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!
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?
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!
“How can we make the world a better place? One electric car at a time.”
That’s the driving force (if you’ll excuse the pun) behind a partnership between a Danish energy company and Silicon Valley startup Project Better Place, announcing their plan to establish an electric car network in Denmark powered through 20,000 wind powered recharging stations. The cars will be recharged at night, when wind turbines are spinning but demand on the grid is low. DONG Energy will work with Project Better Place in the project, set to start in 2011 at a cost of $42.3 million. CEO of DONG Energy Anders Eldrup said, “With this project, we hope to contribute substantially to reducing CO2 emissions from Danish cars.”
The cars will be manufactured by Renault-Nissan using advanced lithium-ion battery packs produced in a joint venture by Nissan and NEC in Japan.
Project Better Place is the brainchild Israeli-American entrepreneur Shai Agassi, whose first project in Israel was announced last January.
Writing in his blog, Agassi likens the concept to a virtual oil field, “one that will never run dry, and will not kill us in the process…”
Project Better Place has secured $200 million in its first round of funding and plans on focusing on developing a repeatable model of establishing a grid of recharging stations powered by local operating companies. The company is currently talking with several governments in hopes of creating more pilot projects.
Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood certification guarantees that the hardwoods provided were harvested responsibly. Accordingly, the certified producers of these hardwoods are also making moves to maximize the habitat and watershed preservation. Synthetic pesticides are also slated to be reduced, however, not eliminated altogether. For example, one fine and legendary use for this SmartWood has been implemented by Les Paul. He has designed a mahogany and muirapiranga electric guitar using only certified SmartWood. And by the way Les Paul can still rip it at the ripe old age of 92. Not half bad… The Alliance has a mission, and that is, simply put, to encourage a stronger on-the-ground forestry practice that rewards businesses, governments and communities for meeting the required standards for sustainability. Local community support and biodiversity practices are a critical aspect to the program. Since the founding in 1989, the SmartWood council has certified some 2,300 operations and 43,000,000 million hectares in over 60 countries up to the code of FSC standards.
Do you walk the talk when it comes to investing? Maybe you’ve been waiting to see which stocks make the most green while promoting green. GreenMoneyJournal.com recently released their Sixth Annual Sustainable Business 20 List to help you in your conscious investing decisions. The list details which stocks perform the best on the social/environmental performance scale and includes large, medium, and small companies representing a variety of sectors. So, which firms deserve our money? The SB20 list includes: Best Water Technology (Vienna: BWT.VI) (Austria); Canon (NYSE: CAJ) (Japan); Comverge (Nasdaq: COMV) (USA); Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) (USA); First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) (USA); Fuel Tech (Nasdaq: FTEK) (USA); Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR) (USA); and more…
I’ve read in more than one place that 100 square miles of solar panels in the U.S. would meet all our energy needs. Wondering if you thought this was accurate and, if so, achievable?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could completely switch from being a carbon-based economy to being a solar-based economy? The answer shouldn’t be too hard to find but the conclusions might surprise you. Solar photovoltaic modules or panels convert beams of energy from the sun — photons — into electrons, which we can then use as electricity. According to Dan Berger, senior project designer at SPG Solar, we receive about 6.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per square meter of solar energy per day, or 2,373 kWh per square meter per year. At 12 percent efficiency, the solar panels generate 285 kWh per year. The average American used 12,000 kWh in 2003, so each person would need around 42 square meters of solar panels (about 450 square feet). Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/04/07/ask_pablo_solar/index.html
Water shortages are on the rise, from Mexico to the Andes, northern China to southern India, and Spain to Pakistan. Drought, soaring populations and population densities, changing diets, and increasing living standards are all factors. Is this an issue that technology can fix? Judging by investors’ responses, technology can at least mitigate the problem. FourWinds will invest up to $4.7 billion in water treatment and desalinization and companies that make meters, pumps, and pipes.
With the launch and ongoing development of its Emissions Trading Scheme, the European Union stepped forward and has been the prime mover when it comes to trying to cap carbon dioxide emissions, both within its growing borders and internationally – by establishing market-driven mechanisms that put a price on them, thereby enabling industry, private investors and government agencies to factor them into resource allocation and investment decisions. But have carbon dioxide emissions declined or leveled off as a result? Yes, according to “The European Carbon Market in Action: Lessons from the First Trading Period,” an interim report from an international team of contributors prepared by the Mission Climat of Caisse des Depots. In addition to establishing the world’s first, and by far the largest, market for emissions allowances, the ETS’s three-year Phase I trial period has been successful in a number of significant ways, the authors maintain. The Phase I trial period has established a basis of price, market mechanics and emissions data that is benefiting market participants, industry and commerce, researchers and policy makers, paving the way for its expansion and more widespread and substantial progress in ETS Phase II, which began this year and runs through 2012. Moreover, it has been a boon and catalyst for the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Initiative. In addition, problems relating to supply-demand conditions, free vs. auctioned allowances and windfall profits, and regarding emissions data collection and forecasting methods and models were identified and factored into European Commission and individual national government policies, national allocation and market development plans.
For that strange little cross section of environmentalist and videophile, there is a high definition TV out there for you. I’m talking about the recently launched, CES award-winning Philips 42PFL5603D Flat TV 42″, better known as the Eco TV. The problem is that you may never hear about it. The set is RoHS compliant, meaning it is virtually free of the six major heavy metals including lead, mercury and cadmium that are a danger to your health and the environment. It also uses less energy by dimming in response to ambient light and using a mere 0.15W on standby. The packaging and manuals use recycled material for a nice touch. The set runs in full 1080p and uses Philips Pixel Plus HD technology to remove artifacts so you’ll always get a nice image. And at $1399.99, the set is comparably priced. Sounds great, right?
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