Tag Archives: Sustainable Business

Clean Technology And Sustainable Industries

2011 Utility Technology Challenge Semi-Finalists Announced

Technology integrators comprising the Utility Technology Challenge committee chose 15 semifinalists out of 100 quality submissions to present their leading edge solutions in Boston at TechConnect World Clean Technology Conference and Expo in June. The winners include one undisclosed company along with 7 AC Technologies, EcoFactor, Electric Pipeline Corporation, Energy Compression, EnerVault, Ideal Power Converters, Innosepra, Minesto, NovaThermal Energy, Plasma Gasification Corp., Power Tagging, Tropos Networks, V&R Energy Systems Research, and XTreme Power. Congratulations!

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The Green Blog Network Is A Sponsoring Media Partner Of CT-SI’s TechConnect World Conference And Expo: Boston June 13 – 16, 2011

CTSI Members, Lockheed Martin and Ideal Power Converters Partner To Develop Next Generation Military Microgrid

Reducing the fuel requirements for forward military bases is a critical requirement for the US Army. Lockheed Martin, a CTSI member company, received a contract to develop and demonstration its new microgrid system, which will reduce fuel requirements by >40% and improve reliability. A key component are converters fromIdeal Power Converters, another CTSI member company in the cleanConnect program.

TechConnect World Conference and Expo: Boston, June 13-16 

The Marketplace Where Fortune 500’s Shop for the Latest Technologies 

Over 5,000 people from around the world will attend the TechConnect World Conference and Expo to participate in robust programs focused in clean, nano, micro and bio technology opportunities. The conference focuses on synergies between commercializing technologies just out of the laboratory and the strategic technology interests of multinational corporations, governments and investors.  Be a part of this event June 13-16 in Boston at the Hynes Convention Center to see some of the newest and most innovative emerging technologies today. 

A partial list of Speakers & Partners include: Harvard, MIT, Fraunhofer, Honda, BASF, Sanyo, P&G, Toray, Lockheed Martin, Applied Materials, Samsung, GE, Novartis, Kodak, Merck, Omron, bp, Panasonic, Dow and more. Read a full list of speakers here: http://www.techconnectworld.com/World2011/bio.html.  

The main program will feature distinct content across multiple industrial verticals including topics related to: advanced electronics, defense, sensors, materials, energy generation, energy storage, bio fuels, biotech, pharma, and many others.  Review the full program here: http://www.techconnectworld.com/World2011/program.html


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California Says, We Are Going To Pump You Up!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an award of up to $122 million over five years to the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), an Energy Innovation Hub with a team of leading researchers tasked with developing revolutionary methods to generate fuels directly from sunlight:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers comments to NARUC July 21st in Sacramento. Photo courtesy Justin Short.

The Hub will be funded at up to $22 million this fiscal year and is one of only three that will receive funding this year. For more information visit: http://www.energy.gov/news/9243.htm.

“California has always been the birthplace for the nation and the world’s newest wave of research and innovation, so it couldn’t be more fitting the Department of Energy chose our state for this groundbreaking work. This energy hub will bring together some of the best minds to work on solutions that will reduce our dependence on oil and increase our energy security, all while creating jobs in our state. We have always led the way in California, and this impressive team will help further advance our global leadership in clean energy technologies.”

As a matter of fact, there are 270 companies that want to build now in California for renewable energy,…

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered remarks at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Annual Summer Committee Meetings on July 21, 2010.

Excerpts from the Partial Transcripts follow:

(Sacramento, Calif. July 21, 2010)  …And this is something that we have had in California. We have had consistency.

And this is why we have to go and do everything that we can to continue with that consistency. Why? Because we have to be and all of you have to be an inspiration to the federal government to create that consistency, because the federal government is a disaster when it comes to energy policy. They haven’t had an energy policy for decades.

We all remember when Jimmy Carter came in with some brilliant ideas about solar and about doing research and exploration of shale oil and wind and all of those kind of things. The next administration came in and said well, wait a minute. A barrel of oil is down to $10. Why are we futzing around with all this stuff over here when we can just buy the oil? And the policy was out the window. So this is not consistency, so people don’t know, should we invest in this or not invest in it? They don’t know. They’re confused.

And right now, several decades later — and I’ve watched all this since I’ve been in this country, I can tell you — it is really amazing that today the federal government still doesn’t have a policy. They have no idea how much they’re going to rely on more nuclear plants, what is their portfolio, their goal when it comes to renewable. No idea. No one can answer that question, how much should we reduce in greenhouse gases, what should our standards be, what kind of cars do we want 10 years, 20 years down the road? None of those things anyone can answer.

