Citing lagging sales of large SUVs, Ford has killed the massive Excursion product line. The last 19-foot Excursion rolled off the line in Kentucky on Friday. It’s an obvious sign of the times, when lower incomes, combined with high gas prices reduce the demand for massive trucks – but hopefully there’s a little bit of eco-vision mixed in with the decision. Story via Treehugger.
As reported in GreenBiz, a variety of nationwide energy-efficiency plans at Proctor and Gamble plants will save the company at least one million dollars. Efficiency is often the first step in reaching a more ecologically sound operation – and it’s also the first step in realizing the cynergy that exists between environmental consiousness and making a profit. That latter connection is easy to see since using less energy to get the same job done is obviously good for any bottom line you measure.
Not long after being named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Johnson Controls will make a push to dominate the battery technology associated with new hybrid vehicles – article here. The company has made a $4 Million investment in a new laboratory at their Glendale, WI headquarters and will us it as a “proving ground” for new battery technology.
Regardless of how you feel about hybrid technology, this sort of investment is a great example of how new, non-fossil-fuel based technologies can strengthen the backgound of the new economy.
Global Trends Blog PSFK has an offer to help 25 entreprenures gain access to a “speed-investing” session in the next few weeks in New York. The idea is that you submit a proposal in 300 words or less about what you would do with a potential investment. If selected as an applicant, you get 5 minutes with about half a dozen investors to state your case. Not a bad way to spend your afternoon. For more details, check out the post on PSFK.
Rod Edwards for Triple Pundit: Across the web, last week’s comments by Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn on the hybrid business model have polarized the green community. Ghosn explained Nissan’s lack of hybrid technology (Toyota licensed Altima-hybrid excepted) as a reflection of the fact that hybrids are a low-volume, high-investment product with benefits that can be met in less expensive ways. Fuel-efficiency can be achieved, suggests Ghosn, by continuing to evolve cars and internal combustion engines (ICE) – resulting in less expensive vehicles for consumers, and sparing shareholders the expense of investing in a new family of technologies. Responses to Ghosn’s position have ranged from the expected “Ghosn is a tool – hybrids are the future – Nissan is going down” to “Perhaps Ghosn has a point.”
My own position – as contrarian as it may seem, coming from a green writer – sides with the latter group.
With rising fuel costs, and high burn rates (literally) Airline participation in a carbon reduction program is potentially difficult. Nonetheless, Europe’s airlines have been included in the EU trading plan to cut CO2 emissions. Some airlines, such as British airways welcomed the plan, calling it “environmentally effective and economically efficient”, but others critisized the plan for not addressing road traffic as aggressively. At the momment, it only applies to intra-EU flight, but could be extended to intercontinental flights for all airlines, not just EU-based carriers. (thx Victoria!)
One of the problems with “green marketing” is that, ironically, appearing “too green” can scare away a sizable segment of the market. See the story about Philips “earth bulb” light bulbs on Joel Makower’s recent blog post for an example.
Household cleaning products are a commodity that has seen a number of “green” entrants, such as Seventh Generation, Simple Green, and Dr. Bronner’s just to name a few. These products vary quite a bit in terms of their actual chemical nature. Some vaguely calling themselves “bio-degradable” and others going into great detail about only containing certain essential, natural oils. But with few exceptions “green” is central to their marketing and branding, with “works great too” somewhat secondary.
Beauty Engineered Forever is a brand of ecologically sound cleaning products currently available only in New Zealand. Their approach to branding has been refreshingly different, well recieved, and has positioned them well against traditional cleaning products in a highly saturated market.
Safeway, one of the largest supermarket chains in the US has made a major commitment to renewable energy. According to GreenBiz, the company will convert all 15 San Francisco stores to 100% renewable energy, as well as all 270 fuel stations in the US. I didn’t even know Safeway operated “fuel stations”, but the supermarket conversion alone is a massive coup for alternative energy. The energy (78 Million KwH of wind energy) will be purchased via the EPA’s Green Power Partnership program.
“National Downshifting Week” is a successful campaign in the UK to encourage simpler living, embracement of pro-environmental pricipals, a saner use of time, and investment in family and community. It’s a “nice idea” and hopefully will catch on. A one week program like this, if it achieved critical mass, could really make a difference on a large scale – think the ultimate non-commercial holiday. As a recenly afflicted workaholic, this comes none too soon!
I recently ran across an interesting article in the Sunday Herald that looked at the game industry and its impact on society. Drawing the scorn of many for its assumed links to increases in violent behavior in children, it evokes in those living a significant number of hours in this cyber reality a feverish obsession akin to a cult following. The industry has often been accused of marketing their products to children who are more susceptible to the influences of the games’ violent messages. However, I discovered two marketing trends in this controversial and very successful $7 billion industry that surprised me: 1) an increasing number of women are being drawn to computer games and 2) game creation, far from any longer relying on simple demographics, is now based on highly co-creative fan-driven content.Click to continue reading »
It was announced in a big marketing splash: eBay will buy Skype. The business analysts were perplex, the Skype consumers surprised. Why in the world would an online auction company acquire an online communication service provider?
Market studies, social and behavior trends studies were certainly conducted by Ebay in order to make the move. The reporting of these findings did not make it in the media, maybe by choice from Ebay, to not release information to competitors.
Most of the world’s poor remain so because access to credit is denied. Microlending has helped revolutionize credit, but it’s the beginning. Now, small merchants in Kenya can use pre-paid phone cards in cell phones to call suppliers with orders. In addition, the telecom operator allows a transfer of funds from the pre-paid card to another subscriber.
Voila, 21st century funds transfer helps accelerate commerce among Kenya’s poorest. “Many people think it’s repugnant to make profits out of poor people, but having seen Kenyan poverty at work, I don’t agree,” says strategy guru C.K. Prahalad about the development. More on BBC News.
(This article contributed by Ken Chung)
I’m generally of the opinion that anything built in Las Vegas should automatically get a notch taken off for any sort of green standard, but I’m still impressed at some of the effort that is going into MGM’s utterly massive “CityCenter” project on the Las Vegas Strip.
This project is so monumental ($5 Billion) that it will permanently impact the entire strip in ways never before seen, and likely shape development for years to come. But then again, in Vegas superlatives mean nothing… what about the details?Click to continue reading »
It makes perfect sense that a company whose primary mission is improving the energy efficiency of buildings to be held in high regard by the sustainability movement. Johnson Controls has officially been added to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index – a benchmark of companies who make up the top 10% of companies meeting a variety of economic and environmental criteria.
With the success of the 2005 Expo in Aichi, there has been a lot of attention focused on Japanese green building techniques and accomplishments. The latest to make the press is NEC’s “Tamagawa Renaissance City”. The facility boasts rainwater reuse, a compost system, reduced CO2 emissions, and if dismantled, could be 97% recycled. (via Japan for Sustainability)