You Can’t Create Social Good Without Taking Social Actions

| Friday March 27th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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One of the reasons cause branding campaigns work so well is because it allows consumers to make doing good part of their regular routine. Someone can buy a cup of coffee and feel a sense of purpose without having to do any extra leg work. This ease of giving is magnified by Social Actions, a website that has aggregated literally thousands of charitable organizations and programs to connect users with causes, groups, and volunteer activities. Through a sophisticated database, users can access a multitude of resources designed to link them with opportunities for taking action without having to labor over research to find the right charity or how to get involved. Harnessing the power of social media and open source technology, Founder, Peter Deitz has made taking social actions as simple and targeted as a Google search with results as far-reaching as your desire to change the world.

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Did Apollo Alliance Influence the Stimulus?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday March 27th, 2009 | 3 Comments

recovery-doc.gifLabor and environmental groups used to be on opposite sides. However, those days are long gone, according to a recent report, High Road or Low Road: Job Quality in the New Green Economy. The report mentions the 2004 creation of an alliance of labor, environmental groups, business, and social justice leaders called Apollo Alliance. The same year Apollo Alliance was formed it released a report that called for a ten-year investment in a “clean energy, good jobs” economy.
In December, the Apollo Alliance released its recommendations for an economic recovery act, calling it the Apollo Economic Recovery Act (AERA). The Alliance released the Act in response to Obama’s call a week before for a “big stimulus package.”

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In Search of the Eco-Friendly Golf Course

| Friday March 27th, 2009 | 8 Comments

Here’s a fun experiment: go to your favorite deep-green environmentalist friend and say the phrase “sustainable golf course.” You’re likely to be subjected to at least half an hour of explanations about why golf is inherently unsustainable. Or maybe you’re the deep-greenie questioning the existence of the mythic green golf course–you’ve probably heard references in passing to such a creature, but you don’t really believe it exists. After catching wind of a golf course in Panama that is pushing its sustainability as a main selling point, I decided that it was worth finding.

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SF Mayor Pushes to Increase Energy and Green Jobs Program by $4 Million

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday March 26th, 2009 | 0 Comments

sfe-greenlogo.gifSan Francisco’s family-owned Lombardi Sports has been selling sporting gear for more than 50 years, inspiring the city’s active citizens to get outside. But with the help of the SF Energy Watch program, the company recently turned its attentions to an inside activity: improving the energy efficiency of its 50,000 square-foot Polk St. store. In the process, Lombardi’s lowered its monthly energy bill by $3000.
SF Mayor Gavin Newsom found the Lombardi store a fitting place to announce plans to expand the energy efficiency program today. He introduced a resolution at the Board of Supervisors this week to increase funding for the SF Environment Department program by $3.7 million. This would bring the total invested in the program to nearly $18 million. The money for SF Energy Watch comes from a percentage of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) ratepayer bills.

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Top 7 Reasons Why This Recession Is a Great Time to Start a Green Business

Scott Cooney | Thursday March 26th, 2009 | 7 Comments

newgreenbusinessShiraGolding.jpgWhile counterintuitive, a recession is actually a terrific time to start a business. Sure, credit is tight, and venture capital is definitely hard to come by, so startup ideas requiring large amounts of up-front capital are perhaps best left to the drawing board for the moment. But for many entrepreneurs with a dream, startup capital requirements are small, and other elements of the economic outlook are very favorable.

As far as timing, for most businesses, it simply takes time for their product, service, or brand to become recognized, trusted, and sought after. Estimates vary widely, but it is simply a truth that average customers have to see your product or company several times before they make a purchase. This makes a recession a great time to get your name out there while most other companies are cutting back and the competition for people’s attention is less. Your company will be in good shape when the economy rebounds.
So while recessions can be a good time, and historically have been a good time for businesses to get their start, this particular recession is a great time to start a green business. Here’s why:

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National Grid Is Offering Carbon Bonuses to Execs

Richard Levangie | Thursday March 26th, 2009 | 0 Comments


In the wake of the AIG scandal, it’s refreshing to see that some companies are tying company bonuses to significant achievements for both the corporation and society. National Grid- a London – based utility company – has has become the latest and biggest UK firm to link the company’s success in reducing its carbon footprint to executive remuneration packages. The company will also implement carbon budgets across its entire operations starting next month, and incorporate the cost of compliance within those budgets.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t cut it, so National Grid has been conducting a detailed greenhouse gas emissions inventory over the last 12 months to provide senior management with the tools to track each division’s carbon footprint, and take the steps necessary to improve the overall environmental performance. Although the remuneration committee still hasn’t decided what weight to give carbon reductions in compensation packages, a National Grid spokeswoman expects that it will become an increasingly important metric.

