In 2009, Susan Gladwin, Senior Global Program Manager at Autodesk launched the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program with the objective to assist cleantech startups through deployment of Autodesk digital prototyping software.
As Autodesk's cleantech initiative global lead, Susan Gladwin is responsible for leading the company's cleantech program and industry strategy. In this role, Ms. Gladwin manages Autodesk's partnerships with cleantech companies and stakeholders in North America, Europe, and Asia, and tracks the sector's sustainability best practices.
It's been an exciting three weeks since we announced the "Cleantech Goes Social" contest, in partnership with Facebook. So far, we've received over 100 entries, with more rolling in every day. Our diverse pool of applicants ranges from students to large corporations and, to date, represents over 25 different countries. Another exciting development is our partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which, as a technical supporter of the contest, is encouraging the use of open data to help people reduce their environmental impact.
Looking for inspiration or don’t know where to start? Head over to the new Resources section on the Contest website, which offers useful sources for entrants, including Facebook application tutorials, case studies of successful Facebook integrations, and open energy-related data provided by the DOE.
We've got two more weeks to go! Do you have an idea on how Facebook can be used to encourage individuals to reduce their environmental impact and increase the adoption of clean technologies? Enter the contest here and email your completed pitch deck to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 4th to be considered for a chance to win $25,000, personalized guidance from Cleantech Group and Facebook, and the opportunity to present your pitch at Cleantech Forum San Francisco.
Register here for Cleantech Forum San Francisco – Sustainability Meets Innovation: Reigniting Cleantech, March 18-20. Speakers include Autodesk, Bill McDonough, Facebook, GE, Google, Morgan Stanley, and more!
GreenOrder at SXSW Eco
From engaging employees in company sustainability efforts to getting consumers to recycle, creating an environment that makes people change their actions can unlock huge potential. As part of our partnership with SXSW Eco, GreenOrder has brought together experts in the field of behavior change for an interactive panel led by GreenOrder Principal Michael Ellis.
Here's a sneak peek of the unique perspectives featured on our panel, "Why Should I? Approaches to Drive Behavior Change."
I had the opportunity to attend the much-anticipated Rio+20 conference last week. What I thought would be a week-long vacation with a couple of interesting talks thrown in turned out to be six long, but invigorating days of trying to keep up with all that was happening and absorb as much of it as possible. Outside of the official negotiations, there were over 500 side events on topics ranging from big-picture to super-specific, with discussions heated to monotonous, and outlooks glass-half-full to no-point-in-crying-over-spilt-milk. Over 50,000 people attended.
Armed with my notepad and pen, I captured snippets of both on-stage and off-stage conversations along the way.
Coming out of the conference, the question I’ve been asked most is: “Do you think it was a success?” I’ve picked out a few quotes that I think add up to a well-rounded perspective on the conference, and allow you to make up your own mind about the outcome.
As a sustainability consultant at GreenOrder, I have the good fortune of being able to attend events that feature sustainability leaders from many sectors. Across the keynotes, breakout sessions, and workshops I attended in 2011, there were three recurring themes sustainability practitioners were talking about this year:
The need for speed… and urgency
I was struck this year by the way corporate leaders talked about urgency - a tone reserved in the past for environmental activists and worry warts. At the GreenBiz Innovation Forum in San Francisco, keynoter Hannah Jones, VP of Sustainable Business & Innovation for Nike, posed the question: “With this sense of urgency, how do we take sharing to a whole new level to free up resources to give more time to disruption?” At the same event, PwC’s Robert Shelton also pointed to the fact that the problem we face today is “rampant incrementalism,” indicating the need for disruptive change that can move the field forward.
Downstate, in Los Angeles, the theme of this year’s Opportunity Green conference was “Acceleration.” Vermont Governor, Peter Shumlin, who was honored with the 2011 Green Governor of the Year Award stressed, “We can’t move fast enough to end our addiction to oil… If we don’t move with extraordinary speed … we won’t have any species left.”
"The single greatest way to change the world is overcoming cynicism."
This was the challenge laid down by Lord Michael Hastings in the opening keynote of the 2011 Net Impact conference and it caught me unawares.
Is cynicism really the biggest barrier to solving global issues? Is our distrust of others’ apparent motives stopping each of us from taking action?
