Is carbon neutrality a worthwhile goal?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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A number of companies have announced plans to go carbon neutral. Even President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign set a goal of “making all new buildings carbon neutral” by 2030. Yahoo announced in April 2007 its goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2008, and Google followed suit in June. Then in November Fiji Water, the maker of bottled water, announced its plans to go “carbon negative.”
Last year Swiss Re announced it has been carbon neutral since October 2003 because it “bought and decommissioned emissions reduction” credits equal to 230,000 tons of carbon emissions.

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Solar Cell, Module Costs to Fall Dramatically

| Wednesday January 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment

alamosa1solar.jpg Good news for home and building owners considering installing solar systems: solar module costs are forecast to decline significantly in 2009 and 2010. Supply shortages and rapidly growing demand from the growing number of solar cell manufacturers induced existing and aspiring producers of solar-grade silicon to invest in new capacity in recent years, much of which is due to come on-line in 2009 and 2010, according to industry analysts. That, along with other changes in conditions and the market environment, has them predicting big drops in solar cell and module prices in the US.
The removal of the $2,000 cap and an eight-year extension of the 30% Federal solar tax credit for homeowners that was included in the Federal government’s $700-billion financial industry bailout and stimulus plan is another big factor expected to drive costs down. The growing number of states introducing renewable power standards and other incentives, as well as utilities introducing some form of feed-in tariff, or credits, for home and building owners that feed surplus power into the grid likewise lowers the ultimate, all-in cost of installing a solar power system. Expected drops in demand from homeowners in countries, such as Germany and Spain, that have been growth engines for rooftop solar systems is another contributing factor, as the government’s of both countries are cutting incentives back sharply.

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ClimatePULSE: Around the World in 100 minutes – Japan’s GHG Satellite

| Wednesday January 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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What’s the atmospheric density of carbon dioxide 200 miles off the East coast of Greenland? At this point we can’t accurately say, but that may soon change. The Greenhouse Gas Observing Satellite (GOSAT), expected to be launched one week from today by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is planned to orbit the Earth for approximately 5 years while sending monthly reports of carbon dioxide and methane densities from around the globe. The satellite represents a major step towards gathering accurate GHG data in the atmosphere, which can aid the development of carbon-trading by improving accountability.

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Sowing with Purpose: A Unified Corporate Social Responsibility Approach Reaps Long-Term Benefits

| Wednesday January 14th, 2009 | 6 Comments

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csr_globe.jpgAs companies and marketers continue to attempt to decode Cause Marketing in determining how best to incorporate it into their efforts, a new conundrum emerges. One that centers around Corporate Social Responsibility and the overall cultural philosophy of a company. For some, it becomes a separation of Church and State issue whereby cause-related activities do not have to be aligned with internal business practices, and are engaged as marketing tactics supporting charitable entities primarily to spur sales. Others believe that the two cannot exist without each other, and that Cause Marketing activities must be tightly integrated with a CSR-driven foundation.
Management consultant and CSR practitioner, Ari√© Moyal sheds some further light on this topic, and attempts to debunk the myths around Cause Marketing and corporate consciousness with an eye on implementing a sustainable strategy that extends beyond marketing, promotions, sales — and even profit.

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Upcycling Just Became Cool – Scottish Designer Upgrades Vintage Clothing

| Wednesday January 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

rawvintage0.jpgA fashion shop in Glasgow, Scotland, has taken a rather unique approach to up-cycling. It offers customers the chance to restyle problem vintage garments.
Raw Vintage is located in Southside Glasgow’s Shawlands. It ain’t Glasgow’s highstreet but customers will pass for no less than full blown designer addicts wearing its produce. The shop’s co-owner and creative brain Lisa Carr spent the last three years re-fashioning ill fitting vintage garments to fashionable pieces. This is how come the ‚Äò50s, ’60s, ‚Äò70s and ‚Äò80s items on sale in the store ALL look like a dream instead of the odd item. This is upcycling revolutionary style.
Raw Vintage’s regular stock is an inspiration for customers who can bring in their own problem garments for re-styling. On offer are both modern Scottish designer clothes (including Sweet Jayne, Onnie, Torres, Jennie loof, Gasoline and Electra French) and retro and vintage garments which Lisa already has turned her attention to. The restyled collection dates from the 1920′s to the 1980′s. Everything mixes – the retro styles look modern but their vintage spirit is still intact. The collection includes evening and prom wear and street style clothes.
The upgraded clothes were recently officially critiqued in The Skinny a local entertainment paper which commissioned Ms Carr to upcycle some seemingly hopeless and outdated vintage garments. Photos supplied here are copyright The Skinny.

