Better Place Battery Swapping Moving On Up to Tokyo

| Wednesday September 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Better Place
, the ambitious electric vehicle infrastructure start-up, has won funding from the Japanese government to outfit electric powered taxis with “swappable” battery technology. Better Place will partner with Nihon Kotsu, Tokyo’s largest taxi company, and Tokyo R&D Co., an automotive engineering company, to retrofit pre-existing electric vehicles with swappable batteries and build a site to swap out the cars’ batteries.

The deal is the first commercial application of Better Place’s battery swapping technology after the success of a demonstration project in Yokohama. The taxi project is slated to begin in January 2010.

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London Leads the Way With Green Business Website

Andy Greene | Wednesday September 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

If you have a business that wants to go green, one your first questions is probably, “How exactly do I go green?” You are not alone. Many businesses, especially small businesses, do not have the time or resources to find green product manufacturers, set up relationships, and inspect the manufacturers’ eco-friendly policies. So whether you want to purchase a portable solar panel to provide power to your business or reduce your business waste, you may seem adrift at sea.

Government To The Rescue?

This is where the City of London (England that is) has come to the rescue of London businesses. Mayor Boris Johnson, using 3 million pounds from the London Development Agency, has created a green procurement service called Green Procurement Code. This unique service is web based and allows businesses to search for products that have been screened for being eco-friendly.

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Socap09: Takeaways and Key Questions on Social Enterprise From Day 1

| Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 3 Comments

Socap09The opening day of Socap09 brought many rich discussions, which left me with a few nuggets of advice and even more unresolved questions.

A few tidbits of wisdom from panelists and presenters:

1. The sustainability revolution is not on par with the dot com bubble, but rather on par with the industrial revolution. This will be great retrofit of our lives… Everything we’ve ever created was created wrong. We need those all those crazy ideas. ~ Steve Newcomb, Virgance, The Future of Social Innovation on the Web

2. If your idea isn’t twice as good as the next guy’s, contemplate joining another venture you really respect. ~ Premal Shah,, The Future of Social Innovation on the Web

3. Don’t give up on your venture. has been four years in the making. ~Ben Rattray,, The Future of Social Innovation on the Web

4. Impact measurement is critical, but difficult
– resist the temptation to track everything that can be measured. Focus on a few key impact metrics. ~Sara Olsen and Brett Galimidi, SVT Group, Impact Management Workshop

5. Invest in what works.
~Sonal Shah, White House Office of Social Innovation, Keynote

Today’s panels surfaced many fundamental questions that need to be addressed as we work to align financial, social, and environmental incentives.

1. What is government’s role in the social capital marketplace? How can every day citizens push forward the work of the government and more particularly the Office of Social Innovation?

2. Do we want to engage traditional investment firms in the social capital space or not? Steve Newcomb pointed out the absence of tier 1 venture capital firms at Socap, and proclaimed that we’ll have succeeded once we see those firms attending and investing in the space. A colleague of mine proclaimed exactly the opposite – we will have failed if traditional venture capital firms are investing in the space and expecting a 10x return, as we ought to be reinventing the meaning of investment.

3. Is it better to work together and come to consensus or work heads down and push forward your own idea or venture? Should we be running fast and alone or together and not so fast?

4. Are we producing too many entrepreneurs or do we need to generate as many entrepreneurs with good ideas (which may fail or succeed) as possible?

What’s your take?

Look for more from me tomorrow on Day 2 of Socap.

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The Ultimate in Eating Local–Backyard Chickens!

Scott Cooney | Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

465448 cover.inddWhen the University of Chicago undertook an assessment of the global warming caused by our diets, they found exactly what many vegetarian activists have been telling us about for many years, and that is that being vegetarian is the new Prius. Eating local, they found, was a mere 4 percent of the carbon footprint in our food, whereas the growth and production accounted for 83% of the total.  The United Nations confirmed this in a report last month:  “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”  Much of this has to do with the fact that methane gas (a, ahem, by-product of animal agriculture) has 18-24 times the capacity for warming the planet than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide, upon which much of our legislative efforts have focused.

But not all meat, and not all production methods are created equal.  Rob Ludlow, co-author of Raising Chickens for Dummies, owns the website  The site has been featured in some pretty high-profile places:  the New York Times, Economist Magazine, and now, for Pete’s Sake, TRIPLE PUNDIT!  Full disclosure, Rob is a friend of mine who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Regardless, the concept of localizing food is a terrific step toward lowering your carbon footprint.  Localizing it to your backyard is the ultimate in local.  And of course, chicken raised humanely and the eggs that they produce have a far lower carbon footprint than beef and pork.

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News Break: EPA Draft Ruling Could Shield Small Business From Limits on CO2 Emissions

| Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

limiting CO2The EPA today sent a draft ruling to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that would likely limit greenhouse gas emissions regulations only to large industrial sources, thus shielding small business from any forthcoming limits on emissions.

