25 Articles Discussing 2013 Sustainability and Green IT Trends

Sustainability GreenITThe corporate sustainability trend continues to be important for future generations. There is an increased awareness that Information Technology will play an important part in sustainability efforts for governments as well as enterprises.  Government and business leaders alike are increasingly looking across their operations, to the products and solutions they sell, to the way they manage supplier relationships in order to understand how to better protect Mother Earth.  And these leaders are also looking for help from the Information Technology Industry to understand how their data centers can be more energy efficient and also how technology can help them improve their sustainability efforts across the whole enterprise and throughout their supply chain and distribution ecosystems.  

Information technology can play a big part in helping to eliminate wasted energy, wasted space, and wasted natural resources/materials.  New technologies are available that can help organizations become more energy efficient, implement new ways to source, manufacture and distribute goods and services in a more sustainable manner, and enable safe and renewable sources of energy.  There is no doubt that green computing and energy-efficient data centers has morphed from an appealing idea into an essential practice.  Skyrocketing energy costs and tight budgets, coupled with growing public and government pressure, have forced companies to put this issue on the front burner.  

So what are the main trends we should expect in 2013?  Overall…the focus continues to be reducing energy usage and improving utilization rates of existing infrastructure. But have a look at the following 25 articles, which can give you a feel for what is expected to happen in 2013.  

25 Articles Discussing 2013 Sustainability and Green IT Trends

Source Title of Article / Blog Post
Cio.com.au Where is green IT heading in 2013?
CleanTechies Predictions for Cleantech in 2013
Efficient Data Centers 13 Ideas for 2013
Environmental Leader Collaboration ‘Key’ for Sustainability Success in 2013
Environmental Leader Top Corporate Sustainability Trends in 2013
EV Thoughts EV Technologies very prominent in Car and Driver’s 10 Most Promising Technologies
Forbes 6 Green Tech Trends For 2013
Frost & Sullivan The Future is Green for Venture Capitalists, Market to Triple
Green Biz.com What will sustainability look like in 2013?
Green Data Center Conference Top Ten Data Center Priorities in 2013
Greentech Media Cleantech Investing: 2013 Predictions
GreenTech Media The Top Trends in Smart Grid Analytics
GrowStone 20 Sustainability Trends for 2013
Internap Sustainability advances coming to data centers in 2013
Kachan Predictions for cleantech in 2013
Seeking Alpha Cleantech Investing: 2013 Predictions
SustainabileBusiness.com What’s in store for CleanTech in 2013?
The Christian Science Monitor Cleantech on the decline? Predictions for 2013
The Energy Collective Predictions For Cleantech In 2013
The Guardian 2013: a year to fight for scale in advancing sustainability
The Guardian Sustainability will prompt redesign and gain recognition
The Guardian Will 2013 be a breakthrough year?
Tiaga Company Sustainability: What Shaped 2012 and Will Continue in 2013?
Tiaga Company Will Business Sustainability Remain a Conversation in 2013?
Triple Pundit 5 Sustainability Trends That Will Shape Stock Valuations in 2013

Sustainability: IBM Websites, Social Media, White Papers and Presentations

Sustainability Green IT, Sustainability, Energy, Climate change related issues are becoming more important to businesses.  What to do about these critical issues are increasingly being discussed today in corporate boardrooms. Business leaders are actively wanting to find ways to reduce both 1)costs and 2)impact on the environment by minimizing energy usage, water usage, carbon emissions and waste. Technology will play a big part in the solutions that are proposed and implemented.  In 2013, I expect companies and governments to continue to develop strategies and implement sustainability information technology solutions.  

IBM is one company in the I.T. industry that has clearly called out sustainability as an important area for the company.  IBM provides lots of content for visitors to it’s websites, including white papers and presentations.   Below you will find direct links to the most IBM current reports, websites, and social accounts related to the sustainability trend.  The reports and sites below are all hotlinked.  If you see something that is missing, let me know and I will revise this post.

