Report on New England clean energy firms

necec-logoI had the opportunity to hear Nick d’Arbeloff, president of the New England Clean Energy Council, give a talk on Thursday, April 23, titled: “The Case for Energy Transformation: Climate Change, Energy Security, and Global Fossil Fuel Supply.”

d’Arbeloff extensively discussed the causes of global warming and the need for more sustainable energy supplies.  Near the end of his presentation, he highlighted some of New England’s leading clean energy firms, in a wide range of categories.  I thought this list was highly-targeted, and wanted to share it below, along with links to the various firms’ websites:

  1. A123 Systems – batteries
  2. Aircuity – energy efficiency
  3. Aspen Aerogels – advanced insulation
  4. EnerNOC – demand response for utilities
  5. Evergreen Solar – vertically integrated solar PV
  6. FloDesign Wind Turbine – turbine technology
  7. General Compression – energy storage (nacelle technology)
  8. GreenFuel – algae-based biofuel
  9. Konarka – thin film solar
  10. Mascoma – cellulostic ethanol
  11. ORPC – marine turbine techology
  12. Protonex – Fuel cells
  13. Qteros – cellulostic ethanol
  14. Ze-gen – waste-to-energy

d’Arbeloff concluded by explaining that despite the dire environmental trends (coupled with unstable energy prices and finite fossil fuel supplies), there will be a bright “green” future.  He said this will be made possible, first, by the right policy, which will unleash innovation and free markets to solve our energy problems.

The event was hosted by Goodwin Procter LLP, and organized by my high school, BB&N.  A special thanks to my friend, Jonathan Shapira, author of the Cleantech Investing in Israel blog, for making it happen.

Trendwatching.com’s 12 eco-trends to watch

Hey all – I wanted to share this interesting briefing on Trendwatching.com about eco trends that present exciting opportunities for marketers and entrepreneurs.

Trendwatching refers to these opportunities as an eco-bounty, and they provide the following definition: “ECO-BOUNTY refers to the numerous opportunities, both short and long term, for brands that participate in the epic quest for a sustainable society. Some of these opportunities exist despite the current recession, others are fueled by it, not in the least because of new rules and regulations. Downturn-obsessed brands who lose their eco-focus will find themselves left out in the cold when the global economy starts recovering.”

Have a great weekend!

Key findings from Direct Marketing Going Green panel

875191As I wrote before, I was on a panel titled “DM Going Green – Separating Fact and Fiction” on January 13.  The session, which was organized by the New England Direct Marketing Association, was interesting and the conversation was lively.

Floyd Kemske, who serves as Editor of NEDMA News and Creative Director at Amergent, wrote up a nice summary from the event.  As it is not online yet, I’m pleased to include select portions of the piece below:

****From NEDMA News****
The session, moderated by Mariah Hunt, Senior Production Manager at Digitas, featured four practitioners from the front lines of the campaign for industry sustainability.

Each panelist provided a unique perspective on sustainability, its achievability, and its benefits. Ben Grossman, Director, Green Marketing & Sustainability Practice, Grossman Marketing Group , for example, has been instrumental in developing a model program for his company, which offsets 100% of its energy use through an organization called Renewable Choice Energy. This allows Grossman Marketing’s customers to credibly claim they make their printed collateral with certified wind power. In addition, Grossman has replaced petroleum-based window material in its window envelopes with corn-based material, which is both compostable and recyclable. Although the corn-based windows cost more, Grossman said, the company absorbs the premium so its customers pay the same as if they’d bought the petroleum-based ones.

According to Grossman, the company’s sustainability practices confer benefits in terms of increased sales, reduced costs, and more productive recruitment. But he advised the audience that sustainability isn’t something you can just say you do. “Customers are smart,” he said, “and they are conversant with the issues. They can discern a real commitment.” Transparency is important, he said. “Give people a way to dig down and investigate.” If you work at it and you are sincere, he said, you can use sustainability as a competitive advantage.

