Breaking News: Van Jones Chosen as Obama’s “Green Jobs Czar”

| Monday March 9th, 2009 | 10 Comments

van jonesEd Update: Now it’s official!

While still not officially confirmed, the buzz from those in the know is that Van Jones, green visionary and founder of Green For All, will be tapped as president Obama’s “Green Jobs Czar.”

A central focus of the Obama administration’s American Reinvestment and Recovery Plan is the creation of 3.5 million new jobs as well as providing $500 million “to prepare workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

In terms of green jobs and building the green economy, Van is the Man. Through his work at Green for All and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which he founded in 1998, Jones’ work has been a force for both human rights and the environment. Jones is a firm believer that doing right by the earth and creating a green economy will help “lift millions out of poverty.”

It’s just this brand of visionary that can also help lift a beleaguered economy into a new, sustainable, and prosperous future. The triple bottom line goes to Washington.

TriplePundit will have more on this story as it develops.

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IceBreaker Clothing Company: Get to Know Your Sheep

| Monday March 9th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Some time ago, Ryan Mickle wrote about a pretty advanced move by Dole Corp. to give buyers of bananas a window into who actually picked and processed the banana they just bought. The idea was that every sticker on every banana was tied to an actual time and place during production and packaging that can let you identify and inspect the farm and facility the banana came from. It was a novel, but very significant move toward a very literally more transparent supply chain. I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more attention.
Here’s something a little more micro, but equally interesting: IceBreaker, a New Zealand company who make merino wool outdoor clothing claim to offer a closer look at the actual sheep farms where the wool came from using a fancy website and “baacode” imprinted on the tag of your sweater or other item.

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Strategies for Breaking into Clean Tech

Frank Marquardt | Monday March 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

cleantechFM.jpgGiven the economic downturn, job seekers are smart to look at areas of opportunity likely to grow even in an ongoing downturn. Naturally, many have turned their attention to clean tech, where investment should only continue thanks to the stimulus package and global efforts to address climate change.
The dicey economic outlook and competition from the rising number of unemployed complicate the challenge of breaking into clean tech, however. If you’re among the growing number of job seekers who recognize the opportunity and want to break in, you’ll want to think strategically, prepare carefully, and practice persistence and patience. Realize that many people are competing for jobs, but by working all the angles to break into this industry, you’ll position yourself to grow with it, reducing the likelihood of economic uncertainty those in other industries are likely to continue to face. Here are six quick tips for getting started.

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How Corporate Social Responsibility Will Shift with the Bear Market

3p Contributor | Monday March 9th, 2009 | 3 Comments

Sleeping-Bear%20%28300%20x%20240%29.jpgBy Ann Logue
In this miserable stock market, it may seem that nothing anyone does will make prices go anywhere but down. But some investors are out there, investing. They are the brave, the opportunistic, and the institutional. In a market like this, corporate social responsibility becomes important for investors. First, they are looking for transparent companies that are less likely to be the victim of bad news from outside of the market. Pension plans, charitable foundations, and institutional endowments have to invest, and many of them receive new cash inflows every year. They are battered, and they want to do better.
Second, investors may use the weak market to find badly run companies and apply pressure for change. In fact, that’s exactly what the Federal government is doing in its bailouts of Citigroup and AIG. Those companies made themselves targets for Federal takeovers by mismanaging risk

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Twin Crises: Economy and Climate Are the Opportunity of Our Times

| Friday March 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

lunapic-123633474665085%283%29.jpg The twin economic-climate change crises are just that–intertwined–and they present societies worldwide with the greatest opportunity, as well as challenge, since the Great Depression, according to UK economist Nicholas Stern in a McKinsey Quarterly video interview.
Just as there are those strongly advocating the idea that the US can and should address the economic crisis and climate change in an integrated fashion, there are those strongly arguing that the government should tackle the economic crisis first and then address climate change.
Separating and dealing with the two crises individually is misleading and misses, or avoids, the point entirely, Stern asserted in the McKinsey interview. “To take the opportunities of the kind I described, there are a number of things that we have to overcome. One is the idea that the economic crisis takes precedence over the climate crisis. That’s just confusion. That just misses the point about how we can put our policies on these two things together in a very constructive way.
“So we can be much more energy efficient. We can insulate our homes and get unemployed construction workers back into work. Those are the kinds of ways in which we can put things together. So to say that first one and then the other is just analytical confusion. We have to look at what’s involved in doing both and see and recognize how one can support the other.”

