Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy’ 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                                      


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



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, 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.

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. 

Obama’s New Day: Doing Our Part with Green Businesses

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

With Barack Obama’s inauguration, a new day has arrived.  Today he became the 44th president of the US.  Throughout his campaign he has promised change, but perhaps the promise was not necessary.  Like it or not change has come to us; it is up to us to greet the change and adapt to it. 


In the midst of unprecedented challenges, President Obama’s tone in his speech was somber but hopeful.  Speaking of the many challenges we face, he emphasized the responsibility we each hold to rise and meet them.  He restated his commitment to having the government help, but he also laid out the necessity for each of us to do our part. 


From Obama’s inaugural address today:


“This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”


He touched today again on the need for cleaner energy to revitalize our economy:


“The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”


I feel like we are turning the corner.  Even with the economy down, the world is ripe with opportunity for those who take this responsibility and get into action moving forward with solutions.  Those in business, government, and individual citizens must all do our part.  In the business world, one way to contribute is with businesses that provide clean energy solutions, getting our economy moving today and investing in a better world for the future.


To help make this happen, Obama’s team has proposed as part of the economic stimulus plan a major new investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.  This hasn’t happened yet, but is likely to pass quickly, reflecting the urgency of the need for action.


These efforts are not going to happen with the government alone, but with the government creating the right conditions for businesses in these fields to thrive.  Beyond renewable energy, a broad range of other green businesses will also see great opportunities continue to unfold as they make our economy more efficient, and more sustainable.  As I describe in “75 Green Businesses” and at Starting Up Green, there are opportunities for people from almost any background to get involved and start a green business that provides a brighter future for themselves, for our country, and for the world.  I speak all the time with green entrepreneurs who tell me that despite what is happening in the rest of the economy, they are seeing their business continue to grow, helping both the economy and the environment.


The journey has just begun, and Obama will not solve all of our problems for us. He will be a busy man in the months and years ahead, but he won’t be alone.  We must all work together to translate words into action, to rise and meet the challenges we are faced with and move beyond them.  These are big problems and won’t be solved overnight, but we can do it and we will.  Lets get started.

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.

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. 

Mobile Solar with Innergy Power

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

When we think of solar power the first thing that comes to mind is usually rooftop photovoltaic panels and utility-scale solar farms growing in the desert, but there is much more to solar power than this. Solar can also provide the perfect power source when the grid is unavailable or unreliable, and can be adapted readily for mobile power applications. To take advantage of this opportunity, companies are designing, producing and selling mobile solar systems for use in outdoor products, charging mobile electronics, emergency lighting, and for uses in regions with poor power quality or consistency.

Innergy Power Corporation designs, manufactures, and distributes a wide variety of products providing mobile solar power, including products like “Solar Binders” with integrated solar panels producing 15 or 22 watts of power, and the “Solarmonkey”, for charging power-hungry mobile electronics like smart phones and iPods. For emergency power solar also offers some strong advantages. Diesel generators providing backup power are noisy, polluting, and require a constant fuel supply, something that might not always be available in an emergency.

Mobile solar power systems such as Innergy’s Portable Solar Charging Station have many advantages as the primary power source, for many applications, where the grid is not reliable. Darrell Musick, President and CEO of Innergy Power, reports that their products attract the rapidly growing group of mobile phone users, many of whom live in parts of the world without reliable power from the grid. “Other needs are focused on our Portable Solar Charging Stations,” Musick said,” which will allow businesses and residents in markets with poor grid quality of power (Iraq, Nigeria, Turkey) to have a reliable sun powered way to run a wide range of devices. They are currently negotiating agreements with 17 potential distributors around the world.

The market for portable solar applications like these has grown steadily, in parallel with the growth of the rooftop solar market. Musick reports that Innergy “has seen significant increases in the demand for portable solar products over the past two years.” The potential range for portable solar applications remains huge, integrating not just solar power but also batteries for power storage into an expanding array of products. With expertise on the integration of solar and batteries into products, Innergy is also helping companies bring products to market through contract manufacturing.

Since Innergy Power has almost 20 years of battery manufacturing experience it was a natural evolution to move into the design and manufacturing of EV batteries with targets ranging from eBikes to PHEVs.  Innergy is one of the companies owned by ECOtality, and works closely with another ECOtality company, eTec, in developing EV batteries and EV charging solutions.

Using the sun as a free, reliable and inexhaustible source of energy remains a great solution for a broad range of products, and a powerful opportunity for many different businesses. The more the market grows, the more opportunities it opens up for new renewable energy products and sustainable growth.

The Wide Range of Solar Opportunities

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

With over 20,000 attendees, the Solar Power International 2008 Conference held in San Diego October 13-16 was one of the largest solar events around and with the recent US Government extension and expansion of tax credits for renewable energy there was good reason for optimism. The 30% tax credit for renewable energy has been extended for eight years, and the previous cap on residential tax credits has been lifted, all of which should have a great impact on the market for solar, particularly for the residential market. Solar has already been growing at a blistering 40% a year, and even in the midst of the current anxiety about the economy and the stock market, almost everyone I talked with at the meeting expected the industry to continue growing rapidly in 2009.

There is a lot more to solar than producing and installing photovoltaic panels. Many representatives of these businesses were present, of course, but the opportunities don’t stop there. The opportunities being developed by businesses include:

• Producers of photovoltaic panels (like Kyocera, Sharp, Schott, Suntech)

• Producers of inverters that convert DC power from panels to AC (like Fronius)

• Solar integrators working out in the field designing and installing systems (like Borrego Solar)

• Those developing new solar technologies (like Morgan Solar, developing their own low cost concentrating solar technology)

• Solar hot water and heating (Rheem)

• Solar gadgets, like bags with integrated panels (Innergy)

• Robotics for panel production (Adept)

• Panel mounting systems (Power-Fab)

• Utility scale solar power systems (Abengoa, Greenvolts, Optisolar)

• Monitoring solar performance with IT systems (Fat Spaniel, Solar Sentry)

• Storage of power with batteries (Trojan Battery Company)

• Training for solar workers (Solar Living Institute, DC Power Systems)

• Financial Solutions (SunRun Inc.)

These are only a few examples, with more businesses introducing new solar innovations all the time.  It’s hard to say that this, or any industry, will be completely unaffected by the credit crunch, but many in the solar industry who I’ve talked have found that the impact of these issues has not been great so far, or they are finding their way around these limitations.  If the solar business slows, producing only 20-30% growth, this is still a healthy, even a dizzying rate of growth by almost any standard.

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.

Going Green with Vote Solar and Maroon 5

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

The rapid growth of the solar industry is creating jobs and businesses that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  Solar power still provides only a small portion of the electricity in the US, but several factors are driving the continued growth of solar power.  Solar energy is clean, renewable, and its cost is determined by the initial cost of putting systems in place, without a need for increasingly expensive fuel. 

To encourage the growth of the solar industry, the government has put in place policies and incentives that support it.  There are 24 states that have renewable energy portfolio standards requiring utilities to produce a portion of their power using clean energy alternatives like solar and wind to replace more polluting resources.  State governments have created incentives like the Million Solar Roofs initiative in California that is working to install 3000 megawatts worth of solar panels by 2016, saving the state an estimated $6 billion in the process.  Tax credits and rebates reduce the cost of solar energy, helping it to compete with energy from more polluting resources like coal, but putting these policies and laws into places is not always easy.  Providing tax credits to support renewable energy creates green collar jobs and makes economic sense, as well as helping the environment, but an extension of the tax credits for renewable energy past the end of 2008 has remained stuck in Congress.  Even now a last ditch effort is underway to provide an extension for these tax credits.

Vote Solar is working to support consistent, long-term support for solar power.  When key actions in government are coming up, Vote Solar alerts supporters so they can email or phone their representatives in Congress and express their support.  Government seems to respond when people are watching and let their representatives know.  While many are skeptical about government, by getting involved and supporting solar people help to drive its increased use.