Throughout the conference, CEOs, entrepreneurs and thought leaders shared lessons they’ve learned from business and life experiences that can help us overcome cynicism and drive purposeful change:
What if we weren’t afraid to fail?
Failure with a capital F discourages risk taking and prevents us from achieving disruptive innovation. That topic was a major theme this month at the GreenBiz Innovation Forum.
Nicole Boyer, Managing Director at Adaptive Edge, pointed out that Silicon Valley is one of the few places where failure is expected, accepted, and even embraced. If a venture capital firm is considering investing in a startup and that startup hasn’t failed at all, it raises a red flag. If a startup hasn’t failed what has it learned?
What if the whole country adopted this perception of failure, not as a worst-case scenario but rather as a way for companies to experiment, learn and innovate? "I want 100 people failing, I want 1,000 people failing, I want a million people failing," John Wilbanks, then VP of Science at Creative Commons, said. "It costs almost nothing to start a failed software company, it costs almost nothing to start a failed web apps company, but it costs an enormous amount to start a failed sustainability company. And we need to change that, so we can have the same amount of money going in and a lot more innovation coming out."
This sentiment was echoed in brainstorm sessions during the forum. Boyer asked the audience to call out ways to make their companies more innovative. The term “failing forward” was offered as a way to reframe failure, encourage risk taking, and bring the startup spirit to the rest of the business world.
Could collaboration be the "carbon-free jet fuel" the sustainability community needs to propel forward at a faster rate? Collaboration was a major theme of the 2011 GreenBiz Innovation Forum (IF11), which I attended last week in San Francisco.
For many in the corporate world, collaboration is a “scary” concept especially for those with MBAs. Traditional corporate strategy curricula have stressed competition as the pathway to profitability using concepts such as game theory or two-party, zero sum games. Strategy tactics using the competition lens allow for only one winner who takes all after a stealthy battle that often involves “tit-for-tat” tactics (and millions in wasted dollars). The conventional wisdom was that if you tracked your opponent’s moves, you could begin to guess corporate behavior which would eventually lead to a set of micro-strategy preemptions or responses. This sounds exhausting.
There is still a time and a place for competition in business, however, many of the notable presenters at IF11 made the case for bucking conventional corporate strategy isolationism and taking the leap of faith toward collaboration. Not just for the sake of collaboration, but because it made good business sense.
How we work was on my mind at last week’s Business Climate 2011 conference as the new edition of a book by my company’s CEO, Dov Seidman, launched on September 21.
The book, entitled How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything...in Business (and in Life), made me realize that Business Climate was about how businesses must fundamentally change the way they work to become more sustainable.
First, we must work within and between companies more openly and transparently. At the conference, Joel Makower, executive editor of GreenBiz Group, pointed out how the convergence of multiple technologies is creating new opportunities. This convergence requires new collaborations between organizations.
GE’s Mark Vachon agreed. He emphasized that GE’s ecomagination is breaking down traditional silos to create new solutions for customers. Andrew Shapiro, founder and President of GreenOrder, an LRN Advisory Group, also lauded the ecomagination Challenge as an example of a large company collaborating with venture capital firms and dozens of entrepreneurial portfolio companies.
In late June, GreenBiz hosted VERGE, an intriguing roundtable discussion among top executives about how vehicles, information, buildings, and energy all fit together and what the convergence of these technologies might mean for the future of business and society.
The meeting highlighted some very cool innovations waiting to be unleashed, and also exposed a major opportunity: improving how we enable people in a user-friendly manner to help create the kind of future VERGE technologies enable.
Amidst the brilliance in the room, it became clear to me that at the current pace technology is advancing, it is only a matter of time before we have access to all the data and gadgets we need to address our future energy challenges. A full list of the transformative technologies has been chronicled here. My personal favorite is the platooning concept that will allow vehicles to drive themselves on freeways in close proximity to each other at fast speeds thereby curbing their carbon footprint, all while you relax and watch DVDs of the Giants winning the World Series in 2011.
An optimistic vision, yes, but even the most promising innovative technologies will not reach their full energy saving and carbon-reducing potentials unless we create a culture that is dedicated to meaningful change. In order to do that, we must overcome one key obstacle: people.
