Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday January 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Hello and happy New Year Greeniacs! I’m back from a vacation and reved to bring you all the best green business news from around the blogosphere. Lots of hot stories this week:
Hawaii.jpgHawaiian Electric, Khosla Ventures Partner for Green Energy TechnologiesIn order to help the state of Hawaii reach 70% renewable power generation by 2030, Hawaiian Electric, the premier electricity provider in Hawaii has teamed up with venture capitalist firm Khosla Ventures to share information on new technologies to produce clean energy. With all this moving and shaking in the aloha state, I may just need to set up a permanent 3P satellite office at my mother’s house
corn_pic.jpg Food vs. Fuel: Inside the Ethanol Subsidy Controversy
Climate Biz has a great feature explaining both sides of the argument for and against ethanol subsidies. Read up if switch grass makes your head spin.
marching_band.jpg South Korea and Japan March the Green New Deal Path with Multi-Billion Investments South Korean government announced it would invest more than $38bn in environmental projects and Japanese ministers pledged to create one million new jobs through green infrastructure initiatives. I’ll now be accepting wagers on whether the next US congressional stimulus plan will actually include the green jobs earmarks we’ve all been hoping for.

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When it Comes to Cause Marketing, Is Profit a Dirty Word?

| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 6 Comments

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good_bad%20money.jpgOne of the latest buzzwords clamoring around the cybersphere is ‘Cause Marketing.’ And there is no shortage of opinions — or definitions – for the concept as marketers scramble to incorporate cause-related activities into their strategy, hoping to tap into the halo effects of a goodwill perception in response to overwhelming research indicating that this has become a key influencer in brand affinity, acceptance and buying behavior.
Inevitably, the discussion leads to the dreaded ‘P’ word, which has become somewhat taboo under the auspice of corporate social reponsibility, where cause marketing operates as a function of an overall sustainable business culture vs. a standalone revenue-driving tactic. So, the question becomes if cause marketing as a standalone product is a viable model — both culturally and profitably.
To help develop the framework for this discussion, I sought out Joe Waters, Director of Cause Marketing for Boston Medical Center and Founder of Six Figure Cause Marketing to dispel the myths and answer the critical question of whether cause marketing and profit can happily — and responsibly — co-exist.

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Stars Join Intel, Kiva, Save the Children, Launch Small Things Challenge Campaign

| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

darfurchildren.jpg Celebrities from the music and art communities are coming out in support of the “Small Things Challenge,” a campaign launched yesterday by Intel, Kiva, and Save the Children that aims to boost primary school education and alleviate Third World poverty through charitable donations, microfinance and small business development.
Some 75 million children throughout the developing world do not attend primary school while at least 80 percent of our population survives on less than $10 a day, according to United Nations data. Looking to break this cycle of poverty, Intel, Kiva, and Save the Children joined forces to launch the Small Things Challenge.
Celebrities including Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine have come out to drum up support for the initiative, a year-long effort that includes encouraging charitable donations to Save the Children’s “Rewrite the Future” educational fund and micro-loans through Kiva.org’s microfinance online social lending community.

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6 Planned Coal Power Plants Canceled- Stock Rose 19%

Sarah Lozanova | Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 6 Comments

coal%20plant_small.jpgDynegy (NYSE:DYN), a large operator of natural gas and coal power plants canceled its joint development agreement with LS Power to build a fleet of new coal power plants. LS Power does maintain the right to build these plants on their own, but this is unlikely without involvement from Dynegy.
Dynegy also says it is “re-evaluating greenfield development options, as well as two projects under construction – Plum Point in Arkansas and Sandy Creek in Texas.” These projects are expected to be operational in 2010 and 2012.
“The development landscape has changed significantly since we agreed to enter into the development joint venture with LS Power in the fall of 2006,” said Bruce A. Williamson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dynegy Inc. “Today, the development of new generation is increasingly marked by barriers to entry including external credit and regulatory factors that make development much more uncertain. In light of these market circumstances, Dynegy has elected to focus development activities and investments around our own portfolio where we control the option to develop and can manage the costs being incurred more closely.”

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Will Environmental Investing Succeed In This Economy?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Clean technology investments in 2007 increased by 41 percent from 2005, totaling $117 billion. Currently, the amount of money invested in ‚Äòsocially responsible’ investment funds is $25.1. One out of every 10 dollars is invested in socially responsible funds. Will the economic crisis slow environmental investment?
The SunTrust Bank surveyed 202 business owners with annual revenue of at least $10 million about environmental philanthropy and investments. An overwhelming majority of survey respondents, 69 percent, said they would maintain their current level of giving even if the economic crisis affects their businesses. Fifty-nine percent believe environmental investments have a rate of return similar to other funds.

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Real Estate Investors benefit from Green Building Momentum

Jeff Siegel | Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Every year around this time, I get the itch to move far away from the cold, gray streets of Baltimore. It’s not that I dislike Charm City, but when the mercury falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the lure of warmer climates becomes overwhelming. So to ease the pain of last week’s cold snap, I decided to browse the real estate listings in California. What I found blew me away.

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Rent Out Roof Space To Energy Companies

| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 9 Comments

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All around the US, homeowners are getting paid by their energy utility to have solar panels installed. That’s because power companies have an urgent need for roof space. They’re in a race against the clock to replace ever greater portions of the regular energy supply by power sourced from renewables.

The trend began with deals between energy companies and various large companies and local municipalities to install solar panels on large premises in return for a fee. One example is ProLogis, a large distributor in California, getting solar energy from systems installed and run by outside energy companies. The first such deal was when General Motors got solar panels installed on the roofs of its Spain production facilities (see picture).

Now the energy companies are beginning to tap the residential sector. The inherent logic of this development is obvious; once they’ve got local authority approval, energy companies can extend their ‘solar parks’ quickly and with relatively little hassle by fixing normal residents up with solar power. Home owners are interested because they get a fee for renting out their roofs to professionally managed solar panels. It’s hard to imagine a better way to reduce your footprint. Or is there?

Despite the compelling logic of the roof rental schemes, the cost/savings equation of the plans of Duke Energy in North Carolina aren’t immediately sky rocketing. Duke recently became the latest in a spate of energy companies to announce it would start renting the roofs of ordinary houses for solar power generation. The energy giant will rent 425 roofs across the state as early as next year.

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Good News in Detroit: A123 Announces plans for New Lithium Ion Battery Manufacturing Facilities

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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My home town of Detroit received great news today when A123 announced plans for a new manufacturing facility to produce energy storage devices in Michigan. This is an excellent example of the green jobs and energy independence that President-elect Barack Obama is pushing for in his economic stimulus package.

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5 Surprising Facts About Concentrated Photovoltaics

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 5 Comments

concentrated%20photovoltaic.jpgConcentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology is one of the newest players on the solar energy scene. These systems are unique because sunlight is concentrated through a lens onto high performance solar cells, thus increasing the electricity generated. Panels are mounted on tracking systems to maximize the benefit of each ray of sunlight.
SolFocus, a solar startup based in California has designed a promising CPV panel for medium to utility-scale applications. Let’s explore some of the impressive characteristics of SolFocus’ 1100S:
Most Efficient PV Panel on the Market
Scientific journals are full of reports of recent advances in solar cell efficiency. Although this is very encouraging, it is hard to know how these breakthroughs will perform outside of the laboratories and when they will hit the market.

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T5: Bringing Greener Lighting Options to the Warehouse/Manufacturing Sector

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 7 Comments

T5%20fluorescent%20lights.jpgMuch has been made about the use, abuse, and benefits of CFL lights. But almost entirely about their consumer level use. What about on a company level? What about all the warehouses, industrial and manufacturing facilities out there, needing high bay (ceiling) lighting? Unless well daylighted they require some sort of illumination, all day, making up 30-60% of energy costs. What options are out there?
One that came across my desk yesterday was T5. If you look up next time you’re in a warehouse store, the lighting you’ll likely see is some variation of metal halide, those glaring circular lights, which use 250, 400, 1000, even more watts. Clearly, there’s room to improve.

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Timing’s Right for a Net Zero Gasoline Tax?

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

classicoldpickup.jpg The amazingly sharp drop in oil prices – talk about the great risks, and rewards, of investment bubbles and inflationary monetary policy– is providing Americans some welcome relief at the pump. Unfortunately, it’s taken a financial and monetary system collapse and widening, deepening recession for the price of crude to fall so far, so fast.
There are a number of good, solid reasons why the drop in oil prices need not forestall the drive to diversify the U.S. energy base– enhancing national security and putting international relations and foreign policy on much more sound footing not the least among them. And as former Intel CEO Andy Grove points out in a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly, basing long-term energy policy on short-term fluctuations in fossil fuel prices is a recipe for energy catastrophe.
In a Weekly Standard article, contributing editor Charles Krauthammer argues that Obama and his team have what’s likely to be a short window of opportunity to enact a gasoline tax, something that’s long been anathema to the U.S. public, and considered only somewhat shy of political suicide. Krauthammer offers a revenue neutral twist to the one-sided theme, however, one that makes it more digestible.

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Are You Solar Ready? Solar Red’s Disruptive Solar PV Technology Can Halve Cost of Residential Solar

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 12 Comments

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A typical residential solar system will put you back ~$20,000+ after credits and incentives and requires extensive design work and several trained technicians toiling on your roof – drilling, wiring, bolting, and performing other complex tasks to build the proper infrastructure. What if your roof were built for solar panels, and installing them were as simple as snapping panels into place? And what if it didn’t cost you an arm and a leg?
Chances are a lot more people would be going solar today. This is exactly what Solar Red aims to do. Based in San Jose, California, Solar Red is still more concept than product, but their concept won them runner up in the California Clean Tech Open (CCTO), and is poised to entirely disrupt the residential solar market by making it affordable.
After learning of the exciting new technology at the CCTO, I was intrigued. But with a website just now emerging from stealth mode (launching any day now), and purposefully limited press coverage, I had to sit down with CEO Joe Augenbraun to get more information. Augenbraun reviewed the piece you are reading now, and told me it is more revealing of his start-up than any previous coverage or their soon to launch website, so consider yourself privy to breaking start-up news.
Solar Red wants to reinvent residential solar installation, and cut the cost in half with its proprietary, patent-pending technology. Solar Red’s core product is a plug-and-play solar panel mounting system featuring a bracket that interleaves with the shingles of a roof, which can be installed at the time of construction, or retrofitted into the roof.
The brackets are cheap to manufacture and install – it costs $825 in additional costs to make a new roof solar ready. Then special Solar Red compatible solar panels can simply be clicked into place on the roof, taking mere minutes to install.

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The New New Deal: A Cooperative Approach to the Integrated Bottom Line

3p Contributor | Tuesday January 6th, 2009 | 12 Comments

by David Bruce, Tina Butler, Brian Bishop and Jennifer Boynton
Policies developed by the Obama administration need to integrate an entrepreneurial approach, government support, and the community in order to fully realize the triple bottom line. With full participation, we can successfully move beyond the Triple and create an integrated bottom line wherein social, environmental and financial benefits are all achievable at the same time
One of the biggest barriers to adopting an integrated bottom line into a traditional business model is agreement on how to quantify the value of environmental and social benefits. Another significant challenge is the ability of investors to capture a return on social benefits. The consequence of these barriers is that projects that can have major gains for a community may not be considered feasible by investors. Developing a community center, for example, with a caf√©, bookstore, farmer’s market, light industrial, and residential housing could have great benefit to a struggling neighborhood by providing jobs and services and drawing other businesses to the neighborhood. But the high cost of capital means a net negative return to investors over a typical payback period. As a consequence, such a project is not considered viable even though the net return for all stakeholders is positive. Our current system only measures benefits of such a project based on the financial returns to the investor. The external benefits like more jobs and services for a community are not captured unless the local government is brought in as a player.

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Emerson Climate Technologies Seeks to Educate and Expand Market for Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling

| Tuesday January 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that installing and using a programmable thermostat to customize and automate room temperature can save energy as well as money. In fact, 25 million households in the U.S. have already installed programmable thermostats in their homes. That’s the good news. The bad news is that only half of those homes actually program them, effectively rendering the potential efficiency of using them moot. It’s reminiscent of the old VCR forever blinking 12:00, except the consequences for homeowners – and even the planet – are greater.

I recently spoke with Geoff Godwin, Vice President of Marketing for Emerson Climate Technologies, the manufacturer of components for HVAC systems and producer of the White-Rogers line of programmable thermostats, about the advantages of using digitally programmable climate control, and how Emerson is seeking to expand the potential market and get that market to not only install the units, but to actually use them as well.

As most readers of Triple Pundit know, efficiency is the big white elephant in the room in terms of addressing dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention saving energy costs in hard economic times. It’s the low-hanging fruit, a strategy in which, according to a report released last fall by the American Physical society, the “opportunities are huge and the costs are small”.

A small, yet significant, aspect of this huge opportunity, says Godwin, is the installation and proper use of programmable thermostats.

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Can Developing Economies Reduce Power Emissions and Still Grow?

| Monday January 5th, 2009 | 3 Comments

ppp13-climchngephoto.jpg Though North American and Western European countries have long been the largest emitters of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, the economies of fast growing developing countries, particularly in Asia, are quickly making up for lost time and ground. China’s rapid industrialization and reliance on conventional coal plants has in a relatively very short time span put it in on a par with that of the U.S. in terms of CO2 emissions, while emissions in rapidly industrializing countries across the Asian continent and around the world are growing faster than elsewhere, a trend that’s forecast to continue for the next few decades.
This divergence has been a contentious “sore” spot between industrialized and industrializing countries as their representatives seek to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, and the workings of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, the principal technology transfer mechanism for developing emissions reduction projects in developing countries.
Seeking to bridge the divide, researchers at the United Nations Environment Program’s Risoe Center in Copenhagen are proposing a set of “no lose” targets for developing nations’ electricity sectors post-2012. Addressing weaknesses in the CDM, they advocate making structural changes that they believe would facilitate achieving significant CO2 reductions in developing countries’ power sectors. Keys to their recommendations are a method for establishing national power sector emissions baselines and credit targets post-2012 for seven large CO2 emitting developing countries, and assessing the amount of potential emissions reductions and credits that could be achieved using them as a reference.

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