From a Movement to a Market: Is Green Business Tipping the Scale?
One needn’t look far to see that green initiatives large and small dominate the headlines in mainstream media, business and industry publications and millions of websites and blogs throughout cyberspace. If sheer volume is a tool used to decipher business trends, most would argue that green business is beyond fad, more than a passing trend and here to stay.
By Lisa Oram
At a time when being an environmentally-friendly business is as much a marketing strategy as it is an ecological one, Lise Dondy, president of the CT Clean Energy Fund (CCEF), says she is seeing a “huge interest” in solar and fuel cell energy from businesses in Connecticut.
“Our pipeline of requests for information about on-site generation of alternative energy has visibly increased” in the last 12 to 18 months, says Dondy.
Green energy, also called clean or renewable energy, is energy that creates less air pollution than traditional energy and is produced from abundant sources such as the sun, wind, water, plant material, and even from landfill gas emissions. Fuel cells, which produce energy from a chemical reaction similar to a battery’s, are also a kind of green energy. By contrast, conventional energy derived from coal, oil and natural gas is one of the greatest contributors to carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere and the resulting climate change known as the greenhouse effect. Conventional energy also ties the U.S. to dependence on limited, imported resources.
Dondy believes that the recent surge in interest she’s seen is a reaction to both “the high electric prices that have hit all these companies,” and to an “increased consciousness about environmental concerns.”
She points to Staples, whose 300,000-square-foot distribution center in Killingly now boasts New England’s largest solar power installation—built at no capital cost to Staples. The project, unveiled in January 2007, was financed by a $1.7 million grant from CCEF and by Baltimore-based SunEdison, a solar power provider that claims to be the largest in North America. In an innovative arrangement, Dondy explains, the solar equipment on Staples’ roof is owned by SunEdison. Staples buys the power from SunEdison in a predictable quantity, at rates equal to or lower than the cost of electricity off the grid. According to figures provided by the CCEF, Staples’ solar power meets 14 percent of the electrical needs of the facility and reduces annual carbon emissions by the same amount that would be produced by driving 420,000 miles in an average car.
By Sherwood Martinelli
Green Nuclear Butterfly Has a Better Idea, and It Is NOT NUCLEAR.
A big issue for debate lately has been the issue of carbon trading, or at least a carbon-pricing framework in the name of reducing Global Warming. It is no accident that the Nuclear Industry is one of the largest proponents of this program, and for their own good reason. Without carbon trading, or at least a carbon penalty placed on other energy sectors (primary among them coal, oil and gas) the nuclear industry simply cannot compete in the market place, their hoped for Nuclear Renaissance dwindling away to maybe 10 new reactor builds here in America.
Some might say such a claim is heresy, state that carbon trading would be good for the environment. That may, or may not be true...what is true, and this according to the Chief Executive of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, is that nuclear CANNOT COMPETE without strong financial incentives (loan guarantees). He goes further to state, that large-scale nuclear construction would go ahead only if a high enough cost was placed on carbon-dioxide emissions.
One of the supposed SELLING POINTS of nuclear, is CHEAP ENERGY. Carbon Trading or carbon penalties will do nothing but put more profit in rich corporate hands, and drive up the average American family's monthly electric bills. That you can bank on. So, when NEI and your local nuclear power company such as Entergy, Exelon, or First Energy (just to name a few) tries to sell you on the wonders of nuclear energy, you had best listen to them with your hand on your wallet.
By Carol Latter
The Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), the largest statewide business organization in the U.S., has been actively reaching out to encourage and support to the move to “green” among Connecticut’s businesses.
The CBIA, which operates an online “Green Business Center” to get the word out about eco-friendly business initiatives and opportunities, recently released its first Corporate Sustainability/Green Business Practices Survey. The survey outlines what Connecticut’s companies are doing as they move toward what the CBIA calls a “triple bottom line of fiscal health, environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility as a broader and truer measure of their success.”
The CBIA says more and more businesses are going green—not only because it is the right thing to do for the environment, but “to enhance their company's image and reduce costs, increase productivity, and attract new customers and
employees.” Whatever their motivation, these efforts contribute significantly to the overall effort to be kinder to the planet. The good news, according to the CBIA, is that while the green movement is continuing to gather steam in Connecticut, many firms across the state already have energy cost-savings measures, energy-efficiency policies and recycling programs in place.
CBIA, with 10,000 member companies, serves as the voice of business and industry at the state Capitol. Members of its public policy staff work closely with state officials and legislators to help shape specific laws and regulations to support the needs of business.
In operation for more than 175 years, CBIA has an Environmental Policies Council (EPC) that is tasked with keeping members up-to-date on the latest developments in state environmental compliance requirements. The EPC also represents CBIA at the state Capitol and the Department of Environmental Protection, and offers members regular education and networking opportunities on issues of environmental interest.
Source: Connecticut Innovations
Each green dot on the map to the left represents a Connecticut Clean Energy Fund community--nearly 75 percent of communities in the state. Thanks to all of you out there who have helped spread the word and convince your towns to bring clean energy to Connecticut. From Lise Dondy and her work as President of the Connecitcut Clean Energy Fund to father, middle school teacher, and Portland Connecicut resident Andy Bauer--the citizens of Connecticut are making a difference!
