Global Businesses Pledge Eco-Patents for Free Public Use

| Tuesday September 9th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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.
patent.jpg 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.

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Colorado State University Wins International Sustainable Technology Transfer Award

| Monday September 8th, 2008 | 0 Comments

The Tricycle - photo courtesy of Envirofit 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.

Biomass Cookstove - photo courtesy of EnvirofitEnvirofit 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.

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HP Selling Notebook in its Own Messenger Bag

| Monday September 8th, 2008 | 0 Comments

hp-bag.jpgHow do you reduce packaging when selling a laptop? Ship it in a messenger bag made of 100% recycled materials with all the accessories included. For its Pavilion dv6929, HP has reduced 97% of the cardboard and plastic traditionally used in packaging by doing just that.
With the laptop, HP won Walmart’s Home Entertainment Design Challenge, a competition among electronics manufacturers focused on reducing the environmental impact of their products. The $798 laptop is sold exclusively in Walmart and Sam’s Club retail locations. Customers are also able to bring in their old computer to the store and have it recycled free of charge.

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To B or not to B: B Lab Expands its B Corp List and Service Partner Program

| Sunday September 7th, 2008 | 0 Comments

bcorp.JPGThe folks at B Lab have been busy since we last featured the independent certification group here. There’s the new website, the new video shot by Tri-film, the quarterly newsletter, and several new certified B Corporations. Currently 124 companies across 31 industries have attained the B Corporation certification, meaning they have passed B Lab’s triple bottom line certification process, and they have changed their governing documents to include stakeholders’ interests.
Companies that make the grade benefit from the growing community of B Corporations and the resources of B Lab, including discounts from B Lab service partners and the right to use the B Corporation certification logo in their branding and marketing. Millions of green consumers benefit from the assurance they are doing business with companies that are really doing good, and not just companies that are doing really good green washing.

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Cambodia: From the Killing Fields to a Thriving Garment Industry

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Sunday September 7th, 2008 | 0 Comments

bfc_monitoring.jpgCambodia has come a long way from the “killing fields” of the 1970s when 1.7 million people were killed by the communist group the Khmer Rouge. In 1993 it became a constitutional monarchy, and during the same time period began developing a garment industry. Cambodia’s garment industry grew rapidly with $20 million worth of export in 1995 to over $1 billion in 2001.
In 2000 Nike temporarily pulled out of Cambodia after a British documentary discovered underage workers in one of the company’s contractor factories. Since then Cambodia has worked to create a garment industry that treats its workers fairly. The International Labor Organization (ILO) started Better Factories Cambodia in 2001 in order to monitor and report on conditions in Cambodian garment factories. Better Factories works with the Cambodian government and international buyers to make sure the garment factories have favorable working conditions.

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Solar Powered System Helps Reduce Ship’s Emissions – Innovation on the High Seas

| Friday September 5th, 2008 | 2 Comments

New solar powered system will help reduce ship's emissionsJapan’s largest shipping line, Nippon Yusen KK, has teamed with Nippon Oil Corporation in developing a system of solar panels capable of generating 40 kilowatts of electricity for use on a 60,000 ton cargo ship for Toyota Motor Corporation.

Unlike the solar panels soon to be offered on the tops of the Toyota Prius that I wrote about last week, these panels are designed to assist with the ship’s motive power.  

Solar panels aren’t new on ocean-going ships, but until now they’ve only been used to power crew cabins and living quarters. This system will help reduce diesel fuel consumption by up to 6.5% and CO2 emissions by 1 or 2%.

That doesn’t seem like much, but in hard numbers and particles of pollution, every little bit helps and you’ve got to start somewhere.

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Green Roofed Bus Shelters = Dynamic Green Marketing

| Friday September 5th, 2008 | 4 Comments

gavinShelter_clo.jpgThe New California Academy of Sciences (CAS) in San Francisco will open September 27th with a long awaited, Renzo Piano designed, 2.5 acre living roof undulating across Golden Gate Park. While the roof has great scientific, educational, and ecological benefits, it will also have a financial benefit by helping to conserve energy use. The roof will keep the building an average 10 degrees cooler than a standard roof.
But the more interesting, and fun, business oriented aspect to this story is the marketing roll out this week in advance of the opening. The Academy, in partnership with the city, Clear Channel Outdoor, and the advertising company Heat, has installed living roofs, each with a different ecological focus, on a series of bus shelters around town. These shelters are just as effective at multi-tasking as the big daddy on the Academy to which they refer.

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday September 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

HP Delivers Laptops in Slick Recycled Bags
HP’s new line of entertainment notebooks sit right on Walmart’s shelves in ready-to-go 100% recycled fabric messenger bags. This innovation allows HP to send 31% more product per pallet, lowering shipping costs. The switch reduces packaging by 97%, and saves us all the trouble of having to deal with disposing of pesky Styrofoam and cardboard packaging.
See also Grist & Environmental Leader
U.S., Australia and Iceland Team Up to Tap Geothermal Energy
Climate Biz has the skinny on a new partnership between the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Australia and Iceland to explore enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). Team Geothermal will analyze technical and policy issues related to this untapped renewable energy source.
Con Edison Installs First Green Roof
The power company expects the green roof to save them 30% on peak cooling costs (apparently not even the power company can escape rising fuel costs). The roof is also expected to retain 30 percent to 70 percent of storm water runoff. Doncha love to see a power company investing in energy efficiency?
Taking Green Initiatives to the Next Level
Green Biz tackles the challenge of moving businesses beyond the low hanging fruit: what is a green-maker to do after switching all the lightbulbs to CFLs and setting the printer to default to double sided? (Hint: start at the top!)
Hawaii Swaps Biomass for Coal
Hawaii takes a step toward meeting its big hairy audacious goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030 with the opening of the Hu Honua Bioenergy Facility on Big Island’s Hamakua Coast. The plant will supply 18,000 homes with power and create hundreds of jobs. Imagine the smell of a biomass facility burning sugar cane…

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Steam Heat & Power: Journey to the Center of the Earth

| Thursday September 4th, 2008 | 2 Comments

Geothermal energy is attracting a lot of long overdue attention recently. Gathering in Reykjavik last week officials from Australia, Iceland and the U.S. signed a charter to establish the International Partnership for Geothermal Technology, reported Greenbiz.com.
A signal of “the commitment of the three countries to aggressively foster and promote cutting edge geothermal technologies to promote energy security and address global climate change,” according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy media release, the announcement comes hard on the heels of Google announcing that it will invest $10 million in enhanced geothermal systems as part of its “Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal” program.

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What Does a Sustainable Can of Beans Look Like?

| Thursday September 4th, 2008 | 1 Comment

greenbeans.JPG Two years ago Truitt Brothers decided to figure that out, and added two products, green beans and pears,sourced and prepared sustainably, to their more traditionally packaged goods which they had been producing for over 30 years. While the sustainability-focused line is still less than 5% of their whole business it has quadrupled in growth in those two years, and that growth is projected to continue. In fact, they have already doubled their offerings by adding kidney and garbanzo beans.
Speaking on a panel at Slow Food Nation on Friday, Peter Truitt declared the canned green beans’ time arrived. He acknowledged most people, himself included, would choose fresh produce over processed when available. However, in most of the US you cannot purchase local and fresh produce consistently year around. At those times Truitt believes canned produce can be a very sustainable second choice.

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First Fuel Cell Powered Commercial Passenger Boat Inaugurated in Germany

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

The first hydrogen fuel cell powered passenger ship sits ready for trials - Photo courtesy of FuelCellWorks.comThe world’s first passenger boat powered with fuel cells made its maiden voyage in Hamburg, Germany last Friday.

The hybrid fuel cell drive for the passenger ferry FCS Alsterwasser was produced by Proton Motor based in Puchheim, Germany.

Until now fuel cell motors of this capacity for marine applications have only been used for military uses in submarines, though Proton Motor is also exploring similar technology for use in small trucks, buses and forklifts.

Dubbed the “ZemShip” (zero emission ship), the Alsterwasser, will undergo test runs until November, when it will begin carrying up to 100 passengers on tourist cruises.

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ClimatePULSE: Fertilizing Climate Change One Farm at a Time

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

Fertilizer use and climate change. Unfortunately, choice words you rarely hear used in the same sentence. With so much focus given to emissions from transportation and industry, lesser known, but equally important factors like fertilizer use are often overlooked. To place things in perspective, the overuse of fertilizers releases an estimated 2 billion tonnes of nitrous oxide (a GHG estimated to be 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere annually. What is also alarming is that agricultural activities in general contribute to 17 to 32 per cent of global GHG emissions. And with the majority of these agricultural activities requiring fertilizers in one form or another, it’s clear their use must be examined closely.

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Want to Rent Green? Good Luck. Unless…

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

GreenRenter%20logo.jpg
It seems these days that green building is everywhere you look. It’s hard to not find a media outlet throwing in a story with a green building angle. Hurrah for those who want to build or remodel green, you’ve got plenty of resources now. But what if you’re not yet at the “Honey, which rainwater catchment system do you like? The red, or the orange?” stage? What if you just want to rent, and you want it green (or greener)? Not so easy to find.
Yes, with a lot of sweat, you can piece together listings that have what you seek, likely from many different resources, with minimal details beyond a greenwashy headline. GreenRenter.com is seeking to address this issue.
The Portland based site has launched a service that makes it simple for both those seeking and those offering properties that have green qualities to find one another. And in a generous opening of the field, they allow listings on there that have at least one of seven criteria being addressed. Come again, one in seven, isn’t that setting the bar awfully low? Their answer is interesting:

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eBay Launches Socially Responsible Online Marketplace

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

eBay today unveiled a new ecommerce marketplace called WorldofGood.com by eBay, which offers products that have a positive impact on people and the planet, empowering consumers to align their social values with their shopping. As a result, the new site is both very consumer- as well as idea-centric.
Customers will be able to purchase products made from recycled or free-trade goods, buy organic, and/or support artisan women in developing nations. In addition, all of WorldofGood.com products will also be available on eBay.com, bringing these socially responsible products to eBay’s more than 84 million active users worldwide.
In an interview in July, former Senior Manager of Internet Marketing and current General Manager of WorldofGood.com, Robert Chatwani said, “Our challenge is not so much getting people to spend more. It’s about introducing alternative means of consumption.”

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Beer + Co-op financing = Internet Crowdfunding Party!

| Tuesday September 2nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

I love innovative financing schemes as much as the next gal. When you add beer to the mix, it kinda puts me over the top. In fact, I almost had my credit card out until I started reading the details.Beer Bankroll has the right idea–they are turning boring old investing into a rockin good time with their community financing model. Unfortunately, Beer Bankroll is not a very good investment because there is no actual opportunity to earn money, but it can still be a fun internet party. Members pay $50 per year to join, and membership enables investors to participate in the most important key business decisions like naming the beer and designing the logo. Luckily it looks like they leave payroll and operations to the professionals. Profits on the sale of the beer are split three ways with a third returned to the company to fund growth, a third donated to charity, and a third returned to members via a point system. I know you’re wondering: unfortunately it doesn’t look like the points can be redeemed for cash or even beer – it’s gift cards and company swag. This has me wondering, because if they are spending an actual third of the profits on the swag for members, why not hand out something more desirable?

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