First Takes: GE, Other Global Giants Take on World's Water Woes, and More

First Takes: GE, Other Global Giants Take on World's Water Woes, and More

• Worldwide Water Works: The World Resources Institute and some of the world's best-known companies are banding together in the Aqueduct Alliance. Founded by WRI, Goldman Sachs and General Electric, the group launched today intends to harness the efforts in business,the public sector and academia to tackle water issues by measuring, mapping and reporting on global water risks.

Other participants include Bloomberg, Dow Chemical Company, Talisman Energy, United Technologies and the Coca-Cola Company.

• Plug-In Perk: First, there were commuter vouchers. Then came better parking spaces for car pool, hybrid and electric vehicles. Now, free EV charging in the company parking lot is the latest perk for the eco-minded commuter. EV-driving workers at the IEEE op center in New Jersey can plug into a Leviton Evr-Green charging station courtesy of the firm Graybar, which donated the charger to the professional association that focuses on advancing technology to better the world.

Levitron is to build customize EV charging stations for Toyota following the introduction of the automaker's 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid and RAV4 EV models, Smart Planet reports.

• Energy-Saving in the Cloud:
Home energy management systems are in the news this summer as IT behemoths Google, Microsoft and Cisco pull out of the arena and companies with a solid base in the field push consumer and utility offerings. Vivint, one of the larger home automation firms in North America, is teaming with Tendril, a cloud platform provider for the energy industry, to extend the reach of both firms. The companies announced their deal this morning.

• Know When to Fold 'Em?: MGM Resorts International wants permission to knock down the soaring Harmon tower, which was intended as a gateway high-rise to the green CityCenter development in Las Vegas. The hotel chain contends the building is unsafe, but the general contractor for the structure told the LA Times that MGM Resorts just wants to rid itself of the big property to "avoid adding the Harmon as additional glut to its other vacant properties in CityCenter under the guise of 'public safety.' "

• Solar Good News/Bad News: Citigroup has set up a tax-equity fund for financing  installation of $50 million in residential rooftop power systems by Sungevity Inc. This is in addition to $120 million in other tax-equity funds Sungevity has raised since last year, SFGate reports.

Ascent Solar Lands $450M Asian Deal: A Chinese construction firm and a Singapore-based investment firm has committed to nearly $450 million in deals with Ascent Solar, further moving the company away from building-integrated solar and toward applications for off-grid and developing-country uses. "Strategically, this type of partnership enables us to focus on R&D, and product and plant development, while our partners focus on scale up, cost reduction and commercialization," chairman Amit Kumar said in a statement.

Evergreen Chapter 11: One-time star solar company Evergreen has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In its heydey, Evergreen employed about 900 people locally and had a stock price of more than $100 a share. On Monday, its stock closed at 18 cents. The Boston Globe has more details.

• Back to Virtual School: A course on corporate sustainability strategy is available online from Harvard University's extension program for those who want to go back to school for this topic via distance learning. The class taught by GreenBiz guest writer Bob Pojasek and Suzanne Farver begins August 29.

• Oil Guzzling on a Global Scale:
The recession didn't have a lasting effect in curbing oil consumption, which hit an all-time worldwide high of 87.4 million barrels per day in 2010, says a Vital Signs Online report from the Worldwatch Institute. A 3.1 percent increase last year more than offset a decline resulting from the economic crisis, according to the report that's available at vitalsigns.worldwatch.org.

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