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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Debt Free U – Social Responsibility, Debt Management, and the Long-Term Green Picture

| Tuesday September 29th, 2009 | 0 Comments

debt-burdenWhat do being socially minded, financially wise, and sustainable – and being in college – have to do with each other? A lot, as evidenced by the work of Debt Free U, a non-profit that helps college kids understand basic finance so they don’t wind up in unmanageable debt. If kids are the future, the future generation must keep sustainable business afloat, and being financially healthy is a prerequisite to keeping anything afloat. Debt Free U’s endeavors are likely to be a crucial component in the long-term viability of green business growth.

Debt Free U is a self-described “money-management resource geared toward young adults (instead of their parents), in whose hands the future of our economy rests”. The organization seeks to give youth the financial know-how necessary to manage that economy-supporting task, and it offers a number of tools toward that end. Its “CareOne” service providers – Debt Free U’s sponsors – supply exhaustive informational and interactive resources to help college kids stay in control of their finances.

One could argue that, if efforts like Debt Free U’s are successful, they will help prevent the “poverty mentality” that can lead to subsistence living (i.e. struggling to pay off one’s debt instead of envisioning and working toward a future-minded, built-to-last sustainable infrastructure). After all, having a huge debt hanging over one’s head isn’t the best energy-garnering tool.

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Hotter, Faster: New Report Slices Decades From Warming Scenarios

Richard Levangie | Tuesday September 29th, 2009 | 3 Comments

parched-soilAre people in the U.S. illiterate when it comes to climate change?

Just days after Rasmussen reported that 47 percent of U.S. citizens suggested that it was OK to put the economy before climate change concerns, one of the key advisors to the German government suggested that North Americans know less about climate change than just about anyone else in the world.

Professor John Schellnhuber, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, is one of the world’s foremost climate experts. On the sidelines at a climate conference at Oxford University, he predicted that it will be several years before the U.S. will be able to get its house — or perhaps Senate — in order to join the world in cutting emissions. And until that happens, says Schellnhuber, developing countries like India and China won’t set hard emission targets. It’s a dangerous Catch-22. He’s hoping that most G20 economies will reach some measure of an agreement at Copenhagen, and the U.S. and Canada will follow in a few years time.

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The G-20’s Fossil Fuel Subsidy-Reducing Pledge: Where’s the Who, Where, When, Why, and How?

| Tuesday September 29th, 2009 | 0 Comments

fossil-fuel-station

The G-20’s “pledge” to reduce subsidies for oil, coal, and other fossil fuels sounds more like a mumble. The group’s promise includes the “what” of the equation – a goal to reduce tax breaks and government assistance these types of fuels – it falls flat in other areas: the who, where, when, why, and how. Looks like creating immediate climate change solutions may not be a top priority for the G-20 – but does this mean it’s not a top concern for world leaders?

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, G-20 leaders pledged a “phasing out” of fossil fuel subsidies in nebulous terms Friday, promising to phase out subsidies in the “medium term, protect subsidies for renewable energy, and guard programs designed to help poor pay for energy. However, the pledge’s numerous gray areas leave some sustainability proponents worried. It did not set a date of completion, a clear definition of what subsidies it would eliminate (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions permits), or methods of policing global compliance. (These gray areas are not surprising, nor unrealistic, according to one Triple Pundit blogger.)

While the pledge’s significance for green business is to be determined, one could speculate wildly in the meantime. It could be building block toward success at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December. It could be a smart move in the chess game against fossil fuel lobbyists working hard to secure governmental protection. Or, it could be a treading-water-type move with little to no impact….

What do you think about the G-20’s decision (or lack thereof)?

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Quitting the US Chamber of Commerce: The Newest Eco-Fad?

| Tuesday September 29th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Now that a third large utility has dropped out of the US Chamber of Commerce over its stance on climate change legislation, the question arises: is this just a passing squall or the beginning of a serious public relations brouhaha?

Exelon, the country’s largest provider of gas and electricity, has joined Pacific Gas & Electric of California, and PNM Resources of New Mexico, in withdrawing from the chamber in protest over the body’s opposition to the carbon cap and trade legislation slowly working its way through Congress.

The carbon-based free lunch is over,” said CEO John Rowe, “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.”

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