What’s More Exciting? A Day Skiing or Walk-In Freezer?

| Monday April 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Getting_Green_Done.jpg“More than individuals, businesses can influence policy because they carry huge weight with government. And businesses can get things done while waiting for policy change to take place.
–Auden Schendler, “Getting Green Done”
In terms of sustainability, Boulder, Colorado is turning into the pre-party, the party and the after-party. Juggling the numerous green-themed opportunities like research lectures, symposiums and guest speakers takes stamina and persistence with the seemingly endless schedule of events. A new friend of mine has just decided to make Boulder, Colorado, his permanent home and described the scene as a “24/7 Sustainability Conference.”
Just last week, the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado hosted an event with Auden Schendler, the Director of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, who released his new book in March titled “Getting Green Done.” This book maintains the seriousness of the topic of sustainability but also injects a little humor as well as reality from the green euphoria that lacks practicability and scalability. Mr. Schendler describes sustainability as a war that calls upon businesses to fight in the trenches and on the front lines.

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Triple Pundit Takes A Ride in Ford’s New Electric Cars

Shannon Arvizu | Monday April 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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At Ford’s Drive Green Forum in New York City recently, Triple Pundit got a first-hand look at the company’s new electric vehicle offerings. I took the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the 2011 Ford all electric vehicle for a brief test drive. Both cars are part of Ford’s new electrification strategy for improving emissions and reducing oil consumption.
In terms of eco-performance and smart driver interaction experience, either of these vehicles could take the famed “Prius-Killler” title.
First, let’s look at fuel economy and energy usage. The Ford Fusion Hybrid gets 41 mpg in the city. Ford reports that this is “70 percent better than comparable non-hybrid models and 8 mpg better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid.”

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SEC Denies Chevron’s Latest Attempt to Silence its $27 Billion Liability

Jeff Siegel | Monday April 13th, 2009 | 2 Comments

chevron.jpgFrom 1964 to 1990, Texaco (which later merged with Chevron in 2001), drilled for that precious black gold in the Ecuadorian Amazon. During that time, 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater was dumped, and about 16 million gallons of crude was spilled. Hundreds of open pits, filled with toxic waste were also abandon in the forest. As a result of this “cost of doing business,” groundwater and soil became so contaminated, that locals began developing stomach and uterine cancer and birth defects.
In 1992, Texaco handed over the polluting operations to Petroecuador, and walked away from what had really turned into a massive environmental and public health crisis. Chevron did clean up about one percent of the mess, costing the company about $40 million. And here’s where it gets messy…

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Saturday April 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

FT.jpg$6.60 Solar Cooker Wins Financial Times Climate Change Contest The Kyoto Box won the Financial Times Climate Change Contest and $75,000 from Hewlett-Packard to get the idea into production. This alternative to firewood for cooking will slow deforestation, and reduce carbon emissions and indoor pollution throughout Africa. The box can boil 10 liters of water in two hours for cooking or for purifying.
groceries3.jpgSmelly Trash to Cash: SF Compost Success Story Green Biz has a great write up on San Francisco’s amazing compost pick up program. The food waste gets converted into high end nutrient rich soil, sold for a premium and turned into delicious farmers market produce. 3P covered the story a few months back, too
“Snackwell’s Effect” Comes to Energy Efficiency Just as these low fat cookies of the 90s gave consumers free reign to overindulge, so too are consumers using their CFLs as an excuse to leave the door open with the heat on.
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Moen: Showerheads You can Feel Good Standing Under
Moen, designer of primium plumbing fixtures, is taking the 3Rs to heart. All their showerheads are low flow as of January 2009, they’ve been engineered for re-use of the plumbing valves if components need to be replaced, and they recycle more than 90 percent of all the metals, scrap, returned product and the oils and solvents that are byproducts of the manufacturing process. Giving me an excuse for a longer shower… Maybe I’ll bring some cookies with me.
Utilities, Manufacturers, and Retailers Team Up to Promote Efficiency Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District will work with Best Buy, Sears, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Lenovo to develop and market TVs, desktop computers and monitors that meet or exceed Energy Star efficiency standards.
lightbulb1.jpg GE “Treasure Hunt” Reveals 3 Million in Wasted Energy Over one weekend in March, GE employees went on a hunt through their Wisconsin facility and identified $3 million dollars worth of energy savings opportunities. No news on whether any Easter eggs were discovered.

