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 71 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on August 4, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Victor Eyal, founder and CEO of UMA Solar, manufacturer and nationwide distributor of solar products.

UMA Solar logo

After spending 12 years as pilot in the Israeli air force, Eyal founded UMA Solar 30 years ago.  The company is focused on solar thermal (not electric) energy, which heats water in the way a garden hose laying on a lawn, heated by the sun, creates hot water.

Since the sun is Israel’s only natural resource, that country has been using solar energy since the 1950’s on almost every building, so much so that when children draw pictures of houses, they include solar water-heating systems, according to Eyal.  When he came to the US, he noticed that solar thermal technology wasn’t being used and saw an opportunity to bring the products here.

Although solar thermal technology has been around for decades, it’s more recently been improved to efficiently heat water for homes and swimming pools.  Specifically, in the last 20 years, the systems have evolved to include freeze protection, electronic controls, internet reporting systems and pumping systems.  The design of collectors has also improved – materials now include copper, aluminum and low-iron black tempered glass, which allow high energy penetration and permit little energy escape.

Today, most countries surrounding Israel – from Turkey to Morocco – have similarly implemented solar water heating.  It’s also “leaked into Europe,” Eyal explains, with large solar manufacturers hailing from Germany, France and Greece.  Interestingly, China is by far the largest user of solar thermal systems.

In the US, states with government incentives are the biggest users of solar thermal energy.  In those cases, commercial pools are increasingly heated with solar technology, now representing 20 percent of the solar thermal market.  In fact, one of UMA’s flagship commercial projects was heating the pool in Atlanta used for past Olympic games.  There are also industrial applications for solar-heated water, even if a company needs only to generate steam.  In Israel, hospitals and factories use solar thermal technology.

How could you use solar thermal energy?

Post Links

Listen to the interview with Victor Eyal: Episode 71 of The Wendel Forum  (27:18 mins; mp3)

UMA Solar website: http://www.umasolar.com/

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

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

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

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