The Pot of Gold at the End of the Sun Beam

| Wednesday August 31st, 2005 | 4 Comments

solarroofchi.jpgWanna go green and get rich at the same time? State and Federal Incentives make solar infrastructure among the most lucrative and risk free investments that can be made. Take the following example:
Here in my home town of Chicago, I am one of three owners living in a residential three flat building. Our monthly natural gas bill associated with hot water averages $170 per month. This totals in excess of $2000 annually. Keep in mind that, in less than a year, natural gas prices have more than doubled.
The total cost of purchasing and installing a system that would best address our building’s hot water needs is approximately $11000. In Illinois, our clean energy rebate program will pay half of the first $10K spent on solar water heat, solar space seat, and photovoltaics. After that, 25% of costs are reimbursed for the next $20K. Given these rebates, this system will cost our condo association an estimated $5750.

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What are A Million Solar Roofs Worth? $6 Billion.

| Tuesday August 30th, 2005 | 0 Comments

solar.jpgThe Million Solar Roofs initiative is a DOE project to jump start the installation of solar technology in the United States. The state of California, led by an enthusiastic Governor Schwarzenegger, hopes to install 3,000 Megawatts of capacity as a part of the program. So, what’s it really worth in economic terms? According to Clean Edge News, the answer, after incentive costs, is a whopping $6 Billion savings to California. It breaks down as follows:
Energy Infrastructure Savings: $7,099
Economic Savings (Jobs & Tax): $1,507
Environmental Savings: $525
Total: $9,133
Incentive Costs: $(3,025)
Net Benefits to State: $6,107
The rest is explained here, on the LOHAS site.

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Alternet’s Top 10 Green Schools

| Tuesday August 30th, 2005 | 1 Comment

books.jpgAlternet has come out with a nifty piece commending 10 schools around the US as being particularily commendable for green practices. The criteria are especially interesting and are so thorough that I thought it would be worth it to quote them all right here and on the next page:
A. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building standards:
1. Sustainable Siting — site selection, alternative transportation, stormwater management, urban redevelopment
2. Water Efficiency — water efficient landscaping, water use reduction, innovative waste water use
3. Energy & Atmosphere — CFC reductions, renewable energy, reduced energy consumption, green power, reducing ozone
4. Materials and Resources — building and resource reuse, local materials, recycled content, certified wood
5. Indoor Environmental Quality — indoor air quality, CO2, ventilation, low-volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, thermal comfort, daylighting
6. Innovation in Design
B. Healthy School Lunches: Does the school serve organic and/or locally-grown food for school lunches?
C. School-wide Green Initiatives: Does the school have a recycling program, carpool incentives, or any other initiatives that show that the school is taking action to be pro-environment?

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USDA To Allow Organic Label Seal for Cosmetics

| Monday August 29th, 2005 | 0 Comments

usda.jpgBecause of the succesful lawsuit brought against the Agriculture Department (part of the US government) from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and a consumer group, they are reversing their decision to yank the “USDA Organic” seal from lotions and lip balms and will now allow cosmetics to carry the round, green label.
David Bronner, the president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps sayd that the seal will eliminate false marketing claims and encourage a “truth in advertising thing — consumers can trust that it is indeed free of synthetics and does support organic farming and agriculture”
Read full story as reported at MSNBC.com.

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UNEP Adivses African Nations to Invest in Environment to Eradicate Poverty

| Monday August 29th, 2005 | 0 Comments

unep.jpg“To invest in the environment is the best investment to overcome poverty. You cannot solve the water problems without the protection of our forests”. So says United Nations Environment Program head Kalus Toepfer, specifically referring to African nationas and their high rate of poverty. A conference will be held in Nairobi this October on the management of lakes throughout the world, with a mind toward their preservation as critical sources of ever scarcer fresh water.

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Green Life’s US Top 10 Worst “Greenwashers”

| Friday August 26th, 2005 | 0 Comments

greenwash.jpgFor those of you unfamiliar with the term “greenwashing”, it refers to companies that talk about how great they are environmentally and socially, but behind the scenes may not really be doing much. Greenwashing companies use PR tactics to promote their sustainability and CSR excellence when the facts say otherwise.
Read The Green Life’s list of the top 10 worst US greenwashing companies. Some of the companies may surprise you!
Do you agree or disagree with their choices?

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From Architecture to Zucchini – Sustainable Business Case Studies

| Friday August 26th, 2005 | 0 Comments

a_z_sust.jpgArnold Creek Productions has a great video out that showcases 12 different companies and organizations that are pioneers in the field of sustainable business. It’s about two hours long, and focuses on exploring how to merge economic, social and environmental issues while maintaning a successful business. It’s not cheap, at $60, but having seen the trailer it looks well worth it. Have a look!

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The Lazy Environmentalist Radio Show

| Thursday August 25th, 2005 | 0 Comments

green_chair.gifJosh Dorfman, of Vivavi, has a radio show on VoiceAmerica radio that’s definitely worth downloading or listening to live. It’s about “hip environmentalism”, helping the average consumer find “easy ways to go green”, and showcasing some cutting edge companies and groups of people. The show is broadcast every Monday afternoon, but you can listen any time by visiting the website here.

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City of Portland Succeeds in Reducing Greenhouse Gases to 1990 Levels

| Thursday August 25th, 2005 | 3 Comments

portland.jpgWith remakably little difficulty or cost, the city of Portland, Oregon, has succeeded in lowering its greenhouse gas emissions essentially to the level in 1990. While other cities have squabled about the costs of such an endeavor, or ignored it altogether, Portland has laid out a series of investments and infrastructure projects that have made it a leader of the pack worldwide – all while remaining one of the country’s most desireable cities.
Interestingly, city commissioner Eric Sten says that progress was made more by subtle land use policy than by mass civic involvement. Asked whether the general public cared about reducing fossil fuel use, Sten replied “I’m not sure the public does care.”

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Environmental Economics Blog Offers Welcomed Extra Angle

| Wednesday August 24th, 2005 | 1 Comment

econworld.jpgI just came across the Environmetal Economics Blog (via WorldChanging) which offers, not surprisingly, “dissemination of economists’ views on current environmental and natural resource issues.”
In short, they offer a valuable, practical insight into pressing environmental issues – maintaining a scientific edge, which is part devil’s advocate, part confidence-builder. Check it out.

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Japanese City Offers Fresh Veggies for Organic Waste

| Wednesday August 24th, 2005 | 1 Comment

veggies.jpgJapan continues to amaze me with the different civic inventive programs they come up with. Sendai City, Japan, will now offer about a dollar’s worth of fresh vegetables for every kilo of properly compressed organic waste citizens bring to a special marketplace in the city.
The waste is given to farmers who, in turn, grow more vegetables.

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FOE Argues that Voluntary Corporate Responsibility is not Good Enough

| Wednesday August 24th, 2005 | 0 Comments

foe_logo2.gifFriends of the Earth has put out a report arguing strongly that Corporate Social Responsibility cannot be a solely voluntary exercise if it aims to achieve any real level of accountability (PDF HERE). Rather, the report argues that government intervention is required to ensure a unified legal framework in which to achieve corporate accountability.

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alonovo: An “Intelligent Marketplace” Launches

| Tuesday August 23rd, 2005 | 0 Comments

alonovo.jpgThere are a lot of online product marketplaces out there, some better than others, that allow consumers to rate products based on various criteria. However, none, so far, have managed to give people a decent chance to rate products based on environmental and social responsibility.
alonovo hopes to change that. They’ve set up a sharp new front-end to Amazon’s entire catalog of goods which gives a variety of basic ratings for the manufacturers of everything Amazon sells. The ratings are also customizable based on what you hold most valuable.
From a business perspective, the most brilliant thing about it is that it’s just a shell slapped onto Amazon and makes money off an affiliate bonus, no inventory, no nothing. But if it proves popular, it’s sure to influence some of Amazon’s inventory decisions, and they’ll also donate a certain percentage of proceeds to various groups. It’s also co-founded by a GreenMBA alum, Joey Shepp. (via Joel Makower at WorldChanging)

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Using a Facilitated Workshop Method To Jump-Start Implementing Sustainability Initiatives

| Tuesday August 23rd, 2005 | 0 Comments

PWC_logo.gifOur second 3P Case Study is on the Facilitated Workshop Aproach to Sustainability Management. Janice Nietzel and Sarah Feinstein suggest that conducting workshops on sustainability within organizations is a great way to jump-start sustainability improvements.
The authors of this paper, both MBA students at the Presidio School of Management, held a one-day Eco-efficiency Brainstorming Workshop, focused on reducing resource consumption, energy use, pollution, and wastes at an international consumer products Midwest manufacturing plant. In the study, they reference the process used and results obtained in order to demonstrate their findings. It’s well worth a read.

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Treasure America Kaktovik Tourism Recommendations

| Tuesday August 23rd, 2005 | 1 Comment

treasure_america.jpgOne of the key projects that the Treasure America Team worked on this summer is an analysis of the potential for a successful tourism-based economy in Northern Alaska, specifically the town of Kaktovik. The report (available here) suggests that there is indeed enough potential for high-value tourism to give Kaktovik a significantly higher degree of economic independance than the alternative model – continued welfare-like dependance on oil extraction proceeds. Significant challenges, however, exist toward making this happen – most notably a complete lack of tourist infrastucture. The report concludes that with a high level of entreprenership and good publicity, the town has an opportunity to really make something of itself, achieve prosperity, and avoid the negatives that would inevitably come their way should drilling proceed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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