Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

16.5.08

What People Know and Don’t Know About Energy & Environment: It's nice that Silicon Valley now has funded 70 startups to become “Solar Valley,” but the opportunity is much larger. Underinvestment in energy infrastructure is over $1 trillion, and it's another trillion dollars for water


thanks to Michael
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14/05/2008 21:34

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UTILIPOINT INTERNATIONAL

May 14, 2008

What People Know and Don't Know About Energy & Environment

By Peter C. Fusaro
Chairman, Global Change Associates
and UtiliPoint Affiliated Consultant

I recently attended Goldman Sachs' third annual alternative energy conference in New York, along with 1,000 others. The take away is that is there is increased investor interest in the sector, but the key stumbling block is still the lack of regulatory certainty for the deployment of more capital. Public policy in the climate change arena is diffuse as a patchwork of state actions has replaced the lack of federal action on both energy and environmental issues. That's all about to change. What is imperceptible to the policy pundits is the power of the Internet to activate the polity to foment change at the grassroots. For example, today, 600 U.S. cities have taken the lead on climate change. As Al Gore stated at the Goldman Sachs event, "The world is awakening to the absolute necessity to adopt a carbon strategy." I will add, finally, the U.S. Federal government, just not this current administration.

At the Goldman Sachs event, Silicon Valley trotted out all its big guns, and it is clear that they are still learning the energy business. Kleiner Perkins is still touting its template of 50 "disruptive" technologies that it will invest in. I don't see 50 by a long shot. What's wrong with deploying better technology for today and the disruption technology later on? Their hubris is they need to make 5 and 10x on their investments. But folks, this is the energy business and not tech. It is really energy project finance. What the venture capitalists fail to realize is that the opportunity is massive and capital costs are way beyond their experience in tech. What venture capital is learning is that the energy sector will require long-term engagement, and need many new people to provide the solutions necessary to reduce carbon, increase efficiency and deploy renewables.

It's nice that Silicon Valley now has funded 70 startups to become "Solar Valley," but the opportunity is much larger. Underinvestment in energy infrastructure is over $1 trillion, and it's another trillion dollars for water. Those are real numbers and just for the United States. The cleantech sector is still woefully underinvested although the numbers are increasing. The money is going to have to come from the private sector. The government revenue machine is dead. States are in budget deficit again, and the U.S. government is rapidly depleting its coffers.. So, where is the capital going to come from? The private sector and specifically private equity which has "soft circled" this space but is barely deploying major league capital in it. As someone at the Goldman conference remarked, "More money flows through the capital markets daily than all governments annually." The catalyst for this game changer will be the price discovery for carbon through cap and trade mechanisms.

Need an EPA with Teeth

Many people are running around thinking we need more laws. However, we have 38 years of Federal environmental law in this country, and we need to enforce existing laws for clean air and clean water. The climate change law is not the only game in town. What's needed is to unleash enforcement of existing environmental laws. That will further incent industry to invest in cleaner energy. I am already meeting Ph.D.s in ecology who are moving from helping industry avoid environmental compliance to creating environmental banks for credits as well as creating energy service companies to do the engineering work required.

EPA Waiver on Ethanol

The deleterious effects of short-sighted public policies on ethanol and biodiesel have had a knock on effect on global food markets. The record highs on food prices are sustainable, and their political cost is rioting and political instability in the developing world. The reality is that we are going to need to grow food in the United States for these hungry people not put it in our gas tank. There is also a little-known opt out to the biofuels mandate. The EPA can allow opt-out for states by granting a waiver and this is what happened in Texas with Governor Perry's request recently. Corn-based ethanol may be hitting another speed bump as more states opt-out.

Why Energy and Environmental Policy are Linked

The increased use of energy is exacerbating our environmental problems. For example, let's look at water and energy. Water accounts for as much as 15 percent of energy consumption in many parts of the country; by increasing efficiency through water conservation and recycling measures, we can dramatically cut our energy consumption and preserve a scarce resource that is starting to become the next crisis issue. The key is to use energy more efficiently and reduce the carbon, as well as other emissions footprints, at the same time. A clear price signal for carbon will spur new and better technologies for development and deployment.

The way to look at the Federal carbon policy is that Congress will create "carbon assets" sometime in late 2009 or early 2010. That will unleash the power of the capital markets to invest substantially in this underinvested sector. We're talking hundreds of billions of dollars not a Federal Apollo program, that has been widely touted, but rather private sector investment. In fact, that may lead to further privatization schemes for infrastructure as government coffers are bare.

What We Run Our Energy & Environmental Policies on Election Cycles

The political reality of getting elected and re-elected supersedes any reasonable effort to create a long-term energy and environmental policy in the United States. Not only are renewables intermittent as sources of power, but so are the policies for renewables. Endlessly expiring tax credits falling into the legislative abyss for one year extensions are no way to run a renewable energy policy. The need is for long-term policies that incent long term investments. For example, solar is a long-term climate change solution but is too expensive, needs to scale and become more efficient. The need is a long-term policy.

The problem is that tax credits in the Federal budget need to be offset. The pay as you go House of Representative policy, except for Iraq appropriations, runs contrary to investing in a long term energy and environmental future. It is going to take a long time to create the momentum to deploy the better technology and next generation technology. How to change this cycle will be centered on climate change policy not energy policy alone. Climate change policy will require a long-term 50 to 100 year solution. That regulatory certainty will create the template for financial certainty.

The Rates Will Rise

The other no-no for politicians is to level with its constituents and tell them that is going to cost more for a cleaner environment and a more secure energy future. Politicians don't want to talk about that, and in fact, the pandering of a summer rebate on the federal gasoline tax shows how weak the politicians really are in telling the truth. We are talking about significant rate increases for electric power and more expensive prices for transportation fuels and their users. In effect, a de facto carbon tax is being created by the cost burden that will shift to U.S. consumers through cap and trade legislation. No one yet wants to say this on Capitol Hill or any state office. There is a price tag for a cleaner environment, and it is not fire sale prices but premium prices. Energy costs will go up for building owners, airlines, auto manufacturers, and electricity costs for residential customers.

The Largest Problem

I have maintained that changing human behavior will be the hardest part of the climate change equation. Market incentives will create some behavioral changes particularly at the corporate level but individuals and communities must also have positive impacts on mitigating climate change impacts. The problem is not the technology, but getting people to see the future differently. It's called hope. But is that such a bad thing?


Peter C. Fusaro is chairman of Global Change Associates in New York and has been actively engaged on energy and environmental issues for 33 years. He is holding his latest Carbon Markets seminar on May 21st in New York City (www.pgsenergy.com/seminars).

©2008, UtiliPoint®International, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of UtiliPoint® International, Inc.

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© - 2008 UtiliPoint International, Inc.

IBM Research Unveils Breakthrough in Solar Farm Technology


Thanks to Peter for this... and sorry for the duplicates


IBM Research Unveils Breakthrough in Solar Farm Technology

Marketwire

"Liquid Metal" at the Center of IBM Innovation to Significantly Reduce Cost of Concentrator Photovoltaic Cells
May 15, 2008: 03:46 PM EST

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a research breakthrough in photovoltaics technology that could significantly reduce the cost of harnessing the Sun's power for electricity.

By mimicking the antics of a child using a magnifying glass to burn a leaf or a camper to start a fire, IBM scientists are using a large lens to concentrate the Sun's power, capturing a record 230 watts onto a centimeter square solar cell, in a technology known as concentrator photovoltaics, or CPV. That energy is then converted into 70 watts of usable electrical power, about five times the electrical power density generated by typical cells using CPV technology in solar farms.

If it can overcome additional challenges to move this project from the lab to the fab, IBM believes it can significantly reduce the cost of a typical CPV based system. By using a much lower number of photovoltaic cells in a solar farm and concentrating more light onto each cell using larger lenses, IBM's system enables a significant cost advantage in terms of a lesser number of total components.

For instance, by moving from a 200 sun system ("one sun" is a measurement equal to the solar power incident at noon on a clear summer day), where about 20 watts per square centimeter of power is concentrated onto the cell, to the IBM Lab results of a 2300 sun system, where approximately 230 watts per square centimeter are concentrated onto the cell system, the IBM system cuts the number of photovoltaic cells and other components by a factor of 10.

"We believe IBM can bring unique skills from our vast experience in semiconductors and nanotechnology to the important field of alternative energy research," said Dr. Supratik Guha, the scientist leading photovoltaics activities at IBM Research. "This is one of many exploratory research projects incubating in our labs where we can drive big change for an entire industry while advancing the basic underlying science of solar cell technology."

The trick lies in IBM's ability to cool the tiny solar cell. Concentrating the equivalent of 2000 suns on such a small area generates enough heat to melt stainless steel, something the researchers experienced first hand in their experiments. But by borrowing innovations from its own R&D in cooling computer chips, the team was able to cool the solar cell from greater than 1600 degrees Celsius to just 85 degrees Celsius.

The initial results of this project will be presented at the 33rd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists conference today, where the IBM researchers will detail how their liquid metal cooling interface is able to transfer heat from the solar cell to a copper cooling plate much more efficiently than anything else available today.

The IBM research team developed a system that achieved breakthrough results by coupling a commercial solar cell to an advanced IBM liquid metal thermal cooling system using methods developed for the microprocessor industry.

Specifically, the IBM team used a very thin layer of a liquid metal made of a gallium and indium compound that they applied between the chip and a cooling block. Such layers, called thermal interface layers, transfer the heat from the chip to the cooling block so that the chip temperature can be kept low. The IBM liquid metal solution offers the best thermal performance available today, at low costs, and the technology was successfully developed by IBM to cool high power computer chips earlier.

While concentrator-based photovoltaics technologies have been around since the 1970s, they have received renewed interest in recent times. With very high concentrations, they have the potential to offer the lowest-cost solar electricity for large-scale power generation, provided the temperature of the cells can be kept low, and cheap and efficient optics can be developed for concentrating the light to very high levels.

IBM is exploring four main areas of photovoltaic research: using current technologies to develop cheaper and more efficient silicon solar cells, developing new solution processed thin film photovoltaic devices, concentrator photovoltaics, and future generation photovoltaic architectures based upon nanostructures such as semiconductor quantum dots and nanowires.

The goal of the projects is to develop efficient photovoltaic structures that would reduce the cost, minimize the complexity, and improve the flexibility of producing solar electric power.

In addition to the photovoltaic research announced today, IBM is focused on several areas related to energy and the environment, including energy efficient technology and services, carbon management, advanced water management, intelligent utility networks and intelligent transportation systems. With decades of leadership in environmental stewardship, proven ability to solve complex challenges and unparalleled global reach, IBM is uniquely positioned to increase the efficiency of today's systems and enable our clients' "green" strategies.

ABOUT IBM

For more information, please visit www.ibm.com/green.

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Contact:
Steven Tomasco
IBM
914-945-1655
stomasc@us.ibm.com





A Cool Trick for Solar Cells: A technology developed by IBM to cool computer chips could be a boon for solar energy.







Find this article at:  http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/20782/
 






Friday, May 16, 2008
A Cool Trick for Solar Cells
A technology developed by IBM to cool computer chips could be a boon for solar energy.
By Duncan Graham-Rowe






Staying cool: A liquid metal cooling system developed by IBM could help allow concentrated photovoltaic cells to have more solar energy focused on them. As a result, more electricity could be produced without vaporizing the cells.
Credit: IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

By employing a trick normally used to cool high-performance computer chips, IBM researchers have found a way to make concentrated photovoltaic cells that are more efficient in converting the sun's energy into electricity.

The researchers have shown that it is possible to increase the concentration of light on photovoltaic cells by about ten times without causing them to melt. This, they say, makes it possible to boost the amount of usable electrical energy produced by up to five times.

IBM is not known for its work in solar energy, but that has changed recently, with the rising cost of fuel and the growing interest in renewable alternative energies, says Supratik Guha, lead scientist of photovoltaic research at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center, in Yorktown Heights, NJ. "About a year and a half ago, we decided to start looking at photovoltaics," he says.

The principle behind concentrated photovoltaic cells is to use a large lens to focus light onto a relatively small piece of photovoltaic semiconductor material. The benefit is that only a fraction of the semiconductor material is used, thereby reducing costs.

There are a number of companies marketing such technologies, but one of the main challenges is in coping with the vast amounts of heat produced by the focused sunlight, says Guha. "You're really heating the chip up. As you raise the temperature of the chip, its efficiency drops, so you've got to keep the temperature down." There are generally two ways to do this: either by using passive heat sinks--metal blocks that draw the heat away from the cell--or, for higher-temperature systems, by using water cooling, in which water is pumped through a metal heat sink to draw the thermal energy away more efficiently.

In many respects, this is a problem very similar to cooling computer chips--something with which IBM has a long history, says Guha. State-of-the-art chips now kick out about 100 watts per square centimeter, which is similar to what concentrated photovoltaic cells have to endure, he says.

So Guha adapted an IBM-developed material currently used for chips to improve the heat transfer between the photovoltaic cell and a water-cooled heat sink.

"If you place the chip on a copper heat sink, the interfacial heat transfer isn't good enough to keep the temperature down," says Guha. This is because microscopic indentations in both surfaces means that there will be relatively little surface contact between the faces. So photovoltaic companies tend to use various organic pastes to act as thermal interfaces. The problem is that such materials aren't particularly efficient at transferring heat.






   






IBM's solution is to place an ultrathin layer of liquid metal, a compound of gallium and indium, between the two surfaces. "The main benefit here is that it's a metal, so it has a very high thermal conductivity," says Guha. And because it's a liquid, it is possible to make this layer extremely thin, typically around 10 micrometers.

Using this simple solution, Guha and his colleagues have demonstrated that they can focus the equivalent of 2,300 times the sun's natural energy on a one-centimeter-square photovoltaic chip. Without cooling, this would melt steel, he says. The photovoltaic cell temperature would be in excess of 1,500 °C, and therefore would simply vaporize. With the liquid metal and water-cooling system, the IBM photovoltaic material remains at 85 °C.

"I'm sure there will be interest from [concentrated photovoltaic] companies, and it's definitely something we would want to investigate," says Stephen Bates, CEO of Whitfield Solar, in Reading, U.K. "But it would have to be exceptionally low cost because the industry is so incredibly price sensitive," he says.

However, despite the promise of this approach, IBM is not planning on branching out into the solar-energy market. "We don't plan to make [concentrated photovoltaic] systems," says Guha. Instead, IBM is in talks with solar-cell companies about licensing the technology, he says.









15.5.08

BIOWAVE: Biomimicry Solution for Ocean Power


BIOWAVE: Biomimicry Solution for Ocean Power
by Jorge Chapa

biopower, biowave, biomimicry solution, biomimicry, biomemetic designs, wave power, ocean power, ocean current power, green power, green electricity, ocean generated electricity

Biomimicry - or designs based on natural systems - is one of the most intriguing methods for designers and engineers to create innovative and efficient solutions to problems. Inspired by forms and functions found in nature, this approach to sustainable design allows for environmentally friendly solutions for energy, waste reduction and a bevy of other design challenges. Using biomimicry as the guiding design principle, the Australian firm BioPower Systems has developed Biowave: an ocean power system that harnesses energy by mimicking the motion of underwater plants in the ocean currents to generate electricity.

Biowave mimics the swaying motion of the sea plants found in the ocean bed. The system looks like three buoyant blades which are constantly oscillating to the motion of the sea. As they sway in the tide, electricity is generated. If at any point the system is in danger because of the strong currents, it simply lies in flat until the ocean calms down.

BioPower Systems is currently testing a prototype off the coast of Tasmania. A prototype unit of 250kw will inform the company on how to best deploy a larger scale system which in turn is expected to provide power to Flinders and King islands, and in the future, if successful, the entire state of Victoria, home of the city of Melbourne.

+ Biowave system by BioPower

+ Biomimicry on Inhabitat

biopower, biowave, biomimicry solution, biomimicry, wave power, ocean power, ocean current power, green power, green electricity, ocean generated electricity

Related Posts

13.5.08

Environmental initiatives can drop huge savings to the bottom line, and it’s IT that will get you there: Big Blue recently launched Project Big Green, a program through which it will invest US$1 billion per year

From a supplement to the Globe and Mail, Canada's largest national newspaper

Interesting point: Jim Harris (author of the first article) used to head the Green Party of Canada, though that is not mentioned in the bio below his article (the one that mentions Big Green). Quoted in the other articles: Bruce McIntyre (of PwC) and Stéphane Boisvert (Bell Enterprise Group) are both ex-IBMers.



Go green to create green May 5, 2008 

Environmental initiatives can drop huge savings to the bottom line, and it's IT that will get you there


By Jim Harris

Big Blue recently launched Project Big Green, a program through which it will invest US$1 billion per year to dramatically increase its energy efficiency. IBM claims to operate the world's largest commercial technology infrastructure, with more than eight million square feet of data centres on six continents in 2007. And it plans to double the computing capacity of its data centres within the next three years. Normally this would require it to double the size of its facilities; under the Big Green efficiency plans, it will do so without increasing power consumption or its carbon footprint.

As part of this strategy, the company virtualized 3,900 distributed servers—45 per cent of its worldwide total—onto just 33 system z servers. In the process, the company cut electricity use by 80 per cent and dramatically reduced its carbon footprint by 2.5 million tonnes per year. This equates to taking a million cars off the road. IBM expects this will save more than five billion kilowatt hours of energy per year, with projected savings over five years of US$450 million.

In other words, green creates green. And reducing the electricity that goes into the actual boxes is just the beginning: technology has a lot more savings in store.


Starting with data centres
Data centres generate a huge amount of heat and, therefore, require expensive cooling systems. So reducing the number of servers saves operating costs and reduces air conditioning bills. This is significant as a typical 25,000-square-foot data centre spends US$2.6 million in power annually.

Why is this important? Per square foot, data centre energy costs are 10 to 30 times more than those of a typical office building, and data centres have doubled their energy use over the last five years.

Some IT departments haven't embraced the shift because they fear it will result in staff reductions, but IT's role is actually going to increase in importance as we go forward. Instead of patching distributed servers and checking cabling, IT professionals will engage in more interesting work such as designing, implementing and tweaking smart systems.

Adding smarts to systems

Energy use can be reduced by 75 to 90 per cent, according to studies by the Rocky Mountain Institute, without changing our lifestyles. This can be accomplished by applying practical, proven and existing technology.

The key is distributed embedded intelligence. For example, intelligent sensors installed in an office building can turn off the lights when there has been no movement detected for a period of time. Or, in an underground garage, the fans can turn off when no cars are idling. In one such application, a $600 investment in sensors yielded $25,000 a year savings. Over a decade that's savings of $250,000 for an initial $600 investment—or a nine-day payback. These initiatives catch the attention of CEOs and CFOs.

Smart systems are applicable outdoors as well. A staggering 70 per cent of the world's fresh water usage is for agriculture. But irrigation is hugely inefficient as it relies on dumb systems that are either all on or all off. An intelligent irrigation system measures soil moisture and only waters when needed. The system also tracks weather forecasts and reduces watering when rain is expected. Intelligent irrigation systems can cut water use by 70 per cent.

Also, smart grids promise to shave electricity usage during peak demand times. Logic systems attach to those devices in houses or offices that draw significant amounts of electricity. These systems communicate and turn off appliances when required while, for example, running a freezer before its internal temperature climbs too high.

