PG&E strikes new solar deals; Sunpower closes at 17.8% high

| Friday August 15th, 2008 | 0 Comments

sunpower_logo.jpgPG&E strikes two solar deals today, which underlines a growing commitment to meet energy demand in California.
On July 22 of this year, PG&E announced a plan to enhance existing energy efficiency plans and ensure ensure reliable supply of power, according to this press release.
Following through on its promise, PG&E’s deal with Optisolar and solar giant Sunpower will bring solar photo-voltaic to the mainstream. Optisolar is set to deliver 1,100,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy on its 550 MW thin-film PV Topaz Solar Farm.
Sunpower is expected to deliver just about half the amount (550,000 megawatt hours annually) in a 250 MW solar ranch in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.
This amount of power, according to PG&E will generate power for 239,000 homes in California every year.
Of course, in case you were wondering, this is not the first solar deal that PG&E has made. Last year, PG&E secured 177 megawatts of solar thermal energy from Ausra, so at least we know PG&E doesn’t prefer one type of solar energy over the other.

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Blazing a Trail in Data Center Efficiency: UPS Windward Data Center Wins Green IT

| Friday August 15th, 2008 | 2 Comments

UPS winds Green IT Award from the Uptime InstituteMost people don’t think of websites, networks, and databases when they think “heavy industry”.

According to Joe Parrino, who heads the UPS Windward Data Center in Alpharetta Georgia, the rapid build-out of server farms and data centers is straining the grid in many parts of the country, especially in the Northeast. The IT industry is the sixth largest consumer of electricity, ahead of transportation, oil, and other decidedly heavy industries. I spent some time last week discussing the issues of data center efficiency and the work Parrino has done to make the Windward center one of the most efficient in the world.

Since the industry’s inception its primary goal, reflected in the charter mission of the Uptime Institute founded in 1993, has been and remains reliability – uptime. But the quest for rock-solid data centers left little room for resource efficiency, or even a reliable metric to adequately gauge that efficiency. 

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Green My Vino: Revolutionizing Social Networking And Environmental Responsibility

| Friday August 15th, 2008 | 0 Comments

vge-logo.jpgTucked away in the Lower Haight neighborhood of San Francisco, among residential flats and independent coffee shops, you can find the office of Village Green Energy, a renewable energy certificate provider that’s been up and running since November 2007. In the office, the two young founders who graduated from Stanford in 2004, Robby Bearman and Mike Jackson, are revolutionizing the cross-section of social networking and environmental responsibility. Not only have they taken renewable energy to a new level, they’re bringing some great wineries with them.
Less than two weeks ago, on August 6th, Green My Vino launched into the realm of Facebook applications. While certainly not the first app with a green slant, Green My Vino is one of the most remarkable.

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Clipper, EDF to Supply Wind Power to Walmart Subs in Mexico

| Friday August 15th, 2008 | 5 Comments

Carpinteria, California-based Clipper Windpower and Electrica del Valle de Mexico, a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), on August 7 announced the signing of a long-term agreement to supply Clipper’s 2.5 megawatt (MW) wind turbines for EDF EN wind energy projects.
An initial set of 27 Liberty turbines– 65 MW worth– will be used to generate clean, renewable power for companies owned by subsidiaries of Walmart de Mexico. Due for completion in summer 2009, the first project is sited at La Ventosa, one of Mexico’s windiest areas, located in the State of Oaxaca’s Istmo region, according to a media release.

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Does the UK Credit Crunch Mean the Death of Organics?

| Friday August 15th, 2008 | 3 Comments

Recently, there has been a flurry of press in the UK talking about how the economic downturn there has caused organic consumption to falter in the past few months. With headlines talking about how organic food is toast and society’s latest casualty, it appears that many are writing it off as this decade’s fad. Who would have thought that organics would get lumped in with 8-tracks and neon?
“Expensive, organic food is the middle-class indulgence that even the middle-classes can’t seem to afford anymore.” So proclaimed an article in the Guardian UK’s Environment section yesterday. The Guardian sited a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers from May saying that 48% of people would not – or could not – pay a premium for organic products. And it makes sense. When times are tough, it’s logical to want to buy the $1.50/lb versus the $3.99/lb tomatoes, regardless of what one might perceive the differences between conventional and organic to be. Some retail chains have even gone to drastic measures to security tag organic chickens as a “credit crunch crimewave” has hit Britain.

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IKEA Invests In Solar Technology Startup Companies

| Friday August 15th, 2008 | 1 Comment

solarikea.jpgIKEA, the furniture giant, is going to sell solar panels as part of a massive investment in clean technology startup companies.The company says it will invest $77 million of its Greentech Energy fund in clean technology over the next five years. Solar panels, smart meters and other technology products are in the pipeline, according to an article in GreenBiz.

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Walmart Rebukes FTC Attempt to Standardize Carbon Offsets

| Thursday August 14th, 2008 | 2 Comments

walmart7777.jpgThe Federal Trade Commission publishes a green guide to ensure that companies don’t market their products with inaccurate environmental claims. It recently sought to update the guide with some clarifications on carbon offsets. As loyal Triple Pundit readers will know, I am an unabashed fan of increased regulation in the carbon offset sphere.
To my mind increased regulation is a win-win for offset retailers and enviros alike, because better standards will improve consumer confidence in offsets, increasing demand, and retailers can charge more for their products.
Walmart, as you know, has fought long and hard for a place of respect at the environmental table. They improved the fuel efficiency of their fleet, launched a campaign to reduce packaging, and are actively working to reduce energy use in their stores. That’s no small potatoes. Which is why it comes as a surprise that Walmart has come out against increased regulation for carbon offsets:

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How a Crowdsourced Restaurant Is Creating a Community

| Thursday August 14th, 2008 | 1 Comment

CrowdsourceRestaurant.jpg At the heart of Elements is a community. So describes one of the newer and more interesting examples of crowdsourcing, started by Linda Welch, the owner of a pet day care company and the former campaign treasurer for Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential bid. And the idea is fairly simple – a restaurant formed by a “beta community” of over 400 online members that will be opened in 2009 in Washington, D.C. serving raw and organic foods.
Crowdsourcing has been popping up more and more lately (See previous 3P post on crowdsourced apparel here), and has really espoused the 2.0, open-source ethic to redefine entrepreneurialism these days. Amongst others, it addresses one of the biggest issues faced by any new venture – capital.

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Are Solid State Drives an Eco-Friendly Option?

| Thursday August 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

samsung-flash-ssd-drive.jpgDespite the amount of technological barriers to overcome, leaps in reliability and battery life make them a better environmental option for computer storage, if only slightly. The question comes with the news that Dell is now offering the storage drives in their consumer level M1330 and M1530 laptops.
Solid-state drives (SSDs) are an alternative to plate-spinning hard disk drives (HDDs), the part of your computer you want to toss out the window after it crashes and you lose all your life’s work. SSDs, however, are more mechanically reliable because there are fewer moving parts. SSDs are also more energy efficient, typically adding 20 minutes more battery life to your laptop compared to HDDs. SSDs are generally speedier, though operating systems have yet to take full advantage of them.

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A Different Kind of Sneaker

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday August 14th, 2008 | 1 Comment

blackspot_classic.jpg
Combine a desire to create sneakers made in a factory that pays workers fairly with eco-friendly materials, and what do you get? The answer is simple: Adbusters Media Foundation’s Blackspot and Unswoosher sneakers. Adbusters is a Canadian organization that publishes the Adbusters magazine. Three years ago, Adbusters decided to produce the Blackspot sneaker which is made from 100 percent organic hemp. The soles are made from recycled rubber bands, and the toe caps are 70 percent biodegradable. The Unswoosher is also made from organic hemp, and its soles are from recycled tires.
Kalle Lasn, Adbusters founder and CEO, says they created the Blackspot sneaker because Nike bought Converse, and decided to create a knock-off of Converse sneakers using eco-friendly materials and ethical labor. “We’ve been whining about the sneaker industry and specifically Nike for a long time and we’re still very unhappy with that industry and especially with Phil, and have basically decided to out-cool him, get into the business and cut into his marketshare,” said Lasn.

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Does Cash for Clunkers Offer a Triple Impact?

Tori Okner | Wednesday August 13th, 2008 | 3 Comments

clunker.jpgWill Uncle Sam pay those in need to reduce emissions and stimulate the economy? Would it work?
A recent editorial in the New York Times drew attention to a stimulus proposal that exemplifies the intersection of the triple bottom line and continues to fuel discussion.
Professor Alan Blinder suggests implementing a “Cash for Clunkers” program, recommending that the federal government offer a buy-back rate above market value for the oldest cars on the road. Older cars emit a disproportionate amount of emissions. Binder highlights a California study that found that “cars 13 years and older accounted for 25 percent of the miles driven but 75 percent of all pollution from cars.” With prices at the pump sky high, Blinder’s proposal may attract those struggling to fuel their old gas-guzzlers – in all likelihood people in lower income brackets. The profit from a clunker sale is intended to function as a stimulus payment, supplementing consumption spending for those hardest hit by the economic downturn.

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Emerging Careers: Sustainability Consulting

Frank Marquardt | Wednesday August 13th, 2008 | 14 Comments

Note: Fore more on Sustainability Consulting, see our special archive here.

earth-280.gifManagement consultants live near the top of the economic food chain. They have the ear of Global 1000 executives, spend heavily on business research, and are constantly looking for new ways to reduce client costs and increase client competitiveness – core services that help keep them in business. In this sense, they are naturally positioned to introduce sustainability to senior executives: It’s a topic that business executives often don’t fully understand, provides exceptional fodder for erudite reports and papers, and offers attractive, understandable ways for businesses to reduce costs and increase competitiveness, particularly in an era of rising energy costs.

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Throwplace : A Sort of Freecycle on Steroids

| Wednesday August 13th, 2008 | 2 Comments

ThrowPlace%20internet%20enabled%20recycling.jpgImagine you are a non profit in need of some new equipment. Or perhaps you’re a business that’s going out of business with loads of office equipment that needs to go somewhere before you close doors. Where do you go? What do you do? In either case, you could go through laborious processes to find/fund/beg for what you need, or liquidate/dispose of your inventory. Either option is far less than optimum, but for most, it’s how it needs to happen.
Only it doesn’t.
Throwplace is a hub that connects U.S. charities, international charities, businesses and individuals to “throw into” or “take from” the offerings listed on the site, to give away or get what they need. A sort of Freecycle on steroids. Only here, charities get first dibs. New or slightly used gear gets funneled towards them, while outdated and broken items, a.k.a. an opportunity for reuse or repair, go towards businesses and individuals. And that pile of xyz in the corner that you think is worthless? They’ll gladly list that too, since it likely has someone, somewhere in the world that can make use of it.

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Shale Gas: Energy Boon or Environmental Bane, Part One

| Monday August 11th, 2008 | 4 Comments

devonian-shale-fractures.jpg At first glance, it looks too good to be true: huge, untapped sources of clean burning natural gas right here in the U.S. It’s not easy, or cheap, to extract : the science and engineering associated with estimating reservoir and production capacities, not to mention extracting the gas, is still an evolving art. Nonetheless, pioneering U.S. oil and gas companies are now realizing some outsize returns on their shale gas investments.
As is true when it comes to extracting and processing any energy or natural resource for mass human consumption, the resulting shale gas comes at a cost, not only in dollars and cents, but to the environment. In order to facilitate and maximize the flow of gas, extraction techniques require a lot of water and hydraulic pressure to fracture the shale formations. To aid the process, various forms of grit and lubricating chemicals are mixed in.
Water rights and usage have been debated and fought over throughout the history of the West. Recent increasingly dry and drought conditions are exacerbating concerns, and now all this has residents in prime shale gas production areas, as well as environmental watchdogs increasingly concerned about the effects shale gas drilling has on water quality, aquifers and watersheds.

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ClimatePULSE: “Mommy, what does “carbon footprint” mean?”

| Monday August 11th, 2008 | 1 Comment

carbon_footprint.jpgTo hear my friends and colleagues discuss the matter over cocktails, you’d be sure that every major company in the world knew what their carbon footprint was and that they were actively managing it through increased implementation of energy efficiency and clean technology programs. That’s why when I came across a recent Harris Interactive poll commissioned by Dow Corning I was shocked by a few of the main findings. Especially surprising was that 68% of the companies surveyed did not know the meaning of the term “carbon footprint”. With well over half of the world’s major corporations still unaware of what a carbon footprint is, those of us in the greenhouse gas management industry, like ClimateCHECK, have a lot of explaining to do. We also have an enormous potential market ahead as 100% of these companies will, sooner or later, need to deal directly with climate change. But for now things are just getting started, and while moving quickly, there are definitely all the signs of a young market out there. For instance, there are diverse motivators and diverse standards as to what makes a credible corporate response.

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