Business Link Surrey, a government run business resource center in London, is offering free advice on ‘going green’. (Article Here) Even simple tips like using mugs instead of foam cups are useful where many businesses simply don’t know where to start. Helpful programs like this one can make a big difference in environmental terms, as well as in improving the bottom lines of local businesses.
A while ago we talked about a Prius hack that can yeild mileage performance up to 180mpg, while voiding your warranty. Well, it turns out a regular factory model Prius can break the 100mpg barrier if driven in an extremely obsessive manner. A group of engineers in Pittsburgh did just that recently by using a technique called “Pulse and Glide” which essentially consists of coasting most of the time. Not exactly practical, but it’s amazing to see what’s possible out there! (via Grist)
Fujitsu is continuing their work on a corn starch based plastic for use in computer cases. The new development should save as much as a liter of petroleum in the production of a laptop computer. There is no increase in manufacturing cost, and the case is recyclable at the end of its life. Currently, however, raw material costs remain higher than traditional plastics. More on JFS.
According to the Internetwork for Sustainability, as climate change becomes more of a mainstream issue, companies’ brand reputations will be increasingly staked on their response to the issue. The lesson, according to the article, is to act now to establish a reputation for being appropriately proactive.
Microgeneration refers to the spreading-out of energy generation to many places, rather than a few giant powerplants. Examples are small wind turbines on people’s homes, or towns. In addition to being a money saver for people, it’s also a way to ensure a much more stable electricity grid, although it might not entirely supplant it. Many small companies are cashing in on the trend by offering consumers the basic supplies to create their own energy. For more info, the BBC has a great whitepaper on it (PDF link).
(via Curt Rosengren)
One of the great tenets of environmental accounting is finding dollar values for things that were previously overlooked. The classic question “What’s the value of a tree?” might be answered by many as “priceless”, but put into the context of an urban environment and the many services that the trees provide, it’s useful to find a way to add them up. Joel Makower points us to a fascinating study by the Casey Trees Endowment that tallied up an average value for the services provided by all the trees in the District of Columbia.
Among the services provided: Air pollution removal, carbon storage & sequestration, building energy-use savings, as well as structural and compensatory value. The total value of the roughly 2 million trees in the district? Over three and a half BILLION dollars.
Keep in mind that none of this accounting tries to get into the value of asthetics, mental health, and property values. So in reality the trees are worth a lot more.
According to Worldwatch Institute, only 1-2% of America’s food is ‘locally grown’, meaning the vast majority of it gets shipped and average of 1,500 miles to the dinner plate. There are obvious environmental consequences to this, as well as preasures on small farmers. The idea of ‘Sustainable Food’ means shortening the supply chain, buying local, enaging a relationship between farmer and the end buyer, either through community markets or involved restaurants. It’s slowly gaining steam, as outlined in the LA Times recently. Check it out. (Requires registration)
For your weekend listening, check out the KPFA (Berkeley) program Terra Verde, featuring Presidio World College Provost Ron Nahser and New College’s Jon Ragatz. The program is an in depth look at the Sustainable MBA movement from some of the pioneers in the field. It’s only 30 minutes, and you can download it right here.
As the market for sustainably grown and organic meats and produce increases, farmers are taking on more management challenges in getting their goods to the table. In fact, Iowa State University now offers an MBA with a minor in sustainable agriculture. The overall goal, of course is to increase the value chain from food to fiber, and farm to family. Additional details can be found on the Iowa State website. (thanks bob!)
A shining example of the ways climate agreements such as Kyoto may actually stimulate economic growth (as opposed to the opposite), I present AgCert. The business model is simple: Help farmers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions below required standards, then sell the resulting credits to industry who can then pollute a little more than they would otherwise be allowed to do. Currently, the system would be dificult to implement in a voluntary market such as the United States. But the company seems to be off to a great start in Europe. Check out the official site.
(via Private Sector Dev Blog)
If NASA can do it, why not Singapore? Being a small island nation, self sufficiency is high on Singapore’s list of priorities. Water is no exception. The country has embarked on an innovative campaign called “NEWater” that will be producing drinking water from waste water. Jokes aside, the program seems to be working and people claim to notice no difference in taste from the tap.
(thanks mark!)(image swiped from Wired)
The latest report from GreenBiz reports that “Local economies benefit when manufacturers efficiently manage their energy use and their industrial waste”. That often means complying with local regulations, ideally in a proactive manner. The whole report, by the Alliance to Save Energy is available here to download.
There was a great article a few weeks ago in the New York Times (requires registration), about some of the differences between Costco and Wal Mart. Granted, the comparision is not flawless given the somewhat different product offerings the two companies offer. Still, they’re both massive big-box retailers on the surface. The big differences in terms of how the companies are run: 85% of Costco employees have health indsurance compared to less than half of Wal Mart’s, average pay at Costco is 42% higher, employee turnover and theft is lower at Costco… the result? In the last yeah, Costco stock is up 10%, while Wal Mart’s is down 5%. Just another lesson that doing the right thing pays off. (Via Simran Sethi at IntentBlog)
Just a reminder to those of you in New York City – Tonight at Glass Lounge in Chelsea, the Treasure America team is having a fundraising event to support the effort to document the environmental and economic argument against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. Proceeds are going to pay for the video production, a short portion of which will be shown at the event. For more information, go to www.treasureamerica.org.
6:30 PM, Glass Lounge, 287 10th Ave @ 26th St.