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Saturday, September 29, 2012

25 Green Startups Changing the Way We Do Business

A commitment to sustainability is becoming an increasingly important part of modern business operating models, as consumers demand products and services that are not only high-quality but that also reduce their impact on the environment. As a result, the sustainable business market is flourishing, providing a fertile place for green startups to take root and have a major impact on business and industrial practices. Here we highlight just a few of the many green startups that are affecting how we do business, altering how we commute, build offices, get power, find financing, and even how we chat around the water cooler.

  1. NuMat Tech:
    NuMat Tech is the brainchild of two entrepreneurs from Northwestern University. The company is focused on developing new and more efficient ways to store natural gases that are being used in everything from cars to office buildings. The company could lead the way in revolutionizing corporate fleets and business headquarters alike, as natural gas becomes an ever cheaper and more efficient way of delivering heat and power.
  2. PlanetReuse:
    These days, businesses are looking for ways to make their offices attractive, functional, and sustainable, all while watching the bottom line. PlanetReuse, founded in 2008, is a startup making that process a little easier. They innovated a program that makes it easy to track down and use salvaged and recycled materials in new building projects, which can save both resources and money.
  3. Sourcemap:
    Locally sourced products have become a big deal over the past few years, and more and more companies are looking for ways to simplify their product chains, both to deliver better products and shrink their carbon footprint. Through the startup Sourcemap, consumers can track the source and distribution of all kinds of products, from Tropicana juices to Toms shoes, giving companies more of an incentive to ship less and be more environmentally conscious.
  4. Industrial Origami:
    Industrial Origami has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry by developing a method of constructing products that is simpler, cheaper, and uses fewer resources. Using large sheets of light-gauge metal, Industrial Origami folds the material into complex structures that can be used in a wide range of applications. Currently, the startup’s products are being used in everything from appliances to reusable packaging.
  5. Hara:
    It’s sometimes hard for businesses to track just how much energy they’re using, but through startups like Hara that focus on energy management, that process becomes much, much easier. Though the Hara Energy and Sustainability System of Record, companies can get a clear snapshot of the money they’re spending on energy, as well as ideas on how they can become more sustainable and energy efficient.
  6. Adura Technologies:
    Each year, businesses waste money and energy through inefficient lighting systems that don’t reflect the real needs of workers in the building. Adura is hoping to change that through their wireless lighting controls that allow companies to easily conserve energy, develop lighting schedules, and even run analytic reports about energy usage.
  7. Purfresh:
    While the environmentally conscious like to buy things that come from local sources, the reality is that that just isn’t always possible. Some things simply need to be grown or made in locations that are hundreds or even thousands of miles from home. Purfresh helps to make that process a little easier and less wasteful by developing new ways to keep perishable products fresh as they make their way to their destination.
  8. SmartSynch:
    Itron’s SmartSynch technology uses existing cellular networks to build up smart grid technology with minimal up front cost. One of the features of this new smart grid is the ability for businesses to employ cellular-enabled meters that can quickly and easily report utility usage to providers. This eliminates the need for energy-wasting travel by meter readers, and ensures businesses are only paying for what they use, not estimated costs based on last year’s usage.
  9. Bloom Energy:
    Drawing on technology used by NASA, this startup is bringing space-age green tech to businesses all over America. Bloom Energy manufactures fuel cells that can be placed in the basement of a building, providing energy that’s much more efficient than a power grid. Currently, the company is working with big names like Coca-Cola, eBay, Google, Staples, FedEx, and Wal-Mart to provide state-of-the-art power solutions.
  10. Silver Spring Networks:
    Pacific Gas and Electric and American Electric Power are already partnering with this smart-grid startup. Silver Spring is focused mainly on helping utilities reduce carbon emissions and achieve operational efficiency, but businesses will also see an impact as it becomes easier to monitor and manage energy consumption.
  11. Recycle Rewards:
    Schools, nonprofits, and, of course, businesses can take advantage of the services offered by this recycling-focused startup. Through Recycle Rewards, businesses can sponsor green-friendly fundraising, collecting old cellphones, printers, or other small electronics and sending them in. Participants receive money back, which can be used for office perks or donated to a cause.
  12. Quench:
    The water cooler is a business staple, but how that water cooler functions may be changing with companies like Quench. Quench installs and maintains bottleless water coolers, which may prove to be both more cost effective and more environmentally friendly.
  13. DewPointe:
    Quench isn’t the only company revolutionizing the water cooler. DewPointe is another startup innovating an alternative to the classic system. DewPointe’s machines draw in humidity from the surrounding air to provide water for thirsty workers. Even better, they make both stand-alone and countertop models, providing solutions to businesses of all sizes.
  14. LanzaTech:
    Backed by investor Khosla Ventures, this waste-to-energy startup is making big strides in the green marketplace and could have a serious impact on industry and commercial production in the coming years. So what does LanzaTech do? The company turns industrial waste products back into useful products, reducing waste and the environmental impact of industrial production. For example, in a recent partnership, the company began converting Chinese steel producers’ waste gases into highly useful ethanol.
  15. GreenRoad:
    Many businesses rely on a fleet of trucks and drivers to get their products to businesses and consumers, but those vehicles can also leave a huge carbon footprint. GreenRoad is a startup that is trying to reduce that waste by providing training to drivers that helps them to be safer and to use less energy. The company’s equipment can be placed in a vehicle for immediate feedback, telling drivers when to modify their driving to save fuel and reduce the chance of accidents.
  16. SeaMicro:
    Few businesses these days can get by without some serious servers behind the scenes, storing data and helping to manage the operations of the company. Those servers can sometimes require substantial energy to keep them going, but not with the new generation of green servers being pioneered by SeaMicro and other companies. SeaMicro can pack 256 servers into the space the size of a car trunk, creating machines use half the energy or traditional servers.
  17. Boston Power:
    Many companies might not even be aware of the many ways Boston Power’s products could soon be affecting how they do their work. Boston Power is developing lithium-ion batteries that last longer and charge faster, providing scalable energy solutions that can power everything from laptops to backup devices to cars.
  18. RidePal:
    While a growing number of businesses are offering commuters incentives to help cut costs and encourage them to carpool and bike to work, RidePal is innovating a new way to get employees to work that’s both cost efficient and better for the environment. The company offers a commuter bus system that businesses can join, allowing employees to reserve and get tickets via phone and even use wifi while on their way home or to work.
  19. Smart Grid Billing:
    Just launched in May of 2012, this startup offers companies the chance to save on energy by aggregating demand and spreading it out across the day when more power is available. Essentially, the company provides load balancing on the energy grid, which could save big bucks for companies who need to use energy during peak hours but don’t want to pay peak prices.
  20. WeSustain:
    Businesses looking for a way to improve their sustainability record may take an interest in the services being provided by this sustainability management platform. WeSustain helps businesses to monitor their current energy and resource use, set up terms to improve things for the future, and track progress along the way.
  21. Picowatt:
    The Picowatt Smart Plug makes it simple for businesses and individuals alike to reduce energy waste. Users just plug the device into the wall and it starts working, measuring energy usage, allowing remote powering on and off of devices, eliminating vampire power, timing power, and increasing the life of electronic devices.
  22. Sandforce:
    Instead of using traditional data storage solutions, businesses can save energy by employing products created by this startup. Sandforce manufactures data storage devices that use flash, solid state devices, and cloud technology, which can often be more environmentally friendly than their traditional alternatives.
  23. BufferBox:
    Always missing deliveries at home or the office? BufferBox can change that and cut costs and energy waste caused by drivers making multiple trips. Instead of sending packages directly to a business or home location, BufferBox provides secure locations where you can have your packages delivered and can pick them up on your own time.
  24. Double Robotics:
    Flying in to attend conferences and meetings all over the country can not only get expensive, it also uses a whole lot of resources and energy. Double Robotics is hoping to make it easier than ever to teleconference, especially though the creation of a remote robot that allows you to get as close to being there as you can without actually having to board a plane.
  25. GreenChoice Bank:
    Startups like GreenChoice Bank aren’t just influencing the banking market. They’re also making it easier for other entrepreneurs to start their own sustainable businesses by providing financing to all kinds of green startups. What’s more, the bank also provides non-business customers with services and guarantees that take the earth into account, using less paper, operating in LEED-certified facilities, and reducing waste.

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