GreenBiz.com has just released their 5th annual State of Green Business report and the news... well the news isn't necessarily good. You can bet you're in for a disappointing read when Joel Makower writes, "I’m not going to mince words: Things aren’t going as well as we’d hoped."
Oh noes. It can't be all bad, right? Well, when it comes to cleantech, there's a couple positive things that stand out for me in the report.
Home Energy Efficiency Becoming "Cool"
First, the report notes that so far home owners haven't exactly been keen on energy efficiency, but that's changing now that some cool new technologies are making their way to market.
"Cool technologies are starting to make home energy efficiency more compelling, such as a smart thermostat from Nest Labs, created by one of the designers of Apple’s iPod. Smartphone apps from companies as varied as ecobee and General Electric allow for near-real-time information about home energy use. Facebook joined forces with Opower and the Natural Resources Defense Council to allow members to benchmark their home energy use against a national database of millions of homes, as well as with their friends. Best Buy announced plans to start carrying home energy management tools, and Pike Research predicted that worldwide users of home energy management systems will reach 63 million by 2020, up from just over 1 million in 2011."
Indeed, readers really seemed to love the Nest thermostat -- and it was the topic of a long and enthusiastic conversation here at TreeHugger. Even the EVP of Corporate Strategy of Samsung mentioned it to me as a great new tech for energy-minded home owners during a tour of Samsung's energy efficiency products for the home. Speaking of CES, the connected home is definitely a theme in the consumer electronics industry and much of that revolves around energy savings. So perhaps it's just a matter of time now.
Taking E-Waste More Seriously
The second thing that stood out to me in the report is a note on e-waste. Sadly, the report states, "Collection and responsible disposal of recycling are improving, but today’s successes are still just a molehill compared to the mountain of e-waste to be addressed."
It is far from surprising. Just look at the tidal wave of new devices coming on to store shelves every day, and the relatively low awareness and action around electronics recycling. However, the silver lining noted in the report is that new legislation at the federal level could help improve recycling rates, and stricter legislation is simply logical:
"First, requiring domestic processing of electronic waste would be a boon for job creation. Second, by not reclaiming our own e-waste, we’re exporting rare and valuable materials—including the aptly named rare earth minerals—to China and other economic competitors. These materials are critical to next-generation technologies—including LED
lighting, hybrid and electric vehicle batteries, telecommunications gear, and medical innovations—and many US corporations are keen to keep such resources close at hand."
As the report notes, attempts to create federal strategies for e-waste regulation was stalled but this year may be the year when recommendations are finally taken seriously.
You can read the whole report -- and trust me, it's worth a full read -- over at GreenBiz.com.