This week in ClimatePULSE we take a look at the top 10 green states. But more specifically, those states that have recently taken the lead in accommodating small-scale renewable energy projects. So, what U.S. states are taking that extra step to help individuals and small businesses that want to “go green”? This article will tackle that question with uninhibited enthusiasm and a touch of objectivity. And although this is by no means a general assessment of the environmental policies and practices of each U.S. state, it should help us better understand this year’s “Freeing the Grid” report and particularly which states have the best net metering and interconnection policies – those that allow customers to easily sell power back to the grid.Click to continue reading »
The Solar Power International 2008 exhibit hall has a tradition of showcasing new product launches and the latest in solar technology, and this year was no exception. The hardware represented this year, as well as conversations in the halls and conference sessions, highlighted one notable theme absent from past solar industry conference tradeshows I’ve attended in the US: the PV industry is facing a shortage of qualified installers.
With increasing focus on clean, domestic energy generation and federal ITC support now in place, a lack of qualified technicians and installers presents a potentially serious bottleneck to industry growth. In California alone, if the state is to reach its 1 million solar roofs initiative in 10 years, it will require more than 10,000 additional certified installers. This year’s innovative products on the floor attempted to address the problem by reducing the time and complexity of the installation process.
Product Innovation Focuses on Installation
The expo floor showcased a new breed of simplified panel technologies, including wiring, grounding, and mounting elements incorporated into the module framing systems themselves, and simplified wiring harnesses. Developers of microinverters module-integrated inverter systems also demonstrated powerline communications that promise to virtually eliminate all DC and communications wiring, reducing system design and installation requirements to an absolute minimum.
A potentially landmark trial (Boweto vs. Chevron) opens up next week in San Francisco involving the Chevron corporation. The trial, in case you’re not familiar with it, alleges Chevron is liable for the shootings of four protesters on an oil facility in Nigeria in 1998. Two protesters were killed and two others badly wounded by Nigerian soldiers allegedly hired by Chevron to carry out an attack on the protesters occupying the Parambe oil platform – claiming they were in fact kidnappers holding the rig hostage. The surviving protesters claim that they had reached a point of desperation in response to the foul environmental conditions caused by drilling that ruined their fishing livelihood and that they occupied the platform to demand attention from Chevron – peacefully.
Chevron claims that the only reason anyone knows about the incident is that they voluntarily reported it as a crime, saying that they had no idea violence would result by calling in the Nigerian military and lending them Chevron helicopters.
We all hear about the benefits that businesses derive from going green – cost savings, increased customer loyalty, great PR – and it seems that it’s the big brands that have embraced the opportunity most emphatically. But in fact, much of the ecological impact that our economy has on the planet occurs at a local level. Not only do global corporations impact the environment at a local level, but the millions of small businesses in the U.S. have a huge collective impact. And so it shouldn’t be surprising that much of the business opportunity can be found at a local level.
More than the global brands, a large percentage of small businesses interact with their clientele (their neighbors) at a local level. These are restaurants, gas stations, electricians, cleaners, and grocers. These are the businesses who consumers interact with the most, and at which they spend the most money. So it’s only a matter of time until consumers begin to understand the ecological footprint of the businesses they patronize and consequently make decisions about where to purchase based on that information.
Ever wanted to experience the emptiness of shopping for real? Visit FLOWmarket – it’s a real shop selling nothing you don’t really need. The concept originates in Denmark. The scarcity goods on offer in the shop all represent imbalances from the three flow dimension between the individual-the collective-the planet. That’s also the bottom line that keeps us busy here at Triple Pundit.Click to continue reading »
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.