Reverb's Eco-Village at a Maroon 5 Concert

Reverb's Eco-Village at a Maroon 5 Concert

One way Vote Solar is getting the message out about solar is by showing up at music events, collaborating with Reverb to connect with fans at concerts like the Maroon 5 and Counting Crows tour this year. Reverb works with a variety of eco-aware musical performers to green events and get the word out with fans about environmental issues and solutions.  The growing list of performers working with Reverb includes the Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, and Jack Johnson, among many others.  At these concerts Reverb creates an Eco-Village of booths promoting the green cause, and works to green the event itself by recycling, reducing waste, encouraging carpooling to the shows with PickupPal, and connecting to fans to carry the changes home after the show.

Last weekend I volunteered at the Maroon 5 show in San Diego, manning the Vote Solar booth in the Eco-Village set up by Reverb there.  Many interested fans dropped by the booth and signed up to get involved, and perhaps change their lives to be greener.  Every person who gets involved is another step in the right direction.  Solar still costs more than coal, but with continued growth and technical progress, its cost will continue decreasing.  Consistent federal action will help to make this happen.  You can help to make it happen too by getting involved.  Next time you see your friendly Vote Solar or Reverb volunteer at a concert, go say Hi and see what they have to say.  Then, enjoy the show.








KidWind and Green School Supplies

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Wind power is growing leaps and bounds, with the total capacity for electricity produced from wind power growing 45% in 2007 alone.  If T. Boone Pickens has his way, wind power will grow to provide 20% of our electricity in just ten years.  Such rapid growth in wind power creates a huge opportunity for many businesses, opportunities that extend far beyond wind farms right into the classrooms of the next generation. 

Green schools are a growing trend, with schools going green in various ways.  Many schools are greening their facilities by installing solar panels, installing organic landscaping, and making their buildings energy efficient.  The USGBC has a green schools program tracking and encouraging the construction of green LEED certified school buildings, estimating that green schools can save $100,000 a year.  Saving money and creating a healthy work and study environment is good for everyone involved, but green school buildings are only the start. 

In 75 Green Businesses I talk about the opportunities for schools and teachers to green what happens inside of schools as well, describing work going on at schools greening their curriculum like the Bertschi school in Seattle.  Green businesses of the future will rely on the kids going through our educational system today.  A report from the American Solar Energy Society estimates that the green economy will generate 40 million jobs in the US by 2030, high-quality, rewarding jobs created by innovative, entrepreneurial businesses.  Parents and educators are realizing that our kids need to be prepared for this increasingly green world of the future.

Getting there will require a solid grounding in basics, but going beyond the basics will open up the possibility for kids to go even farther.  Learning about renewable energy, waste reduction, energy efficiency, water conservation, and organic agriculture will open up a broad range of future career and business opportunities.  And learning about these things by getting your hands on them is pretty fun too.

As more schools and teachers catch this trend, there is a need for teaching materials that can bring to life the principles involved.  Michael Arquin founded the KidWind Project five years ago to meet this need.  KidWind designs, produces and sells kits and materials to teach about wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy.  Their wind turbine kits are scalable, modular, and reasonably priced.  Walking the green walk, their materials are also increasingly produced domestically, using recycled material, using wind power.  The sales of KidWind have tripled every year so far, so that KidWind now employees ten people and will soon be launching KidSolar and KidH2 (about fuel cells).   In addition to selling wind turbine kits, KidWind provides workshops, curriculum materials, and other forms of outreach to the community.  We back our products up with extensive teacher training and free curricular materials,” says Arquin.  “We are not really in this to pack boxes - we are in it to help teachers learn how to integrate renewable energies into everyday teaching.”

The opportunity is not limited to green schools, but to eager and curious kids everywhere.  The greener that schools get, the more opportunities there will be to help them.  Green schools are going to need recycled paper, pencils from sustainably harvested trees, and healthy, organic school lunches.  Businesses that can meet these needs will be furthering the next generation of green entrepreneurs.  Helping them learn about the great green world we can create will help to make it happen. 


Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses You Can Start to Make Money and Make a Difference”, describing a broad range of opportunities for entrepreneurs from many backgrounds to join the green business revolution.  He is also the founder of Starting Up Green, helping green entrepreneurs to succeed with tips, success stories, eco-entrepreneur profiles, and connections to experts.