Or imagine an electric car that downloads electricity at night at five cents a kilowatt hour and then, if the owner is away during the day, sells it back into the grid at 17 cents during peak usage times.

With these applications it's easier and cheaper to save money and increase profit than to make money and waste it through inefficiency.

Cutting carbon

Many strategies for reducing CO2 emissions actually generate a profit, according to findings from McKinsey, one of the pre-eminent management consulting firms worldwide.

McKinsey shows that 46 per cent of reduction projects generate savings, and if those savings are invested in additional low-cost reduction strategies, companies could achieve approximately 70 per cent of the proposed Kyoto targets, at little or no cost.

Green is green

GE's CEO Jeffrey Immelt declared recently that "Green is green," and his company plans to invest US$1.5 billion in green research and development and targets US$20 billion in green sales by 2010.

Wal-Mart announced it will spend US$500 million on sustainability projects with paybacks of four years or less. Given that Wal-Mart operates on three per cent net margins, the company would have had to achieve US$17 billion in top-line sales to get the same benefit, and even for the largest retailer in the world, that would be daunting.

So while Wal-Mart may have begun its green odyssey for PR purposes, now the company has seen the bottom-line benefits and those have become a central corporate goal. In fact, the company is pressuring its entire supply chain to become energy efficient.

Oil pressure

The price of oil has risen from roughly US$10 a barrel in 1999 to US$110 per barrel in March 2008, and new data on global oil production over the last three years shows that we have hit peak oil. Peak oil doesn't mean we're out of oil—there are still about a billion barrels left under the Earth's crust—but we've reached the maximum rate of extraction. As demand continues to rise two to three per cent per year, prices will inevitably continue to rise.

In the first oil crisis of 1973, the price quadrupled in 18 months. Japan, entirely dependent on oil imports, realized the vulnerability of its economy and began the most aggressive energy efficiency program in history. The net result was that Japan's heavy industries—such as petrochemical, cement, pulp and paper, and steel—were able to significantly improve their energy efficiency, in some cases by more than 35 per cent.

By 1987, Japanese steel makers were 41 per cent more energy efficient than their American counterparts. The result: 230,000 American steelmakers lost their jobs over the next decade because U.S. steel companies were the most energy inefficient of the major global players.

So was energy inefficiency an advantage or a huge liability?

Canada: most inefficient in OECD

As the most energy inefficient economy among the G8—and, in fact, among OECD countries—Canada faces a huge liability. The only less efficient economies are Iceland, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. We consume roughly the same amount of energy per person as in the U.S., but produce 20 per cent less GDP for energy input.

When the Conservative government attacks Kyoto, it is defending gross energy inefficiency. As the rest of the world's economies dramatically improve, Canada falls further behind.

The good news is that Canada's grossly energy inefficient economy offers a huge opportunity to radically improve, protecting jobs and the economy.

Failing to do so creates a ticking time bomb in terms of inevitable job loss. Becoming the most energy efficient economy globally would create hundreds of thousands of new "green collar" jobs in Canada, and insulate our economy from job loss.

GM, Ford and Chrysler have actively resisted government-regulated fuel efficiency standards in both Canada and the U.S. If, instead, they had embraced efficiency, their sales would not have plummeted as the price of oil has risen dramatically.

So going green is good not just for ecological imperatives but for economic ones, too.

Marketing green

Some marketers track a segment called LOHAS: Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. In 2005, this segment represented only three per cent of North American consumers, but it has exploded to 43 per cent today.

The LOHAS market represented US$229 billion in America in 2006 and will almost double to US$420 billion by 2010 and then US$845 billion by 2014. LOHAS consumers believe it is important for companies not just to be profitable, but to be mindful of their impact on the environment and society.

So companies are going green because they want to win market share or are afraid of losing it. HSBC was the first bank to go carbon neutral in 2005. Why? Because the company wanted to capture the lion's share of financing for green power deals—wind, solar, tidal and others—which will be worth hundreds
of billions of dollars over the coming decades.

Barclays Bank then followed suit, because it wants to be a dominant player in
the rapidly emerging carbon trading market—estimated to be worth US$2 trillion a year by the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative.


Jim Harris is the author of the international bestseller Blindsided, published in 80 countries worldwide, and The Learning Paradox, nominated for the national business book award. E-mail him at jimh@jimharris.com


The rise of green technology May 5, 2008 

The environment and climate change are growing global concerns, accompanied by warnings from scientists and activists and encouraging a major shift in corporate and social practices. Green technology has emerged as a strong force in the fight to regulate climate change and build globally based, environmentally sustainable solutions. Organizations are using IT to help reduce and track their carbon emissions and develop and support business models with a green focus.

Europe and Asia have recognized the value of alternative energy sources, and Canadian companies have recently made significant progress on green research and development. Results so far include innovative methods of waste management and clean electricity production. Canadian firms are operating internationally using patented technologies to produce energy in a modern, sustainable and effective manner.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) businesses lead by example through the promotion of corporate-sponsored environmental initiatives that are producing positive effects. Paperless transactions, virtual conferencing, motion sensitive lighting and intelligent thermostat control are employed with greater frequency in offices across the country. Not only have these initiatives resulted in lower environmental impact but also in cost savings. Those organizations that preach innovation as a competitive advantage are leading the charge towards a shift in global practices.

Eco-conscious organizations are attracting employees who believe in environmental protection and are often flexible, adaptable and resourceful in ways that benefit the business.

The role technology plays in the green movement continues to gain momentum as the corporate world heeds scientists' predictions of the risk of increasing environmental degradation.

Canada is taking a leadership role as global companies look towards better environmental practices.


Mother Nature calling

MTS Allstream and the greening of business

There are no simple solutions to the challenges of climate change—but transforming business communication practices may be one of the most effective steps.

Over the past several years, MTS Allstream has been named one of the 50 Best Corporate Citizens in Canada by Corporate Knights magazine and has earned the title of Canada's most environmentally responsible company in the telecommunications sector from Report on Business magazine. In December 2007, Maclean's magazine ranked MTS Allstream as one of the country's top two socially responsible telecommunications companies.

In 1992, long before climate change became a universally recognizable phrase, MTS Allstream adopted an environmental code of practice. That early commitment eventually evolved into the organization's Environmental Management System (EMS), a framework for positive change that's been widely recognized for its comprehensive effectiveness.

Nominated for Manitoba's Sustainable Development Award of Excellence several years in succession and recognized by the Federal Minister of Natural Resources for participation in the Office of Energy Efficiency's 'Energy Innovators' initiative to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the company's work in the environmental arena has been a key to being recognized as a top corporate citizen.

"There's a real commitment to the fundamentals here," says John MacDonald, President, Enterprise Solutions division. "Our entire organization is very committed, and we have challenged ourselves with the task of renewing and redoubling all our efforts in this area." For example, fuel efficiency has increased by as much as 10 per cent through education that supports more fuel-efficient driving habits on the job.

"While trying to accomplish even more internally," says MacDonald, "MTS Allstream is also committed to helping our customers achieve their own environmental goals."

While virtual workplaces, meetings and conferences are not new, a convergence of public concern about climate change and technological innovation has recently sparked tremendous uptake of these telecom solutions. Today, a growing number of companies recognize that reducing employee travel and commuting times while increasing productivity is a key factor in streamlining business and environmental goals.

"It's about being plugged into people in all the different offices of a corporate structure. The ability to communicate clearly and quickly in real time is going to make the need for extensive travel less necessary. That will obviously have a very positive impact on the environment," MacDonald says.

As well as being cost effective and good for the environment, adoption of MTS Allstream's teleworking and videoconferencing technologies provides a significant business advantage.

"It can be more efficient, meaning you get to certain tasks or decisions earlier, because you don't have to arrange travel," says MacDonald. "Through live meetings and online collaboration, people can get together instantly to create, revise, update and exchange information. And they can also see who is available and what the best way to reach them is – that reduces time spent in trying to find required experts or decision-makers."

As we move forward, a deeper understanding of how business activities impact the environment will be a key concern for any organization. MTS Allstream is devoted to continuing its efforts to its own environmental goals, and to developing innovative telecommunications solutions that help their customers to lower their environmental footprint, now and for years to come.

For more information visit us online at 
www.allstream.com or call 1-866-454-0844


Value from waste

Plasco Energy Group treats waste as an asset

In urban communities across Canada, the United States and Western Europe municipal solid waste is produced at the rate of three quarters of a ton per person, per year. About one third of that comes directly from a person's home and is picked-up at the curbside, while more than half of it comes from institutions like hospitals, malls and office buildings, and industrial plants. Finally, the remaining 17 per cent is a result of construction and demolition waste.

The choices for managing municipal solid waste have been very limited: separation of recyclable components, composting or anaerobic digestion of separated organics, incineration, or landfill of the remainder.

Recycling continues to be a desirable priority. However, separation of organics and incineration or burying the remainder is problematic both environmentally and economically.

A growing number of provinces in Canada now require that waste be treated as an asset of the community and managed to its best value. "To do this," explains Rod Bryden, President and CEO of Plasco Energy Group, a private Canadian waste conversion and energy generation company, "we must adhere to three important steps." First, waste must be managed in a way that eliminates as much negative environmental impact on land, water, and air as possible. Second, recycling must be maximized to the limits of feasibility. And third, the net economic value from residual waste must be maximized.

The third choice

"With the current global focus on greenhouse gas emissions and air contamination," says Bryden, "a meaningful economic and environmental value is to convert all solids to valuable products and all gases to clean energy to replace energy currently being created from fossil fuels."

For decades, scientists around the globe have been faced with the challenge of trying to create consistent and useful products from an unpredictable and variable waste stream. Since 1986, Plasco has operated research facilities in Canada and Spain attempting to do just that. In 2007, it opened its first 100-tonnes-per-day commercial scale demonstration plant in Ottawa. With a focus on transforming waste into saleable solid products, clean water and energy, while producing no emissions or contamination to water or land, Plasco has now developed the third choice in waste management—the only conversion system of its kind in the world.

