British Airways Increases Business Class Services despite Green Claims: What Gives?

| Thursday October 1st, 2009 | 3 Comments

british-airways-plane

A recent decision by British Airways (BA) has green lobbyists up in arms. Despite its pledged support for trimming the airline industry’s carbon dioxide emissions, BA added a new twice-daily business service (read: fewer seats) between London City Airport and New York. (The London City Airport also plans to increase its flights by 50 percent.) Environmental lobbyists are concerned that the decision is a step backward in curbing overall aviation emissions, which are a significant source of global emissions. Moreover, given the potential financial benefit (in the short term, anyway) of adding the flights, the debate could get pretty sticky. In a sense, it boils to down to a basic question: is sustainability a bigger-picture long-term goal, or is a nod to eco-consciousness sufficient, if it provides a much-needed short-term fix?

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China Caps Investment in Industry – May Limit Green Technology Development

| Thursday October 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

chinese-factory

China ordered sweeping limits on investment in cement, steelmaking, and other industries Wednesday, in an apparent effort to curb overexpansion and its snowball effect. (China’s hefty stimulus package, and a mandate that banks increase lending sharply in the first half of the year, spurred an investment boom that has analysts worried.) While preventing these issues is crucial, the investment limits could also decrease the country’s ability to create certain renewable energy technology. What impact will this development have on China’s expansion into sustainable industry?

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Kohl’s: A Big Box Retailer With Green Credentials?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday October 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

250px-Kohl's

The department store chain Kohl’s is being recognized for its environmental efforts. In Newsweek’s Green Rankings it ranked 18th overall, out of 500 companies. In addition to the overall ranking, Newsweek ranked Kohl’s number one among retailers for having the biggest solar power program of any retailer in the world, and pursuing green building certification. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership recently awarded Kohl’s its Green Power Partner of the Year award, along with two other companies.

On the company’s website, Kohl’sGreenScene.com, it cites recycling as priority. In 2007, Kohl’s implemented a new plastic recycling program in which stores remove all plastic shipped with merchandise and return it through the company’s distribution network to be recycled into plastic pellets. The plastic pellets are then used to manufacture items such as plastic shipping totes and garbage cans. Last year, Kohl’s expanded the program to all of its stores.

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Nike Resigns From Board of US Chamber of Commerce, Citing Climate Change Differences

| Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 4 Comments

Nike, a global leader in sustainability issues, announced today it was resigning from its position on the US Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors because opposition by the chamber to proposed climate change legislation. Nike will continue to hold membership in the 3-million strong trade association.

This news follows the resignation from the chamber of three utility companies in the past week or so — PG&E, PNM, and Exelon. While those companies have many motives in openly opposing the chamber, including financial motives, Nike would appear to be the first company to take a similar move with no direct financial incentives.

Nike’s move comes on the same day a bill to control carbon emissions is due to be introduced in the Senate.

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A123: The Hottest New Player in the Clean Stock Market

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

IMG_1053Reuters reported this morning that clean tech investments have risen substantially this year. In the third quarter report just released, there were 112 deals totaling $1.9 billion that included investments in solar power, smart grids, biofuels, green building materials, and electric car technology.

Much of this enthusiasm is believed to be led by a new IPO entry in the clean stock market, A123. A123 stock increased 50% since last week and it is billed as “the most attractive” of recent public offerings.

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Exelon Leaves Chamber of Commerce Over Climate Change

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 1 Comment

As a sign of growing corporate support to climate change legislation, a string of companies have left the chamber in recent weeks.  Exelon, one of the largest utilities in the US and the third to leave the Chamber, made the announcement Monday.

The Chicago-based company sells electricity and gas in four states and is the largest national operator of nuclear power plants.  Exelon plans to spend $290 million each year for five years on energy efficiency and demand response programs.  John W. Rowe, Exelon Chairman and CEO urges climate change legislation that puts a price on carbon.

