Category Archives: business

Lexus Hybrids : A Load Of Green B******s

Lexus Not Green

One advertisement that infuriated me more than almost any other in the last year (and there are SO many to choose from), was that for the Lexus RX Hybrid. At the time I first saw it, green was not the colour in my mind — more a sort of splashy, angry red — and I decided to write about it.

Now, with the advert having been unceremoniously banned for – quite frankly — lying, Lexus have turned to Saatchi & Saatchi, the ailing but global ad agency, who have decided that a world without “h” is a terrible world. Obviously this needs explaining, so here’s the official guff:

“The TV commercial presents a glimpse into a world without h. The h is missing from key landmarks, computer keyboards and the alphabet in schools. The viewer begins to wonder where the h has gone. Then they see, it has moved to a better place, a world with the Lexus hybrid—a place that looks forward and believes in change. There is no better place for an h to be than on the rear badging of a Lexus hybrid vehicle.”

Run that past me again. Lexus have stolen all the “h”s, screwing the world’s keyboards and schools because they want to look good. Talk about honesty in advertising!

[read more at The Unsuitablog]

SCHOTT Breaks Ground On New Solar Plant

SCHOTT solar parabolic trough collectorsA whole heap of important people showed up for the ground breaking at SCHOTT solars new Albuquerque New Mexico solar plant. Executives from SCHOTT AG of Mainz, Germany, Governor Bill Richardson and other local dignitaries were there to see some real green collar jobs getting started. The site, located in the Mesa del Sol region of Albuquerque, NM, will produce both photovoltaic (PV) modules and receivers for concentrated solar thermal power plants (CSP). Production is expected to begin as early as spring 2009.

Initially, the company will construct a 200,000 square-foot facility, which will employ 350 people. SCHOTT Solar will invest approximately $100 million to start production in New Mexico.

Anticipating the need to increase production of its solar power technologies as the market for renewable energy in the US grows, the new site is designed to support expansion of both its photovoltaic module and solar receiver lines. Long term plans call for the building to expand to 800,000 square feet with employment reaching 1,500 people, representing a total investment of $500 million.

“Today is an extremely proud day for SCHOTT,” said Dr. Udo Ungeheuer, Chairman of SCHOTT’s Board of Management. “With the groundbreaking in New Mexico, SCHOTT is further demonstrating the company’s position as a global leader in solar technology and our ongoing commitment to developing the North American market through strategic investment.”

The governor wasted no time in showing off his green cred. “Recently I announced that SCHOTT Solar was coming to New Mexico and would build a new $500 million-dollar facility to Mesa Del Sol,” said Governor Richardson. “Just weeks later – I am pleased to say – SCHOTT Solar has officially broken ground on their new solar manufacturing facility. SCHOTT is one of the largest, most prestigious solar companies in the world and I am honored to welcome them to New Mexico.” It is not often that a governor can brag to his constituents that he has produced some real honest to goodness green collar jobs (not just another ethanol plant).

SCHOTT Solar has already begun the hiring process for the Albuquerque facility with staffing of human resources positions. In the next phase, the company will begin hiring experienced engineers and managers. Starting this summer, CSP receiver and PV manufacturing line positions will begin to be filled.

Job vacancies will be posted on the company’s website and advertised in the local media. The company is working with the New Mexico and Albuquerque Economic Development Departments to develop a training and recruitment program.

“SCHOTT Solar is committed to creating stable jobs with competitive pay and benefits for Albuquerque,” said Mark Finocchario, President and CEO of SCHOTT Solar, Inc. “Our mission is to become an employer of choice within the region.”

At the groundbreaking, SCHOTT Solar unveiled the ambitious timeline for the opening of the facility, which sits on 80 acres of land. Currently, the site is being graded and prepared for construction. Immediately following the completion of the permitting and approval process, the physical structure will start to be erected. The building is scheduled to be completed at the end of

the summer. From there, installation of the manufacturing equipment will take place and the interior will be prepped.

In March 2009, the first receiver, a critical component for concentrated solar power plants is expected to be available for sale. The receiver contains an outer “envelope” glass tube which has an anti-reflective coating. Inside, in an evacuated, sealed environment, is a steel tube covered by an absorptive coating. It is inside this steel tube that a heat transfer fluid (HTF) flows when heated by the sun. This fluid, when heated by the sun, is then used to turn water into steam, which drives a turbine, generating electricity. Tada!

In April 2009, the first photovoltaic panel manufactured for sale is scheduled to roll off the production line. The 220-watt single-pane PV panel will be similar to products produced at the company’s European manufacturing facilities. The Albuquerque site will have an initial annual production capacity of 64MW of PV panels. Additional PV manufacturing lines will be added to the facility to meet market demand.

Initially, the 190,000 square-foot facility will have 175,000 square feet allocated to production and 15,000 square feet of office space. The receiver line will occupy nearly double the space of the PV line (115,000 / 60,000 respectively). Future growth at the facility is planned by SCHOTT Solar, which will bring total employment up to 1,500, and SCHOTT’s total investment to approximately $500M.

Separate The Green Remodelers From The Greedy

green homes

These days, everybody wants to be green. Unlike some trends that only serve to perpetuate superficial values based on appearance, being green is healthy and positive. Also, living with more consideration for the environment can help preserve the Earth’s resources for future generations. But these facts are well-known. So well-known, in fact, that some businesses are taking advantage of a well-meaning public by using green terminology indiscriminately in their marketing copy.

Take green remodeling companies. How do you know they’re really green? To make money in an economy that increasingly revolves around green principles, some companies will go as far as including catch phrases in their advertising. These include the words “Green,” “Eco-friendly,” or “Sustainable.” But how can you tell they mean it? Fortunately, it isn’t hard. Especially not for green consumers, who are conscientious to begin with.

For one, many green companies volunteer for certification from a governing board such as the Bay Area Green Business Bureau. You can also look a particular remodeling company up under a registry that lists certified green businesses, such as Co-Op America. Find out where your potential company is certified, and look them up online to make sure they are listed on that website.

Green certification is not required to be green, but remodelers who are certified tend to go beyond minimum standards, doing business with values that take the environment into account. For instance, they will monitor water and energy use, waste generation, and provide incentives and training opportunities to employees. Certification gives them recognition for their actions and credibility from the public. Remodeling contractors working under a green business are required to have the necessary credentials, such as Green Building Credentials, a LEED Accredited Professional credential, or a Green Building Professional Certificate.

Aside from a pretty seal on the window or letterhead, green companies show signs of their environmental stewardship. Visit the office in person. Look for recycling bins for paper, plastic, and aluminum. Look for double sided printouts, energy efficient light bulbs, low-flow fixtures in the bathroom. These are far more likely to appear in a green company than your average, high-consuming business.

Finally, look beyond the marketing slogan to the marketing copy. Since we’re talking about remodeling companies, what types of materials do they promote? Do they provide a list of low-VOC paint options or formaldehyde-free adhesives for your paneling and hardwood? If not, do they point you out to the manufacturer who will? Do they provide information on how to reduce waste during the remodeling process, and how to be more energy efficient afterwards? If eco-friendly options don’t come up in your company’s written or verbal language, chances are they are not authentically green.

More Green Building Links:

World Without Oil Recap

So a couple months back I participated in a “game” called world without oil. The idea was that bloggers and citizens from around the world would imagine what it would be like if the world suddenly ran out of oil (or it got really really expensive), Oil broke $101.42 on the futures market recently. . . an historical record, as it broke the adjusted-for-inflation price of oil in the early 1980s. The DOE says that the average price per gallon of gasoline in the U.S. will settle much higher than the record $3.23 high that was reached last May. We are looking at a $3.50 average for gasoline by May, which means that the expensive states (California and New York) will see gas prices well above $4.00. The project is over now and they have released this excellent recap video.

I am a firm believer in the ability of game playing to make the world a better place, and this was for sure a fine example. It also shows that games can be an important tool in getting people ready for the very hard changes that they are going to have to make in their lives.

Oil Closes Over $100 For First Time Ever

I think we had better start getting used to hearing things like this.

100 dollar oil

Crude oil closed above $100 a barrel for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, vaulting through a longstanding psychological barrier amid persistent concern about whether production can keep up with rising global demand.

The day’s price rise of more than 4 percent capped a weeklong run-up that began when President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela threatened to cut off oil exports to the United States over a legal struggle with ExxonMobil.

Just as Mr. Chávez appeared to back off from his threats, an explosion at a Texas refinery on Monday reminded traders and hedge fund managers of the gasoline shortages and price increases that accompanied similar refinery failures last year. Even though the Alon USA refinery at Big Spring, Tex., was relatively small and American inventories are considered adequate, traders and hedge funds took the explosion as a buying signal.

“With this credit crisis going on, everyone is on edge and the slightest disruption in crude oil or its products takes prices right up,” said Michael Rose, director of the energy trading desk at Angus Jackson in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “Prices are going to go higher before they go lower.”


The only way oil will ever get cheaper, is if we start using a whole lot less, and the only way that is going to happen is if we shift over to renewable energy sources for most of our consumption. This is vitally important, because it will be almost impossible in the near term to grow the worlds food supply, and create the worlds medical supplies without a lot of oil. Unless we start heating and cooling our homes, and powering our cars with renewable energy we will be forced to make horrible choices. Food or medicine, food or cars, food or heating, all that stuff or an ecology that supports human life. Like I said, renewable energy lets be friends.