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green and sustainable business

Posts Tagged ‘investment

Ready for the circular economy?

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And intelligent assets? A report from the World Economic Forum says the rapid and pervasive development of digital technologies, along with an understanding of circular economy principles, will drastically change life for the average urban citizen much sooner than we think.

smartcities1WEF’s report, “Intelligent Assets: Unlocking the Circular Economy Potential,” defines the circular economy as a concept in which materials and products are kept at their highest possible value at all times. It’s all about connectivity: “The exponential growth of connectivity has had a sweeping impact on our society in the last decade. It is widely understood that this increased connectivity between people, products and systems can create significant new sources of value for citizens and economies,” the report says.

“As we look to the next decade, the prevalence of connectivity, through the Internet of Things and the creation of ‘intelligent assets’ will accelerate,” so the question is, how to harness technological advances to enable smarter economic growth, resource and food security, and an improved infrastructure.

The impending digital transformation the WEF envisions has the potential to redefine the very basis of the materials-reliant industrial economy, the report’s Executive Summary continues. “Enabled by intelligent assets, a new model of development gradually gaining independence from finite resource extraction is emerging. Can pervasive connectivity become the new infrastructure enabling effective material flows, keeping products, components and materials at their highest value at all times, thus enabling the coming of age of the circular economy? Such a system would generate, on top of business advantages, multiple benefits for users and society as a whole.

“It would be a system where shared and multimodal transport help citizens to quickly and safely navigate to their destination, even during rush hour. A system where assets are able to signal the need for maintenance before breaking down, and in which local farmers can monitor and regenerate the areas of their land at risk of degradation, while at the same time providing abundant and fresh produce.”

The rapid increase in the number of intelligent assets is “reshaping” the economy. “The number of connected devices is expected to grow to 25–50 billion by 2020, from around 10 billion today. A growing body of research indicates that this Internet of Things (IoT) offers a trillion dollar opportunity, brought about by improved production and distribution processes and, perhaps more importantly, a significant shift in the way products are utilized.” The surge in intelligent assets is expected to “irreversibly transform industries and societies, and when paired with circular economy principles, this transformation has the potential to unlock tremendous value opportunities.”

This circular economy would help “decouple economic value creation from resource consumption.” It encompasses four value drivers – extending the use cycle length of an asset, increasing utilization of an asset or resource, looping or cascading an asset through additional use cycles, and regeneration of natural capital – that can be “combined with one (or several) of the three main intelligent assets value drivers – knowledge of the location, condition, and availability of an asset.”

What’s at stake “is not incremental change or a gradual digitization of the system as we know it, but a reboot: pervasive connectivity rolled out at scale has the power to redefine value generation, whilst helping emerging economies bypass heavy upfront investments and material-intensive solutions.”

For example, WEF posits an ecosystem of intelligent assets-enabled services that could jointly “open widespread access to reliable, grid-free renewable energy. Solar panels could be provided as a service to individuals and businesses without access to the capital to buy solar panels themselves, through weekly online payments.”

It’s a rethinking of value creation and logistics delivery from a straight line to a digitalized circular perspective, a brave new world of extreme connectivity.

Singularity here we come.

Image: From the WEF and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Written by William DiBenedetto

21 March, 2016 at 7:30 am

Solar heat

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solar energy_Mike RaySolar is very hot at the moment. A list of cleantech stock picks for 2014 has First Solar (a solar manufacturer) and SolarCity (a solar installer) at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and further down the list are a solar holding company, Renewable Energy Trade Board, and a solar equipment company, Meyer Burger.

There are many reports, including one on another site that I write for on occasion TriplePundit, that the solar market is heading for a “second gold rush” this year; there’s little to dispute the fact that solar is definitely an in thing, especially for investors. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

13 February, 2014 at 4:00 am

Nature’s Fortune: Start Investing in Nature

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natures-fortune-215x143We know that it’s wise to take care of Mother Nature, and not just because it’s not nice to do otherwise. From a business standpoint it’s even wiser to invest in nature.

In his new book, Nature’s Fortune, Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, makes a strong and impassioned case that business and environmental interests must align for everyone’s long-term benefit. And that includes the planet. New win-win alignments may be closer to reality than many might realize. Read the rest of this entry »

No Doublespeak in Nukespeak

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In The Stand, one of Stephen King’s early (and imo best) novels a nuclear power plant becomes a central part of the action, and indeed is instrumental in keeping the world from descending into barbarism.

It sort of makes the point that, as The Police say, “When the world is running down/You make the best of what’s still around.” There is something to be said for the role of nuclear power as part of the modern-day, post-carbon-based fuel energy mix.

But a revised and updated version of the Sierra’s Club‘s classic Nukespeak throws some needed clear thinking about the inherent dangers of nuclear energy and concludes, as the first edition did, that it’s not really worth the risk.

Nearly 30 years ago, in the wake of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the first edition of Nukespeak from Sierra Club Books was published and immediately framed public debate on the immense risks of nuclear technology.

The extensively revised and updated edition promises to continue that debate, especially in the aftermath of the March earthquake and tsunami that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

According to the Club, the original 1982 edition broke through the “linguistic filter of the nuclear mindset,” by documenting how nuclear developers confused their hopes—remember the dream of energy too cheap to meter?—with reality, covered up damaging information, harassed and dismissed scientists who disagreed with official policy, and generated false or misleading statistics to bolster their assertions about the benefits and safety of nuclear power. Read the rest of this entry »

Charged for EV Charging at Apartment Complexes

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Here’s an amenity coming soon to an apartment complex near you: electric vehicle charging stations.

Car Charging Group and Equity Residential have teamed up to solve the problem of how to conveniently charge your new Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt or Wheego LiFe if you’re an apart dweller.

Car Charging, based in Miami, owns and operates EV charging services and plans to build a nationwide network of charging stations. Its business model focuses on residential charging services, which is where Equity Residential, a leading owner, developer and operator of high-end apartment communities, enters the picture. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

28 June, 2011 at 2:10 am

Seattle Getting Real on Eco-Industrial Districts?

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The “eco-industrial district” concept in Seattle is moving, slowly, but moving from concept to sustainable reality.

The Metropolitan King County Council recently adopted a proposal that calls for a partnership with the City of Seattle to create Eco-Industrial Districts in the city and throughout the county.

If this merger of green and industrial development manages to take off in a real way, it will assist in the cleanup and development in some of Seattle’s grittiest industrial core areas, such as the SoDo district or in the Duwamish River corridor in south Seattle by coordinating various public sector initiatives on sustainable communities.

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Bank of America: The Environmental Philanthropist?

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A good way for a bank to make people forget its role in the sub-prime financial fiasco that’s rocked the economy is to focus on its climate change and sustainability efforts and that’s what Bank of America Merrill Lynch is doing.

BoA’s “Environmental Progress Report” this month revealed the good things it is up to on the corporate sustainability front, and to give the bank some credit (even if its not giving you any), there are some good things to report.

It’s ahead of the schedule it set in 2007 when it unveiled a 10-year, $20 billion “business initiative” focused on addressing climate change. Through June of this year BoA says it “directed” $8.4 billion through lending, investing, capital markets activity, philanthropy and its own operations. The bank committed about $5.4 billion of that in lending and investing activities while facilitating nearly $3 billion in capital markets activity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

29 September, 2010 at 10:11 am

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