Oil Executives: Oil Out, Renewables In

Nick Hodge | Monday December 15th, 2008 | 6 Comments

Big oil has once again gone into the confessional – and while oil industry execs have hinted at diminishing available supplies in the past, when prices were high, their recent admission that we’re running out of cheap oil is surprising now that prices have slid back down to three year lows.
This recent juicy piece of news (we’ll get more into it in a bit), coupled with Obama’s nomination of several energy-savvy cabinet members and the recent World Energy Outlook released by the International Energy Agency indicates that renewable energy is about to come on the scene in a big way.
With nearly all sectors of the market battered in the aftermath of a housing crash and resultant credit crisis, the coming onslaught of favorable policy conditions for alternative energy will allow investors to reap nice profits for several years.
Exciting as that may be, the reasons behind the unavoidable ascent of renewable energy–many of which are making headlines right now–are equally provocative.

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Beyond Green Building – High Performance Buildings

| Monday December 15th, 2008 | 0 Comments

ecobuild.pngWhat is beyond Green Building? I set out to AEC-ST EcoBuild America in Washington DC to find out. Although the U.S. Green Building Council and the LEED greenbuilding program seem to be getting the publicity, the federal government has been studying building science and developing best practices for decades. They have compiled these findings into the Whole Building Design Guide, a guide that is downloaded 1.7 million times a month! I had a chance to hear first hand from building scientists and leaders about the tools available right now to develop high performance buildings for your company or business.

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Gore Addresses Delegates as Climate Change Conference Closes

| Saturday December 13th, 2008 | 0 Comments

cop14_gore.jpg Given an unprecedented and still unfolding crisis in banking and credit markets, spreading recession and sharp falls in fossil fuel prices I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that reports say that the UN climate change negotiations in Poznan lacked a certain urgency and robustness. Add to that the transition of government leadership in the US, and there were a host of factors planting the seeds of doubt and uncertainty in delegates’ minds.
Former vice president and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Al Gore said he felt a sense of pessimism in the air as he addressed delegates. Gore noted that while the evidence and science is clear, resistance on the part of business lobbies is throwing up a hurdle and slowing down progress even as the rate of climate change continues unabated, according to a report from the International Institute of Sustainable Development.
Some significant progress was made, nonetheless, according to statements and reports. Efforts to include and establish a framework and methodologies to finance projects that aim to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation while assuring indigenous and local community rights by including them in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism carbon credit system are now set firmly front and center on the agenda, even as the negotiations in Poznan showed just how challenging and difficult reaching a consensus is likely to be. Yet more promising news did come out of the conference…

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Business Risk Related to Water – What’s Your Risk Exposure?

3p Contributor | Friday December 12th, 2008 | 2 Comments

d-rop.jpgby Karen Losee
According to Watching Water, A Guide To Evaluating Corporate Risks In A Thirsty World, a report issued by JP Morgan Global Equity Research (PDF Here), companies and investors have been quick to identify opportunities to invest in water-related businesses and technologies, but slow to identify the mounting business risks related to pressures on water supply.
What are your company’s business risks relative to water? What about your supply chain? Do you have water conservation and supply contingency plans in place?
The issue of business risk related to water was one of the topics at last week’s Corporate Water Footprinting Conference in San Francisco, California. The two-day conference featured a wide range of subjects such as water conservation, recycling, and risk assessment.
Kathryn Pavlovsky, Principal at Deloitte & Touche, in her presentation titled Global Water Supply Crisis: The Impacts for Business, described how future anticipated water shortages pose a serious threat to businesses that fail to develop water conservation and supply contingency plans in the near term. The overall consensus from the conference was that businesses, especially those in water intensive industries, are at increasing financial risk from global water supply issues. Leaders that fail to plan for risks related to water will ultimately be forced to address them by way of supply disruptions, increased costs, and diminished quality.

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday December 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Apollo Plan Calls for $500 Billion in U.S. Clean Tech Investment and 5 Million Green Jobs in the Next Decade

The Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor, and community leaders promoting a clean energy and a green economy, have released The New Apollo Program, calling for an investment over the next decade of $500 billion and creating 5 million jobs through programs ranging from energy, education, construction, building, and manufacturing. The underlying theme of the New Apollo Program is improving conditions for Americans through better infrastructure, education, and good jobs. To the moon.

Guilt-Free Shipping

‘Tis the season for the environmentally conscious to feel guilty about shipping all those gifts to distant friends and relatives. If you run a business and are concerned with lowering not only costs but CO2 emissions as well, it’s always the season. First Global Xpress has come up with a business model they think can save companies 20% in shipping costs while reducing carbon emissions up to 30%. By sub-contracting with commercial airlines and courier services, FGX can ship packages and documents directly to its final destination instead of the typical hub-and-spoke system used by major shipping companies, often shaving thousands of miles off the trip. Also reducing the guilt trip the shipper takes.

Continental Airlines Plans Jatropha and Algae-Based Biofuel Test Flight

Virgin Atlantic was the first, flying a 747 from London to Amsterdam burning a mix of Jet A and coconut and babbasu oil-based biofuel. But Continental airlines will have the honors of being the first U.S. airline to conduct a test flight next month of a 737 using algae-based fuel. Sapphire Energy will supply the algae biofuel. The fuel mix will also contain jatropha-based biofuel, supplied by Terrasol, as well as traditional jet fuel (Jet A).

Revised NanoMarkets Numbers Show Thin Film and Organic Photovoltaic Materials Markets at $2.4 billion by 2011

Virginia-based NanoMarkets, a leading industry analyst, announced yesterday the release of an updated analysis of the thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) and organic photovoltaic (OPV) markets. The new numbers show that the current economic crisis will slow or delay advanced materials research in the short term, but that long-term growth for such materials remains strong. Analysts expect significant growth in demand for advanced materials such as TFPV and OPV as a result of “quantum leaps” in the price of traditional sources of energy within the next couple of years. NanoMarkets forecasts the revenues for the advanced materials market at $2.4 billion by 2011, growing to almost $7.5 billion by 2015.

More Universities Offering Master’s Degree Programs in Renewable Energy

What does the coming green economy need? Educated workers, managers, technicians, engineers, and business leaders. The operative word is educated.c Four universities in Ohio are collaborating to offer a Masters degree program in renewable energy. The University of Dayton, Wright State University, Central State University, and the Air Force Institute of Technology will join forces to inaugurate (I love that word!) a two-year program in which students can enroll full or part-time. Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor, Eric D. Fingerhut, says the program could serve as a model for other states. Renewable energy companies in Ohio are enthusiastic about the program, looking for it to serve as a source of fresh new talent to help serve, grow, and lead the burgeoning renewable energy market.

There’s a lot of news coming out of Poland as the UN Climate Conference wraps up. Andrew, Angelique, and Tori have been providing some good coverage these past couple of weeks. Jake Schmidt, the International Climate Policy Director for the NRDC has also had some great insight on the proceeding over at GlobalWarmingisReal.com (thanks Jake). Oh, and I’ve had my hat handed to me in regard to the difference between hangar and hanger. Just another week at TriplePundit. Jen will be back next week with the green business wrap-up. In the meantime, wish her good luck on her finals!

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Los Angeles Seeks to Add 1.3 Gigawatts of Solar Power by 2020

| Friday December 12th, 2008 | 2 Comments

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently announced plans for Los Angeles to supply 10% of its electricity generation from solar power. Dubbed “Solar LA“, the ambitious plan would create the largest installed base of solar power of any city in the world.

Mayor Villaraigosa told reporters at the plan’s unveiling last month, “Our solar initiative is the largest of any kind anywhere in the world. When it takes full effect, LA will have 1,280 megawatts more capacity — more than exists in the entire United States today.”

