Gridpoint, Duke Energy Conduct First Commercial PHEV Test

| Friday April 4th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Duke Energy and Gridpoint Inc. on March 27 announced what they believe to be the first successful commercial test of utility-controlled charging a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) using smart grid technology.
Using the latter’s SmartGrid systems platform, Duke engineers tested the “smart charging” features of Gridpoint’s SmartGrid by plugging a PHEV into a garage wall outlet. Charging started at 10 p.m. and the car was fully charged before peak demand the following morning and ready for the driver’s commute. The system successfully controlled, measured and verified the charging process, according to the media release.

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Georgia, Minnesota, NY to take part in US-Sweden Renewable Energy Institute

| Thursday April 3rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

The University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) has been chosen to participate on behalf of New York State in the International Renewable Energy Technology Institute, a global consortium recently established to “accelerate the adaptation and implementation of renewable energy technologies around the world.”
Academic institutions in 16 U.S states have been invited by IRTI’s organization committee – made up of U.S. and Swedish leaders in business, government and academia – to take part in the new organization. Two other states received membership offers: Georgia, through the Univ. of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Minnesota, through the Minnesota state university system.
“Working through IRTI, researchers from across the globe will work jointly to advance renewable energy technologies that will provide opportunities for U.S.-based companies to supply clean energy products and services to the European market while also testing and qualifying technologies developed in Sweden for introduction into the U.S. market,” according to an April 3 media release.
CNSE’s Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center (E2TAC) will lead participation in IRETI in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation, and Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture and Engineering. CNSE also intends to leverage its relationships with 50 industrial, university and government partners through its leadership role in New Energy New York.

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Cambridge Energy Alliance: A Model for the Future?

| Wednesday April 2nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

Cambridge Energy Alliance - A Model for the Nation?Cambridge, Massachusetts has earned a reputation as a community promoting forward-thinking energy and environmental policies. From sustainable building to transportation and green collar jobs, Cambridge’s stated goal is to become the “greenest city in America” (they’re currently at number 6 according to Popular Science). 

The Cambridge Energy Alliance is a major step toward that goal. 

Featured last week on the PBS program NOW, the Cambridge Energy Alliance is a city-sponsored non-profit group aimed at lowering the city’s carbon footprint, increasing energy efficiency and water conservation (thus cutting participants energy bills), and helping promote green collar jobs and business opportunity in an otherwise downturned building market.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the building sector comprises 48% of the increase in carbon emissions in the United States since 1990. Up to 80% of carbon emissions in urban areas come from buildings.

The CEA aims to reduce Cambridge’s carbon footprint by 10% in five years through an innovative program that provides energy auditing, renovation, and financing – all in a relatively simple “one-stop-shop” process. Loans for proposed renovations made through the program are designed to pay for themselves through savings from lowered energy costs.

If the CEA program meets its ambitious target of enlisting 50% of the city’s building stock into the program within the next five to six years, there will be plenty of work for green collar workers trained in the new methods and materials to implement the efficiency upgrades for all those buildings.

The program’s success will serve as a model to roll out to communities and municipalities across the nation.

Note: If you like what the Cambridge Energy Alliance is doing, and you’ve got the chops, there’s an opportunity to become it’s next CEO. Check their website for more info.

The March 2007 launch of Cambridge Energy Alliance




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NREL Launches Wind, Biomass Partnerships

| Wednesday April 2nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has announced the signing of two memorandums of understanding in the past two days that will foster the development of renewable energy resources and reduce dependence on oil and fossil fuels.
NREL is entering into public-private partnerships with UPC Wind to establish a Remote Research Affiliate Partner Site at the company’s Kaheawa Wind Farm on Maui, the first of its kind for the NREL outside its home base in Colorado.
NREL is also moving forward on the biomass front. Bringing together three independently established programs, NREL on March 31 announced the signing an MoU with ConocoPhillips and Iowa State University to conduct near, mid- and long-term studies aimed at identifying promising cellulosic biomass conversion technologies.

