Proponents 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.Click to continue reading »
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
One 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.Click to continue reading »
Over 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?
Unprecedented 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?’
Click to continue reading »
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.
Click to continue reading »
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.
At 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.
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.Click to continue reading »
Dovetailing nicely into my post last week about the work GreenFuel is doing with algae and their emissions-to-fuel process, air carrier KLM reported last week their intention to begin testing airplanes that run on an algae-based fuel.
In a pilot program with AlgaeLink, a Netherlands-based global manufacturer of algae growing equipment and “earth-to-engine” technology, KLM expects to conduct test flights this fall. AlgaeLink will also open two plants this year in the Netherlands and Spain.
KLM hopes to have 12 of their Fokker-50 planes (7% of their air fleet) running on the fuel by 2010, with the eventual goal of running their entire fleet of airplanes on fuel made from algae.
The cost of fuel is an increasing burden on the bottom line for airlines all over the world. In 2012 airlines in Europe will be required to pay for their CO2 emissions. At $100 a barrel, algae will then become not only the carbon neutral choice, but the most cost effective one as well.Click to continue reading »
As the cost of oil continues to soar, and as big names like GM and Ford plan to focus production on smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, Norway’s Th!nk City car couldn’t be entering the US at a more opportune time.
The Th!nk City is a compact, electric car capable of going up to 100 km/hr (approx 62 mph) and travel 180 km (approx 112 mi) on a single charge. The company recently announced plans to enter US markets, specifically focusing on California and several other key targeted markets. With it’s body made of recyclable ABS plastic, the City will cost around $25,000, making it both competitive with other EV alternatives such as Zap and AMP, as well as more popular, gas-powered vehicles like the Mini.
James Law is a self-proclaimed “cybertect.” Working within the realm of futuristic design, cybertecture fuses architecture, infrastructure and city planning with emergent technologies and artificial intelligence. At first glance, this seems like the plot synopsis of a bad, made-for-The SciFi Channel movie. However, the design for the new “Cybertecture Egg” in Mumbai could also very well be the zeitgeist of the architectural revolution of the 21st century.
The 13-floor, egg-shaped office building is a hybrid of environmentally focused design with new engineering and intelligent systems. The original design concept was to recreate the world as an eco-system, where life is allowed to evolve sustainably. “[Buildings] are no longer about concrete, steel and glass, but also the new intangible materials of technology, multimedia, intelligence and interactivity,” according to the firm’s website. In addition to several interactive features (such as the ability of an occupant to change his or her “view” at their desk to real time imagery of places around the world), the building will also feature a green roof, wind turbines, and a water filtration system that will process the building’s grey water.
US business leaders have never been as switched on to climate change as now. Congress members are tackling cap and trade issues at long last and a new international climate deal is on its way. It’s easy to lose track of the obvious in all the politics and the fact that half of the US economy’s greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to small businesses escapes many. But the little guys themselves are beginning to make efforts for instant impact measures.
Take the example of US car dealers. Some 500 of them have pledged to reduce their businesses’ energy consumption by 10%. The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has calculated that the dealers make combined energy savings of $4.8 million. That’s an impressive amount which also translates in considerable greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
Click to continue reading »
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) yesterday announced several initiatives aimed at realizing the ambitious goal of generating 20% of the nation’s electricty via wind power.
NREL, in partnership with a state consortium led by the University of Houston, will build a wind turbine blade test facility – the Texas-NREL Large Blade Research and Test Facility – at Ingleside on the Texas Gulf Coast. A second, similar facility to be constructed on the East Coast by NREL in partnership with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative was announced earlier.
Addressing the press and attendees at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2008 Conference at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, NREL also announced that it was partnering with Siemens Power Generation to build and test a commercial 2.3 megawatt, SWT-2.3-101 turbine at the Lab’s 305-acre National Wind Technology Center outside Golden, Colorado. At the same time, just north of the Center, NREL and Siemens Power will build and bring into operation its first U.S.-based wind technology research and development center in Boulder, Co.
“The projects announced today demonstrate the shared commitment of the federal government and the private sector to achieve 20 percent wind energy by 2030,” DOE Assistant Secretary Alexander (Andy) Karsner said in a press release. “To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale will be necessary to expand the domestic wind manufacturing base and streamline the permitting process.”