Opportunity Green Conference at UCLA this Weekend

3p Contributor | Thursday November 6th, 2008 | 0 Comments

In the post-election haze the stock markets reacted with a degree of trepidation and uncertainty. The economy was certainly on people’s minds at the polls this week and the demand for a change of guard reflected the concern of the nation. Somewhere in the conversation of how best to boost and stimulate a recovery, we need to ask: “how does green and sustainable business fit into the equation?”
Primed to facilitate this discussion is the upcoming Opportunity Green conference this weekend in Los Angeles, hosted by UCLA Anderson School of Management. In two days, this conference promises serve up a smorgasbord of speakers, presentations and workshops. The topics will cover some of the ongoing sustainability in business conversations such as transparency, strategic modeling, branding, design and leadership. Additionally, some very timely issues will be addressed like the impact the recession will have on the green economy, clean tech, current trends and how to get funding in this current climate.
As I ready myself for a jam-packed weekend, I expect much of the usual schmoozing, rubbing of elbows, networking and exchange of ideas and business cards will occur. But, importantly, while the world of sustainability tends to look at business through a lens that is part of the larger picture and long-term impact, now is the time to look at surviving the short-term economic turmoil. Can we still keep green and socially responsible business practices as a priority when economic survival is in such peril? The conference promises to be exciting, informative and energizing.
There is still time to register for the event. If you can’t join us, check back in the next week or two for recaps and debriefs on the event.
Conference Details:
Opportunity Green
When: Saturday, November 8 and Sunday, November 9
Runs all day both days. Check schedule for special events and seminar details.
Where: UCLA Covel Commons, 330 De Neve Dr., Los Angeles, CA
— Stephanie Chenard
Stephanie Chenard is a Business and Education Consultant. She obtained an
MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio School of Management and now
specializes in finding sustainable business solutions for businesses and
educating business managers and professionals in a variety of areas focused
on green business.

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Sustainable investment funds: Keys to Economic Recovery?

| Wednesday November 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

sustainableinvesting-earthscan.jpg More than $5 trillion has been invested in what the authors of new Earthscan book dub “sustainable investing strategies,” capital that could jumpstart and put economies on the path to recovery.
According to authors Cary Krosinsky and Nick Robins, sustainable investing funds make up as much as one-quarter of public equities, as well as corporate and government bonds, encompass aspects of the “sustainability agenda.” “This money, focused on the long-term opportunities arising from environmental and social imperatives, could help finance a resurgent and more resilient global economy,” according to an Earthscan promo for their book, entitled, “Sustainable Investing”.
Krosinsky’s research shows that in addition to its focus on long-term performance and sustainability, investments in sustainability also produce better-than-average returns. Sustainable investment funds outperformed mainstream indices between December 2002 and December 2007, according to Krosinsky’s latest research, returning an average 18.7% per year, better than the MSCI World Index, S&P 500 and the FTSE 100.
The authors note that the Winslow Green Growth Fund outperformed Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, recording 200% growth compared to the Buffett holding company’s 100% during this period.
It should be noted that these figures need to be updated now that the latest, money fed asset bubble has deflated, or is at least in the process of deflating. As a result, Winslow’s Green Growth Fund has lost 57.84% over the past year, and produced annualized returns of -15.61% and -5.94% over the past three and five years, respectively. Berkshire Hathaway’s A shares are down nearly 12% the past year. but up nearly 51% over five.
Also, I’d be interested to find out how Krosinsky and Robin define “sustainable investment funds.” Guess I’ll have to buy the book.