Lise Dondy says, "In addition to community-based initiatives designed to create awareness and demand for clean energy, 244 clean energy systems - including fuel cell, solar photovoltaic, biomass and advanced hydro systems - have been installed or are under way. These will provide the energy equivalent of electricity for 70,000 homes. These clean energy systems include: 36 commercial installations (27 solar, 6 fuel cell, 3 biomass), 8 demonstration projects and 200 residential solar photovoltaic systems, 100 of which are installed and 100 which are in process.
Small businesses in Connecticut may turn to the Connecticut Small Business Assistance program for help in meeting state and U.S. federal air pollution control regulations. The program includes an ombudsman component that represents the small business community, and a technical assistance division, which is designed to help small businesses meet the requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act. The program sponsors seminars and conferences, develops fact sheets on new regulations, and offers a technical assistance hotline. Businesses with fewer than 100 employees are eligible for assistance.
More and more people are bringing their awareness of green living to their place of business. From large corporations like Walmart to micro businesses--a growing number of companies are becoming more environmentally responsible.
According to an April 2007 Gallup survey, 47% of small business owners are taking steps to being more environmentally responsible. They're learning that eco-conscious choices not only help the planet and the people on it, but boost their bottom line as well. Lower maintenance and operating costs, and a growing market share of consumers who are supporting green business make environmentally sound business a wise choice. What's more, grants like those available from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund can refund up to half the cost of installing solar panels, which quickly decreases utility costs.
By Anneli Olila
If we understand corporate citizenship to be a company's responsibility for understanding and managing its influence on society and all of its stakeholders, small companies cannot fairly be exempted. Regardless of size, every company by definition has at least some of the following stakeholders: shareholders, customers, employees, investors, business partners (vendors and suppliers), the community, government, and the environment. As corporate citizenship becomes more clearly defined and broadens into a requisite for doing business, small companies are looking more closely at how they can meet the benchmarks.
While individual small companies have a correspondingly small footprint on society and the environment, the aggregate footprint of small- and micro-businesses is naturally quite a bit larger. According to 2006 US Census Bureau data, for example, 75.5% of all US businesses are owner-operated with no paid employees. The companies that comprise this 75.5% necessarily affect society and the environment through who they select as suppliers, how 'green' their day-to-day operations are, how they interact with their local communities, and how ethically and legally they conduct business.
By Heather Burns-DeMelo
How does a Connecticut goat farmer go from tending his herd to a lobbyist, new legislation creator, and biodiesel producer? One Connecticut man began by asking why not?
Christos Glynos and his partner, George Linardos, Sr. began the planning phase to build a biodiesel production facility on Mr. Glynos farm nearly four years ago. After the arduous task of locating a company willing and able to design and build such a unique project, they applied for a permit only to have Bethlehem, Connecticut, building officials turn them down.
"Anytime you want to start something new or foreign to people, road blocks pop up all over the place and people all around you say, You can't do that! I just looked at them and kept asking, "Why not?" Most of the time the people in government agencies admitted they didn't know why, so I set up round table discussions to make them tell me exactly what they needed me to do to make it happen," Glynos said.
That laundry list--changing legislation, rewritting building codes, creating tax incentives for schools who use biodiesel in their buses, and finding the funding for research and development and educational programs about alternative energy options--would chase many people off and back into a cushy job in corporate America.
But they had a dream and believed in an opportunity. "When we started thinking about BioPur, gasoline was $1.25 a gallon. People looked at me and said, Why would you bother, gas is only 1.25? I told them I didn't think it would stay that way and besides, we were too dependent on foreign oil."
So he and his partner set off to overcome every obstacle that appeared in their path and today, they're producing 400,000 gallons of locally manufactured biofuel with plans to double that amount in the next year.
Source: Greenwich News
Aquarion Water Co. officials said yesterday they are contacting the 10 largest consumers of water in town, including the town government and schools and Greenwich Hospital, to inform them that the town is under a drought advisory.
"I'll be asking them if there's anything they can do to conserve," said David Medd, the water company's Greenwich operations manager.
Reservoirs levels stayed steady at about 27 percent of capacity yesterday, about two days after Aquarion called on residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by at least 10 percent, Medd said. At this time of year, reservoir levels are normally at about 80-percent full.
"Demand is low and with the little bit of precipitation, my guess is we'll probably hold," Medd said. Among the reservoirs managed by Aquarion, only Greenwich and Mystic are under a drought advisory, although Stamford is close to having one declared, water company officials said.
Reservoirs in Stamford are at less than 47 percent of capacity. Officials will call for a drought advisory -- which asks residents to voluntarily curtail water usage by 10 percent -- if the levels dip below 45 percent, Aquarion spokesman Adam Brill said.
HARTFORD, Conn., ING announced in September its intent to buy enough renewable wind energy to power its U.S. operations.
The announcement is one of several corporate environmental initiatives unveiled this week. For instance, Dell said Wednesday it planned to neutralize the carbon dioxide emissions of its worldwide operations beginning next year.