How it works

The Plasco Conversion System is capable of breaking all waste down to its original, natural elements. "Everything that comes out of our system is transformed into usable products with commercial value," he says. "There is no waste or negative environmental implication."

The results are 30 per cent clean water, three to five per cent sulfur (fertilizer), five to 10 per cent chlorine (commercial salt) and 15 per cent vitrified solids (construction aggregate), with the rest made up of gas. The gas that is produced can be shipped off-site and blended into a natural gas pipeline or used onsite to operate internal combustion engines to make power. "For each ton of waste we get the power used in the conversion process and about 1.4 megawatts of saleable power—enough to run a household in Canada for 55 days," says Bryden.

A good neighbour

Their "unwelcome neighbour" characteristics usually result in locations far away from population centres, which therefore require long-distance transportation of waste and equally long-distance return transportation of any usable energy produced by the incinerator or recovered from the methane from landfills.

Unlike the current waste management options, Plasco is a neighbour that communities will welcome, says Bryden. The Plasco Conversion System operates in architecturally attractive plants with no stack, no emissions except engine exhaust, no noise and low truck traffic.

With Plasco's system, waste will be dealt with where it is created and electricity can be generated where it is needed. "Many communities are anxious to deal with their own waste and to conserve their valuable energy. We give them the opportunity to do so," says Bryden.



Value outputs from each ton of waste processed:


ELECTRICITY
– 1.4MWh

POTABLE QUALITY WATER
– 300L

COMMERCIAL SALT
– 5 to 10kg

CONSTRUCTION AGGREGATE
– 150kg

SULFUR AGRICULTURAL FERTILIZER
– 5kg


For more information visit 
http://www.plascoenergygroup.com/



Your roof: wanted for business

You might not have considered your roof space to be an investment asset, but a few modifications can bring you a new, shimmering blue finish along with pay cheques in the mailbox for the next 25 years as you sell the electricity generated by your very own solar power system. This may sound like a futuristic notion, but you might be surprised to learn that this is already possible in some parts of the world, and even more surprised to learn it is already possible in Ontario. Of course, you do have to purchase the solar power system, but with the Ontario Power Authority's new guaranteed feed-in tariff for solar electricity, this technology is already becoming economic on commercial buildings, giving you the opportunity to assist with climate change in a significant way.

Starting in late 2008, a company called Sustainable Energy Technologies (TSX-V: STG) will be rolling out a complete solution for installing solar power on buildings. The solution offers competitive advantages that make solar power systems scalable, "enabling you to get more power in a wider range of circumstances, even in less-than-perfect conditions," says Aryn Strand, Business Development Manager. "This technology makes solar power universal and easy to install. We envision it as a future mainstream building product that you can pick up at Home Depot," says Strand.

In 2006, Sustainable Energy Technologies launched its first commercial product in Spain where government incentives have accelerated the adoption of renewable energy. Greece is also currently undergoing a major shift toward the generation and use of renewable energy and Sustainable Energy Technologies is a first mover in this market as well.

Sustainable Energy Technologies is a leader in developing and manufacturing power conversion products for the rapidly growing renewable energy industry. "Our patented technologies are used to connect energy sources (e.g. solar power, wind power or fuel cells) to electricity grids, making it possible to sell power to utility companies or use it in your own home or business," explains Strand. The building power solution is the latest development for the company, with distribution plans in all major markets around the world.

One of the primary reasons why solar energy is such a valuable source of clean electricity is because it provides the most amount of usable energy during the grid's peak times. "On a hot sunny afternoon when everyone has their air conditioner cranked up the grid needs to supply the maximum amount of power," Strand says. "That's when solar power systems are producing at their highest capacity." It also brings electricity generation to the point of use, cutting down the need to expand expensive transmission and distribution systems.


"As an active player in the world's leading markets we are currently preparing for major growth here in Canada," says Strand. The Government of Ontario's feed-in tariff legislation is expected to jump start the solar power industry in that province. "We would love to see more provinces get on-board," says Strand. "There is no reason not to have solar panels on the rooftop of every building."

Sustainable Energy Technologies is a publicly traded company with common shares listed on the TSX Venture exchange under the symbol STG.V.

For more information visit 
www.sustainableenergy.com



Greening from within

Bell Canada works towards a low-carbon future

In an attempt to respond to the world's overwhelming concern for issues impacting the environment, including global warming, Bell has developed and deployed a Climate Protection Strategy which aims to engage employees, customers, suppliers, governments and NGOs in efforts to achieve what they call a low-carbon future. This holistic strategy aims to "green" Bell's internal practices, but as Marc Duchesne, Bell's Director of Corporate Responsibility and Environment, says, "The benefits really kick in when we can affect change within our customers.

"Regardless of how much CO2 we emit within our own operations—which of course we are focused on reducing—the big picture is how ICT can deliver improved energy efficiencies through either travel substitution or virtualization solutions," says Duchesne.

An example of this can be seen through Bell's Smart Meeting Guide. The program was developed in 2007 in an attempt to reduce Bell's dependency on business travel and encourage more energy-efficient means of meeting. "We realized that this guide not only worked internally but also made a whole lot of sense for our customers," says Duchesne. To promote alternate communications technologies including audio, video and Web conferencing, Bell launched the Smart Meeting Guide publicly through its Conferencing Division. It also developed an online calculator which allows customers to see how much greenhouse gas emissions are eliminated when using conferencing solutions from Bell as opposed to conducting in-person meetings.


"We offer a full breadth of ICT solutions and professional services to help customers better understand and improve their usage of technology and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," says Stéphane Boisvert, President, Bell Enterprise Group.

A great example of how Bell provides technology and services that help reduce environmental impact is energy conservation in residences and business. The Energy Conservation Solution allows businesses and individuals to control their own lights, outlets, thermostats, appliances, hot water tanks and air conditioning. Load controllers are installed for each electrical device and a mini-computer gives clients virtual access to each device via their computer, BlackBerry/mobile phone or Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. "In the summer this system allows you to turn up your thermostat a few degrees during peak-times, saving you money and energy, and then turn it down again an hour before you return home from work," explains Boisvert.

For Bell, there is great importance in leading by example. "We live and breathe our commitment to building a more sustainable future," explains Boisvert. An example of Bell's internal environmental commitment is the Everyday Kyoto awareness campaign, which was launched in 2004 and engages employees in the fight against climate change through a series of 23 activities employees can commit to at work, at home and while commuting.

Also, Bell is strongly committed to building better workplaces, explains Boisvert. Three Bell campuses—Montreal, Toronto and Calgary—are currently being built as LEED certified buildings with state-of-the-art collaborative work environments and ICT applications throughout.

"Our primary focus is on sustainable communities," says Duchesne. "In the communities we serve, Bell is the enabler of smart buildings, intelligent transport systems, travel minimizing and virtual office solutions, as well as energy optimization services."

Not only does Bell offer technologies to help improve corporate and consumer sustainability, but it also offers end-of-life take-back programs which have already diverted more than 492,058 mobile phones from landfill and recycled more than 80 metric tons of batteries and accessories. As part of its Mobile Take-back program, Bell donates $1 for each unit collected to help WWF-Canada fight climate change.

Finally, the partnership between Bell and WWF-Canada also aims to better document the potential of telecommunications products and services to reduce energy consumption.

"The real challenge is to change the attitudes, behaviours, policies and investments to ensure we maximize the opportunities ICT offers for a low-carbon economy," explains Julia Langer, Director of the Global Threats Program with WWF-Canada.

For more information visit: 
www.bell.ca/energy and www.conferencing.bell.ca
(for GHG calculator and Smart Meeting Guide).


Green is the new gold May 5, 2008 

Employees and consumers want greener products, greener services and reduced energy consumption. But as marketers and vendors respond, are we looking at just another big greenwash?
 

By Hailey Eisen


Politicians and big companies have been pushed, if not shoved, into listening to the environmental concerns of their citizens and consumers over the last few years. Now many of those same people are looking at whether their employers' policies are green enough, and if they are demanding enough of their suppliers. And tech providers are not immune, with increasing questions about both the electricity sucked up by computers and about what happens when those aging devices are no longer wanted.

These concerned voices are not lost on marketers and manufacturers, who realize that green may be the new gold, as buyers increasingly expect products and services that do no environmental harm.

"The growing demand for more sustainable products and services could translate into one of the biggest new markets in recent memory," said Bruce McIntyre, leader of the sustainable business solutions practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada.

"I have this tingling feeling that 2008 will be the year everyone wakes up and begins to put things into practice, especially on the technology side," said his colleague Jonathan Hirst, a director in PwC's Advisory Practice. "I think this is the wake-up call for technology vendors and IT organizations across all businesses."

For a recent PwC study entitled Going Green: Sustainable Growth Strategies, conducted in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit, 148 senior technology executives from around the world were surveyed to determine how the world's focus on global wellness is impacting the technology sector, and what corporate plans are being put into place in order to meet the concomitant growing demand.

The survey focuses on technology executives from five key regions: Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa. According to the study, 61 per cent of technology executives believe that it is "important" or "very important" for their companies to take steps to reduce their environmental impact, a fact that shouldn't come as much of a surprise in a day and age where media, politics and society all focus on green issues.

Why go green?

McIntyre said a number of factors are driving the survey results in the global technology industry. The first is enlightened self-interest. The philosophy that a company will "do well by doing good" supports a growing focus on corporate social responsibility and the drive to "green" business practices. In order to respond to growing market demand, some technology companies are being proactive by investing in sustainable R&D and reevaluating their manufacturing and packaging processes in order to stay ahead of the curve and ensure a reduction in environmental impact.

Another driving factor is pressure exerted by shareholders, institutional investors and current and potential employees. Companies now realize that many investors and Gen Y employees are looking for organizations that demonstrate ethical and sustainable business practices and offer feel-good employment and investment opportunities. "This younger generation has grown up very concerned about these issues and it's as though there has been a cultural shift in terms of more awareness surrounding the environment," McIntyre said. For organizations looking at the big picture, these two influencing forces seem to be enough to drive legitimate change.

"Most companies today are aware of reputation issues and don't want to be painted with a bad brush," McIntyre said. "Not only are they responsible for their own practices but also the actions and decisions of the entire supply chain." For this reason, corporations from technology manufacturers to software developers are beginning to feel pressure along the supply chain, and this is translating into action.

According to the PwC survey, currently 18 per cent of technology executives claim their companies practice environmentally preferred purchasing, with 53 per cent stating they will implement this practice in the next two years.

"This report is reasonably indicative of what is going on in a variety of industries," McIntyre said. Not only are the above factors influencing change, but also organizations across all sectors are feeling the drastic increase in energy costs and the impending threat of government legislation and taxes which will ultimately make unsustainable practices increasingly expensive. Industries that develop their own standards for sustainability reporting will be in a good position, McIntyre said, to face government legislation. This is already beginning to influence business practices in Europe and parts of the U.S.

Greenwashing

While this is not the first time the world is "seeing green," marketers today are facing a unique challenge.

The 1980s and 1990s saw intense environmental hype that dissipated as quickly as it appeared, leaving in its wake a torrent of cynical consumers. Marketing executives were accused of "greenwashing" and "green spinning" the companies and products they represented, misleading consumers and making false claims.

"Increasingly, we are now seeing successful green marketing campaigns that are [going mainstream by] removing the green message altogether," said Detlev Zwick, associate professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. What will drive this second and third wave of green marketing, he explains, is making green products and services as mainstream and cost effective as possible. "It won't be driven by moral obligation because, bottom line, there is still only a small group of consumers who will pay a premium for environmentally sound products."

One of the roles marketing will have in spreading the green message is in raising awareness. "It's up to them to create literacy in the marketplace in terms of credible environmental and sustainable claims and green credentials," Zwick said. "The best way to reach businesses and customers is not at the point of sale but rather via Web sites, social networking sites and media attention."

No matter how skeptical some consumers and businesses still are, Zwick is confident this global campaign for green is here to stay. "But, I'm not a believer that marketing will play an important role in greening the economy," he said. "What will deepen the consumption of green products and services is government policy."

Sustainable businesses

Until governments begin implementing taxation and legislation that will ultimately force business to "green up," individual corporations and industry sectors are taking issues of the environment into their own hands—and they're using technology as a driving force for change.

While it may seem that technology implementation is a cause of increased energy consumption in corporations, the PwC study reveals a unique opportunity for technology organizations and IT departments to promote the capabilities of IT in reducing the carbon footprint.

Using creativity and technology to promote internal change pushes many corporations to think outside of the box, and according to the study, this "has a direct impact on the level of collaboration and innovation found throughout the entire technology value-chain, including marketing, human resources, research and development processes, manufacturing and supply chains."

"The pendulum swing towards green technology is unleashing a creative disruption within the global technology market," McIntyre said. In keeping with the study, which states that 60 per cent of technology manufacturers are currently developing green products and services, multinational corporations such as Sony, Nokia, Microsoft, Dell, HP and many others are beginning to focus a portion of R&D dollars on sustainable product innovation and e-waste recycling programs. The increasing global demand for a lighter footprint is driving these changes, which some companies have been gearing up for since the last green wave at the turn of the century.

But again, altruism is not the only motivating factor—60 per cent of companies surveyed said energy savings is one of the most important factors in their company's environmental decision-making process. "Sony sees the value in adopting a sustainable business model because reducing energy consumption and emissions results in a significant cost savings," said Nick Aubry, manager of National Parts Operations and Environment with Sony Canada.

Sony has committed to developing energy saving devices, reducing harmful chemical substances in the manufacturing process, and coordinating take-back programs that recycle and reuse electronic waste at end of life, he said. "Though some people see the corporate shift toward sustainability as greenwashing, concern for the environment has been part of Sony's corporate DNA for at least the past 10 years."

While technology manufacturers like Sony are using the environment as a springboard for the development of innovative green products and services, not only marketing themselves as sustainable but also tracking and recording their eco footprint, entrepreneurs are also seizing the opportunity to develop cleaner solutions in the form of new businesses. Sempa Power Systems, for example, provides technology and implementation services it says help commercial building owners and managers lower energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut energy consumption. The Sempa Hybrid Heating System is a patent-pending solution that automatically load balances fossil fuel sources with electricity consumption.

"For most of our customers we're able to reduce heating costs from 10 to 30 per cent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 to 50 per cent," said Ron Dizy, president and CEO of Sempa, founded in 2003. "True, if we did not offer economic benefits we would have far fewer, if any, customers. But if we only offered cost savings we wouldn't have the same traction either. People are interested in capital projects that deliver both environmental and economic savings."

Another growing trend in the quest to save the planet is the teaming up of like-minded companies within the technology sector. According to the PwC survey, this is also an industry-wide means of safeguarding against future government legislation.

Last summer, Intel and Google teamed up to form Climate Savers Computing, a non-profit organization that now has more than 100 member companies. "The mission of the group," said Tau Leng of SuperMicro Computer in San Jose, Calif., "is to reduce by 50 per cent the power consumption worldwide by computers by the year 2010."

The group, of which SuperMicro is a sponsor, aims to create industry-wide standards that will ensure cost and emissions savings, and educate the public, including consumers, about the harmful realities of energy consumption. "We are hoping that governments will get involved as well," Leng said. "All of us want good things for the earth."

More than a greenwash

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers' February Going green study, technology companies are hopping on the green bandwagon—implementing initiatives in order to lessen their impact on the earth. While many have already begun to make changes, over the next two years the study shows an expected industry-wide increase in action. Of the 148 senior technology executives surveyed:

>
61% feel it's important to take steps to reduce environmental impact
>
40% say the green movement creates significant market opportunities
>
60% say energy savings is one of the most important factors in the environmental decision-making process
>
20% state their companies maintain a formal and widely distributed environmental policy; 48% will do this over the next two years
>
60% of technology manufacturers are developing green products and services, while only 33% of service-oriented businesses are doing the same

The full survey is available online by conducting a search at
www.pwc.com/extweb/pwcpublications.

"Put a price tag on CO2"


Al Gore on where carbon emissions and technology meet

Nobel Laureate Al Gore and Cisco CEO John Chambers want the world to know travel is no longer necessary to bring corporate and political leaders together, and that video conferencing can help businesses save on travel costs and reduce carbon emissions. To prove their point, the two took part in a March video conference that spanned four cities and two continents and was broadcast live to technology leaders across the globe.

The discussion, run on Cisco's TelePresence technology, focused on the critical role innovation can play in mitigating climate change and the responsibility of the IT industry to provide open and secure platforms for widespread communication.

Vice President Gore spoke from his hometown of Nashville, Tenn., and provided an assessment of the earth's current state of distress and the corporate and political response to climate change. "More and more people are recognizing the clear evidence that we are facing a planetary emergency," Gore said. "However, when you give people a list of 25 priorities…the climate crisis consistently ranks at number 23 or 24. So what is needed is a new sense of urgency." While Gore said business leaders are far ahead of political leaders, he said both groups have a long way to go. "The planet has a fever and the fever is going up," said the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. "We need to change our light bulbs, but more importantly we need to change our laws."

For the technology industry the power for change lies in innovation and collaboration. "The Internet, with technology tools all lumped together in unified communications, can suddenly change the paradigm," said Cisco's John Chambers. "Collaboration and social networking will allow people to work together toward a common goal in ways they could not before." This is about the collaborative ability to no longer need to be in the same room to solve a problem.

And the best way to encourage more environmentally responsible innovation, in Gore's words, is to "put a price tag on CO2. I believe the single best thing we can do in every country, starting with the United States, is to reduce taxes on businesses and employees and then replace every dollar of that revenue with pollution taxes—CO2 taxes," Gore said. "If we put a price on carbon…that would unleash innovations for solar concentrating thermal electric power, wind energy, conservation and efficiency, teleconferencing and the many information-technology applications that can reduce CO2."

12.5.08

Continental Airlines new "Greener Good" column

Thanks to Daniel for this newsclip



Continental Airlines (the world's 6th largest airline) now has a recurring column called "Greener Good." It launched last month, in an issue filled with environment-related stories (links below).

Regards,

Daniel


http://magazine.continental.com/200804-greener-good
This Is How We Roll
A new bike-sharing program sparks interest in a greener way to commute

You’re a harried executive, late for a crucial morning meeting thanks to a scheduling conflict. You finally reach the city but are still eight blocks from your office. Do you run, jump on the subway, or hail a taxi? For residents of Washington, D.C., there’s a fast and eco-friendly alternative: take a bike.

This spring sees the launch of SmartBike D.C., a new bike-sharing initiative from the outdoor advertising giant Clear Channel Adshel, and a potential model for similar programs nationwide. By joining the program, registered participants in the nation’s capital can access 120 “smart bikes” at 10 locations throughout the downtown area. They will be able to pedal the four-speed, one-size-fits-all bikes anywhere for up to three hours, provided they return their bike to a SmartBike kiosk.

“It’s going to be a great addition to a multimodal transportation system in D.C. and will go a long way to enhance our public transit system,” says Jeff Peel, SmartBike D.C.’s project manager. “You can get almost anywhere by Metro train or bus, but it may not always be the most convenient method. A bike-sharing program adds another layer to the transit network and helps alleviate congestion.”
The New Love Affair

Buoyed by the runaway success of bike-share programs in such European cities as Paris, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo, proponents see the United States as the next frontier. “Bike sharing has been tremendously popular in Europe, and because of that, they’re adding bike facilities everywhere,” says Paul DeMaio of MetroBike LLC, a transportation consultancy.

