How a Local Firewood Cooperative Can Lower a Nation’s Carbon Footprint

| Tuesday December 9th, 2008 | 1 Comment

burning-wood.jpgIt’s one of the biggest issues currently being addressed in Poznan: How can we stop the burning of forests as poor people burn firewood to make a living? Wood is also increasingly popular as a biomass fuel. So what’s the deal? Can we burn wood and not impact the environment?
The quick answer is that so long as the wood comes from a well managed forest, you’re more or less in the clear. And in case you are worried about the ecological impact of the smoke and the carbon dioxide emissions, this recent article in The Telegraph newspaper points out that because wood is a biomass fuel, burning is is carbon neutral – when you burn wood, it releases the exact amount of carbon dioxide that it absorbed when growing. It may actually be better to burn wood in some cases because when wood decomposes, it slowly lets go of the carbon it soaked up, a process which in many cases goes by unaccounted for (also read my article Clearing Forests Of Dead Wood Prevents Massive CO2 Emissions). So long as replanting matches harvesting your burning it will not lead to an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Far more serious is what happens in the rainforests in Asia. The impact of people’s burning of firewood is dramatic because it leads to the loss of natural forests.

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Bringing Alternative Fuel Technology into Large Scale Production – Triple Pundit to Attend First-Ever Biofuel Summit

| Monday December 8th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Beyond the challenges of researching viable alternative second generation biofuels is that of bringing those technologies from the test tube to full-scale commercial production. Determining best practices and reducing risks are essential elements for bringing biofuel technology into mainstream use and meeting the increasing demand for energy.

In their just-released World Energy Outlook report, the International Energy Agency predicts a worldwide shortage of more than 28 million barrels of oil a day by 2030, making crystal clear (if it wasn’t already) the importance of alternative and sustainable sources of fuel to fill the gap.

This is the focus of a first-of-its-kind BioEnergy Summit this coming Thursday, December 11th in Madison, Wisconsin.

Emerson Process Management will host the event, bringing together researchers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and policy wonks to converse, learn, and exchange ideas on how best to bring about what is essentially a revolution in alternative (some call it imperative) fuel development

TriplePundit’s own Sarah Lozanova will be attending the Summit. She’ll have access to key personalities, providing firsthand insight into the future of biofuel and bioenergy development and production.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite for Sarah’s reporting later this week, I had an opportunity to speak with Alan Novak, Emerson’s Director of Alternative Fuel Alan Novak, about the upcoming summit and the future of biofuel development in general.

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First Hybrid Solar and Gas Power Plant in FL Under Construction

Sarah Lozanova | Monday December 8th, 2008 | 0 Comments

fpl_martin.jpgThe sunshine state is in the spotlight for a groundbreaking solar plant that will add solar thermal collectors to an existing gas fired power plant. The result will save 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over 30 years, while providing reliable power.
Natural gas power plants are criticized for generating power from a costly fuel source. Solar power is criticized for generating electricity only when the sun shines (although solar energy storage is solving this problem). Could this hybrid power plant be a marriage made in heaven?

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Business Advocates for Government Leadership on Climate Change

Tori Okner | Sunday December 7th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Tuesday is Poznan Business Day at the ongoing COP14 Climate Talks. According to host organizations, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) the global economic crisis underscores the need for strong government leadership and the urgency of agreement on the road to Copenhagen.
Martin Wolf, Chief Economic Commentator for the Financial Times, suggests, “businesses will respond – or, in the technical jargon, “internalise” externalities [such as climate change] – only if it is in their interests to do so.”
The joint ICC and WBCSD presence in Poznan proves that’s not so, Bj√∂rn Stigson, President of the WBCSD, argues in a letter to the editor. Together the two organizations represent a diverse membership of thousands of companies worldwide. Clearly though, voluntary effort on the part of industry has proven an inadequate tool for fighting climate change. Effective regulation and incentives (read: subsidies) are imperative to systematize an impact on corporate culture.

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It’s Almost 2009. Do You Still Need a Phone Book?

| Saturday December 6th, 2008 | 12 Comments

phone-books99.jpgLast year about this time I wrote about the insane waste that phone books represent in an age where almost everyone has a decent internet connection. I mentioned that, as a longtime shareholder of AT&T, I was particularly outraged to see the company spending money printing these useless tomes and dumping them in my building, plastic wrap and all – not to mention the absurd environmental cost and utter disregard for any principal of waste control.

Well, here we go again. This morning about 100 phonebooks in plastic bags showed up in my foyer and will undoubtedly sit there for weeks until (hopefully) finding their way into the recycling. I’d estimate about 3 of them will actually be used. Last year I found a use for 2 – to prop up a portion of my cracked bed-frame.

Commenters on last year’s post brought up two interesting points – that some local governments may actually require the printing and distribution of phone books, and that AT&T probably still makes money selling ads in them. News flash to local businesses – get a website and learn to use Yelp.

