Monday, May 23, 2011

A bit off the beaten track

As an investor you're always looking for new trends. Not necessarily for direct investment but to better understand where society and money is moving to. Portland is often mentioned as the U.S.'s greenest city and Calgary's SID21C (Sustainable industrial Development for the 21st Century) organized a tour led by SID21C's founder Nattalia Lea (

SID21C is a Calgary based networking group for business people interested in creating a more sustainable world. At SID21C's monthly luncheon meetings in the Danish Canadian Club guest speakers from all over the world present sustainable ventures that range from … Virgin Airlines' green initiatives, to Ben Santarris of Solarworld reviewing solar panel manufacturing, to Alberta developed technologies that increase the growth rate of algae. The latter form the basis for e.g. the generation of biofuels.

Keen store in Portland

OPT schematic of PB150
  Last week's tour included a visit to Keen ( ), a sports shoe designer with a funky, new HQ and store constructed out of mostly re-used materials located in an old army warehouse. Also included was a visit to Oregon Ironworks which together with Ocean Power Technologies  ( ) is in  the process of building a buoy to generate energy from ocean waves (see photos); and a tour at solar panel manufactor SolarWorld. We met representatives from Nike which creates flooring from shredded recycled sports shoe soles and City of Portland municipal representatives. The latter told us about that city's extensive green initiatives ranging from an extensive public transportation system to storm sewer management using planters to regulate and filtrate excessive rainwater. The city actively promotes walking and bicycling as alternatives to commuting by automobile. Portland vies with Seatle over the U.S.'s highest number of LEED qualifying buildings per capita.

PB150 construction site at Oregon Ironworks.

PB150 top buoy assembledge. Use the person in the foreground to estimate the size of to buoy
 The beauty of all these initiatives is that it is not driven by a group of stereotypical climate-change activists. Rather, the major driving forces are a strong sense of community with associations providing extensive input and initiatives from the business community. City Hall's emphasis lies on facilitation rather than mandatory regulation. Large portions of Portland's MAX light rail system are sponsored by local businesses. The business community benefits not only through offering its employees a better lifestyle but also through cost savings that help the bottom line. SolarWorld has plants employing hundreds of local employees and its sales volume grows not in percentages but by multiples! A new facility has the capacity to output nearly a solar panels every 18 minutes. Nike is headquartered in the area with a playful and highly sustainable campus that even holds fishing ponds. Other light industries such as Intel provide numerous employment opportunities.

Portland's carbon foot print has been reduced to 1990's levels; not quite the original target of 10% below the 1990 level. But this should be seen in the light of a population increase over the last decade or so by nearly 18%.

SolarWorld is a publicly traded company listed in Germany (DAX – symbol XETRA) and as an over the counter stock: SRWRF:OTC US.

BTW. Photos were taken with my new Blackberry Playbook. I am currently losing money in RIM shares. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment