How Sustainable Values Bridge the Conservative-Progressive Divide

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

By Martin Melaver

One of our clients is a fundamentalist Church with a mega-congregation. My own company is a small family business with strong leftist Jewish values. You wouldn’t think we’d have much to talk about except the weather and SEC football. The differences could not be greater.

The K-12 school that is a part of the Church has a sign on its football stadium that reads “With God’s help we will crush the enemy.” In my own lexicon, I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “warrior” outside the context of a yoga position. The Church finishes all of its meetings with a prayer. Our own company meetings are much more riotous by comparison. The Church evangelizes on television every Sunday. We try to do our talking through various sustainable practices that take years before they come to fruition.

There are some things we are never going to agree on, some other things I can’t even imagine having a conversation about. And yet despite many cultural differences, our two entities are slowly discovering some compelling common ground.

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U.S. Pledges $10 Billion per Year In Climate Change Aid

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday December 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last week that the U.S. will participate in the international pledge of $100 billion a year in aid for developing countries to mitigate climate change, through providing  $10 billion a year by 2012. Clinton spoke of the need for developed countries to “provide generous financial and technological support for developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, to help them reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.”

The details Clinton gave about where the funding will come from concerns some people. Clinton said the funding “will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance” with a “significant focus on forestry and adaptation.” Journalist Bradford Plumer commented in an article that the $100 billion in aid will come from “private sources, like carbon-offset projects purchased under domestic cap-and-trade programs.”

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Autodesk Launches Online Game to Build Awareness About Green Building

Kathryn Siranosian | Tuesday December 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Here’s a question to test your sustainability IQ:

What’s the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States?

Think carefully. In a survey last year, only 4% of Americans answered that question correctly.

Could it be cars? Trucks? Planes?

No. No. And, no.

The number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is . . . buildings.

That’s right, buildings. Which means our homes, schools, offices, shops, and manufacturing facilities offer tremendous opportunities to save energy, save money, and curb climate change. As Steven Chu, US Secretary of Energy summed it up so succinctly,

“Energy efficiency is not just low-hanging fruit; it is fruit that is lying on the ground.”

In fact, 38 percent of all carbon emissions in America come from powering our buildings, and according to McKinsey & Company, energy efficiency measures alone can tackle about half the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 60 to 90 percent by the year 2050.

But, what can be done to spread the word? How can engineers, architects, landlords, and the like –as well as the general public –be encouraged to address building performance?

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The Copenhagen Accord – Final Thoughts on COP15

| Monday December 21st, 2009 | 10 Comments

Get the full text of the Copenhagen Accord (pdf – advance unedited version).

This will be my last post under the banner “The Road to Copenhagen.” Much punditry, on this site and elsewhere, comes in the wake of the now-ended COP15 climate conference. I will likely not have much to add as I recover from my 28-hour journey home (one missed connection can really spoil your day) and begin to take stock of the last two weeks. There is talk of “heartbreaking disappointment” resulting from the process and the Copenhagen Accord which it bore, and I am forced to question the wisdom of placing this disappointment solely at the feet of COP15.

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Top Five Start-Up Posts of the Year

| Monday December 21st, 2009 | 3 Comments

Dear Readers,

TriplePundit has had a heck of a year. With your help, we’ve grown to be one of the most widely-read online publications about sustainable business, we’ve brought in many new contributors, and we’ve helped stoke the fires of a new, green economy in many new places. We hope you’ve had a great time reading and engaging with us and we’re ready to kick of January with a lot of new features, partnerships, and content.

To celebrate the end of the year, or crack team of editors has put together a few top-five lists for the year, including this one: the best start-up stories of the year. These are the stories that inspired us the most and gave us hope about the possibility for a better way to do business.

First up: the unbelievable. Making drinking water from thin air. It’s not science fiction.  This story hit big for the technology’s potential to bring water to waterless regions.

Then there was Virgance, the company that figured out  how to turn activism into a business model. Got a mob, need action? These guys will tell you how to monetize it, too.

Zumbox plans to revolutionize the mail with the power of digital transmission. How novel!

Molten Salt just sounds cool, doesn’t it? Molten Salt! SolarReserve thinks it’s the key to solving the solar energy storage problem. And adding flavor to your popcorn. (Ok, that last one maybe not so much.)

Finally, there’s Better Place. The company aims to make the world just that, through innovations to electric vehicle charging and the car ownership model. Turn a traditional sales model on its head by renting the risky part (batteries) and suddenly you have a new market opportunity. These guys are one to watch, for sure.

Check back tomorrow for the best of the worst: greenwashing edition. On Wednesday we’ll look at our top five posts of the year!