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19 Hurdles for Large-Scale Biofuel Use: Reflections from the Emerson BioRefinery Summit

Sarah Lozanova | Friday December 12th, 2008 | 15 Comments

corn%20ethanol.jpgIn an energy hungry world, oil has allowed us to achieve unbelievable feats. An inconceivable amount of resources have been poured into an infrastructure that allows us to travel to every corner of the globe. As the fuel for this way of life dwindles, the future of transportation has yet to be written. We are so entrenched in the status quo and corn-based ethanol present insurmountable challenges.
In the World Energy Outlook Report, the International Energy Agency predicts a global shortage by 2030 of a staggering 28.6 million barrels of oil a day. It is hard to say what the leading technologies will fill this gap, but biofuels have a good shot to play a huge role if certain hurdles are overcome.
Speakers today at the Emerson Biofuels Summit highlighted some of the hurdles for large-scale production for 2nd generation biofuels. These challenges include:

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Corporate Execs, Boards & Climate Change: What, Me Worry?

| Thursday December 11th, 2008 | 0 Comments

alfred_e_neuman.jpg Climate change adaptation and mitigation is largely a non-issue for executives at the world’s largest apparel, pharmaceutical, retail, and technology corporations according to a survey released today by Ceres, a non-profit coalition of environmental groups, investor and other public interest organizations.
Select companies are responding to the risks and opportunities climate change presents by setting greenhouse gas emissions targets, implementing energy efficiency programs, purchasing renewable energy, and integrating climate factors into product design, according to Ceres’ analysis of survey results, but the majority of respondents are in large part ignoring climate change, especially at the CEO and board level.
“More action is needed to align company strategies with greenhouse gas emission reductions that scientists say are needed to avoid dangerous impacts from climate change,” according to Ceres, which concludes its report with a list of recommendations for corporate executives and boards of directors.
*Image credit: Norman Mingo, MAD Magazine

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Ending World Hunger Through Socially Networked Computers

| Thursday December 11th, 2008 | 0 Comments

What if your day could start out like this:
Wake up.
Log on.
End world hunger.

Thanks to the technological masterminds behind the World Community Grid, that scenario is not all that far-fetched. Researchers have found a way to harness a user’s idle Internet time to perform calculations that help dramatically accelerate research for vital humanitarian projects. By installing software on your computer, it works undetectably in the background, using your spare system resources to calculate data. When the calculations are finished, this stealthy software sends the data back to the World Community Grid for validation and another set of calculations is sent back to the user’s computer to begin the process again, maintaining a constant flow of productivity that keeps researchers’ efforts active on a wide scale never before possible.

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Obama’s Pick to Decide the Future of Sustainable Food Policy

| Thursday December 11th, 2008 | 1 Comment

usda_logo.jpg As President-Elect Obama stands with Al Gore by his side for the world to see, vowing to combat climate change, a decision he will make in a matter of days will decide the future of federal policy towards sustainability, without most people even realizing it. Obama’s future cabinet is quickly taking shape, but one key position is still very much up in the air – The Secretary of Agriculture.
Since the moment that Barack Obama was elected our future president, several food activists – including Michael Pollan and Alice Waters – have been calling for a radical overhaul of the USDA, with Pollan even calling for the appointment of US Food Czar independent of the government organization. However, in as much as Obama vowed to buck Old Washington traditions and ring in an era of change, it seems that in this case, the President-Elect is unwilling or unable to do so.

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Van Nuys Airport Plans First “Green” Hangar, But Burbank Got Theirs First

| Thursday December 11th, 2008 | 3 Comments

Given my recent post about the first “sustainable airport” just opening in Indianapolis, this news item is hard for me to resist.

Maguire Aviation is negotiating with Shangri-La Construction to build Loas Angeles’ first “green” jet hangar at Van Nuys Airport.

