Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday September 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Kraft Turns Cheese Waste into EnergyKraft Turns Cheese Waste into Energy
Everybody loves cheese. And here’s one more reason: Natural gas purchases for two Kraft plants in New York will soon by reduced by one third through a process that produces energy from used whey. The company will also reduce costs and carbon emissions by avoiding the need to haul the waste away.

GM Unveils Chevy VoltGM Gives a Sneak Peak at the Chevy Volt
An “extended range electric vehicle”, the Volt’s lithium-ion battery provides a top range of 40 miles before a small gas engine kicks in to extend its range to an estimated 360 miles. Top speed is 120 miles per hour. You can’t get one yet – hopefully by 2010 – but you can let GM know you’re waiting and interested.

New Bosch Rexroth Website Drives Sustainable ManufacturingNew Bosch Rexroth Website Drives Sustainable Manufacturing
Bosch Rexroth has launched a website to help drive sustainable manufacturing in the machine automation industry. The company plans to use the website to communicate initiatives aimed at improving the environment and green manufacturing. The site will also highlight products Bosch Rexroth has developed that utilize alternative energy sources.

Employers paying for low carbon commutesDriving a Low Carbon Commute
The Portland, Oregon law firm where Barnes Ellis has worked since 1963 has helped him break a bad habit. Ellis now uses mass transit for his ten mile commute instead of driving. It’s free for Ellis; for the law firm, Stoel Rives, it’s a wise investment in employee retention and productivity. Oh, and it’s great for the environment. Stoel Rives is just one of a growing number of companies realizing what a great idea this is. It’s the triple bottom line, before you even get to work.

Kettle Foods LEED Gold Plant Sees 20% in Energy SavingsKettle Foods LEED Gold Plant Sees 20% in Energy Savings
Last October Kettle foods opened a LEED Gold certified manufacturing plant. In its first year of operation, the plant has reduced energy consumption 20%, reflecting a $110,000 savings in natural gas and $51,000 in electricity. Water reclamation has captured and reused 3.4 million gallons of water, saving the company another $34,000. Every month 2,300 gallons of waste oil is recycled and converted to biodiesel to power the company’s fleet of “BioBeetles”. I’ll stop here, I’m hungry for a bag of chips.

World Business Council for Sustainable DevelopmentUnited States, China, and Australia Discuss Energy Cooperation
The president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Bjorn Stigson, addressed a high level meeting of representatives from the U.S., China, and Australia on Thursday to discuss how best to cooperate on issues of energy security and cutting carbon emissions. Stigson said that world energy systems are on an increasingly unsustainable path. He called for a “global energy revolution”, saying that the next ten years are critical.

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The Benefits of Organic, Fair Trade Tea for Indian Workers

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday September 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments

darjeelingtea.gifIn 1841 a Scottish surgeon, Dr. Campbell planted the first tea garden in the Darjeeling region of Northern India. For a century, the tea industry in India thrived, and Darjeeling tea was prized. After independence in 1947 the tea gardens fell into disarray under the Indian government’s policy of “rapid industrialization.” However, it is now thriving again thanks to organic farming methods and fair trade sales.
On the Makaibari estate the descendants of the Nepalese immigrants brought to India in the 19th century work in a tea garden that is India’s first organic certified tea plantation. Makaibari is one of the oldest tea gardens in India. Owned and managed by Rajah Banerjee, a fourth generation owner, it is has been 100 percent organic and biodynamic since 1991.

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Paving the Path to a Green Recovery: House Passes Key Bill

| Thursday September 18th, 2008 | 1 Comment

capitolhill.jpg By a vote of 236 to 189 Democrats in the House of Representatives have successfully led an effort to pass “The Comprehensive American Energy Security & Consumer Protection Act,” a bill that’s touted as providing federal incentives that will lower costs to consumers, foster development of clean, renewable energy sources, expand domestic energy supply and promote greater energy efficiency and conservation.
Key features of the Act include a 15% Renewable Electricity Standard, extension of investment tax credits for wind, solar, biofuels and other renewable energy resources, as well as incentives for green building and home energy efficiency and conservation and expanding offshore drilling but protecting sensitive areas such as Georges Bank. The Bill also calls for establishing a Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve, funding for which would come from ending some subsidies and tax breaks for Big Oil.

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Green VC Money Meets Clean Tech at GoingGreen

| Thursday September 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

There’s nothing like Green to attract Green. In this case, the just concluded AlwaysOn Going Green 2008 Conference attracted a slew of VC and Biz Dev money looking to invest their portfolios in green tech. The summit as a whole brought together serious money looking for innovative ideas but to say that all the ideas and companies behind them offered true green innovation and philosophies would be somewhat akin to out-and-out greenwashing.
Early conference sessions including the solar breakthrough panel discussed various solar advances such as the Mono-crystalline silicon solar cells yet dialogue seemed rather low key and needed a jolt.
The “abundant clean green water” session got a little splashier and brought out honest panel responses such as “The water industry is dysfunctional. Like a train wreck.” To us it seemed appropriate with the water price gouging, privatization of water companies and the like that the panel compared the water policies of many companies to Pyongyang economics.

