As testified to in one of yesterday’s postings, alternative energy investments can offer the best ROI yields on the market today . It is well worth exploring this Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy website. Take a peek and see if this might be the time for you to go green…both environmentally as well as inside your pocketbook!
With gas prices at their current levels, any mileage improvement is likely to be a big seller. GM is taking notice of this and introducing a 6-speed automatic transmission as part of an advanced powertrain it is developing. The extra gear will let the engine run slower while the car is at high speed. Addtional developments are revealed on GM’s press page.
To me these are great examples of ecologically sound developments which are motivated purely by economics. In fact, environmental issues are not even mentioned in the release. What would happen if they were? Would you consider it greenwashing? Would it turn off a certain segment of buyers?
We mentioned Gerald Prolman’s Organic Flower company before. But there’s a great article in yesterday’s SFGate that brings more to light about this inspiring individual and his increasingly successful company. Prolman credits passion and tireless enthusiasm as the keys to his success, along with the satisfaction of singlehandedly converting thousands of acres of farmland to organic over the years.
Wanna go green and get rich at the same time? State and Federal Incentives make solar infrastructure among the most lucrative and risk free investments that can be made. Take the following example:
Here in my home town of Chicago, I am one of three owners living in a residential three flat building. Our monthly natural gas bill associated with hot water averages $170 per month. This totals in excess of $2000 annually. Keep in mind that, in less than a year, natural gas prices have more than doubled.
The total cost of purchasing and installing a system that would best address our building’s hot water needs is approximately $11000. In Illinois, our clean energy rebate program will pay half of the first $10K spent on solar water heat, solar space seat, and photovoltaics. After that, 25% of costs are reimbursed for the next $20K. Given these rebates, this system will cost our condo association an estimated $5750.
The Million Solar Roofs initiative is a DOE project to jump start the installation of solar technology in the United States. The state of California, led by an enthusiastic Governor Schwarzenegger, hopes to install 3,000 Megawatts of capacity as a part of the program. So, what’s it really worth in economic terms? According to Clean Edge News, the answer, after incentive costs, is a whopping $6 Billion savings to California. It breaks down as follows:
Energy Infrastructure Savings: $7,099
Economic Savings (Jobs & Tax): $1,507
Environmental Savings: $525
Incentive Costs: $(3,025)
Net Benefits to State: $6,107
The rest is explained here, on the LOHAS site.
Alternet has come out with a nifty piece commending 10 schools around the US as being particularily commendable for green practices. The criteria are especially interesting and are so thorough that I thought it would be worth it to quote them all right here and on the next page:
A. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building standards:
1. Sustainable Siting — site selection, alternative transportation, stormwater management, urban redevelopment
2. Water Efficiency — water efficient landscaping, water use reduction, innovative waste water use
3. Energy & Atmosphere — CFC reductions, renewable energy, reduced energy consumption, green power, reducing ozone
4. Materials and Resources — building and resource reuse, local materials, recycled content, certified wood
5. Indoor Environmental Quality — indoor air quality, CO2, ventilation, low-volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, thermal comfort, daylighting
6. Innovation in Design
B. Healthy School Lunches: Does the school serve organic and/or locally-grown food for school lunches?
C. School-wide Green Initiatives: Does the school have a recycling program, carpool incentives, or any other initiatives that show that the school is taking action to be pro-environment?
Because of the succesful lawsuit brought against the Agriculture Department (part of the US government) from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and a consumer group, they are reversing their decision to yank the “USDA Organic” seal from lotions and lip balms and will now allow cosmetics to carry the round, green label.
David Bronner, the president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps sayd that the seal will eliminate false marketing claims and encourage a “truth in advertising thing — consumers can trust that it is indeed free of synthetics and does support organic farming and agriculture”
Read full story as reported at MSNBC.com.
“To invest in the environment is the best investment to overcome poverty. You cannot solve the water problems without the protection of our forests”. So says United Nations Environment Program head Kalus Toepfer, specifically referring to African nationas and their high rate of poverty. A conference will be held in Nairobi this October on the management of lakes throughout the world, with a mind toward their preservation as critical sources of ever scarcer fresh water.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term “greenwashing”, it refers to companies that talk about how great they are environmentally and socially, but behind the scenes may not really be doing much. Greenwashing companies use PR tactics to promote their sustainability and CSR excellence when the facts say otherwise.
Read The Green Life’s list of the top 10 worst US greenwashing companies. Some of the companies may surprise you!
Do you agree or disagree with their choices?
Arnold Creek Productions has a great video out that showcases 12 different companies and organizations that are pioneers in the field of sustainable business. It’s about two hours long, and focuses on exploring how to merge economic, social and environmental issues while maintaning a successful business. It’s not cheap, at $60, but having seen the trailer it looks well worth it. Have a look!
Josh Dorfman, of Vivavi, has a radio show on VoiceAmerica radio that’s definitely worth downloading or listening to live. It’s about “hip environmentalism”, helping the average consumer find “easy ways to go green”, and showcasing some cutting edge companies and groups of people. The show is broadcast every Monday afternoon, but you can listen any time by visiting the website here.
With remakably little difficulty or cost, the city of Portland, Oregon, has succeeded in lowering its greenhouse gas emissions essentially to the level in 1990. While other cities have squabled about the costs of such an endeavor, or ignored it altogether, Portland has laid out a series of investments and infrastructure projects that have made it a leader of the pack worldwide – all while remaining one of the country’s most desireable cities.
Interestingly, city commissioner Eric Sten says that progress was made more by subtle land use policy than by mass civic involvement. Asked whether the general public cared about reducing fossil fuel use, Sten replied “I’m not sure the public does care.”
I just came across the Environmetal Economics Blog (via WorldChanging) which offers, not surprisingly, “dissemination of economists’ views on current environmental and natural resource issues.”
In short, they offer a valuable, practical insight into pressing environmental issues – maintaining a scientific edge, which is part devil’s advocate, part confidence-builder. Check it out.
Japan continues to amaze me with the different civic inventive programs they come up with. Sendai City, Japan, will now offer about a dollar’s worth of fresh vegetables for every kilo of properly compressed organic waste citizens bring to a special marketplace in the city.
The waste is given to farmers who, in turn, grow more vegetables.
Friends of the Earth has put out a report arguing strongly that Corporate Social Responsibility cannot be a solely voluntary exercise if it aims to achieve any real level of accountability (PDF HERE). Rather, the report argues that government intervention is required to ensure a unified legal framework in which to achieve corporate accountability.