22 March 2013

World Water Day: Why Plumbers Are Heroes

The old joke about the plumber's crack has gone dry. Especially on World Water Day.

But it's no joke: water and plumbing changes lives.

Here is a cool infographic I received from Able Skills, the UK-based construction training program on Why Plumbers Are Heroes (you can see an interactive version here):


As you can see from the infographic, clean water alone can reduce water-related deaths by 21 percent, improved sanitation alone can reduce such deaths by 37.5 percent, and simple hand-washing can reduce such deaths by 35 percent.

Today, according to UN-Water, "over 780 million people do not have access to improved sources of drinking water and 2.5 billion people are without improved sanitation."

2.5 billion. And we're well into the 21st Century, people.

Population growth, especially in cities, is driving increased water demand. Yet, even more startling is the fact that water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.

With the world population set to grow to 8 billion by 2025, water withdrawals are likely to increase by 50 percent in developing countries and by as much as 18 percent in already developed countries.

Not all of the water use is from the growth of our cities. In fact, only 8 percent of freshwater is tapped for domestic use. 70 percent of freshwater is used for irrigation and 25 percent goes to industrial uses.

Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources, according to UN-Water.

The World Bank estimates economic losses from lack of sanitation cost up to 7 percent of GDP in some countries.

So, on this World Water Day, tell your plumber how much you appreciate how they've made your water safe to use and readily available. And think about how you can get involved in addressing the issue of access to clean water and sanitation.

20 March 2013

What Will You Do to Make Someone Happy Today?

Today is the International Day of Happiness.

Do something to make someone happy.

Then do something to make yourself happy.

You just might find it's the same thing.

12 March 2013

My Year in EY's Global Cleantech Center

What a difference a year makes.

A year ago today I joined Ernst & Young's Global Cleantech Center as its global marketing director. Now, reflecting on the year just passed, I can say with confidence, it was a very good year.

The author testing out the Fisker Karma at EY's
Cleantech CEO Retreat, September 2012
We accomplished a lot -- not the least of which was my adjusting to life in such a large organization.

Prior to joining EY with its 152,000 employees, the largest organizations I'd worked for were The Nature Conservancy, with 4500 employees when I left, and the publisher Penguin USA, which was part of a larger multinational, but still felt at the time like a small house.

Moving from an entrepreneurial shop where I called the shots (and celebrated or suffered the consequences) to being more of an intrapreneur in a large firm brought challenges.

For the most part, these challenges were about having to negotiate or await approvals for public communications, contracts, and sponsorships.

Through it all, I've come to a deeper understanding of the importance of the firm's need to maintain independence, especially as it relates to EY's audit clients, which is the necessity for some of the restrictions.

USS MakinIsland (LHD 8)
Homeport:  NavalBase San Diego
Necessity is the mother of invention, as Plato said, and despite some of the challenges there have been some terrific successes as well. Some invented, some evolved.

Among them, our annual Cleantech CEO Retreat in Napa, California, to which we attracted some great entrepreneurs along with industry leaders and others to help cleantech CEOs wrestle with the pressing issues they face in the current climate.

For the event I scored Thomas Hicks, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, as keynote speaker.

Tom was energizing and inspiring as he shared the Navy plans to build the "Great Green Fleet" and make the transition to advanced biofuels and renewable energy on sea and shore. (And what slides! To see the biofueled aircraft carrier USS Makin Island up on the screen is awe inspiring to say the least.)

A report on our findings and insights from the retreat will be published shortly. Our other thought leadership pieces, white papers, and round table discussions on specific verticals can be found here.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of working at EY is the people, and I couldn't have thrived in (let alone survived) my first year without great colleagues and new friends like Sandra Feldner Vandergriff, Lily Donge, and Chris Walker, along with my team in the Global Cleantech Center.

Where the author spends most days.
People are EY's greatest asset, and the fact that the organization has remained on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list for 15 consecutive years attests to how much the firm values its employees.

In a time of major transition for me over the past year, this has been a great place to work with its trust-based environment allowing for workplace flexibility and providing the technology to keep me connected when out of the office. (Well, some of the technology could use an upgrade...)

My boss, EY's Global Cleantech Leader Gil Forer, has been a very supportive. He helped remove roadblocks where necessary, told me to ignore detours that would throw us off our goal, and always understood when I had to leave New York for Philadelphia to be with my kids.

I could not have been successful this year without the patience, faith, and love of my partner, Samantha Beinhacker, who went through her own powerful transition this year, and still found the energy to be supportive of me in ways both spiritual and material. Our journey together has been remarkable thus far and has only just begun.

As much as I reflect on the year behind me, I look forward to the year ahead, which will bring new opportunities and challenges as I continue to inform, evaluate, and convene on behalf of the cleantech sector.

And, as the sector comes out of the trough of disillusionment onto the slope of enlightenment, I hope we can continue to make a difference for the entrepreneurs, investors, and strategic partners with whom we work.

07 March 2013

Cheryl Martin of ARPA-E to Deliver Keynote at 5th Annual Mid-Atlantic Energy Tech Forum

The 5th Annual Energy Technology Investment Forum is shaping up really well since I first posted about it a couple of weeks ago. As April 17th approaches, we've been working hard to build-out our program.

Dr. Cheryl MartinWe just confirmed Dr. Cheryl Martin from ARPA-E as our keynote and have put together a top-notch Investor Panel, which I'll be moderating. 

Presenting company applications are due this Friday, March 8th, and already we have a stellar group of submissions -- making it harder to choose. 

Early Bird registration is good until March 15th. Register here today! 

Here are the latest details:

Blank Rome's Venture Group, the Cleantech Alliance Mid-Atlantic, and the Academy of Natural Sciences are pleased to host the 5th Annual Mid-Atlantic Energy Technology Forum which will feature a panel of experts and thought leaders discussing energy technology venture and corporate investing, as well as showcase of leading Mid-Atlantic energy technology companies. The program will include:

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Cheryl Martin, Deputy Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E).

Dr. Martin is responsible for the oversight of ARPA-E and leads ARPA-E's Technology-to-Market program, which helps breakthrough energy technologies succeed in the marketplace.
  Prior to joining ARPA-E, Dr. Martin was an Executive in Residence with Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California and spent 20 years with Rohm and Haas Company in various research and marketing roles before becoming the General Manager for the Paint and Coatings Materials business in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Energy Technology Investment Panel, including:
Andrew R. Garman, Managing Partner, New Venture Partners LLC
Diana Propper de Callejon, General Partner, Expansion Capital Partners, LLC
Purnesh Seegopaul, Ph.D., General Partner, Pangaea Ventures
Moderated by Scott E. Anderson, Cofounder, Cleantech Alliance Mid-Atlantic
Introduction to the EEB Hub by Laurie Actman, Deputy Director, EEB Hub
Cleantech Company Showcase (companies to be announced) introduced by Thomas P. Dwyer, co-chair of Blank Rome's Venture Group
Energy Technology Forum Call for Companies:
We are currently accepting applications for companies who wish to participate in the Energy Technology Forum Company Showcase. Click here to download the application. Forward completed applications by March 8 to Nikki Benner at Benner@BlankRome.com.

Want to be a sponsor of the Mid-Atlantic Energy Technology Forum? We are currently seeking providers of capital, technology entrepreneurs, and policy makers to participate in this forum as sponsors. Please contact Nikki Benner at Benner@BlankRome.com for more information.

(Disclosure: The author is co-founder and a board member of the Cleantech Alliance Mid-Atlantic, which is co-host for this event.)