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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Back to School Environmental Tool Kit


Here is an enviromental back to school tool kit for college students. It comprises a report on the present and future of Green colleges, as well as a diverse array of educational information, action strategies, standards, tracking, certification and Green job resources.


REPORT

Campus Environment: A National Report Card on Sustainability in Higher Education Reviews the state of the campus environment.

EDUCATION and INFORMATION

Curriculum for the Bioregion :An initiative of the Washington Center that aims to better prepare undergraduates, to live in a world where the complex issues of environmental quality, environmental justice, and sustainability are paramount.

AASHE: Association for Sustainability in Higher Education.

Greening of the Campus VIII: "Embracing Change" AASHE's 2009 conference in Indianapolis, Sept 20-23, in partnership with Ball State University.

Sustainability Tracking: Assessment & Rating System. A collaborative effort to develop a formal rating system for campus sustainability, with standards by which institutions may measure themselves and qualify for different levels of recognition.

ACUPCC: American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. An initiative addressing global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the research and educational needed to stabilize the earth’s climate.

CEDD: Council of Environmental Deans and Directors. Improving the Scientific Basis for Environmental Decision Making. An association of institutional representatives who come together to improve the quality, stature and effectiveness of academic environmental programs at U.S. universities and colleges. CEDD is facilitated by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) as a part of its University Affiliate Program.

ACTION

Campus Ecology: What you and your campus can do by the National Wildlife foundation.

Education for Sustainable Development: The U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development.

TREE CAMPUS

Standards for a Tree Campus.

Information on how to make your school a tree campus.

Application to become a tree campus (Deadline December 31).

GREEN JOBS

Green Careers

Green Job Search Guide

Strategies to Find a Green Job


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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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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to School: Green Curriculums

An increasing number of colleges are now offering environmental curriculums. With unemployment hovering around 10 percent in the US, millions of Americans are enrolling in college hoping to improve their employment prospects.

According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States there are 19 million students enrolled in US colleges and universities this fall. This is up from 13.5 million 20 years ago.

As reported in a recent Newsweek article, "Green majors have become a hot commodity on campus. Universities launched at least 27 sustainability-themed programs, degrees, or certificates in 2007, up from just three in 2005. And that's in addition to the scores of environment-related degrees, like environmental science or biology, that already existed."

A 2008 study by the National Wildlife Federation indicates that nearly 30 percent of business departments and 22 percent of engineering schools offer undergraduate courses in environmental issues.

Some schools have been offering environmental curriculums for decades. The College of the Atlantic has been providing human ecology classes since 1972 and in 2008 they inaugurated a program in Green and Socially Responsible Business. Starting this fall they also offer courses in Non-Profit Business.

"Students are really interested in campus sustainability and thinking about the environment in terms of a future career," says Stephanie Pfirman, president of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors. "It used to be jobs versus environment. Now it's jobs and environment."

Environmental education spans the gamet of academic disciplines and an increasing number of environmental courses are focusing on practical application. Students are understanding that business is a central part of environmental stewardship.

"Students are really gravitating toward this," says Jay Friedlander, the College of the Atlantic's, director of the new business program. "They're seeing that if you want to effect change in the world, you can do so with a powerful business model that improves society."

Students are looking for viable career opportunities and schools around the world are meeting this interest with Green curriculums that provide practical skills for a sustainable world.

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Next: Top 10 College Environmental Programs / Back to School Environmental Tool Kit / Sierra Magazines Green Schools / Green Schools are Cool / The Shining Stars of Green Schools

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Back to School Mobile Marketing Campaigns

Mobile is an ideal medium for back-to-school marketing. Mobile is less environmentally destructive than many traditional marketing channels and it is well suited to students.

Last fall there were 76 million children and adults enrolled in school throughout the US. They comprise 27 percent of the entire population 3 and older.

As reported in a recent Mobile Marketer article, there are 17 million teens carrying a mobile phone. Like teens, young adults also love their mobile devices, this makes mobile an ideal channel to reach the youth demographic.

"Mobile absolutely needs to be an element of any back-to-school campaign, particularly any one that reaches tweens," said Eric Harber, president and chief operating officer at HipCricket.

When it comes to this cohort, "Parents may be the ones making the actual purchases but in most cases tweens are making purchasing decisions or strongly influencing them, and the medium these tweens rely on more than any other is mobile," he said.

"There are two reasons that mobile should be a part of any back-to-school campaign,” said Maya Mikhailov, vice president at Slifter, New York. “First because kids are the influencers and they are overwhelmingly on their phones,” she said. “Second, moms are busy and on the go so connecting with their mobile phone is the best way to ensure purchase consideration."

According to a Harris Interactive study, second to clothing, teens say a mobile phone tells the most about a person’s social status or popularity, outranking jewelry, watches and shoes. The study also found that mobile phones are fast becoming a social necessity among teens. In fact, a majority (57 percent) view their handsets as the key to their social life.

Nearly four out of five US teens carry a mobile phone, which is a 40 percent increase from 2004. And 57 percent of teens credit mobility for improving their quality of life. Eighty percent of the respondents said that the mobile phone offered a sense of security while on the go. This was further confirmed when 79 percent said they used the phone when needing a ride, 51 percent to get information and 35 percent to just help someone in trouble.

“Mobile is the preferred communications medium for school-age children and young adults, so it is of course relevant to back-to-school campaigns,” said Thomas Emmons, team leader of mobile/innovation for Sears Holdings Corp., Hoffman Estates, IL. He further recommends that marketers "focus on where mobile can add or create value."

“Today’s tween demographic is more mobile than ever,” said Dave Wachs, president at Cellit, Chicago, IL. “According to Luth Research, over 93 percent of all text messages sent to this demographic are read.

“As tweens are in school, the only medium for ongoing direct communication, any time, any place is mobile,” he said. There are lots of possibilities but one of the more interesting involves allowing young users to sign up for text alerts

“Mobile is a crucial part of any multichannel, back-to-school campaign because it affords the brand marketers and their agencies the ability to establish an ongoing dialogue with consumers who may have timely interests now, like back-to-school, yet will eventually be moving on to other things once back-to-school morphs to holiday shopping,” said Jay Kolbe, vice president at Weber Shandwick Worldwide, New York. “This way, marketers can engage and move along with consumers from event to event, as their interests and needs change,” he said.

Mobile is a powerful and growing marketing channel and there is no cohort better suited to this genre of marketing than school aged youth.

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Next: Green Curriculums / Top 10 College Environmental Programs / Back to School Environmental Tool Kit / Sierra Magazines Green Schools / Green Schools are Cool / The Shining Stars of Green Schools


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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Steven Chu: The Fierce Urgency of Now

Nobel prize winning quantum physicist Steven Chu Ph.D is the most qualified Energy Secretary ever to lead the Department of Energy. He is a far cry from the kind of people that some Republican Presidents have appointed to the job. Conservative icon Ronald Reagan appointed a dentist and the GW Bush administration pursued an approach to energy that can best be summarized by the now infamous chant, "drill, baby, drill."

Chu is a central part of President Obama's efforts to transform the US economy and cut US carbon emissions 80% by 2050. Chu is the kind of public minded individual who after winning his Nobel prize in 1997, decided that his talents were best applied to the most pressing problem facing the world today, global warming.

As reported in a recent Time Magazine article, Chu is not only a brilliant scientist, he understands the economic importance of sustainable energy and he has the business credentials to back up his scientific genius. "He cut his teeth in the entrepreneurial culture of Bell Labs and spent the rest of his career around Silicon Valley; he's served on the boards of a battery company, a semiconductor firm and two biotech start-ups. In his last job, he shook up the bureaucracy of DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to tackle real-world energy problems, while becoming a leading expert on energy innovation."

"We're trying to communicate that climate change is very, very serious, but hey, by the way, this is an incredible economic opportunity." Chu added, "Energy, is all about money."

"He's brilliant, and he understands the full breadth of the energy portfolio," says Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the energy program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. "There's no precedent for that."

Despite his undeniable competence, Chu has a difficult road ahead of him. Many Republicans have dismissed global warming as a hoax by rejecting the vast pool of climate science. Even some Democrats from coal, oil and farm states share the Republican's delusional denial.

Chu's recent visit to China reveals that Americans can learn a great deal from the Chinese. As evidenced in a global survey of 20 top priorities; Americans ranked global warming last with only 44% demanding action on the issue. In stark contrast, 94% of the Chinese people polled indicated that they wanted to see action on global warming.

The Chinese are serious about climate change and clean energy. While many Americans are in a state of denial the Chinese are preparing for a carbon-constrained economy. Despite increasing energy demands China has halved the number of new coal-fired plants being built. The Chinese commitment to managing climate change is evident in everything from the cars they are driving to the efficient transmission lines they have erected. Further, Chinese investments in wind and solar puts them on track to be the world's largest producer of renewable energy by next year.

"Every Chinese leader I met was absolutely determined to do something about their carbon emissions," Chu said. However, "some U.S. policymakers still don't think this is a problem."

In the US, the clean-energy bill will have to wait until health care legislation is passed. And with Republican's vowing to make health care Obama's Waterloo, it is going to be a tough fight. If the Senate succumbs to partisan interests and misinformation, the hype surrounding the American economic decline may indeed become a reality, and we should not forget that inaction in America is not only a domestic issue, it imperils the globe.

American leadership on climate change is vital and although health care is important, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey Bill) is arguably the most important piece of legislation ever put before the Senate. "What the US and China do over the next decade," said Chu, "will determine the fate of the world." And with US per capita emissions being four times higher then China, it is understandable that China will not accept an emissions cap until such a cap is ratified in the US Senate.

As with the health care debate, successful passage of climate change legislation will depend upon confronting critic's bold faced lies. As Chu said, "science has unambiguously shown that we're altering the destiny of our planet. Is this the legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren?"

Climate change legislation is vital to the future of America and the world. As Chu said "Let's not let this incredible opportunity slip away."
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Green Marketing and Recession

In light of growing global concern about climate change an increasing number of companies are advertising their commitment to reduce their ecological footprints. Despite obstacles and imperfections, Green marketing continues to grow.

Green Marketing, is defined as "Promotional activities aimed at taking advantage of the changing consumer attitudes toward a brand. These changes are increasingly being influenced by a firm's policies and practices that affect the quality of the environment, and reflect the level of its concern for the community."

Green marketing incorporates a broad range of activities, including product modification, changes to the production process, packaging changes, as well as modifying advertising. Green marketing is a holistic endeavour, as such, environmental considerations should be integrated into all aspects of marketing.

In 1989, Nigel Bradley introduced the term "Green Marketing Mix." He referenced six components:
  • Stopping Use
  • Less Use
  • Re-Use
  • New Use
  • Multiple Use
  • Correcting Poor Use (neutralizing use).

Clearly there is a market for Green. According to market researcher Mintel, 8 out of 10 people buy Green products or services at least occasionally. In response, the number of Green marketing initiatives are growing, (for example, the Energy Star label now appears on 11,000 different companies' models in 38 product categories), and new reports indicate a growing Green trend.

One of the major problems associated with Green marketing concerns the lack of consensus on standards. Some disreputable marketers have deliberately made false or exaggerated Green claims. This practice is known as "greenwashing" and it has contributed to consumer scepticism regarding Green claims.

However there are legal implications associated with marketing Green claims. Misleading or overstated claims can lead to regulatory or civil challenges. (The US Federal Trade Commission provides some guidance on environmental marketing claims). And prosecution is not the only concern, false or misleading Green claims will adversely impact a company's reputation.

Therefore an effective green marketing campaign involves a sincere commitment to the environment, makes claims that are accurate and backs them up with evidence. Many Green marketing campaigns also promote a change of behaviour that serves the environment and this often entails an educational component.

Green marketing not only has a reduced impact on the environment but it is preferred by small businesses because it is socially responsibile and enhances a brand’s value in people’s minds.

Although the American Marketing Association (AMA) held the first workshop on "Ecological Marketing" in 1975, the first wave of Green Marketing occurred in the 1980s following an economic recession. By the turn of the millennium, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) were widespread and the public was increasingly informed about the scientific basis for environmental concerns.

Today Green marketing makes even more sense as marketers and the wider business community are struggling to manage the effects of the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Because Green marketing recycles, uses less, and avoids waste, it is more affordable than traditional marketing and this is very attractive to businesses with tight marketing budgets.

Green marketing also makes extensive use of digital resources because this is a great way to minimize a company's marketing footprint. Digital technologies also enable companies to assess traffic for specific landing pages and it is easy to gauge traffic through social media networks. As a trackable technology, digital media allows marketers to assess ROI and this ensures that they can get the most out of their marketing dollar.

Susan Gunelius, President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., has recently suggested that Green marketing is not even an option anymore, it is a "strategic imperative." According to her, "Green strategies should be at the core of product development and positioning strategies. It shouldn’t just be an ancillary element or tactic of differentiation. It should be a key component to the brand’s overall promise."

The author continues, "Many consumers simply expect companies and brands to be making an effort to be environmentally-friendly. If brands are deemed to be wasteful and environmentally harmful, it’s likely that a certain amount of consumers will lose trust in those brands. They may even move on from those brands to find replacements that do meet their expectations for brands and companies to live up to their environmental responsibilities."

With the emergence of a new more efficient economy, marketers cannot ignore this large and growing trend. Smart marketers must ask themselves not only where the market is today but where it will be in 5 or 10 years. It is a safe bet that as noted by Gunellius, Green will be essential to a brand's survival.

"Bottom-line, green is no longer an option. It’s a must."

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Green Bubble?

A bubble is defined as "the phenomenon of rising share prices amid a mood of general euphoria, leading to a 'bursting' and a reversal of the prices and the mood."

According to the Conservative publication The New Republic, the Green bubble has already burst. In an article subtitled "why environmentalism keeps imploding" they appear to blame educated liberals, Fortune 500 companies, and even arch conservative Newt Gingrich for having the audacity to demand action on global warming.

By way of supporting their claim, they cite a Pew Research Center poll which found that between January 2008 and January 2009, the percentage of Americans who indicated that the environment was a 'top priority' dropped from 56 percent to 41 percent. And they add somewhat derisively, "surveys have long showed that enthusiasm for all things green is greatest among well-educated liberals."

Contrary to the assertions of this article, this is a temporary retrenchment as a consequence of the economic pressures of the recession.

It is important to understand that Conservative's have a long and less than distinguished tradition of resisting environmental initiatives. Ronald Reagan tore down Carter's solar panels from the White House and blamed the trees for pollution and George W. Bush's administration resisted the very notion of environmental responsibility.

These New Republic authors snidely comment about "the exaggeration of insignificant gestures like recycling and buying new lightbulbs (sic)." They also denigrate Green as "positional consumption," (meaning consumption that distinguishes one as elite). They further dismiss Green initiatives as little more than "a way to reduce guilt." They even go so far as to ridicule notions of community and interconnectedness. (What is so outlandish about believing that our common interest in halting global warming should bring us together and increase international cooperation?)

The authors of this article get at least one thing right, Green has moved beyond politics and is now a cultural phenomenon.

The idea of a Green bubble is not new, in July of 2008, A Market Watch article warned us to Beware of a 'Green' Bubble. It indicated that, "Investors have driven up the prices of environmentally friendly stocks, perhaps to unrealistic levels."

"It was just over [two years] ago where we would have somebody arguing with us over whether or not the market would ever favor green investing," said Jack Robinson. "Now you've got to worry about valuation and some of the speculative bubbles that are building," Robinson said.

Although they conceded that Green investing was providing very attractive returns, they also added "burning returns across the sector are flashing a yellow light to green investors."

Portfolio 21 manager Tony Turisch stated that firms that take steps towards sustainability offer an an advantage that can in turn be sold to its customers, Tursich said. "Companies that are taking these steps are ultimately going to have a competitive advantage and a lower cost structure."

Earlier this year Jay Yarow wrote an article entitled "The Green Bubble That Won't Take Shape" in which he refutes concerns that the Obama administration's stimulus plan will lead to a Green bubble.

Yarow quotes Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern who wrote, "The investments necessary to convert our society to a low-carbon economy – investments that can change the way we live and work – would drive growth over the next two or three decades. They would ensure that growth, with accompanying improvements in standards of living, was sustainable. The path that we have been on is not."

He adds a comment from Merrill Lynch cleantech analyst Steven Milunovich who said, the "sixth revolution will be the Age of Cleantech and Biotech," in an editorial for Greentech Media. (Previous revolutions: Industrial Revolution, Age of Steam and Railways, Age of Steel, Electricity, and Heavy Engineering, Age of Oil, Automobiles, and Mass Production, Age of Information and Telecommunications).

Yarrow's main point is that slow credit markets will ensure that money flows gradually into the Green Market. "And, while the billions from the government will act as a gap for a few years, the one thing we can be sure of is that it cash won't come swiftly no matter the rhetoric....the capital influx into green projects is likely to be more orderly and less so a bubble-inducing grab bag."

In an article entitled The Myth of the Green Bubble, Will Sarni CEO of a sustainability consulting firm states that "companies that truly understand the business case for sustainability are not backing off from their green goals, no matter what the stock ticker says." They are "using sustainability to drive revenue and reduce operating costs."

According to Sarni, successful companies have recognized the value of minimizing their carbon footprint and reducing their use of resources. These companies willl thrive in a global economy where resources are constrained.

However, "If sustainability is window dressing then this is a good time to jettison your green marketing and communications efforts and hunker down." But he goes on to say, "the world will look very different in the next few years. Carbon will be regulated and those companies that see this as an opportunity to identify operational efficiencies and create new, innovative products will likely do very well.

"[T]heir will be a slowdown in work for those companies that never really understood the business case and the value to their business with respect to reduced operating costs and increased revenue. Sustainability has moved from the right thing to do to the right business thing to do."

Remember, we have yet to feel the impact of the stimulus money promised in the Emergency Economic Recovery Act of 2008. There are many companies poised to take advantage of these incentives.

Green practices are a thrifty way to make ends meet in a difficult economy. But more importantly Green offers a sustainable way forward in an increasingly competitive economy. Investment in green will increase efficiency and yield both short term and long term dividends.

Despite the recession Green investing is already producing very impressive returns. As of July 9 Spectra Green has provided one year returns of 32%, and Portfolio 21 has provided returns of 31% over the same time frame. As was made clear in the previous post the Green Market's sustainable stock has also outperformed the market.

There is no Green bubble and the strong performance of sustainable stock is not a "flashing yellow light" as some pundits have claimed. Sustainable investing has a Green light and only the politically motivated or the uninformed can claim otherwise.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Solar Stock Comparative Market Review

The Green Market's solar stock picks are outperforming the major market indices. Despite Wall Street's one percent retreat yesterday, the major indices have performed well this year. Prior to yesterday's slide the Dow Jones, Nasdaq and Standard and Poor's 500 averaged a respectable three month increase of 10.88 percent, a six month increase of 21.34 percent, and a year to date increase of 13.32 percent.

Although the market has performed rather well, a review of the three month, six month and year to date performances of the Green Market's solar stock (STP, CSIQ, FSLR, SPWRA and ESLR) reveals that The Green Market's solar picks have yielded returns which are on average considerably better than the market.

Suntech Power (STP) has shown handsome advances over the last three months. On 11 May STP closed at $16.44 on 10 August it closed at $18.98. Over the last three months the stock has kept pace with the markets for a gain of $2.54 or 10.89 percent. STP is up 90 percent over the last six months and 55 percent since January.

Suntech Power, already China's largest solar panel maker, is improving its position with the announcement that it is collaborating with China Huadian New Energy Development Co. This could translate into solid earnings going forward and Suntech Power's earning reports are scheduled for Aug. 20 and they could prove to be a bonanza for solar investors.

Canadian Solar (CSIQ) is one of Solar's shining stars so far this year. On 11 May CSIQ closed at $8.35 on 10 August closed at $19.33. During this period it outperformed the market with an increase of $10.98 or 124.55 percent. CSIQis is up 269 percent over the last six months and almost 200 percent since January. CSIQ can expect a bright future with recent strong earnings and Monday's announcement that Canadian Solar is entering into broad strategic cooperation with one of China's largest power generation companies (Guodian Power Development Co., Ltd). Together they will design, invest, build, operate and maintain PV power plants in China.

SunPower Corp. (SPWRA) has not performed as well as some other solar firms but strong Q2 earnings numbers energized the stock and going forward SPWRA is poised to grow. Over the last three months, the stock has gained $3.21 or 11.07 percent (On 11 May SPWRA closed at $27.69 and on 10 August closed at $30.90). With the exception of the period between the first and the twenty-first of July SPWRA has kept pace with the markets. On July 24, SunPower Corp. reported Q2 earnings well above expectations and SPWRA went up almost 30% for the day and closed the week almost 40% higher. SPWRA is down 11 percent over the last six months and 17 percent for the year.

SunPower's revenues rose 39% year-over-year to $298 million and the company also issued upside guidance for this fiscal year.

Higher module sales have enabled SunPower to cut its inventory days nearly in half, thereby reducing inventory risk. SunPower will also benefit from funding for cheaper roof-top installations of solar panels. US government subsidies and a favourable regulatory environment for Solar should help SunPower do well as its brand and technology has higher exposure to the U.S. solar market than its competitors. SPWRA warrants a strong position.

With highs above $300, First Solar (FSLR) has provided some investors with legendary returns, but this solar leader's stock has not fared well over the last three months. On 11 May FLSR closed at $193.63 on 10 August closed at $147.34 under performing the market for a loss of $47.29 or 24.28 percent. About even over the last six months and up 5 percent since January. However, on July 30, First Solar announced its second-quarter sales and earnings had doubled easily beating consensus Street estimates.

Evergreen Solar (ESLR) is by far the most troubled of The Green Market's stock picks. On 11 May ESLR closed at $2.31 and three months later on 10 August it closed at $2.09. With the exception of a spike on June 11, ESLR consistently under performed the market and is down $0.22 or 11.26 percent over the last three months. However, ESLR is up 25 percent over the last six months but down 35 percent since January.

On July 30 Evergreen Solar reported second-quarter revenues of $63.8 million compared to $55.8 million for the first quarter of 2009. However the gross margins are way below the second quarter of 2008. The company reported a net loss of 11 cents per share in Q2, which is at least in part due to ongoing charges associated with the closure of its Marlboro pilot facility and start-up costs of its Midland facility.

As reviewed above, the Dow, NASDAQ and the S&P provided a 10.88 percent return over the previous three months, a 21.34 percent increase over the previous six months and a 13.22 percent return since January. The Green market's solar stock has averaged a 22.08 percent increase over the past 3 months, 74. 60 percent increase over the past six months and 41.60 percent increase since January 1, 2009.

The Green Market's solar stock is beating the market by 11.20 percent over the previous 3 months, 53.26 percent over the previous 6 months, and 28.38 percent for the year to date. ____________________________________

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Solar Stock Review and Future Prospects

Solar is fundamental to our efforts to produce energy without destroying our environment. Despite this fact, some were unconvinced about solar's prospects in 2009.

At the start of this year JPMorgan analyst Christopher Blansett indiicated that he expected solar prices to "fall and bottom out later in the year." Blansett further warned investors "not to expect a recovery in solar stocks in the event of a broader economic rebound in 2009" Blansett added that constrained credit markets could "bring the alternative energy industry to a screeching halt."

Although Blansett's dire warnings may not be entirely accurate, solar markets are not immune to this recession and they have been hit hard by the current economic situation. The solar sector is feeling the effects of the boom-bust cycle we've seen in the global economy and energy investment over the past two years has had a destabilizing effect.

Planned increases in solar power production, positive returns and promising innovations, give us reason to believe that solar stocks will perform well.

According to Yale 360, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said "his department is studying whether 670,000 acres of federal lands in six Western states are suitable for the construction of large-scale solar power projects." Salazar said this administration is doing “everything we can to put the bulls-eye on the development of solar energy on our public lands.” He further predicted that "by the end of next year, 13 commercial-scale solar power projects could be under construction on U.S. government lands in Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah."

With several new commercial scale solar facilities currently being built in Florida, the state is a good example of America's increased reliance on solar energy.

In Europe, Germany and Spain remain international solar leaders and in France, EDF Energies Nouvelles and US firm First Solar Inc (FSLR) recently announced they will build the country's largest solar panel manufacturing plant.

The Asian solar market offers cause for bullish optimism. Government investment will push Japanese demand for solar panels up for the first time since 2006 and make Japan much more attractive to foreign solar power investors.

The Japanese government recently announced that it will be infusing $9 billion dollars into the solar sector. This will increase Japan's solar energy market by 2000% over the next decade. On June 9, Prime Minister Taro Aso said that solar power (and electric cars) will play a key role in lifting Japan out of recession and encouraging robust growth. The PM foresees a cleantech industry worth 50 trillion yen (about $510 billion) by 2020. He wants solar power generators installed at roughly 37,000 public schools in the next three years. The total increase would boost Japanese solar production twenty fold by 2020.

Nowhere is solar performing better than in China. After lagging behind the industrial benchmark for months, shares of Chinese solar power firm, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (STP) tripled the Dow in July. Chinese owned Canadian Solar (CSIQ) announced that it will target 12,000 kilowatts of yearly solar cell sales in Japan from its Chinese production base.

According to Lux Research, the future of solar power is bright. Although widespread grid parity will take a decade, in certain locations solar is already approximating competitiveness with traditional energy. This trend will continue with the introduction of innovative new measurement techniques.

“The solar industry is coming of age, and the metrics for judging solar technologies are shifting,” said Ted Sullivan, Senior Analyst at Lux Research, and lead author of the report. "This shift enables a more direct comparison to conventional generation types, and enables more rigorous analysis of solar technology on the basis of life-cycle costs, payback period, and return on investment. In subsidized markets, the internal rate of return can reach well in excess of 10%, actively fuelling demand.”

At the end of May SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) announced a major innovation, the latest version of the SunPower(R) 315 Solar Panel, the most powerful solar panel on the planet. It is interesting to note the parity between the stock performances of industry leaders SunPower and First Solar. Earlier in this downturn cost was trumping efficiency in the solar sector, now SunPower's superior efficiency is keeping pace with First Solar's low cost thin film panel.

The market for solar technologies is now more sophisticated and increasingly solar power is competing with traditional sources of electricity. Falling silicon prices (down from nearly $1.50 per pound to just above 50 cents) has helped to reduce costs for silcon reliant solar panel manufacturers. But the primary driver for solar energy production will continue to be the fact that it is carbon-free, uses no water and produces no waste.

Despite the recession and contrary to certain dire predictions, some solar firms are doing very well and as we recover the solar sector is destined to grow.

Next: Solar Stock Comparitive Market Performance

_________________________


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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Investing for a Sustainable Recovery

The world is changing and investors have to make some difficult choices as they try to navigate in a rapidly shifting economic landscape.

As reported in Time Magazine, "over the past two centuries, stocks have done dramatically better for investors than have bonds or any other asset class. Stocks, we have been told again and again through the years, are the best long-term investment. Prices go up and they go down, but give stocks enough time and they deliver returns that trounce those of bonds, real estate, commodities or any other asset class"

In 1922, Edgar Lawrence Smith was amongst the first to provide evidence that stocks beat bonds as a long term investment. Although this unravelled in 1929, subsequent investigations (1938, '53, '64, '76 and '94) corroborated the fact that stocks are an excellent long-run investment.

Despite the historical evidence, past performance is no guarantee of future results and this is particularly true today with the global economy in a state of flux. As reported in another Time Magazine article, since the dawn of the new millennium traditional stock has not performed as well as it has previously. This has prompted some analysts to question the notion that stocks are good for the long haul.

Stock market data from the last 9 years indicate the long hold position does not bear up to scrutiny. "Since the beginning of this decade, the stock market has been a money pit. At the market's nadir in early March, stock investors had lost more than 50% since March 2000."

A Time Magazine article entitled Investing for Recovery, indicates that investors continue to apply traditional market logic by investing in financial companies, retailers and technology firms. But as explained by First Eagle's Jean-Marie Eveillard, one of the few managers to produce positive returns when stocks plunged earlier this decade, "it's a very different story today. The landscape is different, and the recovery, when it comes, probably won't be along the lines of what we have seen in the post--World War II period."

Traditional logic is more likely to apply if we have a recession that bottoms out and rebounds quickly (V shaped). But we are already well beyond the mean and with concerns about consumer spending, this recession is taking longer to rebound (U shaped). Some are suggesting that massive government spending could hurt the value of the dollar. If that happens inflation will result and the best tool against inflation is raising interest rates. But if the Federal Reserve is forced to raise rates, the economy could lapse back into recession. (This is the double dip, or the W).

Over the last 2 decades, the myth of the rational market has obscured the statistical truth and blinded many investors to the fact that in a globalized economy problems can quickly become systemic.

Milton Friedman never believed markets were perfectly rational, but he thought they were more rational than governments. Friedman believed speculators tended to stabilize markets rather than unbalance them.

In tbe 1960s Paul Samuelson made the mathematical case for the randomness of the stock market. Then in 1969 Eugene Fama developed the efficient-market hypothesis, in which he defined an efficient market as one in which prices always 'fully reflect' available information.

In the 1970s a new approach to investing and risk management incorporated index funds, risk-weighted portfolio allocation and mathematical models to price options and other derivatives. Although these are useful tools they are premised on the notion that "prices were reliable reflections of economic reality."

Over the years there have been many challenges to the core assumptions of the rational market, and even Fama's own retesting gave him reason to question his efficient-market hypothesis.

"Unwillingness to countenance the possibility that market prices might be wildly wrong defined the behaviour of regulators, corporate executives and most Wall Streeters during both the tech-stock and real estate bubbles...the strong performance of the U.S. stock market and economy tended to silence doubts"

"The issue isn't whether financial markets are useful--they are--or whether the prices of stocks or bonds or collateralized debt obligations convey information--they do. There's also much to be said for the insight at the heart of efficient-market theory: markets are hard to outsmart. But when we give up second-guessing the market, we suspend our judgment."

Particularly in this atypical economy, stocks should be judged by the relative value they offer (low cost relative to earnings, book value and other fundamental measures). Today advantageous prices make many stocks a great investment opportunity. Further when compared to standard fixed-rate bonds, stocks may be a better option as they are less likely to be devalued by inflation.

Investors are faced with declining stock market yields as many traditional industries are sagging under the weight of this recession. With traditional investment strategies proving to be less profitable then in previous generations, investors are tasked with developing alternatives.

According to the "World Wealth Report 2008" high net worth individuals are investing in clean tech and contributing to wealth generation. In 2007, total investments in clean technology added up to $117 billion, up 41 percent from investments in 2005. Venture capital investments went from $3.6 billion in 2006 to $5.2 billion in 2007.

Governments are also showing strong support for sustainable enterprise. In the US, even before the current administration, there was a $700 billion 'bailout' package that provided tax credits for solar energy properties, production tax credits for wind energy, geothermal and other renewable energy resources, and tax deductions for energy-efficient commercial buildings.

Despite the current economic environment, sustainability is not a frill. It is a relatively quick, money-saving fix for corporations struggling to lower energy, water and waste costs. Going forward, we can expect to see even greater emphasis on sustainable investments.

We live in a world where we can no longer depend on the traditional wisdom of previous generations of investors. Although diversification remains the best way to mitigate risk, a lot of smart money is being invested in sustainable stock.

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Next: Solar Stock Review

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