Saturday, October 30, 2010

The New Weapon Against "Greenwashers" and Their Carbon Footprints

Greenwash (verb, \ˈgrēn-wȯsh\) - to market a product or service by promoting a deceptive or misleading perception of environmental responsibility.

“Going green” has become the next craze of the corporate world. Capitalizing on growing consumer interest in environmentalism and sustainability, companies are launching major ad campaigns to tout their green credentials. But many of these claims are misleading or downright false. How can we know who’s telling the truth? “Greenwashing” is eroding the credibility of environmental marketing and turning would-be green consumers into skeptics.

The U.S. is a leader in financial accounting (thanks in part to accounting software systems), but we need the similar strength in environmental accounting to prevent deceptive green marketing campaigns. The recent development of Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) software enables companies to track their carbon emissions and identify opportunities for waste reduction. The full development and requirement of ECA software will make it much more difficult for businesses to cover up their environmental records. They’ll have to live up to their claims if they want to pursue green marketing strategies. But for ECA software and environmental accounting adoption to drive truly green business practices, we need action in five main categories:

Clear government action on regulations - like increased coverage of the EPA’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule;

Adoption of carbon accounting principles - stricter requirements for disclosure of standardized corporate emissions information;

Expansion of “scope 3” emissions accounting - mandatory inclusion of suppliers’ emissions in environmental reports would prevent under-reporting of emissions;

Better green business incentives - using ECA software to identify eco-friendly savings opportunities can make it cheaper to go green;

Demanding, informed consumers - demanding the numbers, while boycotting the liars, forces businesses with green marketing campaigns to prove their sincerity.

To read more about ECA software and greenwashing prevention, check out Software to Hold "Greenwashers" Accountable.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Would the "Green-ness" of a Company's Supply Chain Influence Your Purchasing Decisions?

Software Advice, a free online resource that reviews wholesale distribution software, is hosting a survey that asks readers the following question: would the "green-ness" of a company's supply chain influence your purchasing decisions? The survey accompanies an article that profiles five multi-national companies and their efforts to improve the eco-friendliness of their distribution processes. While familiar greening methods like renewable energy use are often present in their announcements, these five companies have also gone a step further to distinguish themselves as trend-setters in the movement toward greener businesses.

For example, IBM and Walmart are using their considerable influence to encourage suppliers to behave in a more environmentally friendly manner. When contracts with two of the biggest companies in the world are at stake, suppliers might be more inclined to improve their practices. Meanwhile, Patagonia has sent a roving team of investigators on a mission to find out just how green the company's suppliers are. These reports are available to everyone on YouTube, and this kind of widespread transparency may discourage suppliers from harming the environment unnecessarily.

To get the full details on these and other companies, you can read the original article here. While you're there, be sure to participate in the survey and let everyone know what you think about these issues.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bio-Inspired Design in Action

Guest post by Shanolda Yancy

The human bone structure is an important part of our everyday lives. Over time, researchers have studied the properties of human bones and their connective tissues. They have also studied how bones reform on their own.  This is all part of a new wave in design termed biomimicry or bio-inspired design.

During their studies, researchers have learned to create unique designs for items such as chairs and automobiles from the structure of the human bone. The designs of our bones have been the inspiration of the design of many items we use today. The designs are made possible with the help of computer software programs, CAO (computer-aided optimization) and SKO (soft kill option), developed by Claus Mattheck at the Karlsruhe Research Centre in Germany. One researcher’s design became an inspiration for the blueprint of the Eiffel Tower. This particular design was of a crane by the famous head of The Swiss Technical University in Zurich, Karl Culmann. Mr. Culmann came up with his design while watching a physician friend engaged in cutting a section of a femur bone.

As we know, bones are durable, strong and light weight. While experimenting with the human bone structure, researchers broke down the chemicals of our bones which led them to a great discovery. From their testing, they derived an artificial bone material that is so divine that the material is almost impossible to distinguish from that of an actual human bone structure.  This was done by a method known as bone remodeling. "Bone remodeling is the result of the coordinated activity of osteoblasts, which form new matrix, and osteoclasts, which resorb bone,” according to Ask Nature Beta.  A good application of bone modeling is the use of self-healing material such as concrete and ceramics. Another application of bone modeling is the use of adjustable building materials that allow for removal of such material as needed to obtain a desired shape. The use of bone structure, as it is indicated here, is a great way to show how our bones not only serve its significant purpose, but how they also serve us all in ways we once never imagined.

S.E.C Adds Climate Risk to Disclosure List

Guest post by Verna Hale

The Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) is proposing to add climate risks to the current list of disclosures public companies should report.

Properties along the coastline may be affected by hurricanes and banks or insurance companies that invest in coastal property could be affected by storms or rising seas and would therefore be a good example of a climate risk disclosure. Investors have a fundamental right to know which companies are well destined for the future and which are not and they should essentially get information on climate-related impacts, including regulatory and physical impacts.

Although S.E.C. Chairperson, Mary Schapiro, stated the S.E.C. was not taking any particular political side by adding climate risk to the disclosure list, investors and environmental groups did petition the agency to have this item added to what companies need to disclose and hence stay warned.

The Petition for Interpretive Guidance on Climate Risk Disclosure can be read here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kraft Sheds 150 Million Pounds of Packaging

Guest post by Rancharese Whitaker

Kraft Foods has found a way to reduce material from its supply chains, targeting 150 million pounds two years ahead of schedule. Kraft Foods is using a new tool, the "Packaging Eco-Calculator,” to help it design packaging more efficiently, said Jean Spence, Executive Vice President, Research, Development & Quality.

As an example, Oscar Meyer Deli Creations now uses less paperboard, which reduces 1.2 million pounds of packaging out of landfills annually. In Europe, removing packaging layers from Milka chocolate bars reduces 60 percent of the shipping weight. In the UK, Kenco coffee is now offered in refillable bags along with the traditional glass jars instead of cans. Speaking of coffee cans, Maxwell House, Yuban and Nabob no longer use them either. Instead they’ve gone to paper board to reduce weight. In Australia, Kraft salad dressing bottles were redesigned and eliminated 100,000 pounds of plastic a year.

Kraft has partnered with RecycleBank and TerraCycle to improve the recycling rate in the U.S.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Green Electronics

Guest post by Latasha Pinkney

Residential fuel cell systems, projectors made without mercury, and outlets that can be controlled through the Web were just some of the most sought after green consumer electronics at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.

Panasonic's residential fuel cell systems can be controlled through a home energy management system, generate electricity and heat through fuel cells and store solar power in lithium-ion batteries.

Another example is ASUS' Super Hybrid Engine technology, which reduces power usage 43 percent below the Energy Star specifications for PCs.

Casio's green lean high-brightness projectors are the first to get rid of the "unfriendly mercury" and function with a hybrid LED and laser light source.

ThinkECO is an electronic outlet that can be controlled from a Web-based application, allowing users to set schedules for whatever is plugged into the outlet.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

FDA and Industry Lobbyists on BPA concerns

Guest post by Sheneaka Murphy

The FDA has expressed concerns about the safety of Bisphenol A. Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in plastic containers such as baby bottles, sippy cups, sport bottles and other plastic food containers and even the linings in canned food items.

There has been growing evidence which has linked to a broad array of health effects in low doses during critical windows of development. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) stated on the developmental effects of BPA exposure that it had "some concern" for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current levels of human exposure.

Companies will be now facing a situation where they must find new ways of producing their products with an alternative for Bisphenol A. Companies may reduce the amount of BPA placed in their product. Other companies will experience a slow transformation as the research and cost for substitution for epoxy resins containing BPA that are used as can linings will be an obstacle. Cost factors involved in this substitution can easily be overcome by scale economies.  For example, Heinz is already using a substitute to BPA in some of its can linings.

There is always a friction between the industry lobbyists and the FDA. Companies eager to gain market share and competitive advantage can take advantage of the wave of growing consumer awareness.  The reputation of retailers is better retained by adopting a proactive approach thereby earning customer-loyalty and citizenship.

Monday, April 26, 2010

UPS Brings it by Bike

Guest post by Jennifer Shelby

In California and Oregon, a few UPS district managers made a decision on a local level to use bicycles with a trailer attached to deliver packages during the Christmas of 2009.

By making the decision to switch to bicycles, UPS could have saved $45,000-$50,000 in truck rental fees, maintenance, and fuel expenses. The bicycles took the place of 20-25 trucks that would have had to be rented for the extra workload of the Christmas season. Not only did this save UPS money (UPS declined to give actual figures), but it is predicted that just using bicycles in those few local markets will have an impact on the overall efforts of UPS to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

UPS has been looking for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since 2008; however, using bicycles are not in that plan presently on a corporate basis. In 2008, the fuel from delivery trucks accounted for 33% of the greenhouse emissions. Since that time UPS has implemented a software program that eliminated left hand turns. By eliminating left hand turns UPS saved 3 million gallons of fuel and 28 million miles.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Solar Plays role in Haiti Relief Efforts

Guest post by Elizabeth Borovcik

Sol, Inc., a solar lighting systems provider, is donating $400,000 with aid from suppliers and a solar light matching program to Haiti victims. Solar powered lighting system contributed by Sol will help hospitals, food distribution centers and relief camps to operate even after the broad day-light. In addition, one thousand solar-powered phones were contributed by Intivation and Digicel to help earthquake survivors and to help aid workers communicate.

For more information of the timeline of Sol's Haiti recovery efforts, please click here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis powered by Solar Panels

Guest post by Elizabeth Borovcik

Royal Caribbean, the world’s second-largest cruise company, is high on solar panel investments for its cruise ship, Oasis. The 21,000 square feet of thin solar film produces enough power to light the ship’s Royal Promenade and Central Park areas. The goal is to make energy efficient lighting of cruise ships, reduce emissions, and do “future proofing,” or utilize existing technology as a bridge while waiting for better future technology.

The company has not just limited itself to solar panels, but also has reduced emissions by using smokeless gas-turbine engines which can reduce the exhaust emissions of nitrous oxide by 85 percent and sulfur oxides by more than 90 percent. Other sustainable efforts are air-conditioning systems that can turn off automatically when balcony doors are left open too long.

BAM Solar Power, certified distributors of BP Solar and GE Energy, provided the lead on the Royal Caribbean $750,000 installation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Repurpose Your Used Pens, Markers and Other Writing Instruments

Guest post by Jacinda Gregory

TerraCycle has teamed up with leaders in the writing instrument industry such as Sharpie, Paper Mate, and EXPO to be the first to create the world’s first program to collect and reuse writing instruments. It will reduce the amounts of these products that end up in landfills around the world while raising funds for schools, charities and other non-profit originations. Each collected instrument is worth two cents and will be paid to the organization of the participant’s choice.

Participants will start by setting up collection centers called “Writing Instrument Brigades” at large corporations and schools around different areas. Once the collections have been made, each collection centre will have the opportunity to print off pre-paid shipping labels from TerraCycle’s website allowing them to be sent back, disassembled and reprocessed to make new products.

TerraCycle has also teamed up with other consumer goods manufacturers including 3M, Mars and OfficeMax, to collect and recycle their products.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hybrids Featured at the Detroit Auto Show

Guest post by Diane Barber

Car companies are working toward the goal of a cleaner car market by offering new hybrid vehicles and  electric vehicles with zero emissions to the general public. Some of the concepts shown at the 2010 North American International Auto Show were real vehicles that can be purchased now; others were conceptual cars and will possibly be offered in a few years. One concept car featured a gas-powered engine that shuts off when it is not needed, allowing the vehicle to run solely on the electric motor.

Ford Motor Company is one of the leaders in green technology and showed its continued commitment by announcing plans to increase current investments in cleaner technology vehicles to almost one billion dollars.

Toyota has had success with its Prius hybrid and announced plans to create an entire line of plug-in hybrids, all-electric vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles. Hyundai is on track to achieve a fleet average of 35 starting miles per gallon by 2015.  Audi, Volkswagen, and Honda have also entered the race to bring more green cars to market.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Green Fashion

Guest post by Michael Bradshaw

"The fashion industry leaves behind a huge trail of environmental spillover, from the pesticides used in cultivating cotton and the leached chemicals from the toxic dyes, to the landfill impact of clothes that wear out and the energy required to produce each unit," according to TreeHugger.

Instead of conventional cotton, people should use more sustainable fabrics sourced from bamboo and hemp in order to offset carbon and chemicals. People should also make an effort to stack their closets with Cruelty-free and Fair-Trade labeled clothes.

Proponents of green fashion in a lot of ways will do justice to humanity and animals as well. Buying organic and renewable fibers will reduce toxicity and waste and will do more good to the planet Earth in terms of energy and resources savings. Cold wash with biodegradable detergents and keeping the dryer and dry-wash at bay is the other side of the coin.

Thrift store shopping can serve as a true green fashion idea. These thrift stores often resell older, vintage items as well as some newer eco-friendly pieces. Cool fashion trends and more commonly Halloween costumes that have only been worn once can be found with ease, which undoubtedly saves a lot of money and time by not having to wait in incredibly long lines at other Halloween Superstores.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Walmart Fleet Runs Hybrids

Guest post by Ben Jackson

Wal-Mart continues pursuing its goal of doubled fuel efficiency of its fleet since2005. It will test four new types of hybrid and alternative-fuel heavy-duty commercial trucks and pledge to double its fleet efficiency by 2015 from a baseline the company set in 2005.

Wal-Mart is testing several fuel efficiency options within its fleet including dual-mode diesel-electric , reclaimed grease fuel made with waste cooking oil from Wal-Mart stores, 80/20 blend of biodiesel made of reclaimed yellow grease waste, liquid natural gas in larger metropolitan areas like Detroit, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Apple Valley, California, Atlanta, and the Washington-Baltimore region.
Wal-Mart improved the efficiency of its private fleet by more than 25 percent and attributes its success mainly to the use of new fuel efficiency technologies.

Wal-Mart’s new CEO Mike Duke asserted during a conference that efforts such as cutting waste and energy use and requiring suppliers to do the same would continue under his leadership.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Florida Making Headlines in Sustainability Budgets

Guest post by David Hancock

Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist has signed three executive orders directing cuts in Florida’s greenhouse gas emissions and put $2.1 billion into efforts to promote clean energy and protect the state’s resources.

According to the state’s 2010 budget, Florida’s primary focus appears to be on the utilization of solar power, to the tune of $44.4 million dollars, which includes solar panel installation for education facilities and tax rebates for solar energy. Other aspects of the budget’s energy initiatives were clean energy from such sources as natural gas fueling stations, providing clean energy grants, and wastewater treatment to which Florida allotted upwards of $50 million.

Wastewater treatment was of particular concern due to the survival of an ecosystem that covers nearly a quarter of the state, Florida’s Everglades region. The state is proposing spending $20 million in matching funds on projects related to wastewater management and water quality programs.

As we continue restoring America’s Everglades and investing in renewable energy, Floridians will gain a cleaner and safer environment that will endure for generations to come,” Crist said, in a statement.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Method Introduces First Cradle to Cradle Certified Detergent

Guest post by Chris Dodd

Almost every store’s detergent shelves are filled with laundry detergent that is 2X concentrated. Method's patent-pending Smartclean technology found a way of drastically slashing the amount of liquid needed to wash a load.

Instead of using the conventional route to make laundry detergent (adding ingredients to water), Method has found a way to put the water inside of the ingredients in its new 8X concentrated detergent. The new Method Laundry Detergent is a plant-based formula made with 95 percent natural and renewable ingredients and requires 33 percent less energy and oil to produce and product's package is completely made of HDPE (the widely recycled #2 plastic).

Method’s unique selling point, apart from the sustainable aspect, is its small size and a pump instead of a cap for dispensing detergent.

Through Method's efforts to reduce water, energy and other resources, this will be the first detergent to earn Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certification.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Minnesota Twins Team Up with Pentair to be “The Official Sustainable Water Provider”

Guest post by Chris Plyler

The Minnesota Twins are teaming up with Pentair and GreenMark to become more environmental friendly by addressing environmental concerns like water scarcity and quality.

GreenMark is sponsoring a new technological system, designed by Pentair, which can harvest rainwater and recycle it by treating it through a filtration system. It will be used in irrigating the field and cleaning after games. The purification technology will be so advanced that harvested rainwater can be purified to the level of potable tap water. The system is expected to enhance water quality and reduce the use bottled drinking water.

