D.light Design: You Are the Light of the World

Richard Levangie | Friday May 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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One of the things that I like best about about the fight to slow climate change is that it is intimately tied to social justice and recognizes that we need to fight every bit as hard to eradicate poverty and diminish suffering in less fortunate areas of the world.
And so stories like this one fill me with hope.
D.light Design, a company that is on a mission to replace the kerosene lamps used in developing world villages, garnered $6 million in Series A funding from a venture capital firm late last year. But here’s where the story gets good. In a nutshell, D.Light’s founders have built a low-cost light with a battery and a small solar panel that can help families in the developing world save more money each month.

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Start a Green Business: An Eco-Driving School?

Scott Cooney | Friday May 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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eco-driving.jpg“Eco-driving”, or “Hypermiling” are terms used to describe driving habits that maximize fuel efficiency. Using these techniques, drivers were recently able to get 1,445 miles on a single tank of gas in a Ford Fusion Hybrid, which is double what Ford originally suggested the car could attain. While this may or may not turn out to be the norm (the drivers were likely a lot more committed to Eco-driving than any of us will be), it definitively shows the potential for efficiency gains.
So is there a market for entrepreneurs to create Eco-driving schools? You bet. Doubling our fuel efficiency could potentially save Americans $900 to $1,800 per person, depending on the type of vehicle. So who among us wouldn’t spend a small portion of that to learn Eco-driving? What parent would pay for a traditional driving school especially if they were footing the bill for their kids’ gas? In fact, marketing to parents would be even stronger based on the increased safety behaviors inherent in Eco-driving techniques.

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A Steady Diet of Healthy Communications for Change: Nedra Weinreich Demystifies Social Marketing

| Friday May 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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nedraweinreich.jpgOn the social web, the only thing that exceeds the number of social media “experts” and “gurus” out there are the number of names for those who practice it. From social media marketers to customer engagement specialists, everyone seems to be selling something. But while the term social marketing has nothing to do with social media, Nedra Weinrich is also selling something. . . good health, social issue awareness, disease prevention, environmental protection and safety. With her vast experience spearheading socially motivated programs focused on educating and engaging people around important health issues, she has developed a comprehensive blueprint for change that is both life-changing and life-protecting. I think that more than earns her a pithy, social media-esque title, and with how well she goes on to articulate the nuances of this important sub-set of cause marketing, she could easily be dubbed social marketing “swami.”

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The Holy Grail: Carbon-Capturing Cement

Richard Levangie | Friday May 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Last January, Novacem, a spin-off from London’s Imperial College, won the coveted Rushlight Award for its novel CO2-capturing cement process that could turn one of the world’s most CO2-intensive industries into an important carbon sequestration solution. Cement production is a huge environmental problem, producing between six to eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – and that makes the cement industry a much, much bigger headache than aviation.
Traditional Portland cement is made by heating limestone and clay in giant kilns which, according to the International Energy Agency, produces 0.83 (metric) tonnes of CO2 for every ton of cement. About half of this footprint is generated from the vast amounts of energy needed to heat the kilns (up to 1,500°C) and the other half is released by chemical reactions as the limestone decomposes.

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Shell’s “Three Hard Truths” Aren’t Clean, Cheap or Convenient

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday May 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

shell.gifJust about one year ago, Triple Pundit writer Andrew Burger filed a two-part report on a web chat dialogue that Shell Oil had offered journalists. In the first post, Burger relayed how Shell had defined three hard truths that it, along with the rest of the global energy industry, are facing. In the second, he explained that while Shell believes renewable energy sources will take up a larger role in the future, its near-term spending would continue to focus on oil and gas exploration, while hoping that carbon capture and storage would address that CO2 problem associated with business as usual.
A lot has happened in the 12 months since these posts. For one thing, oil prices shot through the roof and then plummeted, along with the global economy. And Shell now says that the three hard truths – that demand for fuel will grow in step with global population, that energy supply won’t necessarily meet demand, and that the negative environmental impacts associated with the energy industry will grow – have only gotten harder.
That cheery message opens Shell’s 2008 Corporate Sustainability Report and acted as subtext for comments that Royal Dutch Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer made during a press conference call today.