The hangar at Van Nuys Airport will resemble another “sustainable” hanger unveiled by Shangri-La on Tuesday on neighboring Burbank airport (starting a “green hangar war” in southern California perhaps?), with both facilities designed to meet platinum LEED building specifications.

On hand for the unveiling of Hangar 25 at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport, Los Angeles mayor told reporters that the building represented “the greenest aviation facility in the world” – apparently not reading my post last week about Indianapolis International Airport (and where was the mayor of Burbank?).

The boasts of politicians notwithstanding, Shangri-La construction sees the newly opened hangar in Burbank and the one planned for Van Nuys as a model of sustainable aviation facility construction. One they hope to bring to other projects throughout the country.

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Can Our Environment Support More Economic Growth?

| Thursday December 11th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Victor%20Managing.jpg At the intersection of a sinking economy and a new administration in the White House, there is no shortage of ideas on what the new president should do to rescue our butts from the abyss. Seems like all the pundits are formulating their “Letter to the New President” with their strategies on how we should proceed forward. But could the cure for our ills be no economic growth? To many this seems counter-intuitive, but this is the premise of Peter Victor’s new book “Managing without Growth – Slower by Design, not Disaster” (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2008). Victor, an economist on the faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, believes the big problem we should be addressing is the Earth’s biophysical limits. Can our environment sustain continuing economic growth, thus far the basis for all Western economies, and for many the fix for our current crisis? Victor offers this opinion, “If the financial system breaks down, we’ll suffer for a while, but we’ll get through it. If we succeed in destabilizing the climate, we may not be able to get through it.”
In the book, Victor challenges the long-standing premise that constant economic growth must be the center piece of economic policy and is synonymous with progress. He also believes the concept of “sustainable development” that came from the 1987 Brundtland report (which popularized the notion of sustainability) has become mostly diluted and meaningless because it was never fully defined. The ensuing commitment from several governments to sustainable development has become “more of the same rather than a radical departure from economic growth as the top policy objective,” which is the departure Victor is advocating.

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What Are Responsible Purchasing Guides?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday December 11th, 2008 | 0 Comments

RPN.gif
Founded in 2005 by the Center for a New American Dream, the Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) touts itself as the “first national network of procurement-related professionals dedicated to socially and environmentally responsible purchasing.” RPN publishes Responsible Purchasing Guides for everything from cleaners to water.
The Responsible Purchasing Guide for Cleaners describes the effects of the toxic ingredients found in traditional cleaners. Every year the industrial cleaning industry adds five pounds of chemicals to the atmosphere. People who work indoors are “particularly susceptible to the health risks posed by these products.” The list of health problems includes major organ damage, permanent eye damage, and asthma. The toxic ingredients can affect the public at large because they end up in bodies of water such as lakes and streams.

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A Clean Coal Reality Check

Jeff Siegel | Thursday December 11th, 2008 | 2 Comments

clean-coal-1.jpg
This past Sunday I saw a very interesting commercial about clean coal. A group called, Thisisreality.org ran the spot during Meet The Press. Essentially, the ad calls out the coal industry for touting clean coal technology – which doesn’t actually exist in the U.S. Here’s a link to the clip if you haven’t seen it.
Now while I certainly enjoyed the ad, there’s only so much that can be said within 30 seconds. So in an effort to shed some light on the realities of coal – both environmental and economic – allow me to show you why coal-fired power plant operators are about to begin a long swim upstream against the backdrop of new climate change legislation and expedited depletion.

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“Clean Coal” Has Jumped the Shark

| Wednesday December 10th, 2008 | 2 Comments

clean-coal.jpg

Tomorrow morning, Jeff Siegel will have some intelligent thoughts about clean coal here on 3P. In the meantime, prepare yourself for an experience that takes greenwashing to a whole new level – The Clean Coal Christmas Carolers. I’m starting to pity these guys.
Ed Note: Apparently, so many people complained about this campaign, including a hilarious mention by Rachel Maddow, that it was pulled. Read more and see the painfully hilarious videos on TreeHugger.

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