Power to the People: Smart Meters and Social Networks

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]Innovative use of technology and social networks.

Finland has long been a leader with smart meters and smart grids. It is no surprise then the small Scandinavian country has big plans for its smart power infrastructure: the melding of smart grids, cloud computing and social networks.

The result could be a collection of virtual micro grids — and more grassroots power management.
Finland’s eagerness to deploy a modern energy infrastructure has much to do with the country’s harsh winters. Energy use per capita is among the highest in the world and domestic resources are limited largely to hydropower.

The desire to give consumers more control over their energy use led the country to require that all homes have smart meters by 2013 — among the most ambitious deployment targets in the world. About half of Finland’s 5.3 million people have smart meters today.

Read the rest of the story at greentech grid.

This post appeared originally appeared at EcoTwist.



Nissan Leaf leaps towards profitability

Speaking to news agency Reuters yesterday, Nissan North America’s
director of product planning and strategy Mark Perry said that the US price tag
of $32,780 after an electric vehicle tax credit has been taken into account
would allow the company to turn an immediate profit on the car.

He also revealed that despite a price tag that some critics predicted would
prove uncompetitive, demand for the car is already soaring.

Perry revealed that Nissan has pulled in 8,000 pre-orders in the nine days
since the car went on pre-sale in the US, and is now on track to receive 25,000
orders ahead of the launch of the car in December.

The news came after the company announced earlier this month that pre-orders
for the $40,640 Leaf in Japan exceeded half of its 2010 sales target inside just
three weeks, reaching 3,754 units.

The surge in demand for the Leaf suggests there is considerable pent up
demand for mainstream electric cars capable of combining zero emissions with
reasonable range and performance.

Now, that’s green profit!

Hilton Branding Sustainability

This is where marketing meets sustainability. Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta officially announced that they’re going full fledge with their eco-initiatives across multiple brands in their portfolio.

Sustainability is now their “new” brand standard.

What this means is that by December 31, 2011, all of our more than 3,500 properties within our global portfolio of brands will use “LightStay” to measure their impact.  We’re putting measurement of sustainability performance on the same level as service or quality standards, and it will be evaluated as part of regular property-level reviews. 

[via Hotel Check-In]

This is how they make the business case for sustainability: sustainability is a compelling sales tool valuable for their customers, it’s good business practice and good for the environment.

Their internal metrics showed that of all 1,300 hotels that have been testing the system internally, these hotels already conserved enough energy to power 7,500 homes a year, save enough water to fill more than 650 Olympic-size pools and reduce carbon equivalent to taking 34,865 cars off the road. 

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From CSR to sustainable business

The first secret is a focus on the long-term. Sustainable businesses anticipate the future and act to create stronger, richer markets for business to sell into.
We know what doesn’t work. As Samuel J Dipiazza Jr, president of PricewaterhouseCoopers has said “the current financial crisis is the result of short term and unsustainable business models”.

The result of unsustainable business models, as Lord Turner, Chairman of the Financial Services Authority explained is that “hundreds of thousands of British people are newly unemployed; tens of thousands have lost houses to repossession; and British citizens will be burdened for many years with either higher taxes or cuts in public services”. He might have added that massive global businesses have been bailed out. Others have gone to the wall.
This is what, in the new lexicon, will be seen as long term value at risk.

The flip side of this is long term marketing strategy. Companies will look to the future, differentiate between the likely future and their preferred future and act collaboratively to create stronger, richer markets. Coca Cola teased us with this in their 2008 annual report when they said: “by anticipating and preparing for the changing world we will be poised to deliver refreshment and value to our consumers and shareholders in the years ahead”.

John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco gets it when he says: “we are at an inflection point unlike any other in history, and I believe Cisco has an opportunity to help countries, communities and citizens achieve their social and economic goals”. Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric Company, gets it when he said: “we are going to solve tough customer and global problems and make money doing it”.

This ambition is transformed into action through the second secret of sustainable business – a focus on action or, in the new lexicon, behavior change.

The second secret of sustainable business
The second secret of sustainable business is that long term success is based on how employees and customers act today.

This is about the actions of executives. For example, this year, Richard Evans, president of PepsiCo for UK and Ireland has promised to be a “powerful agent of positive change” in the food and drinks sector. A major part of this involves a promise to “renovate the core of our business….by 2020 I want our profit and growth to be driven by healthier products.” In the new lexicon, this is the world of choice architecture and choice editing.

This is about the actions of customers. Companies will support customers who wish to act to recycle more, reduce food waste, save energy or eat well. This is the new world of corporate social marketing – mentioned by the marketing gurus Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee in 2004 as the “best of breed” in CSR strategies by linking real social change with measurable commercial benefit.

And this is also about the actions of employees. Again, the research is out there in plain view for those who wish to look. Gallup have analysed employee engagement surveys from 12.5m employees in 150 countries and identified the key features that drive employees and, as a result, drive growth. The CFO of Wells Fargo Howard Atkins is quoted as saying: “we don’t want to just measure results, we want to measure what drives results, and that includes team-member engagement”.

This focus on action, on behaviour change, also requires a new deeper understanding of what motivates people to act. The old two dimensional model of people was based on an assumption that if you give people the right information and the right incentives and disincentives, then they will always act on their own interests. We now know that this is not so.

This two-dimensional model of behaviour is being replaced by a three dimensional model which also considers factors like habit, the behaviour of others, emotion and fear of loss. Leaders in the new world will need to know this stuff as a core skill.

It ain’t fluffy stuff. It’s hard edged. The seminal work of the New Economics Foundation showed the relevance for this to economic theory through behavioural economics. This understanding is even percolating its way into “behavioural investment”. Roger Urwin and Claire Woods in a recent paper on sustainable investing principles explore in some detail how current investment decisions are influenced not just by cold hard economic analysis but by three-dimensional factors like loss aversion and group decision-making.

The third secret of sustainable business

This focus on action leads naturally on to the third secret of sustainable business. Sustainable success is based on freedom to innovate within a strategic framework. People with an interest in your world are actively involved to help you achieve your purpose.

Companies will increasingly define a sustainable business model that is fit for purpose for their business. Unilever have their vitality framework and Procter & Gamble have their sustainability report card.

But once the framework has been defined, ideas are invited from others through open innovation. It’s an approach actively championed with measurable commercial results by companies like Philips, Procter & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser. IBM held a web-based “innovation jam” in 2006 that involved 150,000 people in 104 countries and led to 10 new IBM businesses. In the new world, we all have power.

So here, in the new world, each of us uses our power for positive change. Where we live and where we work; in board rooms, committee rooms and living rooms, in homes and high streets, consumers and citizens, employees and shareholders are acting individually and together to create a stronger, richer world.

In this world, we are all catalysts. We all have a role to help the private sector achieve long term success, the public sector achieve public policy results and to help the third sector achieve their social goals. For business, improving lives and achieving commercial success are not at odds. They are indissociably linked.

The new approach to sustainable business is a commercial opportunity. The alternative is a business risk. So, if your current CSR model is based on compliance and an annual CSR report and your approach to business is based solely on short term financial targets, you may wish to look again. The world has turned. Sustainable business is here and it is here today.

Sustainability Quick Hits

Sustainability Gets Sophisticated [Greentech]

A survey of 189 companies in energy intensive and non-energy intensive industries. Compliance to regulatory requirements is high on the list as one of the top drivers to sustainability. 

Peter Senge urges collaboration on sustainability efforts [MIT Sloan Management Review]

Senge, who is the author of well-known books such as The Fifth Discipline and The Necessary Revolution, focused on the need on collaboration – even with your competition – to achieve real progress on sustainability. 

Small Business and Our Economy [The Inspired Protagonist]

Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation, created a coalition of small and mid-sized businesses for sustainable economy with the goal to have a voice to represent these businesses.

US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages in 2015 [The Energy Collective]

“By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear,
and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10
million barrels per day,” says the report, which has a foreword by a
senior commander, General James N Mattis.

Winds of change: East Asia’s sustainable energy future [the World Bank Climate Change]

A report that focuses on East Asia’s sustainable energy development in countries like China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. 

Communicating your sustainability report [People Productivity Planet]

Sustainability reporting is a complex matter let alone communicating it. It is however, a crucial element in the marketing mix. The challenge is how to communicate the success to a broader audience. 

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Leading CEOs Share Best Sustainability Practices

CEOs from Wal-Mart, Fedex, PepsiCo, Whirlpool and Verizon are among the 97 executives from leading U.S. companies thatshare some of their best sustainability initiatives in the Business Roundtables’ annual report. These companies have committed to reducing emissions, increasing energy efficiency and developing more sustainable business practices.

 The report, “Enhancing Our Commitment to a Sustainable Future 2010,” provides best practices and metrics from Business Roundtable member companies that represent nearly all sectors with $6 trillion in annual revenues.

[via Environmental Leader]


To Forward Sustainability, Get Women Talking

– So, what happens when a woman learns about or experiences your sustainability-oriented practices or products in a positive way? She’s likely already a “trusted source” for a whole group of women, so when she gets to talking about it – a LOT of people will be listening. – There is an assumption that women are all about “the emotional,” but the truth is that it is but one thing that feeds into their holistic purchase decision-making, and likely more prominently than it does for men. Still, when it comes to their more sustainability-oriented buying, you better believe “important product services or features” take front and center. I’d venture to say that sustainable “consuming” frequently starts from a more practical place than plain, old-fashioned consuming (think: saving energy, saving money, and keeping kids healthy) – so important linear facts/features get the most “talk.”

What this means to me is that you should be dialing into understanding how women engage with sustainability now, if you haven’t been already. And, don’t make the same mistakes that a lot of brands did with their “marketing to women” efforts in years past by making efforts “pink” with unnecessarily “womanly” graphics, words or tone. When it comes to sustainability, emotion plays a part, but key buying decisions still come mainly from a no nonsense place.

The power of word of mouth.