Healthcare Costs Affect Businesses

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday November 26th, 2008 | 2 Comments

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Over the last five years, health insurance premiums for employers increased almost five times faster than inflation, and four times faster than wage growth, according to a study by the National Coalition on Healthcare (NCHC) released last February. Premiums are rising at double digit rates which makes it harder for businesses to provide health insurance coverage for employees. “It is becoming clear to many companies that at current rates, their health insurance expenses will out pace their profits,” the NCHC study stated.
Between 2000 and 2007, premiums for businesses increased almost 100 percent, but wages increased only 24 percent. The NCHC study listed how the rising cost of premiums affects businesses, including reducing their capacity to grow. Higher premiums also are a “drag on economic growth” because the job growth rate slows and wages are suppressed.

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Energy at a Tipping Point: Part 2 – SunPower’s Dr. Richard Swanson on the Future of PV Solar

| Tuesday November 25th, 2008 | 2 Comments

SunPower founder Dr. Richard Swanson sees a bright future for PV solarThis post continues my reveiw of some key points from the discusion forum I attended earlier this month “After the Election: Where is Clean Energy Headed Now?” hosted by TiE at their Silicon Valley headquarters. My last post focused on the presentation by Chris Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute. In this post we’ll review what SunPower founder and current President and Chief Technical Officer Dr. Richard Swanson had to say to the crowd of venture capitalists, investors, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
A megawatt a day keeps the coal man at bay
As could be expected, Dr. Swanson is bullish on solar PV, not only for SunPower, but for the industry as a whole, even given the pernicious uncertainties in the general economy. With the rapid growth of PV (30 to 40% annnually worldwide) and increasing R&D investment, Swanson is looking for the next few years to bring more breakthroughs in the price and efficiency of PV solar systems.
According to Swanson, half the current cost of a solar system is in its installation. Streamlining this process by increasing system assembly efficiency and utilizing non-penetrating foundations for ground-based panels helps bring costs down and enables SunPower to install 1 megawatt a day of solar PV, from factory to field.
These efforts, combined with ongoing research and development in continuous ingot growth, thinner solar wafers, and solar tracking of panels for better ulitization of solar energy throughout the day (we reported of such an system SunPower installed for Gap Stores back in October), are some aspects by which Swanson sees SunPower meeting its target objectives of 60% in cost reduction and 23% efficiency increase in PV solar by 2012.

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Can the “Green Economy” Sustain Itself?

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 25th, 2008 | 1 Comment

green-economy.jpgby 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.

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Is The Water Running? Corporate Water Footprints

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

water-foot-888.jpgby 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.

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Advertising And Global Warming – Prepare To Be Shocked

| Tuesday November 25th, 2008 | 1 Comment

hsbc%203.jpgWhat 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.

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Fly the Friendly Green Skies This Holiday Season

| Tuesday November 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

UnitedGreenFlight.jpg 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.

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A Bailout for Automakers?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday November 25th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Ford%20Motor%20Company%20Logo.jpgThe 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.

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Video Anecdote of the Day: Japan Airlines CEO Pay vs. US Pay

| Monday November 24th, 2008 | 1 Comment

I think this video speaks for itself:

Discuss….

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Join 3p in Miami for the Sustainable Brands International Conference, Exclusive Group Buy

| Monday November 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

sbi.jpgIf 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.

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World’s Largest Dike to Make City From Tidelands in South Korea

Sarah Lozanova | Monday November 24th, 2008 | 1 Comment

dikeA 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.

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The Transition to a Green Economy: A Cleantech Roadmap

3p Contributor | Monday November 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

turbine_freeway_structure_2.jpg 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.

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Is the Automotive Industry Too Vital to Fail?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday November 24th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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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.”

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Builders, Venture Capitalists and Governments Embrace Green Building Retrofitting

| Monday November 24th, 2008 | 3 Comments

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.
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LA Auto Show: Three Under the Radar Ways to Green Cars Now

| Friday November 21st, 2008 | 5 Comments

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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:

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday November 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

collard-greens-plant.jpgTop 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.
SodaCans.jpgSoda 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!
solar_cells_panels_PV_array_monocrystaline.jpg 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.

airplane.JPGUnited 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.jpgUPS 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.
Building_l.jpgGreen 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

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