In Episode 94 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 30, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Michele McGeoy, founder and executive director of Solar Richmond, which offers free solar training, staffing services leading to temporary and permanent employment, and green business ownership opportunities for low income and under-employed residents of Richmond, CA.

photo of Michele McGeoy

Michele McGeoy of Solar Richmond

McGeoy spent the beginning of her career running several software companies and later founded a non-profit that sought to tackle the digital divide.  Eventually, she “burned out” on the computer industry and transitioned to the solar field.  A longtime Richmond, CA resident, she wanted the city to be part of the green economy.  Solar, she thought, was the antidote to pollution, and jobs were the antidote to violence.  Solar Richmond’s mission is to “catalyze transformative change,” which includes providing training and job opportunities related to solar, including installation, service and back office jobs, for 18-24 year olds.

Partnering with Berkeley City College, Solar Richmond has placed more than 140 young people in green collar jobs in which they acquire skills transferable to many industries and careers.  Recently, Solar Richmond became a worker-owned cooperative, in which graduates of the program become part owners in the company. McGeoy hopes to have 10 worker-owners by end of next year and continue to add new employee-owners every year.

Solar Richmond logo

Solar Richmond logo

Solar Richmond works on both residential and commercial solar projects and recently completed a power purchase agreement with a Walnut Creek church.  The City of Richmond also hired Solar Richmond for six of its buildings, including community centers, fire stations and libraries.

Would you consider hiring Solar Richmond for your solar project?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with McGeoy: Episode 94 of The Wendel Forum (27:20 mins; mp3)

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Solar Richmond’s Website: http://www.solarrichmond.org

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 84 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on November 10, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Aaron Binkley, Director of Sustainability at Prologis, and Rich Chien, PACE program manager at San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.

Richard Chien

Richard Chien, PACE program manager at SF’s Department of the Environment

San Francisco’s PACE program uses stimulus funds to improve the environmental performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the City’s existing building stock.  Part of the Department of Energy’s green building policy, PACE launched the commercial building program a year ago.  It’s first project is Pier 1, the headquarters of Prologis, the country’s largest industrial real estate company.

Aaron Binkley

Aaron Binkley, Director of Sustainability at Prologis

At a cost of $1.6 million, the PACE-Prologis project will include rooftop solar panels and energy efficiency upgrades.  Specifically, the building will receive retrocommissioning of its heating and cooling systems (primarily related to software, controls, valves and motors) and a full lighting retrofit (replacing bulbs and some fixtures; adding sensors and daylight capture equipment). When it’s completed in 2013, the project will reduce energy purchases by one third from last year’s baseline.  All of the building’s tenants (including the Port of San Francisco) will benefit, and savings will be applied to all occupants on a pro rata basis.  The changes have been calibrated so as to not generate excess energy that needs to be sold back to the grid.

Piloted in Berkeley in 2007, the PACE program uses local governments’ taxing or bond-issuing authority to fund projects that have a public benefit.  The PACE-Prologis project is 100 percent privately funded, with bonds issued to private investors. Repayments are made through the property tax billing system, which allows for longer terms (up to 20 years). The property is the collateral and repayment obligations transfer to the new owner if the building sold.  The interest is federally taxable and California tax-free.

A challenge to the PACE program is that the loan agreements from residential and commercial lenders typically prevent land owners from further encumbering their properties without the lender’s approval.  Since the PACE bonds are repaid through increased property taxes, the bonds are effectively senior in security to the lenders’ loans.  Some lenders may be reluctant to approve PACE financing unless they are confident that the resulting energy savings will translate into a sufficiently higher property value so that their positions are not impaired.  One approach to lender reluctance is for the lender itself to purchase the PACE bonds.  In that case, the lender is only subordinated to itself and gets the benefit of the investment in the PACE bonds.

How could the PACE program impact your community?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Binkley and Chien: Episode 84 of The Wendel Forum (27:44 mins; mp3)

For information about PACE, visit: www.greenfinancesf.org and www.pacenow.org  

Prologis Corporate Responsibility Web Page: http://www.prologis.com/en/responsibility.html

960 KNEW AM Radio Website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’ online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rylons

[Editor's note: Thanks to guest blogger Garret Murai for sharing this news with The Wendel Forum.  Garret is a construction litigation attorney at Wendel Rosen.  He posts frequently on construction issues at his blog www.CalConstructionBlawg.com.]

Construction Partner Garret D. Murai

Construction Partner Garret D. Murai

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research’s Solar Permitting Work Group has published a guide to the solar construction permitting process entitled California Solar Permitting Guidebook.  The guidebook addresses California laws and regulations, the process for project approvals, and recommendations for improving permit processes for solar installations.

In other energy news, Energy Upgrade California, an alliance of California cities, counties, investor-owned utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Southern California Edison, Southern Gas Company, and San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and others, has established a program to help train building professionals in the latest home performance standards, listing in an online contractor directory, and offering connections to clients looking for services.  If you are a contractor click on the link “I’m a contractor or rater.”

In Episode 75 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on September 1, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Gary Eberhart, who serves on the board of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, which serves 32,000 children and adult students at 56 campuses, making it one of the largest school districts in California.

Gary Eberhart

Amid decreasing budgets and increasing energy costs, the Mt. Diablo School District secured a $350 million bond from the community to add solar energy to 51 of the district’s schools.  Eberhart and his fellow board members determined that purchasing a solar energy system through a bond program would be more cost-effective than buying power from a solar provider under a long-term purchase agreement. Specifically, Eberhart, who has served on the school board for 17 years, determined they could invest the estimated $220 million savings back into the schools over the system’s 30-year life expectancy.  The bond measure was approved by 60 percent of the community.

Mt. Diablo’s 12.2-megawatt system is the largest program in the world for a school district and will meet 92 percent of the district’s energy needs.  After a competitive selection process for the contractor, the installation took one year and all but a handful of the 51 systems are now up and running.  The solar panels were installed primarily in parking lots and on playground structures, which Eberhart says look better and are easier to maintain than roof panels.  The solar energy systems are also providing a unique educational tool for students, who can monitor energy and cost savings through real-time data.

Could your school district use solar energy?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Eberhart:   Episode 75 of The Wendel Forum (27:43 mins; mp3)

Mount Diablo Unified School District Website: http://www.mdusd.org/Pages/default.aspx

Information about the Bond Program: http://mdusdmeasurec.org

Strategic Facilities Planning, Eberhart’s Company Website: http://www.strategicfacilitiesplanning.com

960 KNEW AM Radio Website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s Online Profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Construction Partner Garret D. Murai

Construction Partner Garret D. Murai

[Editor's Note:

Many thanks to Garret D. Murai, a partner at Wendel Rosen, for this guest post.  Garret is also author of the California Construction bLawg.  The infographs below can be found on the California  Energy Commission website  in the "News" sidebar.]

The California Energy Commission has unanimously approved a range of energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings to be included in the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24) which will take effect January 1, 2014. 

Building Energy Efficiency Standards — Residential

Highlights of the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards for residential buildings include:

  •  Solar-ready roofs.  Roofs will need to provide space for photovoltaic solar or solar thermal energy panels.
  • Hot water pipe insulation.  Hot water piping will need to be insulated to keep water at higher temperature.
  • Verification of air conditioner installation.  Air conditioners will need to be verified by an independent contractor to verify proper installation and efficiency.
California 2013 Energy Efficiency Standards- Residential

California 2013 Energy Efficiency Standards – Residential

 

Building Energy Efficiency Standards — Nonresidential 

Highlights of the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards for non-residential buildings include:

  • Solar-ready roofs.  See residential above.
  • Intelligent lighting controls.  Sensor-based lighting controls, which adjust output based on available daylight, will be required for light fixtures near windows
  • Efficient process equipment.  More efficient refrigeration equipment will be required for supermarkets, computer data centers, and commercial kitchens.

    Infograph California 2013 Energy Efficiency Standards- Nonresidential

    California 2013 Energy Efficiency Standards- Nonresidential

 

Further information on the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, as well as larger graphics, can be found on the State’s webite.

In Episode 62 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on May 12, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Jeff Jungsten, vice president of Caletti Jungsten Construction, a Marin County-based certified green custom home builder and remodeler celebrating its 25th year.

Jeff Jungsten

Jeff Jungsten of Caletti Jungsten in The Wendel Forum studio

Since 2007, Caletti Jungsten has focused on sustainability.  Green living is a “cultural cornerstone” at Caletti Jungsten, not simply an overlay, Jungsten explains.  The company’s leadership challenges employees to be more efficient and make simple changes like banning plastic bottles from their lives.  Today, 70 percent of the company’s work is sustainable and 90 percent of the management is green certified.  Jungsten says that the company’s goal is to have entirely sustainable projects within 10 years.  Caletti Jungsten also works with its subcontractors to become more sustainable. 

Caletti Jungsten is working on several exciting projects, including a LEED Gold residence in Marin and a South of Market home that is serving as a detailed study of indoor air quality products.  According to Jungsten, customers are seeking healthy homes, which means focusing on air handling and ventilation; sustainable landscapes that use less water; living roofs and walls; grey water and grey water flushing; controlling waste and composting; and low/no VOC finishes. Seeking to be responsible stewards of forests, customers also want to be informed about where products come from.  The result is healthier buildings with higher values.

Legislation can also drive the market.  Caletti Jungsten exceeds California’s Title 24 Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings in every project it takes on.  Still, green products, materials and systems cost 5 to 10 percent more.  As customers increasingly request them, however, Jungsten believes costs will reduce.  “We don’t have a choice in addressing efficiency issues because we’ll run out of resources,” Jungsten explains. 

Are you willing to pay more to live or work in a more sustainable building?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jeff Jungsten: Episode 62 of The Wendel Forum (27:09 mins; mp3)

Caletti Jungsten Construction website: http://www.calettijungsten.com/

California’s Title 24 Energy Efficiency Standards: http://www.energy.ca.gov/title24/

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 50 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on February 11, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo welcomes Cameron Sinclair, founder and eternal optimist of Architecture for Humanity, a nonprofit founded in 1999 to promote architectural and design solutions to global, social and humanitarian crises.

Photo of Cameron Sinclair visits The Wendel Forum

Cameron Sinclair visits Bill Acevedo at The Wendel Forum

Architecture for Humanity is well known for its post-disaster and post-conflict work in places ranging from the Gulf Coast to Kosovo.  The community of architects, designers, engineers and other resource professionals is now more than 4,600 strong. If it were a for-profit company, it would be largest design company in the world.  

Yet, what’s so special about Architecture for Humanity is that it’s much more than a pro bono design group.  The solutions advanced by the organization often address much larger issues in the communities they serve.  Many of the projects seek to tackle issues of social and economic justice.  These folks think big.  

Projects are worldwide and include everything from long term reconstruction after a specific crisis in places like Haiti and Japan to systemic change in areas of deep poverty ranging from Brazil to urban neighborhoods in the United States like Oakland and Detroit.  With projects in 26 countries, the organization has grown to include a global network of professionals in 14 countries and with 50 chapters in the United States, which operate fairly independently from the parent organization, each with their own projects and approach.  

Design is a process of understanding a situation and finding solutions.  Listen to the full interview to hear how this fascinating organization came to be and the wide variety of projects under development.  Cameron shares stories from the trenches on topics ranging from how decommissioned military facilities can lead to environmental diplomacy to how mobile grocery stores can bring nutrition to impoverished communities.

We think you’ll enjoy this truly inspirational conversation that demonstrates the powerful impact possible when collaboration moves a like-minded group of individuals in a single direction with a common purpose.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Cameron Sinclair:  Episode 50 of The Wendel Forum (27:38 mins; mp3)

Architecture for Humanity website: http://architectureforhumanity.org/ 

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Photo of Zem Joaquin

Zem Joaquin, founder and editor of ecofabulous®

In Episode 46 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on January 14, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo chats with Zem Joaquin, founder and editor of ecofabulous®, a trusted online resource for stylish sustainable living.

In her conversation with Bill, Zem discusses her journey of self discovery that led to the founding of the company.  Through her personal experiences with products ranging from cleaning supplies to toys that contributed to her own children’s health problems, she started her exploration to identify more sustainable products to create a healthier home for her family.  Immersing herself in this research for her own life, she soon realized that most families would not have the time to dedicate to the level of research she was able to perform.  Out of this idea, ecofabulous® was born. 

She delved deeply into all things a greener home might require, from building materials and interior design elements to the products found in the home’s walls.  With her knowledge and passion she created an online space where she could share what she learned, offering mothers and fathers everywhere reliable and trusted information on products that would be healthier alternatives for their families.  She shares her tips and inspiration in areas ranging from home décor and fashion to tech products.

Zem understands that sifting through the product choices leading to healthier living can be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t have the bandwidth to dedicate to extensive research, so she strives to make greener choices accessible, easy and fun. 

As she says in the interview:

“Eco-inspiration mobilizes.

Eco-guilt paralyzes.”

Listen to the episode to hear more about what inspires Zem, big projects in the works at ecofabulous®, and Zem’s picks for top eco-trends in 2012. 

What’s your greener style secret?  We’d love to hear about your great green finds for a healthy home. 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Zem Joaquin: Episode 46 of The Wendel Forum (27:16 mines; mp3)

Ecofabulous® website: www.ecofabulous.com 

960 KNEW AM Radio (formerly GREEN 960 AM) website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 44 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on December 10, 2011), show host Dick Lyons talks with Michael Murray, CEO and cofounder of Lucid Design Group in Oakland, California.

Michael shares how his company’s software products influence behavior by providing building utility performance transparency to individuals who occupy commercial buildings.  Lucid’s Building Dashboard® makes energy and water use in commercial buildings visible in real time on the web.   The company has found that by making this information visible, building occupants will adjust their behavior, thereby reducing their usage of these resources by an average of 10-20 percent.

Lucid Design Group logoFrom their Kiosk application, building occupants and visitors can view the building’s performance information in the lobby.  It shows how an individual building ranks against other similar buildings and creates a competitive environment for occupants to contribute to improved performance.  The program measures, tracks, analyzes and displays everything from plug loads to carbon offsets, providing the users with a lot of actionable information about energy usage in a building.

Peer pressure works! 
By creating an environment where conservation becomes the norm, the incremental actions of individuals become a collective force leading to overall savings.  The company taps into social media to build a culture of conservation and has plans to develop mobile apps to make information even more accessible.   These programs move the power (so to speak) for energy conservation out of the exclusive domain of facility managers, building operators and architects and into those of the individual occupants. 

So who owns the data?
Already with a client roster of about 180 customers representing 1300 facilities, their hosted server model allows the company to aggregate a growing repository of valuable information on individual buildings and general behavior related to water and energy use.  Michael and Dick touch on issues related to privacy and data ownership, as well as current and potential uses for the information being collected. 

If you are using this or a similar product, we’d love to hear about your experience.  Did your personal behavior changed after installation?  Any surprises or lessons learned?

Post Links:

Interview with Michael Murray of Lucid Design: Episode 44 of The Wendel Forum (27:35 mins; mp3)

Lucid Design website: www.luciddesigngroup.com

Green 960 AM radio website: http://www.green960.com/main.html

Dick Lyons website profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

Thank you to guest blogger James Kim for this post summarizing residential solar options.  — The Wendel Forum

__________________________________________________________

It’s true: solar energy has not yet been popularized by the masses.  However there are many ways you can add solar energy to your own home.  So why use solar power? The costs of solar energy systems have decreased 80%+ over the past twenty years and continue to plummet as solar technology becomes more efficient and accessible. Equally, the price of carbon based power is increasing each year.  Getting a solar system is a smart investment, especially if you live in the southern part of the globe where sunlight is prolific.    

Solar panels on a house

Photovoltaic panels on a house

Solar panels are one common form of harvesting solar power.  Photovoltaics convert sunlight to electricity through an array of semiconductors in a panel. There are plenty of different places that you can put solar panels. You can install a panel almost anywhere in direct sunlight, like your roof, the ground, an awning, or the side of your house.  Ideally, the panels will be in full sunlight almost all day, and point directly south.  Panels can be large or small, rigid or flexible.  There are a myriad of mounting options.  You can even put a solar panel on a “tracking mount” which follows the sun across the sky for maximum sun exposure throughout daylight hours.  

If you already have solar panels on your roof, you can also install:

  • A solar water heating system 
  • Solar lights for your yard or garden 
  • Solar oven 
  • Solar refrigerator 
  • Solar powered fountain
  • Solar powered pool-heating system

Solar water heaters are commonly used throughout Europe and the Middle East to capture the heat from the sun directly into the hot water tank, which is located on the roof of the building or home.

Other inexpensive solar solutions include solar thermal dishes.  You can install one in your backyard to cut down on electricity costs. You can either make these dishes yourself or buy them with companies like RawSolar.

Check with a solar power installer to find out which option will work best in your home. You can find a solar power installer in your area using Low Impact Living’s database or Go Solar California’s website.

Make sure to also check out your specific state incentives on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) website. Whether you have a small modular home or a mansion on the lake, implementing solar energy will save you money in the long-haul.

James Kim writes for Austin Real Estate service Homecity.com.  HomeCity combines powerful online Austin MLS search technology and other online tools with personalized real estate services to provide clients with the knowledge they need to make the right buying and selling decisions.

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