AskPablo: Summer Vacation

| Monday June 9th, 2008 | 2 Comments

With gas prices breaking new records every day I am wondering, is it better for the environment to fly or drive to my summer vacation?
In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the quick answer is that driving is far better than flying. But let’s see why that is.
According to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the internationally accepted process for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions, the emissions from a long-haul (less than 1,000 miles) flight are 180 grams per passenger mile. So a nonstop flight from San Francisco to Boston would create 487 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions per person (2,708 miles x 180 g/passenger mile), or almost 1 ton for a round-trip. For a family of three, the “carbon footprint” of your vacation would already be almost 3 tons! Generally, larger airplanes are more efficient per mile, so short-haul flights release even more emissions.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/ask_pablo/2008/06/09/ask_pablo_summer_travel/index.html

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Rising Oil Prices Spark Strikes in Spain and a Saudi Call to Meet

| Monday June 9th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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*Photo Courtesy: EPA/Robin Townsend
A week or so ago it was fishermen and seafood supplies, now its food supplies in general, as well as fuel, a bevy of other products and traffic flow that’s being disrupted in Spain as truckers have gone on strike in protest of rapidly rising fuel prices.
Truckers blocked principal routes into major cities around Spain this morning and are refusing to transport food, fuel and a range of other supplies, including new cars, as a call for an indefinite national strike begins its third day. With news reports fanning concerns people are beginning to horde fish, meat and other foodstuffs.
Mounting price pressures and the growing number of protests and demonstrations in developing and developed countries around the world has led Saudi Arabia’s cabinet to call for an international meeting of oil producers and consumers.

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Intel’s Atom Processor: What Does It Mean When Your Next Computer Costs $250

| Monday June 9th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Intel further detailed plans for its Atom processor at this year’s Computex. The company is expecting the processor to create a whole new set of computers dubbed “netbooks” and “nettops,” low-power systems that are primarily used for internet and other basic functions such as listening to music and word processing. “Netbooks” will be much smaller in terms of storage (2-4 GB) and screen size (7-10 inches) and priced around $250.
The Atom uses a much lower voltage than conventional desktop and notebook processors. Intel’s current Core 2 Duo processors max out at 35W, the Atom will top out at 4W. While a computer’s total wattage includes other components – power for the hard drive, optical drive, graphics processor, etc. – the drop in processor wattage is significant. Intel is hoping new technology such as flash-based storage will be used to help further decrease the energy used in the systems. Low voltage not only means better battery life, but decreased energy demand and environmental impact, a plus for users and the planet. Pricing a computer at $250 also means making the computer available to people with a wider range of incomes, serving the people aspect of the triple bottom line.

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San Francisco Gets $1 Million Grant to Build Grease-to-Biodiesel Facility

| Monday June 9th, 2008 | 0 Comments

San Francisco receives $1 million dollar grant to build a grease-to-biofuel facilityThe California Energy Commission has given the City of San Francisco a $1 million dollar grant to build a pilot grease-to-biofuel facility at the SFPUC’s Oceanside Sewage Treatment Plant.

San Francisco began working with biodiesel the SFGreasecycle program in November of 2007 to collect some of the 1.5 million gallons of “yellow grease” produced in the frying pans and kitchens of participating city restaurants and residents. The collected grease is sold to area biodiesel producers and then bought back to fuel the city’s municipal vehicles.

The City intends to “create a closed loop where grease is collected from restaurants and then recycled into fuel that the city buys back to power its 1,500 vehicles”, says the San Francisco Business Times. Also reported in the SFBizTimes are objections from private producers has made it hard to make a profit. Claims that the City’s Greasecyle free collection program undercuts commercial producers have forced companies like Oakland-based Blue Sky Biofuels out of the program.

The pilot facility at the Oceanside Sewage Treatment Plant will provide the means for San Francisco to produce its own biodiesel – further frustrating local biofuel producers.