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Ghosts in the Ocean Machine

Bill DiBenedetto | Thursday May 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

ghost%20fishing.jpg Many of us have heard of the Eastern Garbage Dump, an assemblage of trash the size of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean. But another, lesser-known assault on our planet’s oceans has recently come to the forefront: ghost fishing.
Large amount of fishing gear is lost at sea or abandoned by fishers every year. This gear damages the marine environment, impacts fish stocks, and poses a hazard to ships, according to a report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment Program (UNEP).
“There are many ‚Äòghosts in the marine environment machine’ from over-fishing and acidification linked with greenhouse gases to the rise in de-oxygenated ‚Äòdead zones’ as a result of run off and land-based source of pollution,” says Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. “Abandoned and lost fishing is part of this suite of challenges that must be urgently addressed collectively if the productivity of our oceans and seas is to be maintained for this and future generations.”

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Wrap-Up of Ray Anderson’s Talk at Sustainable Industries Economic Forum

Scott Cooney | Thursday May 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Sustainable%20industries%20economics%20forums_header_short.gifRay Anderson, founder and Chairman of Interface, gave the keynote address this morning at the Sustainable Industries Economic Forum.
Anderson had a tough act to follow in this, the third Economic Forum put on by Sustainable Industries. Last year’s keynote was Van Jones, after all.
Anderson quoted Einstein as he talked about the thinking that we need to get us out of our current economic and environmental maelstroms. This alternative thinking led their factory in Southern California to go solar. Something their accountant might have missed, said Anderson, was the value of extra sales, PR, and the value of leadership, had they simply used a payback period or other cost-benefit analysis in determining whether their solar project was worthwhile.
Anderson next tried a visualization with the audience, which blew me away. He asked everyone to close their eyes…

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Blogging for a Cause: Zemanta Gets in the Cause Marketing Game

| Thursday May 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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128x128_bloggingforacause.pngYesterday, Zemanta, an application that suggests tags, links, photos, and related articles to enrich your blog based on keywords extracted from the text of your posts, launched its “Blogging for a Cause” campaign. Putting up $3,000 of their own money, Zemanta is asking bloggers to write about their favorite nonprofits, the top five of which get the most bloggers to endorse them, will receive the donation. The process is simple: write a post, embed a trackable link at the bottom for Zemanta to tally it as an official vote, and share the link with your friends and networks as you normally would in promoting your blog. Zemanta has also created badges that can be added to blogs or nonprofit websites in maximizing exposure around this initiative.
The Social Innovation Greenhouse at Weber Shandwick has also stepped in with a matching donation of Zemanta’s $3,000 pledge, and Zemanta is also seeking any other socially motivated entities who want to add to the pot, making this an even bigger opporunity to make a difference for the winning nonprofit.
The beauty of this initiative from a cause marketing standpoint is that it engages the blogosphere, who are able to reach the masses within their own sub-sets of the population, in generating significant exposure for the nonprofits they feature. And it won’t cost them a dime. Unlike most cause-related campaigns that are hinged on transactions, Zemanta has simply asked that bloggers do what they normally do. . . blog.

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Frito-Lay Partners With Terracycle to Close the Loop on Chip Bags

Scott Cooney | Thursday May 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

frito_bag.jpgFrito-Lay has announced plans to partner with ‘Upcycler’ Terracycle to give their chip bags a second life. Frito, which on Earth Day of 2008 unveiled a solar thermal generation facility at their manufacturing plant in Modesto, CA, with the capacity to power that entire plant, is making public its desire to reduce the environmental footprint of their packaging. By partnering with Terracycle, they are making a significant stride toward that end with an innovative program wherein they provide incentives for people to upcycle their chip bags (people will actually ship them directly to Terracycle, but Frito pays the postage). Terracycle will then do what they do best, turning the chip bags into everyday products like clipboards and tote bags.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what cool designs they come up with for all those brightly colored Frito’s, Cheetos, Doritos, and Lay’s bags. I’m ready to buy an upcycled rainbow-colored hammock, just give me the word!
But why Terracycle, why not just a traditional recycling effort? And how much can 2 cents per bag really add up to? And perhaps most importantly, how much good will this do for the waste stream?

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Ecuador Eliminating Fossil Fuel Use in the Galapagos

| Thursday May 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

lunapic-124169953523815%282%29.jpg The Galapagos Islands rank right up there with the Amazon and the Serengeti as one of the richest and best known, yet fragile and threatened, ecosystems in the world. Now, the Ecuadoran government is looking to a range of alternative energy resources to make sure it stays that way.
Recognized by the UN as a World Heritage Site for its rare and unique marine and terrestrial fauna and flora, booming eco-tourism in the Galapagos, ironically, has added to the challenges and problems faced by those looking to restore and protect the island’s native species and ecological balance.
The Ecuadoran government has turned to wind and solar power as a means of realizing its goals. Along with a range of international aid organizations and private sector businesses, it’s working to eliminate the use of fossil fuels on the Galapagos Islands by 2015.

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SF To Build California’s Largest Solar Plant (Despite the Fog)

| Wednesday May 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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If there’s one thing I know about being a longtime resident of San Francisco, it’s that it’s always hot and sunny here. Oh wait, did I say hot and sunny? I mean cold and ridiculously foggy. And the foggiest part of the city is, ironically, call the Sunset. Maybe it’s the name that threw them off when the SF Board of Supervisors approved a new 5-megawatt solar plant to be installed at the Sunset Reservoir.
Under a proposal approved Tuesday, Recurrent Energy, a privately owned solar power company, will create this new solar plant to sell the energy to San Francisco at a cost of about $2 million annually.

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Panel Discussion Tomorrow: Economic Realities of Sustainable Business

Scott Cooney | Wednesday May 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

anderson_ray.jpgTriple Pundit’s good friends at Sustainable Industries are hosting a panel discussion tomorrow, May 7, at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco, focusing on the economic realities of working in the sustainability sphere during this economic downturn. From everything I’ve gleaned so far, the mood will be one of cautious optimism as Ray Anderson, rock star green entrepreneur, takes center stage.

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Living Homes: Bringing Green Building Closer to the Average American

| Wednesday May 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

prefab modern housingThere are tons of innovative green buildings out there these days, but so often, things on their websites stop at the ooh ah design and green trickery. What about what it’s like to be in one of these places? In something I’ve not seen previously, Living Homes shows exactly that, with a time lapse view of an entire day, light filling the place nearly the whole time, due to well placed windows.
And the kicker? They’re prefab modular homes. As I said to a friend, “Who would have thought the words sexy and modular home would ever be within 2 miles of each other?”
Their first home, built and done in 8 hours on April 13th, was also the first LEED Platinum certified home in the nation. Steve Glenn, the founder of Living Homes, lives in it, as he said, “eating our own dogfood” (Using their own products, so to speak).
All thinking, design and execution is guided by what they call “Z6″: Essentially, aiming to have zero impact, before, during, and after living in one of their homes. They’re aware it’s generally not possible to have no impact, but if you look at their thinking around reaching for that goal, it’s no marketing ploy.

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What Is the Best Way to Reduce Carbon Emissions?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday May 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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When President Obama released his budget, he included a “cap-and-refund” proposal that strictly limits greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and would auction emissions permits to large companies. The price of fossil-fuel based energy will increase. However, Obama’s plan also includes giving refunds to taxpayers which will come from the auctions.
Seventy percent of state regulators surveyed by Deloitte in March and April believe electricity costs will go up next year. Eighty percent believe Obama’s proposed cap and trade system will increase electricity costs in their state. Over half (53.3 percent) believe the public would pay as much as five percent in increased rates to reduce GHG emissions. Only 16.7 percent believe the public would accept a 10 percent rate increase, and 23.3 percent believe the public would not support any rate increase.

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Consumerist.com Gives Sustainable Business a Kick in the Pants

| Tuesday May 5th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Service starts with an “S.” So does Sustainability.
Coincidence? I think not.

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Consumerist.com, long regarded for its snarky commentary on business practices and marketing, has launched their annual “Worst Company in America” battle royale, whittling down from 32 companies to four, one of whom will be awarded this inauspicious honor. Among those vying for the title are Bank of America, Comcast, Ticketmaster, and AIG. At first blush, there aren’t really any surprises there. In one corner, you have AIG and Bank of America who have become surreptitiously synonymous with exorbitant compensation packages, reckless management, and of course, the dreaded tax payer bailouts. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ticketmaster and Comcast bring us monster monopolies where service is overlooked as customers are forced to deal with their “only game in town” mentality. Ever tried to get a live agent on the phone at Ticketmaster? You’d be more likely to get swine flu than a helpful customer service representative. And while Comcast has attempted to improve their notoriously poor customer service with their @comcastcares account on Twitter, Frank Eliason is just one man up against the 50 trillion* new users since Ashton Kutcher and Oprah joined the party. Probably not going to make a dent in transforming their image with the masses. You’d have better luck actually getting that wire transfer of a hundred million dollars from the Prince of Nigeria.
*may not be an actual stat

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