Monday, June 22, 2009

Mia Green Expo & Conference

This past week in Miami I attended the Mia Green Expo & Conference. It was a two day event held at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The event had an exhibit hall with 118 exhibitors and four different parallel Conference sessions, the choices were: (1) Designing and Building greener Americas; (2) How to be Green & Profitable; (3) Green Policies & Benefits; and (4) LEED 2009 Update & Special programs.

 Mia Green 2009 -1

Here is my analysis of this event:

Is Miami the new capital of the world for Greentech? Well, the short answer is…no. Furthermore this conference was fairly small and a bit disorganized.

In spite of the above I have to admit that in this growing field of Greentech there are always new things to learn and new people to meet. But, most importantly I enjoy attending these conferences because it reminds me of the HUGE OPPORTUNITY we are facing by being part of this group of early adopters of the green wave.

Some day we will look back at these events and say something like this: “remember those days when we were trying to convince the rest of the world that the green wave was coming and that greentech was going to become a huge industry?”

Most of the people in the event were from state or city government, from the various utilities and from academia. The business people (aside from the utilities) were from the construction arena. This is a good example of how Greentech is still flying under the radar.

Many people don’t realize yet the impact Greentech is going to have in our everyday lives and businesses. Just to give you an example: If the US government sticks to their plan and implement the cap and trade law, every business will have to start thinking in terms of carbon emissions. This means that the corner ice cream shop will have to pay or compensate for the carbon emissions of their ice cream machines (and their blenders, and their delivery truck, and their a/c)! The greentech world will have a demand never seen before, instead of companies pushing for their greentech products, people will demand greentech applications in their businesses, their transport and their homes.

Here are some comments from last week’s IT’S ALL GOOD... GOOD NEWS!:

“We are all happy you said it.
If you remember how it started, we can say now: Bad times R.I.P.”

“I concur. I am beginning to see an improvement in the hiring market. And green jobs are going to lead the way”

“Thanks... Most of us need this kind of news.
Everything but the global Climate Change which goes beyond the Koyoto Protocol is fairly good news.. All that will do is boost my 100% Carbon Tax exempt product automobile mfg company sales”

“Some interesting thoughts here. however the incentives currently on offer for 'green' technologies are skewed towards what the lobbyists want rather than what is practical and effective technology. For my proof I offer wind power which is probably the most unreliable erratic supply available and undeserving (in my opinion) of the massive subsidies it is getting in the UK. I would be more interested if power from waste was getting the same level of subsidy and planning application help. The nimby effect (not in my back yard) prevents good waste to energy gasifiers and combusters from getting off the ground in the UK and this just has to change-recovers energy from waste and reduces landfill - both required for our sustainability. For the UK in situ coal gasification with CO2 capture is a way to supply all of our gas and chemical industry supplies for 200 years plus! By producing synthesis gas we can revert all households to towns gas as we knew it and use syngas to make ammonia and hence fertiliser and plastics - basically replace the petro industry with gasification products as SASOL”

“I certainly hope so. These however are just a few of the green giants out there. If the rest of the economy picks up on their regular way of doing business again, we might be back in the financial slumps before you know it”

“1. the last depression-recovery was based on investment in military and road building. this one is green.
2. it smells like the internet age in c.1994
3. the market is not natural. nice feelings around social conscience did not cut it. economic drivers are being created by government. as such, it is so disruptive! And neat stuff can be done until the old fashioned laws of supply and demand
So I do not see there being a return to a premature slump as we have started the next cycle. between now and then I believe we will see another massive transfer of wealth from investors to consultants and marketeers via entrepreneurs as we saw in late 1990's. As the zietgiest is based on long term >25 years for a big return, I hope we are seeing another long growth run; then again energy deficits may derail us”

Until next time: SHALOM!

Monday, June 15, 2009


It seems the world is getting back in track. After some uncertain months of rollercoaster economic forecasts, bailouts and bankruptcies it seems the future is looking brighter than ever. Here are some news that are sure to lift your spirits (that is, if you are in the green wagon)

- This article talks about the new Prius which has factories working overtime. While the rest of the car manufacturers are shutting down Toyota is selling more Priuses than it can produce.To read full article click here

- A public-private coal plant previously discarded because of high cost will be built in Mattoon, Ill. This plant will store nearly all of its emissions underground. The decision change was based on a cost calculation error that turned the project’s cost from $1.8bn into $1.3bn. To read full article click here

- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) one of the largest semi-conductor producers in the world is jumping into the solar cell and LED light arena. This compatibility between semi-conductors and solar cells first identified in Israel will open new markets for this industry giant. But, more importantly, it will call the attention of other competitors and therefore reduce solar cell and LED costs for the consumers. To read full article click here 

- Bonneville Power Administration, whose power lines carry much of the electricity in the US Pacific Northwest is ramping up their capacity using wind power. The article talks about the demand of some groups to shut down some of the company’s hydropower to protect wild salmon. But, from my perspective, the article brings good news regarding substitution of dirty sources of power generation with clean power. The fact that this creates some conflicts with other groups is just part of the process. To read full article click here

- Climate Change Treaty, to Go Beyond the Kyoto Protocol, Is Expected by the Year’s End. More than 100 nations are negotiating a new treaty that will push the agenda further into cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases and preventing deforestation. To read full article click here

Any thoughts?

Here are some comments from last week’s Why incentives work, and don’t work? (some are VERY INTERESTING. Thanks!)

“In my experience good people tend to attract money rather than money attracting good people”

“Tell me how you reward people and I will tell you how they will act. If you reward people in an illogical inconsistent manner, that's exactly how they will act. Now, if they also get the best administration who understands how to motivate people to giving students a better education with above average teachers in the classrooms I think it will be an amazing system”

“The problem isn't the incentive it is the accountability. The inflated pay is not the reason why good teachers would be found in this new school. It is the accountability that comes with the high pay that weeds out the lesser candidates”

“My thoughts were to have a top school who charges zero tuition but gets paid a percentage of the students earnings for the first 20 years of work. From that, the teachers receive a "dividend" from each child they taught. This way their retirement fund grows from those they taught. It would be a great incentive for the teacher to see that the student is truly able to succeed in life, as their retirement directly depends on the success of the children they taught.
Also, while teaching have bonus pay based on the number of students actually retaining what was taught. This would require the elimination of all multiple-choice tests and every test would have only one question, regardless of subject matter. The question would be "What have you learned this semester from this teacher and show with examples". This would foster critical thinking skills rather than memorization and regurgitation. The percentage of subject matter that the students learned would directly relate to the bonus given.
This would create accountability and a co-dependency relationship between teacher and students”

“All incentives have the challenge of hitting the sweet spot of their intended and invoking the desired response. This one sounds off-target. Did teachers become teachers to make big money? Only if they were misguided and misjudged the teaching space”

“I think in your article you are ignoring that we as society have a very big interest that energy be cheap. Energy is one of the major taxes that everybody has to pay on their lives, so if we are worried over the long-term development of our industries and their competitiveness over time, energy, over time, needs to be low-cost (also, btw, communications and finance).
We should have an interest in developing 50mpg cars and such other technologies. Apart of having lower pollution, such machines are cheaper to operate and provide real advantages. But is making energy expensive the right way? Although it is a good incentive, it goes against other, more important goals”

Until next time: SHALOM!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Why incentives work, and don’t work?

Recently an article in the NY Times was talking about a new school being assembled. The particular thing about this school is the salaries teachers will receive; around $125,000 a year “two and a half times as much as the national average for teacher salaries”.

The idea is to have the best teachers available and the means to do it is by offering a big incentive: 2.5 TIMES THE AVERAGE SALARY OF OTHER TEACHERS!

So, will this guarantee success? Who knows, but certainly they have managed to get VERY good teachers, who knows if this really will translate into top notch education.

That is precisely the point about incentives. Human systems are complex structures and when you create an incentive you disrupt the “natural order” of things and create sometimes unpredictable outcomes. Here is an example:

I believe the US society has a plethora of negative role models from professional sports (as exemplified in the List of professional sportspeople convicted of crimes). Some football, basketball and baseball players earn immense sums of money, they have big houses and luxurious cars, but they also have encounters with the law, they lack education, and some are bound to self destroy. It all traces back to incentives!

A kid from high school gets selected for a top school based on their athletic ability, not their level of education (first incentive). They have lower requirements from the school and eventually get drafted into a professional team. The first round pick in NFL for this year will get “$41.7 million in guarantees” for a six year contract. What is a 21 year old kid supposed to do with over $40 when he turns 27? Furthermore what kind of example is he setting for other kids who look up to him? Is he prepared to be a role model?

All this brings us back to the incentives on Greentech. Are they well designed? will we get the consequences we desire from these “disruptions”?

Greentech needs a hand to compete with existing technologies, energy sources and to change consumer behaviors. But we must be very wary of the potential outcomes of the incentives we propose.

Here are some responses from last week’s Are these environmental goals any good?:

“I am disappointed in the new standards. My VW Jetta 2000, gives about 30.x mpg during summer and 28.5+mpg during Winters in the metro Boston area. My Toyota Corolla 2007 gives about 34mpg.
If the SUVs and Trucks had say, 35mpg in 2016 and sedans to have a minimum of 50mpg, then that would have been a better goal to push for true innovation and energy use reductions by 2025. It would take atleast 8-9yrs. after the 2016 standard to have replaced a majority of vehicles on the road”

“After reading your blog, I have to admit that the "tough rules and regs" doesn't make a lot of sense. If we already have the technology for 50mpg, and Obama's only pushing for 35.5mpg, that takes away from the drive to go for better mpg than 35.5”

“I think like much policy that comes from Washington, it's flawed, but a step in the right direction”

“The best, and in my opinion, only effective way to promote alternate technologies is to ensure gasoline is priced in the range of $5.00 per gallon. That, in my opinion is the way to go. Legislating fuel economy standards may help, but think about it - for every new 35 or even 45 MPG car on the road - how many dozens are out there (think older cars or SUVs)at 20 MPG or less. Then lets think about diesels”

“If oil companies have their way it will become another reason for higher fuel and oil prices. In my view, the Feds have to take seriously the task of forcing automakers to switch over to hydrogen engines and other clean tech, along with forcing the grid energy suppliers to do the same. “

“What 'O' bases his assumptions on are Al Gore's global warming scandal of man-made C02, and other gas emmissions, so we started off wrong to begin with. With the banking crisis killing most other industries, esp the automotive industry, I believe this is a bad time to further destroy the industry”

“Give people something that is better and they will buy it. We can discuss the pros and cons of global warming and political agendas "until the cows come home" yet from where I sit on the other side of the world to you; I see a strategy that should galvanise the community to embrace change”

“I think they should be much tougher.... It is ridiculous that Americans continue to drive gas guzzling cars at 55 mph. The management of American car makers have failed to respond to the energy crisis, produce terrible cars and then want bail outs when they can't sell them”

“Considering the concept of sustainability, I think that 35.5 MPG is definitely high enough. Remember, this is CAFE, the average fuel economy for all of the vehicles a company manufactures, up to 10,000 lbs GVWR. So, while we may have the capability of manufacturing vehicles that will perform at 50+ MPG, there would still be a need for work trucks and vans that simply would not be useful with such a high fuel mileage.”

“I agree with you that the goals are unambitious but if the political pragmatism is that it is a modest goal that passes to law versus no change, then it is better to get the ball rolling.
By the way the US National Academy of Science has just published a free book that illustrates to the US what is happening in its own backyard. Copy available at

“I predict that in 2 years we'll all be in agreement that it would have been better to just let Chrysler and GM go out of business”

“Obama so called tough rules are only decades too last due to the Big Three in the past always claiming excuses so that they did not have to upgrade CAFE mileage. They sure used lobbyists' a lot back then.”

“The new standard for cars efficiency by President Obama was long awaited and it is a great news. However, cars in many parts of the world (including China) are more efficient.”

Until next time: SHALOM!