up, and some of these scientists should be disciplined or fired (as well as whoever was behind the illegal hacking). But at the end of the day, the controversy only proves that some scientists, like some people, can be petty chumps who bicker and cheat. Not cool, but hardly proof that global warming is a hoax. And more importantly, hardly an argument against reducing our burning of fossil fuels and many of the other sustainability efforts 3p argues for. “ClimateGate” is 95% engineered distraction by an unfortunate part of the business community who prefer kicking and screaming to evolution.

So let me get to the point…

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TerraCycle Heads North with Kraft Canada

Tom Szaky | Sunday December 6th, 2009 | 3 Comments
Photo Courtesy of TerraCycle

Photo Courtesy of TerraCycle

The end of this year has been a return to our roots for TerraCycle in many ways. First with the opening of our first retail store a few blocks from where I first had a basement “office,” and now we’re going north to Canada–where I grew up and where we had our first major sales of product, to The Home Depot and Walmart Canada.

This new Canadian endeavor is, in fact, with Kraft–the first company with which we made a major agreement to collect branded waste in order to upcycle it into new products.  In two years, our US partnership withKraft on Capri Sun juice packs has resulted in more than 35,000 collection points, millions of pouches collected, and more than $250,000 donated to a variety of causes.

So working in Canada is just a matter of replicating what we’ve done down here in the US, in a different longitude, right? Not quite.

Canadians are not the same people as Americans, and though their land mass is quite large in relation to the US, their population is not. At just shy of 34 million people, it is a fraction of America’s more 300 million people.

Are we making a mistake launching in such a relatively smaller market? I say no.

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