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An Open Letter to President Elect Barack Obama on the Fiscal Stimulus Package

3p Contributor | Wednesday November 5th, 2008 | 6 Comments

ap_yes_we_can399.jpgFirst of all, congratulations on your resounding win! Many of us campaigned tirelessly for you, and we opened our doors and our hearts to join you in celebration last night. This is a great victory we will savor for years to come!
Americans have heard a great deal about hope and change during this election season. Together, those two words evoke a compelling vision for the future of our nation. Once the election is over, the questions for our policy makers (at all levels) will be how to move the nation towards this positive future, especially in the face of an economically challenged present.
One major obstacle that you will face is the snowballing foreclosure rate. Today, three of every hundred homes with mortgages are in foreclosure. Waves of layoffs and business closures follow close on the heels of these foreclosures. Public confidence that they elected the right team to effect a positive future may soon fade, replaced with a grim downturn on Main Street: the main artery through our American towns.

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Ecofeedback: How To Know How Green You Are, Can Be, And How To Do It

| Wednesday November 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Community%20Pulse%20ecofeedback.jpgIn these days when presidential candidates talk about biofuels, carrying a reusable shopping bag has moved beyond the crunchy to the mainstream, and CFL light bulbs are doing brisk business at Walmart, you’d think we as a society were making progress, in terms of energy use and resource consumption.
But how do we know? How do you, on an individual level, know how much your efforts are making a difference, or if you’re doing enough? Without a point of reference, or if you like, ecofeedback, it’s not clear. And for many I suspect that’s why there is less happening then could/should. As Community Pulse, a newly rolled out site puts it, “How can we know where we’re going if we don’t know where we are?”

How do they plan to address this?

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Jetline Enters the Nonwoven bag market

| Wednesday November 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

jetline33.pngThis is a guest post by John Simonetta owner of Proforma Green an eco-friendly promotional items consultancy. John’s blogs are designed to keep us up to date on the “greening” of his industry.
Jetline (Jetlinepromo.com) has entered the Nonwoven bag market with a 80 GSM Nonwoven Polypropylene tote. Their large tote runs $1.49 at EQP with one color imprint with their standard tote running at $1.28.
Jetline has been a good producer in the past so I am curious to see how these bags work out for them.
A reminder, nonwoven bags are made from structures bonded together by entangling fiber mechanically. They are flat and porous sheets that are made directly from separate (often recycled) fibers. They are not made by weaving or knitting and do not require converting the fibers to yarn. Some nonwoven products are made from recycled material and some are biodegradable.
Jetline’s items are advertised as recycled but not biodegradable. The company said in an email that they deliberately went with duration of use as opposed to biodegradability with these items. Still they do have a very large selection of colors to choose from.

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Developing a Cleantech Business Strategy: An Online Seminar

| Wednesday November 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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The terms “cleantech” and “sustainability” cover a wide range of technologies, processes, services, and market segments. Opportunities to leverage and deploy new ‘clean’ technologies are substantial–in terms of new client acquisition, and in obtaining higher-margin lines of business.
Triple Pundit contributor Scott Boutwell will be presenting an online seminar for the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) this Thursday November 6th (10:30 PST) on “Developing a Cleantech Strategy”. The anticipated audience is executives from global and mid sized AECO (Architectural, Engineering, Construction, & Operations) and environmental services companies.
The AECO industry is well positioned to assist governmental & industrial clients in achieving sustainability, because of their domain knowledge and industry expertise in the relevant markets of water, environmental management, civil works, transportation, buildings, and resource management. This presentation will provide executives with a better understanding of the specific market segments in sustainability; the emerging trends in technology development and investment, along with examples of what AECO
firms are currently doing in the cleantech space, for purposes of benchmarking.
Whether you can make it or not, next week Scott will provide some key ‘takeaways’ and strategy points that engineering & environmental services firms may adopt easily into their overall growth strategy. Please stay tuned!
(note: there is a $200 registration fee)

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ClimatePULSE: Vote, Cap, and Trade

| Tuesday November 4th, 2008 | 0 Comments

env%20elec.jpg The big news of the day is, of course, the U.S. presidential election. This week ClimatePULSE will take a look at a topic where the parties found some common ground during the campaign – a cap-and-trade system. While each party has made its own adjustments, both Obama and McCain seem poised to implement a cap-and-trade system once the new administration is settled. The Democrats favour a 100% auction, in which all emitters will purchase credits, while the Republicans plan to issue credits for free market trade with the possibility of moving towards 100% auction in the future. Both plan to stimulate the growth of clean technologies, but the actual operation may vary significantly between the two approaches.

