Green Business & Home Energy

Green Business & Home Energy

Terry Tamminen (Author & Environmental Policy Advisor) gives expert video advice on: What are large corporations doing to help fight long term environmental issues? and more...

What is a "green business"?

Green Business is a term that's given to companies that generate products that are considered healthy for the planet. So for example, a company that turns waste materials from gardens into fuel such as Biofuel, ethanol or some thing like that, would be considered a green business. A company that is making a profit from installing solar panels on your roof might also be considered a green business.

How is the green business sector viewed by Wall Street?

The green business sector is being increasingly viewed on Wall Street as the Silicon Valley opportunity of the 21st Century. If we think back to the late 1900's we saw a lot of people become very rich in a fairly short period of time with high tech stocks. Think of Microsoft and Hewlett Packard and so on, and today it's the companies and green businesses that are inventing products that are cleaner. Whether its hydrogen fuel cells that will power our cars, solar panels that will power our electricity in our homes, and other things that make our use of energy more efficient, like a compact fluorescent light bulb instead of an incandescent light bulb. All of these green businesses are the high tech stocks of the 21st Century and Wall Street is beginning to discover that. Investors are flocking to these green businesses and actually getting very wealthy in the process.

Why are US automobile companies consistently losing market share?

The US auto companies are really lagging behind in terms of the notion of clean tech and inventing our future, lagging behind the Japanese and Korean automakers and now even the Chinese automakers. There's a lot of reasons for it. A lot of it is seeped in the American business culture, but a lot of it is just in the way that cars are designed. It takes about eight years for Ford or General Motors to take a car from the design all the way to the showroom where they can sell it to you. The Japanese and Korean automakers can do that in as little as thirty months. So once it becomes clear that the price of gasoline is going up, for example, and people want hybrids or fuel efficient cars, the Japanese and the Koreans can turn on a dime so to speak and crank out those kinds of vehicles pretty quickly, where it is many more years before we see the American automakers catching up; they've turned themselves into dinosaurs.

What are large corporations doing to help fight long term environmental issues?

I see large corporations as increasingly being on the forefront of doing the right thing when it comes to protecting our environment, because they've discovered that helping to fight long-term environmental issues also protects their investments and their shareholders' values. We see companies now like Dow, IBM, and some of the biggest companies in the world that traditionally have not been particularly environmentally friendly, realizing that, for example, if they just reduce their energy consumption - in their factories they can put in more energy-efficient lighting, appliances, and machinery; things like that – they actually save a lot of money. They've also realised that any investments they make to do this pays itself back in a very short period of time, so they can be doing something good for their bottom line and something good for the environment.

What is "green energy" and why is it important for my home?

Green energy would be any source of electricity or transportation fuels that come from a clean, renewable resource. So in the case of your home, green energy would be solar power or wind-generated power. In the case of your car, green energy would be biofuels made from ethanol, things you grow rather than you dig out of the earth, and things like hydrogen made from clean, renewable resources.

How green is nuclear energy?

Nuclear energy has been suggested by some as the way out of our problems with fossil fuel addiction and with greenhouse gas emissions, because nuclear energy doesn't have any emission. Unfortunately nuclear energy has very toxic radioactive waste materials and we have yet to figure out how to deal with that. We talked about burying the waste from nuclear energy but there's no evidence that will necessarily make it benign for us. There's a lot of hazards from nuclear energy, with radioactive leaks and other kinds of radioactive waste, there's a lot of subsidies that are needed to keep these nuclear plants operating. So on both economic basis and a waste basis, so far nuclear energy hasn't proved to be a very good bargain for a way to generating electricity.