November 1, 2014

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    Red and blue make green @ SXSW Eco 2014

    For the past five years I’ve regularly attended conferences on sustainability, clean technology, green building and energy engineering – most recently, SXSW Eco 2014. Others I have attended include Tech Connect World, the World Energy Engineering Congress, GreenBuild, and the New Cities Summit. Speakers such as Colin Powell, Sylvia Earle, Bill Clinton, Geoffrey West, R. James Woolsey, Robin Chase, Al Gore and Jaime Lerner have inspired me with stories of the hard work that is happening around these issues. And if there’s one common theme throughout these very different events, it is this: Sustainability is not just a matter of…

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    The joy of DIY

    First came the Great Recession. Then came the Great Automation. Now we have a growing population of underemployed and disempowered, yet curious, capable and conscious people in need of an outlet. What are we going to do with them? Teach them to make quirky new gadgets out of old and random stuff! Why? “Because it’s fun!” says Charlie Lindahl, a Houston-based systems analyst and super enthusiast of the maker movement, a technology driven sub-culture of the DIY revolution. Do-It-Yourself isn’t just for people with nothing better to do. It’s for people of all ages who are intentional about learning, achievement…

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    SXSW Eco does sustainability Austin-style

    As a seasoned consultant and a green entrepreneur, I’m always interested in conferences focused on sustainability and social innovation. What makes SXSW Eco particularly special is its Austin location. In association with that famous organizer of fun, SXSW Eco has a reputation for seamlessly blending learning with celebration. As a first-time attendee, I was very curious to see if this conference would live up to its reputation and by all accounts, it did not disappoint. From the moment I walked into the Austin Convention Center, it was clear that this was going to be a unique experience. From the way…

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    Hacking the way to 7 stages of eco-innovation

    Eco-innovation is the practice of developing and shaping ideas into useful forms to create business value and benefit the environment at the same time. Eco-innovating with apps also bolsters brand awareness, engagement and optimization. Modeled after successful eco-friendly app development programs in New York City and San Diego, the NTx Apps Challenge generates software-based solutions to make North Texas more livable and sustainable. The three-month app development competition — the first of its scale in Texas — covers five major verticals: water, waste, energy, transportation and the Internet of Things. In this techy subculture, I discovered a gateway to unraveling…

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    Fighting to save sharks

    A little more than 10 years ago, while diving and filming in the South Pacific, I witnessed something so beautiful and so terrible that it changed the course of my life. First, the beautiful: During my dives to remote reefs in the Central Pacific, I discovered the magic of swimming with hundreds of sharks. Now, the terrible: As we sailed west, we encountered reefs with few or no sharks, even in places where these predatory fish should have been abundant. The reefs, off the islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia, are remote, lightly populated, and lightly fished. What…

Book Reviews

Putting 'responsible business' out of business
Posted by Claire Sommer on Monday, September 29, 2014

Putting 'responsible business' out of businessChristine Bader’s book The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: Girl Meets Oil offers hope and practical advice for anyone trying to stimulate meaningful change in our multi-stakeholder, shareholder-beholden, profits-focused world. Doing this kind of work is hard, but then again, pretty much anything ...
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How 9 companies are creating a culture of sustainability
Posted by Claire Sommer on Monday, September 29, 2014

How 9 companies are creating a culture of sustainability Jeana Wirtenberg knows sustainability is about people. Living, caring human beings – who get things done. It’s not “green.” Or “eco.” Not goals or dashboards. Not on their own, at any rate. It’s people who make these things actually happen. Sustainability is people at ...
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The Big Pivot: A realist's guide to a climate-challenged present
Posted by Claire Sommer on Monday, September 29, 2014

The Big Pivot: A realist's guide to a climate-challenged presentIf you’ve ever thought of dropping a book on your boss’s desk, in the hopes of sparking a Ray Anderson-type conversion, here’s a tip. Don’t use the new IPCC report: It’s gloomy, terrifying and a muddle. Try this instead: Andrew Winston’s business transformation book for ...
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Sweat and the city: The urban heat island effect
Posted by Ann Drumm on Monday, September 29, 2014

Sweat and the city: The urban heat island effectCities are heating up at double the rate of global climate change, with major implications for human health. Managing urban heat is just as important a response as reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the benefits will be felt much sooner.  Cities should ...
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