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Follow the Green Brick Road to Recovery?

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 4th, 2008 | 1 Comment

yellow%20brick.jpgBack on September 9, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress released a study called Green Recovery, which promised two million new jobs from a $100 billion investment over two years. That day was also my birthday, so my attention was elsewhere. But nearly two months later in the wake of the financial meltdown, taking a second look at the report seems worthwhile, since now more than ever, a road to recovery for the United States and the world could very well be paved with green bricks. Conversely, it could also be a story of “low carbon prosperity” that sounds good, but ends up dead on arrival. The landscape has changed greatly since September 9. To use one last Wizard of Oz allusion – we are no longer in Kansas. Credit has dried up, global stock markets are in chaos, unemployment is spiking and consumer confidence is at record lows.
As a result, does this now put the basic assumptions in the Podesta report in question? ($50 billion in tax credits, or half of the proposed $100 billion, for example, would seem a non-starter today). More importantly, even if the assumptions are unchanged, will the perceived cost of carbon policy at a time of economic instability suck the political will out of Capitol Hill, a place over the last three decades renowned for monumental cowardice in the face of monumental challenge. The stakes couldn’t be higher, especially on the eve of an Obama presidency and Podesta heading the transition team. It would be great for the Center to produce an update to their report, taking these new factors into account. But until that happens, some prominent voices in October continued to build a case for this notion of a Green Recovery as a message/vision worth rallying around.

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Carbon Retirement: An Option to “Traditional” Carbon Offsets

Thomas Schueneman | Monday November 3rd, 2008 | 3 Comments

Carbon RetirementCarbon offsets have gained wide recognition in the past few years as a means of mitigating ones carbon footprint. With that recognition has come, on the one hand, acceptance, and on the other, suspicion. It seems that in any case, the simple idea of voluntary carbon offsets has become complex in their type and execution. In many instances verifying that your good intentions have actually produced results is nearly impossible. (Fellow TriplePundit contributer Jen Boynton has written several great articles on the subject of carbon offsets – start with Carbon Offsets: Why No Two Are Created Equal)

Carbon Retirement, a small start-up based in London, England and launched last July, seeks to address what most consider the shortcomings (more here and here) of “traditional” carbon offset schemes.

These shortcomings include accountability, additionality (meaning that the money you pay actually achieves something that wouldn’t have happened anyway), double counting, the accuracy of measurement, and the permanence of the offset.

Carbon Retirement avoids these shortcomings by purchasing carbon allowances out of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

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Credit Crisis May Halt Pickins’ Largest Wind Farm in the World

Sarah Lozanova | Monday November 3rd, 2008 | 2 Comments

wind%20farm%20construction.jpgThe credit crunch is not just hurting the banks and the real estate market. Even the billionaire and wind energy enthusiast, T. Boone Pickens is having trouble financing his high profile 4000 MW wind farm. The price tag on this Texas wind farm is a hefty $10 and $12 billion.
Although we are used to hearing about climbing energy costs, the price of natural gas is actually down. Natural gas accounts for 20% of the nation’s electricity generation. The energy sector is also suspecting that the financial crisis may result in a global reduction in energy demand. Pickens’ plan calls for replacing natural gas with wind energy, while increasing energy security.

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Profitable Residential Green Building: Can It Save the Real Estate Market?

| Monday November 3rd, 2008 | 4 Comments

Residential green building has arrived. Once the niche of innovative companies like Living Homes and Michelle Kauffman Designs, green building has begun to be embraced by traditional residential builders. In the recent McGraw Hill Report: The Green Home Builder, Navigating for Success in a Down Market, they report that 6-10% of the market this year will be green vs. 2% in 2005.
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What motivates traditional builders to go greener? A larger profit for builders and increased green building regulations from government encourages builders to follow the path to green building.

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Why the Financial Crisis Can’t Become an Excuse for Neglecting Climate Change

3p Contributor | Monday November 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

The last few weeks have focused the world’s attention on the economy, stock markets and interest rates. Understandably so – who isn’t interested in the financial crisis? After the immediate shock of the financial crisis, however, it now seems – thanks to swift political action – that the crisis may be prevented from developing into a global economic collapse. To deal with this crisis, we have seen world leaders come together and make far-reaching agreements with record speed. When stock markets plummet, politicians act quickly.
If only politicians would act so quickly and resolutely in response to the climate change crisis! Scientists have seen – and warned of – the signs of a threatening climate collapse, long before Wall Street arrived at the cliff from which it recently plummeted. Why is it that world leaders cannot come together on climate change and show the same form of dedication to finding a solution for this crisis as they do in response to an economic crisis?

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Expanding the Global Compact: the World’s Largest Corporate Citizenship Initiative

Tori Okner | Friday October 31st, 2008 | 0 Comments

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A group of 52 high profile investors announced the beginning of a massive letter writing campaign to urge businesses to sign on to the UN’s Global Compact. “Amid the current financial crisis, this underscores the importance of universal principles and the long-term management of environmental, social and governance issues,” said Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, Georg Kell, “We applaud this effort, which represents the largest recruitment drive ever undertaken with respect to the UN Global Compact.”
The investor group manages approximately $4.4 trillion in assets and they’re using that leverage to assert the relevance of the Global Compact to 9,000 CEO’s worldwide. Target companies are in the MSCI World, FTSE All-World and IFC Emerging Markets Indices. A sample of U.S. target companies runs the gamut from 1-800 Flowers and Abbot Labs to Marathon Oil and the Zale Corporation.
All of investors are signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment, a framework for corporate citizenship launched at the second Global Compact Leaders Summit in 2007, in partnership with the UN Global Compact and the UNEP Finance Initiative. Chair of the PRI initiative and Trustee of the BT Pension Scheme, Donald MacDonald, explained the impetus behind the letter writing initiative from the shareholder perspective, saying, “We believe investee companies that take account of environmental, social and governance issues are more likely to offer… [good, long-term] returns.”

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Honda Webinar: The Fuel Economy Challenge

Thomas Schueneman | Friday October 31st, 2008 | 2 Comments

Honda: The Fuel Economy ChallengeYesterday Honda Motor Company conducted a webinar entitled The Fuel Economy Challenge addressing the new CAFE standards and Honda’s overall approach to alternative fuel vehicles. Present at the webinar were John German, Manager, Environmental Policy Analysis America Honda Motor; Ben Knight, VP Honda R&D Americas; Edward Cohen, VP Government Relations American Honda Motor; and Dan Bonawitz, VP, Product Planning and Corporate Logistics America Honda Motor.

The goals of the 90 minute presentation and Q & A, which is available online, was to provide a clear understanding of Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE), and to explain Honda’s approach to advancing fuel efficiency.

I recommend taking the time to watch the full webinar for anyone interested in the new CAFE standards and the outlook of the auto industry from the perspective of a major automaker.