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U.S. Airlines Sue to Avoid EU Carbon Caps

| Monday December 21st, 2009 | 3 Comments

jet-smogAmerican Airlines, Continental and United Airlines have joined with the Air Transport Association (ATA) in suing the U.K. over that country’s planned implementation of EU emissions trading schemes (ETS), according to Business Week.

The airlines and ATA sued the U.K. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change December 16th in British court, saying the rules “violated the U.S.-EU bilateral Air Transport Agreement of April 2007 and the Kyoto Protocol,” according to the London court filing.

The regulations will require airlines to cap their emissions, and buy carbon permits if they exceed those caps. The U.K.-based Carbon Trust estimates airlines could spend as much as 35 billion euros ($50 billion) between 2012 and 2020 on carbon permits.

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NYC Announces Comprehensive Assessment of Urban Food Systems

Tori Okner | Monday December 21st, 2009 | 1 Comment

“Too often we allow food issues to be pushed to the fringe of public policy,” admitted New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, in announcing the creation of “FoodWorks New York.” This initiative is the first attempt by the city government to implement a comprehensive assessment of the urban food system. Quinn’s objective? To capitalize on opportunities for job growth while ameliorating environmental and health failings.

Quinn took advantage of the media presence at an event to promote the FRESH supermarket program. With $10 million of New York State funds earmarked to assist the financing of new markets in under serviced neighborhoods, the FRESH supermarket program is one aspect of the Governor Paterson’s Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative. For Quinn, and in time perhaps for NYC, the event marked a turning point in the discourse on local food policy.

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Walmart Making New Pizza Boxes From Old Cardboard

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Monday December 21st, 2009 | 0 Comments

As part of its effort to reduce, recycle or reuse everything that comes into U.S. operations by 2025, Walmart has several sustainable goals for the future.

One goal includes recycling corrugated cardboard waste into private-label take-and-bake pizza boxes.  Cardboard waste is gathered and transported to Indiana’s Pratt Industries box plant where it is then recycled into Walmart pizza boxes.

The recycling measure is expected to divert 8,600 tons of cardboard waste from landfills.  Approximately 125,000 trees will also be spared by recycling the corrugated cardboard.  The innovative approach is one such way to close the loop on waste, help the environment and reduce resources as well as costs.

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NGOs: Friend or Foe to Business & Sustainability?

3p Contributor | Monday December 21st, 2009 | 3 Comments

ngoBy Vijay Kanal, CMC, Kanal Consulting

NGOs, or Non Government Organizations, have long been known for promoting socially responsible activities and engaging in philanthropic efforts. What is less known is that several are also partnering with major corporations around the globe on environmental sustainability efforts. On the surface, such partnerships may seem strange, since historically business and NGOs have had a somewhat adversarial relationship (mostly instigated by the NGOs). But enlightened companies and a few business-friendly NGOs have realized that their interests are more often aligned than not, and they have much to gain from working with one another.

What NGOs offer

NGOs have expertise in a number of areas – such as energy, food and agriculture, waste, and natural resources – to help business become more environmentally friendly, which can positively impact a company’s operations, supply chain, and impact in the marketplace. And they have a long history of working globally on these issues, so they can be valuable allies for companies even outside their home country.

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The Copenhagen Communique: An Entrepreneur’s Perspective

Bill Roth | Saturday December 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

road-to-copenhagen What does the Copenhagen Communique mean to an entrepreneur? Am I being too blunt to suggest the answer is “nothing?”

Entrepreneurs are focused on their customers as the source of inspiration and profits. Laws passed by politicians receive entrepreneurial attention only when they impact their customers’ ability to buy or their cost of operations. The Copenhagen Communique is a non-event to entrepreneurs except that it creates uncertainty on what rules governments might change in the future.

But I hope that our future environment and economy will become more sustainable as a nexus grows between pioneering entrepreneurs launching price competitive and sustainable solutions and consumers’ search for cost less, mean more goods and services.

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Thomas Friedman Talks COP15, Mother Nature, and Father Greed

3p Contributor | Saturday December 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

road-to-copenhagen

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Grist, and is re-posted with permission.

Thomas Friedman. Photo courtesy of Grist

Thomas Friedman. Photo courtesy of Grist

By Amanda Little, Grist’s former Muckraker columnist

Hours before the outcome of the Copenhagen conference was revealed, I sat down with New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman to discuss the implications of the historic summit. No matter what happens in Copenhagen, said Friedman, what matters most is what happens at home: Where the US goes, so goes the world. But we can’t lead the world without charting a path for ourselves.

Amanda Little: Did you have high expectations for COP15?

Thomas Friedman: I really question this whole process—and to some extent, its premise. Let me put it this way: Anything 192 countries could agree on would not be serious. Because it would be such a lowest common denominator that it’s not serious. At the end of the day, what I believe matters more than anything is what America does. Because if we lead it, more people will emulate us by just wanting to emulate us then will do the right thing by compulsion of a global treaty. What I care about is what 60 senators in the U.S. Senate will agree on and I want that to be a serious cap-and-trade or a serious carbon tax. If the U.S. leads—we still got a lot of juice—people will follow.

