US and China Collaborate at Green Energy Conference

| Friday April 18th, 2008 | 1 Comment

usa-china.jpgIt was early for a Friday to be at the PG&E auditorium in San Francisco, Calif. to talk about the dire state of our planet. Hosted by the US Green Energy Conference (USGEC) and the Asia Society, it started with a pleasant breakfast spread of fruit, bagels and coffee, and continued via two serious panel discussions. One on policy and increasing energy efficiency and the second on business and tech development.
And while there were the usual issues discussed about cleantech (wind, solar, biomass) and their tradeoffs, this certainly wasn’t your every day panel about sustainability issues.

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EcoTuesday Event, Earth Day – April 22, in YOUR City

| Friday April 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

EcoTuesday_Logo_Mar2008.jpegEcoTuesday is a forum for sustainable business leaders to come together to network, collaborate, and engage with one another in a structured environment. Here’s how it works: Participants arrive and settle in, taking a few minutes to get a beverage and see old friends and meet new ones. We start the evening with a speaker from one of the many areas of sustainability, who will share news, tips, and information about their area of expertise. The topic is different each month. After the speaker is done, participants have the opportunity to ask questions to gain more information. After that, everyone in the room gets into a circle and shares their name, their affiliation, and one thing they’re passionate about regarding sustainability. It’s is a great way for you to learn about everyone in the room, and for everyone in the room to learn about you!
After that, we have time to meet all of the people we learned about in the introduction circle.
It’s held on the 4th Tuesday of each month – and we’re growing! Look for an EcoTuesday event in your city!
You must RSVP in order to attend (see RSVP links below):
a) San Francisco
b) Los Angeles
c) Seattle
d) Atlanta
e) Minneapolis
f) Marin County
If your city is not listed, get in touch with EcoTuesday about becoming an ambassador today. Don’t forget to mention you heard about it on Triple Pundit.

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Challenges of Green Residential Development: Resistance to Change Intro

| Friday April 18th, 2008 | 3 Comments

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In short, it all begins with education from the bottom up, and regarding everyone involved in a building process. First of all, consumer awareness on green building is murky for the majority. For example, I have several prospective clients and or builders ask me each week what green building means to me. Many assume that being green means the use of cfl lights and solar panels. Or, some think it is low-flow water and reduced waste of some form or another. In a sense, they are right I tell them, those are all green aspects but I define our green buildings by far more than that.
The importance of all this is simple really, if a consumer wants some green elements in their building envelope then that is an improvement and I support them no matter how green they wish to be. For the sake of argument, in regard to what I might briefly classify as “green without comprimise” or “green from the groud up,” I would say that education is severely lacking in the system. In fact the one system that provides some guidance that many are becoming slightly familiar with is LEED, but beyond that it is an open gate for a flood of green bits and pieces and all are quick to use it in reference to their projects.

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Wookin’ Pa Nub

| Friday April 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Ever wondered where all the investment in clean energy and cleantech is going? As in, the physical terminus of all that cash? If one were looking for work in the industry, it sure would be handy to know where to start.
Well, if you’ve been wookin’ pa nub in all the wrong places, wook no further. Our good friends at Earth2Tech have developed a most highly excellent Google map that gives the precise locations of most of the major companies developing solar technologies, clean fuels, storage, smart grids, clean chemistry, ad infinitum.

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The map is a bit U.S.-centric – believe it or not, there’s a lot of cleantech activity in Europe, India and China these days – but I think it’s unlocked, so add your favorite cleantech company to the list.

