As you likely read last week, BrightTALK, an  online webcasting portal is hosting the Green Building Summit on Wednesday, April 22.  What you may not have seen, is that BrightTALK is doing free webcasts on Green topics all week.

BrightTALK is kicking things off on Monday with Jo Mackness, Executive Director of the UC Berkeley Center For Responsible Business. Ms. Mackness will discuss ways companies can leverage interest in Green.  Other topics through the week include Green IT, Water Stewardship, Green Building, Corporate Stewardship, and Green Marketing.

I’m haven’t checked all of the offerings, but I’m fairly certain all of these webcasts are free.  So, take a look!

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At the California Green Building Blog we try to have a full menu of websites, blogs and resources on our links pages.  We do a pretty good job if I say so myself, but there are so many great resources on the web it’s tough to keep up.  It would be nice if there was a convenient way to aggregate all of those websites in one place. 

Well….Scott Weitzman at Solarfeeds.com has come up with a great solution: the GREENBAR.  The Greeenbar is a toolbar that fits on the top of your Internet Explorer or Firefox browser.  There is a space for searches, but the most compelling feature is the list of links that Scott and his team compiled.  There are a number of sites, and blogs on the Greenbar that I had not seen before. 

Scott’s website, Solarfeeds.com, is also a great web aggregator for news and information on the solar industry.

Great job, Scott!

There are a number free webcasts at the online “Green Building Summit.”  The programs look focused, and the speakers are generally very good.  

Topics include: incentives and regulation; building and operations; nanotechnology and other topics focused on green building and technology.

For more information go to: http://www.brighttalk.com/summit/greenbuilding

If you find yourself surrounded by hybrid, hydrogen, and electric cars, row after row of solar panels, methanol fuel cells, waterless urinals, high efficiency HVAC systems, and low voc paints – you are either in a clean techie’s daydream – or at the Green California Expo sponsored by Green Technology Magazine.  I was recently at the latter. Despite the economic situation, innovators of sustainable products, legislative agencies, and environmental advocacy groups proudly showcased the underpinnings of a green revolution. The attendees buzzed with energy as they soaked up inspiration from the morning keynote speakers, wandered among the exhibitors, and attended classroom break-out sessions.   

One interesting educational session was led by Noel Perry, founder of Next10, a nonprofit group that has been funding some of the leading studies on the correlation between environmental policies, employment rates, and total sector economic growth in California. (See the reports page of this blog for a full analysis of one of Next10’s studies). The panel speakers discussed the state’s key piece of environmental legislation, AB32, a bill signed into law in 2006 which mandates a reduction in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (about 30%). The bill authorizes the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to create a detailed action plan, or scoping plan, which was completed last December. This legislation makes California the first state in the nation to enforce a comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction plan that reaches across all sectors of the economy. The full text of the 140 page scoping plan can be found here.  The presenters assured the attendees that California maintains every intention of moving forward and achieving the items set forth in the scoping plan, regardless of the economic climate. The panel believed, relying on CARB’s own studies as well as those by Next10, that implementation of these measures will assist in stimulating economic growth throughout the state of California. And this exact ideology was the backbone for the mood I walked away with that permeated throughout the Expo: optimism with a touch of urgency – urgency that sustainability must be a part of the dialogue of rebuilding not only California, but our nation.

… Stay tuned for Part II – a summary of the Green California Leadership awards announced at the Expo!

This week, Roland Nikles helped us out with an interesting and thought provoking post.  A friend of Roland’s has some very interesting points to add.  He wants us to remember part of the reason California has doubled its economic output in the past 20 years without a commensurable increase in energy demand is because of increased efficiency and conservation.

Large buildings in California used to use 5 watts per square foot to light space, now they only use one. The commentor notes the reductions come from technology and consciousness.  Everything from motion detectors to the human hand turn off light switches, and improvements in interior insulation, windows, and HVAC systems all add up.  He predicts buildings will be twice as efficient in 30 years, but I don’t think it’s too optimistic to think efficiencies will be even greater.  Just remember what the world looked like in 1978 if you can think back that far…

Building codes are getting green, and even WalMart has aggressive green initiatives.  Take a look at a huge portion of their website devoted to sustainability issues.  With trends such as this, ubiquitous adoption of green technology may be closer than we think, and may just beat that 30 year prediction.  Even if we end up with buildings that are twice as efficient as today, that’s a pretty good deal.

A partner, Roland Nikles,  at our firm, Bell, Rosenberg & Hughes sent the email below.  Thanks, Roland, great stuff!

“Peak electricity demand in California is approximately 60,000 megawatts. In excess of 20% of this is imported, mostly from the Southeastern U.S. and the Pacific Northwest.  Roughly half of this demand is fulfilled by natural gas, a little less than a fifth by nuclear plants, and a similar amount by hydroelectric power plants.  Peak usage (which happens seldom) and peak capacity are about equal, which is why we flirt with black-out conditions on hot summer days.

 

For 20 plus years environmental lobbying on the one hand, and rate capping on the other hand, inhibited the construction of new power plants.  We stood idly by as demand rose ‘til, Enron and the partly real, partly manufactured energy crisis of 2001 jolted us sufficiently to acknowledge that new capacity must be added.  In the meantime, high crude oil prices, stimulus dollars, and global warming are making alternative energy sources more viable and attractive than ever.  Advances in technology since we last subsidized renewable energy (wind power at Altamont Pass, Tehachepi, and San Gorgonio, early generation solar heat in the Mojave, and solar panels for swimming pools) promise that this time round, renewable energy will be economically sustainable on a large scale.  California utilities are mandated to achieve 20 percent renewable energy by 2017, and this appears eminently achievable.

 

BrightSource Energy of Oakland, a client [editor’s note: client of the firm at which the authors work], is one company at the forefront of this renewable energy renewal. They have contracts to develop 2,000 megawatts of solar power (heat generation technology) for California’s two major utilities:  Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison.  These contracts all by themselves represent a 4 percent increase in the state’s electrical power capacity. 

 

My brother-in-law, David, an early adopter of everything cool, has a 7kw solar panel installation on his roof.  If 3 million California households (26% of total households) had similar installations, that would add up to an additional 21,000 megawatts of renewable power.  Assuming an installation cost of $21,000 each, that would represent a cost of $3,000/kw, which I believe would be very competitive with building new nuclear power plants ($3,500 – $4,000 per kw).  

 

So let’s hear it for, clients, renewable energy, and brothers-in-law!  As Arnold would say, Go Kalifornia!”

Recent news have been mainly a dismal affair when it comes to the economy.  One report states that all but five metropolitan cities will suffer major job losses.  Another report states that graduates from top universities are unable to find jobs, despite stellar grades and credentials.

In the midst of all of this, I found one piece of positive news pertaining to jobs in the clean energy sector:

According to Fast Company, a magazine devoted to innovation and technology, the following ten jobs will be in high demand over the next decade as the country continues to increase investment in clean energy:

  1. Farmer – America’s two million farmers, with an average age of 55, will need to be replaced by a larger group of smaller-scale farmers
  2. Forester – deforestation, which has become a leading source of carbon credits worth billions of dollars, will increase the need for foresters skilled in finance, conservation, and development.
  3. Solar Power Installer – greater need for installers if anticipated tax credits are accelerated
  4. Energy Efficiency Builder (LEED) – increased need for specialized architect, engineers, and retrofit workers
  5. Wind Turbine Fabricator – fastest-growing source of alternative energy will create a need for new jobs in this sector
  6. Conservation Biologist – need to preserve the integrity of world’s ecosystems
  7. Green MBA/Entrepreneur – need to assess the “triple bottom line” – People, Planet, Profit
  8. Recycler – create alternatives to high costs associated with disposal
  9. Sustainability Systems Developer – create new software to run clean energy networks
  10. Urban Planner – increasing the use of mass transit, limiting suburban sprawl

Of course, some of the growth in the aforementioned job fields may be contingent upon the passing of President Obama’s $1 trillion economic stiumulus plan, which will provide federal funding for renewable energy, mass transit, construction, and renovation, among other things.