The term Corporate Social Responsibility is broad, and often means different things to different organizations. Some have a formalized CSR strategy in place that extends from internal business practices through to their external communications and environmental impact. Others simply have a core mission of consciousness that is embodied in all of their activities. And still others range from philanthropic giving programs to local grassroots efforts to cause marketing campaigns and everything in between. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to being a responsible company, but the one quality that they all share is that they are at least aware of the importance of embracing a socially conscious mindset for doing business. Wherever they fall along the continuum, Coethica, an ethics-driven firm built on the tenets of Responsibility, Integrity and Transparency, is focused on helping small businesses through large organizations strike a balance in effectively integrating these values into their practices. Founded by David Connor, Coethica helps companies make a sustainable difference with an individualized approach to doing good from development of a complete CSR plan to changing lightbulbs that reduce energy bills and carbon footprint. They even create unique partnership opportunities with sports and football teams (although we call it “soccer” on this side of the pond!), designed to connect with the community and spark awareness in a compelling way. And that’s a winning combination that will kickstart change, even from the sidelines. Click to continue reading »
In the quest for energy independence, every viable energy source needs to be considered. Low-grade waste heat may not have the allure of shiny solar panels or a row of wind turbines, but it presents an opportunity that is too good for Michael Newell, CEO of Ener-G-Rotors to pass up. The company is developing a product that generates electricity from low-grade waste heat. “We are making electricity from a free fuel and not using a fossil fuel,” Michael Newell said this week in an interview with TriplePundit. “Every kilowatt you are generating from our system is a kilowatt you don’t need from fossil fuels.” Click to continue reading »
March came in with a bang in much of the country. A major snowstorm blanketed the East Coast and the West Coast is receiving much-needed rain and snow, as well. But a Colorado company is receiving lots of attention these days for its innovative approach to air conditioning. We spoke with Rick Gillan, president of Coolerado, a Arvada, Colo.-based maker of air conditioners that uses a patented technology to pull the heat out of summer air and send cool air into a building without the use of chemical refrigerants and, while consuming just a tenth of the electricity of a conventional AC unit – or no electricity at all, if powered by solar panels. (You can learn more about the technology specifications here.)
Triple Pundit: What are Coolerado’s roots? Where did the technology come from? Rick Gillan: Valeriy Maisotsenko developed it. He was born in the Ukraine and fled the USSR in 1992 and came to the U.S. He had been researching the underlying technology for 35 years, during his academic career in Odessa. He knew there was a way to use evaporation and heat exchange to get lower temperatures. He discovered a new thermodynamic cycle, now called the Maisotsenko cycle. It’s all based on biomimicry – by studying nature and how systems cool themselves.
The eBay Green Team started over a pizza pie. In 2007, 40 eBay employees got together, driven by a common goal – to make environmental and green issues a priority within the company. Fast forward two years and over 1,000 employees across 18 different countries are currently part of the Green Team. And yesterday marked their official foray into the public sphere with the launch of eBayGreenTeam.com, a site dedicated to uniting the community – both employees and customers/vendors – around a common dialogue of behavior change. “We want to push the envelope,” says Libby Reder, eBay’s Head of Environmental Initiatives, in regards to the mission of the Green Team. To inspire everyone to become “smarter, greener consumers.” We’ve covered some of eBay’s efforts in social enterprise previously, but as Earth Day rapidly approaches, the company is making a point to highlight many of its green efforts across the board. Not only does it boast a LEED-Gold certified campus at its corporate headquarters in San Jose, CA (which also houses the city’s largest solar installation), the company is also proud to not have a large supply chain nor retail footprint. Rather, eBay views itself as more of a conduit, a connector. Even a changegent, to use a term previously discussed here. A connector of buyers and sellers, eBay has the unique ability to impact both the supply AND demand sides of commerce. Click to continue reading »
As the tides continue to turn toward corporate social responsibility, we are seeing what I affectionately term “conscious capitalists” popping up, using their high profile influence, social capital — and revenue — to drive change on a grand scale. Black Card Circle, an elite social network of prominent business professionals comprised of what Founder, Lotay Yang, calls “CIA’s: Connectors, Influencers, and Alphas,” is committed to using their access, connections and wealth to benefit charitable organizations worldwide.
What’s unqiue about this social network, launching officially 09/09/09, is that all members are validated and verified to ensure trusted transactions and trusted interactions between professionals seeking to collaborate in a “safer, secure, legitimate environment,” according to Lotay. So, rather than engaging in unverified social ecosystems such as Facebook and MySpace, Black Card Circle screens each member carefully, and ensures that they are committed to the core values BCC seeks to uphold. The result is a values-driven community that can advance ventures and programs in a significant way. Passionate about making a difference, Lotay created the Black Card Circle Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that allows the collective of conscious capitalists he’s assembled to contribute substantially to the betterment of humanity by raising awareness for, and providing grants, to non-profit organizations that serve one of the following core areas: Education, Environment, Healthcare, Global Development, and Poverty Relief. The profits generated from Black Card Circle seed the BCCF, facilitating an ongoing stream of funds to keep philanthropic endeavors thriving. And at the core of the foundation beats a heart of gold by a man who truly wants to save the world.
With its initial effects still months out in the future, politicos and media talking heads endlessly speculate on the efficacy and results of a federal government “green” stimulus package. Meanwhile, industry participants are getting on with trying to make it work, continuing their efforts to commercialize, and lower the costs of solar and renewable energy. Down south in Norcross, Georgia, crystalline solar cell manufacturer Suniva Inc. announced that manufacturing expert PM Pai, the former chief operating officer of SunPower, has joined its board of directors. Pai’s joining comes at an opportune time as Suniva looks to increase production, streamline its supply chain operations and expand marketing of its “low-cost, high-efficiency” line of monocrystalline solar cells, all of which are manufactured in the USA. “PM is one of the most highly regarded minds in manufacturing and is credited as a major force in turning SunPower into a leader in the global solar industry,” Suniva CEO John Baumstark said in a news release. “Suniva’s solar cell technology was specifically designed to increase efficiency without high cost and PM’s expertise and advice will be most valuable in helping to bring our new technology to market quickly and to establish market leadership.”
For the last few months my inbox has been filled with chatter about the stimulus bill and how those of us in sustainable business circles can take advantage of it. At last week’s Clean Tech Forum, entire panels were dedicated to discussing the implications of the stimulus bill for clean tech investors and entrepreneurs. Everyone wants to know if the stimulus bill will provide funding for clean tech projects, and if so, how they can get their hands on it. This line of thinking only makes sense. Free-flowing money represents a light at the end of the tunnel in bleak economic times. For aspiring entrepreneurs, the possibility of receiving start-up funding from the government seems like a no-brainer: why wouldn’t I do everything in my power to gear my projects toward those that make me eligible for free money? Here’s why:
Each day I become more aware of how critical our water problems are becoming – the availability of water has profound implications for our health, productivity, and economic development, all of which will flounder in the absence of clean drinking water. Currently, 20% of the world’s population lives without enough water. Last week’s Clean Tech Forum was a chance for clean tech companies addressing this and other problems to “to fund and be funded” as 3p’s Jen Boynton pointed out. One of the many exciting ventures present at the forum was Cardinal Resources, whose Red Bird System can provide clean water affordably to communities around the world. The Red Bird is a solar powered water treatment system that uses no more than salt, sand, and sun to produce clean water for a fraction of a penny per gallon. It functions without pre-existing infrastructure, and can therefore be used in remote and rural communities globally, where clean water is needed most. One Red Bird System can provide for an entire community. The Red Bird can use water from a variety of sources, and can be set up in just a few days to provide water that meets US standards.
When I first heard about earthcycle, recent competitor for “Most promising investment opportunity” at last week’s Clean Tech Forum I was initially impressed. Their flagship products are produce packaging made from palm fiber, the remainders of palm fruit harvesting, which would otherwise be burnt. But after mentioning it on Twitter, I was quickly reminded that Palm fruit planting and harvesting have a not so sustainable history, and according to Scientific American,
Today palm oil production is the largest cause of deforestation in Indonesia and other equatorial countries with dwindling expanses of tropical rainforest.
Fortunately, that’s not the case across the board.
Last week, I wrote a piece about two recent reviews of the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Essentially, I was questioning the positive coverage, as most of it, in my opinion, seemed a bit lacking in substance. However, looking back, I realized I may have come off as a sort of Ford-basher. And that was not my intention. To give you an example of what I mean, in the previous article, I referenced a Car & Driver review of the Fusion hybrid, that indicated a 34 mpg fuel economy when given a 300-mile test run. This is not impressive for a hybrid, or even for a non-hybrid in some instances. What I did not reference, however, was the EPA rating, which is actually 41 mpg city/ 36 mpg highway. For the sake of objectivity, this should have been included, and I regret that it wasn’t. So when I found out that Ford was running an interactive webcast, I jumped at the chance to cover it. I figured this would give me an opportunity to ask some questions and ultimately provide you with more well-rounded coverage of the company’s latest hybrid offering.
One of the biggest challenges for many nonprofits is exposure and generating mass awareness of their cause. But the Internet has begun to change the way in which charitable organizations promote their efforts and can serve as an important vehicle for spreading their message worldwide. By allowing them an opportunity to interact directly with consumers in a meaningful way, nonprofits can cultivate cause champions and reach untapped areas of the market to advance their efforts. Beaconfire, a web development and interactive marketing firm located in Arlington, VA, is focused on just that, working in tandem with nonprofits to make a difference in the world and create a thriving network of cyber-fueled consciousness. Specializing solely in the non-profit sector, Beaconfire understands the subtleties and nuances of the space, including the financial and resource limitations that charitable organizations face. As such, they offer their services at discounted rates, and share their knowledge and learnings with non-profit staff to help expand their arsenal of tools and become self-sufficient in key areas. Their business model is simply to make a difference, and with that in focus, every activity is centered around change, not profit, and how their services can help spark that change. For Michael Cervino, Vice President and Co-Founder, making a modest profit that produces significant impact is more important than a big bottom line with little results. Through an unwavering dedication to that goal, Beaconfire aims to shine a light on nonprofits to guide growth, awareness and action. And that’s a karmic check worth cashing. You can meet the folks behind Beaconfire at SXSW Interactive from March 13-17 in ‘The Beacon Lounge,’ a lounge with a conscience, bringing together conscious entrepreneurs and companies to collaborate and network toward a common goal. Room 19A, 4th Floor, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX. Click to continue reading »
Finding the capital necessary to take what looks like a great product from the ‘garage’ or university lab to the marketplace is difficult during the best of times. In today’s environment, clean energy and technology entrepreneurs could probably identify even more with Tantalus, the character from Greek myth always striving to reach, but never able to grasp, the fruit hanging above his head. That’s where so-called ‘angel’ investors, such as the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund, step in. When it comes to financing a ‘seed stage’ clean tech or renewable energy venture “there’s a gap that can stretch anywhere from half-a-million to $6 million or so dollars… “When you talk to these companies in this area you hear that it’s really tough to raise money… Angels sort of fill the gap between friends, family and the founder and providing more substantial amounts of capital,” Susan Preston, the angel fund investing ‘guru’ who is now leading the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund team, explained to Triple Pundit.
At Power Shift ’09 this weekend, 12,000 young activists converged in Washington, DC, for green-minded revelry and impassioned rabble-rousing. It was capped on Monday by an snowy protest at a DC coal-fired power plant, where protestors donning green hard hats chanted “no more coal” and prepared for arrest by blocking the plant’s entrance (as of press time, no arrests have been reported). Clearly, Obama’s youth base hasn’t lost its political energy, nor its desire for change. In fact, both seem to be gaining momentum. Meanwhile, it seems as though there’s also a shift afoot in the focus of our brightest, youngest minds. There are fewer stories about new social media platforms started by wunderkinds in their dorm rooms and more about young scientists developing promising new forms of alternative energy systems. Here’s one good example: Shawn Frayne. He went from studying physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to helping convert agricultural waste into fuel in Haiti, to founding his own company to develop and sell cheap wind-based energy. And he’s not even 30 yet.
There’s been lots of talk about the smart grid lately, and all that it can do for improving energy efficiency and increasing our use of renewables.
From smart meters to real-time two-way communication with utilities, smart grid technologies are shaping up to be integral parts of a futuristic grid–a much needed makeover for our quickly aging and inadequate system.
At a Piper Jaffray cleantech conference a few weeks ago, a special session was dedicated to the topic. Not one of the panel members had the same definition of what, exactly, a smart grid consists of, and that’s perfectly acceptable at this point.
What they did agree on, however, was one thing: the need for increased transmission.
San Francisco: Dec 11 Building Health Forum More than 300 of the world’s preeminent experts and thought leaders pioneering the healthy buildings and healthy communities movement. Register here.
San Francisco: Jan 21 – Jan 22 Sustainable Food Summit Explore new horizons for eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry by discussing key industry issues. TriplePundit reader discount of 30%. Register here.
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