Transmission: Clean Energy’s Best Supporting Actor

Nick Hodge | Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

wind energy transmissionWe all love clean energy. We just don’t all understand it.

Rally cries are easy to come by for new wind and solar projects, but the ralliers aren’t always aware of all that must be done to bring those projects to fruition.

Fields of turbines and acres of panels are playing the lead role for the clean energy industry, stealing attention from an outstanding supporting cast.

Don’t get me wrong, looking at current and forecast capacity growth for solar and wind energy makes me all gooey inside like any other cleantech junkie.

But the attention being paid to the solar and wind sisters is making for a Cinderella story elsewhere in the industry. . .

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Do You Viv? New Program Gives Consumers Power to Green Favorite Businesses

| Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Arul Velan and Dinesh Thirupuvanam, founders of San Francisco start-up Viv, have a bright idea – give businesses a simple way to go green while driving sales and profits. Viv is founded on two principles: 1) Small changes add up and 2) Give consumers the power to do good without going too far out of their way, and they will.
Viv believes that it will take consumers and businesses coming together and working on many solutions at once to turn the tide of global warming. As such, Viv offers a simple, easily adoptable, almost elegant, program to help businesses and consumers embrace environmental sustainability. Essentially, consumers are empowered to vote with their wallets for their favorite businesses to green their practices by consuming as per usual. Customers show their Viv sticker to participating businesses at the time of purchase. Businesses that accept Viv stickers commit to making their own stores more eco-friendly as more Viv purchases are made.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Oil Rigs Are Dead! Long Live the Oil Rigs?!

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 1 Comment

When you think about a luxury eco-lodge, you probably envision a majestic cabin nestled in a pristine forest, or a thatch-roof cabana on a white-sand beach. What you probably don’t envision is an abandoned oil rig that has been recycled into an offshore hotel. But that’s just the idea for which Morris Architects received the Society for American Registered Architects National Design Award of Excellence for its “radical innovation in hospitality.”
Whether this eco-lodge is radical or ridiculous remains to be seen – if and when the concept becomes a reality. But there’s no shortage of raw material for the project: the Gulf of Mexico is home to more than 4,000 oil rigs and they’re consistently running out of oil (right, that’s the problem with oil). Once a rig stops producing profitable quantities of oil, its producer must remove or reincarnate the structure within one year, according to a Department of Interior regulation. Once it’s tapped, producers either demolish and remove the rig, which is very costly and kills off the sea life that thrives on the underwater legs of the rig, or they remove the rig and place it into reuse as an artificial reef. Lots of resident sea life is killed during this removal process, too, but then the structure helps protect other sea life in its new role a reef.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Domestic Bamboo Cultivation: Miracle Cure for US Agricultural Economy?

| Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 9 Comments

Bamboo is often held up as this sustainable wonder plant, able to grow quickly, not require pesticides, and absorb a heap of CO2 as it grows – 4 times as much as hardwood trees, while putting out 35% more oxygen.
But there’s a problem: It’s gotten so popular that the stock is getting depleted faster then it can be grown. The U.N. estimates that up to half the 1200 species of bamboo are either endangered or extinct from over harvesting. And it comes almost entirely from China, India, and other far away places, potentially negating or exceeding the carbon reduction it achieved while growing. The US being the world’s biggest importer of bamboo products, that’s a problem.
Then comes the stumbling block: Bamboo doesn’t grow domestically. At least not the kinds that are used in making the flooring, towels, clothing, etc. that so many of us have become fond of. Or so the story goes. If Booshoot Gardens has its way, that story will be changing soon.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Innovation on Display at Expo West

| Tuesday March 17th, 2009 | 0 Comments

trade-show.jpg
Every year Anaheim hosts the largest natural products convention in the U.S., Natural Products Expo West. The event showcases the newest and most innovative products in natural, organic and healthy living with more than 1,900 hundred brands spread across 300,000 square feet.

The shear volume of products on display and the liberal application of the term “natural” made finding meaningful innovation hard to come by – unless of course, you feel we need more ways to turn soy into meat-like substances or diet ice-cubes are the cure for America’s obesity problems.

However, these five products stood out as truly innovative – meaning they have the potential to positively influence consumers impact on people or the planet.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Gore Endorses Dot Eco Domain Name: But Will the New Domain Be Credible?

| Tuesday March 17th, 2009 | 9 Comments

algore-ap.jpgA new social venture, Dot Eco LLC, hopes to become the .eco domain registrar through the ICANN application process later this year. ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) coordinates the Internet’s systems of unique identifiers and periodically expands domain names through a formal application process. Dot Eco’s efforts gained considerable visibility and credibility last week when Al Gore and his Alliance for Climate Protection announced their support.
If granted accreditation as the .eco domain registrar, Dot Eco has pledged to donate more than 50% of registration fees to fund initiatives and research in climate change, ocean analysis, economic policy, and other environmentally related areas.

