Green Innovation in the City of Clean Tech

Boston was recently named the nation's "best city for clean tech" and we were fortunate enough to hold our second Green Innovation for Business Unconference across the river in Cambridge this week at Microsoft New England. Close to 100 business leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and advocates came together for a day-long group-think to figure out how to drive environmental improvements deeper and more quickly into the private sector. Read more

The Next Frontier of Green Building: Forward-thinking retailers are systematically retrofitting older stores

Many big- (and not so big)-box retailers are building new "green prototype" stores as part of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Retail pilot program. The most cutting-edge companies have also seized the corollary opportunity: retrofitting their existing stores. Albeit a much more complicated job, retrofitting offers more massive returns simply because there are so many more old stores than new ones.

Now is the best chance to seize the opportunity. Existing buildings can now gain features that have until recently remained the domain of new construction projects. These retrofits include simple installations like solar hot water heaters, low-water plumbing fixtures, day-lighting, waste water reuse, and fixtures and building features made from post-consumer/post-production waste or rapidly renewable materials. Read more

Demystifying energy bills to maximize energy efficiency

By Ryan Whisnant, MBA candidate, University of Michigan, 2009 Climate Corps fellow at SunGard, member of Net Impact

In my last post, I talked about how SunGard has both upper-management support and grassroots engagement around sustainability within the company, including improving energy efficiency.  At their headquarters, the company has already implemented a fair number of energy efficiency measures, so I’m digging deeper into the company’s operations to find new efficiencies.

One challenge I’ve encountered is deciphering the utility bills Read more

Happy Anniversary, Green Portfolio Project!!

The partnership between Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Environmental Defense Fund is now officially just over a year old. Our announcement of the partnership in May of 2008 laid out our joint vision for improving the environmental and business performance of KKR’s portfolio of companies. We proved the concept with three companies in the pilot project phase. Through this effort, we identified an impressive $16.4 million in savings and reductions of 25,000 metric tons of CO2e, 3,000 tons of paper, and 650 tons of material waste collectively at US Foodservice, Sealy and PRIMEDIA. That was all with low or no-cost investments.

The response to this project has been inspiring. Other private equity firms and their investors are reaching out to EDF for information and guidance. Business school students have sought opportunities to help us. Media outlets as far away as Japan have expressed interest in writing about our efforts. We're not done yet. Read more

A View from the Hill: Hybrid Trucks Deliver the Environmental and Economic Goods

Capitol Hill, Washington DCOn my way to Logan Airport for an early morning flight to DC recently, I got stuck behind an old diesel truck.  Black smoke billowed from the tailpipe.  "It doesn't have to be this way," I thought to myself.

As it happened, I was on my way to Hybrid Day on the Hill, an event organized by CALSTART's Hybrid Truck Users' Forum. The purpose of this event was to demonstrate to policymakers that technologies are available today that significantly cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, while contributing to energy independence and expanding manufacturing jobs here in the US.

As my cab drove up to the US Capitol that foggy May morning, I saw a long line of hybrid trucks parked by the reflecting pool.  I was struck by the variety of vehicles on display: pickup and delivery trucks, utility bucket trucks, even refuse trucks.  Both hybrid electric and hybrid hydraulic models were featured; some ran on diesel and others on gasoline.

The range of companies involved was also impressive.  Read more

Green Eats

Today EDF and Restaurant Associates (part of the foodservice giant Compass Group) released the Green Dining Best Practices, a comprehensive set of science-based recommendations for environmentally friendly dining. The recommendations cover twelve key dining categories related to food purchase and facility operation, and will be updated over time as new best practices evolve.

The project began over a year and a half ago in response to a growing number of inquiries we were getting from companies confused by the plethora of "green" solutions being recommended to them by the media, vendors, and suppliers. Some of the questions included: what's more important local or organic? What do I do about bottled water? Is this biodegradable package really more environmentally friendly? Frankly, they were confused. And no wonder. Read more

Hotels don't have to waste energy: Key-card management systems should be "business as usual"

No one ever takes a rental car to be washed. And most people don't think about energy savings when staying in a hotel. Too many blast the air conditioner or heat even when deserting the room for the day. But good luck to the hotel that tries to add it to my bill!

Thankfully, key-card energy management is a simple and effective way to conserve energy that has saved hotels money in Europe and Asia for years.

These systems link the heating, cooling and lighting in a room to an illuminated key-card slot near the entrance. Read more

Do driving habits matter? Yes!

Most of us are well aware that how we drive affects the fuel consumption of our vehicles. We now have some new numbers to show us how much. In an article on GreenBiz, Karen Healey of PHH Arval, a leading fleet management company with which EDF has partnered, tells us that the “early results of some of PHH's clients who are just in the beginning stages of instituting green driving training programs show that they have already been able to improve their fuel efficiency by up 4 percent overall, with individual drivers improving their efficiency by as much as 17 percent.”

What does that 4 percent mean? Read more

Tone from the top – and the bottom – drives energy efficiency

By Ryan Whisnant, MBA candidate, University of Michigan, 2009 Climate Corps fellow at SunGard

I’ve almost finished my first month working as a sustainability analyst for SunGard in Philadelphia. Thus far, I’ve been impressed by both the support I’ve received from EDF through the Climate Corps program and the receptivity of the people at SunGard. (That goes for the locals as well – I’ve never had so many people offer to map out a strategy for my commute that might shave off a couple additional minutes.)

I’ve seen through my studies and research with the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise how vital top leadership engagement on sustainability is for companies to make real change. My impression is that CEO Cris Conde has indeed made sustainability a priority. Read more

You Have a Green Building; Now What?

By Greg Buzzell (MBA candidate, University of Michigan), 2009 Climate Corps fellow at Accenture

Living and working in the epicenter of the green revolution that is San Francisco, it is easy to believe that everyone in the country thinks and acts ‘green.’ Seemingly everybody recycles, drinks from reusable bottles, rides their bike or takes public transportation. These personal efforts to be green are beginning to be adopted into corporate culture as well. Many companies in the Bay Area are retroactively and proactively becoming more sustainable. Most new construction is LEED certified, and many retrofits are becoming LEED-EB certified. Companies and organizations are figuring out that being green is good for the earth and good corporate citizenship, and oh by the way it doesn’t hurt when it saves them a sizeable chunk of money too. So that’s it right? Nope – it's just the beginning. Read more