A recent headline caught my attention: “BBC accused of wasting £406,000 of public money a year on bottled water.” Apparently, the UK news agency is having trouble proving the legitimacy of its (unsustainable) bottled water consumption and spending.Click to continue reading »
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
This month, Tesla motors (a high-profile U.S. electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer) accomplished the incredibly difficult (for any auto maker nowadays): it made a profit! A $1 million profit, to be exact – a quick turnaround from Tesla’s near-collapse of last year. On top of being a sign of vitality for the auto industry, this profit is considered, by BusinessGreen.com anyway, to be a huge achievement for the sustainability movement: it could signal the commercial viability of the EV sector. While I agree Tesla’s profit is grounds for a big “woo hoo,” I wonder if such conclusions on its implications for the greater EV sector are a bit jumped-to. If I treated two leukemia-positive cats with the same medicine (one cat being prone to the disease and the other not), and the not-prone cat recovered, could I reasonably assume my medicine could conquer feline leukemia in both types?Click to continue reading »
The following is a guest post by Dr. Stephanie Burns, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Dow Corning Corporation:
This week, I have the privilege of being part of a day-long National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas that will bring together high-level industry leaders, scientists, policy experts, and public officials—all of whom agree that the success of America’s energy future depends directly on building a strong pool of people who have the skills and expertise to manufacture and implement the energy technologies of tomorrow.
Renewable energy has the potential to create thousands of new, quality American jobs. I know firsthand that America’s manufacturing future and the creation of new jobs are inexorably linked to the energy transformation that is occurring throughout our nation right now.Click to continue reading »
Greg Andeck manages Corporate Partnerships for 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.
At Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we look for market based solutions to environmental problems. As the guy in charge of managing our partnership pipeline process, I’m constantly on the lookout for new win-win environmental and business solutions we can pioneer with companies. I’m often asked how we identify the companies that we partner with. And increasingly the word I use is LEVERAGE.
Examples of Leverage
We didn’t partner with FedEx just because it was a big company; we partnered with it because it has 36% market share in the package delivery industry. This meant that it was in a prime position to leverage its supply chain – in this case to build the first ever hybrid delivery truck (see Marc Gunther’s recent post).
Similarly, EDF has two project managers in Bentonville not because Walmart is the second largest US company by revenue, but because it has 71% market share in big box retailers and 17% grocery share. For some of its suppliers, Walmart represents a third of their business or more. They’re not going to do everything that Walmart asks them to do, but they’ll sure try. They can’t afford not to. The most highly visible example of this was Walmart’s effort to drive the detergent business towards a concentrated, less resource intensive product. Nearly every large retailer now offers a similar product.
Although both of these examples focus on influencing a company’s suppliers, the same can be true in the opposite direction – leveraging a company’s size to offer customers environmental solutions. We worked with one of the largest fleet management companies – PHH Arval – to develop the first-of-its-kind service that helps large companies with car fleets reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. All of PHH Arval’s major competitors now advertise a greenhouse gas management program.Click to continue reading »
BMW is working a line of electric vehicles (EVs) to be included in its “Project i” series, a sub-brand of BMW. “Project i” vehicles may even have a separate, non-BMW faceplate. According to an Environmental Leader report, BMW parallels its separating of the energy efficient brands from more mainstream ones to its distinguishing of its premium fast cars (labeled “M” instead of “BMW”) and its face-plating of the Mini and Rolls Royce brands. In other words, the separation puts the EVs in something of a “specialty” class of vehicles. But is BMW seeking to have its cake and eat it too: jumping on the EV-manufacturing bandwagon without alienating consumers who are not on-board with sustainable transportation?Click to continue reading »
Seattle residents will vote on a 20 cent plastic bag tax on August 18. The tax would affect grocery, drug, and convenience stores. Small businesses, those with revenue under $1 million, would keep the entire 20 cent fee. Bigger businesses would keep five cents, with 15 cents going to Seattle Public Utilities to pay for implementing and overseeing the program, plus provide free reusable bags to low income families, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters.
Last summer the Seattle City Council voted for the 20 cent tax, but the Coalition to Stop Seattle Bag Tax collected enough signatures to put the measure on the August 2009 ballot. The Coalition received the majority of its funding ($1.4 million) from the Progressive Bag Affiliates (PBA) of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). ACC members include Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, and plastic-bag manufacturers.Click to continue reading »
The emergence of several “green” top level domains (TLDs), including DotGreen (.green) and Dot Eco (.eco), have created quite a stir among many sustainability proponents. (Check out the comments on a previous .eco Triple Pundit article , a Living Green article, and another Triple Pundit piece to see some of their opinions.) It doesn’t appear, though, that this skepticism is shared by several groups that matter most. The BBC reports that at least two environmental groups – including the original .eco creators (backed, incidentally, by former U.S. vice president Al Gore) and a Canadian group called Big Room, are vying for control of the .eco domain. Are these companies on the cutting edge, or are they toying with a can of worms?Click to continue reading »
Stanford University research group takes biomimicry to whole new heights
At this summer’s Airbus “Fly Your Ideas” competition, an international call for sustainability innovation in the airline industry, one Australian team of graduate students walked away with the first place cash prize of 30,000 euros for a green passenger cabin concept. Derived from castor oil, their bio-composite cabin is an attempt to reduce dependency on non-renewable resources in the construction of airplane interiors.
While the majority of the finalists at the competition—including the winner—focused on materials and biofuels to offer eco-friendly alternatives to flight travel, one team garnered a significant amount of head-turning by looking at how planes fly. A team of doctoral students from the Aeronautics and Astronautics program at Stanford University conceptualized a way for commercial planes to save fuel by flying in formation. “In principle, the idea of flying aircraft in formation is the same as for migrating birds,” said Tristan Flanzer, one of the team members. “While in formation, birds experience lower drag and therefore can fly further. Aircrafts can take advantage of the same principles to reduce their drag.”Click to continue reading »
North Carolina is on the move, from a renewable energy perspective. In the past several days, it has worked toward signing a technology-exchange agreement with China (and toward limiting the construction of industrial-sized windmills – a renewable energy quagmire, it seems). The Duke-China pact has gained significant international attention, as it is the first such agreement between the two countries and, hopefully, a step in the right direction for a successful UN climate change agreement (set for 2012). (The U.S. and China are the world’s leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions.)Click to continue reading »
Greentech Media has an interesting article about Vycon Energy, which has cut diesel consumption at ports by 30% on average by installing power-capturing flywheels on the heavy cranes used to lift shipping containers.
It takes up to 300 kilowatts of electricity (about sixty times the demand of a typical household) to lift a container off a container ship. Due to their extreme power usage, ports typically have their own highly polluting diesel-powered generators. All that dirty electricity is expended to lift cargo, but when it is lowered, the motors simply run backwards, generating heat, but not much else – until Vycon’s systems came along.Click to continue reading »
In Part I, we explored the benefits of universal health care for the environment. In Part II, we look at the negative impact universal health care could have on businesses. The language of the final bill has not been finalized yet, so some of these conditions could change. If you want to make greener products and have a greener business culture, the health care debate is well worth your attention.Click to continue reading »
Next year, ICANN, the group that coordinates the Internet’s system of unique identifiers, will expand the list of top level domain (TLD) names. Anyone can apply, but only one deserving applicant will be awarded the registry rights for the .eco domain. Triple Pundit has provided much coverage lately (here and here) on the efforts of Dot Eco LLC, an LA-based group, endorsed by eco-luminaries like Al Gore, to win the registry rights. But Dot Eco LLC is not the only game in town.
Enter Big Room, a Canadian company, with a different vision on how to make the .eco domain relevant. They have already created the largest, global database of eco labeling information available on the web, and they plan to expand this capability through their Dot Eco initiative if they are awarded the registry rights. In their approach, companies that apply for the .eco domain name will be required to provide comprehensive eco-information about their operations. Big Room will build a system to make this information available to anyone who wants it. Their emphasis is on transparency and disclosure, not deciding who is green and who isn’t.
I recently spoke with Trevor Bowden, a Big Room co-founder, about their Dot Eco initiative, who explained, “We are not going to take the position that we can judge who is green, especially as standards are constantly changing. We will let the consumer decide.”Click to continue reading »
The social web has opened the floodgates of communication, allowing users from all over the world to share knowledge, meet new people and connect with a multitude of content from breaking news to causes to movies and everything in between. Nonprofits, in particular, have met with much success harnessing the power of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to generate awareness — and donations — for their causes, and digital entertainment, such as web series, are beginning to tap into this movement, giving fans the ability to help fund their shows. But thanks to Slava Rubin, and his service, IndieGoGo, independent filmmakers have an established turnkey solution for getting their films and documentaries increased exposure, funding and promotion.
IndieGoGo is a socially-driven platform built on the concept of crowdfunding, creating a central location where independent filmmakers can showcase their work, and fans can show their support through microdonations right on the site. And thanks to a new partnership with Snag Films, filmmakers also have a vehicle to connect viewers directly with the causes they support, giving them the ability to make their films — and a difference. In addition, IndieGoGo’s integration with social networks allows the impact of those contributions to be captured and spread virally within viewers’ various communities to spark increased awareness and donations, helping the documentaries and issues gain greater market traction to build fan bases and cause champions. Not to mention the added benefit of delivering important social and environmental topics in an emotionally resonant and compelling way through entertainment experiences that forge deep, lasting connections well after the film ends.Click to continue reading »
The Sierra Club has had it right for years: There’s no such thing as “clean coal” and all of the blather and money spent on this nebulous and mostly illusory technology is time and well, energy, that’s wasted to appease and enrich powerful coal interests.
A recent blog post from Mark Kresowik, Corporate Responsibility Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, calls out JP Morgan Chase, and particularly the investment bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon. Apparently Dimon talks a good game, expressing support for strong action on global warming and JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to clean-energy investments. “We try hard to be great corporate citizens,” Dimon says. “We need good policy on energy and the environment.”
But Sierra Club research has “pulled back the curtain and uncovered that his rhetoric doesn’t match his company’s action,” Kresowik says. JPMorgan Chase “is pouring billions of dollars into dirty coal plant projects – projects that would dramatically increase global warming pollution and ensure runaway global warming.”Click to continue reading »
This morning, I enjoyed a breath of fresh air from an unlikely source: a Home Depot press release. The Home Depot Foundation revealed last week that it is adding $30 million to its Partners in Sustainable Building (PSB) program to fund the construction of green Habitat for Humanity homes. PSB will provide funding and green building resources and training for the construction of an anticipated 5,000 EPA-certified sustainable Habit homes (1,500 homes in 2009 and 2010 alone). To me, this is the ultimate picture of businesses, economics, and sustainability coming together – to the benefit of lower income Americans. I also believe the long-term effect will be to dispel many myths about the feasibility and financial benefit of green building.Click to continue reading »