Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for a More Sustainable World in 2010

The beginning of the new decade is a good time make a resolution for a more sustainable world. During the holidays we collectively generate mountains of waste. According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board and Recycle Works, the US alone purchases over 2.6 billion holiday cards each year. (enough to fill a football field 10 stories high). Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, Americans throw out an extra million tons of trash each week (a 25% increase). In addition, 38,000 miles of ribbon are discarded each year–enough to tie a bow around the Earth.

Powerful improvements can be made through relatively simple business innovations and consumer decisions. Each year, 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in the U.S. and about 30 million go to the landfill. During the average 15 year life span of a fake Christmas tree, a real tree user will put about 1/2 ton of waste into landfills. Fake trees are even more destructive to the environment as they are made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC, otherwise known as vinyl), one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic. Fake Christmas trees are also know to have several carcinogens, including dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride. Fake trees also contain lead and other additives that have been linked to liver, kidney, neurological and reproductive system damage.

The most eco-friendly way to enjoy a Christmas tree is to buy a live tree with its roots intact from a local grower. As reviewed in a recent New York Times article, Scott Martin, a landscape designer in California, has established a business that rents living Christmas trees to LA homes using biodiesel trucks. After the holidays, the trees are picked up and planted on industrial properties.

The beginning of the new year is a good time to make green resolutions. Here are several suggestions:

Inform yourself about sustainable business
Raise awareness about sustainable business
Lobby your legislators on behalf of the green economy
Get a green degree
Get a green job
Invest in sustainable stock
Start a sustainable business
Make your existing business more sustainable

Whatever you resolve to do, find a way to get involved in the green economy. As consumers we can resolve to make more informed, responsible buying decisions. As entrepreneurs and business owners, we can make our businesses more sustainable by resolving to adopt the triple bottom line of planet, people and profits.

Other green business resolutions include incorporating sustainable principles into your business decisions. Supplying environmentally friendly products or services that replace the demand for non green products or services. Being greener than traditional competition and making an enduring commitment to environmental principles. (for more specific information on sustainable business frameworks and guidelines see ISO14001).

You can also follow THE GREEN MARKET and get updated, topical information delivered to your inbox, as well as gain access to the wealth of resources and tools in the Green Link Library.

Whether you are a business owner, entrepreneur or consumer, everyone can make sustainable resolutions for 2010.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

Vertical Farming: Valcent, a company based in El Paso, Texas, is pioneering a space efficient hydroponic-farming system that grows plants in rotating rows, which expands food supplies without using more land. The rotation gives the plants the precise amount of light and nutrients they need, while the vertical stacking enables the use of far less water than conventional farming. The company claims it will use 95 percent less water than conventional agriculture, increase crop yields 20-fold for the same amount of land, and eliminate pesticide and herbicide use.

Green inventions for Water: This invention enables the extraction of water from the atmosphere. The Solar Powered Water Purifier eliminates the need to boil water using wood or coal. There are currently 1.2 billion people in the world living without clean drinking water.

Reusable Fruit and Vegtable Bags: As revealed in the sneak peek of G Magazine's list of the year's 10 most innovative eco-products, there have been a few interesting green inventions from Australia in 2009 including Greensacks, a finalist in the 2009 Green Awards. Greensacks are reusable, lightweight mesh bags designed to replace small, single-use plastic fruit and vegie bags. A reusable alternative to plastic bags will reduce the current Australian use of over 10 million plastic bags a day, which take between 15 and 1,000 years to break down.

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The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education

Climate Change Video: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has produced a film about the reality of climate change in the Pacific island of Kiribati. The film clearly shows how people’s lives are being affected right now by rising sea waters. This powerful video shows how Climate Change is impacting people all around the world.

Children's Education Through Videos: Teachers are providing environmental education for children using videos. Videos from sites such as Green Energy TV foster awareness about what kids can do with regard to such things as the elimination of Junk Mail.

Copenhagen Conference Teacher's Website: Together, ClimateChangeEducation.Org and GlobalWarmingKids.Net are working to provide climate change education programs to educate children and provide resources to teachers.


Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Miscellaneous Consumer Goods

The Environmental Toothbrush: Developed in Australia, this toothbrush uses bamboo and biodegradable polymer bristles rather than plastic. These brushes break down into compost, leaving no residue. Hundreds of millions of non-renewable plastic toothbrushes are discarded annually, adding 1,000 tonnes to landfill.

Another toothbrush design has a slot in the handle that squeezes toothpaste completely out of the tube. Rather than discarding it, this brush can be re-purposed for cleaning.

Greener Alcohol: An organic liquor company by the name of TRU alcohol offers spirits that are USDA certified organic from the field to the bottle. TRU’s packaging is light and sustainable - meaning everything is recycled, recyclable or biodegradable. TRU plants a tree for every bottle sold to replenish forests and paper stocks.

