In Episode 93 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 23, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Mark Massara, general counsel and vice president of social responsibility for O’Neill Wetsuits.

Mark Massara of O'Neill Wetsuits

Mark Massara of O’Neill Wetsuits

Massara grew up in Santa Barbara and witnessed first hand the devastation caused by the 1969 Union Oil spill along the coast.  As a result, he decided early on that he wanted to be involved in preventing degradation of coastal resources.

After graduating from law school, Massara joined the Surfrider Foundation (the first non-profit dedicated to coastal conservation) to work on a massive case against pulp mills dumping pollution into prime a surf area.  The case involved 40,000 violations of the Clean Water Act, making it the largest water pollution case in the US at the time.  During that three-year litigation, Massara watched the Surfrider Foundation grow from a few hundred members to 50,000.

In 1991, he joined the Sierra Club, directing the organization’s coastal programs.  In that role, he enjoyed a “front-row seat on the most pressing environmental law questions in the US.”

Three years ago, Massara moved to O’Neill Wetsuits, a company founded 60 years ago.  As vice president of social responsibility, Massara works to protect and enhance coastal resources in the areas where the company does business.  In particular, O’Neill Wetsuits is devoted to teaching children about coastal conservation in the Santa Cruz region.  The company has donated a building, built a laboratory and buses children in for educational programs.

Massara has dedicated his career to protecting the California coastline. In what ways is coastal preservation important to you?
Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Massara: Episode 93 of The Wendel Forum (27:45 mins; mp3)

O’Neill Wetsuits Website: http://www.oneill.com

Surfrider Foundation Website: http://www.surfrider.org

Sierra Club Website: http://www.sierraclub.org

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In honor of election day (hope you’ve voted), here’s a second post of the day with our recent interview with Spreck Rosekrans discussing the Hetch Hetchy water system and San Francisco’s Measure F.

In Episode 83 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on November 3, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Spreck Rosekrans, director of policy for Restore Hetch Hetchy, a non-profit organization that seeks to transform the Hetch Hetchy from a reservoir that imports water to San Francisco back to its natural state as a valley in Yosemite.Hetch Hetchy

Rosekrans has been an environmental advocate for 25 years.  Prior to joining Restore Hetch Hetchy, he was asked by the Sierra Club to examine whether Hetch Hetchy can be restored.

SFPUC and Hetch Hetchy system schematic

Originally a valley, akin to but smaller than the Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy became a reservoir that supplied water to San Francisco after the City’s early 20th century earthquake and fire.  Soon after, legislation was passed to forbid future reservoirs from being built in national parks. In fact, that actually launched the environmental movement, according to Rosekrans, who notes that’s also when the Sierra Club developed from simply an outing club into an environmental-political organization.

Hetch Hetchy Valley Restored

Hetch Hetchy Valley Restored, artist’s rendering

According to Rosekrans, through improved water management, which might include water recycling and capturing rainwater, San Francisco could eliminate its reliance on Hetch Hetchy water.  But some, (including California Senator Dianne Feinstein) who are concerned about San Francisco’s sources of water and hydropower, are opposed to the restoration. Many of those opponents believe the Hetch Hetchy is San Francisco’s birthright, according to Rosekrans.  Others see it as an iconic dam with symbolic value, making restoration seem radical.  For their part, legislators don’t want to address the issue.  As a result, Restore Hetch Hetchy is taking the issue to the people of San Francisco through Measure F, which seeks to create a public plan that would modernize San Francisco’s water system, including water recycling and groundwater banking (in which cities exchange water with agricultural districts). Measure F would also establish a task force, which would come back to voters in 2016 with specific programs and facilities that would be an alternative to Hetch Hetchy.

