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75 Green Businesses » Energy efficiency

Archive for the ‘Energy efficiency’ Category

How to Start Your Own Green Business- “Starting Green”

Friday, October 30th, 2009

When it comes to the environment it often seems like we only hear about the problems we face.  And there are problems, to be sure, big ones, but these problems also present us with opportunities to provide solutions.  My books, blogs and site are all designed to show the way forward for businesses to deliver these solutions, including my recently released book “Starting Green: An Ecopreneur’s Toolkit to Start a Green Business – From Business Plan to Profits”. 

 

My book “75 Green Businesses” took all of these environmental problems and turned them around to show the many opportunities they hold.  Looking at how we produce energy, build homes, produce food, provide services, use water, and take care of waste, “75 Green Businesses” highlights the many opportunities for greener, cleaner, businesses can provide solutions and build strong businesses as well.

 

One of the comments people often have about “75 Green Businesses” is that they want more detailed instructions to move from vision to profitable business.  That’s where “Starting Green” comes in, picking up where “75 Green Businesses” left off.  “Starting Green” is the how-to guide to make these businesses a reality, providing insight into the green angle on business fundamentals like planning, marketing, and raising capital, and talking in more depth about the hottest green business opportunities today, including solar, energy efficiency, franchises, direct sales, and retail. 

 

I got the chance to talk to a great number of outstanding green leaders while working on the book, for which I am extremely grateful.  These are people who are unique not only in their commitment to building a better world, but in their demonstration over and over again that green businesses really can be both successful and profitable.  In talking with green leaders like Gary Hirshberg, CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm, and Hunter Lovins, co-author of Natural Capitalism, I was reminded how they have paved the way for so many others.  An increasing number of businesses in a wide range of industries are following the green business path every day.  And if they can do it, so can you.

 

Here’s the Table of Contents of “Starting Green”, to give you a taste.  You can also use the “Look Inside” function on Amazon to browse through, or Google books, to see more of what it has to offer:

 

Preface:       How to Join the Great Green Upswing                                      

Introduction

Chapter 1:    Welcome to the Green Revolution

Chapter 2:     RISE to the Opportunity

Chapter 3:     From Green Dreams to Open Doors

Chapter 4:     Finding Money to Start and Grow Your Business

Chapter 5:     How to Green Your Business Operations and Facilities

Chapter 6:     Green Marketing and Communications

Chapter 7:     The Role of Government - Carrots and Sticks

Chapter 8:     How to Start a Green Franchise

Chapter 9:     How to Start an Energy Efficiency Business     

Chapter 10:   How to Start a Green Retail Business

Chapter 11:   How to Start a Renewable Energy Business

Chapter 12:   How to Start a Direct Sales Business: Small, Green, and Beautiful

Conclusion:    The Conserver Economy and Beyond

Resources

 

Here’s what some of the green leaders have to say about “Starting Green”:

 

“Glenn Croston’s Starting Green is the indispensable guide for the entrepreneur of the 21st Century. Croston’s extensive research and incredible examples will illuminate the incredible opportunities within Green Business. Even as a green business owner for the past two decades, I drew countless ideas and inspiration from this book.”

-Eric Corey Freed, principal of organicARCHITECT, author of Green Building & Remodeling for Dummies

 

“We face great challenges today in our economy and environment, but the shift toward sustainability offers even greater opportunities. Starting Green gives you the tools to join this revolution with a business of your own. The business case for sustainability is clear; what we need now is action. This book will help you pave the way forward and thrive.”

-Hunter Lovins, Co-author of Natural Capitalism, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and president and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions

 

“The emerging green economy offers a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators, building everything from green-minded service providers to breakthrough products and technologies. Glenn Croston has created a valuable roadmap that can help find the profitable opportunity that’s right for you.”

-Joel Makower, executive editor of GreenBiz.com, and author of Strategies for the Green Economy

 

I hope you’ll give it a look, and join in with the growing number of people changing how they do business to help build a more sustainable economy, profitable businesses, and a healthy world for us all to share. 

