Anchorage Sets the Course for LED Roadway Lighting

Justin Sternberg | Tuesday February 10th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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In June of 2007, the former Mayor of Anchorage and newly elected US Senator from Alaska, (D) Mark Begich, created an Energy Efficiency Coordinator position at the municipality to examine the potential cost savings unrealized within Anchorage’s lighting systems. In addition, the city hired lighting design firm Clanton & Associates to aid and guide in the city-wide examination. After two years of light testing and due diligence, the city assembly approved the Mayor’s request to purchase 4,300 LED light fixtures, the largest municipal purchase in the United States at that time, as the first phase toward retrofitting the city’s entire municipal lighting portfolio.

The project revealed a 7-year payback period which included a 4% interest rate to offset cost of capital. The mayor and the Anchorage Assembly agreed that a reasonable payback period on a project that reduced long-term operational cost was a wise of use of tax dollars and the fixture purchase was approved in August of 2008. In implementing the first large-scale municipal LED retrofit in the United States, the City of Anchorage has emerged as a leader of large-scale LED retrofitting.

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Congress Gets to Work on Stimulating Green Jobs, Doling Out Energy Dollars

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday February 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

green-jobs-sign.jpgThe Senate passed President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan Tuesday morning. But in order to reach the weekend deadline for passage, Congress will be very busy trying to hash out the differences between the $819 billion House version of Obama’s plan and a Senate bill costing $838 billion. Among the line-items expected to be hotly debated are those related to jobs creation, specifically green jobs creation.
As it stands, most of the $70 billion to $80 billion directed in the stimulus toward the energy sector will go toward green jobs, taking the form of either direct spending, loan guarantees or tax breaks. But what will those jobs will look like? And how far will they go toward both righting the economy and abetting global warming?
During last week’s State of Green Business Forum, a common chorus about green jobs was the uncertainty over what makes a job green. For example: does the truck driver delivering PV panels have a green job?

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Utilities’ Smart Grid Drive Opens New Vista for Enterprise Software Developers

| Tuesday February 10th, 2009 | 1 Comment

lunapic-12342925625682.jpgPower utilities’ drive to factor consumer, demand side management into their infrastructure is opening up a new vista for enterprise software developers. Consumers Energy, which provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 of Michigan’s 10 million residents, today announced it will be the first utility to buy SAP AMI Integration for Utilities software package.
Consumers Energy is one of nine utilities participating in SAP’s AMI– for automated metering infrastructure– Lighthouse Council. Members are working with the Walldorf, Germany-based software company to develop a new approach to integrating automated metering within their overall systems infrastructure at a lower total cost of ownership.
Integrated AMI systems are central to the drive to build out new “smart” electricity grids that make more efficient use of power by factoring consumer demand into grid management. In addition to providing consumers and utilities more detailed information and options to reduce and manage individual and grid-wide power consumption, the installation of “two-way” meters also paves the way for consumers to pump surplus power into the grid by installing solar or other renewable power systems.

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Studying The Stimulus: What’s Another Trillion At This Point?

Jeff Siegel | Tuesday February 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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I never really expected to see this latest stimulus plan fly through Congress without some serious debate. After all, this is a lot of money we’re talking about here. And this is on top of what’s already been shelled out to failing banks run by CEOs who still don’t seem to understand why it’s not a good idea to offer billions of dollars in bonuses or spend millions to redecorate offices on the taxpayers’ dime. Oh, and also while 3.6 million jobs have been lost since December, 2007.
So needless to say, constructive debate is paramount when we’re about to get stuck with another $1 trillion bar tab. But there’s a fine line between constructive debate and political maneuvering.

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ClimatePULSE: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

| Tuesday February 10th, 2009 | 1 Comment

eits_on_sub_rs_600.jpgHow does climate change affect life 3000 feet below sea level? Take a look through the Ocean Research and Conservation Association’s “Eye-in-the-Sea ” and see for yourself. The casual viewer will not likely notice anything out of the ordinary but for the scientists and researchers who continually monitor the real-time data, the Eye-in-the-sea can literally shed light on key climate change indicators. The camera, which weighs in at a modest 502 pounds, illuminates the ocean in front of it using “far-red” lights. This lighting system does not disturb local sea-life as it operates at a luminescence invisible to undersea animals – an important feature of the camera since deep-sea animals are often very sensitive to light. This week ClimatePULSE will take a look at the Eye-in-the-sea technology and a few other facts about climate change and the ocean.

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Enterprise Rent-A-Car Adds 5,000 Hybrids to its Green Car Fleet

| Monday February 9th, 2009 | 3 Comments

Enterprise Rent-A-Car announced last week they will add nearly 5,000 gas/electric hybrid vehicles to its nationwide rental fleet and designate 80 “hybrid rental branches” – locations with a high concentration of hybrid vehicles available – in 24 major markets across the country including 10 of the nation’s busiest airports.

This latest addition doubles the number of hybrid vehicles Enterprise owns, significantly adding to what is already the largest rental fleet of fuel efficient cars in the country.

Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Enterprise actively supports alternative fuel research through the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (I had the opportunity last October to chat with Dr. Richard Sayre, the Institute’s newly-named director ). An overview of this and other environmental sustainability programs in which Enterprise is involved is explained on their website KeystoGreen.com.

To be sure, Enterprise is not an environmental advocacy organization – they rent cars. As Pat Farrell, Enterprise’s vice president for corporate responsibility, told me in an interview last September, “We are not environmentalists.”

In our talk, Pat emphasized that the philosophy behind the company’s CSR efforts rests in the conviction that doing well for the planet, to the extent that a rental car company can, is what their customers increasingly expect and demand, and is ultimately in the best interests of Enterprise’s long-term bottom line.

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Cap and Trade Legislation: Will California’s AB32 Go National?

Nick Hodge | Monday February 9th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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Flash back to late September, 2006.

In California, the Governator has just signed Assembly Bill 32 (AB32), a Kyoto-style policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, followed by an 80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.

The bill is met with little national fanfare and its implications, if they’re even understood, are largely dismissed as trivial.

Flash forward to present day.

An Inconvenient Truth has won an Oscar. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a series of reports, authored by thousands of scientists, on the anthropogenic causes of climate change. Carbon trading is a $100 billion global market. And new-President Obama is intent on capping U.S. emissions in his first two years.

California’s AB32 is now in the national spotlight as a possible model for a national system, and there are mounting concerns about what, exactly, a price on carbon implies.

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New Fuels for Fuel: Making it from Waste

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Monday February 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment

biofuel-carrot.jpgEnerkem, a Montreal maker of biofuels and green chemicals, says it’s nearly ready to start cranking out second-generation biofuels on a commercial scale. The company’s approach is to turn waste materials (it’s starting with old utility poles) into a synthetic gas “syngas,” which it will then use as a chemical feedstock for making both ethanol and methanol, using a gas-to-liquid conversion. But – and here’s where it gets very promising – the company claims it will eventually be able to use municipal waste (all the stuff that’s left over after recycling and composting) into syngas.
Enerkem has plans to ramp up from its initial annual production of 1.3 million gallons in order to take a bite out of demand. Canada is targeting a standard of at least 5 percent ethanol content in the gasoline and diesel sold to drivers in the country by 2010, and the Energy and Independence Security Act of 2007 mandated that 36 billion gallons of ethanol be produced by 2022. But 22 billion of those must come from non-corn sources.
And as gas gurus gathered in San Francisco last week for the 2009 National Biodiesel Conference, the city by the bay announced its intention to erect a plant that will convert brown grease from restaurants into, among other things, biodiesel.

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Greening Flight: Japan Air Lines, Continental Latest to Test Bio Jet Fuels

| Sunday February 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

airplane8.jpg Already financially challenged on a number of fronts, airlines have been in the crosshairs of government efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the past year. That combined with recent years’ sharp spike in fuel prices has led to a flurry of activity on the part of airlines to develop and test cleaner alternative fuels.
Japan Air Lines on January 30 became the first to test fly an airliner on a combination of second generation biofuels derived from three feedstocks, 84% of which was derived from camelina, an oilseed crop and relative of mustard, cabbage and broccoli that’s traditionally been used to produce vegetable oil and animal feed.
Montana’s Sustainable Oils supplied the camelina biofuel for JAL’s test flight. The other biofuels were refined from jatropha (<16%) and algae (<1%).

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Saturday February 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

race%20win.jpgWinning Strategies for Climate Change ConsultingGreen Biz has the inside scoop on how to turn that pink slip into a new, flexible income opportunity.

3M-LogoJPG_1_.jpg 3M Launches Renewable Energy Division The renewable energy division will be divided into two units: Energy Generation and Energy Management. Energy Generation will manufacture films, tapes, coatings, encapsulants, sealants and adhesives, while Energy Management will focus on window film technology. The company already generates $200 million annually from solar-related items, including films, tapes, coatings, and adhesives. One to add to your portfolio?
Coal_Hands.jpgDoes it Matter if Carbon Prices Plummet? If you’re in the mood for some opinionating, read this great piece from the NY Times Green Inc blog. Then come back here and let us know what you think.

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Make Biofuel From Your Home Using Leftover Beer

| Friday February 6th, 2009 | 6 Comments

E-FuelBiofuel.jpg Imagine a washing machine-sized contraption in your garage that’ll make the fuel to power your car. And that fuel was made from all the leftover beer from last week’s Super Bowl party. The folks at E-Fuel are making that possible.
The E-Fuel100 is a portable ethanol “microrefinery” system that allows consumers to produce their own biofuel from simple, household sugar or even beer.
E-Fuel, the company that wants to catalyze the paradigm shift in society’s energy consumption, has also recently partnered with Chico, Ca-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to produce ethanol from the waste produced from the brewing process.
On average, Sierra Nevada produces 1.6 million gallons of unusable “bottom of the barrel” beer yeast waste. Instead of being directed to dairy feed, the system of E-Fuel microrefineries that will be in place in Q2 2009 will now power Sierra Nevada’s entire fleet of delivery trucks as well as hundreds of cars in Central Valley.

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Nuclear’s Nemesis

Jeff Siegel | Friday February 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

yucca.jpg A Senate committee in Kentucky just passed a bill that could potentially allow for the new construction of nuclear power plants in the Bluegrass State. Essentially, the bill would repeal a 1984 law that placed a moratorium on nuclear power plant construction until the federal government can figure out how to dispose of the waste.
So has the federal government figured out how to dispose of this waste?

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Mission Motors: Innovation, Imagination, Zero Emissions – And One Screaming Fast (Electric) Motorcycle

| Friday February 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

It’s the stuff of entrepreneurial start-up legend – Apple, Google, HP – one or two (or three) very smart, talented, and imaginative people start a fledgling company in a garage with little more than an idea and the vision of how it could change the world.

The founders of Mission Motors – Forrest Deuth, Edward West, and Mason Cabot – haven’t created the next computing breakthrough or internet sensation, but what they have done is taken an idea, combined it with a mission to help make a better, more sustainable world through innovative design and progressive engineering, and stuck with it until their dream became a reality. They’ve done it by designing and building the Mission One – the fastest production electric motorcycle in the world.

Really? All that with a motorcycle? A logical and reasonable question. The founders of Mission Motors believe that “riding a Mission Motorcycle is making statement”. A statement of performance and technology, yes. But one of sustainability as well.

What started as dream, combined with some entrepreneurial savvy (initially pursued in the obligatory garage), came to full fruition last Wednesday when the Mission One was unveiled at the TED conference in Long Beach, California.

There’s been plenty of reporting done in the past couple days on the “gee-whiz” aspects of the bike, I’d like to focus a little more on Mission Motors itself.

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Corporations Buy More Green Power as Debate on Capitol Hill Shapes Up

| Friday February 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

greenelogo.gif Purchases by some of the nation’s largest corporations, as well as governments and agencies, led to a record total of voluntary “green” power purchases in 2008, according to a ClimateBiz report.
Intel and PepsiCo topped the list of buyers for Green-e Energy Certified renewable power, the Center for Resource Solutions announced late last month. A non-profit agency, the Center provides third-party certifications for the renewable power market.
The rankings were released a few days prior to California Senator Barbara Boxer predicting that Congress would draft legislation to put a national emissions cap-and-trade system in place prior to the December UN international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, which aim to produce a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

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From Transactional to Transformational: A Cause Marketing Approach Designed to Change the World

| Friday February 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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multicultural%20world_cause%20mktg.jpgBy and large, a cause marketing initiative works best when a company is deeply committed to a particular social issue, and incorporates a greater platform for change than merely transactional efforts. While it has value to tie the proceeds from sales to a particular cause, it has the potential to confuse the landscape if it is not a) made abundantly clear the percentage of the transaction that will be going toward charitable efforts and b) part of a larger, multi-faceted program for affecting change across business functions. (Translation: not only marketing.)
If a consumer pays five dollars for a cup of (RED)coffee at Starbucks, do they feel as though they have contributed that entire amount directly to the cause? Does that, then, give them a sense of doing good without making any additional efforts to help? Would it have been more beneficial for that customer to have given $5 directly to Project RED and forgo the coffee?
These questions bring up the core issues around cause marketing as a campaign [to drive sales/create the perception of social consciousness] vs. an outreach [to drive change/build upon an authentic mission of social consciousness]. It also highlights the importance of transparency around the impact of campaign dollars used and the need for clear communication with consumers so that they can make the most educated choice about their charitable contributions. In some cases, the purchase of a cause-branded item may be better spent as a direct donation with 100% of the contributiion benefitting the charity.
Fortunately, with companies like sweetriot, consumers don’t have to struggle with that decision. Founded on a commitment to create a multicultural world, Sarah Endline, built a company that spells consciousness in every tiny chocolate ‘peace’ candy that keeps cacao farmers employed and underdeveloped countries thriving.

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