SF Green Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Second Anniversary

Steve Puma | Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

green chamber of commerce logo

Over the past several months, TriplePundit has published many stories about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s stance opposing climate change legislation, and the subsequent announcements by Nike, Apple, PG&E and others that they would be leaving the national chamber in response. The Chamber has been embroiled in even further controversy, when it was discovered that the organization was playing fast and loose with its membership numbers and suffered a false press conference attack by the Yes Men.

Yesterday, we reported about several organizations that see sustainability as a catalyst for economic opportunity, and are helping member businesses realize the potential. Today, I would like to add to this list the Green Chamber of Commerce, a San Francisco-based business network of more than 160 Bay Area businesses from various industry sectors including architecture & design, media, finance, legal, renewable energy, and health. The company is celebrating its second anniversary this Thursday, November 5th, with an event titled, “Building an Honest Economy”, featuring a keynote speech by Ahmed Rahim, CEO and co-founder of Numi Organic Tea.

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The Catch-22 of Clean-Coal

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

ccssequestration-2-17af4The old adage cautions one to be wary about what is asked for because often the expected result comes out somewhat differently.

Take the latest report from the Australia-based Global CCS Institute as the latest example. The fifth and final of a series, the 224-page ‘Strategic Analysis of the Global Status of Carbon Capture and Storage,’ prepared for the CCS Institute by a WorleyParsons-led consortium, is supposed to make the case for the efficacy of accelerating the commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage (CSS) projects.

It does, sort of, but not very effectively depending on one’s perspective. It is certainly not the slam-dunk for commercial CCS projects spreading across the globe and taking care of nasty coal-plant CO2 emissions (by, in effect, burying them) that clean-coal fans anticipated.

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Environmental Defense Fund: Reaching out to the Private Equity Industry

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

By Kirk Hourdajian, Project Manager, Corporate Partnerships Program, Environmental Defense Fund

hourdajianIn a post I wrote on EDF’s Innovation Exchange blog last week, I identified some of the challenges and opportunities we are addressing in our work with private equity firms that are working to adopt sound environmental management strategies across their portfolios.

In order to address these challenges while creating lasting environmental change in the private equity (PE) sector,  we are pursuing a three-pronged outreach strategy, consisting of:

1.      Targeted outreach:  Reaching out directly to leading PE firms to demonstrate the business and reputational value of environmental management and to provide tools and resources for implementing environmental management programs.

2.      Capacity building: Exploring innovative ways to engage PE sector service providers (including management consultants, accounting firms and software developers) to build the infrastructure needed for widespread adoption and implementation of environmental management as an industry best practice.

3.      Community engagement:  Building excitement and engagement within the broader PE community (e.g., Limited Partners, trade associations, academia, media) to promote environmental management as a strategy for improving operations and building value.

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Boots on the Ground: Gathering Data from Cow Pastures and Raspberry Fields

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

This is the this is the fourth post in a series on the business of sustainable agriculture by the folks at Bon Appétit Management, a company that provides café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities. To read past posts, click here.

By Carolina Fojo

Part I: Cow Poop

Last week, while on the road gathering data on sustainable agriculture and labor practices, I was having a chat with a Minnesotan grass-fed beef farmer about water contamination. As he extolled the virtues of pasture-raised cattle, I asked him if grass fed cows’ poop getting into water is really any better than CAFO cow poop getting into water: “I mean, poop is poop, right?” He paused, and then coolly replied, “Well actually, poop is not poop.” (He then went on to explain about how the health of the cows impacts the “health” of the cow poop which in turn impacts the health of the waterway being contaminated…)

So poop, apparently, isn’t poop. Oh, learning.

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Walmart Plans To Grow By Shrinking Store Size

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday November 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

180px-Walmart_exteriorA few weeks ago, Walmart Stores, Inc. presented its growth plans for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2010 at its annual conference for the investment community. The company plans to add about 38 million square feet globally compared to the 44 million square feet it added the prior year. Walmart plans to increase global square footage by about 37 million square feet in fiscal year 2011. Future stores will be eight percent smaller, and cost 16 percent less to build.

In the U.S., Walmart will “continue to focus on further improving the returns of its supercenter format” through remodeling existing stores and accelerating the growth of new stores. This year, Walmart expects to add 15 new Sam’s Club stores, and between five and ten new Sam’s Club stores in fiscal year 2011.

Walmart International plans “aggressive investment… in growth markets such as China and Brazil.” The world’s largest retailer expects to add about 23 million square feet in fiscal year 2010 in its international stores, and about 25 million square feet in fiscal year 2011. Acquisitions are not included.

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Palm Oil, Chocolate and Cotton

| Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

PalmFruit KakawaCocoaBeans cotton

What do they have in common?  Well, for sustainable palm oil, certified fair trade chocolate and organic cotton, they’re three of the most relevant raw materials to big corporations seeking to re-vamp their environmental images.  But there’s something more important about them…it’s the catalytic effect that purchase of these three materials by the big corporations have on the global supply.  In short, the more you buy, the more they make, the less you buy, the more just sits there.

