.eco would be a good domain to have.

A year and a half ago or so, I was introduced to two guys in Vancouver who were trying to start a new top-level domain for companies and organizations doing good environmental work – .eco. Their resumes and backgrounds were impressive, and they seemed to really know what they were doing, but still, I thought, what are the chances that these two guys could actually create a new top-level domain?

Cut to last week, and I run into Trevor Bowden, one of .eco founders, and they have made truly remarkable progress.

What? from dot eco on Vimeo.

They just launched their website, doteco.info, which is great blend of useful information and videos about what they are trying to accomplish, ways to participate and help spread the message, and information about their current supporters (some of whom are truly impressive). All in a very nice looking website. Pulling off an informative and good-looking website about a new concept is very difficult.

They are gearing up for a presentation in 2010 to ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers . This is the organization responsible for the Internet’s naming system.

So what is .eco?

The .eco system will display current, detailed eco-information to anyone with a browser, anytime they need it, anywhere on the planet. It will do this by collecting information from people when they register .eco domain names for their companies, organisations, products, or even themselves and then displaying that information on a standardised, open platform.

What they want to do with .eco is very impressive. They would link it to verifiable environmental action, so those using the .eco domain would be showing off a badge that they had made progress on reducing their environmental impact.

Treehugger has a great article about what they are doing.

They have one major competitor, namely Al Gore and a group who are also trying to start a .eco top-level domain. I’m a big fan of Al Gore, but it’s kind of fun to watch some guys from Vancouver put together a very different and very compelling alternative to a .eco domain and see if they can give the bigwigs a run for their money.

I think the .eco domain is useful. A company like Toyota could assume that people going to toyota.eco would be at their site for specific reasons, and they could highlight their environmental products and policies and corporate initiatives front and centre. It could be a form of built-in audience segmentation (those who choose to visit a .eco version of the site instead of a .com), and not just a redirect to a main corporate site.

So check out doteco.info and see what it’s all about. It may be coming to an Internet near you…

An afternoon with Majora Carter.

It is days like this when I have to pinch myself for working at such an amazing organization.

Today Vancity helped bring Majora Carter to Vancouver to speak to a group called The Strathcona Business Improvement Association. They are a group dedicated to improving an area of Vancouver that could use some extra care to bounce back, and these business owners are playing an “important role in the business development, safety, security and street enhancement in Strathcona.” Part of their focus is to create a green business focus, making the neighbourhood an epicentre of sustainability in Vancouver.

Majora Carter gave a talk about how she helped bring back an area of the South Bronx through environmental renewal. Her TED talk is an inspiring story of economic injustice and an environmental response to it. Well worth watching.

Local Event: Sustainable Marketing by Design.

One of my very good friends, Ruben Anderson is giving a talk on Sustainable Marketing by Design. Ruben is an amazing guy, and has been a friend since we first met in our early days at UVic in 1989.

Here’s his bio according to the event site:

Ruben Anderson currently works for Metro Vancouver, helping integrate sustainable behaviour into multifamily buildings. Ruben consulted on future-proofed locally resilient systems for the City of Vancouver’s Sustainability Group and Planning Department, as well as for BC Housing and Industry Canada. He recently co-taught Ecological Perspectives on Design at the Emily Carr University. Ruben won the Cascadia Green Building Council’s Closing the Loop Energy Award in 2006, for a passive shading system designed for local manufacture and the use of Cradle to Cradle materials.

It is being put on by New Media BC, and should prove to be a great event.

Here are the details:
Date: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
Time: 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Place: Cossette West Building: 1085 Homer street – 5th Floor

Register here.

Bullfrog Power brings renewable energy to BC.

Bullfrog Power in British ColumbiaWhen I lived in LA, the utility company there had an option where I could pay a slight amount more for my power and as a result all my power would come from renewable sources. I jumped on board. It is important to me that I pay a little more to help fund initiatives providing green power to our grid.

When I moved to BC, I found no such option available to me. I wasn’t too worried, as so much of the power we generate comes from hydroelectric and is renewable. But we sell a lot of our clean energy at peak hours to the US and buy back their mostly coal fired electricity at night when the cost per kilowatt hour is a lot less.

So recently my friend Peter ter Weeme sent me a sign up for Bullfrog Power, an Eastern Canadian renewable energy company that was moving into BC. Basically, you tell them how much you use in residential energy usage, and pay 2 cents per kilowatt hour and they will ensure that that amount of green energy is added to the BC grid, basically offsetting your usage.

You can see more info here on Bullfrog Power in BC. I think this is a very smart initiative, as it gets some competition around cleaner energy solutions in BC, and will speed up BC Hydro’s good efforts in this space.

One other thing for the bankers in the room. TD Canada Trust, one of Canada’s biggest banks, ran a campaign saying their Green Machine network, which is what they’ve always called their ATMs, is now run on Bullfrog green energy, reinforcing their position in the environment, and putting a nice spin on the branding. Read more about TD’s effort here.

Climate Friendly Banking shows how your money can make an impact.

Climate Friendly BankingOne of the advantages of getting Google Alerts for your company is that you find nuggets like this.

The Rainforest Action Network has investigated the contribution that Canada’s big FIs make to climate change. Their site, Climate Friendly Banking, goes beyond the actual greenhouse gas emissions from the FIs’ operations to quantifying the lending and financing they provide to the fossil fuel industry, which in Alberta is particularly polluting.

The enormous financial commitments made by Canada’s five biggest banks – RBC, TD Bank, Scotiabank, CIBC and BMO – to fossil fuel production, namely oil and coal operations, inextricably links them to the fueling of global climate change. Banks are the lifeblood of the fossil fuel industry…

“Financing Global Warming: Canadian Banks and Fossil Fuels” is the first report to analyze and quantify the greenhouse gas emissions of seven leading Canadian banks – the aforementioned banks as well as Desjardins and Vancity – based on their financing of fossil fuels…

Canada’s top banks provided more than $155 billion in total corporate financing for fossil fuel extraction in Canada and internationally in 2007.

It’s a very intriguing way to look at this issue. I’ve said repeatedly that one of the main reasons I love working at Vancity is when you get to how financing affects the community, you get to the root cause of a lot of issues and can be an instrumental force for progress. Here’s one conclusion they draw.

Moving $10,000 from Scotiabank, the highest-carbon footprint bank, to Vancity, the low-carbon bank leader, avoids an amount of financed CO2 (1,430 kg CO2) comparable to:

  • not driving a small car for five months;
  • replacing an average car with one that gets 33 percent better gas mileage;
  • eliminating seven two-hour airplane flights per year.

That’s powerful stuff. They have a calculator to figure out how your deposits at a Canadian FI affect climate change. I truly believe that more and more consumers (though by no means most) will include factors like this into their consumer decision-making.

The site has several versions of the report, from a one pager to the full 294 page report. Well worth checking out.

I was particularly proud of this sentence:

…Vancity stands out as the only Canadian bank profiled in this study that provided no corporate loans or direct investments to fossil fuel producers.

Now that’s a company I want to work for.

Thanks to Dan Dickinson for sending this my way.