Business & Technology

ISO tall, dark and efficient

ENERGY STAR ranked cities: Find your perfect match [slideshow]

The Environmental Protection Agency just released a report ranking U.S. cities based on their number of ENERGY STAR–labeled buildings. These rankings make us, well, warm all over, so we decided to check out the sexiest top nine ENERGY STAR buildings of the bunch. Are you in search of the perfect match? Look no further than these sassy personal ads. Maybe we’ll all get lucky.    Los Angeles The Watt Plaza: The twin office towers encompass 900,000 sq. feet. L.A. dominated the list, for the second year in a row, with 293 ENERGY STAR–labeled buildings in 2009 and $93.9 million in cost savings. L.A. twins seek …

Cheap chic

H&M’s organic line and the Wal-Mart perspective

Eurochic retailer H&M is launching an earth-friendly spring Garden Collection, H&M shopper Joe Romm reports. No, scratch that, this is from thegreengirls.com. The new line will include recycled polyester, organic cotton, and organic linen. Presumably the expected life of these clothes won’t be any longer than typical H&M items, which aren’t exactly known for their durability. I think you can look at this the same way you look at Wal-Mart’s recent announcement that it was asking suppliers to reduce the carbon impact of their factory-produced tchotchkes. If we’re going to have cheap, mass-produced clothing, furniture, salad-shooters, etc., that aren’t made …

in good taste

New ratings for sustainability in restaurants

The Sustainable Restaurant Association was started by the founder of Leon. Photo: MomondoIt’s not quite a Michelin Star, but it could be soon. The newly formed Sustainable Restaurant Association will rate restaurants according to how green and sustainable they are. Launched with the backing of leading restaurants and seriously important English chefs, participating restaurants will be visited by a green inspector. They had better watch out … The awards are a bronze, silver, or gold status and will be listed in restaurant guides. And they will be judged on very rigorous standards. Get the full story from our friends at …

Old car, new tricks

Leno drives our electric future back from the past [video]

Despite the sexiness of hydrogen options, The Tonight Show host and car aficionado Jay Leno believes electricity is where it’s at for automobile propulsion. Watch as he takes a closer look at the Ford Focus as compared to his own fully electric car—a pretty advanced model, traveling 100 miles on a charge. The kicker? It was built in 1909.

The Nuclear Fig Leaf is Falling

Raise your hand if US taxpayers are responsible to pay for the most expensive mistakes you make in your business. Chances are, the only hands that just went up are attached to nuclear power executives and, if that unfair advantage were removed we would see the end of nuclear power in this country. The five decades old Price-Anderson Act sets a cap on liability by power plants and their insurers for damages arising from nuclear accidents. After $300 million in damages are paid by insurance, the US taxpayer takes over to address catastrophic liabilities, including cleanups, property damage, health care, …

Big money on small ag

Silicon Valley investors place bets on sustainable ag

I attended an agriculture conference this week at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto. There were no pickup trucks in the BMW-packed parking lot, and few farmers with dirt under their fingernails could be found milling about the sleek hotel lobby. But the place was swarming with venture capitalists from some of Silicon Valley’s marquee firms looking to grow profits with investments in sustainable agriculture. Welcome to Agriculture 2.0. That was the name of the conference and represents a growing effort to scale up sustainable agriculture from a hodge-podge of hippies and back-to-the-land types into a viable big business by …

Message in a bottle

Scientists: BPA has widely contaminated the oceans

BPA leached from plastic: not just a problem for landlubbers.It’s looking more and more like the chemical industry’s idea to make the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A ubiquitous in the environment was a terrible, and terribly dangerous, idea. Having successfully tainted the food supply with its presence, BPA has now has put the world’s oceans at risk (via Science Daily): Scientists have reported widespread global contamination of sea sand and sea water with the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) and said that the BPA probably originated from a surprising source: Hard plastic trash discarded in the oceans and the epoxy plastic …

bugging out

First came superweeds; now come the superbugs!

The current crop of superweeds plaguing farmers who rely on Monsanto’s RoundUp pesticide represents by now a well documented crisis. But watch out, world! Here come the superbugs. That’s right, Monsanto’s other flagship product, its “Bt” line of genetically modified seeds which emit their own pesticide in the form of a naturally occurring toxin, is now under threat from resistant insects. Science Magazine ($ub req’d) has the details: Monsanto has revealed that a common insect pest has developed resistance to its flagship genetically modified (GM) product in India. The agricultural biotechnology leader says it “detected unusual survival” of pink bollworms that fed …

to hell in a fruit basket

Glenn Beck’s survival guide: Food and energy independence

Thinking I’d catch some of the conservative side-show after health care passed, I moseyed over to Glenn Beck’s website to find out when the healthpocalypse will destroy “our” America. But I found something even more shocking. More evidence for Beck’s closet treehugging is coming to the surface. Colbert slammed Beck a few weeks ago for his crisis garden advertisement, and now subliminal messages for local food and energy independence, under the guise of post-apocalyptic survival necessities, are popping up all over his site.   Call it what you want, Glenn. But we can see who’s side you’re really on. Check …