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#Cleanwebcity Interviews: BMW iVentures

Jill Bunting

On November 12-13, Cleantech Group and The Cleanweb Initiative are co-hosting “Cleanweb and the City,” the first senior executive summit on cleanweb. In the lead up to the summit, Cleantech Group is catching up with leaders in NYC cleanweb to learn more about what the rise of cleanweb means for start-ups, corporates, investors, and the overall innovation landscape. Click here to learn more about Cleanweb and the City and request an invite.

ulrich quay bmw iventures

Ulrich Quay, Managing Director, BMW i Ventures

Some corporates seem to be either unsure of, or even hostile towards, disruptive cleanweb applications like sharing platforms. BMW seems to have embraced the potential in this space. How do you view the opportunity in cleanweb for a company like BMW?

We’ve been studying mobility needs in the future. There’s a lot of potential, especially in urban areas, for BMW to play an important role here. We view it as, instead of customers having no BMW experience, we rather they have an experience through mobility services. For our parents and grandparents, they were saving their money for a car. Mobility behavior for people today has clearly changed, and a company like BMW has to be part of that future.

We …

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#Cleanwebcity Interviews: ThinkEco

Jill Bunting

On November 12-13, Cleantech Group and The Cleanweb Initiative are co-hosting “Cleanweb and the City” the first executive summit on cleanweb. In the lead up to the summit, Cleantech Group is catching up with leaders in NYC cleanweb to learn more about what the rise of cleanweb means for start-ups, corporates, investors, and the overall innovation landscape. Click here to learn more about Cleanweb and the City and request an invite.

Jun Shimada, CEO, ThinkEco

What’s the challenge you’re working to solve?
We’re addressing energy efficiency from the consumer side. Utilities have issues with peak demand because supply is difficult to increase, and we aggregate demand savings.

Looking at the cleanweb landscape, ThinkEco is somewhat unique both because of its relative maturity and because you have a hardware component to the business. How has ThinkEco thrived as other energy products, such as in-home displays, fell away?
Fundamentally, we always believed that the consumer gets engaged through software. People who are trying to create another display will always fail, because consumers don’t want another thing. However, in order for us to provide a service to utilities, we need hardware. Utilities are hardware companies and need to have the …

#Cleanwebcity Interviews: Bandwagon

Jill Bunting

On November 12-13, Cleantech Group and The Cleanweb Initiative are co-hosting “Cleanweb and the City,” the first senior executive summit on cleanweb. In the lead up to the summit, Cleantech Group is catching up with leaders in NYC cleanweb to learn more about what the rise of cleanweb means for start-ups, corporates, investors, and the overall innovation landscape. Click here to learn more about Cleanweb and the City and request an invite.

David Mahfouda, CEO, Bandwagon

 

What’s the challenge you’re working to solve?
We’re working to increase the passenger occupancy of vehicles by making it easy for people to share rides.

 

What’s different about your approach?
We’ve created a turn-by-turn routing algorithm that optimally combines itineraries. Other companies have tried to use things like message boards to help people share rides, but outsourcing to consumers doesn’t work. This makes it automatic.

 

What’s it like being a cleanweb company based in NYC?
Because our technology benefits so many stakeholders, it’s been very advantageous to be in NYC. With Mayor Bloomberg, everyone is aligned on the value of data and efficiency. We were funded by [public benefit corporation] NYSERDA to increase transit from LaGuardia, and we’ve had overwhelming …

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of April 15, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 90 percent, which is the percentage of wireless cloud electricity consumption that goes to network infrastructure. This finding, reported in a new study from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications, goes against stakeholder reports and stories in popular media, which often ding data centers for their energy footprints. According to the new report, this emphasis has been misplaced. “Wireless networks are the biggest threat to the sustainability of cloud services, not data centers,” the authors conclude.

In recent years, data center providers have developed a slew of metrics (e.g., power usage effectiveness, carbon usage effectives, data center maturity model, etc.) and initiatives (e.g., The Green Grid) to measure and manage energy consumption. The authors would like a similar emphasis on the efficiency of wireless access technologies, which is projected to see exponential growth in the near-term. The number of wireless cloud users is expected to grow to nearly a billion by 2014. By 2015, these users will be responsible for 30 megatons of CO2 annually – the equivalent of 5 million new cars.


This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of April 8, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 100, which is the number of Tesla Model S vehicles purchased by the Las Vegas-based initiative Project 100. The initiative, which aims to “bring together the ultimate in collaborative consumption,” aspires to completely eliminate the need for vehicle ownership in Las Vegas by combining bike sharing, car sharing, taxis, and shuttle buses, into a single membership. This differentiates it from services like ZipCar or Getaround, which address only one corner of the market. The rise of platforms like Project 100 underscores the need for businesses to incorporate collaborative consumption into their products and services.

A fair amount of ink has already been devoted to exploring whether we’ve passed “peak driving” in the developed world, a trend that is especially striking for the Millennial generation. While it may be too soon to declare the death of car ownership, the consumer appeal of collaborative consumption models is too great for businesses to ignore. So far, large corporates have been fairly flat-footed (in the auto industry and elsewhere) in adapting to this trend, while startups like Airbnb and Yerdle are gaining accolades and market traction. However, there are signs that big corporates are starting to clue …

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of April 1, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 9.1 Gt CO2e, which is the potential annual reduction in global GHG emissions from information and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology by 2020, according to a report by the Carbon War Room. 9.1 Gt is roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of the United States and India. But beyond carbon abatement, M2M technology represents an enormous business opportunity: the industry as a whole is projected to be worth nearly $1 trillion by 2020. As the report states, “If we utilize technologies such as M2M to their full potential, ‘low carbon’ will by synonymous with economic growth and sustainable prosperity, now and into the future.”

The promise of M2M technology is the ability to drive profits by using resources and time more efficiently. In the energy sector, M2M can drive higher efficiencies in energy production and transmission, as well as facilitate smarter demand response strategies. M2M technology can enable farmers to make better decisions about what to plant, when to fertilize, and where to use water. The challenge for businesses is understanding where and how to adopt their business models to realize these new efficiencies. This often requires looking for opportunities at the convergence of non-traditional

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of March 11, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 67 billion kilowatthours, which is the difference between summer and winter residential electricity demand, according to the Energy Information Agency. This “peak” is more than twice as large as the seasonal peaks for commercial customers, and nearly four times as large for industrial customers. These findings show the critical need for demand response programs targeted at residential customers, a space where vendors are beginning to offer more sophisticated solutions.

Electric-powered air conditioners are by far the biggest contributor to peak demand, so direct load control of HVAC systems is a key priority. So far, the results for utilities in direct load control have been mixed. According to E-Source, the average participation rate in residential programs is only 12%. Faced with these low participation rates, vendors are doubling down on outreach to the residential market. Smart thermostat provider Honeywell and energy efficiency giant Opower recently announced that they will team up to provide a user-friendly, integrated energy platform for both demand response and energy efficiency. On the other side of the meter, Aclara’s ENERGYprism platform helps utilities identify customers who are most likely to have a significant impact through demand response programs. The trend …

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of February 25, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 90 by 50, which refers to the Urban Green Council’s plan for reducing New York City’s emissions 90 percent by 2050. The Council argues that currently practiced techniques—like sealing leaks and triple glazing windows— can enable New York to achieve this goal without the need for technological breakthroughs. This approach of honing in on one sector has implications for cities, as well as companies, in terms of setting sustainability priorities.

Seventy-five percent of New York’s carbon emissions come from buildings and their associated energy use. Because of this, the city can address its overall footprint through a relatively narrow focus. This clustering of emissions is not atypical in corporate footprints either. In a 2009 analysis, Coca-Cola found that over half of the carbon emissions of its beverages come from packaging. According to our i3 platform, Coca-Cola has since forged multi-million dollar investments and relationships in recycling and bioplastic companies. Taking a lifecycle approach enables firms to go deep in one area, rather than broad across several, often with better results for their environmental and financial performance.

 

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of February 18, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 37 percent, which is the percentage of companies reporting profits from sustainability, according to a study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. This represents a 23% increase over last year.

The ROI of sustainability initiatives is often challenging to quantify, but the rapid rise in companies reporting that sustainability is adding to the bottom line is encouraging. The case studies highlighted in this article illustrate that the way businesses are thinking about “sustainability” has evolved. In addition to driving out waste, new communication efforts, and increasing stakeholder engagement, companies are using the lens of sustainability to encompass a range of product, service, and value chain innovations. Nestle, for example, turned a manufacturer byproduct – coffee grounds – into a source of energy. Dell worked with its suppliers to create packaging from bamboo, a renewable resource that also created a stronger, more durable product for customers. In our work, we’ve increasingly seen business units, not just sustainability groups, looking to new clean technologies and business models to source innovation and drive top-line growth. The study found companies that changed elements of their business model were much more likely to report that sustainability adds profit …

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of February 11, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is $700 billion, which is the annual potential savings in global consumer goods from material reduction and reuse. The study by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation points to tactics such as textile collection, reusable packaging, and food waste recovery as ways to capture this value.

The numbers are compelling but, given historical inertia, is it really possible for companies to make the shift towards a so-called “circular economy?” The study’s authors argue that not only is it possible, it is critical that companies evolve their thinking. A convergence of factors, from new business models such as collaborative consumption to the growth of IT capabilities such as RFID chips, are making the previous approaches to efficient manufacturing obsolete. Companies that incorporate systems-level thinking into their value chain will be positioned to capture the long-term value critical for growth.


This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability. Click here for more information about the S-Curve and our approach to environmental innovation.  
This post was originally published on GreenOrder’s blog.