Friday, 28 September 2012 10:44

US Green Energy on the Rise

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According to data recently uncovered from the Energy Information Agency, electricity coming from non-hydroelectric renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass) has doubled in the U.S. to almost 6 percent in a scant four years’ time.

It’s a bit surprising that this significant fact hasn’t been splashed all over the news.  Businesses are portrayed as not believing clean energy is worth the investment, but that is simply not true for all.  Some companies see the wisdom and fiscal prudence in planning for climate change.  The press appears to focus more on manufacturing problems in the sector.

While it is true that the green manufacturing industry is experiencing some growing pains, take solar panel makers for example, it’s worth noting that the green industry is growing overall, and quickly too.  China made enormous investments in solar, and they are the face of rising competition.  They’ve brought down the price of panels by 65 percent in a mere 18 months.  So this leads to fewer and bigger solar manufacturers, which is what happens in all mature industries.  However, the explosion of growth in the solar industry comes from the businesses that sell, install, and maintain solar.

Perhaps renewable energy seems like small potatoes since it’s only a fraction of total electricity generation.  But the magic is in the industry’s potential for exponential growth.  If non-hydro renewables were to double three more times, they would provide nearly half of US electricity needs.  That’s more than we get from coal or natural gas right now.

The renewable energy industry’s growth is not just limited to the U.S. either.  Countries such as Portugal and Germany have transformed their power grids to generate 25 – 45 percent of their electricity needs from renewable sources.

The big question is if non-hydroelectric renewables can continue to double every four years?  Well let’s start by taking a look at what kind of growth would be required to do so.  Non-hydro renewables need 19 percent annual growth in order to double every four years.  Some sectors grow that much or more.  According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar sector is growing 30 percent annually.

The bottom line is that the payback time for investing in renewable energy is getting faster every day.  Wise homeowners, businesses, and governments are ahead of the curve because they see that the future is in renewable sources.

 

Friday, 28 September 2012 09:45

The Price Tag for Climate Change Continues to Climb

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Global warming currently cuts into the planet’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.6 percent annually.  This translates into $1.2 trillion, and the number is expected to double to 3.2 percent by the year 2030 if carbon dioxide emissions aren’t curbed.

According to the “Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet” report, the costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of taking on climate change.  The report estimates reducing emissions at a cost of 0.5 percent GDP over the next 10 years.

And if money isn’t motivation enough, take a look at the almost 5 million deaths annually due to climate change.  The report estimates it causes an average of 400,000 deaths each year, mainly from hunger and contagious diseases, plus an additional 4.5 million deaths annually from related global warming causes such as air pollution, dangerous occupations in the fossil fuel industry, and cancer.

The average of 3.2 percent losses to global GDP disguises the plight of poorer, developing nations who are disproportionately affected.  The estimate for these countries, such as Bangladesh, for example, is an average of 11 percent of GDP by 2030.  This is not to say that major economies avoid the effects either.  China alone is estimated to lose more than $1.2 trillion in less than 20 years.  By 2030, the total economic losses for the United States, India, and China will reach $2.5 trillion.  According to the report, these three nations also will suffer over 3 million deaths annually, or half of all deaths.

A report released in July by the European Commission Joint Research Centre and PBL, the Netherlands’ environmental assessment agency calculated that last year global carbon dioxide emissions reached their highest point ever at 34 billion metric tons. 

It’s time to tackle climate change now to reverse this scary trend and save lives.  The price tag for doing nothing is too high.

According to a study by the American Bus Association, motor coaches are the most fuel-efficient transportation mode in North America, in terms of passenger miles per gallon of fuel.  As a result, motor coaches are on average seven times more fuel-efficient than single occupancy automobiles, making motor coaches the most environmentally-friendly option for group transportation needs.

Carbonfund.org makes it simple for environmentally-conscious transportation companies, such as CarbonFree® partner The Convention Store (TCS), to further enhance their fuel-efficient coaches by offsetting fuel-related emissions.  TCS specializes in providing ground transportation services to large-scale meeting planners, conferences and events throughout the United States and Canada.   