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McCarty Partners: Cause Innovation With a Personal Touch

| Friday March 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Awareness_Ribbons-McCarty%20Partners.jpgWhile the definition and nomenclature around cause marketing varies considerably, there are certain elements that everyone can agree on from an execution standpoint. It must be a) transparent, b) authentic, and c) integrated. The belief is that if a cause marketing initiative upholds these tenets, it will be effective in connecting the consumer, company, and cause in ways that benefit all parties. The consumer feels good about doing their part and supporting a socially conscious company. The company elevates it’s brand position by outwardly demonstrating a commitment to core values and strengthens relationships with both customers and the non-profit partners it supports. And the cause gains greater visibility and awareness in the market, and access to the funds and resources needed to drive change.
But Phil McCarty, Founder of McCarty Partners, seeks to take that formula one step further by insuring that the personal connection to the cause is intricately woven, not only in the external marketing efforts, but in the behind-the-scenes activities that the consumer may never even see. In that spirit, Phil and his team work tirelessly to match up nonprofits with companies to create a deep, sustainable connection that transcends a singular promotion or campaign. Somewhat of a nonprofit matchmker, Phil seeks to forge the relationships that change lives. From shareholders to C-level management to human resources and employees, McCarty Partners solidifies ties where the entire origanization is personally invested — and contributing — to the outcome. Innovating change, McCarty Partners takes the mechanics of cause marketing and infuses them with meaning to make them both memorable and measurable.

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday March 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

sandwich.jpgGE, Google, Waste Management: Three Fortune 500 Firms with Emerging Roles in Clean Energy 3P regular Sarah Lozanova gives us the scoop on the new trend in big business exploring renewables. Everyone wants a seat at the table of the new green economy. 3P says “Come on, eat, eat, you’re too thin, can I fix you a sandwich?”
EDF Launches Google Mash-Up of Green Jobs CompaniesNow you don’t need to use the “pin the tail on the donkey” method of choosing your next city. You don’t even need lists of sustainable cities from formerly defunct start-ups In these trying economic times, its nice to be able to see where there might actually be burgeoning industries!
pouring_water_c.jpgFlorida to Tax Bottled Water Companies by the Gallon Nestle and the other 22 bottled water manufacturers in Florida profit 10-100 times the cost of each bottle they produce. No longer! Florida plans to tax these companies for the privilege of sucking the state’s water coffers dry.
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Method Earns Cradle to Cradle Certification for 20 products
The C2C certification process, administered by William McDonough’s McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), looks for environmentally safe materials, design for material reutilization (recycling, composting, etc.), use of renewable energy, water and energy efficiency, and company social responsibility practices. Method was already well loved in eco circles, but what makes me love them even more is that the official title of their environmental strategist is The Green Giant.
heirloom_tomatoes.jpgHeirloom Culture Gets Facelift at Greener Gadgets Conference Instead of electronics companies releasing new models of their products every six months to a year, hardware and all, they would only release software to update the electronics. This way, people could take advantage of gains in technology without having to throw out the existing product. Yes, yes, of course. But what is this going to do to our GDP?
Fresh_Potatoes.jpg NYT Investigates Who is Greener: Couch Potatoes or Mall Rats Here’s the million dollar question – to buy online or in the store? Shoppers sitting in their living rooms and ordering items like hair-dryers or cameras online used 35 percent less energy, the study found, than people who shopped the old-fashioned way. We wrestled with this issue at 3P yesterday when it came to ebay’s new claim to green

Finally, here at 3P things have been really hot this week. We discussed whether living sustainably should entitle you to breaks on your loan rate ,
Whether Ford has a chance to top Toyota and Honda on fuel efficiency, and a hot off the presses argument about water vs. electricity usage with the President of Coolerado.
Happy weekend!

