Financial Meltdown. Sinking Economy. Is the Green Revolution in Business Dead?

| Saturday October 4th, 2008 | 0 Comments

green-business.jpgIt’s fair to say that, over the past few years, companies across all industries have begun to invest in the green revolution. These investments have come in many forms – from solar installations to design of more efficient delivery routes to development of new green products. To be sure, in most cases the initiatives have been undertaken due to promises of eventual cost savings as well as tangential benefits such as positive PR. But they have been investments nevertheless. In other words, resources have been put towards the initiative with the belief that there would be a payout down the road.
Historically, when the economy takes a turn for the worse – especially when credit tightens – we tend to see investments dry up. So it’s fair to ask the question: what will happen to the green revolution in business as the economy tightens? Will companies pause in their efforts, and will we see a corresponding slowdown in progress towards greener processes and products? Or will the changing economic conditions provide new opportunities for business to continue down the path that we’ve been on for the past few years?

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San Francisco Moves Ahead With Electric Vehicle Initiative

Justin Sternberg | Friday October 3rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

sf5559.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is on a roll with initiatives aimed at placing the city at the forefront of urban sustainability. At a press conference on Tuesday, September 30, the mayor discussed his commitment to “actionable implementation,” something he said was currently lacking at the state and federal levels. Under his leadership, Newsom believes San Francisco is well positioned to demonstrate the economic benefits of an integrated clean energy economy.

One project spearheaded by the mayor is San Francisco’s electric vehicle (EV) policy, which includes cities across the greater Bay Area. SF recently closed its request for information (RFI) and is reviewing 19 responses ranging from electric motorcycles to solicited input from Better Place, the Palo Alto firm working with Israel and Denmark to implement a statewide EV infrastructure. In conjunction with technology options, the city is addressing adoption incentives and infrastructure requirements. One example currently under consideration is complimentary charging stations located throughout the city that supply clean power from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, courtesy the San Francisco Public Utility Commission.

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In the age of financial meltdown, does sustainability matter?

| Friday October 3rd, 2008 | 5 Comments

meltdown.jpgI was in the UK at a CIO workshop last week (post coming up), and missed a lot of the on -going maneuvering on the part of both political parties here in the US. It made me think about sustainability market drivers (again; yes, I need a life…), and whether we have turned the corner from sustainability as a ‘vitamin’ (nice to have), or an ‘aspirin’ (critical need).
Right now, I would guess that most people (consumers) and many corporations are focusing on very tactical and survival -based activities, such as cost control and risk / exposure management. Where sustainability programs are already established, there is probably little impact from the financial crisis, in terms of potential termination, cancellation, etc.
But where sustainability initiatives are being considered or reviewed, I would venture that many will be put on hold for the time being, as corporations sort through on – going programs and rank and prioritize those that are truly ‘mission critical’ for short term goals.
But there may be a silver lining.

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West Coast Green Charrette Puts The Wheels on The Road

| Friday October 3rd, 2008 | 0 Comments


Sustainability oriented conferences can typically be counted on to deliver compacted learning, immersion into the forefront of thought innovation, and strategic networking. Hopefully, and especially true with this year’s West Coast Green, it will impart a palpable renewal of inspiration for and dedication to doing the good work that is so needed in the world. Yet, they can also leave one feeling left a bit short on impact; a worthy investment into capabilities and possibilities yes, but a concrete impact no. Until now. The ‚ÄòCommunity and Development Design Charrette’ chartered new territory in harnessing the power of thought leaders across diverse skill sets and geographic location, under one roof, to participate in a group process to produce a positive contribution to a local and real need.
The subject matter was West Oakland, CA, the epitome of a challenging case study in economic, social, and environmental justice. One in five children have asthma. Schools look more like prisons than places of learning and development. There are many liquor stores and fast food restaurants, yet there is one bank and no grocery store. This is in an area of 20,000 people, 45% of which have no high school education. West Oakland abuts one of the globe’s busiest ports and absorbs its constant activity of noise, exhaust, and toxins.

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday October 3rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

clean%20tech.pngWhat does the Economic Crisis Mean for Clean Tech? Eco-Geek covers the topic on everyone’s mind (besides the fact that you can’t afford to retire until 82). Yesterday, 3p’s Tom Schueneman found that it ain’t so bad

temecula-wine-tours.jpgWineries Going Green But You Just Don’t Know It… Vineyards worry that oenophiles too concerned with red or white to consider other colors.

sun.gifSF Mayor Challenges 1500 Businesses to Go Solar He’s just looking for a legacy to beat the Governator’s old Hydrogen Highway. But with 170 MwH up for grabs on the city’s roofs, we’ll take it.
google-3oct2001.gifGoogle Has the Answers as Usual Google.org offers up plan to move US off fossil fuels by 2030. It’s your usual solar, wind and geothermal. Google, please come clean my bathroom if you have so much free time.
hamburger.jpgHamburger Limits Needed to Combat Climate Change Limiting ourselves to a mere three hamburgers a week was deemed necessary by a report this week, in order to keep food-related greenhouse gas emissions from rising. The report calls for regulation to change eating habits. As if Weightwatchers weren’t restrictive enough.
paper.jpg
Xerox Unveils Erasable Paper
No, no. Not with an eraser, it’s a chemical thing! Within 24 hours the paper erases itself and can be used again. Shady CFOs line up in droves.

