Business & Technology

Where in the world is the junk wall?

Behind the scenes at Fortune Brainstorm Green 2009

What’s better than attending the Fortune Brainstorm Green 2009 and hearing Ford Chairman Bill Ford and Founder and CEO of A Better Place Shai Agassi speak? Shaking hands with Former President Bill Clinton, of course!  Not too shabby for a couple of days in Orange County.  Beyond the speakers and the networking, the artistic angle of the conference was phenomenal. “Ultimately, it was the most comfortable and eye-pleasing conference I’ve ever attended.” Herman Miller Who would have thought that a chair could be chique, ergonomic, and green all at the same time? Herman Miller did. “One of Fortune’s Most Admired …

daft clunk

‘Clunkers’ debunkers attack Democrats’ auto trade-in plan

Should the clunkers plan be junked?Support “cash for clunkers” as an auto-industry bailout if you must, but don’t call it green. So say the Wall Street Journal, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and U.K. environmentalist George Monbiot, all critical of the environmental benefits of the proposal President Barack Obama endorsed yesterday. Obama and Democratic House lawmakers reached compromise on a plan that would pay drivers $3,500 to $4,500 to trade in gas-guzzling older vehicles for more fuel-efficient new ones. The idea has been tossed about as a way to give automakers a boost and retire the nation’s dirtiest …

A long Rowe to hoe

Exelon CEO: Really, we want a cap on carbon

The CEO of Exelon Corp., one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, is calling for a carbon cap in a new national TV ad. This comes just a day after Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who is leading GOP efforts to kill the House climate and energy bill, told business leaders who want climate action to “keep their powder dry.” (We wonder how that strikes Rowe, who has donated $10,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee for each of the past two years.) “I’m a utility CEO — not who you’d expect to be for a cap on carbon pollution,” says …

Cool Companies, Part 1: How the best businesses boost profits and productivity by reducing GHGs

[Please send me any case studies of companies, buildings, and factories in the last 10 years that have cost-effectively reduced and carbon emissions. I am, as always, looking for well-documented cases where a systems approach to energy and carbon achieved deep savings and productivity gains.] Ten years ago next month I published the first collection of detailed case studies, some 100 in all, of how businesses were cutting energy use and boosting productivity while reducing pollution:  Cool Companies. The few times that I have posted case studies here, many people have been surprised by the savings that real companies have …

GOP to Jim Rogers: STFU

House Republicans blow off biz leaders who want climate action

House Republicans are ramping up their campaign against the Democratic leadership’s climate and energy bill — and telling business leaders to get with the program or get out of the way. On Tuesday, a group of key Republicans hosted a summit on Capitol Hill to bash the Waxman-Markey bill as an “energy tax” that would cost average Americans $3,100 a year (though that figure has been thoroughly debunked). “This legislation represents, and is tantamount to, an economic declaration of war on the Midwest by liberals in Washington, D.C.,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who spearheaded the event. Representatives from industry …

Gold in them piles

Businesses struggle to profit from sewage sludge

Part 2 of Grist’s special series on poop. “We’re trying to get the pieces bigger — ideally the size of pencil erasers,” said John “Rus” Miller, handing me a plastic packet of a brown, dry, crumbly material with the texture of couscous and the odor of manure. That’s because it was manure — in the form of dried sewage sludge. To me, it looked and smelled like shit. But when Miller looked at the pellets, he saw coal. I was visiting a company named Enertech‘s plant in Rialto, California, because I was searching for alternatives for what we currently do …

A Real, Big Scale Solution to Climate Change Individuals Can Pull Off

Utility rate structures can be fun

Let’s say you were a very powerful being, something called Utility God. And let’s pretend you realized climate change was a big problem, and that it was something that needed to be solved using big strokes, not small measures. One of the big things you’d want to do, at least for the average Joe, would be to create a situation where homeowners would want to, would actually love to, save energy in their homes. You’d also use your magic wand to create a situation where renewable energy systems like solar panels had a much better payback than they currently do. …

The Future of Driving?

Shai Agassi: Green’s Steve Jobs

The more you talk to Shai Agassi, the more the Steve Jobs comparison seems apt. Shai AgassiCourtesy Better PlaceLike his fellow Silicon Valley impresario, Agassi, the founder of electric car infrastructure startup Better Place, is as much a green-tech visionary as entrepreneur bent on cashing in on the “Next Big Thing.” Just as Jobs elegantly married hardware and software to create the iPod and iPhone and disrupted the telecommunication-entertainment industrial complex, Agassi aims to do the same with transportation. In case you missed the spate of national magazine stories on the former software executive and his company, Better Place has …

Green Light: Charge it

Nissan to bring EV network to Seattle

Like many other urban places, Seattle will welcome an electric vehicle network to the Emerald City. In a nonexclusive partnership with Nissan North America, the city of Seattle will promote the development of electric-charging infrastructure. “The city is committed to creating an environment that is kind to EVs,” said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels (D). However, the agreement between the manufacturer and the municipality does not go so far as to commit to any specifics. Instead, Nissan will take the lead in establishing local working groups to evaluate sites for possible charging stations. The city will in turn “consider” adopting those …