Pentair will donate and install a custom-designed Rain Water Recycle System (RWRS) that will capture, conserve and reuse rain water at Target Field, the new world-class home of the Minnesota Twins in April 2010. Pentair’s RWRS is estimated to reduce the need for municipal water at Target Field by over 50 percent, helping the ballpark to qualify for LEED certification and saving more than 2 million gallons of water annually.

"With Pentair's cutting edge technology and GreenMark's enlightened approach to sponsorship, an entirely new category of sports sponsorship can be launched that is a win-win for the environment and sports franchises."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Walmart Funds Green Supply Chain Research

Guest post by Cheryl Lee

WalMart has teamed with the World Resources Institute by awarding the Institute a grant of $420,000 to better serve the world by providing companies with the accounting tools to measure their supply chain carbon emissions. The president of WRI, Jonathan Lash stated, “Sustainability is becoming a driver of business strategy for smart companies.” Sustainability is a must if a company wants to survive in today’s economy. Some of the grant money provided from WalMart will aid in helping Chinese suppliers become more environmental friendly. WalMart wants to get their 100,000 suppliers on board as well and help them to become more sustainable. WalMart has put together a Sustainability Consortium comprised of universities, NGOs, and government business interests to assist in providing research for future products.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Top Seven Sustainability Practices

Guest post by Brooke Bledsoe & Travis Roe

The top seven sustainability practices have been identified by communications and stakeholder engagement firm, SDialogueSDialogue reports on the interconnectedness of these best practices and how they help companies realize sustainability.

The top sustainability strategies being used are:

  • Setting sustainability goals and measuring success: Accessing value and cost that sustainability would create in order to make an investment decision and aligning the adopted measures with the corporate goals. 
  • Stakeholder engagement: Stakeholders who need to be engaged and informed should be identified by social media. 
  • Sustainability issues mapping: Identification of sustainability challenges, issues, sources and opportunities. 
  • Sustainability management systems: Setting of Performance objectives that can be audited 
  • Product life cycle assessment and product-design: Determining full set of environmental and social damages so that the delivery of product or service is safe. 
  • Sustainability/corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting: Developing a formal sustainability report (web version) 
  • Integrating sustainability into brands: Unique selling Proposition

In it's report, Top Seven Sustainability Practices: the Sum > the Parts, SDialogue also explains the role that social media plays in sustainability-related communications. Building trust is one of the key aspects of a good corporate sustainability program.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Levi's to Trace Source of Cotton in Clothing

Guest post by Brittney Banks

Levi Strauss is currently working on a pilot program in conjunction with Historic Futures searching for sustainably and ethically sourced cotton for use in its clothing. Historic Futures teamed with Wal-Mart on a similar supply chain study of jewelry.

While addressing UC Berkley-Haas School of Business students, Levi's CEO, John Anderson put forward the company’s biggest challenge of sustainable sourced cotton. Levi's purchases materials from 150 textile mills, which in turn purchase materials from multiple sources. The program will follow the cotton in every stage of production right from cultivation to factories.

According to Levi's, if the pilot program tracing the supply chain is successful, it will be able to affix a certificate of sustainably-sourced denim with each pair of jeans sold under the program. Levi's is trying to convince customers of the benefits of cold-water washing to save energy as another sustainability endeavor.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Goodbye Incandescent Lightbulbs, Hello CFLs

Guest post by Amy Meier

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will begin phasing out traditional incandescent light bulbs, starting January 1, 2012. More and more Americans are buying energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and are aware of the energy-saving benefits.

GE says its Energy Smart CFLs use a quarter of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs, last as much as 10 times longer and give off less heat.

According to GE’s research, about 75 % of 1519 homeowners surveyed were not aware of the impending federal requirement for greater energy efficiency that starts in two years. This Act will lead to the phase out of 100-watt incandescent bulbs starting January1, 2012.The next phasing out of seventy-five-watt traditional bulbs will be in 2013, followed by 40- and 60-watt bulbs in 2014.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Taking a Stand Against the GM Food Movement

Guest post by Karen Flores

It is nothing new to hear about the growing control that multi-national corporations (MNCs) are having over our food industry with genetically modified (GM) foods, which are infiltrating every aspect of the consumer food market. It is increasingly difficult here in the US to find foods that have not been genetically modified in some way.

What is new to hear is that more and more countries are willing to take a stand against the giant MNCs and ban GM crops in their countries. With entire countries enacting bans against GM crops, this is an enormous leap in making arguments known over the concerns of GM foods. Ireland has made the decision to ban GM crops and offers a voluntary labeling system that identifies food which are GM-free. Ireland’s decision is based on many factors from the obvious to the more subtle.

Clearly there are health concerns revolving around GM foods and what kind of long-term health issues that may arise. But additionally, Ireland recognizes that its local farmers would not be able to compete against the giant subsidized food industry as is seen in the US and Canada. Over time, the MNCs would gain control over much of the economy and Ireland’s local businesses would be suffocated and eventually become extinct. Another beneficial reason for Ireland to ban GM crops is that with consumers increasingly demanding natural foods, Ireland stands to be a good source country for non-GM foods that can me exported to other countries. It will be clear that foods grown in Ireland or other countries with a ban against GM crops will be naturally produced.

Ireland will likely face an uphill battle against MNC giants, such as Monsanto. Last year, Monsanto filed a suit against the German Government when it enacted a ban against GM corn. Monsanto is clearly trying to preserve the economic opportunities in Europe and is willing to battle it out against countries that ban GM crops; realizing the potential influence these bans would have on other European countries that may be flirting with the idea.

As more countries start to ban GM crops and take a stand for additional testing and research, there may be a glimmer of hope toward more natural food choices and less control by MNCs.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Green Collar Jobs

Guest post by Sonya Cato

Green For All is a great organization that strives to build new alliances for the public and private installation of establishing quality green jobs. At, you can see the various training programs the Green For All utilizes to train its members to become effective leaders in their community. And in doing so, these leaders cultivate the inner-workings of businesses, government, labor, non-profit organizations, and communities to create new, quality green-collar jobs that effectively and strategically change communities’ existence.

Green-collar jobs are jobs that pay family wages and provide opportunities for advancement along a career path of developing and increasing skills, while pay rises also. Green-collar jobs provide methods for low-income communities to excel out of poverty to become economically self-sufficient as well as promote a green-collar economy.

Although many green-collar jobs may require learning some new skills, existing jobs can be transformed into green-collar jobs as industries make the change to a clean energy partner. After identifying the new skills that will be pertinent to many newly-introduced green-collar jobs, communities and organizations need to invest in creating new training programs and/or revamping the existing training programs to meet these demands.

More so, green-collar jobs will save the planet in the long run. These jobs help communities utilize alternatives to oil, slow down the greenhouse-gas emissions, eliminate toxins, and protect our natural systems. Ways in which some green-collars are doing this already is by installing solar panels, maintaining buildings for efficiency, refining oil into biodiesel, repairing hybrid cars, and planting trees.

To find a green-collar job near you, check out these websites:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Electrical Contractors Need Green Skills for Future

Guest post by Houston Neal

We are nearing a renaissance of electrical contracting. Software Advice, a website that reviews electrical estimating software, thinks the electrician will soon transition into an "energy contractor" to meet demand of the growing green construction market. This growth is being fueled by increased adoption of green and renewable energy technologies among homeowners and corporations.

Who will be there to retrofit these buildings? Electrical contractors will play a major role in these upgrades. However, they'll need to "green" their skill set in order to take advantage of opportunities.

To get started, electricians must gain the skills and knowledge to take on green projects. Both the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) offer education programs for green electrical work. Second, they should get versed on electric- and energy-related LEED credits. LEED projects are growing just as fast as the rest of the green construction market, so this is one of the areas where electricians will be able to "cash in."

To read more, visit: The Coming Renaissance of Electrical Contracting.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Golden State Warriors Hook Up with The Solar Company to Green Practice Facility

Guest post by Denise Rogers

The Golden State Warriors and The Solar Company have the first solar installation basketball practice facility in the NBA. They cut the ribbon on January 21, 2010 on the facility that will be powered with renewable energy. The facility will be downtown Oakland, CA and is expected to save the team $36,000 in energy costs during the first year of operation and $2,094,000 over the next 25 years. The Warrior's President Robert Rowell, Solar Company President Mark Danenhower, and the rookie guard Stephen Curry will show the system that will be made of 143.5kW-system.

That will consist of 537 SunPower SPR-305-WHT-U modules and 23 SunPower SPR-6000m (277V) inverters. Average daily production of the system is estimated at 758.9kWH and annual production is projected at 277,008kWH. The system will supply the equivalent of 26 percent of electricity that is currently being used at the site. It didn't take long to build this facility at all, it was announced by the Warriors and the Solar Company in November, they started on it in December, and was finish by January.

Roswell stated, "This solar installation project is a very important component of the green initiatives of the Golden State Warriors organization."

North American pro sports teams are increasingly adopting environmentally friendly practices and working towards greening up their facilities with recycling and rainwater harvesting to retrofitting venues with waterless urinals.

In April, last year the Warrior's planted trees and gave away reusable grocery bags. The Warrior's did this the week that they held their inaugural Green Week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Construction Begins on Plastic Railroad Bridges

Guest post by Donna Mantione

Axion International, a company which manufactures building components made from post consumer and industrial plastics, is set to begin construction on two new Recycled Structural Composite (RSC) railroad bridges at Ft. Eustis, Virginia. The new bridges, one spanning 40 feet and the other spanning 80 feet, will replace two wooden bridges that had been taken out of service because of deteriorating conditions. These new bridges will be completed in less time than it would take using conventional construction materials. All components in this construction are from recycled materials with the exception of the steel connectors used to connect the plastic components and the rubber plates placed between the girders and pile caps to reduce the strain and vibration. In addition to faster project completion, the cost will be less than using wood and steel and the environmental impact is substantial because of the diversion of plastics from landfills.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ridding the World of Toxic Emissions and Non-Disposable Waste

Guest post by Paula Cook

There are many large corporations today that are leading the way in making their operations greener and one of them is, in fact, the largest poultry company in the United States. Located in Lumber Bridge, NC, Mountaire Farms is one corporation that has taken a giant step to reducing the carbon dioxide emissions our country releases annually. The boxes that this and other corporations use to transport food have traditionally been those that have a wax coating, thus making them harder to dispose of and creating more carbon dioxide emissions. The new recyclable boxes that Mountaire Farms is using are smaller and compostable. Using a smaller box will cut down on materials and being compostable helps the environment tremendously.

The new boxes are produced by Interstate Container and together with Mountaire Farms they conducted a pilot program testing the new recyclable boxes at one of their distribution centers in New York. They found these new recyclable boxes to be very efficient and allowed the company to also cut down on their water usage. They previously used the wax-covered boxes for ice-pack shipments; whereas, with the new recyclable boxes, they no longer needed the ice thereby cutting down on their water usage by millions of gallons.

Global Green USA is trying to encourage other large corporations to make the switch to using wax-free products for their shipping needs. They estimated that 1.5 million tons of non-recyclable materials are dumped annually. By simply using these recyclable shipping containers rather than the wax-covered ones, corporations like Mountaire Farms can help save not only our country but our world from toxic emissions and non-disposable waste.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Move Toward Electric Work Trucks Looks More Promising

Guest post by Karen Rutherford

2010 may be the year for many companies to upgrade company trucks for the future. Eliminating CO2 emissions and pollution may come with enough incentives from the federal and state governments this year that organizations could be on the waiting list for delivery of electric work trucks. There are work trucks on backorder now from companies like Coco-Cola, AT&T, and Frito Lay.

Developing hybrid diesel -electric drive trains and all electric delivery vans is being tackled and accomplished from major truck manufacturers. In the past, there have been several obstacles to the manufacture and purchase of electric trucks. One of the most pressing is the comparably high cost to purchase the more environmentally friendly trucks. 2010 will expose at least four points to help offset the high purchase costs:

1. Government subsidies and tax breaks

2. Lower operating costs

3. Competitive market will drive cost down

4. Low fuel and maintenance costs

It is estimated that the total cost to payback the electric truck is approximately five years. Another show of support from Congress is a pending bill that would provide $65 million for the U.S. Postal Service to purchase electric delivery trucks in the near future.

DYMAC Northwest is just one example of the hundreds of companies that offer all electric utility trucks for personal and organizational uses. They offer AC and DC powered vans, trucks, trams, and shuttles. DYMAC electric vehicles meet Type E OSHA requirements for personnel and burden carriers, making them attractive for college campuses, military bases, and airports.

I think as our society becomes smarter about our environment and taking more time to pursue intelligent ways to live with nature, the market for electric vehicles will grow rapidly in our future. The costs are becoming more affordable and the kinks that turned many people away for years are all being addressed and overcome. Manufacturers are realizing the demands are out growing the supply for electric work trucks and personal vehicles. The environment is important to many people who feel they can make a difference without it being so painful.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

ICLEI Launches Sustainability Planning Toolkit to Accelerate Movement of Sustainable Cities and Counties

Press Release

ICLEI Launches Sustainability Planning Toolkit to Accelerate Movement of Sustainable Cities and Counties

Local governments can now access comprehensive guidance—based on the model pioneered by City of New York’s PlaNYC—to develop sustainability plans that improve quality of life in their communities

A new Sustainability Planning Toolkit released by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA establishes for the first time the best practices to develop a local sustainability plan. This toolkit fills a major need: Across the United States, a rapidly growing number of cities, towns, and counties are eager to create sustainability plans or expand the scope of existing plans, but find the task daunting and disorganized, and lacking standardized methods and metrics.

With ICLEI’s toolkit, jurisdictions of all sizes can now follow a proven, straightforward, and flexible process to create long-term sustainability plans that bring together their individual environmental, economic, and social initiatives under one holistic vision.

The toolkit, which has been developed for ICLEI’s 600 U.S. local government members, is based on the planning model pioneered by City of New York for its renowned PlaNYC sustainability plan. The toolkit was authored by ICLEI and developed through a close collaboration between ICLEI and the City of New York’s Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.

ICLEI launched the first global initiative to develop the methods and tools for local sustainability planning in 1992 at the United Nations’ “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro. Since that time, ICLEI has supported thousands of local governments in scores of countries to develop their customized approaches for putting the complex goal of sustainability into local practice,” said Jeb Brugmann, ICLEI Global’s founder and current Executive Director of ICLEI USA. “This toolkit draws from the most recent best practices in the United States to help cities and counties take their sustainability planning efforts to the next level. With a sustainability plan to guide their actions, cities like New York, Minneapolis, Santa Monica, and many others have shown that they can more effectively combat climate change, green their buildings, update infrastructure, invigorate their local economies, and improve public health and quality of life for their community members.”

“Our message to all local governments is that the secret to a successful sustainability plan is a rigorous planning process,” added Brugmann, “and this toolkit walks local governments through what can be a very complex process.”

To reach their chosen sustainability goals, local governments can follow ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Sustainability process, which is the foundation of the toolkit:

Milestone One: Conduct a sustainability assessment

Milestone Two: Establish sustainability goals

Milestone Three: Develop a local sustainability plan

Milestone Four: Implement policies and measures

Milestone Five: Evaluate progress and report results

By following this process, local governments can create plans with strong, measurable goals that can be tracked over time. The ability to measure performance has been a key to the success of PlaNYC.

“PlaNYC is not a report. It is an implementation tool that was the outcome of a comprehensive planning process to create a greener, greater New York,” said Rohit T. Aggarwala, Director, City of New York Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “We hope our model is useful to other cities and provides a framework to create sustainability plans with measurable goals and objectives.”

In order to ensure the PlaNYC model was replicable for a range of large and small communities, ICLEI partnered with New Rochelle, NY and Miami-Dade County, FL to pilot the guidelines in the toolkit. “The Sustainability Planning Toolkit provided us with a proven process for developing a sustainability plan, and helped us to understand how New York’s planning process could work in a city of our size,” said Mayor Noam Bramson of New Rochelle, NY.

Inside the toolkit, local government staff will find guidance on how to structure their planning process, what types of strategies and measures to include in their plan, step-by-step guidelines to achieve each of the Five Milestones, best-practice examples, checklists, templates, and guidelines for organizing a team to develop the plan.

The Sustainability Planning Toolkit is the first of two major sustainability resources offered by ICLEI USA. The STAR Community Index, to be launched in 2011, is a national, consensus-based framework for gauging the sustainability and livability of U.S. communities. STAR will build on the Five Milestones for Sustainability by providing a comprehensive set of goals and measures that standardize how we plan and manage for sustainability at the local level. A soft launch of the set of municipal goals that will comprise this new framework is set for early 2010. It is being developed through a robust stakeholder process of more than 165 volunteers representing 135 organizations, including 60 cities and 10 counties.


Don Knapp, Senior Communications Officer
(510) 206-1011 (cell)

Annie Strickler, Communications Director
(510) 599-3021

Downtown Little Rock Welcomes Affordable, Sustainable Home, Designed and Built by U of A Architecture Students

Press Release

Downtown Little Rock Welcomes Affordable, Sustainable Home, Designed and Built by U of A Architecture Students

WHO: The City of Little Rock, the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation and the Fay Jones School of Architecture, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

WHAT: Groundbreaking for Little Rock’s first Design/Build home by students in the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture, led by associate professor Michael Hughes

WHEN: 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WHERE: 1519 S. Commerce Street, Little Rock

BACKGROUND: The City of Little Rock and the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation are pleased to announce the groundbreaking for a sustainably designed and built modular home, to be located in the historic Pettaway neighborhood of downtown Little Rock. The home is the first of several Design/Build projects planned by the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture in cooperation with the DLRCDC.

The home, to be located at 1519 S. Commerce St., has been designed, and is being constructed by 4th and 5th year students in the Fay Jones School of Architecture in Fayetteville. This home is being constructed in modules at a warehouse in Fayetteville. Upon its completion in mid-April, the units will be shipped to the site. This home is part of a collaborative effort to revitalize the South Main neighborhood, and showcases materials and construction alternatives for affordable, energy-efficient and sustainable housing in inner-city Little Rock.

About the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation

Incorporated in 1992, the DLRCDC is a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the quality of life for people living in Downtown Little Rock, with a focus east of Main Street and south of I-630. The DLRCDC has recently joined forces with other downtown Little Rock organizations to form the Heart of the City Coalition, a group dedicated to more effectively promoting “a varied, vibrant, and livable downtown Little Rock.”

The City of Little Rock provides operating support to the Downtown Little Rock CDC through its Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG).

For more information about the DLRCDC, please visit the website at, contact Executive Director Scott Grummer at (501) 372-0148, or email

Nominate our Book as a "Must Read"

Dear Readers: We need your help!  Triple Pundit is asking readers to nominate and vote on a list of of "must read" books on sustainable businessPlease nominate our book, "Sustainable Business: An Executive's Primer" as a "must read."  Next week, readers will be asked to vote on the books that were nominated.  Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Recycling Pays Off for University

Here's a great story on the environmental and financial benefits of recycling.  The University of Arkansas at Little Rock purchased a $3600 flourescent bulb recycling machine that will result in a savings of $20,000 a year!  How's that for a success story?


Story and video courtesy of KTHV (April 2009)

In honor of Earth Day UALR's Physical Plant shows students what they're doing to go green.

The UALR bulb eater is a lamp crushing machine.

Vince Rodgers with UALR says there's a lot that goes into disposing fluorescent lamps.

"There are elements in the bulbs such as, aluminium, mercury and phosphor powders that would go into the landfill."

Until recently the physical plant at UALR boxed and shipped old fluorescent lamps to be recycled.

Now, those lamps are sent down a tube.

The bulb eater crushes the blown out lamps and consolidates the waste.

Rodgers says the machine is a win win situation.

"It's good for the environment and it's good for us. It does two things, it saves space rather than keeping these boxes around and it saves money."

UALR purchased the bulb eater for around $3,600. The machine alone will save the university $20,000 a year.

Rodgers says it's also a time-saver.

"It will take 1 minute to recycle bulbs versus boxing that takes upwards of an hour."

UALR student Simone Lewis likes the bulb eater idea.

"I think it's awesome that our generation can change the movement. It's just amazing that they say young people are the future and we're doing something about it."

It's a simple concept that's making quite a bit of noise.

Lewis says she's proud of her university.

"It's getting our name out there and we're just doing something to help our environment. I don't know how many other campuses are doing that," says Lewis.

UALR also held other events around campus today. Tire pressure checks and electronic recycling are all a part of the earth day events.

See Which Companies Are Taking Climate Change Seriously

For years, Climate Counts has been tracking and scoring companies' climate impact performance.  Using 22 criteria, Climate Counts determines if a company has measured and reduced its impact, supported progressive climate legislation, and has been transparent about its climate actions.  Companies are scored on a 100-point scale and the more points, the better.  For example, in the Media sector, GE has the highest score (74) while Viacom has the lowest score (3).

The goal is to make this information available to consumers so they know they have the power to support companies that take climate change seriously and avoid supporting companies that don't.  Climate Counts even offers a pocket guide that you can take with you when you go shopping, so you'll know which companies are climate responsible and deserve your support. 

Now Climate Counts has a new iPhone app.  The cool app gives you accesss to the same information so you can make responsible choices on the go.  Don't have an iPhone?  Then you can text GREEN[company or brand name] to 66937 and you'll receive the company's score.  Or you can still get your pocket guide!

USGBC Supports Haiti "Relief & Recovery"

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has announced it will help rebuild homes, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure in Haiti.  The USGBC has helped build new green communities following natural disasters in New Orleans, LA and Greensburg, KS.  Individuals and companies can support this effort through donations of machinery, building materials, or money through the Clinton Foundation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is Your Green Marketing Message Reaching Your Customers?

