Will Environmental Investing Succeed In This Economy?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Clean technology investments in 2007 increased by 41 percent from 2005, totaling $117 billion. Currently, the amount of money invested in ‚Äòsocially responsible’ investment funds is $25.1. One out of every 10 dollars is invested in socially responsible funds. Will the economic crisis slow environmental investment?
The SunTrust Bank surveyed 202 business owners with annual revenue of at least $10 million about environmental philanthropy and investments. An overwhelming majority of survey respondents, 69 percent, said they would maintain their current level of giving even if the economic crisis affects their businesses. Fifty-nine percent believe environmental investments have a rate of return similar to other funds.

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Real Estate Investors benefit from Green Building Momentum

Jeff Siegel | Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Every year around this time, I get the itch to move far away from the cold, gray streets of Baltimore. It’s not that I dislike Charm City, but when the mercury falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the lure of warmer climates becomes overwhelming. So to ease the pain of last week’s cold snap, I decided to browse the real estate listings in California. What I found blew me away.

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Rent Out Roof Space To Energy Companies

| Thursday January 8th, 2009 | 9 Comments

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All around the US, homeowners are getting paid by their energy utility to have solar panels installed. That’s because power companies have an urgent need for roof space. They’re in a race against the clock to replace ever greater portions of the regular energy supply by power sourced from renewables.

The trend began with deals between energy companies and various large companies and local municipalities to install solar panels on large premises in return for a fee. One example is ProLogis, a large distributor in California, getting solar energy from systems installed and run by outside energy companies. The first such deal was when General Motors got solar panels installed on the roofs of its Spain production facilities (see picture).

Now the energy companies are beginning to tap the residential sector. The inherent logic of this development is obvious; once they’ve got local authority approval, energy companies can extend their ‘solar parks’ quickly and with relatively little hassle by fixing normal residents up with solar power. Home owners are interested because they get a fee for renting out their roofs to professionally managed solar panels. It’s hard to imagine a better way to reduce your footprint. Or is there?

Despite the compelling logic of the roof rental schemes, the cost/savings equation of the plans of Duke Energy in North Carolina aren’t immediately sky rocketing. Duke recently became the latest in a spate of energy companies to announce it would start renting the roofs of ordinary houses for solar power generation. The energy giant will rent 425 roofs across the state as early as next year.

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Good News in Detroit: A123 Announces plans for New Lithium Ion Battery Manufacturing Facilities

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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My home town of Detroit received great news today when A123 announced plans for a new manufacturing facility to produce energy storage devices in Michigan. This is an excellent example of the green jobs and energy independence that President-elect Barack Obama is pushing for in his economic stimulus package.

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5 Surprising Facts About Concentrated Photovoltaics

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 5 Comments

concentrated%20photovoltaic.jpgConcentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology is one of the newest players on the solar energy scene. These systems are unique because sunlight is concentrated through a lens onto high performance solar cells, thus increasing the electricity generated. Panels are mounted on tracking systems to maximize the benefit of each ray of sunlight.
SolFocus, a solar startup based in California has designed a promising CPV panel for medium to utility-scale applications. Let’s explore some of the impressive characteristics of SolFocus’ 1100S:
Most Efficient PV Panel on the Market
Scientific journals are full of reports of recent advances in solar cell efficiency. Although this is very encouraging, it is hard to know how these breakthroughs will perform outside of the laboratories and when they will hit the market.

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T5: Bringing Greener Lighting Options to the Warehouse/Manufacturing Sector

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 7 Comments

T5%20fluorescent%20lights.jpgMuch has been made about the use, abuse, and benefits of CFL lights. But almost entirely about their consumer level use. What about on a company level? What about all the warehouses, industrial and manufacturing facilities out there, needing high bay (ceiling) lighting? Unless well daylighted they require some sort of illumination, all day, making up 30-60% of energy costs. What options are out there?
One that came across my desk yesterday was T5. If you look up next time you’re in a warehouse store, the lighting you’ll likely see is some variation of metal halide, those glaring circular lights, which use 250, 400, 1000, even more watts. Clearly, there’s room to improve.

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Timing’s Right for a Net Zero Gasoline Tax?

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

classicoldpickup.jpg The amazingly sharp drop in oil prices – talk about the great risks, and rewards, of investment bubbles and inflationary monetary policy– is providing Americans some welcome relief at the pump. Unfortunately, it’s taken a financial and monetary system collapse and widening, deepening recession for the price of crude to fall so far, so fast.
There are a number of good, solid reasons why the drop in oil prices need not forestall the drive to diversify the U.S. energy base– enhancing national security and putting international relations and foreign policy on much more sound footing not the least among them. And as former Intel CEO Andy Grove points out in a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly, basing long-term energy policy on short-term fluctuations in fossil fuel prices is a recipe for energy catastrophe.
In a Weekly Standard article, contributing editor Charles Krauthammer argues that Obama and his team have what’s likely to be a short window of opportunity to enact a gasoline tax, something that’s long been anathema to the U.S. public, and considered only somewhat shy of political suicide. Krauthammer offers a revenue neutral twist to the one-sided theme, however, one that makes it more digestible.

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Are You Solar Ready? Solar Red’s Disruptive Solar PV Technology Can Halve Cost of Residential Solar

| Wednesday January 7th, 2009 | 12 Comments

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A typical residential solar system will put you back ~$20,000+ after credits and incentives and requires extensive design work and several trained technicians toiling on your roof – drilling, wiring, bolting, and performing other complex tasks to build the proper infrastructure. What if your roof were built for solar panels, and installing them were as simple as snapping panels into place? And what if it didn’t cost you an arm and a leg?
Chances are a lot more people would be going solar today. This is exactly what Solar Red aims to do. Based in San Jose, California, Solar Red is still more concept than product, but their concept won them runner up in the California Clean Tech Open (CCTO), and is poised to entirely disrupt the residential solar market by making it affordable.
After learning of the exciting new technology at the CCTO, I was intrigued. But with a website just now emerging from stealth mode (launching any day now), and purposefully limited press coverage, I had to sit down with CEO Joe Augenbraun to get more information. Augenbraun reviewed the piece you are reading now, and told me it is more revealing of his start-up than any previous coverage or their soon to launch website, so consider yourself privy to breaking start-up news.
Solar Red wants to reinvent residential solar installation, and cut the cost in half with its proprietary, patent-pending technology. Solar Red’s core product is a plug-and-play solar panel mounting system featuring a bracket that interleaves with the shingles of a roof, which can be installed at the time of construction, or retrofitted into the roof.
The brackets are cheap to manufacture and install – it costs $825 in additional costs to make a new roof solar ready. Then special Solar Red compatible solar panels can simply be clicked into place on the roof, taking mere minutes to install.

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The New New Deal: A Cooperative Approach to the Integrated Bottom Line

3p Contributor | Tuesday January 6th, 2009 | 12 Comments

by David Bruce, Tina Butler, Brian Bishop and Jennifer Boynton
Policies developed by the Obama administration need to integrate an entrepreneurial approach, government support, and the community in order to fully realize the triple bottom line. With full participation, we can successfully move beyond the Triple and create an integrated bottom line wherein social, environmental and financial benefits are all achievable at the same time
One of the biggest barriers to adopting an integrated bottom line into a traditional business model is agreement on how to quantify the value of environmental and social benefits. Another significant challenge is the ability of investors to capture a return on social benefits. The consequence of these barriers is that projects that can have major gains for a community may not be considered feasible by investors. Developing a community center, for example, with a caf√©, bookstore, farmer’s market, light industrial, and residential housing could have great benefit to a struggling neighborhood by providing jobs and services and drawing other businesses to the neighborhood. But the high cost of capital means a net negative return to investors over a typical payback period. As a consequence, such a project is not considered viable even though the net return for all stakeholders is positive. Our current system only measures benefits of such a project based on the financial returns to the investor. The external benefits like more jobs and services for a community are not captured unless the local government is brought in as a player.

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Emerson Climate Technologies Seeks to Educate and Expand Market for Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling

| Tuesday January 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that installing and using a programmable thermostat to customize and automate room temperature can save energy as well as money. In fact, 25 million households in the U.S. have already installed programmable thermostats in their homes. That’s the good news. The bad news is that only half of those homes actually program them, effectively rendering the potential efficiency of using them moot. It’s reminiscent of the old VCR forever blinking 12:00, except the consequences for homeowners – and even the planet – are greater.

I recently spoke with Geoff Godwin, Vice President of Marketing for Emerson Climate Technologies, the manufacturer of components for HVAC systems and producer of the White-Rogers line of programmable thermostats, about the advantages of using digitally programmable climate control, and how Emerson is seeking to expand the potential market and get that market to not only install the units, but to actually use them as well.

As most readers of Triple Pundit know, efficiency is the big white elephant in the room in terms of addressing dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention saving energy costs in hard economic times. It’s the low-hanging fruit, a strategy in which, according to a report released last fall by the American Physical society, the “opportunities are huge and the costs are small”.

A small, yet significant, aspect of this huge opportunity, says Godwin, is the installation and proper use of programmable thermostats.

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Can Developing Economies Reduce Power Emissions and Still Grow?

| Monday January 5th, 2009 | 3 Comments

ppp13-climchngephoto.jpg Though North American and Western European countries have long been the largest emitters of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, the economies of fast growing developing countries, particularly in Asia, are quickly making up for lost time and ground. China’s rapid industrialization and reliance on conventional coal plants has in a relatively very short time span put it in on a par with that of the U.S. in terms of CO2 emissions, while emissions in rapidly industrializing countries across the Asian continent and around the world are growing faster than elsewhere, a trend that’s forecast to continue for the next few decades.
This divergence has been a contentious “sore” spot between industrialized and industrializing countries as their representatives seek to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, and the workings of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, the principal technology transfer mechanism for developing emissions reduction projects in developing countries.
Seeking to bridge the divide, researchers at the United Nations Environment Program’s Risoe Center in Copenhagen are proposing a set of “no lose” targets for developing nations’ electricity sectors post-2012. Addressing weaknesses in the CDM, they advocate making structural changes that they believe would facilitate achieving significant CO2 reductions in developing countries’ power sectors. Keys to their recommendations are a method for establishing national power sector emissions baselines and credit targets post-2012 for seven large CO2 emitting developing countries, and assessing the amount of potential emissions reductions and credits that could be achieved using them as a reference.

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Ideablob: Making Dreams Come True

3p Contributor | Monday January 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments

so-cap-logo.pngGuest post from our friends at Good Capital:
Jack Alter, a Philadelphia schoolteacher, started giving loans to some of his fellow teachers in 1951 with big dreams and less than $100 in seed money. Since then, Advanta has grown into one of the nation’s largest credit card issuers (through Advanta Bank Corp.) in the small business market. Today, as a respected company with close to 1,000 employees and well over one million small business customers nationwide, they are choosing to give other entrepreneurs and small business owners a chance to pursue their dreams. For those not already in the know, Ideablob.com is an online community sponsored by Advanta Bank comprised of entrepreneurs and small business owners who share their ideas. In addition to the feedback and support provided by a community of like-minded peers, each month the site’s users vote for their favorite idea. The winner is awarded a $10,000 cash prize to either turn their idea into reality or increase the scope and scale of their project.

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EPA’s Love Affair with Carbon About to End

Nick Hodge | Monday January 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment

epa-logo999.jpgThe Environmental Protection Agency is, yet again, not doing the very thing its name implies.
For the umpteenth time in the past few years, the EPA is simply turning its nose up to carbon emissions, as if it shouldn’t and couldn’t regulate them. And that’s bologna.
It started early in 2005, when California asked the EPA if it could more stringently regulate emissions from its millions of automobiles. By 2007, the EPA still hadn’t answered the question, and California sued the EPA in April of that year.
Of course, all this came after most of the civilized world was already three years into the Kyoto Protocol, by which over 150 countries signed-up to voluntarily reduce their emissions by millions of tons.
We better get our act together. Our hubris in failing to regulate emissions on a national level could quickly turn out to be a multi-billion mistake, with expensive ecologic and economic consequences.

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Beyond the Tangible is Where Learning Begins

CCA LiveE | Friday January 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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left-right.jpgby Erin Jacobs
Beyond the tangible work we construct as individuals and in groups, is an emotional being connected to learning experiences in very unique and personal ways. Though most of us grow up thinking it’s the logical and concrete things that validate us as successful human beings, it’s actually the emotional being that makes anything and everything we know come to life. The DMBA graduate program embodies this perspective, but for me, the experience only actualized itself once I learned to embrace it.
Working in teams is no easy task, especially when members have just met. Deciphering personalities is challenging enough without the added pressure of trying to excel in a graduate program. In school, the pressure is on. Our work must be perfect if the professor is to assign the respectable grades high-performing students desire. Having recently graduated from undergraduate studies at UCLA, it is logical to think that professors only know us for what we turn in, for the tangible things we produce. We think it’s up to us to make sure that everyone in the group is meeting expectations and working with high standards in order to receive desirable grades. After all, the work of the group directly reflects each individual and how the professor will perceive us.

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Profitable Philanthropy? The Values Behind the Figures.

| Friday January 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

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profitable%20generosity.jpg Around this time of year, big Fortune 500 companies resuscitate their annual giving campaigns, tossing boatloads of cash at a variety of charities in an attempt to demonstrate their philanthropic side, garnering a substantial amount of PR in the process. Meanwhile, in most cases, these very same companies are those engaging in socially irresponsible business practices such as exploiting offshore labor, animal testing, and wasteful manufacturing processes. It is also often these companies who emit harmful chemical pollutants and represent sizable carbon footprints.
While many of their products represent blockbuster brands in the market who remain popular — and highly profitable — the 2008 Cone Cause Consumer Behavior Study indicates that more than two-thirds of Americans now actively consider a company’s business practices when making purchasing decisions, underscoring socially conscious values as a key driver in the success of emerging companies and brands. In addition, American workers have also indicated that they want to work for an employer who supports a social cause or issue.

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