Want to Rent Green? Good Luck. Unless…

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

GreenRenter%20logo.jpg
It seems these days that green building is everywhere you look. It’s hard to not find a media outlet throwing in a story with a green building angle. Hurrah for those who want to build or remodel green, you’ve got plenty of resources now. But what if you’re not yet at the “Honey, which rainwater catchment system do you like? The red, or the orange?” stage? What if you just want to rent, and you want it green (or greener)? Not so easy to find.
Yes, with a lot of sweat, you can piece together listings that have what you seek, likely from many different resources, with minimal details beyond a greenwashy headline. GreenRenter.com is seeking to address this issue.
The Portland based site has launched a service that makes it simple for both those seeking and those offering properties that have green qualities to find one another. And in a generous opening of the field, they allow listings on there that have at least one of seven criteria being addressed. Come again, one in seven, isn’t that setting the bar awfully low? Their answer is interesting:

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eBay Launches Socially Responsible Online Marketplace

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

eBay today unveiled a new ecommerce marketplace called WorldofGood.com by eBay, which offers products that have a positive impact on people and the planet, empowering consumers to align their social values with their shopping. As a result, the new site is both very consumer- as well as idea-centric.
Customers will be able to purchase products made from recycled or free-trade goods, buy organic, and/or support artisan women in developing nations. In addition, all of WorldofGood.com products will also be available on eBay.com, bringing these socially responsible products to eBay’s more than 84 million active users worldwide.
In an interview in July, former Senior Manager of Internet Marketing and current General Manager of WorldofGood.com, Robert Chatwani said, “Our challenge is not so much getting people to spend more. It’s about introducing alternative means of consumption.”

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Beer + Co-op financing = Internet Crowdfunding Party!

| Tuesday September 2nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

I love innovative financing schemes as much as the next gal. When you add beer to the mix, it kinda puts me over the top. In fact, I almost had my credit card out until I started reading the details.Beer Bankroll has the right idea–they are turning boring old investing into a rockin good time with their community financing model. Unfortunately, Beer Bankroll is not a very good investment because there is no actual opportunity to earn money, but it can still be a fun internet party. Members pay $50 per year to join, and membership enables investors to participate in the most important key business decisions like naming the beer and designing the logo. Luckily it looks like they leave payroll and operations to the professionals. Profits on the sale of the beer are split three ways with a third returned to the company to fund growth, a third donated to charity, and a third returned to members via a point system. I know you’re wondering: unfortunately it doesn’t look like the points can be redeemed for cash or even beer – it’s gift cards and company swag. This has me wondering, because if they are spending an actual third of the profits on the swag for members, why not hand out something more desirable?

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Pay As You Drive Insurance Proposed In California

| Tuesday September 2nd, 2008 | 5 Comments

PAYD.jpg Last week, GreenBiz.com reported on the latest proposal by California State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to implement a Pay-As-You-Drive (PAYD) program in California.
PAYD insurance plans already exist for costumers in 34 states across the US as well as areas in Canada, Japan, and Europe. And as gas prices remain high and concern for the environment grows, PAYD programs are becoming attractive to many policymakers.

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Appreciate Those Bottom Feeders for More Sustainable Fisheries

| Saturday August 30th, 2008 | 0 Comments

paella.jpgWe don’t eat lions, tigers or bears for protein, so we shouldn’t eat shark, tuna or swordfish either. We need to be eating further down the ocean food chain if we want an ocean food chain from which to eat in the future.
Those are statements from Paul Johnson made on a panel during Changemaker’s Day at Slow Food Nation this weekend in San Francisco, CA. The panelists and audience were interested in how fishers, distributors, and chefs could work together to ensure the viability of the oceans upon which their livelihoods depend.

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Recycled vegetable oil: Key to the Highway?

| Saturday August 30th, 2008 | 6 Comments

vegvolkswagen_2002_bug.jpg There’s much talk, high-level debate and lobbying over sustainability and biofuels these days, despite their miniscule market share and debate concerning what “sustainable” actually means. How all this well-intentioned theorizing, research and debate translates into real progress and positive change on the ground in agricultural communities and among biofuel producers remains to be seen.
While all this goes on, a grassroots “grease car” movement continues to grow in the U.S. and Europe as entrepreneurs and growing numbers of people who own all manner of diesel engine vehicles are installing or having vegetable oil fuel conversion kits installed; this despite discouragement from the automakers, the oil industry and government agencies.
The concept of using recycled vegetable oil as a fuel seems like a winner from the get-go, especially when you consider the difference it might make in rapidly growing urban areas all around the world, but particularly in fast growing cities of Asia, Latin America and Africa. Rather than having to produce an environmentally friendly biofuel from scratch, recycling veggie oil turns a waste product into a valuable resource, plus a ready-made source of raw fuel can be found in just about any market center in cities across the developing world.

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Next Generation Prius Sports Rooftop Solar Panels as an Option

| Friday August 29th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Prius to offer solar rooftop panels on next generationThe next generation Toyota Prius, due out for the 2010 model year, will offer the option of rooftop solar panels. Produced by Kyocera, the panels are expected to produce no more than about 1 kilowatt of electricity.

That one kilowatt of electricity would only be enough to help power the ventilation and AC systems, something especially appreciated when getting in a car that’s been sitting in the sun for hours on a hot day. The solar panels would enable use of the interior fan to help keep the car cool when not in use.

Of course, the car would need to be parked in the sun, and if we continue this logic, if it isn’t parked in the sun, keeping it cool wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

Air conditioning systems put quite a load on the engine and reduce efficiency. Nonetheless, the idea of solar panels on a Prius is, as one anonymous Toyota insider put it,

“…more of a symbolic gesture. It’s very difficult to power much more than that [AC] with solar energy”

What surprised me most about this story is the response from the blogoshere.

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The Carbon Negative Quest: Portland Gym Converts Energy Of Pedal Bikes Into Electricity

| Friday August 29th, 2008 | 12 Comments

gym.jpgThe world’s finally come full circle for members of a new gym in Portland which is converting the pedal power of its bikes into real energy.
The gym, opening September 1, takes human powered energy from its fitness bikes and stores it in a battery which runs some of its other equipment. The 2,800 square foot gym, called the Green Microgym is owned by Adam Boesel, a former grade teacher. He was interviewed by the Seattle Times and told them its the first human-powered gym in the US.

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Weekly Wrap up of Green Business Online

| Friday August 29th, 2008 | 1 Comment

As part of a new effort to reach out to our friends across the Green Business Blogosphere, this is the first installment of our weekly Friday wrap of interesting things we’ve found this past week on. Follow the links to find out more and join the conversation below this post. We’re all in this together!
gb-mic.gifRed State or Blue, Green Conventions are on the Way
From GreenBiz: Democrats and Republicans alike are claiming their respective political conventions will be greener than anything that’s been seen before. Who’s exaggerating and who’s not?
gb-alagar.gifWorld’s largest car rental fleet maps out green and gooey future
From Business Green: Enterprise Rent-A-Car will invest vast sums of money into vase field of green algae. The hope – that algae based biofuels may some day power their fleet.
gb-alagar.gifHow To Avoid Eco Fatigue – What Ecopreneurs Need To Know
From Ecopreneurist: Seven handy tips for the entrepreneur to keep the focus on green even when the going gets tough.

gb-alagar.gifIndustry Failing to Calculate Complete Carbon Footprints, Researchers Say
From ClimateBiz: Industry isn’t even close to realizing a full measurement of their carbon footprint.

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The NYC Ice Cream Truck That’s Redefining Ice Cream

| Thursday August 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Picture a hot summer afternoon. Neighborhood kids running in slow motion around a New York City block, the corner fire hydrant shooting out an elegant geyser into the air. All of a sudden of “The Entertainer” sounds from a distance, paralyzing every child within earshot with the prospect of the ultimate summer respite – ice cream.
For many of us, ice cream trucks conjure images of a time long gone, a memory of when life was simpler, more innocent. They are these images, I think, Ben Van Leeuwen used when he started his artisanal ice cream business this year. The 24-year former Good Humor Ice Cream truck driver, and recent Skidmore business graduate, wanted to start a business that produced food in a traditional way, where the focus is based on quality rather than efficiency. For him, ice cream was a simple model – one, according to him, that would allow for scalability “without any degradation of quality.”

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The Water Footprint: Obey Your Thirst

| Thursday August 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

water-footprint.jpgWe’ve all heard of the carbon footprint, and many of us have heard of the ecological footprint, but the water footprint is less well known. Just as it sounds, the water footprint is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by an individual, business or nation. You can measure the water footprint associated with making of a particular product, or we can measure the water footprint of the average citizen in the U.S. Conceptually it’s simple, but measuring is quite difficult…and the results are staggering.
It’s sort of shameful to say, but it comes as no surprise to me that we in the U.S. have the highest per capita water footprint on the planet. Each of us uses roughly 2480 cubic meters of water each year…it’s a little hard to picture, but suffice it to say that our footprint is roughly twice (2X) the average global citizen’s water footprint. In the wake of the Olympics, somehow it seems that we deserve the opposite of a gold medal for this distinction.

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Pulstar’s Pulse Plugs: Increasing fuel economy?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday August 28th, 2008 | 17 Comments

pulstar.gifThe print advertisement for Pulstar pulse plugs claims they are “an alternative to spark plugs that are scientifically proven to improve your car’s fuel economy.” Pulstar’s website states that the pulse plugs represent “the technological advancement in spark plug design in the past 100 years.” Rather big claims for a product that costs $25 a piece ($50 for a pair).
What is so different about Pulstar’s pulse plugs? According to Offroaders.com they use a pulse circuit that stores electrical energy from the ignition and then release that energy in a “powerful pulse of power.” The plugs deliver up to a million watts of peak power instead of the 50 watts that spark plugs deliver.

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The Economics of Conservation: Natural Capital Project Helps Determine the Cash Value of Nature

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 0 Comments

The Capital Project seeks to determine the economic value of natureEconomics is a force of nature. But just as importantly, nature is a force of economics. At least it should be.

Determining the economic value of nature, in hard numbers, is the mission of Natural Capital Project. Founded in 2006, the Project is a partnership between Stanford-based Woods Institute for the Environment, the Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund.

The concept that a rainforest may be worth more in the long run than a bunch of harvested logs isn’t hard to grasp conceptually, but it becomes a little harder in the day-to-day realities of human endeavor, especially for poor nations struggling to maintain a sagging economy.

“…it’s hard to turn down the cash deal” as Mark Tercek former official at Goldman Sachs and current head of the Nature Conservancy puts it, “It’s hard to put a value on these services”

It may be hard, but that is what the Natural Capital Project sets out to do.

Putting a price tag on nature is the key to saving it (and in the process, us).

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Is IBM Greenwashing the US Open?

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 1 Comment

uso_green_00000g1.gifIBM made a respectable but surprising move when it sold off its PC hardware business in 2004 to focus on higher margin services such as consulting. In July, the information technology company even added corporate social responsibility (CSR) to its consulting services lineup. Yet, for a company that is endeavoring to help its clients understand and respond to their consumers’ concerns about the impacts of their activities on the environment and society, some might argue that IBM still has much to learn itself. In an announcement made this morning, IBM celebrated its energy conserving technology approach for USOpen.org, which will enable fans to get close to the action without putting their laptops aside. With USOpen.org, the event will hop on the bandwagon of highly publicized events that are creating deeper experiences for fans than those possible with their TVs and remote controls, such as those of the NCAA Final Four and the 2008 Olympics, which arguably failed to meet online watchers’ expectations.
The IBM-powered US Open site will offer real time stats, personalized views so you can track your five favorite players, and even a widget for Facebook (and iGoogle and Yahoo! for those of you whose employers block the popular social networking site). But behind all of the company’s claims of energy reduction percentages and cooling demand cuts is a lot of celebration about six servers. That’s right, six servers. Google has about two dozen data centers with hundreds of thousands of servers in each. While the temptation to attempt to stir up some green press for IBM may have been great, it should have been resisted.

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Top 5 Green Marketing Events

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 3 Comments

networking.jpgSo you’re involved in green marketing or in greening up your company¬¥s marketing efforts. Online advice is all at hand. But where to go if you want to meet like minded buddies face to face? Check out this top five green business marketing events.
1) Net Impact. Net Impact is an organization of over 10,000 business experts, aiming to make a positive impact on society through business. The organization´s events calendar offers a wide choice of events ranging from corporate social responsibility, international development, nonprofit management, business ethics, social entrepreneurship, socially responsible investing and environmental sustainability.
2) Idealist.org. This platform connects organizations with people. It’s where you find what’s going on in thousands of environment organizations. Plenty of events and networking opportunities for seasoned professionals. Great for locating opportunities or supporters for everything that leads toward a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives. Sponsored by Google, Monster, Visa, Aladdin, the organization was originally created by Action Without Borders, the New York city non profit.
3) Ethical Junction. UK based organization that brings together ethical businesses and ethical consumers. Pulse, its news forum, is the source of up to date information on events as well as opinions and comment. Organizes regular meetings in locations all over the UK.
4) Eco Tuesday. News sustainable business leaders networking forum. Focuses on network opportunities for sustainable business leaders. EcoTuesday meetings feature innovative speakers who discuss current issues. Held on the last Tuesday of every month and if there’s no Eco Tuesday in your town, you can become an ambassador to set one up.
5) Green Drinks. The group´s organizers say GreenDrinks is an organic, self organizing network of monthly meetings. That´s likely true. Monthly GreenDrinks venues now total over 320 bars around the globe. If there´s no GreenDrinks in your home town just contact the organizers for tips on how you can set one up. Anyone can come, there´s no agenda but plenty of networking potential.
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