While the restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley would be years in the making, Measure F is a critical component to the restoration effort.  Do you support Measure F?
Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Rosekrans: Episode 83 of The Wendel Forum (27:52 mins; mp3)

Restore Hetch Hetchy’s Website: http://www.hetchhetchy.org

Measure F — Restore Hetch Hetchy’s Ballot Initiative: http://www.hetchhetchy.org/images/Reports/Ballot_Initiative.pdf

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 74 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on August 25, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Jenn Vervier, director of sustainability at New Belgium Brewing Company

Jenn Vervier

New Belgium Brewing Company prides itself on providing meaningful employment for its owners and workers.  It promotes a “high-involvement culture,” in which individuals “bring their whole selves to work” and everyone’s voice is heard.  Specifically, the company engages in participative decision-making, soliciting feedback from top to bottom.  All co-workers are included in strategic planning and business operations, and financial reports are shared monthly with all workers.

But – they don’t forget that business can be fun!  New Belgium Brewing Company is employee-owned, with workers brought into the ownership after a year.  On that anniversary, they also receive a bike.  Once employees have worked there for five years, they receive a weeklong, all-expenses-paid trip to Belgium to learn about Belgian beer culture.  Those are certainly nice perks!

Make no mistake about it, though, sustainability is a guiding business principle of the company.  In addition to donating to environmental causes, New Belgium Brewing Company is also one of the first breweries to publish a life- cycle carbon footprint of its processes for consumers.  Plus, New Belgium is constantly looking for ways to hone the efficiency and limit the impacts of its operations.  For example, the company instituted a new method of dry hopping that saves millions of gallons of water a year, and it also has changed its bottle lubricants to similarly conserve water.  For a beer company, conserving water has a tremendous influence on the bottom line and the environment.

In addition, New Belgium has a 200kW solar PV array, 800kW of cogeneration, which produces electricity from the methane captured from its on-site process water treatment, and 200kW of thermal storage—making cold water or ice at night, off peak, to use in the brewing process and in office HVAC during the hottest part of the day.

Are you more likely to drink New Belgium Brewing Company beer after learning about its core values?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Vervier: Episode 74 of The Wendel Forum (27:50 mins; mp3)

New Belgium Brewing Company Website: http://www.newbelgium.com/

960 KNEW AM Radio Website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s Online Profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 63 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on May 19, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes João De Macedo.  A big wave surfer and author of How To Be a Surfer, De Macedo is also an ambassador for Rip Curl Planet, a foundation that supports causes mirroring the ideals of Rip Curl, a major surf products manufacturer with “a sharpened awareness” of environmental issues.

Joao De Macedo

João De Macedo discusses Rip Curl Planet in The Wendel Forum studio

Bill and De Macedo discuss Rip Curl Planet’s environmental projects, including a labeling initiative, which will be applied to the 2012 Boardshort Collection.  Through the initiative, which is organized by the French Ministry for the Environment, consumers will be informed of every stage in the boardshort’s life cycle, including raw material extraction (energy and resources used), product design (carbon emissions, electricity and water consumed), distribution (mode of transportation, packaging), use (number of washes), and end-of-life product elimination options.

Rip Curl has a history of partnering with grass roots organizations.  For example, the company teamed with the World Wildlife Fund to establish eco mooring anchors that don’t damage coral reefs.  The company has also helped establish world surfing reserves through Save the Waves, which applies the national park concept to preserve iconic surf spots in conjunction with local communities and policymakers. 

Because the market is not always in sync with sustainability, companies must be committed to integrating sustainability into their business profiles; the marketplace’s competitive nature will then overflow into those environmental initiatives, according to De Macedo, who recently earned his master’s in sports management at the Universityof San Francisco.  Already, other surf manufacturers are contributing to environmental movements. 

For De Macedo, activism can be as simple as picking up a piece of garbage from a beach. Big wave surfers, who practice their craft in the environment, can lead by example.  “Go and visit the ocean. It’s the best way to be inspired to help it.”

What are simple things that you have done to help the environment?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with João De Macedo: Episode 63 of The Wendel Forum(27:12 mins; mp3)

Rip Curl website: http://www.ripcurl.com/

Rip Curl Planet website: http://www.ripcurlplanet.com/

Rip Curl Planet’s Environmental Labeling Initiative: http://www.ripcurlplanet.com/aid=56.phtml

Save the Waves: http://www.savethewaves.org/

João De Macedo’s Book: http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Surfer-Joao-Macedo/dp/1841262013

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

(Note: Thank you to guest blogger, Wendel Rosen Environmental Partner Bruce Flushman, for this update on an important U.S. Supreme Court decision that came out yesterday.)

Environmental attorney Bruce Flushman

Wendel Rosen Environmental attorney Bruce Flushman

The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have lost one of their most significant levers in regulating wetlands under the Clean Water Act.  Wednesday, in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al. , the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that landowners have the right to seek judicial review before being forced to comply with enforcement orders.

In this case, the EPA issued a compliance order asserting that landowners violated the Clean Water Act because they filled wetlands on their land without obtaining a permit. The EPA relies on these compliance orders and the threat of significant fines (up to $37,500 a day) to “urge” landowners to comply quickly with such orders. These landowners fought back, claiming their property was not a wetland, but, under previous rulings, they had no way to challenge the EPA’s unilateral wetland claim. That is, the landowners had a Hobson’s choice of complying with an order with which they did not agree or risking the expense of a defense of and possible imposition of significant penalties if EPA filed and successfully prosecuted an enforcement action.

With this ruling, landowners can now confront the government’s interpretation of what constitutes a wetland under the Clean Water Act by challenging the agency’s basis for demanding compliance.

While the Supreme Court didn’t agree with the landowners’ broader claim of a due process violation, it held that the landowners could challenge the government’s claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA); the APA provides for challenges to agency decision making. 

In sum, the EPA and the Corps will likely face challenges to their unilateral determination of the scope of the jurisdiction.  And, while the case focused on the Clean Water Act, it may affect the use of administrative compliance orders under other statutes, such as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

In Episode 44 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on December 10, 2011), show host Dick Lyons talks with Michael Murray, CEO and cofounder of Lucid Design Group in Oakland, California.

Michael shares how his company’s software products influence behavior by providing building utility performance transparency to individuals who occupy commercial buildings.  Lucid’s Building Dashboard® makes energy and water use in commercial buildings visible in real time on the web.   The company has found that by making this information visible, building occupants will adjust their behavior, thereby reducing their usage of these resources by an average of 10-20 percent.

Lucid Design Group logoFrom their Kiosk application, building occupants and visitors can view the building’s performance information in the lobby.  It shows how an individual building ranks against other similar buildings and creates a competitive environment for occupants to contribute to improved performance.  The program measures, tracks, analyzes and displays everything from plug loads to carbon offsets, providing the users with a lot of actionable information about energy usage in a building.

Peer pressure works! 
By creating an environment where conservation becomes the norm, the incremental actions of individuals become a collective force leading to overall savings.  The company taps into social media to build a culture of conservation and has plans to develop mobile apps to make information even more accessible.   These programs move the power (so to speak) for energy conservation out of the exclusive domain of facility managers, building operators and architects and into those of the individual occupants. 

So who owns the data?
Already with a client roster of about 180 customers representing 1300 facilities, their hosted server model allows the company to aggregate a growing repository of valuable information on individual buildings and general behavior related to water and energy use.  Michael and Dick touch on issues related to privacy and data ownership, as well as current and potential uses for the information being collected. 

If you are using this or a similar product, we’d love to hear about your experience.  Did your personal behavior changed after installation?  Any surprises or lessons learned?

Post Links:

Interview with Michael Murray of Lucid Design: Episode 44 of The Wendel Forum (27:35 mins; mp3)

Lucid Design website: www.luciddesigngroup.com

Green 960 AM radio website: http://www.green960.com/main.html

Dick Lyons website profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

Rip Curl Pro Search is going on in San Francisco for a few more days (Nov. 1 – 12), so it seems the perfect time to talk about what’s happening to green the surfing industry.  Yes, blue is the new green.

In Episode 38 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on October 29, 2011), show host Bill Acevedo talks with Michael Stewart, one of the founders of Sustainable Surf, which is a 501(c)3 that works to improve the adoption of sustainability in the surfing industry.

From their website:
Sustainable Surf works with key players within the surfing industry to dramatically improve the environmental performance of their products and services. In parallel, Sustainable Surf engages surfing consumers with innovative campaigns around sustainable surfing products, and educates surfers about the lifestyle choices that can further lower their impacts on the ocean environment.

You might think that the impact on the environment caused by surfing is just a drop in the ocean, but surfing represents a $7 billion dollar industry.  Now there is a movement to reconnect with surfing’s more sustainable roots.  Surfboards are an obvious place to start. Historically they were made from wood products, but over the years petroleum based materials became the norm. Wet suits, accessories, apparel and all of the “stuff” that goes with the surfing lifestyle have an impact.  From raw materials and supply chain, to manufacturing and distribution, it’s time for the surf industry to step up and take responsibility for its environmental impact. And then there are the waste and end-of-life issues for all that gear. 

Michael Stewart of Sustainable Surf

Michael Stewart of Sustainable Surf visits The Wendel Forum studio

Michael and Bill discuss these issues and the major initiatives that Sustainable Surf has embraced to help the industry become more green and to reduce the impact to our coastlines caused by those who enjoy the sport.  Current projects include the Waste to Waves program, the Ecoboard Verification Program and the greening of the Rip Curl Pro Search event in San Francisco.  If you’re checking out the action at Rip Curl Pro, take a minute to notice the recycling and upcycling initiatives, the use of biodiesel, and the high waste diversion goals (90%) for the event. 

You may also want to participate in the beach clean up program going on Saturday, November 5, from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Post Links:

Interview with Michael Stewart of Sustainable Surf: Episode 38 of The Wendel Forum (27.23 mins; mp3)
Rip Curl Pro website: http://live.ripcurl.com/index.php?Search2011
Sustainable Surf website: http://SustainableSurf.org/
Current Sustainable Surf projects: http://sustainablesurf.org/projects/
Green 960 AM radio website: http://www.green960.com/main.html
Bill Acevedo website bio: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 37 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on October 22, 2011), show host Donald Simon talks with Randy Hawks of Claremont Creek Ventures to discuss current trends in the cleantech investment landscape. 

Claremont Creek Ventures is a venture capital firm investing in early stage information technology companies.  Their East Bay location allows them to work closely alongside many excellent research-driven “incubating institutions,” such as UC Berkeley, UC Davis and the Lawrence Livermore and Berkeley Laboratories.

According to Randy, the investment climate is actually seeing some positive moves, despite what you read in the papers.  He claims that there is a 12% uptick in 3rd quarter investing over 2nd quarter in the cleantech space this year.  And Northern California is a great place to be in this sector.  We still get 35 – 40% of the deals being done in the United States and about half of the total dollars.  While the early part of the year saw increased IPO activity, the overall venture capital investment climate is stronger now than it has been in the past couple of years.

Donald and Randy discuss the impact of the research and development funded by U.C. Berkeley and local labs.  Historically, these types of institutions have not been as nimble as some of the private schools and institutions when it comes to licensing the technology they develop.  Even so, the fundamental “game changing” research that they can inspire sets a great stage for technology to evolve into the marketplace.

Further, Randy shares his view on the market shift in the types of deals being done.  Previously bigger amounts of money went to fewer projects. More recently the trend has move toward smaller deals that look like early stage software technology deals.  The models of lean investing that have been previously used in the technology industry are becoming more popular in cleantech.  Deisgn, develop and deploy runs parallel to programs for customer engagement to speed the time to market and ensure a strong company launch.  While these tactics have been used for consumer internet companies for a number of years, other industries including cleantech and healthcare are adopting the tactics.

