Overheard at Opportunity Green: LA Having “Serious Conversation” About Feed-in Tariff

| Monday November 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Energy and the Environment Romel Pascual said during a panel discussion at Opportunity Green 2009 that Los Angeles has begun a “serious conversation” about a feed-in tariff for the city. Feed-in tariffs, or FiTs, provide cash rebates for renewable energy fed into the grid — above the normal cost of electricity.

FiTs are popular in Europe; German has had a program for several years. But there are few places in the US with an FiT, Gainsville County, Florida, being one. If LA, the country’s second largest city, with the largest municipal electric utility, created an FiT, it would have a profound effect on the small-scale solar power market.

Pascual echoed acting Director of Los Angeles Water and Power Director S. David Freeman, who also mentioned an LA FiT at an Opp Green keynote speech this morning. The idea has come up in public meetings held to discuss LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s ambitious environmental goals. Said Pascual, “it’s on the drawing board.”

Freeman also mentioned LA possibly building large scale solar plants in the Owens River Valley, which was first reported in Triple Pundit last summer.

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Solar Energy Investment Summit: The $100 Billion Conference

Bill Roth | Monday November 9th, 2009 | 9 Comments

solar-moneySolar panels now only account for approximately 40 percent of the cost of a solar power system. And most technology studies project the cost of panels to continue its drop as a percentage of plant cost with continued advancements in technology and manufacturing.

While this lower cost curve for solar technology is important, terms and availability of financing will determine solar’s future growth. From a financing perspective buying solar is “going long” on electricity. It is a 20-year “put” that locks in an amount and price of electricity. And this upfront 20-year financial put means the cost and terms of financing are as critical, or more so, to the economic viability of a solar installation as the cost of panels.

For this reason I am attending the  2nd Annual Solar Energy Investment & Finance Summit being held November 12-13 at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. It is a great opportunity to hear what the big money people like GE Energy Financial Services, Lazard Freres & Co and Morgan Stanley think the terms and conditions should be for financing a solar system.

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Book Review–Starting Green: An Ecopreneur’s Toolkit For Starting a Green Business From Business Plan to Profit by Glenn Croston

Scott Cooney | Monday November 9th, 2009 | 2 Comments

starting greenGlenn Croston’s latest book, Starting Green:  An Ecopreneur’s Toolkit for Starting a Green Business From Business Plan to Profits (Entrepreneur Press) is a useful resource for entrepreneurial types looking to enter the green economy.

Croston describes the green economy as entering Green 3.0:  the stage where business is beginning to make green its focus, bringing the other 95% of consumers (in addition to the 5% that do it because the environment is the #1 thing they’re concerned with) into the green world by making it easier for them to do so.  In Green 4.0, according to Croston, “Everything is green.”

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Top Five Reasons to Like Rickshaw Bagworks

| Monday November 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Picture 1Mark Dwight, former CEO of Timbuk2, has taken his vision of sustainability and experience in messenger bag industry and spun it into San Francisco’s newest bag company- Rickshaw Bagworks.  Rickshaw is a relatively new company, and operates out of a two year old factory situated in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood.  Rickshaw comes after a long line of San Francisco messenger bag companies- most notably Timbuk2 and Chrome.  Although not the first bag company in the city by the bay, Rickshaw is the first to embed sustainability into the culture of the company.

If you haven’t familiarized yourself with its offerings, here are five ways Rickshaw distinguishes themselves from the proverbial messenger bag pack:

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Cap-and-Trade: The Real Deal from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Shannon Arvizu | Monday November 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment

mp_main_wide_USChamberOfCommerce452The U.S. Chamber of Commerce may actually have a better idea than a cap-and-trade bill for cutting emissions. And, contrary to popular opinion, they do recognize climate change and the need for clean tech development.

This past week I interviewed Dan Letourneau, the Communications Director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as part of a clean car web radio show called the EVCast. What I learned was quite surprising, given the amount of negative attention the Chamber has been getting lately from environmental groups and the green media.

It appears that the main reason the Chamber opposes a cap-and-trade bill in Congress is because it believes that it will not do enough to help businesses incorporate clean tech into their operations. It has issued an official statement detailing its position and has created an affiliate Institute for 21st Century Energy to develop what they call a “common sense energy strategy.” Letourneau remarked that the Chamber has, in fact, proposed 88 different policy recommendations to Congress that reflect real-world approaches to helping businesses curb emissions.