“We always go on and on about how Americans have a love affair with their cars,” says Andy Clarke, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “But I’ve always felt they also have a love affair with the quickest, easiest, cheapest, most convenient way to get around. And if we make that something other than the car, Americans will love that just as much.”

Clearly, there are obstacles. On a national scale, liability is much more onerous in the United States. Helmets, though recommended, aren’t provided in the D.C. program. And many cities considering bike-share programs, such as Seattle, require helmets by law. As with most proposed programs, D.C. users must sign up in advance, paying a $40 initiation fee. In return, they get a SmartBike card that releases the bikes from a locking kiosk. If a bike is lost or stolen, the user must pay for it.

SmartBike D.C. is starting with a small number of bikes and kiosk locations, compared with programs in Europe. But the key to a thriving bike-share program, say Clarke and others, is to make the bikes ubiquitous. Clear Channel supplied Barcelona with 6,000 bikes, and advertiser JCDecaux provided more than 20,600 in Paris. The D.C. program, by comparison, will have 120 bikes initially. “The reason Barcelona and Paris are such success stories is because they were bold,” says DeMaio. “You don’t start a transit system with one bus.”
A Small Step for Cycling

Jim Sebastian of D.C.’s Department of Transportation is optimistic that bike sharing will succeed. But he says starting with a larger program would be risky. “We want to see if it works first,” he says. “Then we’ll expand.” Still, the District of Columbia offers compelling attributes that make it a solid candidate to host a bike-share program. There is a growing cycling culture, due in part to the district’s international composition.

Martina Schmidt, president of Clear Channel Adshel, says the company is pursuing a number of locales for future bike-sharing programs, including Portland, Ore., and San Francisco. The company held a three-day exhibition for transportation officials in New York last summer that Schmidt termed “very successful.” The beauty of a bike-share program, she says, is that “you can always customize the program to local needs. Even in Chicago, which is very cold in the winter, you can put the bikes in storage and open again in March. There’s almost no limit in terms of the climate or location.”

That fact, says DeMaio, is another reason the U.S. capital is an ideal launching pad. “We have Congress — the senators and the representatives and their staff who will be using these bikes every day will see how wonderful they are, and then they’ll want them back in their home states.” For more information on bike-sharing programs, visit metrobike.net.

— Brion O’Connor


http://magazine.continental.com/200804-idea-makers

Wayne Smith, president of the Catalysts division of BASF, based in Iselin, N.J., is a chemical engineer by training. So he knows the extraordinary impact one chemical reaction can have.

For those not versed in chemical engineering, catalysis is the science of chemical change, and a catalyst is an engineered material that facilitates a chemical reaction. Although the Catalysts division was created in 2006, BASF has been working in catalysis since the 1970s. Ever true to its iconic marketing slogan, the German chemicals conglomerate doesn’t make the products consumers buy; it makes a lot of the products consumers buy better. “It is hard to describe what BASF is,” Smith says. “Generally, we are in some intermediate part of the manufacturing process in the automotive, construction, oil and gas, consumer goods, and health and nutrition industries. But we’re not the end producer.”

One of BASF’s most successful creations is the catalytic converter, which, since its development in 1974, has become standard equipment on millions of motor vehicles. “When I was a kid, I remember what used to come out of a tailpipe,” he says, “and back then it was not good.” He notes that catalytic converters have prevented billions of tons of pollutants from being released into the atmosphere.

PremAir, a product that’s already found on more than 3 million vehicles worldwide, targets harmful ground-level ozone that has already found its way into the air. (Like cholesterol, there’s bad and good ozone: ground-level ozone is a main component of smog, but stratospheric ozone protects humans from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.) PremAir is a coating that’s applied to the radiator of a motor vehicle, turning it into a “smog eater,” Smith says.

After rising through the ranks at W. R. Grace and the BOC Group, Smith landed at BASF in 2004. Company execs tapped him to lead the Catalysts division in 2006. After acquiring Engelhard Corp. that year, BASF wanted to unify its catalysis operations and the more than 5,000 employees working on them. Smith’s division focuses on environmental and purification technologies, among other areas.

In his role, Smith is a catalyst himself — effecting change among his division’s 600 researchers at facilities around the world, and prodding them to explore new areas of chemistry. “The company is not afraid to put people in challenging positions,” he says.

Smith is also a keen businessman. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Syracuse University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he recognizes that investing money to develop groundbreaking products is just as important as responding to the needs of BASF’s demanding customer base. “I’m keeping the future-focused strategy alive within the organization so people are aware of it,” he says. “That also means getting out with customers and suppliers, working on new joint ventures, and making sure we have a good ear to the ground externally.”

With “green” initiatives such a hot trend these days, Smith says the enthusiasm for finding new ways to reduce emissions and maximize energy efficiency has never been higher. In turn, his division is expanding operations in places like India and China, where there are serious air-quality issues and a huge opportunity to do good.

“The world may be getting smaller, as many have stated, but it’s still a pretty big place,” Smith says. “There are a lot of things we can imagine we can do better in the future.”

— Thomas Wailgum

 


(Executive Resume)
Wayne’s Way

Favorite business travel city: London

Favorite restaurant on the road: Nola, New Orleans

Most important technological tool for his travels: BlackBerry

Critical hotel amenity: Excellent system for indoor air quality — temperature, humidity, and noise


http://magazine.continental.com/200804-idea-makers#4536
Personal Discovery
Treehugger.com’s Graham Hill is helping to bring green into the mainstream
Treehugger.com’s Graham Hill

Imagine you live in a cube in the countryside of Quebec, where Graham Hill was raised. Five sides of that box leak heated air in the winter, and one long pipe ferries its water and sewage. Now place that same cube in New York City, stacked among dozens of similar blocks. The dwelling now has one outward wall, drastically reducing the amount of air leaked into the atmosphere, and the pipe transports water and sewage for many more people. “I’ve always enjoyed cities, and cities are in fact very green,” says Hill, 37, a self-described “serial entrepreneur” and founder of the blog Treehugger.com.

“Our basic mission is to push sustainability and green into the mainstream,” continues Hill, who started the blog in 2004. Since then, an average of 1.6 million visitors have stopped by each month to peruse the site’s impressive archive of more than 19,000 posts written by experts from across the globe. It is one of the most recognized green sites, as measured by Google and the blog-ranking service Technorati, and has even lent expertise to The Oprah Winfrey Show. If that isn’t mainstream enough, Discovery Communications purchased the site last summer, making it a crucial element of its Planet Green network, which launches in June. As part of the deal, Hill becomes a vice president of interactive for Planet Green.

For Hill, the sale of Treehugger is more about “selling up” than “selling out.” In the 1990s, he founded (and sold) an Internet development firm that listed Microsoft among its clients. The move paid off handsomely and allowed Hill to pursue ventures nearer to his heart. “I had this environmental background and knew the Internet had done well,” he says. “So I could find my own business, and I just sort of recognized a problem.”

The problem was that most people — himself included — didn’t care about the environment as much as they should. “I looked at myself and thought about what was preventing me from living a green life,” says Hill, who came up with three obstacles: aesthetics, convenience, and fear.

“I care about how I get my hair cut, what kind of clothes I wear, and what my apartment looks like,” he continues. “I wish I didn’t, but aesthetic stuff matters. There was really only one aesthetic in the green movement — the hippie, crunchy aesthetic.” Today, however, eco-chic is all the rage, and Treehugger is a big part of the reason. Similarly, the blog’s content library has become a resource for people who crave convenience, providing them with an easy way to search for hard-to-find ecologically responsible products, news, and resources to support a modern green lifestyle.

Surmounting the third obstacle, fear, is more about crafting a message that will inspire the masses. “While I believe it’s really important to send the message that there are major issues and we need to do something, I really felt that you need to make it inspirational,” Hill says. “You need to inspire by hope.”

— John Patrick Pullen




http://magazine.continental.com/200804-idea-of-the-moment
A Green Bill of Health
Patients benefit from the holistic ideals of eco-conscious hospitals
For Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) in New Jersey, the journey toward a greener existence started in 2002 with a question. Deirdre Imus, a hospital benefactor and child health advocate, asked CEO and president John P. Ferguson what kind of cleaning products the hospital was using.

He didn’t know. Imus, who has campaigned against the use of environmental toxins, suggested the hospital switch to nontoxic cleaning products. According to Suzen Heeley, HUMC’s director of design and construction, that was just the first of many green initiatives at the 781-bed facility in Bergen County, N.J.

In the six years since, the center has built a new 300,000-square-foot women’s and children’s pavilion that meets the U.S. Green Building Council’s guidelines for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Structural steel and metal decking used in the facility are 88 percent recycled. The pavilion also features cotton insulation made from recycled denim jeans, eliminating the risks from the formaldehyde sometimes found in conventional fiberglass insulation. The building’s rubber floors are free of polyvinyl chlorides, which means they require only damp mopping instead of repeated waxing and stripping with toxic chemicals.

“We’re a health care provider,” Heeley says. “It’s only logical we provide the healthiest environment available not only for our patients, but for everyone who uses our space.”

Hackensack is just one of an increasing number of hospitals that have taken a sharp green turn in recent years, transforming their facilities in ways that are good not only for the environment, but also for patients and staff. Practice Greenhealth (formerly known as Hospitals for a Healthy Environment) — a nonprofit founded by the American Hospital Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Nurses Association, and Health Care Without Harm — partners with more than 7,500 facilities, including nearly 1,700 hospitals, 3,900 clinics, and 950 nursing homes, that all face their own individual challenges on the road to sustainability.
Turns for the Better

Like HUMC, Kaiser Permanente has put an emphasis on greener building. The largest nonprofit health care system in the United States, Kaiser is spending $24 billion on 4,000 construction projects between now and 2014, all of which follow the company’s environmentally friendly design standards. For example, a medical center slated to open later this year in Modesto, Calif., features a roof covered with native plants and permeable paving materials that filter rainwater. The building also uses solar panels that earned Kaiser a rebate from Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and it fully recirculates air from outside. Rooms were designed to be ergonomic and energy efficient, with sensors that turn off lights when a room is vacant.