Talk to you soon.

Energy Efficiency and Consultant Training with Jim Simcoe and Ecolife Consulting

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I met someone here in San Diego I’d like to introduce you to - Jim Simcoe, the founder of Eco-Life Consulting.  Jim is advancing the green business cause in a few ways, including helping property owners to green their sites, helping to create green benefits packages, and training people to work as eco-consultants.  I had coffee and chatted with Jim, getting to know each other - I think Jim has a lot to offer.

  

“I came into this business when I owned a real estate company and saw the tremendous amounts of waste on new building construction sites,” says Simcoe.  “After doing research I found that the business I was in (real estate/development) was a major contributor to the environmental crises.  As a lifetime lover of nature I began my endeavors into green building and green remodeling.”  Like myself, having kids give Simcoe an even greater motivation for incorporating sustainability in his work, providing for a brighter world for their future while finding ways to make these changes financially attractive for businesses to implement. 

  

Today Jim consults for businesses in several areas, delivering value as well as reducing their environmental impact:

 

Sustainability strategy development and Implementation:  Establishing a vision is the first step in designing a sustainability strategy, followed by implementation of changes in daily business practices.   Jim has experience delivering value with consulting for cost effective efficiency moves for commercial properties, schools, and homes, reducing wasted money and resources. 

 

Creating a ‘Green’ Employee Benefits Package:  Money is not the only factor in the work satisfaction of employees.  Developing a green benefits package can attract and retain top talent, keep employees motivated, and increase productivity when employees see that the company’s beliefs are aligned with their own.

 

Sustainability training and education:  No matter how great your sustainability goals and plan are, they’re not likely to work if your employees don’t understand or don’t agree with them.  Education and training ensure that your employees understand your sustainable initiatives and are committed to them.   Jim also provides an Eco Consultant training program you can buy, with a set of 6 DVDs covering a full range of sustainability topics to learn the ropes and hit the ground running with your own business. 

 

Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses You Can Start to Make Money and Make a Difference”, providing green opportunities for people from any background.  He is also the author of “Greening Your Business on a Budget” and “Starting Green: An Ecopreneur’s Guide to Starting a Green Business from Planning to Profits”.  As the founder of Starting Up Green (www.StartingUpGreen.com) and an expert blogger for Fast Company, Croston is showing others how to thrive in the green economy. 

 

 

Opportunities to be Lean and Green: The Shift from Consumer to Conserver Economy

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

The economy is looking less bleak of late in some ways, but we’re not out of the woods yet, and we might not be leaving them any time soon.  The crisis is shifting the ground beneath our feet, dramatically changing spending patterns.  People are saving their money.  While this may sound like a good thing, it’s creating great hardship for businesses that have come to rely on the old patterns of spending in the consumer economy.  This change reflects an underlying shift away from the consumer economy we have known to an emerging Conserver Economy in which people and businesses save more, waste less, and think of the long term.

 

 

These new spending patterns reflect changes in how people are living, and these changes are likely to be with us for a while.  The NY Times article of May 10 2009 “Shift to Saving May Be Downturn’s Lasting Impact” described this shift in greater detail.  The forces that enabled and egged on consumers to save less and spend more – easy credit and skyrocketing asset values – could be permanently altered by the financial crisis that spun the economy into recession.”

 

 

“Sustained increases in household saving would cause a difficult period of restructuring for the American economy, which has become increasingly driven by consumer spending,” the article goes on to say. 

 

 

While the change in spending is drying up old opportunities, the seismic shift is also creating new opportunities.  With less spending also comes more attention on getting more out of what we do spend, making our resources go farther.  People are figuring out creative new ways to live well while getting more out of less, and this change will be with us for a long time to come.  Businesses that see where the Conserver Economy is headed can adapt to this new reality and get out in front.

 

 

I previously outlined six trends for businesses to join the conserver economy including:

 

 

  • Sharing – Getting more out of goods we buy by sharing them among groups, like ridesharing (PickUpPal).
  • Renting – Getting more value out of money by only leasing what we need, like buying power from solar panels rather than buying the panels (SolarCity).
  • Repairing – Fixing old appliances, watches, and clothes, giving them a new life rather than throwing them away.
  • Reusing – Salvaging building material, selling used cars, thrift shops, and Terracycle.
  • Rebuilding – Retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient, saving energy, saving money, and fighting climate change (Sustainable Spaces).
  • Rethinking – Hummers and McMansions are out as people rethink what they really need to live well.

 

These trends also happen in large part to be green.  The leaner businesses and consumers get, squeezing more out of their money and resources, the greener they get overall.  The environment may not be the main reason some people are making changes like using energy more efficiently, but the impact is green all the same.  I described some of these opportunities in “75 Green Businesses” last summer before the Conserver Economy had really started to emerge. 

 

 

Rather than hamper the growth of the green economy, the emergence of the conserver economy reinforces the influence of the environment and the importance of making sound economic and environmental decisions for the long run.  Helping the environment and doing the right thing for the long term health of the economy are once again in alignment, and probably more so than ever.

 

 

We aren’t out of the woods yet, but these woods might not be so bad after all if we can keep our heads and chart a new path to success where lean meets green.

 

 

Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses” and “Greening Your Business on a Budget” and the founder of Starting Up Green.

What’s in the Stimulus Package (so far) For Small, Green Businesses

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed by the House of Representatives includes a number of important incentives to help both small businesses and green businesses.  While the bill has yet to make it through the Senate, it’s still worth a look to see what might be on the way.  Those businesses that are both small and green may see a double dose of support coming their way. 

 

 

Small businesses generate most of the jobs, and create a great deal of the innovation that drives economic growth.  According to the National Small Business Association, small businesses created 21.9 million jobs in the last 15 years, compared with 1.8 million for large businesses.  Small businesses are hungry, move quickly, and are able to experiment.  Out of economic necessity, a great number of people are starting businesses.  When you have little to lose, the risk of starting a business seems not so great.  Having some financial support will help small businesses keep their doors open, and keep on innovating to get our economy growing again. 

 

 

This time around green businesses are also receiving important attention in a variety of measures included in the House version of the bill.  Throughout his campaign Obama pledged to support the growth the green economy, and in the early days of his administration he appears to be true to his word.  With the green economy poised to become one of the major engines of economic growth in this century, these investments will help both the environment and the economy, creating green economy businesses that create high quality green collar jobs.

 

 

As the Executive Director of the Center for Small Business and the Environment in Washington DC, Byron Kennard is right in the thick of things, working to ensure that small, green businesses get the important support that they need.  His summary of the support for small businesses in the current package includes $30 billion in tax relief for small businesses and $13 billion in loans, lines of credit and equity capital.  The provisions include:

  • Increasing the SBA guarantee on loans up to 95% of loan value
  • Steps to improve the liquidity of small business lending markets
  • Allowing the SBA to refinance existing loans, including both those with the SBA and other loans
  • Increasing equity capital for high growth businesses
  • Lending assistance for borrowers locked out of traditional financing markets
  • Tax relief in several forms

 

The stimulus package also contains significant new support to drive the growth of green businesses, including a variety of incentives to drive the growth of renewable energy, stimulate energy efficiency efforts, and update the national electrical grid.  President Obama is calling for the production of renewable energy to double in the next 3 years, continuing its rapid growth.  Among the provisions in the over $800 House version of the stimulus package:

 

  • $10 billion to weatherize low-income homes, saving energy
  • $8 billion to increase the efficiency of government and military buildings
  • $7 billion in energy efficiency grants by state governments
  • $11 for the updated electrical smart grid
  • $8 billion in new electrical lines for the improved electrical grid
  • $8 billion in loans for renewable energy projects
  • $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research
  • $2 billion for advanced battery research

 

The stimulus package is not a done deal yet, with a Senate version of the bill still in the works.  At the end of the day, maybe getting the economy back on the same old track is not the goal.  Maybe getting the economy on a better track is the way to go.  Small, green businesses are laying track leading forward to a better future. 