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UN Rome Conference: Mobilisation to Double World Food Production

| Monday June 9th, 2008 | 2 Comments

GFC1.jpgUN chief Ban Ki-moon opened the international summit on the global food crisis in Rome last week by calling for a 50 per cent increase in food production by the year 2030. As the High-level Conference on World Food Security concluded the UN’s long-term focus was revealed; to improve food security whilst increasing production and agricultural financing. For Ban, the world has a “historic opportunity to revitalise agriculture” and must “respond immediately” to improve food security and eliminate “trade and taxation policies that distort markets.”
With this declaration the momentum for change is growing, but is this direction going to see the development of sustainable agricultural practices? Will it relieve hunger and improve the quality of lives for the global poor? Or will the rich poor divide worsen through further entrenchment of existing mechanisms that control trade and production in favor of Western politics and economics?
The global food price crisis has been brought about by an increased demand for biofuels, poor harvests from changing environments, increasing transportation costs, land development, a growing Asian market as well as unfavorable trade characteristics. The poorest people around the world have been hit hardest, sparking food riots in some places, for example Haiti, Cameroon and Egypt, as well as food export restrictions in many others such as India, Vietnam and Brazil.

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The Voluntary Carbon Standard: Are They Blowing Hot Air?

| Monday June 9th, 2008 | 1 Comment

CC_logo_small.jpgThe voluntary carbon market has grown at an astonishing rate over the past few years. Since 2006 we have witnessed an enormous surge in the carbon offset market. Many companies and institutions have even become familiar with not only how carbon offset programs work, but how these programs can net them a hefty gain both financially and for their public reputation and brand. But how are carbon offset programs like the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) useful as a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction tool?
The stated objective of voluntary carbon offset programs like the VCS is to standardize and add credibility to offset emissions from certain projects. For example, the VCS is involved with programs aimed at evaluating clean-energy projects in developing countries that are used to offset industrialized nations’ emissions of GHGs under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. Nevertheless, we need to look at programs like the VCS in detail and evaluate just how effective they are at adding value to offset projects.

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Genetic Modification Of Crops – The Pressure’s On

| Monday June 9th, 2008 | 1 Comment

pisshad.gifProponents of genetically modified (GM) crops have enough cash to jump as high or low as they intend, promoting their message, but they¬¥re faced with an increasingly unavoidable barrage of criticism. Recent authoritative studies are undermining the standard claim that engineered crops have higher yields, are better and that they can be used to prevent world hunger. What’s more, various dangerous GM associated problems have been broadly measured out to increasingly skeptical consumers the world over. The regulatory regimes of the US, Canada and the EU are all long overdue an overhaul, so change is in the pipeline. Here’s an overview of recent alarming findings.

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New Belgium Brewery: Four Principals of Sustainable Business

| Saturday June 7th, 2008 | 1 Comment

new-belgium.jpgOne of the most interesting conversations I had at Sustainable Brands 08 last week was with Greg Owsley of employee-owned New Belgium Brewery, makers of Fat Tire beer and many others.

Although I’ve always been a big fan of New Belgium’s beers, especially their summer beer, Skinny Dip, what I was most interested in hearing about were the brewery’s innovative practices to take sustainability seriously – from using organic ingredients, making their employees happy, committing to their local community and going to extraordinary lengths to measure their various impacts on the environment.

I asked Greg what were the things that made New Belgium a sustainable brand, and he offered four principals that can easily apply to any business seeking to operate in a more responsible manner. The payoff, of course, is not just the satisfaction of doing things right, but also earning the trust and loyalty of increasingly conscious customers.

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Dole’s Visit the Farm: Friend Your Ecuadorian Banana Farmer on Facebook, Almost

| Friday June 6th, 2008 | 0 Comments

doleorganic.jpgOver the past couple days, executives from many of the world’s largest companies converged with those of companies like Seventh Generation, New Belgium, and KEEN in Monterey for the Sustainable Brands 2008 in Monterey, California. Stories were traded by companies of all sizes and stages in their sustainability journeys about the shift in business landscape that is enabling companies to turn real sustainability into real competitive advantage. The conference presented some really insightful information about trends and opportunities in building businesses and products that leave the world better off. Over the next week, Nick and I will share many of these stories with all of you on 3P.
First up is a really cool find on Dole Organic’s Visit the Farm site, where anyone can meet the people and see the farm from which their bananas came. Dole has introduced a radically new kind of transparency, as consumers have become increasing concerned about where their food comes from, before it is packaged and displayed at our local grocery stores, thanks to Michael Pollan and others. To use the site, consumers simply select the three digit farm code from the stickers on the bananas and click go, and the site literally takes there–complete with a description of the farm and its certifications, pictures, and even a Google Earth link to the exact location of the farm, in case you want to fly over it, virtually, like Superman.
What’s next, friend your organic banana farmer on Facebook?

