The Nominations Are In, Pick the TOP Sustainable CEO

Bill Roth | Wednesday January 20th, 2010 | 41 Comments

Ed Note: Voting is now closed. We’ll tally things up and have a wrap up post for you mid-day Monday.

Earlier this month, we ran a post in which we asked you to nominate the CEOs who are doing the most to advance principals of sustainability in their companies.
And nominate you did–we received more than 50 nominations via comments to the post and many more through Twitter and other means. The men and women you suggested represent a great breadth of organizations, from huge companies to small firms that are pioneers in sustainability, to early stage entrepreneurial enterprises. The shear number of nominees is encouraging, and they’re all examples of how leadership is advancing the business of sustainability. I consider these nominations to be proof that a Green Economic Revolution is occurring, and that it is building a path for the restoration of our jobs, economy and environment.

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Project H: Design for Healthy, Happy People and Habitats

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday January 20th, 2010 | 7 Comments

Project H Design is a collective of designers who believe in the power of good design to change the world. Founded last year by architect and designer (and former Inhabitat.com managing editor) Emily Pilloton, the non-profit will kick off it its Design Revolution Road Show in February. During this tour, the crew will haul an Airstream trailer carrying an exhibit that features 40 different products aimed at addressing specific–and often humanitarian–issues, such as the need to easily transport and purify water, or the need for effective, low-cost eyeglasses.

The tour will hit 12 US states and 25 high schools and university design programs and was sprung from Pilloton’s book, Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People, which was published late last year.

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DotUI Combines Social Media and Energy Management

Steve Puma | Wednesday January 20th, 2010 | 2 Comments

dotui.jpgThe Cleantech Group announced Wednesday that San Francisco-based startup DotUI has developed a unique way to influence consumer energy usage behavior, by combining real-time energy management software and hardware with digital picture frames and a “fun” interface.

I first encountered DotUI and its Founder/CEO, Ishak Kang, at the Green:NET 2009 Conference, where Kang presented his vision of user interfaces–which are independent of their respective devices, following the user as he or she moved from one device to another. The presumption is that much useful technology goes unused because the user interfaces are difficult to learn. At the time, I wasn’t completely sure how this vision would translate into a viable product in the cleantech market, but it sure sounded interesting.

The company’s first offering, called the Nudgee, includes a wireless touch-screen digital picture frame device, which displays real-time energy usage data collected from “a universal gateway and electrical sub-meter. Gas, water, and air quality meters are optional.”

According to the article: “the company…is taking a fun approach, allowing users to see how much energy is being consumed, with updated images and content from friends and family, and utilizing social networking sites such as Facebook, instead of a dashboard approach other companies are pursuing.”

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Dubai: Curse of the Skyscraper

| Wednesday January 20th, 2010 | 0 Comments

There has always been a significant amount of prestige and pride associated with creating the world’s tallest building as skyscrapers represent a spectacular display of money, power and hubris. Given the sneaky tricks used by architects to add a couple of inches to the top, it can be somewhat difficult to assess which building truly deserves to be labeled the tallest in the world. The completion of the Burj Dubai, however, has made that decision a lot easier. Finished in December 2009, it took the title of “world’s tallest building” by the mere fact that it is really big.

Standing at 2,717 feet tall, it is more than 1,000 feet taller than its nearest competitor, the Taipei 101 building in Taiwan. Its success, though, is not as sweet as many had hoped given the fact that its arrival coincides with a debt crisis in Dubai. Its property market has crumbled and this once booming city is now in the midst of a cold, economic winter.

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Of Monkyspheres and Microhoods: Collective Urban Living for the 21st Century

CCA LiveE | Tuesday January 19th, 2010 | 6 Comments
Phenotype Tower by Chri Chalmers of BIOS collective http://biosarch.wordpress.com/

Phenotype Tower by Chris Chalmers of BIOS Collective www.biosarch.org The virtues of Social Capital have been extolled by urbanists from Jane Jacobs in the 1950's, to Robert Putnum's more recent Bowling Alone. The last sixty years has seen plenty of progressive planners, architects, and environmentalists advocating for the re-creation of tight-knit residential communities with the power to counter everything from sprawl to obesity, loneliness to dependence on foreign oil. I count myself among those that believe in the power of localism and community—and I've seen this power manifest. Twice.

by Kurt McCulloch

When I was 18 years old, I voluntarily sequestered myself for nine-months on a narrow strip of rugged volcanic coastline on a tiny island in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. For almost a year, I worked, slept, ate, and socialized inside an area bounded by mountains and the sea. Everything was within a two hour walk, and I became a member of a fully integrated community where I was working as a volunteer teacher. Sure, I got a little island fever, but I also bore witness to the groundedness of people that are truly of a place to a depth my westernized mind still struggles to fathom.

