Potential Green Business Ideas

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Business Greenhouse Design Center


The Concept

  • Growing businesses naturally..not making them.
  • Uses natural process that have been proven over a billion years
  • A form of biomimicry...working in the way natural systems work In fact, it try's to match the way we're made...so there are not any built-in conflict points (energy losses)
  • No waste...like natural systems
  • As best we try, it will be imperfect at the start, but like natural systems it will evolve.
  • Not done because it's cool or right thing to do (which it is) it's done because it's better....for the planet, people, and profits.

Ecobator Foundational Elements

  • Key design principles
  • Start with what is closest to you to meet your needs

Natural Step Framework

...holds that in a sustainable society, nature will not be subject to:

  • What We Take from the Earth
    • Avoid "systematically increasing the concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth's crust."
    • Be careful ... you're disrupting a billion year process.
  • What We Make
    • Nature must not be subjected to systematically increasing concentrations of substances produced by society.
    • Substances we create must be biodegradable...don't spread toxins.
  • What We Do to the Earth
    • Protect and restore ecosystems and diversity
    • Protect and improve our soils, water and air...all creation (including us) need to eat, drink and breath.
  • Meeting Basic Human Needs (One Earth Patterns)
    • Use the least amount of stuff (means) to meet human needs
    • Ensure everyone has access to the means
  • Further Reading

Nature of Economies

... by Jane Jacobs...the natural sciences behind economies...the biology of economies

  • All development is based on a new differentiated product/service being developed from a general product/services (think..a branch of a tree)
    • Humans start will all the cells the same but then start to create specialized cells (e.g. brain and bones).
    • The value of this differentiated product/service needs to be tested quickly and cheaply.
  • The new differentiated product/service then becomes a general product and the process repeats itself (new branches from the branch)
    • The brain cells then start to specialize in memory and language.
  • Co-development is the main process for creating new differentiated products/ services
    • Think of development not as a line, but a web of open ended lives...so build a co-development web to generate innovation. The web has a diverse group of people sharing and trading. These can lead to symbiosis relationships (add further material.)
    • Takes two minds/ideas/talents to create the new.
    • Co-working / co-locating is a great way to create the opportunity for this to happen
  • Expansion of Development
    • "Diverse ensembles (collection of organisms) expand in a rich environment, which is created by the diverse (and intense) use and reuse of received energy."
    • All developments depend on an infusion of energy from the outside (ultimately from the sun.) They also have a discharge of energy / matter...it can't be created or destroyed. So development can be thought of as a conduit through which energy is transformed.
    • In some ecosystem not much happens with the energy...such as a desert..the sunlight if gained during the day and released at light. But in other ecosystems, such as the rain forest ... the sun is captured and used and reused in a web of organisms. The sunlight is repeatedly "reconverted, combined and recombined, cycled and recycled as energy/matter is passed from one organism to another. The more different means a system possesses to recapture and transform
  • Self Refueling
    • Machines rely on outside agents. Machines lack the capacity to refuel themselves. Weather systems constantly draw on the sun's energy to drive their formations and movements.
    • Each organism has it's own specific "Self refueling equipment" often including critical symbiotic relationships. A cow eats grass and has specific bacteria in it's stomach. One organisms waste is another organism's dinner. The key is knowing what this is.
    • The exports of the organism must create energy/matter (energy/matter margin x volume) that exceeds the imported energy. This energy margin is used to create new import or export options/diversity. Then this grows.
  • Unpredictability
    • "A complex system is making itself up as it goes along. Weather is like that. Evolution is like that. And economies are like that." Beyond a point they are not predictable. Since this is true, we must be prepared for the unpredictability by having deep roots, diversity, preparation for seasons,...
    • Even if every single influence on a complex system can be modeled their futures would be unpredictable. It is an illusion that the economy is hierarchically controlled and the future can be predicted.
    • The Lorenz study showed that even if we can model all of the factors that goes into creating weather, we can't predict weather more than 7 days out. (see p.136-7)

  • Leadership in the New Science by M. Wheatley
    • In quantum physics it is the "relationships" that are primary...and in fact they are all that exists.
    • We change at the molecular level based on our relationships. They change who we are.
    • All that exists is a large flow.
    • Information is energy.
  • A Timeless Way to Build by Christopher Alexander
    • Nature grows by repeating patterns (i.e. a leaf)...this is the way all life is formed

  • Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough.
    • Like the natural systems, all of what we create needs to return to the natural systems in a way that makes them healthier ... or as a minimum does no harm.
  • Ezio Manzini
    • "For a sustainable future all design is systems (services) design."

  • Chaortic Organizational Design by Dee Hock
    • self organizing systems can efficiently handle the real complexity
    • Innovation happens at the edge of a system
    • Distribute (not = to decentralize) power and resources...create a reason to support the center (commons)
    • Manage self...empower others

  • Ecoyardingby Celeste Watts
    • Right plant in the right place.
    • More life under the ground than above it.
    • Remove invasives.
    • Leaves are gold...use them to create great soil.
    • Lawns are a shallow root, single species design that takes a tremendous amount of energy to sustain bacause it denies the truths of the natural systems. This fight has created a whole industry.

The Process

Seed Formation
  • The Kernal
    • Produces more energy than it takes to do it...it makes the planet, people and profits better
      • Direct Margins
      • Commons..."one in"... "two out" like the rain forest.
  • Ecosystems, Relationships and Energy Flow (sharing of energy)
    • Existing - Relationships - Inertia
    • New - Relationships
      • Change takes energy and time to stabilize...increases variability
    • Business Ecosystem concept Research study of this idea.
    • Questions
      • Right plant in the right place...is this seed planted in the right ecosystem (desert vs. swamp)?
  • Cycles and Waste Analysis
    • Water, Carbon, Energy Cycle
      • Water Cleaner
      • Carbon Neutral
  • Self Refueling
    • Does it create energy/matter that exceeds the energy/matter that is put into it?
    • What is it's mechanism for doing this? How fragile is this?
  • Growing Pattern
    • How will this Seed grow?
    • What patterns (fractals) will it repeat?
    • Volumes
  • Deep Root Design
    • How do we develop a capacity to withstand the natural variability?
    • Think of how plants or babies do it?
    • Risks and Deep Roots Analysis - Questions
      • Where is there natural variability in the systems?
        • 20, 50, 100 year perfect storm/drought
      • Where the natural changes in the ecosystems occurring (trends)?
      • Where is there competitors (need new term)?
      • What forces outside the system could affect the system most?
      • What changes are required in the ecosystems?
Capable Entity
  • Leadership - Emotional Intelligence
  • Competency
  • Soil
    • Relationships
    • Learning Culture
    • Information Platform
  • Proven Natural Business Patterns
    • Accounting
    • Form of Legal Entity
Resourced Plan
  • Pull model for money...new VC model

Ecobator Ideas

  • Biology for Business 101 class

Green Garage Business Ideas

Just started putting them in 1/27/08... If you have an idea for a project that might be researched by the future Green Garage, feel free to put it here. Combination of coming to us and self generated.

Workshop / Studio

  • Pedal Taxi
  • Wooden Pen maker...from scrap wood
  • Rain Barrels... team with Coke, CCS students paint the barrels, develop art rain barrel stands
  • Bim Willow Design Studio for willow furniture
  • Insect larvae for chicken feed (Jon)
  • H2V design studio
  • Crafts group (Hilda)


  • Green Soft...software that helps people reduce their ecological footprint.
  • net-Zero designs
  • Yoga + Food (Greg)
  • Carbon Credit (woman that visited)
  • Become a Reseller with Insulation Depot and help solve these issues RIGHT NOW while making a tidy profit for you and your family.
  • e-U connecting homes and businesses to a green future


Sustainable Business Greenhouse

  • Mentoring Council
    • Avalon
    • Dan MCBW
    • Slo's

Viridia Energy





Ecobator Analysis
  • Kernel Flows
    • See spreadsheet (google docs)
    • See Ecosystem analysis
  • Competencies / Learning (CI) System
    • Key Competencies
      • Process Equipment Operations (run it)/Maintenance (repair it)
        • Water treatment
        • Biofuel production
      • Process engineering
        • Water treatment
        • Biofuel production
      • Logistics
        • Receiving docks
        • Pumping stations
        • Dynamic Scheduling
      • Management
        • Process quality management
          • Deming Quality
      • Process Equipment Repair / Servicing
        • Specifically SV-2
        • Preventative Maintenance Planning
        • Process Information management
Analysis Bin
  • Questions
    • What is the solid waste that is produced from the process and where does/can it go?
    • How are the trucks scheduled? What keeps there from being many or none there at one time?
    • What is the information flow?
    • Is this a Pilot program as indicated in the Water Authority document?
    • How much energy is used in the processing? Where does it go?
    • How much clean water is used in the processing?
    • Who pays for the workers?
  • Risks
    • Declining use of #6 Fuel Oil...see wikipedia article...Fuel Oil Uses
    • Temperatures (Bergen = 20F - 100F)
    • Where does the solids go? One plants had to take them to GA from NJ.
    • Liability for environmental impact...who's liable? Securing liability insurance. Cost?
    • Odor for the neighborhood?
    • BMI is very, very small...warranty, repairs, ability to support multiple sites with trouble.
    • Large construction projects on the Tollway..check it out here. Don't see anything yet...however, there is a $7 billion capital campaign for next 10 years.
    • How is the equipment utilization optimized by the ecosystem? How is the system incented to get this right?
    • What is the maintenance requirement for the equipment? What wears out first? What moves?
  • Ideas
    • Leverage Insurance companies with restaurants...grease leads to fires.
    • Toll Discounts for trucks drivers if all on one account ...see it here.
    • Hire Kline to evaluate this...make them an investment partner.
    • Why not produce methane like Riverside vs. #6 Fuel Oil (Residual)
    • Improve truck scheduling
    • Information is energy (Wheatley)...what could be the information flow?
    • Can microbes be used? Woody's friend?

The Green Fund

  • Investment Purpose
    • To invest in sustainability-based companies to help the form and grow
    • To help fund the on-going operations of The Green Garage
  • Investment Strategy
    • Tripe bottom line
    • Collaborative investing
    • Pull funding
    • Diversification
  • Portfolio
    • Energy
    • Water
    • Waste
    • Materials
    • Transportation

Construction Waste Recycling

Scott Dunbar would like to know how to recycle roof shingles for an upcoming job. We recently had a meeting with Scott Dunbar, a local contractor, and he asked about recycling roof shingles. Peggy researched the topic, and found that Michigan does not recycle roof shingles. Many states do, however. This has potential for a project for us.

Human Powered Vehicles

go-one vehicle

Community Building Ideas