Electric Vehicle Service Provider Seeks to Make Australia a “Better Place”

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments


Project Better Place, the self-described world leader in providing electric vehicle (EV) services, has taken on a huge project – one of the biggest islands in the world, to be exact. Project Better Place has announced that that it will deploy an EV network in Canberra, Australia – the first Australian city the company has tackled.

The goal of the project, which is aptly named Better Place Australia, will be to challenge the nation to embrace EV transportation. Better Place Australia is a cooperative endeavor between Project Better Place, AGL Energy (which will provide renewable energy to the network), and Macquarie Group (which will arrange financing). The project will require around $1A billion for a 2012 launch.

Why did Project Better Place want to convert Australia to using electric vehicle networks? In part, because its successful conversion of the nation – the largest country Project Better Place has targeted thus far – would underscore the company’s savvy. It is widely assumed that Project Better Place is seeking to involve local (Australian) auto manufacturers (including GM unit Ford and Holden) in the project. In an interview with BusinessGreen.com, Project Better Place founder and chief executive Shai Agassi revealed that he believes the next several years will witness a revolution of the auto industry; Project Better Place seeks to be at the forefront of that revolution. Agassi also described Australia as an ideal location for the development of EV transportation, given its abundant lithium, iron, and phosphate supplies (the fuels of the future, he said).

If Agassi is correct, Project Better Place’s EV endeavors worldwide will be unstoppable. He believes oil is on a terminal downward spiral, and sooner or later EV technology will emerge as the most viable option.

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Environmentaland – Hollywood’s Newest Quirky Theme Park

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments


Hollywood is world famous for many things – celebrities, sunshine, and shopping among them. But a new Hollywood attraction is the first of its kind: Environmentaland, an eco-themed park that opened this month at Hollywood Boulevard and North Highland Avenue.

The park is expected to entertain adults and kids alike, with attractions including an energy-generating see-saw, alternative energy-fueled golf carts, recycled paper plane takeoff, mini-bin exhibit and designing station, desert mini golf, planetarium, organic pet treats, and “Portal Potties” – mini entertainment history museums encased in redesigned porta potties. As an added perk – and a strong hint toward sustainable travel – visitors who travel to the park via public transport pay no admission. (Students also get in free.) In addition to these year-round attractions, the park will host special events including art shows, film screenings, recycling drives, and design contests.

Global Inheritance is the organization responsible for creating Environmentaland. The non-profit aims to bring about social, environmental, and community change by engaging young people. Global Inheritance runs a number of ongoing programs, inclujding TRASHed – Art of Recycling (a recycling awareness campaign), Tour Rider (a traffic reduction initiative), The Bigger Picture film nights (which expose global warming and other issues), and Alternative Fuel RC Racing (which allows participants to race miniature-sized alt-fueled cars). Its past projects include the organizing of a free shuttle to Coachella Music Festival to minimize the event’s carbon footprint.

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Greenwashing Is So 2008; Spencer Pratt Ushers in the Age of Greencarpeting

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

LA_UrsittiEntinSpencerIs greenwashing no longer doing the trick? Consider greencarpeting instead! No, I’m not talking about installing wall-to-wall Interface rugs. I’m talking about staging press events with the likes of “green celebrities” Spencer Pratt and Corey Feldman walking the red—I mean, green!, sorry–carpet. No, I’m serious. That really happened.

Here’s the nutty part: the event wasn’t promoting some kind of ridiculous new “green” luxury handbag line or eco-friendly bottled water with special chakra-aligning energy boosters. It was the launch of an at-home ethanol fueling system called the Microfueler, which uses household food waste as feedstock. Sure, the merits of this fueling system are yet to be widely tested, but it’s a step in the right direction (and hey, hybrid-Hummer driver Governor Schwarzenegger recently endorsed the system and Sierra Nevada brewing company plans to feed beer waste into the system and use it to fuel its vehicle fleet).

LA-based GreenHouse, a “purveyor of green building services and products, including the revolutionary at-home Efuel 100 Microfueler,” according to its website, threw the event at the home of its CEO (who formerly worked in the entertainment industry).

GreenHouse doesn’t make the fueling system; it was developed by Los Gatos, Calif. startup E-Fuel. But GreenHouse seems to think that media-hording, reality-show vets couple Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag—whose CVs include gigs promoting Taco Bell and the McCain/Palin ticket—will be helpful in promoting the fuel-at-home systems. (Rather ironically, Heidi Montag recently posted this tweet, presumably from a gas station: “pumping gas i almost ran out! opps praise God i didnt!”.)

But shouldn’t aligning ones product with celebrities be handled with the utmost care? Sure, Corey Feldman released a song about saving the earth, called Green is the Colour, but he’s no Ed Begley, Jr.

Certainly, actors and musicians can bring tons of attention and cache to environmental issues (Daryl Hannah and Brad Pitt come to mind) but, wow, maybe GreenHouse should vet the invite list a little better next time. In this case, at least, celebrity endorsements might do more harm than good.

But then again, I guess it worked. I’m writing about, it after all. What do you think? Is greencarpeting the new greenwashing?

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Going, Going, Green: New Film Festival Spotlights the Environment

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

hollywood & green

GGFFSomewhat serendipitously, only a week after I launched my new ‘Hollywood & Green’ series focusing on socially responsible cinema and TV, film and documentaries that help connect consumers with important causes and environmental issues, the Going Green Film Festival opened its doors to eco-conscious filmmakers everywhere. The first of its kind, the Going Green Film Festival has set out to reward and recognize green filmmakers who fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Green Production - Where environmentally responsible filmmaking practices were employed to lessen the carbon footprint left on the planet (with sufficient documentation of the process)
  • Our Planet - Where the film’s topic covers third world issues, ecology, nature or the environment
  • Hybrid/Alternative Transporation - Where the film features a hybrid vehicle,
    bicycle, electric scooter or public transportation.

The Going Green Film Festival aims to spotlight those who are working to preserve our planet through entertainment and help inspire other filmmakers to adopt green practices, build greater awareness of social and environmental issues, and raise money for the Minorities in Broadcast Training Program (MIBTP),
a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed in 1992 to provide training opportunities to college graduates in
TV/radio news reporting, news management and film/TV production. I had an opportunity to chat with Festival Founder, Patrice Williams, to learn more about their efforts, and her thoughts on the importance of green filmmaking.

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Kimberly-Clark commits to a path towards Sustainability

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Picture 1When you’re a company like Kimberly-Clark, embracing sustainable business practices is central to the long-term success of your business.   Unlike a digital company, Kimberly-Clark’s business relies on a steady flow of natural resources to make its products.  This week Kimberly-Clark, the maker of paper products like Kleenex, Huggies, and Kotex, committed to sourcing all of its fiber from 100% of the wood fiber for its products from environmentally responsible sources.

According to the company and Greenpeace, by the end of 2011 the company will no longer use any pulp cut from endangered forests by increasing the company’s use of FSC-certified pulp and recycled fiber globally.   As the largest tissue company in the world, Kimberly-Clark has made a major commitment that’s good for the planet and good for their business.

Using a STaR analysis you can begin to understand the logic behind the decision.  STaR analysis is a scenario-planning tool that helps businesses look at changes in Society, Technology and Resources and how those changes will affect their business.

From a societal standpoint, Kimberly-Clark has been subjected a loud and boisterous activist campaign by Greenpeace since 2004.  Watch this video from Greenpeace reminiscing on the campaign.  With big, popular brands like Kleenex in its portfolio, Kimberly-Clark coundn’t afford to be known as supporting the cutting of some of the world’s most endangered forests.   From a technological standpoint, there have been a number of paper process advances which have made it easier to recycle paper and maintain softness and quality.  And from a resource perspective, Kimberly-Clark has prepared themselves for future virgin wood shortages as demand and regulation increase.  This protects their supply chain from future shocks while their competitors will still be reliant on being able to cut from endangered forests.