IBM Websites

IBM on Social Platforms

IBM Sustainability and Green I.T. White Papers & Presentations

  • Crossing the Sustainability Chasm – Strategies and tactics to achieve sustainability goals.  An IBM Software Thought Leadership White Paper, published May 2012, 16 pages 
  • Smarter Buildings: Using data to drive optimized building performance – Commercial buildings utilize more than 42 percent of all electricity produced, yet waste up to 50 percent of it. Now, more than ever before, we need Smarter Buildings,  An IBM Global Business Services Thought Leadership White Paper, published June 2012, 8 pages
  • The New Face of Sustainability on a Smarter Planet –  Let’s build a smarter planet.  One page executive brief. 
  • Green and beyond:  Getting smarter about the environment – An IBM Global Business Services Institute for Business Value (IBV) Thought Leadership White Paper, written by Karen Butner and Jacqueline Jasiota Gregory, published in September 2009, 161 pages (executive summary version also available) 
  • Smarter Data Centers Achieving Greater Efficiency – an IBM Redbook publication, published October 2011, 138 pages
  • The emergence of the eco-efficient economy – An IBM Global Business Services Institute for Business Value (IBV) Thought Leadership White Paper includes findings from an online 2010 jam that featured 1600 participants from over 60 different countries.  Published April 2010, 16 pages
  • Cutting the carbon footprint of IT – How organizations can reduce both carbon footprint and it’s costs at the same time.  Written by Richard Lanyon-Hogg, CTO IBM Green Technologies, IBMUK Ltd., Published June 2007, 24 pages
  • How much energy do your IT devices use?  A guide to comparing their efficiency and cutting their carbon footprint, supported by the UK Government’s Green CIO, Written by Richard Lanyon-Hogg, CTO IBM Green Technologies, IBMUK Ltd., Published June 2009, 12 pages  
  • Driving performance through sustainability  An IBM Global Services Institute for Business Value (IBV) Report, written by Karen Butner, Published June 2011, 20 pages
  • US and International Building Energy and Sustainability Issues, Policy and Directions – A presentation to Jeffrey Harris, Senior VP Programs, IBM Analytics Solution Center, Presented October 17, 2012,  20 slides
  • Smarter Cities: Smarter Buildings – Building for an Uncertain Future:  Sustainable Building Products, presented by Anthony Bernheim, FAIA, LEED Fellow, Presented February 2012, 42 Slides
  • Accelerate to Green IT – A practical guide toapplication migration and re-hosting – A developerWorks paper, written by Joydipto Baneree, Debasis Choudhuri, and LK Swift, Published 16Jul2012, 26 pages

IDC Manufacturing Insights: 10 Predictions for Manufacturing in 2012

I attended the IDC Manufacturing Insights Predictions 2012:  Manufacturing conference call today.   I enjoyed this call as IDC highlighted the key 2012 trends within the Manufacturing Industry.

This was a global predictions call and was focused broadly on manufacturing industry wide predictions.  The IDC Manufacturing Insights team has scheduled other prediction calls going into more detail on topics like Supply Chain and Product Lifecycle Management.  There are also other calls coming up that focus on manufacturing related predictions in both Europe and Asia.   

Leading this conference call was the IDC Manufacturing Insights team of Joe Barkai (Vice President), Simon Ellis (Practice Director), Kimberly Knickle (Practice Director), Pierfrancesco Manenti (Head – EMEA), and Bob Parker (Group Vice President)


In 2012, the industry could be characterized as having cautious optimism.  Manufacturing is recovering but business will never be the same.  IDC showed spending forecasts for all major sub-industries with manufacturing and all industries show growth with the consumer oriented industries showing the most growth. 

The Ten Predictions

The 2012 predictions list below was sourced from the conference call slides.

  1. ‘Engaged’ Organizations. “Success in the intelligent economy will be achieved through “engaged” organizations”.
  2. ‘Four Forces’. “IT organizations will make foundational investments in the “four forces” that deliver both IT productivity and business value”  (note:  IDC says the four forces are Mobility, Big Data, Cloud, and Social Business)
  3. Supply Chain Alignment. “Manufacturers Focus on Clock-Speed Alignment across the Supply and Demand Sides of their Supply Chains”
  4. IT Support of Supply Chain. “The Requirement for Speed and the Ubiquity of Information Creates a New Landscape for IT Support of the Supply Chain”
  5. Lean Innovation. “Manufacturers Adopt Lean Innovation Throughout the Product Lifecycle”
  6. Product Lifecycle Visibility. “Greater Visibility and Deeper Understanding of All Aspects of Product Lifecycle Enable Context for Innovation”
  7. Factory of the Future: Capabilities.  “The Factory of the Future will be Driven by Capabilities to Fulfill Customer Demand Rather than Pure Production Capacity”
  8. Factory of the Future: Operations. “The Factory of the Future will Require a New Approach to Operations Applications”
  9. Culture of Learning. “Engaged Manufacturers Look Ahead by Creating a Culture of Learning”
  10. Sustainability. “Manufacturers Shine Environmental Sustainability Spotlight on the Factory as a Means of Getting to the Product”

For More Information

IBM Relaunches Smarter City Initiative With An Innovative Portal

IBM has relaunched it's Smarter City initiative and the website portal is something you should visit to experience.  It is truly an immersive, interactive experience designed to show how cities all over the world are using advanced technology to help address some of the biggest problems facing our planet.  

 Smarter City Portal
It is a fact…our cities are getting larger and larger.  With that growth comes significant challenges for city leaders.  Increasingly, city operations are being digitized, creating brand new data points.  With the greater digitization of its core systems and the use of advanced analytic capabilities, cities can enhance decision-making and improve urban planning.

The Smarter City portal allows you to explore and experience how Smarter Technology can have an impact on making a city more sustainable, more intelligent, and simply better places to live and work.  At the portal, you have options to learn more about how technology can impact all areas of a Smarter City, including Transportation (all forms of transportation), Public Safety, Communications, Energy & Utilities, Healthcare, Social Services, Education,  Retail, Economic Development and other critical operations that make up a large urban city today. 

I suggest you give it a visit and explore this innovative portal at www.thesmartercity.com

A Primer On Water Management Issues

IBM Water Mgmnt Icon Today is Blog Action day at water.org.  It's a good time to get the word out to everyone on water management issues. Read more about water.org's blog action day at Blog Action Day – Working Together To Solve The Water Crisis.  This post is my contribution to the Blog Action Day.

Most of us reading this post take our access to water for granted.  However, I would imagine that we all realize that water is critical to sustaining life on our planet.  Water makes up 60 to 70% by weight of all living organisms and is essential for photosynthesis.  If the Earth’s water supply vanished, there would be no plants, no animals, and no people. 

While the Earth’s water is not vanishing, many scientists believe that our global water supply is in crisis.  We may or may not be at the crisis stage, but we definitely need to take action to solve our water management issues.

Some Quick Facts About WaterWater Wasted

  • Water covers 75% of the earth's surface.  Nearly 98% of the earth's water is in the oceans.  Fresh water makes up less than 3% of water on earth, over two thirds of this is tied up in polar ice caps and glaciers.  Fresh water lakes and rivers make up only 0.009% of water on Earth and ground water makes up 0.28%.
  • It takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton T-shirt, 2,000 gallons to make one gallon of milk, and 39,000 gallons to make a car.
  • Global agriculture wastes an estimated 60% of the 2,500 trillion liters it uses each year. 
  • Municipalities lose as much as 50% of their water supply through leaky infrastructure.  
  • More than one trillion gallons of water are wasted in U.S. homes each year from easy-to-fix leaks.
  • 1 in 5 of the word’s population still lacks access to clean, safe drinking water. 
  • The United Nations predicts that nearly half the world’s population will experience critical water shortages by the year 2080.
  • There are nearly 53,000 different water agencies in the United States alone, each managing a short stretch of river or a handful of reservoirs. 
  • In the last 100 years global water usage has increased at twice the rate of population growth.

For those of us living in developed nations, our water infrastructure is many decades old.  In fact, in some places it is centuries old.  As our demand for water is increasing, we need to modernize the existing infrastructure.  One way to do that is to apply information technology.

Today’s water management systems are operating without enough data and insights.   The planet needs new water management systems, based on smart technology that can collect and analyze real-time data.  These new systems will provide water authorities with the insights they need to supply more water to more people with lower energy-use and cost. 

How Can Technology Help?

What is needed are water management systems that can provide real time collection and analysis of all sources of data.  This includes integrating disparate sensor technologies that produce disparate data formats along with other data from an array of partners.  Information technology solutions are needed that can take data that’s coming in fast and turn it into intelligence that augments the ability to improve decision making about water distribution.  These solutions need to connect the folks in the central control room with those working in the field building bridges, dams, dykes to the sensor experts and sophisticated modelers.

  • Technology can monitor, measure and analyze entire water ecosystems, from rivers and reservoirs to the pumps and pipes in our homes.
  • The latest water meters, combined with appropriate Water Management solutions can provide a single, reliable, up-to-the minute and actionable view of water use for a government, a business, or a home.   These ‘smart’ water meters can provide real-time insight into water use, raising awareness, locating inefficiencies and decreasing demand.
  • Advanced sensors can help us collect all sorts of new data on water usage.  For example, sensors on levees can monitor changing flood conditions and respond accordingly.  Sensor based systems can provide the agriculture industry with detailed information on air quality, soil moisture content and temperature to calculate optimal irrigation schedules.
  • Advanced computing, analytics, and simulations can help us all move beyond “real time” to prediction, supporting better-informed policy and management decisions.
  • Technology can also be applied to our oceans to gather data on water temperature, currents, wave strength, salinity and marine life, and applying algorithms that can forecast everything from wave patterns over 24 hours to the right time to harvest mussels.

IBM Water Management Solution Areas

IBM is taking a leadership role among technology vendors in researching, piloting and developing a whole suite of water management solutions.  Taking a look at what IBM is doing can help us see the areas where technology can be applied to solve water management issues

  • Natural Water Resources – Provides sensor data integration, analysis and visualization to enable the measurement, modeling and management of water levels, usage and quality in natural water resources.
  • Water Utilities – Enables water providers to make rapid decisions regarding business processes and operational efficiency to maximize their return on investments as well as foresee and quickly respond to contamination issues and emergencies.
  • Water Infrastructure – Provides sensing systems for managing water infrastructure, such as levee oversight management and flood control.
  • Water Metering – Improves management of water supply and demand by integrating data between the dozens of stakeholders involved. Provides all stakeholders with consistent, real-time information to help them work together to make critical decisions about water supply in a geographic region.
  • Green Sigma for Water™ – is a business consulting service that identifies where water is being used, measures and monitors usage, and creates process improvements to reduce water use. IBM pilots have achieved reductions in water usage of 30%.
  • SmartBay Sensor System – Monitors wave conditions, marine life and pollution levels.  Provide real-time information to stakeholders in the Irish maritime economy, runs on a cloud computing platform, and is able to predict water conditions critical to those stakeholders.

Innovative Water Management Vendors

The Artemis Project held its second annual Artemis Project Top 50 Water Companies Competition during the spring of 2010.   These vendors are all coming up with some very innovative and creative solutions to Water Management issues.  Check out the winners:  A list of the 50 is here.   View a poster show of this year’s winners here.

What Is Needed

More work is needed as we transform the water infrastructure to digital technology:

  • Continue to Build Awareness for Water Issues.  Many in leadership positions are not aware of the critical need for water management information technology solutions.
  • Continue Market Testing & Solutions Platform Development.  Technology vendors need to continue to build assets and test solution platforms.  Stronger linkages are needed across the growing ecosystem.
  • Continue to Build Thought Leadership Deliverables.  Tech vendors need to develop content highlighting case studies, references, demonstrations, and white papers.

For More Information

There is a bunch of more reading material available.  Here some links…

CEO Survey: Trends in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Penske - 2010 3PL CEO Survey Last week, Penske Logistics  and Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration jointly released the 17th Annual Survey of Third-Party Logistics Providers at the annual conference of Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).   The conference was attended by over 3,100 supply chain professionals from 41 countries.

The survey of 31 CEOs from leading third-party logistic providers provides a view into important trends and issues within the Supply Chain Management industry.  The surveyed companies represent important players in the supply chain market ecosystem within North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. 

I took a look at the report and here are my key takeaways:

  • Revenue Outlook is Improving.   25 of the 31 CEOs surveyed reported their companies were profitable during 2010.  Three reported they broke even and another three reported their companies were unprofitable.  The CEOs in all three regions were considerably more bullish about future revenue growth prospects of not only their companies, but also the regional 3PL industry that the previous year’s survey findings.
  • Progress Being Made In Sustainability.  While there is still much more work to be done with regard to sustainability, there seems to be some progress.  Fourteen of the 31 companies reported that they began new green initiatives during the past 12 months and all but 6 of the companies now have formal sustainability groups within their companies.
  • Near-Shoring As A Trend.   27 of the 31 CEOs report that manufacturing customers have begun to move toward “near-shoring” options during the past year.  Drives of this trend include quality control issues and a desire to reduce fuel usage (both for cost reasons and to help curtail carbon emissions)
  • Focus on Risk Management.  The report findings indicate CEOs have been busy implementing new business practices related to risk management/risk sharing; business continuity planning; performance based contracts; and enhanced vendor qualifications.   Pressure on 3PLs to share risk with their clients has increased, with 28 of the 31 CEOs reporting that their companies now have performance-based contracts with many of their clients.
  • Opportunities for Growth.  CEOs in all three regions ranked the overall growth of the market for outsourcing services as the most important opportunity.   Other opportunities include differentiating on sustainability capabilities and opportunities related to expansion of service offerings.

The full report is available for download at http://www.penskelogistics.com/pdfs/2010_Lieb_Exec_Sum.pdf

Scientific American: 20 World Changing Ideas in Science

Scientific American 20 World Changing Ideas Scientific American published an article back in December titled “World Changing Ideas” that caught my eye.   The article provides a laundry list of ideas that Scientific American says have the potential to improve our lives and our planet.  The magazine has been running similar articles on an annual basis for a number of years.

The December article covers ideas in five general categories (Energy,Transportation, Environment, Electronics, and Health) that highlight the power of science and technology to improve the world.

Here’s a summary of some of the 20 ideas from this article


  • Pay for solar panels on your house like you pay for a house mortgage.
  • Biofuels from genetically engineered plants.
  • Innovations in Nuclear Power production that can stem nuclear proliferation
  • Smart meters in the home
  • Wind Power harvested from a fleet of high-flying giant kites or windmills


  • Plug-in hybrid trucks for short-haul cargo trips
  • Subway-like bus lines


  • Someday the oceans might be regulated by a worldwide marine planning and zoning committee
  • Harvesting energy trapped in garbage via a technology called plasma gasification
  • Cement that naturally absorbs carbon dioxide as it hardens
  • Introducing new honeybee colonies to our farms
  • Developing crops that can handle saltwater


  • HP’s Central Nervous System for the Earth (CeNSE) project
  • Smartphones that can act as real-time language translators
  • Advances in Personal Robotics


  • Biomarkers can help understand the causes of complex diseases
  • Satellites can help track and predict the spread of diseases
  • Better and cheaper ways to help blood clot quicker
  • Performing blood tests in real time by putting a drop of blood on a computer chip
  • Innovations in dental care.

The 20 ideas above are all interesting and innovative trends in science and technology.  Some I would say are more ‘world changing’ than other ideas.  And I am sure we could all come up with another 20 trends / ideas in science that are not listed above.

There’s much more detail in the article.  Scientific American articles are available to subscribers only, but at the time of the writing of this post, I found the article at Scribd here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/23475128/20-World-Changing-Ideas.  Also…you can listen to a podcast where Scientific American magazine Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina and editor Michael Moyer talk about the "World Changing Ideas" feature ( Download this podcast ). 

Friday Gadget: The Spruce Whale – An aircraft we’ll see in 2095?

BlueWhaleI’ve been doing these Friday gadget posts for almost three years now.  For me, these Friday gadget posts are not only about having fun on a Friday, but have always been about imagining the future.  What types of products will future generations have that will make their life easier?  In addition, how will emerging technologies play?

For this week’s post, I found a concept by designer Reindy Allendra for an aircraft we might see in 85 years.  Randy calls it the WB-1010 but affectionately also calls it the Spruce Whale (named after the famous Spruce Goose).  He’s entered the design into a KLM design contest.

According to the design specs, the WB-1010 (named after the Wright Brothers)  will be constructed from material made of thin layers of metal and glass fibre. Other featured include:

  • Ability to harvest wind energy into electricity.
  • An extractable robotic stand would also be used during the craft’s vertical landings.
  • Seats for more than 1500 people.
  • It can reach speeds of over 600mph
  • Helium injected in the body makes the plane lighter

For more, see Randy’s post at Yanko Design here http://www.yankodesign.com/2009/10/14/the-spruce-whale/

House Passes Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009

Wind energy currently makes up 2% of the total energy generation in the United States, but there is the potential for it to provide up to 20% with the right improvements in turbine technology, forecasting, energy storage, and expansion of transmission systems.

So it is great to see that the U.S. lawmakers are starting to focus on this area.  Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009.  The bill, if eventually signed into law, would authorize a comprehensive program to improve the efficiency, reliability and cost effectiveness of domestic wind energy systems.

The bill would authorize the Secretary of Energy to carry out a program of research and development to improve the energy efficiency, reliability, and capacity of wind turbines; optimize the design and adaptability of wind energy systems; and reduce the cost of construction, generation, and maintenance of wind energy systems.

Specifically, this program would include:

  • Examination of new materials and designs to make larger, lighter, less expensive, and more reliable motor blades
  • Technologies to improve gearbox performance and reliability
  • Technologies to improve transmission from remotely located renewable resource rich areas
  • Low-cost transportable towers greater than 100 meters in height
  • Advanced computational modeling tools, control systems, blade sensors and advanced generators
  • Wind technology for offshore applications
  • Automation, materials, and assembly of large-scale components
  • Methods to assess and mitigate the effects of wind energy systems on radar and electromagnetic fields
  • Wind turbines with a maximum electric power production capacity of 100 kilowatts or less

The bill authorizes $200 million dollars per year from 2010 through 2014 for these programs.

Let’s hope this bill, or something like it, makes it way into law.

For more information

How Electric Utility Companies Are Adapting to Climate Change

I caught some news that the IBM Electric Utilities team is having a web-launch of an IBM sponsored report that reveals how electric utility companies around the world are adapting to climate change, based on their responses to the Carbon Disclosure Project 2008 questionnaire.   Sounds like an interesting report.  Find out how to attend the web-launch below.

The launch event explores the actions taken by electric utilities to assess and manage the risks brought about by climate change, whilst also identifying the opportunities that a changing climate will have on their business models.   It analyzes the current energy challenges, specific drivers for adaptation and provides senior executive level guidance on the actions needed to adapt and build business resilience to the impacts of climate change.   The report also recognizes that adaptation is an increasingly critical issue for governments, regulators, investors and the financial markets.

This unique event will also give the audience an opportunity to ask key questions to our expert panel. The report will address:

  • The Energy Revolution: this century will see unprecedented urbanization and intense competition for scarce resources, driven by population growth and economic development. A changing climate will exacerbate these challenges.
  • These climate impacts add up to significant changes in the demand for electricity against a backdrop of supply challenges, ageing assets, new technology, prescriptive regulation and impacts on asset performance and efficiency.
  • What will a successful electricity company of the future look like? Companies need to act upon the clear signals that climate change is already underway.
  • Consumer preferences and needs will also change; markets will open up in new locations and for new products and services. Those businesses that do not react fast enough will lose out to their competitors, whilst those that recognize the opportunities will gain competitive advantage and become electricity sector leaders.

As each year goes by and action is delayed, the direct and indirect costs arising from changing climatic conditions will increase, threatening the sustainability of those companies that are slow to react.

: At the launch event, the authors of the report will highlight the key points from the report and in the final session will form a panel to take questions from the audience.

  • Welcome address – Graham Butler, Executive Partner, Energy and Utilities Industry Leader, IBM UKISA
  • CDP context – James Howard, Project Director, The Carbon Disclosure Project
  • Introduction to the report – Michael Valocchi, Partner, Global Energy & Utilities Industry Leader, IBM
  • Building business resilience – John Firth, Chief Executive Officer, Acclimatise
  • IBM viewpoint – Graham Butler
  • Question and Answer session – Panel

TO REGISTER :  You can register to attend the launch by clicking at this link
Those not attending should register to access the replay easily.

8 Emerging CleanTech Investment Areas

A new report is claiming that, with an aggressive infrastructure investment, eight emerging technologies could meet 60 % of new energy demand by 2020.  It is also claiming that we could abate more CO2 than is necessary for climate stabilization in just 10 years.  

The report, titled  "The Gigaton Throwdown", was developed with the support of many, many people who are tied to the cleantech industry.  The effort was led, in part, by Sunil Paul, who is a founder of Silicon Valley’s Spring Ventures.

The report estimates that if annual global private investment in cleantech tripled between now and 2020, clean energy investments would be in line with fossil-fuel investments.   It is a lofty goal, but the authors say that if we are able to shift investment into ready cleantech solutions, the results would be world changing:  climate mitigation, energy security and 5 million new jobs planetwide.

The report highlights the eight emerging clean technology solution areas that are ready for investment and could yield the stated goals.

  1. Biofuels
  2. Building Efficiency
  3. Concentrating Solar Power
  4. Construction Materials
  5. Geothermal
  6. Nuclear
  7. Solar Photovoltaics
  8. Wind

According to the report each of the eight solutions listed above could feasibly deliver one giagaton of global energy, and each could avoid one gigaton of emissions from being discharged into the atmosphere by 2020, thus the idea for the name of the report.

Apparently the authors considered plug-in electric vehicles , but the projected adoption of this technology is predicted to be too slow to have an impact by 2020.

For more information:

Looking to 2050: Ten Challenges For The Human Race

Peter Schwartz is recognized internationally as a futurist and strategist.  He honed his skills at Royal Dutch/Shell Group in London, where he led a widely respected scenario planning effort.   He has written a number of interesting books about the future, including The Art of the Long View. 

This past May he gave the commencement address at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  During the address, he outlined ten longer term challenges for the human race as we look forward to the next 40-50 years.  He encouraged the graduates to come up with innovative solutions to these challenges. 

The top challenges Schwartz outlined are:

  1. Creating long-term solutions to meet our energy demands sustainably.
  2. Launching a bio-industrial revolution with sustainable manufacturing.
  3. Understanding and enhancing the human brain to avert age-related impairments.
  4. Improving agriculture to reduce costs and increase its energy and water efficiency.
  5. Building sustainable cities through better urban planning and "smart architecture”.
  6. Stimulating job growth and economic development.
  7. Fusing the technological with the spiritual and aesthetic dimensions of human culture.
  8. Advancing technological instruments to drive scientific discovery forward.
  9. Harnessing biological tools to advance human evolution.
  10. Discovering new ways to lower the costs and environmental impact of space flight and development.  

The list above is an interesting list.  I am not sure that these are the top ten most important challenges, but each of the above ten are certainly important. 

Some comments…

  • Energy tops his list and it is hard to argue that it should not be there.  I can’t see the demand for energy going down anytime soon and we need to figure out how to transition to clean energy. 
  • Improving agriculture processes in developing nations will have have a significant impact on the economy and quality of life.
  • Building smarter and sustainable cities is a very large challenge as the number of megacities grow and grow.
  • Number 9 on his list, “Harnessing biological tools to advance human evolution” sounds both scary and beneficial at the same time.
  • Regarding number 10, with announced plans to go back to the moon and to Mars, we will need innovative ways to travel through space and live at the destinations we travel to.

It is worth pointing out that many on the list kind of fall under the push for a smarter planet.

If you want to read a transcript of Peter Schwartz’s commencement address, check out http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2585

Can you think of any other challenges Schwartz’s list?  The only one that comes to my mind right now is the never ending desire to live in a world free from war and conflict, but I don’t suppose for one minute that that will be solved in the next 40-50 years.