How Green Are Boston’s Green VCs?

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more energy-efficient, front-loading washer and dryer, changed watering patterns/usage for lawn. Currently evaluating solar PV and other clean technologies.
Bonus anecdote: In 2002, he was offered a job with Enron Wind (now GE Wind) near Bakersfield, CA. Tried to get his wife, Kelly, to move with him from San Francisco and live in a cabin off the grid, using wind and solar power. She declined and he didn’t take job.

Eric Emmons, investment partner, Siemens Venture Capital
Car: Toyota Prius, backed up by Zip Car
Home life: Revamped house with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) back in 2005. Used gDiapers (flushable/compostable diapers) until his kids got too big, now they are in Seventh Generation unbleached diapers. Recycles, uses canvas shopping bags and biodegradable garbage bags, doesn’t buy PET plastics.
Work life: Both he and wife commute via the T.
Bonus detail: Carries the Brighter Planet Visa card issued by Bank of America, which earns points used to purchase carbon offsets.


Bob Metcalfe, general partner, Polaris Venture Partners
Car: Traded in a 12-cylinder S600 Mercedes for a 3-cylinder Smart Car, license plate: SMATKA. “My big car is a Mini. Robyn [his wife] has a Mini too. SMATKA and my Mini are parked nose to nose in one parking space in our garage.”
Bonus thoughts: “But SMATKA gets only 38 mpg, so I’m already shopping for my next car > 50 mpg, and then > 100 mpg. On the other hand, I do not think, after we solve energy, that we will be using less of it, oh no. Onward to squanderably abundant cheap and clean energy.”

Mark Modzelewski, advisor, Forge Partners
Car: Didn’t answer
Home life: Buys local produce and recycles
Work life: Takes T to work almost exclusively, rides bicycle on nice days
Bonus detail: As a hobby, builds environmentally friendly wooden surfboards.

Jon Karlen, general partner, Flybridge Capital Partners
Car: Toyota Prius—but Karlen sees that as temporary. “The interesting one is going to be the Chevy Volt, and I’m going to be all over that one.”
Bonus anecdote: Went to a cleantech conference two years ago in Silicon Valley. When got to airport, the only rental car available was a Hummer H2. “Driving my H2 down to San Jose for the cleantech conference…I said, this is not happening again.”

David Berry, partner, Flagship Ventures
Car: Audi A4
Bonus analysis: “Personally, I have looked at a lot of things that I could do to make my life more ‘green,’ but do not want to do things for the sake of doing them without looking at the true impact—ie the lifecycle cost/impact. One example that made sense to me was going to a half compact fluorescent system at home, so you can still get light on quickly, but you significantly increase your total efficiency. Similarly, while I considered giving up driving to work for biking, when I compared the fuel consumption for the 4mi drive under standard conditions to the caloric intake needed to ride a bike the same distance, plus the life cycle impacts of that food, though surprising, driving ended up a better option. (Of course this is not a perfect analysis since gas is not the only think involved). There are a couple others, but these are the first two that come to mind.”

(Upgraded) Dennis Costello, managing director, Braemar Energy Ventures
Car: Car: Considering hybrid but hasn’t yet committed.
Personal life: Rebuilt beach house with Icyene foam insulation throughout, high efficiency boiler, and new windows. Uses EPA-certified wood stove to heat shop. Cooks in a lot, using local seasonal ingredients and a minimum of red meat.
Work life: Conscious about leaving lights at work and in hotels, but the big focus is investing in energy efficiency and alternative energy production technologies. “That is the real impact I am personally trying to have on our environment.”   Bonus Anecdote: “This Christmas, I changed out our Christmas tree to use just LED lights. It was great… bright, less energy, and cooler blubs so the tree lasted longer – our first solid state Christmas.”

BROWN (until proven otherwise)
Note to folks in this section: Planting a seed of information and watering it with an anecdote or two could green you up in no time.

Bill Wiberg, general partner, Advanced Technology Ventures
Colleague said he was traveling and would answer me when he returned.

Will Osborn, managing director, Mass Green Energy Fund
Didn’t answer e-mail

David Pelly, Matrix Partners
Didn’t answer e-mail

Hemant Taneja, managing director, General Catalyst Partners
Deferred to Dave Danielson

(Updated) Mike Zak, Charles River Ventures
Was out of the country and unable to answer initial e-mail. Called later to say he thought he could hold his own but that he didn’t want to participate in this article because he thought the focus “should be about ventures, not about venture capitalists.”

Bob Geiman, general partner, Polaris Venture Partners
Didn’t answer e-mail

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3 responses to “How Green Are Boston’s Green VCs?”

  1. fmmodzelewski says:

    For the record, except for 2 Saturday trips to Maine a month and occasional drives to CT for family, I put on maybe 5 miles of driving a month on my Dodge Magnum. Which I have solely to cart 3 pit bulls, longboards and art supplies.

    F Mark Modzelewski

  2. Brad Anderson says:

    Driving a hybrid may not be the best measure of green-ness. It takes about 100,000 miles of energy savings in driving a brand-new hybrid to “pay for” the environmental cost of building and shipping it to the new “green” owner. (compared to a moderate mileage used car that you already own)

    Making lifestyle changes like using less and living close to where you work/shop/recreate all have immediate environmental benefits. As does insulating a home – compared to compact fluorescents that are loaded with mercury and probably made in china.