Business & Technology

Small, sustainable and profitable

You don’t have to be big to go green

Greening Your Small Business is a new book out this month by Jennifer Kaplan, a partner in Greenhance, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm working with large and small businesses to gain better insight into their impact on the environment. She also teaches at Marymount University’s business school in Arlington, Va. Courtesy Jennifer KaplanI talked to Kaplan about her new book and why she wrote it. Below are highlights from our discussion. Q. Why did you see a need for this book? Kaplan: I was teaching market research at Marymount, and one student was working with a business who needed help …

E15 or Fight!

EPA punts on raising ethanol ‘blend wall’

I have been following the Great Ethanol Blend Wall fight for some time. In a nutshell, ethanol companies have been struggling mightily during the recession. In response, industry group Growth Energy petitioned the EPA to allow gasoline to contain up to 15 percent ethanol rather than the current 10 percent. This demand also had the strong support of the big farm groups as well as of USDA Chief Tom Vilsack himself. The auto industry, the marine industry, and just about anyone who sells a gasoline engine opposes the idea on the basis that at higher blends the corrosive effect of …

Mark your carbon calender

December 19 — the day after COP15

Tens of thousands of modern-day crusaders, charlatans, Nobel laureates, CEOs, quick-buck artists, earnest politicians, and assorted movie extras of every conceivable socio-political-ethnic-economic background will descend on Copenhagen for the next three weeks to participate in an orgy of carbon-bashing and flag-waving. The goal will be to agree on a blueprint — not quite the precise Earth owner’s manual that some had hoped for, but at least a quick-start guide — for reducing greenhouse gas emissions fast enough so that the world avoids the most expensive and unpredictable consequences of climate change. As the Danes clean up the mess when the …

REC-ing the Planet

Why buying cheap energy certificates worsens climate change

Oh…my….God. I just received an email from a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) vendor called Carbon Solutions Group (www.carbonsolutionsgroup.com) that took my already high (but controlled) blood pressure to new heights. RECs represent clean energy and can be purchased by entities wanting to claim to be powered by renewable energy. The gist of the Carbon Solutions e-mail (posted at the bottom of this blog) is that there is a misconception about their cost. RECs, the e-mail argues, are portrayed as way too expensive. Further, the U.S. Green Building Council is providing a misleadingly high number for the cost of powering your …

GoodGuide scanner makes healthy food shopping point and click

Last year, a colleague suggested I check out a startup with the intriguing, and so-very-California, name of Tao It. Founded by Berkeley professor Dara O’Rourke, Tao It aimed to tap a multiplicity of databases to rank consumer products according to their health and environmental attributes. The idea: If people could instantly learn online whether there are bad chemicals in their food and other goods, they would start buying green, putting pressure on companies to make more environmentally friendly and healthier products. When Tao It emerged from stealth mode, it was rebranded with the blander but apparently more marketable moniker GoodGuide. …

A Penny Saved Is…

California is at it again. State regulators just set energy efficiency standards for new TVs, mostly the big flat panel models that gulp kilowatts. As a result, consumers will save about $8 billion in the next decade in the form of lower electricity bills and carbon pollution will drop equal to removing 100,000 cars from the road. As my dad used to say, “a penny saved is a penny earned” – – so why doesn’t the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) want you to get your share of that saved carbon or those 800,000,000,000 pennies? The CEA fears that TV makers …

The U.S. Chamber needs to get its story straight

The U.S. Chamber seems to be going to great lengths these days persuade Congress that it really wants to help pass climate legislation. But a very different message is coming through its blogs, tweets, and unscripted comments. We think everyone should know what else the U.S. Chamber is saying, so we have updated our “WhoDoestheUSChamberRepresent.org” website with our latest Politico ad, which is running today. The ad focuses on the Chamber’s recent contradictory and confusing statements about climate legislation: 8/25/09: U.S. Chamber senior staff tells the LA Times it seeks a “Scopes Monkey Trial” to question whether global warming poses a …

Tortoise and the hare -- a clean energy tale

Winning the clean energy race: a new strategy for American leadership

By Teryn Norris & Devon Swezey You know the world is changing when the president’s first trip to Asia is defined by a new U.S. foreign policy dubbed “strategic reassurance” – convincing China that the United States has no intention of containing its growing power or endangering its foreign investments. As the New York Times put it, “When President Obama visits China for the first time on Sunday, he will, in many ways, be assuming the role of profligate spender coming to pay respects to his banker.” You also know times are changing when China, the world’s greatest polluter, and …

Up on the roof

Solar’s rapid evolution makes energy planners rethink the grid

Photo courtesy OZinOH via Flickr California’s ambitious goal of obtaining a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 has spawned a green energy boom with thousands of megawatts of solar, wind, and biomass power plants planned for … the middle of nowhere. And therein lies the elephant in the green room: transmission. Connecting solar farms and geothermal plants in the Mojave Desert and wind farms in the Tehachapis to coastal metropolises means building a massive new transmission system. The cost for 13 major new power lines would top $15.7 billion, according to a report released in August by …

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