“Not disposable” is printed on the floor next to the Styrofoam recycling area at the Recology store in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“Not disposable” is printed on the floor next to the Styrofoam recycling area at the Recology store in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

Clean technology is about more than just wind and solar

Local companies are baking clean tech into manufacturing processes and products and services of all kinds.

EVERETT — What is clean technology? Until 10 or 15 years ago, clean tech referred almost exclusively to ventures focused on the design and manufacture of renewable energy sources — such as wind and solar and the batteries used to store that energy.

Now,it can be used to describe products and services that reduce pollution, waste and energy use in a broad range of industries, said Diane Kamionka, head of TheLab@Everett, a business incubator that’s paired with the Seattle-based CleanTech Alliance to present monthly clean tech discussions.

“Clean tech is now incorporated into manufacturing, food production and packaging,” Kamionka said.

Nearly 84,000 people are employed in clean tech sectors throughout Washington, according to a report called Clean Jobs Washington 2019, including 36,500 in King County, 7,800 in Snohomish County and 7,000 in Pierce County.

Cutting an unnecessary step in a manufacturing process or supply chain can lower costs and the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted.

In Bothell, ASX Composites, a year-old startup, is about to deploy machines that can manufacture carbon fiber composites in small quantities and onsite, a method that can save on storage and transportation costs, said Andy Buchan, the firm’s vice president of strategy and business development.

Composites, the materials used in the manufacture of lightweight aerospace parts and wind turbines, are usually manufactured in large quantities and then stored in huge refrigerators that gobble electricity. Delivery requires hauling the material on refrigerated trucks. ASX Composites hopes to streamline the process at several points in the supply chain — reducing storage time and transportation costs.

For 20 years, WaterTectonics, an Everett firm, has been treating wastewater that’s used in the construction, mining and oil-and-gas industries. The company’s patented technologies remove heavy metals, oil and other particles so that water can be safely returned to the environment. “It’s one thing to put together a small system in the basement — the challenge is getting it to work in an industry where the flow might be 100 to 2,000 gallons a minute,” said Jason Mothersbaugh, the company’s vice president and general manager.

The Recology store in Bothell’s Canyon Park Place shopping center sells recycled products and up-cycled goods, including dryer fabric softeners made of recycled wool, wallets fashioned from airplane seat leather and a reusable ear swab. “It’s actually really popular,” said Erin Gagnon, who oversees Recology’s four Puget Sound retail locations.

Concern over human-created climate change has prompted more companies and governments to take steps to reduce carbon footprints. “Footprint” refers to the amount of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, that’s released in the course of human activity, such as oil and natural gas extraction, farming and travel that uses fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is implicated in the rise of drought, heat waves, heavier rain, flooding, shrinking polar ice caps and changes in the habitat of marine and land animals.

Last year, the Snohomish County Council unanimously passed a resolution committing to a goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030 and 100% clean energy in its transportation and other energy sectors by 2045. The pledge includes the creation of an energy efficiency fund and commitments to a green fleet and green building policy.

The county’s pledge is similar to measures in Edmonds, Bellingham, Spokane, Whatcom County and elsewhere.

The Everett City Council passed a resolution last month declaring a climate emergency. The measure, introduced by councilman Paul Roberts, requires the city to review energy, land use and transportation methods as part of an overall public and private effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last month, Microsoft pledged to become 100% “carbon-negative” by 2030, which means that it plans to remove more carbon from the environment than it emits.

Can capitalism reduce the region’s carbon footprint?

Eric Berman, a member of a Puget Sound-based investors group focused on clean technology, thinks so.

Berman is the board of directors co-chair at E8, an angel investors group that backs clean tech companies. The organization is named after oxygen, the eighth element in the periodic table. Since its 2006 founding, E8 has invested nearly $40 million in clean-tech companies.

“Policy and charity are great — important — but at the end of the day the most powerful tool is capitalism,” Berman said.

“If you can’t make money being sustainable, you’re always going to be a niche. Automaker Tesla is great not because they’re green but because they make amazing cars,” Berman said.

E8 candidates are generally past the friends-and-family stage of a young company’s evolution, Berman said.

“They’ve raise a little bit of money, they’ve got a prototype. They’ve made a gallon of something, now they need to make 10,000 gallons. They have a credible business plan. Our money should give them about two years of runway until they can be self-sustaining,” Berman said.

Investment strategies have changed in the past decade, he said. Until about 2010, clean tech investment centered on science and manufacturing. Now it’s more closely focused on technologies that reduce waste and energy use. So, for example, investing in software that controls a car battery’s recharging cycle could be a sound investment. “Batteries last longer if you don’t fully charge and discharge them,” Berman explained.

The Seattle-based CleanTech Alliance aims to support the growth of clean tech companies and jobs through educational programs, research, products and services. “Our mission is helping companies get started and be successful in this sector,” said J. Thomas Ranken, president and CEO. That includes helping entrepreneurs identify potential markets. “We had a young woman, an entomologist, come in who wanted to feed the world with bugs,” Ranken said. “Instead of human food, we found that the bigger market is animal food. She’s doing very well,” he said.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Learn more about clean tech

TheLab@everett is live-streaming the 2020 CleanTech Alliance Breakfast Series, a free monthly event that showcases clean tech speakers and topics, lab director Kamionka said.

The next installment, “Changing Trends in Energy Storage,” will be live-streamed from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Feb. 18 from TheLab at 1001 N Broadway in Everett.

Jud Virden, associate lab director for energy and the environment at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is the featured speaker. Everyone is welcome to attend.

TheLab is also sponsoring a free Clean Tech Mixer on Feb. 25 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. It’s a social hour to talk about clean tech.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

The Boeing factory at Paine Field in Everett. (Boeing Co.)
Could Everett become Boeing’s next jetliner headquarters?

The company is considering selling the Commercial Airplanes division offices at Longacres in Renton.

FILE - An American Airlines Boeing 737-823 lands at Miami International Airport, Monday, July 27, 2020, in Miami.American Airlines said Tuesday, Aug. 25 that it will furlough or lay off 19,000 employees in October as it struggles with a sharp downturn in travel because of the pandemic. Flight attendants will bear the heaviest cuts, with 8,100 losing their jobs.  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
American plans flights with Boeing 737 Max by year-end

Customers can see on American’s website the type of plane for any flight if they know where to click.

Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency, in Amsterdam on Nov. 27, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Yuriko Nakao.
Boeing Max judged safe to fly by Europe’s aviation regulator

A synthetic sensor to aid pilots when the mechanical angle-of-attack sensors fail is still two years out.

Cop turned pinup model in Gold Bar charged with $67K fraud

Brenda Cavoretto was injured when a dead body fell on her in 2012. She’s accused of overselling its lasting impact.

Washington unemployment rate drops to 7.8%

Most job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality, construction and other services.

Premera Blue Cross will eliminate hundreds of jobs as it seeks to cut costs sparked by the current economic downturn. (Submitted photo)
Mountlake Terrace-based health insurer Premera cuts 285 jobs

The layoff at Premera Blue Cross, prompted by the economic downturn, represents about 8.3% of its workforce.

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2018, file photo, the logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.  Twitter is imposing new rules, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020,  ahead of the U.S. presidential election, prohibiting people,  including candidates, from claiming an election win before it is called by either state election officials or two authoritative, national news outlets. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Twitter to pay $100,000 over Washington campaign violations

The company failed to maintain records related to ads that ran from 2012 through 2019.

FILE  - In this Sept. 30, 2020, file photo, a Boeing 737 MAX jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle. Boeing says the pandemic will reduce demand for new planes for the next decade, long after experts expect a vaccine for COVID-19. The company updated its forecast of the airplane market on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. It remains upbeat about long-term prospects driven by increasing air travel in Asia. Boeing, which along with Europe’s Airbus dominates the aircraft-building industry, has seen orders and deliveries of new planes crumble this year. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Boeing’s struggles continue: No jetliner sales in September

The company has suffered 448 cancellations for the Max and dropped another 602 orders from its backlog.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the EU Commission, speaks at a press conference in Berlin, Germany, following the informal talks of the EU Trade Ministers on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020.  (Bernd von Jutrczenka/Pool via AP)
Rule: EU can impose $4 billion in tariffs over Boeing support

Tax breaks for Boeing from Washington state were deemed to have unfairly harmed certain Airbus jets.

Kellie Shanahan loads Jacob McGovern's vehicle with his class tool bag at Meadowdale High School in Lynnwood on October 1, 2020.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
How do you teach auto shop remotely? Edmonds class finds out

For some local high school students, auto shop is the thing that keeps them from dropping out.

Newly certified teacher Shana Brown assists a student with a Zoom meeting, while overseeing a class of seven students, in the former warehouse space at Malicious Women Candles on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 in Snohomish, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
For some Snohomish County kids, a warehouse is a schoolhouse

Employers made space for students to attend virtual classes on-site. But at least one learning pod had to shut down.

FILE - In this  July 8, 2009, file photo, a worker dries a car at Seattle's famous Elephant car wash, near the Space Needle in Seattle. Seattle's iconic pink elephant sign soon will have a new home. The Seattle Times reports the Elephant Car Wash on Battery Street near Denny Way will close permanently, the company announced in a news release Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Seattle’s Elephant Car Wash to shutter, pink sign to be saved

Rumors have swirled surrounding a demolition permit for the site was filed Oct. 7.