In a similar vein, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is working with a $5 million green action fund to complete environmental initiatives across its 20-hospital system. According to Allison Robinson, director of environmental initiatives, most of UPMC’s major new building projects are likely to be LEED certified.

“We know it will cost us a little more up front,” she says. “But in the long run there will be a payback. Not only in terms of costs, but we should have a reduced need for health care services. We should have fewer asthmatic attacks, fewer heart attacks. With improved air quality [and] improved water quality, we should have a healthier Earth.”

Green initiatives at health care facilities go beyond structural changes. At HUMC, some medical devices are mercury-free, organic foods are offered at meals, and patients wear organic and green cotton processed without chemicals. The hospital also sends new mothers home with a “Greening Your Baby” kit, including a brochure that describes how they can create a cleaner, safer environment for their children.

“We look at it holistically,” Heeley says. “We have a sustainable-hospital committee with a variety of multidisciplinary representatives throughout the hospital who come together and talk about what can be done in their particular areas.”

For its part, Kaiser has reduced mercury usage to the point where all its facilities are virtually mercury-free. The company also supports 38 farmers’ markets on its grounds across the country and uses locally grown food in its Northern California facilities. Kaiser’s environmental efforts, launched early in this decade, have been recognized with numerous awards from Practice Greenhealth. “This is really built into our DNA,” says Christine Malcolm, Kaiser’s senior vice president for hospital strategy and national facilities.

Many facilities, like Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center in Seattle, also consider recycling a big part of the greening process. Mitch Birchfield, the hospital’s environmental services director and hazardous materials manager, says Children’s looks hard at being green in all areas of operation — not bringing in waste to begin with, and recycling all reusable materials. The hospital has been collaborating with a local compost company for the past year to reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfills; the company then sells the resulting compost back to the hospital to use for its own landscaping. By composting food waste, the hospital also saves $18,000 a year because its kitchens no longer need garbage disposals.
Obstacles to Change

Despite the glut of green products and services now available to consumers, going green still presents challenges for institutions. Malcolm says that when Kaiser decided to eliminate vinyl backing from its carpeting, the necessary product didn’t exist. A vendor eventually developed a carpet using a coating made from recycled car safety glass.

“We believe it will take an enormous amount of economic pressure to get those kinds of products for every element of our buildings,” Malcolm adds. “It’s the right thing to do for our communities. It’s the right thing to do for our patients. It’s the right thing to do for our employees. But alone, even as big as we are, we don’t have the ability to move the industry.” Computers used in Europe, she notes, must be built so they can be taken apart and recycled. That’s not so in the United States. “Without hospitals or others coming forward and saying, ‘We don’t want to put computers into landfills because we know what the toxic burden is on people’s bodies,’ we can’t change the industry here.”

At Kaiser and other companies, getting employees behind environmental programs has been key to overcoming many challenges. “We engage our front-line people — from nurses to janitorial staff — in all our design and all our ergonomic work,” Malcolm says. “It’s a lot easier to promulgate something if people are involved in creating it as well.”

— Jim Morrison


Hospitals in the Hot Seat

Janet Brown, Practice Greenhealth’s partner program manager, has been working on greening hospitals for almost two decades. She says the green movement was long overdue, but it’s taken off in the past five years. What should consumers look for in a green hospital? Brown offers a list of questions:

    • What is its environmental mission?
    • Is it mercury-free?
    • How does it treat medical waste?
    • Does it recycle?
    • Does it use greener cleaning supplies?
    • Does it have energy and water conservation programs?
    • How does it demonstrate environmental leadership in the community?
    • Are its new buildings LEED certified?
    • Does it serve healthy foods?


http://magazine.continental.com/200804-front-nine
Approaching the Green
Golf courses designed for birdies — and other fauna and flora

The grass isn’t the only thing that’s green about golf courses these days. The industry has undertaken tremendous efforts to develop courses that use less water and chemicals, preserve wetlands and forests, protect wildlife, and even reclaim degraded land. Here are nine environmentally responsible layouts you can feel good about playing, even if you play them badly.

To the Manoir Born
Two hours northeast of
Quebec City, Fairmont’s Le Manoir Richelieu Golf Club offers proof that a luxury brand can operate with an environmental ethic. With 18 holes designed in 1925 by Herbert Strong, and nine more added recently by Darrell Huxham, the Manoir courses are part of Fairmont’s Green Partnership Program. You’ll also see blue here: the sparkling blue of the St. Lawrence River, which the golf holes seem to plunge into via dramatic elevation changes. fairmontgolf.com

Six Degrees of Turf Management
Two hours west of
Kansas City, Kan., Colbert Hills Golf Course — designed by tour pro Jim Colbert — is affiliated with Kansas State University. Researchers from the school study the impact of golf course operations on the environment, and students who can’t make the golf team can still earn a degree in turf management. colberthills.com

Pushing the Manila Envelope
Forest Hills Golf and Country Club
, in Antipolo City, the Philippines, east of Manila, is certified by Audubon International as a Cooperative Sanctuary course because it meets required standards for protecting water quality, conserving natural resources, and providing habitat for wildlife, among other qualifications. Forest Hills includes 18 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus, with an added nine by Arnold Palmer. golflivingph.com

Raining Champion
Scheduled to open this spring, the
Golf Club at Rainmakers, a Robert Trent Jones II course three hours from Albuquerque, is named in honor of the 12th-century shamans who were responsible for managing the precious commodity of water. A weather station controls low-distribution sprinkler heads that water only when necessary, and all fairways and greens have been treated with a polymer that absorbs, holds, and cools moisture, thereby requiring 30 percent less water from irrigation. rainmakersusa.com

Graphite Shafts
Southeast of
Lexington, Ky., StoneCrest Golf Course is built on the former site of a vast strip mine. Though the mountaintop was cleared of all vegetation and blasted away during coal-mining days, today you can blast a driver off the tees of a links-style municipal course and dig deep for pars among 50 bunkers and five ponds. stonecrestky.com

Family Planning
At
Oitavos Dunes, outside Lisbon, Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest helped create the first Audubon-certified Gold Signature Sanctuary golf course in Europe, on land owned for generations by the Champalimaud family. The architects protected forests of umbrella pines, rolling dunes, and coastal transition areas, and no buildings will ever block the ocean views from this course, where the challenges match the natural beauty. quintadamarinha-oitavosgolfe.pt

Firing at the Pin
Just up Lake Michigan from
Milwaukee, in Sheboygan, Wis., the Straits Course at Whistling Straits sits atop an abandoned military base. Pete Dye created this windswept links venue by shaping the entire topography out of imported sand. The result is a course good enough to host the PGA Championship for the second time in 2010. destinationkohler.com

Dry Idea
Several hours south of
San Diego or north of Loreto, on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Las Caras de Mexico Golf Course is part of a development that features 3,000 solar-powered dwellings, straw bale house construction, and other ecofriendly components. Located in an area with three inches of rainfall per year, the golf course uses a salt-tolerant hybrid grass that can be watered from brackish wells. An additional 17,500 acres on the site are managed as green space. lascarasdemexico.com

The Green Course
Most golfers know the
Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y. (two hours east of New York City), as a venue for the US Open. But this world-class municipal facility’s Green Course — designed in 1928 by Devereux Emmett — has plans to become even greener. Management is currently experimenting with the putting surfaces to determine whether they can be maintained to playable standards using fewer chemicals, or none at all. nysparks.state.ny.us/golf

— Jeff Wallach



http://magazine.continental.com/200804-go-eat
Do Get Fresh
Locally grown ingredients allow Wink’s menu to stay dynamic

Twice a week you can spot chef Eric Polzer of the popular Austin restaurant Wink at nearby Boggy Creek Farm, stockpiling pink turnips, kohlrabi, and spinach. We caught him there recently taking all but the last bunch of baby carrots. “People here either love me or hate me,” he says. “I take almost everything.” After you’ve sampled these ingredients as prepared at Wink, perhaps in a salad with local chèvre, alongside grilled venison or roasted gulf ahi tuna — “globally influenced local cuisine,” as the restaurant describes it — it’s nearly impossible to hold a grudge.

Austin is known for its naturally cool vibe, so it’s no surprise to find a restaurant as fresh as Wink, which local natives Mark Paul and Stewart Scruggs opened in 2001. Paul had dreamed of owning his own restaurant since he was a 15-year-old busing tables and washing dishes. He received formal training as a pastry chef and built up his resume with stints at restaurants like Le Cirque in New York and Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago.

Paul notes that his return to Austin was perfectly timed. “You could feel the energy in the food scene changing,” he says. Paul’s pastry chef training combined with Scruggs’ skill with savories made the pair a natural fit. With Polzer on board, all the pieces fell into place.

In contrast to many restaurants, Wink doesn’t have a “head chef” creating a preplanned menu. “What we do is pantry cooking,” Polzer explains. “I bring in all the ingredients, and that’s the cooks’ palate.” There’s no particular method to what he picks up — he simply gathers what looks good. And Polzer should have a good eye, having spent three months getting his hands dirty working at Boggy Creek.

“It all depends on what the ingredients say needs to happen,” says Paul of Wink’s ever-evolving menu. The changes, made daily by the restaurant’s team of cooks, are constant but subtle. Seared scallops with yellowfoot mushrooms, hearts of palm, and Riesling syrup might be offered one day, and the next day it could be seared scallops with fennel, golden beets, chives, and Riesling syrup. Desserts stay fairly constant — which is not a bad thing given addictive Paul creations like chocolate soup with milk chocolate–ginger mousse.

