2010trends green header Kleiner Perkins & Green Packaging Inc. Leading GreenStream

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

While there were flickers of the green movement in the 1960s only recently have we seen an explosion in the green sector. Much like plastics in the early 1970s, starry-eyed investors are lining up at the door to invest in sustainable technology because it is not just a trend, it is necessary for a sustainable future. Whether it’s green innovation from Kleiner Perkins or sustainable packaging, the eco-sector is booming.

Examples

Green Funding — Venture capital firms are funding powerhouses and every year, more are turning to the green sector to invest. Last year, the venture capital firm that helped usher in some of the most successful tech companies (most famously Google), Kleiner Perkins launched their $500 million Green Growth Fund.

“Many socially responsible investors are under the impression that there needs to be a tradeoff between social impact and financial returns. We believe it’s possible to have both and tradeoff is not always necessary,” said Josh Cohen, managing partner at the VC firm City Light Capital. However, many green companies are challenged to create not only a functional product, but a positive user experience. For instance, if an eco-car takes a long time to hit 60-mph, its functionality hinders its potential for success.

Green Packaging Inc. — “Designers are the architects of how we interact with the world around us,” says Krista Svalbonas, a Graphic Design Instructor at The Art Institute of New York City. “They have the ability to shape our relationships with products.” Green Packaging Inc. speaks to the green movement in the design world. Providing sustainable packaging (with eco-materials), Green Packaging Inc and other green collar designers are finding new and innovative ways to stretch their thinking to make a sustainable impact.

Stats

  • The pool of socially responsible investment dollars in the United States has now grown to $2.34 trillion and the second quarter of this year has seen a 12% increase in clean tech investment, a $1.2 billion upswing.
  • Though “green” products typically cost more, 80% of consumers are still buying green products and services today, according to Green Seal and EnviroMedia Social Marketing. Half of the 1,000 people surveyed buy just as many green products now as before the economic downturn, while 19 percent say they are buying more green products.
  • Hewlett Packard ranked #1 on Newsweeks’ Green Study. Newsweek says, “[Hewlett Packard has] strong programs to reduce GHG emissions. The first major IT company to report GHG emissions associated with its supply chain. Has made an effort to remove toxic substances from its products, but Greenpeace has targeted it for failing to do better.”
  • Intel took the no. 1 spot on Fortune’s Green Power Partnership Challenge, using 1.3 billion kWh in annual green power usage.

Take Aways

  • What is your green edge? It’s more than just hanging a big sign that scares people into recycling. It’s time to rally your team to get serious about sustainability.
  • Being green isn’t special in and of itself. Consumers are expecting more. Today, green is merely the cost of doing business so entrepreneurs and industry leaders need to do something extraordinary to stand out.
  • While a green mission is a kind gesture to consumers and the environment, it should not interfere with the end product. If, for instance, you’re new eco-vehicle cannot make it to 0-60 in 20 seconds, the cost of a poor driving experience will outweigh the eco benefits.

Predictions

  • Hybrids are a short-term answer to a much deeper issue. Kliener Perkins and other green VC funds will ultimately deliver a vehicle that has the horsepower of a petro-auto with the fuel efficiency of a green car. The results of venture capital-backed companies will drastically change the way we drive.
  • Lexus paved the green path for luxury auto makers. As green becomes the cost of doing business, other luxury brands will incorporate a sustainability element into their product.
  • There is a war waging between petro-backed lobbyists and eco-conscious activists — one denying global warming, the other backing it. Unfortunately, people will be caught in the crossfire. With campaigns supporting each view point there will be more confusion about global warming than ever.
  • Several of China’s metropolitan areas are covered in a thick, pollution-filled fog. As the emerging super-power makes significant economic gains, the country will address the cost of unsustainable petro-consumption.

Who’s On Trend

  • Kleiner Perkins
  • Green Packaging Inc.
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Whole Foods

Read all of the 2010 trends here. (PDF)

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