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In the sea of companies proclaiming their ‘green’ credentials because they purchase carbon offsets, it is refreshing to hear of companies that practice real environmentally-friendly practices. Within the past month two American companies announced plans to use renewable power.
Recreational Equipment Inc., better known as REI, announced on May 15 that it will install photovoltaic solar panels in 10 percent of its stores. The stores chosen are located throughout California.
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
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Interested in finding out how your building, or building design, rates in terms of energy usage and carbon emissions? Integrated Environmental Solutions is making it a lot easier to do so.
In line with its commitment to the sustainable building design movement and responding to Architecture 2030 Challenge, IES on May 14 announced the release of VE-Ware, freely downloadable software that enables building owners, facilities managers and architects to analyze, better understand and take steps to increase the energy efficiency and reduce the carbon emissions associated with existing and planned buildings.
The free version of the tool provides limited, but potentially valuable, access to IES’s Virtual Environment (VE) Apache thermal analysis software. Users input specs on their buildings’ geometry and use it in tandem with international data on climatic conditions and typical characteristics of different building, room design and systems types to assess energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
Simulated assessment outputs include a comparison of buildings’ energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions with the US benchmark for the Architecture 2030 Challenge, which shoots for realizing 50% reductions in energy usage for all new buildings and major renovations.
Model inputs currently have to be exported from Autodesk’s Building Information Modeling Revit platform but IES intends to expand the range of input options over coming months, according to a company press release.
“I expect VE-Ware to make a considerable difference in helping reduce the energy consumption of buildings throughout the world. As a direct response to the Architecture 2030 challenge and other international green building regulations, standards and codes, VE-Ware gives everyone the capability to get involved in mitigating climate change,” Dr. Don McLean, IES founder and managing director stated.
Friends of the Earth and five other national environmental and public interest groups are stepping up efforts to block what they contend are at least $544 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the nuclear power industry included in the Lieberman-Warner bill, which is expected to be considered by the Senate in early June.
The subsidies are couched in vague language in a category called “zero and low carbon energy technologies,” according to FoE and lobby group members, which includes Beyond Nuclear, Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace, Nucelar Information and Resource Service and Public Citizen.
“Nuclear is the only energy industry that could fall under this category that does not have a specific carve elsewhere; funding for renewable energy is identified separately in the bill,” according to an FoE press release.
“Although the word ‚Äònuclear’ has been carefully omitted from the bill, it is clear that this is a covert attempt to bolster a failing nuclear power industry in the name of addressing climate change,” Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth stated. “It’s time to focus on real global warming solutions like solar, wind and energy efficiency, not to further fatten the moribund nuclear calf.”
“After 50 years of unresolved safety and waste disposal issues, it perplexes many Americans why Congress would support massive subsidies for the nuclear industry,” added John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.
“Nuclear power is a dirty and dangerous distraction from real global warming solutions. When both Wall Street and Warren Buffet think nuclear is a risky investment, Congress should not waste American tax dollars to further subsidize this 1950s technology.”
I have to believe that somewhere between living off-the-grid in a cabin in Vermont a la Henry David and hopping in a private jet between palaces in Manhattan and Monaco is something approaching a middle, sustainable ground for the American lifestyle. As a culture, we seem to suffer at times from what I would call a kind of Consumption Bi-Polar Disorder. We either want next to nothing or everything all the time.
The Voluntary Simplicity movement is a case of the former.
Today’s Wall Street the latter.
But neither, I would argue, is an exemplary path. Three hundred million people can’t live like Thoreau; that’s why we created cities and suburbs, to say nothing of electric grids – efficiency has its virtues. Likewise, the billionaires of the Blackstone Group and capitalist icons like Donald Trump are not the kind of role models that lend themselves to scaling. Imagine tens of millions of Mar-a-Lago’s spread across the landscape. Doesn’t work.
If nothing else, the TBL credo is about balance, about finding the sweet spot between too much and too little. Something like the ideal of The American Middle Class. But as we’ve seen in recent decades, it’s getting harder to maintain the middle; the pull of the poles, the Haves and Have-Nots, seems to be getting stronger.
