Electric car entrepreneurs are really starting to gather momentum this year. Joining the ranks of the Tesla and the Phoenix, the Aptera intends to begin production in late 2008. What makes the Aptera stand out (in addition to its unique aerodynamic design), is its versatility and price. The Aptera is available in two models: a plug-in electric hybrid model ($29, 900) and an all-electric model ($26, 900). Individuals and organizations can reserve an Aptera today for $500 on their website. Talk about a sleek car to slap a corporate logo on for instant green-cred!Click to continue reading »
Eleven of the world’s largest corporations have agreed to measure carbon dioxide emissions of several hundred companies in their supply chains as part of the Carbon Disclosure Project. The data will be used to develop comprehensive strategies to reduce CO2 emissions, according to a Jan. 20 CDP media release.
Each member of the CDP’s Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration (SCLC) will ask as many as 50 suppliers to complete a standardized request for information, one that is undergoing review and testing during this year’s first quarter. The CDP is aiming to substantially enhance the ability of large companies, as well as their supply chain partners, to develop carbon footprint reduction strategies by enlarging SCLC membership and eventually having tens of thousands of supply chain partners participate in the process.
“The Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration is a key step towards a unified business approach to climate change. By bringing together the purchasing authority of some of the largest companies in the world, CDP will encourage suppliers to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions. This will enable large companies to work towards managing their total carbon footprint, as the first step to reducing the total carbon footprint is to measure its size,” CDP CEO Paul Dickinson stated.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has teamed up with IBM, Nokia, Sony, and Pitney-Bowes in an “Eco-Patent Commons” program based on the model of the creative commons.
Initially putting a select group of about 31 patents into the public domain, the intent is for more companies to pledge patents designed to foster greater innovation and environmental benefit. A win-win situation for all, it seems.
This short video describes in greater detail the project and some of the initial patents pledged to the program:
Last month I wrote about an innovative idea from SkySailsof Hamburg Germany set to make shipping more energy efficient while reducing carbon emissions (merchant shipping accounts for some 800 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year): A computer controlled, deployable kite system that harnesses the wind and, under ideal circumstances, can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20% – a very old idea utlizing the latest technology.
To update the story, the MS Beluga Skysails set sail today from the northern Germany port of Bremerhaven on her maiden commercial voyage, carrying parts for wind turbines (ironically enough) to Guanta Venezuela.
The voyage is the first of a series of practical tests in which SkySails hopes to fully prove their system to the wider shipping industry.
We’ll keep an eye on the Beluga Skysails as the voyage progresses.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported last week record growth in wind power generation with 5,244 megawatts of capacity installed in 2007 – a 45% increase reflecting $9 billion in investment and 30% of all new power generating capacity in 2007.
2008, however, will likely show growing pains as there is a current shortage of wind turbines, a situation that the AWEA sees as a big opportunity for manufacturers and entrepreneurs wishing to get in on a growing market. There’s always a better mouse trap – wind energy technology is ripe for imaginative innovators to not only fill the current need for parts, but to continually make those parts better.
It is also time for government to step up to the plate and push forward in support of alternative energy in a big way. Congress is debating this week the future of alternative energy tax credits set to expire this year with no current provision for renewal.
While the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 recently signed in Congress does provide $2 billion dollars in research for alternative energy, it still pales in comparison to subsidies given the fossil fuel industry.
Farmers also have a great opportunity to capitalize on wind power generation, “growing” energy from wind and leaving their corn for food instead of ethanol. After all, not all alternative energy is created equal.
Israel and Renault/Nissan announced today that they will work together, as part of Project Better Place, to create a market and an infrastructure for the mass production of electric vehicles. This move is a testament to the potential of sustainable development when the political will and entrepreneurial spirit are in place.Click to continue reading »
Are you eating? Here’s a few statistics to chew on: In the US, restaurants are the top electricity consumer among retail businesses. 33% of it. Each restaurant produces an average of 50,000 pounds of waste. Eat up, unless you want to add to that last figure. That is, unless you happen to be dining at a restaurant certified by the Green Restaurant Association, which aids member restaurants in achieving a near zero waste status.
There are several local green restaurant certification programs out there these days, with varying levels of requirements. But for the most impact on your bottom line, the one that rises to the top is the Green Restaurant Association. Why? It comes down to their reach, resources, and impact. They are national, take a hands on, multi stakeholder approach, and have several ways to generate awareness of your restaurant, online, in person, and in the community you live in.
This non-profit claims to have the world’s largest database of environmental solutions for the restaurant industry, and couples that with consultants personally involved with helping restaurants become green, or in the case of Ike’s Quarter Cafe, greener. Ike’s, in business for 7 years as of this month, has long been a green minded restaurant, from their choice of produce to their focus on local resources. Why get certified? Ike’s is in the small, charming town of Nevada City, California (home to the recent Wild and Scenic Film Festival) While it’s well loved by locals and visitors who happen to find it, having a national presence, an easy conduit for those seeking out restaurants whose practices match their values, is a clear reason to want to be a part of an association such as GRA.
So your restaurant is put up on a few websites, what else do they do for you?
The issue of states’ rights was a central and hotly debated one in the late 18th century as the U.S.’ Founding Fathers sought to establish an independent nation. It continues to be one today, and environmental laws and regulations are often at the cutting edge.
The field of environmental justice is the offspring of two prominent, originally counter-culture movements of the 1960s and ‚Äò70s – the civil rights and environmental movements. It began to coalesce and take shape in the 1980s and in Oct. 1991 the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit was held in Washington D.C.