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ClimatePULSE: Take a Life-Cycle Perspective

| Thursday September 18th, 2008 | 2 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgConsumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of their purchases. “Green” products line the shelves in just about every type of store for customers to purchase and carry home in their re-usable shopping bag. While the shift to more environmentally conscious shopping is great, it is important for consumers to consider the steps required to manufacture and dispose of products as well – this is called a life cycle assessment.

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NYC Taxi Owners Sue to Stop Hybrid Cabs

| Thursday September 18th, 2008 | 7 Comments

hybridtaxi.jpg The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade has filed a suit to block a measure to go into effect on October 1st that would mandate all new taxis to have a fuel efficiency of at least 25 miles per gallon. According to the press release put out by the group, the suit is based on the findings of a report by C. Bruce Gambardella, who previously consulted for the City of New York and several automakers. The report “exposes the risks and dangers of riding in New York City’s hybrid yellow taxicabs.”
Hybrid taxis in New York have been consistently making news for the past few years, notably with the announcement last year by the mayor’s office that all of the city’s taxis would be hybrids by 2012. Not to mention the mini-fleet of Ford Escape hybrids that entered operation in 2005, donated by Yahoo!.
GreenBiz reports that hybrids currently make up 11% of New York’s taxi fleet. Yet, both in terms of policy as well as safety, the taxicab board argues that the city is making a tragic mistake with the new mandate.

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A Real “Back To The Future” Engine Meets Mark Twain

| Wednesday September 17th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Picture%2010.jpgDo you remember in the film Back To The Future, when the doctor came back with an updated car that could be powered by trash? Well it seems that that’s now not so far fetched, if the makers of the Cyclone Green Revolution steam engine have their way.
“Excuse me, steam engine?” I can hear you saying. Yes. It’s an external, rather than the typical internal combustion engine. The heat created while burning the fuel acts on deionized water inside the engine, heating it up enough so that the resulting high pressure steam turns all the pistons, etc, creating power. Apparently, since the combustion is external to the engine, it can use nearly anything as fuel – liquid or gaseous. They claim that in initial tests, they used fuels derived from orange peels, palm oil, cottonseed oil, and chicken fat.

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iPhone App Sends Greenwash Alerts Directly To Consumers

| Wednesday September 17th, 2008 | 0 Comments

quick_pick_cup.gifImagine you’re in a shop and not certain whether the product you’re about to buy deserves the green credentials the packaging indicates it has. You get out your iPhone and key in the name of the product. The next moment you’re presented with all the scientific information about the ingredients, manufacturing processes and much much more. In the next few weeks, that’s going to be reality if all goes to plan with new startup company Goodguide.
Having only just been launched, Goodguide combats greenwashing by sending product information directly to consumers on the spot. The company is still in beta but its promise is wildly alluring. Because rather than having to go back and forth to your computer to research certain products, Goodguide simply delivers you product information as and when you need it.
Goodguide, which emerged from Berkeley’s Sustainability Information Lab, says it provides real, verified scientific data about health, social and environmental products. The information in Goodguide’s database is vast. It was compiled during the last ten years by scientists who researched the ins and outs of the supply chain, accessing 200 public and private data sources. The result is an as yet basic metrics model assigning datapoints for what classifies as green.

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Viridus Aims to Make the World a Greener Place, One Connection at a Time

| Wednesday September 17th, 2008 | 2 Comments

virid.us_logo.gifWhich online social networks do you use? Facebook? MySpace? LinkedIn? How much time do you spend there? Is it time well spent? Your mileage may vary, but I find I get more return on time invested on networks that focus on a specific professional niche or interest. These are places where I can do some like-minded linking to connect and collaborate on topics of shared interest. A growing number of online networks are taking this niche approach – bringing together peer networks of professionals working in comparable job functions.
Would you use a professional online network focused on green collar workers? Furqan Nazeeri, CEO of Viridus, is betting you will. He launched Viridus in January of this year to create an online forum for green professionals. But it’s about more than just connecting; it’s about collaboration and impact – Viridus aims to take the professional network beyond just networking to provide members a forum to share solutions “where collective knowledge helps members create a meaningful impact – for the environment, their employer and themselves.”
I recently spoke with Furqan at his office in the Boston area.

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Solar Telecom: Carmanah wins North African contract

| Tuesday September 16th, 2008 | 1 Comment

solarPV-Telus_old_fortmtn.jpg Illustrative of a growing trend in renewable energy systems, Vancouver’s Carmanah Technologies Corp. on Sept. 12 announced that it had received a million dollar order from French telecom provider Twist to supply solar power systems for a telecommunications project in an unnamed North African country.
Brought into the project by Solergitech, its regional distributor, Carmanah’s off-grid, stand-alone solar power systems will be used to power a network of telecommunications towers in remote locations. Each telecom tower is to be equipped with a fully integrated solar power system that includes solar modules, controllers and batteries suitable for use in remote locations and exposed to harsh environmental conditions, that include one bane of solar panels – dust and grime.
The deal may turn out to be worth as much as $6 million to Carmanah over three years. And it’s a positive sign for the company as it seeks to expand its business internationally.
“As Carmanah extends its offerings throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East, we’re finding a great interest in our stand-alone solar power systems for all types of communications applications,” company CEO Ted Lattimore, stated in a media release.
“Considering the remote locations of many of these installations, it’s easy to see the appeal. A solar power system is durable, reliable and convenient; just install it wherever you need power — with solar, there’s no need to worry about grid access, fuel deliveries or generator maintenance.”

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Researchers Announce Nanotech Material Breakthrough Could Double Energy Storage Capacity for Renewables

| Tuesday September 16th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Researcers develop new graphene material increasing capacity of ultracapacitorsResearch scientists at the University of Texas at Austin announced today a possible nanotech breakthrough for a carbon material structure only one atom thick that could help accelerate the growth of renewable wind and solar power installations.

The new material, called “grahene”, could double the capacity of ultracapacitors, an energy storage device similar to a battery. But where batteries store electrical energy chemically, utlracapacitors store charges electrostatically.

While used increasingly in commerical applications, ultracapacitors are not as widely known as their battery counterparts. Current uses include energy recovery for regenerative braking in vehicles or providing short bursts of power for acceleration and hill-climbing. Ultracapacitors can also be used in conjunction with batteries to prolong battery life.

Researchers at UT Austin are hopeful that graphene-based ultracapacitors could help spur development of renewable energy power generation.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup Lobby Reinvents Greenwashing

| Tuesday September 16th, 2008 | 10 Comments

The video below is the funniest propaganda I’ve seen since the infamous “CO2, We call it life” shenegins a couple years ago. It’s almost as good as something you might see on The Onion.

In case you’re wondering what’s wrong with this picture, read on.

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Can The Green Jobs Sector Cure The Ailing US Economy?

| Tuesday September 16th, 2008 | 4 Comments

greenteccc.jpgWill green jobs create new momentum for the US economy? That’s a question that’s gained some traction since the mortgage crisis started claiming victims.
The new administration may be the most important player in creating essentially an entirely new jobs segment and they´re advised to dish out some hefty investments by the authors of a recent report entitled Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy.
The authors, researchers at the University of Massachusetts, believe that before a green jobs market will be able to take off in earnest, investments totaling $100 billion will have to be made. The report, which was picked up by our colleagues at GreenBiz, suggests this is direly needed money, not a luxury buffer.

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Green School Buildings are Financially Responsible

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday September 16th, 2008 | 2 Comments

clearview.jpg
Every week day across the U.S. millions of children sit in school buildings. The majority of the buildings do not efficiently use energy or water, and many of the buildings are downright unhealthy. However, in the last few years there has been a push to build more energy efficient schools.
In 2006 the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released a report titled, “Greening America’s Schools.” The report stated that not investing in “green technologies is not financially responsible for school systems.” The report looked at 30 “green” schools, and concluded that they cost two percent less to build than conventional schools, but provide twenty percent more benefits financially.

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The Future of America’s Major Media Outlets – Fixing the Fourth Estate After Failures On Drilling and Iraq

| Monday September 15th, 2008 | 3 Comments

gingrich-drill.gif Why do the American People — needing the right information to choose a president whose policies will prevent Peak Oil and Climate Change from becoming society-destabilizing catastrophes — believe the fantasy that domestic oil drilling is the right energy solution to bring down gas prices? How can this be, when even our Department of Energy’s own Energy Information Administration makes clear that this idea has no more basis in reality than believing that the Superfriends are going to save us by swooping down and leaving solar-powered hovercrafts in our driveways?
As this disturbing report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) points out:
bullshit2.jpg

“there is no empirical basis for believing that drilling in environmentally sensitive offshore zones would significantly affect gas prices. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that such drilling would add some 200,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production in about 20 years. This is about 0.2 percent of world production, and the EIA describes this as too small to have any significant effect on oil prices.”

Even if the EIA’s projections end up being short by a factor of five, and these areas produce 1 million barrels per day, it will still take well over a decade for this oil to reach gas stations, and will still be only about 1% of global output — far too little to significantly bring down gas prices. So if this is what the best available data tells us, the critical question becomes the one that the CEPR report examined:

“How did 51 percent of Americans come to believe the opposite, that this drilling would significantly lower gasoline prices?”

The report’s authors found that:

“By repeatedly reporting the false claims of drilling proponents, while giving little or no attention to the available facts, the most important news media helped to convince the public of something that is not true, and thereby influenced the entire political climate around this issue.”

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