Archive for the ‘Express 180’ Category

Big Businesses Show They Can Cut Emissions & Still Grow Strongly

Posted by Ken on December 10, 2012
Posted under Express 180

Despite an uptick in business activity, some of the world’s top-earning companies are managing to reduce their carbon footprints. Five of the six highest-ranked companies — Unilever, UPS, Nike, Levi Strauss and L’Oreal — showed year-over-year revenue growth while reducing their total emissions across some or all of their business units, according to the Climate Counts 2012-2013 Annual Company Scorecard.

Unilever, UPS, Nike lead efforts to address climate change

By Kristine A. Wong Green (5 December 2012):

Despite an uptick in business activity — which might be expected to result in higher emissions — some of the world’s top-earning companies are managing to reduce their carbon footprints, according to a new report.

Five of the six highest-ranked companies — Unilever, UPS, Nike, Levi Strauss and L’Oreal — showed year-over-year revenue growth from 2010 to 2011 while reducing their total emissions across some or all of their business units, according to the Climate Counts 2012-2013 Annual Company Scorecard report, released Wednesday. It ranks major consumer brands on their efforts to address climate change. (GreenBiz Executive Editor Joel Makower sits on Climate Counts’ board of directors).

The Durham, N.H.-based organization analyzed public data from 145 companies for its sixth annual report. AB Electrolux, IBM, Bank of America, Stonyfield Farm, Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola Company, Groupe Danone, Sony, Siemens and Reckitt-Benckiser rounded out the top-ranked companies. Alongside the toys, children’s products and fast food industries, Amazon, Viacom and Wendy’s were among the worst performers.

“The fact that a lot of major corporations are showing the signs of sustainable growth and cutting overall emissions is of huge significance,” Mike Bellamente, Climate Counts director, told GreenBiz. “Companies are getting back on their feet but they’re able to do so with more of what we need to do for climate change.”

Companies were evaluated on 22 criteria, including the extent to which they conducted a greenhouse gas emissions review, whether they developed a plan to reduce their emissions, and whether those reductions were achieved. They were also scored on their stances on climate and energy policy, as well as on public disclosures of their sustainability performance.

Sixty-six percent of the companies had developed public climate and energy strategies, compared to 25 percent in 2007. Bellamente attributed this growth to an increased ability for companies to make the business case for sustainability, especially in light of extreme weather events over the past few years such as Hurricane Sandy, the Midwestern drought and floods in the U.K.

“They say that there’s real risk and that it’s disrupting business from a continuity standpoint,” Bellamente said, “and want to invest in renewable energy for the sake of mitigating risks. … They’re having a conversation with their suppliers and are being more forthright as to why it’s important for them [suppliers] to measure their emissions.”

Only a handful of brands have developed energy and climate change strategies for moral reasons, Bellamente said, citing Unilever and its Ben & Jerry’s brand, Levi Strauss and Timberland in this category.

Top-ranked Unilever achieved a score of 91 out of 100 possible points, the highest score ever awarded since the first Climate Counts report was released in 2007, while an unprecedented number of companies (15) achieved scores of 85 or higher this year.

“Never before has it been so important for business to step up its leadership to address both the causes and the impacts of climate change,” said Paul Polman, CEO of U.K.-based Unilever. “Ordinary people are increasingly suffering the effects of extreme weather events and the associated food and water shortages. They are expecting us to be responsible in helping them to manage these challenges.”

A short list of the most improved and the least improved companies from 2007 to 2012 provided context to the rankings. eBay, Clorox and Levi Strauss were identified as the top three companies demonstrating what the report described as “noticeable progress.” Siemens, Avon and Molson Coors Brewing Company were also included in the “most improved” group.

Amazon, Wendy’s and Viacom have shown the least progress since 2007, the report found. “To the extent that these companies are embracing sustainability, there continues to be little publicly available evidence to suggest that they are measuring, reducing and reporting their GHG emissions,” it read. Scores for the other companies on the “least improved” list — Burger King, apparel company Liz Claiborne and McDonald’s — took a downwards turn by the end of the 2007-2012 period.

The clear loser in the report was the toys and children’s products industry. Out of the eight companies that scored zero points, six of the eight were from this category, making it the lowest-scoring sector. Industry leader Hasbro, however, was given a score of 73.