Now, I can’t find any proof that municipalities require phone books (if you can please leave a comment), so I have to assume that there is still profit in the industry, otherwise they’d have phased them out. So therefore, what we’ve got here is a reluctance to give up on an old practice perhaps for fear of change and and certainly for fear of disrupting a proven revenue stream. But is there a better way?

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Water-H Fuel Systems a Go-Go: Ronn Motor’s Eco-Exotic Scorpion

| Saturday December 6th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Aquacar_by_Dave_Hawkin_daughter_500.jpg It started early this year when I began receiving spam emails asking if I wanted to power my car with water. More than a little skeptical and suspicious, I passed such enticements up and deleted them. Though they piqued my journalistic curiosity, the fact that I don’t own a car, and haven’t for more than a decade, made it easier to do so. Then, several months ago, I met a young electrician from a ranching family in rural Colorado. Using a mix of plain old water and plain old baking soda and applying an electric current, he was well on his way to devising a homemade electrolysis-hydrogen fuel production and delivery system for his late ’90s model pickup, one that was supplementing the engine’s intake and combustion of gasoline with hydrogen gas.
My eyes began to open and my skeptical mind turn on to the idea, one that, as it turns out, has been around for a long time. Like many such seemingly straightforward, practical and cost-effective clean technologies, somehow it just never caught on, which in turn, has led to various conspiracy theories as to why. All this may be changing, however…
Photo credit: Daughter of Dave Hawkin, Open Source Energy Project

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Introduction to Clean Technology Investing – A Must Read Presentation

| Saturday December 6th, 2008 | 2 Comments

What is Cleantech? This is the question Lightspeed Ventures Partners’ Andrew Chung set out to explain to government officials in a recent presentation. Every aspiring clean tech venture capitalist and green entrepreneur ought to take 10 minutes to review this clean technology presentation. By highlighting eight sectors of green and clean technology, Andrew creates a viable framework and provides in depth data to understand the rapidly evolving clean tech industry. These sectors are Solar, Wind, Fuels, Other Generation, Storage, Energy Efficiency, Water/Air, and other. Have a look at the presentation right here, be sure to click “full screen” to read it:

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Indianapolis Opens First Sustainable Post-911 Greenfield Airport

| Friday December 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

A major metropolitan airport may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering the concept, but what better place to address the principles of sustainability than the very hub of petrochemical, carbon-belching human endeavor? Applying these principles to such a facility is one of the best ways to further bring the whole idea of sustainability into the mainstream.

“An airport is a giant, living laboratory for these ideas,” Ripley Rasmus told me this week when I spoke with him about the November 11th opening of the new Indianapolis International Airport (IND), including new runways and ramps, parking facilities, and the Colonel H. Weir Cook Terminal. Rasmus is the director of design for the St. Louis-based international design and architectural firm HOK, and the lead designer for the $1.1 billion project.

The new airport is part of a 30-year master plan for Indianapolis. Replacing the worn out, 1950’s era airport was a key element in revitalizing the metro area and hopefully attracting more tourism and convention business, as well as (hopefully) luring airlines to use the new facility for more direct flights to and international flights from Indianapolis. Accordingly, when the idea for a new airport was first discussed in the 70’s, sustainability and energy efficiency wasn’t on the playlist.

By 2001, Rasmus and his team aggressively pushed for sustainability when bidding their designs to city officials. HOK won the day and Indianapolis now boasts, as Rasmus terms it, the first “sustainable, post-911, greenfield airport” in the United States.

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UN International Volunteer Day: Corporate Giving in Troubled Times

| Friday December 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

unintlvolunteerday.gif The United Nations has designated today, Dec. 5, International Volunteer Day, and while financial turmoil and recession news is dampening holiday spirits and people’s aspirations, there are corporate leaders out there who recognize that in times like these civic minded actions and giving back to the communities that empower and support them is more critical than ever.
In celebration of the industry leading pioneer’s 40th anniversary, Intel CEO Paul Otellini earlier this year pledged that employees would give back to their communities by volunteering 1 million hours of their time and effort. Looking to spur them on and compound that, he pledged that Intel would expand its volunteer matching grant program, which matches volunteer hours at local schools and non-profit organizations with Intel Foundation cash grants.
Today, Intel announced that its employees met the 1-million volunteer hour goal and that the company will donate nearly $8 million to its communities. Moreover, the Intel Foundation said it will maintain its charitable funding at a historically high level in 2009, including a recently announced $120 million commitment to encourage more youth to participate in math and science.

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday December 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Wal-Mart: Bullying for the Greater Good? GreenBiz has some great analysis on whether conglomerates can be a net positive for the environmental movement. If I give Wal-Mart my lunch money, do I get some watershed restoration in return? Read on to find out!
dove.jpg Slightly Duller Packaging Means Millions Saved, Happier Rivers and Fishies Unilever’s plan to reduce the number of colors used in printing packaging for a few of their products will save the company millions of dollars every year. One more example of sustainably initiatives being good for the bottom line.
2007-chevrolet-volt-concept-frontjpg.jpg Will the Volt Save Chevy from Meltdown? Is it too little too late for Chevy’s pipe dream electric car? Should we just shift our attention to Better Place who topped last week’s announcement of a San Francisco electric car network with one in Hawaii.
superman-tie.jpgHow to Create Change in a Conservative Culture If you are crazy enough to stick your neck out in this economy, goodonya! Green Biz gives you the tips to do it right and not get fired.

