Business & Technology

A Clarity Day

Hydrogen fuel-cell car wins 2009 World Green Car award

Honda FCX Clarity.Photo courtesy of the New York International Auto Show.Is the Honda FCX Clarity really the world’s greenest car? According to the world’s leading automotive journalists, it is. Thursday morning they gave the hydrogen-fueled Clarity the World Green Car award at the New York auto show. But at my table, after the award was announced, there was a collective response of, huh? Auto show awards can often serve more for PR purposes than as actual testaments of a vehicle’s merit, but it was still a surprise when the hydrogen-fueled Clarity bested the electric Mitsubishi iMiev and the super fuel-efficient …

It's hot. It's cool. It's a box.

Kyoto stove wins $75,000 FT climate change innovation competition

We all hate packaging, but the Kyoto box is that rare thing — a cardboard carton that’s part of the solution. It’s also the winner of Forum for the Future’s Climate Challenge competition with HP and the Financial Times to find the year’s best climate change-tackling innovation. After voting by FT readers and mulling over by an eminent panel including Eileen Claussen and Rajendra Pachauri, it’s the Kyoto box, a solar-powered cardboard cooker that will take away the $75,000 prize. It’s aimed at the 3 billion people who use firewood to cook, and in the words of Kenya-based Jon Bøhmer, …

Digging deep for green power

Drill, baby, drill

A veteran of the Manhattan Project is developing technology that could make it easier to tap geothermal energy locked deep underground. Potter Drilling It’s the archetypal Silicon Valley story: Unknown entrepreneur toils away on a Big Idea in an anonymous office park until discovered by one of the Valley’s legendary deep-pocketed investors. Another boy wonder CEO hatching the next Twitter or Facebook? Not quite. Meet Bob Potter, 88. He started his hardware company when he was just 83 with technology that grew out of his work on the Manhattan Project (yes, that Manhattan Project) back in the 1940s at Los …

Swept of my Fiat

Chrysler opens with a Fiat at the New York Auto Show

Photo courtesy of the New York International Auto Show. How will Chrysler save itself (and maybe even the auto industry)? With a tiny blue coupe tricked out with italian-leather seats, of course.  If there was any doubt about how large a role Fiat will play in Chrysler’s restructuring, Chrysler vice chairman Jim Press silenced those questions by driving on stage in a cobalt blue Fiat 500 at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday.  The point of Chrysler’s press conference was supposedly to announce the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, but Press took a few minutes to make his bravissimo …

Life's a Pitch

15 green sports venues

Think the only thing green about pro sports is the turf? Think again. As the first crack of the bat rings through the spring air this week, we take a look at sports venues in North America that are scoring big on the eco-field (now if only the teams could do something about all that travel). Right lights, big Citi. New York Mets 1. New York Mets, Citi Field. The brand-spankin’ new ballpark is opening this spring to great green acclaim (if subdued hoopla). While that other team in New York seems to have limited its green efforts to trash …

Dither and Lace

Umbra advises on running shoes

Q. Hi Umbra, I’m a long-distance runner in need of a new pair of shoes. I’m looking for the company with the most sustainable practices. Any suggestions? I’ve heard some promising things from different companies (e.g., Nike’s shoe-recycling program, ASICS’ commitment to recycled materials), but I remain undecided about what which company offers the best overall choice for the environment, for workers, and for my legs. Thanks! KyleMarquette, Mich. A. Dearest Kyle, There is no way to answer your question without a seeming overabundance of puns. I will attempt to hold my tongue. Feet of engineering. I am impressed by …

Rot-gut liquor

Amid a sea of troubles, ethanol now has an antibiotics problem

Hard times for corn fuel Photo: Todd Ehler I’ve been writing for a while now about problems with distillers grains, the leftover mash from the corn-ethanol process. A third of the corn that goes into ethanol winds up as distillers grains. Finding a high-value use for this “coproduct” is absolutely vital to the corn ethanol project. The fuel’s energy balance is paltry — that is, it delivers little net energy compared to how much is consumed producing it. Even the studies that credit the fuel with a positive energy balance, like this one from the USDA, acknowledge that it’s pretty …

Remaking of an Empire

Empire State Building to get efficiency overhaul

I’ve been wanting for a while to start a column called “Sexy Retrofits,” exploring the idea that the key to green building is overhauling existing buildings, not starting from scratch. Despite what Larry Page might think. It’s not the most glamorous notion, but it is energy efficient, cost effective, and exciting. I swear! So consider this the first edition, because it doesn’t get much sexier than this: the Empire State Building is going green. In a news conference today, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg will appear with Bill Clinton to give details of the $20 million retrofit, which will reportedly include …

Cleaning Up

First quarter cleantech VC funding hits $1 billion — green stimulus funds soar to $400 billion

Clean tech venture capital funding in the first quarter of 2009 hit $1 billion, according to “findings released today by the Cleantech Group in cooperation with Deloitte.” For the authors of the findings, the headline news was global cleantech VC funding “dropped 41 percent during 1Q09, compared to the previous quarter.” But that $1 billion in Q1 is still huge. Compare it to Q1 2007, when the economy was still booming — and cleantech VC funding was “only” $900 million. Or consider this — of that $1 billion spent in Q1 2009, nearly $700 million was spent in North America, …

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