Bust out the recycle bins and reusable packaging. If you're not thinking about all the ways to go green, you're way behind the curve. Sure, clean-tech has been the darling of the venture capital community for a few years now (the sector nabbed $424 billion in 2009 and received 17 percent of all angel investment last year, up from 8 percent in 2008)--but something far more relevant is brewing on the ground level.
Namely, the other kind of green. Sustainable profitability is the catchphrase these days, says Micah Kotch, director of operations of New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy. Since launching in July 2009, NYC ACRE has signed on 10 companies that have raised $8 million and created 60 new jobs, and a few of them are already generating revenue. "The climate piece is secondary," he says. "The bottom line drives business decisions, and the recent rise of green business accelerators illustrates this phenomenon."
Best of all, plenty of clean-tech companies are trying to make money by saving other businesses money. ThinkEco, one of
ACRE's tenants, has devised
an energy-efficiency "modlet" to regulate outlet power and shave as
much as 20 percent off energy bills (it should pay for itself in six months).
ClearEdge Power offers a fuel-cell powered energy system that benefits smaller
commercial establishments (one hotelier has lowered utility costs by 25
percent, and carbon dioxide emissions by 36 percent).
Even corporations and the government are in on it. Chili's restaurants, for instance, are installing LED lighting to save an estimated $3.7 million annually; and federal agencies will spend $19 billion by 2015 on technologies like cloud computing and green hardware to reduce energy consumption.
"When things change, there are opportunities and investments to be made--and jobs created," says Kotch, channeling his inner Captain Planet. Indeed, the power is totally yours. --J.W.