Green Business

Colin & Livia Firth rock the red carpet in green fashion

Colin & Livia Firth rock the red carpet in green fashion Some of the biggest moments in the world of fashion have come at the Academy Awards. Everyone remembers moments like Nicole Kidman in Dior in 1997 or Bjork’s swan inspired attire in 2001. Best actor nominee Colin Firth and his wife Livia hope that green fashion will be a hot topic after this year’s Academy Awards.

AI + convenience + green conscience = EcoATM, kiosk-based recycling

ecoatmMost everyone has reached a point with a portable device where it no longer met a need, or it stopped functioning. In the case of mobile phones, right now there’s a rapid cycle where new and more powerful devices are debuting constantly. While it’s good for the economy that consumers always want to upgrade, so far the environment has suffered the consequences from users not recycling at end of life. EcoATM sees an opportunity in that space to the tune of $25 billion in latent consumer assets.

Their business is focused on identifying and evaluating the health of portable consumer devices through the use of automated kiosks. Essentially with a combination of sensors and robotics driven by artificial intelligence, EcoATM kiosks analyze a device and offer a payout based on those results. The potential convenience for consumers is undeniable because machines like these could find homes in grocery stores, gas stations, libraries etc. Beyond that, they also have the ability to put cash in your hand instantly.

BMW chasing electric car mark with the BMW i, but it may be too slow

BMW chasing electric car mark with the BMW i, but it may be too slowBMW has traditionally focused on an affluent customer segment, and the target for the upcoming all-electric BMW i is no exception; it just also allows that same segment to feel guilt-free. The company began working on electric cars in 2007, calling its endeavor Project i. It’s great to hear that BMW is putting some focus on electric cars but with a release date targeting 2013 it may be a little late to market.

Natural gas development: our future or our folly?

Natural gas development: our future or our folly?Natural gas is touted as a transitional fuel to a carbon-free future. And due to the recent development of shale gas technology, the US now has a lot of it. Natural gas is presented as a clean replacement for coal and as a solution to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. But will replacing one fossil fuel with another really address climate change?

The Marcellus shale gas formation, which underlays southern New York and most of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, is the second largest known gas reserve in the world. And the Utica formation below the Marcellus shale may even be larger. Based on these reserves, natural gas companies in Pennsylvania are anticipating a 200-year horizon for gas development. Such a horizon would ensure that the industry would remain a potent economic generator in this overwhelmingly rural area for a long time.

Investing in energy efficiency to keep up with the Joneses

Investing in energy efficiency to keep up with the JonesesWhat if someone told you about an investment opportunity that would give a 200% return? You would probably dismiss it as a hoax or as a Bernie Madoff scheme. But studies by both the National Research Council and McKinsey & Co. have shown that energy efficiency programs not only save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but also would more than double your investment. The benefits of embracing energy efficiency are well documented. So why aren’t more people investing in it? Rather than extolling environmental or financial gains, perhaps a behavioral approach is needed.

Jon Luoma explores this question in his analysis Why Does Energy Efficiency’s Promise Remain Unfulfilled? In his article, Luoma lists various reasons, such as ignorance, skepticism, reluctance to invest money, procrastination, or simply not having the money to invest.

Dow Chemical to put a price tag on nature’s sustainability

Dow Chemical to put a price tag on nature's sustainabilityThe natural world is ignored by accountants, and its services don’t appear on a balance sheet. But natural systems provide important functions that help businesses thrive, and their loss would not only affect the sustainability of the natural world, but also the sustainability of the businesses that depend on these natural systems. To address this issue, the Dow Chemical Company and the Nature Conservancy are working together to put a dollar value on the services provided by nature. But is this a green undertaking or a greenwash?

Say hello to the newest Apple iPad competitor, courtesy of Dell

Say hello to the newest Apple iPad competitor, courtesy of DellDell is looking to reinvent itself as its base of corporate customers shift toward providing technology Generation Y and Millenials grew up with. Mostly that means mobile devices, whether they’re tablets or more compact mobile phones. Dell already has some Android phones available in its lineup but now it’s looking to appeal more directly to business customers, many of which are utilizing a Windows environment. The company just announced plans to release a Windows 7-based tablet later this year, which puts Apple’s iPad directly in the crosshairs.

By choosing Windows 7, Dell is positioning itself well for corporate customers because theoretically devices that run the same operating system will integrate with less effort and more securely. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android certainly also have the ability to integrate with Windows based environments but probably with a few more layers of effort.

Ready to take the plunge with an all-electric Nissan LEAF? You’ll have to wait

Ready to take the plunge with an all-electric Nissan LEAF? You’ll have to waitMaking the transition from a traditional combustion engine car, or hybrid car to an all-electric version takes a leap of faith. More than 20,000 people are ok with that though because they’re on a waiting list ready to purchase a Nissan LEAF. The company is making those on the list wait a bit longer though, it has acknowledged manufacturing delays that will likely last until April. But what’s causing that?

Nissan isn’t sharing specifics, but it mentioned two things, the first of which is quality assurance. But the second is interesting, and highlights the risks whenever experimenting with a new sales channel. Apparently their distribution model that allows online orders directly from consumers for the LEAF is experiencing hiccups. Bypassing dealers certainly has potential to cut cost out of the supply chain, and the LEAF’s segment of drivers probably is thrifty and eco-oriented.

DOE to make risky bet on renewable energy process for biofuels

DOE to make risky bet on renewable energy process for biofuelsOne of the imperatives of the 21st century is to develop a renewable energy source to replace the once cheap and readily available crude oil that has fueled the world’s energy needs for the last 100 years. So what if biomass, such as wood waste or agricultural residues, could be converted directly into crude oil? KiOR, Inc., based out of Pasadena, TX, purports to be able to make such a biofuel, and in a convincing enough manner to possibly receive a $1 billion loan guarantee from the US government. But is it really a good investment?

KiOR’s process uses fluid catalytic cracking technology with a proprietary catalyst to convert woodchips and other organic material into a biofuel branded as “Re-CrudeTM.” This biofuel can be then processed by a standard refinery and made into gasoline and diesel.

Cows educate scientists how to convert biomass into ethanol

Cows educate scientists how to convert biomass into ethanolWith the unrest in Egypt pushing up oil prices, biofuels should be more economically attractive. But world food prices are also surging, in part because of increasing demand for biofuels. Most biofuels in the US are produced from corn or beets, which are high in fermentable sugars. A long overdue breakthrough in cellulosic ethanol – which would produce biofuels from non-food crops such as switchgrass – is needed to make biofuels a viable alternative to oil. Researchers are using a new approach to finally crack the cellulosic riddle. They are using cows as the laboratory to discover the microbial enzymes that turn switchgrass into gas.