by Stephanie Chenard
At the Opportunity Green conference in Los Angeles earlier this month, one of the prevailing themes for the weekend was the health and sustainable future of the green economy. How this was defined greatly depended on who was speaking. But one thing was certain – green business and technology is feeling the pinch of the national economic crisis.
Up until now, there has been a reasonably well-supported assumption in the market that the ever-growing “conscious consumer” segment would pay a premium for green products and sustainable services. This is evidenced by the popularity of the Toyota Prius, Mrs. Meyers cleaners, the demand for organic cotton and bamboo textiles and clothing, organic foods, etc.
However, as the Dow Jones continues to tumble and jobs become scarcer, the green advantage is quickly losing ground. Josh Dorfman, green entrepreneur and author of The Lazy Environmentalist comments, “The green premium is not playing out in the market.” Dorfman specifically cited the recent demise of Whole Food’s stock valuation as an example where consumers are resisting paying more when comparable products will better fit their shrinking budgets. Tom Szaky of TerraCycle Inc. firmly contends that “price is the most important factor” for a consumer when making purchasing decisions. He goes further to suggest doing with green branding and differentiation explaining that a “green” product should really just be a product that can stand alone on the merits of its superior quality and competitive pricing. The green aspect, if not the base standard, should be the icing on the cake.
by Stephanie Chenard
by Karen Losee
Next time you visit your local Starbuck’s coffee house make sure the water isn’t running. Starbuck’s recently suffered a major public relations nightmare when it was revealed that the coffee giant’s policy of leaving the water running in the dipper sinks added up to over 6 million gallons of freshwater per day going down the drain.
Starbuck’s claimed the water was left running in the interest of hygiene, but a report by the U.K. newspaper The Sun estimated the amount of water Starbuck’s wasted was “enough daily water for the 2 million strong population of drought-hit Namibia in Africa”. Ouch. Contrast images of Starbuck’s sinks running day and night with people struggling to survive without access to water. Media attention coupled with public outcry caused the chain to quickly adjust their policies.
This case brings to light the issue of a company’s corporate water footprint. What is a corporate water footprint and how much responsibility must a company assume for the water use associated with their products?
Those are a few of the questions I will consider while I attend the upcoming Corporate Water Footprinting conference in San Francisco on December 2nd and 3rd. Hosted by GreenPower Conferences, the event will focus on practical advice for mapping and reducing corporate water consumption.
What do you get when an advertising creative is allowed to let loose their creative juices on global warming? Right. The party continues! Glamorous places like New York and Paris are simply re-styled and being submerged under water – something that’s made out to be fun and luxurious. We have boats, after all.Click to continue reading »
As many Americans get ready to fly to their aunt’s house in Milwaukee or grandmother’s house in Syracuse for Thursday’s traditional Thanksgiving meal, many critics are chiming in again about the polluting and wasteful nature of the air travel industry.
In fact, air travel has come under sever criticism this year not only for how much fossil fuels are used and how many carbon emissions are produced, but also for many companies’ attempts at greenwashing the industry.
However, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month, United Airlines recently flew a flight from Sydney to San Francisco saving 1,664 gallons of fuel and 32,656 pounds of carbon emissions by using new technologies and more accommodating air traffic control procedures.
The three automakers are too big to fail (some say), but is a federal bailout the way to go? Lyle Gramley, former Federal Reserve Board governor and senior economic advisor at the Stanford Group, said, “As a general principle, I don’t think that bailing out individual companies is a good idea. Under present circumstances, you’re looking at an economy in a steep fall already. You have to contemplate the possibility of 1 million employees losing their jobs and the entire industry at risk” if an automaker were to fail.”
However, Michael Cusumano, professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said, “Like the airlines, I think they should go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy … and start with a clean slate.” Layoffs would occur in “an orderly way… it would be tens of thousands over a period of time” and not millions of workers.
I think this video speaks for itself:
If you are interested in how companies are leveraging sustainability to build their brands, there is a good chance you are familiar with the Sustainable Brands conference, which was hosted in Monterey, California this year. Triple Pundit is a sponsor of their newest production, the Sustainable Brands International conference, which will be held in Miami on December 9th to the 11th. Both Nick Aster, 3p’s founder, and myself will be there to conspire with thought and brand leaders and to speak about how companies can share stories about their achievements and plans in sustainability using new media (a.k.a. Web 2.0), a topic I’ve covered before here on 3p. If you attended Sustainable Brands ’08, you likely saw Nick on the main stage talking new media and how it is turning corporate communication into conversations.
As part of our sponsorship, and a little arm twisting, we were able to wrangle a really great deal for 3p readers who want to attend the conference and hang out with some of the people behind Triple Pundit live in Miami. It’s last minute and you’ll have to act fast (by 11/28), but an exceptional deal. If you want to join the group buy, email me at ryan at triplepundit.com and I’ll give you the details.
A note: 3p doesn’t get anything for sharing this deal with its readers, just the opportunity to (hopefully) see more of you there.
A twenty mile long sea dike in the Yellow Sea will help transform wetlands into an industrial zone, creating a northeast Asian economic center. A theme park, golf course, and factories will soon change the face of North Joella, a province that currently consists largely of small farms.
A landmass seven times the size of Manhattan, totaling 155 square miles will be reclaimed in a plan many consider to be one of the country’s biggest ecological blunder. The Saemangeum estuarine was finally dammed in April, 2006, after many years of conflict.
With all this talk about the green economy, it’s nice to know that some people are working on the play-by-play plan to get us there. This road map comes from Scott Clavenna, CEO of Greentech Media. He calls it a “Greentech Market Taxonomy.”
It’s broken down into five major market segments:
Power Technology: generation, storage, transmission and management
Transportation: vehicles, fuels, and infrastructure
Built Environments: greener buildings, energy efficient technologies
Environmental Technology: recycling, remediation, pollution control
Water, wastewater, and related technologies
Each of those categories contain four main sub-markets: Materials, Products, Systems, and Software/Services.
As you can imagine, with the breadth of these markets and sub-markets, fierce competition is brewing among nascent start-ups and established companies to carve out a lucrative niche in the new market segments destined to emerge.
After the jump you’ll find some of the new business opportunities that exist in these market segments. Each one will spawn new companies that will ultimately deliver profits for savvy Green Chip investors.
Click to continue reading »
When Rick Wagoner, CEO of GM, was asked what it would mean if the U.S. automotive industry failed, while appearing before Congress last week, he responded, “the cost would be catastrophic in jobs lost, income lost, government tax revenue lost, and a huge blow to consumer and business confidence.”
Robert Mardelli, CEO of Chrysler, told Business Week, “It’s one thing to lose a company. What we’re dealing with is the loss of an industry. I think you will see a ripple effect that will be unprecedented.”
Green Building Retrofitting: How do you promote green building when building, green or not, has ground to a halt? You take green to the existing building stock. Existing green builders and young green retrofit companies are emerging at a time when national, state and local governments are embracing programs to promote energy efficiency and green retrofitting.
The LA auto show put on it’s best face for the media this week, briefly touching on the realities and drama happening out there in the real world, carefully omitting any mention of an auto industry bailout, then for the most part quickly turning on the fireworks, flash, and future with cars such as the Honda FC Sport (pictured) the monstrous Volkswagen-Red Bull Baja Race Touareg TDI Trophy Truck, and the Braille Battery Nissan Altima sports hybrid.
Concept cars and green race cars are fine, but what does this do for you, now? Not much. Here’s what I came across that shows the most promise to green both what and how you drive: Click to continue reading »
Top 8 Cheap Greens
No round up this week would be complete without some discussion of the ways to go green and save money at the same time. Luckily, a lot of sustainable options are also easy on the wallet. Going green can even save a company money, if you know how to do it! Or so I reminded my boss when the layoff rumors started this week.
Soda Cans Get New Lease on LifeWe now have a better reason to love Aluminum (much revered by recycling aficionados for its ease recyclability and ability to become new cans). The Aluminum Association announced a commitment to a 75% recovery rate for it’s products by 2015. Start stockpiling those Diet Coke cans!
Wifi goes Solar
In December, a company will begin selling solar powered wifi routers. Perfect for being plugged in, but, yet, still off the grid.
United goes Low Tech, Saves 1,600 Gallons of Fuel
No, no, the savings didn’t come from lightening the flight by requiring passengers to fly commando. The flight used old school gas savings techniques like continuous decent, priority clearance for landing and real time fuel use data. These simple steps saved 33,000 pounds of carbon emissions. Maybe now they’ll let me bring my liquids on board.
UPS Scorns Paper Labels
UPS looked at all those cardboard boxes and said, we don’t need no stinking labels! Comes up with a system to print right on the boxes. The elimination of paper labels will save an estimated 1,338 tons of paper each year, in addition to saving UPS money on paper, ink, and operational costs. Brilliant.
Green Building Estimated to hit $140 Billion by 2013
Demand for green buildings will translate into an additional $140 billion in new construction by 2013, says a report from McGraw-Hill Construction company. This represents a tripling of expenditures from current levels. If you’re going to build it, build it right.
Finally, here at 3P, we were busy covering a solar company who wants to buy a piece of GM, Environmental solutions to economic problems: tips for Obama’s first 100 days, and, just in time for the holidays, Top 5 Ways to Host a Green Event
The X PRIZE Foundation, well known for its $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for building and launching a spacecraft to push the limits of space travel, is aiming to take on energy and the environment next through it’s “Crazy Green Idea” Contest. Rather than designing the contest in a vacuum, the foundation has decided to unleash the wisdom of the crowds by offering $25,000 to submitter of the best idea via YouTube video.
Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t so wise, due to the limited publicity received by the contest. X PRIZE received and considered a mere 133 videos, from which it selected 3 finalists. Believe it or not, only one idea, proposed by a team of MIT graduate students, addresses climate change directly. One finalist’s idea is a ridiculous suggestion to replace the grid power system with “off the grid” independent power generation systems for homes, powered by solar, wind, geothermal, and “a motor.” Another focuses on environmentally friendly batteries, or “ultra capacitors.” Finally, only one idea addresses climate change with the suggestion that the next X PRIZE be devoted to drastically reducing home energy consumption.
Watch all three videos below and vote on best idea for the Energy and Environment X PRIZE:
Reduce Home Energy Usage
This is the only idea that addresses the pressing issue of climate change, as Governor Schwarzenegger issues his executive orders to prepare California for rising seas. The team suggests that the competition reward the community that can most drastically reduce its energy consumption. The brilliance in the idea is that while it could have attacked energy consumption-reducing technology, it focuses on consumer behavior, which indirectly impacts technology through demand.
Friday’s second session at the Net Impact North America conference was Cleantech Venture Capital Investing. After having interviewed two of the three panelists prior to the conference (posts are here and here), the panel itself was an opportunity to think more deeply about the lessons offered by some of the most experienced players in the cleantech sector. The panelists were three managing directors at Philadelphia-based VC firms: from left to right, Joyce Ferris, David Lincoln, and Tucker Twitmyer. The moderator, Clint Wilder, is at the far right.
The panel started off with the standard “What is cleantech?” question, which the audience and panelists all clearly dreaded. Joyce stepped up to the plate, however, with a very succinct answer that seemed to surprise everyone present: “Cleantech is any technology that reduces natural resource consumption.” I’ll take that over Wikipedia’s definition any day.