Ponoko: Carving a Truly Sustainable Business Niche for Themselves

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 3 Comments

startup-friday.jpg

Ponoko logoBack when I was a student at the sustainable MBA centered Presidio Graduate School, one of the more oddball students was Edward West. A mad scientist in the making, complete with wild hair, a secondary concern for such an idea driven man, he now leads the charge at electric motorcycle startup Mission Motors.

Edward told me about how he knew of people that could take most any idea you had for an object, and using lasers, carve it for you. Print on demand products. Another wild eyed green MBA dream, perhaps?

No. Now it’s really happening, and happening successfully.

As reported in Inc recently, New Zealand based Ponoko was first a one machine shop, cranking out the products that their sellers sent them the designs for, helping leap the big hurdle from concept to business, the typically large quantities fabricators require.

Having now adjusted their pricing model to make it more affordable for designers to use their services, it’s gotten busier, itself going from gee whiz idea to viable business. But there’s more.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

Could a Nobel Peace Prize Speed Up Climate Talks?

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 3 Comments

nobel-peace-prizeGuardians of the Nobel Peace Prize are getting creative in their attempt to speed up sluggish talks about climate. According to a Reuters report, the guardians are considering awarding an environmental Prize this year in order to prep world leaders for December’s UN Climate Conference and influence politicians dragging their feet on climate change. The thing is, the award would come just two years after the one awarded in 2007 (another was awarded in 2004). Would awarding another environmental Prize so soon have the desired effect?

Granting topical awards (e.g. environment, disarmament, human rights) to influence world events is an established tactic of the five-member Nobel Peace Prize panel. While some wonder whether handing out three environment awards in four years is excessive, others say the timing couldn’t be better. The prize would be announced on December 9th and handed over on the 10th – the anniversary of founder Alfred Nobel’s death – all amidst the Copenhagen Conference occurring between December 7th and 18th.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Mercedes-Benz, Greenwashing, and the Boy that Cried Wolf

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

Mercedes-Benz was recently busted for greenwashing of sorts: advertising the carbon emissions data of its new E-class saloon series in misleading terms. As punishment, Mercedes is not allowed to show the misleading advertisement in its current form. The incident is more than unfortunate, I believe, since its implications for green business could be manifold – ranging from delays in the greening of the auto industry to a sort of “boy that cried wolf” effect among consumers. The episode also has me wondering: do we take greenwashing seriously enough?

According to a report by businessgreen.com, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a UK-based advertising watchdog, busted Mercedes for advertising the E-class series’ CO2 emissions as being 139 g/km. In reality, the series’ emissions depend on a number of factors, including whether the car has a manual or automatic gearbox, and whether it runs on diesel fuel. Even when a consumer chooses the most fuel-efficient of these options, only two of the 24 available specifications boast 139 g/km.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Spin Cycle: Whirlpool to Build 1m Smart-Energy Dryers

Bill DiBenedetto | Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

whirlpoolwasher-dryerWhich comes first, the smart grid or smart-energy appliances, or does it matter? Whirlpool Corporation says it will produce 1 million smart-energy-grid compatible dryers by the end of 2011, continuing the company’s “legacy of innovation and leadership.”

One niggling wrinkle about the announcement is whether the Benton Harbor, MI company would take this step on this scale without incentives provided under the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Grant program. Maybe so; the company says the stimulus funds being made available by DOE “will complement and accelerate the work that Whirlpool is already doing in this area.” In 2006 Whirlpool was the first appliance company to conduct a smart-grid pilot using 150 Smart Energy dryers in the Pacific Northwest.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Seafood Just Got Better Thanks to CleanFish

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 4 Comments

ban-startup-friday

005_cleanfishGrocery shopping for the health conscious is increasingly off-putting, as decisions are no longer just generic versus brand name. Harmful pesticides are found in everyday food products and government promises to rid the nation’s food supply of these chemicals remain unfulfilled. Once considered a luxury item, fish is now eaten everyday by consumers. To meet the explosion of the seafood commodity market, the United States relies on imports. Though not all imported seafood is bad, the contradicting information can be confusing. Having to rely on “pocket guides” to tell us which seafood is safe is helpful, but none-the-less unnerving. It is hard not to think, there has got to be a better way?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Newest Employee Perk: A Shiny New Bicycle

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 6 Comments

092109StandingStoneIncreasingly, private companies are looking for ways to reduce their parking expenses and mitigate clean-air compliance problems by offering employees cheap or even free bikes. Now, once committed motorists are riding their bikes to work at an increasing rate.

On September 30, the US Census Bureau released the latest figures on who is biking to work. The survey results show that within most of the bicycle friendly cities, the bicycling mode share increased significantly since 2000. In Portland, Oregon, bike commuters total around 6 percent of the commuting population, making it number one amongst the 30 largest cities in the country. Minneapolis came in number two with 4.3 percent of its commuters using bikes and Seattle and San Francisco were at 2.9 and 2.7 percent respectively.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Coke’s UK Recycling Bins Will Offset the Company’s Carbon

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

Coca Cola RecyclesCoca Cola is rolling out a new consumer focused recycling program in the UK in an attempt to address the company’s carbon emissions.  Along with the Southampton city council, the company will jointly fund a citywide recycling program that entails placing branded recycling bins in areas of heavy pedestrian traffic.  This will be the country’s first city center Recycle Zone, a part of a larger initiative that coincides with a national ad campaign geared toward boosting consumer awareness and recycling.

Over the past year, the partnership between Coca Cola and the Waste and Resources Action Programme has been responsible for recycling 20 tons of material. “We are looking to work with companies that are our customers to jointly develop zones that make it easier for people to recycle,” a company spokeswoman said. “We have 21 zones currently and another 59 planned by the end of 2011.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Philanthropy Is a Four-Letter Word: Suggestions for Real CSR

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

CSR-tigerBy Julie Lloyd

Bo Ekman, founder and chairman of the Tallberg Foundation, made a rather jarring statement at this afternoon’s Global Corporate Citizenship Conference sponsored by the US Chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center:

Much of what we consider CSR today is a toothless tiger.

He was referring, of course, to the one-off engagements or donations often made by corporations in the name of social responsibility.  But this type of corporate philanthropy falls short–both in impact, and in benefits to the company–when stacked up against deeper, more meaningful partnerships that are embedded into its core values.

In this day and age, it’s no longer necessary to persuade corporations to undertake CSR–it’s simply a matter of identifying the most appropriate opportunities.  That being said, here are some suggestions echoed often throughout today’s sessions:

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Red Bird System Filters Water With the Help of the Sun

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

ban-startup-friday

rendering

Water is a precious resource. Consider a few facts about clean drinking water. Twenty percent of the world’s population lacks access to clean drinking water. By 2050 over two billion people will not have access to clean drinking water. Less than one percent of the earth’s water supply can be used for drinking water. An estimated 1.6 million lives could be saved by providing access to clean drinking water. The earth has the same amount of water as over a million years ago, but six billion people now live on the planet.

Enter a company called Cardinal Resources which specializes in high capacity water filtration. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the company formed in 2004. Last year’s revenue totaled $4.4 million from the company’s environmental engineering and remediation work, with $25.6 million in revenue projected for 2011.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Corporate Response to Climate Change Consistent Despite Economy

Sarah Lozanova | Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

smokestack

As the Copenhagen climate talks approach, the opportunities and liabilities around climate change are evident

Despite the economic climate, corporate response to climate change has grown slightly from 2008 to 2009.  Numerous organizations are using emission reduction goals as an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition, lower costs, and lure investors.

“There’s an increase in companies that are seeing opportunities instead of risk around climate change,” says Sonal Mahida, Vice President of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).  “We are seeing this trend globally.”  Excelling in the area of climate change mitigation can offer a strategic edge.

“The global recession has provided good opportunities for companies to recover consumer trust and investors’ confidence by reducing their climate change impact,” says Mark Robertson, Communications and Development Manager, Experts in Responsible Investment Solutions (EIRIS). “The economic downturn brings a number of risks and opportunities. There are risks associated with near-frozen capital markets as well as uncertainty and opportunities linked to government stimulus packages focused on energy efficiency, cleaner technologies, renewable energies, taxation, and forest protection.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Harrah’s Entertainment Bets On Green

| Thursday October 1st, 2009 | 1 Comment

0Environmental stewardship and casinos don’t seem to sit well together in the same sentence. Just step foot into one and you are bombarded with that amusement park feeling of bright lights and the sounds of cascading coins – a hotbed of excess, but not exactly the poster child of sustainability, right?

Maybe, maybe not – but Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. is putting $60 million over six years toward green projects at their resorts – and since the formation of their Corporate Energy and Environmental Group in 2003, they’ve estimated to have saved more than 100 million kilowatt hours in energy use – enough to power 10,000 homes each year.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

A Rainforest SOS To The World

| Thursday October 1st, 2009 | 1 Comment

300x250Yesterday The Prince’s Rainforest Project launched a global campaign to raise awareness for deforestation. The public campaign was originally launched back in May, garnering over 4 million views of their campaign frog videos and a long line of celebrity and corporate endorsements.

The Prince’s Rainforest Project dates back to 2007 as a reaction to reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on tropical deforestation. The group embarked on long research effort, engaging in top officials in government, business and NGO’s to both understand the economic drivers of deforestation and come up with workable solutions to help prevent it.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

With Free Water Bottles, Camelback Taps into Bottled-Water-Free Bundanoon

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday October 1st, 2009 | 4 Comments

More articles on the controversy surrounding bottled water can be found here!

camelback_bottleCamelback, the Petaluma, Calif.-based maker of reusable water bottles, has donated 2,000 water bottles to the residents of Bundanoon, a small tourist town 90 miles southwest of Sydney, Australia. When it decided in July to ban the sale of bottled water, Bundanoon became a poster child for the fight against bottling and selling water in communities that already have clean tap water.

Camelback’s gift was timed with a turning-on-the-tap celebration throughout Bundanoon last weekend, a party that included the christening of three public water fountains, providing free, filtered water (courtesy of Culligan Water) with which to tap off those Camelbacks.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Is Nike’s Environmental Stance Connected to its Earnings?

| Thursday October 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

nike logo Nike made a couple big announcements yesterday. The first, as we saw here, was its resignation from the board of the US Chamber of Commerce. The second, and slightly overshadowed, was a higher than expected earnings report, which caused shares to shoot up in Wednesday trading.

The timing of the announcements could have very easily been a coincidence. A company as large as Nike, with so many wheels turning, it’s very possible that the two developments occurred mutually exclusive from each other. But what if they didn’t?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

British Airways Increases Business Class Services despite Green Claims: What Gives?

| Thursday October 1st, 2009 | 3 Comments

british-airways-plane

A recent decision by British Airways (BA) has green lobbyists up in arms. Despite its pledged support for trimming the airline industry’s carbon dioxide emissions, BA added a new twice-daily business service (read: fewer seats) between London City Airport and New York. (The London City Airport also plans to increase its flights by 50 percent.) Environmental lobbyists are concerned that the decision is a step backward in curbing overall aviation emissions, which are a significant source of global emissions. Moreover, given the potential financial benefit (in the short term, anyway) of adding the flights, the debate could get pretty sticky. In a sense, it boils to down to a basic question: is sustainability a bigger-picture long-term goal, or is a nod to eco-consciousness sufficient, if it provides a much-needed short-term fix?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »