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Cisco and Amsterdam's plan to make a green city smart

Green Business News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - 05:11 am

What happens when one of the world’s greener, smarter cities meets the hyper-connected world? We’re about to find out.

Cisco and Amsterdam's plan to make a green city smart
Categories: Green Business

Why rare earth recycling is rare and what we can do about it

Green Business News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - 04:30 am

As demand for high-tech devices grows, so does interest in recycling the esoteric metals that make them run. But challenges abound.

Why rare earth recycling is rare and what we can do about it
Categories: Green Business

6 steps to boost innovation through mindfulness

Green Business News - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - 02:30 am

As more companies promote mindfulness in the workplace, here are ways to clear your mind of distractions and encourage fresh thinking.

6 steps to boost innovation through mindfulness
Categories: Green Business

Want to Change Customer Behavior? Try Changing Your Business Model

SustainAbility Latest - Sun, Apr 13, 2014 - 10:32 pm

Philadelphia increased its residential recycling by nearly 20,000 tons after partnering with Recyclebank. Flickr image by Bob Snyder

Imagine if you got rewarded every time you rode your bike instead of driving, or if you received a tangible benefit whenever you made a greener choice. Would this change how you go about your day? And could that change be a stimulus to speed up advances in global sustainability?

Convincing consumers to change their behavior is a significant component of the sustainability agenda. But for the most part, these efforts have been based in apps and campaigns, such as Alcoa’s Aluminate can recycling app or Bank of America’s Keep the Change savings program. By comparison, business models designed to stimulate sustainable behavior change are a relatively new – and largely unproven – concept.

However, given the growth of smart technology and social media, expect to see behavior-change-focused business models in the future. If these models can generate profit and scale, they could help drive an economy decoupled from resource use.

One company trying to do just that is New York City-based Recyclebank. Its business model, refined over the last decade, connects behavior change to tangible benefits. The company rewards people for taking greener actions, like walking rather than driving, with points that they can use to make purchases at local and national retailers.

A key part of the Recyclebank model is its revenue-generating partnerships across the US and UK. To help promote behavior change, it works with companies that want to engage “eco-curious” consumers and cities that want to, say, increase recycling or encourage their residents to walk or bike.

Over the last several years, Recyclebank has worked with Philadelphia to give residents incentives to recycle more. Here’s how it works: residents receive a recycling bin with a unique bar code. When city trucks pick up the bins, they calculate the weight of the materials inside and credit participants with reward points that can be used at local and national stores.

As a result of the partnership, Philadelphia has increased its residential recycling by nearly 20,000 tons. Its curbside recycling diversion rate went up 4% between 2010 and 2013.

This behavior changing model, used by just a handful of companies, is one of the emerging innovations identified in a new report by SustainAbility that I co-wrote and launched last month. Model Behavior: 20 Business Model Innovations for Sustainability reviews more than 80 companies that demonstrate business model innovations.

At their core, behavior change business models aim to reduce consumption, change purchasing patterns or modify daily habits. In the process, they empower consumers with knowledge about their consumption, helping them track product or service use. To increase engagement, they frequently employ game dynamics that create competition between customers.

As consumers become more interested in reducing their energy bills, these models are gaining traction in the energy industry. Opower is one of several software companies that partners with utility providers across the US to promote efficiency among energy users. The focus of the company, which went public with a $110m initial public offering on the NYSE last week, is two-fold: on the utility side, it helps companies capture and analyze large datasets to create business value; on the consumer side, it offers various platforms for engagement. In the process, Opower makes it easier for customers to understand their energy bills and encourages them to conserve energy, save money and reduce their carbon emissions.

Opower’s business model is tied to the amount of behavior change that it drives. By empowering consumers with knowledge about their energy consumption, and by leveraging proven behavior changing techniques, the company is transforming how people think about their energy use and driving further engagement between consumers and utilities.

As Opower demonstrates, in behavior change business models, the nature of the transaction between consumer and company becomes nuanced: it is less about selling ever more goods or services than it is about building brand trust and engagement. Companies employing this model aim to increase “stickiness” with customers, building brand loyalty.

The fundamental challenge for behavior change business models is to find a way to drive revenue growth while encouraging decreased consumption. The apparel brand Patagonia has experimented with behavior change marketing in recent years by encouraging consumers to buy less and repair more. However, because Patagonia is privately held, it’s unclear if the company’s bet has resulted in greater revenues or greater loyalty.

In the case of Recyclebank, there have been questions about the effectiveness of its efforts to increase recycling at the city level. Some municipalities, including Ann Arbor and Cincinnati, have chosen to end their partnerships with the company and pursue other reward methods.

For now, many companies and organizations are experimenting with apps and information transparency, rather than business models, to nudge consumers toward behavior change. Nike’s FuelBand engages customers by helping them set and track fitness goals. GoodGuide provides customers with more information on greener products. Bedsider, designed by Ideo for the non-profit National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, functions as a birth control support system to help prevent unplanned pregnancies.

Hopefully, we will see companies move beyond experimentation as they find scalable ways to simultaneously reduce consumption, change behavior and earn a profit. It seems Google might be setting the stage for such a move: earlier this year, it announced plans to buy Nest, a manufacturer of smart thermostats and other internet-connected devices, for $3.2bn. Nest’s thermostats enable customers to monitor their energy use remotely. More importantly, the thermostats invite customers to engage more deeply about energy use throughout the home. Google’s purchase has been touted as a big data play, but perhaps it’s also an indicator that the rise of new behavior change business models is closer than we think.

This article was originally published in Guardian Sustainable Business and is the third in a series of posts by Lindsay Clinton about business model innovations that accelerate social and environmental impact.

Categories: Sustainability

Hemp is on the Horizon! Get Ready for America’s Next Agricultural Revolution

Chelsea Green - Sun, Apr 13, 2014 - 07:00 am

You can eat it, drink it, read it, tie it, wear it, drive it, live in it, and make money growing it, all while saving the soil and protecting the climate. What is it? Hemp. That’s right, hemp. Hemp is on the Horizon! Just this year hemp was approved to be cultivated for university research […]

The post Hemp is on the Horizon! Get Ready for America’s Next Agricultural Revolution appeared first on Chelsea Green.

Categories: Sustainability

3 magic words to mute 'sustainababble'

Green Business News - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - 07:47 pm

A university town's transit system and a packaging company offer examples of how to keep sustainability meaningful in the Prairie State.

3 magic words to mute 'sustainababble'
Categories: Green Business

4 steps to keep food waste from super-sizing climate change

Green Business News - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - 09:24 am

There's a lot of waste between farm and plate, and that creates greenhouse gases. Here's how we can waste less, eat better and breathe easier.

4 steps to keep food waste from super-sizing climate change
Categories: Green Business

Matt Loose joins as Director in SustainAbility’s London office

SustainAbility Latest - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - 08:20 am

SustainAbility is pleased to announce that Matt Loose has joined us as a Director.

Matt is a seasoned sustainability professional with a track record of helping major global companies advance their sustainability performance. He brings a trans-Atlantic perspective on sustainability, having recently returned to the UK from Canada, where he was a director and owner of sustainability consultancy, Stratos.

“I am thrilled to be joining the SustainAbility team. SustainAbility is unique in its capacity to help clients get value from, and have impact on the major sustainability challenges we face. I’m very excited to work with such a talented team and clients committed to sustainability leadership.”

Matt brings to SustainAbility nearly 15 years of experience in working with clients on sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement, implementation and reporting. He spent three years on the SustainAbility team from 2004 – 2007 and has also held sustainability roles with Ernst & Young and Johnson Matthey.

Categories: Sustainability

Matt Loose joins as Director in SustainAbility’s London office

SustainAbility Latest - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - 08:20 am

SustainAbility is pleased to announce that Matt Loose has joined us as a Director.

Matt is a seasoned sustainability professional with a track record of helping major global companies advance their sustainability performance. He brings a trans-Atlantic perspective on sustainability, having recently returned to the UK from Canada, where he was a director and owner of sustainability consultancy, Stratos.

“I am thrilled to be joining the SustainAbility team. SustainAbility is unique in its capacity to help clients get value from, and have impact on the major sustainability challenges we face. I’m very excited to work with such a talented team and clients committed to sustainability leadership.”

Matt brings to SustainAbility nearly 15 years of experience in working with clients on sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement, implementation and reporting. He spent three years on the SustainAbility team from 2004 – 2007 and has also held sustainability roles with Ernst & Young and Johnson Matthey.

Categories: Sustainability

Advice for utilities: Don't cede power to clean energy

Green Business News - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - 06:30 am

Many utlities are handing electricity generation to the solar industry. But this sacrifices an enviable marketing relationship with customers.

 Don't cede power to clean energy
Categories: Green Business

$40 per ton: Well below the true cost of carbon

Green Business News - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - 06:15 am

The current price the U.S. places on carbon dioxide emitted is low because it ignores things we now know about climate change.

 Well below the true cost of carbon
Categories: Green Business

How Clean Energy and Waste Management turn trash into green fuel

Green Business News - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - 06:00 am

Clean Energy and Waste Management transform landfill emissions into liquefied or compressed natural gas.

How Clean Energy and Waste Management turn trash into green fuel
Categories: Green Business

Los Angeles, Washington, Atlanta top Energy Star ratings

Green Business News - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - 04:54 pm

These cities are leading the way when it comes to the EPA's energy efficiency rankings.

Los Angeles, Washington, Atlanta top Energy Star ratings
Categories: Green Business

Growing Your Own Herbs in 6 Easy Steps

Chelsea Green - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - 07:00 am

Author Didi Emmons understands it’s intimidating to work with unfamiliar herbs. In her book, Wild Flavors: One Chef’s Transformative Year Cooking From Eva’s Farm, she takes the simple approach that herbs, like any other plant, need good soil, water, sun, and air to thrive. Just vary the amounts of these four life-giving resources for each […]

The post Growing Your Own Herbs in 6 Easy Steps appeared first on Chelsea Green.

Categories: Sustainability

Facing May deadline, carmakers invite action on conflict minerals

Green Business News - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - 07:00 am

In May, auto companies from Chrysler to Toyota and beyond must report to the SEC about known conflict minerals in supply chains.

Facing May deadline, carmakers invite action on conflict minerals
Categories: Green Business

How a small county in California went grid positive

Green Business News - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - 06:30 am

Through an innovative push to embrace renewables, Yolo County produces 152 percent more energy from solar panels than it uses.

How a small county in California went grid positive
Categories: Green Business

P&G pledges zero deforestation by 2020

Green Business News - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - 05:30 am

The company has caved to pressure from Greenpeace to source palm oil sustainably. But does its vow go far enough?

P&G pledges zero deforestation by 2020
Categories: Green Business

The two questions to ask before handing over used electronics

Green Business News - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - 05:00 am

Uncertified recyclers can pervert the idea of recycling, putting humans and environments at risk. Put your e-waste to better use (and re-use).

The two questions to ask before handing over used electronics
Categories: Green Business

How enlightened self-interest in sustainable water helps business

Green Business News - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - 04:30 am

As water becomes scarce, managing it becomes a bigger piece of the business profit puzzle. A recent PI and VOX Global study examines the trends.

How enlightened self-interest in sustainable water helps business
Categories: Green Business

How to Start a Traditional Compost Pile in Your Yard

Chelsea Green - Wed, Apr 09, 2014 - 07:00 am

As a society, we make a lot of waste, especially in this culture of on-the-go single-serve disposables. As we work toward the Zero Waste Solution with Extended Producer Responsibility and other government mandated universal recycling of solid waste in the works, there is plenty you can do to reduce the amount of waste you send […]

The post How to Start a Traditional Compost Pile in Your Yard appeared first on Chelsea Green.

Categories: Sustainability
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