For the last two days Australian business representatives, government and the non-profit sector have convened at the 9th annual National Business Leaders Forum on Sustainable Development. The theme for this year’s forum was ‚ÄòRe-Calibrating the Risk from Climate Change: an urgent business task.’ Throughout the each day, invitees have participated in a range of workshops, covering topics such as the implementation of the Australian Emissions Trading Scheme to exploring ‚Äòsociocracy’ as a new method of governance. One of the most interesting topics discussed at the conference related to social responsibility. At the opening presentation, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced funding for a key project that will assist businesses to operate in line with standards of corporate social resposibility. According to The Australian newspaper, the project is essentially
“aimed at helping business develop more of a social conscience.”
England’s Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock unveiled the UK government’s plans for the next two years for tackling climate change, stressing a local approach. She spoke at a conference about preparing for climate change organized by the Guardian newspaper. The UK government is one to watch because it has made impressive progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and is on track to achieve almost double its Kyoto target.
While there is a movement to avoid printing printing emails, and attachments can be read in PDF, resumes, photos and legal documents are often items that still require printing. HP’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) continues to push the envelope with an announcement yesterday to reinforce their position as “a leader in environmental sustainability for the imaging and printing market.” To underline HP’s longstanding commitment to eco-efficiency and to address the growing demand of consumers, SMBs and the enterprise for more changes, HP is announcing three initiatives to “green” the world, and most notably, they are introducing a deskjet printer, the HPD2545 made of up to 85% of recycled plastic gleaned from their “closed loop recycling program.”
On Wednesday the Bay Area Air Quality Management District board of directors voted 15–1 to charge companies 4.4 cents per ton of carbon emitted. Set to go into effect on July 1st for the nine Bay Area counties, the carbon tax will be the first of it’s kind in the country.
Proponents admit that such a modest fee probably won’t create huge inflows of cash for local governments or force emitters to make significant reduction in emissions, but it “sends the right message”.
The terms ‚Äòcleantech’ or ‚Äògreen technologies’ have been applied to a wide array of processes, technologies, and services. Within this overall market space, there exist a number of specific target market segments such as transportation, energy development, and manufacturing, as examples. The buildings & facilities segment is a large target market segment for green technologies, given the size and projected growth around the world and opportunity to leverage a disruptive new technology & collaborative process called “Building Information Modeling”, or BIM. The building & facility industry is undergoing radical change today, as owners are demanding more project visibility, improved risk management (scheduling & costs); and increased use of technologies that will allow for less waste, more efficient energy consumption, and ultimately lower costs over the lifecycle of the facility (from design and construction to operations). What is Building Information Modeling (“BIM”)
You might think updating hardware would be the best option for reducing energy consumption when it comes to computers, but software can play a large part as well. At IBM’s PULSE 08 conference, the company said it was pushing IT clients to adopt their energy-saving software. IBM’s Tivoli software, a systems management tool, is reported to manage power better and by extension lower carbon emissions and lower costs for the client. IBM’s WebSphere software is also reported to lower energy costs by using virtual applications. IBM also offers Rational Team Concert, software that enables collaboration on multi-site development. Virtual collaboration should reduce the need for excessive travel. IBM is also offering “self-assessment tools” which would allow clients to set goals and monitor success. IBM says that reducing people’s need to travel, making software more efficient, and making applications virtual are the three main components to reducing the environmental impact of the IT world. With multitudes of servers using so much energy, the IT world is probably looking for software solutions.
Creative Citizen recently launched their public beta after being in private beta since September 2007. The two founders, Argam DerHartunian and Scott Badenoch, believe that their service is a key piece to what has been missing in the environmental movement. The two created a wiki-platform to embrace and harness the fact that sustainability is amorphous at best and is truly comprised of endless moving targets. At the same time, they’ve given quantifiable metrics to “going green” that should work to shift people from confusion to action. When you see that something like turning the water off while you brush your teeth can save thousands of gallons of water a year, you’re more likely to start turning that water off. The site works as a place to tabulate and compile the world’s environmental information by housing it in the form of Creative Solutions, or actions you can take to become green. Solutions can be either habits, products or services and Creative Citizen encourages all companies selling things that claim to be green to post a solution about their product or service. Argam says that this is particularly valuable for green companies looking to exhibit their products and services. “The technology we’ve developed optimizes each solution for high search engine rankings and allows green companies to gain the visibility they need across the web.” Signing up and posting solutions is completely free for anyone.
3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective. This week, we went to Green Drinks in Palo Alto, Calif. to find out what’s new with people in sustainability. The concept of the “integrated triple bottom line” means that businesses need to change their approach and influence stakeholders, no matter which industry. Kandy Kidd is a relative newcomer to the sustainability approach: she is now one of three real estate brokers for Studley, Inc. that holds a LEED Professional Accreditation status as of this year.
If you hadn’t cottoned on to the idea that the planet might be in trouble, you now can see for yourself on Google Earth. If you click on the link, you’ll land on a project by Google and the British government aimed at showing you and millions of internet users what the planet will look like if future predictions about melting ice caps come true.
Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers and Australia’s best-known global warming expert, yesterday released a new climate forecast. Since his last major forecast in 2005, he has projected a direr outcome and in turn suggests consideration of radical solutions to the global warming phenomenon, including ‚Äòdimming’ through sulphur. Professor Flannery spoke at a business and sustainability conference at Parliament House in Australia on Monday. He has brought to national media attention new science results that show how the world is more susceptible to and affected by greenhouse gas emissions; more so than has ever been considered previously. For Flannery, greenhouse gases that are present in the atmosphere today are already having too great an impact, regardless of changes made to emission levels in the future.
“The current burden of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is in fact more than sufficient to cause catastrophic climate change”
“We’re now hip deep, if not drowning, in the ‘experience economy’.”
I recently attended Part 2 of the Commonwealth Club’s panel discussion Conscious Capitalism (part 1 of the discussion was held last January and is available online at Fora.TV – Part 2 should be available there soon).
Landfill gas, comprised mostly of carbon dioxide and methane gas, is a byproduct of trash as it breaks down. Methane is a particularly menacing greenhouse gas, which has 20 times the global warming effect of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately landfills are abundant in our society, which continue to emit landfill gas for decades after a landfill is closed. With all the bad news surrounding methane and landfills, one wouldn’t expect to hear about an innovative source of energy. When tapped, landfill gas can be a valuable source of energy that mitigates the effects that such gas has on climate change. This energy can be used to produce electricity, heat buildings, or fuel trucks. Fuel from Trash Will Power California Garbage Trucks 300 garbage collection trucks in California will soon be fueled by the same trash that they haul. Landfill gas will be purified and liquefied, producing up to 13,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) daily.
Ever thought about how a visit to a restaurant impacts your carbon footprint? Recent research shows that food served in over 40 London restaurants is not just slightly CO2 intensive, but that in many cases restaurant food produces over 100 times more CO2 than locally bought ingredients.
Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett on May 19 announced that Intel Capital and Grameen Trust, the micro-finance-community development pioneer founded by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, will create a business venture dedicated to social and economic development in poor communities throughout the developing world. The initiative, which will be launched in Bangladesh, aims to bridge the digital divide that excludes many of the world’s most wanting from taking part in and reaping the benefits of the information and computing technology advances that have so quickly become a keystone in the functioning of modern economies and societies. During his opening day keynote at the World Congress on Information Technology 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Barrett also announced a collaborative effort with NetHope and demonstrated for the first time the new Aid Station device designed to support NGOs in their health care, disaster relief and economic relief efforts.
While it seems the Exxon needs the force of the Rockefeller family led investor revolt to get it to budge on directing more energy towards renewable energy and taking climate change seriously, is that always the case? Do companies need to be compelled forcibly by threat of boycott, protest, regulation or other forms of financial punishment to effect change? Carrot Mob has a different idea, turning group activism on its head to an entirely more positive model. It’s often said that you vote with your dollars, and what you buy sends signals to companies. But what if, rather then as individuals supporting businesses we like, or boycotting them en masse, we as a crowd were harnessed to financially reward companies that make the most change, as compared to other companies competing for the honor? What if we dropped the stick, and put out a carrot, that carrot being that you will have a “Carrot Mob” descend on your store and make a point of buying from you on a specified date, and perhaps even ongoing? That, I imagine, would be quite the motivation for a business to extend itself to make the effort to change or improve how they do business, generating immediate financial returns, positive press, and longer term goodwill from consumers. In a video on the Carrot Mob site, exactly this is demonstrated.
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