The fast food industry also performed poorly, with Wendy’s and Burger King scoring in single digits (5 and 2 respectively) and McDonald’s at 14.

And despite Apple’s score of 62, it ranked at the bottom of its 14 peers in the technology sector. IBM led with a score of 86. But in the Internet/software category, Apple landed just two points behind Google, which was the top-ranked company in that sector with a score of 64. At the other end of the spectrum, prominent online professional network LinkedIn received a score of zero in the

Bellamente said that lack of industry and consumer pressure in the worst-performing sectors was responsible for their poor scores.

“[The climate] is just not on their strategic radar,” Bellamente said of the fast food industry. He said consumers are asking these companies to perform with better nutrition levels in their products instead of taking action on climate issues: “It hasn’t affected their industry negatively enough [for them] to report on their emission levels.”

“The same goes for the toys and children’s products industry,” he added. “Their first order of business is to make sure the children are safe. You’ve got a lot of companies that manufacture abroad that don’t have regulations that make sustainability as much of a science as here,” he said.

But Hasbro and Lego have both increased their Climate Count scores by double digits, he said.

Next year, Bellamente expects more companies to look at the consumer end and the downstream effect of how their footprint can be managed through R&D, similar to the way Unilever approaches sustainability.

“At Unilever, everyone in the company has a sustainability target — from the guy who makes the shampoo to the guy who makes the shampoo packaging,” he said. “You’ll start to see more of that embedded into organizations.”

Top-tier ranked companies (scores in parentheses):

Unilever (91)

UPS (89)

Nike (89)

Levi Strauss (87)

L’Oreal (87)

AB Electrolux (87)

IBM (86)

Bank of America (86)

Stonyfield Farm (86)

Hewlett-Packard (85)

Coca-Cola Company (85)

Groupe Danone (85)

Sony (85)

Siemens (85)

Reckitt-Benckiser (85)

Sector leaders (scores in parentheses):

Airlines: Lufthansa (77)

Apparel/Accessories: Nike (89)

Banks: Bank of America (86)

Beer: Heineken (79)

Consumer Shipping: UPS (89)

Food Products: Unilever (91)

Food Services: Starbucks (69)

Home and Office: Herman Miller (66)

Hotels: Marriott (70)

Household Products: L’Oreal (87)

Internet/Software: Google (64)

Large Appliances: AB Electrolux (87)

Media: News Corporation (67)

Pharmaceuticals: Johnson & Johnson (82)

Technology (formerly Electronics): IBM (86)

Toys & Children’s Equipment: Hasbro (73)

For a full copy of the 2012-2013 report, visit the Climate Counts website.

GreenBiz Associate Editor Kristine A. Wong is a multimedia journalist who became an editor and reporter after working for environmental and public health organizations in the Bay Area and Seattle for over 10 years. She has a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley. Follow Kristine on Twitter: @wongkxt and

Winners from Chicago & Denmark in the US & Global Cleantech Open “Oscars”

Posted by Ken on December 10, 2012
Posted under Express 180

The Cleantech Open has awarded HEVT of Chicago, Illinois, the Grand Prize “Cleanie” award, which is bestowed on the Top Cleantech Entrepreneur of 2012, for its  game-changing motor technologies that feature smart software and hardware to empower the next generation of electric motors. Biosyntia  of Denmark won the Global Ideas Competition for its high-performance cell factories for fermentation of fine chemicals for manufacturing companies, enabling them to cut production costs by up to 80%, while gaining a greener profile. Read More

Cleantech Open Announces Winners of 2012 National Accelerator and Global Ideas Competition

REDWOOD CITY, California (13 November 2012):

The Cleantech Open, the world’s largest cleantech accelerator, has awarded HEVT of Chicago, Illinois, the Grand Prize “Cleanie” award, which is bestowed on the Top Cleantech Entrepreneur of 2012. HEVT has developed game-changing motor technologies that feature smart software and hardware to empower the next generation of electric motors. Rentricity of New York was runner-up, with its clean, renewable hydrokinetic energy-recovery technology for drinking water, wastewater, and industrial infrastructure.