The Nation’s Chief Sustainability Officer

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

With Obama’s inauguration just a few days away, the economy is still at the top of the agenda, but this does not mean that environmental initiatives are forgotten.  With just a few days left before he takes office Obama toured the Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company in Ohio that makes parts for wind turbines and gave a speech there about the economy.   He talked about the latest economic stimulus package being proposed, hoping to save or create 3-4 million jobs.  Many of these jobs are tied to expanded use of renewable energy, a long term investment in both the economy and the environment. 

 

The $850 billion economic stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, includes support for renewable energy, and energy efficiency.  The details of the plan being unveiled include $20 billion in incentives for a variety of forms of renewable energy, and $54 billion to improve the grid and to invest in energy efficiency in buildings, the electrical grid, and transportation.  In addition to solar and wind, the plan includes incentives for a broad range of other forms of renewable energy such as waste to energy, methane from landfills, and geothermal energy.

 

President-Elect Obama said in his speech:

 

“That’s why, as part of our Recovery and Reinvestment plan, we’re committing to double the production of renewable energy in the next three years, and to modernize more than 75% of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes.

 

In the process, we’ll put nearly half a million people to work building wind turbines and solar panels; constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings; and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to new jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain.”

 

This sounds like a big leap in the right direction, and it’s about time.  We have some leaping to do. 

 

We’ve had a great deal of grass roots action on the green front, with people, local and state governments taking the lead in the absence of environmental leadership at the US Government level.  This might be changing.  While the grass roots efforts are a wonderful start, an effective response to the problems we face requires a coordinated effort at the highest level, with strong leadership.  Many businesses these days are hiring Chief Sustainability Officers, the Chief Green.  Obama might just be our next Chief Green for the US, providing national leadership on both economic and environmental recovery.

 

During the presidential campaign (remember the campaign?), Thomas Friedman remarked that he was less concerned if we have the first black president, or the first woman president, than if we have the first green president.   The show’s not over yet, and hasn’t even started but the previews look good.  Let’s keep the green grass roots growing, and do what we can to support this kind of bold national action that moves us forward toward a brighter future.

Talking about Green Opportunities with Eric Corey Freed, Organic Architect

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Eric Corey Freed

Eric Corey Freed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They say that every cloud has a silver lining.  In the case of the cloud hanging over the building industry it seems to have a green one.  The building industry has been at the epicenter of the housing crisis, the credit crunch, and the recession, all rolled into one.  Housing starts have plummeted to record lows, but through all of this, the green building movement has kept on growing.

 

 

As principal of organicARCHITECT in San Francisco, Eric Corey Freed is a well known and highly-regarded green architect, helping the green building movement in its quest to change our buildings to be part of a more sustainable world.  Through his speaking, design work, consulting, and educational work he reaches out to the broad and growing green building community.  He is the author of Green Building and Remodeling for Dummies, and working on two books, Sustainable Schools, and Green Home Green Pockets, both coming out at the end of 2009.  I recently spoke with Eric about the opportunities in green building and the rest of the green economy.

 

While nobody is immune from our economic turmoil, green building seems to be doing relatively well.  “There have been statistics that while building was down in 2008 green building was up 30%, although this does not include the fourth quarter,” said Freed.  “Everything is slow lately, but specific, different areas have picked up.  For example, building owners who are looking to stand out in the market are turning to greening buildings.  There’s a pick up in the business for large commercial projects where green building is a good differentiator to stand out in a tough market.”

 

While green building is holding up well, the economic situation has had an impact, changing the features people look for in buildings.  “The downturn forces people to rethink priorities,” said Freed.  “I’ve seen a definite transition from green finishes which might be seen as a luxury to saving energy and saving water.”  The continued strength in green building can be attributed to the value it provides as a long term trend and not a fad. “We estimate that on average it costs about $4 per square foot to get LEED certified, but it pays for itself at a rate of $67 per square foot including energy saved, according to the US Green Building Council,” said Freed. “In times like these people bear down, turning to options like solar panels where there is an economic benefit.  We’ll see a boom in companies like Sustainable Spaces that address energy efficiency in buildings, and we’ll see businesses like this around the country.  Any contractor or home inspector could make this transition to the green collar economy.”

 

The green building movement creates opportunities for a variety of workers and businesses.  “I would say that there are opportunities for any trade that is loosely connected to energy or utilities (including water or sewer), whether manual, blue collar work, companies that are leasing solar equipment, or Joe the green plumber,” Freed said.  “The more that green building grows, the more pressure and opportunity there is for these business, but they have to change.  They have to change what they do, change their marketing, and change their priorities.”

 

Economics have a big impact on decisions and priorities, as we have seen in the wild swing in the price of gas.  “When gas was $4 a gallon, businesses had to change, and people were choosing smaller cars and smarter driving habits,” said Freed.  “The same goes for electricity.  When we have a carbon tax, when the cost of electricity goes up from 12 cents to 24 cents a kilowatt-hours, everyone will have to address energy efficiency.  The important thing is that it’s not from an abstract carbon footprint perspective, but from showing a tangible impact on the bottom line.”

 

There is a huge opportunity for businesses that improve the energy efficiency in millions of existing buildings in the US, helping to save money now and save resources.  To start a business improving the energy efficiency of buildings, some specific certifications are needed but they can be readily achieved.  “The main certification is Energy Star HERS rating,” said Freed.  “HERS raters are trained and certified in energy efficiency and building.  You have to take a class and take a test, very similar to home inspectors.”

 

These new business opportunities are part of the rising green collar economy, providing good jobs and businesses for those displaced from older, greyer, industries.  In addition to those who work on buildings, there are a wealth of opportunities for related businesses such as marketing, billing, web design firms, education, and other essential services.  “Along with the surge in companies that are part of the green economy there will be an equal surge in companies like these that are fluent in the language of sustainability, such as marketing companies that know how to speak to consumers about these things,” said Freed.

 

Beyond the first and second wave of green businesses, there will be a third wave, the teachers, Freed predicts.  “The first wave is the people doing the hands on work in the field with green collar jobs in renewable energy or green building,” said Freed.  “The second is the people doing the marketing, websites, accounting, hiring, and whatever else businesses need behind the scenes.  The third wave is teaching, at all levels.  We need people that take all of this information and make it available in an easy way for all sorts of green building topics, and other sustainable business areas.  We need good teachers.”

 

If you are thinking about getting involved by starting a green business, what should you keep in mind?  Freed advices green entrepreneurs to be humble.   “There is nothing wrong with saying we know we’re not perfect.  You can say ‘These are the things we’re doing, and here’s what we want to do that we haven’t figured out yet,” but not making broad claims about being green.  Look at the most admired companies working on sustainability, like Interface.  Ray Anderson will tell you all the things he’s doing wrong, things he is still figuring out.  Be humble and honest.”

 

“When somebody comes out and says we’re a green company, and its one green product, then they can really get in trouble with consumers.  They would be better to lay it out, to be honest, and open, to say, ‘Well, we’ve only got one green shoe today, but here is where the problems are, and we’ll keep working on it.’  Businesses don’t like it a lot of times, but there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘We don’t know how to do that yet.’”

 

Building a green business is not just a destination, but an ongoing journey.  “These things take time,” said Freed.  “It doesn’t happen overnight, but plant these seeds now and it will happen.  The more seeds you plant, the better, as long as they are the right seeds to help create the change.”  It sounds like there is plenty of room still for entrepreneurs to plant seeds today for the green businesses of tomorrow. 

 

Starting 2009 in a New Direction with a Green Business

Monday, December 29th, 2008

What’s your plan for 2009?  I’m working on mine right now, and I’m wondering what everyone else has in mind. Our economic situation is forcing many of us to rethink our lives and businesses.  I’ve got a feeling that “improve finances” is at the top of many to do lists for 2009, but hunkering down and circling the wagons may not be enough.  To really get where you want to go, it might be time to take the leap and start a new business, and going green might provide the new direction you’re looking for. 

 

Far from being finished, the green economy is just getting started.  Green choices like solar power and organic food have grown immensely in recent years, with consistent double digit annual growth, but solar power is still less than 1% of the overall market and organic food is only about 3% of the food market.  The green economy is already over $200 billion in size, but it still has huge growth ahead in the broader market.  

 

Nobody is immune from the current economy, but green businesses like Sustainable Spaces that help people to save money are doing well.   Saving energy is more important than ever for homes and businesses eager to save money.  Those in the industry who I’ve talked to such as Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, still expect the solar industry to grow rapidly in 2009, in part because of the opportunity people have to save on their utility bill.  With millions of buildings across the US wasting energy on poor insulation, weather sealing, and air ducts, fixing this problem remains a big opportunity across the country.  As energy continues rising in price in the years ahead, the opportunity for businesses improving energy efficiency will keep on growing.

 

Green markets won’t stay small because all other things being equal, consumers chose green products.  Nobody hates the planet, and consumers consistently report in surveys that they will buy green products, all other things being equal.  Well-priced products like Green Works that work well and also happen to be good for the environment are increasingly moving into the mainstream. 

 

Another trend is that the price of oil will not stay low forever, and seems likely to reverse its downward slide in 2009, moving back toward more moderate territory.  The US auto industry is in turmoil, but there are also opportunities ahead in autos.  A variety of new all electric or plug-in hybrid cars are on the way in the years ahead, and when people start buying more cars again, they will be looking for something fresh and new.

 

Want to start a green business for very little money?  Zola Goods and Green Irene are two possibilities.  Green Irene is recruiting Eco-Consultants across the country to go out to homes and perform Green Home Makeovers, providing a direct sales model like Avon.  Zola Goods works through coordinators who hold green house parties, like Tupperware, helping homeowners green their homes, and helping coordinators produce income on a flexible work schedule.  Another ready to go option is opening your own on-line green store with OnlyGreen4Me.

 

Look for big government action in 2009 that will help the continued growth of the green economy.  The Obama administration has continued to pledge its support for a renewable energy portfolio standard, green job development, and action on climate change.  The highly qualified green team he is assembling, including Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu to lead the Department of Energy, demonstrate his commitment to these initiatives. State and regional actions will also support green opportunities for entrepreneurs.  These actions will stimulate the economy not just now, but for many years to come.

 

The opportunities are not just for a few, or for the greenest of the green.  There are opportunities for almost anyone, including you.  Take stock of your assets, of which you probably have more than you realize.  Look through the many possibilities and find something that excites you.  You can do it.  You don’t need an MBA, an impressive resume, or piles of money to get started.  It will take time, energy and commitment, but you can build a successful business and take your life in a new direction.  The most important thing is getting started. 

 

Wishing you a happy, prosperous, and green New Year.   

 

Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses You Can Start to Make Money and Make a Difference”, and the founder of Starting Up Green. 

Fighting Vampires with Good For You, Good For the Planet

Friday, December 5th, 2008

The vampires in Twilight are not the only ones to worry about.  The multitude of electronic devices in our homes and businesses often drain power even when they are off because of the power used in standby mode, leading some to call them vampires.  Energy efficiency is a global issue, and a global opportunity as well.  One of the companies tackling this opportunity is Good For You, Good for the Planet (GFP-GYP), based in Madrid, Spain.  GFY-GFP has a diverse set of products under development, including one tackling the problem of standby power drain.  Standby power has been estimated to consume 10% of electricity in European homes, and as much as 26% of the electricity in Californian homes.   One no-tech solution is for people to unplug devices they aren’t using, or to turn off power strips, but as is often the case such activities are hard for even the most well intentioned individuals to keep up for the long term.  We need solutions that take care of themselves, eliminating the problem automatically without human intervention.  GFY-GFP believes this is just what they have invented with their 100%Off product. 

 

The problem with standby devices is that they continue to use electricity even when an appliance or other electrical device is off.  To deal with this problem some governments are requiring that new devices use less energy when on standby, but this still does not reduce consumption to zero.  The 100%Off device however can automatically switching devices completely off when it senses they are on standby mode.  When appliances are plugged into the device, it analyzes their pattern of power consumption to detect if they have gone into standby mode.  GFY-GFP is currently talking with global companies in Europe and Asia who are interested in commercializing the 100%Off device.  “We believe a big company has to take this business to do it properly and turn it into a standard worldwide,” said Silvia García Alonso, Director of Business Development.

 

Improving energy efficiency will often pay for itself over time, and that should be the case with the 100%Off.  “We expect a final price between €10-15, and the user will get the product repaid in less than 12 months,” said Alonso, although the final price will depend on the company that commercializes it worldwide.  “With our technology we can have different configurations, as a power supply or a power strip.  A range of products can be launched to fix all the needs around the standby for all kind of appliances, and in a pretty cheap way.”

 

GFY-GFP has a number of other products in various stages of development, including the Wicler, a gadget that fits on the handlebars of your bike providing radio, playing MP3s and Bluetooth access to your phone.  Biking is a green alternative to using cars, and more cities worldwide are considering increased use of bike lanes to reduce pollution, traffic, and climate change.  With its built in speaker, the Wicler can avoid the safety concern of bikers who might tune out their surroundings with earbuds, and it even comes with a built in light and a bell for an all-in-one bike appliance.  The Wicler is already marketed in Europe, and GFY-GFP is talking with potential distributors in the US. 

 

As well as developing their own products, GFP-GYP is also open to working with others to help them move their ideas forward.  If you’re interested, take a look at their website, and perhaps you may see your product there in the future as well.

Renewable Tax Credits Extended, Finally

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

As the financial bailout measure was passed by Congress today, several tax credits were added to the bill, including an extension of renewable energy tax credits.  These tax credits have been bouncing back and forth in Congress all year.  However one feels about the rest of the bailout bill, these tax credits are good news for renewable energy; there must be a great number of relieved renewable energy workers celebrating tonight.  The measure includes an 8 year extension of the investment tax credit for solar electric systems, extending the 30% tax credit and removing the $2000 cap on the credit for residential systems that has limited the impact in this market.  The measure also includes credits for small wind, fuel cells and geothermal systems. 

The on-again off-again nature of these credits in the past with short term extensions that were allowed to expire has limited their impact.  Now with an 8 year extension in place the industry can plan and invest for long term growth with this piece of their financial picture more secure, encouraging their growth around the country. 

At West Coast Green  (September 25-27) I talked about the tax credits with Gary Gerber, the CEO of Sun Light and Power, a San Francisco Bay Area solar installer.  With this type of longer term policy supporting solar power nationwide, Gerber felt we would see solar grow beyond states like California with strong support for solar such as the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, creating renewable energy businesses and jobs across the country.

Its hard to say that anybody is completely unaffected by the broader economic situation, but Gerber said that he has “not heard or seen anything that says we are negatively affected.” 

“We are in the business of saving people money,” he went on to say, a good business to be in when the economy is down. 

Several other measures in the bill also support renewable energy, including a one year extension of production tax credits for solar and wind, incentives for biofuels, and the creation of energy conservation bonds to fight climate change and encourage energy efficiency measures.  The Cleantech Practice Group of Morrison & Foerster compiled a nice summary of these measures.  In the days that follow after people get a chance to read the bill through more closely we’ll hear more about its impact.

One of the lessons of our current financial situation is that free markets cannot be left unregulated and expected to move in a direction that is beneficial to the long term interests of society and the economy.  The same is true of the environment.  Government plays an important role in regulating industry, driving changes that are beneficial to us all.  These measures to support renewable energy are an important example of this, creating a multitude of jobs and businesses, helping the economy, and helping the planet.