Bank of America, one of the largest banks in the US, and certainly one of its largest consumers of paper has adopted a remarkably green outlook on paper consumption that should reduce the environmental footprint of the company. Maximizing the use of post-consumer recycled paper is a primary goal, as is validating that suppliers are getting paper from forests that meet a high standard of sustainable management. (more details in GreenBiz)
Already a leader in alternative energy, Austin-based Green Mountain Energy has embarked upon a goal to offset 100% of its carbon footprint. Everything from corporate travel to office paper is to be considered in making thei calculations needed to bring a CO2 neutral position to reality. More info on BusinessWire.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, most Chinese companies are more environmentally aware than expected. This is great news given the typically gloomy outlook for China’s pollution problems, and indeed the world’s.
The survey also showed that 22 per cent of respondents are implementing tougher environment standards than legally required, with 13 per cent calling for even stricter mandatory rules. These standards related to reducing CO2 emissions, waste pollution and using energy efficient technologies.
More good news for Earth Day: The Economist has two outstanding articles on the rise of Environmental Economics, simply put – accounting for environmental externalities on the balance sheet. Environmental Economics also makes it more obvious that positive environmental moves have economic payoffs that are often bigger than heavyhanded alternatives. For example, as pointed out in the first article, reforesting the steep hillsides that flank the Panama Canal will prevent the erosion that clogs the channel, a cheaper investment than dredging.Click to continue reading »
Read this fantastic opinion piece about keeping the green dream alive in this unsettling, changing world from Kelpie Wilson of Truthout.org. She gives us a few suggestions to help us change the world on this Earth Day 2005 and implores us to “think of them as investments in a better future” not as chores “to add to an already endless list.” Happy Earth Day!
Shell Oil’s chariman, Lord Oxburgh, has repeatedly taking steps to acknowledge the seriousness of the global environment that are unprecidented among his peers. A Sunday Telegraph article (reproduced here) quotes him:
We are going to find, on a 50-year timescale, much easier ways of meeting energy needs than extracting fossil fuels from the ground. We may not get anywhere near exhausting fossil fuel resources, as a combination of environmental and price pressures and new technologies make alternatives much more attractive
Despite recent company setbacks, Oxburgh is optimistic about the future of Shell in continuing to lead the energy industry. (more)
What looks like a high performance sport bike is also an Emissions Neutral Vehicle designed by the firm “Intelligent Energy”. The bike only goes 50mph, but that’s just fine for nipping around the city. The design is especially innovative for having a removable “core” fuel cell that can also be used for other purposes. No word on the manufacturing date or sale price. (Via Z+Partners)
[from Worldchanging] Rebel billionaire Richard Branson has a new green plan for Britain’s ailing Rover auto plant: Head off Japan and the US and start manufacturing hybrid vehicles, spurred by government investment.
As an entrepreneur, I do not believe in governments rescuing lame ducks. I was against the renationalisation of Railtrack, for instance, no matter how unpopular it was as a private company. But as a nation – and as a continent – we cannot afford to throw away an asset like the Longbridge plant and its workforce.
With Virgin Atlantic spending £150m extra on fuel so far this year, Sir Richard clearly has a vested interest in improving the efficiency of his nation’s automobile fleet, but then again, so do we all, even on this side of the pond.
With all the negative news one hears about Africa these days, the entire continent is often shrugged off as a disaster area. That’s bad thinking on all sorts of levels, but from a business perspective it’s just plain short-sighted. The Washington Post has a great article on Africa (reproduced here) that outlines a lot of surprising successes, the Ghana stock exchange for example, is among the world’s highest returning, and Botswana has a government savings rate rivled only by Singapore. But most importantly, throwing aid at Africa’s problems is only a small part of the solution. Investment and business confidence are, perhaps, the key missing ingredients to a new and prosperous continent.
Yet while Africa, according to the U.S. government’s Overseas Private Investment Corp., offers the highest return in the world on direct foreign investment, it attracts the least. Unless investors see the Africa that’s worthy of investment, they won’t put their money into it. And that lack of investment translates into job stagnation, continued poverty and limited access to education and health care.
Every once in a while I come across a piece of environmental design so brilliant it makes my brain spin. The masterminds at STATIC!, part of Sweeden’s Interactive Institute, have devised a series of hypothetical products that interact with their users according to varying levels of household energy use, such as a lamp that “flowers” when energy use is low, becoming more beautiful.
In the example ‘Disappearing-Pattern Tiles’, bathroom tiles [pictured above] are decorated with patterns in a thermo-chromic ink that reacts to heat, fading away to reflect splashes and intensities of hot-water use. The longer the shower, the less decoration on the wall! The architectural surface acts as a subtle reminder of personal energy use over time, reflecting the duration and waste of water during a shower.
GreenBiz has a great series of short interviews with 8 leaders in the field of corporate sustainability (read it here). GreenBiz asked leaders to identify the key trends for the next 5 years, and predict a response from the business community. My favorite trend is from David Rinard of Steelcase:
…connecting an organization’s environmental strategy to its business strategy — expanding beyond a values-based driver to one that also secures business results. This moves the environment from a “feel-good” conversation toward one that is about producing better business value. And with that we engage all the business people, greatly magnifying the impact.
Building REsources is a small non-profit firm in San Francisco that is anything but non-profit with regards to the environment and helping other firms save costs. The company offers free collection of construction and demolition waste (an otherwise costly affair), which they then sort and resell. This modern day junkyard attracts everyone from homebuilders to artists looking for a good deal and a new use for what would otherwise wind up in a landfill.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of commissioners, the largest municipally owned utility in the nation, has just voted to approve funding for the Pine Tree Wind project, making it the largest wind system built in the Western U.S. since passage of the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The project’s new energy generation facility will provide up to 120 megawatts (MW) of wind power for the City of Los Angeles.
LA Mayor Jim Hahn states, “The Pine Tree Wind Project will be a powerful step toward achieving my goal of a 20 percent renewable power mix by 2017.” More in Sustainable Business dot com
A Vadodara, India based agency for promotion of non-conventional energy, Gujarat Energy Development Agency(GEDA)has proposed to provide electricity to all major establishments in the city through the power generated from solar energy. The proposal includes the commissioning of photovoltaic power plant with capacity of one megawatt to cater to the power need of the city as well as distribution of solar cooker and solar water heaters to the establishments such as schools, hospitals, hostels and guesthouses.
“The proposed ambitious plan would create the state capital as a first ‘solar city’ in India where the major necessities of power will be fulfilled through non-conventional sources of energy” said S B Patil, deputy director of GEDA who is a part of the team that has designed blue print. Read article from Business Standard online