The announcements were made at the Cleantech Open Global Forum — the “Academy Awards of Clean Technology,” which marked the grand finale of this year’s Cleantech Open Accelerator, as well as the culmination of the 2012 Cleantech Open Global Ideas Competition. More than 1,000 cleantech professionals, including companies from this year’s program and previous years’ Cleantech Open Accelerators, along with mentors, venture capitalists, and large corporate representatives, attended the two-day festival of cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship, which was held in San Jose, California.

Four other finalist teams won a Cleanie in their respective categories:

•Air-Water-Waste — Red Ox Systems, whose Electrochemical Desalination Cell treats wastewater from oil and gas wells where is it produced, obviating the need to truck it around the country.

•Energy Efficiency — SiNode, whose advanced Li-ion battery technology enables a cell phone to charge up in minutes and last for days.

•Green Building — GR Green, which has patented a process to produce roofing tiles from recycled plastic and limestone.

•Renewable Energy — Rentricity, for its clean, renewable hydrokinetic energy-recovery technology for drinking water, wastewater, and industrial infrastructure.

“Congratulations to the 2012 winners and finalists, which represent the best in early-stage cleantech innovation and viable solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges,” said Rex Northen, executive director of the Cleantech Open. “I would also like to express our huge appreciation of our sponsors, who make the Cleantech Open possible, and to thank the army of volunteers who power the world’s largest cleantech accelerator.”

“Our partnership with the Cleantech Open allows complementary assets to be leveraged, accelerating the commercialization of advanced technologies that will benefit our economy, and potentially, our base business,” said David Stone, senior vice president at Chevron Energy Solutions.

2012 Cleantech Open Global Ideas winner

For the fourth year, cleantech innovations from around the world were also featured at the Cleantech Open in a separate competition. The Cleantech Open Global Ideas Competition looks to find ‘big ideas’ by working at a grass-roots level, and supporting and fostering those ideas through Cleantech Open partner organizations worldwide. Orchestrated in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week, startups from around the world competed in their respective countries for national awards, with the national winners facing off at the Global Forum for a prize worth $100,000 in startup services. This year, more than 1,000 applications were submitted in more than 30 countries, with finalist teams from 11 countries traveling to compete at the Global Forum. Six teams were then selected to present to a final jury of investors and technology experts:

•Biosyntia – Denmark (Energy Efficiency). Biosyntia offers high-performance cell factories for fermentation of fine chemicals for manufacturing companies, enabling them to cut production costs by up to 80%, while gaining a greener profile.

•BRD Motorcycles – USA (Transportation). BRD builds better motorcycles – faster, easier, prettier and more economical – that happen to be electric. Our first product, the 2013 RedShift motocrosser, has been called “the first electric to demonstrate a clear superiority over its gas predecessors.”

•enLighten – Australia (Energy Efficiency). enLighten Australia designs and supplies highly efficient LED lighting for commercial, industrial and residential strata applications, reducing energy consumption by up to 93 percent compared with traditional fluorescent lighting.

•Lumos – Israel (Renewable Energy). Lumos brings affordable energy to 1.5B people in the off-grid world by providing a “home power station in a box” — a new type of solar panel that allows users to purchase electricity on demand using their mobile phone.

•Solar Mobility – Dominican Republic (Transportation). Solar Mobility’s vision is to enable the replacement of fossil fuel transportation with solar powered vehicles, by providing disruptive, 8 minutes, low cost charging technology; introducing new trends in the transportation industry and new business models.

•SP3H – France (Transportation). SP3H provides optical analysis through a small device installed in engines for fuel quality and specificity (carbon chain analysis). This enables allows a drastic reduction in consumption and pollution by dynamically adapting the parameters of the motor.

A panel of expert judges determined the winner: Biosyntia of Denmark. Runners-up were SP3H of France and BRD Motorcycles of the USA.

Kevin Braithwaite, chair of the Cleantech Open Global Ideas Competition commented: “It is no coincidence that the winning team came from a country that is very supportive of entrepreneurship, technological innovation and environmental innovation. It was a very close final but for the second time in the competition’s history, entrepreneurial scientists and engineers from Denmark have risen to the top. We are truly excited about the diversity and strength of teams that we saw from around the world this year and look forward to working with many of them over the months and years to come.”

