Editor’s note: Correction, the city of San Jose will be processing yard and food waste, not human waste, as was originally reported.
For San Jose residents, “going green” may soon be as easy as, well, using the toilet. The city has revealed a plan to convert human waste (“biosolids”) into biogas and fertilizer using a cutting-edge organics-to-energy biogas system, thereby producing approximately 900,000 gallons of biogas, as well as high-quality compost, per 150,000 metric tons of flushables. The system would increase waste diversion, reduce emissions, decrease the city’s independence on imported energy, and build its green job market.
Due for a vote on the House floor today, H.R. 2454, the marked up climate change bill proposed by Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey Jr. (D-MA), fails woefully in terms of meeting the CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets climate change scientists are pushing for. Not to mention failing to lay the foundation for transitioning to a less polluting, low carbon energy and industrial infrastructure, according to environmental group Friends of the Earth. Initially watered down in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009″ has been weakened further in broader House negotiations as its sponsors have seen fit to acquiesce to the demands of House Democrats pushing for additional changes favorable to the oil and coal industries in order to increase its likelihood of passage. Click to continue reading »
Putting a price on carbon will drive investment into cost-saving, energy-saving technologies, and will create the next wave of jobs in the new energy economy
The letter, dubbed the “We Can Lead” campaign, is part of a broader effort lending support for passage of the legislation, even in the face of unprecedented lobbying from vested interests opposed to the bill (or any real action at all on climate and sustainable energy).
Among the more visionary and, for that matter, realistic companies pushing back against the enormous lobbying effort include Nike, Starbucks, HP, Duke Energy, PG&E, and Levi-Strauss (see Deborah Fleischer’s post for more about the companies involved).
“Launching a real Green Revolution in America would be the best way to support the ‚ÄòGreen Revolution’ in Iran.”
Thomas Friedman had an interesting idea in his op-ed yesterday morning: The US should impose an immediate “Freedom Tax” of $1 per gallon on all gasoline. By putting economic pressure on oil producing regions, the US could potentially gain leverage on key Middle Eastern regions, in particular Iran, where both the current unrest as well as its nuclear program pose concern for the Obama administration. According to him, the tax will result in three large and quantifiable results: 1) It would stimulate more investment in renewable energy now. 2) It would stimulate more consumer demand for the energy-efficient vehicles that the reborn General Motors and Chrysler are supposed to make. 3) It would reduce our oil imports in a way that would surely affect the global price and weaken every petro-dictator. Click to continue reading »
This week, the blogosphere was a buzz with the launch of Alice.com, a direct-to-consumer start-up committed to helping you never run out of toilet paper again. And a whole bunch of other consumer packaged good items that are always a hassle to run out to the store for. From Tech Crunch to Mashable to Venture Beat, and just about every other blog in my Google Reader, the new Alice.com brand was splattered all over the news. But I had the advantage of knowing (read: being a complete and total fan of) Rebecca Thorman, a brilliant writer, observer and Gen Y entrepreneur who just happens to be the in-house marketing superhero at Alice.com. And yes, a Gen Xer can be a fan of a Gen Yer. About a month ago, she got my attention (yet again). But this time, not for her no-holds-barred insights on social media or masterfully poignant posts; it was for a cause marketing campaign she was running as part of the pre-launch efforts for Alice.com. So, rather than tout all of the benefits of the service that the tech set have already duplicated ten times over covered, I decided to chat with Rebecca about the cause marketing initiative and Alice.com’s plans to bake social good and consciousness into their ongoing plans. Hey, I write a cause marketing series – what did you expect? Click to continue reading »
When Tod Arbogast, Dell’s Director of Sustainability, was interviewing for his current position, he posed a question to Michael Dell, the iconic namesake of the PC giant: “If I got this job, what would you expect of me first and foremost?” Dell replied, simply and profoundly: “Courage.”
Arbogast needed courage to carry forward issues that may be controversial, tough, and without the widest support both in the technology sector and within Dell itself. These days, Arbogast leads a small, yet surprisingly effective team. Last month, the technology research firm TBRI ranked Dell #1 in its inaugural Corporate Sustainability Index Benchmark Report, a study measuring the CSR initiatives of technology and computing companies.
Wednesday marked the start of the Virtual Energy Forum, billed as the World’s Largest Online Energy Conference. I was lucky enough to catch Amory Lovins’ web-cast, which he presented from Sweden where he was attending the 2009 Tallberg Forum. The Virtual Energy Forum’s presentations are in the video archives and you can view them for free once you register. The idea of a forum that requires no travel and very little resources is extremely sustainable!
A quick search on Triple Pundit yields many hits for “Amory”, but if you don’t know who the “energy-efficient design” genius behind the Rocky Mountain Institute is, then please do yourself a favor and start researching him. Not only do some of the biggest companies in the world seek out his advice, but so do entire nations. The thing I like most about Amory is that his advice is so simple and obvious, yet I’m always amazed at how so few people are following what he is preaching. As he said at the beginning of the web-cast, RMI is filled with “practitioners, not theorists”. He doesn’t seek out wild, hair-brained schemes, but simply implements efficient design principles!