Earlier this year I blogged on my eco fashion blog about the enormous oversupply of organic cotton that had been just sitting there in warehouses unused by the major textile producers.  What a shame that the Topshops, H&M’s, Gaps and everyone else couldn’t answer the consumer demand and get this product pulsing through the global economy.  Well, this week there are two headlines out there to the positive, about the sudden focus on palm oil and fair trade chocolate by some big manufacturers.

Lets start with palm oil.  None of us can forget Greenpeace’s dramatic response to Unilever’s Dove Real Beauty campaign, pointing out that while they were doing good work around self esteem and social issues, they were also doing a good job destroying Indonesian rainforests in their quest for the palm oil to make those same products.  Well today EL reports that more than 250,000 metric tons of certified sustainable palm oil have been purchased since its availability late last year, marking the first stages of a viable market for sustainable palm oil, according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).  Companies like Unilever and Seventh Generation were stated as being behind the push, which has brought the purchase of global sustainable palm oil from 1% in May of this year at 15,000 tons to 50% in September and October.  So…is it a swift kick that made this possible…?  Frankly, who cares.  As long as the stuff is being bought, the market is continuing to grow, the producers are getting a voice on a global stage, and companies like Seventh Gen are leading the charge by committing to 100% sustainable by 2012, we’re happy.

Chocolate is getting its limelight too.  We previously talked about Cadbury’s exuberant launch of their new Fair Trade candy bars.  Now the unlikely player Kraft Foods has committed to purchasing 30,000 tons of fair trade chocolate in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance by 2012, a promise that has already improved yields and made significant productivity gains, in some cases above 50 percent, according to the project. The incidence of cocoa ‘black pod’ disease was also reduced by one third and farmer incomes have improved.

It’s really exciting to see companies not only commit to sustainable sourcing in the long term, but to see on a global scale their changes make a big difference in the global economy and the stores of sustainable raw materials, making them more available and affordable for all.  This is change in the making, folks.

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Business Not As Usual: Hundreds Of Free Green Patents…And More

John Laumer | Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments


Delinquent dioxane isomers seen lurking in darkened store aisles: Walmart to the rescue! Or not.

Delinquent dioxane isomers seen lurking in darkened store aisles: Walmart to the rescue! Or not.

  1. Eco-commons, a project of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development now has over 100 public domain green patents available online.  See Sharing Green Patents: Eco-Patent Commons & Green Xchange. for some details.  Business significance: U1/C2
  2. Speaking of patents: Chinese banks are underwriting a US$1.5 billion dollar wind farm in West Texas, built using…you guessed it…turbines made in China.  You won’t believe the cost analysis.  See “Chinese” Wind Farm in Texas: Green Jobs FAIL? for details.  Business significance: U5/C5
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Help TerraCycle Find New Life for Old Toothbrushes

Tom Szaky | Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 14 Comments

Toothbrush Terrain

Toothbrush Terrain. Image credit: krossbow on Flickr.

Look at your toothbrush. It’s likely made of some form of plastic, rubber, and inventive design engineering, packed into a small space. After your initial decision process, where color, teeth cleaning wizardry, and perhaps recycled content and recyclability came into play, you don’t really notice it that much anymore. It’s become part of the background.

Until now.

Now being the start of another round of winter colds, one of the preventative practices being to throw away your toothbrush and get a new one. Hang on, you know I can’t let that be how it goes!

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Super Heroes of Green Building

| Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

super-heroes-graphic-w-addressWith unprecedented legislation, forward-thinking design and standards, and many active supporters, one might say that California is a leader in the green building charge. Friday’s 3rd Annual Green Building Super Heroes Award Gala, hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council – Northern California Chapter (USGBC-NCC), honored the achievements of the green building community.  Eight hundred people gathered for the event, including an illustrious cast of politicians including Nancy Pelosi, and green building all-stars like Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of the USGBC.

This year’s awards gala was held in the LEED Platinum certified California Academy of Sciences (my most favoritest building ever, and a shining example of California leading the charge).  The Academy is the world’s largest public Platinum-rated building, and also the world’s greenest museum.  It boasts 1.7 million native plants planted on the 2.5 acre living roof.  Not too shockingly, it took 10 years and $500 million to develop.

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Is Bike-Sharing Becoming Bourgeois?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 3 Comments

Velib-VandalismBike-sharing programs are gaining momentum throughout Europe and even in car-loving US cities, but vandals and thieves are doing a bang-up job of chipping away at that momentum, and adding cost to the programs—especially Paris’ Velib scheme, as we’ve reported in the past.

But a recent New York Times article explores the problem with bike-sharing vandalism in Paris from another angle, saying that “resentful, angry or anarchic youth” are destroying the bikes because the bikes are “seen as an accoutrement of the ‘bobos,’ or ‘bourgeois-bohèmes,’ the trendy urban middle class,” and, as such, they “stir resentment and covetousness.”

