Fannie Mae has launched an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) program, which enables borrowers to qualify for larger loans than they would for non energy efficient homes. While this program promotes the design, construction and purchase of energy efficient dwellings, the incentive for Fannie Mae to offer such incentives is motivated by a pure bottom line rationale. The reasoning is simple: Borrowers buying energy efficient homes “can afford to spend more on their housing expenses because they will likely spend less on their energy costs.” Energy futures are as uncertain at present as they have been at any time in recent memory, so it will come as no surprise if such programs continue to proliferate. Just as increasing premium costs reflect insurance companies’ recognition of “global weirding” (a term coined by Hunter and Amory Lovins) energy efficient mortgage incentives signify the understanding of potentially highly volatile energy futures on the part of a multi billion dollar industry. Read more on Fannie Mae’s website.
In some rural parts of South Africa, water gathering is a time-consuming and costly chore. Wells are not common due to the high cost of digging and the relatively high amount of effort it takes to get a small amount of water out.
A new invention has made things a lot easier: The pump is attached to a children’s “roundabout” (merry-go-round) and crowds of happy kids do all the pumping while an elevated tank fills with water. This method pulls a great deal more water out of the ground for the local people.
The pump is paid for by advertising that is placed on the sides of the elevated water tank. Although forcing ads on people may be somewhat controversial, two of the four sides are reserved for health messages. See the official website for more details. (Also – London Times) Thanks DK!
Kaiser Permanente has teamed up with a natural-foods grocer to open the Food Farm’acy in Oakland, CA. Designed to promote healthier shopping habits, the food market is open to the public. It only stocks products that meet physician-in-chief Tom McDonald’s strict criteria for the “best and healthiest” food, including whole grain pasta, organic canned beans, and frozen buffalo.
The HMO also promotes healthy eating amongst its clients and employees by hosting farmers markets at fifteen of its facilities in California and Oregon, with plans for more. Hm… an apple a day keeps the health insurance companies in the black? (Via SFGate.com)
The conversion of surplus sugarcane to ethanol in Brazil seems to be paying off for the country (See Washington Post). Brazil is now the world’s largest producer of ethanol and is exporting the fuel to the United States. Furthermore, an amazing 30% of Brazillian vehicles are already running on it, at price about half that of gasoline.
On Monday, July 11th, Jeff Strassburg at Sustainablog will be blogging for 24 hours straight to support the Earthways Home in St. Louis. The home demonstrates various green building technologies and techniques and is a project of the Missouri Botanical Garden.
It’s definitely a project worth supporting, so please visit this post on sustainablog and make a pledge if you can!
I’ve been using a great, free site called CorporateRegister.com for awhile and wanted to share it with all the 3p-ers. Their website provides access to all current CSR/Sustainablity reports, and an archive of all reports published since 1990. It’s the world’s most comprehensive directory of corporate non-financial (environment/social/sustainability/CSR) reports. You can also sign up to receive free “alerts” when new CSR/Sustainability reports are publically available (See www.reportAlert.info). Happy Searching!
Triple Pundit editor Nick Aster is off to Kaktovik Alaska today as part of the Treasure America team – looking for a win-win solution to the ANWR oil drilling debate. Although is is easy to prove that drilling in ANWR will have a negligable, if not negative, economic benefit for the average American, it will be much more difficult to come up with alternatives for the people who are actually living in ANWR – that’s the challenge we’re up against. It’s going to be a wild trip, and if I have a chance to post anything while I’m there I certainly will. The rest of the 3P crew will be taking care of the site while I’m gone. Thanks guys!
No matter how sustainable a company’s goals, it takes an aware and empowered workforce to achieve them. A good manager finds ways to effectively communicate the company’s strategy to all employees, and gives them the tools they need to make decisions accordingly.
In a recent study, McKinsey consultants rank hundreds of manufacturing companies’ management styles. In the examples mentioned in last week’s Economist, the more effective the communication between management and employees, the higher the company’s management score.
The article explores the longevity of some badly-run companies; read it here.
Although there remains a certain amount of debate (see here) on both the “greenness” and the practicality of Ethanol, if it ever grows to be a real gasoline alternative, there will be a great economic benefits for states such as North Dakota. As a result, that state has embarked on an amusing campaign for public awareness of ethanol’s potential for the state.
Thomas Friedman has a rather interesting Op-Ed piece in the New York times where he suggests that Toyota should buy General Motors. I have no idea if any such thing is remotely on the table, but the points he makes are quite thought provoking and pertinent to sustainability. The basic premise is that shortsighted management at GM (largely toward fuel economy) is the main culprit in the company’s currently dismal financial condition.
A buyout by, say, Toyota (soon to be the world’s largest car company) would bring new thinking to American automaking, massively boost hybrid technology, and move a “geo-green” agenda forward that would ultimately “strengthen the dollar, reduce our trade deficit, make America the world leader in combating climate change and stimulate U.S. companies to take the lead in producing the green technologies that the world will desperately need”. Read the rest at NYTimes.com.
The MTA’s Stillwell Ave. Station in Brooklyn will be completely solar powered. Hailed as one of the most environmentally responsible mass transportation sites built in the U.S, a 76,000-square foot state-of-the-art solar roof, manufactured by RWE SCHOTT Solar, is expected to contribute approximately 250,000 kilowatt hours a year to the subway station’s non-traction power needs.
For the first time, the city’s subway system will have a clean and efficient source of energy, an environmentally sound way to keep this terminal up and running round the clock, year round,” says Donald Press, General Manager, Advanced Materials. He adds that NYC Metro Transportation Authority, “has surely set an example for the rest of nation.
Click here for the detailed story on Sustainable Business News.
A recent UK survey shows that at least one third of recent graduates say that contributing to society is as important as status and money, according to The Independent. On top of that, the survey says that 2/3 of consumers would boycott a company they didn’t agree with. These results may show nothing more than the wishful thinking of the survey takers, but the trend is still real and innumerable resources are available to help graduates and consumers more accurately make the choices they suggest they adhere to. Check the article for more.
If you only think of coffee when you think of Fair Trade, you’re missing out! American businesses are taking advantage of the growth of the fair trade industry by sourcing tea, cocoa, tropical fruit, rice, and now sugar from farmers that get paid fair prices, live and work in decent conditions, have access to capital, and who use sustainable agricultural practices.
Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s offers three ice creams flavored with Fair Trade Certified coffee extract. Yum!
From today’s Financial Times:
More than half of the world’s biggest companies reveal details of their environmental and social performance, according to a KPMG survey that provides fresh evidence of business leaders’ support for corporate social responsibility
Far from being a passing fashion, CSR reporting has been growing steadily, even through economic downturns. Why? The article cites a direct correlation with shareholder value as the single biggest driver.
Would you believe a major London taxi company would spend £100,000 a year out of pocket to go carbon-neutral? RadioTaxi, with a fleet of 3,000 black cabs will spend the money on forestry projects in Europe as well as solar energy projects as far away as Sri Lanka in order to offset the effects of the company’s carbon emissions. All the details in are in this PDF. Interest in the environment from the firm’s major clients is credited as a major reason the firm is taking such proactive steps.