McDonald’s Reports its Global Best of Green

| Thursday May 21st, 2009 | 1 Comment

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The sustainability movement touches every company, incluing the folks that wrap factory-farmed beef products and feed them to the poor, obese masses. That’s right, the 2009 “Best of Green” innovations have come to McDonald’s. But it gets better, you can vote on them here!
This list of best practices highlights local innovations to be shared and applied in other McDonald’s markets around the world. The best practices cover many fronts including energy, packaging, anti-littering, recycling, logistics, communications, greening the restaurants, greening the workplace, sustainable food and supplier leadership.

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Increasing Efficiency In Wind Power

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday May 21st, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The U.S. wind power sector benefited from the 8,358 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity that was installed last year. The total U.S. installed wind power is 25,170 MW, making it the country with the most wind power. Despite the current economic crisis, there is good news for the U.S. wind power sector: R&D is paving the way for increased efficiency in wind power.
Researchers from Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories developed a technique to monitor wind forces wielded against wind turbine blades. The research was presented in a paper earlier this month at the Windpower 2009 Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

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Climate Change: Developed and Developing Nations Share the Burden of Change

| Wednesday May 20th, 2009 | 0 Comments

ClimateChange.jpgOn Wednesday, The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released a first draft of a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol (1997) which is set to expire in 2012. This new 53 page document is considered to be the basis for the agreements to be made in the international climate talks scheduled for December 7th-18th in Copenhagen.

The key-differentiating factor between this document and the original Kyoto Protocol is that the newly proposed treaty calls for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by both developed and developing nations. Bridging this gap should satisfy the historical Kyoto opposition from both sides, which plagued the original framework since it’s inception. Under the Bush administration, opposition to Kyoto was founded in the notion that due to output volume of GHG emissions, developing nations should be included in the framework. Conversely, opposition from developing nations was founded in the argument that as the leaders in per capita pollution of CO2, the industrialized nations should hold the primary burden of emissions reductions.

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Capturing Carbon at Schwarze Pumpe – Part of the Solution or Fostering the Myth of “Clean” Coal?

| Wednesday May 20th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Of particular interest to many of my colleagues on our recent trip to Germany was the newly commissioned (Sept. ’08) Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) pilot plant at Schwarze Pumpe in Spremberg – an interest in spite of the general belief among the ranks of my fellow enviros that “clean coal” is a myth.

Clean coal may be a myth, or more accurately a pernicious marketing slogan doggedly pursued by the coal industry, but the abundance of coal and the reality of it as a principal source of the world’s energy cannot be wished away.

Designed and built by Vattenfall, a Swedish power utility operating throughout northern Europe, the 30 megawatt pilot CCS project stands next to the commercial-scale 1600 megawatt coal-fired plant in the state of Brandenburg near the Polish border.

Using the Oxyfuel method of removing nitrogen from the air stream and injecting pure oxygen for the combustion of the fuel (in this case lignite coal), the plant is able to capture more than 95% of its CO2 emissions in the process, described in more detail in a recent post at GlobalWarmingisReal.

Schwarze Pumpe proves the technology and demonstrates the feasibility of capturing nearly all the CO2 emitted from burning coal. Over the next 3 years Vattenfall plans on spending 10 million Euros annually for testing and tweaking operation of the plant, seeking to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Tests using hard coal instead of lignite will also be conducted. As a test facility, the plant does not generate power for the electricity grid, instead selling the steam produced to a neighboring paper mill.

Vattenfall’s future plans for CCS development include a 300 MW demonstration plant at J√§nschwalde, Germany and a full-scale 1000 megawatt plant in operation by 2020.

But despite all this forward movement in CCS technology, the question remains, as we were made painfully aware walking through the oxyfuel plant at Schwarze Pumpe: where will all the captured CO2 go?

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Coffee Activist Dean’s Beans Brews the Perfect Blend for Change

| Wednesday May 20th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Dean with the farmers of Atsabe, East Timor
Dean Cycon, CEO of Dean’s Beans and award-winning author of Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee uses only organic fair-trade coffee and cocoa, typically pays farmers well above the fair-trade minimum while still keeping consumer prices very affordable, and reinvests substantial profits into locally governed sustainability/economic development projects in the communities that supply his coffee. He’s also perhaps the business person with the highest integrity that I’ve ever encountered.
Not surprisingly, his revenues and profits have grown every year, despite the recession.

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Uservoice – A More Sustainable way to Gain Customer Insight

| Wednesday May 20th, 2009 | 4 Comments

Uservoice.jpegThere are many ways for businesses to learn from their customers – the typical arsenal includes focus groups, surveys, and recently, social media “listening” tools. While all those have their value, they all can use an inordinate amount of time, energy, and money to manage.
Most consumer insight research involves outreach on the part of the company. You have to find your customers/potential customers, and perhaps incentivize them to participate. What if they came to you, felt heard, and were managed in such a way as to give only the most pertinent results?
Uservoice would seem to fit that description.
Whereas user forums can get cluttered with numerous one-off duplicates of the same issue, clouded by vocal minorities, and in turn discouraging to others that may have had valuable insight, Uservoice has put one simple, effective boundary to remedy all of this:

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Pedestrian Plaza Reclaims Pavement for People

Scott Cooney | Wednesday May 20th, 2009 | 0 Comments

castroopening.jpgIt’s been popular in New York and other places where open space is at a premium, so San Francisco figured, “eh, why not?” The first reclamation of street space to create a pedestrian plaza opened last week on San Francisco’s famous Castro Street at the intersection with 17th St.
It’s a small space, maybe 1000 square feet in sum, but it’s symbolic, and perhaps a hopeful sign for pavement reclamation enthusiasts everywhere. The idea is to close a section of street to vehicular traffic, so that citizens can have a place to eat, drink coffee, read the paper, and generally hang out outside. As part of San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks Program, it is the first of what some hope will be many pieces of paved street that are repositioned as business centers.
If successful, the 17th and Castro plaza will be made permanent, and likely many others will follow in the city and perhaps in other cities. It makes the city more walkable and pedestrian friendly, and marks a stark contrast to the never-ending paving of America that began in earnest in the 1950’s and continues to do this day in most parts of the country. And it’s one of the big reasons why people love cities like San Francisco and New York and are increasingly returning to them as the illusions of suburbia burst like gnats on a windshield.
I went to the opening and interviewed some pedestrians, some hanger-outters, and some local businesses to see how they felt about the space.