Remote Controls: Shake & Control remote control works by pressing or shaking. The Wind Up Remote Control works by winding a crank on the control. Both remote controls eliminate the need for batteries.

Water-Powered Clock: Simply fill it with water and a squeeze of lemon juice and it will run accurately for six to eight weeks without an external power source.

Green Inventions In Fabric: The Wonderland Project has unveiled the dissolving dress also known as catalytic clothing. These clothes can harness pollutants that would then be neutralized by washing. Clothes have a massive surface area, and this surface could be used to purify the air.

The Danish fashion industry made a green statement with the fashion show 'Innovating Sustainable Fashion' in Copenhagen on December 3. Karin Eggert Hansen, student at the Danish Design School made a collection out of the material from 100% recycled plastic bottles.

Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Transportation

The Nissan Leaf: Launched in August, the Leaf is the first fully electric mass production vehicle built for the global market. Nissan has developed a worldwide network of partners focused on building a recharging infrastructure. The car's top speed is more than 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h), and its range is 100 miles (160 km) on a full charge. Nissan will produce 50,000 Leafs each starting in the fall of 2010.

Air Car: A San Jose, California based company called Magnetic Car Care says that a car that runs on air and magnets will be available in 2010, India's largest automaker already has an air powered Car. The Tata Motors car runs on compressed air and reportedly costs less than $18,000.

YikeBike Electric Bicycle: It weighs about 20 pounds, runs on a lithium phosphate battery, folds into a small carrying bag, and moves at up to 12 MPH.

World First F3: A Formula 3 race car developed at the University of Warwick runs on a mix of chocolate and vegetable oil, has a coating on its radiator that converts ozone emissions into oxygen, and components made with carrot fibers, potato starch and cashew shells.

Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Consumer Goods / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Efficiency

The Smart Thermostat: The EnergyHub Dashboard communicates wirelessly with your furnace and your appliances and monitors energy consumption and costs. It can also turn appliances on and off and raise or lower the temperature in your house. The EnergyHub device provides detailed spreadsheets for programming energy usage, and offers features such as comparing your home’s energy usage to that of other EnergyHub users and weekly energy consumption. EnergyHub is currently partnering with utilities for trials and will be available direct to consumers in early 2010.

A More Energy Efficient Light Bulb: Philips Electronics has developed a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb said to produce as much light as a 60W incandescent bulb using less than 10W, and lasting 25 times as long. Sixty-watt lights account for 50% of the domestic incandescent market; replacing conventional light bulbs with LED. could save electricity equivalent to the energy required to power 17.4 million households.

Electron Stimulated Luminescence (ESL) Lighting Technology: This technology from Vu1 uses accelerated electrons to stimulate phosphor which creates light by making the surface of the bulb glow. ESL Technology says that this bulb creates the same light quality as an incandescent but is more energy conserving. These bulbs are mercury free.

Electricity Management with Mobile Technology: Z-Wave enabled home automation systems enables users to control thermostat, lighting etc from a mobile phone.

Blink Photocell Controlled Outlet has an adjustable eyelid that can be fine tuned to activate or deactivate the light sensing function. This gives it the energy saving advantage of automatically disabling and enabling outlets with the rising or setting of the sun. These little sensors can replace the need for bulky, complicated timers.

Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Transportation / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Consumer Goods / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Production

The Solar Shingle: The Dow Chemical Co. has developed a new roof shingle that doubles as a solar panel. The new shingle incorporates thin-film solar cells and can be installed alongside regular asphalt shingles. The innovative shingle is expected to cost 10% to 15% less than traditional solar panels and wil be quicker to install. Dow predicts it will bring in as much as $10 billion in revenue by 2020.

Turning Waste into Energy: Green Energy TV has given Ze-gen, the Two Green Thumbs Up Award for being one of the Best Green Companies. Over one billion tons of waste have already been landfilled across the globe so far this year. Ze-gen's waste transformation is an economical and environmentally superior alternative to land filling or incineration. Clean and highly efficient gasification technology unlocks the potential for waste to be a domestically produced, renewable resource.

Turning Used Oil into Power: The Vegawatt is a turnkey plant that converts a restaurant's spent vegetable fryer oil into electricity and hot water.

Green Exercise: One man is reported to have lost over 70 pounds from riding his bike that powered the TV in his home. Some gyms are also starting to harness the energy from treadmills, bikes, and other equipment to power their electricity needs.

Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Efficiency / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Transportation / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Consumer Goods / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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Best Eco-Inventions 2009

There were a host of greener inventions in 2009 and they include everything from tooth brushes to a planetary nervous system.

The term "eco-inventions" is composed of "eco" the short form of ecology, defined as the branch of biology concerned with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. The word "invention" is defined as the creation of a new device or process, resulting from study and experimentation.

In the simplist terms, eco-inventions can claim one or more of the following: They save materials, they reduce energy, they increase efficiency, and they promote recycling or repurposing.

Some of the best inventions of 2009 involve monitoring technology. NASA and Cisco have teamed up to develop the "Planetary Skin," it will integrate land, sea, air and space-based sensors, helping the public and private sectors make decisions to prevent and adapt to climate change. The pilot project will track geographically specific carbon levels held by rain forests. A prototype will be released in 2010.

Researchers from Princeton University have developed a method of measuring the Personal Carbon Footprint. Their efforts stress individual carbon emissions rather than national levels.

Some of the more widely available green inventions include portable solar or wind powered rechargers for personal electronics like mobile phones and mp3 players. Although not a new technology,'s free “Green Computer” service helps people save energy and money. This service makes your computer more energy efficient and can save up to $75 dollars per year, equivalent to 400 to 1200 pounds of CO2 emissions. Seemingly small efforts add up, if one hundred thousand people used's Green Computer service the carbon savings would be equivalent to planting 1000 acres of trees.

Recently Time magazine published its list of the 50 Best Inventions of 2009 and green innovations figured prominently in their list. As the year draws to a close, The Green Market will post a summary of 25 of the best eco-inventions of 2009. These inventions will be presented under the following 6 headings:

1. Energy Production
2. Energy Efficiency
3. Transportation
4. Consumer Goods
5. Education
6. Food/Water

From large scale projects to small scale creations, green inventions and energy innovation are the way of the future.

Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Production / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Efficiency / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Transportation / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Consumer Goods / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Toyota's Greener Vehicles

The Japanese have been leading providers of greener vehicles for decades. In the seventies Japan was well known for their fuel efficient vehicles, now they are known for hybrids, soon it will be the hydrogen fuel cell.

The interest in hybrid cars is growing exponentially. By March of 2007 there were already 20,526 hybrids sold. Toyota's Prius is the world's best selling hybrid car.

Toyota will unveil their updated Prius at the Tokyo Motor Show opening on October 24 and running through November 4. The new completely electric model, the FT-EV II, can be driven for more than 90km on a single charge. This third generation electric vehicle is designed for the city but with a top speed in excess of 100 km/h, it is also capable of highway driving. When not running solely on battery power, The hybrid mode offers significantly enhanced fuel economy. One liter of gas is enough for 55km, up from 38km for previous Prius models.

Each auto maker is forced to commit to a given strategic objective. Thus far Toyota has made some excellent strategic decisions. According to Takehi Uchiyamada, Toyota's executive vice-president in charge of research and development, each automaker is investing resources betting on a given technology.

While most automakers are focusing on lithium ion battery technology, Toyota remains committed to hydrogen fuel cell technology. Early in August, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) announced the results of its fuel cell hybrid vehicle range and fuel economy field evaluation. The test reveals that for a typical commute. the Highlander prototype (FCHV-adv), has a 431 mile estimated range on a single tank of compressed hydrogen gas and an average fuel economy of 68.3 miles/kg (approximate mpg equivalent).

Jared Farnsworth, Toyota Technical Center advanced powertrain engineer said, "This evaluation of the FCHV-adv demonstrates not only the rapid advances in fuel cell technology, but also the viability of this technology for the future."

The 2009 Toyota Highland Hybrid achieves an EPA-estimated rating of 26 mpg combined fuel economy and has a full-tank range of approximately 450 miles. With premium grade gasoline currently priced at about $3.25, the gasoline-powered V6 Highlander hybrid is estimated to travel approximately 26 miles at a cost of about $3.25. Currently, hydrogen gas pricing is not fixed, but DOE targets future pricing at $2 to $3 per kilogram. Therefore, the FCHV-adv is estimated to travel approximately 68 miles at a projected cost of about $2.50 – more than double the range of the Highlander Hybrid, at equal or lesser cost, while producing zero emissions.

Irv Miller, TMS group vice president, environmental and public affairs added, "Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell technology has advanced rapidly over the last two years. In 2015, our plan is to bring to market a reliable and durable fuel cell vehicle with exceptional fuel economy and zero emissions, at an affordable price."

Lexus has the most fuel-efficient of all luxury vehicles with 35 MPG rated. The Lexus HS Hybrid has a Exhaust Heat-Recovery System that reduces engine warm-up time, thus allowing it to stop earlier, more often, and for longer periods. This accounts for as much as a 7% increase in efficiency at low temperatures.

Pairing ingenuity with efficiency, regenerative braking converts braking energy into electricity to recharge the batteries, while the enhanced Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB) System is lighter, smaller and uses up to 29% less power than their previous regenerative braking system.

The combined 35 MPG rated HS Hybrid is over 50% more fuel efficient than Near Luxury competitors, and the most fuel-efficient Lexus ever. It delivers excellent driving performance while earning a Super Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEVII) rating.


NEXT: Nissan's Greener Vehicles / Honda's Greener Vehicles / Korean (Hyundai & Kia) Greener Cars / European Greener Cars / American Greener Cars (Ford's Greener Vehicles / GM's Greener Vehicles)/ Government Investment in Greener Vehicles

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Social Media and the Green Message: WWF Global Online Event

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is using Twitter to stage a global online event today. Titled "What a Difference a Day Makes," the goal of the event is to encourage people to share the ways in which they help to make the world more sustainable.

The WWF is an international non-governmental organization that focuses on conservation, research and restoration of the environment. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters in more than 90 countries, Their efforts contribute to approximately 1300 conservation and environmental projects around the world.

The group's mission is "to halt and reverse the destruction of our environment." With the "What a Difference a Day Makes" event, the organizers are seeking to draw attention to the fact that all around the world people are recycling, conserving, and making ethical purchasing decisions. The overarching message is that millions are engaged in efforts to create a sustainable world, and together we can make a difference.

This WWF campaign is similar to the annual Earth Day event celebrated on March 28. Earth Day organizers asked participants to report their green actions online. This year's event logged almost one billion acts of green. An April 22, Earth Hour is another annual global campaign. Event organizers asked people to show their support for the green economy by shutting off their lights for one hour at 8:30 PM local time. Although these events are often maligned by eco-purists, as reviewed in an article entitled "Silencing Earth Day Critics," such comments are unproductive and unwarranted.

Sustainable global events like the ones cited above illustrate that social media can be a humanizing force. Because hundreds of millions of people are easily accessible at any given moment, social media has extraordinary reach. The need for collective action on the environment makes social media ideal for the dissemination of the green message.

To participate in the WWF campaign post a message to Twitter with the tag #wwf24 about the sustainable things you do in your day, and the organizers will add you to the map.


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Monday, September 7, 2009

Curbing Banker's Bonuses and Climate Change

Heads of state are responding to the widespread public outcry over the perception of excessive compensation in the banking industry. The French president Nicolas Sarkozy is leading the way with strict new bonus rules.

In Australia bank executives stand to lose more than $50 million in annual bonuses if the current government bans short-term incentive payments in the financial services sector. This is a reiteration of the G20 meeting in April, where leaders called for curbs on bonuses.

However, if restrictions on bonuses in the financial services sector are to mean anything they will have to be agreed upon internationally and this is very unlikely.

Politicians are trying to win political favor by taking advantage of prevailing anti-banking sentiments. They know full well that their feigned indignation will not forge an international agreement to curb bankers pay. To illustrate the point, Sarkozy's promise of tough regulations comes with the all important caveat that they not be enforced without global agreement.

Dutch banks have also introduced a new code of conduct that includes capping executive bonuses. However, this new Dutch approach does not force banks to curb bonuses nor does it come with legal sanctions as banks need only explain why they have chosen not to comply.

As British finance minister Alstair Darling said last Thursday, "Banks need to be responsible about pay and bonuses and one of the things that is concerning me is that when you tackle banks about this they say that if you do something here, the Americans, the Swiss, or the French ... will poach our people."

Even in the unlikely event that legislation is passed in both the EU, and the US, there will always be nations without such stringent sanctions and these countries will claim the most talented people.

"Government has got a legitimate interest in making sure that you don't encourage behaviour that is damaging, but I think that is just one part of what we need to do to get the banking system going again," Darling said. "There is a generalised concern. What we need to do is make sure that we introduce legislation that actually works, that actually helps and strengthen our banking system," he concluded.

Regulation is required to limit excessively risky lending, and many see merit in employing other regulatory channels beyond legislation. Last week in Britain the financial regulator known as the Financial Services Authority (FSA) published a bankers' pay code and according to the British finance minister, the FSA is "the obvious vehicle to use."

These kinds of capital rules will hurt banks' profits and restrict their lending ability. Efforts to curb banker bonuses are a ruse. As Lord Turner pointed out, “insisting that someone ‘does something’ about bonuses is a populist diversion.”

COP 15 is now only 3 months away, and while political rhetoric scores points with a disgruntled public, it siphons energy away from the tremendous efforts required to find consensus on climate change. Instead of pandering to voters by pretending to curb bankers pay, world leaders should be working towards real consensus on climate change.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Princeton Review Green Schools Honor Roll

Clearly there is increasing interest in attending colleges that practice, teach and support environmental responsibility. As reported in The Princeton Review two-thirds of university applicants say that they are interested in a school's environmental report card, this is a 4 percent increase over last year’s results. One quarter of respondents indicated that such information would “very much” impact on their decision to apply to or attend the school.

The Princeton Review's second annual Green Ratings of colleges measured environmental friendliness on a scale of 60 to 99. Here are the schools named to the “2010 Green Rating Honor Roll” all of whom received the highest possible score (99). Here is The Green Economy Post's review of Princeton's top 15 schools as measured by their policies, practices, and academic offerings.

Arizona State University at the Tempe campus - Established the School of Sustainability in 2007, the first of its kind in the US. The Tempe campus has the largest collection of energy-providing solar panels on a single U.S. university campus. The School also provides a number of commuter programs.

Bates College (Lewiston ME) - The new dining commons was built to LEED Silver equivalence. It is self-ventilated and uses 100 percent Maine renewable electricity. Most food waste is either recycled, composted, or sent to a food bank or pig farmer. Thirty percent of the college’s total food budget is spent locally. The school also offers a bicycle co-op, a van pool program, and a Zipcar program.

Binghamton University (State Univ. of New York at Binghamton) - They recycle or compost more than 90 percent of their current service ware. Approximately 2,500 pounds of compostable waste is collected around campus every year. The Binghamton campus encompasses almost 900 acres of land, a large proportion of which is officially designated as the Nature Preserve.

College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor ME) - The school has been carbon neutral since 2007. All electricity comes from renewable hydropower; and some buildings are heated via renewable wood pellets. The school's primary major is human ecology and they now offer an undergraduate green and socially responsible business program. The school’s partially wind powered farm (Beech Hill Farm) offers organic produce to campus, local schools and food banks. All new buildings feature composting bins in the kitchens and composting toilets.

Colorado College (Colorado Springs CO) - The college has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 378 metric tons of carbon dioxide and saved almost $100,000 in utility costs. The college dining service purchases food from the school’s organic garden and food waste from the dining service is used as compost. The school’s 25-kilowatt solar PV array is the largest in the Colorado Springs Utilities service area.

Dickinson College (Carlisle PA) - Established the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education in 2008 to integrate the environment and sustainability across the college curriculum. Students collected used fryer oil to produce 1500 gallons of biodiesel annually for the college’s equipment. Extensive composting includes compostable tableware.

Evergreen State College (Olympia WA) - It is set on one thousand acres and provides a broad range of environmentally oriented courses. The Curriculum for the Bioregion incorporates environmental and sustainability issues into general education college courses throughout the region. The Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship was recently launched by students to provide a vehicle for them to put their business skills to use in socially responsible ventures. Many vehicles are electric and the college’s electricity comes from renewable sources.

Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta) - Sustainability is a key component of the Campus' Master Plan. All vendors provide green products and the school’s cleaning equipment uses 70 percent less water and 90 percent less chemicals than traditional equipment. The football game day recycling program collected nearly 12 tons of aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles from home game attendees.

Harvard College (Cambridge MA) - Proceeding towards the goal of reducing emissions by 30% below a 2006 baseline by 2016. Many building are working towards achieving LEED certification. The school has a 55% recycling rate, a drive-alone rate of only 16.5, as well as renewable energy projects on campus and composting.

Middlebury College (Middlebury VT) - The nation’s oldest undergraduate environmental studies program. The school is on track to become carbon neutral by 2016. It operates a biomass gasification plant for heating, cooling and electricity and reduces the college’s net carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent.

Northeastern University (Boston MA) - The largest residence hall in the United States to meet LEED Gold certification. Northeastern University began integrating energy conservation into its facilities management plans in the 1980s and recently replaced 70,000 traditional lamps with fluorescent lamps that will reduce carbon emissions by 686 tons annually. “Project Clean Plate”, is the school’s food composting initiative.

University of California - Berkeley - Has over 2000 energy efficiency initiatives designed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014. Student projects have reduced energy consumption by over 8.5 million kWh and water usage by 3 million gallons. The university’s primary food service operator was the first in the country to receive organic certification. Berkeley has more than 80 academic degrees, 90 research centers, and 25 student-run organizations with an environmental focus.

University of New Hampshire (Durham) - 85 percent of its electricity and heat are from purified landfill gas from a nearby Waste Management landfill. Earlier this year, the school became the first university in the nation to receive the majority of its campus energy needs from landfill gas. The University also has the largest public transit system in New Hampshire, with most of its vehicles running on biodiesel and compressed natural gas. The school has a growing focus on sustainable agriculture.

University of Washington (Seattle) - All new campus buildings will meet at least the LEED Silver standard. The school purchases only renewable power. They emphasize local organic foods and they are working toward a zero-waste goal. They also have one of the most extensive composting programs in the country.

Yale University (New Haven CT) - The school has implemented solar and wind projects to provide renewable energy. It also has its own co-generation power plant and is building another. Kroon Hall, the new home of its school of Forestry & Environmental Studies is a model of energy-saving design and is expected to earn a LEED Platinum certification. The Yale Sustainable Food Project directs a sustainable dining program, manages an organic farm and runs diverse educational programs.

Read more about the green rating methodology of The Princeton Review web site.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Top 10 US College Environmental Programs

There are an increasing number of Green college degrees in an ever widening array of disciplines. As reported in a recent TreeHugger article here are the 10 Best Environmental Programs in the US.

1. Northland College, Ashland, WIsconsin
Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin At Northland College, environmental studies isn't just a major--it's a part of the school's education requirements across all curricula. The Environmental Sciences Department offers majors in environmental chemistry and environmental geosciences; the Natural Resources department includes emphases on ecological restoration, fisheries ecology, and wildlife ecology; and the Nature and Culture Department allows majors in outdoor education and humanity and nature studies. The Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute brings environmental responsibility to the surrounding community, and since 1971 the school has stressed sustainability across the board: Classes like sustainable business, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy prepare students for a green future, while an off-grid building insulated with straw bales and an eco-friendly residence hall that was a prototype for the LEED rating system help them understand sustainability now.

2. SUNY-ESF Syracuse, New York
The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry handles more than 25,000 acres of land in Central New York and the Adirondack Park, where nearly 2,500 students in the graduate and undergraduate program choose majors as specific as aquatic and fisheries science, construction management, forest ecosystem science, paper engineering, and bioprocess engineering. Research takes priority, too, with faculty working on more than 450 projects--including wildlife disease prevention, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering--around the world.

3. Program in Environmental Studies, Middlebury College
The undergraduate degree in environmental studies at Middlebury College was the country's first, established in 1965. Now, more than 40 years later, the program is still one of the forerunners of the green movement: Students have won awards including the Udall Scholarship in Environmental Policy and the Fulbright Grant; author Bill McKibben worked with six students to create the Step It Up movement in 2007; and students can choose specialties including conservation biology, environmental policy, religion, philosophy, and the environment. Elsewhere on campus, students have the opportunity to work in the school's organic garden, join the Middlebury Mountain Club , and take part in events organized by the Environmental Quality organization.

4. Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University
Once the country's oldest forestry college, today the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in majors that include applied ecology, resource policy and management, and a Ph.D. in Natural Studies. Off-campus, extension programs in fish and wildlife biology and management; ecology and management of landscapes; and environmental inquiry and youth education allow students and faculty to take their education to the local community.

5. Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University
Students at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences choose from undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degrees in concentrations that include environmental studies and policy, earth and ocean sciences, and environmental law. The University also maintains a hands-on Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, NC, where courses on biology, science and nature writing, and marine policy take place in the Gold LEED-certified conservation center. Doctoral candidates have three research areas to pick from: marine science and conservation, which includes marine ecology and coastal geology; earth and ocean sciences, comprising climate change and solid earth processes; and environmental studies and policy, which focuses on ecosystem science and aquatic and atmospheric sciences.

6. College of the Atlantic
While the other colleges on this list offer a wide variety of environmentally-related degrees, College of the Atlantic takes the opposite approach: Students share one major--human ecology--and then tailor the course load to his or her own specific interests. Social and environmental issues take center stage though, as all the students are expected to address them through their self-designed curriculum and senior project; examples of past projects include a photographic exhibit based on the birds of Hawaii; one student's wilderness immersion trip along a Virginia creek; and a multimedia fundraiser for a Zimbabwean nonprofit.

7. School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
Since 2004, the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University has focused on "rapid urbanization"--studying the growth of cities and the related effects on the surrounding ecosystem--asking questions about water distribution, construction materials, alternative energy, and air pollution. And since 2007, the Institute's Sustainability School has allowed students to join the mission to "develop solutions to some of the most pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges of sustainability, especially as they relate to urban areas." The school currently offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, and plans to add professional development programs in the future.

8. School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies offers masters degrees in environmental management, forestry, forest science, and environmental management--plus mid-career one- and five-year masters programs, and joint degrees with programs that include architecture, law, international relations, and divinity. Doctoral students focus their efforts on research; current options include biodiversity conservation, hydrology, pollution management, tropical ecology, and water resource management--plus many others. The school's new building, Kroon Hall, claims to be even more sustainable than LEED Platinum levels require, with a geothermal heating system, natural lighting, solar hot water heaters, and a rainwater harvesting system.

9. Green Mountain College
All students at Green Mountain College base their education around the Environmental Liberal Arts program, which includes classes on our understanding of nature, the ethics of environmental policies, and an intensive writing seminar. Beyond that, majors in traditional careers--like business, communications, and psychology--are available alongside more uncommon specialties, like adventure education and youth development and camp management. The campus's Farm & Food Project lets students participate in the growing process, from gardening organically to driving oxen, putting them in touch with what the farm manager calls, "the food revolution that is transforming farming."

10. Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems B.S., Montana State University
Though it's new this year, the bachelor of science degree in sustainable food and bioenergy systems from Montana State University offers three specific concentrations--agroecology, sustainable crop production, and sustainable food systems--in three different departments at the university, and includes courses in both the College of Agriculture and the College of Education, Health, and Human Development. Students work at a 2.5-acre vegetable farm that's part of the school's agricultural research program and participate in internships on the area's small farms. As for post-grad, the college expects students to land jobs in sectors like food safety, bioenergy production and improvement, and agricultural biosecurity.


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

STOCK MARKET REVIEW June/July 2009: Making Sense of All the Economic Data

The recovery is being obscured by a daily barrage of mixed reports and conflicting analysis. To provide context for my next post on sustainable investing and to help illustrate the lingering disagreement between the bulls and the bears I have published excerpts of The Green Market's bi-monthly review of the three major stock indices (Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq, and the S&P 500) for the period between June 1, 2009 and July 28, 2009.

Some investors are concerned about inflation and higher interest rates. Many are worried that the economy could remain weak for some time.

Most investors seem to be preoccupied with the steady stream of reports coming from authoritative institutions like the Federal Reserve, the Labor Department, the Central Bank, the Commerce Department and The World Bank. But energy futures and new home sales need to be understood alongside stats like unemployment and foreclosures. Jobless claims need to be factored alongside GDP and pending home sales alongside manufacturing data.

An individual piece of data is insufficient in isolation, it needs to be interpreted in context, for example, consumer data must be appreciated as part of an aggregate that includes spending, confidence, income, savings etc.

The effect of economic data is illustrated in the performance of the stock market over the last two months. June began well on the heels of a rally that started in March, however investor hopes were dashed on Wednesday June 3 as stocks retreated due to troubling reports.

Stocks did well on Thursday June 4 with energy, financial and tech shares pushing the market higher and reports indicating declines in the number of individuals seeking unemployment benefits. RBC Capital Markets stated that the worst of the financial crisis is over.

Perhaps most curiously, with the exception of surges on all four Thursdays in June (4, 11, 18, and 25) Wall Street posted mixed results for the entire month.

Early in July it became clear that mixed economic data was dictating the erratic movements of the markets. From July 2 to July 10 a series of reports including job reports, loan delinquencies, and one from the IMF, sent stocks straight back to negative territory.

The consumer confidence report showed an unexpected decline in June and MarketWatch called it an “outright slump in consumer confidence." The markets were up and down all week. On July 3, the last trading day before Independence Day holiday, the much anticipated job report caused the Dow to fall over 200 points and over the course of the week, the Dow finished down 147 points, and the Nasdaq lost 41.

Pre-fourth of July employment numbers continued to reverberate around the markets and between July 6-10, stocks continued to decline for the fourth consecutive week.

On July 13 stocks were up as financial shares boosted the market. The Dow added over 180 points to finish at 8,325 on some good earnings numbers. Wall Street was flat on July 14 but on July 15, stocks surged with the Dow adding an impressive 256 points before ending the day at 8,616. Strong earnings and a positive report from Intel sent stocks soaring during morning trading. Another report showed that industrial companies cut production far less in June than they had in previous months. The Fed also indicated that they now expect that the economy will slide at a slower pace than they had previously forecasted. On July 16 stocks continued to rally, Asian and European markets also ended the day higher.

On July 17, Wall Street went slightly higher adding to the gains for the rest of the week. Construction of new homes and apartments jumped 3.6 percent to the highest level in seven months. Builder permits also rose to 582,000 in June from a revised rate of 562,000. However these positive housing numbers were tempered by mixed earnings numbers.

On July 20 investors continued the previous week's rally on news that the index of leading economic indicators rose 0.7% in June when analysts were only expecting an increase of 0.5%. On July 21 better-than-expected earnings and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke continued Wall Street’s positive start to the week as all three major indices ended higher.

On Thursday, July 23 positive earnings results from Google and IBM helped spur the market then on July 24 the Nasdaq declined following some disappointing earnings reports and weak consumer confidence numbers. Although corporate America has done a good job cutting costs, surface reads of earnings reports may be contributing to the rally. For the week of July 20-24 all the major indices posted gains.. However, investors traded with caution in anticipation of the looming stock market "summer slowdown."

On Monday July 27, Wall Street continued its streak from last week, posting significant weekly gains for all three major indices. On Thursday, the Dow Jones closed above 9,000 for the first time since January. For the week the Dow had gained almost 350 points and the Nasdaq gained almost 80.

As has been evident of late, investors continue to pay close attention to the most recent economic and earnings reports

On Tuesday and Wednesday (July 28 and 29) two consecutive reports helped to drag stocks down. First investors recoiled in response to a report on consumer confidence then a disappointing durable goods orders report dragged stocks down further even thought the Fed's beige book, showed signs of an economic recovery. Then on Thursday July 30, good earnings numbers and decent economic data turned stocks around after 2 days of losses. The Dow increased to almost 9,200 for the first time since November.

