In Episode 69 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on July 7, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Gary Price, a tax partner at Sensiba San Filippo, one of the Bay Area’s largest accounting firms and a green business certified under the Bay Area Green Business Program

Gary Price

Dick and Price discuss how in the last few years, it’s become economical for businesses to use renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind, which provide energy without using oil or gas. Because buildings and their occupants produce a significant amount of pollution, even  businesses like accounting, law and other service firms can help the environment by buying clean energy from roof-mounted solar power systems that replace or supplement power from the grid. Even if those businesses occupy just one floor of a big building, they can contribute to lower energy consumption.

Renewable energy used to cost more than electricity purchased from utility companies.  But the 2008 renewable energy credit program helped bring prices down.  Within just four or five years, companies using renewable energy will see the payback, resulting in real cash savings. Using solar and wind energy also has related insurance and bank loan benefits.

A new clean tech trend is that larger renewable energy companies – perhaps a solar company or even a company that produces a part of a solar energy system – have accelerated the use of solar power by become financing companies.  As a result, customers may not need cash at all to buy electricity from roof-mounted solar systems. Solar and wind energy options will continue to grow and experience increased demand, which will further drop the price point.

If a business is interested in switching to renewable energy, Price recommends finding an expert to “put the whole thing together.” Construction and engineering companies, for example, have savvy energy departments. Law and accounting firms also have specialists that put green projects together.

What would it take for your business to buy clean energy?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Gary Price: Episode 69 of The Wendel Forum(27:53 mins; mp3)

Sensiba San Filippo website: http://www.ssfllp.com/

Price’s article on Sensible Savings: http://www.ssfllp.com/sustainable-savings-how-businesses-can-profit-big-from-clean-technology/

Bay Area Green Business Program website: http://www.greenbiz.ca.gov/

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

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

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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

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 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 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 56 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 31, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons speaks with Paul Baier, Vice President of Sustainability Consulting at Groom Energy.  Paul assists the company’s customers with their sustainability and energy reduction strategies, carbon footprint and responses to supply chain surveys.

Paul Baier of Groom Energy

In addition, Paul authors a sustainability blog called Practical Sustainability and moderates EnterpriseSmartGrid.org.  He is a senior contributor and VERGE Global Advisory Board member for Greenbiz.com and is the primary author of a report on large enterprise smart grid and energy management software called “The 2011 Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) Software Market: A Buyer’s Guide.”  Paul sits at the forefront of issues related to large scale energy use by major organizations.

Dick and Paul discuss how large companies grapple with energy management and reduction – not an easy task.  These companies face many challenging when it comes to energy and carbon measuring, management and reporting.  First, they have to figure out what to track, then how.  Most are responding to regulatory demands, need for better cost savings and what Paul refers to as “consumer compliance.”

Often the first step is trying to put their arms around what energy use really means in their business.  Some companies are surprised that, in addition to improving their sustainability footprint, they can save significant amounts of money by implementing energy management initiatives.  Once they realize that, most are prepared to put significant resources to the task.   For many manufacturers and distributors, powerful companies like Walmart put pressure on them to complete rigorous supplier surveys to explain their strategies and results. 

For single-facility operations it’s hard enough, but many of these suppliers have facilities around the globe, each with different standards, measurement systems, accounting systems and processes for collecting and tracking the information ultimately needed to institute a company-wide program.   Paul helps these companies manage this complex process.  

Helping companies to identify direct effect, indirect effect, and the overall impact in supply chain (Scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3), Paul observes that companies are becoming more sophisticated in identifying the hidden impacts of the entire supply chain. 

Management people have been trying to anticipate cap and trade, carbon tracking, and what will happen as AB32 (in California) and other legislation dictates change for their industries.

As Paul says,

“Energy management is the flip side of carbon management.”

Paul and Dick discuss the types of providers who are stepping into the marketplace and the kinds of risks that various vertical markets must address in their forecasting models. The technologies being developed today will allow greater and greater precision and flexibility in tracking both the carbon footprint and the energy management of our major industries.  And with the rise of cloud computing, the storage and processing options continue to become more affordable for even smaller companies.  Paul suggests that because of the software, data storage and other advancements in recent years, precision energy management is no longer a technical problem, it’s a “willingness problem.”

Certainly the regulatory environmental, as well as consumer demand will continue to influence the willingness of companies to address these issues in significant ways.

  

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Paul Baier:  Episode 56 of The Wendel Forum(27:44 mins; mp3)

Groom Energy website: www.groomenergy.com

Paul Baier’s blog: http://practicalsustainability.blogspot.com/

GreenBiz.com website: http://www.greenbiz.com

Report link: http://www.groomenergy.com/eca_report_summary.html

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

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

In Episode 51 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on February 25, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons welcomes Ted Ko, Associate Executive Director of the Clean Coalition, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to implement policies and programs that “transition the world to cost-effective clean energy now while delivering unparalleled economic benefits.” Ted is a co-founder of the group and currently oversees policy development and strategy for both regulatory and legislative efforts. 

Photo of Ted Ko

Ted Ko, Associate Executive Director of the Clean Coalition

Ted explains how the group goes about fixing problems and issues facing those looking to build small to medium scale clean local energy projects such as wind farms, biofuels, solar, fuel cells, etc.  Their mission is to help make it faster and easier for these projects to come to fruition.

Dick and Ted discuss energy distribution issues and the Coalition’s position on how to best get the most cost-effective energy to market.  They touch on the challenges of the current energy distribution system, with its long, inefficient transmission lines and the environmental, permitting and construction issues associated with large scale power plant production.  In contrast, Coalition projects focus on small, local projects that benefit local economies. While many projects employ solar PV technology, the program is designed to be source agnostic.

Small projects are generally done on a custom basis, so transaction costs are often an impediment to a project’s success.  By trying to standardize and simplify the contracts across utilities, cities and jurisdictions, the Coalition is focused on simplifying the communication about these types of projects, as well as the process to get them up and running.  Clearly, as smart grid and energy storage technologies come into play, the landscape for energy distribution will change.  The Coalition believes that it’s important for policymakers and lawmakers to get serious about these issues.
In the meantime, the Coalition will continue to push for clean local energy.

For those local and municipal entities interested in launching their own projects, the Clean Coalition has a Local Clean Program Guide that is a free how-to manual available for download on their website (link).  

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Ted Ko:  Episode 51 of The Wendel Forum (27:53 mins; mp3)

Clean Coalition website:  http://www.clean-coalition.org

Free Guide download: http://www.clean-coalition.org/local_clean_program_guide/

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

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