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I admit it. I love to live life in a way that there is no middle ground. It’s about going to the edge to see what’s on the other side. Along the way, you either thrive or fall flat on your face. I’ve done both, and surprisingly, they both provide a spiritual gift in a way that suggests the only wrong answer is to play it safe. What I’ve come to realize, is that there is an abundance of possibility that remains untapped. We live in a place of desperation (usually caused by negative visioning) versus inspiration. We also tend to keep the bar low so that we can ensure our success. That said, I do not anticipate every brand understanding how there could be opportunity in today’s marketplace, but the authentic and relevant ones who speak about courage, vision and leadership will get it. They understand that right now is a WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY. Why? It’s simple…the hard time is the right time.
I’ll tell you a little secret. The core thing that makes NIKE such a resonant and relevant entity to so many evangelists is that the brand has a dynamic cultural ethos. They’re brilliant at adapting and evolving. In fact, during my almost sixteen years at NIKE, we often would joke that the only constant is change. Life at the Swoosh is never static. And when times get tough, NIKE rallies like no other. Why? Because they have an amazing antenna for the emerging future and so when things become turbulent, they don’t see trouble, they see OPPORTUNITY.
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“Passion” and “building retrofit” are not three words you might typically see together. And yet they fit Matt Golden, founder of Sustainable Spaces. While I could see that his company had a different, more human approach to presenting what they offer, I had no idea how fired up someone could get about green (re)building.
While the headlines in blogs, newspapers, and Planet Green seem to focus on the latest gadget wizardry in making homes greener, Golden thinks people and government incentives have it backwards. For Sustainable Spaces, they see the process in three sequential steps:
In June of 2007, the former Mayor of Anchorage and newly elected US Senator from Alaska, (D) Mark Begich, created an Energy Efficiency Coordinator position at the municipality to examine the potential cost savings unrealized within Anchorage’s lighting systems. In addition, the city hired lighting design firm Clanton & Associates to aid and guide in the city-wide examination. After two years of light testing and due diligence, the city assembly approved the Mayor’s request to purchase 4,300 LED light fixtures, the largest municipal purchase in the United States at that time, as the first phase toward retrofitting the city’s entire municipal lighting portfolio.
The project revealed a 7-year payback period which included a 4% interest rate to offset cost of capital. The mayor and the Anchorage Assembly agreed that a reasonable payback period on a project that reduced long-term operational cost was a wise of use of tax dollars and the fixture purchase was approved in August of 2008. In implementing the first large-scale municipal LED retrofit in the United States, the City of Anchorage has emerged as a leader of large-scale LED retrofitting.Click to continue reading »
The Senate passed President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan Tuesday morning. But in order to reach the weekend deadline for passage, Congress will be very busy trying to hash out the differences between the $819 billion House version of Obama’s plan and a Senate bill costing $838 billion. Among the line-items expected to be hotly debated are those related to jobs creation, specifically green jobs creation.
As it stands, most of the $70 billion to $80 billion directed in the stimulus toward the energy sector will go toward green jobs, taking the form of either direct spending, loan guarantees or tax breaks. But what will those jobs will look like? And how far will they go toward both righting the economy and abetting global warming?
During last week’s State of Green Business Forum, a common chorus about green jobs was the uncertainty over what makes a job green. For example: does the truck driver delivering PV panels have a green job?
Power utilities’ drive to factor consumer, demand side management into their infrastructure is opening up a new vista for enterprise software developers. Consumers Energy, which provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 of Michigan’s 10 million residents, today announced it will be the first utility to buy SAP AMI Integration for Utilities software package.
Consumers Energy is one of nine utilities participating in SAP’s AMI– for automated metering infrastructure– Lighthouse Council. Members are working with the Walldorf, Germany-based software company to develop a new approach to integrating automated metering within their overall systems infrastructure at a lower total cost of ownership.
Integrated AMI systems are central to the drive to build out new “smart” electricity grids that make more efficient use of power by factoring consumer demand into grid management. In addition to providing consumers and utilities more detailed information and options to reduce and manage individual and grid-wide power consumption, the installation of “two-way” meters also paves the way for consumers to pump surplus power into the grid by installing solar or other renewable power systems.
