The Ecology of Wastewater Treatment: Giving Nature a Helping Hand, Part 2

| Monday May 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments


Companies such as Israel’s Aqwise see a growing market for ecological wastewater and sanitation services. Backed by a diverse group of investors, including Israel’s Cleantech Ventures, Elron Electronic Industries and AHMSA Steel Israel, a subsidiary of Altos Hornos de Mexico SA de CV, Aqwise is looking to build and grow along with a market and industry that is expanding and consolidating as it attracts investments from multinational corporations.
Aqwise currently has 40 installations up and running, split 50-50 between industry and municipal customers, as well as a large number of projects in its development pipeline. “We are currently active in the food and beverage industry, which has a lot of organic material in its wastewater, and we have quite a lot of experience in the pulp and paper industry – recycling paper is very water-intensive.
“We’re also in aquaculture – fish ponds to increase yields and re-circulate water in inland fish ponds, as well as two new fields: one is definitely the oil and gas world – petrochemical refineries – and we’re now starting to penetrate the biofuel industry – corn and other ethanol plants, which have a lot of wastewater to treat,” explained Aqwise CEO Elad Frenkel during an April interview, the first installment of which can be found here.

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Shell Discusses Global Energy Scenarios in First Live Web Chat, Part 2

| Monday May 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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Facing up to the “3 Hard Truths” identified by Shell’s Global Business Environment team in its “Global Energy Scenarios to 2050″ (see previous post) means facing up to the hard reality of humanity’s growing population, tight energy supplies, increasing energy consumption and associated environmental stresses, according to Shell executive Jeremy Bentham in the company’s first Shell Dialogue live web chat May 15.
Summarizing what Shell’s team has learned over the last three years while putting together its “Energy Scenarios to 2050″ report, Bentham added that the “3 Hard Truths” are “very hard. Transitions are inevitable…technology is key, but a portfolio of technologies is required…
“There is no single silver bullet — a portfolio is needed, political and regulatory [actions] are pivotal and the next five years are critical– that’s just due to natural time scales of energy systems…Policy choices in next five years will shape energy production and usage, and economic and environmental progress for the next 15 years.”

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Companies Using Alternative Power Sources

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday May 19th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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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.

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Green Building: Energy & Carbon Emissions Assessment Freeware from IES

| Sunday May 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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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.

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Environmental Groups Lead Effort to Remove Nuclear Power Subsidies from Lieberman-Warner

| Saturday May 17th, 2008 | 3 Comments

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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.”

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The TBL Lifestyle

| Saturday May 17th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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.
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Today’s Wall Street the latter.
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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.

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Companies Show Improvement in Climate Footprint – With a Long Road Still Ahead

| Friday May 16th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Climate Counts releases their second annual scorecardClimateCounts.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.

ClimateCounts determines if a company is stuck, starting, or striding toward climate responsibilityThe scorecard, based on 22 criteria (pdf), showed if a company was “stuck”, “starting”, or “striding” toward climate responsibility.

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.

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Survey Invitation from the National Environmental Education Foundation

| Friday May 16th, 2008 | 0 Comments

National Environmental Education FoundationSomething 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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Unless You Are Clean Tech, VCs Likely Not Investing

| Friday May 16th, 2008 | 5 Comments

clean-tech44.jpgKleiner 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?”

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Supply Chain Companies Dread Potential Impact Of Emissions Legislation

| Friday May 16th, 2008 | 1 Comment

suppl.jpgA 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.

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Europeans Redesign Even Their Smallest Cars To Meet 2012 Emission Targets

| Friday May 16th, 2008 | 0 Comments

timberlake.jpgThe 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.

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Green Micro-breweries

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday May 16th, 2008 | 2 Comments

New_Belgium_Fat_tire.jpgThree 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.

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Shell Discusses Global Energy Scenarios in First Live Web Chat

| Thursday May 15th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Shell_logo.svg.jpgRoyal 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.

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Natural Gas vs. Electric Hybrid: Which is Cleaner?

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday May 15th, 2008 | 5 Comments

ngv.jpg 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.

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Stick of Gum, Anyone?

| Thursday May 15th, 2008 | 11 Comments

portada2.jpgLast 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.

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