I’m always impressed when a major company goes out of their way to publish something environmentally useful. Infineon, a leading semiconductor company, has a great 15-page whitepaper on saving energy. The paper focuses mostly on inefficiencies in energy production and transmission and emphasizes the need for innovation as much as conservation. [download whitepaper]
A UN-brokered partnership system called “Growing Sustainable Business” between major corporations and other groups, is starting to see a real payoff passed on to the poor in various developing nations. The basic idea is that companies operate at a lower rate of return in order to give new markets a chance to develop. In the long term, viable business on a local level is fostered. (FT Story reproduced here)
Citing economic common sense, the town of Wayne, NJ has embarked on an ambitious plan to achieve a higher degree of energy independance. The plan suggests everything from small wind turbines on street lights to using heat from a cogeneration plant to offset natural gas use at municipal buildings. The net result – less taxpayer money going up in smoke. (via treehugger)
The United States has a long tradition of sheltering those in need of political asylum; especially when such individuals possess coveted skills. Will we mirror such generosity if and when it comes time to harbor those displaced by a changing climate?
In the most recent edition of Nature, Byravan and Rajan ascertain it is the duty of those nations most responsible for climate change to house a proportionate number of refugess. With the U.S. pumping out 25% of all greenhouse emissions, and projections of the displaced running as high as 200 million by 2080, thats a lot of homes. (more on Worldchanging)
Often times, banks are fearful of extending loans to home builders whose designs are “out of the ordinary.” Green building is often deemed a part of this category. Yet times are changing…..The UK’s Ecology Building Society is offering home loans for those looking to redesign their homes along sustainable principles. (Via Treehugger)
In return for voluntarily reducing waste beyond government-mandated levels, 3M has earned a nice bonus: Less regulation from the state of Wisconsin. It’s part of an experiment called the “environmental cooperative agreement”. The idea is that companies commit to various levels of emissions reduction and other environmental initiatives, and the state promises to be flexible and fast when approving company plans. (fine print here)
There are many concerned environmentalists who feel it was wise for the U.S. to reject the Kyoto Protocol. Their reasoning is that, given its rapid rise in GDP since 1990, the U.S. would be unfairly impacted. The protocol mandates each member state lower their CO2 emissions to 1990 levels. Traditionally, increased pollution accompanies an expanding economy. It is such “capitalist environmentalist” sentiment that is the driving force behind the creation of TerraPass, a company which employs Kyoto-like methods to cutting carbon emissions. The difference: TerraPass offsets carbon emissions on an individual level, not a federally mandated one.
The Chicago Board of Trade, in collaboration with the ethanol industry, has developed a corn-based Ethanol futures contract, further indicating America is eager to lessen its fossil-fuel dependance.
CBOT is a natural fit for Ethanol futures, as the exchange has, for more than 125 years, offered the world’s largest market for corn futures. As products like E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) continue to proliferate,the Board’s function as the provider of the international benchmark for corn pricing may increasingly liquify.
It has long been recongnized that the food provided by America’s schools lacks basic nutritional requirements. With child obesity on the rise, parents, administrators, and students alike are demanding dietary change. Stonyfield Farm’s Healthy Vending Machine Program is looking to satisfy this growing demand. Currently, more than 800 schools are on the waiting list.
According to one of the UK’s leading authorities on corporate social responsibility, csrnetwork, “the GRI report will definitely influence the current focus on reporting by SMEs and NGOs. Hopefully, it will increase the take-up of reporting amongst these groups. Making available the methodology used for compiling the GRI response is an excellent idea and will considerably encourage other (small) organisations to start the process of reporting.” Read entire story.
When does an oil company start making real changes with regards to climate change? When its shareholders demand it. GreenBiz reports this is happening at three major firms who, following shareholder demands, have
taken far-reaching actions in recent months to disclose their potential financial exposure from climate change and develop strategies to improve their strategic positioning as international pressure grows to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy sources.
Iceland may have the most publicized program for geothermal hydrogren potential, but it turns out, a lot more places have it too. Reno, NV, nestled against the hot-spring filled Sierra, is laying out plans for hydrogen production to power the city’s busses. Excess H2 could be sold on the open market, making the operation a potential tax saver for area businesses.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has listened to angry parents and is calling for better school meals for their children by announcing a series of plans to swap junk food for ‘organic and local’ fresh meals. Blair acknowledges for the first time the strength of parental anger about the fatty, sugary processed diet on offer in many schools, saying that school kitchens will be rebuilt and equipped so dishes can be cooked from scratch. Read story.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is donating one million kilowatt hours of power to “help needy households pay their energy bills.” The donation comes in the form of renewables, by purchasing green tags from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to subsidize the non-renewable energy they are giving away. The free power comes in honor of their one-millionth customer. Serving half of all Washington households, PSE has found a way to celebrate this significant milestone in a manner most companies find quite elusive: By combining corporate social responsibility with green business.
There are so many state and federal incentives to encourge renewable energy, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Fortunately, DSIRE has come along with a comprehensive website listing and categorizing incentives by state. There is also a library of additional information to help guide you and your company. (via Curt Rosengren)