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The New York Times reported today an intriguing article on what’s happening in Fort Collins, Colorado – a city that prides itself on being a bastion of green living. The town’s motto, “Where renewal is a way of life,” is more than just a metaphor. The city is heavily involved in promoting carbon-free energy production. They currently have two proposals on the table – an innovative solar panel production plant and a uranium mining project for nuclear power. Although the energy that wil be generated from each project will be carbon-free, the processes of production and/or extraction each have their own environmental hazards. Should the town support nuclear, solar, or both? And what about the NIMBY factor? Should the town expose itself to possible health hazards for the sake of local job creation and global carbon-free energy production?
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
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Google “renewable energy” today and you’re likely to come up with – Google. (How many companies can claim both a verb and a noun for their name?)
As everyone reading this blog (or any blog) knows, it wasn’t that long ago that anyone even uttering such a phrase as “Just google it”, would have probably been met with muffled titters, sideways glances, and quiet whispers questioning the utterer’s grip on reality.
Google has since changed that reality and aims at, just possibly, doing it again. This time in the area of renewable energy.
The company announced today their Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative (or RE<C) with the stated goal of producing 1 gigawatt of renewable energy, enough to power the city of San Francisco, and to do it within years, not decades, as some less ambitious pundits claim such a goal would require.
Google says it will commit “hundreds of millions of dollars” to the effort in hopes that doing so will spur innovation and make renewable energy sources like solar and wind an economic rival to coal.
Google’s effort is one of environmental vision as well as fiscal responsibility, as the term sustainable IT takes on a pragmatic dimension for server rooms across the globe beyond merely “being green”. Much like any truly sustainable business model must be.Click to continue reading »
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MagLev wind turbines, the next generation of wind turbines is capable of generating power from wind speeds as low as 1.5 m/s and reported to operate in winds reaching 40 m/s. This large wind turbine from maglev industries will also increase generation capacity by 20% at the same time decreasing operational costs by 50% over the traditional wind turbine. Maglev also claims that this particular turbine will be operational for 500 years, a staggering claim.
The MagLev wind turbine was first unveiled at the Wind Power Asia exhibition in Beijing. The unique operating principle behind this design is through magnetic levitation. Magnetic levitation is supposedly an extremely efficient system for wind energy. The vertically oriented blades of the wind turbine are suspended in the air replacing any need for ball bearings. The turbine operates via “full-permanent” magnets. electromagnets eliminating the need for electricity to run the machine. These full-permanent magnets consist of neodymium magnets of the rare earth metals which lose no energy through friction. This combination of magnetic components and reduction of moving parts should reduce maintenance costs and increase the life of the turbine.
Beginning while I was a student at the sustainability focused MBA program Presidio School of Management, and on into my work in the world at GreenSmith Consulting, I’ve often noticed an ironic trend: For people that are so focused on increasing the wellness of the planet, and the conserving, reusing, and reconfiguring of the use of resources in innovative ways, there is often a distinct lack of personal sustainability practiced. As in taking care of yourself. When you spend all your energy on circumstances external to yourself, you’re less able to make a powerful impact in the very areas you’re seeking to make a difference.
A recent visit to the San Francisco edition of the Green Festival seems to be a bellwether of a major shift in this orientation. Along with sustainability stalwarts such as Paul Stamets giving presentations, wellness heavyweights such as Deepak Chopra were also represented there, distinctly making the connection between mind, body, and sustainability. Being such a large indicator of trends in the realm of all things green, it seems natural that at this same time the new website Mind Body Green has been launched.
Two men left England last Friday on their way to Timbuktu in a truck powered by chocolate.
For the sake of accuracy, the truck is powered with biodiesel fuel made from “waste chocolate” (I never knew there was such a thing as waste chocolate!).
Leaving from England on a ferry across the English channel, the team of Andy Pag and John Grimshaw plan to make their 4.500 mile journey in approximately three weeks.
Using cocoa butter extracted from a confectioner’s misshapen chocolate “rejects”, the truck will carry 454 gallons of biodiesel fuel.
The Ford Iveco Cargo truck is carrying two smaller vehicles for the final hard slog across the Sahara desert, all powered with standard engines fueled with biodiesel. The final cost of the fuel is calculated at about $1.16 per gallon.Click to continue reading »
It seem as if all of us Triple P bloggers have carbon on the brain this week. This is no surprise given the Fourth IPCC Report findings recently released. If we are going to somehow attempt to reduce the 70 million tons of carbon released globally into the air each day, it is time that managers become intimately familiar with the nitty-gritty business of carbon reduction strategies. For this, we can look no further than the concise and practical guide entitled: Carbon Strategies; How Leading Companies are Reducing Their Climate Change Footprint, by Andrew Hoffman.Click to continue reading »
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Renewable energy is all the big push these days and yet the sudden demand cannot be met thanks to poor planning and the ebb and flow of trends. Lacking the foresight in many states the demand for renewable energy is outstripping supply in turn racking up prices making the move for cheap alternative energy a growing obstacle. The result is that some states might not be able to meet the clean-energy mandates by the appointed deadline. The bull behind the shortage is the rapidly growing number of bandwagon states requiring utilities to house clean energy in their power mix, not to mention the surge in demand from big business and homeowners alike.
The National Energy Renewable Lab reported recently that clean-energy demand will outpace generation by at least 37% come the year 2010. The laws in 25 states dictate that clean energy – such as wind, biomass and solar – must constitute up to 30% of a utility’s energy portfolio in five to 15 years. In addition to this, awareness and trends have led consumers and businesses to boost clean-energy purchases by 46% a year since 2003. Much of this is fueled by corporations, which have increased green purchases by 25 fold since 2001. Is it really any surprise that demand has grown faster than anyone expected? Who wouldn’t want to save the planet, have cheap and renewable energy available to them? The blame is not meant to lie on the shoulders of any one group or government; this is the nature of the teetering supply and demand game that our economy thrives on. Why plan ahead like many intelligent foreign countries when we can just wing-it on our sheer American action-reaction attitude?
The goodwill value of “greenwash” – painting an organization “green” through advertising, promotional and marketing campaigns – has risen along with the public, government, investor and media attention focused on climate change. That makes developing the means to monitor and assess corporate social and environmental responsibility an even greater necessity if investors, the public, national governments and international bodies are to make responsible and well-informed investment and capital allocation decisions.
Building a comprehensive, accurate and timely international system of reporting capable of monitoring and assessing private sector emissions reduction and climate change mitigation efforts requires each participating country to put in place a system to gather and analyze data and information based on generally accepted best measures and practices. That’s a tall order in and of itself.
Launched in the UK in 2000 by a group of institutional investors with some US$ 41 trillion under management, the Carbon Disclosure Project is helping to do just that. Following the release of the first CDP survey on disclosure issues and corporate awareness covering FT 500 companies in 2003, the CDP 5 report canvassed more than 2600 companies internationally. South Africa this year joined Brazil and India as one of only three developing countries contributing to the 2007 CDP report. Click to continue reading »
Now that turkey day is behind us the holiday season is in full swing. Despite my annual Grinch-like attitude, it once again looks like Christmas threw up inside my house (thanks to my wife — she says its an addiction she’s had since childhood) and there is no shortage of holiday lights. We all have a love/hate relationship with our 100-bulb strings of green wire that always seems to have one burned out bulb, rendering the whole tangled mess out of commission. This year there is an economical solution to the failings of the traditional holiday lights and our concerns over energy use: LED holiday lights. This week I am looking at the benefits of these energy efficient replacements.Click to continue reading »
Differences developed, primarily Western nations and their leaders, as well as the international scientific and diplomatic elite, and their developing world counterparts place on reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions is likely to be the main obstacle blocking consensus agreement on globally coordinated and well-funded mechanisms to mitigate climate change at the upcoming UN Climate Change conference in Bali next month.
While the list of Western world leaders espousing the view that climate change is the “defining crisis” of our times continues to grow, leaders of emergent developing world economic powers, perhaps most notably Chinese premier Wen Jiaobao, continue to emphasize that reducing CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions should not hinder economic development. A survey of South Africans conducted recently in Durban, for example, showed that a large majority of residents were willing to sacrifice the environment somewhat in order to gain access to jobs and grow the economy.
This schism puts leaders of developing, emerging market countries in the uncharacteristic position of being political and economic reactionaries while Western leaders, such as California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the UK’s Gordon Brown and Prince Charles and others, are taking the more social and environmentally progressive and ethical high ground.
Looking for a sustainable way to shop this season? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
-Instead of buying desktop water fountains and massage slippers to friends and family that seem to have everything, try donating to a charity or micro-enterprise venture. The websites below let your friends choose where and whom they’d like to help.
-Instead of traditional gift exchanges, which are increasingly shifting towards “gift card” exchanges, why not make it a little more fun by exchanging items you already own? Try a “white elephant” gift exchange. Each person wraps up something they own that they are willing to give away and places it under the tree (a re-usable plastic tree or potable tree, of course). Everyone draws a number in a hat to figure out who goes first. When it’s your turn, you have the option to trade for a previously opened gift or choose a new one to unwrap.
-If you must buy something new for your loved ones, choose eco-friendly options. Beautiful travel coffee mugs/water bottles, massage certificates, organic teas/coffee, and organic lotions/soaps all make great gifts. Shop from eco-gift expos in your local area if you can.
-For sustainably produced jewelry, try: www.tarmadesigns.com
-For gift wrap, try an out-of-date map, sheet music, a decorated paper bag, or recycled vintage containers such as cigar, shoe, or hat boxes. Use natural gift box fillers like leaves, straw, corn popcorn, or straw.
It’s all “green this” or “ all natural that” these days, but according to Scott McDougall, president of TerraChoice Environmental Marketing, chances are it’s all a bunch of hooey.
A 99% chance to be exact.
McDougall’s TerraChoice conducted a study called “The Six Sins of Greenwashing” in which over a thousand common household products were randomly surveyed, taking their green claims and comparing them against the “six sins” most prevalent in marketing greenwash.
Of the 1,753 claims made a total of 99% committed at least one sin.
The sins are spelled out in TerraChoice’s Six Sins of Greenwashing page and include common ploys such the “Hidden Trade-off” to simply lying through your teeth. A further breakdown of the survey results is available here.
Green is fast becoming the next big buzzword for marketers, and polls show that consumers are willing to pay a premium for it. But if marketers abuse the trend and market bogus claims of green when consumers are genuinely trying to do the right thing, it could fast turn a win-win situation into lose-lose.
This is no time to simply chase a quick buck.
The line forms on the left as heads of state and other high-ranking government officials announce pledges and ambitious plans aimed at reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the build-up to the United Nations Climate Conference to be held in Bali December 3-14.
Saudi Arabia pledged US$300 million and the neighboring Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates US$150 million each to establish the OPEC Environmental Fund last week at the closing of the Third OPEC Summit in Riyadh.
The environment, sustainable development and oil supply stabilization were the three themes addressed during the week long summit attended by energy and finance ministers and heads of state from OPEC’s 13 members, which ended with the signing and issuance of the Riyadh Declaration.
Meanwhile, carbon, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in the context of development and economic growth were also prominent themes at the third East Asia Summit in Singapore which concluded today. Click to continue reading »
It is predicted that by 2025 3.5 billion people will face severe shortages of fresh water. As climate change, desertification, and drought take an increasing toll, sources of clean, fresh water will be a rare commodity for many.
Desalination is not a new idea, but the process is energy intensive, and has generally been no economically viable alternative to implement in any big way. Using fossil fuels to power the process only creates more problems than it solves and is not a sustainable solution.
But that could change.Click to continue reading »
Although military contracting remains frighteningly profitable, other, greener options are emerging. Take Tower Tech of Manitowoc, WI. The self-described “logistical leader in wind tower production” has an interesting past – the facility in which it operates is a former submarine manufacturer which has been re-tooled to make the towers. The company’s stock is up 10x since last august, an astonishing rate of growth that proves that they’re doing something right. I wonder what the resources of Lockheed, Raytheon or Halliburton could produce if put to a different purpose?