Expanding the culinary definition of “local” has also been key. “Come here and it’s not just about food,” Paul explains. “It’s about relationships and emotions.” The hum from welcoming hugs, chatty servers, and conversation between tables creates a relaxed feel within an otherwise formal setting of white tablecloths and low lighting. The adjoining wine bar, where patrons can order from an extensive wine list, nosh on bar snacks like brie burgers or pâté with clarified foie gras butter, or order from the full menu in a lower-key setting, adds another facet to Wink’s neighborhood feel.

Paul credits his audience for allowing Wink to push the envelope. “There is a level of exposure and a level of curiosity that allows us to make left turns when everyone else is making rights,” he says. Though this laid-back city is growing and changing rapidly, that’s not a bad thing for Wink. It’s what the nimble restaurant is all about.

— Louise Flaig

IBM Diversity Conference spotlighted: The Diverse (and Maybe Not So Diverse) Origins - and Future - of CSR

thanks to Bill for this one

The Latest Corporate Social Responsibility News - The Diverse (and Maybe Not So Diverse) Origins - and Future - of CSR

One striking aspect of the Ceres Conference last week - in addition to the sustainability report awards, the inaugural Joan Bavaria awards, and the CEO plenary on cap-and-trade - was the monochromatic hue of the audience: overwhelmingly middle-class, middle-aged white folks. In hallway conversation, one middle-aged, middle-class white guy remarked that this is more the rule than the exception in CSR conferences.

Underlining this dynamic, the cover of
Sandra Waddock's new book profiling the pioneers of CSR, The Difference Makers, looks like a study in melanin deprivation. A picture is worth a thousand words, and the 2,300-word story told by the pictures of the nearly two-dozen leaders is that CSR developed largely devoid of racially diverse leadership. This is a big contrast to the history told by social economist Bill Cunningham, who traces the roots of socially responsible investing to December 1, 1955, when Dr. Martin Luther King combined social activism with corporate engagement and direct action in launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

In a recent post on the
Intel blog, Perry Gruber documents a similar view that CSR traces its roots to the Black Power movement of the 1960s. So said several participants in a recent diversity practitioners conference where Gruber contended that diversity plays an important but relatively minor role in CSR. Participants disabused him of this belief, arguing instead that diversity plays a central role in corporate health, vitality, profitability, and reputation. Indeed, this echoes the underpinnings of the annual DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list released early last month.

Recognizing this tension between the stated importance of diversity and actual diverse representation in corporations,
IBM recently sponsored a conference on this very topic. The conference responded to conflicting demographic trends: while the Hispanic community is expanding toward a quarter of the US population by mid-century, the number of Hispanics working in the information technology sector is declining with the Hispanic high school drop-out rate of 24 percent boding poorly for reversing this trend. The conference gathered leaders in business, education, government, and community organizing to brainstorm strategies for upping the number of Hispanic students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math in the US.

The next step is to match such actions with the historical framing and the practice of CSR.

This article was written by CSRwire contributor Bill Baue.
 



IBM Launches Effort to Address Shortage of Hispanic Students in Technology Careers
Inaugural Summit Convenes National Leaders to Create Plan for Hispanic Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Career Track

(CSRwire) ARMONK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 05/05/08 -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today convened an inaugural summit titled "America's Competitiveness: Hispanic Participation in Technology Careers," an effort to bring together leaders in business, education, government, and community organizations to find ways to increase the number of Hispanic students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math in the United States.

The effort is aimed at a looming problem resulting from the significant decline in the numbers of Hispanic students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM). This decline could affect America's competitiveness in the increasingly global market. Demographic data show that the Hispanic community is expected to constitute 25 percent of the overall U.S. population by mid-century, making the U.S. home to the largest Hispanic population in the world. Meanwhile, Hispanic students dropping out of high school are at a 24 percent rate.

To address the issue, IBM along with ExxonMobil, Lockheed Martin and Univision, and 150 other leaders will meet on May 5 and 6 in New York, to examine the ways the Hispanic community can improve their participation in STEM.

"The Hispanic community is one of the fastest growing in the country and young Latinos are rapidly joining our workforce," said U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. "It is important that they have the option to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, not only so they can fully develop their potential, but also so they can become professionals in areas that are vital to our economy, our security, our future as a nation. I salute IBM for this important initiative and hope this summit will open up new roads to success for our Hispanic youth."

The magnitude of the nation's STEM career gap is most apparent in the field of engineering where the need for talent is increasing at three times the rate of other professions. This demand is countered by trends that demonstrate few American students are entering STEM-related studies.

"IBM is deeply committed to galvanizing the U.S. corporate sector and other stakeholders in addressing the serious shortage of professionals in STEM careers, particularly in the Hispanic community," stated Nicholas M. Donofrio, Executive Vice President, Innovation and Technology. "This summit is a call to action to challenge business leaders to address an issue that could undermine the country's leadership in today's global economy."

Participants of this strategic gathering will be presented with newly released reports commissioned by the IBM International Foundation from respected research organizations like The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and Public Agenda, which outline the challenges and opportunities to the nation's Hispanic community and their partners as regards the pursuit of STEM careers.

Among the key findings of The Public Agenda study, "A Matter of Trust," released today in conjunction with the conference, reveals a deep- seated anxiety within the Hispanic Community about attaining a college education despite it being a requirement for a decent job and middle- class life in nine of ten young Hispanic adult households. The reasons identified in the study are:


-- Nearly half of Hispanic parents say it is a serious problem that students are not taught enough math and science.
-- Hispanic parents are more likely to support making sure U.S. standards match those in Europe and Japan.
-- Less than half of Hispanic young adults believe that qualified students can find a way to pay for college.


"Education and higher education in particular are even more highly-prized and respected among Hispanic parents than among parents in general, despite some erroneous conventional wisdom to the contrary," state authors Paul Gasbarra and Jean Johnson, of the Public Agenda. "Overall... far too many Hispanic families are underserved by public education -- and to a significantly greater degree than the general population."

As a means of enabling Spanish-language-only parents to better communicate with teachers -- one of the needs outlined in the Public Agenda study -- IBM is today announcing that it will provide its automatic two-way, English-Spanish, e-mail translation and web translation software called !TraduceloAhora! to all U.S. schools at no cost to them.

Additionally, schools and nonprofit organizations will be given unlimited use of the !TraduceloAhora! software. And Hispanic older adults and those with disabilities can access the free translation software along with other free software called AccessibilityWorks that helps them view web pages in a customized format for easier and more effective reading and navigation on the web.

And, according to The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI), which also today released the report, "STEM Professions: Opportunities and Challenges for Latinos," the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. also suffers from a worse gender gap in STEM careers compared with Asians and African Americans.

The TRPI report, however, noted some signs of optimism: "As the youngest and fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. today," state the authors, Maria Teresa V. Taningco, Ann Bessie Mathew and Harry Pachon. "Latinos have a unique opportunity to aim high and to strive for STEM careers, given the high demand in these fields."

In response to the need to provide mentors for Hispanic students, IBM commits to expanding the MentorPlace program to focus on school districts in the U.S. with a significant number of Hispanic students, and matching them with IBM employees who can serve as their online mentors.


-- Additionally, IBM will expand its cascade mentoring program - currently at the University of Arizona at Tucson - to at least 3 universities in California, New York and Texas.
-- The cascading mentoring program is an internet based system that enables professional mentors, university students, and K-12 students to engage in a three-way mentoring relationship through secure online discussions. These discussions focus on past academic experiences and exploration of what could be in terms of future goals and opportunities.
-- This program completed its third year in Tucson, Arizona and involved IBM employees, the University of Arizona SHPE (Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers) Student Chapter, and students from two high schools.


In addition, IBM is making further commitments aimed at bolstering early education resources with innovative technology tools for the classroom:


-- IBM also will make a donation of 1,000 KidSmart units at early childhood centers in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and New York - in neighborhoods that support the Hispanic community.
-- IBM commits to expanding the Reading Companion grant program - a web-based, voice recognition technology that helps adults and children gain literacy skills - to any school district in the U.S. that is interested, with a special focus on school districts with a significant number of Hispanics.


Key moderators and facilitators will lead attendees in highly focused work groups designed to encourage dialogue and develop actionable strategies to increase Hispanic participation in STEM-related curriculum. Confirmed moderators include Tom Luce, Chief Executive Officer, National Math and Science Initiative, Inc. (former Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development); Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Chairman Emeritus, IBM Academy of Technology and Visiting Professor of Engineering Systems, MIT; Stanley Litow, President of the IBM International Foundation and Vice President, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, IBM Corporation; and Adalio Sanchez, Vice President of Corporate Strategy, IBM Corporation.

The issue of skills and the need for America to produce more graduates with degrees in math, science, engineering and technology also will be addressed.

"The shift to a digital economy in the last 10 years requires that young people be prepared to enter the workforce with '21st Century skills,'" said AMD Chairman and CEO Hector Ruiz. "Fostering STEM skills is critically important in developing an adept workforce to fill the jobs of this expanding digital economy."

In keeping with its commitment to the development of STEM professionals for the future, IBM has been in collaboration with over 5,000 premier universities and over 100,000 business partners globally to prepare students with 21st century skills for jobs in the new IT workforce.

In the U.S. alone, IBM has trained faculty at over 3,150 institutions on software skills and over 150 on mainframe skills. Students and future STEM professionals can also access the IBM Academic Initiative which includes an online portal that provides access to FREE software and hardware as well as training and course materials. Also through the web, IBM offers hundreds of resources for integration into college curricula to help teach students how to master the fast-growing market of open technologies. Perhaps most significantly, IBM is working with more than 150 leading universities to promote the global adoption of a new academic discipline, Service Science Management and Engineering (SSME).