Is H2O the new CO2?

| Thursday March 12th, 2009 | 3 Comments

faucet.jpgWhen it comes to urgent environmental crises, water is clearly in a class of its own. Few other issues have the same far-reaching impact on human health and well-being, economic sustainability, or national security. After all, you can live without oil; you can’t live without water. So it’s no surprise that many of the latest environmental campaigns along with a growing media debate are posing the question, “Is water the new carbon?”
Up to this point, oil and resulting C02 emissions have gotten most of the attention, but many experts warn that declining water supply and failing water infrastructure globally may soon become the world’s next major crisis if meaningful action isn’t taken soon.

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Will the Nuclear Renaissance Be Postponed?

Jeff Siegel | Thursday March 12th, 2009 | 6 Comments

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Since 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received applications for 17 new nuclear reactor operating licenses, and now estimates that it will get a total of 22 applications for 33 reactors by the end of 2010.
Nuclear advocates have seen this as a sort of validation of the industry’s potential growth. After all, it’s been more than 30 years since a nuclear power plant was even built in the U.S. But thanks to the current state of the economy, excitement over new nuclear development has become dampened.

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Disney Goes Green*

| Thursday March 12th, 2009 | 4 Comments


The Walt Disney Company has announced medium and long-term energy and environmental goals, with big plans to reduce emissions and waste, and cut electricity and fuel use. The announcements were part of the company’s 2008 CSR Report, which included a GHG inventory, plus analysis of waste and water usage. The company first began taking stock of its total emissions in 2007 using the World Research Institute’s GHG Protocol, with 2006 offering the first figures available. Aggregate emissions that year, from fuel and electricity use plus refrigerant leaks, totaled a whopping 1.84 million metric tons of CO2e.
While Disney emphasizes a long history of environmental stewardship – citing their endangered species conservation efforts with the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, themes in such films as Pocahontas, and more – the company also wants to seize any opportunity to strengthen their bond with customers and make their company “a more desirable place to work.”

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Coal: ‘Clean’ or Otherwise, Get Used to It

3p Contributor | Thursday March 12th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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By William Brent

I know this POV will upset some folks, but here goes: coal isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s cheap, plentiful and easy to access, so we better start figuring out how to use it in a cleaner way. Of course there is no such thing as “clean coal” (as I’ve pointed out on my blog several times in the past). For that matter, there is no such thing as 100% clean solar or clean batteries (someone is out there right now extracting silicon, cadmium and lithium from the ground). But there is something as “cleaner” coal.
Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s important that people like Al Gore, Bill McKibben and the folks at Power Shift are out there demanding that the dirtiest coal-fired power generation facilities be dealt with. I agree that we need voices to be demanding an accelerated roadmap to coal alternatives in a loud and unequivocal way (including the tongue-in-cheek voice of the Coen brothers). And apparently, according to this map, Coal Power Death Watch, these voices appear to be gaining traction in the US.

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Clean Energy Storage Solutions: Challenge Meets Opportunity

| Thursday March 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

A key challenge for renewable energy, as most people know, is what to do when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. Addressing that challenge is one of the emerging trends reported this week in the Clean Energy Trends 2009 report (see Sarah’s post from Tuesday on the report’s look at emerging clean energy markets).

Utility scale energy storage, along with electrical distribution, transmission, and grid infrastructure upgrades, stand as the “number-one barrier to significantly scaling renewables in the energy mix of a utility, state, or nation”, says the report. As such, energy storage technology is a key area receiving major attention, innovation, and investment.

Lux Research sizes the current global market for energy storage at $2.4 billion and estimates that market could expand to $50 billion for batteries alone if just 10% of the world’s wind farms currently online used them for storage.

Where there is significant challenge, there is also significant opportunity.

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Twitter for T-shirts: Procter & Gamble Tests Social Media with Tide Loads of Hope

| Thursday March 12th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Consumer brands heavyweight Procter & Gamble is done sitting on the social media sidelines. Recent rumors have revealed the company has determined that social media is the future of marketing. This isn’t surprising, with the great success and evangelism-charged growth of smaller, values-driven companies such as Seventh Generation. Fast-growing Seventh Generation is now also distributing to Wal-Mart and maintains a deep, authentic connection with its community via its popular newsletter, blog, CEO Jeffrey Hollender’s blog, community, and even Twitter. As a bonfire brand, it practically markets itself. Yet P&G has yet to put any serious effort in social media until right now.
P&G’s social media experiment is a campaign called Loads of Hope, in promotion of its Tide brand and benefiting Feeding America. The company flew over a hundred social media experts to Cincinnati headquarters to meet with brand managers, divided them into four teams and kicked off a fund raising competition via Twitter, blogs, social networks, etc., to drive traffic to one of the four tracking sites (tide1.com, tide2.com, etc.). The goal: raise $100k toward disaster relief and prove the value of social media. Of course, the bloggers and twitterers involved have plenty to gain by winning. By impressing the brand managers of the largest consumer brands company, they will improve their chances at winning a piece of the company’s over $6.7 billion annual advertising budget, as it tests the waters for a better way to market its products.

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Van Jones to be Obama’s Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

| Wednesday March 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

van-jones-roof.jpgWhen Van Jones speaks, people listen. Whether it’s a public library full of unemployed high school drop-outs, an audience of environmentalists at San Franciso’s Green Expo, or a board meeting of Wall Street big shots. And it’s not just due to his piercing brown eyes and boyish charm (sorry, ladies; he’s married).
Whether you’re talking grassroots minority issues or a nationwide renewable power superhighway, Van Jones is a leading voice of our time. So, it’s no surprise that the Obama administration is all ears to his ideas about how to solve our nation’s two biggest problems – unemployment and climate change – at the same time.
Though he is not exactly our nation’s new “Green Jobs Czar,” as, like many excited folks in the blogosphere, we reported earlier, we can hail Van Jones as the new Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. (He was quick to point out that the word “czar” was never a part of it, though I personally think it sounds way cooler). His job, as described by him, will be to help shape the administration’s energy and climate policy, so that climate solutions produce jobs and justice for all Americans.

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MediaMatching: Helping For-Profits Put the Mission in Their Corporate Mission

| Wednesday March 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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A majority of this series to date has focused on the philanthropic missions of for-profit organizations in an attempt to showcase conscious capitalists committed to giving back, and shine a light on a growing trend that is fast becoming the standard model for doing business. But I think it’s equally important to highlight the nonprofit organizations who are helping to bring these corporate missions to life, and in the case of Media Matching, a UK-based service that connects for-profit companies with volunteer opportunities, materializing missions is all they do.
A division of Media Trust, Media Matching works in partnership with the media and communications industries to build effective communications for the charity and voluntary sector. It does this through media training seminars and workshops, film and TV production, broadcasting (they run the digital TV channel, Community Channel), news distribution, media matching, and campaigns. Essentially, they give a voice to the nonprofits they support, and the for-profits become the megaphone for spreading the word.
Their online service allows charities to upload a request for help, where media and communications professionals (or “advisers” as they call them) can register, and view all the charity requests. If the adviser feels they can help, they respond direct to the charity via the site and the “match” is made.
In addition to the online service, they also offer “bespoke” matching and Speedmatching events. Speedmatching works a bit like speed dating where 10 charities and 10 advisers are invited to enjoy drinks and light fare in a friendly atmosphere, and then each adviser gets 5 minutes to speak to each charity to offer on the spot advice and ideas, and can choose which charities with whom they want to connect further for volunteering and partnership post-event.
While it may be going too far to call Media Matching the “cupid of consiousness,” one thing’s for certain: they help enterprise put their money where their mission is.

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Wrigley’s Is Sweet on LEED: Innovation Center Earns Gold Rating

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday March 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

wrigley.jpgAt the new Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company’s Global Innovation Center in Chicago, food scientists are developing the next generation of minty-green gum. But that’s not the only thing that’s green about the Global Innovation Center (GIC). The building has recently earned Gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The building, which is located on historic Goose Island near Chicago’s North Side, opened in 2005. At that time, the facility already complied with many of the Gold LEED requirements, including a green roof used to help insulate and cool the facility, reduce wasteful run-off water, instituting a major recycling program, and providing facilities to encourage employees to take alternative and public transportation, including showers and locker rooms for bike riders.

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Time to Sell Your Oceanfront Property?

Richard Levangie | Wednesday March 11th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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The world’s leading climate scientists are convening in Copenhagen, so we’re expecting a busy week for environmental news, and it begins with a startling report by British Antarctic Survey scientists. In a nutshell, many coastal areas in both the developed and developing world are at great risk for devastating floods over the next 90 years. Bangladesh, Florida, the Maldives, and The Netherlands will all face catastrophic flooding and most of the world’s major coastal cities will need to invest a fortune in flood defenses, according to a story in The Guardian.
“It is now clear that there are going to be massive flooding disasters around the globe,” says Dr. David Vaughan, of the British Antarctic Survey. “Populations are shifting to the coast, which means that more and more people are going to be threatened by sea level rises.”

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Veranda Solar – Bringing Solar Power to a Windowsill Near You?

| Wednesday March 11th, 2009 | 13 Comments

veranda%20solar.jpgSolar power. It’s talked about by many, it’s seen on many consumer goods, but as of yet, it’s not seen on many roofs. Not without substantial government subsidies. It’s often difficult and time consuming to install, requiring a team of professionals and reams of paperwork.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Veranda Solar is readying another option. One that requires little more then a screwdriver and a few hours, able to be plugged into a standard home outlet, putting power directly into the system, where duplex plugs are the norm. And it can cost as little as $600.

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Solar Energy Powers Iraq

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday March 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The climate in Iraq is hot and dry with plenty of sunshine. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the electricity infrastructure has been in shambles. The actual electricity production in IraqIraq is about one-third of the electrical grid’s capacity. The U.S. government, as of July last year, spent $4.91 billion repairing the Iraqi infrastructure, but only there is only a few hours of electricity a day for most Iraqis. Enter solar energy.
In Baghdad, 6,000 solar powered street lights have been installed, and thousands more have been ordered from the German company, Phaesun, by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity. Street lights were also installed in Basra, Fallujah, Kharma, and Sakalaweyah with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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France, Bulgaria, Greece: Emerging Clean Energy Markets

Sarah Lozanova | Tuesday March 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

wind%20farm%20construction_small%20133.jpgAlthough some of the heavy hitters are still major players, 2008 has shown growth in renewable energy markets that had been weak previously. New players however are entering the renewable energy field, according to Clean Energy Trends 2009 report released today.
France
The vast majority of the electricity generated in France is from 59 nuclear reactors. It has not been considered a global leader in renewable energy, but France has taken some bold steps to support growth in this industry.
The government plans to have 23% of its electricity generated from renewable energy sources including hydroelectric power by 2020. A feed-in tariff of 30 Euro cents for commercial buildings has been introduced to encourage solar energy growth.
France now exceeds Denmark in wind energy capacity after adding 950 MW in 2008. The country currently has 3,400 MW of wind power and plans to increase this to 25,000 MW by 2020.

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Energy Efficiency Finds a New Friend in Washington

| Tuesday March 10th, 2009 | 3 Comments

The story of energy efficiency moves forward with new interest from WashingtonThe story of energy efficiency is hardly new. But like all good stories, an evolving plot effectively – one might say efficiently – moves the narrative forward. Gone are the days of energy efficiency dismissively referred to as little more than a sign of “personal virtue” with no “basis for sound national energy policy” – suddenly replaced with an “almost frantic excitement” over the possibilities of incorporating efficiency as a cornerstone not of only energy policy, but also economic recovery.

And the sudden buzz in Washington over efficiency has Collin Breakstone, VP of Business Development for Agilewaves, eager to spread the message, if perhaps just a little bemused. After all, Collin, with whom we first spoke last year, along with his colleagues at Agilewaves, have been leaders in the efficiency market since those dark days when all they had going for them was their “personal virtue.”

The truth is that Agilewaves, like many others, has long understood efficiency as the low-hanging fruit of energy sustainability. Through development of their innovative Resource Monitor (voted one of Sustainable Industries Top 10 Green Building Products for 2008), Agilewaves has helped bring the concept of energy efficiency into real-world practice. That Washington has been slow to catch on only shows how it is incumbent on visionary businesses like Agilewaves to help lead the way. Something that Washington itself has apparently realized.

Change, my friends, is in the air.

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Emergency Climate Science Summit Convenes in Copenhagen

Richard Levangie | Tuesday March 10th, 2009 | 6 Comments

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Politicians aren’t listening, so climate scientists have convened an emergency meeting in Copenhagen over the next three days to collate the latest scientific findings so they can exert pressure on the negotiating teams that will meet in Copenhagen next December. The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change will feature keynotes by leading advocates for dramatic global warming policies, as well as a who’s who of climate scientists.
Several well-known universities are organizing the ISCCC to address outstanding issues leading up to the UN-sponsored climate summit, including the likely costs of inaction, and the threat to global security and world poverty posed by dramatic climate change.

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