The two wrap up with a brief discussion of the common pitfalls that Randy has seen with early stage companies when they neglect some fundamental legal issues in their early development.  So often, young companies start out with a couple of friends and a handshake. That may be a fine way to start out, but ignoring issues regarding how the company will be structured and who owns what rights to innovation can lead to problems down the line.  As he says, “It matters if you’re successful.”  So what are the three key areas that deserve attention?  Randy suggests:

  1. Corporate Formation 
  2. Intellectual Property and Licensing
  3. Employment

If you’re interested in hearing more perspectives on the investment climate and meeting some of California’s “Game Changing” clean tech companies, check out the California Clean Tech Innovation Conference happening in Oakland on November 2-3.  Randy will be a panelist at the Energy Efficiency session.  Go to the conference website for more information or to register. 

California Cleantech Innovation Conferencecleantech conference icon
November 2-3, 2011
Kaiser Center Auditorium

At the Kaiser Center in Oakland CA, you will see California’s leading Clean-Tech policymakers… Hear from “Game Changing” Clean-Tech companies on Energy Efficiency, Water, Recycling & Environmental issues along with renewables such as Solar, Water, & Wind & Green transportation. Also speaking will be Clean-Tech experts from California’s leading Universities & Federal Labs, as well as numerous Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists & Private Equity Funds. Grow-California brings all the influencers together at one Clean-Tech Conference.  http://www.grow-california.com/conferences/clean-tech-innovation/

Post Links:

Interview with Randy Hawks of Claremont Creek: Episode 37 of The Wendel Forum (27:35 mins; mp3)

California Cleantech Innovation Conference website: http://www.grow-california.com/conferences/clean-tech-innovation/

Claremont Creek Ventures website: http://claremontcreek.com/view.cfm/3/Home

Green 960 AM radio website: http://www.green960.com/main.html

Donald Simon website bio: www.wendel.com/dsimon

In Episode 32 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on September 17, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio) show host Bill Acevedo takes a closer look at our oceans, a subject near and dear to his heart as an avid surfer. Show guests are Ashok Kamal, CEO of Bennu, and Dean LaTourrette, Executive Director of Save The Waves Coalition, a non-profit engaged in coastal protection.

Ashok Kamal Photo

Ashok Kamal of Bennu

Ashok was the author of “Blue is the New Green” a recent blog post on Triple Pundit that gotten a fair amount of attention for its focus on the issues of preserving our oceans.

He argues that when we talk about environmental issues, we often fail to talk about our oceans as a part of this holistic system. Problems ranging from trash in our oceans and its impact on the ocean ecosystem to the acidification of our oceans can go largely unnoticed, but are not separate from what happens above the waterline.  Bennu, his social media marketing company, has taken on a number of initiatives to build creative and tactical online campaigns supporting eco-friendly companies and causes, including a recent one called Ocean Aid.    

Dean LaTourrette Photo

Dean LaTourrette of Save the Waves Coalition

Dean shares some of the programs that Save the Waves has in place to help combat issues around sea level rise and coastal erosion. He points to a study just released bySan Francisco State University professor Phil King that attempts to place economic valuations on coastal environmental losses for California cities.  

Other Save the Waves programs discussed on the show include the Surfenomics program (which has put an environmental and economic value to Mavericks of about $24 million annually), world surfing reserves, and analysis of the fight to save Sloat beach, a 3 mile stretch that offers world-class surfing in San Francisco.  

Show Posts:

Listen to the interview: Episode 32 of The Wendel Forum (27+ minutes, mp3)

Bennu: www.bennuworld.com  (from here you’ll find links to all of their social media pages)

Blue is the New Green blog post on Triple Pundit:  http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/09/blue-new-green-environmentalists-need-pay-closer-attention-ocean/

Save the Waves website: www.savethewaves.org

Bill Acevedo’s website bio: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

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