Thursday, March 29, 2007

Burger King Makes Major Supplier Change

Burger King has announced that they will begin to buying eggs and pork from their suppliers that treat their chickens and pigs more humanely; specifically, the suppliers do not contain the animals in cages or crates. In addition, they will give preference to suppliers who use a more humane way to render the animals unconscious prior to their slaughter.

This is huge news for such a large fast food chain to make such a move.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Patagonia Featured in Fortune

Before it was trendy to 'be green', Yvon Chouinard founded Patagonia, a business that sells outdoor clothing, technical apparel and gear. That was 35 years ago. Fortune features Patagonia and Chouinard this week as their cover story - a company and man years ahead of their time and still going strong.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

San Fran Ballpark Gets Solar System

AT&T Park, home to baseball's San Francisco Giants, is being outfitted with solar panels to light the ballpark's scoreboard. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) is installing the solar energy system. This year's All-Star game will be played at AT&T Park, so hopefully the solar energy system will get some of the spotlight over that weekend to educate some baseball fans about the use of solar energy.

What I found a bit disturbing is the fact that the article implies that the amount of power needed to light the scoreboard is the same amount needed to power 25 homes.

The article also points out that a photovoltaic system was installed in the Nuremberg soccer stadium for last year's World Cup.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Two More Positive Steps for Wal-Mart

Thank you to Net Impact for pointing me to the first article.

Wal-Mart is aiming to give consumers information about the sustainability practices of their electronics suppliers by scoring them on
"energy efficiency, durability, upgradability, end-of-life solutions, and the size of the package containing the product." The hope is that with the Wal-Mart's power of their suppliers, they will be able to influence more positive and more sustainable practices in the manufacturing and packaging of electronics products, and my hope would be that they will be able to encourage a more sustainable end-of-life for the products which will help increase and make for healthier recycling.

Recently, Wal-Mart announced that they are going to replace its 'big rig' fleet with a hybrid fleet of the same type, thus saving millions of gallons of gas every year.

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No Surprise - California Leading Effort to Curb Greenhouse Emissions

According to this article from, California regulators are writing plans to have an emissions trading ("cap and trade") system to help curb greenhouse gas emissions. The cap and trade system is supported by many large corporations as it is seen as a business-friendly system (or, perhaps, business-friendlier than the enactment of a carbon tax).

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Biodiesel - Piedmont Biofuels

Please excuse the fact that I am posting about another relatively local article. This one, about Piedmont Biofuels in Pittsboro, NC, is from a national magazine. Piedmont Biofuels is a collective that truly believes in the benefits that buying and selling locally can bring to the local community. They buy the inputs for their fuel and sell the fuel only in a 100 mile radius from their location. As demand increases and more biofuels makers pop up, it will interesting to see how decentralized the growth is.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

N.C. State Prof Makes Biofuel for Jets

It's still in its early stages, but Professor Bill Roberts of North Carolina State University has created a jet fuel from animal fat. Tests will begin in a test jet engine in about eight months. The university and professor are already negotiating licencing rights with Diversified Energy, a company that deals with alternative and renewable fuels. A successful test will surely bring in more outside investment and potentially reap a great deal of reward for N.C. State University and Professor Roberts.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Ski Resorts Going Green

Just an example how taking steps to be more environmentally responsible is what's good for business. Ski resorts are just one example.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Green Tech Has Lobbyists Behind It

TechNet, a Silicon Valley-based lobbying group, is proposing changes to federal energy policy to promote the green tech sector. One policy they'd like to see is a limit on greenhouse gas emissions, a policy supported by a number of business leaders, as well as have a system where companies trade rights to emit these greenhouse gases. It's important to note that TechNet executives include Cisco CEO John Chambers.

TechNet has also called for the federal government to double their investment into their own research into green tech and to require all states generate a set minimum amount of their electricity from renewable energy sources. TechNet has also proposed that a new federal agency be created to coordinate all research into energy.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Clean Tech is all the Rage in Silicon Valley

This article from today's New York Times draws comparison for the interest in clean technology to the enthusiasm for tech companies in general in the late '90s. Since this is a big interest of mine, I have started sending resumes to some of the start-ups out there. The article mentions how, apparently, a lot of MBAs are doing the same thing.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Superefficient Solar Cell Maker Wins Big Contract

Spectrolab, Inc. has been awarded a contract for $13.3 million to develop their technology. Their solar cells convert 40.7% of the sun's rays to energy - most products on the market today are only about 16% efficient. I assume that this inefficiency in current products are a major reason that it costs 18 to 23 cents per kilowatt hour to produce (Of course, the small scale of current production is also a major reason). As a comparison, the article points out that in many states it costs 5 cents per killowatt hour to produce natural gas.

Spectrolab, Inc. is a subsidiary of Boeing.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Rechargable Batteries for Cars

It's funny to me. When I first purchased my Honda Civic Hybrid in June 2002 (I can't believe it's almost been five years already), hybrids were still a very new concept. The majority of people who found out that I bought a hybrid asked me about plugging it in for power. Of course, the hybrid I have and the other hybrids on the road (all, I believe), do not require any plugging in for power. The New York Times has written about a new technology, a rechargable lithium battery developed by A123Systems, that will require recharging of the battery. This extra step will allow for more even better fuel economy from hybrid vehicles and, in the case of the Chevrolet Volt if it ever goes to market, it would allow for the next generation of a true all-electric car (it does, however, have an internal combustion engine that essentially acts as a backup in case the battery runs out of power).

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Business Concern for the Environment Continues to Grow

I came across this article, "More Companies Making Friends with Environment", in the News & Observer, the local newspaper for the Triangle in North Carolina. Not too much new to report, but I just wanted to post it to show that this is something that is being reported all over. The article does highlight a local company, Southern Energy Management, that started five years ago to do environmental inspections for homes and buildings. It also mentions what Bank of America is doing. They've gotten a great deal of media coverage for their green tower being constructed in Manhattan - this makes mention of their recent commitment of $20 billion over ten years to support products and services that support the environment.

To read more about Bank of America's commitment, please click here.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Two for Tuesday - GM's Electric Car and Using Algae for Energy

Here is an article stating that GM has a goal to produce an all-electric car in 2010. The article says that some question whether GM truly is looking to produce the car or just take in the positive press that comes with such an announcement.

This article is about a start-up managed by two experienced venture capitalists who are researching the potential to use the photosynthesis process from algae to produce biofuels. Their company, LiveFuels, is not the only company with this idea - see GreenFuel Technologies Corporation.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Technology Allows for More Oil Extraction

New technologies, such as one that pumps in carbon dioxide into oil wells, allow for more oil to be extracted. As a result of this added efficiency, there is apparently a great deal more oil out there to be had. This article from today's New York Times talks of debate between those who think we've either seen the peak of oil or it is coming soon and those who think there's much more on the way. The article touches on what I feel is a much more important point - the fact that global warming is occuring (can I yet say it is a 'fact'???) and that even if oil supply was infinite, we need to increase our investments into alternatives to oil.

It's important, of course, to hear news such as this. What it can't mean is that there will be less investment into finding alternative ways to power our vehicles.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Good and Bad of Electronics Recycling

This article speaks of HP and Dell's efforts to recycle as much of their products as possible. It also mentions how a great deal of computers returned for recycling (not from Dell or HP) are sent overseas and dismantled by workers there, exposing these workers to hazardous materials and polluting nearby soil.

While the article also mentions how some activist groups are critical of the level of recycling that goes on, it seems to me that the trend is in favor of the levels of recycling continuing to increase.

What is needed, it seems, is the levels of nonhazardous materials in electronics to continue to increase.

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