Strategic Green

If you want to make money, you better have a contingency for a future where there’s global cooling, and brokers populate the streetcorners with signs that say “will trade carbon credits for food.” No rational investor fails to prepare for likely eventualities – and the precautionary principle that informs global warming alarm will not help your portfolio when global temperature trends are on the downside of even. The true believers will rejoice that Polar Bears lived, and you will paper walls with green stocks, pasted right on top of the internet stocks, and the membership units in the condo complex that flipped ten times and crashed before it was built.

California probably is the green capital of the world.
But what surprises will California deal?

Today was the last day of the Green California Summit at the Sacramento Convention Center, and nearly the entire main hall in the sprawling building was filled. Of the many exhibitors, our absolute surprise winner had to be Miles Electric Vehicles, a company that has stealthily accumulated sales of what is now thousands of all-electric cars, sold and being operated by customers. Miles Electric Vehicles has been doing a lot of fleet sales; they offer trucks; their unit sales of freeway-capable EVs have started to climb beyond a pilot phase. Why isn’t this company front page news?

At the 2008 Green California Summit there were inspiring displays of biodegradable utensils and plates and cups made from sugar cane or corn from Nature Friendly Products and Stalk Market. There were inexpensive, solar-friendly rooftops from Carlisle, and turf rooftops from GreenGrid. There were photovoltaic panels you can unroll onto a roof and walk on from Solar Integrated, building-deployable vertical-axis windvanes that look like giant corkscrews from Helix Wind, and two of the most efficient residential solar installers to-date, the meteoric Solar City and Akeena Solar.

Not to be ignored, there were a couple of companies who have developed and are selling green urinals, Zurn and Falcon, which use nearly negligible water. Moreover, unlike wave power devices, urinals do not have a lot of embodied energy. And along with Miles, and Zap, and Zenn, there were the photovoltaic powered golf carts (the flat shade roof is covered with photovoltaics) from Cruise Car; some models collect about 1.5 miles of range each day in full sun – greatly supplementing the onboard battery.

Exciting progress is being made in integrated walls, cheap, incorporating all structural elements, and employing green materials. Perform Wall manufactures (approximately) 1′ x 1′ x 2′ bricks of a foam and concrete mixture that can be stacked like Legos, the hollow interiors filled with rebar and concrete. Sipcrete manufactures structural panels with steel web reinforced, fairly thin concrete exteriors, and a foam-filled interior space interlaced with a steel frame. Connecting the sides and enabling great structural strength, this interior frame consists of numerous diagonal steel I-beams that lock into the embedded steel web inside each of the concrete exteriors.

Another next generation wall manufacturer, exhibiting at Green California, was ARXX, with a structural wall solution equally unique and innovative. ARXX’s approximately 1′ x 1′ x 2′ interlocking rectangular blocks have rigid foam exteriors (roughly 2″ thick foam exterior walls) that are set about 6″ apart; the interiors are linked with plastic diagonal struts that include snap-in indentations for quickly and easily inserting rebar. Once these blocks are assembled with rebar, they have concrete poured in and can have various surface treatments. Structural block designs show extremely interesting progress.

If you care about the rivers and springs, along with using desalination plants to pump water back into aquifers who desperately need positive water inflow to guarantee their future viability, you would want to see concrete that could allow water to flow through it to facilitate aquifer replenishment. Enviro-Crete has porous concrete that allows rain and runoff to drain through its surfaces into the earth. Such a surface might often dramatically reduce runoff if it were used for parking lots, or roads and driveways, or any suface ordinarily surfaced with nonporous concrete. Porous road surfaces is an excellent idea.

In a thermal management system, when there’s fire, there can be frost, and two companies managing building-scale thermal energy storage and management with very interesting technology are Ice Energy and Calmac. Companies able to offer battery solutions to load balancing and energy storage included U.S. Energy, Discover, and Johnson Controls. But where are the rooftop solar thermal innovators such as Soliant, who are developing 2 axis photovoltaic concentrators in a rooftop array? Or taking it one step further, where are the companies who integrate rooftop 2 axis photovoltaic concentrators with a thermal management system, which has the salutory effect of also providing solar hot water?

And of course at Green California this year there were still prominent booths for those subsidized darlings of public-private partnership, fuel cell cars. Can they work? Who can say? Can biofuel businesses funded by international corporations using carbon credit subsidies buy-up and eradicate the rest of the developing world’s rainforests and locally-owned farmlands, evicting the dwellers, to plant oil palms, sugar cane? The savanahs with jatropha? Farms with fuel crops? Where are the climate cops now? And where are the bioreactor innovators, creating biofuel in a tank using algae, or high-rise hydroponic farmers who grow food crops using treated sewage for fertilizer, while also using dehumidifiers to harvest transpirated pristine drinking water? Might they out-compete the new plantation land-grabs, rendering land fallow again, and let rainforests return with the Orangutan?

Bet on competitive business solutions to genuine environmental and energy challenges. Because while Antarctica’s 5.0 million square mile interior freezes more than ever, and where 90% of the world’s land-based ice resides the overall ice mass increases, our media covers one calving shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. And while spring thaws bring fractures on Greenland’s perimeter that nearly rival Jack London’s perennial descriptions of the annual breakup of frozen rivers in the Klondike, it is normal for ocean currents to cycle warmer for decades, then cool again.

What destruction to our liberties and wildland will linger, long after the science quietly does its inevitable duty, and confirms that CO2 meant nothing but life for the trees?

Butterflies still fly the slopes of Kilimanjaro.

If you want to make money, find the green businesses that address energy security and free market economic viability in equal measures. Only a pure libertarian would suggest that government shouldn’t assert policies to encourage green technology. But energy and resource security, and genuine environmental protection, should be the goals of government policy – not CO2 boondoggles, reliant on flawed and futile logic, that essentially reallocate higher prices charged to the consumer into new funds for public entities including their privileged retirements, the cartels with whom they collude, and green brokers who change the money.

Let all workers have retirement security, and let green be green again, instead of new taxes hiding behind CO2 fundamentalist extremism. This will inform green finance; this is sustainable. These are the businesses to find.

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