Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Painting The Industry Green

Ford reemphasized it's view that green technology is key to not only the success of itself or future auto makers but the viability of having a healthy economy in Michigan. While most of us live in citys that aren't dependent on one industry, there are many cities that rely heavily, sometimes completely, on the success of a single company. 

One thing that has always been part of the Ford brand is the channeling of it's heritage in everything they do. Very Detroit, very American, very unlike anything the automotive industry has been moving towards. Yet, they've seemed to have found a place for it in their vision moving forward; 

“While Michigan is the home of the auto industry, the trends affecting our industry offer a great opportunity to make it the home of a variety of other industries as well,” said Bill Ford. “We are heading in the right direction to grow Michigan by putting the right policies in place and investing in Michigan’s future.”

How wonderful would it be if Ford were to lead the industry toward other forms of mobility, outside the scope of the automobile, as urban areas become increasingly congested. After all, at the core, they are a mobility company.

The costs associated with redefining or reinventing automobile use and similar moves are tremendous of course. Ford has spent nearly $1 billion in electric vehicle investment alone. But believes it's absolutely necessary it become a core competency for Ford in the 21st century.

This may be one place where we would like to see more big picture thinking come from Michigan. We agree that innovative technology and automobile should be tied at the hip, and it can only mean good things for the state of Michigan which has already seen a large increase in jobs associated with high technology. But what about adding an alternative mobility division at Ford? Where the automobile is taken out of the equation. Where mobility is at the center of research and development, and the simple concept of helping people reach a destination leads the conversation. 

Rio+20 Update: @DowChemical, @GM, @KCCorp, @Xerox, @marriotthotels amongst other major firms commit to assigning a value to nature

We're following Rio+20 closely, so it's great to see this news filtering in, of major corporations such as Dow Chemicals, General Motors, Kimberly Clark, Marriott and Xerox (along with 20 others) all signing up to look at how to better "account" for nature in corporate practices.

We earnestly believe that it's not until we account for the environmental impact of firms, that sustainability will truly succeed.

Some estimates suggest the value provided by the environment is something like US$33 trillion, on average per year. Which is more than half of Global GDP.

And that's why we have an increasing clamor of voices demanding a better articulation and calculation of success than GDP, because right now it's just not sustainable. And this is something policy makers are unlikely to be able to implement -- it's more likely that firms will have to proactively learn to account for the environmental and social costs of doing business and modify their value chains accordingly.

Looking forward to the rest of Rio+20.

Monday, 18 June 2012

On @Nest, Personal Sustainability, and Simplicity in form and function

At The Green Radar, we're big fans of firms that put design first. Our belief is that design -- when used as an intrinsic function of the overall product,  when it is educated by human insight and a keen understanding of a given problem -- can scale up to alter behavior itself.

And with matters of personal sustainability, we feel it's going to be products like Nest's thermostat (pictured here) that will go a long way in helping achieve this.

Nest is a smart meter that learns your energy usage habits and can help you optimize and minimize any losses in energy use. It knows when you wake up, when you leave for work, when you get back, and adjusts the temperature accordingly. They also have other products in the works, likea humidity control mechanism called Airwave.

It also helps to know that Nest was designed by Tony Fadell, the guy who designed the first iPod. A firm to watch for the future, certainly.

More here.

*Correction: Airwave is a part of the Nest thermostat, and not a separate product. Thanks to the Nest team for confirming this!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

On Sustainability and @Nike's Better World project

We love the Better World initiative by Nike. They have been focused on developing sustainable solutions at all points in their value chain, including all the material that goes into their shoes and their merchandise.

For example, they talk about "Considered Design:

"Considered Design is Nike's ongoing commitment to design without compromise – either to performance or the planet. It is a continually progressing standard, applied every day to everything we do.
As an ever-evolving standard for both innovation and sustainability, it's applied every day and to everything we do. By continually raising that standard, we envision a future where the shoes you wear today become the shoes, shirts or equipment you use tomorrow. This "closed loop" manufacturing process, where nothing is wasted and everything is kept in play, is not just wishful thinking, it's the future."

Or FlyKnit and Recycled Polyester.

NIKE Flyknit: NIKE debuts the NIKE Flyknit Racer and NIKE Flyknit Trainer, lightweight shoe. NIKE believes that to design for the future, we need to create products in a completely new way today.
Our innovation is in the NIKE Flyknit manufacturing process; NIKE uses only the materials needed to knit the upper of a shoe. Traditional footwear manufacturing processes use a number of materials and cuts.  NIKE Flyknit reduces waste using special yarns, knitted together to create one lightweight, formfitting upper.

Recycled Polyester: Utilizing recycled PET plastic bottles, NIKE designs superior performance apparel. Reclaimed, discarded plastic bottles are melted down to produce new yarn and converted into fabric to create NIKE’s high performance apparel.  This process saves raw materials and reduces energy consumption by an estimated 30% compared to manufacturing virgin polyester.

All said, Nike is another great firm that puts its money where it's mouth is, and delivers true impact and value for consumers and the broader sustainability movement.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Green is sexy

It's long, long time ago when the green movement was seen as a nerdy movement of a small minority of Birkenstock wearing "alternatives" (no offence here, I am wearing Birkenstocks as well). 

By today sustainability is mainstream, and I mean this in the best possible way!

With this development, sustainability is entering more and more aspects of our lives, e.g. did you ever think of a nightclub when you where pondering about sustainability?

We learned about a Dutch nightclub the other day. The Dutch might not know how to play football, but they sure have a unique sense of creativity. Check out this sustainable dance club!

Their sustainable dance floor is remarkable. The more people jump, dance, enjoy themselves, the more energy is created and can be reused (remember the BMW post a few days ago on a similar topic?).

By now the sustainable dance club initiative takes pride in developing sustainable concepts and solutions for clubs and festivals, aided by innovative technology. We feel they are onto something big as it makes young people think about their own impact on sustainabilty and in a playful way introduces the future decision makers of our world to this critical idea.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Solar Mosaic: the crow-founding project

Solar power has always got a lot of incentives (only for USA is sufficient to check the DSIRE to figure out how many are available).
Solar panels are not cheap so, even with the incentives, it is difficult for citizens and small companies to invest in this "new"technology.
Solar Mosaic, a company founded by a team of entrepreneurs, coders, finance experts and change-makers, wants to enable people to invest their own money into solar energy projects large and small.
It can look like a copy of Kickstarter (the most known crow-founding portal), but it is not! According to Solar Mosaic’s website, investors earn a return from each project’s eventual revenue — so it seems to be facilitating actual equity investing, not the donation model (due to some legal restriction) used by sites such as Kickstarter.
Thanks to the JOBS Act (signed into law on April 5, 2012) anyone is allowed to invest in private companies.
We think Solar Mosaic seems like a smart idea that comes at a smart time.
Moreover it has just been awarded a $2 million grant from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Sunshot Initiative.
So far the company has facilitated the crowd-funding for five projects in its beta mode, in which more than 400 people invested more than $350,000 in five rooftop power plants in California and Arizona. It plans to put its venture capital and grant money toward building out its platform for crowdfunding on a larger scale.

Source: TechCrunch