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San Diego to Copenhagen: It’s a Small World After All

3p Contributor | Saturday December 19th, 2009 | 0 Comments


By Lee Barken, IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP

future_nowIt’s a balmy 67 degrees in San Diego and I’m back home at my local coffee shop, sipping Chai Tea Latte.  A short 24 hours ago, I was in the snow and bitter cold of Copenhagen, Denmark, attending the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP15) climate summit.

For two brief weeks, people from around the world had been gathered to discuss how carbon emissions are affecting our environment.  Despite a failure to sign a major agreement, the victory of the conference has been its ability to focus world attention on climate change issues.  COP-15 has captured the public’s interest, raised awareness and energized ordinary citizens into action.

Acknowledging the gravity of climate change is a difficult task to consider as I sip a tasty beverage in the comfort of my shorts and t-shirt.  Perhaps the single largest challenge for reducing carbon emissions is to convey a sense of urgency to those who are the least affected.  Has our own comfortable condition lulled us into a sense of complacency?

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ClimateWorks Video: China Cuts Energy Use Via Efficiency

| Friday December 18th, 2009 | 2 Comments

ClimateWorks is a non-profit network of policy and technical experts working with governments to reduce carbon emissions without compromising economic vitality. The group’s focus is on the big sectors and regions where most emissions originate.

Naturally, a big target is China. Matt Lewis of ClimateWorks was recently in China producing a series of videos showing some of the impact of their work. It’s an interesting look at some surprisingly positive developments in major sectors in China – where both the Chinese government and industry have managed to dramatically improve the efficiency of energy use as well as reducing carbon output.

I asked Matt how seriously we can take what Chinese industry and government tell us when it comes to climate change. His response follows the video, which is well worth 5 minutes of your time:

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For Wisconsin’s Doyle, It’s All About Green Jobs

3p Contributor | Friday December 18th, 2009 | 6 Comments

road-to-copenhagen

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Grist, and is re-posted with permission.

By Amanda Little, Grist’s former Muckraker columnist

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (center) at the Climate Leaders Summit in Copenhagen. Photo Source: The Climate Group via Flickr

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (center) at the Climate Leaders Summit in Copenhagen. Photo Source: The Climate Group via Flickr

When you think of renewable energy, the image that comes to mind is often a solar array in California, a windmill in Texas, or a cornfield in Iowa. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) wants you to think of Wisconsin first, which explains why he’s one of several governors attending the Copenhagen climate talks. I sat down with him for a brief interview. An edited transcript follows:

Q. Where are the opportunities for job development in the larger effort to achieve climate solutions?

A. Well, for us in a state like Wisconsin where we don’t have oil, and we don’t have natural gas and we don’t have coal, it means every dollar we spend to create energy that comes from one of those fuel sources is a dollar that leaves the state of Wisconsin. So [we win] if we can produce energy from our agricultural fields, our forests, from our ingenuity, from our wind and sun, and if we can build the research capacity around all of that.

We have more people working manufacturing (percentage wise) than any state in the country. It’s great capacity. And as we focus that on the production of components for wind turbines, for solar panels, or other very high tech energy … that’s all jobs for us. So to me, we have set out as a goal that we really look to have about 10 percent of Wisconsin’s economy, if we do this right, 25 years from now, can be based on energy production and that’s a huge number of jobs…

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PG&E, Customers Clash Over Smart Meters

| Friday December 18th, 2009 | 12 Comments

smart_meters

Ed: This story has been amended since it was first published to include comments from PG&E

A class action lawsuit in Bakersfield, California claims newly installed smart meters inflate customers electricity and gas use, resulting in steep hikes in utility bills. The plaintiffs, a group of about 200 residents, are suing Pacific Gas & Electric, their utility company, and Wellington Energy, the company that installed the meters.

In some cases, customers reported very high discrepancies in their bills. The New York Times reports that one PG&E customer testified “that the new meter logged the consumption of his two-bedroom townhouse at 791 kilowatt-hours in July, up from 236 a year earlier.” (bold added).

The lawsuit, and ensuing controversy, has left PG&E scrambling to defend the meters, which have been hailed as the first step in a nationwide “smart grid.” The company calls the lawsuit “without merit.”

Paul Moreno, a spokesman for PG&E added that “we’ve done deep dives into more than 400 bill complaints and in every case we’ve never found an issue of meter performance causing a higher bill.” He complained that while individual customers are bad-mouthing the company in the media, PG&E is not allowed to discuss its accounts — to refute their claims — without their permission.

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