How To Overcome the Upfront Costs of Retrofitting

3p Contributor | Tuesday October 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Rainbow for rentBy Janine Kubert

Cisco DeVries is a man on a mission. He wants to make green building retrofits as affordable and prevalent as iPhones. During his presentation Solving the Upfront Cost Barrier for Retrofits at West Coast Green this past Thursday, he pointed out, “How many of you would be willing to pay $20,000 up front to be able to use your iPhone for the next 20 years? We don’t do that with our iPhones, we don’t do that with our PG&E bills, and there is no reason we should do it with solar power. We should pay as we use the service.”

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing, a powerful new financing model offered by his company Renewable Funding, allows property owners in each city to install solar systems and energy efficiency upgrades with no upfront cost. Similar to Mello-Roos law, PACE is a type of financing well-known to local governments and the bond market. Through this financing program, a city or county pays for the cost for a property owner’s retrofit, allowing property owners to repay the cost of the energy project (plus interest) over 20 years through their twice-yearly property tax bill. Property owners are able to choose their own contractor and installer. When the property is sold, the solar system, retrofits, and the remaining debt stay with the property.

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A Green Business Camp Encourages Collaboration Among Local Business Leaders

3p Contributor | Tuesday October 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

smurf-fireBy Matthew Marichiba

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Green Revolution is fully upon us. Congress is finally discussing limits on CO2 emissions. Clean Tech investments have been one of the few glimmers of hope in an otherwise dark economic climate. Even Exxon Mobil wants to make you believe they’re environmentally friendly. For green-minded businesspeople short on time, it can be hard to cut through the informational noise and find the answers that matter: What can my business do to be both profitable and sustainable? How do I keep on top of the evolving landscape of green business practices? Who can I collaborate with to bring my green innovation to market? What is working successfully in my area and who else is doing it? That’s where a Green Business Camp comes in.

A great example is taking place on October 22 in Santa Cruz, California. The event will provide an all-day forum for businesspeople and entrepreneurs in California to come together and discuss earth-friendly products, operations, resources and innovation. Attendees get ample opportunity to learn, share, collaborate, and network with like-minded leaders working to create a cleaner, greener, more sustainable economy. The conference’s ultimate goal is to increase action, effectiveness, and profitability among green businesses in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Monterey, San Benito Counties, and beyond: it’s the type of event that can be replicated in any geographic area.

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Apple Latest to Leave US Chamber of Commerce Over Climate Change

| Monday October 5th, 2009 | 3 Comments

In what could only be called a growing trend, Apple Computer on Monday became the latest Fortune 500 company to resign from the United States Chamber of Commerce over the chamber’s anti-climate legislation stance.

In a letter to the chamber, Catherine A. Novelli, the vice president of worldwide government affairs at Apple, wrote “we strongly object to the chamber’s recent comments opposing the EPA’s effort to limit green house gases.”

Apple, which recently expanded environmental disclosures on its products, joins three major utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, and Exelon, the nation’s largest supplier of electricity, all of which left the chamber in the last two weeks.

Last Wednesday, Nike, the sports apparel giant, announced it would resign from the chamber’s board of directors for similar reasons, while keeping its general membership in the chamber.

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Are Solar Tariffs a Good Idea?

Jeff Siegel | Monday October 5th, 2009 | 2 Comments

solar9898Last Wednesday, the New York Times reported that companies importing solar panels to the U.S. are facing up to $70 million in unexpected tariffs.

Because solar panels have become too sophisticated to qualify for duty-free status, the U.S. Customs Agency has stated that they will be treated as electric generators – which are subject to a 2.5% duty.

Now word is, hardly anyone in the industry was even aware of the tariff until last week. I do find this hard to believe. And if they weren’t aware of it, they should’ve been. Such an oversight seems a bit questionable to me.  Nonetheless, unpaid duties and penalties have been piling up. But it’s not just foreign solar manufacturers that are unhappy with the tariff.

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Hearst Looks to Boost Paper Supply from Certified Forests

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Monday October 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment

The state of Maine leads the nation in percentage of certified sustainable forests, but it still has close to 10 million acres of forests–mostly owned by small, family-run operations–that are not certified. Time Inc. and Hearst Enterprises, a division of Hearst Corporation, are hoping to change that by launching a pilot program this month with the aim of helping small- and medium-sized landowners in Maine to achieve third-party forest certification for sustainable growing and harvesting practices. This, in turn, will provide new sources of certified fiber for Time. Perhaps print is not dead, after all.

The goals are to certify an additional one million acres of Maine forests, and also to establish a model for how large organizations can help small and medium forestry companies to achieve certification by making the certification process more efficient.

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Triple Pundit Team Heads to NYC for the World Business Forum

| Monday October 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment
Image Credit Andrew Prokos

Image Credit

Triple Pundit staff members Nick, Ryan, and Jen are enroute to New York City right now, headed for the World Business Forum where…

“The world’s top executives, business figures and leaders from around the globe gather at Radio City Music Hall…for two days to debate and discuss global issues, advance their businesses and experience an incredible lineup of global leaders, brilliant minds, business icons and legendary CEOs.”

Bill Clinton will be there, Paul Krugman will be there, George Lucas will be there, and of course, we’ll be there to let you know who was hob-nobing with whom and what business bon mots come down from the stage.

WBF has invited a whole slew of bloggers to attend, and we have a special blogger’s pit, so this should be quite interesting!

We’ll be tweeting from @triplepundit with the hash sign #wbf09 as well as blogging about key themes. Keep checking in on Tuesday and Wednesday to get the latest.

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The Challenge in Greening Your Rental Property

3p Contributor | Monday October 5th, 2009 | 4 Comments

rental_property1By Janine Kubert

We’ve heard it all before: retrofitting our buildings to be more green can save us money, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and even create jobs. So why are so many property managers, even those who say they want to go green, resistant when it comes down to making the final decision? It’s the bottom line, pure and simple.

As Matt Macko of Environmental Building Strategies and Jose Guevara of Cushman & Wakefield of California, explained to eager attendees at the West Coast Green conference in San Francisco last week, payback is king for these decision makers.

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Dairy Farmers To Receive Federal Aid

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday October 5th, 2009 | 4 Comments


Dairy farmers faced their greatest crisis since the Great Depression this summer. In July, the price they received for milk dropped 50 percent from December prices. In the meantime, large food companies are making excellent profits on dairy products, which is raising eyebrows.

Last Wednesday, both chambers of Congress agreed to $350 million in aid for dairy farmers, with $290 million in direct support of dairy farmers under a program the U.S. Department of Agriculture will create. The rest, $60 million, will go towards purchasing surplus cheese and other dairy products. Food banks and other nutritional programs will receive the products. The aid is part of a $23 billion Agriculture Appropriations Bill for the fiscal year that starts Thursday.

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Rep. David Obey (D-WI) were key players in getting their fellow lawmakers to agree to set aside funds to aid dairy farmers. Kohl chairs the Senate’s Agriculture Appropriations Panel, and Obey chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

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Your Pure Honey – Startup Uses Shares in Beehives to Protect Native Tree Populations

| Saturday October 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments


New Zealand-based startup Your Pure Honey is putting the connection between consumer investment and resource preservation to the test. The organization allows consumers to purchase a share (or more) of a beehive in exchange for the Manuka honey the hive produces. The exchange also helps protect Manuka forests in the region while providing income for local farmers. Touted a “crowdfunded sustainable forest,” the project is, in many ways, a glimpse into the multiple options for creating a greater degree of sustainability in agriculture and trade in the global marketplace.

According to a report by, the Your Pure Honey process is simple. Hive purchasers may choose from two options: a basic share (which costs about 285 USD per season and provides 2kg of raw honey) or an entire colony (which costs about $2,500 and provides 20 kg of honey). Delivery is included in the costs. Meanwhile, Your Pure Honey protects New Zealand’s Manuka forests by renting farmland (at one hectare [2.5 acres] per hive), thereby providing work for farmers while keeping the forests intact. (Manuka trees are often cut down to provide extra farming land.) Each beehive provides enough funds to sustain five forest acres.

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California Environment Initiatives Garner International Interest

| Saturday October 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments


Several dozen local officials and environmental groups from forest-rich nations (including Brazil and Mexico) gathered this week at Schwarzenegger’s Global Climate Summit, which was sponsored for the first time by the U.N. These leaders sought, in part, to determine ways to provide carbon credits to (California) companies willing to pay for industrial emissions offsets. By doing so, the leaders would cash in on California’s expertise, technology, and carbon trading market (to be launched in 2012).

The Los Angeles Times reports that, according to California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Linda Adams, California – the most energy-efficient state in the nation – wants to sell its technology to the nations attending the Summit. While California has yet to officially confirm a cap-and-trade system, such a system could provide millions of dollars for several natural-resource-rich communities, including those in Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, and Tanzania.

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Business Not As Usual: Sorghum Burning At Coal Plants, And More

John Laumer | Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments


  1. It’s not unusual to encounter wood-fired biomass power plants. Utilities in Europe and the USA currently  add wood to the coal boilers.  Here’s a new tactic for  biomass burning. A large Louisiana coal-fired generator is planting a food crop as well as switch grass to do some trial burns.  There are permitting and Cap & Trade issues worth contemplating.  See Coal-Fired Power Generator To Supplement Boiler Feed With Switchgrass And Sorghum for details.  Business significance rating: Urgency 2, and Criticality 4. (U2/C4).
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Road to Copenhagen: Bali to Bangkok

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

The Road to CopenhagenThe “Road to Copenhagen” began on the Indonesian island of Bali at the COP13 climate conference in December of 2007. COP13 charted the intended course toward  Copenhagen, producing the Bali Roadmap (pdf) and the Bali Action Plan, setting forth the negotiating process designed to take the international community “beyond Kyoto” and produce an effective global response to the reality of climate change.

The Bali Roadmap set a path with numerous waypoints leading toward COP15, where the treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, expiring in 2012, will hopefully be signed. These waypoints have included numerous sessions of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA), and the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex/Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), and COP14 in Poznań, Poland in December of last year.

This week marks the final push to Copenhagen, with the start of sessions of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP in Bangkok, Thailand.

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PACT Packs a Clean Pair of Undies

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments


pact_imageGoogle the words “sustainable+underwear” and you’ll find a surprisingly large number of hits–566,000 as of today. That’s probably a good omen for Jason Kibbey and Jeff Denby, who recently launched PACT, an underwear company that is designing and manufacturing drawers with a conscious.

PACT is a story of three’s: three styles (thong, bikini, boy short for girls; trunk, boxer brief and boxer for boys), three prints and three causes. The startup is working with three different non-profit organizations, after which it has named three fabric prints.

Purchase a pair of unmentionables in the 826 National print and PACT gives 10 percent of the sale to 826 National, the nationwide literacy advocacy group spun out of 826 Valencia’s Dave Egger’s education joint in San Francisco. Same goes for the Oceana print. It benefits Oceana, which is working to clean the world’s oceans and protect their inhabitants. The Forest Ethics print…well, you guessed it. Forest Ethics is a land conservation group focused on the boreal forests and rainforests from Canada to California.

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Ponoko: Carving a Truly Sustainable Business Niche for Themselves

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 3 Comments


Ponoko logoBack when I was a student at the sustainable MBA centered Presidio Graduate School, one of the more oddball students was Edward West. A mad scientist in the making, complete with wild hair, a secondary concern for such an idea driven man, he now leads the charge at electric motorcycle startup Mission Motors.

Edward told me about how he knew of people that could take most any idea you had for an object, and using lasers, carve it for you. Print on demand products. Another wild eyed green MBA dream, perhaps?

No. Now it’s really happening, and happening successfully.

As reported in Inc recently, New Zealand based Ponoko was first a one machine shop, cranking out the products that their sellers sent them the designs for, helping leap the big hurdle from concept to business, the typically large quantities fabricators require.

Having now adjusted their pricing model to make it more affordable for designers to use their services, it’s gotten busier, itself going from gee whiz idea to viable business. But there’s more.

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Could a Nobel Peace Prize Speed Up Climate Talks?

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 3 Comments

nobel-peace-prizeGuardians of the Nobel Peace Prize are getting creative in their attempt to speed up sluggish talks about climate. According to a Reuters report, the guardians are considering awarding an environmental Prize this year in order to prep world leaders for December’s UN Climate Conference and influence politicians dragging their feet on climate change. The thing is, the award would come just two years after the one awarded in 2007 (another was awarded in 2004). Would awarding another environmental Prize so soon have the desired effect?

Granting topical awards (e.g. environment, disarmament, human rights) to influence world events is an established tactic of the five-member Nobel Peace Prize panel. While some wonder whether handing out three environment awards in four years is excessive, others say the timing couldn’t be better. The prize would be announced on December 9th and handed over on the 10th – the anniversary of founder Alfred Nobel’s death – all amidst the Copenhagen Conference occurring between December 7th and 18th.

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