Or at least, these are the findings of police and sociologists who are studying the trend. While some bikes are stolen and shipped abroad for profit, a great number of them are simply trashed—tossed in creek beds or dismembered and left on curbs.

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C.K. Prahalad Q&A: Lessons from the Bottom of the Pyramid

| Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Fortune At The BOP 5th AnnivIt’s been five years since the publication of “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits,” the seminal work by C.K. Prahalad, a professor of corporate strategy at the Ross School of Business of the University of Michigan.

The book combined a pragmatic framework with inspirational case studies to show companies how they could develop innovative business models and find new profits by serving the world’s five billion poorest people at the bottom of the economic pyramid (or BOP).

To commemorate the event, Wharton Publishing has issued a revised and updated anniversary edition that includes a new introduction by the author, as well as many new case studies.

I recently spoke with Professor Prahalad to discuss what these companies have learned as they’ve built profitable businesses in emerging markets while reducing poverty in the process.  Excerpts from this discussion follow:

*    *    *

Triple Pundit:  What are the big lessons learned over the past five years since the book was first published?

C.K. Prahalad: First, the thesis of the book that the private sector is an integral part of the poverty alleviation process is well accepted by multilaterals, aid agencies, many NGOs and large private sector firms as well.  Second there is now a growing belief that the bottom of the pyramid provides an opportunity for business to “do good and do well.” Third, we recognize that the BOP is more than micro-consumers.  It also represents micro producers and micro investors who can be connected to national and global markets. And the BOP can also be the source of major innovations that affect us all.  These ideas were in the original book but have been confirmed and amplified.

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Chocolate Goes Green: Kraft Rolls out Sustainable Sweet Treats

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 9 Comments

Move over Willy Wonka, a different type of chocolate will soon be coming to a store near you.

Kraft Foods recently announced it is launching a type of chocolate derived from sustainable cocoa farming.   The premium dark chocolate, Cote d’Or, contains cocoa from farms that meets Rainforest Alliance Certified standards.  Cote d’Or chocolate will first launch in France and Belgium.   The sweet treat will then roll out in Germany, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Netherlands, Canada, UK and the US.   The special seal will be added to Kraft’s Marabou chocolate brand in Sweden, Denmark and Finland.  And finally, the sustainable chocolate will be available in Switzerland and Austria under Kraft’s Suchard brand.

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Working Towards a Sustainable Chamber of Commerce

Bill Roth | Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 6 Comments

SBA LogoThe U.S. Chamber’s lobbying efforts against climate change legislation has sparked highly public defections by Nike and Apple. What is bubbling below the surface could be more telling as local businesses and associations explore sustainability’s potential as a catalyst for economic growth.

One such example is the 100-member Sustainable Business Alliance (SBA)  of Berkeley, California and its Executive Director Mark McLeod. From my chamber and association experiences, including serving as the founding president of the Decatur (Georgia) Business Association that now has 400 members with a strong track record of economic and community accomplishments, I would describe McLeod as the prototype of the association/chamber leader who leads through outreach, engagement, consensus and innovation. This is his perspective on sustainability:

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Europe Moves Towards Universal Cell Phone Charger – How Far Behind Is US?

Kathryn Siranosian | Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

Earlier this year, leading telecommunications companies, including Apple, Motorola and Samsung, made a commitment to start making cell phones that can be charged using a universal charger.

In Europe, that change seems to be on the fast-track now that several of these manufacturers have agreed that, beginning in 2010, all their devices sold there will use the micro USB connector, which is already the standard on handsets such as the BlackBerry.

What’s more, last month the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) gave their okay to the plan, explaining that the new universal cell phone charger will:

•    Eliminate 51,000 tons of redundant chargers, and so reduce 13.6 million tons in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year.
•    Reduce standby energy consumption by 50 percent.
•    Allow users worldwide to power up their cell phones anywhere, from any available charger.

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Transit and Trails: Connecting People to Nature on Public Transit

| Saturday October 31st, 2009 | 4 Comments

City bus gg80_to_sf_webNature pic sunset_matt_davis_fog2_web

Don’t own a car, but want to get out to one of the Bay Area’s hundreds of parks and trails? Or perhaps, you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint and wondering how to get to your favorite hike without using your car?

Transit and Trails is a new resource for outdoor enthusiasts who want to leave their cars behind and easily get information on how to take the bus (or ferry) to reach Bay Area hiking trails and campgrounds.

A project of the Bay Area Open Space Council (BAOSC), the new interactive website identifies hundreds of trailheads and 150 campgrounds to explore across the Bay Area’s 1.2 million acres of preserved lands. Just enter your starting location, and roughly how far you want to venture, and the site suggests possible hikes and featured trips. Once you decide where you want to go, it connects with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s 511 Transit Trip Planner to provide a detailed trip itinerary, complete with a map, transit times, fares and walking directions to and from the transit stop.

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