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I never really expected to see this latest stimulus plan fly through Congress without some serious debate. After all, this is a lot of money we’re talking about here. And this is on top of what’s already been shelled out to failing banks run by CEOs who still don’t seem to understand why it’s not a good idea to offer billions of dollars in bonuses or spend millions to redecorate offices on the taxpayers’ dime. Oh, and also while 3.6 million jobs have been lost since December, 2007.
So needless to say, constructive debate is paramount when we’re about to get stuck with another $1 trillion bar tab. But there’s a fine line between constructive debate and political maneuvering.
How does climate change affect life 3000 feet below sea level? Take a look through the Ocean Research and Conservation Association’s “Eye-in-the-Sea ” and see for yourself. The casual viewer will not likely notice anything out of the ordinary but for the scientists and researchers who continually monitor the real-time data, the Eye-in-the-sea can literally shed light on key climate change indicators. The camera, which weighs in at a modest 502 pounds, illuminates the ocean in front of it using “far-red” lights. This lighting system does not disturb local sea-life as it operates at a luminescence invisible to undersea animals – an important feature of the camera since deep-sea animals are often very sensitive to light. This week ClimatePULSE will take a look at the Eye-in-the-sea technology and a few other facts about climate change and the ocean.Click to continue reading »
Enterprise Rent-A-Car announced last week they will add nearly 5,000 gas/electric hybrid vehicles to its nationwide rental fleet and designate 80 “hybrid rental branches” – locations with a high concentration of hybrid vehicles available – in 24 major markets across the country including 10 of the nation’s busiest airports.
This latest addition doubles the number of hybrid vehicles Enterprise owns, significantly adding to what is already the largest rental fleet of fuel efficient cars in the country.
Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Enterprise actively supports alternative fuel research through the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (I had the opportunity last October to chat with Dr. Richard Sayre, the Institute’s newly-named director ). An overview of this and other environmental sustainability programs in which Enterprise is involved is explained on their website KeystoGreen.com.
To be sure, Enterprise is not an environmental advocacy organization – they rent cars. As Pat Farrell, Enterprise’s vice president for corporate responsibility, told me in an interview last September, “We are not environmentalists.”
In our talk, Pat emphasized that the philosophy behind the company’s CSR efforts rests in the conviction that doing well for the planet, to the extent that a rental car company can, is what their customers increasingly expect and demand, and is ultimately in the best interests of Enterprise’s long-term bottom line.Click to continue reading »
Flash back to late September, 2006.
In California, the Governator has just signed Assembly Bill 32 (AB32), a Kyoto-style policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, followed by an 80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.
The bill is met with little national fanfare and its implications, if they’re even understood, are largely dismissed as trivial.
Flash forward to present day.
An Inconvenient Truth has won an Oscar. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a series of reports, authored by thousands of scientists, on the anthropogenic causes of climate change. Carbon trading is a $100 billion global market. And new-President Obama is intent on capping U.S. emissions in his first two years.
California’s AB32 is now in the national spotlight as a possible model for a national system, and there are mounting concerns about what, exactly, a price on carbon implies.Click to continue reading »
Enerkem, a Montreal maker of biofuels and green chemicals, says it’s nearly ready to start cranking out second-generation biofuels on a commercial scale. The company’s approach is to turn waste materials (it’s starting with old utility poles) into a synthetic gas “syngas,” which it will then use as a chemical feedstock for making both ethanol and methanol, using a gas-to-liquid conversion. But – and here’s where it gets very promising – the company claims it will eventually be able to use municipal waste (all the stuff that’s left over after recycling and composting) into syngas.
Enerkem has plans to ramp up from its initial annual production of 1.3 million gallons in order to take a bite out of demand. Canada is targeting a standard of at least 5 percent ethanol content in the gasoline and diesel sold to drivers in the country by 2010, and the Energy and Independence Security Act of 2007 mandated that 36 billion gallons of ethanol be produced by 2022. But 22 billion of those must come from non-corn sources.