But the Goreacle’s detractors are already voicing their skepticism: Will the .eco domain really succeed in attracting registrants and raising awareness, or will it crash and burn like several other seldom used domains (remember .mobi, .biz, .tv and .info)? By what standards will Dot Eco vet those organizations seeking an .eco domain? Who decides which environmental causes are worthy of receiving donations? And how does Dot Eco maintain the integrity of the .eco brand and avoid digital green washing?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Bringing Farm Flavors to the City: Mission Pie, San Francisco

| Tuesday March 17th, 2009 | 1 Comment

mission%20pie.jpgThis caf√© offers it all: great food in a sustainable business context with a friendly atmosphere to enjoy it all in. Whether it’s the apple, walnut, or banana cream pie you’re treating yourself to, you can feel assured that your efforts are benefitting a sustainable business, with an emphasis on city-rural relationships and youth development as well.
Mission Pie in the Mission District has grabbed our attention for its wholesome and genuine approach to sustainable food production and we’re delighted to share their story with you.
The Mission Pie story began in 2005 when a group of youths visiting Pie Ranch expressed that they felt disconnected from the farming world and lacked the means to visit Pie Ranch to bridge this divide.
Since the beginning of 2007, Mission Pie has created an inner-city extension of the Pie Ranch, creating the store front to serve pies using ingredients harvest from the ranch just several miles south of the city, employing neighborhood Mission High School students, and even running programs to take students to the ranch to learn where what we eat actually comes from. It encourages city folk to embrace

“intimacy with their food through live relationships with the people and places that grow the ingredients.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Does Green Fast Food Signal a Shift in the Way We Eat?

| Tuesday March 17th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Green%20Fast%20Food.jpg Last week, PSFK reported on the recent opening of the Sno:La frozen yogurt chain’s second branch in Kyoto, Tokyo. Sno:La first opened in Los Angeles in 2007 and has received a great deal of critical acclaim.
Not only do they serve seasonal flavors using organic dairy products, the design of the new Kyoto branch utilizes reclaimed lumber from demolished buildings, it has soy-painted concrete floors, counter tops are constructed from recycled circuit boards, and customers in both locations are served biodegradable cups and spoons.
As a site for its second branch, Sno:la’s owner Masako Kawashima specifically chose Kyoto as a symbolic nod to the protocol agreement to reduce international greenhouse gas emissions.
Sno:La has plans to expand to sites in Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, plus New York, Paris, and Santa Monica, joining the ranks of the several other fast food chains that have sprung up across the world.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Net Impact: New Leaders, New Perspectives

| Monday March 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

What do MBA students think about the relationship between business and social & environmental issues? If you’re a regular 3p reader, you’ve been introduced to a lot of MBAs who think quite consciously about this relationship and generally agree that business should play an active role in the conversation. Exactly where the conversation goes depends on the type of business, the issue, and one’s personal philosophy.
Net Impact’s new survey – New Leaders, New Perspectives offers some insight. From the executive summary:

As executives struggle to guide their companies through the current economic turmoil and regain public trust to do so, MBAs are cautiously optimistic on the role that business can play in improving the world. Less than a third of respondents think that corporations are working towards the betterment of society (31%). Yet, they believe that the for-profit sector should play a role in addressing social and environmental issues (88%) and that being responsible leads to corporate profits (77%). Of today’s graduate students, 90% blame a focus in business on short-term rather than long-term results as one of the contributing factors to the global financial crisis.

Download the whole report as a PDF here.

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

GoodGuide: Site Exposes Goods, and Bads, on Food

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Monday March 16th, 2009 | 3 Comments

header_logo.pngWith so much alarming information about harmful ingredients in consumer products – from bisphenol A (BPA) in plastics to Salmonella in peanut butter – a trip to the grocery store has become an anxiety-producing event. To calm our nerves and sell more product, many makers of consumer packaged goods label their products “green.”
But what’s “green?” Is bottled water that touts a new design with less plastic a “green” product if that plastic contains BPA? Is a food product really organic if only a portion of its ingredients is organic? And how do you know whether a products’ squeaky-clean image matches the corporate policies of its manufacturer?
Late last year, a new website called GoodGuide.com emerged. It is designed to help consumers find answers to those types of questions. Until now, the products reviewed fell into categories such as personal care, household chemicals, and toys. Today, GoodGuide.com has launched a food category, which rates 30,000 products by 5,000 food brands.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Eurotrip…in the U.S.?

| Monday March 16th, 2009 | 4 Comments


Like many twenty-somethings, I’ve spent a good deal of time backpacking across Europe in the coach class of countless high-speed rail cars. It’s great to pass time looking out the window at stunning scenery, plotting out a plan of attack for the next destination or trying to avoid sitting next to the smelly guy in the back. Many times, I was the smelly guy….but that is beside the point.
The point is that the journey was just as memorable as the destination. I do not have this same sentiment, however, when I travel around the U.S. When I act as a tourist in my home country, I find it extremely stressful, time-intensive, and non-personable. Traveling in individual cars on 10-lane freeways, dealing with parking and trying to catch flights in airports that are far away from civilization can be quite the ordeal. Ask any foreigner who has traveled in the U.S. and they will concur.
This is about to change, however, with the implementation of high-speed rail corridors across the country. In the recently passed stimulus bill, over $8 billion is allocated for the development of high-speed rail in the U.S. – the most ever allocated for rail at one time. In addition, the Obama administration is proposing a five-year $5 billion high-speed rail grant program in their 2010 budget proposal.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

California Clean Tech Open 2009: Catalyzing Innovation

| Monday March 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment

CCTO%202009.pngNow in its fourth year, the California Clean Tech Open (CCTO) is set to hold its launch event this coming Thursday, March 19, 2009. Touted as an “innovation catalyst” for new ideas and businesses in clean tech, the CCTO is one of the more successful incubator-type events of its kind and a must-see for anyone in the sector.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Catapult Design: Engineering Humanity

| Monday March 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

phil-in-five.gif


The concept of for-profit philanthropy does not center solely around revenue-generating entities. Part of the schema is a transformational approach to business whereby funds are re-allocated toward the greater good. This includes non-profit companies whose services are geared specifically toward social innovations that are helping to alleviate some of the biggest issues facing our world.
Catapult Design is a non-profit design consultancy that provides engineering and implementation support to organizations in need of technologies or products capable of igniting social change. To achieve that, they leverage partnerships with for-profit companies that have the capacity to bring their solutions to scale, and then their product development, in-country implementation and evaluation services are sold for a fee negotiated on a client-by-client basis. By creating a sustainable flow of funds through for-profit alliances, grants and donations, they can provide services to those who would otherwise not be able to afford them, and in doing so, engineer the systems and processes to positively impact human-centered activities that help people and nations thrive. Catapult Design is doing more than just drafting blueprints — they’re architecting a better world.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle Redefines Green Business

Tom Szaky | Monday March 16th, 2009 | 4 Comments

szaky-book.jpgMy book, Revolution in a Bottle, hit the streets this week. It is a quick read that is meant to flow more like a novel, less like a business book. It follows the story of TerraCycle from our beginnings in my dorm room, shoveling maggot filled organic waste to creating products we sold to Wal-Mart and other major big box retailers, getting sued by Scotts and creating “sponsored waste” programs to upcycle branded waste. It also offers insights on how we approach media and pursue new opportunities. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:
While it has not always led to the “right” decision, I have learned that I must always trust my gut. Sometimes this has led to hiring people without requisite experience but who have turned out to be gems as they developed their art. In some cases, I’ve opened doors to people and situations that have been problematic, but through each adverse experience, the company grew stronger. As one pathway we were pursuing became blocked or looked less promising, another would always open. As I think over the roller coaster of TerraCycle’s early history, I can see that it would have been impossible to predict or plan how to develop TerraCycle to the place where it stands today. The trick was to be ever vigilant in seeking opportunities, and to be ready to jump on them if they felt right inside and consistent with core mission, even before they could be well thought out. And, I have learned, by picking up the shovel (when we made our first years’ batches of worm poop), to actually working the iron and sewing machine as we made our first prototype upcycled materials and bags, that I could ground an idea in real time, and shortcut speculation about hypotheticals.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Appalachia: How Energy Efficiency Could Help Transform the Land of “Clean Coal”

| Monday March 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

appalachia.jpgWith the presidential inauguration complete, the energy industry is perched on the edge of its seat, awaiting what many think could be nothing less than a transformation. Obama’s inaugural address included a prominent mention of energy and he’s made some significant commitments in recent weeks. It even seems as though Congress wants to put up the money, with $54B of the proposed stimulus package directed towards energy.
While government willingness is a necessary first step, this money must be channeled to where it will make the most difference in order to create meaningful results. Enter the Appalachian Regional Commision and its upcoming report, Energy Efficiency in Appalachia. Written by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA), the report provides a mix of policy proposals and supporting data that map out a potential energy future for Appalachia.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »