ClimatePULSE: Top 5 Ways to Host a Green Event

| Tuesday November 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

610x.jpgThis week in ClimatePULSE we take a look at some of the best techniques for hosting an environmentally friendly conference or event. Given the current hysteria surrounding corporate sustainability projects, the simple task of promoting your organization’s green goodwill through hosting enviro-friendly events is often overlooked. So just how do you easily conform to environmentally sound behavior? It’s quite simple. Without overlooking the importance of ditching bottled water, there are 5 simple steps your company can take to portray a green image at your next big conference or meeting. Check below for the top solutions.

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Energy at a Tipping Point Part 1: A Conversation with Worldwatch’s Chris Flavin

| Monday November 17th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Renewable energy in a sustainable future - Chris Flavin from Worldwatch Institute speak at TiELast week I attended a discussion entitled After the Election: Where is Cleantech Headed Now? hosted by TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) at their Silicon Valley headquarters. The event was moderated by Andrew Chung of Lightspeed Venture Partners with presentations by Chris Flavin of Worldwatch Institute and Dr. Dick Swanson, founder of SunPower.

Needless to say, the room was full of some very smart, visionary people with a singular focus on exploring the state of the energy sector and the potential of renewable energy to bring solutions to a beleaguered economy and stressed environment (one might say to civilization and the natural systems that support it).

In my next post we’ll look at the the main ideas of Dr. Swanson’s presentation. Here we’ll review some key points from the discussion with Chris Flavin.

Annual growth in renewabel investment - chart from REN21 reportPerception lags reality

Worldwatch Institute’s Chris Flavin may have summed up the entire evening in his first sentence: “Energy is at a tipping point”. It is exciting to think we live in a time of rapid transition to a new energy economy. Flavin sees the beginnings of that transition in progress and accelerating.

Based on data from the report Renewables 2007 Global Status Report by REN21 in collaboration with Worldwatch, one challenge Flavin sees is “making the fossil fuel industry believe” that renewables offer a full-scale, “baseload” alternative to oil and coal, and that it isn’t hovering somewhere off in the distant future.

“So much has happened in the renewable energy sector during the past five years that the perceptions of some politicians and energy-sector analysts lag far behind the reality of where the renewables industry is today”, says Mohamed El-Ashry, Chair of REN21

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Pricing of Externalities is Upon Us

| Monday November 17th, 2008 | 4 Comments

externality.jpgSan Francisco is the first city in the U.S. to have implemented a plastic bag ban, but there are many other cities up and down the west coast and across the nation who have enacted or are discussing similar measures (including Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, and New York). As opposed to S.F.’s ban on plastic, most cities are planning to charge a fee for use of disposable or single use bags, both plastic and paper. The fee-based approach was initially introduced in Ireland, and according to the Irish government has been successful in reducing the use of disposable bags. In the U.S. the cost of the fee will vary by city, but the norm is $0.25 per bag. This cost will be paid by the consumer at time of checkout, and a large portion of the proceeds will go towards pollution and litter cleanup efforts.
There are several stakeholders involved, most notably municipal government, retailers, bag manufacturers, and consumer groups, making for a very dynamic environment. But perhaps most interesting of all is the fact that this may be the U.S. consumer’s first direct introduction to a new concept that will soon be a staple of the U.S. economy – the factoring of externalities into the cost and price of products. For many businesses, this impending change is frightening in both its intended and unintended impacts.

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New Generation of BPA Free Bottles Aims at Spas and Gyms

| Monday November 17th, 2008 | 1 Comment

This is a guest post by John Simonetta, owner of an eco-friendly promotional items consultancy. John’s blogs are designed to keep us up to date on the “greening” of his industry.
I mentioned before in this blog that the gym and spa industry is one of the main buyers of sport bottles. It makes sense, sign-up for a membership, get a water bottle and t-shirt.
I also mentioned that the BPA scare pretty much halted the market for plastic gym bottles. This was an event especially felt by eco-friendly gyms, yoga studios and spas that had been using bottles as giveaway items. Many businesses gave up on plastic altogether and moved to aluminum or steel bottles.
Well the industry is fighting back with BPA free bottles especially designed for gyms – like Glass America’s 19 oz. Treadmill BPA Free Bottle – bottles designed with wide mouths and easy grips.
These new bottles also have the words “BPA free” imprinted directly on them to make sure the audience does not miss the fact these are “safe” bottles.
We will see how well these new bottle designs do. It is nice to see the industry bouncing back in this area and at the same time moving forward on green products.
For more information on BPA free bottles from Glass America please visit their website or visit us at Proformagreen.com.

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday November 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Mitsubishi and BP look to the future of cleantechMitsubishi Ramps Up Cleantech Commitment, BP Bows Out of UK Wind Energy Efforts
In the wake of the U.S. presidential election, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has announced plans to expand business operations aimed to helping to mitigate climate change. The plans call for ambitious new sales goals for solar power, heat pump systems, and energy efficient power devices, following its framework target plan outlined in Environmental Vision 2021. 
Energy giant BP said last week it will abandon plans to bid on the United Kingdom’s first carbon capture and storage project and not build a planned wind farm on the Isle of Grain. BP sees the shift in the coming American president and his pledge to invest $150 billion in renewable energy in the next decade and says it will shift its wind energy focus to the United States.

SAP unveils first sustainability reportSAP Unveils First Sustainability Report, Seeks Co-Innovators for Change
After releasing its first sustainability report, software provider SAP doesn’t necessarily have plan laid out to the future, but they’ve got a place to start, or what the company calls its “60,000–foot view”. With CO2 emissions of 406,230 metric tons, and nearly 75% of that coming from business travel or Scope 3 greenhouse gases, the strategy for mitigating that footprint will involve social networking and “Web 2.0” tactics to “co-innovate” an overall framework to greater sustainability.

California Clean Tech Open announces six winnersClean Tech Open 2008 Tees Up Six Winning Startups
Now in its third year, the California Clean Tech Open named six winners in an awards ceremony at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on November 6th. The Clean Tech Open serves as an “innovation catalyst” to motivate entrepreneurs and early stage companies to create and develop sustainability and clean technologies. This year’s winners included “high performance, consumer friendly diapers” and a company that helps data centers increase their operational efficiency.

Big business works to green their operationsFedEx, IBM and Office Depot Report Green Progress
Corporate responsibility reports are on the rise. Among the most recent is FedEx working to optimize routes, increase fuel efficiency, and reduce aircraft-related carbon emissions. IBM comes in with a nearly 32% reduction in perflourocompoound emissions from its semiconductor manufacturing. Office Depot has increased waste recycling in its U.S operations to 49% (in Europe the company recycles 71% of its waste), offers 30% more green office products for sale, and has reduced its transportation carbon emissions in the U.S. by 9.6%

 Canada opens its largest wind farmCanadian Hydro Opens Canada’s Largest Wind Energy Installation
Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. announced the opening of the 199.5 megawatt Melancthon EcoPower Centre, the largest wind energy installation in Canada.

 

REI moves ahead with solar energy planREI Forges Ahead with Solar Plan
Outdoor gear and apparel company REI celebrated the completion of its third San Francisco Bay Area rooftop solar system this week. This brings the company nearly halfway of installing solar systems on 10% of its 105 stores in 27 states. In all 11 stores will have solar systems installed by the end of the year, with a total of four acres of installed solar panels expected to generate 1.1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.

The times, they are a-changin’

Despite the continuing turmoil in the economy in general, there is a lot of excitement and anticipation for a changing landscape with the coming of a new administration in January. On Wednesday, I attended a discussion hosted by TiE in Silicon Valley about the future of energy. Speakers at the program included Chris Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute and Dr. Dick Swanson, founder of SunPower. It was an encouraging and enlightening talk, and I will summarize it in a post next week.

Jen is off today, studying hard to help make good on this growing excitment for a sustainable world, but she’ll be back next week with the Green Business Wrap-up. Have a great weekend!

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Net Impact 2008: Private/Public Partnerships at Accenture

Net Impact | Friday November 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

In 2003 Management Consulting firm Accenture created the Accenture Development Partnership (ADP) as a means of providing consulting services to NGOs, foundations and donor organizations working in the development sector. Since its launch, ADP has completed 200+ projects in 55 countries with more than 45 different client organizations.
I caught up with Senior Manager Chris Jurgens yesterday to better understand the program, its benefits to Accenture, as well as why it constitutes a “second generation” private-public partnership.
First Generation: pre-ADP
For Accenture the first generation of development consulting was its Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) program, inaugurated in 1999. Still in place today, the VSO program was instituted to allow Accenture’s consultants to take sabbaticals and engage in international development consulting for 6 months to 1 year.
The VSO advantage is that consultants remain Accenture employees and do not deviate from their career tracks. Consultants take a 50% pay cut, and they organize their own projects/partnerships with host NGOs.

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GreenBuild in Boston – What Will Green Building Materials Manufacturers and Green Builders Have to Say?

| Friday November 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

ballard_library.jpgNext week I am off to Boston for GreenBuild, the US Green Building Council’s premier event. Greenbuild International Conference and Expo was launched in 2002 as the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. This year attendees will learn about new green building products, innovative projects, the latest building research and more. The conference boasts over 100 eco friendly educational sessions, 800 exhibitors, international master speakers, practical green building workshops and green building tours in Boston November 19-21 for Greenbuild 2008.
Reviewing the speakers, it looks like the line up will focus heavily on innovation and environmental impact within green. But I expect many of the green building materials manufacturers and green builders to focus on the money. While the good news is that green is up, the bad news is that building is indisputably down. Without building, there is no green building. Manufacturers will be looking to increase sales with green building products, and building owners will ask if green building provides a better ROI. These are the questions I am eager to explore, and look forward to reporting back on Triple Pundit.

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Move Over New Deal, We Need a Global Green Deal

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday November 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

120px-G20.jpg
This weekend leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies gather for the G20 summit. Gary Gardner and Michael Renner, Worldwatch Institute senior researchers, believe the G20 summit should discuss creating a Global Green Deal.
The strategic objectives of the GGD, as outlined by Gardner and Renner, are transitioning to a renewable energy economy, launching an efficiency revolution, investing in green infrastructure, and working for a fairer distribution of wealth.

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Planning the First 100 Days: Green IS the Recession Solution!

| Thursday November 13th, 2008 | 1 Comment

The Petroleum Ceiling and the Limits of Growth
Obama.jpgSince the credit crisis began, we’ve been hearing a lot about how investing in a ‚ÄòGreen New Deal‘, ‚ÄòA Green Economy‘, and ‚ÄòA Clean Energy Economy‘ will rescue us. But how, specifically, will green solutions be our savior, and why – at the end of the age of oil and a time of increasingly dangerous human-caused climatic instability – is this type of policy package so crucial for President Obama to implement during his first 100 Days?
Over the past few months, as I’ve talked about how our economy won’t experience a prolonged period of growth until we wean ourselves from our addiction to oil, I’ve referred to this limit on growth as the “Petroleum Ceiling” on our economy. What I mean – even now as gas prices have temporarily dropped due to recessional demand and investors’ flight to safety in the dollar (among other reasons) – is that as long as our economy is so foolishly dependent on oil, once the business cycle starts to heat up again, demand for oil will go up and with it, the prices of food, commodities and other critical goods and services – bringing the period of growth to a screeching halt.

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NREL, Iberdrola set up solar resource measuring stations out West

| Thursday November 13th, 2008 | 0 Comments

csp-image.jpg As renewable energy, particularly concentrated and other solar power project developers are flocking to remote parts of the southwest, the Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab and Spain’s Iberdrola Renewables are building a network of solar resource monitoring stations across the region to minimize the uncertainties and risks.
The public-private sector partnership today announced that they have deployed the first of several such stations in Arizona as part of a planned instrumentation network – NREL’s Solar Resource and Meteorological Assessment Project, or SOLRMAP, that will extend across the United States, according to a media release.
With funding supplied by industry partners, SOLRMAP’s installations in Arizona will collect “precise, long-term solar resource measurements” that will be incorporated into technical analysis that aims to minimize the risk of commercial solar energy conversion projects, including concentrated solar power plants, according to the partners.
For the first set of measuring stations in Arizona, NREL and Iberdrola are using Irradiance Inc.’s rotating shadowband radiometer to collect direct and diffuse solar measurements. These measure and record the strength and consistency of sunlight at the station locations, as well as wind and temperature data.
NREL is going to combine the SOLRMAP data with information from existing regional solar radiation networks to upgrade models that populate a database of 10-km resolution solar resource data across the United States. The data collected will be used by NREL researchers and analysts to sharpen solar modeling, solar resource forecasting, and database development, according to NREL.
“The project is a win-win collaboration between NREL and industry to optimize the quality of solar resource data used to evaluate the viability of large-scale projects in the southwest U.S.,” said Steve Wilcox, a senior scientist with NREL’s Solar Radiation research program, and the Laboratory’s lead in the SOLRMAP collaboration.

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Minnesota Governor Unveils Green Jobs Initiative: Is it Truly Green or Just Greenwash?

| Thursday November 13th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Minnesota Green Jobs Inititiative: Green or GreenwashMinnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced this week his Green Jobs Initiative for consideration in the 2009 legislative session.

The initiative offers a range of tax incentives for companies that produce renewable energy, manufacture renewable energy system components, or make green building products. The definition of green jobs could also include those in the service sector that support green business or install energy management systems.

Some of the specific elements of the Pawlenty’s initiative include:

  • A new tax incentive for qualifying green jobs through an extension of the states JOBZ program, which gives tax breaks for businesses that create jobs in economically struggling, mostly rural areas of the state.
  • $20 million in new Job Growth Investment Tax Credits. Half of the credits will go for job projects that promote the state’s renewable energy targets.
  • $60 million for new Small Business Investment Tax Credits for qualifying Minnesota businesses, half of which will go for green job projects.
  • Incentives to expand renewable energy projects throughout the state.
  • A “Clean and Green” category for the Minnesota Cup, a competition that rewards entrepreneurial innovation.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development states there are currently 15,000 residents employed in green jobs, with the potential to 114,000 more jobs by 2038.

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Net Impact 2008: Interview with Ideablob’s Ami Kassar

Net Impact | Thursday November 13th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Napoleon Wallace - As sustainable entrepreneurship has evolved, the growing need for innovative resources that can provide support to this niche entrepreneur has become increasingly evident. The result has been a wave of innovation that is providing new platforms and resources so that good ideas can be nurtured to fruition for the benefit of both entrepreneurs and stakeholders.
One such company is Ideablob.com, an online community that allows entrepreneurs to share and grow their business ideas. In addition, each month a “winning” idea is awarded $10,000 based on votes from the rest of the ideablob.com community.
I had the opportunity to speak with Ami Kassar, founder and the Chief Innovation Officer of Ideablob (his bio can be found here), to briefly discuss his thoughts on the growing need for resources that support new ideas, and Ideablob’s role in helping to fill this gap. He will be a part of the “Web 2.0 Panel” on Friday during the Net Impact North America Conference.

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Net Impact 2008: Interview with Cleantech Investor Joyce Ferris

Net Impact | Thursday November 13th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Joyce Ferris is a managing director of Blue Hill Partners (her bio can be found here). She will be a part of the panel for “Early Stage Financing for Clean Tech” on Friday during the Net Impact North America Conference.
When reading through the Blue Hill website, one thing in particular caught my eye. I’ve looked through more than 50 cleantech private equity firms’ websites but haven’t seen anyone else with this type of strategy:

We concentrate in areas within the GreenTech sector and build investment ‘clusters’. To date, Blue Hill has built a cluster around energy efficiency technologies for application in commercial and industrial buildings and facilities. (link)

I asked Joyce to elaborate on her cluster strategy:

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Are the Girl Scouts a Social Enterprise?

| Thursday November 13th, 2008 | 0 Comments

SoCapConference.jpgWhat about WalMart? At a recent SoCap08 panel discussion on Market Creators, moderator Todd Johnson from Jones Day suggested the Girl Scouts of America and WalMart occupy the opposite ends of the continuum defining social enterprise. His opening remarks generated a few chuckles from the audience, and a few hisses when he mentioned WalMart, but he made his point. All successful strategies should be considered when evaluating what makes a sustainable mission-driven business.
“Start from a clean sheet” was also the message to those organizations who provide the investment infrastructure to the social enterprise sector; the panel included a sample of these organizations. Our current capital market system was not built in a day. And likewise, the emerging social capital market will require the development of an infrastructure and support system to “reduce friction, increase trust, and accelerate growth – from rating agencies to new legal structures to exchanges.”

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Recycled Glass Countertops Take Home CleanTech Award

| Thursday November 13th, 2008 | 0 Comments

BottleStoneRecycledCountertop.jpg As GreenBiz reported on Tuesday, the 2008 CleanTech Open concluded earlier this week, showcasing some of the most exciting new innovations in the world of sustainability. Among the winners walking away with a prize package worth $100,000 in cash and business resources was BottleStone, a Los Altos Hills company that makes ceramic stone countertops out of recycled glass.
It takes about six wine bottles to create a square foot of BottleStone, which is a wonder to think used wine bottles do more than to serve as evidence of one’s drinking habits. What’s more interesting is BottleStone’s durability. In tests, the material proved to be just as strong as 1.5″ thick brick or 2.5″ thick concrete paver.

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