Cleantech Group convened its first official Oil & Gas Innovation Summit on May 8-9, 2013, in Calgary, Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada, Cenovus Energy, General Electric, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). This small, invite-only gathering brought together some of the most important companies in the Canadian Oil Sands and a number of the world’s Oil & Gas majors to discuss the evolving ecosystem of venture-driven innovation in the sector, as well as to evaluate eight early-stage startups that we handpicked to present to the audience on diverse topics including upgrading, water treatment, and pipeline technologies.
Posted by: Janelle Heslop /
April 01, 2013 /
Near-failing grades and where test prep went wrong
Last week, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its quadrennial report card on America's infrastructure. The report examines the status of 16 of America's infrastructure systems across several factors such as the systems' ability to meet current and future capacity demands, existing and near-future condition, innovation, and funding. In somewhat predictable fashion, all water-related infrastructure systems (drinking water, wastewater, inland waterways, and levees) scored a 'D' or below. It's not that the rest of America is doing much better--the average score was a 'D+' with the highest score at a 'B-' grabbed by the solid waste industry--but when the whole class is failing, who really wants to be the dunce that's below the curve?
This week's indicator is 9.1 Gt CO2e, which is the potential annual reduction in global GHG emissions from information and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology by 2020, according to a report by the Carbon War Room. 9.1 Gt is roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of the United States and India. But beyond carbon abatement, M2M technology represents an enormous business opportunity: the industry as a whole is projected to be worth nearly $1 trillion by 2020. As the report states, "If we utilize technologies such as M2M to their full potential, 'low carbon' will by synonymous with economic growth and sustainable prosperity, now and into the future."
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.
This week's indicator is 37 percent, which is the percentage of companies reporting profits from sustainability, according to a study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. This represents a 23% increase over last year.
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 email@example.com 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!
Posted by: Samantha Buechner /
June 18, 2013 /
Cleantech Group and Facebook challenge you to use social to accelerate cleantech
by Sheeraz Haji
Cleantech products and services are inherently social. When my neighbors install solar panels on their roofs or buy an EV, they want to tell all their friends about it. Demonstrating how one is contributing to the broader public good by reducing their impact on the environment has become somewhat of a status symbol (at least in Berkeley!). However, the cleantech industry has not done a great job of using the web in creative ways to amplify the social aspects of cleantech products and services.
With that in mind, Cleantech Group and Facebook are excited to announce "Cleantech Goes Social," a contest that aims to harness the power of Facebook's billion-person network to accelerate cleantech adoption and engage the public on sustainability issues. We are challenging cleantech companies and others to find new ways to use Facebook to accelerate cleantech, whether it's through an app on the Facebook platform or a new method of integrating Facebook into products and services. We are asking contestants to tell us their story about how they will use Facebook to address energy and resources challenges, accelerate cleantech adoption, and engage the public in dialogue about sustainability issues.
The winner of the contest will receive $25,000 of prize money, as well as personalized guidance from my Cleantech Group colleagues and members of the Facebook team on how to deliver on their concept. Cleantech Group, Facebook, and members of the Global Cleanweb Initiative will judge the entries. The three finalists will be invited to Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2013 (March 18-20), where they will pitch their concepts to a panel of investors in front of an audience. To make this experience as interactive as possible, we will ask participants of Cleantech Forum San Francisco to vote on the three finalists. The winner will then be announced from the main stage on March 20th.
In the spirit of social, this contest is very much open. We invite everyone, from around the world, to enter, including cleantech companies, enterprises, non-profits, developers, students and others with a passion for cleantech.
How are you taking cleantech social? Enter the contest now!
By Michael Ellis and Truman Semans
Today is a very exciting day for GreenOrder and, we believe, for our clients. Earlier today, we announced that GreenOrder will be merging with Cleantech Group to form a new company focused on helping clients grow through sustainability and innovation. (For more information, read our press release.)
We've long admired Cleantech Group for their iconic cleantech forums that bring together hundreds of leaders in the technology, investor, and corporate communities; for their industry-leading i3 platform with information on over 20,000 cleantech-related companies; and for their advisory work helping companies like Veolia and EDF better understand and source innovation.
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:
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.
