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Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: January 2014

Nomacorc Launches First Plant-Based Wine Bottle Closure Using Braskem’s Green Polyethylene

ZEBULON, N.C. (January 28, 2014) – Nomacorc, the leading producer of alternative wine bottle closures, is the first to create a plant-based closure, Select® Bio, using Braskem’s I’m greenTM Polyethylene. Green PE is made from sugarcane ethanol, a 100 percent renewable material. Its major advantage is the fact that it is made from raw materials derived from renewable resources, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I’m greenTM Polyethylene not only removes CO2 from the atmosphere due to its renewable feedstock but also contributes to reducing the use of fossil fuel. For each ton produced, “green” polyethylene sequestrates more than 2.0 tons of CO2, a significant gain compared to traditional polyethylene*.

Select® Bio closures are 100 percent recyclable. The closures mirror Nomacorc’s current Select® Series portfolio in oxygen management performance. As with other Select® Series products, Select® Bio minimizes the environmental impact of wines by preventing spoilage and waste from wine faults such as oxidation and reduction. By consistently delivering the right amount of oxygen into the bottle using a carbon neutral closure, sustainability-minded wineries will now be able to deliver their wines just as they intend.

“Braskem is a strong organization with a history of creating reliable, sustainable polymer materials for leading manufacturers around the world,” said Dr. Olav Aagaard, Nomacorc’s principal scientist. “By using Braskem’s sugar-cane based green polyethylene, we can confidently offer to our customers a carbon neutral wine closure which will not only be consistent and optimal for their wines, but also now allows them to create a more sustainable packaging solution.”

Braskem has been making I’m greenTM polyethylene since 2010 in its Triunfo Plant in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in the south region of Brazil. The plant’s capacity is 200 kton/year and the total investment amounts to U.S. $290 million. Using agricultural products as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuel to produce materials has great potential in Brazil. Brazil has approximately 330 million hectares of arable land of which 67% is in use. Sugarcane cultivation uses 9.2 million hectares which is highly concentrated in the state of Sao Paulo (which is located more than 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) from the Amazon region). Expansion of sugarcane fields is highly regulated to be done in a sustainable way. Brazil is producing annually more than 8 billion gallons (30 billion liters) of bio-alcohol of which only 2.3% is used to make I’m greenTM polyethylene.

“Braskem is excited that Nomacorc, the global leader in wine closures, has chosen Braskem’s I’m greenTM Polyethylene to develop a more sustainable wine closure solution. With this, Nomacorc is showing its leadership position in the market and their drive to innovate in developing more sustainable solutions for their customers,” said Marco Jansen, Braskem’s Renewable Chemicals Commercial Director for Europe and North America.

ABOUT NOMACORC

Nomacorc is a worldwide leader in wine closures and the No. 1 closure brand for still wines in many countries including France, Germany and the United States. Dedicated to technological innovation, Nomacorc manufactures its portfolio of products using a patented co-extrusion process. As a result, Nomacorc closures provide consistent, predictable oxygen management and protect against off-flavors due to oxidation, reduction or cork taint. Nomacorc’s 100 percent recyclable products are available through a vast network of distributors and sales agents on six continents. With 500 employees worldwide and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in the United States, Belgium, China and Argentina, Nomacorc produces more than 2 billion closures annually. Working with renowned wine research institutes worldwide, the company leads the wine closure industry in fundamental and applied research into oxygen management in wine. For more information, visit nomacorc.com or follow Nomacorc on Twitter (@Nomacorc) and Facebook (Nomacorc).

ABOUT BRASKEM

Braskem is the largest producer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas and the world’s leading biopolymers producer, manufacturing green polyethylene from sugarcane-based ethanol. With 36 industrial plants in Brazil, the United States and Germany, the company produces over 35 billion pounds of thermoplastic resins and other petrochemicals per year, creating more environmental-friendly, intelligent and sustainable solutions through chemicals and plastics that improve people’s lives.

Braskem is a component of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index Emerging Markets, the Carbon Efficient Index (ICo2) and the Corporate Sustainability Index of the BM&FBovespa – Securities, Commodities and Futures Exchange. Braskem is a member of the United Nations’ platform for more sustainable industries and its sustainability annual report is rated level A+.

Braskem America is the leading producer of polypropylene in the United States, with five production plants located in Texas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and a Technology and Innovation Center in Pittsburgh. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Braskem America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Braskem S.A. For more information, visit www.braskem.com

*based on Braskem cradle to gate Eco efficiency analysis done by Fundação Espaço Eco, 2007

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Media Contacts:

Katie Myers

1-214-766-4566
kmyers@nomacorc.com

Whitney Rigsbee

1-919-460-2274
wrigsbee@nomacorc.com

Stacy Torpey

1-215-841-3194
stacy.torpey@braskem.com

The US SIF Foundation Releases New Sustainable Investment Guide for Foundations

Report documents current trends in sustainable investing among foundations, provides practical resources

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the US SIF Foundation released Unleashing the Potential of US Foundation Endowments: Using Responsible Investment to Strengthen Endowment Oversight and Enhance Impact.

The report, using extensive data from primary and secondary sources, assesses the current range and state of foundation involvement in sustainable and responsible investing (SRI). It suggests that the number of foundations engaged in SRI, often employing such terms as mission-related investing and impact investing, has been growing in the last few years.

The guide encourages foundations to adopt SRI strategies in order to have tools, in addition to grantmaking, with which to generate positive impact and to fulfill their fiduciary duties. It profiles a number of foundations whose approaches to SRI—including shareholder advocacy at publicly traded companies and investments in vehicles supporting community development, land conservation and other sectors— have resulted in meaningful environmental, social or corporate governance (ESG) outcomes. Another strategy foundations employ is to consider ESG criteria in addition to traditional financial indicators when selecting companies for their portfolios. Many of the foundations profiled in the guide provide background on the process they followed—with staff, trustees and consultants—to develop or update their responsible investing policies and procedures.

The report concludes with a list of practical steps that foundation staff and trustees can take to help their institutions align a broader portion of their assets with their programmatic or broader institutional goals. To assist these first steps, an extensive appendix of resources provides links to:

  • organizations offering assistance in sustainable and responsible  investing, including such specialties as impact investing, community investing and shareholder engagement;
  • research papers on SRI and financial performance and on fiduciary duty for foundations; and
  • investment policies, proxy voting guidelines and case studies of several foundations that are active sustainable and responsible investors. 

US SIF Foundation CEO Lisa Woll said: “This guide provides compelling examples of foundations that have made the commitment to utilize their endowments for positive social and environmental impact. We hope that the information and tools provided in this report will motivate many more foundations to follow their example.”

The US SIF Foundation is grateful to The J.A. and H.G. Woodruff Charitable Trust, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and Goodfunds Wealth Management for their generous support of this report.

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The US SIF Foundation is a 501c3 organization that undertakes educational, research and programmatic activities to advance the mission of US SIF. The US SIF Foundation offers an online course on the Fundamentals of Sustainable and Responsible Investment, a resource for investment advisors, financial planners and other financial professionals who want to learn the basics of sustainable and responsible investment.

US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. US SIF and its members advance investment practices that consider environmental, social and corporate governance criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact. US SIF’s members include investment management and advisory firms, mutual fund companies, research firms, financial planners and advisors, broker-dealers, banks, credit unions, community development organizations, non-profit associations, and pension funds, foundations and other asset owners. Learn more at www.ussif.org.

Contact: Megan Smith, msmith@ussif.org, 202-747-7820

Lutheran World Relief and Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Assist 100,000 Farmers in West Africa

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Grant from Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Builds on LWR’s Successful Resilience Plus Model

Baltimore, January 28, 2014 – Lutheran World Relief (LWR) has received a $1.5 million grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation to scale up community-based resilience building work in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. The project, “Community Led Food Crisis Recovery in the Sahel,” will run through January 2016.

During the last four years, the Sahel region of West Africa has experienced three severe food crises due to poor rains, inflated food prices and limited pasture for animal grazing. These food crises force poor families to sell land, livestock or other assets, go into debt, and limit food consumption just to survive, creating a cycle of food insecurity.

LWR’s successful “Resilience Plus” program in West Africa takes a long-term view, prioritizing community recovery and resilience even during an immediate crisis response. By bridging the delivery of humanitarian assistance with sustainable development approaches, the program lays a foundation to break the recurring cycle of low agricultural productivity and low farm incomes and has already helped make more than 300,000 people less vulnerable to future food shortages.

The grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation builds on this success and enables LWR to reach more than 100,000 additional farmers in the Sahel region.

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The project, which runs through January 2016, addresses the underlying factors contributing to persistent poverty and food insecurity by providing livestock such as goats and sheep, and training farmers on their care; helping farmers access certified seeds for staple crops like millet, sorghum and cowpeas; training farmers on improved crop production techniques; providing short-term opportunities to earn income by contributing labor to soil and water conservation projects such as terraces, trenches and stone walls; building warehouses for crop storage; and training farmers on business and marketing skills and helping them access financial services.

“We know this approach works – we’ve seen it improve countless lives in West Africa,” said Jeff Whisenant, LWR’s interim president and CEO. “It’s possible to break the cycle of extreme poverty, and this grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation will help to do that by investing in making communities more resilient.”

WHO IS LWR? Lutheran World Relief, an international nonprofit organization, works to end poverty and injustice by empowering some of the world’s most impoverished communities to help themselves. With partners in 36 countries, LWR seeks to promote sustainable development with justice and dignity by helping communities bring about change for healthy, safe and secure lives; engage in Fair Trade; promote peace and reconciliation; and respond to emergencies. LWR is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. and has worked in international development and relief since 1945.

Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas.

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Media Contact:

Emily Sollie, 410-230-2802 office, 443-220-3269 cell, esollie@lwr.org

World Design Impact Prize 2013-2014 Finalists Announced

Montreal (Canada) – The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) announced today that the following projects (in alphabetical order) have been identified as the three finalist projects for the World Design Impact Prize 2013-2014: A Behaviour Changing (ABC) Syringe, BioLite HomeStove and the Refugee Housing Unit. Icsid’s Members, made up of design promotion agencies, professional organisations and universities in more than 40 countries cast their votes selecting these three projects as most deserving of the Prize. Of these three, one winner will be honoured at the World Design Capital® (WDC) International Design Gala on 28 February 2014 in Cape Town (South Africa).

The three finalists’ projects address issues of security, stability and safety in the areas of health and home. The ABC Syringe, developed by the University of Huddersfield, provides the opportunity for patients to easily ascertain if the syringes used in their care are sterilised. A simple colour-changing label affixed to the syringe turns bright red to indicate it has been used. This design solution will hopefully lead to a drop in the reuse of syringes and lower the level of communicable diseases as a result.

The BioLite HomeStove emits low levels of smoke, therefore providing a cleaner cooking environment for women in the developing world who traditionally burn wood or coal to cook indoors. This cookstove, developed by BioLite LLC, features a USB port to charge electronics, a feature that further entices families to make the switch to a more efficient stove.

The Refugee Housing Unit, a pilot project with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provides temporary shelter which facilitates ‘a feeling of normality’ for families living in refugee camps. Facilitated by the IKEA Foundation, prototypes are currently being tested and will dictate the ideal shape and size of the structure.

The World Design Impact Prize 2013-2014 is now entering its final stage. Projects were first measured against the demanding guidelines established by Icsid, then reviewed by a panel of five experts in the field of design for social good who selected seven projects that best embodied the ways in which design can positively impact the social, cultural, economic and environmental quality of life for individuals everywhere. Roberto Cuervo, a member of the Review Panel said, “the selected projects are great examples of design for social good because design is about collective intelligence, social innovation, networking and all forms of collective knowledge production and all of these projects are based on the fundamental principles of today’s vision of industrial design. Its not just about traditional product development anymore but concerns itself with the social needs of the world’s population.” The three finalists will be invited to present their projects at a workshop following the WDC International Design Gala, where they will have the opportunity to present their research, products and future plans to the South African design community.

The World Design Impact Prize creates a platform to talk about industrial design as a means to creative problem solving. It also aims to recognise excellence and diverse ways of addressing societal challenges. Through this initiative, Icsid hopes to recognise those projects that highlight the use of industrial design beyond the creation of products and demonstrate that it is also about creating systems and experiences.

For more information please contact:

Mariam Masud
Icsid Project Development Officer
t: + 1 514 448 4949 ext. 228
e: mmasud@icsid.org

Natalie Dutil
Icsid Communications Officer
t: + 1 514 448 4949 ext. 223
e: ndutil@icsid.org

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About the World Design Impact Prize

The World Design Impact Prize is a biennial designation created to recognise, empower and stimulate socially responsible design projects around the world. Established by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid), the World Design Impact Prize will honour and reward industrial design driven projects that are making a positive impact on our social, economic, cultural and/or environmental quality of life.

By drawing from the expertise of Icsid’s network, the World Design Impact Prize creates an exciting opportunity for members and the general public to play an active role in recognising and honouring projects, and project partners, that create a better world through design. Furthermore, the establishment of a prize specifically for industrial design driven projects will produce tangible examples, best practices and socially responsible industrial designs that will help shape the future of the profession.
www.worlddesignimpact.org
www.pinterest.com/icsid/design-for-good/

About the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid)

The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) is a non-profit organisation that protects and promotes the interests of the profession of industrial design. Founded in 1957, Icsid serves as a unified voice of over 50 nations through which members can express their views and be heard on an international platform. Since its inception, Icsid has continued to develop its wide-reaching network of students and professionals devoted to the recognition, success and growth of the industrial design community. Together, professional associations, promotional societies, educational institutions, government bodies and corporations create a comprehensive and diverse system on the forefront of industrial design education and progress.
www.icsid.org
www.facbook.com/Icsid
www.twitter.com/Icsid

Crowdentials Launches Best-in-Class Investor Accreditation API and Announces Key Partnerships

Growing equity crowdfunding compliance provider attracts the attention of investors, crowdfunding platforms.

Cleveland, OH (PRWEB), January 21, 2014 – Crowdentials (http://www.crowdentials.com), a leading provider of investor accreditation and equity crowdfunding compliance software, today announced the official launch of its API solution for crowdfunding platforms to help companies, investment firms and other issuers seamlessly verify investor accreditation status. Two crowdfunding platforms, AlumVest and GroundBreaker, have already signed on as early adopters of the Crowdentials technology.

Crowdentials designed its software to bring transparency and efficiency to the tedious investor verification process required for companies that solicit investment capital from investors under the JOBS Act. With privacy being a key concern for individuals, the company utilizes provisions from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that allows an investor’s CPA, broker or investment advisor to verify status on their behalf. Crowdentials’ white-label API solution and services include maximum protection of investor information, early detection of suspicious applications and automation tools to provide seamless investor support. The company also offers a “pre-accreditation” service for investors to verify their status through its website, which can take as little as an hour.

“After the SEC’s general solicitation rules went live, we canvassed the market and were very excited to find a partner in Crowdentials, which offers an innovative way to comply with the SEC’s new general solicitation rules with no requirement for investors to provide their confidential personal information,” says Lynn Chen, CEO of AlumVest, an equity- and rewards-based crowdfunding platform connecting entrepreneurs from leading U.S. universities with their alumni investors.

Crowdentials Co-founder and CEO Richard Rodman worked with CTO Max Heckel and CDO Rohan Kusre to develop a program that goes above and beyond the minimum “reasonable” steps outlined by regulators. “As an entrepreneur, I recognized the inherent obstacles in getting attention and funding for new ventures. We don’t believe that platforms and issuers should be weighed down by legislation that ultimately affects the quality of deal flow. Crowdentials covers the most ground in the verification process to give investment platforms and businesses peace of mind in a highly scrutinized regulatory environment,” says Rodman.

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“Crowdentials’ software lets us focus on our core business and grow it knowing that Rich and the Crowdentials team are taking care of an important aspect of our operations,” according to Stefano D’Aniello, a securities attorney by trade and the co-founder of GroundBreaker, an equity-based real estate investment platform. “We were impressed and found Rich to be very knowledgeable, and we’re confident that his services will match our growing and evolving needs.”

Crowdentials is a graduate of the FlashStarts accelerator program founded by noted entrepreneur and angel investor Charles Stack, who launched the first online bookstore. The company intends to introduce bad actor checks and Title III unaccredited investor crowdfunding tools pending the finalization of SEC regulations.

About Crowdentials

Crowdentials is a provider of regulatory compliance tools for equity crowdfunding and private placement platforms that help companies efficiently manage their financial compliance. Crowdentials’ investor accreditation service eases the burden of complying with the JOBS Act by offering platforms a “plug-and-play” white-label API option and pre-accreditation services for investors. Investors are able to verify accredited status without disclosing personal financial information.

Vivint Solar Acquires Solmetric Corporation

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SunEye, PV Designer and PV Analyzer products to be further developed to serve and grow existing Solmetric customer base

PROVO, Utah and SEBASTOPOL, Calif., Jan. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Vivint Solar, Inc. and Solmetric Corporation today announced the closing of a merger that completes Vivint Solar’s acquisition of Solmetric in an all cash transaction. Solmetric Corporation, a dominant developer of photovoltaic installation instruments and software products, today becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vivint Solar.

“We are thrilled to welcome Willard MacDonald and his team of executives, engineers and other employees at Solmetric to our technology team at Vivint Solar,” said Greg Butterfield, CEO of Vivint Solar. “The Solmetric team has developed industry-dominant SunEye hardware and PV Designer software product lines that have maintained an impressive, satisfied customer base.”

Solmetric test and measurement instruments help solar installation companies deliver more accurate solar energy assessments during the pre-install process and fast and accurate performance testing during commissioning and O&M. The SunEye is a handheld electronic tool that provides best-in-class shade analysis. PV Designer software allows layout and energy production estimates for the optimum PV design. PV Analyzer is the leading US I-V curve tracer.

“Further in-house, advanced development of Solmetric products will help strengthen our pre-installation site assessment and CAD design process even further at this crucial market expansion time for Vivint Solar,” Butterfield added.

“We are pleased with the merger agreement with Vivint Solar,” said Willard MacDonald, president and CEO of Solmetric Corporation. “As part of Vivint Solar, we plan to continue to enhance our existing products line and develop even more offerings to benefit the entire industry and enable us all to install faster, low-cost and higher quality solar.”

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Willard MacDonald will join the Vivint Solar executive leadership team as vice president of Technology Development. All Solmetric employees will continue to be based in Sebastopol, CA. All existing sales contracts, distribution partnerships and product availability will continue under the Solmetric brand.

About Solmetric Corporation

Solmetric is a supplier of tools for solar installers. Its product offerings include: the award winning Solmetric SunEye shade analysis tool for fast, professional solar site evaluation; the Solmetric PV Designer software for easy design and simulation of residential PV systems; and the Solmetric PV Analyzer for measuring I-V and power curves to verify performance at the time of system commissioning or for troubleshooting a failing system.

About Vivint Solar

Vivint Solar is a leading provider of simple, affordable solar solutions. As an early adopter of the power purchase agreement (PPA) model, Vivint Solar designs, installs, and maintains cost-effective solar energy systems. The company provides award-winning service and support while saving customers money and protecting the environment. For more information, follow us on @VivintSolar or visit www.vivintsolar.com.

Contact:

Vivint Solar
Kady Cooper
Director of Public Relations
415-706-9778
kady.cooper@vivintsolar.com

Emmy’s Organics Shares Their Green Impact from Sri Lanka

ITHACA, NEW YORK (January 23, 2014) – By now, chances are you’re familiar with the green movement. Whether it’s been referred to as Eco-friendly or going green, a lot of companies have made it their mission to become more environmentally and socially conscious. “Green-washing” has also become common, where a company touts that they are conscious in one way or another but don’t actually walk the walk. This past year, locally-owned and operated Emmy’s Organics, a vegan, gluten free and non-gmo goods company, took their sustainable ingredient sourcing to another level with a trip to Sri Lanka. There, co-owner Samantha Abrams, took a deeper look into the home of their coconut supply, and the environmental footprint the company is making in both the US and around the world.

“It has always been a dream of mine to visit the source of our ingredients, particularly where our coconut comes from since we use so much of it. Though we use many ingredients that don’t grow in the US, we’re still very sustainable minded and do a lot of research on all of our ingredients before we purchase them,” said Abrams. “It has always been important to me to have an understanding of where our ingredients come from and how they are processed.”

While in Sri Lanka, Abrams was able to visit the coconut plantation and processing factory that Emmy’s Organics uses. At this particular organic coconut farm, every part of the tree is used in everyday life – the coconut husks are even used as fertilizer. Trees range from 4 months to 20 years old. Important parts of the trip for Abrams was seeing how their supplier was very careful about the planting and harvesting, and also giving back to their local community and employees.

This resonates deeply with Emmy’s Organics, especially with their recent B-Corporation Certification. B-Corporation is a rigorous certification that looks at everything from health initiatives for employees to Eco-friendly materials used in renovations, as well as the company’s impact on all its stakeholders and offers a rating system so companies can improve.

“It’s similar to a Fair Trade certification but for the business as a whole,” says Abrams.

Some popular companies that are also B-Corporation Certified are Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, and Dansko.

Not only is it a commitment to create clean, health and energizing foods, but Emmy’s is committed to taking care of the planet. Emmy’s only uses recycle-able materials for packaging but are also committed to recycling bottles, composting food scraps, and using recycled paper to buying second-hand furniture, and equipment for their office and facility.

“Nothing is more valuable than learning the Sri Lankan culture and about the coconut plantation community,” Abrams mentioned. “It was a way for us to build a deeper connection with our supplier, see the impact of sustainable ingredient sourcing firsthand, and learn ways to continue the movement locally and in our business practices.”

Abrams continued, “As much as I learned about our coconut supplier from our distributor, there was still a missing piece for me and as a business owner, I needed to see that for myself. There are things that I would have never learned if I hadn’t gone on this trip. It’s very important to us as a company to have a full understanding of how our products come together. It was an experience I will never forget.”

For more information on Emmy’s Organics, for hi-res photography from the trip, and/or to arrange interviews, please contact Becki Cooper at 440.227.8794 or via email at Becki@RebeccaAdele.com.

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Emmy’s Organics is a 100% vegan and gluten-free food company that prides itself on the quality, creativity & sustainability of the products it offers. The company uses only the finest non-GMO ingredients in everything produced. All packaging is made from biodegradable and earth-friendly materials. All goods produced are made in a vegan & gluten-free kitchen. For more information visit emmysorganics.com.

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