NEWS & PRESS
Green-For-Profit At DEMO '0801/29/2008 - www.informationweek.com - Cora Nucci
Can green business be good business? Two companies highlighted at Demo '08 this week are foregoing the not-for-profit model. One has unveiled a smarter charger for consumer electronics, the other tracks and shares users' energy-saving action
Green Plug hopes to clear homes and offices of those clunky black power adapters that entangle themselves under desks and clog power strips. Beyond the ugliness and clutter problem, device-specific adapters are wasteful; they sip power endlessly, even when devices are not in use.
San Ramon, Calif.-based Green Plug makes a RISC-based processor that digitally interacts between devices and their power supplies, to convert between 90V and 254V of wall power to device-specific DC power. The chip allows devices to draw power only when power is needed, rather than continuously, as many vampire devices do.
The company's Web site claims that in 2008 :
- 3.2 billion external power supplies will be manufactured worldwide
- 737 million external power supplies will be shipped to the U.S.
- 434 million external power supplies will be retired in the U.S. alone and only 12.6% of them will be recycled, resulting in 379 million external power supplies going into U.S. landfills
The Green Plug profit model is based on sales of its embeddable technology. The company will license its device-side Greentalk protocol and universal connector design to manufacturers, royalty free.
The company says manufacturers who adopt the technology can eliminate the need to ship a DC power supply with each device -- a potentially huge costs savings.
I wouldn't bank on seeing lower prices on consumer devices if Green Plug's universal adapter becomes the standard. Especially now that device makers know 12% of consumers are willing to pay more for gadgets that use less energy.
Can you hear me, consumer electronics vendors? I'm telling you that I would pay a little MORE for my next gadgets if the result was more energy efficiency and fewer cables under my desk.
Green Plug is scheduled to present at DEMO today.
Make Me Sustainable
Make Me Sustainable is another green business that's going after profitability while it scales up. Dubbed an "innovator to watch" by DEMO, the Cambridge, Mass., company's Web site allows individuals and businesses to see and modify their environmental impact.
Users create an online profile, essentially a dashboard, showing carbon reductions, sustainable actions, and community members. Each time a user takes a sustainable action, such as lowering the thermostat in winter, the dashboard reflects any associated carbon and cost savings.
Like Green Plug, Make Me Sustainable is eschewing the nonprofit path and has partnered with Energy Federation Inc., a vendor of energy-efficient products. EFI, which sells lighting, HVAC, and efficient building products to consumers and businesses, pays Make Me Sustainable commissions on sales generated from the MMS Web site. MMS passes half of that on to the customer in the form of a discount.
Both of these companies are startups, and both understand that being in the green technology business doesn't mean having to forsake the goal of profitability.