Obama Declares October National Energy Awareness Month

| Friday October 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

national-energy-awareness-month-poster

President Obama declared October “National Energy Awareness Month” Wednesday, in a statement published on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) website. Obama underscored the role of energy efficiency and clean energy in the well-being of the nation’s economy and the environment. He also called on the American people to focus on making clean energy choices – the only call to action in the statement. Will creating an energy awareness month have any real effect on sustainable development?

Investing in clean energy, including research and technology development, would have a number of benefits, Obama’s statement said. For example, in addition to protecting the environment, it would increase global competitiveness, decrease oil use, improve national security, and support communities. Clean energy expansion would also demonstrate “American leadership and vision while also making clean energy the profitable kind of energy.” Accordingly, “National Energy Awareness Month” will be a time to recognize these benefits and distinguish contributors to the clean energy movement.

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Jeffrey Sachs: US Policy-Making Is a Bipartisan Failure, Failing to Even Acknowledge Environmental Challenges

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Jeffrey SachsJeffrey Sachs, the influential economist at Columbia University shared a sobering perspective as part of an impressive lineup of speakers at Tuesday’s World Business Forum. In his speech, he pulled a fire alarm on the optimism on leadership in business and opportunities abroad with his perspectives on the bipartisan failure of US policy making and the world’s near-certain risk of ecological bankruptcy.

The saddening part is that the message may have fallen on deaf ears, with Wall Street Journal running what was only a side comment from Sachs, and little of the message making it out of Radio City Music Hall unscathed. This was due, perhaps in part, to the audience’s composition and the slightly morbid tone of his presentation. Sometimes bad news is just bad news.

Bipartisan political failure in the US

Sachs began with a quick overview of the essence of our current crisis, which is, he argued, financially based. “Beneath the rubble, lay complete lack of proper regulation in lending, which was the direct cause.” We broke down walls between investment and consumer banks, he explained, and created derivatives that could be sold to those who had no idea what they were really buying, and all of this occurred outside of regulation.

Then, as bailouts were handed out to Wall Street’s banks, the underlying and critical problem with our political system became clear as the financial sector spent $3.7 billion lobbying for its interests. Yesterday, Nobel prize-winning economist and World Business Forum speaker Paul Krugman, reiterated this, noting that we may have bailed out banks too fast, restoring them back into full control only so that they can lobby against any regulation that may be in the sector’s best interests.

Sachs described the current state of policy-making as something that happens behind closed doors and by parties focused on their own interests. Guess which sector is the second largest spender in lobbying? Healthcare.

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Best Practices of Actual Businesses Using Green Initiatives to Grow Revenues

3p Contributor | Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 7 Comments

Book-Cover-Final-Oct-1-resized-3 By Bill Roth

As the Green Business Coach for Entrepreneur.com the number one question I am asked is, “How do you make money going green?” Today’s business answer is that adopting sustainability practices is a high-results path for cutting costs. The “Green Team” is sustainability’s first killer app. And certifications like Energy Star and LEEDs are similar to how we used to talk about a PC’s RAM and processor times.

But for sustainability to grow into The Green Economic Revolution business needs to develop green-revenue killer apps that achieve the triple bottom line of job restoration, profitability and wellness (health for us and our environment). As recently as this spring at a major conference I heard speakers with inspiring clichés like “green is the new black” and the future of green is “cost less, mean more.” Here is the great news, my green-entrepreneur network has figured out the “secret sauce” for achieving these clichés.

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Water Wars – the Beverage Industry as a Canary or Future Innovation Leader?

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

As the world wrestles with the challenge of a low carbon future, the issue of water – or rather, the lack of it – has started to emerge as an even more fundamental constraint. Global water reserves are being put under strain not only by more frequent droughts (thanks to global warming), but also from annual global population growth of about 77 million people. Indeed, climate change experts at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography claim that nearly 1/6th of the world’s total population is already vulnerable to a lack of water brought about by environmental and demand changes. As the population continues to grow and the effects of climate change accrue, this number is likely to rise significantly.

Because nearly every industry requires water at some point in their value chain, this fundamental liquid is emerging as the strategic sustainability issue, potentially even more influential than carbon. The beverage industry is particularly vulnerable to changes in the water supply; water is used extensively throughout the beverage supply chain, from the growing of ingredients to the pumping and bottling of product. So, is the water intensive beverage industry fated to be a “canary in the coal mine” – early road kill in the coming water wars? Or does it have another role to play – as a leading developer of innovative water conservation techniques, perhaps? The stakes could not be higher for an industrial sector completely dependent on continued easy access to large quantities of fresh H2O.

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New Website Tracks Chamber of Commerce Climate Follies As Schism Grows

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

NRDCcampaignA new website created by the National Resources Defense Council urges companies to take a stand on the growing debate within the US Chamber of Commerce over the chamber’s stance on legislation addressing climate change.

The website is an extension of the work being done by Peter Altman, the environmental watchdog’s Climate Campaign director, whose has been following the story doggedly on his blog.

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You Want Electricity With That? The Electric Car Charging Problem

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 3 Comments

As electric and plug-in hybrid cars enter mass production in the next few years, the question of where and how these cars will recharge is on the minds of many an EV entrepreneur. The EV service start-up Better Place is just one of several seeking to roll out electric charging station networks across the country that would charge to charge, so to speak.

But given the low cost of electricity, a primary reason many are predicting a surge in popularity for EVs, business models predicated on selling electron fuel for the vehicles may fall prey to a scourge of contemporary capitalism — the spectre of free.

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UPS Offers Carbon Offset Program for Shippers

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

UPS continues as innovators in the small package delivery sector, announcing this week a new program offering its customers the option of offsetting the emissions generated by transporting their packages within the United States.

U.S. customers simply opt to pay a flat rate, covering the cost of calculation, program administration, and the cost of the actual offset. UPS will match offset purchases in 2009-2010, up to $1 million, thus doubling the effectiveness of the program.

The per-package cost for the carbon offset program is five cents for UPS Ground, and twenty cents for UPS Next Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air, and UPS 3 Day Select services. The service is initially available to the approximately 1 million U.S. customers using UPS Internet Shipping with their UPS account number, with plans to roll the service out to other UPS customers next year.

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New FTC Guidelines Require Bloggers to Disclose Conflicts of Interest

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Full disclosure: I am a blogger, blogging about new rules requiring full disclosure from bloggers.

The FTC published final guidelines Monday that dictate, among other things, that “bloggers or other word-of-mouth marketers” must state when payments, free products or “other material connections” have been exchanged between them and the companies whose products they review or otherwise promote on their sites.

The FTC announcement states that “while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement.”

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What’s Wrong With the Dairy Industry?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

250px-Jersey_cow

While dairy farmers faced the worst crisis since the Great Depression, Dean Foods Co. reported a 31 percent profit increase for the quarter that ended June 30, and earned $64.1 million on sales of $2.7 billion that quarter. Dean Foods is the largest milk processor and distributor in the U.S., which a 2001 merger with Suiza Foods helped it become. Dairy Farmers of America, a dairy cooperative, controls about 30 percent of milk supply and sells milk to Dean Foods.

Farmers receive about $1 from every gallon of milk sold, and the rest covers processing and handling costs and profits to the processors and store owners profits. “No matter what you do, even if you give 110% every day on your farm from sun up to sun down, at the end of that day you will not have earned enough to pay your bills. It doesn’t get any more demoralizing than that,” said Joel Greeno, a Wisconsin farmer.

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Hope Floats in New Orleans with the FLOAT House

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

6a00d8341c67ce53ef0120a61f574c970c-500wiIn honor of World Habitat Day, designated as October 5, 2009, we wanted to help remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. World Habitat Day this year is celebrated under the theme Planning Our Urban Future to raise awareness of the need to improve urban settlements to deal with new major challenges of the 21st century. One of the most powerful forces is climate change. Warming events are triggering harsh natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, which rendered large sections of New Orleans unrecognizable and claimed almost 2,000 lives. With nearly 200 million people worldwide living in high-risk coastal flooding zones and over 36 million people facing the threat of flooding in the U.S. alone, the future of coastal habitats needs to be revisited.

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Does Nuclear Energy Have the Power to Save the Climate Bill?

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 3 Comments

nuclear-plants-happyIs nuclear energy the solution to our environmental woes – and can it save the climate bill? Apparently, the answer depends on who you ask. Some promote the benefits of nuclear power (for example, its lack of carbon emissions), while others argue its drawbacks (for example, the issue of storage, and whether nuclear is the most efficient use of clean energy funds). Meanwhile, some believe nuclear power could salvage the energy bill; the Senate is already considering including nuclear in new climate legislation. A peek into the blogosphere reveals the multifaceted nature of the nuclear power issue.

