Playing the Green Advantage

Given recent history, 2012 has been a good year for investors in the green sector.

Most funds are up — some with double-digit gains following the enormous losses of a largely dismal stretch dating back to 2008, when crude oil prices hit record highs on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the Solyndra controversyof last year is fading, venture capital investment is on the rebound, and clean tech firms continue to hit the IPO market.

Green is alive, if not entirely well, and certainly bigger than ever.

The Green Advantage
The Green Advantage

By one estimate, according to a Brookings Institution report, the green sector now represents two percent of the nation's economic activity. What's more, it is a hotbed of research, development, and innovation.

Green is now well beyond recycling, organic food, and solar roofs. In fact, it is well beyond alternative energy. The sector is extremely diverse, technologically complex and yet, surprisingly basic, even obvious covering design, systems, products, software, construction, and, yes, packaging.

As we here at CNBC and NBC Universal once again highlight Earth Day as part of our Green Is Universal initiative, our mission is to show that green, first and foremost, is a business, and at times a transformative one.

Accordingly, our contribution to GIU is the "The Green Advantage," a collection of stories looking at the dynamic pairing of technology and commerce: recycling auto plants, solar sites on farms, clean chemicals, energy harvesting and virtual power plants.

So, er, take advantage of our offering.