But it shouldn’t be rocket science, achieving the balance. Livable wages, affordable health care and housing, quality public education, clean air and water. Pretty basic stuff. TBL stuff. You shouldn’t have to live in a tent or the Taj Mahal to feel like you’ve got it.
A pioneer in social entrepreneurship and sustainability, William Shutkin is the inaugural Chair in Sustainable Development at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder. He also serves as the Interim Executive Director of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a Partner of the Innovation Network for Communities and a Research Affiliate at MIT. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his wife and two kids tele-skiing, flyfishing and gazing at trees.
ClimateCounts.org, a non-profit organization funded by Stonyfield Farm, has a mission to “bring consumers and companies together in the fight against global climate change”. The principal tool used to achieve that is the Climate Counts Company Scorecard rating the “climate commitment” of 60 major corporations across 9 industry sectors. In collaboration with Clean Air-Cool Planet, ClimateCounts released their first annual scorecard last year.
Last week ClimateCounts released their second annual scorecard showing that, overall, businesses have improved since one year ago. The average company score rose 22%, or a 39 out of 100 (0 = really [really] bad; 100 = phenomenal (to which no company comes close).
Some companies are a bit cool to the whole idea behind ClimateCounts. Amazon, who managed to pull their score from a zero all the way up to a blistering high of five, shrugs off the rating, citing “significant progress” in reducing their carbon footprint. (five being infinitely better than zero).
Companies like Google, who has pledged to become carbon neutral, showed a bit more enthusiasm for the project, and rightly so, rising 38 points from last year to 55.
A breakdown by ranking shows Nike at the top with an 82 and Wendy’s International in a dead heat for last place with Jones Apparel Group, Darden Restaurants, and Burger King, all scoring zero.
Something I thought I would pass along to readers of TriplePundit:
Joel Makower of GreenWorldMedia just sent notification of a research initiative from The National Environmental Education Foundation with an invitation to participate in a survey prepared “…to gauge more broadly how leading companies approach internal employee education and engagement.”
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Kleiner Perkins, the monolith of venture capital, released a 1.2B dollar green fund, and yet, what is the likely result? Clean tech companies getting big, fat, juicy checks. Mind you, one of these clean tech ideas will revolutionize the way energy is produced and therefore help to transform our society, but isn’t there more to “green” than energy generation and storage? The question on my mind is whether VCs are genuinely good for the sustainability movement, outside of the clean tech arena. The answer: probably not. If you’re a clean tech company, possibly. If you have a truly altruistic company that shouldn’t have a 3 year horizon on an investment, emphatic no.
So, given that, where do you go for money if you’re a green company looking for success without VCs? The answer: nowhere. Angels likely won’t “get” your company and finding one that does is often like the proverbial needle in a haystack; most VCs won’t care and you likely don’t have the dough yourself. The result: get a job and leave the green stuff to the big boys.
But, wait, the big boys aren’t getting it done either. When was the last time you were genuinely affected by a newly funded, market-penetrating green company (especially an online play)? Do we simply give up on the sustainability movement like Adam Werbach poignantly alluded to in his seminal “Is Environmentalism Dead?”
A recent annual survey into the carbon reduction efforts by suppliers has revealed that business leaders dread the potential impact of emissions legislation on their activities. The survey, carried out by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a transatlantic not for profit organization, covered responses of 144 supply companies to multinational corporations. Only 26% of the suppliers have actual plans in place to achieve greenhouse gas reductions. But more than double that number (58%) was tracking their emissions. Around 33% of all the surveyed suppliers has a dedicated board member in place dealing with climate change issues.Click to continue reading »
The European car industry is going to be heavily impacted by regulations on pollution limitations and tensions are rising between German manufacturers on one side and the French and Italian car industry on the other. Reason? German cars are much heavier than those made by the French and the Italians and the Germans fear that they will be penalized by new pollution regulations.
New cars by 2012 can only emit 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer at max. Most European cars average 160 grams per kilometer at the moment. The new rules are expected to transform the look and feel of all European cars. Even the smallest and most energy efficient cars are required to undergo design changes so the sector as a whole can reach the new goals.
Three micro-breweries manufacture ‚Äògreen’ beers. No, the beers are not the color green, but the micro-breweries power their plants with renewable energy.
New Belgium of Ft. Collins, Colorado became the first U.S. brewery to power its plant with wind turbines in 1998. New Belgium didn’t stop with using renewable energy. The brewery recycles, uses the methane produced by process water treatment to power 15 percent of its electricity and heat. New Belgium provided Solix, a company developing the capability to produce bio-diesel from algae, with several acres on its property, carbon dioxide from fermentation, and warm water from its process water treatment plant.
Royal Dutch Shell’s Global Business Environment executive Jeremy Bentham and team addressed and fielded questions from the press regarding the company’s “Energy Scenarios to 2050″ research and analysis during the first of a planned series of live Shell Dialogues web chats earlier today, May 15.
3 Hard Truths
Broadly speaking, “Three Hard Truths” underlie and are driving developments in the global energy industry, according to Shell’s analysis. Emerging nations have been increasingly participating in globalization for the past ten years and more and will continue to do so, creating a significant “discontinuity” on the demand side of the global energy production and distribution system, Bentham noted during the web chat – one that conventional energy suppliers, as well as governments and international agencies, have failed to adjust and adapt to in timely fashion, much less foresee, he might have added.
While at the Alternative Fuels and Vehicles Conference in Las Vegas yesterday, I gleaned insightful information regarding natural gas vehicles (NGVs). According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Honda Civic GX (which is currently the only NGV passenger model being produced today) ranks higher than the Toyota Prius in their Greenest Vehicles of 2008. While the GX has a lower mpg rating than the the Prius, the GX releases less GHG emissions than the Prius – thereby making it the “greener” of the two. Thus, even though the GX uses more gallons of natural gas than the Prius uses in petroleum, natural gas burns cleaner. Natural gas is also cheaper than petroleum and widely available (there are 1,500 NGV fueling stations in the U.S.) While natural gas use is increasing for buses and medium- and heavy-duty trucks, it is surprising that there are not more passenger NGVs available in the U.S. A Honda representative I spoke with mentioned that there is increasing consumer demand for NGVs, especially now in light of higher petrol prices.
Natural gas may not be a renewable resource, but it is considered an important component for the transition away from petroleum sources. Since the technology is available now and releases less emissions than any other vehicle on the market, NGVs are an attractive option for fleets and consumers alike.
Last month, at the Natural and Organic Products Festival in London, Chicza Organic Chewing Gum received the award for best new organic food product. Sharing the honor with no more than 20 other organic products out of thousands exhibitors at the festival, the recognition is large for the community of farmers in Mexico’s rainforest that is beginning to introduce their gum to European markets.
The company is a fusion of rural cooperatives from the states of Quintana Roo and Campeche, close to the borders of Belize and Guatemala. Called “Consorcio Chiclero” (translated: Gum Consortium), it integrates 53 communities and organizations with over 2,163 members, and started with the philosophy that to live amongst the nature of the land, one must work to conserve it. The consortium works within 800,000 hectares of Chicozapote trees in the part of the rainforest that was originally developed by Mayan civilizations, and much of the production practices of the Chizca gum follow Mayan traditions.
3P 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.
Over 80% of all communities in the United States rely on the trucking industry to deliver fuel, medicine and other consumer goods. Consultant-turned-trucking entrepreneur Andrew Smith talks about how his company, ATDynamics, is pushing the envelope on sustainability in an diesel-fuel powered industry.
Who: Before Andrew Smith started his own busines he went straight from Middlebury College, a small liberal arts college to management consulting. Even so, he always had a natural inclination towards vehicle sustainability.
The World Social Forum takes place annually to provide a meeting ground for civil society organisations, networks and individuals to explore the progression of social movements across the globe. Those attending the function become equipped with the latest knowledge on social development, struggles and innovation in the field.
The WSF hopes to facilitate networking among organisations, both local and international, that are working in a sustainable manner towards quality of life improvements for the world’s poor.
The date for the 2009 World Social Forum has been confirmed by the International Council. It will happen from January 27th 2009 until February 1st 2009 in Belem, Para, Brazil. Persons and organisations are invited to register for the event to
“come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action.”Click to continue reading »