Future 2049: Farmer Exxon

1 July 09

The conversation would go something like this with a mom talking to her young son in 2028: “Honey, Exxon used to make gas to run cars. I know – really, It sounds funny but they used to be what we called a ‘oil and gas’ company, when cars ran on gasoline – and they made hundreds of billions of dollars doing it (that was a lot of money back then, son).” But apparently with the adoption of hydro-electric cars (brought on by legislative and economic incentives (read: subsidies)), that made the auto industries ‘dream to be green’ possible. Exxon therefore had to find a new industry or go out of business, It was shocking, really. With tremendous real estate and technology assets on their balance sheet (refineries) they wondered what else could be done with these refineries now that drilling for oil wasn’t a major revenue stream anymore.  So, after fighting Mother Nature all these years, they finally embraced it. Sun (solar), wind power, water and manufactured land platforms at their disposal in the oceans across the globe (with some architectural tweaks) they became the largest farmer in the United States with more water/farm land than the states of (Nebraska, Iowa..and…). Exxon’s offshore farming industry took off – growing vegetables and farming fish while creating new eco-environments with the reefs they created. Now with grazing land at such a premium, both the Argentinean and US governments have asked Exxon to begin using some of their platforms for raising livestock. We expect the first offshore cattle to be ready for market in 2 years.


Arm & Hammer’s Empty Bottle

15 October 08

It’s fall cleaning time. Time to take out the air condtioners and put the summer clothes into storage for a few months. In preparation, I headed to the store to pick up some supplies. Walking down the cleaning aisle, I was immediately struck by a new line of Arm & Hammer Essentials cleaning products. 

The concept isn’t new, nor is Arm & Hammer’s presence in the cleaning aisle; but the execution deserves admiration. Arm & Hammer Essentials is a line of eco-friendly, all-natural cleaning products in little refill containers with empty spray-bottles attached. Your first time, you’d purchase the bottle (which stands out because it’s empty on the shelf) and one included cleaning concentrate ‘refill’ (though I don’t think one can consider the first use a refill).  You simply fill the spray bottle with tap water, add the concentrated cleaning formula (they have all-purpose, glass cleaner, and a de-greaser). You then purchase packages of two concentrated refills every time you run out of the product. Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of Green Business Strategy

21 August 08

We’ve just wrapped up publication of our latest research report: The Future of Green Business Strategy, and I’ve noticed the volume on Green has turned up a few notches since we began researching this report a few months ago.

Just today, I came across a new site by the American Institute of Architects designed to inform both architects and the general public on the world of Green building. The site is a perfect example of how various organizations around the globe are cutting through the “noise” to communicate a clear, focused message on sustainability and the environment. It’s called Walk the Walk, and it features a number of resources, tutorials, and videos that inform visitors on the many facets of Green architecture and construction. There are two dedicated sections: one for people in the industry (architects, builders, designers) and one for everyone else (anyone considering remodeling or construction). The information on the site is clear, honest, and direct. It doesn’t focus too much on the “crisis” aspect of Green—rather, it offers much food for thought around how to simply make things better.

I then stumbled on a recent Newsweek interview with William McDonough, a Green architect and co-founder of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, the organization that hatched the very progressive (and smart) Cradle-to-Cradle certification program. Read the rest of this entry »

IKEA Sets its Sights on the Sun

7 August 08

IKEA, the Sweden-based home furnishings giant, is upping its Green efforts in a major way. Yesterday, the company announced the launch of GreenTech, a €50 Million fund that will invest in Green technologies over the next five years. The ultimate goal is to get green technologies integrated into the IKEA retail model—giving customers a one-stop shopping experience when it comes to building and furnishing their homes.

The fund will focus investments in five key areas: solar panels, alternative light sources, eco-friendly materials, energy efficiency, and water saving and purification systems. IKEA plans to work with five or six different companies over the next few years to create offerings that will help consumers green their homes and workspaces. Ideally, IKEA aims to bring new offerings to market in the next three to four years.

In an interview with CleanTech, the fund’s managing director, Johan Stenebo said:

“We’re already talking to companies. That’s certainly our aim to make happen. [GreenTech products should follow the same guidelines as IKEA’s other products. They will have] really low prices, and they should be of very good quality. That’s the only thing we look at, we would never look at anything else, we would discard anything else that doesn’t fall into those boundaries. Whether it’s home furnishings or it’s GreenTech products.” Read the rest of this entry »

Opening Up for the Environment

12 February 08

IBM, Sony, Nokia, and Pitney Bowes recently announced their Eco-Patent Commons initiative through which the fourfuturethink_eco-patent-commons companies will be releasing environmental conservation-related patents to the public. The effort is designed to help other companies leverage effective methods of cutting down waste and inefficiency. IBM, for example, has eliminated Styrofoam from its packaging and shipping because of its patented packaging design for a five-sided, shock-absorbing tray. Nokia is giving away patents related to its methods of re-tooling old mobile phone components into new electronics such as clocks and calculators. Together, the four companies are giving away 31 patents, all of which are available on the Web site of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. It’s great to see these companies taking such a progressive leap forward in terms of opening up their intellectual property for the greater good. Learn more at Bloomberg and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.