Erb Perspective Blog Has Moved

May 19, 2011

We’ve moved to our new Erb Institute website.  Please visit us here:

Erb Insitute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

Thanks for your interest and support!


Erb Perspective Blog: 2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,400 times in 2010. That’s about 20 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 57 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 117 posts. There were 40 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 617kb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was May 25th with 267 views. The most popular post that day was ErbWire: Innovations in Education.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for offshore drilling economics, economics of offshore drilling, we are the weather makers chapter summaries, and success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


ErbWire: Innovations in Education May 2010


Does “Green” Corporate Social Responsibility Benefit Society? January 2009
1 comment


The Simple Economics of Offshore Drilling October 2008
1 comment


The Simple Economics of Offshore Drilling April 2010
1 comment


The EcoValuation Working Group on location: Chicago February 2010

Environment by the Numbers: 2,340, 4 and 0

June 17, 2010

Glancy Doug

By Doug Glancy, Erb MBA/MS Alum, class of 2007 and Senior Consultant at Carbon Trust.

This blog entry is is cross posted on the Michigan League of Conservation Voters site.

In a week when the nation witnessed past estimates of the Gulf oil disaster blown out of the water, I have been even more struck by three other numbers: 2,340, 4 and 0.

What is the first?  The number of times BP has changed its story?  The year we finally put this still evolving catastrophe behind us? Unfortunately, it’s more depressing than both of these guesses: It’s the number of climate change lobbyists registered on Capitol Hill (and to all of those who believe the “real money” is in continuning the “junk science,” more than 85% are registered to lobby against action). Read the rest of this entry »

I love the smell of neoprene in the morning…

May 24, 2010
Colm Fay

Colm Fay

By Colm Fay, Erb MBA/MS student, class of 2012.

For the past 2 years I’ve associated the smell of neoprene with 4am wake ups, dawn treks to set up my bike, preparing my running gear and lining up at the edge of the water in my wetsuit at the start of a triathlon. While neoprene definitely contributed to keeping this triathlete alive, I’m about to find out how PATH are helping transform this techie sports material into a true life saving product for women in the developing world. Read the rest of this entry »

ErbWire: Innovations in Education

May 18, 2010

Thought in Action at The Erb Institute

Hoffman’s Green Construction & Design course a winner

Professor Andy Hoffman

Professor Andy Hoffman

Andrew Hoffman’s course “Green Construction & Design” won the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business 2009 D. Alfred N. and Lynn Manos Page Prize for Sustainability Issues in Business Curricula.

Hoffman’s course was recognized for the innovative way in which it examines sustainability from the perspectives of design, construction and environment.   Judges noted that the course attracts students from a variety of disciplines—including business, engineering, environmental studies, architecture, policy and planning—and students work together to increase their understanding of sustainability issues.

Delta Sky features Erb Institute

The Ross School is among several business schools featured in the March 2010 Delta Sky in-flight magazine article “Sustainable Education.”  The article notes that The Erb Institute developed a joint, full-time MBA/MS degree that emphasizes action-based learning 15 years ago. Read the full article.

Preparing MBAs for a morally complex future

Professor Tom Gladwin

Professor Tom Gladwin

In a Feb. 8 editorial in the Financial Times, Erb Associate Director Thomas N. Gladwin and Erb External Advisory Board Member David Berdish wrote, “Following Copenhagen, we face a perfect storm of global moral questions: what do we owe future generations, the deprived and the environment? Companies are being challenged to declare and act on their social and moral obligations. But business schools are failing to prepare leaders for this challenging task.”

The two noted that according to The Aspen Institute’s latest Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking of the world’s MBA programs on environmental and social stewardship, too many MBA programs pay scant attention to the social dimensions of sustainability.  As a result, the typical MBA student is not learning why poverty and human rights matter to business, according to Gladwin and Berdish, manager of social sustainability at Ford Motor and adjunct professor at the Ross School of Business.

The authors conclude:  “Business schools need to think differently about preparing future leaders for a morally complex and sustainable future.  In an interdependent world confronting growing environmental scarcity and human deprivation, we will need business leaders who can create social value without increasing energy and material throughput; who can cope with the complexity of interconnected social, ecological, economic systems; who can adapt in the face of uncertainty; who can bring about global change through collaborative and disruptive innovation and who can master multiple alternative futures.

“Above all, we need business leaders willing to accept moral duties and obligations to future generations, the deprived and the environment. Leadership for sustainability needs to become the organizing principle of management education.”

Read the articles:  The Dirty Little Secret About Green MBAs (pdf)
MBAs unprepared for a morally complex future (pdf)

Erb alumni pioneer “Impact Investing” course at the Ross School

Mike Hokenson

Mike Hokenson

More investors today are seeking ways to deliver market rate returns and generate positive social and environmental impacts.  Five Ross alumni recently returned to campus to facilitate a new course titled “Sustainable Finance:  Impact Investing” offered by The Erb Institute.

The experts in the areas of carbon markets, energy efficiency, microfinance, renewable energy and clean tech who led the class included:

  • Mike Hokenson, Erb ’05, managing director of Minlam Asset Management LLC
  • Kipp Baratoff, Erb ’07, principal and co-founder, Equilibrium Capital Group LLC
  • Jonathan Koch, Erb ’96, managing director, US Renewables Group
  • Ryan Waddington, Erb ’99, director, ZBI Ventures
  • Gabriel Thoumi, Erb ’08, project developer, Forest Carbon Offsets LLC.

“We often think of finance and sustainability as living in two separate worlds, but as this course demonstrates, there is increasing momentum behind innovative financial approaches that incorporate socially or environmentally sustainable elements,” said Erb Institute Managing Director Rick Bunch. “We’re excited to add this course to our curriculum and to raise the awareness of sustainably-minded businesspeople and future business leaders about the importance of sustainable finance.” Read more about the class.

Thoumi shares some of the course content in an article titled “Will Forest Carbon Markets Thrive, or Get Lost in the Woods?” which was published April 15 in

The course also was featured in an article in (Financial Times) titled “The class is not always greener,” published April 4.

Thought in Action at the Erb Institute

ErbWire: Global Initiatives

May 18, 2010

Thought in Action at The Erb Institute

Erb Institute builds China connections

bicycle transport in Beijing

Photo by Tom Lyon

China is of growing interest to Erb Institute faculty members and students working on climate change, renewable energy and sustainability.

Working with Erb Institute Managing Director Rick Bunch and colleague Jacob Park of Green Mountain College, Cynthia Koenig, Erb ’10, and Aparna Sundaram, Erb ’09, developed a William Davidson Institute-published teaching case study that focuses on China Mobile’s environmental business strategy.

View the China Mobile Case Study

Another student, Tina Tam, Erb ’11, is working as an intern this summer in Beijing on the Microcarbon Foundation Renewal Energy Project to reduce carbon emissions at the household level.  One of the project’s goals is to figure out how to generate enough carbon credits to make it financially possible to replace coal-burning stoves and furnaces with biogas generators in thousands of homes.

This spring, Yih-Wei Chien and Emily Dwinnells, both Erb ’12, and Ross MBA students Renata Gomide and Frank Lan spent several weeks in Shanghai studying China’s green building culture as part of their Multidisciplinary Action Project course.   The students met with green manufacturers and a member of Shanghai’s architecture and design community as part of their market research for the nonprofit research organization GIGA (Green Ideas, Green Actions), which seeks to drive market incentives to support and demand greener building materials.  The students will use the research to form a business strategy to guide the relaunch of GIGA’s Web-based green materials database using a Web 2.0 model.

Poster of Tom Lyon

Poster of Tom Lyon in Beijing

Thomas Lyon spent several weeks in China this spring working with the China Entrepreneur Club, which includes representatives of the largest green companies in China.  Lyon serves as a judge for the group’s annual China Green Company Award.  In addition to meeting with many academic and business leaders, Lyon spoke at the North China Electric Power University, one of the key universities affiliated with the Ministry of Education, and at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China.

Memo from the CEO, Chinese coverAndrew Hoffman’s book Memo to the CEO: Climate Change, What’s Your Business Strategy? (with John Woody, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press, 2008)  was recently published in Chinese.

Erb students seek to alleviate water crisis in developing countries

Hippo Water Carrier

Hippo Water Carrier

One only has to look at Erb Institute students and alumni to find hundreds who understand and care about the triple bottom line.  Colm Fay,  Erb ’12, Cynthia Koenig, Erb ’11,  and Chris Mueller MBA/MPP ’11 are among those who are working to create a more sustainable environment.  In their Dow Sustainability Innovation Challenge application, the trio unveiled their business plan for Hippo Water International.  Their goal is to make it easier and less time consuming for people in developing countries to get clean water.  A water transport tool called the Water Roller makes it possible to collect five times the amount of water possible using traditional methods, in less time, and much more easily, according to the Erb students.

MORE about Hippo Water International:

Thought in Action at The Erb Institute

ErbWire: Energy and Climate

May 17, 2010

Thought in Action at the Erb Institute

Paper explains issues, opportunities surrounding the Smart Grid

Vermont Energy Investment Corp. intern David Fribush, Erb ’10, is the lead author of a white paper that provides a big-picture understanding of the Smart Grid for Vermont Energy Investment Logoconsumers, legislators, regulators and utilities. MORE about the white paper “Electric Evolution: Issues Posed and Opportunities Presented by the Emergence of the Smart Grid.”

Read the Paper:

Erb students dominate sustainable business competitions

Walmart LogoRussell Baruffi and Brian Katzman, both Erb ’10, and Matt Schaar, MBA/MPP ’10, won the $20,000 first prize at the 2010 Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge held April 22-23 in Bentonville, Ark.  Their plan, “Silutions,” is a revolutionary and less environmentally harmful method to produce silane gas for the electronics industry.  Silane is a chemical critical for the manufacture of electronics such as flat-panel displays, semiconductors and solar panels.   The students will use the prize money to implement their business plan.


Baruffi, Katzman and Schaar, working together as the Green Silane team, also won The Erb Institute’s Sustainability Award at the Michigan Business Challenge in February.  The team was one of eight regional winners to compete in the national Walmart challenge; students invent sustainable products or develop sustainable business solutions and present them to a panel of Walmart executives, suppliers and environmental organizations.

Another clean energy prize imageU-M team called Enertia, including Adam Carver, Erb ’12, won the $50,000 top prize at DTE Energy’s statewide 2009-2010 Clean Energy Prize Competition in February.  Thirty-two teams from six schools competed.

Carver and his teammates, two Ph.D.  Fellows at the U-M’s Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems, won with a business plan for an invention that aims to displace toxic electrochemical batteries in the market.  The technology developed at U-M includes a patented device that can harness tiny kinetic vibrations from industrial machines, bridges or human movement to power small electronics such as remote sensors and surgically implanted medical equipment.

DTE Energy and the U-M established the Clean Energy Prize competition to encourage entrepreneurship in Michigan and the development of clean-energy technologies. The Masco Corporation Foundation and The Kresge Foundation were Clean Energy Prize founding sponsors and continue to support the competition. Additional sponsors include UBS Investment Bank, Google and Nth Power, a clean-tech venture capital company.


Brian Katzman and David Cieminis, both Erb ’10, co-founded the Renewable Energy Case Competition, which was hosted in January by The Erb Institute and the Ross School with the support of Acciona Energy and the Karl Friedman Family Foundation.  Twelve teams from the nation’s leading business schools competed.


Master’s projects

Master’s projects are a way for students to demonstrate the skills they’ve gained through course work and internships at the Ross School and the School of Natural Resources & Environment.  Here are a few examples of recent master’s projects that focused on climate:

Taka Isshiki

Taka Ishhiki

Taka Isshiki, Sean Killian and Laura Palombi, all Erb  ’11 students, were members of a 10-member master’s project team that recently completed an assignment for The Wilderness Society.   The students provided the client with analyses and tools to use when deciding where to site proposed utility-scale solar energy facilities in the Mojave and Colorado deserts of California.  The project included examining the ecological impacts of solar development on species, natural communities and landscape-scale ecological processes.  The students also evaluated the solar-permitting process and policy for solar development on public lands and looked at how the technology would impact the environment.  View the Project (pdf)

Area Based Development and Climate Change in West Africa and Latin America by Nemanja Babic,  Erb ’10; Amanda Bednarz, MS Conservation Biology; Sidney Brown, MS Environmental Justice/Master of Public Policy; Clair Leighton, MS Environmental Policy and Planning/Master of Urban Planning; Ashwina Mahanti, MS Environmental Policy and Planning; and Michel Sintetos, MS Environmental Policy and Planning. View the Project (pdf)

Corn Ethanol and Wildlife: How Are Policy and Market-driven Increases in Corn Planting Affecting Habitat and Wildlife by Elizabeth Griffin and Becca Brooke,  both Erb ’10; Aviva Glaser, MPH/MS Conservation Biology and Environmental Health Science, Conservation Biology; Kristen Johnson, MS Environmental Policy and Planning; and  Greg Fogel, MPP/MS Environmental Policy Planning. View the Project (pdf)

Residential Electricity Usage in Michigan:  Implications of Dynamic Pricing and PHEVs by Arie Jongejan, Brian Katzman, Thomas Leahy and Mark Michelin, all Erb ’10. View the Project (pdf)

Koch family and US Renewables  create scholars award

Alumnus Jonathan Koch, MBA/MS ’96, co-founder and managing director of the equity fund US Renewables Group (USRG), believes in investing in renewable energy and in people.  The Koch Family and USRG recently established the Renewable Energy Scholars Award.

The award is a merit-based grant for Erb Institute MBA/MS students who are pursuing a business idea or writing an essay for publication focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency or carbon mitigation.  Up to four scholarships of at least $1,000 will be awarded per year.

“If we’re going to meet the projected market demand and mandated requirements for renewable power and fuel in the near future, we will need a lot of smart, energetic and creative people entering the field.  We hope these scholarships help spark their interest,” says  Koch, who is featured in the Spring 2010 issue of Dividend magazine.

Speaker Series shines light on solar shingles, green power

Dow LogoSolar shingles and green power programs were two of the topics featured at the Erb Speaker Series this spring.   Patricia Nugent, senior leader of new business development at Dow Solar Solutions, presented “The DOW™POWERHOUSE™ Solar shingle: 
A Case Study in Entrepreneurship within a Corporate Environment” in February.  In March, panelists from DTE Energy, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, The Ecology Center and U-M’s Facilities and Operations Department discussed how green power programs work.  University representatives also shared information about U-M’s efforts to develop renewable energy resources.

Raising awareness

offshore drilling rigExpanding offshore oil and natural gas drilling along U.S. coasts will not lower gas prices, write Andrew Hoffman and Thomas Lyon in an April 2 opinion piece titled “The Simple Economics of Offshore Drilling.”

“However, expanding drilling will transfer wealth from oil producers like Chavez, Putin and the Saudis to the oil companies that develop these offshore assets.  This can have some benefits.  It may help us reduce the flow of funds to terrorist organizations and it will certainly help investors in the oil companies that exploit our domestic oil resources,” Hoffman and Lyon assert.

In a recent interview posted on ClimateBiz, David Hone, climate change adviser for Shell, told Andrew Hoffman that the U.S Congress needs to deliver “a clear and unambiguous piece of legislation designed to drive the economy along the emissions reduction pathway that President Obama has now announced.”