Straight Lines and Zig Zags

| Saturday June 21st, 2008 | 1 Comment

If you’re trying to find the fastest route from Point A to Point B, would you choose a straight line or a zig zag? In the case of carbon reductions and climate change, it seems we’re choosing the latter.
Carbon markets, a k a cap-and-trade, are a zig zag approach to reducing carbon emissions. They’re complex, dynamic and susceptible to corruption and gaming. The European Union, with its 3-year old carbon market, has seen carbon emissions rise, not fall, during this period, 0.4 percent in 2006 over the previous year and 0.7 percent in 2007.
The reason? As human systems, carbon markets are subject to the same pitfalls and vagaries as any other human institution, perhaps even more so since the stakes are so high. In Europe, regulators have been heavily influenced by the 12,000 companies in the market vying for easy pollution permits. Too many permits were initially issued, making the price of carbon low and providing little incentive for polluters to reduce their emissions. Britain’s cement industry saw carbon emissions increase by 50 percent in the last 3 years.
The simplest, best approach to reducing carbon emission is a carbon tax, whether in Europe or here in the U.S., which is inching toward a cap-and-trade approach. A carbon tax is the straight line. Put a price tag on carbon, apply it across the board and let the price signals do their thing.
But to get there, we need leadership, from politicians, CEOs and citizens alike. That’s the tougher row to hoe, the real zig zag.

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The Open Door Policy for Energy Consumption

| Friday June 20th, 2008 | 2 Comments

As we mark the official start of summer this weekend, like in years past, many storefronts from Rodeo Drive to Fifth Avenue to London’s West End will open up their doors, offering cool, air-conditioned oases from the sweltering heat of the streets. Yet, what serves as a clever marketing ploy for the businesses – often successfully luring in helpless passersby first for the cool and then keeping them there for their wares – is also, as you might imagine, a huge waste of energy.
Early last year, New York City Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced a bill to the council that would set penalties for these types of energy wasting practices. Brewer, who is a long time veteran of state and local politics in New York, is well known for her public action initiatives, from previously sponsoring congestion pricing bills to working on affordable housing committees to supporting e-waste recycling programs.

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Plug In Hybrid – Toyota to Finally Offer Model by 2010

| Friday June 20th, 2008 | 3 Comments

plugin.jpgBy the year 2010 a plug-in hybrid vehicle will be available in Japan, the US and Europe as part of the green strategy released by Toyota on June 11 last week. The vehicles will be run with next-generation lithium-ion batteries and will be rechargeable from an electrical outlet. The ecological petrol-electric cars will be aimed at leasing customers and will operate longer and cleaner than regular hybrids.
The initiative comes as part of Toyota’s larger plan to create a more sustainable practice and to meet consumer demand from suffering drivers who are feeling the oil price crunch and who are becoming conscious consumers in the face of global warming.

“Without focusing on measures to address global warming and energy issues, there can be no future for our auto business,” Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe said.

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Timbron International: Recycling polystyrene to Make Mouldings

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday June 20th, 2008 | 5 Comments

180px-Styrofoam.jpgAs long as some plastic products are made from polystyrene, Timbron International will be making money. The Walnut Creek, CA based company, recycles polystyrene plastic and foam to make decorative mouldings. Polystyrene is made from sytrene, which is “a known human neurotoxin and a known animal carcinogen,” according to the organization Californians Against Waste (CAW). Polystrene is used to make countless plastic items such as CD jewel cases. Foamed polystyrene, created by adding a blowing agent to polystyrene, is also used in fast food boxes and cups.
Timbron’s mouldings are made mostly from post-consumer polystyrene waste (75%). The company boasts that it has recycled enough polystyrene waste since 2000 to fill the Empire State Building.

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3P SoundBite: Clark Wilson CEO of Green Builders Inc.

| Thursday June 19th, 2008 | 5 Comments

3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
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Clark Wilson, a longtime builder for 30-plus years saw a market opportunity during his retirement to revitalize the Austin, Texas area by offering a suite of green homes. Readers, if you have ever been house hunting, prepare to feel a tinge of nostalgia when you view pictures of model homes onGreen Builders, Inc.’s website.
Could this really be a green home? If it doesn’t have vines growing off the walls or look like a scene from Star Wars, then it can’t be green, can it?
TriplePundit asks Clark these questions and more.

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International Carbon Initiative Failing: The Case of Papua New Guinea

| Thursday June 19th, 2008 | 4 Comments

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In the pacific region countries have joined forces to tackle land-clearing in an attempt to reduce regional emission levels. One of the latest carbon partnerships, agreed to in April this year, is between Papua New Guinea and Australia. The agreement has been criticised from its inception and with the release of a recent forest analysis report covering PNG, the potential usefulness of the program going forward is further questioned.
Papua New Guinea is losing 362, 400ha of rainforest every year, one of the highest rates of deforestation and the worst scale of land-clearing as a percentage of the country size (1.4per cent of its land area). Farming and logging are the main industries leading to this depletion, which without being curtailed will result in more than 80 percent of the entire rainforest disappearing within 13 years. A rate ‚Äòconsiderably faster’ than ever before predicted.

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Wind energy PTC more than pays for itself says GEFS

| Wednesday June 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

ge-windturbine-15mw_main.jpg Congressional voting to extend a production tax credit (PTC) for renewable energy year-to-year has become an annual event and indicates, outside of corn-based ethanol, how tepid real support and action to support and prioritize development of renewable energy resources is on the part of elected federal government representatives
The annual legislative push-and-pull surrounding renewing the renewable PTC creates uncertainty, raises costs, and hinders entrepreneurial activity, small business and wider industry ecosystem development, according to executives at GE Energy Financial Services.
Moreover, tax revenues from wind energy project, vendor and individual workers’ income more than pays for the federal tax incentive, which is due to expire Dec. 31, according to a study GEFS released today at the American Council on Renewable Energy’s (ACORE) Renewable Energy Finance Forum, which took place at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
“Congress’s repeated failure to act could derail the wind energy industry at the worst possible time for the economy, placing 76,000 jobs and more than $11.5 billion in investment at risk,” commented Randall Swisher, the American Wind Energy Association’s executive director.
*Photos Courtesy GE

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Sustainability Becomes a Part of CPG Bottom Lines

| Wednesday June 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

logo_gma.gif It seems this is the season for consumer packaged goods (CPG) studies on sustainability. Complementing the ACNielsen and Natural Marketing Institute study recently reported on 3P, according to a new study released by PricewaterouseCoopers for the Grocery Manufacturers Associtaion (GMA): green is good. Whereas the ACNielsen/NMI study differentiated between “green” and “non-green” consumers, this study focused on consumption in general within the consumer packaged good industry. Increasingly, some of the biggest brand names in the world are implementing sustainable practices into their business, and it’s starting to pay off for them.
In spite of a rocky economic climate, U.S. CPG manufacturers experienced 10.6 percent sales growth this past year and delivered a shareholder return of 7.3 percent. “A particularly exciting finding of this year’s report was the strong effect that sustainability reporting can have on corporate value,” said Lisa Feigen Dugal, the North American consumer packaged goods and retail advisory leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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Compostableware that leaves the others far behind

| Wednesday June 18th, 2008 | 27 Comments

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These days, “compostableware” is becoming increasingly common. Whether it’s your to go box, or the lidded soup bowl, or the bio plastic cups for your drinks. And yet, something’s not quite right. That soup bowl starts to bend. The to go box gets soggy. The cup is made from corn, which, GMO or not, is unsustainable and responsible for many issues both agricultural and economic in our society today.
And that’s just the beginning.
Many of those benign looking bowls and plates utilize chemical binders (as much as 40% by weight) to hold their shape, and when exposed to heat, begin to release those binders into what you eat. Well then, what can an environmentally conscious eater of food do? One option that I recently learned of is Verterra.
Verterra have created what is, in my experience, the slam dunk of bio based serviceware: Their plates are made 100% from fallen leaves and water. Nothing else. And they can be used in an oven, microwaved, have hot fluids in them, be refrigerated, even reused. Really? Yes. How?

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LED Streetlights: Innovation in Lighting the Night

| Tuesday June 17th, 2008 | 7 Comments

LED lighting can save energy and reduce carbon emissionsA quick glance at a satellite image of the lit-up earth outlining the continents of the world easily show the energy demand civilization imposes on the night. Streetlights and other other lighting across the globe consume up to 20% of total electrical energy produced. In the United States 22% of electricity consumed is used for lighting.

James Sun, founder of Dew & Ken Technologies of Madison, Wisconsin notes that “In U.S. cities, streetlights consume tremendous amounts of energy each night”.

Sun’s company is one of several innovators in LED technology looking to lessen the load from streetlights and other outdoor municipal lighting applications.

Most streetlights today consist of High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps consisting of pressurized sodium gas that produce that familiar pinkish glow. HPS lighting has been in wide use for about a decade and is considered much more efficient than the older fluorescent, incandescent, and mercury vapor lighting fixtures.

The next step in street and outdoor lighting is the LED (light emitting diode), which really isn’t a lightbulb at all per se, but a semiconductor that glows when tickled with electricity.

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Westinghouse Supports Green Plug Technology, First Step Toward a Universal Power Adapter Future?

| Tuesday June 17th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Green_Plug_logo.jpgGreen Plug has a vision: to reduce energy and material waste in electronics. How are they going to do it? By implementing an embeddable power supply technology in consumer electronics that would allow for multiple devices to communicate energy needs to a single, universal power adapter. The technology will help increase energy efficiency by eliminating phantom power, power that is wasted on charged or unused electronics that are plugged in. The technology also supports a universal connector for all devices, eliminating the need for multiple, incompatible cables. When adapters and cables will not have to be discarded when replacing old devices with new ones, the amount of e-waste will decrease.
This vision can’t be accomplished without the help of manufacturers. Westinghouse, maker of computer monitors, televisions, and digital picture frames, is the first among electronics manufacturers to adopt the Green Plug technology into their devices.

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CherryPal’s green cloud computer

| Tuesday June 17th, 2008 | 2 Comments

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“Today you can find green food…green power…so why on earth hasn’t someone created an inexpensive green computer?” So goes the flash ad on CherryPal’s website announcing the August 4th arrival of what CherryPal CEO Max Seybold calls “the most affordable, greenest computer on the market.”
Running on just 2W of energy the CherryPal utilizes a 400 Mhz Freescale processor (not to be compared to AMD or Intel chips since the whole platform is different). Many are skeptical about the speed of the computer, but Seybold promises that the 10.5 oz computer can boot in 20 seconds and speed through applications utilizing its cloud networked software delivery system.
The CherryPal folks have stripped 80% of the normal PC innards, resulting in a simple machine about the size of a paperback. The computer will run on a Linux based operating system and will include 2 USB ports,256 MB DDR, Wifi connectivity, 4GB of internal storage, and 50GB of online storage.
Some remain skeptical that the system will deliver the speed, storage, and functions that users want. The Register, for instance, asks how iTunes would work on a system that only has 4GB of internal storage. An important question since CherryPal is targeted to a young, environmentally conscious audience that may still be reluctant to give up their iPods.
Until CherryPal releases its demonstration models of the desktop in a few weeks all is speculation. For now this is certainly a product worth watching.

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Zero Emissions Hondas on their way to So Cal

| Tuesday June 17th, 2008 | 1 Comment

hondaFCXClarity.jpg Actress Jaime Lee Curtis and her director-husband Christopher Guest are among the first five people in the U.S. chosen to take delivery of Honda’s hydrogen-powered zero-emissions FCX Clarity. All reside in southern California, one of the only areas of the country where some filling stations exist.
Weighing in at 3,600 pounds, the zero-emissions auto has a range of 270 miles per single fill-up – about 74 miles per gallon – and a max speed of 100 mph. In addition to not producing any greenhouse gas emissions, the Clarity is twice as efficient as a gas-electric hybrid and three times more efficient than a standard gasoline-powered car, according to a company news release.
A lack of hydrogen filling stations is a big limiting factor limiting production and sales of hydrogen powered vehicles and was the primary criteria American Honda used to choose the first Clarity owners in the U.S..
Honda expects to lease a “few dozen” Clarity vehicles this year and around 200 within the next three. In California, a three-year lease will cost $600 a month, including maintenance and collision, according to this report by AP’s Tomoko A. Hosaka.

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The Regulatory Arena for Voluntary Offsets

| Tuesday June 17th, 2008 | 0 Comments

horsed.jpgIn the wild west of offset sales, regulators are the saloon owners who kept their guns locked and loaded under the counter. Regulation schemes are filling in to provide some consistency in a wildly unreliable marketplace. As you know, carbon offsets are extremely abstract. A buyer can’t kick the tires, check the teeth, or do any sort of personal examination of the product before buying it. That’s why regulation is so important.
If you’ve considered buying offsets, you’ve probably heard that you should buy “verified” ones. The purpose of verification is to ensure that the carbon offset meets four standards of rigor. It should be verifiable (the project actually happened), additional (it wouldn’t have happened without your money), leakage-free (the carbon you’ve sequestered isn’t going anywhere), and permanent (those trees you paid for won’t be cut down and turned into paper napkins). In the absence of regulation, a nefarious offset retailer could actually be selling you nothing at all. So we’re all agreed we need to go regulated. The trouble is, the regulatory landscape is just about as complicated as the offsets market.

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BBMG: Helping Socially Conscious Companies

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday June 17th, 2008 | 0 Comments

bbmg_logo.gifIn 2007 BBMG, a marketing and branding company that helps socially conscious companies, conducted research on conscious consumers. Founded by Raphael Bemporad and Mitch Baranowski, the company’s researcher first looked at the purchasing decisions of 24 consumers in three cities: Lawrence, KS; Long Island, NY; and Livermore, CA.
Researchers observed the behaviors, values, and experiences of the consumers in order to learn why American consumers are becoming more socially aware. The findings were compiled into the BBMG Conscious Consumer Report.

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