Business & Technology

Picking up the PACE

San Francisco commits $150 million to green homes

Monday night I was having drinks in downtown San Francisco with some seriously smart people — top-level IBM scientists and strategists involved in Big Blue’s Smarter Planet initiative.  Given the room’s collective interest in creating smart electrical grids, smart water systems, advanced electric car batteries and other green technologies, the talk naturally turned to how to create sustainable cities. Solar panel installation in San Francisco.Photo courtesy bkusler via FlickrThe technology largely exists, the IBMers agreed, but what’s really needed is a great leap forward in financial engineering to allow cities to finance all the cool stuff being developed in labs …

Who is the Girlie Man Now?

Companies that invest in states like Massachusetts and California are going to prosper

Is Arnold a carbon girlie man?United NationsAs mudslides on the west coast and an epic blizzard on the east coast competed for news coverage last week, nothing could dim the glow of an economic report that contained a remarkable conclusion: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is trying to make California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger look like a carbon girlie man. According to the Eastern Research Group, Massachusetts is on target to cut carbon almost 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, thanks largely to significant programs that improve energy efficiency in factories, buildings, and transportation. Those programs will save money, making Massachusetts …

the evening news

CBS News previews its no-holds-barred report on antibiotics in livestock

Update: Catch part 1 and 2 of the series. Oh, boy. This one has blockbuster written all over it. Tonight, the CBS Evening News is broadcasting the first in a two-part series on the use of antibiotics in livestock (some background here). Katie Couric previewed the report this morning — and it looks like a doozy. The clip features an interview with a farmer who developed an antibiotic-resistant strep infection that was traced to his pigs. The farmer had been feeding sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to his barn-raised pigs. Once he recovered, he abandoned those industrial techniques in favor of …

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 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 …

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