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Berlin green economy investor nominates six European start-ups for the Green Alley Award in November 2015



Vertical greenhouses, designer tables made of solar modules and black soldier flies as a source of protein – these and other ideas are among the finalists for the 2015 Green Alley Awards, Europe’s first start-up prize for the circular economy.

Out of 100 applicants, six start-ups with roots in the UK, Ireland, Israel and Germany qualified for the finals, which will be held on 4th November 2015 in Berlin. The start-up competition was launched in 2014 by Green Alley Investment GmbH and the German crowdfunding platform Seedmatch and emphasizes on the challenges posed by throw-away societies, resource scarcity and the recovery of raw materials. This year, the European Recycling Platform (ERP) UK and the London accelerator Bethnal Green Ventures have also joined as partners.

“The development of new approaches to and solutions for the handling of resources and waste is a task that doesn’t stop at national borders,” says Jan Patrick Schulz, Managing Director of Green Alley Investment GmbH. “That’s why we expanded the competition across Europe this year. With the Green Alley Award, we have created an incentive for young entrepreneurs to turn their attention towards the enormous potential of waste as a resource and to develop business models for a sustainable circular economy. For us, the fact that 100 start-ups from 17 countries took up this challenge is a positive signal and evidence of the innovative thinking that Europe urgently needs.”

Jens-Uwe Sauer, CEO of Seedmatch says: “The number and quality of the applications demonstrates the potential in sustainable business models. We’re delighted that across Europe, start-ups want to develop ecological innovations and introduce them on the market, thereby generating fresh impulses economically and socially. In the end, some really exciting trends emerged. We’re thus eager to meet the founder teams at the finals in November and hear their live pitches.”

Of 100 start-ups from 17 countries around the world, six qualified for the finals in Berlin. The business models of the Green Alley Award finalists show just how multifaceted the issue of waste is and how diversely it can be approached:

Adaptavate: They may be invisible, but they’re behind almost all our walls and ceilings: plasterboards. More than 500,000 tons accumulate as waste every year – as either superfluous cuttings when new buildings are erected or scrap when old ones are demolished. This waste must be disposed of separately from other building materials because it emits toxins like sulfate. The British start-up Adaptavate offers an eco-friendly, even breathable alternative. Its product, Breathaboard, is made up to 75 percent from agricultural waste and is fully compostable.

Binee: To optimize the collection and recycling of electronic waste, consumers in Germany can now return their used electrical and electronic devices directly at major retailers. Once a huge logistical challenge for both parties, this process has become a convenient and playful service thanks to the smart trash bin developed by German start-up Binee. A camera installed in the bin automatically recognizes the deposited device, while a paired app provides the user with important information about his or her electric waste – and, naturally, rewards bonus points for deposits.

Entocycle: To satisfy the human hunger for fish and meat, 70 percent of agricultural land is used for growing feed – at significant cost to the climate and environment. The solution? Hermetia illucens, the black soldier fly that British start-up Entocycle wants to breed systematically. Though not so appetizing for humans, the protein suppliers are a hot topic in agriculture; as deployed by Entocycle, they have the ability to solve two problems at the same time. When the larvae feed on organic waste, they significantly reduce the volume of that waste and at the same time become an animal feed rich in protein and nutrients.

InFarm: Foodstuffs don’t just spoil in our refrigerators; transport and bad storage can lead to waste before fruit and vegetables even land on our plates. Fresh, locally produced fruits and veggies can not only curb food waste, but help avoid the polluting effects of transport over thousands of kilometers. That’s why Infarm, a Berlin start-up with Israeli roots, wants to bring the cultivation of fruits and vegetables back to where people actually live: these days, in cities. Its vertical greenhouses can be used in supermarkets, restaurants and office buildings.

Solstrøm Furniture: The solar industry is growing, and with it, a new recycling challenge; photovoltaic systems have a lifespan of around 20 years, after which they must be replaced. Europe will thus soon be facing the first wave of PV disposal. But thanks to German start-up Solstrøm, the lifespan of some PV modules can now be extended. Through upcycling, the modules become chic designer office tables with a little something extra: they can supply laptops and mobile phones directly with solar power.

Votechnik: Almost everyone has an LCD television at home. But who’s ever considered what happens to that television when it dies? The device contains toxic substances like mercury and liquid crystals, which must be specially disposed of, making recycling difficult. But the Irish start-up Votechnik has now developed a patented solution for safely removing the toxic elements in an automated process, thereby considerably facilitating the work of electronic waste recyclers.

The stage is set for 4th November. In live pitches, these six finalists will have three minutes each to convince an international jury of experts from the start-up and recycling industries of their ideas, then stand up to questions about their business models. The winner of the Green Alley Award will receive a package of cash and non-cash benefits valued at up to 20,000 euros as well as a chance at financing through investment or crowdfunding.

About the Green Alley Award

The Green Alley Award is awarded annually to entrepreneurs and start-ups from the circular economy. The organiser of the Green Alley Award is an alliance of partners from the international green economy and the European start-up scene. The award started in 2014 from a collaboration between green economy investor Green Alley and Germany’s leading crowdfunding platform Seedmatch. This year Green Alley and Seedmatch have expanded their search for green ideas across Europe and specifically to London and Berlin, the leading global start-up capitals. In UK two new partners have joined the award organisers: Bethnal Green Ventures, the London based accelerator programme for people who want to change the world using technology, as well as the European Recycling Platform (ERP) UK, a recycling service for electronic waste and batteries. Under the motto “connecting green ideas from Berlin to London” Green Alley, Seedmatch, ERP UK and Bethnal Green Ventures are searching for innovative products, services or technologies that recycle waste, conserve resources and raise awareness of the issue of recycling.

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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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