Below I summarize some of the main points from John German’s presentation about the new CAFE standards. In the webinar, Ben Knight discusses Honda’s approach to meeting the goals of the new CAFE and the company’s overall approach in alternative fuel vehicle development:

  • The auto industry is at a critical juncture, facing the twin challenges of energy sustainability and climate change.
  • Determining CAFE standards and measuring results, while widely discussed, is also easily misunderstood due to their complexity. (If you watch the webinar, have your scientific calculator on hand so you can do the math along with German).
  • The new CAFE standards are a “game changer” for automakers, involving both attribute-based standards and “maximum feasible” standards. The 35 MPG target is the minimum mandated by Congress, and will likely be higher due to the maximum feasible requirement. 
  • The new standards will not only increase fuel efficiency, but also determine the future direction of policy development as well as the nation’s long term policy toward sustainability and climate change.
  • The new CAFE standards will triple the rate of new technology introduced for improving fuel efficiency. Between 2011 and 2015, miles-per-gallon is required to increase at a rate of 4.5% per year. Therefore, the actual average MPG rating by 2020 may actually be higher than the required 35 MPG minimum. (See graph below)
  • Only 20–25% of the power produced in a modern internal combustion engine is available for motive force. Even a hybrid is only 30–35% efficient. Therefore significant opportunities still exist to improve the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. (See graph below)
  • The internal combustion engine will continue to dominate the market through at least 2020.
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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday October 31st, 2008 | 4 Comments

toyota.jpgToyota Comes up with a New Way to Green: Plant Based Cars!
Seriously. Now, who doesn’t love Toyota? Here is one more reason. By 2015, Toyota plans to roll out cars in which bioplastic accounts for one-fifth of all plastic components. Let’s hope the parts are not leaky like my green bags (anyone else have that problem?) This bioplastic can compost a little too quickly sometimes if you know what I mean. Haha! Compost humor.
lightbulb.jpg Sustainability Reporting is Back in Business CSR Reporting is the new black. 80% of the world’s 250 biggest conglomerates now do some form of sustainability reporting. It’s all about keeping up with the Joneses. The Sun Microsystem Joneses that is.
united-kingdom.jpgUK Gov’t Announces Zero-Tolerance Approach to Waste In the US we have zero tolerance for… what? Driving on the left? I was going to say drugs, but that seems to have eased off a bit in recent years. I don’t know. The straight talk express? No, some people still seem to like that. Definitely nothing this cool.
Castle%20Geyser_vertical.jpgGovernment Opens 190 Million Acres for Geothermal I know all you people are head over heels for geothermal. I was a bit worried that these were national parks, but it looks like the good ole US government excluded those. This land can apparently produce over 5,000 megawatts of power by 2015 and over 12,000 megawatts by 2025. Hot springs here I come!
food.jpg Hotels Cut Food Waste Using Decomposition Machines
Blogger create strange newfangled names to make composting seem high tech. Don’t get me wrong. I love composting. Hotels are bastions of food waste, and it’s great to know that there are companies working to solve the problem
daimler-chrysler-logo.jpg Chrysler Kills First-Born Hybrids First GM killed the electric car. Apparently this is some sort of sick initiation rite to be a part of the GM family. Or else consumers were just not so thrilled about paying extra for hybrid technology that was geared more toward boosting performance than fuel efficiency.
pillo.jpg Pillow Maker to go Zero-Waste by 2010
The biggest producer of pillows, one out of every 3 in the US, has made a serious push to up their eco cred with this goal. OK, you guys are going to think I’m joking but I’m totally serious. If there is a pillow fight in the factory like in the movies with a lot of feathers flying around, what do they do with all the feathers after they fall to the ground?
laptop.jpg Co-Working: Not Just for People You’re Paid to be Nice to This new alternative to the cube, and lying around in your underwear with the cat on your chest and the laptop on your thighs (just me?), AND those coffee stained couches crowded with jobless hipsters is here! Co-working spaces have hot desks with lights, high speed internet, ergonomic chairs, people to talk to, and the best part? Your boss is still back at the office.
Lastly, we had a big week here at 3P! We the streamed the UPS press conference about the new Hybrid Hydraulic Vehicles and discussed the technology here and here. We had a rousing discussion about the meaning of green, and we found out that the CEO of Pitney Bowes things junk mail is *good* for the environment.
See you next week! Let me know at jen at triplepundit dot com if you have any hot green business tips to share.

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