Video Interview: Raj Mamodia, CEO of Brillio

| Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

I just got back from the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara and put together a handful of great video interviews.  You can follow along on our conference page here for all of them, as well as past years’ coverage.

logo-brillioBrillio is a $100M startup that’s set to launch in the next few weeks. A global technology consulting firm, Brillio is focused on leveraging emerging technologies in, among other vertical markets, the energy/utilities industry. With innovation ‘hot spots’ due to open in the U.S. in 2014, Brillio is investing in new market opportunities to help organizations achieve competitive dominance beyond strategic advantage and quality management.

I had a chance to sit down with Raj Mamodia, Brillo’s CEO, to learn more about how Brillio will help companies, especially utilities cope with fast changing technology, fast changing customer behavior, and the basics of running complex operations.  The goal, from a sustainability perspective, is to greatly increase efficiencies that can save not only money, but many negative externalities that the energy sector faces.

Watch the video after the jump:

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

Did Hyperbole or Social Responsibility Push Johnson & Johnson to Reformulate Its Baby Products?

Sherrell Dorsey
| Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

4779401331_9b6ca0ff38_zIn an increasingly responsive environment, consumer influence brings brands dangerously close to the edges of both innovation and implosion. Social media, the mother of all sounding boards for consumer activism, advocacy and subsequent protest, fuels the fire of messages that easily become distorted or misguided — making for murky water and confusion among consumers who mean well as they seek to protect their own best interests and demand transparency from the companies they support. Responding in such an environment requires that brands take consumer concerns seriously and adopt policies and practices that re-instill consumer trust.

Such was the case for personal care products giant Johnson & Johnson, which suffered a very public battle when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) called for a consumer boycott of the company over potentially cancer-causing chemicals found in Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. A stream of fiery darts were thrown at the brand when CSC purchased and reviewed the shampoo sold in 13 countries and discovered that the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in the United States contained two carcinogens: formaldehyde and 1,4,-dioxane. These ingredients, however, were not formulated in the shampoos sold in other countries. Parents and special interest groups were unrelenting in their outrage towards a brand they trusted to care for their children.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Video Interview: Peter Graf, CSO EVP at SAP

| Monday April 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

I just got back from the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, Calif. and put together a handful of great video interviews.  You can follow along on our conference page here for all of them, as well as past years’ coverage.

logo-sapED NOTE: Please join us on April 11th as we talk with Peter Graf of SAP, Aron Kramer from BSR, & Nigel Topping of CDP on Twitter. Register here to join us.

Peter Graf is SAP America’s chief sustainability officer.  Last week, he led conversation at WSJ ECO:nomics on the use of IT to drive sustainability, covering sustainable design, product stewardship networks, employee education, transportation management, recycling administration and aligning incentives with sustainability interests.

I had a chance to sit down with Peter and talk about SAP’s recently released integrated report, the process for putting it together and how it has benefitted the company. We also talked about some of the company’s recent accomplishments in committing to 100 percent renewable energy and a new foray into free online sustainable business education.

Watch it all in the video after the jump:

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Wind Power Is Reducing Electricity Rates; Pays Back Tax Credit 17 Times Over

| Monday April 7th, 2014 | 10 Comments

USWindTurbMtnsACORE Higher performance turbines, lower manufacturing costs and lower prices for consumers drove new U.S. wind energy construction to record heights in early 2014 — despite the U.S. Congress still debating whether or not to renew the federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC), which expired Dec. 31. In many parts of the U.S., wind energy is now the cheapest form of electricity generation – cheaper than natural gas and even coal, NextEra chief financial office Moray P. Dewhurst recently stated on an earnings call.

The federal wind energy PTC has been instrumental in the U.S. wind energy industry achieving that milestone. Yet, Congress has been playing “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t” with the U.S. wind energy industry for two decades now. Every time the PTC expires, wind energy investment and new capacity tumbles; when it’s in place, wind energy booms. It’s just bad policy, emblematic of the divisive partisanship, cronyism, lack of foresight and political leadership that has come to characterize U.S. politics.

In its “Outlook for Renewable Energy 2014,” the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), working in conjunction with U.S. renewable energy industry trade associations, presents facts and figures that clearly illustrate the triple-bottom-line benefits and advantages the U.S. wind energy industry brings to American society, and how the renewable energy PTC has played a seminal role in spurring them on to realization.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Southeast Manufacturers Join to Spur Job Creation Through Recycling

| Monday April 7th, 2014 | 1 Comment

plasticwasteFrom local to global, conservation of natural resources and ecosystems — and the quality of our air, land and waters — have become increasingly public, and pressing, issues in recent decades. Pressures on fundamental ecosystems and services are increasing along with the costs and risks associated with climate change. At the same time, local communities across the U.S. are struggling to cope with changing demographics, rapid and profound technological change, sluggish job creation, and widening gaps in income, wealth and political representation.

The numerous and varied benefits to be gained by doing more with less — by reducing waste, reusing, and recycling materials, water and energy — are widely acknowledged. Doing so creates cleaner, healthier communities and helps minimize destructive environmental impacts. Yet, in the face of all this, Americans continue to lag compared to their industrialized peers when it comes to recycling. Furthermore, the positive economic impacts recycling is having in terms of boosting local and regional economies are underappreciated, undervalued or largely unnoticed.

The shortfall of domestic U.S. supply and the demand for recycled materials hits home in the Southeast, where manufacturers make use of more recycled materials than in any other region of the nation. Recycling is a growth industry, one that continued to expand through the depths of the last recession. Why? “Because there’s value there,” Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) executive director Will Sagar highlighted in a 3p interview.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Alaska Air Group Sets Aggressive Sustainability Goals

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday April 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

AlaskaAir_jetAlaska Air Group, which operates Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, has committed to reduce aircraft fuel consumption by 20 percent and use a sustainable aviation biofuel at one or more airports by 2020.

The Seattle-based group’s 93-page sustainability report for 2013, “Innovating for Our Future”—only its second such report—said that since the last report in 2011 fuel efficiency improvements have saved more than 10 million gallons of fuel. The two airlines also cut waste by 50 percent per passenger, saving nearly 2,900 tons of recyclables. Alaska and Horizon are the only airlines that recycle on every domestic flight.

The two airlines have also reduced greenhouse gases by 30.4 percent per revenue mile since the 2004 baseline year.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Lowe’s Settles California Toxic Dumping Suit for $18.1 Million

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday April 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lowes_Toxic_Dumping_closeup_MikeMozartInvestigators at California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) have been hard at work – this time inspecting trash disposal sites behind Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse stores for toxic dumping. In conjunction with the investigative skills of Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI), DTSC determined that Lowe’s stores had been illegally dumping toxic materials at landfill sites that weren’t authorized to receive the materials.

The DTSC says that the materials included pesticides, aerosols, mercury-based fluorescent bulbs and other items not eligible for landfill disposal. Investigators state that more than 110 stores across the state were found to be dumping toxic items improperly.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Demand for Humane Food is Strong, Study Finds

Sarah Lozanova | Monday April 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments
free range chickens

Egg producer JS West provides a 24/7 live video cam for consumers to see how hens are raised.

In the United States, an estimated 9 billion chickens, pigs and cattle are consumed each year, with a vast majority raised in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).This form of food production typically emphasizes profit over farm animal treatment and sustainability. However, consumer demand for higher welfare animal proteins is increasing, likely due to heightened consumer awareness.

Americans are prioritizing animal welfare and consciously-raised foods over price and variety, according to the 2014 Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker. A staggering 69 percent of respondents said they prioritize animal welfare when buying animal proteins.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

3p Weekend: 10 Companies You May Be Surprised Still Manufacture in the U.S.

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday April 4th, 2014 | 1 Comment

6086524367_46261c3e10_zWith a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

“Made in the U.S.A” isn’t exactly the norm these days. More than 97 percent of apparel and 98 percent of shoes sold in the U.S. are made overseas, compared to 5 percent in the 1960s. Nevertheless, a 2013 poll found that 78 percent of Americans would rather buy an American product if given the opportunity.

We can all rattle off a few small, niche companies that manufacture on this side of the pond (and everyone knows those Chryslers are “Imported from Detroit”), but do any other big names manufacture in the U.S. anymore? Surprisingly, yes. 

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Nest Freezes Sales of Smoke Alarm, Is Sued Over Thermostat’s Energy Savings Claims

Alexis Petru
| Friday April 4th, 2014 | 2 Comments

NestNest Labs quickly became a darling of both the sustainability and tech worlds for its sleek, Internet-connected thermostat and smoke detector designed to provide customers with energy savings and safety. But has the sheen finally worn off on the Palo-Alto based company, acquired by Google earlier this year?

Nest announced yesterday that it is halting sales of its Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors due potential safety concerns and will refund customers who want to return their current devices. Meanwhile, the company was hit with a class action lawsuit in late March, charging that Nest’s Learning Thermostat fails to accurately measure and control a home’s temperature.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Code for America Shows How Empathy and Technology Can Improve Government

| Friday April 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments
sfteam with mayor lee

The Code for America SF team with Mayor Lee.

“We can’t do without government, but we do need it to be more effective,” Jennifer Pahlka, the founder and executive director of Code for America (CfA), told the audience in her 2012 TED talk.  I guess some people would disagree with the first part of her statement, but probably 99.9 percent would agree with her about the second part.

But how do you do it? Well, for some it might look like an impossible mission, but to Palhka and her small army of talented developers, designers and researchers, who serve as CfA fellows working with local governments, this is a difficult yet doable challenge. “You just have to architect the systems the right way,” explains Pahlka.

Technology is definitely key in CfA’s work helping government become more engaging, user-friendly and effective, but I believe that there’s also a secret sauce that makes it work – empathy.

A great example of how Code for America successfully converges technology and empathy is the story of Promptly, a text messaging notification system that was developed by four CfA fellows working with San Francisco’s Human Services Agency in a project funded by the Vodafone Americas Foundation.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Sustainable Cities: Vision of Solar-Powered Skyscrapers Nearer Reality

| Friday April 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments

SolarWindowthubmbIAs urbanization, and urban populations, continue to spread, finding ways to enhance the quality of urban life and make urban living socially, ecologically and economically more sustainable has become a critical issue in our times. Much attention is being focused on reducing waste and pollution and making buildings more energy, water and waste-efficient, as well as powering them with clean, renewable energy.

Lined with high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, designing economically viable distributed renewable energy systems for the densely-packed built environment of cities presents a stiff challenge for architects, builders, urban planners, and renewable energy technology and project developers.

At least a couple of innovative startups are making strides toward developing a product that could go a long way toward realizing this goal, however, by creating transparent organic solar photovoltaic (PV) films that can be applied to commercial glass plates.

Last week, 3p’s Mary Mazzoni noted the progress being made by German solar company Heliatek, which unveiled a 40 percent transparent organic solar cell that’s ideal for generating energy from windows, façades and glass car roofs. There’s at least one other entrant in the field. If remaining hurdles can be overcome, solar-glass developers at New Energy Technologies envision SolarWindow arrays being installed on and producing clean, renewable electricity for high-rise buildings, apartment and office towers in cities around the world.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Climate Change: Business Must Learn to See Future Uncertainty as Opportunity

3p Contributor | Friday April 4th, 2014 | 1 Comment
An ambulance is swallowed by Hurricane Sandy flood waters in Hoboken, N.J. in 2012.

An ambulance is swallowed by Hurricane Sandy flood waters in Hoboken, N.J. in 2012.

James Goodman, Forum for the Future

If you think it’s hard to attribute a flood, a drought or a storm to climate change, try a banking crisis, a social movement or even a war. These are the kinds of consequences that the second part of the IPCC’s fifth assessment report, released on Sunday, alludes to. In amongst the analysis of “observed impacts” and “future risks” was this insight:

“Understanding future vulnerability, exposure, and response capacity of interlinked human and natural systems is challenging due to the number of interacting social, economic, and cultural factors, which have been incompletely considered to date.”

They list factors such as: “wealth and its distribution across society, demographics, migration, access to technology and information, employment patterns, the quality of adaptive responses, societal values, governance structures, and institutions to resolve conflicts.” Understanding how climate change alters the rules of the game right across the board will be key to prospering in the years to come.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Shocker: 89 Percent of Fast Food Workers are Victims of Wage Theft

Eric Justian
| Friday April 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments

479219421_8ecbb32ffe_zAs if it’s not enough that so many minimum wage workers can’t make ends meet on an honest day’s work, many also find themselves performing work for free or less than they’re due. A new poll conducted by Hart Research Associates shows an overwhelming majority of fast food workers, 89 percent, have experienced wage theft.

Low-wage employers’ conniving ways to avoid fair pay for honest work is the general rule, not the exception. McDonald’s franchise employers, for example, are facing lawsuits for these types of practices, as they exploit corporate-provided computer systems to doctor their workers hours so they can avoid paying overtime, or to make it seem like employees took breaks they worked through instead. Time worked, but not compensated.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Interview: Brandon Tidwell on Darden Restaurants’ 2013 Citizenship Update

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday April 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Darden Harvest1Earlier this year, Darden Restaurants, the Fortune 500 restaurant giant known for brands like Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, released its 2013 Citizenship Update – which includes some pretty impressive numbers related to sustainability, culture and corporate social responsibility (CSR). With more than 2,100 restaurants in its portfolio, the world’s largest full-service restaurant operating company is making it clear that sustainability is a priority in its latest report.

Thanks to water reduction efforts that have been in place since 2009, Darden achieved its water reduction goal of 15 percent less per restaurant two years early. The company also set a goal to shrink energy use by 15 percent per restaurant by 2015 (compared to a 2008 baseline), which it is well on the way to achieving with a 12.3 percent drop as of last year, according the update.

As of 2013, the company’s Darden Harvest program, which sends fresh food that isn’t served to community food banks across the U.S. and Canada, has donated more than 66 million pounds of food with a fair market value of nearly $600 million since its inception in 2004. The company is also making waves in sustainable seafood sourcing, an increasingly important issue as ocean health concerns mount. Last year Darden bought 100 percent of its shrimp, 85 percent of its salmon and 80 percent of its tilapia and catfish according to the Global Aquaculture Alliance Standards.

I recently the chance to chat with Brandon Tidwell, manager of sustainability for Darden Restaurants, about the latest Citizenship Update and where the company is headed when it comes to sustainability.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »