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Category: Green

There are 4 posts published under Green.

Recipe for a Green Revolution

There are millions of people around the world who are burning for the cause of green and renewable energy.


These environmentalists have seen the long term effects of polluting energy sources. Therefore, they spend a lot of time and effort on trying to talk sense into their elected politicians, in hopes of making them speed up decisions on low carbon solutions. The problem is that neither of these groups of people can do anything about the core issue, namely to supply the market with vast amounts of clean energy in a cost effective way. Environmentalists and politicians can choose between being supporters or opponents (politicians can even choose to be indifferent), but they will be bystanders forever.


So who holds the key to a greener tomorrow? In my opinion, they are the small inventive green tech companies and their visionary entrepreneurs. Many of these small companies and entrepreneurs share the same passion for developing new technology as many environmentalists do for taking care of Mother Nature. Even some politicians believe in a greener tomorrow, but lack the tools and the technology to do something about it.


The problem in today’s world order is that big companies, the most often polluters, are given the task of developing the new and green technologies. And that work isn’t going too well nor too fast. The general opinion is, for example, that Statoil’s Hywind project is the solution for marine renewable energy. But where do you think Statoil’s heart really lies? Is it in green renewables or in oil and gas?


I believe we need a revolution to see some realchanges in the world’s energy production. We need new voices, new tools, and a new agenda. This revolution can be triggered by simple mechanisms within the democratic voting system: We couple environmentalists with small green tech companies and their visionary entrepreneurs. Then we show the few green politicians that these small companies and their entrepreneurs have the right motivation and the heart to make complete industrial value chains. Finally, we make some change by introducing new and effective renewable energy systems. Politicians will be able to win elections on these green tech systems by triggering the millions of environmentalists and will be able to build their countries upon these new energy technologies. In other words, to see some real change, we simply should provide politicians the tools and the votes.


This is all well, but the challenge is to identify and unite the small companies and their visionary entrepreneurs with the best ideas. We need to make a solid tool box to make the world go green. We, unfortunately, have too few who are big in renewables today, so neither the environmentalists nor the politicians can fight for one strong cause. It’s almost impossible to to identify these companies and entrepreneurs. We have to look for the visionary entrepreneurs in these companies who are determined to find the right solutions on tomorrow’s green tech solutions.


We need people with the right motivation to become the driving force behind green technology. We have great philanthropists in other sectors, such as Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson, who make a big difference. Let’s gather entrepreneurs with the biggest motivation on green tech in a similar way –not the richest, but the smartest ones!


We certainly put our faith in other people to make the right decisions every day – the airline pilot, the teacher, the mother. So why can’t we put our faith in our smart and visionary green tech entrepreneurs when it comes to solving tomorrow’s power supply? We certainlydon’t let the train driver drive the plane for obvious reasons, so why do we put our trust in the oil companies to develop the low carbon solutions that in fact undermines their own high carbon solutions?


To start the green revolution and to make some real change, we have to unite the world’s green entrepreneurs whose hearts genuinely burn for the cause of renewable energy and give them trust and opportunity. Let the low carbon society be our cause, let green technologies be our weapons, and let the green entrepreneurs be our voices in the revolution!


Technology's Role in Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs as well. However, the needs of the present are vast and often conflicting. Today, technology plays a big role in sustainable development in all of its aspects: social, environmental, and economic. Here are a few ways to utilize technology in sustainable development.


Environmental Sustainability



Image via Flickr by FlyingSinger


Everything we need for our survival depends on the natural environment that surrounds us. Environmental sustainability creates and sustains the conditions with which both human and nature can exist in a productive harmony with one another while still being able to maintain social and economic requirements. By maintaining our way of life in a way that doesn’t deplete our resources, we’re ensuring that future generations will also be able to sustain themselves.


Green technology’s goal is to replace practices and methods that damage or deplete natural resources with alternative practices that are sustainable and efficient.  By partaking in alternatives like renewable energy, which is energy harnessed from renewable sources like wind, water, and solar, instead of limited sources like fossil fuels, we can cut down on pollution and avoid depleting natural resources.


Other forms of green technology include green building techniques and eGain forecasting. Green building, also known as sustainable building, refers to a structure that is resource-efficient as well as being environmentally responsible. EGain uses weather forecasting to predict how future weather patterns will affect a building’s structure, which can eliminate redundant use of heat, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission.


By planning ahead, we can eliminate waste and redundancies, which ensures the longevity of our natural resources for future generations.

Economic Sustainability


Economic sustainability entails various strategies that use resources, optimally and responsibly, so that balance can be achieved over a long period of time. There are a lot of ways technology can play a role in economic sustainability. Technological advances in health, business, and environment provide opportunities to communities through the introduction of new jobs and opportunities.


Businesses and industries that utilize green technology and have a minimal environmental impact should be encouraged and supported by communities. Supporting small businesses that use local produce, take part in recycling, and utilize green energy is a great way to stimulate your local economy and reserve resources at the same time.


On a larger scale, participating in sustainable agriculture and fisheries that don’t use pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones on their products, prevents the depletion of natural resources, as well as delivering a product that won’t have long-term effects on your health.


Social Sustainability


Social sustainability covers a lot of ground. Everything from basic human rights and corporate governance, to the more philosophical aspect of an individual’s behaviors and attitude toward sustainability. In order for economic and environmental sustainability to work, they have to first be accepted at a social level. People need to evaluate what is a “want” and what is a “need”, and understand that if they choose the “want” over the “need”, it might have future ramifications. The social status of owning a gas-guzzling Hummer might be more important to them then opting for a hybrid car.


Similarly, it is often more difficult to support small business, or businesses that utilize green energy and sustainable practices because they are either hard to come by, or more expensive. People may choose to go for the easier, more available, and affordable option, and support a business or company that does not have sustainable practices or use green energy. This can be a tough decision to make personally, and financially.


Many people feel it is their right to have the biggest and best of everything available, no matter what the cost. But in order to promote economic and environmental sustainability, social sustainability has to be addressed first. By committing to sustainable practices like turning off lights when you leave a room, not leaving electronics plugged in, conserving water, and recycling, the larger needs like organic agricultural practices and sustainable building will come much easier.


These days, technology plays a big role in all of our lives. The easiest way to promote sustainability on an environmental, economical, and social level is through education. By educating ourselves on what sustainable alternatives we have available in our daily lives, like building materials, food, clothes and common household items, we can make better choices for ourselves and for future generations to come.


Do research into local businesses that have the same ideals and practices that you have. Teach your kids sustainable habits like recycling, and really look at what is a “want” and what is a “need.”


Why Paper Is Your Startup’s Biggest Enemy

As a consultant who advises clients on their technology strategy, I have worked with several small businesses that are not tech savvy to a large extent. My performance is rated based on how much money I bring or help them save through my recommendations. Do you know the one recommendation that always brings about the maximum savings? It’s asking these businesses to “go paperless”. It is seriously a recommendation, that saves some of my clients over $100,000 every year.


Paper is without doubt your startup’s biggest enemy. It is not only a component of business that requires recurring expenditure month on month, but is also the biggest impediment to improving your business productivity. Here are some reasons why:




Signing contracts and archiving them for legal purposes is a routine task that happens in every business. Every time a contract is formalized, the documents are printed and shipped to the authorized parties for signing. This costs around $30 per contract on an average (Source: ). This is without considering the printing costs and the cost of resources needed to store documents. Businesses that engage in partnerships with multiple parties could potentially save a thousands of dollars by moving this contract signing proces online. With the advent of electronic signatures, the cost of signing and archiving documents can be reduced by as much as 90%.




The process of printing and shipping documents is not only an impediment on the revenues of a business but also in efficiency. By replacing paper documents with their digital alternatives, it becomes simpler to email these documents as attachments. Consequently, discussions that take days to be deliberated and finalized can be resolved in a matter of hours. As a matter of fact, with tools like video conferencing, teams may resolve issues in minutes.


Corporate Social Responsibility & Saving Money On Tax:


Most enterprises carry out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in order to generate good-will and positive PR. However, in some countries like India, CSR is a legal responsibility for businesses. It is a well known fact that paper is a drain on the environment. Going paperless thus helps your business become more environment-friendly. This can in turn be tagged as a CSR initiative. Doing so could also help your business save tax since investments on CSR initiatives are exempted from tax.




Paper based documents are easily damaged or destroyed. Also, it is quite expensive to have sophisticated backup for important documents. An alternate digital backup and storage strategy is not only cost efficient but also extremely secure.


A lot of businesses I have worked with are not averse to technology. However, most of them continue to use paper out of habit. Also, to a lot of these businesses, technology infrastructure is an investment that needs to be built bottom-up and at a bootstrapped phase, it is not something they can afford.


It is pretty vital for businesses to become aware of the benefits of going paperless. A professional DropBox service to store all your data and document online costs just $10 per month. An electronic signature plan costs as less as $15 per month. Shipping documents online through Google Apps or email is mostly free. It is not difficult to see how much money a business can possibly save by going paperless.


How much paper do you use in your company? Are you completely paperless yet? Tell us in the comments.


Launching a Sustainable Business

Launching a new business? Make environmental thoughtfulness part of your mission from day 1.


As many of you already know, developing a truly sustainable product in any category, one that is implemented without shortcuts along the way, delivered profitably, on schedule and within cost is like threading a needle… in the dark… under water.


Having spent half of my design career in consultancies and the other in corporate environments, it’s been my experience that designers and design teams tend to find themselves in the ‘middle’ of the product development activity. This is particularly true for consulting designers, whose clients usually handle the balance of the product delivery activities. Designers have critical relationships with just about every other discipline; the middle just makes sense.


Being in the middle, however, can blind designers and product developers to the upstream supply chain where all things come from as well as from the downstream retail environment where the products end up. My time as Director of Product Development with Brookstone was a kind of finishing school, the parts of product supply chain beyond the “middle.” Creating over 100 unique products a year for 300+ retail stores, it was necessary to assess scores of factories and their contributing suppliers first-hand, learn how to sort the good from the bad, how to spot a compromising shortcut before it happened and to manage them all through product delivery. Both Vers and Onehundred, companies I have since founded, were built with a hands-on, end-to-end supply chain mind-set — with a sustainable development focus.


We’ve learned that many of the most effective sustainability decisions are the earliest ones: material choices, features that effect power consumption, assembly trade offs or the merits of one factory vs. another. For instance, designing for disassembly and eventual recycling is important, but choosing recycled or highly recyclable materials up front makes a much larger difference in the lifetime environmental impact of the product. The only real way to get involved in those early decisions is to physically go up stream – as far upstream as possible. A factory visit is good, meeting their sub-assembly and component suppliers is better, but going to the source of a material is best. The further upstream you go, the more you will learn, the more effective your downstream decisions will be.


At my first company, Vers, early in the development of our first product, we spent a lot of time with our wood cabinet makers and understanding their processes, machine and labor capabilities and helping them make manufacturing decisions that best fit our goals. We then went “upstream,” up the supply chain to understand the MDF manufacturing process, and then upstream again to the timber supply to understand where the wood itself comes from, what type was used, how old it was and how it’s transported, stored and, ultimately, introduced to the manufacturing process. We did the same with our printer — we went upstream to their pulp tray supplier and then on upstream to the source where the paper is recycled. On the loading dock saw the bales of old newspapers, magazines and discarded phone books from around the world; first-hand proof that our paper stock really was the post-consumer recycled stuff we had asked for. There are often more sustainability insights to be gained on a loading dock then from the guided factory tour.


With my second company, Onehundred, we’re working EXCLUSIVELY with companies within a 100 mile radius of our Boston HQ, where we can have a much closer, more intimate relationship with our suppliers, have clearer visibility to their day do day operations … and to greatly reduce our logistics carbon footprint. Always a work in progress – Vers built on what I had learned at Brookstone, Onehundred builds on what I learned with Vers.


If you’re fortunate to be part of an organization that gives you time on the ground with your suppliers, don’t stop there – push for as much upstream visibility as you can get. If you’re not meeting their suppliers, demand access – your organizations’ sustainability efforts will be better for it.