Guest post by Erin Edwards

A recent study found that people with the highest level of awareness of environmental issues were those ages 18 to 24 known as Generation Y. Though researchers were excited about this growing trend, the study also found that Generation Y is the biggest waster of energy and water in the country. Many people in this age category are aware of the environmental issues, but are not certain of the steps they should take to become green in their own lives. Maybe companies are marketing towards this consumer group in the wrong way.

After conducting research for a client, Adam Kustin, vice president of Shelton Group Inc. came to the conclusion that consumers ages 18 to 24 were seeking information regarding green products; not from the Internet but from some unlikely sources. The wireless generation makes decisions regarding green products from passive methods, such as ads, news stories, product labels, and word-of-mouth. Marketing techniques such as television and radio advertisements make it easy for consumers to listen to information without having to actively search the Internet to learn about green products. And if companies design products with labels advertising it as environmentally-friendly, it is more likely to sell to those consumers interested in more environmentally-friendly products. The wireless generation is concerned with comfort, wellness, and convenience, so they are more likely to purchase products or services that are marketed in these ways.

Keeping Up with the Joneses (in Energy Efficiency)

Guest post by Lori Shivey

Who would have thought that adults would still act like they are in high school? A startup company, called OPower, has found this out. People are still influenced by what others do and are doing. It seems that all it takes is No. 10 envelopes and smiley faces.

OPower, an industry leader in Energy Efficiency and Smart Grid software, mails utility users a personalized report about their energy consumption. In this report, OPower compares the utility user to his or her neighbors. In doing this, people can be persuaded to lower their energy consumption, which in turn helps fight global warming as well as reduce emissions. People who are using less energy get a smiley face, which motivates them to want more. People who are using more energy than their neighbors get to know that they are being more wasteful.

Dan Yates is the man responsible for this startup. After selling his first startup, at $20 million, he was able to travel the world and this led him to become an environmentalist. After his travels, Yates and Alex Laskey started OPower with the help of Dr. Robert Cialdini, who is a renowned social psychologist.

So far the company has done well. Customers who receive these personalized reports have cut their energy consumption by 1.2 percent to 2.8 percent on average. The company’s reports are currently being used by 1 and 2 million people through 24 different utility companies.

OPower hope sto combine its data analysis with smart grid technology, which will help get the information out to more people. People will then be able to see whether they are conserving energy or not, much like they compare other daily spending habits.

Listen to a podcast (or read the transcript) of a recent interview with founder and CEO, Dan Yates.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Students Join Us As Guest Bloggers

You may notice lots of guest posts over the next 4 months.  Students in the Sustainable Business Practices course at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will be sharing their wisdom with us this semester.  Students have been invited to blog about issues related to sustainable business practices and to also contribute to our ongoing Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week feature.  We look forward to learning from the young bright minds of our future business leaders!

Sustainable Forestry Initiative Releases New Standard

Guest post by Tamessia Green

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) has updated its certification standard with a new version. SFI is one of the world’s leading third-party forest certification programs.

There was an 18-month public review process which included updated information. The new SFI 2010-2014 standard consists of changes that deal with conservation of biodiversity in North America, climate change, illegal logging, logging training, etc. The SFI requires participants of the program to support and connect with non-certified forest owners that supply wood fiber, and also perform risk assessments on those suppliers to avoid illegal harvesting operations.

According to the SFI press release, the new standards are expected to:
SFI 2005-2009, the previous standard, had 9 core principals, 13 objectives, 34 performance measures, and 102 indicators. The new SFI 2010-2014 in comparison with the old standard has 5 more core principals, 7 more objectives, 5 more performance measures and 12 indicators. The new set of principals took place January 1, 2010 and each participant will have one year to meet the requirements.


More Reasons to Reduce Use of Fossil Fuels: Premature Birth, Low Birth Weight, & Male Infertility

Guest post by Herbert-LaVance Cunning II

Recent studies suggest there are serious effects of air pollution towards human reproduction. The two reports from Brazil examined male infertility and women's complications in pregnancy and connected them with exposure to air pollution.

One study examined 748 male workers who inhaled the air from major public roads and reconstruction of highways.  Of those 748 men, 500 illustrated some negative change in fertility.  The cause is the heavy metals used in the fuel burned in vehicles; exposure "directly affects the body."  The study concludes, "air pollution is one of the modern causes of infertility male."

Another study examined 13,660 births in an area with high air pollution and calculated pollution exposure of the mothers. The results found that 9.1 percent of children born were below the ideal birth-weight and 7.4 percent were born prematurely.  The cause is exposure to high levels of ozone (O3), airborne particulate matter (PM10), and  sulfur dioxide (SO2).  The researcher concludes, "air pollution contributes significantly to premature birth and low birth weight."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sustainability & Green Business Webinars - January 2010

Here is a list of some great sustainability and green business webinars still coming up this month.  Sign up and login!  Remember, save the it online!

Measuring Campus Sustainability: Reaching for the STARS (Jan. 19)
Beyond Grades: The College Sustainability Webinar Series: ADMINISTRATION (Jan. 20)
Sustainability Consulting 301 - Building Customer Relationships (Jan. 21)
Product Supply Chain Environmental Traceability (Jan. 23)
Sustainability Consulting 401 - Creating Better Proposals (Jan. 28)
The Basics of Climate Change (Jan. 29)

The Dream Reborn: The New Opportunities of a Green Economy

In celebration of this day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I would like to share with you  the new video, The Dream Reborn, by Markese Bryant (aka Doo Dat) and produced by Green For All.

The rap video is about the unfinished business of the civil rights movement, the green initiatives of our current Presidential administration, and the opportunities associated with the green jobs movement. 

If you are inspired, create your own artistic expression supporting green jobs or a green economy and enter to win $1000.

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