So – what is the real deal here? Is this just a facade to cover up prior opposition to clean energy…or does the Chamber have a valid point? As I’ve written on TheCleanDeal, a climate treaty should work directly to implement clean technology in the market place. A “cap-and-trade” bill does not necessarily lead to mass market clean tech outcomes. In fact, under Europe’s carbon market system, it has often been cheaper to buy credits than invest in clean tech to reduce GHG emissions.

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Let’s Talk Trash: Knowaste Turns Dirty Diapers into Green ($)

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Monday November 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

baby-in-diapersDid you know the average baby goes through 5,000 to 6,000 dirty diapers by the time he or she is potty trained?   That accounts for nearly one ton of waste per child.   Although disposable diapers are convenient, they also create a burden on our landfills.  Disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose. And untreated human waste poses another environmental concern – the potential to contaminate groundwater resources.

So imagine being able to divert thousands of tons of dirty diapers from landfills on an annual basis.  That is exactly what Knowaste will soon be doing.  Beginning in May 2010, Knowaste Ltd., will open a new recycling facility in the United Kingdom.

It is estimated about 8 million disposable diapers are used on a daily basis in the United Kingdom.  Now that’s a lot of dirty diapers!  Disposable diapers consist of three parts: wood pulp, gel polymers and mixed plastic.  According to the company website, 98 percent of the disposable diaper or incontinence pad can be removed from the waste stream using their patented technology.

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Hotels: What’s Keeping You From Going Green?

3p Contributor | Monday November 9th, 2009 | 2 Comments

hotels-vegasBy Jeff Slye, Chief Evolution Officer Business Evolution Consulting

I have two questions I’d like to pose to the hospitality industry, particularly to the hotels, hotel management companies, and investors that do not have a sustainability or green platform for their property or properties:

1) What data or additional information do you need to hear or read to illustrate to you and your stakeholders that investing in ‘green’ is critical to your revenue stream and attracting and retaining customers?

2) If there is consistent information from 3rd party survey data, direct customer feedback, and comments from your competitors that tells you that your customers and prospects are actively searching out and spending money with green hotels, would you make the investment to go ‘green?’

The above two questions are the primary ones hotel company decision-makers should be asking themselves in this economic climate, regardless of the other business benefits that come from ‘green’ programs such as operational efficiencies, cost savings, employee values connection, marketing, and improved public relations. This article will help answer these questions and will use hard data and real case studies to demonstrate the growing influence by today’s green-oriented travelers (which include corporate, individual, and group business). In my work assisting companies in developing their green and sustainability strategies we have seen first hand that there is real money currently being lost or gained in this space and it is directly connected to a hotel’s environmental commitment…or lack thereof.

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Hopenhagen: the Ultimate Cause Marketing Campaign

| Sunday November 8th, 2009 | 6 Comments

cope-hope-flagpole-english-low-resIf you follow environmental issues, chances are you’ve come across the beautiful, inspiring Hopenhagen campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to draw attention to the upcoming United Nations climate change conference COP15, which you can read more about here. Many folks who care deeply about climate change are watching closely with their fingers crossed, hoping that strong commitments will come out of the conference.

For those of us on the ground who care about the outcome of the talks but aren’t involved in politics, there isn’t much to do but watch and worry. And that’s where Hopenhagen comes in. The brain-child of Ogilvy Earth, an international sustainability marketing company, Hopenhagen is the branding of a movement. The purpose of the campaign is to give activists something to do besides watch and worry: we can hope. The power of “hope,” as we learned with the viral “Yes We Can” video during the Obama campaign, is that hope has a way to inspire and motivate people to action in a way that fear never can.

Hopenhagen is not only a play on the city where the talks will take place, but a subtle jibe at the choices we have in the climate crisis. We can cope with climate change by changing our behavior, moving inland and finding alternate habitats for the polar bears, or we can hope that the crisis will move us toward a more sustainable way of living sustainably, with the resources we have available on this planet. There’s a lot of opportunity for innovation there.

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Homemade Harvey: “This Package Is Landfill Friendly”

| Saturday November 7th, 2009 | 4 Comments

Opportunity Green’s been brimming with great speakers and quality products to talk about. But occasionally there’s a lemon. I was puzzled to see what looked like flattened toothpaste tubes in a bucket of ice on the patio today. They turned out to be a crushed fruit product called “Homemade Harvey” – an all organic fruit paste that squeezes out of a pouch.

Now, there’s nothing un-green about selling fresh crushed fruit. In fact, the product is probably good for you if you can stomach the aesthetic of squirting goo into your mouth. But Harvey’s stated claim of “100% Crushed Fruit, 0% Bad Stuff” overlooks a rather obvious element of the big picture: Non-recyclable, heavy and probably unnecessary packaging. What really cracks me up is the claim on the bottom of the pouch, and I quote, “This Package is Landfill Friendly“. Uh huh. And so is the chair I’m sitting in. At least we can’t accuse them of greenwashing….

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Opportunity Green Swag Report: Bamboo Utensils, Billboard Bags & Kor Water

| Saturday November 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Opportunity Green is off to a roaring start with some of the most thoughtful and engaging speakers in green business today. We’ll have an interview with Proctor & Gamble’s Len Sauers, thoughts on Hopenhagen, the LED revolution, a host of other reports soon.

But first things first: Most conferences come with a bag full of useless trinkets and paper which almost immediately winds up in the trash. This being a green-thinking conference, real effort was made to ensure this was not the case, and today’s sponsored goody bags are a great showcase of innovation.

The bags themselves, by Sue Rigler’s new company, AdVinylize, are made of upcycled advertisements and other promotional material. I got a chance to talk to Sue during our epic 500 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles this week…

Sue’s product offers outdoor advertisers a responsible post-life alternative to ad campaigns at the end of their life. AdVinylize diverts waste to create bags and other products for trade shows and other large-scale purposes. What’s especially nice about today’s bag is that it’s tough enough and big enough to work great for future grocery missions, which is exactly what this one’s going to wind up being used for.

Inside the bag was a lot of notable material, but Kor water’s sexy no-BPA bottle was one of the bigger hits. The last thing I need is another water bottle, so I actually declined to take one, but what’s interesting about Kor is twofold: First the company is actively trying to reintroduce the long lost art of filling your “hydration vessel” at a (gasp!) tap and carrying your water with you. Why this is something that has to be re-taught to people is outside the scope of this post, but suffice it to say, sexy marketing and a host of (coming soon) social media promotion – including an iphone app that locates and rates fresh water sources will do wonders for a population at large who still buys water in bottles imported from Fiji.

Last but not least, the conference included a nice little set of bamboo utensils from To Go Ware in a handy pouch you can carry with you. Significantly, no utensils were provided at lunch – bring your pouch or you’re out of luck.

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Imagine H2O Prize Competition to Drive Water Innovation

| Friday November 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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imagine-logo

As 3p readers know, the growing scarcity of freshwater is causing significant social and environment problems around the world.  From a rise in cholera in parts of Africa to chronic water shortages in Australia as a result of drought, people everywhere are feeling the impact of the global water crisis. 



Imagine H2O, a non-profit that aims to turn the world’s water problems into opportunities for entrepreneurs, is running a business plan competition to encourage water technology innovation.  Through the inaugural Imagine H2O Prize Competition (which is accepting entries until Nov. 16, 2009) and its business incubator, the organization aims to bring water technology from entrepreneurs, investors, inventors and academics around the world to address critical water challenges. 

As research from global water organizations, such as the World Water Council, indicate, addressing water conservation is critically needed.  Participants of Imagine H2O’s competition will not only help solve a timely global issue, they will also receive assistance to bring their business idea to market.  In addition to having the opportunity to receive $70,000 in cash and in-kind services, competition participants will also benefit from Imagine H2O’s incubator program.

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Thanks to Triple Pundit’s Sponsors

| Friday November 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

As November rolls along, we’re happy to see our community of readers, contributors, and sponsors growing. Our sponsors in particular are what make it possible to continue to publish great content and continue to build the 3p movement. Please take some time to check out what they’re doing and if you’re in a position to do so, thank them for their support of TriplePundit. If your company is interested in getting involved with 3p in any way, please get in touch with us!

The Bard Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College is an interdisciplinary curriculum which closely echos the founding principals of Triple Pundit – the idea that economy, ecology, and society are inherently intertwined and cannot be looked at as silos in addressing issues of sustainability. In the case of the Bard CEP, faculty from the school’s science, law, policy, and economics disciplines coordinate an integrated curriculum to address environmental matters. We’re excited to announce Bard CEP as our newest sponsor and will be periodically publishing interesting developments from the program.

EDF LogoThe Environmental Defense Fund Innovation Exchange is continuing to evolve into an invaluable resource for businesses. You’d swear that there was a catch, since you rarely expect great resources like the Innovation Exchange without someone trying to sell you something, right? But the EDF partners with businesses, doesn’t take a dime in return, then open-sources the IP for all to share. You’ll also notice that the content on the Innovation Exchange is Creative Commons licensed, so share it all you want, as long as you share the credit with them. Check out the EDF Innovation Exchange Blog and their Twitter for more. Thanks EDF!

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European Lawmakers To Give Free Carbon Credits to Heavy Industry

| Friday November 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments
europepollutionCROPPED

Satellite Image of European Air Pollution

The EU, that bastion of environmental common sense, is giving away its carbon credits. For free. To some of their biggest polluters.

Reuters reports that European Union lawmakers have approved a list of heavy industries, including metals, textiles, building materials and ceramics, that will be handed free carbon credits starting in 2013, rather than have to pay for them like everyone else. The credits will be handed out under the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS.

The lawmakers acceded to industry complaints that the cost of carbon credits would make them uncompetitive with companies operating in India, China and other nations with fewer environmental safeguards, forcing them to move operations out of the EU. The end result, industry argues, would be the same companies making the same products for the same consumers, only in a more polluting way overseas, a phenomenon known as “carbon leakage.”

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Barcelona Climate Talks End after a Week of Boycotts- Next Stop: Copenhagen

| Friday November 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments


The International chess game of climate negotiations - COP15The final week of climate negotiations in Barcelona have now ended. The last meeting before the main event in Copenhagen next month served to emphasize the lingering stalemate between rich and poor nations, and the equally unmoving impasse between political factions in the United States.

On Tuesday, delegations from 50 African nations boycotted the climate talks in Barcelona, insisting that developed nations must make stronger commitments for short-term emissions reduction targets – specifically in the neighborhood of 40% of 1990 levels by 2020 (in contrast, the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House last summer, when referenced to 1990 levels, targets only about a 7% reduction in emissions). In Washington, Republicans in the Energy and Public Works Committee (EPW) staged their own boycott, failing to show for a markup session of the Kerry-Boxer climate and energy bill. The reason, they claimed, was because the bill needs more cost analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Democrats countered, saying it was simply a stalling tactic, and that there is already extensive analysis in place. The ranking Republican on the EPW committee is Senator James Inhofe, who is nothing if not a vociferous climate change denier. The ability for the United States to break through their political logjam will directly influence how negotiations play out at the COP15 climate conference next month.

Talks resumed in Barcelona onWednesday, but key issues of mitigation targets and financing remain largely unchanged on Friday from where they started on Monday; the Democrats in the EPW Committee passed the Kerry-Boxer climate bill out of committee on an 11-1 without the Republicans present. Thus the stage is set, for better or worse, and there is but one stop left on the Road to Copenhagen. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer delivers his closing press briefing in the following video (see also Ben Jervey’s analysis from earlier this week.)

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Give more, Useless

| Friday November 6th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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teef2Believe me, USELESS, I get it. I get the point you’re trying to make. Your anti-consumerism, “Use less, give more” message is not a new one. However, following it with a list of products to purchase definitely is.

I understand that you mean to be somewhat ironic. And I get how handy it is that when you combine the words “use” and “less” into one word, you end up with “useless” (somehow I suspect that’s how this whole company came about – clever name first, company second).

And sure, your cleverly designed hoodies are made of organic cotton and your cute, logoed bottles are BPA free. And I appreciate that you donate 10% of your profits to fund water and sanitation projects in the developing world. You’re better than a lot of companies out there. BUT, you’re still selling products!

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