A treehugger.com article discusses the (perceived) benefits and downsides of investing in nuclear power versus investing in energy efficiency, in the opinions of RMI chairman Amory Lovins, University of Chicago’s Robert Rosner, and PG&E’s Peter Darbee. The benefits? Nuclear is a relatively cheap electricity source, and, Rosner emphasizes, it already accounts for 50 percent the U.S.’s energy sourcing (versus less than 2 percent for wind and solar combined). The drawbacks? There are more efficient ways to conserve power (for example, wind energy or co-generation), Lovins says, and buying new nuclear power results in more carbon release than implementing efficiency measures. Moreover, nuclear power will likely develop too slowly to have a timely impact.

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John Mackey, “Whole Foolishness”, and a Microcosm of the Green Movement

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

whole-foods-boycott

When it comes to healthcare, the adage “opinions are like behinds: everyone has one” is an understatement. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is no exception. His two cents on the matter have garnered a lot of attention recently: first, through his op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and, second, through a subsequent damage-control-type interview (also with the WSJ). What can we glean from the situation as it pertains to sustainable business?

Mackey’s op-ed, entitled “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare”, delineates smaller-government, decreased-national-deficit solutions to the nation’s healthcare woes. It lists eight reforms that would, it says, lower everyone’s healthcare costs. These solutions include equalizing tax laws for employer-provided and individually-owned insurance, allowing intra-state competition among insurance companies, mandating cost transparency to consumers, reforming Medicare, and promoting charitable donations for lower-income individuals.

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Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Uphill Battle for Green Jobs

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

jennifer-GranholmMichigan, one of the nation’s manufacturing and auto industry hubs, was among the states hardest hit by carmakers’ decline. Its governor, Jennifer M. Granholm, now faces the daunting task of rebuilding the state’s job market. The Washington Post reports on Granholm’s approach to the task, which includes turning to green industries to provide jobs. Apparently, the battle has been an uphill one.

Since Granholm took office in 2003, she has taken a number of measures to remake Michigan – diversifying the state’s economy, creating jobs, and building the green job market among them. She has offered tax credits, loans, and other incentives to auto, wind, solar, and other industries, in order to convince them to bring jobs to Michigan. She is also building electric vehicle and car battery programs that could generate as many as 40,000 more jobs by 2020. So far, Granholm has created 163,000 positions, approximately 10,800 of which came from overseas companies.

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Lovemarks: Real Human Connection or Latest Play in the Arms Race of Trickery?

| Wednesday October 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

love-respect-axisYesterday afternoon at the World Business Forum, Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi brought the story of Lovemarks to the crowd.

“Lovemarks are brands that inspire loyalty beyond reason. People love them because of what they are, not because of what they do. Their appeal is emotional. Companies may own brands. But Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.” And Saatchi is in the business of showing companies how to change their products from simple brands into these glorious, sought after, Lovemarks.

As the graph at left (which Roberts admitted to coming up with at two in the morning when he was well into his second bottle of Bordeaux) shows, Lovemarks score high on both love and respect, while brands simply score well on the “respect” factor: you trust them, but you don’t form an emotional attachment to them.

Roberts showed some compelling examples of this lovemark concept in action:

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World Business Forum Kickoff Thoughts

| Wednesday October 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

wbf09-logoThe 2009 World Business Forum kicked off yesterday with a dramatic flair at Radio City Music Hall. 3p was invited to cover the forum in a special “blogger’s balcony” of sorts. The sight below was a non stop parade of top notch speakers on a variety of subjects, but mostly a montage of personal experience and advice – well received by the audience and the press in attendance.

Jen Boynton posted earlier on the remarks of Bill George, former chief executive of Medtronic. George spoke about using the financial crisis as an opportunity, stating “never waste a good crisis”. He was referring to business trouble in general and mentioned many examples of companies who’ve dealt with crises openly and swiftly as a contrast to companies that ignored them or tried to cover them up. That quote got me thinking about environmental and social challenges we face and the the adage that climate change actually represents a huge business opportunity for those willing to take it on.

Most interesting and inspiring - George insisted that people follow their values and stick to them. Quitting a job that had made him miserable was one of the best decisions he ever made and should serve as an example.

Incidentally, I don’t think Bill George was the first to use that quote, it’s been used by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as well, specifically in reference to climate. But I digress…

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