On April 21st, leaders in sustainability and tech gathered together for the third annual Green:Net conference in San Francisco. The conference explored issues at the intersection of green and IT, and a central theme that emerged is the need and opportunity to provide consumers with better and more insightful information about energy.
David Crane, CEO and President of NRG Energy, commented on the challenge of making energy tangible for consumers. He stated, somewhat in jest, "Consumers can't see, smell, or conceptualize our product, and if they touch it, they die." His point: if we want consumers to be cognizant of their energy use, they must first be able to visualize what a kilowatt actually is.
At last week’s Fortune Brainstorm Green conference, a lot of speakers stood out, but one was head above the rest in terms of eloquence and insight. Van Jones, who had a front row seat in the White House, explained why the Administration lost on cap and trade. “We focused on the technical details – the head space. We let the heart space open, and the Tea Party swooped in.” They won the argument that government should not regulate carbon emissions.
Obama won the election on hearts, and on “yes we can.” He effectively argued that the government could and would be a partner.
But instead of continuing to dominate the hearts space post-election, the Obama Administration switched to details – including cap and trade – and stuck to the head game, which allowed the Tea Party to win hearts, reframe the debate, and win on an anti-regulation platform in the mid-term elections.
What is behind Jone’s thesis is that political concepts range from the rational, often elitist, to the emotional, often populist. The head game is all rational and the heart game is all emotion. As I have previously outlined on the Economist Ideas Economy blog, and has been well argued by Chip and Dan Heath in Made to Stick, reason drives decisions, but emotion drives action.
On Thursday, February 17th, Andrew Shapiro will be speaking at the The Economist: Ideas Economy's Intelligent Infrastructure conference on the cultural infrastructure that is necessary to support technology innovation. Follow Andrew's appearance at the event in real-time on Twitter #IdeasEconomy.
In advance of the conference, as part of their ongoing look at infrastructure, The Economist asked Andrew and other speakers to deliver a "Flash interview" -- three short questions relevant to the events' themes. Andrew's interview, re-posted here, originally appeared on the Ideas Economy blog.
Andrew Shapiro, GreenOrder's Founder and President, recently interviewed Jon Lauckner, VP of General Motors and the new head of GM Ventures, at the Clean Tech Summit last month. (video)
I recently attended the Renewable Energy Financing Forum (REFF), put on by the American Council on Renewable Energy
(ACORE) here in San Francisco. REFF is a bit more buttoned up than your
average sustainability conference, but do not let that deter you.
Several of the sessions were very interesting and valuable. Worth
- Renewables seem to be alive and well despite policy and market uncertainty and low energy commodity costs
organizations are making big bets. The US Navy is surprising in its
dedication and commitment to renewables – they have set a goal of 50%
renewable energy by 2020
- The renewable energy field has a
uniform look. East coast corporate sustainability professionals are suit
and tie, west coast are jeans and oxford. For renewable folks, it blue
suits as far as the eye can see.
Today Andrew Shapiro spoke on a webinar panel with our friends at the Cleantech Group and Tore Land, Director of Ecomagination EMEA, on a fascinating topic – how are companies today working to accelerate and scale the pace of innovation when it comes to clean tech? The full presentation can be found here.
(co-authored with Andrew Collier)
Food is precious and perishable. There are specialty crops that generate exorbitant profits and commodities with razor-thin margins. Farmers are squeezed on one side while subsidies lead to surplus on the other.
One watershed lacks enough nitrogen for growth while another is choked with excess fertilizer draining into an estuary dead zone. Too much water brought floods in the Midwestern U.S. and sent corn prices soaring in June; not enough water meant Russia burned and wheat prices leapt by 50 percent in July.
The New York Times covers obesity in Dallas and malnourishment in Djibouti with the same objective, detached tone. The average American spends less than a tenth of personal expenditure on food. The average Indonesian? Over half.
Agriculture is extremely complicated. Adding sustainability to the mix makes it more so. The Sustainable Agriculture Partnerships 2010 Conference, held last week in San Francisco, attempted to cover this thorny topic. The gathering included farmers, food processors, crop science companies, coffee growing cooperatives from Nicaragua and brand name firms you find in your kitchen cabinet. Combining all actors in one room to discuss food needs in a growing world provided a unique glimpse into the challenges faced when implementing sustainability. There were four areas in particular we can draw on: