The French Condom Company Redefines the “Ethics” of Sex

| Friday February 27th, 2009 | 3 Comments

French%20Letter%20Condoms.jpg We all know what it means to have safe sex. But what does it mean to have responsible sex? Be it during moments of intimacy or not, it could be safe to assume that very few of us think of how the average prophylactic was produced, where it came from, and its environmental impact.
Since 2007 and from a small team of three, The French Letter Condom Company Ltd has brought ethical condoms to the European market. French Letter Condoms (which was named from the British colloquialism “french letter” for condoms) reaches a market where choice of condom brand is possible and where sustainability, even in the bedroom, is relevant. But what exactly what makes a condom “ethical,” and importantly, can they be as good as the rest?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

Will Decoupling Derail Efforts to Push Climate Change Legislation?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday February 27th, 2009 | 3 Comments

lightbulbs.jpg Most utility companies are encouraging their customers to conserve energy. But from a business point of view, there’s a down side to energy efficiency: selling less power also means less revenue for the utility companies that provide the power. And the less a utility earns, the less it is likely to invest in new, cleaner forms of energy. So in order to insulate utilities from this outcome and encourage them to invest in cleaner energy, a number of states have enacted policies that effectively “decouple” a utility’s revenue from its profits, while ensuring a flat rate for customers.
Decoupling was introduced in the late 1970s and early 1980s (for gas and electricity, respectively) in California, where it is widely deemed a success. Power consumption in California has remained flat since decoupling was enacted, despite the state’s population growth, while power use nationally doubled, per capita.
That said, decoupling is not universally embraced. Critics say it’s not fair to consumers, since those who make the greatest efforts to conserve pay the same rates as those who do not. Still, individuals and companies have other means of reducing their energy costs, such as by using two-way meters and participating in demand response programs in which they pay lower rates during periods of low demand.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

The Business Case for Sustainability: Intercontinental Hotels

| Thursday February 26th, 2009 | 4 Comments

preidio-buzz-bar.gif
Bob Willard’s video, “The Business Case for Sustainability” explains that companies on the journey towards sustainability move through several stages before reaching a 4th stage, called the “Integrated Strategy”. At this stage, everyone in the organization is involved in eco-efficiency processes, resulting in enhanced company profits. The business case is furthered by a Graves and Waddock study, detailing that stock prices of values-led companies outperform the average by 11.6%.
The Economist on-line two weeks ago covered a story illustrating a recent example of the business case for sustainability, by describing the “Green-Engage” initiative undergoing trials by the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Business and Government Tackle Pollution Together in Mexico

| Thursday February 26th, 2009 | 1 Comment

vertical%20gardens.jpeg Mexico City is one of the largest urban agglomerates in the World and as such suffers from extreme atmospheric contamination. It contributes 1.5% of the worlds total greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, conditions are so bad that around 4,000 people die every year as a direct result of air contamination and last year the Human Right Commission of the District Federal declared the city in “violation of the right to a healthy environment“.
The project “Sustainable Housing Units” seeks to tackle air pollution with design and engineering measures for residential building, so that residents may one day breathe more easily and see more clearly in a restored and vegetative urban environment.
Over the last decade some major environmental problems have emerged and received considerable coverage in public media. These situations, such as the extinction of many bird species from the contamination levels, have motivated actions from civil society groups, international organization, and more recently, the Mayor’s Office of Mexico City. This latest project seeks to achieve a greener and healthier urban environment for citizens through innovative measures such as the installation of “vertical gardens,” rain water filters, and solar panels in buildings.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Johnson Controls Turns On Sun Power; Stimulus Dollars Could Brighten its Future

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

johnsoncontrols.jpgJohnson Controls is a major (but little talked-about) manufacturer of, among other things, heating and cooling systems for buildings. Now, however, the company is starting to really showcase its sustainability chops and is leading by example: it recently flipped the switch on a 1,500-panel solar energy system at its headquarters in Glendale, Wisconsin. This is part of a $73 million renovation and rehabilitation the company is performing on the facility, which will also include thin-film solar collectors in roof tiles, wind energy and geothermal power generation.
Johnson Controls is a major provider of building energy efficiency systems, even though its efforts in that field do not often land it in headlines. And it is very well positioned to reap major benefits from the stimulus package – and on multiple fronts. Johnson Controls is comprised of three main areas of business: automotive interiors, energy efficient and security systems for buildings, and batteries for electric vehicles.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week interviewed David Leiker, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. who told the paper that Johnson Controls “could go after more than $70 billion in [stimulus] spending, including $7 billion to $8 billion in automotive, $64 billion in energy efficiency and research and $400 million in security”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Buy1GIVE1: Making Every Transaction Make a Difference

| Thursday February 26th, 2009 | 2 Comments

phil-in-five.gif


Imagine if every purchase you made could help a hungry child eat or save a tree or bring clean drinking water to Africa. Now imagine if every purchase your customers made contributed to all of those causes, and reached a world — and a planet — in need on an daily hourly basis. With Buy1GIVE1, there’s no need to imagine. They have developed a program where every swipe of a credit card is an act of change. They call it transaction-based giving, and it gives businesses — and consumers — an opportunity to put their regular spending to good use. One of their key differentiators is that each transaction is linked to a tangible outcome instead of some indiscriminate percentage being arbitrarily tossed at a charity, so you know exactly where your dollars are going. And more importantly, who they’re helping. Through the collective purchasing power of thousands, Buy1GIVE1 is able to fund programs that make a significant impact, and turns the joy of buying into the joy of giving.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

IFTF.ORG: Map of Future Forces Affecting Sustainability

Steve Puma | Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

The Institute for the Future has published its Map of Future Forces Affecting Sustainability. This is a really interesting document outlining their research and forecasts on what the future will be for sustainability in six areas: People, Regions, Built Environments, Nature, Markets, Business and Energy.

  1. An Imperative for Looking Long: “The 21st century will test our ability to grasp the future impacts of present choices, but even as we struggle to incorporate future knowledge into our day-to-day decisions, we’re tuning up our bodies and minds and even our cultural frameworks for a much longer view.”
  2. A Planet at Risk:As climate change, deterioriation of the global food chain, uncertain energy supplies, natural resource vulnerability and environmental health issues loom, ecological indicators will become key measures that organizations – and society as a whole – need in order to steer a strategic course.”
  3. Marginal Populations Redefine the Mainstream: “Marginalized populations – whether they are slum dwellers, citizens of economically disadvantaged countries or people with disabilities – will grow in number and influence over the next ten
    years, remaking mainstream culture.”
  4. Participatory Culture Drives Change: “Taking advantage of lightweight infrastructures – for everything from media to energy to fabrication – many more people will participate in the creation of the cultural fabric that defines who we are and how we
    will manage the dilemmas that face the world in the coming decade.”
  5. New Commons Create New Value: “Even as the Earth’s natural commons are increasingly at risk, humans are creating new kinds of commons around shared resources that can generate and sustain new wealth, health and well-being in the face of these risks. From the Internet to bio-commons, these will provide new lessons in human social organization.”
  6. A New Material World: “The human ability to engineer at the molecular level, whether through biological, chemical or electromechanical means, will grow over the next decade, changing not only the way we manage the world but actually transforming it to create new kinds of built environments – and new ways of living in them.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

UPS Adds to its Alternative Fuel Fleet

| Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 3 Comments

UPS announced last week it has added 300 new “package cars” (what they call their delivery trucks) powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The addition makes a total of 1,819 alternative fuel vehicles that UPS operates, the largest private fleet in the industry.

