One 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.
Insurance 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.
Green 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.
Vegas 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).
2 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?
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.
One More Reason to Take Confcalls in Your Underwear
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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.
Fancy 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.
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.”
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.
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.Click to continue reading »
Most 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.Click to continue reading »
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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.
Pizza. From its humble beginnings in Italy, it has become a food enjoyed across the globe. And though the size, shape, and flavor may vary widely, one thing does not. The box. A sturdy utilitarian container, it does a good job keeping the pizza warm, safe, and easy to carry. Billions are used each year. And they’re slacking on the job.
Depending on the pizza, having a plate to set it on is a necessity. want to store what you don’t eat? Good luck, that bulky box often requires you to muscle other things out of the way to make room. What if the box could double as a plate? And triple as a compact post meal storage container? It can, using the same ol’ box, remixed. It’s called the Green Box.Click to continue reading »
In his eponymous plan to break the stranglehold imported oil has on the American economy, former oil man and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens puts together a cogent, well reasoned argument and strategy centered on coincidentally carrying out two key national initiatives over the next decade: having wind power supply 22% of national electrical power production and shifting the natural gas currently used to supply 22% of national electrical output to transportation.
The Hybrid Owners of America is all in favor of Part One of the “Pickens Plan” but argues that using natural gas as a transportation fuel makes no sense when technological advances, energy security and environmental concerns are driving growing demand for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles and finally giving auto manufacturers the impetus to manufacture them on a large scale.
Whether it’s hybrid-electric or natural gas powered vehicles, perhaps the biggest question and challenge remains, however, a point raised by former Intel CEO Andy Grove in a recent article in The American magazine: how can the huge population of existing vehicles be converted to make use of cleaner, domestic fuel/energy sources as quickly as possible?
There has been a rush of investment into renewable energy in recent years. In 2007, global wind energy capacity grew by 27% and solar energy sales grew an estimated 50%.
Ernst & Young produced a report that offers insight into where future growth is likely to occur by examining a variety of indices including long-term wind, near-term wind, and all renewables.
The top five prime nations for renewable energy investment are:
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The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) has officially implemented the Computer Equipment Recycling Program for their state. The program will expand free electronic recycling options for consumers. The wording in the program shows that the commission means business. Manufacturer’s must offer a take back program for their products in order to sell them. Similarly, retailers are not able to sell new computer equipment unless the manufacturer appears on TECQ’s approved list. Thankfully for computer shoppers in Texas, just about every major manufacturer, including Dell, HP, Apple, Toshiba, Sony, and Lenovo, appears on the list.
Hardcore greenhouse gas (GHG) geeks will recall that cement is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions, with approximately 1 ton of CO2 equivalent emitted into the atmosphere for every 1 ton of cement produced. Damn. Forget your carbon guilt from flying, people! Cement is responsible for 5% of the Earth’s CO2 emissions, and it’s the third largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the US according to the EPA.
A new technique has the potential to change cement’s impact on global warming, and I wouldn’t be writing about them if there wasn’t a great business opportunity here as well. Calera has created a process for incorporating waste CO2 emissions from a power plant into the cement manufacturing process. His system sequesters a half a ton of CO2 for every ton of cement created.
Constantz used biomimicry, the process of looking to nature for design inspiration, to get his idea. Sea coral create marine cement as one component of the reef building process, and the coral combine calcium, magnesium, and seawater to make their tough-as-nails product. Constantz has figured out a way to mimic the same process using the spent CO2 as a material source. “We are turning CO2 into carbonic acid and then making carbonate,” Constantz says. “All we need is [sea] water and pollution.”Click to continue reading »
Nine months after the launch of the Eco-Patents Commons, three global business heavyweights have recently entered the arena. On Monday, GreenBiz reported that Xerox, DuPont, and Bosch all pledged to free eco-patents to the public domain, joining the ranks of Sony, Pitney-Bowes, Nokia, and spearhead IBM.
According to GreenBiz, the January 2008 launch was “an unprecedented step in the development of clean technologies,” with businesses essentially giving away ideas so that other businesses could utilize and develop upon their innovations. The recent inclusion has more than double the eco-patents now available.
Some of the new additions include patents from Xerox that use vacuum extraction to quickly, cheaply, and more efficiently remove hazardous wastes from soil as well as a patent from DuPont to turn non-recyclable plastics into fertilizer.
The 2008 Royal Award for Sustainable Technology Transfer, protected by HRH Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, was awarded last week to Colorado State University’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory. The honor was bestowed at COPENMIND, an exhibiton and conference dedicated to research, innovation, and technology through university/industry partnerhsips, .
In 2002, students at the Laboratory entered a cleaner-burning 2–stroke snowmobile engine into a contest sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The snowmobile engines, intended for use in Yellowstone National Park, won the prize and led laboratory director and professor Bryan Wilson to helping his graduate students and CSU’s College of Business form the non-profit Envirofit to commercialize the idea.
Envirofit was founded in 2003 and helped bring to market a retrofit kit for 2–stroke engines in the Philippines and and other developing nations. The ubiquitous 2–stroke engine in these countries are an enormous contributor to air pollution and health problems. According to an article in Discover magazine, one 2–stroke engine produces the same pollution as 30 to 50 4–stroke engines.
Envirofit and the Engines and Energy Conversion Lab was just getting started.Click to continue reading »