What Walmart and Kermit Have in Common: It’s Not Easy Being Green

| Friday March 21st, 2008 | 1 Comment

A liquid cooler atop the new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of the Associated PressAnd if you were to ask Lee Scott, Walmart’s CEO, he’d say Walmart isn’t green at all – which doesn’t seem too much of a stretch.

Walmart has been vilified for destroying America’s “Main Street”, exploiting workers all over the world (including here in the U.S.), and helping fuel a consumerist environmental mess on a scale not even possible by smaller, lesser retailers. They have one of the largest commercial truck fleets on the planet and consume more electricity than any other private user. Walmart is the big (really big) elephant in the room we call “retail commerce” and the footprint they leave throughout the world is a large one – to put it mildly.

We love to hate Walmart.

But even if Walmart isn’t green, they’re pretty good at making money and maximizing profit. And with efficiency comes lower operating costs, more profit, and more money.

Efficiency is the name of the game with their latest generation “Supercenter”  in Las Vegas that utilizes new cooling technology expected to reduce overall energy use by 45%. Since 2005, Walmart has reportedly put in place a program aimed at increasing overall energy efficiency throughout the chain, reducing packing waste, and adding more sustainable products to their shelves.

If that isn’t green, it is more efficient. You don’t always have to be green to do the right thing.

 

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Can the Green Corporation Credibility Gap Be Bridged?

| Friday March 21st, 2008 | 3 Comments

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When ex-Sierra Club president Adam Werbach and then the Environmental Defense Fund signed on to WalMart’s payroll, it raised more than the eyebrows of environmentalists, to put it mildly. Scathing criticism and cynical commentary inevitably followed. But in an environment where “being green” is increasingly good business, corporations are increasingly seeking to enlist the aid of – and gain endorsements from – environmental organizations.
Businesses’ efforts to “go green” carry more weight and are more credible when they are endorsed by third-party environmental groups, particularly those whose efforts have an impact on their local communities, according to 75% of respondents to an “Eco-concerns” survey recently released by Peppercom’s GreenPepper division and conducted by San Francisco’s Media-Screen.
“Nearly two-thirds of the 100-plus company executives surveyed launched eco-friendly initiatives within the past year, but much of what has been showcased is viewed among consumers as greenwashing,” said Ann Barlow, president of Peppercom’s West Coast office and head of GreenPepper. “That’s why it’s important for companies to seek opportunities for guidance from and collaboration with NGOs at all levels, particularly those that are locally or regionally based. They can help companies focus on the most important investments and changes to make.”

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End of the Line or Buying Opportunity: Alt Energy Stocks and LSE’s AIM

| Thursday March 20th, 2008 | 1 Comment

As is true for stock exchanges around the world, one of the oldest, the London Stock Exchange, has undergone a transformation in recent decades. The advent of digital trading and information systems technology has spurred fundamental changes in the way the LSE and counterparts in major financial centers around the world do business, prompting them to move from floor to electronic trading, opening them up to a much greater degree to international capital flows and re-organizing the structure of the brokerage and investment banking industry.
And like other exchanges – though perhaps more successfully – the LSE has built a subsidiary exchange that provides a conduit for entreprenuerial, less well-established start-ups to tap into individual, fund and institutional investors’ capital.
The LSE’s Alternative Investment Market, or AIM, – akin to Nasdaq – has pursued that strategy with great success. But while Nasdaq built its name and achieved great success by capitalizing on the information technology and Internet boom, the AIM has become a hotbed of activity when it comes to raising capital and trading the shares of mineral and energy resource companies.
The rising prominence, and market prices, of oil, gas, gold, silver and the range of key base and industrial metals and minerals has been the key factor driving this trend. Similarly, efforts to mitigate climate change have led to strong investor interest in companies developing alternative energy sources and technology. Biofuel, solar and wind power start-ups from the U.K., the U.S. and other countries around the world have fulfilled their capital needs by listing on the AIM.

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Green Spaces in Green Places: Is Building Green Going From Niche to Mainstream?

| Wednesday March 19th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Green building practices move toward the mainstreamThere hasn’t been a lot of good news in the general economy lately; from a complete collapse of sub-prime mortgage loans, to slumping property values, whip-sawing stock markets, $110+ barrels of oil and colossal brokerage houses that suddenly run out of cash – it isn’t pretty.

At first blush, it might appear that this is no time for green builders to forecast increased orders through 2008. But that’s exactly what Rob Moody is doing. Owner of The EcoBuilders based in Asheville, North Carolina, Moody started the business in 2003 and states in a recent Newsweek article that he expects orders to double this year, after doing the same last year.

Contrast this to “builders have run scared and orders have dried up” in answer to the question “how’s business?” of a friend last weekend who supplies builders with high-end kitchen cabinetry and fixtures.

In fact, builders laid off a quarter of its workers last year, and new homes sales for this year are estimated at just 632,000 homes, the lowest since 1992.

Does any of this mean that a relatively small niche has any chance of impacting the mainstream?

Maybe so.

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Merrill Lynch Partners with CDP to Boost Carbon Accounting, Disclosure

| Wednesday March 19th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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When it comes to business, finance and economics you know that something has arrived when the big investment banks and brokerages get behind it. That’s been the case with carbon emissions credit trading for a couple or so years now, and now it’s happening in the case of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions accounting and auditing.
The Carbon Disclosure Project and Merrill Lynch & Co. on March 17 announced a global, three-year partnership that aims to further develop and expand the CDP organization and its efforts to develop international standards for corporate carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions accounting, disclosure and auditing.
A collaboration on the part of 385 institutional investors with some US$57 trillion of assets under management, CDP is the world’s largest investor collaboration on climate change. Each year it sends out climate change and carbon emissions surveys and disclosure requests to over 3,000 companies globally on behalf of investors.

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EcoTuesday Networking Event, March 25, in YOUR City

| Tuesday March 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

EcoTuesday_Logo_Mar2008.jpegEcoTuesday is a forum for sustainable business leaders to come together to network, collaborate, and engage with one another in a structured environment. Here’s how it works: Participants arrive and settle in, taking a few minutes to get a beverage and see old friends and meet new ones. We start the evening with a speaker from one of the many areas of sustainability, who will share news, tips, and information about their area of expertise. The topic is different each month. After the speaker is complete, participants have the opportunity to ask questions to gain more information. After that, everyone in the room gets into a circle and shares their name, their affiliation, and one thing they’re passionate about regarding sustainability. It’s is a great way for you to learn about everyone in the room, and for everyone in the room to learn about you!
After that, we have time to meet all of the people we learned about in the introduction circle.
EcoTuesday attracts a diverse group of sustainable business leaders involved in a wide variety of interests and fields. EcoTuesday is held on the 4th Tuesday of each month – and we’re growing! Look for an EcoTuesday event in your city!
You must RSVP in order to attend (see RSVP links below):
a) San Francisco
b) Los Angeles
c) Seattle
d) Atlanta
e) Minneapolis
If your city is not listed, get in touch with EcoTuesday about becoming an ambassador today. Don’t forget to mention you heard about it on Triple Pundit.

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Tesla Begins Regular Production

Steve Puma | Tuesday March 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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Tesla President and CEO Ze’ev Drori wrote in his blog today that regular production of the Tesla Roadster has begun. This is a big step for the electric-car manufacturer.
I personally can’t wait for the first time I spot a Tesla on the road, but I am even more excited that I might get to tour the factory very soon.
Congratulations to Tesla on their achievement.

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The International Year of Sanitation

| Tuesday March 18th, 2008 | 2 Comments

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While sanitation is said to be the greatest medical advance in the past 150 years, some 2.6 billion people around the world – some 40 percent of total population – lack access to basic sanitation, according to the United Nations. That’s something that the U.N. has been trying to change for the better. One of its Millennium Development Goals is to halve this number by 2015.
It’s been hard going thus far, however. The U.N. estimates that the annual cost of doing so would require a relatively small US$9.5 billion yet this is the U.N. Millennium Development Goal furthest from being achieved.
Responding to what it has called a global scandal, the U.N. has designated 2008 as the “International Year of Sanitation”. It’s also recently launched the Global Sanitation Fund, the first global financing mechanism aimed at addressing the problem and is organizing World Water Day events in Geneva and New York City for March 20.
“Over the past 10 years diarrhoea has killed more children than all the people lost in armed conflicts since the Second World War,” according to the U.N.’s Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), which launched the Fund. “Clean toilets save lives. Healthy people can go to school and go to work. “Research indicates that meeting the sanitation MDG target would yield economic benefits of $63 billion each year, and universal access would yield $225 billion. In other words, clean toilets contribute to economic development.”

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Buy Local. Buy Beautiful. Etsy: Truly Social Entrepreneurship

| Monday March 17th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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If you’re like many others these days, you know the value of buying local. Buying non mass produced. Supporting the creator of something directly. Or perhaps you yourself make something by hand, whether it’s clothing, jewelry, or perhaps some amazing deserts. You want the world to know about and have an opportunity to buy them, but don’t want or have the desire to have a full store for your wares. Where do you go?
Etsy is a great solution to all of the above. Though it does place an emphasis on the hand crafted, it’s by no means a crunchy, wan effort. Quite the opposite, this site provides an attractive, interactive presentation of people’s products, creating a user friendly hub for connecting those who make with those who buy. Etsy gives a whole different twist to the term “social entrepreneur.”
Etsy does a stellar job providing a range of intriguing ways to find what you’re seeking, or didn’t even know you were seeking. Other retailers, take note!

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Greening a Computer Store at KU (Guest Post)

3p Contributor | Monday March 17th, 2008 | 29 Comments

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This is a guest post was written by Bobby Grace, a student in Professor Simran Sethi’s Media and the Environment course at the University of Kansas originally published this to the course blog on March 9, 2008.

Photo: Gerard Lemos, flickr
I work the computer store on campus, The Tech Shop. I can sell two or three computers in a day and a lot more during back-to-school times. For a long time, I was satisfied by simply providing useful technology to students at great prices.
Sales schtick aside, people want computers. That is, people need computers. E-mail is a valid form of communication at KU and papers are expected to be submitted electronically. Around finals time, it can be a pain to find a computer in one of our computer labs. People need computers.
Following Moore’s Law, a computer three years in age will be four times as slow as a new computer. This is theoretical of course, but as computers become more affordable, more people are replacing their old ones. The stack of out-of-use computers adds up.

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Kite-Driven Beluga Skysail Completes 12,000 Mile Journey and Proves Concept

| Friday March 14th, 2008 | 10 Comments

Beluga Skysails completes 12,000 mile voyage“We can once again actually ‘sail’ with cargo ships, thus opening a new chapter in the history of commercial shipping”

Thus is the verdict from MV Beluga Skysails captain Lutz Heldt upon completion of the vessel’s 12,000 mile round-trip maiden voyage. The crew and vessel were at sea for nearly two months, giving the “skysail” concept ample opportunity for testing and tweaking.

The journey took the ship from Germany to Venezuela, the United States, and then to Norway, arriving on March 13.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the ship’s progress here at Triple Pundit, from initial concept, sea trials, and now the round-trip completion of her first commercial voyage using the hybrid auxiliary power kite system installed on the Beluga Skysails.

Deployment of the 160–square-meter towing kite offset up to 20% of the engine’s power (and carbon emissions), saving an initial $1000 per day in fuel costs.

Future testing and plans for the system will focus on extending flight times and performance of the sail, as well as implementing a sail twice the size of the current one deployed on the Skysails. With the larger sail, savings of up to $2000 per day is possible, as well as further reduction in carbon emissions.

If all continues to go as well as it has, the Skysail concept will help usher in a new and innovative chapter in shipping.

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DoT releases study of climate change and effects on Gulf Coast transportation

| Friday March 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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The U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DoT) on Wednesday released a study of the potential impacts climate change and land subsidence could have on the Gulf Coast region’s transportation infrastructure.
Examining an area that includes 48 contiguous counties in four states – from Galveston, Texas to Mobile, Alabama – the DoT has undertaken the study to provide valuable information to regional transportation planners and government. The report is the first of a three-phase study on a region of particular concern given its geography, ecology and vulnerability, as well as the central role it plays in the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure.
“The Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study, Phase I,” assesses regional transportation systems’ vulnerabilities to potential changes in weather patterns and related impacts, as well as the effect of natural land subsidence and other environmental factors, according to a DoT media release.
Potential climate changes in the next 50 to 100 years could disrupt transportation services across the region, according to the study, which made use of 21 simulation models and a range of emissions scenarios. “Twenty-seven percent of major roads, 9 percent of rail lines, and 72 percent of area ports are at or below 4 feet in elevation, and could be vulnerable to flooding due to future sea level rise and natural sinking of the area’s land mass,” according to the media release.
The study is being carried out by the DoT in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and state and local researchers as one of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s 21 “synthesis and assessment” reports. Subsequent phases of the study are meant to develop risks and adaptation strategies that can be used for planning, investment, design and operational decision making related to infrastructure in the Gulf Coast region and nationwide.

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“Crowdsourcing” and Democratic Filmmaking

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday March 13th, 2008 | 6 Comments

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“Crowdsourcing” is an innovative approach towards getting fresh ideas tested, funded, produced, and distributed into the market. CambrianHouse is the central hub on the net for crowdsourcing. Through their “IdeaWarz” competition, anyone can post ideas, instantly receive feedback, secure funding, and/or build a team of supporters to get the idea launched.
One of the ideas to come out of this competition is FilmRiot.com. On FilmRiot, you can watch trailers of independent films that are currently seeking funding. If you like what you see, you can become a supporter for as little as $10. Once the movie reaches its financial goal, filmmakers receive the money to complete the rest of the feature. Supporters can submit feedback during the production process, receive a digital copy once the project is finished, and join an affiliate program to receive further monetary benefit through referrals. Most importantly, supporters get to watch movies they want to see made. It’s democratic filmmaking at it’s finest!
This afternoon, I spoke with Don Holmsten, founder of FilmRiot, to find out more about how this model works.

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Green Footing Part 1: Much Ado About the Shoe (Guest Post)

| Thursday March 13th, 2008 | 2 Comments

PhotobucketThis is a guest post was written by Travis Brown, a student in Professor Simran Sethi’s Media and the Environment course at the University of Kansas originally published this to the course blog on March 10, 2008.
America has a shoe problem.
2,286,472,000 shoes were purchased in the U.S. in 2005 according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association. There were 297,821,175 Americans alive at the end of 2005. That’s 7.67 shoes per person. Now I realize that I am a man and therefore do not understand the true glory of shoes, but this seems a little absurd. Think of all the different materials that go into making shoes and their packaging. Think of all the different places that those materials come from. Then think of where the shoes are made and how far they travel. In 2005, only 1.4% of consumed shoes were manufactured in America. 84.2% of American bought shoes that were made in China.
Just take a gander at this trend throughout the past few decades…

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A Brilliantly Simple Way to Recharge Your Batteries

| Wednesday March 12th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Ask yourself this: How many devices in your house use batteries? How often do they need to get replaced? How often have you thought of getting rechargeable batteries? How often have you actually done it? If your answers are many, often, every time, and never, you’re not alone.
According to Earth911.org, every year in the US, we throw out 180,000 tons of batteries. Personally I think a number of batteries would have even more impact, but the point is clear: We go through a lot of batteries. Batteries which contain a lot of materials that we’d all rather not see making their way into our environment, and many of which are actually recyclable
I recently faced this very dilemma: We bought a hand crank powered flashlight, which you would think would diverge cleanly from the battery habit, but for one thing: The noise of the gyro inside while cranking drove my wife bananas. She demanded that we get another, crank free flashlight.

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