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What Does “Green Cell Phone” Really Mean?

| Thursday March 26th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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If I offered you a “green” cell phone for sale, what would you expect? Would you expect it to be made with recyclable or biodegradable thermoplastics? Would you expect it to come with a minimum of toxic heavy metals, or low-strength radio waves? What about the programs on it – would you expect the phone to tell you how to live a “greener” lifestyle?
Or would you think I was just schlocking another flip phone painted some ugly green color?

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Lifecrete: Genuine Eco-Masonry for Your Home and Office

| Thursday March 26th, 2009 | 2 Comments

lifeblock.png Gone are the days that we have to use toxic ingredients to build our homes and work-spaces. Lifecrete offers a new alternative for construction materials, one that ticks the boxes on the sustainability front for both a product and business model. But what does Lifecrete offer to make this choice attractive for builders and consumers?
In today’s building industry, going ¬®green¬® is paramount. In 2007, the National Association of Home Builders reported that 90% of builders incorporated green elements into their projects, reflecting a trend that we all want to live — or at least strive to live — more sustainable lives. But much of the green elements incorporated into construction are secondary aspects, such as solar panels, water management systems, or energy-saving white goods, and little has been done regarding the actual building shell.
As well, many green construction products are damaging to the environment, using the tag ¨energy efficient¨ to grab consumer attention but utilizing such elements as toxic plastic sealers, chemical conditioners, Styrofoam, and traditional concrete, which is a major contributor to greenhouse gas. LifeCrete changes this trend, bringing to the market an affordable choice in masonry, the LifeBlock, that is a genuinely green product.

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A Vital Piece Missing in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act

Scott Cooney | Wednesday March 25th, 2009 | 2 Comments

van_stairs.jpgAlso known as the stimulus package, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), along with Van Jones‘ appointment as Green Jobs Czar, will help American workers get back to work with job training and incentives for green initiatives. The subject has been well covered in the blogosphere and with good reason. Interest in the green economy is at an all time high, while employment is at…well, it’s not good.
But there’s a piece of the equation that’s missing. What happens when all of those people get trained, weatherize 60 million homes and offices, and the green work starts to dry up? We’d be missing a tremendous opportunity if we didn’t take this process one step further: help these people become independent by providing them the tools they need to start their own business and be successful in the green economy.
Right now, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has no programs designed to help small business owners go green. No advisory councils, no tax incentive worksheets specifically for eco-friendly initiatives, and no loan specialists who focus on the green market. I started a petition to Karen Mills, Administrator of the SBA. I’d encourage everyone not to just sign it, but to take this message further.
Without green businesses to continue the momentum of the current interest in green, the ARRA risks being just a stimulus bill. Barack Obama and the Democrats would be wise not to let that happen, as that is likely to be the greatest criticism of the bill after the dust settles.
No agency has more potential for being a catalyst for a green overhaul on our economy than the SBA, as half a million Americans start businesses every year in the U.S. However, after a thorough search of the SBA site, I could find nothing related to helping businesses go green, so I started calling the agency, getting passed from person to person until I was passed to something called the ‘advocacy’ group. I began by asking one of the advisors how he felt the SBA might work with Van Jones to help create the green transition. After a few moments, there was a pregnant pause in the air, so I stopped, not knowing what I had said wrong.
“Who is Van Jones?” he asked.
So what would a greener SBA look like? Glad you asked…

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Exxon: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Jeff Siegel | Wednesday March 25th, 2009 | 6 Comments

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Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the nation’s worst oil spill. It was on March 24, 1989 when the Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of crude into the fishing waters of Prince William Sound. It was a tragic day, indeed.
I know, I know. It’s not popular these days to “bring everyone down” with reminders of those pesky oil spills. With energy security a major issue, and years of mocking those who think it’s a good idea to consider the loss of natural capital associated with the production and burning of fossil fuels, we’ve almost become immune to oil spills – writing them off as simply “the cost of doing business.”
So let’s examine that cost, shall we?

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U.S. Climate Action Partnership: A Carbon Fox in the Cap-and-Trade Henhouse

Nick Hodge | Wednesday March 25th, 2009 | 0 Comments

U.S. Climate Action PartnershipTaken at face value, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) seems like an organization with a selfless goal.

On its website, the entity describes itself as "a group of businesses and leading environmental organizations that have come together to call on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions."

I’ll stop short of calling it sinister, but there is certainly more going on here than meets the eye.

Here’s the nitty-gritty on the USCAP, including details on the policy they’re trying to stay ahead of.

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US Solar Market Had Record Growth in 2008 Despite Economy

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday March 25th, 2009 | 6 Comments

The last year has been filled with news of plummeting property values, widespread unemployment, and bankruptcies. However, judging from stock values of solar companies over the last year, you would never know that the industry experienced record growth last year for both photovoltaics (PV) and solar water heating according to a report recently released by the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Despite the credit crisis, 2008 will be remembered in the solar industry as a year where federal incentives were enhanced and extended for eight years. This ends the boom and bust cycles that have plagued the industry for decades.

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Five Fab Ideas Fight to Be Financial Times Challenge Champion

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday March 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

FT_chall.jpgPre-fabricated, low-cost bamboo housing to meet growing demand in Latin America. Climate forecasting designed to help business mitigate the impacts of environmental changes on their firms. A text-messaging service that acts as a bulletin board for taxi-sharing. These are just a few of the 300 entries received in the Financial Times Climate Change Challenge, a competition designed to spur carbon-cutting innovations (and sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and Forum for the Future).
The judging panel, which includes business tycoons (Sir Richard Branson, HP CEO Mark Hurd, Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy) as well as policy and research experts from groups such as the Pew Center, MIT, and Forum for the Future) has whittled the list down to five contestants, from which it will pluck a winner on April 3. The winner gets $75,000 to help develop their product or service and bring it to market. But you get to help pick the winner, too, by voting on FT.com. Here are your options:

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SRI: A Profitable Path to Independence from Pesticides and GMO Rice Seeds

| Wednesday March 25th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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Rice. It’s a staple crop for much of the world. And it uses a lot of water and pesticides to grow it. Not good in a world where water is likely to become an increasingly scarce resource. One supposed solution are proprietary high yield breeds, but that requires repeated purchase from the same company, say, Monsanto. Lotus Foods has another idea.
SRI, or System of Rice Intensification takes a different route than the typical method of rice cultivation – Instead of transplanting 3-6 week old seedlings, planting them close together, and flooding the field with water, they use much younger seedlings, less then 2 weeks old, and plant them farther apart. They need not remain submerged, only requiring periodic irrigation and then left to dry out. Organic fertilizers can replace the typical chemical ones, and there’s no need for pesticides.
In results that are sure to irk the Monsantos of the world, this method can increase yields by 50-100%, decrease water use by 25-50%, requiring 80-90% less seed, with less work to cultivate. Numbers that are sure to be attractive to just about any farmer.

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Do You Know Where LA Gets Its Water?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday March 25th, 2009 | 11 Comments

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California is in its third year of drought. Last summer Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a State of Emergency Proclamation for the San Joaquin Valley’s nine counties, an area considered to be the agricultural center of the world. Schwarzenegger characterized the drought as the “the most significant water crisis” in the state’s history. The drought has left state reservoir’s at 35 percent capacity.
Recently, Good Magazine posted information about where Los Angeles gets its water. Not surprisingly, none of the city’s water is locally sourced. A major source of its water is the Owens River-Tinemaha Reservoir, 133 miles away in Owens Valley. The water in the Owens River- Tinemaha Reservoir comes from
the State Water Project, a 444 mile-long water system which begins in Northern California.

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