A Brilliantly Simple Green Business Idea

| Wednesday December 24th, 2008 | 6 Comments

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As a green business blogger on three sites, I hear about a lot of green business ideas. Today I heard about a near perfect one. Green Any Site. The idea is simple: Before you make a purchase online, you hit the “Green This!” button, and then make your purchase as usual, coupon codes and all. A portion of that sale will go to Green Any Site, 100% of which will be donated to a green nonprofit organization. End of story.
There is, of course, more. And Green Any Site does a great job explaining it, complete with rollover text popping up on the FAQs on the front page, getting all the big questions answered quickly, without fuss.
Basically, merchants have what they call affiliate programs – you send me business, I send you a percentage for having done so. Miro, an arts non profit, has done this, with purchases on Amazon. Green Any Site, as the name says, does (or will soon) with any shopping site. They’re working within an existing system that merchants are familiar with, so no need to convince sites to “go green.” They just get the green, and give some to Green My Site.
So how does Green Any Site make money, since they give 100% of affiliate money away, in an auditable trail?

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Alternative Fuel Development Depends On Government Investment

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday December 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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The lowest (relative) gas and oil prices ever made the number four spot on Common Current’s “Top Ten 2008 Sustainability Stories.” In 2008 the prices at the pump jumped to the highest on record, and then during the past month dipped to below $2 a gallon. Even with the low prices the global demand for oil has decreased due to the economy.
According to a December 15 New York Times piece, oil, and gas projects have been either canceled or suspended recently. If prices stay low, invest in alternative fuels could decrease.

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World’s First Solar Cargo Ship Sets Sail

| Tuesday December 23rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

Back in September we reported plans for Japanese shipping line Nippon Yusen KK and Nippon Oil Corporation to build a ship partially propelled with solar power. On Friday those plans came to fruition with the launching of the 60,000-ton Auriga Leader, a 656-foot-long (200 meter) cargo vessel initially tasked to carry cars across the ocean for Toyota motor company.

The Auriga Leader can carry up to 6,400 cars for sale in foreign markets.

The vessel is equipped with 328 solar panel able to produce about 40 kilowatts or less than one percent of the power required to move the ship. Company officials stress that this represents only the beginning, with plans to increase the ratio of propulsion power from solar energy. Until the Auriga Leader set sail, solar energy has been used only to power crew cabins and other auxiliary power needs. You gotta start somewhere.

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Executive Excess and the Compensation Divide: Reaching Even Greater Heights

| Tuesday December 23rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

grinch-steal_tree.jpg The 116 banks receiving emergency bailout funds from the government doled out some $1.6 billion in executive compensation in 2007, even as these corporate leaders led their companies and the US financial system over the brink. The same is seen at multinational US automakers, where GM CEO Waggoner’s salary was bumped up 64% to $15.7 million even as the company progressed to the verge of bankruptcy.
Concern, commotion and outrage over the issue of executive compensation is rising to new heights, and rightly so. JP MorganChase CEO Jamie Dimon and Citigroup chairman Robert Rubin are forgoing their bonuses this year. Quite a sacrifice. Of course, they’ll still take down multiple millions in base salary and stay on to play prominent roles not only in their own companies and industry, but also in Washington D.C. policy making circles.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Studies show that the disparity between executive and worker compensation in the US has been widening sharply since at least the 1980s, breaking down the middle class and Americans’ long and dearly held notions of economic equity and upward mobility. Globalization and the opening up of the Chinese, Indian and former USSR economies has brought a tidal wave of eager, new emerging market “capitalist” workers into the global labor pool. That’s tilted the balance of power even more in favor of those who have the capital versus those who provide the labor.

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On Visual Documentation…

CCA LiveE | Tuesday December 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

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by Tim Bishop

During the first week of class this semester, a fellow student showed us a project she had been working on. For the past few years, she had taken at least one photo per day, and she shared with us a month in her life. I was immediately struck by the effect of this project, how a single image could transport one back to a time and place. I had always taken photos while traveling, but here was a visual journal of the everyday and potentially mundane. Here, a trip to the park or the movies was now an event stamped with a date, and even though I wasn’t there, I could see how the people and places could immediately spark the memory to recollect all kinds of other details about the day.

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Working Mothers in the Design Strategy MBA Program

CCA LiveE | Tuesday December 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

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by Ayano Hattori, Beth Berrean, Heike Rapp-Wurm:
The following are a series of posts between Heike, Ayano and Beth. We’re three working mothers in the Design Strategy MBA program at CCA. The posts below reflect our conversations as the semester progressed around what it means to be mothers, dMBA students and managers in professional practice all at the same time.
We have been lucky enough to have our professor Linda Yaven take some time with us each residency to discuss these issues in more depth. The conversations below reflect just a bit of what has been on our minds as we transition to this new phase of including dMBA in our lives along with working and being moms.
Transitioning between parent, business student, employee and manager has allowed each of us to try on different ideas and come to new conclusions. Ultimately, each of us needs to make choices based on ALL the roles we play. Our hope is that by revealing the details of some of our conversations we can provoke or invite your WHOLE person to respond

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Reason Will Not Lead Us To the Future

CCA LiveE | Tuesday December 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

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money-guys.jpgby Paul Colando:
When it comes to business the most talked about and apparent emotion is fear. Today, as we watch the unfolding of an economic crisis this emotion has never been more prevalent. Corporations and consumers alike are now trained to proceed in whatever they do with caution. In the past few weeks we observed top executives dressed in their buttoned up suits and stone cold faces present to authorities on the collapse and potential collapses of historic companies, driving the fear factor to record highs. We attempt to find comfort through reasoning but during these tough times it is equally important to be aware of your emotional side.

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“Left Out Alert”: A Virtual Team Member Reflects on Her Experience

CCA LiveE | Tuesday December 23rd, 2008 | 2 Comments

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circle-o.gifby Gwen Armbruster
The CCA dMBA promotes the opportunity for those of us (ME!) who do not live in the Bay Area to participate in their new business program. And I accepted admission into this program knowing that I would not be relocating to the Bay Area from my current physical location in Baltimore, MD. As a result, I had the pleasure of being a “virtual” team member on various projects throughout the semester. [NOTE: While I am not the only person in the dMBA program who is a commuter, all persons I worked with this semester were physically located in the Bay Area.]

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5 Weekends, 5 Months… 5 Lessons

CCA LiveE | Tuesday December 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

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by Kate Ranson-Walsh:
For the past five months, 26 of us have attempted the slightly insane: tackling the curriculum of the new Design Strategy MBA at the California College of the Arts while maintaining our current jobs, not to mention our personal lives. The dMBA program is designed so that working professionals can participate, but it is by no means “part-time.” A orientation it was suggested to 8 budget at least 32 hours a week for schoolwork. We all wondered how we were going to make it work.
After five residency weekends, spanning five months, studying four subjects, all while working 50+ hours a week at my “day job”… I don’t think I have it all figured out, but I’ve learned some valuable lessons to remember for next semester.

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Direct Mail Catalogs: Who’s Been Naughty and Who’s Been Nice?

| Monday December 22nd, 2008 | 1 Comment

naughtynicestamp.jpgTo help you green your holiday shopping, ForestEthics has published their 3rd Annual Catalog Environmental Scorecard which ranks the eco-sympathies of some of the companies you might be shopping with this season. Topping the “Nice” list this year are companies like Timberland and Crate & Barrel who are recognized as leaders thanks to their environmental practices around direct mail catalogs. Take Crate & Barrel for instance – they just announced a new paper policy that calls for recycled content, sustainable sourcing, Endangered Forest protection and reduced paper use. Another winner is Macy’s who has decided to stop printing their Bloomingdale’s catalog and take all their orders online. Very merry, indeed.
Every year, the precious forests of Canada’s Boreal, the U.S. Southeast and Indonesia are shrinking as 100 million trees are cut down to create the 100 billion pieces of unwanted junk mail and catalogs that make up 60% of all the mail we get. The junk mail industry also contributes as much greenhouse gas emissions every year as almost 10 million cars.
Founded in 2000, ForestEthics is a nonprofit environmental organization whose mission is to protect Endangered Forests and wild places through initiatives like the Do Not Mail campaign aimed at the direct mail industry. They are preparing to go to committee hearings with San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors about a resolution calling for a statewide California Do Not Mail Registry. The registry would allow citizens the choice to stop receiving junk mail, and would be the first of its kind. If this is a cause you believe in, make sure to visit donotmail.org to sign the petition. And read on to find out which companies have been naughty and which ones nice this year.

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Electric Vehicle Retrofits; Rebuild the Battery Industry: Intel’s Andy Grove

| Monday December 22nd, 2008 | 1 Comment

Vitruvian%2520Man%2520small.jpg Former Intel CEO Andy Grove’s campaign to spur electric retrofits of US vehicles is gathering momentum. In tandem, Grove is advocating that the US rebuild its domestic battery industry.
Back in July, Grove authored an article in The American in which he argued retrofitting existing vehicles with plug-in electric engines should be a national priority. McKinsey & Co. several months ago commissioned Grove to further make his case for an upcoming January publication entitled, “What Matters.”
The article–based largely on Grove and Stanford Business School Prof. Robert Burgelman’s work with 2008 Bass Seminar students aimed at analyzing the “strategic inflection point” the US faces in terms of energy use and resources– was published last week.

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How Businesses Benefit From Mixed-Used Developments

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday December 22nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

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Last week Common Current published its top sustainablity stories of 2008. More than half of the stories had implications for businesses including the “highest gas and oil prices ever.” The high gas prices caused people to want to live near retail districts. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, people would rather have “walkable retail districts” than golf courses in their neighborhoods. The International Economic Development Council cites mixed-use developments (MUDs) as a real estate trend across the U.S.
In a tough economy where consumers are less likely to spend money, MUDs have advantages for businesses. A study by the University of Wisconsin-Extension cites several advantages of mixed-use development, including the expansion of “market opportunities,” and more “customer traffic” from occupants of the development. According to the Condo Hotel Center’s website, MUDs offer “enhanced viability” over individual developments, allow development to be accelerated, and offer the opportunity to “spread or reduce by having investment revenue flow through multiple revenue streams.

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Cleantech: The Recession-Proof Sector

Nick Hodge | Monday December 22nd, 2008 | 1 Comment

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Has the ongoing recession dampened your spirits?
It probably has, as it’s affected everything from stalwart automakers to commodity prices to home sales to unemployment. But despite a few delayed and canceled downstream projects (steel in the ground) due to limited credit, the cleantech sector has been largely unaffected when it comes to funding in the earlier rounds.
A recent survey by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) revealed that 400 venture capitalists expect investment at the venture level to wane in every sector but cleantech.
Sounds like we have a bull here.

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Ode to Innovate the Government

CCA LiveE | Sunday December 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

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by Rowan Edwards
Coming into the dMBA program at CCA was always an exciting proposition. Innovation. Sustainability. Design. Business. And all for the greater good. This is why I came to this program or it came to me. I also came for the unknown. In the program I would be getting some better understanding of the corporate world, the strategy within it, better skills in organizational architecture, decision making and control, and the underlying economic ramifications inherent in them. The unknown quantity to this next wave MBA curriculum was not just new methods of integration of Design Strategy into the old corporate paradigm, but understanding and integrating meaning into it. Though I typically would consider myself fairly self aware, the course “Live Exchange” (the communication component to the program) would prove to be the course that not only would challenge me to be more efficient in my communication technique, but offer meaning and encourage a more compassionate and reflective means to that end.

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The True Cost of a Home: How Green Trends Might Save the Housing Market

| Saturday December 20th, 2008 | 0 Comments

green-home.jpgThere’s a paradigm shift going on in the US real estate sector. Yet will home owners justify paying extra for green building if the economic situation continues to deteriorate?
The US homeowner population has been silently suffering for years now. Numbers from the Center for Housing Policy show that between 1996 and 2006, homeowners have been spending an increasing portion of their income on housing (the current crisis notwithstanding). A household would typically spend 21.5 percent of its total income on housing in 1996 and this had risen to 26.2 percent in 2006. Nearly a sixth of homeowners were far worse off, spending more than 50 percent of their disposable income on their homes in 2006. Another harrowing fact: housing expenses went up 64.9 percent over the ten year period, while homeowner incomes increased by only 36.3 percent.
It makes you wonder how sustainable the sustainable building wave will prove to be. “In order to avoid repeating the dire situation so many home owners are in today, it is critical that our thinking evolve around home costs,” said Michelle Kaufmann, founder and chairman of Michelle Kaufmann Designs, an architecture firm specializing in sustainable designs. Kaufmann’s recently published white paper “Redefining Cost: A Beacon of Hope Shines through Housing Market Gloom” (PDF link). The study hones in on the current troubles in the US housing industry outlining why it is imperative to consider cost structures in a changed perspective.

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