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

In Episode 74 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on August 25, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Jenn Vervier, director of sustainability at New Belgium Brewing Company

Jenn Vervier

New Belgium Brewing Company prides itself on providing meaningful employment for its owners and workers.  It promotes a “high-involvement culture,” in which individuals “bring their whole selves to work” and everyone’s voice is heard.  Specifically, the company engages in participative decision-making, soliciting feedback from top to bottom.  All co-workers are included in strategic planning and business operations, and financial reports are shared monthly with all workers.

But – they don’t forget that business can be fun!  New Belgium Brewing Company is employee-owned, with workers brought into the ownership after a year.  On that anniversary, they also receive a bike.  Once employees have worked there for five years, they receive a weeklong, all-expenses-paid trip to Belgium to learn about Belgian beer culture.  Those are certainly nice perks!

Make no mistake about it, though, sustainability is a guiding business principle of the company.  In addition to donating to environmental causes, New Belgium Brewing Company is also one of the first breweries to publish a life- cycle carbon footprint of its processes for consumers.  Plus, New Belgium is constantly looking for ways to hone the efficiency and limit the impacts of its operations.  For example, the company instituted a new method of dry hopping that saves millions of gallons of water a year, and it also has changed its bottle lubricants to similarly conserve water.  For a beer company, conserving water has a tremendous influence on the bottom line and the environment.

In addition, New Belgium has a 200kW solar PV array, 800kW of cogeneration, which produces electricity from the methane captured from its on-site process water treatment, and 200kW of thermal storage—making cold water or ice at night, off peak, to use in the brewing process and in office HVAC during the hottest part of the day.

Are you more likely to drink New Belgium Brewing Company beer after learning about its core values?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Vervier: Episode 74 of The Wendel Forum (27:50 mins; mp3)

New Belgium Brewing Company Website: http://www.newbelgium.com/

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

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

In Episode 70 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on July 21, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Mark Dwight, founder of San Francisco-based Rickshaw Bagworks.

Mark Dwight of Rickshaw Bagworks visits The Wendel Forum Studio

Mark Dwight of Rickshaw Bagworks visits The Wendel Forum Studio

After leaving his Silicon Valley tech roots, Dwight joined Timbuck2, where he fell in love with the bag business.  When he moved to Rickshaw, he committed to making bags in a sustainable way, including minimizing waste and overstock. 

Rickshaw bags are made with polyester recycled from beverage bottles and industrial plastic, and the company avoids materials that are noxious in their manufacture, use and disposal.  Every Rickshaw bag features a gem tag with the letters PCQ, which stands for “passion, craft and quality,” and a five-pointed star, which represents Rickshaw’s five constituencies: employees, customers, business partners, shareholders and the community.

Bill and Dwight discuss how no business can be 100 percent impact-free and that sustainability starts at the bottom line.  That is, businesses must be sustainable financially in addition to committing to environmental and social justice goals.

Dwight is also the founder of SF Made, a nonprofit organization that promotes local manufacturing. Since its founding two years ago, 350 San Francisco manufacturers, including Anchor Brewing, have become members of SF Made. Dwight established the organization as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization (as opposed to a 501(c)(6) trade organization for for-profit companies) so it can receive tax-deductible donations. The City of San Francisco even awarded a grant to SF Made to promote local economic development. SF Made has served as a model for other communities launching similar geographic branding programs.

Does it matter to you to buy local?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Mark Dwight of Rickshaw Bags: Episode 70 of The Wendel Forum (27:34 mins; mp3)

Rickshaw Bags Website: http://www.rickshawbags.com/

SF Made Website: http://www.sfmade.org/

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

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

In Episode 68 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 30, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Councilmember Damon Connolly of San Rafael and Councilmember Tom Butt of Richmond.

 

Damon City Hall Photo

San Rafael City Councilmember Damon Connolly serves as Chairman of the Board for the Marin Energy Authority

Connolly is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Marin Energy Authority (MEA). The MEA is the not-for-profit public agency formed by the County of Marin and several Marin cities and towns in 2008.  MEA administers the Marin Clean Energy program.