“The carbon-based free lunch is over. But while we can’t fix our climate problems for free, the price signal sent through a cap-and-trade system will drive low-carbon investments in the most inexpensive and efficient way possible,” says Rowe. “Putting a price on carbon is essential, because it will force us to do the cheapest things, like energy efficiency, first.”

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Can California Meet Renewable Energy Goal with a Mandate?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Just before the California legislative season ended in mid-September, lawmakers passed two bills that would require 33 percent of California’s energy to be generated from renewable resources by 2020—a more aggressive goal than what the three-year old AB32 (California’s Global Warming Solutions Act) had set and the most aggressive renewable energy requirement in the nation.

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How Newsweek’s Green Rankings Could Be More Effective

3p Contributor | Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 4 Comments

newsweek-green-rankings.300wide.200highBy Julian Dautremont-Smith

Last week, Newsweek released its first “Green Rankings,” which ranked the 500 largest U.S. companies on environmental performance.

The rankings have been welcomed by many the sustainability community, and certainly, there is a lot to like about them.  They provide a reasonably objective tool to inform to inform purchasing and investment decisions by consumers and investors.  Similarly, they enable companies to compare themselves with others in the same industry, or even in other industries.  This can stimulate competition among companies to improve their environmental performance and thereby improve their relative standing.  More generally, the rankings help keep sustainability on the minds of business leaders and the public.

As to be expected with a first attempt like this, there is room for improvement.  Indeed, certain aspects of the methodology and presentation of the rankings seem likely to reduce the rankings’ overall contribution to sustainability.  In the spirit of constructive criticism, here are four suggestions to enhance the value and impact of the rankings:

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Solar City, Tesla Building Fast Charge EV Stations Bridging SF and LA

| Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Leading solar power installer Solar City, Tesla Motors, and Rabobank have partnered to instal five fast-charge checkpoints for electric vehicles along Highway 101 between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The charge stations are at Rabobank branches in Salinas, Atascadero, Santa Maria and Goleta, with the fifth in a public parking garage in San Luis Obispo.

The network highlights both the increasing in-roads made by EV technology — and its major weaknesses.

The stations use ClipperCreek technology to provide a 240 volt charge, for free (that’s more than twice the volts of a standard 110 v wall socket). Right now the stations only work with Tesla vehicles, but a company spokesman said it was working with the Society of Automotive Engineers to add standardized plugs, at which point users will have to pay for a charge.

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Democrats Boxer and Kerry to Introduce Climate Legislation in Senate

| Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 2 Comments

john-kerry-barbara-boxerIf Democratic Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer are successful Wednesday, they might nudge Senate negotiations on climate change a bit closer to, well, starting. Kerry and Boxer are scheduled to introduce some global warming legislation – the Boxer-Kerry bill – on which they collaborated for some nine months. The Senators hope the bill will sway legislators who are hesitant to act on climate change.

According to a New York Times report, the Boxer-Kerry bill will build largely from legislation already approved in June (after quite a struggle and subsequent restructuring), although the similarities between the two are unknown at this point. (Sources do suggest the bill will seek an aggressive 20 percent emissions target for 2020 while remaining silent on how to divide up emission allowances.)

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Lineage Wine Imports: Does Importing Sustainably Produced Goods Negate Their Green Factor?

| Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 4 Comments

wine-glassesMost 3p readers would agree that sustainably produced items are preferable to the alternative. And most business people (I imagine) would agree that it’s better to sell more of a product than less of it. So the question that follows is something of a doozie: does importing a sustainably crafted wine negate its green cred? I asked this question when a company called Lineage Imports was brought to my attention. According to its website, Lineage Imports seeks to provide high quality, sustainably produced wine while funding solutions for pressing social issues (for example, the economic development, natural resource conservation, and cultural preservation of rural communities in Mexico, Honduras, and several other countries). Although these goals are indeed environmentally and socially conscious, and the company is small and family-run, the nit-pick in me wonders nonetheless: why import?