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Going Green through Wiser Investing: Spring 2008 GreenMoney Issue

| Friday June 6th, 2008 | 1 Comment

green.jpgUnprecedented opportunities for capital investments in green companies and technologies exist in a range of global economies. ‘Socially Responsible Investment’ is monitored and reported on through the Trends Report from the Social Investment Forum biennially and now, the 2008 Spring GreenMoney Journal expands our knowledge about these opportunities and trends. The Spring edition, the second most recent publication from GreenMoney, examines the ‘greening’ of the global economy and elucidates the broad range of new possibilities in sustainable investments for private and institutional investors as well as for pension plans, university endowments, foundations and mutual funds.
The Spring GreenMoney 2008 publication asks and answers, ¬¥Could the Greening of America actually be happening?, and ¬¥Is there a way to enjoy growth and prosperity…and save our planet too?’

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Building a Smarter, 21st Century Grid, Part 2

| Friday June 6th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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Facing increasing demands for electrical power, as well as new constraints both economic and political as to how best to produce it, electric utilities are the hub of efforts to better distribute and manage electrical power.
New networking and wireless sensor technology, along with open standards for their development, is playing a growing role in building a smarter grid for the 21st century, as was discussed in Part 1 of this series.
Here in Part 2, Triple Pundit continues its interview with Ron Bernstein, executive director of Lonmark International, an international trade organization that by developing open, multi-vendor standards and certification processes is helping industry, property owners, developers and others build automated energy demand response capabilities into intergrated facilities management control systems.

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California’s San Joaquin Valley Becoming a Solar Belt

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday June 5th, 2008 | 2 Comments

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The hot, dry San Joaquin Valley of California is best known for its agriculture. As a seventh generation resident of Fresno County I am thrilled it is becoming known as a ‘solar-energy-belt.’
Last year Fresno announced its airport, the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, would install “the largest solar power system of any airport in the country.” Still under construction, the system will consist of 25 acres of PV panels in two locations. It will provide 40 percent of the airport’s electricity.

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Brazil Clashes With the World on Biofuels and the Global Food Crisis

| Thursday June 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

sugarcane.jpgAt the UN Food and Agriculture Food Organization (FAO) summit that concluded today in Rome, Brazilian President Lula da Silva said the US is full of bad cholesterol. Defending his nation’s ethanol production against arguments that biofuels are causing deforestation and worsening the global food crisis, Lula said that the real problems are agro-subsidies and food crop-based biofuels. He compared ethanol to cholesterol in a speech last night to the FAO Committee, saying, “There is good ethanol and bad ethanol. Good ethanol helps clean up the planet and is competitive. Bad ethanol comes with the fat of subsidies.”
Citing that sugar-based ethanol yields 8.3 times more energy than the fossil energy used to produce it whereas corn-based yields only 1.5 times, Lula’s comments no doubt are colored by the recently passed Farm Bill, which was initially vetoed by President Bush and then overturned by Congress with a 2/3 majority in May and is argued to benefit mainly the richest agro-producers.

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Bosch Buys Solar

| Thursday June 5th, 2008 | 3 Comments

bosch.jpg Earlier this week, auto part manufacturer, Robert Bosch announced its bid to purchase German-based, solar cell producer, Ersol, agreeing to pay 1.1 billion euros for majority control of the company. Ersol is a company that has been on the rise recently, marking a 25% increase in sales and doubling its work force to 1,000 employees in the past year. Shares of Ersol – who has offices in Germany, China, and Southern California, and specializes in solar cells, PV modules, and silicon recycling for semiconductors – skyrocketed this week, jumping 63%, and closing at its highest levels since it began trading in on German markets in 2005. Many industry analysts are speculating that many mergers like this are soon to follow.

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3P SoundBite: Emily Utter of ChicoBags

| Thursday June 5th, 2008 | 4 Comments

ChicoBag-Beauty-Shot-10-200.jpg3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
Ever heard of an anti-plastic bag lobbyist? You haven’t until you meet Emily Utter, brand evangelist of ChicoBags in Chico, Calif. She knows her politics and readily points out that San Francisco was the first city to ban plastic bags in grocery stores. Formerly an employee at the San Francisco Department of the Environment, Emily worked with the city of San Francisco to propose grocery bag fees.
Today, Emily asks TriplePundit to reach out to the community to aid her in her cause.
Read inside to find out how you can help!

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