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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When it Comes to Cause Marketing, Is Profit a Dirty Word?

| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 6 Comments

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good_bad%20money.jpgOne of the latest buzzwords clamoring around the cybersphere is ‘Cause Marketing.’ And there is no shortage of opinions — or definitions – for the concept as marketers scramble to incorporate cause-related activities into their strategy, hoping to tap into the halo effects of a goodwill perception in response to overwhelming research indicating that this has become a key influencer in brand affinity, acceptance and buying behavior.
Inevitably, the discussion leads to the dreaded ‘P’ word, which has become somewhat taboo under the auspice of corporate social reponsibility, where cause marketing operates as a function of an overall sustainable business culture vs. a standalone revenue-driving tactic. So, the question becomes if cause marketing as a standalone product is a viable model — both culturally and profitably.
To help develop the framework for this discussion, I sought out Joe Waters, Director of Cause Marketing for Boston Medical Center and Founder of Six Figure Cause Marketing to dispel the myths and answer the critical question of whether cause marketing and profit can happily — and responsibly — co-exist.

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Stars Join Intel, Kiva, Save the Children, Launch Small Things Challenge Campaign

| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

darfurchildren.jpg Celebrities from the music and art communities are coming out in support of the “Small Things Challenge,” a campaign launched yesterday by Intel, Kiva, and Save the Children that aims to boost primary school education and alleviate Third World poverty through charitable donations, microfinance and small business development.
Some 75 million children throughout the developing world do not attend primary school while at least 80 percent of our population survives on less than $10 a day, according to United Nations data. Looking to break this cycle of poverty, Intel, Kiva, and Save the Children joined forces to launch the Small Things Challenge.
Celebrities including Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz and Maroon 5′s Adam Levine have come out to drum up support for the initiative, a year-long effort that includes encouraging charitable donations to Save the Children’s “Rewrite the Future” educational fund and micro-loans through Kiva.org’s microfinance online social lending community.

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6 Planned Coal Power Plants Canceled- Stock Rose 19%

Sarah Lozanova | Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 6 Comments

coal%20plant_small.jpgDynegy (NYSE:DYN), a large operator of natural gas and coal power plants canceled its joint development agreement with LS Power to build a fleet of new coal power plants. LS Power does maintain the right to build these plants on their own, but this is unlikely without involvement from Dynegy.
Dynegy also says it is “re-evaluating greenfield development options, as well as two projects under construction – Plum Point in Arkansas and Sandy Creek in Texas.” These projects are expected to be operational in 2010 and 2012.
“The development landscape has changed significantly since we agreed to enter into the development joint venture with LS Power in the fall of 2006,” said Bruce A. Williamson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dynegy Inc. “Today, the development of new generation is increasingly marked by barriers to entry including external credit and regulatory factors that make development much more uncertain. In light of these market circumstances, Dynegy has elected to focus development activities and investments around our own portfolio where we control the option to develop and can manage the costs being incurred more closely.”

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Will Environmental Investing Succeed In This Economy?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Clean technology investments in 2007 increased by 41 percent from 2005, totaling $117 billion. Currently, the amount of money invested in ‚Äòsocially responsible’ investment funds is $25.1. One out of every 10 dollars is invested in socially responsible funds. Will the economic crisis slow environmental investment?
The SunTrust Bank surveyed 202 business owners with annual revenue of at least $10 million about environmental philanthropy and investments. An overwhelming majority of survey respondents, 69 percent, said they would maintain their current level of giving even if the economic crisis affects their businesses. Fifty-nine percent believe environmental investments have a rate of return similar to other funds.

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Real Estate Investors benefit from Green Building Momentum

Jeff Siegel | Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Every year around this time, I get the itch to move far away from the cold, gray streets of Baltimore. It’s not that I dislike Charm City, but when the mercury falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the lure of warmer climates becomes overwhelming. So to ease the pain of last week’s cold snap, I decided to browse the real estate listings in California. What I found blew me away.

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Rent Out Roof Space To Energy Companies

| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 9 Comments

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All around the US, homeowners are getting paid by their energy utility to have solar panels installed. That’s because power companies have an urgent need for roof space. They’re in a race against the clock to replace ever greater portions of the regular energy supply by power sourced from renewables.

The trend began with deals between energy companies and various large companies and local municipalities to install solar panels on large premises in return for a fee. One example is ProLogis, a large distributor in California, getting solar energy from systems installed and run by outside energy companies. The first such deal was when General Motors got solar panels installed on the roofs of its Spain production facilities (see picture).

Now the energy companies are beginning to tap the residential sector. The inherent logic of this development is obvious; once they’ve got local authority approval, energy companies can extend their ‘solar parks’ quickly and with relatively little hassle by fixing normal residents up with solar power. Home owners are interested because they get a fee for renting out their roofs to professionally managed solar panels. It’s hard to imagine a better way to reduce your footprint. Or is there?

Despite the compelling logic of the roof rental schemes, the cost/savings equation of the plans of Duke Energy in North Carolina aren’t immediately sky rocketing. Duke recently became the latest in a spate of energy companies to announce it would start renting the roofs of ordinary houses for solar power generation. The energy giant will rent 425 roofs across the state as early as next year.

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Good News in Detroit: A123 Announces plans for New Lithium Ion Battery Manufacturing Facilities

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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My home town of Detroit received great news today when A123 announced plans for a new manufacturing facility to produce energy storage devices in Michigan. This is an excellent example of the green jobs and energy independence that President-elect Barack Obama is pushing for in his economic stimulus package.

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5 Surprising Facts About Concentrated Photovoltaics

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 5 Comments

concentrated%20photovoltaic.jpgConcentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology is one of the newest players on the solar energy scene. These systems are unique because sunlight is concentrated through a lens onto high performance solar cells, thus increasing the electricity generated. Panels are mounted on tracking systems to maximize the benefit of each ray of sunlight.
SolFocus, a solar startup based in California has designed a promising CPV panel for medium to utility-scale applications. Let’s explore some of the impressive characteristics of SolFocus’ 1100S:
Most Efficient PV Panel on the Market
Scientific journals are full of reports of recent advances in solar cell efficiency. Although this is very encouraging, it is hard to know how these breakthroughs will perform outside of the laboratories and when they will hit the market.

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