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Michelin: The Official Tire of Yellowstone Park?

| Saturday April 11th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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It seems somewhat counterintuitive that a national park has an official tire company–after all, aren’t parks supposed to be about enjoying nature on foot? But the reality is that some park are just too big to traverse on foot or on a bike. Hundreds of employees drive through the 3,500 square miles of Yellowstone National Park on a regular basis just to keep the place running.

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A New Clothing Brand So Transparent It’s Almost See-through

| Friday April 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Picture%2032.pngYoung entrepreneurs are often thought of as naive or idealistic, that is, until their fresh perspective and unabashed distain for “the status quo” turn an industry on it’s head. That’s the goal of Martin and Rob Drake-Knight, the two brothers behind the, Isle of Wight based, Rapanui Clothing Company.
Don’t be fooled by the homemade website, limited product offering or simple designs. These guys turned a profit with their first clothing line, while raising the bar for transparency of a products complete life-cycle. Not to mention, they’ve caught the attention of folks like Ben & Jerry’s, redesigned clothing’s conventional distribution system and still find time to get a few surf sessions in.
I sat down and had a digital chat with Rob Drake-Knight, Rapanui’s Marketing Director. This is an edited version of that conversation.
[Matt Levinthal] What made you guys want to start Rapanui?
[Rob Drake-Night] Two main reasons; 1) we both got sick from surfing in polluted waters from the field run of agriculture chemicals 2) Martin was studying Renewable Energy Engineering and was bombarding me with information about the state of the planet. We both had some experience working in clothing and knew there was a growing gap in the market.
 
How did you come to building the business around supply chain transparency?
The idea was born from frustration caused by the abuse of buzz words like “organic” and “green,” basically greenwashing.
Do you select products by what can be made sustainably or by trends and just figure out the sustainability part?
We tend to back engineer. We start with the end in mind and work out how we’re going to do what we want to do. We’re looking at some really sweet belts and flip flops made from recycled rubber at the moment as well as a number of other cuts for the women’s garments. The next collection is coming along nicely.
What have your biggest challenges been in creating this level of transparency? 

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Insight into Innovation Courtesy of Ron Gonen- CEO and Cofounder of RecycleBank

Tori Okner | Friday April 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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RG%20RecycleBank.jpeg If you haven’t heard of RecycleBank, it’s only a matter of time. The company bills itself as a “premier rewards and loyalty program that motivates people to recycle” and the New York Times calls the premise, “elegantly simple.” In brief, RecycleBank partners with municipalities or private haulers to measure household recycling via a smart computer chip in each recycling bin. They then compensate participants based on the quantity of their recyclables.
Founded in 2004, RecyleBank is already active in 18 states. According to Marketing and Communications Director Lisa Pomerantz, Recycle Bank is on pace for exponential growth and projects that by the end of 2009 “We’ll be servicing millions of people as we launch across the states and into the United Kingdom.”
Winner of the World Economic Forum as a 2009 Technology Pioneer, the company won its seed money via the Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship award from Columbia Business school. Ron Gonen, CEO and cofounder of RecycleBank, made some time to reflect on scaling the company from his New York City apartment to a growing global enterprise.

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Mission One Races to Prove Itself on the International Stage

| Friday April 10th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Back in February, we highlighted Mission Motors, a quintessential startup founded in a San Francisco garage and fueled by no shortage of innovative thinking, driving vision, and just enough chutzpah to make it succeed.

The product borne of that driving vision is the Mission One, an all-electric, emission-free motorcycle that debuted at this year’s TED conference as “the fastest electric motorcycle in the world.”

That’s the kind of statement that leads one to say “prove it.” Mission Motors is the kind of company that plans on doing just that. In its own full-torque, whisper-quiet, and screaming fast sort of way.

This is one electric bike that’s not intended for your morning commute to your job across town. It has a bigger point to make.

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WorldFirst Racing Builds the Earth’s Most Delicious Racecar

Steve Puma | Friday April 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Question: What has a steering wheel is made from carrots, has a body made from potatoes, is powered by waste chocolate and vegetable oil, and it goes 125 mph around corners?
1. Bugs Bunny’s carrot mobile
2. Mr. Potato Head’s Funny-Face Car
3. GM’s latest prototype
4. A Formula-3 race car
The answer, of course, is #4, and it’s the Environ-MENTAL, the first Formula 3 race car designed and made from sustainable and renewable materials, and, according to its designers, “putting the world first by effectively managing the planet’s resources.”
The Environ-MENTAL is the vehicle of choice for the WorldFirst Racing Team, a project of the University of Warwick’s U.K.-based Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (WIMRC). The team’s goal is to prove to the automotive industry that it is possible to build a competitive race car using environmentally sustainable components. Much like electric-car manufacturer Tesla, the team seeks to change the common perception that environmentally-friendly means boring. They want to prove that sustainability can be exciting.
WorldFirst has set out to design not just a racing car, but an entire sustainable racing system: “If you are going to wholeheartedly embrace the ‚Äògreen is great’ ethos and do more than merely posture, you have to broaden your vision. This must encompass a strategy that stretches throughout the chain from the raw materials to the final disposal of the car. The project clearly demonstrates that automotive environmentalism can and should be about the whole package.”

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Neighborhood Fruit: Where Fruit Monsters Get Their Fill

Steve Puma | Friday April 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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fruit-monster.jpgEvery year, homeowners with fruit trees, whether they be orange, lemon or apple, face a dilemma: what to do with all of the excess produce? If they are industrious and have some free time, they may avail themselves of nature’s bounty by cooking up some homemade jam, pies or cobbler. But for the kitchen-challenged, fall may bring nothing more than a front yard littered with rotting citrus remains.
But, there’s another side to this story. Every harvest, under the cover of darkness, shadowy figures stalk the urban landscape, seeking the sweet nectar which sustains them. They call themselves by various names: Strawberry Stealer, Cherry Picker, Pineapple Pirate, but they all share one thing in common: an insatiable need for homegrown fruit.
Kaytea Petro, a local San Francisco artist, maker, entrepreneur, and recent MBA graduate has a vision: bring peace and harmony to this apocalyptic scenario by dragging local fruit monsters out of the shadows, and providing them with the thing they crave: cheap, local fruit grown right in their neighborhood. Owners of the aforementioned bounty now have a way to feed these endless hordes of ravenous fruit-feeders, while making use of their previously-untapped seed-delivery devices.
When Kaytea first told me about her concept for Neighborhood Fruit, connecting local fruit tree owners with those looking for pickable fruit in their neighborhoods, I though she was, pardon the pun, “nuts.” It turns out that I was completely unschooled in the ways of the “Urban Forager.” Apparently, there are some very dedicated groups of people all over the country, who scope out available local fruit trees, and share that information with their fellow foragers. According to the trend-watching organization The Intelligence Group, sharing back yard harvests is a new hip trend, along with D&D drinking games, cop glasses and fixed gear bicycles. There has also been a surge in local food growing due to the state of the economy. After learning all of this, I realized that Kaytea was on to something really neat.

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Virgance and the Business of Activism

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday April 10th, 2009 | 3 Comments

virgance_logo.jpgIt’s well under a year old, but Virgance has managed to do something completely unusual: attach a business model to activism. How? By starting anti-boycotts. By fostering collective bargaining for alternative energy buys. By letting ordinary citizens dip into huge corporate philanthropy funds.

What started last year as one novel idea – that maybe consumers should try to buy their way into making a business more sustainable – has grown into a venture-funded startup that calls itself a platform supporting Activism 2.0. If the Web 2.0 movement showed that the Internet could be monetized, Activism 2.0 might prove that do-gooders can turn a profit.

Brent Schulkin is an energetic 28-year-old who always seems to have a group of people around him. He certainly did when I met him at the K&D Market in San Francisco’s Mission district one Saturday morning in late March last year. In fact, there were hundreds of people, lined up nearly around the block waiting to get into a completely unremarkable bodega. Schulkin, by using email, Facebook and bevy of other social media tools, had managed to entice the crowd to arrive and shop en masse, forming what he called a Carrotmob (oh, that’s Carrotmob™ now). To earn such patronage, K&D agreed to use a 22 percent cut of sales made during the buying frenzy to make efficiency improvements in the store.

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Rocks Storing GHG? Part 2

| Friday April 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Shripal, your observation that business considerations tend to delay the implementation of carbon sequestering is acute. The ecological value of an implementation now is indeed much greater than in the future, but yet the carbon pricing trend would indicate the reverse. I think this is the classical “Don’t miss it till it’s gone” syndrome.

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And They Called the Company Mariah

| Friday April 10th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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“Away out here they got a name
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire Joe
And they call the wind Mariah”
- from the song

In the wide and seemingly ever-expanding world of renewable energy technology, vertical axis wind turbines haven’t gotten much respect. Besides challenging age-old design conventions, the fact that they are suited to small-scale, distributed and off-grid applications has meant that they’ve been pretty much orphaned by the fast moving, big money crowd. Those attitudes have been changing of late, however; thanks in large part to the dedicated efforts of people working at and investing in entrepreneurial start-ups such as Mariah Power.
The “offspring” of a successful entrepreneur and two inventors who, having come up with a design for an extremely efficient generator, decided to apply it to the design of a vertical axis wind turbine, more than 100 of Mariah Power’s Windspire 1.2-kilowatt VAWTs are now up and running around the country, and the company and partner MasTech Manufacturing are about to start high-volume manufacturing at the latter’s upgraded metal fabrication and assembly plant in Manistee, Michigan.
“I believe we’ve already changed some attitudes about vertical axis wind turbines, by taking our product seriously. There are a lot of people who really want to see a VAWT succeed, they just didn’t think it could be done,” Mariah’s Tracy Twist asserted.

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interSector Partners, L3C: Colorado Startup Offers Socially Responsible Consulting Services

| Friday April 10th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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Since the L3C appeared on the social venture scene last year, this new corporate form has been catching on. One of the latest L3C entrants is interSector Partners, L3C, a Colorado-based consulting firm headed by Rick Zwetsch and Caryn Capriccioso. The new firm is offering education and consulting services to nonprofits, for-profits, and government agencies. They also plan to consult with any new ventures exploring the L3C route.
The L3C is a new form of limited liability company which combines the best features of a for-profit LLC with the socially beneficial aspects of a nonprofit. Robert Lang, CEO of the Mary Elizabeth & Gordon B. Mannweiler Foundation, Inc. who created the L3C calls it “the for-profit with a nonprofit soul.” This hybrid business form is designed to attract a wide range of investment sources from foundation Program Related Investments (PRIs) through to conventional investors seeking market-rate returns. Last year, Vermont became the first state to recognize the L3C as a legal corporate structure, and similar legislation is pending in other states.

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City Stimulus: A Local Cause with Global Ambition

| Friday April 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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When attempting to connect consumers with causes, there is no greater tie than tapping into the local community. While high profile causes are important, often tmes, unless it affects someone directly, it is difficult to forge that compelling personal connection. And there are many types of local causes that need support, where consumers can relate in a meaningful way and be instrumental in making a direct impact that ultimately affects them personally.
Recognizing this need, Shannon Kelly, a brand strategist, “trendscaper” and founder of In Your Head, a strategic consultancy specializing in top-of-mind awareness marketing, decided to create a program to foster her Seattle community, and help local businesses thrive in a challenging economic climate. So she developed City Stimulus, an affinity-based grassroots program designed to reward participants for shopping and supporting their local retail establishments and restaurants. The goal was to incentivize local shoppers to forego the super-mega-big-box in favor of the mom & pops, and help level the playing field to keep dollars in the local market.

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