Archive for the ‘green business’ Category

Israel Excels in Use of Sustainable Energy and Water Conservation Technologies

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Israel is a tiny country, two-thirds of which is inhospitable desert, with few natural resources, a population of less than 7.5 million, and it has been surrounded by intractably hostile neighbors ever since its founding 60 years ago. Israel sees sustainable energy use as a key to survival and has become a leader in the development of green technologies with some 1000 clean technology start-up companies.

Some examples:

 Better Place was founded by Shai Agassi who conceived the idea that the negatives attached to all-electric cars (eg. limited 140 mile range and battery cost) could be overcome by renting the batteries and having a country-wide network of re-charging stations, to complement at-home charging. To cover situations when there isn’t time to re-charge, there is a country-wide network of swap stations where you exchange a depleted battery for a fully charged one in the same time as it takes to fill a tank of gasoline.

In 2013 an all-electric car network is to open in Israel and they are being set up in Australia, Canada, Denmark, California, and Hawaii. The cars are built by Renault-Nissan while the batteries are provided by Better Place,

It has been long known that certain materials, including asphalt and concrete, generate electric current when they are deformed. Innowattech has patented a new breed of piezoelectric generators that can harvest mechanical energy, resulting from the deformation of roadway surfaces by the traffic passing over, by converting the mechanical energy to electrical energy. The more traffic and the heavier the vehicles, the more electricity is generated. The piezoelectric generators are installed inches beneath the upper layer of highway asphalt in a new roadway or during resurfacing of an existing roadway. It is also testing prototypes for airport runways and railways.

The company estimates that its generators placed along a half-mile stretch of a four-lane motorway would yield enough electricity to power 2,500 households. It is noteworthy that this is pure energy harvesting (parasitic energy), that it functions in all weather conditions, and that it can be utilized locally or routed into the grid. Just imagine, cars powered by electricity generated by their passage over the highway.

Much of Israel is desert and her main water sources are controlled by Syria and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. The risk of this geographic and political situation is mitigated by Israel’s recycling 70 percent of its waste water, and this is used for agriculture and fish farms in the desert.

More than 40 years ago, Israeli farmers revolutionized the manner of watering crops withthe introduction of drip irrigation. Water is transported directly to the roots of the plants through small tubes with tiny holes. The watering is set on timers that prevent excess water being delivered. This not only conserves water but also suppresses weeds and mold.

Netafim markets the technology to some 110 countries. The process has created self-sustaining agricultural communities in drought stricken countries particularly in Africa.

These technologies are both tools for Israel’s survival and they promote the ethical standards of sustainable use of natural resources. Other countries may adopt them for various reasons, including a preference for sustainable technology.


Monday, February 16th, 2009

Following a management decision in 2005 Wal-Mart Corporation decided to embrace sustainability throughout all its stores. Because “sustainability” includes both environmental care and social benefit, this decision is consistent with IPPA’s principle that ethical guidelines should inform public policies. In quoting from an article titled, “Green-Light Specials, Now at Wal-Mart” reported by Stephanie Rosenbloom and Michael Barbaro in the New York Times January 25, 2009, “Wal-Mart has done well by doing good”. Together with McDonald’s Corporation, Wal-Mart was one of only two companies in the Dow Jones Industrial average whose share price rose last year.
Wal-Mart, pushed into this effort by criticism from environmental groups for being a polluter as well as having a negative image on labor and employee health care issues, began working with activists to improve its environmental record. Wal-Mart has subsequently laid out long term goals for using renewable energy, creating zero waste and selling products that will help to sustain the earth’s resources and environment. The effect of Wal-Mart’s decision to sell fluorescent light bulbs has forced General Electric to greatly increase their production. Wal-Mart’s decision to carry only concentrated laundry detergent, has pushed Proctor and Gamble to change its manufacturing process for that product in the US and around the world. Wal-Mart predicts its customers will save more than 400 million gallons of water, 95 million pounds of plastic resin, 125 million pounds of cardboard and 520,000 gallons of diesel fuel over three years. They have also introduced recycling of loose plastic and improved fuel efficiency in their trucks by modifying their design.
Wal-Mart’s profits climbed $1.5 billion in 2008 over the 2006 fiscal year. Their total sales increased $60 billion in the same period.
Quoting Lee Scott Jr., Wal-Mart’s current CEO, “As businesses we have a responsibility to society….There is no conflict between delivering value to shareholders and helping solve bigger societal problems”.
The recent experience at Wal-Mart is an object lesson:  doing the right thing is good business.

Should we, the public, demand this type of sustainable behavior from other companies with whom we do business?  Should we demand of our legislators changes in business tax policy that will encourage similar sustainable practices? If you know of other organizations that have adopted this policy, please let us know.
IPPA looks forward to your comments.


Thursday, November 20th, 2008

IPPA advocates that social policies rooted in our shared core values serve us better than policies based primarily on a purely economic model which says that short term material profit alone is the best measure of human happiness and wellbeing.

The importance of this ethical concept in the business plan of a major industrial corporation is demonstrated in a quote from Alan Boeckman, chairman and chief executive officer of the Fluor Corporation. “As a leader in the global building and services marketplace, we focus not only on such traditional measures of success as profitability, but also on a series of broader measures that we refer to collectively as global responsibility. Simply put, this means doing the right thing to benefit our clients, shareholders, employees, suppliers and others in the communities in which we work.” []

This attention to both economics and social benefits as the measure of success is gaining acceptance in the business world and is well documented in the book: The Triple Bottom Line: How the Best Run Companies are Achieving Economic, Social and Environmental Success and How You Can Too. By Andrew W. Savitz with Karl Weber. [The author’s web site is] A review of the book at quotes the authors “Every action you take in business has two components: an impact on profits and an impact on the world”. Savitz and Weber describe a path where profitability and social benefits blend and describe this overlap as the “sustainability sweet spot.” Savitz also states: “One hundred years from now, company bottom lines will include the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, environmental, and social) in a totally seamless manner.”

The reviewer points to empirical evidence in the book demonstrating that the share price of companies listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index have out performed various other indexes. The authors also point out that companies who belong to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development have outperformed their respective national stock exchanges by 15 to 25 percent over the past three years. []

There is a soft spot in the existing discussion of the triple bottom line. It is that the content of “social benefit”, its core ethical principles and examples of actual policies consistent with them, remains insufficiently explored. This is a place where IPPA can help.