3 Labor Pitfalls in the New Green Economy

Sarah Lozanova | Monday February 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment

One of the most compelling concepts behind the new green economy is its ability to create jobs in the US. You certainly can’t outsource the installation of a solar system or high-efficiency windows. Industrial-scale wind turbines are enormous, thus favoring local production.
Although these concepts are true, there are some pitfalls to watch for:

1. Outsourcing Manufacturing

The US has lost 6 million manufacturing jobs in the last three decades. Many of these jobs had been stable and relatively well paying, especially for people without college degrees. These manufacturing jobs will not necessarily come back in a green economy.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

West Virginia Turns to Renewables

| Monday February 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Coal has played a major role in US history and economic development, particularly in West Virginia, which relies on coal-fired power plants for 99% of its electricity. That’s going to change, at least to some degree, if the state legislature passes Governor Joe Manchin’s proposal to institute a renewable power standard.
West Virginia’s Public Service Commission approved Chicago-based Invenergy’s plans to build a $300 million, 186-megawatt wind farm in Greenbrier County, just two days after Manchin introduced the ‘Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Act’ in the state legislature. The renewable power standard would require West Virginia electric utilities to increase their reliance on renewable energy resources, including wind, solar and hydroelectric, and reach a 25% target by 2025. If the bill passes, West Virginia would become the 28th state to enact such legislation.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Sweet Leaf Tea: A Communi-tea of Consciousness

| Monday February 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

phil-in-five.gif
sweetleaftea_logo.gif

Founded by Clayton Christopher, Sweet Leaf Tea is a perfect example of a company rooted in giving back – not just through charitable efforts, but by creating a communi-tea (as they craftily term it) of customers who share the same values, and a culture that rewards and recognizes its employees for their contributions. With a strong focus on quality over cost, hand-selected ingredients and sustainable processes, they produce products that are as environmentally-friendly as they are tasty, and foster practical, ‘grandmotherly’ wisdom in the process.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Global Warming Solutions Act Part II: Better Business Practices & Tools

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Monday February 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

cans.jpgIn Part I of this two-part series, we considered California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, which calls for a statewide greenhouse gas emissions cap for 2020, based on 1990 emissions. Its implementation is afoot. However, regulators are getting resistance from some industry groups who claim it will be too costly.
But many companies are making strides toward changing their business models not just to accommodate the pending legislation but also to pioneer better business practices. They’re also doing so to attract investments: The Carbon Disclosure Project maintains the largest corporate greenhouse gas emissions database in the world, compiled through information requests that it issues companies on behalf of potential investors. When it first started issuing these requests, in 2003, 500 companies responded. Last year that number was 3,700. Meanwhile, the pool of investors grew from 35 to 475.
In recent months we’ve seen examples of how large companies making seemingly small changes can have a major impact. Coca Cola reduced the thickness of its beverage can, for example. By late fall, the company had placed 6.5 billion of the new, lighter cans on shop shelves throughout the EU, and a report found that the new can would cut emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 78,000 tons per year as raw materials and energy used in their manufacture and transport are reduced, reported GreenBiz.com.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Saturday February 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

google.jpgGoogle Dips its Toe into Energy Monitoring, Says the Water Feels Great! Google continues its foray into energy, but rather than renewables, the latest focus is on energy efficiency. More specifically, Google is putting it’s coding masters to work to solve the problem of increasing the feedback for consumers and utilities about the rate at which power is being sucked from the grid. They must be feeling the economic pinch just like the rest of us, because rather than hiring all the staff they need to create a complete product, they are looking for expert partners.
corn_pic.jpg Coal Plant Switches to Biomass to Make Customers Happy“Our goal is to turn electricity into an entirely clean product that customers can consume with a good conscience, given the concerns that they have about global warming,” said Danish firm Vattenfall Vice President Hans von Uthmann in a statement. “The entire Vattenfall Group is fully engaged in changing our power plants and production methods such that we can meet the expectations that world has on us to provide clean, environmentally friendly energy.” Now, that something rotten in the state of Denmark will be the proud stench of the biogas digester.
cloud6.jpgSustainable Companies Whip Non-Susty Peers During Financial CrisisA silver lining among the dark cloudy hail ridden storm of this economic disaster! Green Biz reports that companies focused on sustainability outperformed their peers by 15% during the financial crisis.
airplane.JPGEurope Halts American and United at the Gate, Checks for Carbon TicketsAll airlines using European airports are going to be regulated under the European Emissions Trading System from January 2012. On Wednesday, the list of affected carriers was released, including the big boys in US air travel. That means even American carriers will eventually have to buy some carbon permits to comply with European Union law. Under the European system, each European Union country will be responsible for selling permits to individual airlines that use that country’s airports most frequently. The idea is to reduce the administrative burden, but it also potentially means big revenues for countries with busy airports.
cradle-01.jpgThe Aeron Chair Turns into a Cradle (or Two) The famous Hermann Miller chair has received a C2C Silver certification from McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. The company worked hard to remove PVC from the arm pads and flame retardants from other components in order to achieve the designation. Now that’s an achievement you can sit down for.
grid.jpgExisting Energy Efficiency Measures Could Cut US Energy Consumption by 1/3So says the Rocky Mountain Institute in their new publication. The report recommends that the 40 worst-performing states in terms of energy efficiency learn from energy productivity measures implemented by the other 10 states. The top ten states, in order of productivity per kwh (I know you’re curious!) are: New York, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Colorado. RMI Report

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

CICERO: Battles Against Air Pollution and Climate Change Should Merge

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday February 13th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Whenever I visit Los Angeles, I consider the sprawl and congestion, but also the amazing vistas and architecture, and think it must have been amazing back in the 1950s. But the book “Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles,” stands as a reminder that well before the famously smoggy 70s, the air there was already blighted. In fact, the Smogtown authors, Chip Jacobs and William Kelly, maintain a great blog on the topic.
Unless you’re a native Los Angelean with at least a few decades under your belt, you probably can’t appreciate how much air quality in the LA basin has improved since the city first started being blanketed in smog in the late 1940s.
This photo, from the Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library, shows (or rather, doesn’t show) the LA Civic Center in 1948:

la_smog_440.jpg

The Clean Air Act, and a general frustration over the degradation of quality of life in smog-filled areas, ushered in California’s air quality improvements. Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be harder to see or capture on film, and their impacts are less immediately blatant, but the state had become the 12th largest emitter of carbon in the world when Governor Schwarzenegger signed the State’s landmark 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, in 2006.
Will climate change be harder to fight than air pollution? Maybe the better question to ask is: Why should we address the two problems separately?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Smart Grids: It’s All About Wireless Sensor Networks

| Friday February 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

lunapic-123453900192570%282%29.jpg Those able to design and build wireless sensor networks are increasingly in demand as utilities move forward with plans to build out “smart” grid infrastructure. The abrupt downward revisions to electricity demand forecasts resulting from the financial crisis and recession have added to the already heightened uncertainty utilities have been facing due to higher than average volatility of fuel prices, greater uncertainty with regard to securing fuel supplies, and regulatory requirements calling for sharp reductions in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions.
These factors and ongoing advances in technology have prompted utilities to find ways of incorporating the “demand side” of the electrical power market into grid management in a bid to conserve energy and improve the efficiency of their transmission networks. Wireless sensor networks are integral to their automated metering infrastructure (AMI) and smart grid plans.
Couple this with the infrastructure spending and incentives included in the Congressionally revised version of Pres. Obama’s “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” and companies able to design and build them look like a bright spot in an overly gloomy economic forecast.
Case in point: Mid-Atlantic utility and energy services provider Pepco Holdings (NYSE:POM) last week announced that it had chosen Redwood City-based Silver Spring Networks to provide the hardware, software and services required to build a smart grid network that the utility anticipates will eventually serve some 1.9 million customers across Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and New Jersey.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Cause Marketing 2.0: A Social Reality Game on a Mission for Change

| Friday February 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

cause-marketing.gif

change%202.0_across%20the%20globe.jpgCause Marketing initiatives come in all shapes and sizes from cause-branded products to community events. But only one comes in a brightly colored deck of cards with opportunities for affecting change through real life activities.

Akoha, the world’s first social reality game, is built on the premise of bridging the on- and offline worlds in meaningful ways. With missions focused on simple things like thanking someone or buying a friend a cup of coffee or sharing your favorite book, Akoha cards help build relationships and spark everyday change. The concept forces players to take a step back [from their computers, preconceived notions and routines] to connect with others in substantive ways, and in turn, each activity earns them points.
Taking the idea of ‘playing it forward’ one step further, Austin Hill, Chief Instigator, and the rest of the Akoha team decided to implement cause-related missions into their decks, making volunteer activities and good deeds point-worthy, and turning actions into dollars and resources that benefit charitable organizations worldwide.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Top 10 Reflections From a First Time TEDster

| Friday February 13th, 2009 | 3 Comments

TED-duke.jpg
Last week 3p’s resident brand builder, Duke Stump, previously of Nike and Seventh Generation, attended TED for the first time. Below are his top ten reflections:

1. DATA IS MY NEW FRIEND
– For years I rebelled against statistics. Perhaps it was because I got a D+ in Stats 101 at college or the fact that I saw data as something that neutered intuition. Regardless, after seeing Sean Gourley’s presentation on The Mathematics of War, I am a new convert for data and statistics. I now see a new world of abundance where intuition and statistics converge and inform each other. Powerful.
2. INSPIRATION VERSUS DESPERATION – As one TEDster said over lunch, “We don’t have time to be pessimistic.” I personally am an eternal optimist obsessed with what could be and thus I found the verve that permeated the conference to be both magnetic and nutritious. Negative visioning is seldom sustainable, so why not focus on possibility?
3. WHAT WOULD BUCKY DO – As someone who holds Buckminster Fuller as a borderline deity, I kept thinking over and over how cool it would have been to see him on stage. His teachings and principles have never been more relevant than they are today. TED and Bucky would have gone together like sweet ocean swells and empty classrooms. So how about adding D.W Jacobs’s play R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe to TED 2010 Long Beach?
4. FRUSTRATION IS A FUNCTION OF EXPECTATION – The aura leading up to the event is surreal. You begin to feel as if folks will be walking on water. TED has certainly mastered the art of creating your own buzz. That said I had to reconcile my expectations with reality. In other words, TED was fantastic, but the hype leading up to the event created a false sense of brilliance at every step and that is simply not realistic nor fair.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Book Review: CauseWired

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday February 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

causewiredcover.jpg Tom Watson’s new book, CauseWired examines how social networking sites are changing philanthropy. Watson’s book does not present a blueprint for raising funds, but instead presents a sort of sociological study of what he defines as “online social activism or peer-to-peer philanthropy.” Or to put it simply, being “CauseWired.”
Who are the CauseWired consumers? Watson describes them as “superinformed” with the expectation to “create and support causes change politics, and have personal involvement in the brands they support economically.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Global Warming Solutions Act Part I: Bad for Business or a Pathway to Better Business?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday February 12th, 2009 | 4 Comments

AB_32.jpg

When Governor Schwarzenegger signed California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, in 2006, the move was applauded as a bipartisan victory and as bold, visionary, forward-thinking legislation. But some industry groups are complaining that the implementation of the legislation, which calls for a statewide greenhouse gas emissions cap for 2020, based on 1990 emissions, will be too costly, will weaken the State’s economy and will actually harm the environment.
Late last year, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is tasked with developing the regulations and market mechanisms to achieve the reductions, finalized its plan of attack, called the Scoping Plan for AB 32. And in response, the AB 32 Implementation Group, whose stated goal is to “ensure that the greenhouse gas emission reductions required are achieved while maintaining the competitiveness of California businesses and protecting the interests of consumers and workers,” said in a statement that “CARB’s economic analysis doesn’t address what the actual costs will be for the State to implement AB 32,” and accused the board of not heeding the findings of groups such as the Legislative Analysts’ Office, which calls the funding plans for the bill unsustainable and suggests holding off on implementing budgeting for the Act until the Schwarzenegger can produce a stable, long-term funding plan.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Investment Houses Make Greater Use of Corporate Emissions, Climate Change Data

| Thursday February 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

lunapic-123444758998222.jpg Climate change information is being factored into the decision making process of a large majority of the investment firms that have signed on to the Carbon Disclosure Project, the London-based climate change action organization announced yesterday.
Seventy-five percent of CDP’s 80 investment industry participants around the world say that climate change information is factored into their investment decisions and asset allocation strategies. Of these, more than 80% say that climate change is “important relative to other issues impacting their portfolio.” Some said that they are willing to go beyond requesting companies to make energy and emissions disclosures by asking them to take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The results were released coincident with CDP issuing its annual 2009 carbon disclosure survey to its 3,700 listed company members. Now in its second year, the survey is made on behalf of CDP’s institutional investor sponsors, who together hold some $55 trillion of investments under management. The number of investment companies signing the annual information request is growing. A record 475 signed it this year as compared to 385 in 2008, an increase of nearly 25%.
*Photo credit: Digital Vision

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Franchised Health Care: Could a Small Business Model be the Solution to Africa’s Woes?

| Thursday February 12th, 2009 | 8 Comments

cfwshops.jpgThere is a fundamental flaw with most humanitarian aid efforts: they are, at best, short-sighted. Wealthy Country A swoops into Impoverished Country B during a time of crisis. Country A spreads food, medicine, drinking water and money. Country B goes through all of these resources quickly. Country A leaves. Country B is still poor, hungry and tired.
In recent years, however, the goal of most foreign aid programs has been to develop long-term and sustainable systems for the dissemination of resources and knowledge to people in need. In other words, humanitarian aid has become development aid. International relief agencies such as Oxfam and CARE International have set up permanent field offices in developing countries, and have committed their charitable work permanently. The money to fund these offices, though, has to come from somewhere. And, in order for these environmentally and socially sustainable outfits to become financially sustainable, they will need to eventually generate a revenue stream to pay for their operations.
Enter Michael Seid, a wealthy American franchising expert, and Scott Hillstrom, an American businessman. Hillstrom has been a long time financial supporter of various African charities, but he eventually grew tired of writing checks and seeing no results. His solution: franchised healthcare. The franchise business model has been tremendously successful in America, with companies like MacDonalds and Burger King generating billions in profit. Observing this massive accomplishment, Hillstrom hired Seid as a consultant, and an idea was born.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

The U.S. Army Has a Triple Bottom Line

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday February 12th, 2009 | 0 Comments

army-logo.jpgEven the U.S. Army has a triple bottom line. However, instead of the traditional triple bottom line, the Army created its own: mission, environment, community. According to the Army’s sustainability website, it is ” taking responsibility for our past actions and actively cleaning up environmental contamination” through its Army Environmental Cleanup Strategic Plan.
The Army’s Strategy for the Environment, released in 2004, lists six goals:
1. Foster an ethic within the Army that goes beyond environmental compliance to sustainability.
2. Strengthen Army operational capability by reducing its environmental footprint through more sustainable practices.
3. Meet current and future training, testing, and other mission requirements by sustaining land, air, and water resources.
4. Minimize impacts and total ownership costs of Army systems, material, facilities, and operations by integrating the principles and practices of sustainability.
5. Enhance the well-being of soldiers, civilians, families, neighbors, and communities through leadership in sustainability.
6. Use innovative technology and the principles of sustainability to meet user needs and anticipate future Army challenges.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

First All-Digital Alternative to Snail Mail Launched

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday February 11th, 2009 | 1 Comment

mailman_small.jpg In today’s digital world, snail mail is still incredibly labor and resource intensive. Letters must be placed in an envelope, stamped and placed in the collection system. After it is sorted and driven around, it is hand-delivered to its final destination. Will the digital age nearly completely overtake this brick and mortar industry?
Zumbox aims to change the industry by introducing a paperless postal service. This service was just officially launched yesterday at www.zumbox.com. Simply stated, Zumbox creates a webpage for each physical address, allowing users to bypass the snail mail system.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »