We hope that 2012 is off to a great start for you.  The Wendel Forum took a bit of a break over the holidays, but we’re ready to jump into 2012 with both feet.  It’s going to be a great year!  There are a few changes we want to make sure you catch.

Green 960 Becomes 960 KNEW
Our radio station, Green 960 AM, is changing its call letters.  You’ll still find us on the air at 960 on the AM dial; however, the station now goes by 960 KNEW “Opinions, Finance, Advice.”  Also, the new website is www.960knew.com.  Don’t worry, you’ll still find us as a part of the Green Morning line up every Saturday morning (along with Sea Change Radio and An Organic Conversation).

Another program change is that we have a new time slot.  Our new time is 9:30 – 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays.  As always, if you’re out of signal range, you can listen to the show via the station’s website and www.iHeartRadio.com (as they say, “there’s an app for that!”).

Saturday Welcomes Zem Joaquin of Ecofabulous
We are kicking off the first new episode of the year in our new 9:30 time slot this Saturday, January 14.  Please tune in for a discussion with Zem Joaquin of Ecofabulous.  She’ll share how Ecofabulous brings together style and sustainability without sacrifice.

California’s Landmark Benefit Corporation Legislation
So besides our radio show changes, what else has been happening the last few weeks, you ask?  Quite a lot.  With the enactment of AB 361, California’s new landmark Benefit Corporation legislation, Wendel Rosen attorney Donald Simon has been spreading the word about how companies can adopt this new corporate structure.  You can listen to Episode 36 of The Wendel Forum for a previous discussion about this legislation, which allows companies to incorporate their values into their governance. 

Photo of Simon, Gilbert, Huffman and Chouinard

Donald Simon, Jay Coen Gilbert, Assemblyman Jared Huffman and Yvon Chouinard arrive in Sacramento

Donald also participated in the media event at the California Secretary of State’s office on January 3rd (the first day companies could submit paperwork to become Benefit Corporations).  Here’s a press release describing the event and some photos of the day.  We were thrilled to be able to assist about a dozen companies with filings on this first day of eligibility, including Patagonia.  It was great to see Yvon Chouinard there to help champion the cause.  A true leader in sustainability!  See below for links to some of the coverage this event garnered.

Photo of Interview with Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia

Interview with Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia

Photo of Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia addressing crowd to celebrate Benefit Corporation legislation passage.

Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia addresses crowd to celebrate Benefit Corporation legislation passage.

Recent Coverage of AB 361 – California’s Benefit Corporation Legislation 

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In Episode 45 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on December 17, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo chats with Matt Bauer, President and co-founder of BetterWorld Telecom.  BetterWorld provides voice and data services to small- and medium-sized businesses and focuses on relationships with companies and nonprofits that support social justice and sustainability.

Matt Bauer - President and Co-Founder of BetterWorld Telecom

Matt Bauer, President and Co-Founder of BetterWorld Telecom

The interview touches on a number of subjects. Matt describes BetterWorld’s approach to business, the importance of running a “mission-driven” company, and legislative and economic trends he sees as opportunities for small businesses to succeed, particularly in this sickly economy.

A part of the $2 trillion global telecommunications industry, BetterWorld’s competitors are companies like AT&T, Version and Quest – companies not generally recognized as leaders in sustainable social circles.  BetterWorld has been mission-driven from the beginning, balancing people, planet and prosperity and focusing on serving organizations with similar goals.

They have also created a number of alliances with organizations such as 1% For the Planet (they’ve been a member since 2006) and are a certified B Corporation (in fact, they are a founding member of B Lab).  The company considers these types of organizations so important that it has committed to giving 3% of gross revenues (not just profits) to support social justice and sustainable causes.

BetterWorld’s mission goes beyond simply donating money to organizations; the company is attempting to change the fundamental paradigm related to how people work as a way of enabling companies to reduce their carbon footprint.  The company invested in research and analysis resulting in a program they call BetterWork.  On their website you can download a white paper that describes how to lower costs and carbon emissions, while increasing profits and employee morale through telecommuting, video, web conferencing and other communication tools.

A busy man, Matt is also involved in a number of activities to influence his industry and support small business.  In a recent editorial that ran on http://www.thehill.com(The Hill’s Congress Blog) and http://www.triplepundit.com/, Matt addressed the issue of Net neutrality and the regulatory structure necessary to create a relatively even playing field for carriers like BetterWorld against the giants of telecom.

And because most of BetterWorld’s customers are small business (with under 100 people), they see first hand the economic challenges facing this market segment.  Realizing that capital to fund business growth is harder for small companies to get in this economic environment, Matt has been tracking some emerging non-traditional capital-raising solutions.  He and Bill explore some of the pros and cons of two newly popularized funding solutions for small businesses – crowd funding and Direct Public Offerings (DPOs), including some of the trends and legal issues associated with these two evolving areas of small business finance.

Show Notes:
For the next couple of weeks The Wendel Forum, like many of your favorite television and radio programs, will be running “Best Of” episodes.  On Saturday, December 24, tune in for a rebroadcast of Episode 36, in which Bill Acevedo and Donald Simon discuss the recent passage of Benefit Corporation legislation in California (AB 361).  Companies will be able to take this new form of corporate entity beginning January 1, 2012.  They are joined by Erik Trojian, Director of Policy for B Lab.

On December 31, we will rerun Episode 21, Part I of the compilation interviews conducted at last June’s San Francisco Business Times Cleantech & Sustainability Awards.  Companies featured in the program include:

  • InterContinental San Francisco
  • Propel Fuels
  • Primus Power Corp.
  • Numi Organic Tea

Post Links:
Listen to the interview with Matt Bauer: Episode 45 of The Wendel Forum(27:34 mins; mp3)

BetterWorld Telecom website: http://www.betterworldtelecom.com

BetterWork web page: http://info.betterworldtelecom.com/how-to-lower-costs-and-carbon-emissions-while-increasing-profits-and-employee-morale?hsCtaTracking=4fd1a1ce-e997-4c9f-ba6d-70c0cd896e52%7C43b6cc83-e720-4716-b881-1fb93cb5fd74

Green 960 AM Radio website: http://www.green960.com

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

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

In Episode 43 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on December 3, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo talks fiber with Lewis Fix of Domtar Paper.  That’s tree fiber, not cereal.

The company, which was actually founded in 1848 in England, is one of the leaders in sustainability in the paper industry. In 2002, Domtar became the first North American paper company to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification from the forest to the marketplace. 

According to Lewis, Domtar sees itself as more than just a paper company.  They are in the business of moving fiber.  What does that mean?  Usually when you think of paper products, you think of copy paper, annual reports and marketing brochures.  But their products are much more diverse than that.  They are used in such diverse places as sticks for lollipops and medical products. And like many companies looking to be more efficient with their production while creating less waste, Domtar is exploring ways to use the papermaking byproduct lignin as a bio-fuel.

In addition, the company values being a good corporate citizen regarding its environmental impact and its impact in the communities in which it operates.  With 13 pulp and paper facilities throughout North America, the company recognizes the importance of being engaged locally.

Lewis discusses the responsibility that Domtar embraces to have an open dialogue regarding how they are managing forests, watersheds, and other resources.  They hold themselves to a high standard of transparency (third party and multi-stakeholder).  Lewis and Bill discuss the debate regarding whether it’s better to use virgin or recycled paper, as well as a few of Domtar’s partnerships with organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance and World Wildlife Fund.

They also have some exciting new initiatives to promote, including The Paper Trail, a web transparency tool inspired by Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles to help track the chain of custody in the supply chain all the way to store shelves.