We can anticipate more mixed results and although consumer confidence remains a concern we have ample evidence to believe that the market has reached a turning point and recovery is within view.

In April the stock market had its best month in nine years and the rally that started in March saw the market grow 40%. In the third week of July the Dow and Nasdaq were up a record 11%. Overall, July was one of the best months in years. The Dow added 17 points and is approaching the 9,200 mark and the S&P will likely hit 1,000 very soon.

Even though the $787 billion stimulus package has yet to impact the GDP, we have seen a positive report that indicates a much slower GDP decline. June home sales are at their highest levels for the year and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is now on the road talking about the recovery.

Investors remain cautious, perhaps this is because--as some are suggesting--we are perched on the surface of another rapidly inflating bubble or perhaps investors cannot see the forest through the trees as they try to assimilate the conflicting array of daily reports.

This is the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. As a consequence, the economic data is unavoidably mixed and this is driving the mixed market performances. But eventually investors will realize that despite the near-collapse of the financial system the economy is performing fairly well.

With poor memories and very short time horizons it should come as no surprise that investors remain nervous. However, we would all do well to remember that every crisis has a beginning, middle, and end.

Next: Investing for a Sustainable Recovery / Solar Stock Review

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Consumer Demand for Green

Green is increasingly part of almost every survey measuring consumer interests and/or buying behaviour. A well informed public is asking businesses to make more responsible choices and rewarding those that do with their patronage. In response businesses of all sizes are finding ways to make their operations more sustainable and environmentally responsible.

A recent article written by Dr. David Suzuki and Dr. Faisal Moola indicates that, "protecting our planet is no longer seen as a fringe activity. Most people now consider themselves to be environmentally aware and are taking steps to help. Caring for the environment has become mainstream – it’s the “new normal. Businesses respond to consumer demand, and the right demands can result in real benefits for the environment."

With the help of the David Suszuki Foundation, the Overwaitea Food Group has adopted a program that emphasizes sustainable seafood. Overwaitea president, Steve van der Lees said, "doing the right thing always pays off.”

As Kathleen McLaughlin writes, in an article entitled "Consumers Want Green Furniture Options, "environmentally friendly has transcended from a buzzword to a multi-million dollar revenue generator spanning many industries."

A "2008 Green Marketing Consumer Study," sponsored by the Sustainable Furnishing Council, indicates that appoximately half of respondents are "very interested in global warming and have started doing what they can, with the No. 1 action being to buy green products in a variety of categories."

According to another report, a majority of respondents indicated that businesses should reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report also indicated that people are more likely to purchase products bearing a seal that proves corporate sustainability commitments.

Earlier this year Joel Makower wrote an article in which he reviewed the marketing data on Green and discovered that the vast majority of consumers say they have adopted, "greener habits in their daily lives, and shop for at least some products with a keen eye on their environmental provenance and energy and climate impacts. In other words: the marketplace is getting greener -- way greener.."

Consumers do not appear to be deterred by the current state of the economy. One study quoted by Makeover indicates that 82 percent of Americans say they're still buying green products despite changes in the economy.

Consumers have expressed real interest in making Greener purchases in everything from seafood to furniture and the business community is responding to this ever increasing consumer demand.

Business owners simply cannot afford to ignore consumers because if they fail to respond to consumer demand for Green, others will seize the opportunity.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

America's Most Sustainable Businesses

Fourth of July festivities may be toned down this year, but America still has reason to celebrate. According to the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations for 2009 America has more sustainable companies than any other nation on earth..

The G100 includes companies from 15 countries encompassing all sectors. They were evaluated according to how effectively they managed environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities relative to their industry peers. The results were determined by Corporate Knights Inc., and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, their evaluation revealed that over the last year the US has jumped from second to first place and for the first time America has more companies in the top 100 than Germany and France combined.

From consumer goods to utilities here is a list of the twenty most sustainable businesses in America

Advanced Micro Devices
Information Technology

Alcoa Inc
Materials Inc
Consumer Discretionary

Baxter International Inc
Health Care

Coca Cola Company
Consumer Staples

Dell Inc
Information Technology

Eastman Kodak Company
Consumer Discretionary

Genzyme Corp.
Health Care

Goldman Sachs Group Inc

Hewlett-Packard Company
Information Technology

Intel Corp.
Information Technology

Nike Inc
Consumer Discretionary

PG & E Corp.

Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

Procter & Gamble Company
Consumer Staples


FPL Group Inc

State Street Corp.

The Walt Disney Company
Consumer Discretionary

United Technologies Corp.

These corporations are leading the way by showing the business community that sustainability is an increasingly integral component of successful free enterprise. And for every firm mentioned in this list of corporate giants there are thousands of small businesses assuming the mantle of environmental responsibility and stewarding the transition to a more sustainable economy.

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