TCS monitors, designs and implements the most efficient travel routes for their clients to decrease the distance of each trip; then they augment their large-capacity fuel-efficient transportation services by offsetting all carbon emissions from their motor coach services.  This in turn supports Carbonfund.org’s clean air and carbon reduction technology projects.

“We chose to partner with Carbonfund.org because they not only offer ways to offset our carbon footprint but are building a network of other companies that care about our environment as much as we do,” says TCS CEO Sean Higgins.  “It is amazing to watch the list of partners grow and know the amount of change that we will all bring by partnering with Carbonfund.org.”

According to a Pew Research Center report published earlier this year, charitable giving via mobile devices and social networking is on the rise.  The appeal of supporting the fight against global warming is evident through the rapid adoption of cause-related programs choosing to support Carbonfund.org’s clean air projects via various social media groups and platforms.

Carbonfund.org’s mission to reduce the effects of climate change resonates with social networks and with mobile device-using donors.  And Carbonfund.org partner MeetMe is leveraging its social network to enable its members to support various causes, including the clean air and carbon reduction projects supported by Carbonfund.org.   MeetMe’s Causes application allows members to help save the planet by turning their virtual currency, “LunchMoney”, into real money for real charities.  Members can donate their Lunch Money to causes like fighting global warming through Carbonfund.org and over 20 other causes that are part of the MeetMe platform.  At the end of every month, MeetMe writes a check to each charity in its Causes platform, based on the giving activity of their members.

To date, MeetMe members have donated over $25,000 to Carbonfund.org.  With over 1 million daily active users and apps in English, Spanish and Portuguese, the MeetMe community has the strength in numbers to make a difference, and Carbonfund.org provides the compelling mission and projects that attract strong support. 

Friday, 21 September 2012 12:30

More Evidence of an Increasing Market for Renewable Energy

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The desire for renewable energy world-wide is on the rise according to a pair of recently released studies commissioned by wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas.  Eighty-five percent of global respondents want more renewable energy in the market, says the Global Consumer Wind Energy Study.  And 49% of those surveyed would be willing to pay more for renewable energy.  The survey also illuminated that 45% believe climate change is one of the big three challenges facing the globe.

The survey polled 24,000 respondents in 20 countries and also found that 62% would buy products from companies who use wind energy.  Almost three quarters of consumers indicated they would feel more positive if companies used wind as its primary source of energy.

The second study examines what companies do voluntarily for renewable energy production.  Bloomberg New Energy Finance writes the Corporate Renewable Energy Index, which found that global investments in renewable energy capacity are overtaking those of fossil fuels; $237 billion compared to $223 billion.  Furthermore, companies are increasingly committing to renewable energy.  They purchased 40% of renewable energy last year.

The trend of businesses planning for climate change is not news to readers of our blog.  However, it is encouraging to see companies actually making investments in renewable energy.  It only makes sense as it lowers their risk.  So these studies point to both consumers and corporations demanding more renewable energy.  Isn’t it time governments join the trend too?  The scale goes from smaller to larger effects when consumers, businesses, and governments work together to lower global carbon emissions.  We are looking forward to a clean energy future powered by renewable energy sources.

Thursday, 20 September 2012 13:38

Keeping Kids Happy, Healthy and Green

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Even the most sustainably-focused business produces some form of carbon emissions in its creation and delivery of products or services.  The affordability and simplicity of the Carbonfree® Business Partnership program has helped hundreds of businesses of all sizes achieve their environmental commitments and carbon neutral operational goals. 

Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes.  When busy working mother and environmental activist Penny Bauder looked around for simple, creative, nature-focused activities for her young family, she found few resources.  So, she created them. 

