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SoCap08 provided all sorts of reasons for optimism about capitalism as a force for social good. A new breed of entrepreneurs is busting through old mental models and market forces to drive results based on the new metric called the triple-bottom line.
My take-away from SoCap08 was the realization that, as essential as the private market is in producing large-scale change, the public sector – government – is just as vital, for at least a couple of reasons.
First, the emerging social capital/triple bottom line marketplace is tiny, a couple of trillion dollars in the 60+ trillion dollar global marketplace. Only governments, in the U.S., European nations and other states, have the cash and policy resources at hand to multiply private sector investment rapidly and at a significant scale. It’s simple: when people begin to act collectively to match their voting and policy choices with their social vision, change will follow. At scale. The New Deal, the Marshall Plan, the G.I. Bill, the Interstate Highway System and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 come to mind.
In recent days the news poured in from all corners of the earth; many, many countries are going to force their citizens to change their light bulbs. No joke – 27 countries in Europe, Australia, Canada, Cuba and the Philippines are all eliminating incandescent light bulbs as early as 2010 and replacing them by fluorescent bulbs. And the US 2008 energy bill phases out filament light bulbs for traditional use starting 2012 with an official ban effective in 2014.Click to continue reading »
The looming global economic recession won’t stand in the way of company plans to adapt their strategies for the effects of global warming. Instead, 90% of the bosses of the FTSE-100 companies believe action in favor of the environment is an impetus for business. A report just out by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) reveals that corporations are stepping up their efforts to measure and reduce carbon emissions in their supply chains. They also are getting more on target to elimininate carbon emissions linked with product use and disposal.Click to continue reading »
What if zero carbon building became the standard? What would towns look like? Are carbon free homes only for the rich? These questions dominate the news headlines in Great Britain, which is preparing to have all new houses being built to be zero carbon by 2016. The UK government issued the strictest rules in the world on its building industry two years ago and the impact of the new regulations is drastic.Click to continue reading »
Okay, I missed Blog Action Day’s Alleviating Poverty drive this past week, but I figure a little journalistic license is in order given the nature of the cause. Fortuitously, this gives me the opportunity to report on how efforts to alleviate poverty and foster ecologically and economically sustainable agricultural practices can work hand in hand.
The IUCN’s World Initiative on Sustainable Pastoralism is championing a cause, and people, that have traditionally been neglected, and exploited. According to a recently released WISP report, “pastoralism provides direct and indirect benefits to the environment in dryland areas and deserves more recognition of this contribution.”
Working side by side with Save the Children’s “Africa Region Pastoral Initiative” WISP also aims to help realize related United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals by working to alleviate poverty among pastoralists worldwide, particularly children. “Historically marginalized, pastoralists across sub-Saharan Africa are asking for change for their children and themselves,” states the group in its July 2008 “Children on the Move” report.
In this time of economic uncertainty, it’s reassuring to hear that we’re in the right field! Forbes has the hook on the increase in environmental jobs with salaries over $100,000.
They feature the top 10 environmental jobs in this salary range:
1. Chief Sustainability Officer
These are the folks who keep their company in line: making sure government regulations are met and suggesting environmentally friendly initiatives.
2. Environmental Engineer
Environmental Engineers minimize the environmental impact of construction and development projects. The demand for environmental engineers is projected to grow by 25% by 2016.
3. Environmental Lawyer
Environmental lawyers can represent environmental groups or their adversaries. Obviously the green choice is the former – Forbes doesn’t specify which one is the big economic winner, but I’m guessing the oil companies pay more than NRDC.
4. Climatologist/Environmental Meteorologist
Climatologists study the weather. Very important as we all become more interested in what’s happening with global warming.
5. Renewable Energy Manager
Lots of jobs managing all those new renewable portfolio projects for the utilities or the solar, wind, and biofuel companies.
If your future is as bleak as the planet’s, you will have had visions of a cardboard box existence. Lighten up, cardboard boxes can be fun! If they come blessed with a designer’s touch, that is.
Australian architects Stutchbury and Pape designed a cardboard box that takes no more skill to put together than an average Ikea wardrobe. The house is extremely low cost in terms of daily living. For energy usage, it relies only on 12-volt batteries or photovoltaic cells. And there’s a composting system which ingeniously produces nutrient-rich water for gardening.
As part of Blog Action Day, we introduced you to the public purpose investment company, E+Co. To recap, E+Co is a non-profit that provides local energy entrepreneurs in developing countries with business development services as well as investment capital. Active in 28 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, it has fostered the growth of 180 enterprises, offering an additional 4.3 million people access to clean energy, and offsetting 3 million tons of carbon.
E+Co is a renowned expert in program development: it was recently awarded 2008 Sustainable Investor of the Year by the Financial Times and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, and is a member of the Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). With a successful model in place, the organization is now in a position to shift gears and focus on scaling up. E+Co’s membership commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative reflects that decision. Its current business plan sets three target goals for 2012: create partnerships and generate the necessary funding to invest $190 million of services and capital in local energy businesses, bring clean, modern energy to an additional 17 million people, and offset over 15 million tons of carbon.
New York State has approved the first doctoral degree in sustainability to be offered by the Rochester Institute of Technology. The program, presented by the RIT Golisano Institute of Sustainability, focuses on sustainable production. The goal is to advance research and education in alternative energy development, green product development, industrial ecology, and pollution prevention.
Rocky Mountain Institute and AASHE Partner with Colleges to Pursue the Best Weapons to Battle Climate Change
Keeping with our higher education theme, the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education have announced a partnership with 12 colleges to study best practices for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other strategies to fight climate change. The announcement of the program and the selection of the participating colleges was made by the institute earlier this week.
Density Dynamics Corporation announced yesterday the release from R&D into the first production run of its new solid ram device (SRD). The SRD product line addresses the cost, footprint, and high performance requirements of IT, most particularly the energy use problems of transaction oriented data centers identified by IBM’s Project Big Green. Density Dynamics is a pioneer in the field of green solid RAM storage devices.
ON Wednesday the California Air Resources Board released a comprehensive climate change plan that, if approved, will impact every sector of the state’s economy. The plan is in line to meet the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 calling for a reduction in California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Building on the success of Carbon Forum America organized earlier this year in San Francisco, the Koelnmesse group announced earlier this week the launch of Carbon TradeEx America, set to take place April 7–9, 2009 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Carbon TradeEx America will be an opportunity to help “engage in a dialogue with market participants and low-carbon technology suppliers about the business opportunities presented by the emerging carbon markets in the United States”, says Carbon Markets & Investors Association president Abyd Karmali.
Wells Fargo Launches Its First Sustainability Fund
Ah, the joys of investing and banking these days! Wells Fargo Funds Management announced the addition of a Social Sustainability Fund to their lineup of 125 mutual funds in the Advantage Funds family. The fund will invest in 30 to 50 large caps funds that demonstrate strong business fundamentals and whose stock price is trading at a discount (aren’t they all right now?). Overlaying those criteria fund managers will consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors as well as a social responsibility index (SRI) screen when determining their stock picks.
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Over the last few years I’ve heard a lot of talk in the environmental and social entrepreneurship communities about the importance of ‚Äòscalability’ in social ventures. Simply put, scalability is basically the ability for a system to expand. It’s one of the key indicators for grant or investor funding…but it often clashes with “green” values.
For example, the last few years have seen the vast majority of typical “green” products offered primarily in niche markets – co-ops, natural food stores, smaller chains and, of course Whole Foods Market. Now most supermarkets have at least a small organic offering (an aisle, maybe two…and a small section in the produce department).
But to effect real, fundamental change, don’t we have to be focusing on the mainstream? Isn’t it more effective to put those eco-friendly products in Target and The Home Depot and *gasp* Wal-Mart, where the vast majority of American Consumers actually shop?
Many give Starbucks credit for revolutionizing the American coffee drinking experience. With 11,000 stores in 44 countries, what impact does this company have on the world with its strong global presence?
Starbucks stores use billions of cups annually. This requires enormous quantities of natural resources and energy before finding their way to landfills. Starbucks does however use cups that contains 10% post consumer recycled content.
Although this might sound like a meager quantity, Starbucks has helped shape the industry. This 10% achievement required authorization and testing by the Food and Drug Administration and had not been permitted previously.
This is a guest post by John Simonetta, owner of Proforma Green, an eco-friendly promotional items consultancy. John’s blogs are designed to keep us up to date on the “greening” of his industry.
It is October and in the promotional products industry that means it is time to start talking about holiday cards.
Most companies find holiday cards a great way to show appreciation to their best clients or to send a special thank you to their employees.
Most green purists will likely say skip the card, save a tree and send email instead. The problem is that a lot of clients expect cards.
So what to do?
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The U.S. has the highest prison population in the world, and California is the state with the most prisons. The largely rural San Joaquin Valley where I have spent most of my life is home to the majority of California’s prisons built since 1980, including the largest women’s prison in the world in Chowchilla, a town with a population of 18,780.
The prisons affect the environment of the San Joaquin Valley, an area with one of the worst air basins in the country. According to a 2004 article in Art Journal, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) blamed the prisons “for increased traffic flow in rural areas, which in turn contributes significantly to the rise of air pollution in the Central Valley.” The article went on to point out that “some people have compared the construction of prisons in the Central Valley to the creation of small, densely populated, hinterland cities in the toll that they exact on the existing landscape.”
Detering is CEO of Tioga Energy. He is a veteran entrepreneur with 20 years experience in clean technology.
Right now I’m in San Diego, which has become the Mecca of Solar, literally overnight. Solar Power International 2008 has drawn thousands of people from around the world to talk shop and deals. And where I feel like I am living The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
There is tremendous excitement and enthusiasm here in San Diego’s convention center and Gaslamp district.¬† My breakfast meetings start early (7AM) and the days are filled with meetings about very real opportunities and projects. ¬†¬†Finding a quiet corner to meet is impossible.¬† Occasionally, I meet in one of the private meeting rooms hosted by some of the big players attending the conference. But usually it is in one of the many large “meeting rooms” on the upper level.¬†
These rooms are great.¬† They typically have 5 to 10 tables and are well stocked with water, sodas and ice where 3 or 4 meetings are underway simultaneously in multiple languages – German, Spanish, Japanese, English – the Solar World right before my eyes. Very exciting. ¬†
At the conference day’s end, its thousands of solar enthusiasts spill out of the convention center and cross the street. Some people are so eager to get to the Gaslamp District and continue making their solar connections, that they attempt jaywalking. A crossing guard, looking out for our safety, has been kindly, but firmly, threatening people with tickets to keep us in line.¬†
In July, San Francisco launched GoSolarSF a 10-year solar rebate program designed to accelerate the build out of the city’s clean energy infrastructure. On September 30th, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that applications for new solar installations have quadrupled since then, putting the city on track to double its installed capacity by next year. Under the program, city residents will receive rebates between $3,000-$6,000 off the cost of a solar system, while businesses are eligible for up to $10,000 in savings.
San Francisco has identified 1600 business as likely candidates for solar installations. Combined, the target businesses use a total of 170 MW of power. The city’s current solar installation capacity is 5 MW – a ¬Ω percent of the city’s 1 GW of total annual consumption. With help from a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, San Francisco will begin offering these businesses free energy efficiency and solar audits. The energy efficiency audits will be conducted first and are designed to drive down the businesses’ consumption of energy, thereby enabling smaller and less costly solar systems to cover their remaining energy needs.Click to continue reading »