MEA is the first operational example of a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program in the state of California.  In California, Community Choice Aggregation was developed through legislation (AB 117) in 2002 as a response to the rolling blackouts of several years ago (remember Enron?).  It’s a system that allows cities and counties to aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy supply contracts.

MEA’s program is a hybrid to traditional utility models, which might include a municipal utility or privately-owned utility (such as PG&E in Northern California).  In MEA’s model, the public agency purchases or produces the energy, but a third-party energy company handles distribution and maintenance of the energy transmission infrastructure.

In 2002, California addressed base renewable energy goals through SB 1078, which set the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS).  These goals were expanded in 2011 under SB 2.  California, under the RPS program, requires investor-owned utilities, electric service providers and CCAs to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resource to 33% of total procurement by 2020.

MEA’s plan is considerably more ambitious than the state requirement.  They plan to get to 100% renewable procurement in the next 10 years. Today they are at 28% (8% more than the current RPS requirement).  The program is getting a tremendous response from new renewable energy suppliers, and MEA has initiated an “Open Season” procurement process to manage proposals.  

So, how does it work?

When a community joins, all of the residents are included in the CCA program.  If they do not want to participate in it, however, they are free to opt out.  If they choose to participate, the MEA offers two plan levels – a “Light Green” and a “Dark Green” option.  The first delivers energy to customers with 50% coming from renewable energy sources.  The latter offers energy to customers that is 100% sourced from renewable energy.  The dark green plan costs the average customer $5-10 more per month and currently includes 8% of their customer base.

The City of Richmond is one of the latest cities to join the MEA.  So how did a city in Contra Costa County get involved in a program from Marin?  City Councilmember Tom Butt explains that Richmond’s General Plan 2030 includes multiple environmental goals, including offering a CCA toRichmond residents and businesses. When analyzing how best to go about implementing a CCA, the City decided it just didn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel, according to Butt.  MEA, as a clear leader in the space, was a logical partner.  As Richmond comes online, the MEA expects to add about 30,000 new customers – a significant influx of new customers, which will give MEA even more purchasing power with energy producers going forward.

Would you pay $10 more on your energy bill each month to know that the energy was made up of 100% renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass? 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Councilmembers Connolly and Butt: Episode 68 of The Wendel Forum (27:18 mins; mp3)

Marin Energy Authority: http://www.marinenergyauthority.org/

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

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

In Episode 67 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 23, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Lars Jacobsen, co-founder of Stalk Bicycles, which produces handmade bamboo bicycles.

Lars Jacobsen of Stalk Bicycles shows off bamboo framing

Lars Jacobsen of Stalk Bicycles shows off bamboo framing in The Wendel Forum studio.

The fastest growing plant on earth, bamboo is considered by many in the U.S. as a pesky weed, but it is also a surprisingly versatile sustainable material.  It has a finished exterior and the grain allows it to bend, but it is still remarkably strong.  In some countries, for instance, it’s used as a substitute for rebar! 

As for its use in bicycles, bamboo boasts a “supreme vibration dampening quality,” making it comfortable to ride.  Stalk Bicycle’s bamboo bikes ride beautifully, explains Jacobsen, who spent two years empirically testing the bikes, riding down stairs and along the pock-marked roads of Oakland to assess product quality.  The base model, which takes more than 40 hours to custom construct and weighs about the same as an aluminum bike, costs $2,500 and comes with a three-year warranty on the frame.  

To increase its commitment to sustainability, Stalk uses other natural fibers, such as hemp, for its products and sources as many materials locally as possible.  In fact, another Wendel Forum guest, Entropy Resins (Episode 47, Shaping a Superior Surfboard), is a supplier of the resin that Stalk uses on the joints of its bike frames.

According to Jacobsen, market acceptance in bamboo bikes is increasing.  “When people ride them, the bikes sell themselves.”  In addition to direct customer feedback, Stalk has earned support from Northern California’s local artisan movement as well as the cycling community.

Would you consider purchasing a bamboo bike?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jacobsen: Episode 67 of The Wendel Forum(27:31 mins; mp3)

Stalk Bicycles: http://www.stalkbicycles.com/

Entropy Resins: http://www.entropyresins.com/

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

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

In Episode 66 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 9, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s Sustainable Business Practice Group, welcomes “Farmer Al” Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farm to discuss the farm’s community supported agriculture program (“CSA”).