Penny launched Green Kid Crafts in 2010 as a sustainable business focused on providing mail-order crafts kits that were simple and fun for the family, utilized common objects from nature and the household, and taught eco-awareness messages to kids and adults alike.  This year, Startup Nation named Green Kid Crafts as one of the Leading 200 Moms in Business winners.

To augment the sustainability of her business, Penny sought to neutralize all carbon emissions related to her operations, packaging and shipping of the craft kit Discovery Boxes.  Joining the Carbonfree® Business Partnership was the perfect, simple and affordable option.  Green Kid Crafts achieves carbon neutrality by supporting Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy development projects across the US.

"As the Climate Change Coordinator with the Alaska Center for the Environment, I know too well how important it is to offset carbon emissions,” says Penny.  “I believe that every person, every business has the power to make a difference, which is why Green Kid Crafts chose to become a Carbonfund.org partner." 

Carbonfund.org and Green Kid Crafts make a great team, bringing nature-focused crafts projects with environmental lessons to kids through a Carbonfree® business model.

ANN ARBOR, Mich., BETHESDA, Md. & BARRIE, Ontario, Canada (September 18, 2012) - Carbonfund.org Foundation and NSF International are pleased to announce the renewal of LEI Electronics’ Eco Alkalines™ batteries into the CarbonFree® Product Certification Program. In addition to completing a carbon footprint, the batteries continue to meet and exceed some of the most important international standards such as PAS 2050 (carbon label standard) and ISO 14044 (life cycle assessment standard).

LEI’s Eco Alkalines™ batteries are entering their third year under the CarbonFree® Product Certification Program offered through NSF International’s Sustainability Division. CarbonFree® certified products are available in multiple countries and LEI reports increasing sales as the product continues to gain acceptance from consumers seeking a cleaner way to meet their battery needs. For example, retailers such as Best Buy, Costco, Grainger, Walmart, Amazon, The Home Depot and many others are recognizing the value of these batteries and offering them to their eco-conscious customers. Commercial customers also report using LEI’s Eco Alkalines™ batteries to assist in meeting their green goals.

LEI Electronics Eco Alkalines™ batteries may also contribute to earning LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits. LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operation and maintenance solutions. LEED is based on a credit system and points are allocated based on the potential environmental impacts and human benefits of each credit. Under the current LEED credit system, Eco Alkalines™ batteries may contribute to earning one prerequisite and one point under the LEED category of Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) rating system.

Lionel Lalonde, Partner and Vice President of Sales at Eco Alkalines™, credits their steadily increasing sales to the growing consumer demand for sustainable products and the competitive market edge and product confidence associated with the CarbonFree® Product Certification Program. "Certification sets us apart from our competitors," says Lalonde. "We are currently the world's only disposable alkaline battery with this certification. We have found that certification has helped to increase our market share and create customer and brand loyalty among consumers who are seeking to purchase and use eco-friendly products."

CarbonFree® certification also lends credibility to Eco Alkalines™, a relatively newer brand, in a marketplace of well-known battery products. "Although many products claim to be ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly,’ these terms are often used loosely or without a clear description of what that means. We wanted third-party verification from two trusted and recognizable organizations – Carbonfund.org and NSF International - so that consumers would understand and have faith in our green claims," added Lalonde.

Eric Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org Foundation, agrees, “Eco Alkalines™ batteries are an important solution to climate change, providing consumers a simple and affordable way to meet their daily needs while limiting their impact on our environment and supporting innovative carbon-reducing projects globally. Eco Alkalines™ is continuing its commitment to environmental protection and proof positive that what is good for the planet is also good business.”

“By maintaining its CarbonFree® certification through NSF International, LEI’s Eco Alkalines™ batteries continue to lead the disposable battery industry to a more sustainable future and provide businesses and consumers with a certified carbon neutral battery that will help them achieve their green building and sustainability goals,” said Tom Bruursema, General Manager of NSF Sustainability.

