Five of six of the largest Venture Capital fundraising rounds in 2010 went to cleantech companies, based on data from Thomson Reuters:

– Better Place: $350 million for electric car charging infrastructure

– Solyndra: $175 in convertible debt for unique solar PV panels

– BrightSource Energy: $150 million for solar thermal projects

– Abound Solar: $110 million for solar thin-film

– Trilliant: $105 million for smart grid networking

Better Place even beat Twitter’s recently announced $200 million investment. 

Worldwide cleantech investments peaked at $11.8 billion in 2008, then dropped off significantly to $6.8 billion in 2009, but thanks to strong growth during the last quarters of in 2010, the year ended with $8.8 billion in total investment (Bloomberg New Energy Finance).

And smaller, earlier stage companies are finding investors again. The average investment size is hovering around $12 million, according to Kachan & Co., a cleantech analysis and consulting firm. That’s still a high figure, beating average round sizes for US biotech ($8.7M), medical devices ($7M) and software ($5M) companies, based on U.S. National Venture Capital Association data.  

IPOs and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are also up in recent months.

The drivers of cleantech remain in tact and will be felt more acutely this year: resource scarcity around oil, rare earth elements, water and commodities generally; the need for energy independence, greater efficiency, and climate change.

“We believe continued growth in Asia and the ongoing push for resource efficiency will make 2011 a record year for cleantech innovation financing,” said Sheeraz Haji, CEO of Cleantech Group.

Dozens of venture capital funds have been announced in the past month, including the NER300 Fund in Europe ($12.4 billion,  China’s Hony Capital $1.5 billion fund, and another $500 million from the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS).

As in 2010, Efficiency, which includes smart grid, will be the dominant investment sector this year, as investors seek less capital intensive deals. Rising commodity prices will also benefit companies that recover and recycle materials such as steel and precious metals.  The other continuing theme is China, the largest, fastest market for cleantech. Companies that seek investments need to have traction in China.

Although efficiency was the most popular sector last year with 151 deals, solar received the highest dollar amounts (24%) on 117 deals, followed by Transportation (17%), and Energy Efficiency (14%).

01/31/2011 Sustainable News.com

Coca-Cola, Kraft and Procter & Gamble are among the latest companies to join voluntary U.K. pledges to reduce packaging and waste.

The companies signed the Courtauld Commitment, set by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The commitment says that companies will reduce the carbon impact of their grocery packaging by 10 percent, reduce household food and drink waste by four percent, and reduce grocery product and packaging waste by five percent.

Other companies joining this week include Associated British Foods and Premier Foods, bringing the total number of committed companies up to 48.

Some areas of Queensland are so flood-prone they should never have been built on and should be declared no-go zones, according to an international disaster expert, Professor Ed Blakely, who says extreme weather events are becoming increasingly more frequent and far more devastating. While the Institute for Sustainable Development’s Professor George Earl says the flooding disaster underlines the need for adequate infrastructure to deal with the effects of climate change. “Areas which were prestigious in previous generations now are those very properties which are at most risk because of climate change and rising tidal waters”.

Professor Ed Blakely will keynote at the Healthy Cities Conference in Noosa in June 2011

Karen Kissane in The Age (15 January 2011):

An economist on Queensland’s Gold Coast says the Brisbane floods have highlighted the challenges that can confront waterfront property owners. Riverfront homes were among the thousands of properties inundated in south-east Queensland last week.  Around 180 real estate professionals from around the world are discussing the impact of climate change on property developments at a conference at Bond University this week.

The director of the Institute for Sustainable Development at Bond University, Professor George Earl, says the disaster underlines the need for adequate infrastructure to deal with the effects of climate change. “Areas which were prestigious in previous generations now are those very properties which are at most risk because of climate change and rising tidal waters etc,” he said. “I don’t think they will become less desirable or even less valuable – I think what it will do is heighten the emphasis on sustainable infrastructure. “There are some areas which have gone under in the last few days up in Brisbane which are quite OK to be built on.

“It is just that in fact we have to understand the infrastructure that’s needed not to protect just them, but the city in general has to be upgraded. “We have to do more significant work in terms of understanding the issues of climate change on real estate.” However, he says last week’s floods will not cause long-term damage to Brisbane property values. Professor Earl says the damage will not make south-east Queensland any less desirable to home-buyers or dramatically reduce prices. “In the short-term, it will probably stagnate them and probably make them go back somewhat,” he said. “But I think that as we start handling better the issues of climate change and real estate and urban planning, Brisbane and the Gold Coast will still be beautiful places to live.

By Charmaine Kane for ABC (17 January 2011):

PepsiCo UK plans to make all its packaging renewable, recyclable or bio-degradable, as part of further sustainability targets to “radically” reduce its impact on the environment.

In its second environmental sustainability report, PepsiCo UK looked at climate change, agriculture, water use, its products and how the company works with others, to drive change within the business.

The food and drink manufacture plans to introduce FSC paper-based packaging to its Quaker and Walkers brands within three years as part of its plan to make all packaging renewable, recyclable or bio-degradable by 2018.

The packing material is currently being trialled on its premium Red Sky crisps.

The firm claims to have reduced total waste to landfill by 71% and achieved zero waste to landfill at nine factories.

PepsiCo also aims to be fossil fuel free by 2023 and make sure all the energy used within its manufacturing and distribution comes from renewable sources within 15 years.

One measure it will make is to replace its entire delivery fleet with low-emissions vehicles.

Richard Evans, president of PepsiCo UK and Ireland says: “For me, the business case is clear; building sustainability into our corporate DNA cuts costs, drives innovation, reduces risk and motivates employees. My challenge over the next few years will be to truly embed sustainability into every aspect of our business.”

Jessica Marszalek – AAP

Queensland’s landfill rubbish will be cut by half within 10 years through support for recycling businesses and a new waste levy, the state government hopes.

Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones on Wednesday launched the Queensland Waste Strategy, which, it’s hoped, will make Queenslanders think twice before throwing things away.

Under the plan, a levy will apply to commercial, industrial, construction and demolition waste and some soils from July 2011 to discourage interstate waste disposal and encourage less waste generation.

The levy will fund $159 million in incentives for businesses that invest in recycling technologies or find ways to reduce their waste over the next four years.

And a $120 million Sustainable Future Fund will help local governments improve their waste management facilities and practices.

Ms Jones said other programs were being investigated, like government funding for recycling bins at small businesses.

There will also be a focus on better preventing illegal dumping and helping households recycle green waste, rather than binning it.

Ms Jones said a business plan, to be released in February, would provide more detail for achieving the Waste Strategy’s goals.

It’s hoped the strategy will reduce waste generation by 400kg for every Queenslander by 2020, equating to a total reduction in the generation of waste of more than two million tonnes.

Ms Jones said Queensland was one of the largest generators of waste in Australia and one of the worst recyclers.

“We produce more than 32 million tonnes of it every single year, which is the highest amount of waste per capita of any state,” she said.

“… We will strive for a waste management system where recycling is the first option over landfill and more unwanted materials are given a new life by someone else.”

The strategy has been welcomed by environmentalists and industry.

Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) executive director Toby Hutcheon said it was estimated more than $350 million of wasted resources went to landfill each year.

“With a levy in place and programs to support resource recovery, this waste should be dramatically reduced, creating new economic and job opportunities in every region with a levy,” he said.

Ai Group Queensland director Matthew Martyn-Jones said businesses wanted good environmental practices and the fund would help them put in the necessary infrastructure.

“There is strong enthusiasm from industry to drive down the amount of waste sent to landfill and the new fund … will help business reduce waste and recycle more,” he said.

Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Rod Welford welcomed the plan, saying Queensland had been lagging behind other states on the issue.

“The Hon. Tony Burke MP, Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and co-chair of the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, has released Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 on behalf of the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council. The strategy is an overarching national policy document guiding how governments, the community, farmers and other land managers, industry and scientists manage and protect Australia’s plants, animals and ecosystems over the next 20 years.”

A 10-point plan for coastal Australia: Towards A Sustainable Future for Our Coast

86% of all Australians live along the coast yet the major challenges facing the nation’s coastal communities are not being properly addressed. Continuing growth and development is placing the coastal environment at risk. Coastal communities are at risk from the impact of climate change.  They are also at the forefront of having to deal with the impact of Australia’s ageing population.

 You can download the document from the National Seachange Taskforce website, http://www.seachangetaskforce.org.au/Publications/A10PointPlanforCoastalAustralia.pdf

From the USA

This new report from CEOs for Cities, Driven Apart, shows that the solution to our traffic problems has more to do with how we build our cities than how we build our roads. 

The Urban Mobility Report produced by the Texas Transportation Institute presents a distorted picture of the causes and the extent of urban transportation problems, concealing the role that sprawl plays in lengthening travel times, and effectively penalizing compact cities.  We need new and better measures of transportation system performance that emphasize accessibility, rather than just speed.

Download the full Press Relase, Executive Summary and Report here

Markets for sustainable products have expanded significantly over the last five years, growing much faster than those for conventional products, according to the State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI) Review 2010, published last week.
The SSI Review 2010 is a collaborative effort by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the International Institute for Environment and Development, Aidenvironment, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and ENTWINED–Environment and Trade in a World of Interdependence–research consortium.

The SSI Review 2010 gives a comprehensive overview of major voluntary sustainability standards and initiatives in the forestry, coffee, cocoa, tea and banana sectors, including detailed information on market performance, governance, criteria coverage and implementation practices.

Recent years have witnessed a remarkable rise in the number of environmental and social standards attached to commodities. The SSI Review 2010 includes information on Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, Forest Stewardship Council, Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, GLOBALGAP, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Social Accountability International (SA8000), and 4C Association.

Key findings in the report include… more

Source: SustainableBusiness.com News

For the last decade, green building rating systems have been the top standard for designing sustainable buildings, but at the end of the day, they are non-enforceable guidelines. Because buildings are the largest contributors of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it’s become clear in recent years that a more rigorous and complete set of rules are needed for green and sustainable building. The work needed to formalize a code to address sustainability has been a major industry challenge – that is, until now.

A new proposal – currently being developed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the International Code Council (ICC) and a group of partner organizations – called the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) could bring the required sea change to the design and construction industry when it comes to sustainable design. The code, which will provide a set of rules and policies by which buildings and their designs must abide, is the first actionable step in making “going green” a requirement and not simply an owner’s choice. The AIA is spearheading the effort as part of its mission to help architects take an active role in lowering the nation’s overall energy consumption… more

by George H. Miller, FAIA  Source: Reuters