I love top ten lists. Have a quick look at Warren Karlenzig’s top ten sustainability stories of 2006. It’s seen through the lens of what applies to local government and is the sort of thing that most people might overlook – despite the importance of their local governments. It’s a good quick read for your holiday week! Check it here.
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line & Sustainable Business News
In case you haven’t checked it out already, be sure to drop by TreeHugger and see the new design. If you know me personally, this is why I haven’t been seen by light of day in weeks. But it’s 95% done (ok, it’s a permanenet work in progress), but I have to say it looks pretty good!
PS – if you use digg, be sure to digg Graham’s post about the site. Link Here.
We introduced you to RecycleBank back in February, but there’s new coverage in a recent Forbes article that’s worth checking out. To sum up – RecycleBank is sheer genius in terms of capturing the idea of the win-win-win situation.
People get paid to recycle and are given rewards, not in cash, but it gift cards to various merchants such as Starbucks and Whole Foods. The RecycleBank company manages to make money by charging municipalities a small amount for the service, and the gift card giving companies look good because they’re encouraging the program. Oh, and the environment benefits too, so that’s a 4x winner.
According to the latest issue of ClearProfit, a clean energy Hedge fund has been launched: The ALMA Clean Energy Hedge Fund, managed by Bozkurt Aydinoglu.
If anyone doesn’t know what a hedge fund is, don’t worry, plenty of hedge fund managers probably don’t either these days. It’s sort of a generic and often inappropriate term for any semi-private investment vehicle. The
original hedge funds were called partnerships, and run by living legends like Warren Buffet and George Soros, who would often hedge different investments or futures market positions so that they would make money no
matter which way the overall market went, or sometimes they wouldn’t. Nowadays, Hedge funds might specialize in different sectors of the financial markets, like commodities, energy, currency exchange, bankruptcies,
spin-offs, and of course, Clean energy.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers are, however, have you heard of them? They’re a Silicon Valley venture capital firm who helped to bring us the likes of Google, Amazon and Netscape. Guess what they are into now? Clean Tech. They have put 200 million or more into the likes of solar, biofuels, biomass gasification, and energy storage. This is great for the industry, and great for the future of greener, cleaner life on earth. Venture Capital can work wonders for start-ups because VCs aren’t afraid to have their money disappear completely nine times out of ten. Why? Because they make an astounding financial return on the tenth company, take it public, sell a bunch of it to schmucks in the IPO market, buy a newer 200 foot yacht, and sail it around while looking for ten more candidates to start the cycle over again, all the while donating bundles to charity.Click to continue reading »
BMW has just released its new 7-series Hydrogen Powered Vehicle. This is landmark event by any accounts. They plan to build one hundred of them over the next year, and up to several thousand per year eventually.
Unfortunately, like its non-tailpipe emitting brethren in green, the electric cars, The New 7 series is limited in range, and can only go 125 miles on Hydrogen. That’s not quite far enough to make a tour with it between the handful of Hydrogen refueling stations in Europe. Never worry, this super sedan can change over to old faithful gasoline at the flick of a button on the dash, keep right on motoring for another 310 miles, and people can smell the emissions it makes right there at the tailpipe just like a 1980 318i.
NRDC’s OnEarth Magazing offers some practical insight into the idea of “Green Investing” outlining the basics and giving a good overview of some of the big players. The article is worth passing around. One thing they leave out, however, is the importance of instututional investors such as pension funds and endowments in SRI – individuals can make a difference, but massive long-term investors are the ones who can make monumental change, and weather the short term losses required to get there.
Getting endorsements by major companies is not as easy as one might think (though considerable easier thatn winning the Tour de France). What’s harder is managing ones relationships with these companies while managing to take an effective stance on corporate social responsibility. Lance Armstrong appears to be doing both. Forbes has the details on how Lance is managing his endorsement empire. From the article, he has this to say about CSR:
The federal government can’t do everything now. There’s too much distraction there. If not for generous people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett–and their companies–the world be a harder place to live in. Look at what Howard Shultz did with Starbucks and how everyone there has health insurance. I was talking to him the other day, and he’s now trying to take that concept further and make sure everyone is insured. That’s his passion, and that’s the way he runs Starbucks. He and his company set out to make a difference, and they’re doing just that.
If weren’t a necessary part of good hygiene and if it didn’t feel so good on a cold, groggy morning, the concept of a shower would seem a bit absurd. We take cold water and heat it to around 100°F, then store it in a large tank until we need it. Then it travels through cold and often uninsulated pipes to the far end of the house where it drops down onto our bodies and slips right down the drain. Aside from carrying away dirt, skin cells, soap, and hair it also takes all that heat energy with it down into the sewer… This seems like a model of inefficiency and there must be a better way. Luckily, there are several options. Some can be implemented only in new construction or heavy remodels but some can be done by everyone. I am certainly not going to advocate taking a bucket sponge-bath and donning patchouli oil or waiting for an odor-exorcism when the good Lord returns, so let’s get down to the science and engineering!Click to continue reading »
Attention MBA Students, here’s a great competition to think about over the winter break: Carnegie Mellon’s McGinnis Venture Competion has added a “Sustainable Technology” track to their annual business plan competition. Particularily outstanding contenders will recieve travel grants to the awards ceremony in Pittsburgh. More details on this Sustainable Future PDF.
When I travel, I reluctantly throw away my recyclables as it is too much hassle to seek out a recycling bin. I guess I’m not alone: According to the WSJ “Airlines Feel Pressure as Pollution Fight Takes Off“, the airline industry throws away enough aluminum cans each year to build 58 Boeing 747s. To put that in perspective, since 1970, only 1469 747s have been built, and fewer than that are in service.
Never mind the plastic cups, glass, magazines, and all the fuel consumed. The airlines are actually improving somewhat – fuel efficiency is improving 2% per year. However, air travel has been growing at about 5% annually, for a net increase in waste.
To their credit, Airlines have been working on more important things for those of us who occasionally like to fly, like staying in business. And since the 70s, they have cut down on noise pollution, air pollution, and as
those who fly know, they don’t serve food anymore. Yes, we complained about the food, and now we complain about the absence of food.
The former city auto pound along with a 17 acre illegal dumpsite are the unlikely site of an emerging eco-industrial park in Chicago on the 400 north block of Sacramento. This forward thinking is putting Chicago on the map as a green city and breathing life into this disadvantaged area on the west-side of Chicago.
In 1995, the site of the Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT) was plagued by illegal dumping by Sacramento Crushing. After the Chicago Department of Environment (DOE) took possession of the property, the plot was cleared of over 600,000 tons of concrete waste, requiring 45,000 truck-loads to remove. The existing building, built in 1952, was renovated from 1999-2002 using the greenest design innovations of its day. Now a source of pride for the DOE, the building makes good use of the sun with three photovoltaic solar systems (totaling 72 kW), a greenhouse heated only by sunlight, and maximizes the use of sunlight for office lighting. A ground source heat pump aids in heating and cooling the building and a rooftop garden serves as insulation. Four 12,000 gallon cisterns gather rainwater from the building, while ground rainwater is diverted into bioswales that lead to adjacent wetlands.
Here’s one I never quite saw coming when I was firing a pottery kiln with veggie oil in 1999. According to the WSJ, 12/5/06, “As Alternative Fuels Heat Up, Environmental Concerns Grow.” Malaysians are getting sick from a nationwide haze of blue smoke caused by rushed and rampant burning of forests in order to plant palm oil trees and attempt to meet global demand for biodiesel.
According to the Journal, “The alternative energy field ‘is almost like the internet in terms of the pace of how fast all this is changing,’ says Chris Flavin, president of the World Watch Institute”
Internet is good, alternative energy is good, hot money chasing change leaves a wake of destruction.
Keep your money in your coat. As for now, I’ll keep fillin’ her up with unleaded (cut with Ethanol of course.) Sometimes the most sustainable thing I can do is nothing at all. [wsj link here – requires subscription]
Click to continue reading »
This week I am going to run the numbers on a hypothetical active solar heating system. Active solar differs from passive solar in that it requires mechanical means for moving the heat energy (pumps, fans, etc.). Passive solar can be as simple as opening your curtains to let some sunlight in.
Now this is the essence of waste into food, or food into fuel, or something: According to Shortnews.com, a Norwegian businessman who now lives in Miami, named Lauri Venoy, is negotiating with Jackson Memorial Hospital to obtain more than 11.5 litres of human fat obtained from liposuction operations every week. Normally burned, Lauri can turn it into truck fuel.
This could be for the Goth movement what soybean oil was for the hippie movement. I can see the sticker now on the VW Jetta: 100% powered by Human Fat. [link here]