2012 Alumni Award winner

Each year, the 2012 Alumni Award recognizes a Cleantech Open alumnus company that achieved significant momentum during the year. To determine the winner, several factors are assessed, including funding, customer acquisition, and successful customer implementation. This year, the Alumni Award was awarded to Dragonfly Solutions, which won the sustainability award in the 2011 Rocky Mountain competition.

Dragonfly Solutions is helping schools discover new sources of revenue through projects focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Dragonfly’s School Energy Efficiency Development (SEED) program provides cash rewards to schools for measured energy savings. It also creates new revenue streams through proven energy-saving technologies and public-finance options that create net revenue generation.

This year, Dragonfly signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Ypsilanti School District and has several other contracts pending. The company also established channel partnerships with two national corporations (School Energy Partners and Environmental Certificate Exchange) to market and sell its Environmental Certificates, and has grown its salesforce in every state as well as in Australia.

2012 National Sustainability Award winner

The Cleantech Open’s Sustainability Program strives to highlight the relevance of sustainability and promote sustainable business principles and practices throughout all Cleantech Open activities. The primary goal is to give all the teams in the competition the tools and motivation to embed sustainability into every aspect of their company. Each team receives specific mentoring to ensure triple-bottom-line business practices are considered during business planning, and embedded into all aspects of the organizations’ operations. Teams are judged on how well they describe and quantify the net environmental, economic and social benefits/impacts of their cleantech application, and how well does the team describe and quantify the environmental, economic, and social responsibility and impacts of their operations in manufacturing and providing their technology or service.

This year’s National Sustainability Award goes to Sustainable Systems International for its excellent alignment of business goals with an overall sustainability strategy. Runner-up: RideScout, which scored well for developing and integrating the plans, policies and programs that align its business with the requirements and protocols of a number of global standards and best practices, such as governance, transparency, and alternative transportation.


The Cleantech Open runs the world’s largest cleantech accelerator. Its mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the Cleantech Open provides the infrastructure, expertise and strategic relationships that turn clever ideas into successful global cleantech companies. Since 2006, through its one-of-a-kind annual business competition and mentorship program, the Cleantech Open has enabled 581 clean-technology startups to bring their breakthrough ideas to fruition, helped its alumni companies raise over $660M in external capital, and created thousands of green-collar jobs. Fueled by a global network of more than 1,000 volunteers and sponsors, the Cleantech Open unites the public and private sectors in a shared vision for making America’s and the world’s cleantech sectors a thriving economic engine. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

The Cleantech Open is made possible by the generous support provided by our Global Partner, Chevron; National Education Partner, University of Phoenix; and National Sponsors, PARC and Wells Fargo. Regional competitions are additionally sponsored by the following corporate partners: Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Deloitte, Google, The Dow Chemical Company, Faegre Baker Daniels, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Walmart, Patton Boggs, Commercial Energy, Mintz Levin, PG&E, Reed Smith, and many others.


Last Word: How’s Your Personal Footprint

Posted by Ken on December 10, 2012
Posted under Express 180

Sometimes it helps to stop and think about the contribution each of us makes to life on earth and the state of the planet. We are quick to judge others – particularly big companies and industries for their more obvious pollution – that we fail to check our own footprint. A carbon stock take was in order, so Sunday Times (Singapore) journalist Linda Collins thought she would check out whether she was wise to “Ditch the car and save the planet”.  Maybe it will encourage a few more of us to measure and manage our energy use and emissions.

By Linda Collins in Sunday Times Singapore (2 December 2012)

Next year I will mark 20 years of living in Singapore without a car. It will have been 20 years getting around on public transport.

Sure, I have saved money doing this instead of buying a car. But it has also meant years of inconvenience, waiting in wind and rain for buses; years of tousled hair, rumpled clothes and sensible shoes; years of social snubs when I haven’t flaunted that four-wheeled badge of “success”.

Amid this, I have been driven by one thought – at least I am doing my bit to save the planet. Cue smug mission statement: I believe individuals, as consumers and citizens, should take responsibility for contributing to a better environment.

And yet, has going without a car for so long actually done anything to help “save the planet”?

I did some calculations to see if I might have contributed to being part of the solution instead of part of the problem of global warming – the 0.8 deg C rise in the earth’s temperature within the past 100 years.

Many (not all) scientists attribute this to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels. (The others reckon it is just Mother Earth belching it naturally.) By driving cars which use petrol, say the Al Gore camp of boffins, we release heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In my back-of-the-envelope calculations, I worked out how many kilometres I have travelled in Singapore over the past 20 years by bus – in my case, more convenient than the MRT. I then multiplied that by the carbon emissions emitted if I had used a car instead. It helps that Singapore is a small island and I am an unadventurous person with a tragically regular weekly routine.

For about eight years, my main travel was by bus between Holland Village and Kim Seng Road, and once a week to Orchard Road and back. For the rest, it has been from home in Clementi to work in Toa Payoh, and once a week to local shops by bus.

Allowing for one month a year away overseas on holiday (here I allow myself some excitement), over 20 years, my bus travel amounts to 79,720km. That is a huge distance not undertaken by a gas-guzzling car.

A large passenger car emits an average of 258g of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre, going by the US’ Environmental Protection Agency figures. So if I had used a car during those 20 years, I would have pumped out a massive 20.5 tonnes of hot air in and around Singapore.

Just think, 20 tonnes of that nasty colourless CO2 stuff that could have been wafting around the PIE and gradually rising above HDB blocks, above the Singapore Flyer, above Marina Bay Sands and then higher, above the planes descending into Changi, above Singapore, Asia even, to wherever bad gas goes when it won’t die.

Important but boring scientific note: Many gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, are involved in creating global warming but scientists say that carbon dioxide is one of the main baddies (except they use some other term). So surely, in my small way, I have done my fair share, haven’t I?

Not so fast. What about all that air travel I have made over the years, visiting relatives in New Zealand? I entered some figures in the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s carbon footprint calculator, and a round trip direct flight from Singapore to Christchurch generates about 1.3 tonnes of CO2. One trip a year for 20 years equals 26 tonnes.

Oh dear. The inconvenient truth – I have saved the planet from 20 tonnes of CO2 by going carless, but I have contributed 26 tonnes by flying. It was almost enough to make me want to go out and buy a car (well, a hybrid one at least). Do they give out carbon credits retrospectively? If so, perhaps I could put that towards the deposit.

On the other hand, perhaps I am being too hard on myself. The air travel was for the essential reason of seeing family, and even in the more recent days of Skype, there is only so much screen-to-screen contact a relationship can handle.

And what is a wannabe tree-hugger to do? After all, those climate-change scientists seem to be forever jetting off to conferences here and there without a qualm, generating hot air on many levels, I might point out.

Meanwhile, there was still one figure I had to account for – the carbon emissions from the buses I travelled on. I had been reluctant to do this, wanting to cling to the moral high ground of not being one of those car users who often travel in solitary but “un-eco-friendly” splendour. But the fact is, buses do use fuel and the residue of that stuff goes somewhere.

Happily, the result was a greenie victory for me. Bus company SMRT, on a website for its Go Green campaign in 2010, says that when travelling by bus, your carbon footprint is 73g per passenger kilometre. So my 25km bus journey to work in Toa Payoh from Clementi results in 1.825kg of CO2 emitted, against a choking 6.4kg by car.

Bottom line: Over 20 years, using a car to get around in Singapore would have resulted in 20 tonnes of carbon emitted. Using a bus emitted 5.8 tonnes. I’ll be keeping my ez-link card for a while yet, then.

Helping my numbers look good is the fact that Singapore’s buses appear to be very energy-efficient, probably due to things like frequent fleet upgrades, diesel use, adopting engines that comply with high eco-standards, and those go-faster stripes down the side. (I made that last one up). Most Internet carbon footprint sites attribute buses with higher CO2 output than Singapore’s. Carbon Independent, for example, puts London buses at a dirty 90g a kilometre, on just fuel alone.

Kudos, then, to Singapore’s public transport planners, for being smart and doing the numbers. Targeting fuel efficiency in buses in high- population cities is very sensible. I am a living example of how this can work.

Just think, thanks to me, you are breathing a little easier. Well, perhaps that is a slight exaggeration. But I am doing my bit for the planet, one bus trip at a time. Now, if only we all could do something about that non-greenie globe-trotting.