From a Domtar press release:

The Paper Trail (http://www.domtarpapertrail.com) develops personalized reports that measure Domtar products across five categories: water usage, the distance fiber travels to a paper mill, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste sent to landfills and renewable energy usage. The data is displayed in real-world equivalents, with comparisons to issues such as the amount of water the average household uses or the amount of waste it generates. The Paper Trail will also illustrate how Domtar compares to the rest of the industry in these particular categories.

We think you might think differently about fiber after listening to this interview.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Lewis Fix: Episode 43 of The Wendel Forum (mp3)

Domtar Paper website: http://www.domtar.com

Forest Stewardship Council website:  http://www.fsc.org/

The Paper Trail: http://www.domtarpapertrail.com

Green 960 AM Radio website: http://www.green960.com

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

In Episode 42 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on November 26, 2011), show host Dick Lyons talks with Dr.  Fred and Ina Pockrass, a husband and wife team who are national leaders in the field of green dentistry.  Fred has been a restorative and general dentist for more than 31 years, and Ina is a branding and marketing expert who previously practiced intellectual property law for 18 years.  Together they are founders of Transcedentist, a dental office in Berkeley, California.  In addition, they are co-founders of the Eco-Dentistry Association, which formed in 2008 to support the greening of the dental industry.  

Ina & Fred Pockrass photo

Dr. Fred and Ina Pockrass of Transcedentist and the Eco-Dentistry Association

Fred and Ina’s mission since 2002 has been to create a dental office that’s easier on the planet, as well as the patients who visit it.  They built their Berkeley office with an environmental lens, taking a close look at the environmental impacts created by the facility and the practice.  “Back when ‘green’ was still a color,” they made a point to build their office with materials that had lower environmental impact, including floor finishes, low-VOC paint, etc.

Beyond the facility construction, Fred and Ina realized that they could do a lot more to green the delivery of dental services. They moved away from traditional x-ray equipment and invested in digital x-ray machines.  Patient barriers, sterilization pouches, and vacuum systems all create additional impacts on the environment.  There have been a number of improvements in recent years that offer safer and less wasteful alternatives.  Fred and Ina were early adopters and have been encouraging their peers to follow suit.

It may seem like these types of changes in one dental office would have a small overall impact on our environment.  But consider the collective impact of the 122,000 dental offices in the United States.  This is an industry ripe for change.   The Eco-Dentistry Association’s mission is to promote the use of these newer technologies and methods across the industry.  The organization promotes a number of educational programs, as well as a standards certification label for dental products that meet certain criteria.  

EDA Accepted Seal

EDA Accepted Seal

By overcoming misconceptions about the costs and obstacles to greening a dental office, the group hopes to help dentists around the world lessen their environmental impacts.  And with 700 members in the United States, Canada and 12 other countries, their reach is growing.    Who knew the movement would be so popular in places like Brazil and India?

For patients who love their current dentist but aren’t sure how green his or her practice is, the association has designed a “Green My Dentist” campaign.  Patients can download a letter from the Eco-Dentistry Association website to send it to their dentist in order to encourage them to address a few key areas of environmental impact. 

We think green dentistry is something to smile about.

Post Links:

Interview with Fred and Ina Pockrass: Episode 42 of The Wendel Forum (27:47 mins; mp3)

Transcendentist website: www.transcendentist.com

EcoDentistry Association website: www.ecodentistry.org

Green My Dentist campaign webpage: http://www.ecodentistry.org/?page=GreenMyDentist

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

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

In Episode 41 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on November 19, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), show host Dick Lyons speaks with attorney Eugene Pak  about issues related to protecting trademarks and other types of intangible assets. Both Dick and Eugene are partners in Wendel Rosen’s Intellectual Property Practice group.

Photo of Eugene Pak

Eugene Pak, Intellectual Property attorney at Wendel Rosen

They explain the basic differences between patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets and then dig into a deeper discussion regarding some of the issues that entrepreneurs should consider as they develop their young companies and new products.

What makes a good strong trademark? Gone are the days when the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is readily willing to allowing marks that include “Green” “Eco” or “Solar” in the name. Those terms have become so commonly used within the green industry that they are now considered descriptive, rather than distinctive. Descriptive marks are extremely difficult to register. Dick and Eugene offer a little guidance on how to approach the selection of a name likely to be approved by the USPTO.

Even a trademark registration that goes undisputed will take nearly a year to file, so businesses should plan early for how to protect their company and product names. You won’t want to start over with your design, packaging, marketing and advertising materials if your mark is rejected or disputed, so it’s important to set out on the right path from the beginning.

Copyright issues, which can cover materials ranging from screenplays to software design, can be even more complex than many companies realize. Who owns the work product created by consultants and independent contractors? You might think you do, but don’t be too quick to assume. What about work for hire (WFH)? Just because you call something work for hire, doesn’t necessarily mean that you own it. The laws around this are tricky, so be careful. It’s best to have a contract that includes a clear assignment of rights. Who owns the work product and ideas of employees? That might not be so clear either.

What if you have a license to use software, technology or other work product created by a third-party? Is there such a thing as an implied license? Is your license exclusive, non-exclusive, assignable? The clearer that you can make these issues at the onset, the better chance you have of protecting the value of your company’s assets and avoiding costly negotiations or nasty litigation to protect your company’s future.

If you plan for your company to be wildly successful (and, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t), you’ll want to give proper attention to your intellectual property portfolio. How you handle these issues from the beginning can have a big impact on your ability to get funding from investors later. Being able to demonstrate clean ownership rights and clear marketplace value of your intangible assets will put your company in the best position possible.

Show Posts:

Listen to the discussion of Intellectual Property for Green Businesses: Episode 41 of The Wendel Forum(27:40 min, mp3)

Eugene Pak’s online profile: www.wendel.com/EPak

About Wendel Rosen’s Intellectual Property Practice: www.wendel.com/ip

United State Patent and Trademark Office website: http://www.uspto.gov/

Dick Lyons website bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

In Episode 40 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on November 12, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz.com, joins show host Dick Lyons to discuss sustainability standards for organizations.

Joel explains that while there is a lot of activity for the greening of companies of all types, it has been challenging to identify shared definitions that allow for meaningful standards in the marketplace.   What does it mean to be good enough?  So Joel, along with the team of like-minded folks have been working on a strategy to build a comprehensive, company level (not just product level), global, third party standard for organizations to follow. The outcome of this work has resulted in the Underwriters Laboratories Environment (UL Environment or ULE) 880 for manufacturing and 881 for service providers (pending).  UL is a 117 year old organization historically known for their work developing product safety standards.

Forum listeners may also remember the interview Dick did with Rory Bakke in Episode 30 of The Wendel Forum on September 3, in which we discussed the development of these standards.

ULE 880 Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations has been released, and the working group is now turning its attention to the matter of finishing ULE 881, which will cover service providers. Joel says that 881 should be expected to emerge in about a year.

So, how do companies get rated? You can find more information at www.ULEnviornment.com.  There are some costs associated with obtaining third party verification of the data companies provide.
 
What’s interesting is that this is not designed as one more consumer facing label.  This has been developed as a business to business or business to government standard.  The group imagines that companies with long supply chains will begin to use this standard, much as ISO-14000 or ISO-9000 standards are used in some industries to verify standards between business partners.  A registry and verification logo will be available to companies achieving the standards.

Here is one more tool to help sustainably-minded companies get that much closer to meaningful transparency and accountability.

 

Show Posts:

Listen to the interview with Joel Makower: Episode 40 of The Wendel Forum (27+ min, mp3)

GreenBiz website: www.Greenbizgroup.com

Underwriters Lab Environment website:  http://www.ulenvironment.com/ulenvironment/eng/pages/

Dick Lyons website bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com