Farmer Al in the orchard

Located in Brentwood, an hour east of San Francisco, Frog Hollow Farm produces organic stone summer fruit – cherries, nectarines, plums, peaches and pluots – on 143 acres in California’s Central Valley.  In the fall, Farmer Al grows pears, apples and persimmons.  The Farm is organically certified, using non-chemical, non-invasive materials to control pests.

In addition to selling fruit to wholesale retailers, Frog Hollow Farm has since 2003 offered a CSA box for individuals and families.  Frog Hollow Farm CSA members subscribe to a weekly or bi-weekly program in which Frog Hollow Farm delivers boxes of fresh fruit to an established neighborhood delivery site (typically a subscriber’s front porch or a school).

2012 has marked a heightened awareness and demand for local food, according to Farmer Al.  Consumers usually learn about CSAs largely through word of mouth.  The interest, explains Farmer Al, is that consumers are seeking fresher, better tasting, more nutritious food, and they want to know how their food was grown.

The benefits of subscribing to a CSA are many:  

  • Joining a CSA can expose families to new fruits and new ways of cooking.  
  • As CSA membership grows, farmers can plant fruit varieties they couldn’t otherwise if they were solely shipping to distant retail locations. 
  • Forming a direct relationship between growers and residents increases demand and supply of fresh, seasonal, local food; keeps food dollars local; and supports small farms.

Have you tried a CSA?
 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Farmer Al: Episode 66 of The Wendel Forum(27:52 mins; mp3)

Frog Hollow Farm website: http://www.froghollow.com/

To learn more about CSAs, Farmer Al recommends visiting Local Harvest’s website: http://www.localharvest.org

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

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

In Episode 65 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 2, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros, a consulting firm focused on electric vehicle service equipment systems. The company advises clients – CFOs, directors of sustainability, CEOs, facilities managers and electricians – regarding vendors, installation and other issues related to EV charging systems.

John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros

John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros

The Obama Administration wants one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Kalb believes one way to achieve the goal is for large fleets – Zipcar, Avis and similar companies that purchase hundreds of cars at one time – to switch to electric vehicles.

At the personal consumer level, though, the industry is still in the early adopters phase, primarily because most people have not yet had an electric driving experience. Kalb wants consumers to know that “the fun factor is high.” Bill adds that it’s like driving “a super-charged golf cart.” Plus, without oil, water or tailpipe emissions, EVs require little maintenance making the cost of ownership low.

Kalb notes that pre-purchase decisions usually center on range anxiety, post-purchase concerns usually focus on charging because consumers don’t see options other than their own houses. But Kalb is working to increase public and workplace charging opportunities.

Still, whether the Obama Administration’s goal is met depends not only on the consumer adoption rate but also infrastructure development. Bill and Kalb discuss recent legislation related to EV charging. California’s SB 209, for example, mandates that homeowners associations in multi-family environments can’t prevent individual homeowners from installing a charging station. Network chargers allow the capital cost to be borne solely by the EV owner.

Similarly, AB 631 makes it easier for shopping center owners, business owners and employers to own and operate charging stations. While the cost of charging stations is $6,500 to $10,000, the Public Utility Commission won’t regulate these alternative fuel stations. Usually, EV owners are happy to pay for that amenity and would more frequently patronize businesses with charging stations.

AB 2502, which is under consideration, would permit EV manufacturers to offer consumer financing of the cost (about $2,200) of residential chargers. Needless to say, the California legislature is putting policy in place to foster necessary infrastructure development.

Wendel Forum listeners, we’d like to hear from you: If more charging options were available, would you purchase an EV?

  

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with John Kalb: Episode 65 of The Wendel Forum  (27:45 mins; mp3)

EV Charging Pros website: http://www.evchargingpros.com/

Legislation:

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

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

In Episode 63 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on May 19, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes João De Macedo.  A big wave surfer and author of How To Be a Surfer, De Macedo is also an ambassador for Rip Curl Planet, a foundation that supports causes mirroring the ideals of Rip Curl, a major surf products manufacturer with “a sharpened awareness” of environmental issues.