Ray Anderson, who passed away last week, was a pioneer of sustainable business. For me, he was also a personal hero. When I started GreenOrder in 2000, few enterprises had adopted a truly strategic and integrated approach to environmental responsibility and innovation. Fewer still had a CEO who was such a passionate and effective advocate for both the moral and business case for sustainability. Interface, the carpet company Ray founded, had both.
This piece is also featured on the Forbes CSR Blog.
are you’ve never heard of the Arenga sugar palm tree. No, it’s not the
next untapped source of limitless, economically viable, scalable biofuel
feedstock (for that, perhaps see the latest on recently discovered
algae that thrive at the hot temperatures needed to most effectively
breakdown and convert biomass into fuels). But, as National Geographic described last
month, Arenga does have some remarkable features that could provide an
important, if small-scale, piece of the sustainable energy and
The energy crisis is a global problem, so it
makes sense for us to seek a global solution. Supplanting fossil fuels
with biofuels has, with good reason, emerged as a prime candidate.
High-yield grasses? Fast-growing shrubs? Carbon-hungry algae?
The next great hope and their champions abound. Pike Research, a firm
that advises investors in the energy sector, recently concluded that
algae-based biofuels alone could become a trillion dollar market opportunity.
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.
Every June, GreenOrder finds itself flooded with new talent from a range of top graduate programs. Here’s a look at how GreenOrder is continuing to attract a diverse range of sustainability experts.
Michelle Lin joins GreenOrder as a summer associate from the University of Michigan where she is earning a dual MBA/MS from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment.
Prior to joining LRN, Michelle held summer positions at IDEO where she worked to identify future product and service offerings for a utility's customers and at the Civic Consulting Alliance where she partnered with City departments to achieve the goals of the Chicago Climate Action Plan. In addition, she was formerly a consultant at the Corporate Executive Board and worked with Fortune 500 companies to enhance the productivity and effectiveness of their sales organizations.
By Catherine Potter
More and more utility companies, including those that operate in markets without customer choice, are waking up to the power of customer-centricity. Even regulated utilities with captive customers need to delight their customers to drive meaningful growth. That’s because the primary source for growth is not in delivering undifferentiated electrons to captive customers, but in delivering innovative services that customers choose to opt in to (or out of).
Many utility companies take comfort in the fact that a majority of their customers are “satisfied.” But unpacking the details behind this seemingly reassuring data is essential, and requires examining the extreme ends of their customer satisfaction curve, not the middle. Here are two topics every forward-thinking utility executive should know how to tackle:
By Andrew Shapiro
The clean-tech field is a decade old by some measures, which seems like a good time to take stock and ask: How are we doing?
I say "we" because, for more than a decade, I have advised large companies on clean tech, as well as green business generally, and I've been an early-stage investor in the sector. (By clean tech, I mean technologies that address resource and environmental challenges -- and I'm thinking mostly of new companies, though some large corporations are notably active in the space.)
In my view, success for clean tech means achieving scalable impact in terms of returns for both investors and the environment. By these standards, are we succeeding?
all swimming in data. It's no longer just having the data that matters;
these days, the real value is in knowing how to slice it and interpret
the results. If only there were an app for that...
Last week the EPA announced its Apps for the Environment challenge, formally inviting developers to design apps that will pull from the agency's troves of data
and translate the numbers into more useful formats. The purpose,
according to the EPA, is "to engage the software developer community to
create new and innovative uses of the EPA's data for the benefit of the
public." The challenge runs through the middle of September, and winners
will be honored at an event in Washington, D.C., and have their apps
featured on the EPA's website.
By Michael Ellis
Last month, Joel Makower, executive editor of the GreenBiz Group, wrote that green marketing is over. His conclusions, similar to those of a recent study by OgilvyEarth, ignited impassioned commentary among green consultants and marketers.
But it hasn’t gotten broader attention--which may be a good thing, since Joel’s argument is easy to misinterpret. Indeed, as Joel importantly points out, marketing green is thriving in many ways and evolving rapidly; just a narrow slice of the practice is fading away.
While Joel doesn’t directly define green marketing in the piece, his
implicit definition is narrow. “Green marketing… is aimed at getting
people to buy stuff that is better for the environment,” he writes. It
focuses on a “more just and sustainable world;” any marketing that
focuses on non-environmental aspects of a product (e.g., hybrid cars’
convenience) isn’t “green marketing”. Furthermore, Joel points out that
“the business-to-business landscape is wholly different. A wide range
of things companies buy… are being marketed effectively for their