With the expected formal release of an endangerment finding (pdf) from the EPA declaring CO2 a pollutant, the current rule under the Clean Air Act would require that industrial sources emitting more than 250 tons or more a year of a regulated pollutant install the “best available control technologies” to limit emissions.

Today’s submission to the OMB  could limit “strict permitting requirement to industrial sources of more than 25,000 ton a year of carbon dioxide equivalent,”  says a report just released by (subscription).

“Putting this rule in place deflates a lot of the political rhetoric about regulating CO2,” said David Bookbinder of the Sierra Club.

For more on the story, see Daniel Kessler’s report on Treehugger.

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Fall’s New Fashion Trend: Plastic Bottles

| Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

Anvil Knitwear Launches New T-Shirt Made From Recycled PET Bottles

AnvilSustainableYesterday, Anvil Knitwear announced the launch of its newest line of eco-friendly apparel: A t-shirt made from plastic bottles. No, this is not some misguided homage to Zoolander’s Dereliqute campaign, but rather an interesting attempt to promote plastic recycling and the conversion to industrial organic cotton farming.

Called the AnvilSustainable, each tee uses approximately three 20-ounce recycled plastic bottles, and the cotton utlized comes from farms that are in the three-year process of transitioning to organic. According to the company, using recycled plastic is also cheaper than using new polyester, so Anvil can pass the savings onto consumers.

“Buying a shirt made with cotton in conversion is a great way to support farmers making the switch, and encourage more to do the same,” said Anthony Corsano, Anvil’s CEO.

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Choose the Best Sustainability Consultant for Your Company

| Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 8 Comments

We all know what we need to do to make our companies more environmentally friendly: use less energy, water, and paper, travel less and make less garbage. But yeah, it’s easier said than done especially if you’re in a carbon intensive business like manufacturing or energy production. What’s the company without a lot of time or expertise to do? Well, hire someone, of course! Who do you hire, and how do you know what to look for? Here’s the lowdown on the biggest and smallest players in the newest consulting game and how to separate the wheat from the formerly-unemployed-newly-rebranded “Sustainability Consultant.”

First, you need to know what you are looking for. Different consultants have different kinds of expertise:

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Consumers Backlash Against Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs

| Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 19 Comments

Light Bulb Ban A monumental ban on incandescent bulbs went into effect today throughout the European Union, marking a significant milestone in policy regarding consumer habits as a way to combat our collective impact on climate change.

It’s been long understood that compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are significantly more energy efficient, and while there will be a roughly three year grace period to completely phase out those non-CFL bulbs that have already been fabricated from the market, according to the UK’s Energy Saving Trust, this new ban could cut the average UK’s household by 37 Pounds (approximately $60) and save 135 kg (approximately 298 lbs.) of CO2 emissions each year.

What is notable, however, isn’t the potentially huge environmental impact this ban will have, but the large amount of resistance it is receiving.

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Gardens Grow Up: Are Vertical Landscapes the New Green Roofs?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 5 Comments

Even if you’re not a gardener or urban planner, you’ve likely heard a thing or two about vertical gardens and/or vertical farming recently. From applications that are purely aesthetic, to those aimed at greening buildings and cleaning air in urban environments, or sustainably increasing agricultural output in urban settings, there is a steady buzz around the notion that one does not need a horizontal substrate to grow things.

Proponents argue that there’s no reason to limit the exterior greenspace on a building to its rooftop. And that vertical farming would bring food production closer to urban centers while avoiding the problems that floods and droughts cause traditional farms.

Others say all this anti-gravity planting is growing in the wrong direction. Back in July of 2008, Adam Stein asked readers of his TerraPass blog: “How is this not the dumbest idea ever?” He points to the high cost of urban real estate, the complexity of the proposed farms and the comparatively larger positive impact of other approaches to our environmental woes, such as carbon pricing, as reasons for his opposition.

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Virginia’s Bob McDonnell – the “Jobs Governor”?

| Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

bob-mcdonnellRepublican Bob McDonnell appears to be dancing to a new jingle: his own promise to be a “jobs governor – bringing new energy resources and jobs to Virginians.” The promise, made public in a recent TV advert, could mean a lot for Virginia’s economy and for the nation’s sustainability scene. But are McDonnell’s claims substantial enough to take to the bank?

The ad follows the premise that “new energy means new jobs.” “We need it all – wind, oil, natural gas, clean coal, nuclear,” the ad says. McDonnell’s promises are clear: he’ll “lead a bipartisan effort to make VA the energy capital of the East Coast,” create “new green jobs zones to help innovators create renewable energy,” promote “safe offshore drilling for natural gas,” and “create new energy and jobs now.” Yet I wonder: where is McDonnell coming from in making these claims, can (or will) he make good on them, and what effect would his plans really have?

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The EU’s Unlikely Greenhouse Gas Buster

| Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 1 Comment

EU logo

The European Union has found an unlikely helper in the fight to cut its greenhouse gas emissions: the recession. According to a Reuters report, the EU’s emissions dropped for a fourth straight year in 2008, largely due to decreases in industrial activity caused by the recession. Go figure….

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Is Business Education Changing Given the 2008 Financial Crisis?

Net Impact | Tuesday September 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

business-as-unusualThe financial crisis that started in 2007, peaked in 2008 and continues to persist into 2009 sparked an international debate on how business education created (and possibly could have prevented) this whole ordeal. Business school curriculum drew scrutiny, admissions standards were criticized, and students signed ethics pledges – all in the hope of clearing the name of the now maligned MBA.

But is the current PR blitz just an exercise in crisis reputation management or will it actually change how business school educates future leaders? While the conversation may continue for years to come, We’ve been exploring the student perspective on how graduate business programs are addressing sustainable and ethical leadership today.

This year, in our annual Business as UNusual guide, Net Impact members and students at schools throughout the world shared their perspectives on how well (or how poorly) their business program tackles issues around social and environmental responsibility. More than 85 schools submitted profiles for this year’s guide, providing sustainability details on each program’s admissions process, core curriculum, student activities, notable graduates and career services. This year we noticed a lot of continuing positive trends.

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The Business School Search for Identity

3p Contributor | Monday August 31st, 2009 | 1 Comment

By Matthew Madden

One predictable result of the past decade’s crop of corporate scandals, peaked by the current financial crisis, is renewed criticism of one of society’s most influential institutions – the elite graduate business programs.  In response a number of schools, often via student-organized efforts, have taken actions designed to, depending on your level of cynicism, either address these ethical concerns or protect their investment in such costly degrees.  In 2004, the Thunderbird School of Global Management became the first graduate business program to incorporate an oath to integrate sustainable values into their program.  During the 2007 graduation season, Columbia’s graduate school of business introduced an honor code, pledging integrity during their tenure as students and beyond.  Typically, Harvard Business School garnered the most press coverage as a result of their recent, student-initiated oath to maintain ethical business practices.  Given the status of HBS as the world’s most influential business school – and the disdain associated with that honor given the current age of corruption and uncertainty – it’s fitting that their oath garnering the most significant reaction, both praise and skepticism.

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Vermont’s Green Mountain Coffee Roasters: Selling Activism

3p Contributor | Monday August 31st, 2009 | 3 Comments

By Richard Seireeni

The following is an excerpt from The Gort Cloud: The Invisible Force Powering Today’s Most Visible Brands. It has been adapted for the web.

The Challenge

The birthplace for many of today’s green brands is the verdant hills and valleys of New England. This is where Tom’s of Maine, Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farm, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Burt’s Bees, and others were founded. These companies grew out of the counterculture backlash against corporate America and were bred on the philosophies of the Whole Earth Catalog, rural communes, food co-ops, and a belief that less is more, simple is smart. All of these companies believed in making healthy, earthfriendly products and that profits should serve a purpose higher than simply returning dividends to investors.

This chapter studies Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Stonyfield Farm. Each shares a commitment to producing products that are natural and, in the case of Stonyfield Farm and Green Mountain Coffee, also organic. They share one other differentiating quality. Each is committed to social activism as a mechanism for grounding its culture, ennobling employees, raising awareness, and building customer loyalty.

Two of these companies were bought by multinationals that recognized their value and the growing demand for healthy and sustainable products. How they managed to escape mission dilution is explained here. All three have experienced rapid growth despite growing competition—both within their green foods category and from without, following the entry of mass retailers into the natural and organic marketplace.

So how did they get where they are, and how do they deal with a changing competitive landscape?

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Is There Such a Thing As Green Pesticide? EcoSMART Says Yes

| Monday August 31st, 2009 | 3 Comments


Finally, a pesticide that can rid your house of all those pesky children and animals. Oh no wait, scratch that. It’s SAFE for children and animals. That packaging had me confused.

EcoSMART claims to be the only 100% safe insecticide that is proven to work.

Their products are based on the essential oils from plants and trees that the flora themselves use as natural defenses against insects and pathogens. According to their site, “EcoSMART’s proprietary botanical oil blends attack attributes that are specific only to pests, they have no effect on people, pets or the environment.”

And, according to their site, all the active ingredients in EcoSMART are FDA approved. In fact, they’re often found in cake, soft drinks and lipstick. Yum.

In addition to touting their eco-friendly pesiticides, EcoSMART is also raising awareness about harmful chemical pesticides in schools and playgrounds. They promote federal school pesticide/pest management legislation to protect children from hazardous pesticides used in and around schools while selling their product. How convenient.

Everything about this brand, that has been in existence for “many years,” sounds great. So why have I not heard of it until now? I praise this company for drawing attention to the problem of toxic pesticides in schools and playgrounds. My big question now is, does it work? I just purchased a 14 oz. can of “Flying Insect Killer” from their website. So stay tuned…

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