Case Studies

Hunter Lovins & Bill Becker Communicating Climate Issues

L. Hunter Lovins & Bill Becker
This interview and discussion with the participants of the 2016 Climate Knowledge Brokers workshop at NREL in Golden, Colorado explores the intricacies in connecting effectively with lawmakers and decision makers on climate issues.

Leading at the Local Level

Hunter Lovins, President of Natural Capitalism Solutions, Pat Burt, Mayor of Palo Alto, CA, and John Bernhardt, Outreach & Communications Director for the Clean Coalition, presented in a webinar on:

– Effective strategies municipalities are implementing to go carbon neutral and meet their community’s broader sustainability goals
– New, innovative models being used by cities to support the development of local renewable energy
– Palo Alto: A case study in bringing solar to city-owned properties

13 January 2016 | NCS Webinar | Creating Value from your School's Sustainability & Climate Commitment

L. Hunter Lovins and Peter Krahenbuhl: “Creating Value from your School’s Sustainability & Climate Commitment”

(download slides)

Playing Catch Up: The U.S. is Losing the Renewable Energy Race

Kendall Kraus
November 2015

Photographer: Daniel Acker

Photographer: Daniel Acker

 

No one enjoys playing catch up.  Why work twice as hard after falling behind if you are already at the top of the ladder?  Right now, the United States is at the top of the global economic ladder and has been since the twentieth century.  However, the U.S. is vulnerable to losing this first-place position due to its lack of progress implementing renewable energy.

Germany is well on it’s way to using 100% renewable energy.  Just this June, Germany succeeded in producing 78% of its energy from renewables, beating their previous record of 74%. Germany is not alone in making great strides in this field; various other countries are making a name for themselves in the renewables field as well.

A small Caribbean Island, Bonaire, has made the switch to renewables successfully as well.  Bonaire depends on wind power and biofuel that is created from algae grown on the island.  Another island off the coast of Denmark, Samso, depends almost entirely on wind power for its energy generation and plans to be entirely fossil fuel free by the year 2030.  Renewable energy is no longer a myth or futuristic dream, it is happening right now and there is proof.  Larger countries, as well, are making successful case studies such as Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, and the UK.  The question is: where is the United States?

The United States is being greatly surpassed in the race for renewable energy usage.  Given the legacy of the USA’s international power and leadership, one would think the country would want to avoid being surpassed in this race, if not for the sake of the planet but for the sake of pride.

The United States reached almost 10% of renewable energy usage in 2014.  A bit pitiful compared to the whopping 78% achieved by Germany.  The largest reasons the Department of Energy states for the low use of renewable usage is cost, the fact that it tends to be “remote”, and its unreliability.  However, these issues no longer make a viable argument.

First, there are large financial incentives to turn to renewables. Financial paybacks have been proven on paper and seen through various case studies.  For example, in Austin, Texas, the lowest costing solar energy was reached at 4 cents per kWh!  In comparison, the average cost for residential energy consumption in the United States was 12 cents per kWh in 2014 (http://solarcellcentral.com/cost_page.html).  The cost of solar energy is rapidly dropping and experts are predicting that it will continue to drop and soon become the cheapest form of energy available.

To summarize this financial argument, Hunter Lovins states in her article “Countries that lead the switch to renewable energy will reap the financial rewards” that countries are making the switch to renewables not because it will help save the planet but because it is the smarter move to make financially.

While it is clear renewable energy sources have made their financial and environmental case, there is another reason the United States should up its renewable energy game.  If the United States wants to remain the leader of the world’s economy, the switch to renewable energy is imperative.  Many professionals are now predicting that China will pass the United State’s economy by the year 2030.  What is China doing?  Investing in solar technologies and away from fossil fuels.

Historically speaking, countries that lead the global economy tend to also be leaders in the energy and transportation fields, amongst other areas.  This being said, in order to remain at the top of the world economy, the United States needs to keep moving towards energy dependence, continue being a leader in technology and finally implement these renewable technologies (http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-08-27/six-reasons-the-u-s-will-dominate).  According to Tony Seba, thought leader on topics such as clean energy disruption, 24-hour solar energy capture technology was invented 30 years ago, yet it is still slow to be implemented (Tony Seba: Clean Disruption).  The technology is ready; society just needs to adopt it.

One positive example of innovative progress in the energy and transportation field is the company, Tesla.  Tesla is not only a car company but also an energy storage company, which means it is effectively bringing together energy and transportation in a financially and environmentally sustainable way.  Tesla is projected to generate $459.6 million in revenue in the next 20 years, which outdoes companies like General Motors.  Tesla is a perfect example of successful financial and environmental innovation that will keep the United States a global economy leader.

It is important to realize that the United States is making some strides, and we do not want to discount those efforts.   At the end of the day, however, there is great room for improvement.  Other countries are providing successful case studies that prove that moving forward with renewable energy is beneficial and successful.  The United States should get itself at the forefront of this movement as well.

Case Study: Employee Training at Kashi

Kashitopia

Natural Capitalism Solutions worked with Kashi over a two year period to integrate sustainability across its business operations and build effective communication platforms. As a part of this process, the NCS team developed a sustainability education and training curriculum to ensure all employees are aligned with Kashi’s sustainability goals and have a base of sustainability knowledge that can be applied in their daily work. This has provided Kashi a foundation from which the company continues to build and improve.

The curriculum was broken into six key areas identified by NCS and Kashi as vital to employee’s knowledge of sustainability. Each of the six areas provide a diverse range of learning materials, from group activities, video interviews, and interactive readings. The employee training went live in early 2010 and continues to get rave reviews, with many employees opting to pursue additional trainings

Case Study: Retail e-Solutions at Aveda

avedaNatural Capitalism Solutions worked with Aveda to develop a custom e-Solution that enables salon owners across the world to implement sustainable salon practices. Using a dynamic online platform, NCS created a visually compelling solution that  provides practical guidance and tools in a user-friendly format that salon owners are comfortable with. Using this tool, Aveda salons will be able to lower their costs and implement industry-leading practices, while further aligning themselves with the Aveda brand.

Aveda’s sustainable salon is brought to life within an interactive web platform designed by NCS. The platform contains renderings of a physical salon that visually demonstrates the sustainability improvements that can be made. The platform showcases cost effective sustainability measures for the salon and includes straightforward instructions and supplementary  tools to make implementation easy. Throughout the process, salons learn about energy and cost savings associated with each measure in addition to benefits to marketing and the customer experience. Salon owners also have access to a goal-setting tool that demonstrates potential savings and which specific measures the salon should focus on based on their unique situation.

Using the sustainable salon guide created by NCS, Aveda will be able to implement sustainability across their diverse network of network operations, cutting costs for their business owners and increasing the sustainability performance of their company as a whole.

Case Study: Sales Training Eco Products

EcoProductsCaseStudyEco-Products is a leading supplier of recycled and compostable disposable goods. Sustainability is core to Eco-Products’ selling proposition, yet their large network of sales reps and brokers struggled to communicate the sustainability aspects of products to a diverse set of customers across the country.

In order to leverage their sustainability investments in the market, Eco-Products hired Natural Capitalism Solutions to develop a robust training program for their sales team. The training provides sales staff with a base understanding of sustainability and the sustainable attributes of products, in addition to practical training in how to communicate sustainability information to diverse customers. By completing the NCS training, the Eco-Products sales team is better equipped to capitalize on the company’s sustainability investments, strengthening their sales pitch and increasing revenue.

“The sales training materials that Natural Capitalism produced not only work to get our brand a higher degree of visibility in the field, but they work to make our sales force the most informed and educated about sustainability in our industry. With a complex offering such as ours and a brand centered around sustainability, these tools not only provide a much needed service, but they are designed to help our sales team increase revenue, and give our team the credibility and professionalism they need in today’s market to product more effectively. We are delighted with the work of Natural Capitalism and excited to expand on it in time to turn this project into one of the primary drivers of sustainability education within our organization.”

– Claudia A. Capitini, Sustainability Maven, Eco-Products

Case Study: Railbelt Electricity Efficiency Landscape (REEL) in Alaska Roadmap

REELRadical Energy Efficiency in Your Community
The REEL in Alaska Roadmap demonstrates how Alaskans in the Railbelt region of Anchorage, Juneau, and Homer can meet their electricity needs in 2025, using as little as 50% of the electricity used in the year 2000.Accomplishing this goal will lead to increases of $947,992,100 in economic output, $290,927,800 in wages, $53,499,850 in business income, and 9,350 new jobs.For more information on how Natural Capitalism Solutions can help your community set and achieve similar goals, contact contact us.

Click here to download the complete report.

Click here to download the executive summary.

Case Study: Fairbanks First Fuel

Fairbanks Case StudyEconomic Development Through Energy Efficiency
Increasing the efficiency with which Fairbanks meets its electricity needs will create jobs, increase business incomes, and provide overall economic development for the community.

Directed toward efficiency, each investment of $25,000,000 could eliminate the need for as much as 24MW of generating capacity.

For more information on how Natural Capitalism Solutions can help your community set and achieve similar goals contact us.

Click here to download the complete report.

Click here to download the executive summary.

Click here to download the report without appendices.

Case Study: Coal Plants in Transition

Coal PlantsTransition from Coal to Clean Energy Makes Good Business Sense

Utilities and other large-scale energy providers with significant percentages of coal in their generation portfolios can profitably transition toward more flexible and less capital intensive efficiency and renewables technologies using a business approach outlined in a new economic study completed by Natural Capitalism Solutions. This report provides an economic case study in energy financing.

For more information on how Natural Capitalism Solutions can analyze alternatives to your local coal plant contact us.

Click here to download the 4 March 2010 Press Release.

Click here to download the Executive Summary

Click here to download the Complete Report.

Consulting

NCS' Philosophy: "NCS is a non-profit. We work with organizations that are authentic in their pursuit of sustainability as a way of fulfilling our mission. This doesn’t mean altruism – businesses should pursue sustainability because it increases profitability and manages risks. It does mean that we choose clients because they are committed to implementing sustainability and not just talking about it."
Download "Sustainability Pays" a collection of Business Case Reports


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