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Earth Day: EDF Recognizes Environmental Innovations

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) recently highlighted environmental innovations that can help companies cut costs, create business opportunities and carve out competitive advantages in a challenging economy.

EDF unveiled “Innovations Review 2009: Green Advances for a New Economy” at the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference, where executives from highlighted companies gathered to discuss how environmental innovations are benefiting their business.

“Environmental innovation is a powerful way to create business value,” said Gwen Ruta, vice president of corporate partnerships at EDF. “These innovations tackle today’s environmental and economic challenges head on – improving the planet and the bottom line at the same time. We hope that they serve as useful models, inspire further innovation and continue to redefine business as usual. ”

Innovations Review 2009 showcases innovations from companies including Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, Google and Wal-Mart. Other examples include:

  • High-tech computer systems produced by Hydropoint and PureSense that monitor real-time weather and soil conditions to help companies reduce water used for crop irrigation and commercial landscaping by 15 to 40 percent.
  • A financing plan developed by Midwest Energy that allows homeowners to lower their monthly bills through efficiency upgrades, while generating a new source of revenue for the company. This model has the potential to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent.
  • A mortgage program developed by Zocalo Community Development in Colorado that is boosting sales by offering homebuyers lower interest rates if they elect to buy condominiums equipped with solar panels.
  • Intel's annual employee bonus calculation now includes environmental metrics, tying compensation to the company's environmental results for all employees – from the mailroom up to the C-Suite.

The featured innovations were vetted by EDF and a distinguished panel of experts from the fields of environmental science, law and finance. The final selection includes 15 innovations from around the country. Each innovation was evaluated for environmental benefits, business benefits, replicability and innovativeness.

“Reducing our buildings’ environmental impact is an important step in achieving our business and stewardship goals,” said Kevin Hagen, REI’s director of corporate social responsibility. “Through energy-efficient technology, the use of recycled and renewable materials and connecting our members to local outdoor recreational opportunities, we are better aligning our brick and mortar stores with our commitment to the outdoors.”

Innovations Review 2009 also highlights two innovations by EDF and its corporate partners: a Green Portfolio Project developed by EDF and private equity firm KKR, and Climate Corps, a program that embeds MBA fellows into corporations to help create energy efficiency investment plans.

The review is part of EDF’s broader effort to foster collaboration on corporate environmental innovation through its recently launched Innovation Exchange. Get details on all the innovations and multimedia clips.

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