It’s easy to forget sometimes that most governments are designed to move slowly and methodically, as to help maintain an equilibrium in society. However, in the face of increasing signs of climate change, this slow pace can be thoroughly frustrating. Whether your government’s reactions to global warming have made you wallow or feel uncharacteristically violent, often focusing on the good that is going on can help ease the tensions of what you think “should” be happening. In this edition we’ll focus on women in the government positions who are working tirelessly to protect
Lisa Ann Pinkerton's blog
In this second installment in our series on leading women in cleantech and sustainability sectors, we offer up our top picks for the sustainability sector. Quite often this category is dominated by women working in Corporate Social Responsibility, as it’s a sector where women have made great strides to gain leadership roles in the last few decades. However, for our series, we are saving those women of CSR for a later post. This let’s us focus more on those women doing unique sustainability work that might otherwise not be noticed. Stay tuned for our Women of CSR post, it’s not far behind!
1. Nikki Pava – Co-founder, EcoTuesday & Founder of Alegria Partners
Nikki Pava is both the co-founder and president of EcoTuesday and part of the organization’s Ambassador team in San Francisco. EcoTuesday is a renowned networking event for sustainable business professionals that takes place every fourth Tuesday of the month in cities across the US. The organization’s 5-year anniversary celebration takes place on February 21st with special guest speaker Brian Black, president of the Sustainable Industries Magazine.
Most recently, Nikki launched Alegria Partners, an integrated marketing and sustainability consulting firm that helps to manage and grow businesses. Clients include Technology Forecasters, Blue Coat Systems, Maestro Conference and Greenopolis. As an independent consultant, Nikki has also worked in a strategic capacity with Williams-Sonoma on a project to decrease waste in their stores and played a key role in implementing Burning Man LLC’s five-year sustainability plan. She also helped Morrison & Forester (one of the country’s largest law firms) establish its Cleantech Practice Group. Nikki has an MBA in Sustainable Business from the Presidio School of Management and has worked in a strategic capacity with Fortune 500 companies, small- and medium-sized businesses, and non-profits to develop strategic plans and coordinate teams to reach specific and measurable goals.
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2. Elizabeth Sturcken - Director of Corporate Partnerships, Environmental Defense Fund
Elizabeth Sturcken is the Managing Director of the Corporate Partnerships program at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). There she develops and implements joint projects with leading companies in order to create environmental change. Elizabeth currently works with Wal-Mart to create a broad environmental change in crucial areas of its business, including climate change, China, seafood, and packaging. Additionally, she has worked with FedEx to develop environmentally advanced heavy-duty delivery vehicles. With UPS she helped implement innovative changes in their express delivery packaging.
3. Karen Flanders – Senior North American Representative at Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme
Karen Flanders is a Senior North American Representative at Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme where she contributes to the organization’s mission to draw on world-leading research and networks of Cambridge University to help business leaders address the critical global challenges they face today. Karen is also a Senior Associate (Fellow) with the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL). In her 20 years of experience working on the sustainability field, both domestically and internationally, Karen has become an important member of several major corporations, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations.
Prior to joining CPSL and working with PWBSP, Karen served for eight years as the director of sustainability for the Coca Cola Company. Prior to that, she lead the European and global advocacy campaigns for WWF for 12 years. She is also part of the board of the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future.
4. Bonnie Nixon – Executive Director, Sustainability Consortium
Formerly an executive with Hewlett Packard, Bonnie Nixon is known for her ability to inspire and serve as a catalyst for transformation in the field of sustainability and social and environmental responsibility. As Executive Director for The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), Bonnie is responsible for providing strategic direction and executing on the TSC’s bold vision for independent global product standards. TSC works to help set the standards and develop transparent methodologies, tools and strategies that will drive a new generation of products and supply networks that address environmental, social and economic imperatives. Some of the Board of Directors representatives are companies and organizations of the caliber of Arizona State University, the University of Arkansas, The Walt Disney Company, Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble, Dell and more.
With her more than 25 years of experience in social and environmental responsibility for large corporations, Bonnie serves on many multi-industry consortiums, including global retailers, footwear and apparel, toy, pharmaceutical, chemical, automotive, consumer goods and mining. She is also the Board Chair for Sustainable Silicon Valley and Board Member of Blue Planet Network.
