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 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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An End To Greenwash? Interview With Marcello Manca Of Underwriters Laboratories, “UL Environment”

John Laumer | Monday March 1st, 2010 | 2 Comments

Marcello Manca, VP & General Manager, UL Environment

Marcello Manca is Vice President & General Manager of UL Environment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a global leader in product testing and safety certification for more than a century. UL Environment (ULE) was launched in January 2009, and the organization has more than doubled in size over the past year.  Read on for Marcello’s insights into the future of environmental standards setting and claims making.

John Laumer: What is UL Environment and what does it do?

Marcello Manca: UL Environment is an environmental evaluation company which provides independent confirmation of claims, certification to standards, and develops standards to provide transformation to the marketplace.

We are:
• A part of the UL family of companies.
• A local business with global capabilities.
• Interested in helping companies bring products to market.
• A trusted source for environmental information.

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Olympics Create a Green Business Tipping Point in Canada

3p Contributor | Monday March 1st, 2010 | 2 Comments

By: Dave Sherman, Blu Skye

On the eve of the Winter Olympics, over 300 CEOs and senior executives of Canadian businesses met in Vancouver to accelerate the implementation of sustainable business practices.  The highly interactive day not only gave the executives an opportunity to explore new opportunities for collaboration, but may yet prove to have been a green business tipping point in Canada.

David Cheesewright, Walmart Canada’s CEO and the host of the event, kicked off the day by challenging the delegates to use the summit as a vehicle to “build a bigger team” – to share lessons learned and best practices that will benefit all businesses, large and small.  He encouraged the delegates to create stretch goals and foster experimentation in their organizations, with the understanding that the road to sustainability is full of unknowns.

David Suzuki put the present moment in context for the Summit participants: our grandparent’s and parent’s generations did not understand that they were destroying the very systems that support our lives but, us–we are the first generation that does understand.  

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For a “Crash Course” Sustainable MBA, Here’s Your Homework

Scott Cooney | Sunday February 28th, 2010 | 6 Comments

The results are in!  The 3P reader poll we conducted 2 weeks ago received a lot of attention and traffic, and generated an interesting list of green business books that our readers consider important. They span the gamut from manufacturing to strategy to sustainable food to clean energy.  And, importantly, they represent a nice cross section of the green economy that would behoove any aspiring or current green business person to become familiar with.

I will begin with the disclaimer that this poll is not scientific.  It is simply a readers’ poll, and inherently has biases.  However, Triple Pundit readers are some of the most well-read, in-tune, and knowledgeable voters on subjects of sustainable business that we may find in the blogosphere, and therefore, this poll carries some not insubstantial weight.

Every book that was nominated has value, and some will be more applicable to your particular field of green business than others.  As they say, it is truly an honor to just be nominated.  Here, I attempt to summarize my take on the top ten vote getters.

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Creating a Successful Elevator Pitch for Sustainable Businesses

Scott Cooney | Sunday February 28th, 2010 | 6 Comments

Entrepreneurs need an elevator pitch like a plant needs water.  Even the hardiest will eventually wither without one.  Sound preposterous?  It’s not.  The elevator pitch summarizes your business in an exciting, intriguing way that gets clients, the media, investors, and your employees excited about your company and ready to find out more.  And quite simply, it’s your chance to make a good first impression.  And we all know how many chances you get to do that.
The name ‘elevator pitch’ derives from the legend of an entrepreneur unable to get an appointment with a venture capitalist, so instead he waits outside the VC’s office until he has the chance to jump on an elevator with the man.  Now a ‘captive audience’, the VC listens patiently to the entrepreneur as he pitches his great idea….for 3 floors.  At the bottom, when the doors open, the VC raises an eyebrow and says, “I’ll have my secretary schedule you for next week.”

Elevator pitches are not just used for potential investors.  They are crucial for networking gatherings, trade shows, cocktail parties, and any other event where a potential client, employee, volunteer, partner, investor, or journalist may be willing to give you 30 seconds of their undivided attention.  Grab enough of these peoples’ attentions, and your business may benefit greatly….all because you’ve honed a 30 second ‘elevator pitch’.

Sustainable businesses have a tremendous advantage in creating elevator pitches, which, if they could harness, would help them not only gain more customers, but potentially attract a lot more financial investment in small, green businesses, including investors, VC’s, equity partners, and angels.

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Bloom Energy’s Bloom Box Public Relations Coup d’Etat

| Sunday February 28th, 2010 | 47 Comments

Bloom Energy’s remarkable fuel cell energy server, the so called “Bloom Box“, has garnered more interest than almost anything else we’ve written about in months. By the sheer volume of traffic to this site you’d think the holy grail itself had been found. The bloom box does seem to hold a legitimate promise to improve the efficiency and ease of electricity generation and just might be a little bit greener. It still produces emissions, though very few people are talking about that. It seems, as we suggested last week, that the biggest efficiencies the bloom box provides will come from the elimination of transmission costs – bringing more electricity to the end user without losing it along the powerlines and other bottlenecks that usually get in the way.

There are dozens of other companies, however, who are working on similar fuel cell technologies. Some critics even pointed out that even Bloom’s proprietary technology is hardly unique. Sam Jaffe points out four more potential pitfalls with the product: That it may in fact be less efficient, more expensive, and even dirtier than competing forms of electricity generation – all while missing some of the technology’s biggest advantages (generating heat,and energy storage).

But that hasn’t dampened what has to the biggest cleantech PR coup of the year so far.

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