Timing’s Right for a Net Zero Gasoline Tax?

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

classicoldpickup.jpg The amazingly sharp drop in oil prices – talk about the great risks, and rewards, of investment bubbles and inflationary monetary policy– is providing Americans some welcome relief at the pump. Unfortunately, it’s taken a financial and monetary system collapse and widening, deepening recession for the price of crude to fall so far, so fast.
There are a number of good, solid reasons why the drop in oil prices need not forestall the drive to diversify the U.S. energy base– enhancing national security and putting international relations and foreign policy on much more sound footing not the least among them. And as former Intel CEO Andy Grove points out in a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly, basing long-term energy policy on short-term fluctuations in fossil fuel prices is a recipe for energy catastrophe.
In a Weekly Standard article, contributing editor Charles Krauthammer argues that Obama and his team have what’s likely to be a short window of opportunity to enact a gasoline tax, something that’s long been anathema to the U.S. public, and considered only somewhat shy of political suicide. Krauthammer offers a revenue neutral twist to the one-sided theme, however, one that makes it more digestible.

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Are You Solar Ready? Solar Red’s Disruptive Solar PV Technology Can Halve Cost of Residential Solar

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 12 Comments

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A typical residential solar system will put you back ~$20,000+ after credits and incentives and requires extensive design work and several trained technicians toiling on your roof – drilling, wiring, bolting, and performing other complex tasks to build the proper infrastructure. What if your roof were built for solar panels, and installing them were as simple as snapping panels into place? And what if it didn’t cost you an arm and a leg?
Chances are a lot more people would be going solar today. This is exactly what Solar Red aims to do. Based in San Jose, California, Solar Red is still more concept than product, but their concept won them runner up in the California Clean Tech Open (CCTO), and is poised to entirely disrupt the residential solar market by making it affordable.
After learning of the exciting new technology at the CCTO, I was intrigued. But with a website just now emerging from stealth mode (launching any day now), and purposefully limited press coverage, I had to sit down with CEO Joe Augenbraun to get more information. Augenbraun reviewed the piece you are reading now, and told me it is more revealing of his start-up than any previous coverage or their soon to launch website, so consider yourself privy to breaking start-up news.
Solar Red wants to reinvent residential solar installation, and cut the cost in half with its proprietary, patent-pending technology. Solar Red’s core product is a plug-and-play solar panel mounting system featuring a bracket that interleaves with the shingles of a roof, which can be installed at the time of construction, or retrofitted into the roof.
The brackets are cheap to manufacture and install – it costs $825 in additional costs to make a new roof solar ready. Then special Solar Red compatible solar panels can simply be clicked into place on the roof, taking mere minutes to install.

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The New New Deal: A Cooperative Approach to the Integrated Bottom Line

3p Contributor | Tuesday January 6th, 2009 | 12 Comments

by David Bruce, Tina Butler, Brian Bishop and Jennifer Boynton
Policies developed by the Obama administration need to integrate an entrepreneurial approach, government support, and the community in order to fully realize the triple bottom line. With full participation, we can successfully move beyond the Triple and create an integrated bottom line wherein social, environmental and financial benefits are all achievable at the same time
One of the biggest barriers to adopting an integrated bottom line into a traditional business model is agreement on how to quantify the value of environmental and social benefits. Another significant challenge is the ability of investors to capture a return on social benefits. The consequence of these barriers is that projects that can have major gains for a community may not be considered feasible by investors. Developing a community center, for example, with a caf√©, bookstore, farmer’s market, light industrial, and residential housing could have great benefit to a struggling neighborhood by providing jobs and services and drawing other businesses to the neighborhood. But the high cost of capital means a net negative return to investors over a typical payback period. As a consequence, such a project is not considered viable even though the net return for all stakeholders is positive. Our current system only measures benefits of such a project based on the financial returns to the investor. The external benefits like more jobs and services for a community are not captured unless the local government is brought in as a player.

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Emerson Climate Technologies Seeks to Educate and Expand Market for Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling

| Tuesday January 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that installing and using a programmable thermostat to customize and automate room temperature can save energy as well as money. In fact, 25 million households in the U.S. have already installed programmable thermostats in their homes. That’s the good news. The bad news is that only half of those homes actually program them, effectively rendering the potential efficiency of using them moot. It’s reminiscent of the old VCR forever blinking 12:00, except the consequences for homeowners – and even the planet – are greater.

I recently spoke with Geoff Godwin, Vice President of Marketing for Emerson Climate Technologies, the manufacturer of components for HVAC systems and producer of the White-Rogers line of programmable thermostats, about the advantages of using digitally programmable climate control, and how Emerson is seeking to expand the potential market and get that market to not only install the units, but to actually use them as well.

As most readers of Triple Pundit know, efficiency is the big white elephant in the room in terms of addressing dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention saving energy costs in hard economic times. It’s the low-hanging fruit, a strategy in which, according to a report released last fall by the American Physical society, the “opportunities are huge and the costs are small”.

A small, yet significant, aspect of this huge opportunity, says Godwin, is the installation and proper use of programmable thermostats.

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Can Developing Economies Reduce Power Emissions and Still Grow?

| Monday January 5th, 2009 | 3 Comments

ppp13-climchngephoto.jpg Though North American and Western European countries have long been the largest emitters of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, the economies of fast growing developing countries, particularly in Asia, are quickly making up for lost time and ground. China’s rapid industrialization and reliance on conventional coal plants has in a relatively very short time span put it in on a par with that of the U.S. in terms of CO2 emissions, while emissions in rapidly industrializing countries across the Asian continent and around the world are growing faster than elsewhere, a trend that’s forecast to continue for the next few decades.
This divergence has been a contentious “sore” spot between industrialized and industrializing countries as their representatives seek to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, and the workings of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, the principal technology transfer mechanism for developing emissions reduction projects in developing countries.
Seeking to bridge the divide, researchers at the United Nations Environment Program’s Risoe Center in Copenhagen are proposing a set of “no lose” targets for developing nations’ electricity sectors post-2012. Addressing weaknesses in the CDM, they advocate making structural changes that they believe would facilitate achieving significant CO2 reductions in developing countries’ power sectors. Keys to their recommendations are a method for establishing national power sector emissions baselines and credit targets post-2012 for seven large CO2 emitting developing countries, and assessing the amount of potential emissions reductions and credits that could be achieved using them as a reference.

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Ideablob: Making Dreams Come True

3p Contributor | Monday January 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments

so-cap-logo.pngGuest post from our friends at Good Capital:
Jack Alter, a Philadelphia schoolteacher, started giving loans to some of his fellow teachers in 1951 with big dreams and less than $100 in seed money. Since then, Advanta has grown into one of the nation’s largest credit card issuers (through Advanta Bank Corp.) in the small business market. Today, as a respected company with close to 1,000 employees and well over one million small business customers nationwide, they are choosing to give other entrepreneurs and small business owners a chance to pursue their dreams. For those not already in the know, Ideablob.com is an online community sponsored by Advanta Bank comprised of entrepreneurs and small business owners who share their ideas. In addition to the feedback and support provided by a community of like-minded peers, each month the site’s users vote for their favorite idea. The winner is awarded a $10,000 cash prize to either turn their idea into reality or increase the scope and scale of their project.

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EPA’s Love Affair with Carbon About to End

Nick Hodge | Monday January 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment

epa-logo999.jpgThe Environmental Protection Agency is, yet again, not doing the very thing its name implies.
For the umpteenth time in the past few years, the EPA is simply turning its nose up to carbon emissions, as if it shouldn’t and couldn’t regulate them. And that’s bologna.
It started early in 2005, when California asked the EPA if it could more stringently regulate emissions from its millions of automobiles. By 2007, the EPA still hadn’t answered the question, and California sued the EPA in April of that year.
Of course, all this came after most of the civilized world was already three years into the Kyoto Protocol, by which over 150 countries signed-up to voluntarily reduce their emissions by millions of tons.
We better get our act together. Our hubris in failing to regulate emissions on a national level could quickly turn out to be a multi-billion mistake, with expensive ecologic and economic consequences.

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Beyond the Tangible is Where Learning Begins

CCA LiveE | Friday January 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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left-right.jpgby Erin Jacobs
Beyond the tangible work we construct as individuals and in groups, is an emotional being connected to learning experiences in very unique and personal ways. Though most of us grow up thinking it’s the logical and concrete things that validate us as successful human beings, it’s actually the emotional being that makes anything and everything we know come to life. The DMBA graduate program embodies this perspective, but for me, the experience only actualized itself once I learned to embrace it.
Working in teams is no easy task, especially when members have just met. Deciphering personalities is challenging enough without the added pressure of trying to excel in a graduate program. In school, the pressure is on. Our work must be perfect if the professor is to assign the respectable grades high-performing students desire. Having recently graduated from undergraduate studies at UCLA, it is logical to think that professors only know us for what we turn in, for the tangible things we produce. We think it’s up to us to make sure that everyone in the group is meeting expectations and working with high standards in order to receive desirable grades. After all, the work of the group directly reflects each individual and how the professor will perceive us.

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Profitable Philanthropy? The Values Behind the Figures.

| Friday January 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

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profitable%20generosity.jpg Around this time of year, big Fortune 500 companies resuscitate their annual giving campaigns, tossing boatloads of cash at a variety of charities in an attempt to demonstrate their philanthropic side, garnering a substantial amount of PR in the process. Meanwhile, in most cases, these very same companies are those engaging in socially irresponsible business practices such as exploiting offshore labor, animal testing, and wasteful manufacturing processes. It is also often these companies who emit harmful chemical pollutants and represent sizable carbon footprints.
While many of their products represent blockbuster brands in the market who remain popular — and highly profitable — the 2008 Cone Cause Consumer Behavior Study indicates that more than two-thirds of Americans now actively consider a company’s business practices when making purchasing decisions, underscoring socially conscious values as a key driver in the success of emerging companies and brands. In addition, American workers have also indicated that they want to work for an employer who supports a social cause or issue.

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Lost and Found

CCA LiveE | Thursday January 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

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by Jennifer Pechacek
For the past 7 years—through a very challenging journey—I have been groomed within a professional context to provide leadership in project and team management working within architecture, planning and urban design. Communication techniques and skills are imperative to leading teams through the development of multiple projects. Communication helps sustain the outcome and so becoming a better communicator is of particular interest to me. LiveE as a course is designed to address the significance of “effective communication” within professional practice.
I chose to go back to school to break down my “me house”. Attending the dMBA program at CCA has presented me with the opportunities to free my hindered mind, engage in provoking thoughts, provide space for self-reflection and time to question my true self, as I see myself—not just in terms of how others view me. The pressures of professional business practice consistently remind me to remain “strong” and to never reveal my fears. However, during this first semester of dMBA I saw how I own my image. Returning to school has given me the wonderful opportunity to start a difficult conversation with myself.

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Leadership by Design

CCA LiveE | Thursday January 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

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by Erica Frye
The business world has started to recognize something I’ve thought for a long time — designers have exactly what it takes to be great leaders. Here’s why:
We turn vision into reality.
Arguably the most powerful design skill (and the most underestimated, even by designers) is the ability to take abstract concepts and express them tangibly through visuals, messages, and models. We’re innovative at heart, and we bring the new and unusual to life in inspiring ways and show people things they couldn’t have imagined themselves.
We play well with others.
Designers work well independently, yet we also have the emotional intelligence and curiosity it takes to thrive in collaborative groups. We welcome input from those who will show us different perspectives, give us inspiration when we are stuck, criticize us when we can no longer see clearly, and push us to improve our work in ways we cannot achieve alone.
We see the big picture.
The best designers have a broad understanding of history, culture, and people, which gives us the perspective needed to see the long-range vision and give it context. We explore connections between unlikely things and weave those threads together into compelling stories that resonate.
We sweat the details.
I’ve never met a good designer who wasn’t obsessed with details! That level of attention can seem over-the-top, but consistent details are what provide the depth necessary to build up an idea and turn it into a rich, seamless experience.
We take work personally.
Regardless of what people say it’s rarely “just business”, especially when your business is creation. We are passionate about ideas, and the emotional investment we have in our work drives us to improve and learn constantly.
We are committed to sustainability.
Designers are on the front lines of the green revolution, perhaps because we have designed, built, and packaged so many wasteful things. Through communities like the Designers Accord, we are using our unique position to make a positive impact on the world.

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An Urgent Resolution for the New Year

Jeff Siegel | Thursday January 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Tomorrow morning, the gym will be quite crowded with new members hoping to start the year off right. It is one of the most common new year’s resolutions of all time, and also one that sounds good in theory…but in practice, rarely lives up to expectations.
Sure, it’s easy to make goals, but it’s not always easy to reach them. And these days, given our expectations of instant gratification, sticking to a program in an effort to achieve long-term success is an idea that has become harder and harder to comprehend…or even accept. But this is a very dangerous mindset. It leads to the assumption that anything in life worth having, must require no patience, no work, and no long-term planning. It is also this mindset that has allowed our dependence on fossil fuels to cripple us.

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I Am an Artist. I Am Getting an MBA. I Am Not a Sellout.

CCA LiveE | Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 5 Comments

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by Erica Meade
Many studio art majors at my undergrad institution had negative feelings about the business world. The common thought was that the corporate machine was stocked with money-hungry egomaniacs, representing everything wrong in this world and the inverse of the motivations and goals of an artist. That’s somewhat of an exaggeration, but nonetheless, “commercial” and “corporate” were bad words in the art studio.
In one of my harshest critiques, I was told that some of my work was too commercial and that I should get ready “to go to Madison Avenue” or “design greeting cards.” I was upset, but more than that, I was confused. My goals as an artist were – and are – to express my ideas to a wide audience, make people think about what they see, and perhaps even influence change. So what’s wrong with art that is applicable and accessible to a broad audience? Why does commercial appeal equal the death of true art? And how are those two things mutually exclusive?
Towards the end of my college career, I wondered what my life would be like if I were a traditional professional artist. I imagined that I’d be struggling to get gallery representation, living in a tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn, yearning for my big break as I waited tables or worked retail. The starving artist persona seemed like an ineffective way to get my ideas out in the world and make a difference. So I looked into other outlets for creative expression and found design.

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Leaders and Clown Hats

CCA LiveE | Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 1 Comment

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jester.jpgby Henry Liu
Every morning prior to work, we’re faced with a flurry of decisions pertaining our office wardrobe. What shirt am I going to wear? Do these pants go with those shoes? Are these socks even matching? Face it, these fashion decisions reflect who we are in the office, they’re what make us unique. Appearing proper to our superiors and peers may provide us a sense of security, but there are times where stepping forward to offer the contrary opinion delivers something more valuable than adhering to the norm.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably sat in countless meetings listening to your boss make statement after statement while you offer continuous affirmation to every request and whim. As you glance around the room, you may even notice your peers doing the exact same thing. What the meeting really needs is the presence of a corporate jester to challenge the leader’s unilaterally accepted dispositions.

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6 Factors Shaping the Renewable Energy Industry in 2008

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday December 31st, 2008 | 8 Comments

solar%20shingles.jpgMany industries experienced turbulence this year and renewable energy was no exception. 2008 was really a mixed bag for the industry, with lots of good and bad news.
1. High Energy Prices
Natural gas and oil reached record highs in July, 2008. This impacts the price of energy overall and make renewable energy more favorable. The return on investment for a solar power plant for example is shorter when considering the cost of the electricity generated from natural gas.
2. Toppling Energy Prices
After peaking in July, the price of oil and natural gas have since plummeted. This has made it harder to finance renewable energy projects.
3. The Credit Crunch
It is not just hard to secure a mortgage. Homeowners wishing to pay for a solar system using a home equity loan may have been denied. Even billionaire, T. Boone Pickens hasn’t been able to finance his enormous wind farm in Texas.

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