Ethonomics Explained

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 7 Comments

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By Rebecca Greenberg
It can be said, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that our world is changing.
Our planet is warming, our population is growing, our water supply is under preassure, and our financial systems have suffered. We have a new president in office; a man who passionately describes a new, green economy. The traditional ways of conducting business are changing. Even the largest investment banks and motor companies are beginning to realize that the “status quo” of doing business, i.e. profit for profit’s sake, must be revolutionized.

Our economy must adapt to be faster, “greener” and more innovative. So what do we have when we combine traditional economics with environmental stewardship and social ethics? Ethonomics, of course.
Ethonomics has several definitions. The term was originally coined to describe the academic process of mapping value systems. Earlier this year, however, Fast Company magazine assigned a new meaning to the term Ethonomics: ethical economics.

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Mission One Makes Strong Showing at World’s First Carbon-Free Grand Prix

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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We first introduced readers to Mission Motors last February. A San Francisco-based startup that began in a Mission District garage, Mission Motors debuted the all-electric, high performance motorcycle, dubbed the Mission One only months ago at the TED conference in San Diego.

Mission Motors is the vision and brainchild of co-founder and CEO Forrest North, a Stanford-educated engineer who cut his teeth on the school’s Solar Car Team and later went on to work at Tesla Motors. While at Tesla, North dreamed of using the concepts of high-end sustainable design he learned at Stanford and Tesla to build a high-performance, sustainably designed and built, all-electric motorcycle to help prove his conviction that “sustainable” didn’t necessarily mean sacrificing high-end performance

Last week on the Isle of Man, North and his team, including professional motorcycle racer Tom Montano, pushed the dream a little bit further after a strong showing at TTXGP, the worlds first carbon-free Grand Prix.

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Recession Bugging You? Get Launched!

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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high-dive-rockwell.jpgWhat do Google, Ocean Spray and Walt Disney have in common? All were launched during recessions. Since the beginning of this recession, most headlines have been riddled with gloom, but tough economic times lend themselves to advantages many business leaders overlook.
Last summer, as we were still headed into the worst quarters of this recession, I co-founded SoupCycle, a company that makes organic soups and delivers them by bicycle. Whimsical and a bit ridiculous? Sure – but the idea is odd enough to attract customers during a recession, and despite a sluggish economy SoupCycle has already made more than 3,000 bicycle soup deliveries. If you’re up for the challenge, now may be the right time to turn your sustainable business idea into a reality. Here are nine pointers to successfully launch your sustainable business during the recession:

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Felt Flowers Make a Happy Supply Chain All the Way to the Sheep

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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Liz Cook is too modest. Ask her to tell you what her company does, and she’ll pull an (admittedly beautiful) flower with a bendy stem out of her enormous purse, straighten the leaves, and present it to you for inspection: “I make felt flowers.” Felt flowers? That’s cool, but what does it mean for me? In fact, these flowers are not just the fanciful creation of an indulgent artist, they are the products of one of the most innovative, meaningful, and heartfelt business models you will ever hear about.
Henry and Jayne is a UK based company that makes objects d’art, flowers and stones, of felt. The company is entirely vertically integrated, beginning with a community of sheep farmers in India, from shearing through felting the wool, dyeing, cutting and sewing the flowers. All of it happens with a community that might not otherwise have a product for sale, at least one that can fetch a pretty penny in a UK department store.

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Humdinger Wind Energy – What the Flutter?

Chris Kaiser | Friday June 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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As a mechanical engineer, I love watching things move; which is why I have a natural affinity for wind power over solar PV. I don’t have anything against the Sun, it’s just that I like visual confirmation that energy is being produced (watching a wind turbine turning). It is for this reason that I was so excited when I first heard about Humdinger Wind Energy back in 2007.
Unlike most wind generating devices, which use a turbine blade to catch the wind and rotate a shaft, the Humdinger approach relies on a much cooler sounding phenomenon – aeroelastic flutter (flutter for short). Flutter is what helped to bring down the Tacoma Narrows bridge ( as seen above and in this awesome vintage clip ).

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Global Mamas in Ghana: The Future of Fair Trade?

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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choolips I am a strong believer in the fair trade business model. The notion that producers, especially those in developing countries, should be paid a fair price for their labor and expertise seems both obvious and necessary. By manufacturing and exporting products that are designed and made traditionally, fair trade suppliers are empowered to profit from their skills. LOHAS consumers in Europe and America love buying fair trade products, because it makes them feel good about their purchasing power.

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Imara Wants to Dominate the Lithium Ion Battery Market

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Increasing interest in the plug-in hybrid electric (PHEVs) and full electric vehicle (EVs) industry is breeding attention for another industry, too: batteries. A glut of start-ups have popped up in recent years to take advantage of the market–Boston Power, A123 and ZPower, to name a few–and put their own spin on the traditional lithium-ion battery. I recently had the chance to talk to the CEO and VP of Business Development of Imara, one of the up-and-coming li-ion battery manufacturers, to find out what makes the company different from its competitors.

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How Green Is My Product?

| Thursday June 18th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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Or: How I stopped worrying about greenwashing and learned to love EPDs
You have a product and you want to tell the world how great it is. But what if you want to make claims that it’s better than the competition? How can you do so without being slammed for greenwashing? Even in these early days of green marketing, already more than one company has fallen into that trap, resulting in considerable backlash.
Consider Cotton USA, with their claim that industrial cotton production is sustainable – even though it is an intensely petroleum and chemically-driven monoculture. Chevron’s “Will You Join Us” campaign is considered to be another big violator – the tagline itself rings patently false to anyone semi-aware of any oil company’s carbon credentials. So, how can you launch a sustainability marketing campaign and avoid the pitfalls of a greenwashing backlash?