Goliaths Get on Board with Climate Thanks to the hard work of the Climate Group , some big financial firms are making big commitments on climate. Climate Group, can you work your magic on the big three next?
Finally, proof that just like on TV, pundits are right even when we are wrong. The people loved our prediction that solar stocks would skyrocket after Obama’s election , and they loved yesterday’s story that they in fact tanked even more. It’s all about attitude, right?

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Solar Stocks Very Low Despite Obama Victory

Sarah Lozanova | Thursday December 4th, 2008 | 4 Comments

solar-house-small.jpgSolar stocks must be sky high at the moment, right? Wrong. If you look at the values of most stocks around election day, they did increase. This peak was short lived however for most solar companies and it was followed by a huge decline.
Just how steep are we talking?
Akeena Solar
(NASDAQ:AKNS) is a large US-based solar installer for residential and commercial systems in California, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Their stock was valued at nearly $17 per share at the beginning of the year and is now below $2.

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Ecoflation Threatens the Future of Economic Stability

| Thursday December 4th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Ecoflation_SoyField.jpg According to a recent study released by the World Resources Institute, in conjunction with ATKearny, the world has experienced a remarkable rise in the prices of vital commodities in recent years. Including energy and agricultural products, the average price of oil, for example, between 2006 and 2008 rose by 110%, wheat by 136%, and rice by 217%. The purpose to highlight these numbers is to call attention to the increasing scarcity of natural resources – as these drastic increases impact companies, household, and entire economies, it is becoming more and more imperative to find better, more efficient ways to manage them in the 21st century.
“Rattling Supply Chains” as the study is called, which can be found here on GreenBiz, terms the situation of rising prices coupled with increasing consumption and supply chain costs Ecoflation. Ecoflation describes a future in which policies and constraints on natural resources force firms to add to the cost of doing business the environmental costs previously borne by society.

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Bikes to Rwanda: Building Communities and a Better Cup of Coffee

| Thursday December 4th, 2008 | 0 Comments

social-enterprise.gif
Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka and the one of the seminal thinkers behind the modern social enterprise movement, describes in a recent interview that moment of inspiration when a social entrepreneur sees the solution to a problem that has eluded all others. “The most powerful force in the world is a big pattern change idea, but only if it’s in the hands of a very good entrepreneur,” Drayton comments during the interview.
manbike_crpd1.jpgOne such entrepreneur is Duane Sorenson, the owner of Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR. He experienced this moment of inspiration on a trip to Rwanda in 2006 where he was visiting the coffee cooperative Koakaka Koperative Ya Kawa Ya Karaba, or Karaba for short. More than a mile above sea level, Karaba grows bourbon-varietal coffee, a superior varietal, but a more delicate and difficult one to grow and process. Mr. Sorenson asked one of the farmers at Karaba what could Stumptown do to help him improve his coffees. “He said a bike would help him with transportation of ripe cherry to the mills, which would improve the coffee’s quality, since coffee needs to be milled within hours of picking.” Once a coffee cherry is harvested, the bean inside the cherry swiftly begins to degrade. Coffee cherries, especially delicate ones like the bourbon varietal, that sit in the sun can ferment and taint a batch of beans.
The trip provided Mr Sorenson and his colleagues at Stumptown the germ of an idea. After returning from Rwanda, they started a nonprofit group called Bikes to Rwanda (BTR). About their moment of inspiration, Clara Seasholtz, executive director of Bikes to Rwanda adds, “I have to say that it isn’t often that aid projects begin by asking the benefactors what they need, rather than a bunch of Westerners sitting around deciding what developing countries need, why not ask them?”

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Obama’s Environmental Agenda: Will it Help or Hurt the Manufacturing Sector?

Jeff Siegel | Thursday December 4th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Well I guess it was just a matter of time before the opposition to a new, potentially progressive environmental policy began to spread across the media like roach trails on a dirty counter top.
It’s no secret that President-elect Obama is likely to push for a massive increase in renewable energy investment, and a drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Not surprisingly, the latter isn’t sitting well with the folks that are responsible for a big chunk of those emissions.

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Iameco Green Computers Have a Lesson or Two for Apple

| Wednesday December 3rd, 2008 | 3 Comments

With all the recent hullabaloo about the new greener Macbook, it’s easy to forget that there have been some green computers out on the market for some time, and that they address areas that Apple has not. While Apple is to be applauded for their efforts, there are other companies that take green computing further:
Iameco (said “I am eco”) is the product of Dublin based Micropro Computers. What makes them greener than your average beige box? As Paul Maher puts it, they are updateable, upgradeable, reusable, and recyclable. And in some cases, biodegradable. More on that in a moment.

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