Lineage Imports, which is based in California, partners with several hand-picked wineries in New Zealand, all of which (the website says) operate relatively sustainably (i.e. they use minimal-impact fertilizing, heating and cooling, insulating, watering, and harvesting techniques while maintaining or seeking CarbonZero certification). The symbiosis is simple: Lineage Imports sells the wine (at low prices, it advertizes), and the wineries donate a portion of the profit to Lineage Import’s causes.

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What Is Needed To Mitigate Climate Change?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

180px-Grangemouth04nov06

Dr. Stephen Schneider, a Stanford University professor, spoke about the need for “building coalitions of people” to deal with climate change last week during the National Climate Seminar put on by the Bard Center for Environmental Policy. He included leveraging purchasing power as one way to build a coalition.

Climate change is occurring because economies have expanded by the cheapest means possible, according to Schneider, and that means via fossil fuels. Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide concentrations have increased 30 percent. In the last 130 years, global temperatures rose 0.6 degrees Celsius.

“When you are talking about planetary commons,” Schneider declared, “the ‘C’ word we need is cooperation…we have to control this [climate change] collectively.” The ‘C’ word that both politicians and businesses operate on, he added, is competition. However, Schneider did not argue that competition should be eliminated. Instead, he believes that cooperation is needed to “transition to sustainable energy systems, sustainable food systems, and share use of knowledge.” The principles of businesses need to be applied to the mitigation of climate change.

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“Perfect Flush” Retrofits Toilets for Two Level Flushing

Chris Kaiser | Wednesday September 30th, 2009 | 3 Comments

Can you spot the water saving device?

Can you spot the water saving device?

Everyone knows the trite toilet water conservation mantra involving letting yellow mellow and flushing brown down, but it’s very hard to start a piece on toilet water conservation without evoking it (plus it really helps you visualize conservation!)  But while this strategy works great at public restrooms and sports stadiums (they are going to smell “yellow” no matter what), it might not always be optimal for businesses like boutique hotels. Which is where the Perfect Flush from a company called Brondell comes into play.

The idea behind the device is so simple and commonsensical (apparently this really is a word) that it amazes me it isn’t employed more often: Why do we always use a full – number 2 -flush when majority of our porcelain visits only require a half flush (a.k.a number 1 flush)?  Wouldn’t it be great if toilets could be retrofitted to allow you to chose a half flush?

Well, now they can.

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How to Choose Your Sustainability Conferences

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 29th, 2009 | 3 Comments

EasyJetBy David Witzel and Greg Andeck, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Innovation Exchange

David Witzel serves as Director and Greg Andeck is the Manager, Corporate Partnerships of the EDF Innovation Exchange, a dynamic global network facilitating the widespread adoption of environmental innovation in business. The EDF Innovation Exchange is also a 3p sponsor.

Our colleague Victoria Mills recently said, with exasperation, “There used to be just a handful of sustainability conferences. We could make phone calls to a couple people and know who was doing what where. Now they are everywhere!” And it is true.  Triple Pundit alone lists seven events it is going to in the next two months. In many ways, this is a nice problem to have, as it reflects a burgeoning interest in the topic of business and the environment.

Our small EDF Corporate Partnerships team will attend 40 or more events in the next year (here’s our calendar).  Of course we track our carbon production and buy offsets, but conference costs exceed just their environmental impact. They cost us days of work time, stress on families, plus the financial burdens of registration, room and travel. On the other hand, we think attending face-to-face events is valuable.  Our work depends on partnering and coordinating with other organizations – our small team can’t have the impact we want all by ourselves. Meeting face-to-face is still an excellent way to understand common interests, build trust, and make things happen.

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New Generation Energy Offers Micro-Loans For Energy Projects

| Tuesday September 29th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Boston-based non-profit New Generation Energy has launched a program to provide small businesses and community based organizations with loans of $5,000 to $100,000 for renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades.

The program adds to a small but growing pool of money available for businesses, individuals and local governments looking eager to upgrade their energy infrastructure, but unable to gain the necessary credit in today’s tough economic climate.

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