The Often-Updated CleanTech Marketer Terms To Know
Let’s start by acknowledging that the Venn diagram between CleanTech and ClimateTech is basically a circle. Well, maybe you didn’t know that, but the folks over at Clean Energy Venture have illustrated this perfectly.
So, what’s a marketer to do when thrown the task of identifying the latest terms in their respective industry? You start with the basics, and since you’ve found your way here, we’d say you’re on the right track.
Just like our original guide on Tech Marketer Terms, we’ll be updating this list as new terms roll in.
Go ahead, start a new note in your notes app and let those fingers fly.
Alternative energy: Wind, water, solar — if it’s a non-fossil fuel energy source, it’s alternative.
Anthropogenic emissions: These are the emissions that humans produce on a day to day basis through basic activities such as burning fossil fuels for transportation, raising livestock or fertilizing crops – all of which release greenhouse gases (GHGs).
Biofuel: Some really smart folks figured out how to convert recently dead or living plant material and animal waste into (bio)fuel.
Blacksurfing: Did you know an all-white web page uses about 74 watts to display on a CRT monitor as compared to an all-black page that uses only 59 watts? Dark Mode, blacksurfing — whatever you call it, you’re cutting back on energy usage when you make the switch.
Cap-and-trade system: The cap-and-trade system — a market-based approach sometimes called emissions trading — is used to put a cap (pun intended) on the amount of emissions released by giving GHGs a literal price tag. When companies overspend their emission permits, they’ve got to pay up or make a trade with other companies that underspent their permits.
Carbon capture: Okay, bear with us here. There are startups all over the world using various means of technology to capture, store and/or remove carbon dioxide from industrial processes before it enters the atmosphere. These technologies include everything from afforestation (planting trees to create forests in barren areas) to biochar (an ancient Amazonian practice of using burnt organic material that is used to improve soil quality) and direct air capture (moving atmospheric air through a solution that contains CO2-capturing chemicals).
Carbon credit: Calling back to the cap-and-trade system, these permits allow entities to emit a specific amount of GHGs.
Carbon footprint: Popularized by British Petroleum – that’s right, the oil giant, BP – in the early aughts, this term was used to describe the amount of GHGs individuals generate in our day-to-day actions.
Carbon market: Another callback to the cap-and-trade system, the carbon market is the system used to buy, sell and trade carbon credits.
Carbon neutral: A status where carbon emissions are balanced by carbon absorption from the atmosphere.
Carbon offset: The production of sustainable energies to counterbalance the use of fossil fuels is a carbon offset.
Cellular agriculture: Remember those articles about lab-grown meat that were popping up around 2020? That’s cellular agriculture. This industry looks to produce more environmentally-friendly alternatives to agricultural products (meat, milk and eggs) through a combination of biotechnology, tissue engineering, molecular biology, and synthetic biology.
Circularity/Circular economy: By harnessing resources and reducing unnecessary production waste, the circular economy challenges the way we operate in our day-to-day lives to achieve a cleaner, more sustainable world.
Clean computing: Organizations that manufacture, use and dispose of IT equipment in a way that doesn’t produce harmful waste are, well, computing…cleanly. It’s also a subset of green computing, which we talk about below.
Climate modeling: These are programs designed to analyze climate data and assess risk. By leveraging AI applications, we can approximate how the planet will respond to various forces, such as increases in carbon dioxide.
Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT): Is anyone out there comparing and evaluating desktop computers, notebooks and monitors based on their environmental attributes? Surprise, EPEAT is. They even created a ranking system to help inform purchasers in the public and private sectors.
Geoengineering: What if we could help the planet help itself? That’s geoengineering – the intentional modification of a planet’s environment for the benefit of combating climate change.
Green collar: Solar panel installation, constructing giant wind turbines, brewing biofuels – if a job focuses on products or services that are environmentally friendly, they’re green collar.
Green computing: While clean computing (see above) is all about the environmentally-responsible use, manufacturing and disposal of computers and other tech products, green computing is the overarching idea around the economic viability of such practices. A green computing umbrella, if you will.
Green data center: Did you know data centers account for around 3% of global emissions? Global. Green data centers utilize modern, energy-efficient building materials and tech to store, manage, and disseminate data in a more environmentally-friendly way from the ground up – literally.
Green hydrogen: The majority of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, green hydrogen seeks out a more environmentally-friendly means of production through renewable sources.
Green networking: We’re not talking about virtual HH (happy hour, of course) or digital summits, although, they fit into this realm. No, this is about consolidating or upgrading to more energy-efficient devices, relying more on telecommuting and videoconferencing, and implementing virtualization to reduce power consumption across a network.
Greenwashing: Now this is a hot topic. Have you ever seen a campaign from a fast fashion brand promoting their latest eco-friendly line, only to come up empty-handed after doing some digging into their claims? That’s greenwashing – the art of making misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, or technology.
Indoor farming: Okay, this one is obvious – farming done indoors. But what’s the benefit? Traditional farming is at the mercy of favorable weather conditions, while indoor farming offers the advantage of a controlled environment. Another great aspect of indoor farming is the ability to scale production upwards (vertical farming) as opposed to outwards across acreage
Industrial decarbonization processes: Industrial processes, such as the production of steel, concrete, and various chemicals are big carbon emitters. Companies in the industrial decarbonization space are developing improvements that produce similar outputs with fewer or (ideally) no carbon emissions.
Long-duration energy storage technologies (LDES): The definition of this one is in the name – these tech companies look for ways to improve the ability to store energy from the grid for on-demand use. For what? Well, as the industry expands into renewable energy, LDES provides enhanced grid reliability.
Microgrids: These (not so) little guys are localized power grids that can disconnect from the traditional grid. By operating independently, microgrids help communities reduce energy usage costs and improve stability and resiliency.
Micro-mobility: Remember when Bird and Lime scooters started hitting the streets? These may seem like just a fun alternative to hoofing it on foot actually, but they’re intended to bridge the gap in transportation access.
Natural disaster preparedness and response: As the climate continues to change, the frequency of severe weather events increases. Fortunately, there are tech companies out there that have been developing proactive and reactive measures using AI, drones, and communication platforms to help minimize the impact.
Next-generation battery technology: The next time you see a brand talking up next-generation battery technology, they’re talking about improvements or alternatives to lithium-ion batteries. As the development of electric vehicles increases, we’re going to see iterations for consumer electronics and better storage options for renewable energy continue to roll out.
Photovoltaic: You ever wonder how solar panels do their thing? It’s the photovoltaic effect. Semiconducting materials capture solar energy and convert it into direct current electricity.
Purchase power agreement (PPA): When two parties agree on who generates the electricity and who is purchasing it, that’s a PPA.
Reforestation: In a general sense, we’re talking about replanting trees in areas where they’ve been removed or destroyed. In the tech space, we’re looking at companies that use the forces of tech to simplify and accelerate the process; drone-based replanting, satellite and AI-supplemented imaging, and carbon offset programs, among many others.
Regenerative agriculture: The pressure to implement more environmentally-friendly practices in the agricultural sector continues to grow, but fortunately, there are some really clever folks out there who are developing ways to simplify that. Reversing climate change through rebuilding organic matter in the soil, restoring degraded soil biodiversity, and carbon payments are just the tip of the iceberg here.
Renewable energy generation: Solar, wind, geothermal – the list goes on – are all energy sources that produce no carbon emissions.
Scope 1 Emissions: In this scope of emissions, we’re looking at any GHGs that are generated directly under a company’s control; think company vehicles and facilities.
Scope 2 Emissions: This scope refers to emissions generated at another facility – usually the use of purchased energy. So, think about the energy used to power a facility’s electricity, heating and cooling, and so on.
Scope 3 Emissions: Now we’ve entered the territory of indirect emission generation. These emissions are a result of activities that don’t occur under the company’s control, but are adjacent to them; employees commuting to and from work, transportation and use of sold products, etc.
Silent vampire: You know that one phone charger you leave plugged in months at a time? Would you look at it differently if someone told you it’s actually a vampire? That’s right – that inconspicuous little cord is drawing electricity even when it’s not connected to a device. No wooden stake is necessary to defeat these suckers, just unplug ‘em and run.
Smart grid: Have you ever thought about how there are people all over the country potentially flipping on lights at the exact same time? Better yet, how the heck does that work? We’ve got smart grids to thank for that. Basically, these grids allow two-way communication between power utility providers and customers for efficient, reliable electricity transmission.
Smart waste management: Let’s talk trash. Anything from waste bins equipped with sensors to AI recycling robots that can sort recycling from trash, smart waste management companies are looking for ways to make waste management systems work smarter.
Water scarcity: In a literal sense, water scarcity is the lack of access to clean, fresh water. In the tech space, companies are developing solutions that seek to improve access to, and the cleanliness of, water in drought-prone regions.
What you choose to do with this newfound knowledge is totally up to you, but maybe you’ll think twice about leaving that sneaky little phone charger plugged in for days on end. Shoot, go wild – unplug whatever you can reach, we won’t stop ya.
If you’ve got any new terms to submit, we’d love to see them. You can shoot us a note, and keep an eye out for future terms to know.