The 300 latest CNG vehicles have been deployed over the past month in several cities throughout the United States, including 43 vehicles in Denver, 46 in Atlanta, 100 in Oklahoma City, and a total of 111 vehicles in four cities in California (Sacramento, San Ramon, Los Angeles, and Ontario). The latest CNG vehicles are part of an order placed last May, adding to the 800 CNG package cars already in operation

We’ve kept tabs on the efforts UPS makes in greening its business operations, from its data center to pursuing new, innovative technologies for their worldwide fleet of vehicles. Last October, I attended a press conference held in Atlanta where UPS, in collaboration with the EPA and Eaton Corporation, unveiled one of seven new hydraulic hybrid delivery vehicles (Triple Pundit was given exclusive access to webcast the event).

The CNG vehicles, which UPS first began deploying in the 1980’s, will reduce carbon emissions by 20% from the cleanest diesel vehicles available today. Robert Hall, UPS’s Director of Vehicle Engineering points out that making the choice to use cleaner burning fuels is both an environmental choice as well as a wise business decision, saying in a statement last week: “Continuing to add CNG delivery trucks to our fleet is a sustainable choice because natural gas is a cost effective, clean-burning, and readily available fuel.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Do We Need a “Holy Grail” Technology to Combat Climate Change?

| Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) took a look at their earlier predictions on global warming, and guess what? They significantly underestimated the rate of increase in global emissions, particularly between 2000 and 2008. This was mainly due to the unforeseen (and rapid) increase in coal-burning by developing countries like China. But even still, it’s quite scary that we surpassed the worst-case-scenario predictions for 2000-2008. So, will we need some type of “Holy Grail” technology to stop global warming? Is the combination of renewable energy and possibly carbon capture and sequestration really enough?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Drake & Company: Stewards of Social Change

| Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 0 Comments

phil-in-five.gif


Sometimes those creating change and advancing awareness aren’t on the front lines, silently strategizing behind the scenes to bring important social issues to the surface. One such example is Drake & Company, an association management firm focused on helping non-profits and foundations gain market attention and achieve their objectives. They do this through linking non-profits with for-profit companies who can help them garner mainstream exposure and donations, cause marketing campaigns, fundraising activities, and ongoing stewardship of their core mission. And they boast an impressive roster of clients who entrust them with upholding the pillars of their organization, and for whom they’ve been able to generate significant results. In addition, founder Steve Drake recognizes that his company’s success is the direct result of their success, so he also feeds a percentage of his profits back into the associations, on top of other things such as volunteer efforts and food programs. With a watchful eye on his clients — and the world — Steve has created a circle of care that keeps consciousness at the forefront and causes thriving.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Unpackaged: Green Grocer Asks Shoppers to Bring Bags, Tupperware, and Jars

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 4 Comments

lunchables.jpg

Whither Lunchables, that epitome of excessive packaging (and poor health), if the ethos behind Unpackaged, a northeast London grocery store, catches on? Maybe consumers will find that all those plastic containers jammed into Lunchables make handy carriers for their quinoa and honey.
Unpackaged is a store that opened in late 2007 and has garnered lots of attention as a green concept store. As the name implies, nearly all of the goods sold in the store are sold in bulk, so customers need to come prepared with containers. This isn’t all that new, of course. Food co-ops and even mainstream grocery stores have been selling food in bulk for many decades, but the majority of goods are sold in cans or bottles or some other packaging that can’t even be easily reused.
Plus, Unpackaged puts a price on packaging. Customers who fail to bring their own zip-locks and re-born peanut butter jars need to pay about 75 cents extra to use the store’s packaging. But customers are embracing the concept: According to Reuters, more than 80 percent of the store’s customers bring their own containers.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

A Simple, Smart, Free Way to Green Your Office

| Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 11 Comments

ecofont.jpegTypically when a company starts thinking of how to become greener, they either think big, as in how to reduce their carbon (and soon, water) footprint, or on an more immediate scale – how to green your office. Recycling, lighting, energy use monitoring spring to mind first.
But there’s something equally as ubiquitous and therefore overlooked – the amount of ink used when printing those everyday things – things that add up to a lot of paper, and a lot of ink.
How do you reduce the amount of ink used then? Simple: poke holes in the lettering. Come again?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

How Can the Solar Energy Industry Be More Sustainable?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

180px-Solar_Array.jpg Solar power is generally viewed as a viable alternative to fossil-fuel powered energy, but Solar PVs panels are made of toxic materials, some of which are hard to recycle. In 20 to 25 years, solar PV panels will reach the end of their product life and create a tremendous amount of waste. Making solar PV panels requires a tremendous amount of energy usage. Although solar energy at present only provides 1/10th of one percent of U.S. energy, it is estimated that it will grow. What can the solar industry do to make itself more sustainable?
In January, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition released a study titled, Toward A Just and Sustainable Solar Energy Industry. The report listed six recommendations for the solar energy industry:
1. Reduce the use of toxic materials with the goal of eliminating them while developing environmentally sustainable practices.
2. Implement an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to ensure that solar PV manufacturers are responsible for the product’s impact on the environment. Implement an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to ensure that solar PV manufacturers are responsible for the product’s impact on the environment.
3. Use a precautionary approach when testing new materials and processes.
4. Design products so they can be easily recycled, and expand recycling technology.
5. Promote jobs in the solar energy industry which protect a worker’s health and safety, plus provide a living wage.
6. Protect health and safety in the global solar energy industry.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

21st Clean Tech Forum Opens Rock Star Style

| Tuesday February 24th, 2009 | 3 Comments

rockstar.jpg

My environmentally minded friends always joke about “Eco-Rockstars” – the big names in the environmental movement we all drool over: your Hunter Lovins, Adam Werbach, and Shai Agassi. We line up to see them speak but their names would fall on deaf ears at the RNC. The Clean Tech Forum took the idea of Eco-Rockstars to a new level with 20 foot projection screens on each side of the presenters and spotlights that danced over the balding heads in the audience between speakers.
This is the biggest gathering of clean tech investors and entrepreneurs in the world, and it’s pretty clear when you walk in the door that everyone is there to fund and be funded. If you can make it in the door, you know you’re in the right place. The Executive Chairman of the Forum, Nick Parker, opened with a call to action, reminding the audience of the dire situation we find ourselves in: the economic crisis, ecological collapse, and the ‘insecurity crisis’ aka the separation between the haves and the have-nots. He issued a call to action, reminding the audience that we didn’t have to answer a call to arms and pick up an AK-47 like prior generations, we merely had to make money off of solving the world’s challenges.
Despite my capitalist leanings that call gave me pause – did Mr. Parker mean that we should dance on the graves of dead bald eagles? But further on in his presentation he made it clear that he is genuinely concerned about the environment and sees the efficiencies and innovation capability of the clean tech sector as the best solution we have. He discussed the great garbage patch for nearly 10 minutes and stuttered through a visibly discomforting discussion of the lowered sperm count he faces as a male in the 21st century.
Most conference keynote addresses give you a reason to graze over the leftovers on the breakfast table. This one made me sad that I had to sneak out and head back to my day job. Don’t worry – coverage doesn’t end here! We’ll be bringing you features on some of the most innovative and exciting companies present at the conference through the rest of this week and next.

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

Faith in Greed

| Tuesday February 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

preidio-buzz-bar.gif
I think that I’m beginning to understand why greed is good. Greed provides clarity and focus in a world of steadily increasing and seemingly endless possibilities. When the twin towers go down, gold traders keep on trading gold, and in a global market that needs gold to stabilize itself from the shock maybe that’s a good thing.
Greed is also predictable. Greedy people are easy to understand, easy to motivate and therefore easy to do business with. Traders on the Enron floor did not graduate ready to shut off California’s power, they entered an environment built for and by greedy people and they conformed because greed is also safe. In an environment where everyone else is greedy there is no (apparent) benefit to being nice. A greedy person surrounded by nice people may or may not become nice, but a nice person surrounded by greedy people will eventually be forced to become greedy.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »