Showing Company posts. Go back home.
We’ve got a new offset project, and once again it’s the first of it’s kind for Brighter Planet. The Rentech Fertilizer Plant project supports a new N2O destruction system at midwestern fertilizer plant, and is certified under the Climate Action Reserve.
Thanks to those who showed up for the Fun Run! Photos coming soon.
I basically gave a quick overview of the model and then summarized some findings from the Air Travel Carbon and Energy Efficiency paper we released last year.
I’m just back from the 3rd international conference on computational sustainbality in Copenhagen, Denmark. A beautiful scandinavian city, a jazz festival, and the latest on using machine learning and linear programming to develop intelligent energy management systems, integrate electric vehicles into the electricity grid, and optimize logistics - who could ask for more?
Last weekend we were proud to sponsor another round of the fantastic EcoHackNYC green hackathon event.
It’s always amazing to see another crop of apps for the environment emerge over the course of just one day. Personally, I worked with a team on CSA Builder, a tool for local food organizations to figure out where to establish CSA pick-up locations for maximum effect.
Look forward to next time!
I’m getting word that Brighter Planet credit and debit cardholders have collectively blazed past yet another major milestone on the road to a cleaner future: 300,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions offset!
Three hundred million pounds. Sounds impressive, but how much prevented CO2 is this, really? Well, it’s equivalent to the carbon footprint of all the lights in every US home over more than four days – or of more than eleven million Americans leaving their car in the garage for a day and instead riding their bicycle to work. This volume of CO2 would fill a few party balloons for every child on earth – or it would fill one tractor trailer, every single day, for 1800 years.
An impressive accomplishment indeed. But what’s equally impressive is how it’s been accomplished: through the widespread use of innovative technology and market mechanisms that harness the power of everyday actions to build (quite literally) a clean energy future.
Thank you, all you Brighter Planet members, for doing your part.
Time for a new offset project - this time it’s wind turbines on two family farms in northern Iowa.
Image credit: NativeEnergy
Once again we’re working with our partner NativeEnergy to support a small project that fights climate change and strengthens the local community. The project’s emissions reductions will be validated and verified under the Verified Carbon Standard.
We’ve just posted a brief report on our research page with the top five sustainability trends we’re watching out for in 2012. From new pressures to new areas of focus to new management techniques, we think the next year is gearing up to be a big one for the sustainability aroud the world. What would you add to our list?
As of today, Brighter Planet’s cardholders have offset more than 285,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. By simply using your Brighter Planet credit and debit cards in your daily lives, you’ve helped fund 20 renewable energy and sustainable forestry projects, bringing green jobs to rural America, proving the viability of community-scale clean technologies, and preventing nearly two weeks worth of GHG, SO2, mercury, and particulate pollution from a typical coal-fired power plant.
The CO2 you’ve collectively prevented is equivalent to:
- Every home in the US shutting off all its lights for more than 4 days
- The emissions sequestered by 33 million tree saplings in a year
- More than 10 million people biking to work for a day instead of driving
- Each cardholder powering their home with renewable energy for 3 weeks
- Grounding all air travel to and from NYC for more than 5 days
Keep up the good work!
Every year we do a holiday card for our friends (remember last year’s?) that connects the work we do to some aspect of the season. Click the image to check out this year’s card:
There’s some fancy new technology under the hood (more on that
in a later blog posthere), so you’ll need a new-ish browser.
Wishing you all the best in 2012, Patti and the team
Sometime in the darkest hours of Halloween night, our CM1 platform processed its 20,000,000th calculation. Hurray!
But wait: after a couple days of intense analysis, we’re concluding that the Residence impact being computed was that of a bona fide haunted house. We present our argument below.
HootRoot, our travel footprint mapping app, has been declared a winner in the EPA’s Apps for the Environment Challenge! Of the five awards announced in this nationwide contest for the best apps powered by EPA data, HootRoot was named the number two Best Overall App. Light Bulb Finder, a great mobile app that guides your transition away from incandescents, took first place.
Hootroot helps you navigate efficiently from point A to point B. It’s powered by Brighter Planet CM1, Google Maps, and HopStop. The app provides directions, travel times, and carbon footprints for driving, public transit, flying, and human-powered transportation options on any route. Check out video and screenshots of the app on our contest submission page.
Come at 7:30PM on November 4th to Tisch ITP's turn-of-the-century industrial loft and see if there's a project you want to hack on.
Advance the new Science Code Manifesto:
Software is a cornerstone of science. Without software, twenty-first century science would be impossible. Without better software, science cannot progress.
- Share food, drinks, and yoga provided by Brighter Planet (who clearly know how to throw a party, e.g. Friday night at CodeConf 2011): (and here's the tweet to prove it)
Needless to say, we’re proud to sponsor Eco Hack NY!
- Come at 7:30PM on November 4th to Tisch ITP's turn-of-the-century industrial loft and see if there's a project you want to hack on.
Last week I joined a panel on effective sustainability at the World Energy Engineering Conference (WEEEC). I used the findings from our 2010 employee engagement in sustainability survey to argue that effective sustainability programs bring sustainability information to the right people in the right places. Something, according to our survey, far too few organizations are doing.
Healthy Hackers - Madison Edition
Thanks to all of the healthy hackers who ran with us in the Madison Ruby Conference 5k! It was a magnificent run along State Street’s cafes, up Bascom Hill, through the UW campus, and ending along beautiful Lake Mendota on a pier near the Memorial Union.
Thanks to Justin Love for the photo.
Congratulations to Ryan Horrisberger who finished with an impressive time of 19:49! In second was Collin Schaafsma, followed by our own Andy Rossmeissl in third. Provisional results follow.
Yesterday, we sent out a note to tens of thousands of Brighter Planet Visa cardholders thanking them for their effort in creating the industry’s leading environmental card program and in turn the largest consumer carbon offset program in the country. Over 180,000 cardholders have helped to provide financing for 20 clean energy projects throughout the US. Without their support these projects never would have been built and over a quarter billion pounds of CO2, the equivalent of 9.5 million daily commutes, would have been emitted. These projects not only reduce carbon emissions, they provide additional environmental and social value by mitigating electricity costs for family farms and schools, providing green jobs, preserving biodiversity, and helping to clean our air and water.
At a time when climate change and renewable energy development seems to have slipped from our national consciousness, Brighter Planet’s community continues to grow and strengthen. So again, thank you for being leaders and helping to create our clean energy future.
Our latest offset project, the Wewoka Biogas Project, is Brighter Planet’s first ever biogas project. Once again we’re working with our partner NativeEnergy to support a small project that fights climate change and strengthens the local community. The project’s emissions reductions will be validated and verified under the Verified Carbon Standard using its landfill gas protocol.
“The world’s most advanced carbon calculator may already be in your wallet.”
That’s the tagline on a postcard we’re distributing today here at the Ceres conference in Oakland, where we’re announcing a major new partnership with MasterCard. Powered by Brighter Planet, MasterCard’s Carbon Emissions Reporting initiative is a first-of-its-kind sustainability solution that will efficiently bring advanced carbon analysis to more businesses worldwide than any other service we know of.
Thanks to all who ran!
The results are in! We sponsored a morning “Healthy Hacker” 5k run along San Francisco’s Embarcadero. It was a beautiful morning for a run, and we all at Brighter Planet had a great time. Thanks to everyone who participated!
Number Name Total Time 39 Jeremy Ashkenas 21:03.5 49 Mark Headd 21:24.6 37 Ian Young 21:27.7 43 Ethan Herdrick 21:42.1 56 Douglas Sellers 22:10.6 26 Jacob Kaplan-Moss 23:09.3 51 Kasima Tharnpipitchai 23:16.8 02 Sean Bleier 23:20.3 11 Scott Chacon 23:22.6 53 Mislav Marohnić 23:23.0 05 Seth Fitzsimmons 23:58.3 25 Piet Jaspers 24:12.2 83 Jeremy Yun 24:52.1 19 Etienne Segonzac 25:25.6 29 Florian Le Goff 26:19.9 36 Jelle Vandebeeck 27:13.8 99 Chris Bowns 27:19.4 13 Clint Shryock 28:00.7 20 Matthew Aebersold 28:21.1 04 Derek Kastner 28:51.8 30 John Crepezzi 29:07.4 34 Aubrey Holland 29:23.2 32 Baldur Gudbjornsson 29:53.1 85 Jose Fernandez 31:44.5 24 Clint Ecker 31:49.4 50 Ryan Williams 33:41.6 40 Ilya Shindyapin 33:48.3 07 Rob Tsuk 34:36.4
We also had a great time at CodeConf. It was very well put together and the folks at Github deserve serious kudos. The speakers all had great things to say and the social events were creative and top-notch.
Today we announced that Det Norske Veritas (DNV) has reviewed and certified carbon models in our CM1 web service as complying with the major international carbon standards. This makes Brighter Planet one of the first in the carbon software industry to get a third-party seal of approval for standards compliance, and the first open-source carbon software provider to do so.
Greensburg Wind Farm, one of the community carbon projects in our offset portfolio, has been named Wind Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World. Brighter Planet is a charter supporter of the wind farm—alongside Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield, CLIF Bar, Aveda, Clean Air-Cool Planet, and Reverb—providing key funding from groundbreaking in 2009 through through project completion in 2010.
I just got back from two days at the 2011 State of Green Business Forum. Attendees included members of Fortune 500 companies, large private firms, universities, small businesses, and government agencies. The varied representation from industries was a testament to how far sustainability has come in defining 21st century business.
As of Monday, we have performed more than 2,000,000 cloud-based calculations. After all, climate risk management is about numbers, and Brighter Planet is about delivering those numbers to you.
- use your existing systems and software
- reach out with XML to get results
- keep the results in your own database, alongside your own data, where it will do the most good
- get professional consultants to perform the integration, or use your own developers
- start immediately and ping our free tech support email@example.com (9–5 EST) when you need help.
Every year we send out a little holiday card to our friends. This go ‘round the Brighter Planet Christmas elves (aka Andy) emerged from the workshop with something a bit more fun and fancy than in years past, so we thought we’d share it around. It’s a little website called Claus Freight. Give it a try!
At the risk of spoiling the punchline, we should probably address some questions that have been raised regarding the carbon neutrality of reindeer. It’s been rightfully pointed out that reindeer do in fact inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. So how can they be carbon neutral? Well, the carbon they exhale comes from the plants they eat (ok so lichens aren’t quite plants, but that’s another topic), plants that quite recently pulled this carbon from the atmosphere and would shortly have released back it into the atmosphere when they died had they not been eaten. So reindeer are carbon neutral in the same way burning sustainably harvested firewood is carbon neutral—as long as the carbon you’re releasing isn’t depleting long-term reserves, you’re in the clear.
We’ve also had some inquiries about how the holiday site works. It’s powered by our new cloud-based Carbon Middleware service, which lets users outfit their applications with carbon calculation capability by plugging into our emissions models behind the scenes. This particular application employs five of the models—shipping, fuels, purchases, pets, and flights. Every time you enter your info and push go, the site computes the carbon footprint of your gift and its shipping, in real time (you can click the emissions numbers to see detailed calculation methodologies). Intriguingly, it turns out the naughtier you’ve been, the smaller your holiday footprint…
Happy Holidays to all!
We at Brighter Planet are extremely excited about our Carbon Middleware platform that we launched this year. We believe the platform is well positioned to change the way carbon information is gathered, viewed, and assessed. The challenge for us as a small company is getting the word out in this vast sea of information that is the Internet.
