Ford EcoBoost Cuts CO2 Emissions by 15%, Improves Gas Mileage

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend the day at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, MI checking out the new technologies, green and otherwise, for their new 2009 model year.

One of the key green technologies that was on display was the EcoBoost engine.

By Ford claims, the EcoBoost engine reduces CO2 emissions by 15% while improving highway gas mileage by 2mpg without reducing power.

In fact, the Lincoln MKS will have a 340 horsepower engine behind it while using the new technology. Ford boasts v8 power and torque with V6 fuel efficiency.

From my conversations with hybrid owners, one of the main complaints is the sometimes atrocious power and mileage associated. As in software development, a great product is the kind of product that does its job and gets out of the way of its users. If you spend time dealing with the hybridness of a hybrid without enjoying your driving experience in the short and long term, then it’s a failure of product development.

Though Ford has taken significant steps to improve their Hybrid offering, EcoBoost provides a concept and solution that takes environmentally conscious and fun to the next level.

When I say fun, I really do mean fun.

As with almost all of the 2009 model year cars, I had the chance to drive the MKS out on the track. It is a luxury vehicle by all accounts as the successor to the famous Lincoln Towncar. Comfortable inside with seat coolers and a sleek luxury sedan appearance on the outside, I had no idea I was driving an environmentally friendly car while I was behind the wheel. The product got out of my way, and let me enjoy the experience.

Ecoboost Engine

Ford on the Environment

Ford has gone to great lengths in other areas to be more environmentally sound as well.

  • Seats in the new Ford Flex and other vehicles made of all organic compounds,
  • Four models of hybrids: Mercury Mariner, Ford Escape, Ford Focus and Ford Flex,
  • Use of Coconut, sugar cane, soy and other organic resins and compounds in areas of vehicles, including radiator heat shields,
  • Optimization of fuel systems to allow all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury to run on regular unleaded fuel, as opposed to premium octane,
  • Ongoing R&D into hydrogen-powered fuel cells

Mustang Bullitt (or, some good things come in non-environmental packages)

Ford Mustang Bullitt

With all that being said, my favorite vehicle at the track was the limited edition 2009 Ford Mustang Bullitt (yes, inspired by the movie) which has no trappings of being an environmentally conscious vehicle, but is oh so sexy with it’s brushed aluminum interior, and smooth 5-speed transmission. And I want. :)

5 Things Small Businesses Can Do To "Be Green"

The last few years have really seen a push toward making everything “green”. Generally this means supporting efforts and organizations that help the individual offset their “carbon footprint” or the environmental impact they have on planet earth. On the business side, large companies in the past did things like installing systems to make their buildings more energy efficient or improve sustainability. What characterizes a green business is that it is run in such a way as to conserve natural resources, eliminate waste and remain ecologically in balance. So where does that leave small businesses?

Small businesses which comprise up to 97% of the businesses across the United States (Source: SBA) have been kind of left out because it requires large investments that are not really feasible. In support of “Green Week” here at Technosailor, we have taken a look at different ways small businesses, even a one-person shop, can “be green” while not negatively impacting their bottom line. We have come up with five simple things that businesses can do to “Be Green”.

Promote Telework at least one day a week

During these hot summer days, running the A/C in many offices is extremely expensive because of rising fuel prices. As winter will be fast approaching, heating bills will be going up which means you might have to raise prices or not hire someone because you can’t afford it. Keeping the power off and having everyone telework from home or a coffee house at least one day a week can really cut down on the impact employees have on overhead costs. If you are a small firm you are probably utilizing services (e.g. web conferencing, VPN, VoIP) that make everything virtual, so having people work remotely might not be a far stretch.

While many offices still need to have people in the office for meetings, smarter scheduling can still keep the “Water Cooler” environment that all business need in some way. A good way to start is to have it come from the top down as a mandate that Monday or Friday as work remotely day. Tell everyone that power and AC/Heating will be shut off that day so that they know if they come into the office it isn’t going to be a comfortable ice box with everyone around. As more people get into the routine you will be surprised how fast you could take this to two or three days a week and really keep energy costs low.

Offer mass transit voucher/reimbursement program

Living here in the DC area there is a pretty good mass transit system with the Metro. They have a program called SmartBenefits where you can actually load their Metro Cards with a certain dollar value. This can also be done as a pre-tax benefit and you could reimburse the employee because they have the incentive to use mass transit instead of their car.

Offer incentives to be eco-friendly even outside of their job

Now metro and buses are not everywhere and not everyone lives right near easy access mass transit, so people must use their car. In this case, many companies have begun to offer a subsidy for using a hyrid vehicle. For example, Livingston Communications CEO, Geoff Livingston offers his employees a $1000 subsidy toward buying a hybrid vehicle.

Recycle Office Equipment

If you have operated your business for any length of time you probably have office equipment that is collecting dust and if simply thrown away would hurt the environment. There is a great site, called UsedComputer.com, that has all the resources on where to take your electronics. Officefurniture.org has a list of resources on what to do with old printer toner and office furniture that can found here.

Buy Green

This is the way to support other businesses that are going green and in a way motivates others if it becomes a preference by many companies as part of their vendor selection process. SmallBizTrends.com refers to two studies done on the impact of whether people care to “Buy Green”. They found:

A recent survey by Landor Associates suggests that the majority (58%) of consumers do not care whether a business is green. According to the survey, that still leaves 42% who are interested to some degree in the environment.

Another set of market research “” more extensive “” was done by the Natural Marketing Institute for LOHAS. LOHAS stands for consumers with Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. The LOHAS research found that 23% of the U.S. adult population is “œclassified as a LOHAS consumer, meaning that they have a profound sense of environmental and social responsibility.” These are the people most likely to buy green products.

Twenty-three percent of the U.S. adult population is no shabby number “” it exceeds 50 million people. So obviously a decent-sized market exists.

Good examples of this are buying biodegradable office supplies or looking for companies that incorporate green behavior as a part of their production/manufacturing process.

Green Comes to Technosailor.com

Next week is a very special week here at technosailor.com. We are going to have a very heavy emphasis on “green” technology and all the major verticals will be contributing in one way or another.

Energy costs are sky high, Bush is badgering Congress to lift the ban on off-shore drilling, and computer manufacturers are bandying around trying to create the most energy efficient server – something I’m very interested in discussing with manufacturers, I might add.

There are plenty of energy alternatives to be had, from solar to nuclear to conventional oil, should the supply permit it. Our cars can be used less by telecommuting. We can all be smarter about the way we live our lives.

Our focus is, obviously, slanted toward technology and so we want to try to find the best ways to use the technology available to save the resources we have, keep costs down and maybe, increase the quality of life for all of us.

Next week, I’ll be making a brief trip to Dearborn, MI to visit Ford and see their next line new technologies for the new line of cars. I’ll be paying close attention to the technologies surrounding Hybrid vehicles, etc. Look for reports here.

The Jolly Green Bubble

Earth Day was yesterday. I my college years all that meant to me was that the band Green Day was coming to town to play. Now it means “save the planet, if it can make us money”.

“Greed, I mean Green is Good”

CNN, the New York Times, Business Week, Advertising Age, “Good Morning America,” the Sundance Channel, Reuters, the Discovery Channel, Marketplace radio, and a slew of local papers. Newpapers? You kill trees to create a huge insert about Earth Day. Is that not the stupidest thing you have ever heard. And a surprising number seem to have some variation of the same two questions:

“Is all of this focus on the greening of business merely a fad? When will the bubble burst?”

Green tech and marketing means green dollar signs for companies like GE, Disney and BP. NBC has created this load of crap called “green week” for their TV shows which is a thinly veiled attempt to sell their “green” products sold by their parent company GE. Disney announced a new “green movie” division which will capitalize on people’s concern with the environment so they can get more ticket revenues and DVD’s sold. BP is all about alternative energy these days and while they have been the most progressive when it comes to solar and natural gas they are really doing it to hedge their position as oil prices rise and people are ready for an alternative that must come within the next five years. I mean have you filled your tank lately? Bought a loaf of bread? It is crazy and things definitely must change.

There are motivating factors that support the argument that “Green is Good”. Here is the bullet list from a post by Joel Makower:

  1. The problems aren’t getting any better.
  2. The political will is finally emerging.
  3. Consumers are waking up.
  4. The supply chain is gaining power.
  5. The environment has become a fiduciary issue.
  6. The bar keeps moving.
  7. Companies are moving beyond “sustainability.”
  8. More companies are telling their stories.
  9. Clean technology is changing the game.
  10. There’s money to be made.

The bubble is growing

I am the farthest from a bleeding heart liberal, tree-hugging, save the polar bears person you will find. Although Polar Bears are just so darn cute I am not turning my air conditioner down during a heat wave in the DC area this summer to save them. I am also not a cold-blooded oil junkie who thinks that this global warming thing is a myth. I just think that the real intentions of being concerned for our environment has caused the investment community to pop its head out of its butt and see greedy potential to fund investments in everything “green”.

Since most of us survived the tech bubble we have learned our lessons and despite the Web 2.0 wave causing a mini investment bubble, we still have kept most of our sanity because the IPO market really hasn’t returned and the M&A wave is slowing down too. Most who couldn’t get jobs when the tech bubble burst left the industry and you guessed it, become real estate agents and mortgage brokers. As some people bounce from bubble to bubble, we will probably start seeing “Environmental
Consultants” and “Green Advisors” to, and pardon this one, “advise and recommend to companies how they can become more green and offset their impact on the environment”.

With the rising price of oil we are near a tipping point where many technologies are on par with the cost of traditional fuel so it will start to make economic sense in some cases. Where it doesn’t make sense is to stop growing wheat so you can grow corn for Ethanol (which takes 2/3 of a gallon of gas to produce a gallon of ethanol) causing wheat and rice shortages around the world. Right now in developed nations people spend 10% of their income on food and in developing nations it is around 80%. We have enough food to feed the planet but we just can’t afford to get it there. If we start diverting resources in the name of “green living” to make ourselves feel better the ramifications might be worse than we could imagine.

Oh crap, the Government is getting involved

The state of the government getting involved is a mess. I think Thomas Friedman sums it up well. “Some lawmakers are pushing corn ethanol from Iowa, either because they hail from that area and are looking to give more welfare to farmers by wasting money on an alternative fuel that will never reach the scale of what is needed, or because they plan to run in the Iowa caucuses. Others are pushing huge subsidies to turn coal into gasoline, because they come from coal states. Those who don’t come from Michigan want higher mileage standards imposed on Detroit, while those who come from Michigan prefer to continue their assisted suicide of the U.S. auto industry by blocking tougher mileage requirements.”

So you ready to call me “chicken little” yet?

You really call this “Green Investing”?

In the venture community we are seeing new funds popping up dedicated to “Green Investing” which in a diversified portfolio is good for funding innovations that will only help our world. What is really scary is many funds without the proper background to invest in this sector are jumping all over anything with buzzwords like “alternative energy”, “biofuels” and “eco-friendly”. VC’s like John Doerr cry when they talk about the environment and are dumping millions into companies that do things like nano-solar and grid optimization technologies. Hedge funds like Winslow Green Growth Fund are seeing their portfolios transform with the rush of new companies and new investments.

I hear a popping sound….

There are two popping scenarios:

1. Green will index within the mainstream and become ubiquitous.
It sticks. People keep pushing corporations to deeper levels of sustainability. Greenwashers fall on their face because it’s an unfulfilled promise, and then they mean it and real change happens. Green becomes ubiquitous. Smaller, plucky green companies struggle to regain any competitive advantage. When everything is green, green means nothing. (The study of green language is already there.)

2. It’s a fad and will vanish back to the margins of our society.
Green Fever goes away because it is a trend, a fad. News stories drop off, the chasing arrows shrink smaller on the back of packaging again, people stop bragging that their letterhead is 100% FCS Certified and Acid Free. Some small vestiges will still remain, and progress will have been made. New products were launched and the consumers will be more aware. But the trend died… popped.

Final thoughts…

I do believe we are economically in trouble as a country and I do believe that we are beginning to see the beginnings of a “green bubble”. However, as with bubbles like the tech bubble we saw massive innovation that benefits us to this day. So while there will be many bull**it artists and charlitans convincing investors they can solve the planets problems there will be innovation that will benefit us and the entire planet. I would just caution people on two things – don’t invest in every “Green IPO” when the fundamentals don’t work and don’t transfer your career into this field unless you are already in it or willing to passionately stay in it the rest of your life. We don’t need armies of unemployed “green consultants” trying to come back to tech in five years when the bubble bursts, because it eventually will.

Please leave your comments below, I want to hear from the evil oil people, the treehuggers and especially the Polar Bear lovers.