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Renewable Investment Takes a Hit but Remains Buoyant

| Friday April 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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The weak housing market, turmoil in the financial industry, the credit crunch and economic slowdown are hitting renewable energy investment but sizable amounts of capital are still flowing into the sector, according to research published by London-based New Energy Finance this week.
Some US$ 2.4 billion of investment flowed into renewable energy in this year’s first quarter compared to US$ 3.7 billion in Q1 2007. Private equity investments fell sharply – down 64% – to US$ 878 million while venture capital investors put US$ 1 billion to work in the renewable energy sector in Q1 this year as compared to $668 million in Q1 last year, a 57% increase.
New equity issuance in the public markets came to a virtual standstill after Iberdrola Renovables’ US$ 7.2 billion IPO in December. US$ 807 million was raised via public IPOs in Q1 compared to $5.2 billion in the year ago quarter.
In terms of sectoral investment, investors put more capital to work in solar power this Q1 – $3.2 billion – than they did in the corresponding period last year, when $1.9 billion flowed into solar power projects. Solar thermal electricity generation is the new darling of the sector, according to New Energy Finance.
Wind power investment fell to US$ 6.6 billion during Q1 from $7.2 billion in the year ago quarter, as industry participants and investors in the US await Congressional action to renew the Production Tax Credit, which is due to expire at the end of the year.
Growing resistance and questioning of US biofuels targets, policies and standards led to sharply reduced investments in the sector. Investment in US ethanol plants shrank to US$ 311 million in Q1 2008 from $1.7 billion in Q1 last year. Newer markets are developing in countries such as Mozambique, Russia and Thailand, however, and biofuels investment continues to grow in Brazil, bringing total biofuels investment to $3.1 billion in Q1, down 15% year-to-year.
Mergers and acquisition activity increased sharply along with growth and development of what’s emerging as a global renewable energy market and industry. Corporate M&A transactions more than doubled, to $7.7bn, compared to $3.5 billion in the year ago period. Large acquisitions, such as Scottish & Southern Electric’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Airtricity helped make Q1 2008 the second-largest quarter after last year’s third quarter in terms of M&A activity, according to New Energy Finance.

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Sustainable Fast Food – Is That a Green Burger You’re Eating?

| Thursday April 17th, 2008 | 2 Comments

At first blush many may ask “who’d want to eat a green hamburger?”, but the truth is there’s a growing market for green burgers, as well as fries, milkshakes, fajitas, pizza – all manor of fast food is, in fact, turning green.

Or at least greener – and that’s a great thing.

Fast food has become emblematic for much of what ails modern society – attaching “Mc” has come to mean too much of a bad thing.

But in Ode Magazine’s April issue, writer Mary Desmond Pinkowish shows, in her article Not the Same Old Drive-Thru, how that is changing.

There’s Chipolte, founded by Steve Ells, who opened his first restaurant near the University of Denver in 1993, Burgerville, with 39 stores throughout the U.S Northwest (famous for its milkshakes made with seasonal and locally-grown berries – from strawberries in the spring to raspberries, blackberries, and finally hazelnuts in the winter), or San Francisco-based Sellers Markets to name but a few fast food joints serving the triple bottom line.

So what actually happens to make a burger green?

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3P SoundBite: It’s not just libraries and hospitals any more

| Thursday April 17th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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3P SoundBite is a new series of short interviews to be featured here on Triple Pundit and written by Clara Kuo. Enjoy…
Who: Sean Stannard-Stockton, principal and director, Ensemble Capital: “I’ve always been fascinated by finance and by social change and philanthropy. I noticed that those two areas didn’t really mix…it’s been fun seeing that organizations are starting to recognize that (they can mix).”
What: Ensemble Capital is a wealth management firm empowering individuals and families who want to make positive contributions to society with the best social and financial ROI. “If someone says they are interested in dealing with homelessness, but doesn’t know where to dedicate their funds, we can guide the process and help set up a foundation.”

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A mighty big wind … turbine

| Thursday April 17th, 2008 | 4 Comments

clipper_signature.gifCarpenteria, California-based Clipper Windpower might not be a household name, but their depth in the wind industry is unrivaled. Back in the 1980’s, a lot of the folks at Clipper were building a little powerhouse wind company called Zond Corporation – which should get the credit for not only inventing the U.S. wind power industry from whole cloth, but planting the seeds for its growth globally, as well.
As wind power has enjoyed record growth for the past decade, a lot of the attention has been focused on European wind companies like Vestas and Gamesa, and big, vertically-integrated companies like GE. But Clipper may be poised to jump back in the ring, big time.

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How to Reduce Paper Waste and Styrofoam Usage in Packaging

| Wednesday April 16th, 2008 | 8 Comments

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Next time you bite into fish bought at the deli, think for a moment what brought it to your store: Probably a wax coated box. A box that is difficult or impossible to recycle, depending on area facilities, and requires separate sorting, adding to the labor involved in processing store waste. But there needs to be stable, waterproof, and moisture resistant packaging to carry it safely to you. As a result, millions of tons of wood pulp end up in landfills annually. And this can be prevented.
How? Eco Fiber Solutions has come up with a product that is not only greener, but performs better at a comparable price then its competitors. And what is it? A range of boxes that utilize green chemistry to eliminate the need for wax coating, staples, or adhesives, yet are superior in strength and durability, able to be reused multiple times.
They are compostable, biodegradable, recyclable, and are themselves made from recycled sources. Further, they are repulpable, which means they can be broken down into their paper pulp components, to be once again made into the same thing (not an easy feat with such products) At this time, they are being tested for use in international shipping with FedEx, and meet the guidelines for shipping via airlines. Being wax free, there’s no need to separately sort them. Despite not being doused in wax coating, they are what’s called FDA non objection status, meaning they can be used with food, including seafood and ice, without issue.

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Brenthaven: What Makes A “Zero Impact” Computer Bag Company?

| Wednesday April 16th, 2008 | 3 Comments

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The sustainability of computer bag companies probably hasn’t been one of the eco-movement’s largest worries, but it is great to see some companies giving it a shot. Brenthaven is a popular computer bag company, especially among Apple owners. The company’s new slogan is “zero impact,” a philosophy that centers around the protection of your computer, your health, and the environment.
Sure, Brenthaven bags will protect your computer in a fall and are good for your back, but how is Brenthaven helping the environment? The company has committed to a number of green projects including the reduction of packing, the conducting of a carbon audit of the company, the printing of marketing materials on recycled paper with soy-based inks, and the investment of 5% of profits into “green projects.” All purchases with Brenthaven are offset by carbon credits purchased from terrapass.com. Brenthaven was founded on wilderness packs used in outdoor activity and supports many environmental organization such as Leave No Trace.
But what about the actual bags?

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SF Mayor Proposes Carbon Tax, Reduces Payroll Tax

| Wednesday April 16th, 2008 | 0 Comments

carbon-tax.jpg(By Lina Constantinovici)
On Friday, April 11, 2008 at Casa Verde in the Mission, Mayor Gavin Newsom addressed his plans to put Carbon Tax on the November ballot. Voter support of this initiative would position San Francisco as the first city in the US to take a regulatory approach in addressing climate change. As the debate over cap and trade vs. carbon tax continues at national and local levels, the mayor expressed he does not consider the solution to be an either or proposition. Businesses in San Francisco have expressed concern over the proposed tax and the impact of a potential increase in expenses for those operating within the city limits. The Mayor’s proposal includes a decrease in the payroll tax burden to offset the cost of the Carbon Tax to businesses.
The Mayor also spoke to his commitment to residential wind energy while on a tour of Casa Verde, currently one of the 12 greenest homes in the world with a considerably smaller carbon footprint than the average home. The Sunset Magazine Idea house located the Mission district of San Francisco, one of the first LEED (link to LEED site) certified residential remodeled homes in the nation, gets 40% of its power from the windmill in the back yard, has a solar water heating system, PV solar panels, a living roof, and underground rainwater storage tanks used for the washing machine cold cycle and to flush toilets.

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SF Mayor Changing Building Codes to Permit Wind Turbines

| Tuesday April 15th, 2008 | 6 Comments

San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 25% of 1990 levels by 2012. To accomplish this goal, Mayor Gavin Newsom is now focusing on small scale wind generation and strengthening local building codes. This could be an effective strategy, since according to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 38% of CO2 emissions in the United States. Over the next 25 years, CO2 emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than any other sector, with emissions from commercial buildings projected to grow the fastest. Buildings also consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S., so the installation of local, renewable energy will ease energy demand and lower energy prices, as well as contribute to lowering greenhouse gasses.

Although solar panels may be installed on buildings in San Francisco, wind turbines are not currently allowed under local building codes. In the past, with the noise and space required by most wind turbines, there has been little demand for installing them in an urban setting. But wind power technology is changing, and it is now feasible to use small wind turbines to power your home or business. A few locals are starting to take advantage of that, such as Robin Wilson, who just finished building a green home called “La Casa Verde” in San Francisco’s Mission district. The home is powered with a combination of wind and solar thermal power, and is one of the 12 greenest homes in the world according to an upcoming series on the Discovery Channel.

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Water, Water Everywhere…

| Tuesday April 15th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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The scarcity and management of natural resources’ products previous generations casually took for granted are of increasing concern in local communities, countries and across borders.
Growing concerns about water resources and management is perhaps the most important and fundamental case in point. And, just as has happened with renewable energy, it’s setting off a blitz of private investment in companies that own and manage water resources, as well as clean tech companies in the wastewater processing and treatment end of the business.
Just the other week I received some unsolicited e-mail touting the OTC Bulletin Board, penny stock, shares of Bioshaft Water Technologies, developers and owners of “a miraculous system that’s poised to revolutionize the $1.3 trillion domestic sewage treatment market.”
Debate concerning and competition for water resources, whether between commercial and industrial organizations, governments or local communities, has been fierce and protracted – just look at the history of water and the American West. And it’s getting even fiercer with population growth, real estate development and the effects of climate change.
The ensuing conflicts are bringing associated and fundamental socio-economic and ethical issues – such as public vs. private good, common versus and private ownership of resources – into even sharper relief as the wide variety of stakeholders and vested interests come into conflict over how best to conserve, develop and manage them.

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Climate Change, Efficiency, and Renewable Energy: The Opportunity of a Generation for the Building Sector

| Monday April 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Architecture2030 - Buidling green creates jobs, saves money, and reduces carbon emissionsHow to create more than one million new jobs, a thriving building industry, save consumers $128 billion, and reduce carbon emissions by 433.2 million metric tons in five years? Invest in energy efficient buildings – about $21.6 billion per year for five years (a price tag neatly covered by the savings). So says a new study released by Architecture2030 at the Eileen Rockefeller Growald Symposium on Collaborative Philanthropy in San Francisco last week.

As I reported recently in a post on the Cambridge Energy Alliance, nearly half of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are from buildings. Numerous sources point out that the quickest and most cost effective means of creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and making serious inroads toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions is through building energy efficiency.

In 2006, Architecture2030 issued the 2030 Challenge calling for all new building and major renovation to reduce fossil fuel energy consumption and GHG emissions by 50% by 2010, thereafter increasing reductions incrementally every five years to the target of “carbon neutral” by 2030.

According to the study, not only is this an achievable goal, but an economic opportunity of a generation. Says Edward Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030, “Although difficult, the economic and global warming crises are the motivation we need as a nation to retool our thinking. If we’re smart enough to jump on this opportunity, we will not only solve global warming, we will set the US up for unprecedented economic success.” 

I hope we’re smart enough to seize the opportunity.

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OPEC: “Half the world’s financial assets”

| Monday April 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Ever thought about where your oil dollars go once you’ve extracted them, screaming, from your wallet? With oil prices now settling into a comfortable cruising altitude above $100 a barrel, the answer is pretty stunning.
We’re all familiar with the toll high oil prices have taken on our personal economic well-being, particularly among those with the least disposable income (disclosure: I don’t own a car, so I don’t have first-hand experience, but some of my friends drive).
But what about the toll on the broader economy, and implications for geopolitics? The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security took a good, hard look at the numbers, and recently published a report (warning: PDF) with its findings. The question is … how long can we keep holding up our end of the bargain? Jim Strock posted a disturbing excerpt on his blog:

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