Mary McCormick, Senior Account Manager, Neenah Paper Inc., said her company was committed to manufacturing products with high post-consumer waste content, FSC-certification, and reduced carbon footprint. Before delving into some of the technical aspects of sustainable paper manufacture, she may have confirmed Grossman’s assertion about competitive advantage when she noted that the invitation for President Obama’s inauguration was printed on Neenah paper, chosen because of the company’s sustainability practices.

FSC certification, which is the premier paper certification standard, guarantees a chain of custody for pulp products from the harvest site to the finished product. It doesn’t simply guarantee sustainability. It also addresses social issues (e.g., rights of indigenous peoples) and forest recovery as well. Neenah’s website offers a calculator you can use to find the environmental savings you will achieve by using FSC papers. Neenah has also developed no-new-tree papers, including one manufactured from sugar cane bagasse.

The panel presentations were followed by a lively discussion in which some members of the audience sought proof that sustainability practices could increase sales. None of the panelists could cite such proof, but Ben Grossman stepped up and said that if anyone in the room wanted to conduct a test to determine whether a legitimate green logo would boost response to a mailing, his company was willing to subsidize it. There’s a man who backs up his belief in sustainability!

Financial Times: Why sustainability is still going strong

financialtimes_logoA friend of mine sent along the following link to a piece written by Duke professors Daniel Vermeer and Robert Clemen, about the importance of a refined sustainability strategy during this economic crisis.  Vermeer is the executive director of the Corporate Sustainability Initiative at the Duke Fuqua School of Business, and Clemen is professor and faculty director of the Corporate Sustainability Initiative.

The piece, published last Thursday in the Financial Times, is titled “Managing in a downturn: Why sustainability is still going strong” and is a must-read.  Vermeer and Clemen’s main point is that given the current difficult business climate, organizations will understandably make changes to their sustainability and corporate governance efforts.  However, they warn against doing the bare minimum, as those organizations that fail to show a “commitment will find themselves at risk when the economic conditions improve.”

They make some interesting points, introduce some interesting people like Marcus Roberts, especially in the conclusion, and I wanted to make sure all of you saw it.  Here’s the link to the full story.

News roundup – it’s about the wind

As I have written in the past, renewable energy is critical to our nation’s future – not only from a carbon emissions perspective but also for national security reasons.

My firm’s adoption of and support for renewable energy (we offset 100% of our energy with Green-e certified wind power through Renewable Choice, the firm that both Whole Foods and Burt’s Bees work with to offset their energy usage) has enabled us to offer products and services to our clients that have helped them support the environment, without adding any extra cost to their respective bottom lines.  Because my firm made the commitment more than two years ago to absorb the additional cost of these wind power credits, we have been able to grow our business in turbulent times and attract new and progressive clients.

I am pleased to share two exciting news pieces:

  1. A PDF of an article published last month by the American Marketing Association’s Marketing News magazine (a live link is not yet available).  The staff collected a range of good and bad marketing campaigns from 2008 and asked various marketing professionals to chime in.  They asked me to comment on the marketing of T. Boone Pickens’ wind power initiative (which is now on hold due to economic concerns) – the news brief is on page 1 of the attachment.
  2. An article in The Somerville News (a newspaper in my company’s home market) about recent successes my family firm has had as a result of our green initiatives (one correction I need to make is that the reporter spoke with my brother, David, but refers to him as Steve, who is my father and president of the company).

In this increasingly difficult business climate, I can certainly attest to the importance of corporate sustainability and social responsibility programs as a means of differentiation from one’s competition (not to mention the right thing to do!).  Although organizations are looking harder for lower prices than they have ever done before, they are also very much interested in working with a partner who they respect and can learn from.  If your company does not have sustainability initiatives in place now, I implore you to start thinking about them.  Not only can they help you generate interest from prospective clients, but they can also help you save money (on energy, water, etc) – which is now more important than ever.

Cape Wind one step closer to approval

logo_01Cape Wind, the nation’s first proposed offshore wind farm, moved one step closer to final approval on Friday, when the Minerals Management Service (MMS) issued a favorable final review of the project.

Please click here for a story in the Boston Globe.

Please click here for the full report from MMS.

Support for Cape Wind is broad in Massachusetts; in fact, the project has helped create awareness of, and demand for marketing materials made with renewable energy.  I hope this project moves to construction, as it would provide much-needed electricity to Massachusetts, and would serve as a shining example of renewable energy ingenuity for this region.

Boston Globe: Catalyzing the clean-energy economy

new_england_clean_energy_councilThe Boston Globe published an interesting op-ed piece earlier this week with suggestions of ways that the incoming secretary of energy, Steven Chu, can spur the development of clean technologies in the United States.  The article, co-authored by Nick d’Arbeloff, the executive director of the New England Clean Energy Council, and Hemant Taneja, a managing director of at General Catalyst Partners and the council’s co-chairman, is aggressive, but elegant in its simplicity.  Clearly, the public chatter about clean energy has died down as oil prices have tumbled from $147 to less than $40 per barrel.  Nevertheless, these are very important issues that Chu must address , so our nation can avoid another energy bubble in the future, reduce our dependence on unstable regimes for our energy supply, and fight global warming.

Here’s a link to the article.

Forbes.com: “How To Go Green And Stay Cost-Competitive”

green_061

Courtesy of Forbes.com

Forbes ran a story Friday on how green practices can help businesses compete and succeed.  The reporter heard about our success with our wind power initiative, through which we’re able to help our clients produce their marketing communications materials with Green-e certified wind power at no extra cost, and included us in the article.  Below are 2 links.  The first one is to the article.  The second one is to the slideshow associated with the story (we’re slide 7).

  1. Link to article
  2. Link to slideshow (we’re on page 7)

Despite the recent drop in oil prices, people are still very much interested in renewable energy and the concept of weaning our country off foreign oil.  I have written before about what we believe are the five best ways to go green on a print project. Using renewable energy, especially wind power, is definitely at the top of the list, as it allows an organization to send a values-laden message to its constituents without adding any extra cost to their bottom line, which is especially important in these turbulent economic times.

A must read – Al Gore’s NYTimes column (11/9/2008)

green-wind-turbine-30-96-66-2Al Gore wrote an excellent column in the New York Times on Sunday, 11/9, in which he lays out a very clear and sensible five-part plan to get America to produce 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years.  Although he has launched the We Campaign which has pushed this goal, this article is a quick and easy read, and as such, I highly recommend you take a look.

Without further ado, here’s a link to the piece.

Best practices in green printing: using printed collateral to support your organizational mission

My firm does a fair amount of work for SkyFuel, a solar energy company headquartered in New Mexico.  SkyFuel is a cutting-edge clean technology provider that has been recognized for their pioneering work in the renewable energy space.

SkyFuel needs to disseminate their ideas in printed form at trade shows, investor presentations and other industry events.  When they publish such literature, we have partnered with them to help make these pieces as green as possible, while always watching the bottom line.  For their uncoated items (business cards, letterhead, etc), we use a specific paper from the Mohawk Options line that is 100% post-consumer recycled.

Image courtesy of SkyFuel

Lately, when printing brochures for their various products as well as posters for a recent launch event, the client wanted to use coated paper, especially since the pieces contained images of the sun, so having the paper shine in the light was important.  We worked with the SkyFuel team to choose a stock made by New Leaf Paper that has the highest degree of post-consumer content of any paper on the market.  On all of their coated pieces, the following copy is included in a prominent position: “Printed on New Leaf paper that is FSC-certified and made with 60% post-consumer recycled fiber and processed chlorine free.  Energy used is 100% certified renewable or offset with “green tags.”

SkyFuel is an example of a best-practice leader in their field that leverages printed collateral to support their organizational mission to be good stewards of the environment.  Experience has shown that when a company couples a deep commitment to the environment with marketing pieces that underscore this mission, their message resonates most effectively with key constituents.  SkyFuel also is very transparent about the environmental benefits of their various printed pieces, which makes the green attributes even more tangible for the reader.