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One of the most challenging parts of building a lean and mean green company is finding the right balance of experience and passion. Especially in a young upstart company – like TerraCycle – where the status quo is often thrown out the window in favor of shaking up the typical “business as usual” model. But is it better (or even appropriate) to hire people who are committed to being green outside of work as well?
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Official greenhouse gas data for the direct pollution caused by cities is highly exaggerated, according to a new study published in next month’s issue of the journal Environment and Urbanization. The article points out that while Western cities are not directly as polluting as they are believed to be, they house people responsible for the bulk of our planet’s environmental problems; the shop till you drop consumer.
Cities, which are blamed for creating 75 to 80 percent of the world’s emissions, only are responsible for around half that amount, according to the article. United Nations agencies, former US President Bill Clinton’s climate change initiative and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have all stated that between 75 and 80 per cent of emissions come from cities.
Data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that only two-fifths of all greenhouse gases from human activities are generated within cities. Agriculture and deforestation account for around 30 percent, and the rest are mostly from heavy industry, wealthy households and coal, oil or gas fuelled power stations located in rural areas and in urban centres too small to be considered cities.
This post is part of a series covering the Social Capital Markets 2008 Conference, which 3P is excited to be a part of.
Napoleon Wallace — Remember when doing “good” came at the cost of doing “well”? This longstanding rule of thumb has been a fundamental investment policy for decades, and consequently, it has created a paradigm of misalignment between social impact and investment capital. Unfortunately, there has been no market to marry this disparity. However, as more alpha-focused investors begin to realize that there are financial consequences to social misalignment, cracks in the previous paradigm have begun to show.
With these flaws now visible to the naked eye, the leakage of capital into socially-conscious investment vehicles is striking. In 2007, 1 in every 9 professionally-managed dollars (PDF Link) was invested with socially-responsible considerations, representing aggregate dollar growth of 324% since 1995.
This growth is striking, and it is also indicative of a growing investor sentiment: “there IS value in values”. This is not said to make any distinction between value systems, but instead to illustrate that the previous model of externality-unconscious investing is functionally obsolescent… to announce that all impacts (social, environmental and financial) are a fundamental component of even basic investment decision making.
The Gal√°pagos Islands are the Pacific island paradise where Darwin’s theory of evolution was born. It is a place filled with iguanas the size of small Fords, sandy beaches, and tropical flora. Now it will be famous for one more thing: the world’s first green airport.
The archipelago off the coast of Ecuador has recently contracted Argentine Corporaci√≥n America to manage the redevelopment of the airport on the island of Baltra, an estimated US$ 20 million project to be completed in 2009. Several highlights of the new development are the utilization of wind and solar energy, passive heating and cooling systems, as well as concrete tarmacs as opposed to asphalt, which are claimed to have a greater carbon footprint during its production cycle. (Note: links appear in Spanish)
In March of 2008, WIRED magazine ran a scathing article about ZAP motor company. The article detailed numerous shady management moves and undelivered promises made by the company. For example, ZAP promised to become a dealer of Smart cars and Obvio gasoline/ethanol flex-fuel vehicles, but failed on both fronts. It’s certainly a fair criticism to say that ZAP has a history of making grandiose promises and failing to live up to them.
On the other hand, the company has a pretty impressive list of products currently available.
The financial markets may be in turmoil, but one market still holds promise for growth. You can learn more about it this weekend at West Coast Green, kicking off tomorrow at the San Jose Convention Center. Over a hundred exhibitors and speakers will be on hand, educating 14,000 attendees from architects to homeowners on green building products and services. If you are an entrepreneur, job-seeker, or investor who is looking for up and coming opportunities, this may be the place to look.
The commercial building market overall was valued at $352 billion in 2006, and the residential construction market was valued at $595 billion. The residential green building market alone is currently worth $12 to $20 billion, and is projected to double over the next five years, according to research published this year by McGraw-Hill Construction. In their most recent report, Global Green Building Trends, over half of survey respondents indicated that they would be building green on more than 60% of their projects over the next five years. This is an immense opportunity for green building product and service providers. Commercial and residential new construction, remodels, and retrofits will all need green lumber, water-efficient fixtures and landscaping, insulation, energy-efficient lighting, to name a few. For those new to the world of green building, Glenn Croston, the author of the book 75 Green Businesses, founder of the organization Starting Up Green, and a speaker at the conference this weekend, can provides tips, strategies, and consulting for green entrepreneurs.Click to continue reading »
Greenpeace’s ranking of the greenest electronics manufacturers once again has put Nokia at the top. The ranking offers consumers a snapshot of what’s going on in electronics manufacturing and the changes that are made to improve environmental standards.
Nokia scored 7 points out of 10 and was awarded top spot due to materials used, recyclability of its goods and due its policy of actively encouraging its customers to recycle. Greenpeace reported Nokia’s improved take-back practice in India is especially exemplary of what improving your green credentials ought to be all about.
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We are now in a time where renewable energy is becoming increasingly sophisticated, viable, and affordable. That is, if you’re in the developed world. What if you are on the Caribbean coastal region of Nicaragua, the poorest in the country, Nicaragua itself being the second poorest in the western hemisphere, where 80% go without electricity?
In a place of rough terrain, low population density, and lacking in income, it would seem an unlikely place to start a renewable energy company. And yet, blueEnergy have done just that. How? By designing hybrid solar/wind installations that are particularly suited to the region, building them locally, training and employing the local population in their manufacture and repair.
In doing this, they reduce costs, boost the local economy, and increase the likelihood that the equipment will last longer, as the capacity exists to maintain it. blueEnergy is a non profit, and gets funding to further minimize costs. That they use two renewable energy sources in tandem also increases the consistency of power availability.
In blueEnergy’s FAQ is a humbling statistic.
“America better prepare for some uncomfortable changes. Things might get really ugly.” – A Farmer, recently quoted in Esquire
No, this guy’s not talking about the recent economic crisis, but the cost of food. Yes, food. “The American food system today faces unprecedented challenges,” says Maisie Greenawalt, Vice President of Bon Appetit Management Company. “High oil prices threaten farmers’ already slim profit margins. Consumers’ grocery bills have skyrocketed. Food safety risks are increasing.”
Bon Appetit Management Company is an onsite custom restaurant, which means they provide food services for business and universities. But Ms. Greenawalt’s not apologizing for a hike in costs, she’s explaining the logic behind the company’s commitment to sustainable food service.
A few weeks ago the Dow Chemical Company released its 2007 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Report with UN Global Compact Communication on Progress. The report received an “A+” from the GRI, the first time in the five years Dow since reporting began.
The report states that the vision of the company is to be “the largest, most profitable, most respected chemical company in the world,” and its mission is to “constantly improve what is essential to human progress by mastering science and technology.”
The maker of Napalm and Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, Dow is the second largest chemical company in the world, whose primary industries are “chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, agricultural sciences and plastics,” according to Coop America.
Twenty-five cell phone service providers have signed on to the GSM Association’s “Green Power for Mobile” program, which aims to convert 118,000 off-grid cell transmission towers from diesel to renewable power or fuel sources by 2012, reports Greenbiz in a Sept. 23 article.
Leading companies such as Digicel, which has put wind, solar and coconut oil power to use on cell towers in the South Pacific islands, Idea Cellular, which is using waste cooling oil-diesel fuel blends to power more than 350 base stations in India’s Andhra Pradesh state, and Safaricom, which uses small-scale wind and solar systems to supply 30 cell towers in Kenya with power, have been paving the way forward and the GSMA is now working with them to further advance the conversion process.
In September 2008 California College of the Arts, San Francisco, launched a groundbreaking Design Strategy MBA, the first of its kind in the country. The program has a sustainability emphasis.
Taught by Associate Professor Linda Yaven, Live Exchange (LiveE) is the foundational course on effective communication for Design MBA. At the intersection of design and business we find human centered research. LiveE takes a close look at the power of a conversation to build, rebuild, repair and regenerate trust.
Design dilemmas are often dilemmas of communication: certainly, many of our environmental concerns are caused or exacerbated by missing, unarticulated or poorly executed conversations. Or we grow accustomed to a lack of clarity in on-going communications.
We live at a time when those in fiercely competitive environments are being called to shift to collaborative mind-sets, become stewards of effective communication, open conversations we may have previously dismissed and speak for those without recourse to human speech.
LiveE takes a close look at the power of a conversation to build, rebuild, repair and regenerate trust. We experience self-renewal through our narratives and stories; certain kinds of conversations are curative.
The course branches out from the spoken word to visual thinking strategies and the power of shared visual mediums to generate meaning and sustain collaboration. Communication is viewed as a renewable eco-system of self, peer, customers, managers, stakeholders, materials, networks and vision.
As part of cultivating their voice in a variety of ways LiveE students will be writing a 500 word blog on an aspect of communication, creativity, design, sustainability and/or business of compelling interest to them.
With appreciations to Nick Aster for his inspiring invitation.
- Linda Yaven
Faculty, Live Exchange,
Design Strategy MBA
Linda Yaven is on faculty at California College of the Arts, San Francisco. She provides lively visual presentations on Curative Communication Strategies and Making Thinking Visible including at Harvard, The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and Innovation Immersion for Fortune 500. Linda is completing a documentary “Teach Us Something in 7 Minutes”.
Questions, feedback or comments welcomed: email@example.com
GHG inventories, are they really worthwhile? Some may argue that it’s wiser to skip straight to energy efficiency and clean technology solutions that have already proven effective. And let’s face it, what CEOs want to spend a small fortune having some green-collar consultant tell them just how bad the situation really is. But the truth is, those inventories, and even that green-collar stock boy might just be worth the time and money. Why is that you might ask? Let’s look a little deeper at the purpose of GHG inventories and how they act as an important first step towards both environmental and economic savings for a company.Click to continue reading »
Last week, the Guardian UK announced its CleanTech 100 list, a breakdown of the 100 most cutting edge companies in Europe working on clean technologies. At the top of list was German solar cell manufacturer, Odersun, who recently made news by outfitting the Olympic Visitors Center in Beijing.
Other companies to make the top-10 were other solar firms, tidal turbine companies, and even one that specializes in conductive ceramics for batteries. Richard White, a senior analyst at Library House, the research house that co-authored the CleanTech 100, said that list was an “exciting glimpse into the future.” It offers a glimpse of those working to build an industry focused on innovation, environmental awareness, and efficiency.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Branding for Sustainability conference at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. This was the real deal – not some day long seminar on “How to Greenwash Successfully.” The seminar focused on how companies can most effectively tell their sustainability stories, and how they can ramp up their sustainability efforts in order to improve brand image. How can you beat that?
Jurriaan Kamp, the adorable Dutch Editor-in-Chief of Ode Magazine opened the day by reminding the attendees that sustainability is an old story: “We look at the organic apple like it’s something new, but actually chemical apples were introduced in the 1950s. Organic apples have been around since Adam and Eve. ” He went on to discuss the importance of bringing values back into the workplace, calling for a day when people can make the same values based decisions at work as they do at home.
Things moved a bit more into the traditional business realm with the panel discussion, kicked off by UC Berkeley Professor and Director of the Center for Responsible Business Kellie McElhaney, who told the crowd that she’s concerned that discussions about sustainable branding focus too much on brand and not enough on sustainability. “You need to have a good CSR strategy in order to build good brand strategy.”