“Strategies for a Green Economy” Released, Discussed Smartly Joel Makower’s new book was released this week, and he discusses his focus on “the challenges of the green marketplace, especially the dysfunctional conversation taking place between companies and their employees, suppliers, customers, and regulators, as well with the media and Wall Street, or what’s left of it.” over on greenbiz.com. While I haven’t read it, he makes it sounds pretty cool. And it’s been 14 years since his last one, so he’s probably got a lot of good stuff saved up to say.
Finally, here at 3p we covered totally interesting topics like schemes to incentivize cycling, the fact that cutting emissions in CA will be good for the economy, and the miracle of the coconut.

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Green Challenge Showcase: Boston Public Health Commission

3p Contributor | Thursday October 2nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

Net Impact, a group of future and current leaders who use business to create positive change invited student and professional members to compete in the annual Net Impact Green Challenge. The task: to use their business skills to reduce their organization’s environmental footprint. Jonoathan Sherman helped create a “Green Committee” of the Boston Public Health Commission. Here is his story:
The “Green Committee” of the Boston Public Health Commission was started in the winter of 07-08′ by several people, in an agency of 1200 employees, who had a few ideas about how to make the Commission a more environmentally-friendly operation. Now with over 20 members, 3 subcommittees, and numerous ongoing projects, the Green Committee has quickly grown from an upstart to a successful working group making real impacts across the Commission. Our success has happened for several reasons. First, no matter what industry one is in, now is the right time for environmental considerations to take a place in the forefront – so our timing was good. Second, the Green Committee was, and still is, open to anyone in the Commission to join at anytime. The more people we have, and from more departments and hierarchy, equals the more leverage we have when implementing a project.

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3rd Quarter Shows Another Record for Venture Capital Funding of Clean Tech Start-ups

| Wednesday October 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

Clean tech investment breaks record for 3rd quarter of 2008Amid all the gnashing of teeth, high-drama, suspended presidential campaigns, and general ensuing panic over the economic crisis of late, the San Francisco Chronicle reports today that clean tech startups raised a record $2.6 billion in venture capital in the 3rd quarter.

Of that amount, 42% went to California companies, and two-thirds to firms within the United States.

To date, $6.6 billion has been raised so far this year, more than in all of 2007. Investment increased by 17% over the 2nd quarter of ‘08 and by 37% over the 3rd quarter of ‘07.

While that is great news, clean tech is by no means immune from the Big Bear.

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The New Business Metrics: Measuring Social Returns

| Wednesday October 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

logo-sm.gifHow do you create effective organizations focused on sustainable social impact? For those who believe in combining social mission with the efficiency of a market-based approach, the answer is: social enterprise. This growing sector, driven by both social purpose and financial promise, is attracting growing amounts of talent, money, and attention. Initially funded primarily through philanthropic support, social enterprises are now reaching the status of mainstream investment opportunities for banks, venture firms, foundations and wealthy individuals.
But with new models come new metrics, especially if this sector will continue to attract significant capital investment. These new metrics (referred to as Social Return on Investment or SROI) are one of the key topics at the upcoming Social Capital Markets 08 conference. The conference, coming October 13-15 to San Francisco, will bring together social capital and social enterprise to address this basic question of social investing: How do you measure the non-financial, social, or environmental value created by an enterprise?

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Coconut Shells: Not Just For Mermaids Anymore

| Wednesday October 1st, 2008 | 5 Comments

Coco%20Tile%20pile.jpegThe big, homely coconut is put to use in a wide variety of foods, from the ever popular Almond Joy to the serious contender to the dairy based ice cream throne, Coconut Bliss. Drinking the juice is a unique, highly efficient hydration treat. But what happens to the thick, fibrous hull? Not much, typically.
That is until now. At the recent West Coast Green conference, Triple Pundit writer Clara Kuo found them being put to gorgeous use: Kirei, which fittingly means clean/beautiful in Japanese have created a line of tiles made from what would otherwise have been agricultural waste, with gorgeous results. Kuo told me she couldn’t resist touching them. How home decor looks is of course important, but to have a tactile connection to it is gratifying as well.
While they are easy on the eye, there is much more to them then that.

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Interested in reusable containers? Not sure if it makes sense economically?