Allen Hershkowitz, the paper expert at NRDC, and someone I’ve known and respected for a long-time, is still quite critical of Kimberly-Clark.  He wants them to commit to a higher percentage of recycled content in all their products, instead of just making sure that there are no endangered forests being cut for them.  You can read his blog post here.

But overall, this was was a great step for the employees and shareholders of Kimberly-Clark, and Greenpeace should be congratulated for helping to raise the profile of this issue.

See Marc Gunther’s excellent blog for another post on this topic.

Here’s the Greenpeace campaign page.

Here’s Kimberly-Clark’s Announcement.

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Renewable Energy Can’t Be an Afterthought in the Quest to Meet Climate Goals

Jeff Siegel | Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments

transmissionA new report from the Electric Power Research Institute noted that in order to meet climate goals, the U.S. power industry must implement a full portfolio of technologies.

While we agree that we’ll have to pull out all the stops in the race to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must not trade one problem for another.

In the EPRI report, an awful lot of attention was focused on cleaner coal technology and more nuclear development. Certainly this is one way to decrease CO2 emissions – but it’s also a way to further liquidate our natural capital. Things like healthy soil, clean water, minerals, clean air, and living systems.

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Thank You Readers, Environmental Defense Fund, and Greener World Media

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment

As you likely noticed, the 3p team has been hard at work to provide the people who have made what started as a little side project the conversation-starting site that it is today. We’d like to thank you, our readers for being part of the movement in support of integrating people, planet, and profit in business. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, your time, and all of the nice things you say about us (at least when we are within earshot).

As an independent business media company, we depend on the support of like-minded companies and organizations. You’ll notice in the recent redesign of this site that we have begun featuring the logos of sponsors, as part of our vision for deeper, long-term partnerships that will create value for our prized readers. Please join us in thanking our friends at the EDF Innovation Exchange and Greener World Media this month for their support.

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Europe’s Impending Biodiesel Trade War?

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments

EUEurope’s “Renewable Energy Directive,” which the European Commission adopted in June, appears to be creating waves. The Directive is intended to encourage increased production of renewable energy, including biodiesel fuels, by the European Union, thereby improving Europe’s economy while protecting the environment. However, while these goals are not mutually exclusive in theory, analysts believe the European biofuel producers’ response to the Directive may trigger a “global trade war,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Protectionist attitudes seem to be at the core of the issue. Some European biofuel producers, fearing competition from abroad, are seeking restrictions on foreign biofuels. Already, they successfully pressured Brussels into restricting foreign imports of biodiesel. The Commission also seeks to impose hefty production standards on Asian and Western Hemisphere (but not European) fuels, while one coalition seeks to punish American biofuel producers specifically for their impact on the developing world and “dumping” of subsidized biofuels onto the international market. European biodiesel producers have also targeted Asian imports, which they claim aren’t environmentally friendly enough.

Given the potential disaster these measures could have on international trade and relations, it’s no wonder trade analysts are buzzing. While Europe’s need to create a viable domestic biofuel market is real and pressing, so are its consumers’ needs for cheaper, cleaner energy in a struggling economy. Some analysts believe Europe should rely on solar and wind power, while others believe these wouldn’t produce enough viable energy. Analysts also emphasize that Europe’s biofuel producers aren’t exactly struggling: 78 percent of biofuels used in the EU are from the EU’s own biofuel producers, while Europe produces 65 percent of the world’s biodiesel fuels.

The Wall Street Journal writer concludes his report by calling on the EU to defend free-trade of biodiesel fuels. Would this approach work?

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Fewer Children Better for the Environment?

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 5 Comments

angrybabyAre there too many obvious environmental impact reports being written?

The question arises after reading a study out of Oregon State University, which points out that — get ready — having children increases your carbon footprint.

The study, led by Paul Murtaugh, an OSU professor of statistics, shows that an additional child has an environmental impact more than 20 times greater than any other environmentally friendly behavior an individual might do over a lifetime. From the OSU press release:

“When an individual produces a child – and that child potentially produces more descendants in the future – the effect on the environment can be many times the impact produced by a person during their lifetime.”

In other words: people have an effect on the environment, and more people have more of an effect. Not exactly an earth-shattering discovery.

The study is not only a recitation of the obvious, however.

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Cash for Clunkers: If You Want to Be Green, Consider Keeping Your “Clunker”

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 6 Comments

Honda dealer-page-frog1By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

The Federal “cash for clunkers” program has been front-page news this week.  Car dealers are elated, as sales are clearly up as a result of the program. The program is so popular it quickly spent the initial $1 billion that was allotted for rebates.  And by Friday, the Senate might approve an additional $2 billion to keep it going.

The program is being touted as having both economic and environmental benefits.  While it is clear that the program has spurred car sales, it falls short on its green credentials.

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Register Now for the Green Software Unconference Silicon Valley August 19.

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments


For those of you in the SF Bay Area interested in software and technology another great “un-conference” is coming up on the 19th:

Check out the Green Software Unconference Silicon Valley August 19 at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California to collaborate and innovate for the environment.

Register now with a 10% Discount Code for the Green Software Unconference and Forward to Your Friends. Register here.

Discount Code: triplep

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Join 3P at the GRI Reporting Seminar in San Diego!

| Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 2 Comments
Even Al Gore gets a little overwhelmed by carbon accounting

Even Al Gore gets a little overwhelmed by carbon accounting

Documenting the environmental impact of your organization in a rigorous way can be pretty daunting. If you’re like me, you sat down to do it for the first time with a full cup of coffee and the best of intentions and and you quickly got discouraged. What should the scope of my emissions boundary be? Wait, what is a scope? Which emissions factor will I use? What’s an emissions factor again? Will we include employee commuting or just business travel? You’re telling me I have to weigh my paper now? I think it’s time for lunch…

Now you don’t have to go it alone! There are people to teach the guidelines to you!

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Safety-Kleen Auto Parts: “Save the Planet. Just Change Your Oil.”

| Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 3 Comments

EcoPower Recycled Motor Oil In 2008, according to its website, Safety-Kleen collected more than 225 million gallons of used oil. In the same year, Safety-Kleen recycled approximately 145 million of it into base oil products for re-use in the marketplace.

This morning, Safety-Kleen announced a partnership with a Massachusetts-based service center to exclusively feature their “green” oil in all its oil changes. “By choosing EcoPower for their next oil change, South Shore residents are helping to reduce greenhouse gases that affect global warming,” said Chris Lucchetti, owner of Lucchetti’s, said in a press release. “We like to say, ‘Change the Planet. Just Change Your Oil.'”

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What’s the Biggest Threat to Bike-Sharing: Vandals or Plummeting Ad Sales?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 3 Comments

Decades of attempts at making bikes free and easy to share in urban settings—such as in The Netherlands; Portland, Oregon; Madison, Wisconsin—indicated that there’s no such thing as a free bike. Most of the steeds were eventually stolen or strewn into canals or otherwise rendered useless.  But forcing riders to pony up a deposit and/or pay a fee for using a bike beyond a set amount of time (say, a half hour) has led to some success in places such as Lyon, France, where the Velo’v system introduced a means for using smart cards and specialized bikes and locking racks to combine convenience with security.

In Paris, the two-year-old Velib system boasts an astounding 20,600 bicycles, which are stored at more than 1,450 stations and checked in and out using a payment and smart card system similar to the one designed by Velo’v.

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NASCAR Track Puts Solar Power in the Pole Position

| Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

nascarI’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the overlap between NASCAR fans and environmentalists is not large. But now they’ve got at least one shared topic of conversation:

Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway, which hosts two NASCAR events each year, plans to build a three megawatt solar power plant to provide the track with electricity.

At three megawatts, it would be the world’s biggest solar energy project at a sports facility, and Pennsylvania’s largest to date (at least two other 3 mW farms in PA are in earlier stages of development).

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