And as gas gurus gathered in San Francisco last week for the 2009 National Biodiesel Conference, the city by the bay announced its intention to erect a plant that will convert brown grease from restaurants into, among other things, biodiesel.
Already financially challenged on a number of fronts, airlines have been in the crosshairs of government efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the past year. That combined with recent years’ sharp spike in fuel prices has led to a flurry of activity on the part of airlines to develop and test cleaner alternative fuels.
Japan Air Lines on January 30 became the first to test fly an airliner on a combination of second generation biofuels derived from three feedstocks, 84% of which was derived from camelina, an oilseed crop and relative of mustard, cabbage and broccoli that’s traditionally been used to produce vegetable oil and animal feed.
Montana’s Sustainable Oils supplied the camelina biofuel for JAL’s test flight. The other biofuels were refined from jatropha (<16%) and algae (<1%).
Winning Strategies for Climate Change ConsultingGreen Biz has the inside scoop on how to turn that pink slip into a new, flexible income opportunity.
3M Launches Renewable Energy Division The renewable energy division will be divided into two units: Energy Generation and Energy Management. Energy Generation will manufacture films, tapes, coatings, encapsulants, sealants and adhesives, while Energy Management will focus on window film technology. The company already generates $200 million annually from solar-related items, including films, tapes, coatings, and adhesives. One to add to your portfolio?
Does it Matter if Carbon Prices Plummet? If you’re in the mood for some opinionating, read this great piece from the NY Times Green Inc blog. Then come back here and let us know what you think.
Imagine a washing machine-sized contraption in your garage that’ll make the fuel to power your car. And that fuel was made from all the leftover beer from last week’s Super Bowl party. The folks at E-Fuel are making that possible.
The E-Fuel100 is a portable ethanol “microrefinery” system that allows consumers to produce their own biofuel from simple, household sugar or even beer.
E-Fuel, the company that wants to catalyze the paradigm shift in society’s energy consumption, has also recently partnered with Chico, Ca-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to produce ethanol from the waste produced from the brewing process.
On average, Sierra Nevada produces 1.6 million gallons of unusable “bottom of the barrel” beer yeast waste. Instead of being directed to dairy feed, the system of E-Fuel microrefineries that will be in place in Q2 2009 will now power Sierra Nevada’s entire fleet of delivery trucks as well as hundreds of cars in Central Valley.
A Senate committee in Kentucky just passed a bill that could potentially allow for the new construction of nuclear power plants in the Bluegrass State. Essentially, the bill would repeal a 1984 law that placed a moratorium on nuclear power plant construction until the federal government can figure out how to dispose of the waste.
So has the federal government figured out how to dispose of this waste?
Mission Motors: Innovation, Imagination, Zero Emissions – And One Screaming Fast (Electric) Motorcycle
It’s the stuff of entrepreneurial start-up legend – Apple, Google, HP – one or two (or three) very smart, talented, and imaginative people start a fledgling company in a garage with little more than an idea and the vision of how it could change the world.
The founders of Mission Motors – Forrest Deuth, Edward West, and Mason Cabot – haven’t created the next computing breakthrough or internet sensation, but what they have done is taken an idea, combined it with a mission to help make a better, more sustainable world through innovative design and progressive engineering, and stuck with it until their dream became a reality. They’ve done it by designing and building the Mission One – the fastest production electric motorcycle in the world.
Really? All that with a motorcycle? A logical and reasonable question. The founders of Mission Motors believe that “riding a Mission Motorcycle is making statement”. A statement of performance and technology, yes. But one of sustainability as well.
What started as dream, combined with some entrepreneurial savvy (initially pursued in the obligatory garage), came to full fruition last Wednesday when the Mission One was unveiled at the TED conference in Long Beach, California.
There’s been plenty of reporting done in the past couple days on the “gee-whiz” aspects of the bike, I’d like to focus a little more on Mission Motors itself.Click to continue reading »