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What’s Hot About Geothermal Power

| Wednesday January 14th, 2009 | 8 Comments

jen%20in%20hard%20hat.jpgGeothermal energy is all the rage these days, with the talk of its capability to solve all our energy woes. I had a chance to visit The Geysers, North America’s largest Geothermal operation (generating about 40% of the geothermal power in the US) and I’ve gotta tell you, I’m more fired up than I was before. (I can’t promise not to throw a couple more bad puns in there before this post is through but I hope you’ll bear with me)
Green, Clean Operation
Geothermal power produces emission free, steam-based energy by utilizing heat from the earth’s core. It is so cool. Each plant will have a slightly different set-up based on the rock formations below the surface, but here’s how it works at the Geysers. Two miles below the surface of the earth is hot magma (say it with me: liquid hot mag-ma). One level above that is a porous seabed rock, filled with thousands of tiny cracks. The water from the ancient seabed is filtered through those cracks, and heat from the magma turns that water to steam. The plant works by drilling a narrow hole down 2 miles to the porous rock level, and the steam shoots up the hole. Pressure from the steam turns a turbine, and then, boys and girls, electricity is made.
Here’s a picture of the plant:
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How Non Profits Can Raise Funds, Awareness, and Make a Multi Stakeholder Impact

| Wednesday January 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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What do you do if you’re an environmental non profit to raise funds and build awareness in these turbulent times? If you’re SYRCL, or South Yuba River Conservation League, you do put on the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the country’s biggest environmental/green/outdoor adventure film festival.
While you’re at it, you make a traveling version of it available for other non profits to raise funds and new membership signups in their area as well, 90 expected for ’09. And to really make an impact on people that will be even more effected by the health of the environment then us, make it available to high schools and colleges as well.
The festival, like the organization, aspires to be inclusive of as many people possible. As they said in the recent festival’s program,
Our collective task is to knit these individual stories into a broader narrative for our times; to unite our various movements in a coherent call for change.

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Battery Manufacturing Is Coming Back to the US

| Tuesday January 13th, 2009 | 3 Comments

betterplace.jpgBattery production hasn’t been a major US industry for a long time. In recent years, US firms have become more and more involved with developing new technology to make batteries last longer. Now they’re ready to lure the actual production of batteries back to the US. A group of automobile manufacturing companies has formed a coalition and raised $1 billion in government funds to set up domestic battery production facilities – primarily inspired by the anticipated demand for hybrid and all-electric vehicles.
The coalition, the National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Battery Cell Manufacture, is backed by various established and start-up companies including Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions, 3M Co, ActaCell, All Cell Technologies, EnerSys, Envia Systems, MicroSun Technologies, and Townsend Advanced Energy.

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Vuela Verde: Regional Airline First to Use Voluntary Carbon Offsets to Help Conserve Panama’s Darien Rainforest

| Tuesday January 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

aeroperlas.jpg Flying over Panama, it’s hard not to be dazzled, and a bit awestruck, by the vast expanses of lush, seemingly almost untouched tropical forest. This bird’s eye view can be misleading, however. The dwindling amount of large, contiguous tracts of undeveloped tropical rainforest that remain are under increasing pressure from deforestation due to a range of factors– demand for tropical hardwoods, clear-cutting by farmers, land speculation and property development, and mineral and energy resource exploration high up on the list.
While the economics of and motivations underlying these subsistence and commercial activities are clearly established, quantifiable and accepted, the intrinsic, and in many ways still largely unknown, value standing rainforests provide in terms of a wide range of direct economic and indirect ecological “life support” functions are not. Climate modulation, watersheds, constraining erosion and conserving soil health, as well as providing food, timber, medicinal and any number of other types of useful products for local communities in particular–is “externalized” by economists, and by and large a secondary consideration, if that, for business folk, as well as politicians and government officials.
Themselves strapped for funds and resources, local environmental organizations, such as Panama’s ANCON (Asociacion Nacional para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza), are ramping up efforts to engage the private sector and enlist businesses in their efforts to conserve and sustainably make use of the rich abundance of resources a healthy rainforest ecosystem affords.
Regional airline Aeroperlas in July became the first Panamanian company to agree to completely, and voluntarily, offset its carbon dioxide emissions by helping conserve a 1,000 hectare area in the Darien, part of environmental NGO ANCON’s “Vuela Verde” (Green Flight) program. ANCON executive director Alida Spadafora and staff are working to convince other businesses to take the same route.