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GreenDisk: a viable e-waste solution? (Guest Post)

| Tuesday April 1st, 2008 | 2 Comments

greendisk.png(This is a guest post by Bobby Grace)
Computers are becoming cheaper and easier to manufacture by the minute. Intel’s new Atom processor is bound to create a whole new set of net-enabled devices at extremely low cost. While the processor is not out yet and prices are not set in stone, rumors price new “net-top” computers below $200.
Cheaper computers make electronic recycling all the more relevant. Computers and gadgets are being replaced more frequently as electronics become obsolete in a matter of months. Most manufacturers will take back used electronics, and there is likely some sort of e-waste collector in your area. But if you are looking for a company to responsibly handle, resell, and recycle all your e-waste from nearly anywhere in the United States, GreenDisk is a viable option.

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How to green your phone service

| Monday March 31st, 2008 | 1 Comment

The words sustainability and business phone service don’t often get put together, other then, say, consumer long distance and cell phone carriers like Working Assets Credo service and Earth Tones that dedicate a portion of their profits to earth and social positive causes. So it was interesting to hear from someone at Broadcore, a voip phone service provider, who was wondering if we’d be interested in writing about them.
Their site doesn’t explicitly say they are a green phone service provider, but in explaining the benefits of using their service, it became quite clear that they are just that.
How so?

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Deforestation-Carbon Markets Research

| Saturday March 29th, 2008 | 2 Comments

Finding ways to include deforestation abatement projects into the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and private sector emissions trading schemes such as the EU’s ETS – thereby providing a market-based mechanism that offers an incentive and financing to jumpstart forest conservation initiatives – is one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s priorities.
Fossil fuel use and land use change account for roughly 1/5 of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the IPCC’s 2007 assessment report. Researchers at the Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, Germany have put out a discussion paper that evaluates the economic implications of creating tradable carbon credits, such as CDM CERs (Certified Emissions Reductions), derived from reduced deforestation projects for the post-Kyoto emissions market in 2020.
Write “Reducing Deforestation and Trading Emissions: Economic Implications for the Post-Kyoto Carbon Market” authors’ Niels Anger and Jayant Sathaye, “We find that integrating avoided deforestation in international emissions trading considerably decreases the costs of post-Kyoto climate policy – even when accounting for conventional abatement options of developing countries.
“At the same time, tropical rainforest regions receive substantial net revenues from exporting carbon-offset credits to the industrialized world. Moreover, reduced deforestation can increase environmental effectiveness by enabling industrialized countries to tighten their carbon constraints without increasing mitigation costs.”
Tropical Foresters to Meet at Yale
Meanwhile, the Yale University chapter will be hosting the International Society of Tropical Forester’s annual conference in New Haven March 28-29.
The potential impacts of bioenergy and deforestation on tropical landscapes, both of which hold the potential to offset carbon emissions, would have significantly different impacts on land uses, according to the organizers, hence discussions will focus on questions such as whether bioenergy will be a tool for tropical forest conservation or a catalyst of its destruction and whether biofuel production and deforestation are compatible.

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Walmart Says No to Milk from “Juiced” Cows

| Friday March 28th, 2008 | 5 Comments

When Walmart takes a position in the marketplace, it’s hard not to notice. There’s little doubt that Monsanto hasn’t taken notice of Walmart’s decision to no longer carry milk from cows injected with Posilac, the synthetic growth hormone produced by Monsanto since 1994.

Some believe Walmart is delivering the knock-out blow, following behind other food retailers such as Kroger, Safeway and Starbucks in banning dairy products containing (or produced through the use of) recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). In 2006 Dean Foods, producer of 2 billion gallons of milk per year, made the decision to stop using Posilac.

While Monsanto and, thus far, the FDA (who approved the use of Posilac in 1993) claim there are no health risks to humans from rBGH – it doesn’t really seem very pleasant for the cows. The claims of the FDA and Monsanto notwithstanding, there are concerns about the effects of rBGH in humans. Use of rBGH is banned in Europe and Canada.

There are no labeling requirements for dairy products produced using growth hormone. In a curious twist (at least to me) some dairy producers have petitioned the FDA to block the labeling of milk and other dairy products produced without the use of rBGH – claiming the label of “organic” (or at least made with no synthetic growth hormone) is misleading to the consumer since there is no evidence that organic products are any safer or more nutritious than products produced with synthetic growth hormone.

But it all may be in vain.

On the first hand, there is ample evidence of the ill-effects growth hormones have on the cows themselves, and even if we don’t really care so much for the cows (and we should), those ill-effects make their way up the food chain and into our glass of milk.

And on the second hand, Walmart (and others) move on what the consumer wants. And that appears to be milk, cheese, and yogurt produced from dairy cows free of rBGH.

As goes Walmart, so goes rBGH. Maybe its time for Monsanto to throw in the towel.


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Solar Thermal Electricity: Catching the Eye of Utility Companies

Sarah Lozanova | Friday March 28th, 2008 | 7 Comments

mirrors%20small.jpgThe American Southwest has some of the greatest solar resources on the globe, it yet remains largely untapped. This trend may be changing as solar technology matures, market forces shift and concern for climate change mounts.
One of the most common arguments against large-scale use of renewable energy is that it cannot produce a steady, reliable stream of energy, day and night. Ausra Inc. does not agree. They believe that solar thermal technology has the potential to supply over 90% of grid power, while finding solutions to environmental issues.

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Birding and Solar Power in Israel’s Eilot Region

| Thursday March 27th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Israel’s southernmost Eilot region begins at the Egyptian border and gateway to the Sinai, a short way south and extending west outside the Red Sea coast and holiday/port city of Eilat. Practically walking distance to the east is the Jordanian border. Nestled against the Red Sea and the striking, majestic Edom Mountains is the neighboring city of Aqaba, a city made immemorial by David Lean in his epic film Lawrence of Arabia. Drive a bit farther south along the western fringe of the Red Sea and you come to the Saudi Arabian border.
Heading north from Eilat, Eilot stretches more than 100 kilometers to the capital of Beer Sheva. The road north along the Arava Valley is framed by the Eilat and Ketura Mountains and the Negev desert plateau to the west and Jordan’s Edom Mountains to the east.
The area, like many places, is a mix of striking similarities and stark contrasts. Sharing the same rugged coastal mountain, desert and acacia scrub geography and climate, it is not only one of the few places where Arab and Israeli/Hebrew cultures and people reside in relative peace and close proximity. An arid desert climate (with 10 millimeters or less of rainfall on average per year) modulated by the Red Sea is both harsh and gentle – and a challenge in terms of making the most out of precious natural resources and adapting technologies to the climate and geography without damaging what is at one and the same time a rugged yet fragile ecosystem.
Still sparsely populated, relatively speaking, the Arava Valley is nonetheless a center of agriculture, as well as eco-consciousness and entrepreneurial spirit. The former is thanks to a substantial underground aquifer and practical human farming skills and know-how. The latter is also a result of the people that have settled in the Valley, which is dotted with kibbutz communities that exhibit an intriguing mix of participatory, democratic, communal living and market-driven, entrepreneurial spirit.

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Reconnect Program Expands into Houston

| Wednesday March 26th, 2008 | 6 Comments

Reconnect opens in HoustonReconnect is a partnership between Dell Computer and Goodwill Industries offering consumers in participating cities a computer recycling and reuse program. Goodwills in California, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas have programs in place in many cities and regions.

The Grand Opening today of the Houston Computer Works store was the occasion to announce expansion of Reconnect into metropolitan Houston.

Computer Works will offer low cost software and hardware and house the “de-manufacturing” process for the recycling program, keeping an estimated 1.5 million pounds of computer hardware out of area landfill.

San Francisco has numerous recycling programs including Reconnect, so I am always disheartened when I see a battered printer or some other piece of hardware abandoned on the street.

Consumer education and awareness of the environmental hazards lurking inside our electronics is another key component to recycling success that Reconnect hopes to achieve throughout its growing network.

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Sustainability Below the Surface: Sustainable Brands Conference This June in Beautiful Monterey

| Wednesday March 26th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Sustainabiltiy Below the Surface this June in MontereyThe Sustainable Brands Conference is coming to Monterey California this June 2nd to the 5th at the Hyatt Regency.

Innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders of businesses large and small are slated for attendance at this unique conference billed as the “only conference focused on sustainability as a key driver for brand prosperity and success in the 21st century.”

A very short list of some of the speakers at the conference include:

  • JoAnna Abrams, Principal, MindClick
  • Phil Berry, President, Sustainable Product Works, LLC
  • Benjamin Allen, Senior Research Analyst, Parnassus Investments
  • Steve Bishop, Global Lead, Design for Sustainability, IDEO
  • Erin Carlson, Director of Yahoo! for Good, Yahoo! Inc.
  • Scot Case, Vice President, TerraChoice Environmental Marketing, Inc.
  • Jeffrey Hollender, President and Corporate Responsibility Officer, Seventh Generation Inc. 

Sessions for the conference include:

  • Marketing Green 101
  • Designing Your Sustainable Brand Position & Voice: A Workshop in the Creative Process
  • Measuring Your Social Footprint
  • Culture as Brand
  • Strategies and Tools for Measuring Your Carbon Foot Print
  • On the Path to Carbon Neutrality — First Reduce Your Impact
  • Insight From the Blogosphere – Current Analysis on Green Consumer Conversation
  • Capital Flow & Sustainable Brands: How Investors are Driving New Opportunity for Sustainable Brands

… and there’s a lot more.

“…engage to create solutions for integrating brand, environmental and social purpose in the beautiful and stimulating backdrop of Monterey, California”.



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Eco Tuesday: A Discussion with Jonah Sachs of Free Range Studios

| Tuesday March 25th, 2008 | 2 Comments

TriplePundit has partnered with EcoTuesday, the monthly sustainable business networking event to provide an online dialog following each EcoTuesday event. The idea is that conversations that started at the event can be continued online, and connections that were made can be rekindled.
On Tuesday, March 25, EcoTuesday took place at Le Colonial Restaurant in San Francisco, with Jonah Sachs, CEO of Free Range Studios as the expert speaker.
A few choice clips:

(apologies for poor lighting)
Jonah’s pioneering communications work has helped hundreds of progressive organizations break through the media din with strategic, inspiring messages. He’s the creative force behind the web presences of such pre-eminent organizations as the ACLU, Heifer International and Environmental Defense.
If you were at the event, what did you think? Please use the comments here to continue the conversation. If you were not at the event, please feel free to jump in. As always, if you are interested in bringing EcoTuesday to your community, check out the contact form here.

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Music Wood: A Song for Sustainable Forestry

| Tuesday March 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Music Wood - guitars don't grow on trees ya' know...“Somebody has to do something, it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us”
-Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead

Jerry is no longer with us, of course, but he would be happy to hear about Music Wood, a partnership between Greenpece and musical instrument makers Martin, Gibson, Fender, Taylor, and Yamaha. The goal of the campaign is to promote the availability of instruments made from wood harvested within the sustainable forestry standards set forth by the Forestry Stewardship Council.

Spruce, Rosewood, Ebony, Mahogany, and Maple are among the “tonewoods” used to produce the musical tone musicians seek in their instruments, principally from old-growth forests, often harvested unsustainably.

Music Wood will initially focus on Alaskan Sitka Spruce, used for sound boards in guitars and pianos, harvested by Sealaska. Using Sealaska’s own numbers, the old-growth forests in Alaska will be gone in fifteen years if harvesting continues at current levels.

Sealaska has agreed to a preliminary audit with plans for a full FSC-certified assessment this summer. If Sealaska implements the recommendations of the assessment, they can apply for accreditation from FSC, helping to insure a sustainable harvest well into the future.

Guitars, mandolins, pianos, and violins make up but a small fraction of the old-growth harvest, but the market is a high profile one that can help lead the way and inspire sustainable forestry. 

With the forests goes the music.

Rock on.



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New Kyoto Protocol CDM Chair Sets Priorities

| Tuesday March 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Expanding and streamlining the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will be 2008’s focal points for the CDM Executive Board, according to Rajesh Kumar Sethi, who as its newly appointed chairperson is the man in charge of managing the world’s largest market-based mechanism for verifying and financing carbon dioxide emissions reduction projects.
“The CDM is operating in close to 50 countries, and is approaching its thousandth registered project with 128 million CERs already issued. Everyone involved can take some pride in those stats, but until the potential of the mechanism is realized in the lesser developed countries, especially in Africa, we cannot rest,” Sethi said in a media release.

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