Can The Green Jobs Sector Cure The Ailing US Economy?

| Tuesday September 16th, 2008 | 4 Comments

greenteccc.jpgWill green jobs create new momentum for the US economy? That’s a question that’s gained some traction since the mortgage crisis started claiming victims.
The new administration may be the most important player in creating essentially an entirely new jobs segment and they´re advised to dish out some hefty investments by the authors of a recent report entitled Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy.
The authors, researchers at the University of Massachusetts, believe that before a green jobs market will be able to take off in earnest, investments totaling $100 billion will have to be made. The report, which was picked up by our colleagues at GreenBiz, suggests this is direly needed money, not a luxury buffer.

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Green School Buildings are Financially Responsible

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday September 16th, 2008 | 2 Comments

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Every week day across the U.S. millions of children sit in school buildings. The majority of the buildings do not efficiently use energy or water, and many of the buildings are downright unhealthy. However, in the last few years there has been a push to build more energy efficient schools.
In 2006 the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released a report titled, “Greening America’s Schools.” The report stated that not investing in “green technologies is not financially responsible for school systems.” The report looked at 30 “green” schools, and concluded that they cost two percent less to build than conventional schools, but provide twenty percent more benefits financially.

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The Future of America’s Major Media Outlets – Fixing the Fourth Estate After Failures On Drilling and Iraq

| Monday September 15th, 2008 | 3 Comments

gingrich-drill.gif Why do the American People — needing the right information to choose a president whose policies will prevent Peak Oil and Climate Change from becoming society-destabilizing catastrophes — believe the fantasy that domestic oil drilling is the right energy solution to bring down gas prices? How can this be, when even our Department of Energy’s own Energy Information Administration makes clear that this idea has no more basis in reality than believing that the Superfriends are going to save us by swooping down and leaving solar-powered hovercrafts in our driveways?
As this disturbing report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) points out:
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“there is no empirical basis for believing that drilling in environmentally sensitive offshore zones would significantly affect gas prices. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that such drilling would add some 200,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production in about 20 years. This is about 0.2 percent of world production, and the EIA describes this as too small to have any significant effect on oil prices.”

Even if the EIA’s projections end up being short by a factor of five, and these areas produce 1 million barrels per day, it will still take well over a decade for this oil to reach gas stations, and will still be only about 1% of global output — far too little to significantly bring down gas prices. So if this is what the best available data tells us, the critical question becomes the one that the CEPR report examined:

“How did 51 percent of Americans come to believe the opposite, that this drilling would significantly lower gasoline prices?”

The report’s authors found that:

“By repeatedly reporting the false claims of drilling proponents, while giving little or no attention to the available facts, the most important news media helped to convince the public of something that is not true, and thereby influenced the entire political climate around this issue.”

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You Gonna Throw That Away? Recycling Refuse in Kigali and Binh Tuan

| Monday September 15th, 2008 | 5 Comments

rwanda.jpgKigali, Rwanda, is site of one of the latest crossroads of people, planet and profit, with a recycling project as a catalyst for profit, employment and solidarity for HIV+ women.
The project is run by ACEN (Association for the Conservation of the Environment), a local cooperative with funding from UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). ACEN members are now charging 12,000 families in Kigali between US$1 and US$37 to collect their trash, which they bring to a central facility for the waste to be sorted, dried and pressed into fuel “briquettes.” These fuel-blocks are cleaner-burning, cheaper and more fuel-efficient than wood or coal, thereby reducing pollution and deforestation.
The project has multiple other benefits in addition to greening the environment: The ACEN cooperative provides vocational training, daily meals and monthly stipends to 133 employees from the rural population, two-thirds of whom are women, and half of whom are living with HIV/AIDS.
In fact, the ACEN is hoping to increase production to meet burgeoning demand for this inexpensive and reliable product, which has brought the cost of fuel material down from approximately $25/month to less than $8/month. Coming soon, ACEN also has plans to develop a micro-loan program and market their briquette-efficient stove to everyday households, enabling them to partake in these cost-saving devices.

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Big Coal vs. Renewable, Cleaner Energy

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday September 15th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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The federal government is in bed with the coal industry. A prime example is the $2 million spent in advertising at both the Democratic and Republican conventions by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). Founded this year, the ACCCE combined the Center for Energy and Economic Development and Americans for Balanced Energy Choices. Already the ACCCE has spent $4.7 million on lobbying, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.
One of the first actions of ACCCE was killing a Senate bill sponsored by Senator John Warner and Senator Joe Lieberman that would have put the first caps on carbon emissions.

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Offsetting Your Website’s Carbon Footprint? Check Out These Options

| Saturday September 13th, 2008 | 5 Comments

greenvisi.jpgMore and more people are interested in offsetting their website’s carbon footprint and various businesses are brokering eco projects to match this offsetting. But is the web greening business substantially more than a clever moneymaking scheme?
Surfing the net burns real electricity and your PC or laptop monitor creates harmful emissions every second that it’s running. So greening your online presence is definitely a valid item to put down on your offsets list.
What’s more, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which is considered the world’s most stringent paper certification agency, is looking into producing certificates for businesses involved in matching your carbon offset needs with environmental goals. To think that a vast portion of all business these days is conducted via online websites which all run on heavily laden servers which in turn depend on other servers, the scope for greening our online lives is vast.

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Chicago Company Launches Tree Free Paper

| Friday September 12th, 2008 | 28 Comments

UltraGreen.jpgCutting down on the use of paper is easy enough, but in spite of all your efforts you’ll never become 100% paperless. That’s where tree free paper comes in. Recently launched on the market by GPA, a Chicago paper company, Ultra Green paper is 100% tree free. And of equal importance; the paper is produced without any water. What more can you ask for? This paper is going to be a massive selling point for business leaders vying for deals. Not to speak of green design/advertising.

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday September 12th, 2008 | 1 Comment

TelecommuteWithAttitude_1_.jpgOne More Reason to Take Confcalls in Your Underwear
Cisco unveils its new “Virtual Office,” a wireless internet router and phone system employees can take home with them. This innovation will keep employees from having to commute, which saves them time and keeps their carbon footprinting asses off the road. Fred Kost, Cisco’s Director of Security Relations, reminds us that flexible work also boosts employee morale and satisfaction.
Hurricane-Dean.jpgInsurance Company Cashes in on Climate Change
ACE Green’s global property and casualty group is now offering a “Global Weather” insurance that will mitigate their risk from environmental disasters. Blogger resists urge to make a crass George Bush/Katrina joke.
paper-clip.jpgGreen Printers Claims Now Verified
The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership’s verification criteria cover product materials, manufacturing processes, equipment and technology, energy use, overall building operations and employee actions. And they found their first two printers that meet their stringent criteria! Go forth and print in soy based ink.
smart-car.jpgVegas Says Smart Cars Better Bet than Hummers
Towbin Hummer a luxury dealership in Las Vegas is shutting its doors and re-opening with a new Smart spin. Hummer sales have languished in recent months, despite inventive offers that top $8,000, and Towbin has had enough. He sees Smart Cars as the next new “gotta have-it” and he’ll be offering them along with a range of mid-level luxury cars.
Apple Unveils Toxic-Free iPod nano
The new iPod contains no arsenic, brominated flame retardants, mercury, or PVC, and according to Steve Jobs, it’s “highly recyclable.” Apple will also be keeping flame retardants and PVC out of all of its products after Jan. 1, 2009. (Grist calls it a “Jobs Well Done” and I’m not even going to try and compete with that).
hardhat.jpg2 Million Green Jobs Within Reach
If we spend 100 billion. Yeah it’s a lot, but to put that honking number in perspective, the April 2008 stimulus program cost $168 billion. The program proposed in this plan would create 20 percent more jobs than the best estimates of the 2008 stimulus package’s impact. You all spent your $600 on good old American made products, didn’t you?
Rail.jpg Proposed High Speed Rail Would Connect California
A proposition on the Nov. 4 ballot would authorize the sale of nearly $10 billion in bonds to help start construction of an 800-mile high-speed rail network that would send electric trains zipping between Northern and Southern California at up to 220 mph. The trip would take 2 and a half hours and cost $55. The system would be the largest public works project in California history.

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Will Tesco’s Different Marketing Approach Pay Off?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday September 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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When I first saw the sign that a Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market would be built in
Lemoore, CA, a small town in the San Joaquin Valley, it sounded like a great concept, at least the “fresh” part of the name. The sign claimed it would sell locally sourced organic produce.
Last week I stumbled across a report on Fresh & Easy stores, which are owned by the British retailer Tesco, by Tinderbox, the wing of the Hartman Group that analyzes consumer culture and trends. Tinderbox employees visited Fresh & Easy stores in San Diego and Phoenix. The biggest challenge, according to the report, facing Tesco is their business model. Half of their name is “easy,” and consumers do not find grocery shopping difficult.

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Use Google Earth To See What Solar Panels Can Do For Your House

| Thursday September 11th, 2008 | 1 Comment

roofray-logo-2.jpgFancy installing solar panels on your roof? Check out what it’s going to cost you first. A new calculator called RoofRay uses Google Earth to give you an idea what solar panels can do for your house.
I have tried out the Roofray calculator and think that if carbon footprint calculators were an eye opener, Roofray’s solar energy calculations are the next best thing. Triple Pundit covered Roofray last week already, but I won’t withhold you a review of the actual calculator. So here goes; the device tells you in seconds what the expected cost savings versus the initial investment costs are going to be. All you need to do is to key in your address like you do in Google Earth, and superimpose some would be panels on your actual house’s roof. The calculator is very easy to use and will even allow you to input the approximate angle of your roof’s slant. This way, the calculator will adjust for the amount of sun your panels are likely to catch.

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Renewable Energy, Clean Tech Push on Capitol Hill

| Thursday September 11th, 2008 | 0 Comments

capitolhill.jpg As the 110th Congress draws to a close House and Senate Democrats are ready to make a last ditch effort to push through an “energy independence” package of legislation aimed at ending U.S. dependence on foreign oil, protecting the environment and giving the ailing economy a much needed boost.
The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming is taking the fight to the public via the Web. It will provide live and recorded video and news throughout the week as its legislative push moves forward. The legislative package includes a Renewable Electricity Standard and extending the investment tax credit for solar, wind and geothermal energy.
Some 2 million sustainable jobs may be created in two years with $100 billion worth of government investment in renewable energy and clean technology, according to a new report prepared by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute entitled, “Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy.”

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TOMS Shoes: Fusing Fashion and Philanthropy

| Thursday September 11th, 2008 | 3 Comments

tomsshoes.jpg TOMS Shoes are a stylish take on the traditional Argentine alpargata slip-on, appealing at once to the Polo Ralph Lauren crowd, surfers and skaters, as well as those of us in between. Yet, the shoes are more than just that. Founded on ethics of social responsibility, they are produced in Argentina in sweatshop free environments. Though it is not necessarily a “green” company, all aspects of the production are monitored to ensure fair labor practices and minimize environmental impact.
When the founder, Blake Mycoskie, discovered alpargatas in Argentina, he was also struck by the poverty that pervaded, and wanted to create a vehicle that could help him make an impact. For every pair someone purchases, TOMS Shoes donates one to a child in need in developing nations. Calling the idea “One to One,” over 60,000 pairs of shoes had been distributed to children between 2006-2007 in Argentina and South Africa.

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Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s Pat Farrell Addresses Corporate Responsibility

| Wednesday September 10th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Corporate responsibility or Greenwash?When I was asked if I’d like to speak with Dr. Richard Sayre, a leading biofuels researcher who was recently named director of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, I admit my first thought was more the potential of corporate greenwashing than it was than about biofuels research. A rental car company funding biofuels research? (What next? Big Oil funding biofuel research? Hmm….)

Of course I’m always interested in finding out more about the potential of algae as a biofuel. But I also wanted to learn more about the motivation behind Enterprise’s funding of such research; if it was, as a colleague blurted out when I told him about it, “nothing but greenwash”.

Fortunately, I was afforded not only an interview with Dr. Sayre to discuss his work work, but also with Pat Farrell, Enterprise’s vice president for corporate responsibility, as well Lee Broughton, the newly-appointed director of sustainability.

I’ll get to my talk with Dr. Sayre regarding his algae-to-biofuel research in a subsequent post. In this post, I want to discuss my interview with Mr. Farrell as he spoke of Enterprise’s efforts of corporate responsibility and sustainability as they relate to his business, as well as the idea that many will perceive it all as just more corporate greenwashing.

All issues that Farrell was more than ready to address.

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ClimatePULSE: Corporations, Prepare for the Best

| Wednesday September 10th, 2008 | 0 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgMost reasonable scenarios of the future suggest that expected increases in population and economic growth will outweigh the low-hanging fruit of decreases in per-capita energy use and reductions in the carbon-intensity of the energy provided. As a result, only dramatic technological and behavioral change is predicted to break the linkage between rising global population and economic aspirations, and increasing carbon emissions and climate change. This blog post examines how some corporations can benefit from this change and how to best prepare for climate change as a business opportunity rather than a regulatory or environmental obstacle.

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Investors Are Seeking Social and Financial Returns

3p Contributor | Wednesday September 10th, 2008 | 2 Comments

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This is a guest post from Kevin Jones, who is a Founder and Principle at Good Capital, and Xigi Media. Xigi (ZIG-ee) is putting on the Social Capital Markets 2008 Conference to bring together all of the people and organizations with a similar deep passion to change the world through sustainable businesses.
The Social Capital Movement Has Begun
The movement to use the power of the market to help people lift people out of poverty that first reached broad public awareness when microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Prize is reaching an inflection point. Moving beyond small loans to groups of women, the movement to use innovative business approaches to social problems is suddenly reaching critical mass, and the leading players in the world, such as Google.org, the Federal Reserve, and The Economist, are convening at an event that is at the intersection of money and meaning.
Mixing the Approaches of Venture Capital and Foundations, Non-Profits
The evidence that there is a new wave of investing, the proof that people are asking for impact along with risk and return is happening can perhaps best be shown by the explosion of social venture funds themselves. From Austin to San Francisco to Johannesburg to Rio, to London, people are finding investors ready to respond to a an approaches that mixes traditional highly engaged venture capital investing targeting problems that used to be only within the sights of foundations and non profits.
Based on my conversations with other funds like ours at Good Capital, I think it may be safe to say that more than half a billion dollars is being raised worldwide from investors who are pioneering a new asset class that draws from philanthropy as much as it does from Wall Street.
I’m having those conversations because most of those new funds are coming a conference in San Francisco where, by standing together and providing context for each other, we can both validate the reality and accelerate the growth of this new social capital market.

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