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The scarcity and management of natural resources’ products previous generations casually took for granted are of increasing concern in local communities, countries and across borders.
Growing concerns about water resources and management is perhaps the most important and fundamental case in point. And, just as has happened with renewable energy, it’s setting off a blitz of private investment in companies that own and manage water resources, as well as clean tech companies in the wastewater processing and treatment end of the business.
Just the other week I received some unsolicited e-mail touting the OTC Bulletin Board, penny stock, shares of Bioshaft Water Technologies, developers and owners of “a miraculous system that’s poised to revolutionize the $1.3 trillion domestic sewage treatment market.”
Debate concerning and competition for water resources, whether between commercial and industrial organizations, governments or local communities, has been fierce and protracted – just look at the history of water and the American West. And it’s getting even fiercer with population growth, real estate development and the effects of climate change.
The ensuing conflicts are bringing associated and fundamental socio-economic and ethical issues – such as public vs. private good, common versus and private ownership of resources – into even sharper relief as the wide variety of stakeholders and vested interests come into conflict over how best to conserve, develop and manage them.
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Climate Change, Efficiency, and Renewable Energy: The Opportunity of a Generation for the Building Sector
How to create more than one million new jobs, a thriving building industry, save consumers $128 billion, and reduce carbon emissions by 433.2 million metric tons in five years? Invest in energy efficient buildings – about $21.6 billion per year for five years (a price tag neatly covered by the savings). So says a new study released by Architecture2030 at the Eileen Rockefeller Growald Symposium on Collaborative Philanthropy in San Francisco last week.
As I reported recently in a post on the Cambridge Energy Alliance, nearly half of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are from buildings. Numerous sources point out that the quickest and most cost effective means of creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and making serious inroads toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions is through building energy efficiency.
In 2006, Architecture2030 issued the 2030 Challenge calling for all new building and major renovation to reduce fossil fuel energy consumption and GHG emissions by 50% by 2010, thereafter increasing reductions incrementally every five years to the target of “carbon neutral” by 2030.
According to the study, not only is this an achievable goal, but an economic opportunity of a generation. Says Edward Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030, “Although difficult, the economic and global warming crises are the motivation we need as a nation to retool our thinking. If we’re smart enough to jump on this opportunity, we will not only solve global warming, we will set the US up for unprecedented economic success.”
I hope we’re smart enough to seize the opportunity.
Ever thought about where your oil dollars go once you’ve extracted them, screaming, from your wallet? With oil prices now settling into a comfortable cruising altitude above $100 a barrel, the answer is pretty stunning.
We’re all familiar with the toll high oil prices have taken on our personal economic well-being, particularly among those with the least disposable income (disclosure: I don’t own a car, so I don’t have first-hand experience, but some of my friends drive).
But what about the toll on the broader economy, and implications for geopolitics? The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security took a good, hard look at the numbers, and recently published a report (warning: PDF) with its findings. The question is … how long can we keep holding up our end of the bargain? Jim Strock posted a disturbing excerpt on his blog:
How would a recession impact current trends in business sustainability? Would green initiatives be cut if companies suffered from slow growth in a “stagnation” economy? These are the questions that Kevin Klustner, CEO of Verdiem (an energy-efficiency software company) tries to answer in a recent column for GreenBiz.com. He predicts that an economic downturn may tempt some companies to phase out their sustainability initiatives, but doing so may actually aggravate financial losses.Click to continue reading »
Until a few years ago the threat of unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions was still hotly debated in both the scientific and business communities. Now concepts such as “carbon footprint” are becoming household terms. In the new and constantly evolving field of carbon markets it is understandable that there is still confusion around the terms that define the industry. Even among some corporate greenhouse gas managers terms are being used inconsistently and even improperly. In conversation such errors can be excused, but when money is exchanged and contracts are signed the importance of proper and precise language takes on a new weight. Since we need to mitigate risk and potential conflict in our work to develop climate change solutions with our clients, we feel that it is important to educate the public, on the extensive vocabulary of the carbon markets. Therefore this week ClimatePULSE with ClimateCHECK we will be providing definitions for some of the most commonly used, and misused, terms in the carbon market.
Carbon Footprint: The term “footprint” is frequently used incorrectly to describe a GHG Inventory. This term actually refers to the amount of productive land (forest) required to sequester (remove) the equivalent amount of GHGs that a company emits. The term “footprint” was developed by Mathis Wackernagel of the Global Footprint Network as an aggregated measure of human impact on the earth as well as our level of resource consumption but it has been inaccurately used in various media and has become the layperson’s term for GHG inventory.
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If you are one of those people out there who thinks a green car means you have to own a hybrid or a natural gas vehicle, think again. There are ways to essentially “green” your car without meeting the above criteria. Basically, it matters not what type of car you have: the way you operate the vehicle can save money, fuel and the environment.
Any car that is not in proper condition will burn more fuel and release more pollution into the atmosphere. Below you will find a list of simple ways to green your automobile.
1- Tire Pressure: Surprisingly, as much as 15 percent of the energy required to push your vehicle down the road is utilized in overcoming rolling resistance. This is according to the established laws of physics specifically related to friction. The most effective way to maximize fuel economy is to assure that your tires are inflated to the recommended pressures that can be found on most vehicles’ tire placard commonly placed on door jams. It is wise to check your tire pressure whenever you fill your gas tank. A slight drop in pressure by just a few pounds per square inch (psi) will result in a loss in fuel mileage. Also, when replacing your tires consider one of the new lower-rolling resistance models offered by many tire manufacturers now.
2- Maintenance: It is wise to follow the automakers maintenance schedule outlined in the vehicle owner’s manual. These recommendations are generally there for a sound reason, to keep the car in top notch condition. From tune-ups to regular oil and fluid changes and scheduled maintenance programs at x number of miles per your car dealers or manufacturers recommendation are all going to provide you with a greener result.
3- Go Easy: One often overlooked green method for more efficient driving is proper use of your speedometer and tachometer. The tachometer measures just how fast your engine is turning in revolutions per minute, hence rpm. By keeping a watchful eye on your tach and staying below 3,000 rpm as you speed up, you’ll save gas and extend the life of your car. Reduced braking also wastes gas so be aware enough to see what’s coming and coast along whenever possible and brake slowly, progressively.
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In June of 2006 Paylocity moved it’s business into a new office and the employees were surprised to find themselves surrounded by green. The carpets and work stations are composed of recycled materials including energy efficient lighting and water heating at point of source.
Paylocity is a payroll and HR solutions provider and has been running strong for the past ten years. The green movement was spearheaded by the founder and CEO of the company Steve Sarowitz. Aside from making the move toward green surroundings Steve had a notion to further this trend toward going green. Prior to the move he e-mailed his 180 employees about forming a “green team” to explore how the company could further explore its mission to make green something more than just a nip and tuck here and there.
As the internet matures and “Web 2.0” becomes mainstream and the idea of static HTML websites seems so, well, ‘90’s, it is increasingly apparent that the true genius of online technology lies in the grassroots power of social networking. The world is all a-twitter over social networks. Some of us even resort to using really bad puns when talking about them.
Enter Huddler, a startup online network of niche product research and review sites debuting with their “Green Home Huddle” of product reviews, wikis, and forum discussions for eco and sustainability-minded consumers.
There is no shortage of blogs, review sites, and forums for “green” consumers, but after spending some time on Huddler what sets it apart for me from other online resources is the clean and nearly seamless integration of all the tools and resources.
Search for a specific product, say solar panels for instance, and on a single page there are reviews, forum discussions, wikis and more on the specific product as well as related topics. Navigation through the site is well-structured and intuitive. It really is a pretty cool site and makes exploring topics, researching products, and engaging in discussions rather enjoyable.
Huddler is currently in Beta, and, of course, the Achilles Heal of any social networking site can be just that – social networking, or the lack thereof.
For a site launched barely a month ago Huddler seems to be off to a good start. I’ve done my part by joining and contributing to my first discussion, for which I now see there are two responses already, so it’s time for me to get back into the Huddle.
If they can keep up the momentum, grow the community and keep folks engaged and contributing worhwhile content, Huddler will have a good thing going.
Speaking of which, Huddler is having a contest to help jump-start the site. Write three reviews or two wiki articles and win some “cool green products”. A call to social networking action!
Redefining Progress was one of the first organizations to promote the idea of an “ecological footprint” via a test of sorts that could provide a tangible measurement of one’s impact on the globe. The test has now been revised and is a fair bit more sophisticated. In their words:
The Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates the area of land and ocean required to support your consumption of food, goods, services, housing, and energy and assimilate your wastes. Your ecological footprint is expressed in “global hectares” (gha) or “global acres” (ga), which are standardized units that take into account the differences in biological productivity of various ecosystems impacted by your consumption activities. Your footprint is broken down into four consumption categories: carbon (home energy use and transportation), food, housing, and goods and services. Your footprint is also broken down into four ecosystem types or biomes: cropland, pastureland, forestland, and marine fisheries.
It’s got a few flaws, namely, asking me how many miles I travel per year on planes, autos etc. I have no idea. I’d think it would be more useful if they just asked how many flights I take, or how I commute. But as with all these things it’s more about the thought process that it evokes. I scored 2.60 earths. However, playing with the settings and picking the best possible answers it look like it’s actually impossible to score below 1 earth if you live in the US. Interesting…
For your Friday fun, take the quiz and let us know what you think!
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Breakthrough research sponsored by the National Science Foundation into the development of green gasoline, green diesel and green jet fuel based on the conversion of biomass from feedstock such as switchgrass, fast-growing poplar trees, corn stalks, wood waste and residues and other non-food plant sources is bearing fruit.
The latest breakthroughs are detailed in, “Breaking the Chemical and Engineering Barriers to Lignocellulosic Biofuels: Next Generation Hydrocarbon Biorefineries,” a report sponsored by the NSF, the Dept. of Energy and the American Chemical Society, suggesting that they may brought into widespread use in five to ten years.
Massachusetts-Amherst chemical engineer and National Science Foundation CAREER award recipient George Huber and two graduate students, Toren Carlson and Tushar Vispute, have for the first time converted plant cellulose into key components of gasoline, the NSF announced in an April 1 media release.
Meanwhile, James Dumesic and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a report on their successful efforts to develop “an integrated process for creating chemical components of jet fuel using a green gasoline approach.”
RecycleBank, founded by Ron Gonen is setting the standard for doing good while profiting at green business. In fact their catchy slogan on the navy blue recycle containers aptly states, “preserving our environment one home at a time.” In this case, the statement is certainly true. The idea is so simple and yet so solid that Gonen said that his first meeting with a potential customer was not a hard sell.
One might assume that RecycleBank is just another recycling program but the catch and heart of the company is consumer rewards. This is how it works: RecycleBank provides homes with large recycling receptacles not unlike your standard garbage can on wheels. Each container is equipped with a radio frequency identification chip that can be read by the trucks picking them up. Information can be communicated from these chips about how much each house has recycled. This information is used by RecycleBank to convert these statistics into reward points for the homeowner. These points can then be redeemed at hundreds of stores, including Whole Foods and Starbucks to name a couple. Customers can even track their reward points and environmental footprint through the website at www.recyclebank.com
Gonen, aformer consultant wanted to prove that being socially responsible could be a profitable endeavor. And so it is that Gonen launched his company in 2004 on the belief that giving people the motivation to recycle along with the proper tools would change their wasteful behavior. It turns out he was right on that notion. His customers’ recycling has saved more than 227,000 trees and 15 million gallons of oil and has diverted more than 19,500 tons of material from the waste stream and redeemed more than 3 million reward points. The company is preparing to expand across the nation this year thanks to the bright idea and success of this smart and eco-friendly company.
Those of us in the “people, planet, profits” field recognize the wide variety of stakeholders whose lives are impacted by daily business operations. As such, our role as generators of wealth is taking on a new meaning with new responsibilities. In order to ensure the integrity of what we do, two Harvard business school professors have put forth the idea that managers should take a “Green Hippocratic Oath.” What would this oath consist of? How would taking such an oath influence the everyday business decisions for a whole new generation of managers?Click to continue reading »
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Enjoy simulations and war games? Interested in politics and how national energy policy is formulated and how it is affected by our dependence on foreign oil? Care to get a sense of what the challenges and complexities of life are like in the corridors of power? Well, then you’ll probably get an education and enjoyment out of Oil ShockWave, a free energy crisis simulation and curriculum box set put together by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) in collaboration with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Tropical shrimp. Netherlands. Sustainable. What do these words have to do with each other? They describe what and where the Happy Shrimp company is. In a recent video on the Enviu Lab blog, a new sustainable innovation lab to be opened in late 2008, they showcased a number of ecopreneurists out of the Rotterdam area. Of particular interest was the Happy Shrimp company, the first tropical shrimp farm in Europe.
What makes them so sustainable? On a basic level, being a producer of products that might otherwise need to be shipped from at least Madrid, more likely Asia and South America, is in itself going to have a big impact, both in transport, and the energy to keep it frozen.
But it goes much further then that. Companies, take note!