The 5 Greenest Countries On Earth (And All Of The Rest), Ranked


Fast Company posted this article about the five greenest countries on earth, ranking the environmental friendliness of the world’s nations. Did you know that on our green businesses directory you can search for and add green businesses around the globe, as well as events. This article originally appeared on Fast Company’s website.

The 5 Greenest Countries On Earth (And All Of The Rest), Ranked

By Ben Schiller

Want to live in a beautiful nation that protects your health? It turns out Switzerland is your best bet (the chocolate is also good).switzerland

Switzerland does a good job managing the environment and protecting human health. The United States does it middlingly well. And Somalia, Haiti, and Afghanistan–as you might expect–not so great. They are some of the worst performers in a new ranking of environmental performance.

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) assesses countries for how well they protect people from environmental harm and how well they protect ecosystems from human encroachment. It crunches data for nine categories–from air quality to forest and marine health–using 20 indicators in all.

After Switzerland in top place comes Luxembourg, Australia, Singapore, and the Czech Republic. In sixth place, Germany is the first major economy, with the U.K. in 12th. Eighteen of the top 20 countries are in Europe, with Canada in 24th, Japan in 26th, and the U.S. in 33rd. Continue reading

February 4, 2014 |

GE Buying ‘Tens of Thousands’ of EVs


By Chuck Squatriglia for Wired Autopia

It makes sense that a company called General Electric would be bullish on cars with cords. But even by that standard the company is diving into the deep end, with what it says will be the biggest order ever placed for electric vehicles.

Of course, almost any order would be the biggest order, but CEO Jeffrey Immelt isn’t screwing around. Speaking in London yesterday, he said GE will order “tens of thousands” of electric vehicles in about a week, a move that is sure to jump-start the nascent EV market as automakers like Nissan and General Motors bring the cars to showrooms later this year.

The plan makes sense for several reasons.

First and foremost, General Electric builds the equipment that provides one-third of the world’s electricity, so of course it will do everything possible to promote the technology. GE is moving quickly into the EV space, building charging stations and working with A123 Systems to develop batteries. According to Bloomberg, Immelt says about half of the company’s sales force of 45,000 employees will drive electric vehicles. That will go a long way toward raising public awareness of the technology. And don’t forget that GE Capital has a vehicle-leasing division.

“GE has been one of the biggest players in this game and certainly has a lot to gain from the electric vehicle,” Brett Smith, a vehicle technology analyst at the Center for Automotive Research, told Bloomberg. “They’ve really truly tried to push this hard to get things going, and it seems to be a core corporate value.”

Immelt didn’t specify a timeline for when the purchases would be made, nor did he identify which manufacturer(s) would receive the order. Smith told Bloomberg an order of that size would be filled by several companies. But our money is on Renault-Nissan getting the bulk of it.

Here’s why:

GE and Better Place recently announced a “technology and financing partnership” to develop public charging infrastructure and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, especially by corporate fleets. Better Place, a Silicon Valley startup founded by Shai Agassi, plans to roll out charging infrastructure and battery-swap stations in Israel and elsewhere — and Renault is its partner in that endeavor.

Better Place and Renault signed a deal last year to put 100,000 EVs on the road in Israel and Denmark by 2016. Better Place also has been using converted Nissan Rogues to show off its battery-swap technology in Tokyo.

It’s worth noting that GE’s partnership with Better Place includes a plan to develop a mechanism for financing batteries — beginning with a pilot program to finance 10,000 batteries in Israel and Denmark. Who’s currently building the only car with a swappable battery? You guessed it — Renault. That car, the Fluence Z.E., is being tested in Israel.

General Electric and Nissan also are working together to develop so-called “smart charging.”

What’s more, Renault-Nissan is, at this point, the only company that looks like it could have the capacity to fill GE’s order. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has made it clear he believes electrics are the future, and he is positioning the two automakers to lead the market.

Renault has at least three EVs in the works, and Ghosn has said it will have the capacity to build 200,000 EVs annually by 2015. Nissan’s Leaf arrives at the end of this year and will be followed by an electric Infiniti in 2013. Nissan says it has the capacity to build 50,000 Leafs worldwide next year and will increase that to 500,000 worldwide by the end of 2013.

This is all speculation, and there’s nothing to suggest GE won’t be buying some Chevrolet Volts or Ford Transit Connect Electric delivery vans or perhaps even some Codas or Teslas. But it looks like there are going to be a lot of electric Nissans and Renaults in GE parking lots before long.

And no matter how it works out, it’ll be an interesting play to watch.

Photo: Renault. The Renault Fluence Z.E. rolls in Paris.

October 29, 2010 |

Opportunity Green: Green Business Startup Competition Finalists


The 2nd annual green startup competition recognizes twenty-five of the most innovative eco-startups. This year’s winner will receive BBMG’s $25,000 Brand Innovation Charette, and a $1,000 shopping spree at Office Depot.

OG25 Innovative Green Startup finalists will be showcased at this year’s Opportunity Green conference, September 23rd – 24th at Los Angeles Center Studios.

Mobile voting will be provided by MobileGive, whose innovative texting solutions are being utilized again this year.

Watch this site for the voting widget.

September 23, 2010 |

Chevy Volt Team Announces: Order Yours Today


By Tony DiSalle
Chevrolet Volt Marketing Director

Starting today, you can take part in history by placing your order for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. This moment is the culmination of several years of around-the-clock, steadfast work and I know I speak for the entire Volt team when I say we couldn’t be more excited!

For those of you looking to be among the first to own a Volt, simply locate and contact a participating Chevrolet dealer in Volt launch markets at Once your order is placed, a Volt customer advisor will contact you to answer questions and keep you updated on the progress of your order.

We’ve also pulled together a team of Volt advisors who, beginning today, will be available at 1-888-VOLT4YOU (1-888-865-8496) to answer general questions. The Volt will initially be available to customers in California, New York, Washington, D.C., Texas, Michigan Connecticut and New Jersey, but will be available nationwide in about 12-18 months from start of production this winter.

As far as the price, the Volt’s official MSRP is $41,000 – or $33,500 (including DFC) after the $7,500 U.S. Federal income tax credit. We are so confident in the resale value of the Volt, we will also offer a lease program with monthly payments as low as $350 (based on a 36-month term lease and $2,500 down), which also includes a lease-to-buy option.
Why are we so confident?

The Volt is an electric vehicle that gives you the freedom to drive wherever you want, whenever you want. With the Volt’s extended-range capability, you can drive electrically up to 340 miles on a full battery and tank of gas, with up to the first 40 miles powered by electricity from the grid. Plus, the Volt is an electric vehicle for all climates and seasons, comfortable in the freezing temperatures of the Northeast to the scorching temperatures of the deserts out West – we know, we’ve tested the Volt extensively in these conditions.

Plus, the Volt comes standard with an unprecedented battery warranty – eight years or 100,000 miles on all 161 battery components, the thermal management system, charging system and electric drive components. It will also be the first Chevrolet vehicle to offer, at no additional cost, five years of OnStar Directions and Connections service, which includes automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance and connected navigation.

And speaking of OnStar, the Volt gives you an unprecedented level of connectivity with the Chevrolet Connect mobile app by OnStar. This Volt mobile and web-based app will allow you to set the charge time, start your Volt, track mileage, unlock the doors and much more from your smart phone and even your home computer.

In fact, the personalized and connected ownership experience is just getting into full swing when you take delivery of your Volt because we’re creating a website designed specifically for Volt owners to collect diagnostic information as well as track and share your vehicle’s performance.

I could go on and on all day about all the benefits and premium features the Volt has to offer, such as screen-based navigation, an energy-efficient Bose premium sound system, Bluetooth for phone with phone book access and more, but then I would be keeping you from locating your dealer and placing your order. You can find more info at

It’s been a remarkable journey, and we’re confident you’ll be delighted with the outcome when you receive your Volt. The future is electric – we hope you’ll join us for the ride.

And make sure to join me here on Voltage later today for a video webchat from the show floor of Plug-In 2010 where Volt vehicle line director Tony Posawatz and I will answer your questions live at 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT.

July 29, 2010 |

Making Sense of Sustainability Certifications


With sustainability certifications abounding, learn what businesses should consider for their sustainability certification from Melissa Schweisguth in this post from

10 Tips for Savvy Shopping in the Certification Marketplace

In the face of surging skepticism around social and environmental claims, sellers and buyers alike are demanding verification. Sustainability certification has become a booming industry with over 400 in use and new ones emerging almost weekly. This, in turn, has led to scrutiny and public criticism of apparent shortcomings.
Understandably, the net result has been mounting confusion and uncertainty about what particular certifications deliver and their relative value. To help consumers and businesses navigate this landscape, the Consumers Union launched its Greener Choices database several years ago, providing basic information on over 300 labels. Realizing greater breadth and depth were needed, the World Resources Institute recently launched its more detailed Global Ecolabel Monitor.

purityEquipped with this intelligence, businesses face the question of how to use it to determine what designations to pursue and ask of suppliers. Strategic selection is key. Given the resources involved, it’s not practical to stamp every admirable trait. Nor is it necessary or beneficial, given that businesses can improve many practices and ensure positive outcomes with their own resources and supplier engagement, and the reality that claims lose their value with saturation. To this end, there are several factors to take into account:

1. Relevance
This is among the first aspects to consider and will help identify potential areas for labeling. Determine what’s pertinent to your mission and key impacts, real-world issues, suppliers and stakeholders. If you have an existing sustainability strategy or materiality analysis, it’s a perfect starting point to ensure alignment across business activities.Fair Trade

2. Relative Priority

Pare down relevant certification areas to what matters most — your biggest impacts, responsibilities and stakeholder concerns. Overlooking these and highlighting trivial issues can invite criticism for greenwash. You’re likely to end up with multiple focal points, given the diverse factors and stakeholders involved.

3. Recommendations

Ask peers, suppliers, field experts and key stakeholders what options they would suggest, any they would advise against, and why. Scan the market to see what comparable businesses are doing and inquire why they selected that path. Close competitors may choose one program over another simply to maintain differentiation, so ask several colleagues for representative input.Rainforest Alliance

4. Governance
Research the ethics behind each label’s development and implementation. Look for independence, regular efficacy assessments and direct audits, 3rd party verification, periodic updating of criteria, broad stakeholder involvement in governance and standard setting, organizational and process transparency, public reporting and the like. Alignment with the ISEAL Alliance Code of Good Practice is a good indicator here.

5. Real Impact

Consider measured, positive outcomes for workers, suppliers, end users, your business, the environment and other stakeholders. Many certifiers produce annual reports and all should be able to produce data demonstrating how their offerings leave people, planet and commerce better off than the status quo. For a balanced, unbiased view, review assessments from 3rd parties and solicit input from directly affected stakeholders, such as workers in supply chain verification programs.

6. Rigor
To avoid greenwash, choose certifications that go beyond the status quo, add significant value and have a meaningful positive impact on people and planet. Seek out high-bar criteria and quantifiable systems that make relative performance clear, such as the graded levels used for LEED and USDA Organic. In addition, look for programs grounded in vetted international frameworks, such as International Labor Organization Conventions, ISO standards and the United Nations Global Compact and its constituent elements.

7. Requirements

Understand what your company, suppliers and other business partners must to comply, and how feasible this is within current systems. Having to make changes need not be a deterrent, since these engender the higher-level progress toward sustainability that’s necessary and truly worthy of recognition. You’ll simply need to estimate what’s needed in such cases and develop strategies for initial certification and scaling up. For example, if sufficient raw materials aren’t available, you might label one product line initially and expand as supply grows, as companies adopting Fair Trade Certified and Rainforest Alliance are label

8. Return on Investment

Sellers and buyers often face costs related to audits, licensing, commodity premiums and the like, realized directly or indirectly, through higher supplier prices. In some cases, capital improvements, staff expansion and process changes may also be necessary to meet requirements. These should be clearly linked to necessary activities with quantifiable deliverables, and yield commensurate results and benefits. Ask peers and suppliers what costs they’ve incurred and how ROI has panned out.

9. Recognition and Resonance

Labels, in part, serve a mUSDAarketing function so it’s important to gauge the familiarity and influence of your options. Relative awareness in itself isn’t cause to select or bypass a specific prospect, since it may simply reflect marketing, not real value. It’s simply an indicator of how you’ll need to communicate to build support from stakeholders. A survey from BBMG provides a quick scan of consumer insights around common certifications with marketing tips.

10. Reputation

It’s becoming easier to find independent assessments of labels, from industry experts, media and others. Look for a few different viewpoints for a comprehensive, well-rounded assessment. Give certifiers the opportunity to address any significant negative feedback you encounter, since hidden biases or misconceptions can be at play.

These tips should get you off to a good start in the bustling world of sustainability markers. If you have other suggestions, please share them in the comments section to engage with the GreenBiz community.

Melissa Schweisguth is director of membership development and education for the Food Trade Sustainability Leadership Association and an independent consultant on CSR/sustainability and marketing/communications.

Images CC licensed by Flickr users Andrew Currie, {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}, kafka4prez, sirinyay, adulau and nikoretro.

Original source:

July 14, 2010 |
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