Posts related to: sustainability

Independence, a Commission and the Future of Innovation
1776 incubator announcement, February 2013

1776 incubator announcement, February 2013

1776 was the year of our independence and also makes a great name for the newest  technology incubator in DC.  The crew at 1776, alumni of the Startup America Partnership, are moving forward with a vision that DC can build and maintain a significant startup presence in this region and on the East Coast.  Local incubator Fortify, will be moving in to the space along with a few other anchor startups.  DC has struggled to carve out a name in the world of urban technology hubs.  Where Silicon Alley in New York got plenty of brand spotlight, others including DC have struggled.  With the 1776 announcement there is renewed hope for a stronger voice in the venture and startup worlds.

Governor George Pataki supporting Energy 2030.

Governor George Pataki supporting Energy 2030.

Kudos to the Alliance to Save Energy and National Grid for their leadership around energy efficiency and inspiring renewed interest in generating real commitments from the public and private sectors around their #Energy2030 campaign.  Rallying around energy efficiency measures are former Governor George Pataki of New York and Senator Mark Warner (VA).  If adopted, the plan will do the following:

  • Add 1.3 million jobs;
  • Cut average household energy costs by more than $1,000 a year;
  • Save American businesses $169 billion a year;
  • Increase GDP by up to 2%;
  • Decrease energy imports by more than $100 billion a year; and
  • Reduce CO2 emissions by one-third.

Part of the plan is to embrace cleaner technologies that will help mitigate carbon while getting smart about our current energy solutions.  We look forward to hearing progress on this issue.

 


Happy Earth Day! What’s Your Pledge?

Make your Earth Day pledge at the Earth Day Network.

 


Better Choices for the Table: What the Obamas, the Windsors, and Millions of Consumers Have in Common

This week the White House made an effort to set the pace for the rest of the nation by announcing the property’s first organic garden – foodie blogs to national media ran the story with zeal. Since the beginning of the Administration, Michelle Obama has taken on the challenge of setting an example for the rest of us when it comes to healthy eating and local options for our tables. There also a subliminal message that this can help cut costs during a slow economy and generally boost spirits. However, the trend doesn’t stop at the White House gates – it is also popular overseas. The trend for local and sustainable gardening is being revived by our British friends who also inspired Eleanor Roosevelt to call American gardeners to their yards during WWII.On the other side of the pond, London’s largest landowner, the Queen, has developed a Victory Garden in St. James Park “to bring back the flavour of those times (WWII) and encourage people to embrace the idea of growing your own.” During WWII, “Dig for Victory” was a government-led wartime campaign that turned gardening into a patriotic duty. More than 15.5 million people in Britain are already estimated to grow some of their own food and the recession has increased demand for allotments and seeds, as families turn to the soil to cut bills.Even those of us without a community garden option are just as enthusiastic about the trend and want to take advantage of options for eating local produce. We support this healthy trend by stocking up at our local farmers markets that provide good healthy options with a lower carbon footprint. In my backyard, Alexandria, VA , a bedroom community of Washington, DC, we have over one thousand visitors to our neighborhood every Sunday from May through October – all looking for local produce and handcrafted products at the neighborhood market. I recently sat down with one of the market’s organizers to hear more about how the venture has grown. Three years ago when it started, there were a half dozen vendors and today it has expanded to almost twenty-five. According to the organizer, if it grows to thirty vendors, then it’s considered a small mid-size market. On a larger scale, DC’s Freshfarm Markets “operates 8 farmers’ markets in the Chesapeake Bay region” and can demand crowds of up to 100,000 customers with recognition in national media outlets including the Wall Street Journal.So whether you have a slice of land as small as a suburban yard, a few acres or an urban bungalow, there are options for everyone to make better choices and support the growth of healthier and local food options.To find markets nationally go to Local HarvestTo find one of the over 200 Washington DC markets go to the Washington Post guide.


HBR in Brief: Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation

I picked this (and the PDF) up from Environmental Leader today. Worth a read as they give tips on implementation and theorize a process for corporate sustainability.Key ideas from the Harvard Business Review article by Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad, and M.R. RangaswamiThe Idea in Brief• Sustainability isn’t the burden on bottom lines that many executives believe it to be. In fact, becoming environment-friendly can lower your costs and increase your revenues. That’s why sustainability should be a touchstone for all innovation.• In the future, only companies that make sustainability a goal will achieve competitive advantage. That means rethinking business models as well as products, technologies, and processes.• Becoming sustainable is a five-stage process, and each stage has its own challenges. Here’s how to tackle them and emerge from the recession ahead of the pack.


Going green for permission research

I recently stumbled across a Twitter thread concerning comScore, a leading digital audience measurement organization. This thread reminded me that I haven’t been to the comScore site in a while and they are practically my neighbors here in Northern Virginia. For those of you unfamiliar with comScore they provide the following factoids on their site that help give some perspective to what they do (and how they make money!):

  • · comScore is a leading source of data on mobile as well as PC-based Internet usage
  • · comScore data are truly global – the company tracks more than 3 million unique websites worldwide and the comScore panel includes consumers from 170 countries

It was wonderful to see a front page link for the corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, as CSR often gets buried in secondary pages. It appears as though comScore, “…has partnered with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for each new person who joins PermissionResearch (a division of comScore) through the comScore Trees for Knowledge campaign.”Digging deeper into the PermissionResearch site, I realize they have a great CSR pitch and outline very specific, and appealing, member benefits. They have software downloads (free) that range from power management software to screensavers. Additionally, there is a points-based rewards program that is a catalogue of interesting consumer products which might appeal to the CSR demographic (i.e. tents – apparently we like the outdoors a lot).What’s in all this for comScore? Engaged research panelists that likely fit a demographic that is attractive to their customers (opinion-elites) and why, yes, trees planted to offset our carbon footprint. Hats off to comScore for developing a program that wasn’t sent to the secondary or tertiary page dungeon, clearly outlines attractive benefits for participants and also serves to move their business forward. Well done.


Walmart’s sustainable products index

Last week Walmart announced its efforts assign green ratings to all goods that will measure how environmentally sound they are. This announcement was met with both skepticism (the strength of the system) and enthusiasm by media and the public alike. However, in hard times, it seems like most consumers are continuing to make sustainable choices when purchasing products.We found more than a few well-respected research and media organizations with research that supports the trend. According to the Shelton Group’s recent 2009 Eco Pulse study, “60% of American consumers say they’re seeking out green products, and 66% say they haven’t curtailed their green spending in this economy.” Greenbiz.com says that green consumer spending even in a weak economy is booming, “…75 percent [of consumers]consider environmental and social aspects in deciding what to buy and about a third are willing to pay more for those benefits .”Even credit card companies like Brighter Planet, a scrappy Vermont-based startup concentrating on carbon offsets, are taking advantage of the trend in green spending to ensure that sustainability gets a chance at the register. If you’re considering a greener credit card, but want more information, Green America has an article on whether or not credit card sustainability claims can really hold up (they seem to doubt it) due to connections with non-green “mega-banks” and political persuasions.Progress has been made. Five years ago, consumers didn’t have the purchasing awareness that exists today and banks didn’t yet see that green is green. The well-known American humorist, Oliver Wendall Holmes said it best, “The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”


Codifying Green Buildings

The International Code Council announced their intention to develop an international green construction code today, or IGCC. The development of this code means that commercial buildings will eventually have actual building codes that can be adopted by any city or municipality in the US. Why does this matter and what is the potential impact? According to the USGBC, commercial buildings in the US are responsible for 40% of total emissions. Can we reduce that? Yes we can.For more information on today’s launch news and updates on when open hearings will be coming to a city near you, visit: http://www.iccsafe.org/IGCC/


Wonk Talk – Climate Change and John Dingell

A friend invited me to Congressional Quarterly’s climate change event this morning, so I hopped in the car at 8am, coffee in hand, and make the brief trek to Union Station in DC just in time for the 8:30 start time. I was thrilled to see that Judy Woodruff, the PBS News Hour anchor and contributor, along with Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) were going to be present at the event. As it happened, Dingell opened with twenty minutes of remarks on the current state of the (Waxman-Markey) climate bill that’s making its way through Congress.As the Chairman Emeritus of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, one of five ‘exclusive’ committees in the U.S. House, Dingell is a force to be reckoned with. At 82 years young, he spoke with the passion and precision of many of his younger colleagues. In 2008, Dingell made news over the much talked about power struggle with colleague Henry Waxman concerning the leadership of the committee. However, he is still in the game and as committed as ever to move this recent piece of climate legislation forward.According to a 2007 TIME Magazine article, the man (Dingell) tasked with defending Detroit’s automakers from too much change too quickly, seems to also be one of the few who can save it by other means, “… just as it took anticommunist Richard Nixon to open the door to China, and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons to denounce misogyny in rap, so Dingell, Democrat from Dearborn and friend of factories, may be the insider able to drive change.”With all of his experience serving the people of Michigan and working the halls of Congress for over four decades, perhaps Dingell is correct when he states that the current legislation is, “the first step in a long journey” and will “provide for both business and environmental concerns”. He’s also realistic in terms of what this will cost the next generation – “we have to make it advantageous to save/conserve and painful to waste…outlooks and attitude of the American people will have to change.”


Living La Vida LOHAS

Warning: Shameless and unpaid plug!Last night, my husband and I enjoyed a meal at DC’s only LEED-certified restaurant, Founding Farmers. Prior to the meal, we met a friend at the pre-prohibition bar where they swear by sustainable and original bar prep ingredients such as in-season and fresh melon, mint and cherries. Ginger ale and ginger beer are also made fresh by the restaurant – a rare treat indeed.According to our server, the restaurant is owned by over 40,000 North Dakota farmers and claims to be among a handful of restaurants in the world that have obtained LEED status. The pork ribs hail from Orange County, Virginia where three generations of farmers have perfected the art of raising livestock. The rest of the menu items carry similar stories. So if you are looking for a good meal in DC with a low carbon footprint, I would recommend dropping by this gem of a restaurant.Good luck to the team at Founding Farmers and we look forward to many more delicious and sustainably sourced meals.To dine green in your community, look here for more information: http://www.dinegreen.com/customers/