And this is a disaster because the rest of the world, European countries, have a goal. Even in 1976 when they started changing, when they saw the oil crisis. The Europeans stayed on course even though the oil price went down. And now, 30 years later, you see the great work that is being done in Germany, in Spain, in Portugal, Denmark and all of those European countries…  Read Entire Transcript at:  http://gov.ca.gov/

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Cultural Entrepreneurship

Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, Osoyoos, B.C., Canada

Many First Nations Bands of British Columbia are still largely dependent on government subsidies, which are arguably failing to meet the needs of these communities. A lack of autonomy is perpetuated by a reserve system that was never meant to be permanent. Enter Cultural Entrepreneurship: First Nations communities taking control of their traditional lands to end government dependency and strengthen community through economic self-sufficiency while still preserving and deepening traditional values. It’s a mouthful. But First Nations entrepreneurs are already making it happen.

There have been waves of positive stories throughout British Columbia. Chief Clarence Louie transformed the bankrupt Osoyoos First Nation Band of 1984 into the prosperous portfolio of nine enterprises that it holds today. The Osoyoos Spirit Ridge Resort and Nk’Mip Cellars Winery leverage the Osoyoos culture to offer an authentic aboriginal experience to travellers and set them apart from the competition. Further to the coast in Whistler, B.C., the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, showcasing the Lil’wat and Squamish cultures, has been popular since opening its doors in June 2008. The centre capitalizes on the concentrated flow of foreign and domestic tourism through Whistler and those wishing to include Aboriginal culture as a portion of their vacation experience. The centre, run jointly by the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, also provides Aboriginal Tourism training to develop leadership and employment skills among the band members.

The Aboriginal youth population in Canada is growing at more than twice the rate of the whole population. Entrepreneurial ventures run by First Nations band members will create jobs for this expanding generation of youth, who may otherwise have limited opportunity on reserves. And having access to opportunities available for these up-and-coming bright minds will be important. Aboriginal Tourism BC (AtBC) seeks to help some of these aspiring young people through their Entrepreneurship Program.  The entity provides business plan development help to various First Nations that apply.  In the future, AtBC seeks to also provide capital to put those plans in motion.  The Opening Doors to Youth program through BCIT also ran an entrepreneurship program, where BCIT students led a group at Mount Currie High School in Lillooet to manage businesses including Lil’wat Cinema, a T-shirt company called MC Wear, and a drop-in soccer night.

The result of cultural entrepreneurship could be autonomy and self-sufficiency with the retention of cultural values. It’s a nice formula. But not all of the communities in British Columbia have seen the same success as the Osoyoos, the Squamish and the Lil’Wat bands. The various resources available to facilitate the process will be important.

The varied story of Aboriginal cultural in British Columbia is a compelling one, and creating businesses that share this story while also achieving economic independence and creating opportunities for youth shows promise for First Nations development throughout the province.

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The Best Green Claim

Win With the Best Green Claim!

Submit the best green claim and win a Seventh Generation Healthy Home Starter Kit!  I’ll be reviewing these Seventh Generation home products.  These include multi-surface cleaner, disinfecting wipes, shower cleaner, paper towels and a few other items.  If you’re claim wins you will receive this great package of products for your home.  The winner will be announced Monday, April 12th.  So get your claims in today!  Read More HERE >>>

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A Responsibility Revolution Extra: The Truth About Transparency

Guest Post from Jeffrey Hollender & Bill Breen

Timberland CEO Jeffrey Swartz and CSR Strategy Manager Beth Holzman: The Truth About Transparency A Responsibility Revolution Extra


During the two years they spent writing The Responsibility Revolution, authors Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen conducted an intensive series of interviews at key companies on the leading edge of the corporate responsibility movement. In this bonus excerpt from Bill’s conversations with Timberland CEO Jeffrey Swartz and Timberland CSR Strategy Manager Beth Holzman, they share some of the additional insights and perspectives these encounters provided.


No company can claim to be authentically responsible if it doesn’t dare to get a little naked. Radical transparency—revealing your good, bad, and ugly impacts on society and the environment—is the first step toward turning critics into collaborators and collectively inventing aggressive ways to operate sustainably. As we show in The Responsibility Revolution, few publicly traded enterprises have done as much as the Timberland Company to innovate around transparency.

Along with Nike and Gap, Timberland was among the first big brands to reveal the locations of its suppliers’ factories and open them up to outside scrutiny. More recently, Timberland developed its Green Index, modeled on a nutrition label, which rates many of the company’s hiking boots and shoes on their environmental impact. There’s also the quarterly phone dialogs with CEO Jeffrey Swartz, in which callers query him about hot-button issues like eco-labeling and sustainable sourcing, and many more strategies for building a glass house.

When Bill Breen and I reviewed his interviews with Swartz , and other corporate-responsibility execs, we found that they’d dug into five essential truths about transparency. Each comes through hard-won experience.

Transparency is often irritating, difficult, and scary.

Swartz: Our efforts to be more transparent around our good and bad impacts on society and the environment started with the disingenuous discourse between activists and brands about where our factories are located. It was kind of a silly argument. It’s not hard to figure out where 300 million shoes are manufactured in China. Ten minutes with a phone book would give you the addresses. I didn’t want to have that conversation. And the best way to not have the conversation was to simply reveal the damn locations.

Holzman: When it came to releasing our factories’ locations, our biggest fear was that it might reveal secrets to our competitors, or they might learn of factories that they hadn’t considered sourcing from. But by 2005, the truth was inescapable: If we really are trying to improve the conditions in these factories and build trust with the stakeholders who are our biggest critics, we need to put it all out there.

Transparency starts conversations, which spurs collaboration.

Swartz: The important thing wasn’t the factories’ locations. The important question was the next question, Should [activists] see how these factories operate? That’s a good idea. Because once inside, they’d see that factories are dirty, smelly, noisy, and sometimes dangerous. I wouldn’t be in them unless I had made a judgment that I could defend to my kids. But the solutions to improving factory conditions are nowhere near as simple as we’d like them to be. Innovation can come from any seat in the orchestra, and by creating more of a three-dimensional dialogue with outside groups, we open up real opportunities for innovation that we wouldn’t otherwise capture.

Holzman: As it turned out, our competitors were in many of the very same factories that we were in. So we began to pool our resources to work collectively to improve conditions, instead of working individually on a one-off basis. For example, we’ve collaborated with Levi-Strauss and other brands on auditing the factories that we collectively source from. This frees up resources for our assessors and the factory management to focus on longer-range challenges, such as developing worker-training opportunities and upgrading management systems. The resulting improvements inevitably impact conditions on the factory floor.

Transparency depends on data.

Swartz: To be more transparent, you first need to gather lots of information. If you look at the environmental footprints we have in manufacturing only footwear, the volume of what we’ve learned—in an effort to go back to activists to say here’s what we know—has amazed us at almost every turn.

Gary Hirshberg first alerted us to the fact that we were wasting time looking inside our factories, that in terms of our environmental impact it’s all about the cows. Methane emissions from cows are our single biggest source of greenhouse gas, by far. The problem is, nobody slaughters a cow for its hide.  They slaughter it for its meat. The hide and especially the leather that goes into our boots is a derivative product. But still, we have a derivative responsibility. Cows emitting methane might be only 20% of our problem, but we need to be accountable for our entire supply chain, from cows in the field to shipping the final product.

Timberland is not a cow company; it’s a shoe company. But it turns out that the best way for us to be a more sustainable company is to innovate around the cows—to find ways to use less leather.

Holzman: We had a lot of pressure from stakeholders on leather.  So we needed to have a lot more transparency around where that leather comes from and how it’s procured and tanned, since there’s a lot of chemicals and processes involved. As a result, we are now working with several other brands through the Leather Working Group to establish better protocols and measurements. If you don’t have the data and you don’t have those deep partnerships, your transparency initiative won’t win much credibility.

Transparency promotes accountability.

Swartz: I got the idea for the design of our Green Index labels from the signage at Whole Foods. The signs were very simple in their assertions: Here’s where this produce comes from. Here’s why it’s organic. I thought, Why can’t we put some kind of signage or label on our products, as a way to show their environmental impact? All the regulatory folks at Timberland told me my idea was dumber than dirt. We’d be admitting that we pollute, that we aren’t good at what we do. They argued that we don’t have a legal requirement to disclose, so why do it? But I believe naively that if you tell the truth, most people will applaud.