Here’s how we’re changing the game:
- Carbon information - on demand and integrated. What if every time you wanted to know much fat was in your favorite snack you had to call a 1-800 number? Chances are, you probably wouldn’t spend the time. At Brighter Planet, we think that getting carbon information is just as difficult. We designed Carbon Middleware so that you could easily learn about the carbon impact of your decisions contextually, whether that be when you’re booking a flight on Kayak, sending a package with FedEx, or charging a hotel room to your credit card.
- No more black box. If you enter information into ten carbon calculators, chances are you’ll get ten different scores and have no idea why. This creates a trust problem. To combat it, Brighter Planet is embracing radical transparency. Our carbon models are open source. Every calculation we provide includes methodology documentation so you can see how we derived our estimate. Finally, our models are being third-party certified so you can rest, assured we’re not just making this up.
- Less than a penny. Carbon is so ubiquitous that if you have to pay a fortune to account for it, you’ll probably break the bank long before you reduce your impact. With Carbon Middleware you pay a fraction of a cent per calculation. There’s no large, upfront fee or monthly hosting cost - you just pay as you go.
Confronting climate change is difficult enough as it is. Getting information about your footprint doesn’t have to be.
So what are you waiting for? Nominate us now and please tell your friends!
Economist Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and author of the 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change commissioned by the British government, has issued a challenge to the U.S: cut emissions or face a ban on U.S. exports.
CO2 emissions per capita in the U.S.today run twice that of the European Union and almost three times that of China. Thousands of companies and millions of people in the U.S. are making efforts to cut emissions. Some are guided by the carrot of being responsible stewards of the planet. Others by the carrot of reductions in energy costs. Still others by creating a draw for customers, employees, investors, partners. All good, but not enough.
Sticks can also motivate. Sticks such as investor pressure, government regulations, or peer pressure. Now add the stick of a potential ban on exports as the U.S. treads water on emissions actions at the same time as Europe and the Far East advance even further to control emissions and transition from dirty to clean energy. These countries that have taken climate action do not want American competitors to undermine their own industries.
How odd to have the U.S. at the other end of the bargaining table. I think of the economic sanctions the U.S. undertook in the 1980’s to pressure South Africa on apartheid, which many believe lead to a multi-racial political bloodless revolution. Or more recently, of our economic sanctions against Iran aimed at limiting their use of nuclear power, with mixed results to date.
Brought on by the failure of climate regulations in Washington, I wonder whether this threat of concrete economic consequences will spur action. Now, with a massive trade deficit undermining our long-term economic vitality, the specter of a ban on U.S. exports would hit American businesses where it hurts the most: the cash register.
Calculating the exact lifecycle carbon footprint of everyday goods and services is a laborious and often prohibitively expensive process. A few months ago, we set to work building a tool to help organizations get a jump start on estimating the emissions associated with the things they buy. Our goal was a flexible emissions model that could efficiently process existing data streams to calculate carbon estimates as far back through the value chain as possible for a wide spectrum of goods and services.
The result is our new purchase carbon model, released today (see the press release). It uses an advanced environmental economic input-output model to calculate a full cradle-to-consumer lifecycle carbon footprint. It works for any product or service. And it can be used automatically in a system that, for example, processes financial transaction data already present in your electronic banking records and procurement logs, giving a quick impression of the hotspots in your purchasing patterns.
To see a demo of the tool in action, check out Fedprint, a quick mashup that brings the purchase carbon model to bear on America’s largest consumer the, US federal government. Updated hourly, it spotlights the carbon footprint of the most recently awarded contracts in the Federal Purchase Data System.
For developers, the purchase model is live for experimentation and production use on Carbon Middleware. A few developer links: vehicle purchase (methodology), office supplies (in JSON), carbon model source code, API documentation
We’re excited to announce that Tim Juliani, Director of Corporate Engagement at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, has joined our Advisory Board. We first met Tim in the summer of 2008, when he stopped by our Middlebury office to discuss carbon offsets.
Tim brings years of experience working at the crossroads of business and the environment. Amongst many of his roles, he directs the Pew Center’s Business Environmental Leadership Council, (BELC) the largest US-based association of companies devoted to climate related policy and corporate strategies. His perspective and insight will help the development and growth of Carbon Middleware.
We’ve just added a new project to our carbon offset portfolio, the Big River and Salmon Creek forests. Comprising a combined 16,000 acres of redwood and Douglas fir forest in Northern California’s Mendocino County, these two tracts of land were recently purchased from a timber company by a consortium of conservation groups and converted to sustainable management. They represent a hopeful example of nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and private interests coming together to find creative land management solutions that maximize carbon sequestration and forest biodiversity while preserving sustainable forestry jobs and recreation opportunities. We’re pleased to play a role.
The project generates offsets by increasing forest carbon reserves. The transition from traditional logging practices to sustainable management involves halving timber extraction, harvesting trees more selectively to maintain diversity, and increasing and restoring riparian buffers along rivers. By substantially increasing the density and average size of trees, carbon dioxide is pulled from the atmosphere at higher rates into larger reserves of above- and below-ground carbon stocks.
The carbon offsets are certified under the Climate Action Registry, an offset standard that includes a rigorous set of protocols to verify the credits represent legitimate carbon reductions. One important aspect is the verification of additionality, which in this case is established by demonstrating dependency on revenue from offset sales to repay the loan taken out to purchase the land from the timber company.
In addition to clear climate benefits, the Big River and Salmon Creek project is a major boon for biodiversity and local community, which is also important under our carbon offset policy. Restored riparian buffers will improve water quality for threatened stocks of Coho salmon and steelhead trout, and increased forest cover and structural diversity offer improved habitat for Northern Spotted Owls and threatened terrestrial species. Local communities will benefit from the continued existence of sustainable tibmer jobs, as well as increased recreational access under the new management regime.
The addition of these projects to Brighter Planet’s portfolio represents a strategic diversification of our carbon offset blend, introducing sink-side forest offsets for the first time. This move was largely in response to customer demand — our most recent member survey revealed sustainable forestry as a top-ranking project type of interest alongside renewable energy. We are meeting this demand with these top-notch domestic forestry projects that verifiably reduce carbon pollution while providing key ecological and economic benefits that help to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Just got back from my 10/10/10 work event: canvassing North Cambridge with free CFLs to give residents in exchange for their incandescents.
Now i’m watching reports streaming in from around the world and following the blog for some highlights. I was especially proud to see one of our Project Fund grant recipients listed as a featured U.S. project by the 350 staff.
Ian and I just got back from SOCAP10, where Brighter Planet was the in-kind carbon offset sponsor.
SOCAP10 brings together some of the major thought leaders in the field of “social capital markets.” These are markets such as microfinance and clean technology which use the power and efficiency of market systems to solve pressing social and environmental issues.
My favorite panel was one in the Metrics/Systems thinking track that focused on creating a universal language and set of metrics to assess social and environmental impact. It asked basic questions such as “What do we mean when we say ‘green job’?” and “How do we compare one company’s social and environmental performance to another’s in a way that is similar to comparing investment ratings?” In more mature fields we take commonality of language and metrics for granted, but in emerging industries this work is elemental and essential.
I’m happy to report that two organizations are providing the framework for communicating and measuring social and environmental performance. The Global Impact Investing Network has produced IRIS (Impact Reporting & Investment Standards), a dictionary for terms describing the social and environmental performance of an organization, while B Lab’s GIIRS (Global Impact Investing Rating Systems) assesses the social and environmental impact of companies and funds using a common ratings system analogous to credit risk ratings.
This is particularly interesting and valuable to Brighter Planet because carbon is a key environmental metric that is all too often under-reported or ignored. We believe people’s understanding improves when carbon emissions are placed in context alongside other metrics, both traditional and emerging. Efforts such as IRIS and GIIRS help to shed light on what have traditionally been shadow metrics by bringing order and structure to the process.
Developers can now use our API to calculate emissions from hotel energy use within their own applications. The calculations use data from the EIA’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey and the EPA’s eGRID, which are automatically imported to our database and updated nightly to ensure currency.
Possible applications of the lodging emitter include a company calculating Scope 3 emissions from business travel, a hotel booking website calculating your stay’s emissions, a travel agent adding offsets for lodging emissions to a vacation package… but don’t let us limit your thinking!
We’re hard at work cranking out more emitters, so stay tuned for updates.
For years we’ve been doing custom carbon emissions inventories for meetings and events ranging from conventions and conferences to music festivals and sporting events. Now we’ve released a new meetings module of our carbon middleware service that lets software developers build event carbon calculation into their own applications.
The meetings and events emitter, accessed through our API, lets users specify a range of characteristics to calculate emissions from venue energy use. Used in combination with other carbon middleware emitters like transport, hotel stays, food, and fuel purchases, an event inventory can be expanded to cover the desired emissions scope.
Underpinning this event carbon model are authoritative data from the EIA’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey and the EPA’s eGRID, imported automatically to our system on a daily basis to ensure currency.
We’re excited to see website and software developers put the tools to use. We’ve got applications in mind ranging from widgets that let wedding and party planners estimate their impact, to platforms that enable corporations to manage all aspects of convention and summit carbon footprints. But IT engineers will no doubt surprise us with innovative ways to integrate this carbon data into their systems.
Events and meetings can be great opportunities not only to meet your organizations’ own sustainability goals, but also to promote conservation by helping to enlist participants and attendees in the emissions calculation and reduction process. In working with event organizers we’ve had great success using a four-pronged approach that addresses event carbon inventorying, emissions reduction initiatives, mitigation through offsetting, and attendee participation in measuring, reducing, and offsetting their own event travel emissions.
We’re pleased to announce that financial industry veteran Deborah Baxley has joined our Advisory Board. With her wealth of experience as a strategist for companies including IBM, MasterCard, Bank of America, Visa, and American Express, Debbie’s perspective will help us grow and enhance our offerings at the intersection of financial- and carbon services.
Debbie is a Principal with Capgemini’s Financial Services Global Business Unit. Widely recognized for her insights on the future of retail payments, she has chaired the Smart Card Alliance Contactless and Mobile Payments Council, and co-chaired the 2009 Alliance Payments Council Summit. She is a frequent keynote speaker and prolific author on topics of mobile and advanced payments innovation, having authored 15 published articles and white papers.
We’re pleased to announce that we’ve just added the Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) model to our carbon data resources. Licensing this authoritative model further expands our ability to perform lifecycle and supply chain carbon emissions analysis.
The carbon accounting field is increasingly focusing on Scope 3 emissions, including supply chain and product lifecyle emissions. Supplier sustainability programs by institutions like Walmart, IBM, P&G, and the federal government are driven by the realization that for many organizations, embodied emissions represent the majority of total carbon impact.
The EIO-LCA model from Carnegie Melon University’s Green Design Institute combines federal Economic Census data with research on the environmental impacts of hundreds of economic sectors. It enables lifecycle assessment for all phases of production including raw materials extraction, transport, manufacturing, and retail.
Through our new partnership with CMU, Brighter Planet will provide rapid environmental impact analysis for goods and services such as electronics, food, healthcare, vehicles, consulting, entertainment, clothing, and supplies.
Now here’s the background.
We started Project Fund as our main corporate philanthropy initiative a year ago to fill a need we saw in the climate community: neighborhood-scale climate projects needed quick access to small grants, and they were willing to work hard to get them.
To make a long story short, Project Fund was a runaway success, one we’re very proud of. With 199 projects submitted and over 100,000 votes cast, we were able to give $50,000 in grants to 10 spectacular causes.
But Project Fund was also successful in another unexpected way: the “crowdsourced funding allocation” model itself was a hit, winning us a Social Innovation award from Financial Times. When the Pepsi Refresh Project launched in January, it took the concept to a totally different scale. That’s when “How could I start my own Project Fund?” became one of the most common questions we at Brighter Planet heard.
So this past winter we spun up a new Ruby on Rails app codenamed
wlpf1(“white-label Project Fund”) and started filling it with Project Fund code extracted from our main web application. A few months later Wowcrowd was born.
Recently we realized that somebody else could probably do a better job of running with Wowcrowd. After all, we’re a climate company. The very first group that came to mind was GOOD, not only because they’re friends of ours, but also because they are an active partner in the Pepsi Refresh Project and have been closely involved since its launch earlier this year. They’re also probably the world’s best folks at connecting great people with great causes.
And a handful of weeks later, the ink is dry. Here’s the press release. GOOD, she’s in your hands. We can’t wait to see where you take this.
Brighter Planet has been building technology for climate change since 2007, including a fully automated carbon offset provision, retirement, and assignment system (to interface with Bank of America and power our credit and debit cards) and what we feel is the world’s best carbon profiler for individuals.
We’re opening up our technology as a platform, and we can’t wait to see what can be done with these systems. Have a look at the new site and tell us what you think.
201,938,091 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution that never was.
As of today that’s the greenhouse gas emissions that you, the Brighter Planet community, have prevented from being released. More than 150,000 individuals and businesses have come together to support the construction of 19 community renewable energy projects (and counting). These wind turbines and cow power facilities at schools and family farms across the country generate clean electricity and prove the viability of new energy technologies, create green jobs and economic opportunity in rural America, and reduce the environmental and social burdens of fossil fuel use, coal mining, and methane pollution.
The greenhouse gas emissions you’ve prevented so far is equivalent to:
- 4,000,000,000 party balloons filled with carbon dioxide -- two for every child on earth
- 6,600,000 cars removed from the road for a day
- 23,700,000 tree saplings sequestering carbon for a year
- 480 railroad cars full of coal never burned
- 3 full days of every US home turning off all their lights
Thanks everybody for doing your part to prove that working together using innovative tools, we can make a very real difference!
This past Friday, the town of Greensburg, Kansas held an official dedication for their new wind farm. We’d like to share some photos and video from our partner NativeEnergy.
As Steve Maller, Program Manager for John Deere Renewables, said at the ceremony, “the Greensburg wind farm provides a vivid example of how local leaders, governments and private industry can collaborate to develop renewable energy projects that help sustain Americas’ rural communities and our rural heritage.”
Thanks again to all our members. You’ve made this project possible.
TreeHugger has just announced the “Best of Green” awards. And we’re proud and thrilled to see that Brighter Planet has taken the cake for Small Business of the Year!
The work we do here is fairly diverse, so it’s nice when somebody captures it succinctly. TreeHugger’s summary observed:
“Offering credit and debit cards and carbon offsets, funding several small-scale renewable energy projects such as methane digesters and farmer-owned wind turbines, and also doing some interesting carbon reporting – most recently one on the carbon footprint of food which clarified some important aspects of the impact of food miles – Brighter Planet’s products, projects and services stood out this year.”
Many of our friends and allies were recognized in the Best of Green awards as well. Congrats for your well-deserved wins:
- Bill McKibben (member of our advisory board), named Best Political Amabassador
- Our partners at 1% for the Planet, named Best Non-Profit Partnership
- Our partners as 350.org, named Best Climate Activism
- The folks at Greenbiz, named Best Business Website
- Climate Progress, a favorite blog of ours, named Best Politics Website
- Gavin Newsom of San Francisco (which we now call home in concert with Vermont), named Best Mayor
We’re pleased to announce that Brighter Planet is partnering with San Francisco Carbon Collaborative to host a lively event in our newest home, San Francisco! If you’re on the west coast, come join us on Wednesday, April 14 for a high-level panel discussion that will examine findings from our recently published report on employee engagement in corporate sustainability. We’ll hand the conversation to our panelists, who will share their experiences, strategies, and best practices in an interactive forum. It will be a great opportunity to learn from companies who are leading the charge in incorporating employees (and their ideas!) into a sustainability strategy. And yes, there will be drink. Hope you can make it! See the details below…
Brighter Planet Presents New Employee Engagement Report: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco 6:00pm – 7:30pm, immediately followed by Climatini
Employee Engagement is becoming an increasingly popular means to drive corporate sustainability efforts. Around the world, companies and communities are mobilizing their workforces to lessen pollution, waste and operational inefficiencies. However, a new analysis by Brighter Planet suggests that employees are generally dissatisfied with their employers’ sustainability initiatives. Moreover, many employers are unable to quantify the effects of their internal efforts. This finding is especially timely in light of increasing executive pressure to measure the impact of sustainability work on bottom line.
Please join the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative, Brighter Planet, and Climatini on April 14th, for a panel discussion and an exploration of how to better foster Employee Engagement in the sustainability arena. We’ll preview the new Brighter Planet study and consider the following:
- How can companies enhance CSR strategies by fusing employee initiative and forward green thinking?
- How does the strategy of sustainable employee engagement ft within the larger theme of CSR?
- How can we measure CSR/EE impacts upon triple bottom lines?
- What are the pros and cons of implementing top-down vs. bottom-up sustainability programs?
- How should companies incentivize employee-led initiatives?
- Where are the cutting-edge opportunities and best-practice ideas?
This event is free of charge with a cash bar. Space is limited, so please register by clicking here.
Patti Prairie, CEO, Brighter Planet: Brighter Planet provides technology-driven climate change solutions that help people and businesses manage their environmental impact.
Andrew Bryson, Senior Director, Saatchi & Saatchi S: Saatchi S is a leader in sustainability consulting, having successfully designed and implemented employee engagement programs for some of the world’s largest corporations.
Lisa Carpenter, Director of Strategy and Communications for Social and Environmental Responsibility, Gap, Inc.: Gap is a pioneer in the areas of CSR & environmental sustainability, having successfully reduced the social and environmental impacts of their business operations in four key areas: supply chain, environment, employees and community investment.
Ellen Lee, HR Director, Sun, Light & Power: Sun Light & Power is a small solar power integrator based in Berkeley, CA. The company’s culture is built on a commitment to employee engagement that extends the environmental benefit of their core business.
Moderator – David Pascal, President, San Francisco Carbon Collaborative: David is co-founder of the SF Carbon Collaborative and was most recently the Clean Tech and Green Business Advocate for the City and County of San Francisco.
At a dinner in NYC last night, I learned that we won the 2010 Financial Times & Justmeans Social Innovation Award for most strategic philanthropy program!
The Project Fund, our community-powered monthly grant program for grassroots climate projects, has gone viral. The idea is simple: anybody can submit a grant proposal, and anybody can vote to decide which project will win the grant. Our goal in launching it six months ago was to help communities that lack access to seed money turn their good ideas into real-world solutions to climate change.
As I told the audience at the Hudson Theatre when I accepted the award, the recognition by the Financial Times, Justmeans, and the distinguished panel of judges is a tribute to the 150,000 Brighter Planet customers who endow the Project Fund, to the 100 projects submitted over the past six months, and to the tens of thousands of voters across the nation. And, of course, to our Project Fund grantees which range from post-coal sustainability projects in Appalachia, to youth activism in Copenhagen, to tree planting in Wisconsin.
It’s so satisfying to be able to jump-start deserving projects like these. So now we’re providing this crowd-sourced philanthropy technology to other businesses, campaigns, foundations, and non-profits. Our social giving platform, wowcrowd (in private beta but live soon!), lets organizations engage their members to propose, discuss, and vote on ideas to receive project funding.
Thank you to the Financial Times, Justmeans, and the panel of judges for your recognition.
The answer may be blowin’ in the wind, but it’s not always easy to find. For Greensburg, Kansas, it took a devastating natural disaster, a visionary commitment by residents, an arduous fund raising effort, and a lengthy planning and building process, to get the clean energy flowing. But that day is finally here.
Leveled in 2007 by a EF-5 tornado that destroyed more than 95% of the buildings in this town of 1500 residents, Greensburg vowed to rebuild as the greenest town in America. Now, less than three years later, that commitment has paid off as the first of ten massive new wind turbines begin to spin outside town.
The Greensburg Wind Farm by NativeEnergy came online this month, and we’re thrilled that members of the Brighter Planet community were able to play a key role in making this story a reality. As charter supporters of this wind farm, every Brighter Planet cardholder helped fund its construction every time you swiped your card to buy gas and groceries. Thanks everybody! It’s great to see another inspiring example of innovative ways we can come together to build a clean energy future.
The ten turbines, each capable of producing up to 1.25 MW of electricity, will provide enough clean energy to power the town several times over – this allows Brighter Planet members who contributed to the project to claim rights to some of the clean energy produced, with enough left over for the town of Greensburg also to claim carbon neutrality.
The sheer scale of these turbines is awesome; each one is as tall as a 35-story building, with blades a long as the wingspan of a Boeing 747. An eyesore for local residents? Quite the contrary – the only concerns raised during the placement process came from folks who wanted the project located where it could be seen from their homes.
Today is a big day in Greensburg, Kansas. This morning is the official groundbreaking on the Greensburg Wind Farm by NativeEnergy, the most recent offset project funded by Brighter Planet members. The project has been years in the planning, but with construction beginning today the ten 1.25 Mw turbines are set to be operational by this coming spring. They’ll generate enough clean electricity to power the 4,000 homes in the community several times over, and prevent the release of more than a billion pounds of CO2 over twenty years.
Brighter Planet is excited to stand by other charter supporters in making this project a reality, including Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar, Stonyfield Farm, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. And we’re also excited to give individuals the opportunity to invest in this project through both and creative channels, like applying their credit card reward points to help bring the project to life.
Discovery Chanel’s Planet Green is set to film the groundbreaking, as they have many other events in their inspiring series chronicling the rebuilding of Greensburg from tornado disaster zone to model green town. We’ll share that video here as soon as it becomes available.
First Project Fund grant goes to Sustainable Energy and Economic Diversification project to promote green jobs
We’re pleased to announce that Andrew Munn from Rock Creek, West Virginia is the first recipient of a Project Fund grant. His project, Sustainable Energy and Economic Diversification (SEED) in the Coal River Valley, will receive $5,000 to get a kick-start on fighting climate change. With the support of Coal River Mountain Watch, SEED will reduce local dependency on coal extraction and help educate young students and workers on alternative forms of employment. Over two weeks, the project garnered a whopping total of 4,731 votes.
The October voting period showcased eighteen project proposals and brought in a total of 13,983 votes from across the country. Other top project submissions included an effort from Green Light New Orleans to install CFL light bulbs in low and middle income communities, and a project from the Burlington Food Council in Vermont to fund a staff position to promote local food networks.
This is just the first step in Brighter Planet’s grassroots stimulus package for the climate. Six new grassroots submissions from California, Texas, West Virginia, Indiana, and New Hampshire have already been vetted and are on deck. Voting will begin again on November 1st, so be sure to come back and make your voice count!
Curious where the votes came from? This map shows votes for the top five projects.
The idea is simple–share your own experiences reducing your “foodprint,” learn how others are making great food that’s also good for the planet, and win some killer prizes!
These days, it’s hard to miss the hubub about electric cars and fluorescent lights, wind turbines and cash for clunkers. But it might come as a surprise to learn that in terms of carbon emissions, the impact of the food you eat is on par with the car you drive and the home you inhabit. This contest is all about raising that awareness, sharing great ways we can each reduce the climate impact of our diets.
Here’s how it works. Just browse through the cooking conservation tips, and submit stories and photos of how you reduce your impact for each category you’re interested in. As you’re poking around, be sure to give a nod to other experiences you like—at the end of the contest, stories with the most “thumbs up” will be rated against the judging criteria.
Culinary and conservation heavyweights on our judging panel include chef and local food pioneer Alice Waters, author and journalist Bill McKibben, and Stonyfield Farms CEO Gary Hirshberg.
Yes, there is loot to be won: random prizes throughout the contest, and top prizes of Amazon Kindle DXs in each category. The top experiences will be published online, and broadcast here on our blog. And just as importantly, you’ll learn about ways make delicious, low-impact meals, and inspire others to do the same!
Join us at the main contest page!
Over the past few years, we have been continually inspired by the thousands of individuals and community organizations growing the climate movement from the ground up. We’re thrilled to announce a new monthly micro-grant fund, the Brighter Planet Project Fund, to provide motivated Americans with seed money for projects that help people fight and adapt to climate change.
As you know we spend quite a bit of time here fussing with our projects—the wind turbines and methane digesters that produce the offsets you earn with our cards. But this fund is about your projects: the neighborhood-scale solutions like weatherization and education that might not produce offsets but are nevertheless critically important to the planet. Think of it like a grassroots stimulus package for the climate.
One of the things we’re proudest of is that the fund is endowed by our members. Every time you use one of our cards or purchase an offset package from us, a percentage of our revenue gets deposited automatically into the fund. This means that as the Brighter Planet community grows, we’ll be able to do more and more good.
Know a local school that could use some insulated windows? Maybe your church wants to put a solar panel on its roof? Want to invite a climate leader to speak at your library? You guys have the ideas; let’s make them happen.
We’ve added five new farmer-owned distributed wind turbines to our project portfolio! By helping fund the purchase of these turbines, Brighter Planet members are reducing emissions, contributing to a more stable electricity grid, and supporting family farms.
Brighter Planet is dedicated to engaging people in the fight against climate change. From the individual to the Fortune 500 company, we believe that all must participate vigorously in the development of a more sustainable future. The world faces unprecedented challenges in the 21st century, from global climate change and biodiversity loss to resource depletion and mounting population pressures. Never before has the need for reduced environmental impact and socially responsible corporate actions been of greater necessity. We recognize we are a small player in the business world, but nonetheless we seek to be a global leader in sustainable business practices.
We do not believe in the either-or proposition of environmental and social benefit versus profit. In fact, we strongly believe that our initial commitment to environmental integrity and social quality was instrumental in our ability to attract talented employees, develop close relationships with climate leaders, select reputable partners, and begin to build a customer base.
In conducting this sustainability report we are establishing a baseline for our environmental and social performance. In keeping with our core principle of transparency we will make this document public and will actively seek feedback from all of our stakeholders.
As this report demonstrates, we still have a long way to go in reducing our impact and strengthening our social commitments. We know the challenge and pressures to live up to our sustainable principles will only grow as we grow. Nonetheless, we remain undaunted and as committed as ever to these principles. Let this report serve as our benchmark for evaluating our future performance, while helping to guide our growth.
Please see the full color report here.
We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Sincerely, Patti Prairie, CEO
Congratulations to Brighter Planet members – you shut down a dirty, coal-fired power plant for a week!
And you did it not by waving signs and shouting “No!,” but by saying “Yes!” to finding better answers to the problem of how to meet our energy, economic, and environmental needs.
Your actions as Brighter Planet members as of December 31, 2008, allowed us to transfer 67,342 tons of carbon offsets to Clean Air - Cool Planet for retirement – roughly the equivalent of a week’s emissions from that outdated, dirty power plant.
If you’re reading this and are not yet a part of our program, let me explain: Our members earn high-quality offsets with the Brighter Planet Visa credit and debit cards, and they can also buy Planet Shares to counteract their carbon emissions.
How do they know they’re making a real, permanent difference? Our policies and practices of additionality at the front-end, retirement at the back end, and transparency throughout …that’s how. We only invest in projects that meet our rigorous carbon offset policy and survive the expert scrutiny of our Project Selection Committee. None of our projects would have been built were it not for the prospect of incentives from the sale of offsets.
Offsets are legal property rights. The rights to the 67,342 tons we transferred to Clean Air - Cool Planet come from the fifteen offset projects shown in the pie chart below. Clean Air - Cool Planet is a science-based, non-partisan non-profit dedicated solely to finding and promoting solutions to global warming. They will hold these offsets in perpetuity to ensure they can never be sold or used again. That’s how our and our members’ objective of fighting climate change by reducing net emissions is achieved.
With our inaugural year under our belt, we did a customer survey. Respondents split almost evenly between male and female, with 55% under the age of 35.
Our online community has continued to grow through our social media campaigns. We asked customers about how they use the web: almost everyone uses Google, 3 out of 4 use Facebook, and while most people had heard of Twitter, only 20% use it.
Top answers to 'rate the following factors in your decision to take steps at Brighter Planet' were combating climate change, offsetting my carbon footprint, investing in community-based climate solutions, and trustworthiness of Brighter Planet.
When asked "how green do you consider yourself," 3 out of 4 responded that they embrace sustainability in their daily life and recycle, walk, take public transportation, and use CFLs. Less than a quarter live the greenest lifestyle, defined as driving a hybrid car, composting, and buying local. The remainder consider themselves light green and do a little but are not focused on it.
What was most important in evaluating offset projects? Benefits to public health and water quality were highest. A close second was verification by an independent third party. Rated less important were diversity of project types and additionality of offsets produced.
Answers to 'rate offset projects from high to low interest' yielded wind turbines and solar* installation projects tied for the top ranked spot. Almost three quarters of respondents prefer offsets from certified international wind projects to uncertified domestic projects.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to fill out our survey. Your feedback helps us improve our business.
*While we are highly interested in solar offset projects, solar is priced at a 50% + premium and would not currently be a cost-effective addition to our portfolio.
-The Brighter Planet team
We’re glad to see that Bank of America, our partner for the Brighter Planet Visa, has taken some significant steps to become even more environmentally responsible.
They’ve recently announced that they will:
1) phase out loans to companies that do mountaintop removal for coal production. (BoA Coal Policy)
2) give $1 million to the Harvard Center for the Environment for a study on capturing the greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal.
3) continue to adopt the Carbon Principles. These are guidelines about the risks of investing in greenhouse gas emitting- public utility projects like coal plants.
In the bigger picture, Bank of America has made a broad environmental commitment of $20 billion over the next ten-years. The money will be used to advance sustainability across the board– in its operations, through its lending and investing, and in new products and services.
There’s room for eco-improvement in nearly every organization, but these are important steps for BoA and we at Brighter Planet applaud their efforts.
Today is an important day as almost 11,000 participants gather in Poznań, Poland to talk about climate change. The UN Climate Change Conference will go on through December 12th. These high-level talks are part of the ongoing negotiations to further enhance Kyoto Protocol agreements and to develop a post-Kyoto climate regime. The hope is that this conference will bring the participating nations one step closer to a formal agreement in December 2009.
SustainUS, the US Youth Network for Sustainable Development, sent over a delegation of US-based student leaders who will be involved in the sustainable development policymaking process in Poland. Brighter Planet is honored to have donated 69,138 lbs. of carbon offsets to balance out the Agents of Change delegates’ travel emissions to and from the conference.
This is an exciting opportunity for these youth to see climate policymaking in action. Offsetting the carbon emissions from their travel helps them to lead by example as they develop climate-responsible policy recommendations. We’re looking forward to hearing how things go in Poland!
Drum roll please
1st Place: Climate Matters, by Steven Dempsey 2nd Place: Ask the Children, by Barbara Lucas 3rd Place: Green To Blue, by Elizabeth Klein 3rd Place: This Lawn is Your Lawn, by Roger Doiron
You can see them now on our channel.
These four videos, chosen by our distinguished panel of judges, represent the best of over 100 submissions from all around the country. What we at Brighter Planet found striking about the process has been the diversity of content and perspective. It has been made evermore apparent to us that to frame climate change as a youth issue, an energy issue, an environmental issue, etc. is fundamentally flawed. These videos creatively define climate change as an overarching issue. Some paint a daunting and often terrifying picture, while others seek to provide hope and inspiration. What they make clear is that the challenge of tackling climate change is also an opportunity. They urge our next president to act forcefully for the betterment of not only our planet, but its people.
So, thank you to all those who participated; thank you for your energy, emotion, for lending your voices, and faces to this issue. You help to humanize this global challenge, making it more accessible and approachable. Now the fun part; please help get the word out about these amazing videos. Check out our winners and other finalist and embed those you like on your blog, facebook or myspace page, and if you’re really feeling active, send it along to your congressional representative.
Well folks, we’ve been waiting for this day for some time now… We’d like to announce the launch of our video contest - Climate Matters: Inspire Our Next President. We’ve partnered with 1Sky, a climate change organization based in Washington DC, and Vimeo, a premier video-sharing website, to make sure our leaders know why climate change must be addressed by our next president. That’s why we’re calling on Americans (that’s you!) to create a 30 or 60 second video to deliver a clear, creative and compelling message to our leaders to take bold action on climate change.
Now, our message to you… What are you waiting for? Grab yourself a camera, it doesn’t have to be fancy, and ask yourself what message you want to deliver to our leaders right now. Serious or funny, amateur or professional, we’re opening the political space for you to share that message. Upload your video on Vimeo's Climate Matters website, and be sure to self-promote. The top ten videos will be chosen based on average views per day, so you can help your video get to the top! Winning videos will be broadcast to a central audience of over 50 million people nationwide and will be shown to our leaders in Washington.
Check out the contest’s introductory video, you might see some familiar faces!
The top video submission will be awarded with $3000 on a preloaded Brighter Planet Visa Gift Card; 2nd Place, $1000 on a preloaded Brighter Planet Visa Gift Card; and 3rd Place, $500 on a preloaded Brighter Planet Visa Gift Card.
Viewers can also enter a raffle to win a brand new Canon VIXIA HV30 HDV camcorder - next year you’ll have no excuse not to submit a film!
We’ve got a stellar panel of judges that come from all sides of the political spectrum:
• Gillian Caldwell, Campaign Director and Film Producer, 1Sky • Leila Conners, President and Co-Founder of Tree Media, Producer/Director 11th Hour • Nadia Conners, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Tree Media, Producer/Director 11th Hour • Maggie Gyllenhaal, Actress, Rachel Dawes in Batman the Dark Knight • Anya Kamenetz, author Generation Debt and Staff Writer Fast Company • Rory Kennedy, Director and Producer, Moxie Firecracker Films • David Jenkins, Government Affairs Director Republicans for Environmental Protection • Tia Lessin, Director and Producer, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine • Patti Prairie, President and CEO, Brighter Planet • Bill Stetson, film producer and environmental consultant
Be sure to know the rules (the terms and conditions are on the contest website)
And don’t doubt yourself for one second, because one video can change the world!
-The Brighter Planet team
We’ve just returned from the 2008 American Birkebeiner—and what a great event it was. Over 7,000 racers descended on the tiny Wisconsin towns of Cable and Hayward, to compete in the 50km Birkie.
Last year, the event was cut short due to lack of snow. No problems this year, however, with a two-foot base and fast, cold snow over the whole course. The winning time, posted by Ivan Babikov of Canada, was 2 hours and seven minutes… that’s 24 km/hr over rolling hills and flat fields!
Kate Whitcomb, a Brighter Planet ambassador, battled a head cold to finish fifth in the women’s Birkie. Through our event offsetting program and direct offset sales, over 48 tons of carbon dioxide were offset— supporting farmer-owned distributed wind projects in Minnesota and South Dakota.
A small recycling program was started, diverting countless bags of cardboard from the landfill. These represent Brighter Planet’s first steps in our Keep Winter White campaign. We hope to return next year, to make the event even greener.
Thanks to Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner and his entire team for pulling together such a fantastic event.