Home Solar, Minus the Cost, Effort, Worry

| Wednesday July 16th, 2008 | 13 Comments

Sun%20Run%20logo.jpgIt seems these days you can’t throw a rock without hitting a story relating to solar power. So why haven’t you got it for your home yet? I bet you’ve already come up with a list of three reasons, without even thinking. My guess is they fall into these areas: Cost, efficiency (or lack of it) and aesthetics. Oh and let’s throw this one in for good measure: Who lives in their home for 15-30 years these days? Not you, and what good will those panels do you on your next home?
I found a solution to all of these concerns, and more: Sun Run. What they do is unique, and does quite a thorough job in allaying people’s fears. Rather than have you buy, lease, or take out a loan for the solar system, Sun Run retains ownership of the equipment. and guarantees a certain amount of power generation. Come again?
Yes. In conversation with Nat Kreamer, COO of Sun Run, I learned about a unique “solar as a service” model that had even I, chest deep in the latest green energy innovations, am considering using their service when I buy a home. Why?

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Is Greenwashing Good?

Shannon Arvizu | Monday July 14th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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Is greenwashing really a disinformation campaign by corporations trying to win over the conscious consumer? Or is it just part of the “growing pains” of becoming a sustainable company? Joel Makower, of Greenbiz.com, thinks it’s the latter. He writes,
“The rise of green marketing claims is a testament to how quickly being seen as green has become of importance to companies. Isn’t that what all of us wanted to see happen?”
Maybe…but maybe not.
Makower hints that greenwashing may eventually fade as corporations integrate environmental considerations more fully. It could be, however, that greenwashing is symptomatic of a larger corporate contradiction between economic growth and ecological integrity.

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ClimatePULSE: Who owns these greenhouse gas emissions?

| Monday July 14th, 2008 | 4 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgProtocols for corporate greenhouse gas accounting that are based on the ISO 14064 standards, such as the WBCSD/WRI GHG Protocol, use the term “scope” to distinguish between different greenhouse gas emissions sources. There are three categories; Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3. For most registry’s or reporting agencies Scopes 1 and 2 are considered mandatory while Scope 3 is considered optional.
Scope 1 emissions, also known as direct emissions, include any emissions that occur on-site or from company-owned assets. This includes the combustion of fuels, process emissions, and refrigerant leakage. These emissions are aggregated on a facility-level, with the company’s vehicle fleet considered as one “facility.”

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Envirofit’s Biomass Stoves Offer Quicker Cooking Times, Less Toxic Emissions, and Sustainable Business Model in Developing Nations

| Monday July 14th, 2008 | 6 Comments

cookstove.jpg Last week, Colorado-based non-profit Envirofit introduced clean-burning biomass stoves in India, a project that will attempt to reduce fuel consumption, toxic emissions, and offer a sustainable business model to foster local enterprise. In an effort to reduce indoor air pollution in developing nations, Envirofit teamed up with the UK’s Shell Foundation as a part of its Breathing Space program. The cook stoves will reduce toxic emissions by 80%, use 50% less fuel, and reduce the cooking cycle by 40%, according to the organization’s press release.
Biomass typically consists of organic materials like wood, crop waste, or animal dung, and for many households in places like India, is the main source of fuel for activities like cooking. Developed at the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory at Colorado State University, the cook stoves were engineered to burn traditionally used biomass materials more efficiently.

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Changents: How to Be a “Rock Star” Agent of Change

| Monday July 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Changents.comWho hasn’t dreamed of being a rock star? Throngs of fans following your meteoric rise to stardom, listening to your every word, creating a buzz about your latest grand accomplishment, an entourage of followers ready to step in at the slightest need.
Wake up, because chances are you might already be a rock star (or perhaps know one), at least the kind of rock star that Deron Triff and Alex Hofmann are looking for – that is to say, a rock star “Agent of Change” – and why they started Changents.com.
Rock stars of this genre are people like Elizabeth Redmond, creator of POWERleap, a flooring system that generates electricity from foot traffic (also featured last year here on 3P), or Scott Harrison, working to help alleviate the growing global water crisis. Elizabeth and Scott are two of a growing number of “Earthkeeper” Change Agents utilizing the tools and resources available to them at Changents, a new breed of online social media and networking platform developed by Triff and Hofmann. With key support and sponsorship from Timberland, Changents launched in beta on June 8th, but the buzz started back late last year when the project was in “quiet alpha” mode.
There are many great social networking sites out there focusing on environmental and social issues. Ways for people to connect, share ideas, find common ground, create a buzz. Some of those sites we’ve reviewed here at TriplePundit.
As good and useful as all those social networking sites are, Deron Triff and Alex Hofmann want Changents to be something different.

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Offsets: A Regular Part of a Diet Light in Carbon?

| Monday July 14th, 2008 | 2 Comments

food-pyr.jpgThe past few weeks I have been trying to wrap my head around the difference between compliance offsets (carbon offsets a company purchases in order to comply with carbon reduction commitments like Kyoto or AB32) and voluntary offsets. Aren’t they just the same product with different packaging and intention?
Not exactly. If you have been following any of the scoping plan discussions about AB32 implementation you’ll know that the role offsets will play is pretty controversial. To get the ‘why’ straight we’ve got to start at the beginning. AB32 is a piece of legislation that requires the state of California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and it charges the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to figure out how to get there. We have this wonderful strong commitment, we know the state will be working hard to reach this goal, but the type of restrictions that CARB will select, which industries will be hit hardest, and how they will be required to meet the new carbon limits are all up for grabs.

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Airline Travel Set to Increase Up To 600% By 2050 As US And Europe Row Over Carbon Offsetting

| Friday July 11th, 2008 | 6 Comments

airline.jpgIt’s easy to be angry about the watered down global environment deal hammered out last week in Japan. But when it comes to some personal issues, few of us are willing to budge an inch either. Are you prepared to cut back on your trips by plane? Airline travel is set to grow by 200 to 600 percent by 2050. And carbon emissions are not routinely compensated for by most airlines.

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Intel’s Grove Calls for Dual-Fuel Vehicles, Used Vehicle Retrofits

| Friday July 11th, 2008 | 0 Comments

classicoldpickup.jpg It’s hard not to notice, generally speaking, the stark differences in cultures, personalities and characters of leading lights in the energy and IT industries, particularly when it comes to strategic planning, organizational management and R&D, and especially when it comes to public relations and thinking “outside the box”. The apparent contrasts stand out when it comes to developing renewable energy and clean technology for power generation and transportation.
OPEC controls some 40% of world petroleum reserves – and that’s likely to increase in coming decades – giving it tremendous influence over its customers. The situation is analogous yet fundamentally different to that of Google in the Internet search engine marketplace, where a market share of more than 50% affords it the leverage to define the nature of American advertising, points out former Intel CEO Andy Grove, now a consultant to the company, in a July 10 article, “Our Electric Future,” published by The American magazine.
The difference between controlling energy resources – read oil – and advertising are great, however, Grove points out. “…the stages on which Google and OPEC play are dramatically different. Advertising is a big and important business, but energy is the lifeblood of all economies. Like drinking water or oxygen, we simply cannot be without it. So a supplier of energy can have significant control over customers – even nations.”

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More Recycled Paper Needs to be Used

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday July 11th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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Over the past three years the book industry needed three to four million tons of paper which translates to at least 60 million trees worldwide. The paper industry ranks number four in carbon dioxide emissions among manufacturing industries.
The Society of American Foresters released a 2007 study titled the State of Americas Forests which acknowledged that the U.S. is one of the biggest “producers and consumers of forest products.” U.S. consumption of forest products is greater than its production by 4.2 billion cubic feet.

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Philippe Starck Makes A Come Back, Designs Mini Wind Turbine

| Thursday July 10th, 2008 | 0 Comments

strak.jpgPersonal wind turbines are more often invented than actually manufactured. Those that make it to the commercial stage are mostly available at several thousands of dollars. That’s why it is all the more surprising that as of next September you’ll be able to buy a true designer windmill for way less than that.
Philippe Starck has reignited his genius once again and designed a not so fully fledged personal mini windmill on the market. Stark’s temporary break from his self imposed retirement from design which he had declared ‘dead‘ is a breath of fresh air. Literally. Starck called the turbine the Democratic Ecology, which sounds heavy enough for what you see but which probably sums up what’s been on Starck’s mind lately.

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Socially Responsible Credit Cards: Do They Add Up?