3p Contributor | Wednesday October 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

reuse.jpgTry the Reusables Cost Comparison Tool designed by the Reusable Packaging Association. The tool was demonstrated this past week at the 2008 “Choose Reusables!” Education Forum sponsored by Reusable Packaging Association (RPA) and StopWaste.org. In just a few minutes, using your own company’s pricing and volume and “dwell time” estimates you can get a rough idea of whether or not it makes sense for your company to invest in reusable shipping containers vs. a one-time use cardboard box.
The cost comparison tool takes a lot of the guesswork out of understanding what costs to include when comparing two types of packaging. It is meant to serve as a directional indicator. It’s a quick and dirty way to know if you should further investigate potential savings from reusables for your company. If your company needs assistance using the tool, contact StopWaste.org to help walk you through the process.

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Cutting Emissions is Good for Economy

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday October 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

125px-Flag_of_California.svg.jpg
Cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is good for the economy, according to a report released last week by California air regulators. The report stated that cutting GHG emissions over the next 12 years will benefit the state’s economy and save Californians money. The state’s economy will grow faster if it cuts emissions than if it did nothing.
The report estimates that emissions cuts will boost CA’s economic production by $27 billion in 2020, an increase of less than one percent of what it would be without emissions regulations. The report also estimated that 100,000 jobs will be created, many of them for low-skilled workers. The average California household will save $400 per year by driving fuel efficient vehicles and energy efficient homes. Businesses complying with regulations will also save money because they will become more efficient and use less electricity.

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Greening Nano Technology

| Tuesday September 30th, 2008 | 2 Comments

soygold.jpgGreen tech might thrive on clever solutions to reduce energy usage but real innovation has more to do with making production processes of tangible materials green. This is where nano technology comes into play. Estimates of the National Science Foundation reveal that by 2015 nanotechnology will be worth $1 trillion in the global economy. Over 2 million people will be working in this sector by then.
For the time being, nano-engineered products are the subject of both intense speculation and distrust. Consumers are aware of the technology’s potential, but because production processes are so intricate they display doubts about safety. Another criticism the industry suffers from is that the production of advanced materials often leads to the creation of hazardous waste that ordinary technology doesn’t know how to dispose of.
The few nano products that actually are green at the core tend to receive tons of publicity. Take the environmentally friendly gold particles for example. It’s one of the first products to hit the (manufacturing) market place and the product has great potential. GreenNano, a new nano tech company has started to commercialize the creation of gold nano particles from purely biological materials. The environmentally benign particle was invented by Kattesh Katti, a renowned professor of radiology and physics attached to MU’s School of Medicine and College of Arts and Science.
Gold particles are much in need for industrial use ranging from cancer treatment to automobile sensors to cell phones and hydrogen gas production. The method used by Katti’s company eliminates the use of synthetic chemicals involved in the production of gold nano particles.

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Ben&Jerry’s, Greenpeace Introduce US Citizens To The First Greenfreezer

| Tuesday September 30th, 2008 | 2 Comments

greenicec.jpgBen&Jerry’s struck up a deal with the Environmental Protection Agency to bring out the US’ very first eco friendly deepfreezers. If all goes to plan, ordinary citizens soon will be able to buy the machines as well.
The aptly named Greenfreeze runs on virtually zero hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and was inaugurated in Ben&Jerry’s Georgetown parlor hours ago by the owners of the shop. Ben&Jerry’s is testing out 2,000 Greenfreezers across the US.

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The Promise Of Green Jobs In Hard Numbers

| Tuesday September 30th, 2008 | 1 Comment

martians.jpgThe rise of new green jobs –in renewable energy, buildings and construction, transportation,basic industries, agriculture and forestry– is the first tangible result of efforts to tackle climate change. But that’s just about all we can say for certain. A recent UNEP report, entitled Green Jobs: Towards Decent work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, sets out the real (future) green jobs scenario in a few brush strokes. Two buzz terms are ‘adaptation to climate change’ and ‘efforts to reduce carbon emissions’.
These two factors are going to be two continuous themes in the future green jobs sector, which yes, will see the creation of millions of new green jobs but which will also witness effects of climate change on existing jobs that are going to be rather negative.

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ClimatePULSE: The Government Can Still Help the Carbon Market

| Tuesday September 30th, 2008 | 3 Comments

lightglobe.jpg In wake of yesterday’s disapproval of the financial rescue package, ClimatePULSE will take a look at the status of the carbon market and how it is affected by the financial services sector. Although carbon and stock trading do not occur side-by-side, they certainly interact and influence one another through various connections. In many ways, the carbon market relies heavily on the financial status of both the country and individual companies. A sliding financial market may affect the allocation of money and credit and slow the development of the national carbon market. Recent and future milestones in the carbon industry, however, are more than capable of powering the carbon market to a very successful future.

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