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China Combating Pollution by Paying People Not to Drive

| Tuesday January 13th, 2009 | 2 Comments

BeijingCarPolicy.jpg As Causecast.org recently reported, China is so desperate to get high-polluting cars off the roads of Beijing, the city government is willing to pay drivers $3,600 not to use their cars.
This comes at an interesting time for China as it battles its impacts on the environment, and perhaps equally important, how the rest of the world views its response. As the entire world watched during the lead up to the Olympics, the country managed to make some positive strides, including a city-wide ban on cars one day a week based on license plate numbers, which according to the Chinese government greatly reduced city-wide pollution.
This new initiative would take about 10 percent of the city’s 3.5 million registered cars off the roads – an amount that is estimated to account for 50 percent of the city’s notorious vehicle pollution.
(Photo Source: AP Images via Treehugger)

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North American Auto Show Touts Fuel Efficiency

Jeff Siegel | Monday January 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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So what will it take to get the big auto-makers to manufacture new, more fuel-efficient vehicles? How about massive losses, uncertain oil prices, and a big fat recession.
While the auto industry should have been on this like white on rice at least ten years ago, it looks like arrogance and complete disregard for long-term planning may finally be giving way to the reality of an oil-strapped future.

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EWG to IEA: Get it Right or We All Pay the Price

Nick Hodge | Monday January 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The Energy Watch Group just released a new report about wind energy, dubbed “Wind Power in Context – A Clean Revolution in the Energy Sector.”
In it, the EWG authors made no bones about calling out other agencies whose forecasts have been off the mark. The “worst forecasts,” they say, “regularly came and still do come from the International Energy Agency (IEA).”
I imagine those are fightin’ words in the energy modeling world. A proverbial back stab among prognosticating constituents. And yet, you can’t help but agree with the EWG. The IEA, as you’ll see, in which investors may put a bit too much confidence, has been wrong on many energy issues.
In this battle of the energy acronyms, it doesn’t look like the IEA has a chance. And if we keep planning our energy decisions around misinformation, we’re bound to run into serious and damaging consequences.

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Let There Be Light: Stanford Startup Aims to Bring Light to 1.5 Billion

| Monday January 12th, 2009 | 6 Comments

d-light.gifSam Goldman and Ned Tozun are hard at work figuring out how to bring light to the more than 1.5 billion in this world without it.
In 2006, Sam, now the CEO, and Ned, the President, founded D.light Design (www.dlightdesign.com) with the assistance of classmates in an entrepreneurship class at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
Their goal is to eradicate kerosene lamps, a desire bourne from Sam’s experience in the Peace Corps in Benin, after seeing many children burned and scarred by oil lamp spills.
The team views kerosene as a dirty, dangerous, unreliable and expensive form of lighting that current technology should be working to supersede, replace and eliminate.
nova.jpgD.light’s mission statement reads: “We will replace every kerosene lantern in the world with high quality and affordable light and power solutions, thereby providing everyone access to a basic human need: safe and bright light.”

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Pixxlz Turns Poop Into Paper

| Friday January 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment

pixxlzlogo.jpg The opening for eco-friendly printer Pixxlz’ press release yesterday read that they’re changing their tagline from “We Print Green” to “Our Product Is Crap.” Literally.
Recently the online printed products company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts began sourcing a paper pulp from Sri Lanka comprised of elephant dung.
“There are very few printed product companies that offer 100% PCW [post-consumer waste] paper,” said Lindsey Burkhardt, Pixxlz President. “We truly want our competition to jump on the band wagon and offer the same papers that we do. The supply and demand will drive the paper prices down while raising eco-consciousness.”

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday January 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Hello and happy New Year Greeniacs! I’m back from a vacation and reved to bring you all the best green business news from around the blogosphere. Lots of hot stories this week:
Hawaii.jpgHawaiian Electric, Khosla Ventures Partner for Green Energy TechnologiesIn order to help the state of Hawaii reach 70% renewable power generation by 2030, Hawaiian Electric, the premier electricity provider in Hawaii has teamed up with venture capitalist firm Khosla Ventures to share information on new technologies to produce clean energy. With all this moving and shaking in the aloha state, I may just need to set up a permanent 3P satellite office at my mother’s house
corn_pic.jpg Food vs. Fuel: Inside the Ethanol Subsidy Controversy
Climate Biz has a great feature explaining both sides of the argument for and against ethanol subsidies. Read up if switch grass makes your head spin.
marching_band.jpg South Korea and Japan March the Green New Deal Path with Multi-Billion Investments South Korean government announced it would invest more than $38bn in environmental projects and Japanese ministers pledged to create one million new jobs through green infrastructure initiatives. I’ll now be accepting wagers on whether the next US congressional stimulus plan will actually include the green jobs earmarks we’ve all been hoping for.

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