The Sustainability Commons: How Corporate Data Sharing Can Advance Sustainability

3p Contributor | Thursday November 5th, 2009 | 3 Comments

statue-333By David Witzel, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Innovation Exchange

Several people pointed me to Mary Tripsas‘ post in the New York Times called “Everybody in the Pool of Green Innovation” this weekend – it really struck a chord. The article focused on two initiatives involving major corporations to share patents that protect the environment and foster new innovations. Through the Eco-Patent Commons companies like Xerox, IBM, Nokia, and Ricoh, working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, pledge to make environmentally beneficial patents available in the public domain. The Eco-Patent Commons now includes 100 patents from eleven participating companies.

Meanwhile, Creative Commons, the innovative engine behind CC licensing for content sharing, is helping launch a new initiative to increase patent-reuse called GreenXchange. Partnering with Nike and Best Buy, they have a “vision of creating an open innovation platform that promotes the creation and adoption of technologies that have the potential to solve important global or industry-wide challenges” and are using their expertise in crafting licenses and legal language to both protect patent-holder interests while enabling easy reuse.

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Barcelona Climate Talks: Waiting for America

| Wednesday November 4th, 2009 | 1 Comment

road-to-copenhagenbarcelona-2009As the last round of “intersessional” climate talks before Copenhagen opened on Monday in Barcelona, all eyes were looking in the same direction they were when we left Bangkok three weeks earlier: at the United States. Without American numbers on mitigation (or emissions reductions) and finance (for developing nations to build their own clean energy economies, and also to adapt to the impacts of climate change), any real forward progress in the talks is just about impossible.

“We need a clear target from the United States in Copenhagen,” urged Yvo de Boer, who’s charged with steering this UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) process to some kind of December resolution.” “That is an essential component of the puzzle.” The problem is that the U.S. isn’t putting anything out there. At least not yet. Not while the Kerry-Boxer bill limps through Senate subcommittees back on Capitol Hill.

And that’s really where De Boer’s comment – and most criticism of the American position – is directed. Not at the negotiating team here, but towards Washington. In the U.S. delegation’s defense, their hands have been tied pretty tight. The State Department hasn’t wanted to write a check that our domestic politics can’t cash. If Kyoto taught us anything, it’s that nobody can trust the U.S. until they see what’s actually written into law. (Quick history lesson–the U.S. signed the Kyoto Protocol back in 1998; eleven years later, it still hasn’t been ratified. At least 185 countries have ratified the Protocol, from Russia to Rwanda to Australia to Iraq. Iraq!) So there’s a massive trust gap. To be a credible player going into Copenhagen, the U.S. has to show something concrete coming from the home front. Lead negotiator Jonathan Pershing has not been at all coy about the fact that he needs to bring home a treaty that will be signed and ratified. (And, yes, if all this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The story was more or less the same last month in Bangkok.)

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Climate Change Complacency on Capitol Hill

Jeff Siegel | Wednesday November 4th, 2009 | 6 Comments

denial88

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised.

Climate Change legislation on the Hill has proven to be exactly what we should have expected all along – a partisan bickering match comparable to playground scuffles I recall from my elementary school days.

On cue, the Republicans moved to boycott this week’s work session on a climate change bill, stating that they want more time to study the EPA’s economic analysis. Interestingly enough, these folks had nothing to say when the Bush Administration used the EPA as a pawn in the game of delaying serious climate change debate. But you know how it is – it’s all politics.

Certainly we saw much of this kind of behavior from the Democrats during the Bush years. It’s really not much different.

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Ford, Partners, to Focus on the “E” in EVs

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday November 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

ford-illuThere are different estimates and projections regarding when, and if, electric vehicles (EVs) will transform our transportation infrastructure, but one thing seems certain: carmakers won’t be able to transform the infrastructure on their own.

Last month I attended a forum presented by Ford in which it previewed its upcoming electric vehicles—the battery electric (BEV) Transit Connect (a utility van) due in 2010, followed by BEV Focus sedan in 2011 and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) in 2012. Nancy Gioia, Ford’s director of global electrification, also provided an overview of the tooling and manufacturing systems that Ford has put into place in order to hit its production targets for EVs while also maximizing its current manufacturing models—i.e creating production lines that can be used for building vehicles with electric, hybrid or fuel-based engines.

But the real work starts where EV production ends.

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World’s Largest Carbon Capture and Storage Project Gets Green Light

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday November 4th, 2009 | 1 Comment

350px-Carbon_sequestration-2009-10-07.svgChevron Australia awarded a $400 million contract last month to General Electric (GE) for the world’s largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project off the West Australia coast’s Gorgon natural gas field. Chevron estimates the CCS project will sequester four times more carbon than any other project. The project is a joint operation with the Australian subsidiaries of ExxonMobil and Shell, and is estimated to cost about AUD$43 billion for first phase of development. The Gorgon field is believed to contain about 40 trillion cubic feet of gas, about eight percent of the current global capacity.

GE will supply six units capable of injecting captured carbon 1.3 km underground the Gorgon field. GE will also supply three refrigerant units that will chill and pump 15 million tons of natural gas a year from the Gorgon field through subsea and underground pipelines to gas treatment and liquefaction facilities on Barrow Island off Australian coast. Before liquefaction, the carbon will be taken out of the natural gas and injected into depleted natural gas wells.

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NYC Event Helps Women Climb the Green Ladder

3p Contributor | Wednesday November 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

green-ladderBy A. Lauren Abele, Strategic Initiatives Manager New York Women Social Entrepreneurs

The best kept secret in the world of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is that CSR is an inside job. Many people who are heading up CSR departments (or are the CSR department) at their companies, were once regular employees who one day decided to start recycling at the office or organize volunteer days. What resulted was a snowball effect. Management saw the benefits of sustainability, clients became interested and engaged, the company re-branded and marketed its efforts, and these employees continued to develop more and more socially responsible initiatives. A new way of doing business had been born and a new social champion had arrived: the social intrapreneur.

How important is the social intrapreneur to business? Ninety-five percent of CEOs report that businesses must address the social and environmental pressures of society (McKinsey & Co., July 2007) and mounting evidence shows that employees will drive companies’ efforts to address sustainability (MIT Sloan Management Review, Sept 2009). Innovative and forward-thinking employees need to be encouraged and trained to bring their social vision to the workplace in a meaningful and compelling way. The success of social intrapreneurs lies not only in their passion for sustainability, but also in their ability to translate that passion into a great pitch, a solid business plan, and positive, measurable results.

Read on to find out about a cool, must-attend event!

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Economics Built on Beauty and Community

Gregory Wendt, CFP | Wednesday November 4th, 2009 | 1 Comment

sustainable-wealth.gif

beauty-nature

Right before I boarded a plane recently, I noticed a Body Shop in the terminal next to the gate. The Body Shop has been a leading business that incorporates social and environmental values into its operations. It was founded by the late Anita Roddick, one of the emergent leaders in the expanding and evolving “green” business movement.

Roddick was a very influential and inspiring thought leader, she stood as a pillar of the socially and environmentally responsible business movement. As I thumbed through my reading materials I found an article in Resurgence Magazine by Roddick entitled “The Currency of Imagination.” This eloquent article laid out some of her guiding principles and reflections on being one of the only CEOs (if not the only CEO) in the crowd of human beings who raised their voices against the globalization paradigm represented by the 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle.

In the article she laid out a new vision for society, a vision which I share, where we place community and beauty as driving values for our individual and institutional decision making. I have learned that for any successful endeavor in new economic thinking to work, it must be built on a culture of trust and collaboration amongst the participants. Such ideas have inspired me in the efforts I have made in my region in co-founding Green Business Networking, a monthly networking event which brings together entrepreneurs and professionals who are committed to greening our economy through their businesses.

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Who Regulates the Regulators? Government Stepping in on Executive Compensation for the Financial Industry

| Wednesday November 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Regulated MoneyBy John Comberiate

As we observe the anniversary of the financial crisis, taxpayers and executives have their eyes equally fixed on the government’s plans to regulate executive compensation in the financial industry.  Their decision, after such a catastrophic event with such far reaching consequences, will have to be just as complex in order to placate the opinions of all the parties involved.

So where do they begin?

In case you’ve been under a rock, you may want to catch up on what’s been happening in the financial industry for the past two years.  Part of the government’s response to the financial collapse was creation of the role of ‘Special Master for Compensation’ (aka, the “Pay Czar”) and appointment of Kenneth Feinberg.  Congress passed a law saying that the Pay Czar will determine individual compensation for the top 25 individuals in the seven TARP companies, design compensation structures for individuals twenty six through one hundred and gives him the right to clawback, or recoup, compensation dolled out in the past.  Feinberg’s team set to work and has now put together the executive compensation totals for the top 25 individuals and is working on the compensation plans for the top 26 through 100.

How did they do it?

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Opportunity Green Rides on to Los Angeles

| Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

opp-green-ride

It’s not often that we can post something just for fun, but TriplePundit’s Nick Aster was honored to be a part of the “Tour de OG” 2009 – the first annual bike ride in support and anticipation of Opportunity Green, coming up this weekend in Los Angeles.

Pictured above is the batch of intrepid cyclists who’ve made it to Pismo Beach from San Francisco in a mere 3 days covering almost 300 miles. We’ll keep the updates coming as time and bandwidth allow, but first, a shout out to our fantastic ride sponsors – Red Bull, New Belgium Brewery, Rickshaw Bagworks, Mike’s Bikes, Peleton Wine Celars, Urban X Renewables, and of course the fantastic folks at Opportunity Green who made it all happen.

Incidentally, it’s not too late to register for the conference – you can still get 30% off by using the discount code “TripleP30” when you register here.

We’ll see you in Los Angeles!

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China Ponies up $1.5 Billion for Texas Wind Farm

Jeff Siegel | Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 5 Comments
Wind Farm

Wind Farm

Last year, I sat on a panel at an energy conference where someone asked me my thoughts on China’s impact on the renewable energy sector.

My response was simple, upset a lot of people, and has since proven to be pretty accurate. . .

“They’re going to bury us!”

I know some don’t agree with this statement.  And I don’t say this to disregard all the progress we’ve made here in the United States. Certainly, we’ve come a long way over the past few years. And there are some excellent renewable energy companies operating domestically.

But the fact is China’s desperate need for more domestically-produced power that doesn’t further degrade their dwindling water supplies or pollute their air — which will give your eyes and lungs a good burn on a stagnant day — is a major catalyst for renewable energy growth in the Middle Kingdom.

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SF Green Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Second Anniversary

Steve Puma | Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

green chamber of commerce logo

Over the past several months, TriplePundit has published many stories about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s stance opposing climate change legislation, and the subsequent announcements by Nike, Apple, PG&E and others that they would be leaving the national chamber in response. The Chamber has been embroiled in even further controversy, when it was discovered that the organization was playing fast and loose with its membership numbers and suffered a false press conference attack by the Yes Men.

Yesterday, we reported about several organizations that see sustainability as a catalyst for economic opportunity, and are helping member businesses realize the potential. Today, I would like to add to this list the Green Chamber of Commerce, a San Francisco-based business network of more than 160 Bay Area businesses from various industry sectors including architecture & design, media, finance, legal, renewable energy, and health. The company is celebrating its second anniversary this Thursday, November 5th, with an event titled, “Building an Honest Economy”, featuring a keynote speech by Ahmed Rahim, CEO and co-founder of Numi Organic Tea.

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The Catch-22 of Clean-Coal

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

ccssequestration-2-17af4The old adage cautions one to be wary about what is asked for because often the expected result comes out somewhat differently.

Take the latest report from the Australia-based Global CCS Institute as the latest example. The fifth and final of a series, the 224-page ‘Strategic Analysis of the Global Status of Carbon Capture and Storage,’ prepared for the CCS Institute by a WorleyParsons-led consortium, is supposed to make the case for the efficacy of accelerating the commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage (CSS) projects.

It does, sort of, but not very effectively depending on one’s perspective. It is certainly not the slam-dunk for commercial CCS projects spreading across the globe and taking care of nasty coal-plant CO2 emissions (by, in effect, burying them) that clean-coal fans anticipated.

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Environmental Defense Fund: Reaching out to the Private Equity Industry

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

By Kirk Hourdajian, Project Manager, Corporate Partnerships Program, Environmental Defense Fund

hourdajianIn a post I wrote on EDF’s Innovation Exchange blog last week, I identified some of the challenges and opportunities we are addressing in our work with private equity firms that are working to adopt sound environmental management strategies across their portfolios.

In order to address these challenges while creating lasting environmental change in the private equity (PE) sector,  we are pursuing a three-pronged outreach strategy, consisting of:

1.      Targeted outreach:  Reaching out directly to leading PE firms to demonstrate the business and reputational value of environmental management and to provide tools and resources for implementing environmental management programs.

2.      Capacity building: Exploring innovative ways to engage PE sector service providers (including management consultants, accounting firms and software developers) to build the infrastructure needed for widespread adoption and implementation of environmental management as an industry best practice.

3.      Community engagement:  Building excitement and engagement within the broader PE community (e.g., Limited Partners, trade associations, academia, media) to promote environmental management as a strategy for improving operations and building value.

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Boots on the Ground: Gathering Data from Cow Pastures and Raspberry Fields

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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

By Carolina Fojo

Part I: Cow Poop

Last week, while on the road gathering data on sustainable agriculture and labor practices, I was having a chat with a Minnesotan grass-fed beef farmer about water contamination. As he extolled the virtues of pasture-raised cattle, I asked him if grass fed cows’ poop getting into water is really any better than CAFO cow poop getting into water: “I mean, poop is poop, right?” He paused, and then coolly replied, “Well actually, poop is not poop.” (He then went on to explain about how the health of the cows impacts the “health” of the cow poop which in turn impacts the health of the waterway being contaminated…)

So poop, apparently, isn’t poop. Oh, learning.

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Walmart Plans To Grow By Shrinking Store Size

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

180px-Walmart_exteriorA few weeks ago, Walmart Stores, Inc. presented its growth plans for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2010 at its annual conference for the investment community. The company plans to add about 38 million square feet globally compared to the 44 million square feet it added the prior year. Walmart plans to increase global square footage by about 37 million square feet in fiscal year 2011. Future stores will be eight percent smaller, and cost 16 percent less to build.

In the U.S., Walmart will “continue to focus on further improving the returns of its supercenter format” through remodeling existing stores and accelerating the growth of new stores. This year, Walmart expects to add 15 new Sam’s Club stores, and between five and ten new Sam’s Club stores in fiscal year 2011.

Walmart International plans “aggressive investment… in growth markets such as China and Brazil.” The world’s largest retailer expects to add about 23 million square feet in fiscal year 2010 in its international stores, and about 25 million square feet in fiscal year 2011. Acquisitions are not included.

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