Sustainable Solutions
The Quarterly Newsletter of Strategic Energy Innovations
Strategic Energy Innovations
Fall Edition
October, 2015 – Issue #14
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Message from Cyane Dandridge
Welcome and Industry Perspective from our Executive Director, Cyane

Featured Program
Energy Conservation Competitions

Energize Schools
Investing in Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, & Education

Meet Our Community
The City of Visalia

SEI and Climate Corps are Recruiting

Message from Cyane Dandridge

Executive Director

Strategic Energy Innovations turned 18 this fall, and as we celebrated the “coming of age” of our growing non-profit we also celebrated the improving political environment here in the United States on climate issues.
Throughout the history of SEI, there has never been a time I’ve been more excited to be a part of the industry. From the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which requires the US power sector to cut its carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, to SB 350: a measure requiring California to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewables and double building efficiency by 2030, there has been an impetus for a cleaner energy future from both federal and state levels. With the UN Paris Climate Change Conference  approaching this November, the opportunity for the United States to make a global commitment to reducing carbon pollution has never been greater. Recent climate commitments from China and India, (the world’s largest, and third largest greenhouse gas emitters respectively) also help to make our case stronger.
While there are surely many challenges that lie ahead of us, I’m here to say that we can do it. A clean energy future is within reach.  Having recently returned from Al Gore’s Climate Reality training in Miami with eleven MarinSEL high school students, I’m filled with the inspiring, albeit surprising theme of hope presented at the conference. The innovation and grit I’ve seen from our sector confirms that we have the technology and will to bring about this radical shift. Now, with forward thinking political action, we’re closer than ever. 

Featured Program

Energy Conservation Competitions
For the last two years SEI has held biannual Energy Conservation Competitions to support student led energy conservation. During the three-week competitions, schools compete to reduce their electricity usage by the greatest percentage. The competitions support student leadership and learning in the growing field of energy management. Student groups work together to identify opportunities for energy conservation, create an action plan for saving energy, and implement their conservation strategies.
Ninety-two schools have participated in the past three competitions and achieved, on average, a 5% reduction in their electricity usage. The winner of the recent San Diego Energy Conservation Competition, Kearny High School, achieved a 15% reduction in their electricity usage. SEI supported Kearny students in conducting a walk-through energy audit of their school and the creation of teams focused on key conservation opportunities identified during the audit.
SEI is excited to continue to support behavioral energy conservation in the upcoming Energize Schools Energy Conservation Competition from October 30th – November 19th. More than 55 schools are participating in the competition, and SEI has directly worked with over 260 students. We are excited to continue working with student teams throughout northern California on energy conservation.

Energize Schools

Investing in Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, & Education
SEI’s Energize Schools program has worked with 24 school districts to make it easy and affordable for them to invest their Prop 39 funds in energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy while engaging students in energy conservation education and leadership.  We focus on working with under-resourced school districts, and are proud of the impact we’ve had. Below is a snapshot of the positive effect Energize Schools has had on local school districts’ energy use, sustainability initiatives, and student learning outcomes.
At Pittsburg Unified School District, Energize Schools supported the development of district-wide sustainability policies and a multi-stakeholder sustainability committee.
“The work that SEI and Energize Schools has done has been very helpful for Pittsburg Unified: being able to become more sustainable, and have the means to focus our direction on areas where we can make a difference. My sincerest thanks for all that you and your organization have done to support PUSD.”  – Alan Glass, Pittsburg Unified School District
At Oakland Unified School District, Energize Schools facilitated three after school internship program during which students conducted an energy audit of their school, identified opportunities to save energy, developed an action plan, and implemented savings measures throughout the school year.
In West Contra Costa Unified School District, Energize Schools worked with the energy manager on district-wide energy policies and worked with high school teams of students at several schools on sustainability and conservation activities. SEI also facilitated two after school programs with energy and water conservation focuses.
“Strategic Energy Innovations has been instrumental in helping us reach our conservation goals within the School District. Their help and leadership has allowed us develop a comprehensive program and enrich student learning. West Contra Costa Unified School District has used the SEI Policy Guide and staff support to craft a sustainability policy. It is in the process of being reviewed and accepted by district leadership. Once that is finalized it will be presented to the Board of Education in the fall of 2015 for adoption.” – Julio Arroyo, WCCUSD
At Making Waves Academy, a public charter school in Richmond, Energize Schools helped the school use their Prop 39 funds to invest in solar PV.
“We hadn’t even planned on getting solar. We didn’t think before that it was possible. The state funding and Energize Schools’ support made it possible. The Energize School program was critical for getting our charter school through the Prop 39 process. They have actively assisted us with understanding all Prop 39 steps, and guiding us through the process to optimize the benefits of Prop 39. We submitted our Prop 39 plan in May of this year, and are grateful to the team for providing the critical support to get us to this milestone.” – Hung Mai, Making Waves Academy
SEI and our partners at Ecology Action and Bay Area Climate Collaborative are proud of the work we’ve done, and look forward to continuing our efforts with new school districts in 2016 with the continued support of PG&E.  

Meet Our Community

The City of Visalia
The City of Visalia is the first of 20 Central Valley jurisdictions that have opted into an innovative benchmarking and tailored policymaking initiative called the Sustainable Energy Roadmap (SER). Through SER, the City is pursuing ambitious goals based on regional and national best practices for energy and water conservation, renewable energy, transportation, sustainable development, and social equity. Implementing these strategies will result in direct economic savings and green job creation for their citizens and businesses. The City of Visalia’s identified that some of their top priorities are exploring water efficiency standards, recycled water use, prewiring for electric vehicle charging stations, related staff training, and community outreach.
The SER approach is designed to benefit all San Joaquin Valley citizens and public agencies, with particular attention focused on the most environmentally and economically challenged communities. Participants benefit from a regional, collaborative model that provides a tailored roadmap, guidance, and resources for pursuing best practices in implementing programs and policies that support the environment, economy and disadvantaged communities.
The City of Visalia has been a valued partner of SEI since we supported the development of their Climate Action Plan in 2010, collaborated on the Solar Roadmap in 2012, and SEI is once again partnering with this vanguard San Joaquin Valley city as the lead jurisdiction in the SER program.

"The City of Visalia is pleased to be part of the SER program to help us identify best practices for implementation of water and energy efficiency and alternative energy projects and programs." - Kim Loeb, Natural Resource Conservation Manager at City of Visalia

There is still limited space available for additional jurisdictions to sign up to the SER Program. Contact Karly Zimmerman at if interested. The program is led by a collective of partners that include SEI, the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council, Optony Inc., Colorado Energy Group, the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), the Madera County Transportation Commission, and the City of Visalia. 


Climate Corps Is Recruiting
We're recruiting CCBA Fellows and Partners for half-cycle placements. If you or someone you know wants an amazing young professional to support your program or are a recent graduate looking for professional development experience, check out the details on the CCBA website.

SEI Is Hiring!
SEI is seeking volunteers to support our work. For more information and to apply, click here

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