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Doing Business in the Energy-Climate Era

| Thursday June 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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In Thomas Friedman‘s 2005 book, “The World is Flat,” he argues that globalization has created a new global economic era, fundamentally different than the business world of even a decade earlier. Just a few years later, in his newest book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded” Friedman describes another era: the Energy-Climate Era.
The evolution from the first book to the second demonstrates the global trend from financial-bottom-line thinking to the sustainable-economy imperative, and this paradigm shift requires business leaders to intrinsically rethink their companies.
Friedman claimed the realities of a “flat world” affected every business decision and any business leader ignored these realities at their peril. In a world constrained by climate change and energy limits, those business decisions need to be examined again. Let’s explore the new realities with the most prominent decisions of the Era of Globalization: outsourced manufacturing from the United States to foreign countries.

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Meters Are Getting Smarter, But Are They Secure?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday June 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Smart MeterThe wonder of the Internet – its ability to provide both instant and constant access to data – is merging with our electricity meters and with the appliances inside our homes as the vision of the new, improved, smart grid comes into focus. But, just as with the dawn of the Internet, the smart meter – a key component of the smart grid – might usher in a whole host of privacy problems and data land mines.
That’s the finding of Joshua Pennell and Michael Davis, president and senior security consultant, respectively, for computer security firm IOActive. The pair have published an article in energy industry publication Energy Pulse describing their findings on the security protections – or lack thereof – being built into smart meters (also known as advanced metering infrastructure, AMI meters).
They claim that IOActive researchers have been able to hack into smart meters and found that they could manipulate them in a number of ways that are representative of major weaknesses in hardware design. “Vulnerabilities in the smart grid could cause utilities to lose system control of their metering infrastructure to unauthorized third parties, exposing them to fraud, extortion attempts, lawsuits, widespread system interruption, massive blackouts or worse,” they note in the article.

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Solar Traffic Controls: Beaming Solar Light for All of Us

Bill DiBenedetto | Thursday June 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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If there’s a need for flashing warning lights at school crossings, pedestrian walkways, freeway off-ramps, train and wildlife crossings, Solar Traffic Controls LLC has it covered.
The Tempe, AZ company is using the Smart Relay technology developed by IDEC Corporation in the development and design of a host of “reliable and affordable solutions for advance traffic systems,” says Joe Wise, STC’s president.
Since its start by Wise in 2001, the company has provided solar-powered traffic control systems to city, state and federal transportation agencies; police, firefighting and public works departments; facility maintenance and plant safety industries.

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Dubai: The Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf

| Thursday June 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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It’s hard to believe that, until the 1990’s, Dubai was little more than a desert tent city. A brief history of what is perhaps the world’s least sustainable metropolis: electricity arrived in the 1950’s, oil was discovered in the 1960’s, the population tripled in the 1970’s, trade and labor laws loosened in the 1980’s, and petrodollars sponsored the building boom of the 1990’s. The Burj Al Arab, the world’s only “seven-star” resort, ushered Dubai onto the worldstage in 1994. An unbelievable amount of oil money (it is said the the United Arab Emirates sit on 10% of the world’s oil reserves) coupled with the desire to define Dubai as the “Mecca” of international tourism has quickly created a huge, sprawling, fantastical, over-the-top playground for the rich and powerful. Dubai was once famous for its architectural windcatchers, natural Persian ventilation systems from the 18th century that functioned as pre-industrial solar chimneys. Now it is famous for supertall skyscrapers, manmade islands and indoor ski resorts.

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Increasing Ethanol in Gasoline Equals Diaster

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday June 18th, 2009 | 1 Comment

180px-E85_fuel.svg.pngAdding more corn-based ethanol into gasoline will create a higher demand for corn, which will raise the price of corn. In short, it’s a recipe for disaster, according to three recent studies. A study by Advanced Economics Solutions concluded that corn prices “will be much higher and more volatile” if corn-based ethanol production increases. If corn acreage “does not grow significantly” more than half of the corn crop in the U.S. “will be diverted from food and feed to fuel if corn ethanol production grows to 22.1 billion gallons.”

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Magic Beans for 100 Nuclear Power Plants

Jeff Siegel | Thursday June 18th, 2009 | 18 Comments

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At some point you just have to ask yourself, what is it that these politicians are getting to push nuclear energy so hard?
Last week, House Republicans called for a hundred new nuclear power plants to be built in the next two decades. They say that this is part of the legislation they’re backing because it’s better than what the Democrats are offering.

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Heineken Wobo Bottle: A Solution To Sustainable Housing Before its Time

| Wednesday June 17th, 2009 | 20 Comments

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The TriplePundit European tour had an interesting break today at the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam. Easily one of the world’s most recognizable brands, Heineken’s brewery tour itself was an impressive, if somewhat over-the-top exploration of marketing saavy. Somewhere on the tour they may have mentioned brewing beer.

With an eye for sustainability, I would not have been particularly impressed if not for a small display explaining what can only be described as a genius Triple Bottom Line idea way before its time – the Wobo bottle of the early 1960s.

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Let me explain…

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