5. Marianna Grossman – Executive Director, Sustainable Silicon Valley
Marianna Grossman leads Sustainable Silicon Valley, who’s mission is to create a more sustainable future within the Valley by collaborating with local government agencies, businesses, and community organizations to identify and address the most pressing environmental issues of the area. Marianna’s goal is to catalyze innovation and action to produce economic value, while at the same protecting the environment. She brings more than 25 years of business and leadership experience with knowledge of climate change, sustainable technologies, Total Quality Systems and transformation management. All of this aims to create value for clients across the different sectors of the industry, including the entrepreneurship, computer hardware and software, semiconductors, automotive, educational and civic organizations. Marianna has also both developed and led training courses from executive to individual contributors on four continents. She is an expert in increasing revenues while at the same time taking advantage of both new market opportunities and improved use of energy.
6. Diane MacEachern – Author, Big Green Purse
Diane MacEachern is the founder & CEO of Big Green Purse, the award-winning environment-focused website. She is also the author of the best-selling book Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World as well as Save Our Planet: 750 Everyday Ways You Can Clean Up The Earth. She’s also a a regular commentator on Martha Stewart’s Whole Living radio program.
In addition to writing, Diane is a founding member of Green Moms Carnival, one of the most reputed green lifestyle blogging networks on the web. During her career, her main focus has been to empower consumers – especially women – to use their marketplace clout to protect the environment. Due to her passion in these endeavors, Diane has garnered a series of awards and recognitions, including the Best Green Website of the year 2007, being the finalist in the Books for a Better Life award 2008, being featured in the Top 100 Environmentalist Blogs from Design Sprout and much more.
7. Nina Simons – Founder, Bioneers
Nina Simons is a social entrepreneur, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Bioneers, a national nonprofit that helps highlight, gather and disseminate breakthrough solutions to the most pressing environmental and social challenges. Nina’s life and work have been shaped by her passion for the natural world, women’s leadership, systems thinking, and the arts’ capacity to shape culture and consciousness.
Throughout her career, Nina has served as president of Seeds of Change and as director of strategic marketing for Odwalla, being instrumental to the success of each of these companies nationwide. Since beginning Bioneers in 1990, she and her partner and husband Kenny Ausubel have collaborated to grow the organization and its influence. Bioneers now reaches many millions through its annual conferences, satellite conference partners, award-winning radio series, broadcast and print media, interactive website and book series.
Nina Simons has also been vital in restoring the “feminine” to a balanced place in our culture. In 2006, she began offering Cultivating Women’s Leadership, a five-day intensive for diverse women with the passion and capacity to effect change in their communities. This intensive training emphasizes skillful collaboration across differences, and the creation of relationships and networks to cultivate leadership, build alliances and encourage mutual support.
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8. Pamela Gordon – Author, Lean and Green: Profit for Your Workplace and the Environment
Pamela J. Gordon is the President and Founder of Technology Forecasters Inc. (TFI), as well as being the Lead Consultant for TFI Supply Chain and TFI Environment. TFI is an organization that helps technology companies create more efficient supply chains while at the same time reducing their environmental impact. She specializes in sustainability and is a popular keynote speaker, having presented at high-tech conferences in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Before founding TFI, Ms. Gordon was a senior analyst at McGraw Hill’s electronics industry market-research firm Gnostic Concepts Inc. She is also the author of the influential 2001 book, Lean and Green: Profit for Your Workplace and the Environment. It features 17 electronics companies from around the world and has been required reading at the University of California Haas School of Business.
On top of all of these achievements, Ms. Gordon has received the 2011 Sustainability Summit Community Award which was given in recognition of “the person who has most generously dedicated time and effort to support the development of a legacy of environmental stewardship in the [electronics] industry.”
9. Astrid Lindo – Co-founder, The Living Seed Company
A native of Colombia and raised in Miami Beach, Astrid Lindo always lived close to the earth. This led her early on to understand modern human’s disconnection with the natural world and contributed to her desire to found The Living Seed Company and inspire people to live more harmonious lives with their environments. The organization specializes in providing people with the best possible choices for food diversity.
With her formal training as an interior designer from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, she has also built a career as an ecological interior designer. Astrid holds a Certificate in Green Building and Permaculture, as well as an LEED accreditation. Her firm Astrid Design Studio supports more sustainable practices in the design field.
Follow her on Twitter here>>
10. Stacie Shepp – 2011 Executive Director, San Francisco Green Chamber of Commerce
In 2011, Stacie Shepp was the fearless leader the San Francisco Green Chamber of Commerce. The organization empowers businesses to achieve economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Members benefit from increased visibility, educational tools to improve operational performance, and extensive networking opportunities.
Stacie is also co-founder of Earthsite, a Digital Consultancy for Sustainable Brands that specializes in building web strategies, design and social media marketing campaigns that are sustainable and optimal. Stacie is a graduate of the Green MBA program at Dominican University of CA.
About the author:
Lisa Ann Pinkerton is founder of Women In Cleantech & Sustainability, a San Francisco Bay Area group dedicated to the advancement of women in various environmental and technology sectors. She is also Founder and President of Technica Communications, where she handles marketing and public relations strategies for cleantech and biotech companies. Lisa Ann is a former award-winning broadcast journalist who reported for National Public Radio, PBS Television, WPXI-NBC, American Public Media, and Free Speech TV.
In 1974, a small sandbar island about 2 miles across was discovered in the Bay of Bengal. In March of 2010, it disappeared. Oceanographers say the island’s demise is a demonstration of melting icecaps and rising sea levels. Studies reveal sea levels in this part of the Bay of Bengal are rising faster than in the previous 15 years - 5mm a year by some accounts.
In 2010, climate skeptics gave the idea of rising global temperatures a beating. Climategate gave critics plenty of fodder to call climate change "the greatest deception in history." The leaked emails from climate research scientists being held up as "smoking guns" were used by global-warming skeptics eager to find evidence of a conspiracy. Even without that misrepresentation, there remains evidence (such as the small island in the Bay of Bengal) that the earth is getting warmer.
In 2011, the shadow of Climategate still looms and climate change proponents are realizing pure research isn’t enough to sway public and political opinion. Neither is openly engaging with adversaries. To make any meaningful reduction in global temperatures, carbon reduction advocates have to gain the political will strong enough to persuade the world’s largest industrial nations to work together. For this to happen, the leaders of these countries have got to feel pressure that their jobs are on the line if they don’t sign meaningful agreements and make lasting reductions.
This pressure comes from us, the voters who put many of those leaders into place. Most of us don’t live in places like Bangladesh, where rising sea levels are swallowing up islands. So many of us know there’s a problem, but action doesn’t seem a priority. It’s only when something impacts our day to day personal lives do many of us take notice.
Join us for the next EcoTuesday on January 25, 2011 to help keep climate change and its growing threat in the forefront of our lives. By engaging with one another, we can truly make a difference on the planet this year.
It was a win/lose election for clean technology and sustainability this month. Californians rejected Prop 23 taking a major step to protect their state against climate change and support it’s blossoming green economy. Additionally, they voted Democrat Jerry Brown as the new California governor, who’s expected to be a strong supporter of green innovation in the state. It’s being said the huge defeat of Prop 23 (despite the vast sums supporters spent on the initiative), sends a strong message to future potential efforts to roll back progressive, clean tech-promoting initiatives around the country.
However, on the national level many of the advocates for climate change and proponents of the Waxmen-Markey bill lost their seats this time around. The change, particularly in the House, will likely jeopardize the federal funding that’s helped fund solar, wind and other alternative energy projects across the country. As the next two years of a Republican controlled House play out, the industry may find itself leaning more on individual states to pick up the federal slack. Massachusetts and California are leading examples of this.
While for some a scattered execution of growing the American green economy is less than ideal, it’s really on the state level where green economic incentives start and have the most impact anyway.
On a state-by-state basis, clean energy policies are represented in every state. While some have more policies and others less, each is doing its own work to support our emerging green ecomony. Out of a list of 15 identified clean energy policies, 22 states have 11 or more in place, with California leading the pack.
The green sector may have two years to wait out this Republican lead Congress and in the meantime, it should redouble its efforts to build groundswells locally, that federal politicians find impossible to ignore.
On October 28, 1994 Calvin Souther Fuller passed away at his home in Vero Beach, Florida. He was 92.
Born on May 25th, 1902, Fuller's legacy includes 33 patents, including how to purify silicon. Some have called his inventions a pivotal step in the founding of semiconductors, the evolution of the personal computer and the development solar cell. In his 1994 New York Times obituary, AT&T spokesman Robert Ford said Fuller's invention of the silicon solar cell...
"...helped make the space program practical, because space vehicles could get power from readily available sunlight."
Born in Chicago, Fuller attended the University of Chicago he received a B.S. and a Ph.D.in physical chemistry. He joined Bell Labs (then called Bell Telephone) in 1930, where his work included research in organic insulating materials and investigations of the molecular nature of polymers.
Working with Bell Telephone scientists Daryl Chapin and Gerald Pearson, Fuller diffused boron into silicon to capture the sun's power. The invention of the 'solar battery' resulted in a 600% improvement in previous technologies to harnessing solar power and convert it into electricity. The inventors used several small strips of silicon to capture sunlight and render it into free electrons.
Here is a story told by Calvin S. Fuller's oldest son Robert W. Fuller as part of the speech preparation for Calvin S. Fuller's May 2008 induction to the National Inventor's Hall of Fame:
"In 1954, I was home from vacation from college to visit my parents. That night my father, Calvin Souther Fuller, came home with something that looked like a quarter with wires sticking out of it. This was a device that connected to a small electric windmill that stood on the table. He shined a bright flashlight on the quarter-like object, which was actually silicon solar cell, and the blades of the windmill started turning. It was so exciting to see the flashlight power the tiny windmill. While this device looked like a quarter to anyone else, it was actually the world’s first silicon solar battery - a device that later become known as the silicon solar cell."
The solar cell was given a public demonstration at Murray Hill in 1954. The first public service trial of the Bell Solar Battery began with a telephone carrier system in 1955 in Americus, Georgia. By 1958, the US Department of Defense wanted solar cells to power vehicles and satellites in space. The first time the cells were put on board an operational space vehicle, and used, was in 1962, on AT&T's Telstar communications satellite.
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On August 22, 1834 America astronomer Samuel Pierpont Langley is born in Boston Massachusetts (d. February 27, 1906). His invention of the bolometer helped him measure infrared radiation, which helped Svante Arrhenius make the first calculations on the greenhouse effect.
Langley’s interest in astronomy began early in his youth with a small telescope owned by his father. By age 20 he and his brother were building their own. As a young adult he taught at Harvard College Observatory the United States Naval Academy, until 1867, when he moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to direct the new Allegheny Observatory and serve as professor of astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh.
In Pittsburgh he researched the Sun and the effect of its solar radiation on the Earth’s atmosphere. To conduct his research, Langley invented the bolometer to measure infrared radiation, versions of his original design are still used today.
The bolometer is a radiant-heat detector that is sensitive to differences in temperature of one hundred-thousandth of a degree Celsius (0.00001 C) . Composed of two thin strips of metal, a Wheatstone bridge, a battery, and a galvanometer (an electrical current measuring device), this instrument enabled him to study solar irradiance (light rays from the sun) far into its infrared region and to measure the intensity of solar radiation at various wavelengths. Langley’s measurement of interference of the infrared radiation by carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere was used by Svante Arrhenius in 1896 to make the first calculation of how climate would change from a future doubling of carbon dioxide levels.
In 1886, Langley received the Henry Draper Medal from the National Academy of Sciences for his contributions to solar physics. His publication in 1890 of infrared observations at the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh together with Frank Washington Very was used by Svante Arrhenius to make the first calculations on the greenhouse effect.
By 1887, Langley became Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Secretary of the Institution, where he would serve until his death in 1906, from paralytic stroke. Pall beareres at Langley’s funeral included the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Melville Fuller and Vice President Charles W Fairbanks.
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On August 10, 1839, the eminent Russian physicist Aleksandr Grigorievich Stoletov is born (August 10, 1839-May 27, 1896). Stoletov built the first solar cell based on the outer photoelectric effect (discovered by Heinrich Hertz in 1887).
Born to the family of merchants in 1839, Alexander’s early life was one of study. He learned to read by the time he was four. Between 1849 and 1860 Stoletov studied physics and mathematics at Moscow State University, where he would become a teacher in 1865. As a professor worked to establish a physics laboratory for the school (which opened in 1872), so students would not have to go abroad to preform research. By his mid life, Stoletov was a world renown physicist, having developed a theory of “electro-techniques” and discovered important patterns in the magnetism of iron.
In 1888, he turned his attention to the photo effect, which was discovered by Hertz the year before. He built the first solar cell based on Hertz’s theory and earlier solar technology developed by Charles Fritts in 1883. Stoletov’s cell was more stable and reliable than the highly inefficient Fritts model. But it was not until Russell Ohl patented the idea of the junction semiconductor solar cell in 1946, that the modern day solar panel was born.
Additional Stoletov contributions to solar energy also includes the fact that solar cells decrease in efficiency as they age and the direct proportional link between the intensity of electromagnetic radiation acting on a metallic surface and the photocurrent induced by this radiation. This became known as Stoletov’s Law.
On July 31st, 1803, Swedish inventor John Ericsson was born (July 31, 1803 – March 8, 1889). Most famous for his design of the USS Monitor, Ericsson explored commercial applications for solar power and build seven “sun engines” between 1868 and 1875.
The “sun engines” were powered by steam or hot air and fueled by solar energy.
After inventing in England and being forced to give up all of his English patent rights to pay off his debts, Ericsson immigrated to America in 1839. He is most well known for his engines and maritime propulsion systems, such as the first marine “screw” propeller-driving iron steamship, the USS Princeton (the first propeller driven warship), and the ironclad Civil War warship the USS Monitor.
While his maritime inventions brought Ericsson fame and success, he found himself deeply distressed about the rapid consumption of coal as a fuel source. He and his contemporaries already feared it was running out. To provide society with alternatives, Ericsson explored renewable energy sources such as solar, tidal, wind and gravitational power.
In one of his many scientific papers on the commercial use of solar energy in the 1870’s Ericsson wrote, "a couple of thousand years dropped in the ocean of time will completely exhaust the coal fields of Europe, unless, in the meantime, the heat of the sun be employed... the skillful engineer knows many ways of laying up a supply when the sky is clear and the great store-house is open, where the fuel may be obtained free of cost and transportation."
In the book Contributions to the Centennial Exhibition (1877, reprinted 1976) Ericsson presented his "sun engines.” They collected solar heat for a hot air engine. He built the first one in New York in 1872 and had intended Californian farmers to use the sun engine for irrigation purposes. However, nothing came of the project. Several designs later, Ericsson’s engines were a commercial success, but the heat was supplied by methane gas, instead of the sun.
Despite this design modification, Ericsson’s life contributed to the exploration of renewable energy and his efforts paved the way for the advancement of clean technology.
When it comes to energy reform on Capitol Hill, there’s a lot of maneuvering going on right now. So far this year, seven different pieces of legislation from both democrats and republicans have either been introduced, passed Senate committee or passed in the House. Melaine Nutter, an aid for Congresswoman and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stated very clearly at a recent Business Council on Climate Change meeting that Pelosi has made climate legislation one of the flagship issues of her leadership.
With Pelosi at the helm, the House of Representatives as passed one of the seven bills, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). It would include a cap and trade on carbon emissions, require the EPA to set vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards, increase incentives for plug in vehicles, bring more efficiency to buildings and promote performance standards for coal fired power plants. In addition, it would require the country get at least 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2030.
However, it’s up the the Senate to finish the job of putting a price on carbon emissions and building a new, green and cleaner energy economy. As it stands today, the American Power Act, introduced by Senators John Kerry and Joe Liberman is likely to be the foundation with which the Senate forms is version of climate and energy legislation. This month the Congressional Budget Office scored their bill and said that it would cut the deficit by $19 billion over the next decade via cap and trade revenue. This bill calls for increased off shore drilling as well as many of the programs in the ACES bill. It is slightly more lenient in terms of a renewable energy procurement, requiring only 15 percent of energy produced in the US come from renewable sources by 2020, as opposed to the 20 percent in the House ACES bill. However, the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions mirror that of ACES- a 42 percent reduction by 2030.
Once the Senate gets around to passing its own version of climate legislation, it will have to be rectified with the House's ACES bill. Time will tell whether the comprised legislation has enough teeth in it to put a dent in carbon offsets, reduce climate change and accelerate our path to a cleaner energy economy. At that point some may argue the bill isn't worth President Obama's signature. Then again others might be happy with the incremental improvements we get.
On July 17, 1891, English electrical engineer, Willoughby Smith died in East Bourne, Sussex. He discovered the photoconductivity of the element selenium. This discovery later led to the invention of photoelectric cells. Selenium is as a fundamental component in CIGS thin film solar panels. ‘CIGS’ stands for copper, indium, gallium, and selenium.
Smith was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk England on April 6, 1828. In 1848, began working for the Gutta Percha Company, London where he developed iron and copper wires insulated with gutta-percha to be used for telegraph wires.
Over the next 30 years, Smith over saw the manufacture and laying of many underwater cables for the Gutta Percha Company. During that time, he realized he needed a method for continually testing an underwater cable being laid, such as a semi-conducting material with a high resistance.
In 1873, he selected selenium rods for his test circuit. While selenium seemed the solution in the lab, in actual use it gave inconsistent results. Upon further investigation, he discovered the conductivity of the selenium rods decreased significantly when exposed to strong light.
Smith’s article, "Effect of Light on Selenium during the passage of an Electric Current," was published in the 20 February 1873 issue of Nature. This discovery of selenium’s photoelectric properties lead to the development of photoelectric cells, including those used in the earliest television systems and later in thin film CIGS solar.
Several renewable energy companies are trying to make CIGS solar cheaper than the incumbent technology of silicon solar cells. The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory has confirmed 13.8% efficiency of MiaSolé’s large-area (meter-square) production panels, while Fraunhofer ISE said that Q-Cells’ subsidiary Solibro has hit 13% total-area (and 14.2% aperture-area) efficiency with its newly rebranded Q.SMART production module. SoloPower, in 2010 said that it had achieved 11 percent efficiency for its panels.