As individuals, we want to do the right thing – but as businesses, we are challenged by the need to be profitable. The goal of sustainability is to accomplish both: to improve profitability today, while not compromising the environmental and social constraints of the future. As discussed in a previous post, Doing the right thing in business: Are you doing it right?, businesses must treat sustainability as a strategic opportunity, and move beyond eco-efficiency to achieve this greater goal. Here’s how you can get started… Click to continue reading »
Company energy management programs are becoming a bottom-line necessity for corporations’ financial viability, social responsibility and environmental sustainability, according to the research and consulting firm Aberdeen Group. And sustainability as an essential element in return on investment is increasingly on the minds of the suits sitting in the executive suite, but there’s still a ways to go on that score. Energy management as a concept began as a cost-saving initiative, “but is now starting to become a strategic part of the company’s larger corporate social responsibility program,” says Aberdeen in a recent report, Energy Management, Driving Value in Industrial Environments.
A massively ambitious clean power project is underway in North Africa. The German insurance giant, Munich Re, announced last week that they are currently recruiting several European mega-investors to fund a project called Desertec. The project will build solar farms across North Africa, from Morocco to Egypt. Desertec will use a method called concentrating solar power, or C.S.P., which consists of huge mirrors that generate steam to power turbines. The turbines generate electricity, which will then be sent back to Europe via high-voltage direct current cables. Click to continue reading »
One hundred and counting. That’s the number of comments that readers have submitted regarding a New York Times story published Wednesday that says the startup AltaRock Energy plans to begin exploratory drilling for geothermal energy sources in Northern California, using a method similar to one that caused earthquakes in a similar project in Basel, Switzerland. Many comments support the reporter’s findings, while a good number criticize the story as being one-sided or sensational. This is, of course, not the first time that the merits of geothermal energy – whereby heat is mined from the earth, sometimes by pumping water into bedrock and capturing the resulting steam – have been contested. Some claim that on large scales, geothermal energy will contribute to climate change by emitting more heat into the atmosphere, and beside that, some say that it’s not scalable, anyway. But this article has highlighted a concern that residents of Anderson Springs, California, near the new drilling site, have had for a while now: that geothermal energy exploration causes earthquakes. According to a PBS Quest story, California already gets more energy from geothermal sources than from wind and solar. And it’s near Anderson Springs, where AltaRock plans to drill, that much of this energy is derived, through more than 20 power plants in an area called The Geysers.
They look like cigarettes, act like cigarettes, give smokers their nicotine fix. And yet, they’re not cigarettes. They’re electronic cigarettes, or “E-cigs.” According to this CNN report, sales of e-cigs have been increasing over several years in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden and Brazil. The claimed benefits? Instead of inhaling smoke, “e-smokers” (I just made that up) inhale a mixture of vaporized water, nicotine and propylene glycol (a common additive in food coloring and cake mixes). Yum. Their exhalation is not odorous second hand smoke, but just water vapor. According to the e-cig sellers, these battery-filled butts do not contain tobacco, tar, carbon monoxide or any of the other thousands of cancer-causing toxins in real cigarettes. Like the patch or the gum, e-cigs claim to help smokers kick their habit. So are they healthier? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not entirely convinced. E-cigs are still an unapproved new drug due of a lack of scientific proof that they’re safe or effective. Click to continue reading »
Photo Source: seattlepi.com Yesterday, Mayor Gavin Newsom signed one of the first legislations of its kind in the country: a mandatory law requiring residential and commercial building owners to recycle and compost. While several other cities require recycling service and participation, San Francisco is the first city to require the collection of food scraps and other compostables. Based on a study by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, food discards comprise 10% of the total municipal waste stream, and the majority of that comes from the commercial sector. In the same study, the Waste Management Board found that over 40% of the waste produced by both the retail food store and restaurant sectors is compostable food and paper refuse. If all of the recyclable and compostable materials currently going to landfills were captured by the city’s programs, according to the San Francisco Department of the Environment, San Francisco’s recycling rate would soar to 90%. Click to continue reading »
The Waste Expo convention that I attended early this month was sponsored in part by the National Solid Wastes Management Association, which launched a public relations campaign at the event. The campaign is called “Environmentalists. Every Day.” and is meant to paint some green attitude on the garbage business. Included on the campaign’s web site are little tutorials on how waste management professionals ought to engage with the public at large and basically make the industry out to be a steward of the Earth, or something like that. The organization is basically saying “Hey, we’re part of the solution, not the problem!” Well, it is true that the solid waste industry has evolved quite a bit in recent decades – though I would offer that perhaps this evolution is due largely to having to comply with environmental regulations and in finding business value in the recycling industry. But does an industry that calls energy generated through incineration a “renewable” energy really embrace the tenets of sustainability? Click to continue reading »
San Francisco: Dec 11 Building Health Forum More than 300 of the world’s preeminent experts and thought leaders pioneering the healthy buildings and healthy communities movement. Register here.
San Francisco: Jan 21 – Jan 22 Sustainable Food Summit Explore new horizons for eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry by discussing key industry issues. TriplePundit reader discount of 30%. Register here.
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