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 »
Purchases by some of the nation’s largest corporations, as well as governments and agencies, led to a record total of voluntary “green” power purchases in 2008, according to a ClimateBiz report.
Intel and PepsiCo topped the list of buyers for Green-e Energy Certified renewable power, the Center for Resource Solutions announced late last month. A non-profit agency, the Center provides third-party certifications for the renewable power market.
The rankings were released a few days prior to California Senator Barbara Boxer predicting that Congress would draft legislation to put a national emissions cap-and-trade system in place prior to the December UN international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, which aim to produce a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
Click to continue reading »
By and large, a cause marketing initiative works best when a company is deeply committed to a particular social issue, and incorporates a greater platform for change than merely transactional efforts. While it has value to tie the proceeds from sales to a particular cause, it has the potential to confuse the landscape if it is not a) made abundantly clear the percentage of the transaction that will be going toward charitable efforts and b) part of a larger, multi-faceted program for affecting change across business functions. (Translation: not only marketing.)
If a consumer pays five dollars for a cup of (RED)coffee at Starbucks, do they feel as though they have contributed that entire amount directly to the cause? Does that, then, give them a sense of doing good without making any additional efforts to help? Would it have been more beneficial for that customer to have given $5 directly to Project RED and forgo the coffee?
These questions bring up the core issues around cause marketing as a campaign [to drive sales/create the perception of social consciousness] vs. an outreach [to drive change/build upon an authentic mission of social consciousness]. It also highlights the importance of transparency around the impact of campaign dollars used and the need for clear communication with consumers so that they can make the most educated choice about their charitable contributions. In some cases, the purchase of a cause-branded item may be better spent as a direct donation with 100% of the contributiion benefitting the charity.
Fortunately, with companies like sweetriot, consumers don’t have to struggle with that decision. Founded on a commitment to create a multicultural world, Sarah Endline, built a company that spells consciousness in every tiny chocolate ‘peace’ candy that keeps cacao farmers employed and underdeveloped countries thriving.
Analysts ganging up on solar stocks are worried about the insecurity of demand in the wake of cheaper conventional energy prices. Reduced government subsidies for the photovoltaic solar industry in Germany and Spain are also frequently cited as a reason to downgrade solar stocks. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There still are exceptional companies to be found.
Research house iSuppli recently put out a report estimating that worldwide turnover of solar PV panels will decline by 20% this year. Turnover of solar panel sales will dip from over $15 billion in 2008 to $13 billion in 2009 – marking the sector’s first ever contraction. The reason they say? Overproduction in 2008. Solar panel manufacturers produced 7.7 Gigawatts of solar capacity last year but only half of that production was actually connected.
As the industry icons of the old economic order crumble, TriplePundit offers you an inspiring example of a new, highly-promising business model. Through a conversation with the founder of Rentagreenbox.com, we look at how one young company is winning green awards and turning a profit.
Rentagreenbox bills itself as “the first, zero-waste pack and move solution in America.” The California based company converts post-consumer trash to an array of moving products and offers a sustainable solution for both residential and commercial moves. In brief, the company offers a moving assessment, delivers the rented moving supplies in trucks powered by biodiesel or vegetable oil, and then returns to pick up the boxes. The material comes from local landfills, a key supply source for their sustainable operation. The recopack [recycled ecological packing solution], a stackable plastic bin, is the cornerstone of their business.
A successful product designer before launching Rentagreenbox (formerly Earth Friendly Moving), founder Spencer Brown’s environmental awareness extended to beach cleanups and frequent trips to the farmers market. Today, he says simply, “I’ve evolved.” Click to continue reading »
Finding a filling station for your alternative fuel vehicle just got a whole lot easier, thanks to a mobile information service developed by the US Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, which manages the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center.
Building out a network of filling stations is a big part of the challenge when it comes to spurring demand for and use of alternative fuel vehicles. Whether it’s E85, biodiesel, compressed natural gas, electricity or hydrogen, there doesn’t seem to be near enough facilities around the nation to make alternative fuel vehicles convenient, certainly from a nationwide perspective.
Looking to make it easier for alternative fuel vehicle owners to locate what is out there the DoE yesterday announced the launch of the Mobile Alternative Fueling Station Locator, a project sponsored by the Clean Cities Initiative.
“Most drivers don’t realize alternative fuels are readily available in their areas, so the goal of the mobile station locator is to show them that alternative fueling sites are conveniently located,” stated Dennis Smith, director of the National Clean Cities program. “Mobile Internet access means consumers can find alternative fuel stations at their convenience, whenever and where ever they want.”
Making use of some of the latest mobile GPS-enabled location services, the mobile service uses Google Maps to produce maps to fueling sites and lists stations’ names, locations, contact information and business hours. Detailed driving directions and instant phone connections are accessible via this website.
By Sudha Reddy
The IT industry contributes the same amount of emissions as the global air travel industry. It’s rumored that about 7 tons of CO2 are emitted per every million Google searches. Imagine the gigantic datacenters and servers that need to run all across the world to find answers to your queries. Given our current effects of climate change, technologies are probably harmful to the environment. But think about the world’s carbon footprint without the internet. “The Internet itself is carbon negative” says Subodh Bagat, Vice President, Energy Efficiency at Sun Microsystems, speaking at a recent “State of the Green Clean Industry” conference in Santa Clara. “Think of all the pages you need to print and all the miles you travel to share information and you can do online shopping too.” Without the Internet we’d be forced to emit much more carbon than we already do.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is one of the biggest areas of opportunity right now in reducing carbon emission. Datacenters are the first point of energy consumption in this industry. If datacenters can be more effectively harnessed by society, we can achieve huge energy savings. And unlike green consumer products, these can be made cost effective to the consumer. ICT’s can not only help in having a direct environmental impact but can also make people aware of the fact that things they do can have an indirect impact on the environment. Regulators should help force such efficiencies in this industry. Unlike Europe, the US regulations around ICT are focused on the wrong things. For example, a server is considered energy efficient if it uses less energy without comparison to how much work it does. Click to continue reading »