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Is Clorox’ Green Works Range as Green as They Claim?

| Friday March 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

clorox.jpg Household cleaning is turning more and more into an arena where product choice is an environmental decision. The Clorox Green Works product range is one of the largest and most affordable in the natural cleaning market, but is it a genuinely “environmental” product range or has it been greenwashed? If it is the real deal, how are the products changing the quality of our environment, how can people be sure that it’s as effective as traditional cleaners, and why, if it is a success, does is not replace the whole Clorox range?
According to the company’s website, the product is made from biodegradable ingredients and is not tested on animals, meeting its own sustainability goals. In a market where a standardized industry definition of “sustainable” does not exist, this appears to be a strong step towards producing environmentally responsible products. The Sierra Club has endorsed the product range in line with one of its primary goals “to foster vibrant, healthy communities with clean water and air that are free from pollution.”

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Waste to Energy Firms: A Greener Waste Solution?

| Friday March 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

With landfills across the nation bursting at the seams, there are signs of renewed interest in burning solid wastes. Using advanced gasfication methods, companies can now produce energy from a host of materials with virtually no emissions.
And while this is certainly better than just dumping trash in a landfill, is it really better than simply recycling and reusing those materials?
Burn, Baby, Burn!
Plasco Energy Group Inc., an Ottawa, Canada-based firm has introduced an innovative system based upon an electric plasma torch system whose combustion process burns cleaner than traditional trash incinerators.
In the plasma burn design, temperatures are raised to greatly elevated levels compared to traditional incinerator systems. At this higher temperature, gasification opens the door for a “superior combustion” potential – so much so that Plasco claims that it can divert 99.8% of solid waste from landfills. Its Conversion System is “the only waste transformation technology that can generate more than a megawatt-hour of net power per ton of waste processed.”
And Plasco is not alone. Another rising star on the horizon of gasification includes Ze-gen, which launched a functioning pilot plant a year ago in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

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Erick Brownstein: Engineering Social Innovation

| Friday March 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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In order for a for-profit organization to effectively engage in philanthropic activities, it must extend beyond charitable giving programs and tossing donations at the flavor-of-the-month cause. It must be rooted in an authentic commitment to using revenue as a vehicle for driving sustainable change. But even beyond that, enterprise needs to continually innovate to create new opportunities for change and elevate the ways in which capitalists, consumers, and causes can come together to catapult consciousness to new heights.
Erick Brownstein, a new media strategist and idea man, is focused on helping businesses elevate their thinking to bring creativity to the forefront of socially-motivated campaigns. For the past 4 1/2 years, he’s been working with the Innovation Team at Advanta, one of the nation’s largest issuers of credit cards to small business owners. With the bank, he’s currently focused on ideablob.com and its sister project, bloblive.
Ideablob.com is an award-winning online community dedicated to entrepereneurial ideas. It is a place where people submit ideas for new businesses and ventures, give and get advice about those ideas and then compete for a monthly $10k prize. Nearly 80% of the over 100 finalists and 15 winners have been social entrepreneurs. Funded by Advanta, ideablob serves as a forum for conscious enterprise to reach the community and gives entrepreneurs a voice — and the capital — to change the world.

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There’s Money and Enthusiasm Aplenty for the Smart Grid, But No Standards Framework

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday March 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

powerlines0305.jpg The much ballyhooed smart grid might be buoyed by the stimulus bill, which appropriates $4.5 billion in direct spending to modernize the electricity grid with smart-grid technologies (part of the $11 overall for spending related to the smart grid), but that doesn’t mean there’s a clear, easy path to smartening up the grid. That was made clear on Wednesday during an oversight hearing that the US Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources held to examine the progress on smart grid initiatives.
Developing interoperability standards – which will ensure that the myriad metering devices that make up the grid will transmit data in a uniform, sharable, and understandable manner – and data security protections – to protect the new, digitized energy grid from terrorism and who-knows-what-else – represent a whole lot of work and a lot of potential drag on the speed with which the full-blown smart grid can become a reality.
These two issues – standards and security – accounted for most of the testimony at the hearing. And though Senators on the panel pressed Patrick Gallagher, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), for a hard deadline on when standards and security specifications would be ready for prime time, no such hard deadline exists. Initial drafts of standards should be complete by this summer, but there’s no hard timeline beyond that. (NIST has the primary responsibility for coordinating the development of the framework of interoperability standards for the smart grid. It is working with the Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, in doing so.)

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Turning Water into Gold: Business Opportunities in Water Scarcity

3p Contributor | Friday March 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

drinking-dirty-water-croppe.jpgBy Sudha Reddy
Though its been raining on and off here in California, the state is in serious drought. Water authorities might have to start rationing if the crisis doesn’t evade soon. Many other states and countries are in a similar situation — experiencing serious decrease in water supply for the first time in several decades. Water scarcity is one of the worst side effects of global warming. Water is the next big crisis after energy but much bigger than energy because it has no substitutes. There is a possibility of us surviving without oil, but water is an essential need for all living organisms, without which we cannot survive. Much of the world’s agriculture depends on water cycle. Moreover, every business, be it technology or food-based, needs water and a decrease in water supply will adversely affect each one of them.
The water industry is facing huge challenges right now. While there is no way to increase the world’s water supply, we can prevent these circumstances by conserving water and eliminating water wastage altogether. And this could mean a lot of wonderful opportunities to build a business, that would could make a difference as well as profits in the water industry, both in developed as well as developing countries. ” Water is already demanding a price whether indirectly or directly, ” says Zane Greshman at Morrison Forrestor, and its time businesses got into this industry and reduce the wastage.

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Advanced Biofuels Production Will Help Economy

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday March 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Advanced biofuels production will create an estimated total of 123,000 jobs by 2012, according to a report released last week titled U.S. Economic Impact of Advanced Biofuels Production by Bio Economic Research Associates. The report estimated that advanced biofuels production will create 383,000 jobs by 2016 and 807,000 jobs by 2022.
Direct job creation from advanced biofuels production could reach 29,000 by 2012, 94,000 by 2016, and 190,000 by 2022. Forty-six percent of the jobs created will be in feedstock production (primarily agriculture), and 35 percent in construction, engineering, and procurement.

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Cadbury Makes a First Step Toward Fair Trade Chocolate

| Thursday March 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Defining exactly what “Fair Trade” means isn’t easy, but the idea certainly sounds good. FINE starts their definition as “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade…”. The idea is pretty simple – make sure small farmers and workers in poor countries don’t get screwed and that they’ve got enough money to give themselves some kind of pathway out of poverty. There are a number of organizations offering fair trade certifications based on a variety of principals but most, with the notable exception of Transfair USA, have agreed upon a set of standards that can earn a product the International Fairtrade Certification Mark.
Enter the legendary Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar (rarely seen in the US, but immensely popular in the UK and elsewhere) which, using Ghanan chocolate, will be fair trade certified later this year. The move will triple the amount of chocolate from Ghana that is currently fair trade certified and guarantee a minimum price for the company’s purchases regardless of what happens in the market.
Is it a heroic feat for fair trade? A PR stunt? or just good business?

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Coethica: All Purpose Social Responsibility

| Thursday March 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The term Corporate Social Responsibility is broad, and often means different things to different organizations. Some have a formalized CSR strategy in place that extends from internal business practices through to their external communications and environmental impact. Others simply have a core mission of consciousness that is embodied in all of their activities. And still others range from philanthropic giving programs to local grassroots efforts to cause marketing campaigns and everything in between.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to being a responsible company, but the one quality that they all share is that they are at least aware of the importance of embracing a socially conscious mindset for doing business. Wherever they fall along the continuum, Coethica, an ethics-driven firm built on the tenets of Responsibility, Integrity and Transparency, is focused on helping small businesses through large organizations strike a balance in effectively integrating these values into their practices.
Founded by David Connor, Coethica helps companies make a sustainable difference with an individualized approach to doing good from development of a complete CSR plan to changing lightbulbs that reduce energy bills and carbon footprint. They even create unique partnership opportunities with sports and football teams (although we call it “soccer” on this side of the pond!), designed to connect with the community and spark awareness in a compelling way. And that’s a winning combination that will kickstart change, even from the sidelines.

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