Fast forward to 2009, San Francisco, my family and friends scattered across the globe. In contrast to life in Vanuatu my life is socially complex and spatially fragmented and, as many of us do in this web2.0 world, I use digital networks to stitch some of the pieces back together—my world a patchwork landscape of times and places viewed through digital windows. While San Francisco is one of the densest cities in the country, my social network is none-the-less-diffuse. I’m relatively untethered, another transplant walking down the sidewalk with the taletale white earbuds plugged into the sides of my head—I’m sure I’m not alone in my loneliness. And I’m convinced it has something to do with the places we call home.

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Mind The Gap: The Space Where Design Strategists Live

CCA LiveE | Tuesday January 19th, 2010 | 5 Comments

By Ryan Opina

“Great concepts and great vision are not enough to make an impact.
Designers must recognize the challenges around implementation and deliver comprehensive prototypes with clear implementation plans.”

-Tim Brown – Designing for Social Impact

Grand visions of a breakthrough product. A service experience that will change the world. A video game that is immersive, entertaining and educational. Who doesn’t want to be involved in creating something along those lines? Coming from a background in design research, the purist, specialist side of me says to start with a clear and intimate understanding of the needs, motivations and behaviors of your users. Get that right and the rest will follow. Over the years however, experience has shown me another angle, one where the technology leads the way, not consumer behaviour. In fact, Donald Norman has recently published an article stating that design research is great for improvement but useless for innovation, while Steve Portigal provides a thoughtful reframing away from the term innovation and more to the identification of opportunity areas. It is here that I see ‘the gap’, the area that we as individuals in the MBA in Design Strategy program will find ourselves living.

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Adobe Installs Windspire Turbines in Downtown San Jose

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Tuesday January 19th, 2010 | 8 Comments

Adobe Systems is yet another company that has jumped on the alternative power energy bandwagon.  Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Adobe Systems has installed 20 Windspire vertical axis turbines  atop the parking garage of its LEED certified office complex. 

While the feasibility of placing wind turbines in urban areas was once problematic, new integrated systems have made it possible for wind energy to be used in cities and residential areas.

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GM Halting Hummer Production Until China Sale Finalized

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday January 19th, 2010 | 0 Comments

“It’s another Hummer humming down the highway,” proclaims the chorus of a song by singer-songwriter David Rovics. However, starting today and until a sale is finalized by the Chinese company, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., Ltd, new Hummers will not be humming along the assembly line, reports Jalopnik. In October, GM reached an agreement with the Chinese company to buy the Hummer brand.

GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre “indicated that the Hummer deal faces a Jan. 31 deadline to close,” according to the Detroit Free Press.  CNBC reported that GM China Group President Kevin Wale said Chinese officials are “debating whether to grant approval to the deal, which will add another player to the country’s already overcrowded auto sector.” Wale also said that GM is “hopeful it will be decided in the very near future,” but that it’s uncertain.

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Careers in Wind Farm Development: Electrical Engineer

Sarah Lozanova | Tuesday January 19th, 2010 | 0 Comments

This is the final article in a seven part series on careers in wind farm development. (Be sure to read the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth parts, as well.)

A wind farm can’t be created without input from an electrical engineer.  Their initial role involves identifying transmission constraints and determining the cost to overcome them. This is a vital step in determining if a potential wind farm is financially viable before investing more time and money into a project.

“When we find a new potential wind energy site, one of the first things we investigate is if there is an existing transmission infrastructure and it’s ability to take new power,” says Curt Bjurlin, Senior Wind Developer for EcoEnergy LLC.  “That is very important.  You can’t have a wind project without having an outlet for the power generated by the turbines.”

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Connecting Agricultural Labor Issues with Environmental Sustainability

3p Contributor | Tuesday January 19th, 2010 | 3 Comments

This is the 8th post in a series on the business of sustainable agriculture by the folks at Bon Appétit Management Company, a company that provides café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities. To read past posts, click here.

By: Maisie Greenawalt, Bon Appetit Management Company

The more I learn, the less I know. Despite my fifteen years creating policies and watching the execution of sustainable sourcing by 10,000 culinarians working in a food business that puts ethics first, that’s how I feel about our exploration of how to improve farmworking conditions in the United States.

In 2009, I spent an eye-opening two days immersed in the problems of tomato pickers in South Florida with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, toured the Salinas Valley with a community organizer from California Rural Legal Assistance who detailed the sexual harassment and disrespect many workers endured in order to keep their jobs. With representatives of a health clinic outside San Diego, this organizer also saw migrant work camps that were literally make-shift rooms dug into hillsides. I attended the Domestic Fair Trade Association annual meeting where I heard optimistic, but maybe unattainable, goals being set by well-meaning activists.

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Indigenous Designs Wins Free Range YouTopia Grant

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Monday January 18th, 2010 | 2 Comments

As we reported back in September, the creative agency Free Range Studios–the minds behind viral Internet hits including The Meatrix–opened up its yearly YouTopia grant this year to for-profit companies as well as non-profits. When asked about the shift to allow for-profits to apply for the grant this year, Free Range co-founder Jonah Sachs said the differences between for- and non-profit companies has been getting blurred as for-profit firms begin operating with goals and priorities that have traditionally been seen only in the non-profit realm.

Indigenous Designs is one of those for-profits that has been blurring the for-profit/non-profit line throughout its 15 year history of selling organic, fair trade apparel made by artisans from around the world.

The company announced last week that it won the 2009 YouTopia grant–which provides $15,000 worth of free design and strategy services from Free Range. The winner was selected partly through a crowdsourced model; the studio’s client and fan base were asked to vote on the proposals from grant applicants in order to select the top 10 candidates.

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Was John Mackey Forced Out as Whole Foods Chairman?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday January 18th, 2010 | 6 Comments

John Mackey stepped down as Chairman ofthe Board of Whole Foods Market Inc. last month, and ever since people have wondered if he was forced out. The question is a fair one given the uproar over Mackey’s Wall Street Journal opinion piece which began by quoting former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher on the evils of socialism, and went on to condemn President Obama’s healthcare agenda.

Mackey wrote in the WSJ piece:

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment.

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How Google’s China Pullout Shows Their Triple Bottom Line

| Monday January 18th, 2010 | 6 Comments

Cartoon police officers JingJing and ChaCha appear periodically when surfing the Web in China to help Internet users remember to maintain harmonious Internet order together and to be conscious of safe and healthy use of the Internet.

What happens when, in its mission to make information as universally acceptable as possible, Google has to be kind of evil? Google’s mission and motto, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” and, of course, “don’t be evil,” will not be new to most readers. What’s interesting is when these two missions come at odds, like in the case of China.

Google wrestled hard with whether or not it could afford to refuse China’s demands. If it refused to comply, it would lose key market share and cut off access to more than 103 million internet users. If it complied, it would deviate from the company’s core values. The search giant’s decision to stand up for itself and make the right move is one of the greatest examples of company activism for triple bottom line thinking of our time.

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Our Clean Tech Future and the Sexiness of Standards

3p Contributor | Monday January 18th, 2010 | 6 Comments

The Tesla Roadster: As hot as the J1772 electric vehicle charging standard?

By Charles Shereda

Next week marks the sixth annual Clean Tech Investor Summit, a gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, and trendsetters who will shape the future of clean tech. The speaker list is loaded with a spectrum of sustainability heavy-hitters ranging from Ray Anderson, chairman of Interface, to Craig Venter, famous for mapping the human genome, to Amory Lovins, chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute, who will deliver his keynote on ‘reinventing fire’ (translation: the shift from burning stuff to not burning stuff to create energy, such as moving from coal-fired power plants to wind turbines). I have the good fortune of being your eyes and ears at the summit. I’ll tell you about the stories and surprises that emerge. Together we’ll figure out where clean tech is headed, and in our spare time, we’ll determine what the investment climate will be like in 2010 for companies looking to get funded. I’ll also listen to your suggestions for topics you’d like to hear about.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Ron Pernick about the upcoming summit and his vision of our clean tech future. Pernick is the co-author of The Clean Tech Revolution and cofounder and managing director of Clean Edge, a market research firm focused on clean tech. He’s also co-producer of the Clean Tech Investor Summit.

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Brand Building in the 21st Century

3p Contributor | Monday January 18th, 2010 | 2 Comments

What is a Brand Manager and how will he/she play a role in building the 21st century?
By Ryan Jones

Given the tough business climate, mind-bending techology changes and the dire need for innovation in the next decade and beyond, some (like Forrester) propose that we ax the command and control “Manager” part of the traditional Brand Manager title and go with something more relevant like “Brand Advocate.” Ad Age followed up with a similar article on this topic near the end of 2009.

Brand Managers today in many companies are really business managers that guide a multifunctional business team (e.g. Finance, PR, Supply Chain, etc.). Marketing promotion is just one part of their job (remember the 4Ps of marketing). Brand Managers create the strategy for the business, making decisions about how to run the business and build the brand.

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