Manufactured with 0 percent mercury, lead, and cadmium, Eco Alkalines™ batteries set the standard for responsible disposable alkaline batteries. Eco Alkalines™ brand batteries have ZERO of these heavy metals while all other batteries carry at least one or more of these toxic elements. Eco Alkalines™ batteries use recycled materials where possible and contain 98 percent plus recyclable content. While they are considered landfill safe, recycling is still advised where available. Eco Alkalines™ also have a patented leak resistant seal, ensuring they will not leak into devices.

Visit Eco Alkalines™ at the annual Greenbuild Conference November 14-15 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Calif. Or learn more by visiting: www.leiproducts.com/eco-alkalines.

To learn more about the CarbonFree® Certification contact Dennis Gillan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 734-476-2543, or visit Carbonfund.org and NSF International’s website.

About LEI: LEI was established as Logitech Electronics Inc. in 1988. LEI quickly grew to a flourishing import, wholesale, and distribution business with offices in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Shenzhen to support the growing North American business. In addition to the domestic business LEI provided private label products for KOSS Corporation, Sanyo Canada and in excess of 500 private label products for the former RadioShack Canada. Today LEI is an ISO 9001:2008 registered company. They specialize in brand development, global sourcing, web fulfillment, and distribution with an emphasis on eco-friendly products.

AboutCarbonfund.org Foundation: Carbonfund.org is a leading nonprofit climate solutions organization, making it easy and affordable for individuals, businesses and organizations to reduce their climate impact and hasten our transition to a low-carbon economy. Carbonfund.org supports innovative renewable energy, energy efficiency and forestry projects globally that reduce carbon emissions and help people. Carbonfund.org has worked with over 2,000 corporate and nonprofit partners. More at www.carbonfund.org.

About NSF International: NSF International is an independent organization that writes standards, tests and certifies products for the construction, food, water and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment.

NSF Sustainability draws upon this expertise in standards development, product assurance and certification, advisory services and quality management systems to help companies green their products, operations, systems and supply chains. Product assessments include testing and certification for sustainable products such as green chemicals and building products. Through its National Center for Sustainability Standards, NSF also develops sustainability standards for products such as carpet, flooring, and other commercial building materials.

Additional NSF services include Education and Training, safety audits for the food and water industries, nutritional/dietary supplement certification, organic certification provided by QAI (Quality Assurance International) and management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations (NSF-ISR). NSF-ISR services include ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems registration, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Chain of Custody (COC) certifications.

 

The Carbonfree® Events program enables organizations and businesses to calculate, assess and neutralize the carbon emissions directly associated with the meetings, conferences, events and workshops that they host and attend. This program provides a simple and affordable option to enhance the environmental sustainability of such events, which require staff and attendee travel, lodging, meals and venue facility space and energy usage.

One of our event emissions neutralization partners, Sun Mountain International (SMTN), has worked with Carbonfund.org to make all of their environmental management workshops carbon-neutral since 2010 by supporting Carbonfund.org’s global reforestation projects. Sun Mountain International, a US- and Ecuador-based organization, was established to improve the socio-economic and environmental well-being of vulnerable households and communities. Most of SMTN’s capacity building initiatives are under contracts with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). SMTN uses the Carbonfund.org Event Online Calculator to calculate the amount of carbon emissions directly produced from the workshop efforts.

Since SMTN workshops focus on Environmental Considerations and Regulations, purchasing carbon credits to compensate for the carbon footprint of each workshop serves as an example to the training participants. This is particularly important given each workshop’s emphasis on environmental sustainability. SMTN conducted background research and contacted U.S. environmental and climate change specialists to determine how best to neutralize their workshop event emissions. Ultimately they chose Carbonfund.org because it’s the best choice to make their USAID environmental workshops carbon neutral.

Carbonfund.org’s reforestation projects are well-aligned with SMTN’s organizational mission, as most of these workshops take place in developing countries with high levels of deforestation and environmental degradation. Partnering with Carbonfund.org to further carbon sequestration efforts in a manner that directly benefits communities within these countries enables SMTN to meet its overall mission and the objectives of these workshops.