January 22nd, 2010

What’s your Opinion? Green Tech VS. Clean Tech VS. ‘EnerTech’?

BOSTON -

A couple weeks ago, I was sent this article by a friend: Metcalfe brings VC perspective to Alternative Energy. Metcalfe is an interesting guy that has a great perspective. I skimmed through it and this part really popped out at me: “Networking isn’t the only goal Metcalfe’s been using to try to change people’s thinking on energy technology. “Green” has been politicized, he says, and its anti-business stigma is an impediment. Rather than “green tech,” or “cleantech,” Metcalfe’s been beating a drum for adoption of the term, “enertech.”

I agree with Metcalfe that “Green” has been politicized and tends to divide people even though everyone agrees with the principles (i.e. no one likes to get cancer and thus dislikes the things that cause it). I’ve tended to use the term “clean Tech” in the past because I feel it frames the issue nicely (something Republicans have long been good at, and no I’m not a Democrat either) in terms of clean versus dirty. If something isn’t clean, it must be dirty and that’s bad. Easy to understand. Metcalfe’s perspective is interesting but I think it misses the point, “green” and “clean” are more than just about energy. It’s about food, building materials, toxins, yadda yadda yadda. It’s also possible that he understands this but simply feels “enerTech” will be a more useful name due to the politicization of the two other words.

But I really think this one is still up for debate and I want to hear what you think. Which terms do you use and why?

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Chris Williams

About Chris Williams

Chris Williams is the editor of Green Light Distrikt and Chief Marketing Officer at HeatSpring . He has experience in business development, prototyping and new venture research with a focus on geothermal heat pumps, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies. Chris is an IGSHPA accredited geothermal installer and NABCEP certified solar installer. Chris is focused on solving customer facing issues in the creation and adoption of clean energy technologies and products. Chris has installed over 300kW of solar and tens of geothermal systems. He's invented the PV Pal , developed many trainings at HeatSpring, publishes the NABCEP Study Guide , the Hitchhikers Guide to Cleantech and has done due diligence research for Urgent VC . Feel free to connect with him @topherwiliams , on Linkedin , or through email about new ventures, collaborating, writing, research or whatever is on your mind.

  • http://www.greentechmedia.com/ Greentech Media

    Coming from Greentech Media – as we use it, “green” tech refers to technology in the renewable energy fields, including generation, distribution and consumption. While I agree that the polarizing concept of “Green” can be a negative, but I also think that these technologies do need to be differentiated from the traditional sources through their connection to the planet and their natural sources. It's a fine line, I agree, and I certainly never would disagree with someone using “clean” or “ener”. However, for now I still think that Green is the most accurate description of the kind of technology that we cover. And trust me – from the number of calls we get from people wanting us to use their bamboo plant or solar powered calculator, I know that some people don't realize we're a b-to-b media resource vs. a green promoter, but we're working on getting the word out.

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  • cleantechboston

    I tend to use “Clean” for CleanTech (and as a side note, what is the consensus on whether this word should be one word or two?) rather than Green. And, I much prefer either to “EnerTech.”

    For the green vs. clean issue, I fall on the side of clean more because to me clean implies the goal of the technology more than green does. Perhaps it is because of the bucket loads of greenwashing that have taken place over the last two years by major corporations/industries, but to me CleanTech is anything that is working towards a cleaner future. This can range from renewable energy sources to new types of water filtration systems, to energy storage.

    Both Green and Clean beat Ener for me hands down at this point — I think it is too late to change the vernacular. Just as this topic has become front-of-mind for many, “EnerTech” doesn't evoke anything. It doesn't draw a picture in the mind of what it actually is or what it may be. While it alludes to energy, that connection isn't necessarily immediately obvious.

    Until there is a susinct definition of what green/clean technology encompasses and what it doesn't there wil be many different ways of referencing the same things.

  • Bernadette

    While I don't have a great deal of knowledge about the current happenings in the “green” or “clean” tech industry, from a consumer point of view and from someone who is aware of the global environmental issues we are facing, I feel that enertech as a term is unclear. At the same time you indicate the clean has applications beyond just energy, I agree, but is that a bad thing? There are many practices across industries that need improvement.

  • martinlamonica

    EnerTech is limited because it doesn't address water or materials. Investors tend to talk about the clean tech category but I think the general populace is more familiar with the term green technologies. I don't distinguish between them.

  • http://www.thegreenlightdistrikt.com Chris Williams

    Wow! I love all these comments and they're all interesting perspective into the use of the word which seems trivial but I think is really important for the movement to have a clear definition.

    Green Tech – I agree, the polarizing aspect, although can be negative surely does separate it from everything else and describes what it is trying to achieve.

    Bernadette – I think that the use of the word clean has more implications other then energy is precisely WHY it's so valuable.

    Matt (Clean Tech Boston) – Thank you for your comment. I think the amount of green washing that has gone on has put a sour taste in my mouth as well. Personally, I don't really use the word at all anymore!

    Martin – That's a very interesting point of view, the difference between the use of words between the general public and investors. Now that I think about it, that's completely true. I agree, it doesn't seem like there is a current distinction between green tech and clean tech but I wonder if one will form in the near future. What do you guys think?

  • http://www.thegreenlightdistrikt.com Chris Williams

    Wow! I love all these comments and they're all interesting perspective into the use of the word which seems trivial but I think is really important for the movement to have a clear definition.

    Green Tech – I agree, the polarizing aspect, although can be negative surely does separate it from everything else and describes what it is trying to achieve.

    Bernadette – I think that the use of the word clean has more implications other then energy is precisely WHY it's so valuable.

    Matt (Clean Tech Boston) – Thank you for your comment. I think the amount of green washing that has gone on has put a sour taste in my mouth as well. Personally, I don't really use the word at all anymore!

    Martin – That's a very interesting point of view, the difference between the use of words between the general public and investors. Now that I think about it, that's completely true. I agree, it doesn't seem like there is a current distinction between green tech and clean tech but I wonder if one will form in the near future. What do you guys think?

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