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The Green Life: Turning Green Into Green

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December 03, 2008

Turning Green Into Green

Money Cutting-edge green technologies that have the potential to improve quality of life, reduce environmental impact -- and make a lot of money. This last point has been traditionally ignored by many scientists and environmentalists. Climate change has been scientifically proven, so everyone should hop on the bandwagon, right? Wind power has the potential to create more jobs and revenue in the long run than mountaintop-removal mining, so let’s do it right?  Wrong!!

Despite the optimism of altruistic start-ups, for most entrepreneurs, the bottom line is still… well, the bottom line. Politicians, social activists, and businesses talk about greening the economy, but many of the world’s most popular sustainable business plans don't immediately turn profits.

MBA students and faculty at UC Berkeley are trying to address this problem by learning how to really sell a green business. According to the school:

Bringing clean tech innovations into the market place faster is the purpose of a new partnership launched this fall between scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and students of the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC), an interdisciplinary organization founded by MBA students at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

"Our students have developed a new model of collaboration across disciplines that can break through the bottlenecks that have so often prevented technology transfer from our labs and research centers into the commercial sector," says Jay Stowsky, Haas School senior assistant dean for instruction and former senior economist for science and technology with the White House Council of Economic Advisers.”

Armed with perspectives from business, law, public policy, engineering, and molecular biology, the students are assessing technologies that include a novel solar-chemical storage device, a breakthrough fabrication method for high-efficiency solid-state photovoltaic devices, and the use of ionic liquids to pre-treat biomass for conversion to biofuel.

Not too shabby. What do you think? I like the idea of a well-trained legion of aspiring green moguls wielding plans and patents. Let's hope they can convince venture capitalists and corporations that green isn’t just good for the environment -- it’s good business, too.

-- Mario Aguilar

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