Renewable Energy

How Mosaic Brings Solar to the 75%

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From the roof of my condo complex in a sunny part of San Francisco, I can see solar panels on at least a few houses on each surrounding block.

 

Are We at the Solar Tipping Point?

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Many claims are being made these days that we’re at the tipping point for solar.

Greenwashing Gets Sophisticated

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This month at San Francisco EcoTuesday we are very excited to have Linda Brown, Co-founder and Executive Vice President of SCS Global Services, speak. SCS Global Services has been working since the 80’s to promote sustainability by providing third party certification services in environmental performance and social responsibility, auditing, testing and standards development.  SCS was launched long before sustainability became fashionable, much less a top priority, for companies.

 

Greenwashing Gets Sophisticated” is the title of her presentation this month.  Throughout the evening, she will point out that environmental and sustainable claims are not always what they are cracked up to be, and discuss the importance of educating ourselves about this issue to appropriately weed out the hype. 


She’s in a good position to know.  SCS launched its third party certification programs in response to greenwashing and has remained a staunch defender of legitimate green claims ever since.

 

What is a “third-party” certifier? Third-party certifiers are neutral organizations that verify claims on behalf of manufacturers, retailers, public agencies, NGOs and other entities.  By contrast, “first parties” are the companies themselves, while “second parties” are other interested parties, such as industry trade associations.  A legitimate third-party certifier provides scientific, non-biased assessment, with an emphasis on transparency in order to build awareness and support informed product comparisons. 


SCS currently conducts certifications under 16 internationally recognized accreditations including green building, product manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, retailing and more. These certifications range in complexity from specific claims such as recycled content to complex sustainability and life cycle assessment based claims.  Here is a quick primer on the types of claims that fall under this certification umbrella:

 

Single attribute environmental claims are simple, straightforward claims about one attribute of a product. For example, SCS’s Indoor Air Quality certifications look at the emissions of products like furniture, flooring, or carpet and verify that the emission factors pass the indoor air quality requirements of California Section 01350.  Multi-attribute claims are claims about a broad set of attributes, for instance, a group of environmental, health and social measures. The “level” certification program, developed by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) for furniture, is an example.  The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for responsibly managed wood is another.

 

Life-cycle assessments approach the issue of environmental performance differently. They look at and measure the entire scope of impacts associated with a product, process or service. Ideally, these results can be compared among product options to facilitate educated decisions.

 

SCS’s environmental and social mission is reflected in the company itself.  For instance, in January of this year, SCS was one of the first corporations in California to become a California Benefit Corporation under the recently enacted AB 361 legislation, along with Patagonia and 10 other California companies.  SCS is additionally a Certified B Corporation. B Corporations conduct business for the benefit of the people and the environment. They engage stakeholders to ensure corporate accountability and transparency by meeting higher legal accountability standards. They also meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards.

 

To learn more about the environmental claims and greewashing, the challenges of third-party certification, and the importance of transparency, join us at EEFG at 6:30pm on Tuesday July 24th. Register here!

Please note, I am an employee of SCS Global Services but have made this article as objective as possible.

Metrics: Unlock the Possibilities for a Sustainable Business

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In March 2011, San Francisco EcoTuesday was hosted at the Adobe office South of Market. Meera Ramanathan, Global Sustainability Manager with Cushman and Wakefield, which is Adobe’s facilities management firm, gave a short introduction of the wonderful sustainability initiatives Adobe has accomplished over the years. In the few minutes she spoke (prior to the speaker) were not enough to dive deeply into all of the initiatives that have been happening at Adobe.


San Francisco EcoTuesday is very excited to have Meera as the speaker this month. This time she will not only discuss Corporate Carbon Accounting and Adobe’s environmental goals, but also share about the numerous environmental initiative awards that Adobe and Cushman & Wakefield's have won recently.


Adobe has been at the forefront of the green building movement. Ten of Adobe’s building are LEED-Platinum certified and 5 from outside of the United States are pursuing LEED equivalent certification. Adobe’s newest goal is to achieve NetZero energy consumption by 2015 for their San Francisco, San Jose and Boston offices that account for 30% of Adobe’s total square footage. Measuring energy usage is the first step to accomplish this goal. Adobe monitors and collects energy usage information from 30,000 data points. Given this data, they look into ways to reduce the Energy Demand. They also produce renewable energy onsite. Last but not least, Adobe buys carbon credits to offset 100% of Scope 1 and 2 emissions.


The GHG Protocol categorizes emissions into three broad scopes:

Scope 1: All direct GHG emissions.

Scope 2: Indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.

Scope 3: Other indirect emissions, such as the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, transport-related activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the reporting entity (employee business travel), electricity-related activities (e.g. T&D losses) not covered in Scope 2, outsourced activities, waste disposal, etc.

We look forward to hearing Meera speak next Tuesday, June 26th at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. Register today- there’s only one week left!

Algae - A Smart Replacement for Petroleum

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For the past few years I have been extremely interested in algae as an alternative to petroleum. I was a student at the Green MBA and my interest was first peaked by my then classmate and now CEO of Skip to Renew, Stig Westling. Stig’s company develops and produces sustainable, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective industrial lubricants and greases.

 

This got me thinking - what other companies are out there and who is leading the pack in the biofuel market? My research led me to Riggs Eckelberry, the CEO and President of OriginOil. “OriginOil is proving its next-generation technology to greatly enhance algae biomass harvesting and oil extraction. This allows scalable industrialization to make algae a high-yield, cost-competitive replacement for petroleum.”

 

What is admirable about algae is that unlike many other biofuel alternatives is that it does not require farmland or fresh water therefore “fundamentally changing the world’s source of oil without disrupting the environment or food supplies”.

 

To say I am very excited about Riggs Eckelberry speaking at this month’s EcoTuesday on May 22nd would be a great understatement. I feel that the knowledge and expertise he can provide our members is invaluable. Not only has Riggs proved himself in the competitive tech market he has now undertaken this challenge in the world of alternative energy and proven to be successful.

 

Riggs Eckelberry has helped OriginOil become a publicly-traded technology firm that helps algae growers extract oil from Algae for use as a feedstock for the commercial production of transportation fuels, chemicals and foods. In January of 2011, Riggs Eckelberry was named to the Advisory Board of the National Algae Association. He speaks regularly on algae industry trends and writes the Algae Business column for Algae Industry Magazine.

 

I hope that as you read this you are as excited as I am and will attend what will surely be an amazing discussion about Algae as viable replacement for petroleum. Register today - there's only one week left!

Presidio’s Sustainable Management Program-Rethink Everything!

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Nestled within the bustle of San Francisco city life lies the serene Presidio National Park, home of the prestigious Presidio Graduate School. Founded in 2003, Presidio Graduate School educates and inspires a new generation of skilled, visionary and enterprising leaders to transform business and public policy and create a more just, prosperous and sustainable world.

How does Presidio Graduate School accomplish this while offering rigorous MBA, MPA and Executive Certificate programs? Presidio’s sustainable management program is “a strategic approach to rethinking everything.” This forward thinking is what makes Presidio one of the top sustainable programs in the country.

No matter your interest or educational background, Presidio Graduate School will teach you how to harness your power to design healthier products, address complex social injustices and understand environmental issues that affect us all. Presidio integrates sustainability into every course – from sustainable leadership to life cycle accounting, from social marketing to ecological economics. Students apply sustainability frameworks and methods to real-life business cases both within actual companies, non-profits and government agencies, and within their own career and/or entrepreneurial plans. Presidio allows students to tackle real world problems in a real world setting.

Sustainability is not a buzz word; it is a real way of thinking about the world in a holistic and healthy way. It is important to teach students and future leaders how to transform the business world to become more sustainable. If you are interested in taking your career to the next level or in learning more about the Sustainable Management programs at the Presidio Graduate School, please make sure to sign up for one of their upcoming information sessions.

Why are 26 Cities Green With Envy?

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Well in 2011, San Francisco took the title as the “greenest city in North America”. The study, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit studied the environmental performance and commitments by 27 major metro areas in the U.S. and Canada, and we won!

 This is greatly due to the efforts of this month’s guest speaker, Johanna Partin. Johanna serves as Director of Climate Protection Initiatives in the office of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, where she advises Mayor Lee on citywide sustainable energy, climate, transportation, green building and other programs promoting sustainability for San Francisco.

In addition to creating change in the mayor’s office Johanna has over 17 years' experience in the fields of renewable energy, microfinance, gender equity and sustainable development, and has worked both locally and in more than 15 countries around the world.

If you are interested in learning more about change starting at the local level and how you can help Johanna and the city of San Francisco keeps it title, come to our next EcoTuesday event January 24th at The W Hotel, SF.

To see what topics Johanna will be discussing and register for this very special event, click here.

Call for Applications: Acterra’s 2012 Business Environmental Awards

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November's speaker in Silicon Valley was Adriane Erickson from Acterra. If you missed the networking event last week, you still have a chance to apply for Acterra’s Environmental Awards, see below for more details.


Applications for Acterra’s 2012 Business Environmental Awards are now available - click here.  

 

This year’s categories are: Environmental Project, Environmental Innovation, Sustainable Built Environment, and the Acterra Award for Sustainability. 


Any business, municipality or organization located in the following counties is eligible to apply: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz County. Non-profits may also apply if environmental work is not their central mission. 


The deadline to apply is Friday, December 9, 2011. For more information, please contact awards@acterra.org

People for Bikes at Opportunity Green Conference

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Family bikingFrom speakers to sponsors to attendees, this year’s Opportunity Green Conference had many visionaries that spanned the green economy. One particular booth that I loved was peopleforbikes.org. People for Bikes, a non-profit focused on promoting biking across the nation. Many of our cities in the US need to incorporate bike lanes into their city planning.

 

Why do we ride? A few interesting facts from the People for Bikes’ website: 

47% of Americans would like to see more bike lanes, trails, and bridges in their communities.

  • I personally would love to see the Bay Bridge not only create a bike lane from the East Bay to Treasure Island but also from Treasure Island to San Francisco. How many people travel across by foot or by pedal on the Golden Gate Bridge a day? How wonderful would it be if the Bay Bridge would be accessible by foot or by pedal? 

1 pound of CO2 pollution cut for every mile pedaled. 

50% of trips Americans make are less than 3 miles.

  • How wonderful if you could get your exercise while commuting! 

$8,000 spent on average each year owing and operating a car.

3 hours of riding per week reduces the risk of hear disease & stroke by 50%.

$10 saved each day by commuting 10 miles round trip by bicycle instead of car.

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This year’s conference theme of Accelerate fits perfectly with this non-profit.  “We chose the theme ‘Accelerate’ for this year’s conference because the successes that have gotten sustainably-minded people and companies to where we are today accelerates and offers the momentum to drive to an even better future.”

The goals of People for Bikes align well with the goals of green acceleration.

People for Bikes:

One for all: Build a national movement to improve bicycling in our country.

Opportunity Green:

We facilitate the movement to transform business for good, through advancing change and market transformation by providing open-minded professional unprecedented approaches to sustainability.

People for Bikes:

Let our voices be heard: Every six years, the federal government allocates billions of dollars to expand and improve our country’s transportation infrastructure.  We must improve our bike infrastructure to have the healthy planet everyone dreams of.

Opportunity Green:

Because we have the unique opportunity to do good for our world and our business simultaneously. Now is the time when our leadership is most needed, and will have the most impact on the future of our organization and communities.           


We must Accelerate the use of biking in order to have the future we all wish for.

 

Power to the Pedal People.

Accelerate At The Opportunity Green Conference This Week

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This week on November 10th and 11th, I will be representing EcoTuesday by attending the Opportunity Green Conference in Los Angeles. This is a wonderful conference that happens yearly with visionaries attending from the green economy. Go to the Opportunity Green website for more information.


This year’s theme of Accelerate fits perfectly with the current momentum of the green economy. We must continue this acceleration in order to have the amount of positive change we need in this world.


Personally, I am especially energized to listen to Conde Nast 2011 Designer of the Year, Yves Behar speak about Redefining Design. Founder and Chief Designer of fuseprojects, Behar has lead many inspiring projects including One Labtop per Child, underwear designed with compostable packaging, “See Better to Learn Better” and many more. Redefining the way we design products incorporating sustainability in every step of the way is the design of today.