Business & Technology

Cash for caulkers at a profit!

Create jobs, reduce lung disease, and help solve the climate crisis at zero cost

As economic stimulus moves back onto the table, why not consider zero cost opportunities to create jobs, opportunities that would reduce lung diseases, and greenhouse gas emissions as a side effect? Create a federal agency with authority to issue federal infrastructure bonds, perhaps an infrastructure bank. Attach conditions that this authority can only finance projects with revenue streams that would fully pay back the cost of issuing those bonds, including principle, interest, transaction costs, and a risk premium. Example: One barrier to lowering emissions is that consumers and businesses will tolerate almost no upfront costs to save energy in buildings. …

Something old, something Newsom

San Francisco sets the PACE

Today, San Francisco Mayor Newsom signed the final piece of legislation necessary to get the city’s PACE (municipal property tax financing for energy efficiency, renewables, and water conservation) program off the ground. My colleague Rosalind Jackson recorded the moment for posterity. By summer, if all goes as scheduled, 70-80% of California will have access to a PACE program. That’s good news for property owners and the carbon cause. Signficantly, most of the state’s PACE programs will require some sort of loading order — a certain level of energy efficiency first before you can do solar PV or solar thermal. This …

we audi know better

The unheralded significance of the Audi ‘green police’ ad

Is it me or were the Super Bowl commercials this year unusually ugly, misogynistic, and, worst of all, unfunny? Some of America’s biggest corporations seemed to be trying to play to Teabag America, and the results were as bitter as the teabaggers themselves. Amidst the dreck was a commercial from Audi featuring the “green police.” Here it is: At first blush this seems like more teabagging — appealing to angry white men with the same old stereotype of environmentalists as meddling do-gooders obsessed with picayune behavioral sins. If you check in the comments under the video, that perspective is well …

The Cleantech Revolution: “Largest Market Opportunity in the History of the Planet”?

By Ishan Nath Cross-posted from LeadEnergy.org A special three-part series in last week’s San Jose Mercury News, entitled “The Cleantech Revolution,” highlighted the enormous economic opportunity in the clean-tech sector and warned that the U.S. is quickly falling behind while Asia seeks to gain global market dominance. In its analysis of the clean technology market, the Mercury‘s rhetoric is grand and its data convincing. The first part of the series begins: “Cleantech is poised to be the valley’s third great wave of innovation — not just the next big thing, but perhaps the biggest thing ever. Confronting the peril of …

grow job

The jobs are in the trees

With Congress and the White House considering spending scarce dollars to jump-start employment, they’ll need to get the biggest jobs bang for the buck to give Americans confidence that they’re spending our money wisely. Probably the biggest jobs generator of all, and one of the least recognized, is investing in forest and land restoration and sustainable management, with conservation, watershed projects, and park investment coming close behind. Heidi Garrett-Peltier and Robert Pollin at The Political Economy and Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts report the following numbers for jobs created per dollar of investment. To summarize, reforestation and restoration …

Bottoms up

Large-scale distributed energy is here: Recurrent Energy signs 50MW power purchase agreement

This morning, Recurrent Energy will announce that it has signed a power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison (SCE) for 50MW of solar. This might not seem like a big deal — California utilities seem to sign solar agreements every week these days — but there’s something special about this one. Recurrent’s power will not come from a single large-scale solar power plant out in the desert but from three small-scale solar PV projects, one 6MW and two 22MW installations in Kern and San Bernadino counties, which it will own and operate. In other words, Recurrent is selling distributed solar …

Invested interests

One step ahead of the carbon cops

What was it that Joe Friday in the old radio and TV show “Dragnet” used to say? “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” Facing just the facts last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled that publicly-held companies must disclose their exposure to potential losses from climate change, including carbon emissions that are the subject of growing regulation in the U.S. (and already highly regulated in Europe). Reaction has been both partisan and predictable, but make no mistake — the carbon cops are coming and the SEC is simply pointing out how to stay one step ahead of …

Sushi Savior

A Seattle chef proves that traditional sushi and healthy oceans go hand-in-chopstick

Scallop and dungeness crab salad wrapped in prosciutto topped with lumpfish caviar and avocado: A Hajime creation. Photo by Phu Son Nguyen of sushiday.comGrowing up in small-town Montana, two things just made no sense: vegetarians and sushi. Why eat tofu, or raw fish, when you could just as easily have a big juicy steak? Coming from generations of cattle rancher stock, I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s ringing defense of vegetarianism, Eating Animals, with trepidation. But the only beef I ended up having with Foer was that he ruined my ability to enjoy the raw and the rolled — right after …

iMeter

Smart meters save energy, water, and dollars

Flickr via Pink Sherbet PhotographyThe other day I came home to find a colorful flyer on my front door proclaiming, “Your meter just got smarter.” While I was out and about in Berkeley, a worker from my utility, PG&E, slipped in the side gate and gave my old gas and electric meter a digital upgrade. So-called smart meters allow the two-way transmission of electricity data and will eventually let me monitor and alter my energy consumption in near real-time. I’ll be able to fire up an app on my iPhone and see, for instance, a spike in watts because my …