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday July 10th, 2008 | 3 Comments

Many readers of Triple P consider themselves socially-responsible investors. But what about socially-responsible creditors? How do banks use the profit they make from interest fees, late fees, annual fees, and balance fees? Which banks use our money to further projects of greater worth, and which invest in projects that degrade the plant and contribute to global income disparity? The cover story of this month’s Real Money, distributed by Co-op America, gives us the inside scoop on the best credit cards for our conscience. Many of these cards have great APR, no annual fee, and directly fund several social/eco endeavors.

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nvohk: Crowdsourcing Eco-Apparel to Do Good

| Wednesday July 9th, 2008 | 1 Comment

nvohk.jpgThe tagline on nvohk.com (pronounced invoke) says it’s “an eco-clothing company managed by the people who wear it.” Having officially launched at the end of June, the company already has over 300 activated members and thousands queued up in what is one of the latest and maybe one of the more innovate examples of crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing was first made popular in 2006 by Wired Magazine, and some well-known examples of such are Wikipedia, MoveOn.org, and Threadless.com. It is a very 2.0, user generated approach to running a business, referring to the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by employees or contractors and outsourcing them to a larger collective or the public.

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What If China’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are 25% Made By The Export Sector?

| Wednesday July 9th, 2008 | 1 Comment

bob.jpgSo the next climate deal is another watered down soapy substance now that China and India pulled the plug at the G8 meeting held in Japan. The stalemate that’s visible was exactly what was feared by everybody; diametrically opposed parties over the emissions by the world’s largest energy consuming countries.
Time for a change in approach? Perhaps it’s time for a change in accounting methods. Take China for instance. At least 23% of this country’s carbon emissions are from goods that are exported to industrialized countries. So is it fair that the country is held responsible for all of its emissions in the new climate deal?

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Carbon Sciences: Turning Carbon Emissions into “GreenCarbon”

| Wednesday July 9th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Carbon Sciences develops GreenCarbon technologyA small startup based in Santa Barbara, California is testing an alternative to carbon sequestration that, in a sense (perhaps more poetic than scientific), turns the second law of thermodynamics – entropy – on its head by taking waste CO2 and tailings from mining operations and turning the mix into materials of a “higher order” for use in a variety of industrial, agricultural, and environmental applications.  

Carbon Sciences, founded by CEO Derek McLeish, has developed a relatively simple technology that puts the brew under pressure and temperature to create PCC (precipitated calcium carbonate). Traditionally, calcium carbonate is produced through an energy-intensive process using expensive materials such as limestone; the “GreenCarbon” technology takes this normally exhaustive process and simplifies it, thus producing a useful, benign material while transforming carbon emissions instead of simply sequestering it – a method of carbon mitigation that McLeish considers high-risk at best.  

From paper to plastic, wallboard to fertilizer, PCC is a common component of many everyday products, materials, and industrial processes. According to McLeish there is a $12 billion demand for PCC.

One of McLeish’s first major target markets for the GreenCarbon technology is the paper industry.

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How to Make E-waste Processing Easier in the US

| Wednesday July 9th, 2008 | 10 Comments

Goodwill.jpgImagine you have a TV that is no longer seeing service in your home. Or a computer. Or a monitor. You know that tossing it in the garbage is a big no no. Where do you take it? More than likely, if you’re in the US, to Goodwill. Or if you’re really progressive, you make a little money by going through Second Rotation or Tech Forward. A fine step forward, for sure. But what happens to donations to your local Goodwill?
Depending on where it is, a number of things: If it’s functional, it may get resold. If it’s not, it could get recycled. Or “demanufactured,” that is, disassembled and the parts sold to vendors who can use them to create new machines. Or in some cases, especially with old CRT televisions, consumers don’t have options via their local waste management company or charitable organizations, and it ends up dumped. Goodwill, which makes a point to recycle them, generally has to pay per pound for the right to do so. 17 cents in the case of Austin, Texas, apparently one of the lower fees in the US.
Now do the math: Each television is at least 30 pounds. Austin processes a truckload worth each month. 48 pallets. And in 2009, with the plug being pulled on non HD TV signals, there will be millions of televisions rendered useless, unless people make the effort to buy a signal converter. And where will those go? You guessed it…

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