Better Living Through Chemistry: Dow Boosts Algae Biofuel

Bill DiBenedetto | Thursday July 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

Photo Source: Carlos Aviles / jpgmag.com
When Dow Chemical Co. decides to get into the algae biofuel business, it’s a sure sign that algae as a go-to alternative and renewable energy source has entered the big leagues.
Dow this week said it is hooking up with Algenol Biofuels Inc. to construct and operate a pilot-scale algae-based integrated biorefinery that will convert CO2 into ethanol. The planned location covers 24 acres at a Dow site in Freeport, Texas. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

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GE, Waste Management and Google: Fortune 500 Companies Working With Renewables

Sarah Lozanova | Thursday July 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

Many people have the misconception that the renewable energy field is comprised largely of little start-ups. In reality, many of the heavy hitters in the industry are large, established companies, such as General Electric, Google, and Waste Management.
Let’s examine the niches these organizations occupy in the emerging green energy economy.
General Electric:
2008 Revenue: $176.6 billion
GE’s energy division is a global leader in power generation technologies and the nation’s biggest provider of power plant turbines. With $29.3 billion in revenue last year, the firm is involved in many different types of energy, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind and biogas. GE has about 50 percent of the US wind turbine market share, totaling more than 12,000 MW of installed capacity.

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Why Is Walmart Endorsing Employer Mandated Healthcare?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday July 2nd, 2009 | 29 Comments

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Walmart and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) sent a joint letter to President Obama on Tuesday telling him they endorse requiring large companies to provide health insurance for employees. My first response after reading an article in the New York Times about the Walmart/SEIU letter is not printable. However, I will give you the PG version: What the heck?!
I am not surprised that Walmart teamed up with SEIU because in 2007 Walmart and SEIU took part in a campaigned called “Better Health Care Together.” The goal of the campaign was to extend healthcare coverage to all Americans by 2012. I am surprised that Walmart is endorsing an employer mandate.

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Allison Parris: Philanthrofashionable Business

| Thursday July 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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allisonparris-fall-2009-16.jpgAllison Parris is not the typical company I profile in my Philanthropy in Five series. I actually read about them in a fashion magazine, and fell in love with one of their cocktail dresses. So, I fully admit that my initial interest was fueled purely by vanity. But as I dug deeper, I found that their appeal is much more than skin deep.
Their company was built on a commitment to social and environmental responsibility, and it drives every facet of their business from design through production. I think this is important ground to cover as many define for-profit philanthropy as simply donating proceeds to a charitable cause. But philanthropy encompasses so much more than just writing a check. It is a mindset and culture that permeates the company, and is one that Allison Parris exemplifies beautifully. Unlike many companies whose internal practices are in direct opposition to their philanthropic endeavors, Allison Parris serves up sustainable style that proves corporate responsibility is a must-have piece in a company’s wardrobe.

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Oh, Canada… Dead Last In New G8 Climate Rankings

Richard Levangie | Thursday July 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

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On the latest G8 Climate Scorecard (PDF) released in advance of the L’Aquila, Italy G8 Summit, Canada has fallen into last place now that the Obama administration is reversing the global warming policies of his predecessor. The report chastises Canada as one of the few developed countries in the world with dramatically rising greenhouse gas emissions, and no real plan to control them. The scorecard also notes that Germany is the acknowledged G8 leader when it comes to climate change, and that UK, Germany and France have all been enacting successful policies to cut emissions, with all three nations expected to exceed their Kyoto obligations.
But the report argues that this still isn’t good enough. By a long shot.
The scorecard was released by the WWF and financial services giant Allianz SE. It noted that Canada’s emissions have risen by 26% over 1990 levels, and that telling statistic means that Canada’s per capita emissions will soon surpass the US. And the sad truth is that per capita emissions in Canada and the US are double those in Europe.

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Sears Tower: A Green, Modernized Icon

| Thursday July 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Last month, we ran a story on the debate over green building. We posed a simple question: which is more sustainable? To retrofit an old building in an effort to make efficiency improvements to something that already exists? Or to build a new, revolutionary and electrifying green building that gets people excited the world over?

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Is It More Cost Efficient to Reduce Emissions?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday July 1st, 2009 | 3 Comments

During a debate about the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACES), which passed last Friday with 219 votes, Rep. Peter Sessions (R-TX) sounded the proverbial alarm about capping carbon. He characterized ACES as the “biggest tax increase in American history.” He cited estimates by the Heritage Foundation that over 4,000 jobs will be lost in his Texas congressional district.
According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, ACES would cost the average household about $175 a year in higher energy and consumer prices in 2020. However, low income households would see a net benefit of $40. It would also reduce future budget deficits by about $4 billion from 2010 to 2014, and $9 billion from 2010 to 2019.

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When Do Partnerships Make Sense?

Tom Szaky | Wednesday July 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments

How Terracycle is partnering with name brands to upcycle everyday goods.

YakPak Terracycle

Have you heard of a company called FAB? I’m guessing not, and at the same time, it’s a safe bet you’ve seen their products. And depending on how old you are, you have been running towards or running away from them for years. And fast.
FAB has licenses for a huge variety of today’s biggest pop culture brands: Paul Frank, Hello Kitty, Hannah Montana, Nickelodeon, Hello Kitty, Disney, Marvel, and on. From backpacks to snow globes to “novelty clocks,” their collective licensing and manufacturing might create an enormous amount of trinkets that will likely end up in the trash months after purchase.
And we’re now partnered with them.

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The Cap-and-Trade Scapegoat and the Illusion of Cheap Energy

Jeff Siegel | Wednesday July 1st, 2009 | 9 Comments

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It may not have made as many waves as the Michael Jackson story, but last week, after the House passed the cap-and-trade bill, the media response was overwhelming. Not that anyone should be surprised. This is a huge issue.
However, it seemed that much of the earliest coverage stirred up an awful lot of hostility and opposition. And it was everywhere. From the most conservative blogs to the most liberal social media sites – those who oppose any kind of effective climate change legislation were not pacing back and forth in the waiting room. They were hitting up every possible media outlet to express their opinions and outrage.

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Greenwala Contests: Everyone Wins

| Wednesday July 1st, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Last week I featured Greenwala founder, Rajeev Kapur in my Philanthropy in Five series, and I was impressed with his goals for the site as well as his ideas for helping to push eco consciousness into the mainstream in fun, creative ways. Well, he just rolled out one such endeavor with “Greenwala Contests,” a series of contests designed to actively engage consumers on important causes and environmental issues.
“We implemented this contest platform not just to give away prizes, but to get people to engage and think about Green in a way that is fun and not doom and gloom,” explained Rajeev. “The real important piece to the overall experience, however, is the unique supporting of causes. One of the premises that Greenwala was founded on is that of social responsibility. That if we, as a society, help those helping others, not only will we be greener, but we will also live richer and more fulfilling lives.”

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The Impact of Free Trade on Climate Change

| Wednesday July 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments


On Friday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) published a report that indicates increased economic activity could result in a rise in carbon dioxide emissions. However, the report also stipulates that increased ease of trade can also help combat climate change through delivering energy efficient and renewable energy technologies to more markets.
Although these findings align with the existing beliefs of numerous business managers and policy makers, the conclusions issued in the report are significant because this is the first time the WTO and UNEP have collaborated to examine the connections between trade and climate change. These types of multilateral cooperation and findings are critical measures to ensure the success of the upcoming UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen (December 2009).

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Book Review: Living Above the Store by Martin Melaver

Steve Puma | Wednesday July 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments

Living Above the StoreMartin Melaver, author of the new book, Living Above the Store, is something of a rarity for an author of a sustainable business text: someone who actually has decades of experience doing the work to create a socially-responsible business. Which is very lucky for us, because while many books claim to be able to teach us how to do it, very few can do so with the wisdom of experience on their side.
The result is an honest and forthright look at what it really takes for shape and maintain values-based business in a very traditional industry.
Melaver is CEO of Melaver, Inc.-a third-generation, family-owned company based in Savannah, Georgia. Through a series of personal anecdotes, Melaver explains, in detail, how a small corner grocery store evolved into a major regional chain, eventually transforming itself into a real estate company focused on sustainable development and management. The fact that this happened was not by accident: all along its seventy-year history, the company chose to pursue a values-based path, even when it meant making difficult choice.
Despite its limitations, Living Above the Store has some really great information. Among my favorites are:

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EPA Approves California Pollution Regulation

| Tuesday June 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

The EPA is granting California’s waiver request that allows the state to enforce its own greenhouse gas emissions standards for new motor vehicles, according to an announcement made by the agency early this morning.
With this decision, the EPA is returning to its traditional legal interpretation of the Clean Air Act from nearly 40 years ago.
“This decision puts the law and science first. After review of the scientific findings, and another comprehensive round of public engagement, I have decided this is the appropriate course under the law,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

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Waxman-Markey Climate Bill Would Cut Gas Expenses

| Tuesday June 30th, 2009 | 1 Comment

By 2020, Americans will save over $17 billion by driving more efficient vehicles that will lower household transportation costs, according to the NRDC.
The American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act allocates funding to produce the next generation of clean, fuel-efficient vehicles in the United States, and when combined with clean vehicle performance standards adopted by the Obama administration says the NRDC, American vehicles will become about 25% more fuel efficient over the next decade.

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Above is a neat infographic showing the average monthly savings per household per month across each state as a result of the greater fuel efficiency.
To view a larger scale infographic and to find out more on the full methodology behind this, check out the NRDC’s Switchboard blog.

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Know The Number – If You Can Count That High

Chris Kaiser | Tuesday June 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

know_the_number_greenhouse_emissions.jpgHow can you fix a problem if you aren’t tracking it first? For example, it’s hard to work off those cheeseburgers and love handles if you don’t have a scale to track your progress. How would your parents have known you were getting taller if they didn’t mark off your height every few months on the door frame when you were little? If you don’t track something, it’s hard to keep tabs on it. If it’s out of your sight, it’s out of your mind.
This is why Deutsche Bank’s (DB) new efforts in regard to Greenhouse Gas emissions are so important. Last week on the Mapawatt Blog I covered DB’s “Know The Number” and their new Carbon Counter. I framed their efforts from the standpoint of an individual, but now I’d like to look at what they are doing from a business perspective.
I recently had the chance to speak with Mark Fulton, the Global head of climate change research for Deutsche Bank (DB). We discussed DB’s new website, Know The Number and how they are trying to bring the actual numbers behind Global Warming – greenhouse gas figures – to the public’s attention.

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