Holzman: The Green Index is obviously an eco-label that communicates to the consumer, Here’s this product’s environmental footprint. But the Index is even more of a tool for our designers. By publicly scoring the environmental impact of our products, the Index pushes designers to choose raw materials that go into the product, such as organic cotton, that are less harmful. That visibility makes all of us at Timberland accountable; it’s a powerful incentive for promoting sustainability.

Transparency is a potent competitive weapon.

Swartz: When we say that 5% of our energy is renewable, were also admitting that 95% of our energy isn’t. So I asked our team, How does that 5% compare to Nike? Their answer: there’s no way to know. My reply: There’s one way to know, let’s put the number on a label, and if consumers decide that that’s important, Nike will have to tell them.

Now, Nike is competitive, and they won’t want to disclose their energy from renewables unless it’s at least 1% higher than ours. Putting the label on our products is not about the consumer. Because honestly, the amount of pushback from the consumer has been minimal. But as an action-forcing mechanism inside our industry, it’s been dramatic. If Nike gets to 6% renewable, we won’t have a problem as long as we get to 7%. In other words, transparency can force all of us to try to get from 5% to 15% to 50% renewable energy. That’s a conversation that couldn’t have been forced until the motivation was market-based.

At the end of the day, if the consumer doesn’t care about this, it won’t work. But the consumer is really a proxy to spur the industry to push the envelope on sustainability.


Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen are co-authors of the recently published book, The Responsibility Revolutihttp://www.jeffhollender.com/responsibility-revolution. Bill Breen is the Editorial Director, and Jeffrey Hollender is the Co-Founder and Executive Chair of Seventh Generation. Jeffrey is also the author of The Inspired Protagonist, a leading blog on corporate responsibility.

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The West Is The Best

The West is the Best? Leaking carbon from the patchwork quilt

By Adam Bumpus Mar 24, 2010

A patchwork of climate regulation may be a way forward in the wake of COP15 and the US rejection of economy wide cap and trade at the federal level. Individual systems must be joined or harmonized across space to avoid leakage in the gaps.

Movements at the federal level in the US have shown that a nationwide cap and trade system – recently thought to be virtually inevitable – is “dead”, in the words of Senator Graham, a proponent of a new climate bill (see here). The senate simply did not have enough political votes in favour of cap and trade for nationwide regulation to pass. As we saw in Copenhagen (see here), the binding agreements that cover countries and societies that are economically linked are hard to come by. There are too many interests that pull such complex negotiations toward stalemates, even though the multinational companies that link many of these economies may be helped by comprehensive climate policy (see here). Instead, we end up with a variety of regional initiatives that create regulations in one area, none in another and, at the moment, are not harmonized to create comprehensive coverage. The patchwork quilt of carbon reductions has some distinctly large gaps in it.

While DC figures out what a comprehensive climate bill might look like, regional efforts continue apace, defining emissions reductions and placing a price on carbon. The Western Climate Initiative signed by independent jurisdictions, states, provinces and Native Sovereign Nations (see here) aims to put a price on carbon by 2012 with its own cap and trade system. It will be four times bigger than any existing cap and trade systems in the US (see here). Good news: pretty comprehensive cover for these jurisdictions: reducing emissions and spurring the green economy.

Western Climate Initiative connects into the eastern electricity markets and creates opportunities for carbon leakage.

But, recent WCI analysis has pointed to the fact that because of the way WCI jurisdictions in the East (see attached picture) trade electricity with the Eastern states (Eastern Interconnection), an increase in the price of carbon in WCI jurisdictions (and therefore short term electricity prices), means fewer electricity exports (see here). Therefore non-WCI electricity generation and carbon emissions go up. This is known as leakage (emissions ‘leak’ out of an area not covered by regulation). However, if the WCI jurisdiction places an energy import tariff (what is called in the report: FJD, First Jurisdictional Deliverer) on non-WCI energy (i.e. east to west electricity), leakage is reduced because non-WCI energy becomes less competitive to import. Interestingly, the reductions in non-WCI emissions weren’t affected by the amount of the tariff – as long as it was there, leakage would be reduced, but never eliminated. Where there is a price on CO2 allowances in the WCI, even import tariffs won’t eliminate increased emissions in the East. As the study shows, the best way to reduce overall emissions is by linking with other regulatory schemes (such as the RGGI, MGGRA – see here for overview), or a federal system that places a price on carbon everywhere. >>> READ MORE HERE >>>

Adam Bumpus is pursuing Advanced Research Work with the distinguished Sauder School of Business UBC.

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