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We are now in a time where renewable energy is becoming increasingly sophisticated, viable, and affordable. That is, if you’re in the developed world. What if you are on the Caribbean coastal region of Nicaragua, the poorest in the country, Nicaragua itself being the second poorest in the western hemisphere, where 80% go without electricity?
In a place of rough terrain, low population density, and lacking in income, it would seem an unlikely place to start a renewable energy company. And yet, blueEnergy have done just that. How? By designing hybrid solar/wind installations that are particularly suited to the region, building them locally, training and employing the local population in their manufacture and repair.
In doing this, they reduce costs, boost the local economy, and increase the likelihood that the equipment will last longer, as the capacity exists to maintain it. blueEnergy is a non profit, and gets funding to further minimize costs. That they use two renewable energy sources in tandem also increases the consistency of power availability.
In blueEnergy’s FAQ is a humbling statistic.
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“America better prepare for some uncomfortable changes. Things might get really ugly.” – A Farmer, recently quoted in Esquire
No, this guy’s not talking about the recent economic crisis, but the cost of food. Yes, food. “The American food system today faces unprecedented challenges,” says Maisie Greenawalt, Vice President of Bon Appetit Management Company. “High oil prices threaten farmers’ already slim profit margins. Consumers’ grocery bills have skyrocketed. Food safety risks are increasing.”
Bon Appetit Management Company is an onsite custom restaurant, which means they provide food services for business and universities. But Ms. Greenawalt’s not apologizing for a hike in costs, she’s explaining the logic behind the company’s commitment to sustainable food service.
A few weeks ago the Dow Chemical Company released its 2007 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Report with UN Global Compact Communication on Progress. The report received an “A+” from the GRI, the first time in the five years Dow since reporting began.
The report states that the vision of the company is to be “the largest, most profitable, most respected chemical company in the world,” and its mission is to “constantly improve what is essential to human progress by mastering science and technology.”
The maker of Napalm and Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, Dow is the second largest chemical company in the world, whose primary industries are “chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, agricultural sciences and plastics,” according to Coop America.
Twenty-five cell phone service providers have signed on to the GSM Association’s “Green Power for Mobile” program, which aims to convert 118,000 off-grid cell transmission towers from diesel to renewable power or fuel sources by 2012, reports Greenbiz in a Sept. 23 article.
Leading companies such as Digicel, which has put wind, solar and coconut oil power to use on cell towers in the South Pacific islands, Idea Cellular, which is using waste cooling oil-diesel fuel blends to power more than 350 base stations in India’s Andhra Pradesh state, and Safaricom, which uses small-scale wind and solar systems to supply 30 cell towers in Kenya with power, have been paving the way forward and the GSMA is now working with them to further advance the conversion process.
In September 2008 California College of the Arts, San Francisco, launched a groundbreaking Design Strategy MBA, the first of its kind in the country. The program has a sustainability emphasis.
Taught by Associate Professor Linda Yaven, Live Exchange (LiveE) is the foundational course on effective communication for Design MBA. At the intersection of design and business we find human centered research. LiveE takes a close look at the power of a conversation to build, rebuild, repair and regenerate trust.
Design dilemmas are often dilemmas of communication: certainly, many of our environmental concerns are caused or exacerbated by missing, unarticulated or poorly executed conversations. Or we grow accustomed to a lack of clarity in on-going communications.
We live at a time when those in fiercely competitive environments are being called to shift to collaborative mind-sets, become stewards of effective communication, open conversations we may have previously dismissed and speak for those without recourse to human speech.
LiveE takes a close look at the power of a conversation to build, rebuild, repair and regenerate trust. We experience self-renewal through our narratives and stories; certain kinds of conversations are curative.
The course branches out from the spoken word to visual thinking strategies and the power of shared visual mediums to generate meaning and sustain collaboration. Communication is viewed as a renewable eco-system of self, peer, customers, managers, stakeholders, materials, networks and vision.
As part of cultivating their voice in a variety of ways LiveE students will be writing a 500 word blog on an aspect of communication, creativity, design, sustainability and/or business of compelling interest to them.
With appreciations to Nick Aster for his inspiring invitation.
– Linda Yaven
Faculty, Live Exchange,
Design Strategy MBA
Linda Yaven is on faculty at California College of the Arts, San Francisco. She provides lively visual presentations on Curative Communication Strategies and Making Thinking Visible including at Harvard, The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and Innovation Immersion for Fortune 500. Linda is completing a documentary “Teach Us Something in 7 Minutes”.
Questions, feedback or comments welcomed: email@example.com
GHG inventories, are they really worthwhile? Some may argue that it’s wiser to skip straight to energy efficiency and clean technology solutions that have already proven effective. And let’s face it, what CEOs want to spend a small fortune having some green-collar consultant tell them just how bad the situation really is. But the truth is, those inventories, and even that green-collar stock boy might just be worth the time and money. Why is that you might ask? Let’s look a little deeper at the purpose of GHG inventories and how they act as an important first step towards both environmental and economic savings for a company.Click to continue reading »
Last week, the Guardian UK announced its CleanTech 100 list, a breakdown of the 100 most cutting edge companies in Europe working on clean technologies. At the top of list was German solar cell manufacturer, Odersun, who recently made news by outfitting the Olympic Visitors Center in Beijing.
Other companies to make the top-10 were other solar firms, tidal turbine companies, and even one that specializes in conductive ceramics for batteries. Richard White, a senior analyst at Library House, the research house that co-authored the CleanTech 100, said that list was an “exciting glimpse into the future.” It offers a glimpse of those working to build an industry focused on innovation, environmental awareness, and efficiency.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Branding for Sustainability conference at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. This was the real deal – not some day long seminar on “How to Greenwash Successfully.” The seminar focused on how companies can most effectively tell their sustainability stories, and how they can ramp up their sustainability efforts in order to improve brand image. How can you beat that?
Jurriaan Kamp, the adorable Dutch Editor-in-Chief of Ode Magazine opened the day by reminding the attendees that sustainability is an old story: “We look at the organic apple like it’s something new, but actually chemical apples were introduced in the 1950s. Organic apples have been around since Adam and Eve. ” He went on to discuss the importance of bringing values back into the workplace, calling for a day when people can make the same values based decisions at work as they do at home.
Things moved a bit more into the traditional business realm with the panel discussion, kicked off by UC Berkeley Professor and Director of the Center for Responsible Business Kellie McElhaney, who told the crowd that she’s concerned that discussions about sustainable branding focus too much on brand and not enough on sustainability. “You need to have a good CSR strategy in order to build good brand strategy.”
This month algae as a fuel source made the news several times. Last week, Sapphire Energy announced it received $100 million to help reach its goal of making commercial amounts of algae fuel in three to five years. Investors included Bill Gates investment company, Cascade Investment, LLC. In June Sapphire received $50 million from investors.
At the beginning of the month, Arizona State University (ASU) announced its partnership with Heliae Development, LLC and Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) to develop a kerosene-based jet fuel derived from algae. Last year ASU researched using algae as jet fuel, in conjunction with UOP, a Honeywell company.
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Get ready! We’re gearing up for West Coast Green, the residential green building expo–happening on September 25 to 27–and we’ll be posting live on various keynotes, seminars and exhibits throughout the event.
This year’s West Coast Green coordinators promise that this year’s lineup will be even better than last year. Green building and a model home made up of shipping crates won’t be the only highlights of the show. There will be something for everybody for everyone to talk about. Seminars run the gamut from green building and design to business and innovation.
If you’re there, come by and say hello at the West Coast Green media lounge or introduce yourself if you see us at one of the seminars.
Curious to know who else is going to be there? Check out the schedule here.
Also, if you regret not having signed up earlier, or you just found out that former Vice President Al Gore will be speaking on Saturday, it’s still not too late to register!
You can register here or register at the door.
Hope to see you there!
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John McCain and Barrack Obama’s energy policy advisers squared off today, offering attendees and live Web cast viewers their respective presidential candidates’ views on national renewable energy and climate change policy, and how the next president and Congress can best address the current economic and energy crises while also paving a longer term path towards a more sustainable, economically and environmentally viable future.
The candidates’ energy policy advisers took up the issue of national energy and climate change strategy at the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Global Forum in New York City, during which the CDP released its Flagship Global and S&P 500 2008 surveys of carbon emissions disclosure and management policies among the world’s largest corporations
While both advisors acknowledged sharing much common ground when it comes to the government playing a central role in the development of a “portfolio” of clean, renewable energy resources, promoting energy conservation and adoption of clean technology, they also drew attention to significant differences in their approaches and overarching strategies.
SustainLane’s rasison d’etre has always been elusive, but one thing they’ve done consistently well, and improved upon year after year has been their various city rankings – including the sought after award of “most sustainable city in the US”. This year they’ve outdone themselves with a lot more in-depth reporting, more explanation of how the rankings were derived, and a nifty new look and feel for their website to boot.
Making such a list is no simple, objective process, and should always be taken with a grain of salt, but perhaps the most useful aspect to the rankings is the friendly competition it fosters among cities: Businesses can brag that they’ve played a roll in making their city a green leader, cities can send officials and business leaders to leading cities to learn how to do things better, and the local papers can tout pride in their readers, or in the case of a poorly performing city, might even evoke change.
This year’s winner, for the second year running, is Portland, Oregon. But there’s a lot of great info on the runners up and a lengthly list of who did well, and who dropped the ball.
See the full list after the jump…
Net Impact, a group of future and current leaders who use business to create positive change invited student and professional members to compete in the annual Net Impact Green Challenge. The task: to use their business skills to reduce their organization’s environmental footprint. Graphic Designer Naomi Pearson set out to create a Green Audit for Environmental Graphic Designers. Here is her story:
The following is a breakdown of the steps I took to implement a Green Audit for Environmental Graphic Designers. The steps are organized to illustrate the process, progression, and impact of the effort as specified by Net Impact’s Green Challenge Criteria.
As an Environmental Graphic Designer and Manager of Sustainable Design, I began this project by looking for a way to distill the sustainable design research and information I had been gathering. My goal was to create an easy to use checklist guide for graphic designers based on the life cycle analysis of projects such as wayfinding signage, exhibits, information kiosks, and large scale super graphics.
By breaking down and simplifying the life cycle stages of projects, I was able to plug in the many different bits and pieces of information I’d collected. I plugged in information such as materials with recyclable content, low VOC (volatile organic compound) production processes, and by-product waste practices. Following are examples of checklist considerations: eco-conscious disposal of vapors, chemicals, scraps, maximize sheet material dimensions (minimizing scrap waste) and product shipment with minimal, eco – friendly packaging. Click to continue reading »
While the current financial crisis has stoked worries about our economic future, the need for an innovative approach to economic growth is taking root in places like Newark, New Jersey.
In a city where 40% of the men are unemployed and 31% of children live in poverty, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, asserts that sustainable economic development offers a wealth of opportunity. Mayor Booker’s effort to make Newark a “showcase of sustainable development” was solidified by the Green Futures Summit, a two-day event focused on initiatives to green the community and bolster the city’s lagging economy.
The Apollo Alliance, the City of Newark, and the Clinton Global Initiative hosted the Green Futures Summit to spur dialogue around the creation of Newark’s sustainability roadmap. Agenda items included economic development, workforce development, green building, open space, and community and youth initiatives.
After getting over the natural beauty and comfort of the Welsh woodlands home pictured here, the first thought I had was that it looked like the kind of place where the Bagginses, that world famous family of hobbits immortalized by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, would live.
Just as Tolkien’s novels and recent films based on his work have influenced millions upon millions of people around the world, so too I believe that the message embodied in this home, as well as the commitment and work of its owner-builders, deserves as wide an audience as possible, particularly in today’s fast-changing world.
As cracks and fissures appear in the foundation of a globalized economic system and evidence of potentially sharp, severe climate change continues to mount, counter-trends antithetical to globalization and societies built around mass market industrialization and commercialization, such as organic farming, low impact building and architecture, localized self-sufficiency and appropriate technology, have been rejuvenated.