“Seventeen principles of environmental justice were drafted and adopted. Among those were assertions that environmental justice ‚Äòdemands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias’,” wrote Taylor Sisk in a Nov. 15 article in North Carolina’s Carboro Citizen.
This charter statement of principles also “affirms the fundamental right to political, economic, cultural and environmental self-determination of all peoples”; “demands the right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making”; and “protects the right of victims of environmental injustice to receive full compensation and reparations for damages.”
Environmental justice has since evolved and grown, and now serves as a nationwide forum for a wide range of related issues – from emissions, fuel efficiency and renewable fuel and power standards to where and how we should dispose of our trash and toxic waste – as well as a well-spring of grass roots, democratic action.
Toyota and Ford unveiled plug-in hybrid-electric versions of their vehicles at this week’s Detroit Auto Show. This decision to give in and plug in is monumental. Consumer pressure from organizations like PlugInAmerica and Plug-In Partners most likely played a significant role. The growing number of entrepreneurial companies that offer plug-in conversion services could have also influenced Toyota’s and Ford’s decision to offer plug-in models themselves.
Both the Plug-In Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape Hybrid will run on lithium-ion battery technology known for high-efficiency and high-range capabilities. Although Ford did not announce when it plans to deliver its model to the public, Toyota President Watanabe said it will offer its Plug-in Prius models to fleet owners and governments in 2010.
Patagonia and the Footprint Chronicles: Showing that Honesty is the Best Policy Toward Sustainability
“There is no business to be done on a dead planet.”
These are the words etched into the front door of Patagonia’s headquarters in Ventura, California. And it has been Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s mission to model his company upon that foundation.
Chouinard and Patagonia aren’t new to readers of Triple Pundit, but what you may not be aware of is a new online project called the Footprint Chronicles. From here you can track the environmental footprint of five Patagonia products from design through delivery. Each product is thoroughly examined including distance traveled (an admitted weak spot for Patagonia’s production cycle), carbon emissions, waste produced, and energy used.
Under Chouinard’s leadership, the company has never been prone to – dare I even use the word – greenwashing. Patagonia is, in fact, the antithesis of that dreadful term. The Footprint Chronicles advances that antithesis and with it comes complete honesty – the good, the bad, and the ugly. A customer can easily get a complete picture of the impact a product has on the environment, something sorely missing in mainstream consumer products, where at best there is only a vague notion of what happened before those nifty hiking boots showed up on the store rack.
For Patagonia, the idea is simple:
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
The “sub-prime meltdown” hit me personally when my bank calmly informed me one day last fall that they had ceased to be, and, due to the bank’s apparent policy of making questionable loans that were simply unsustainable for too many borrowers, had become insolvent and thus had gone into receivership by another bank.
With news today of a 306 point drop in the Dow precipitated by $16 billion in mortgage related “write downs” for a net quarterly loss of $9.8 billion coming on the heels of an $18 billion dollar write down with another $9.83 billion loss posted for Citigroup’s fourth quarter, the impact of the sub-prime mortgage spree is clear and pervasive.
At the other end of this scenario are the homes going up for foreclosure. A recent report by Matthew Yglesias of the Atlantic Monthly describes the areas hardest hit by the sub-prime collapse: subdivisions built on the edges of urban areas where once arable land is bulldozed to make way for over-sized, energy-intensive houses, with landscaping consisting grassy yards adorned with non-native species of trees and shrubs, the whole lot of it out of character with the natural surroundings and located so that most residents are forced to drive miles and miles to get to work, for too often there is no public transportation available. McMansions tucked cheek-by-jowl in some aspirational attempt to find the American Dream.
But is this the American Dream run amok, paid for with money people don’t have?
It doesn’t have to be this way.Click to continue reading »
I never thought I’d say this, but shame on the Sierra Club. That venerable organization is opposed to a particular routing for the long overdue California High Speed rail line which will someday connect the Bay Area with Los Angeles. [more here] The organization is threatening to sue if another, less convenient route is not chosen as the favored one by planners.
My beef is this – although the Pacheco Pass routing of the rail line may involve a higher immediate impact on certain environmental grounds (read those articles to see what I’m talking about), you’d have to be out of your mind to think that you’re doing the environment a favor by delaying high speed rail in California. This is a classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees and meddling on relatively trivial matters when great progress might otherwise take place. It makes environmentalists look bad and slows down one of the most environmentally beneficial projects in the history of the State.
Click to continue reading »
As much as I love to read, turning pages one by one, breaking a new paperback book into a well-weathered memory to trophy in my book case, I realize it is costing some forest, somewhere, a tree.
Although e-books have existed since the 90′s a portable platform designed just for e-books that is truly functional has not been available until recently. I read up on two products out there, Sony Reader, which I liked, and the Amazon Kindle, of which I liked a little better.
Click to continue reading »
The Aptera has received a lot of press during the past couple of months, thanks in part to two critical characteristics: One- Its radical three-wheeled design. Two- the hybrid gas-electric version claims to be capable of 300 miles per gallon! How? The inventive drastic reduction by means of weight and drag.
Although many concepts remain just that, a “concept,” the great news here is that the Aptera Typ-1e hits California streets sometime this year. The Aptera looks like it has been time-warped from the future and brings with it some relatively radical innovations. The skin of the car is constructed of epoxy resin and let’s not forget that is has only three wheels, two in front, one in the back.