Joao De Macedo

João De Macedo discusses Rip Curl Planet in The Wendel Forum studio

Bill and De Macedo discuss Rip Curl Planet’s environmental projects, including a labeling initiative, which will be applied to the 2012 Boardshort Collection.  Through the initiative, which is organized by the French Ministry for the Environment, consumers will be informed of every stage in the boardshort’s life cycle, including raw material extraction (energy and resources used), product design (carbon emissions, electricity and water consumed), distribution (mode of transportation, packaging), use (number of washes), and end-of-life product elimination options.

Rip Curl has a history of partnering with grass roots organizations.  For example, the company teamed with the World Wildlife Fund to establish eco mooring anchors that don’t damage coral reefs.  The company has also helped establish world surfing reserves through Save the Waves, which applies the national park concept to preserve iconic surf spots in conjunction with local communities and policymakers. 

Because the market is not always in sync with sustainability, companies must be committed to integrating sustainability into their business profiles; the marketplace’s competitive nature will then overflow into those environmental initiatives, according to De Macedo, who recently earned his master’s in sports management at the Universityof San Francisco.  Already, other surf manufacturers are contributing to environmental movements. 

For De Macedo, activism can be as simple as picking up a piece of garbage from a beach. Big wave surfers, who practice their craft in the environment, can lead by example.  “Go and visit the ocean. It’s the best way to be inspired to help it.”

What are simple things that you have done to help the environment?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with João De Macedo: Episode 63 of The Wendel Forum(27:12 mins; mp3)

Rip Curl website: http://www.ripcurl.com/

Rip Curl Planet website: http://www.ripcurlplanet.com/

Rip Curl Planet’s Environmental Labeling Initiative: http://www.ripcurlplanet.com/aid=56.phtml

Save the Waves: http://www.savethewaves.org/

João De Macedo’s Book: http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Surfer-Joao-Macedo/dp/1841262013

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

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

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 60 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on April 28, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Genevieve Cullen, vice president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association.  EDTA is a cross-industry trade association promoting the electrification of transportation.  Previously, Cullen, a lawyer, served as a government affairs consultant, working with Congress and the executive branch to promote sustainable technology.

Bill queries Cullen about the roadblocks to a sweeping societal switchover to electric vehicles.  They discuss “range anxiety” as a primary issue.  Cullen explains that plug-in vehicles come in different configurations, with pure electric cars having a range as high as 100 miles and others, which combine batteries with internal combustion engines, having a range identical to conventional vehicles.  Since the average daily commute is fewer than 40 miles, 80 percent of vehicle charging could be done at home or at the workplace, Cullen says. 

Fortunately, range anxiety can be reduced with education and experience.  In fact, studies show that range anxiety disappears within weeks of owning an electric car, according to Cullen.  Yet manufacturers haven’t properly educated potential consumers.  So EDTA created its own website for that very purpose. Goelectricdrive.com addresses range anxiety, cost concerns and answers other consumer questions like “Can I plug my car in when it’s raining?”

Other good news: on the manufacturing side, the cost of the battery, the largest incremental cost of electric vehicles, is declining faster than predicted thanks to collaboration between industry and the Department of Energy.  Soon, there will be an even larger variety of price points, already evidenced by such vehicles as the Mitsubishi Eye, the Prius plug-in hybrid and the Tesla Model S.

When more personal and commercial vehicles are electric, the US will be far less at the mercy of the global oil market, which is “governed by interests and nations not always in sync with our own,” Cullen says.  That will have both economic (the US spends a billion dollars a day on foreign oil) and national security benefits. 

UPCOMING EVENT:
May 6 – 9, 2012, EDTA will host the 26th Annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, where consumers can test drive cars and hear keynote speeches from industry leaders, technology experts and the policy community. 

Post Links:
Listen to the interview with Genevieve Cullen: Episode 60 of The Wendel Forum (27:15 mins; mp3)

EDTA website: http://www.electricdrive.org/

EDTA consumer information website: http://www.goelectricdrive.com

26th Annual Electric Vehicle Symposium: http://events.ntpshow.com/evs26/public/enter.aspx

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

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

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