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Sustainable Brands 2009 Launches June 1

| Wednesday May 20th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Of all the major events that we partner with over the course of the year, Sustainable Life Media’s Sustainable Brands series has always been one of the best – deep thinking, high level, and fast paced. This year the conference, once again in Monterey, CA, is likely to sell out with over 400 business leaders, brand strategists and sustainability execs in attendance. (See the full schedule here).
SLM has been especially generous this year and is offering Triple Pundit readers a 20% discount on the full price of conference admission. Please register here and enter the discount code “trprsp09″ when indicated.
The Triple Pundit team is also co-sponsoring a special one-day “unconference” to be held concurrently with the main event on June 1. It’s an excellent one-day alternative if you’re unable to attend the full conference. We’ll have a special announcement soon about the details!

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Show Me, Show Me, Show Me: Causes Use Video to Captivate Consumers

| Tuesday May 19th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Social media has opened the door floodgates when it comes to causes getting the word out to consumers, but with the overwhelming amounts of information available online (and that’s an understatement), it’s often difficult to ensure message retention, or even that your issue will rise above the clutter as other organizations vie for attention. So, naturally some causes are employing video tactics in the hopes of creating an emotional connection with the viewer that will drive adoption and action. While video is also becoming increasingly saturated, the visual appeal can definitely help with exposure, and the right combination of messaging, music and a dash of marketing might do the trick in cultivating cause champions. At least that’s what Oxfam, a UK-based organization dedicated to generating awareness around important social and environmental issues, is hoping with their recent “Resuscitate the World” video in support of the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Summit.

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Wind – Once so Lonely and Misunderstood…

| Tuesday May 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Poor Mr. W, for so long he was misunderstood – but no more. He has become an important part of society.

This short film was shown to my colleagues and I in Germany as part of the introduction to the work and mission of German Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and won a “Gold Lion” under the film category in the 54th edition of the cannes international advertising awards in 2007

The film was created by ad agency Nordpol+ Hamburg for EPURON, a leading renewable energy company operating throughout Europe, in partnership with the BMU.

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Business Week Readers Name Top-5 Social Entrepreneurs

| Tuesday May 19th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Released at the beginning of the month, Business Week announced its list of most promising social entrepreneurs, voted on by its readers. The idea, according to the site, “was to track down trailblazing companies… that aimed to turn a profit while tackling societal problems.” Out of over 200 nominations, here are the top-5:

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Recession to Reduce Summer Electricity Demand

Sarah Lozanova | Tuesday May 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Although the economic crisis has caused turmoil across the globe, it does have positive impacts at times. A lower anticipated summer demand is an example as people across North America turn down their air conditioning units or pull out the fans instead.
Demand is likely to be reduced by 2%, back to 2006 levels, according to a recent report by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. “The economic recession has contributed to an overall reduction in the (forecast) demand for electricity this summer, leading to higher reserve margins across North America for the season,” said Mark Lauby, NERC’s director of reliability assessments.

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Cruising’s Dark and Dirty Not-So-Secret

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday May 19th, 2009 | 7 Comments

All those brilliant white cruise ships steaming on the world’s oceans carry a lot more than vacationing passengers. They also carry loads of pollution.
The international ocean environmental group, Oceana, reports that pollution from cruise ships is a growing problem. That’s an understatement.
One example: Except for California and Alaska, “lax state and federal anti-pollution laws allow cruise ships to dump untreated sewage from sinks and showers and inadequately treated sewage from toilets into state waters,” the organization says.
Once ships are three miles from shore, they can dump untreated sewage from toilets. “This puts our coastal environment at risk from the threats of bacteria, pathogens and heavy metals generated in these waste streams.”

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4 Worst Business Sectors on the Environment

Sarah Lozanova | Monday May 18th, 2009 | 10 Comments

At a time when consumer trust is very low, companies will need to earn trust to thrive. An extensive study by Havas Media, the Sustainability Framework 09, examines which sectors are perceived to have the lowest environmental and social performance.
This study of 20,000 consumers was completed early this year in 10 markets and spanned more than 50 brands in 8 sectors. This thorough study has provided numerous insights that provide extremely valuable to businesses across the globe. One such nugget is how different sectors are viewed regarding overall corporate social responsibility.
The Four Sectors with the Lowest Perceived Environmental and Social Performance Are:

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Is the Future Bleak for the Alberta Tar Sands?

Richard Levangie | Monday May 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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US cap-and-trade legislation will have widespread ramifications, not only for Americans, but for America’s largest trading partner, too.* Canada’s Conservative government has placed all its financial eggs in one basket in making the Alberta tar sands the center of the country’s economic policy.** As a result, the recession in Canada is deepening, and with depressed prices for oil, tar sands companies are facing a bleak and uncertain future.
And so is Canada.
The unconventional heavy oil from Alberta is difficult to access and expensive to produce, and cheap oil prices make the industry unprofitable. In fact, some analysts have suggested that oil needs to head north of $60 US ($71 Cdn) a barrel before Alberta’s oil industry starts humming.

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