Sustainable Solutions
The Quarterly Newsletter of Strategic Energy Innovations
Strategic Energy Innovations
Winter Edition
December, 2013 – Issue #7
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Message from Cyane Dandridge
Welcome and Industry Perspective from our Executive Director, Cyane

Featured Program
Service-Learning Grant from State Farm Youth Advisory Board

Energize Schools
Proposition 39 School Energy Efficiency

Meet Our Community
Alameda County General Services Agency

SEI Is Hiring!

Message from Cyane Dandridge

Executive Director
Over past few months our planet has experienced catastrophic weather events, from typhoon Haiyan devastating and displacing over 4 million people in the Philippines to 17 inches of rainfall in 90 minutes in Sardinia, Italy. As the world changes around us, we are redefining what it means to exist on this planet. And this is happening even more quickly than we expected.
We need to change the conversation and action from projecting climate change to adapting to climate change. We must plan for adaption with a high level of care and intelligence, and look at the natural systems that have adapted and readapted over millennia. How can we learn from them so that we can better rethink our coastlines and cities?
How can we create a workforce that understands systems critically and envision potential problems and solutions, so they we do not repeat our past failures? How can we create leaders that look at integrated solutions with a long-term perspective, and not capitalist solutions with short-term benefit? How can governments support collaborative thinking about their challenges and implications of their solutions?
At SEI we are working on these questions every day. We are redesigning how young people learn with programs that empower young people with environmental project-based service learning. We further their potential with career ladder programs, in which students earn high school and college credit with our Sustainability Certificates. We are creating a greener workforce by placing emerging climate change professionals in organizations around the Bay Area with our Climate Corps fellowship program, and training people how to improve the work they are already doing with our Building Operator Certification program.
We are very grateful to work with SDG&E, PG&E, and MCE on our education programs, and all cities, non-profits, and for profits in the Bay Area with Climate Corps. Together we are redefining what it means to live on our planet. Together our efforts make a systemic difference.

Featured Program

Service-Learning Grant from State Farm Youth Advisory Board
Last month SEI received a $96,000 service-learning grant for an environmental responsibility service-learning project from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board. Our service-learning program supports high school participation in action-oriented projects that benefit their communities. “Students from all over the Bay Area will be engaged in applied, project-based learning that makes a meaningful contribution to their school and community. Students will conduct school energy audits, school solar analyses, business sustainability assessments, and design and launch sustainable enterprises that are good for people, profits, and the planet,” said Emily Courtney, SEI’s K-12 Education Program Manager.
SEI has already begun to work with schools throughout the Bay Area: Gateway and Lincoln High School in San Francisco; San Rafael High School and the Marin School of Environmental Leadership (MarinSEL) at Terra Linda High School in Marin; and Skyline and Castlemont High Schools in Oakland.
At Gateway students are receiving direct instruction from SEI’s Non Profit Leadership Fellow Axel Pearson in water and energy auditing. This week Axel is teaching students about the value of water conservation and the water/energy/climate connection. Students are investigating the water flows in energy production and the energy flows in water pumping, treatment, and distribution. They will be calculating their household’s water consumption to identify strategies for water conservation at home. Our goal is for students to understand the cost of water in their lives and adopt water saving techniques. In the Spring students will conduct a School Energy Audit to plan for the wise investment of Prop 39 funds.
At San Rafael High School, students are focusing on conducting school energy audits and solar analyses, as well as waste reduction. SEI’s Non Profit Leadership Fellow Emily Quinton is working with the school’s Green Team to increasing recycling diversion at their school.
At Terra Linda High School, students are implementing Sustainable Enterprises. Last semester MarinSEL sophomores learned the tools of business planning with SEI’s High School Certificate in Sustainable Enterprise and created their own sustainable enterprise business plans. The students developed ideas for a broad range of creative businesses, which they presented to an “investor” panel of community business leaders. Student teams are now implementing the eight business plans that were chosen by the investors. The entrepreneurs that were selected developed job descriptions, and their peers submitted applications and were interviewed. The teams hired by each entrepreneur have implemented their business plans over the past two months. Their sustainable enterprises include: Be Green Bracelets, Sprouting Gardens, Reclaimed Wood Designs, Organic Clothing, Eco Dog Toys, Karma Kookies, Butterfly’s Closet, and the Ecoville board game.

Energize Schools

Proposition 39 School Energy Efficiency
This year SEI launched the Energize Schools program. In partnership with 3 other non-profits (Ecology Action, PECI, and Bay Area Climate Collaborative), Energize Schools works with school districts throughout California to make it easy and affordable for schools to invest in Energy Efficiency retrofits and Renewable Energy while engaging students in energy conservation, education, and leadership. The partnership will ensure school districts can maximize the state’s 5-year, $2.5 billion Proposition 39 investment, and provide support beyond the reach of those resources.
Energize Schools uses a holistic approach in working with schools and districts to access the most affordable and highest quality technical, administrative, financial, and procurement support. We also help enhance student learning by providing project-based curriculum, teacher training, direct instruction, and conservation support that utilizes schools as a learning laboratory for clean energy career skills development.
Energize Schools funded by PG&E, San Francisco Foundation, and Marin Community Foundation to deliver the following major objectives:
  1. Facilitate major budget relief to K-12 school districts: Efficiency and solar can reduce operating costs and directly benefit classrooms.
  2. Deliver expert & vendor independent resources: Ensure mission-driven expert guidance to school districts to maximize the value of investments.
  3. Engage students in energy education and leadership: Use school buildings as learning laboratories for student-conducted school energy audits and launch Green School Leadership Teams to catalyze student-led conservation initiatives.
The Proposition 39 Opportunity
Last fall California voters approved the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) which will provide an unprecedented $550 million annually for 5 years to K-12 school districts as well as community colleges for the express purpose of improving the energy efficiency of facilities and stimulating job growth in the energy sector.  While this funding provides a tremendous opportunity, funding alone is insufficient. Proposition 39 requires strategic planning and long-term management. Districts will have to prepare a five-year spending plan, energy based cost-effectiveness calculations and job creation estimates for specific projects they want to implement. After the California Energy Commission approves projects, districts will have to contract, manage and then report on the outcomes.
Wisely invested Proposition 39 funds can have tremendous economic benefits for schools. In the Bay Area alone, the 159 school districts could save $40 million annually by investing in energy efficiency and renewable resources, and generate more than 500 megawatts of renewable power (more than doubling the current amount of distributed solar in this region!).

The Energize Schools partnership helps districts maximize available funding resources. While many schools have the desire to invest in clean, renewable, affordable energy, they often do not know where to start nor how to utilize available funding resources. Nationwide, schools spend more than $8 billion per year on energy, second only to spending on books and computers. The money that is currently being used on energy could instead be used on student learning. Energize Schools guides districts in accessing the most affordable and highest quality technical/administrative/financial/ procurement support, while maximizing learning opportunities for students.

Meet Our Community

Alameda County General Services Agency
Our Climate Corps Bay Area (CCBA) program connects emerging professionals with community partners to build climate resiliency.  Climate Corps fellows have the opportunity spend 10 months learning cutting edge, valuable professional and leadership skills by working with our team and onsite with Bay Area municipal governments and various community agencies.   Our program partners receive the support of passionate, dedicated young talent who are trained and managed by SEI and who collectively comprise a regional cohort of emerging climate professionals.  A Climate Corps community partner that stands out for their historical and growing support of the program is the Alameda County General Services Agency (GSA).
Alameda County GSA has been a partner of CCBA since its beginning year (2010), growing their number of CCBA hosted fellows in each of the now 4 cohorts.  Alameda GSA Sustainability Program Manager, Carolyn Bloede, oversees a team of 6 Climate Corps fellows who are directly managed by Carolyn’s staff.  The current roster of Alameda CCBA Site Supervisors includes: Emily Sadigh, Ryan Bell, Karen Cook, Phillip Kobernick, and Ellen Dektar.  These county staff members support CCBA Fellows working on a wide range of projects to increase the sustainability of Alameda County operations including: commuter benefits, virtual meetings, green events, alternative work arrangements, compost and recycling, green purchasing, sustainable transportation, and greening preschools. We’re proud to support the needed work of the Alameda County GSA fellows, and we look forward to continuing to partner with the County as we plan for and expand Climate Corps’ footprint in the region. 


Associate Project Coordinator
SEI is seeking an Associate Project Coordinator. This is a full time position based out of our San Rafael office, working typical hours, Monday-Friday, with occasional travel.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, as we are looking to hire immediately. The Associate Project Coordinator reports to and supports the activities of our team, with a primary focus on our innovative approaches within K-12 Education and Sustainable Communities. For more information and to apply, click here.

Nonprofit Leadership Fellow
SEI is seeking a dedicated individual who is passionate about working in the non-profit sector, to provide a year of service as a full-time, paid fellow for a cutting edge organization focused on designing innovative solutions to address community climate, energy and resource efficiency goals. SEI’s Nonprofit Leadership Fellow will have the opportunity to work directly with our Executive Director, in addition to working in our growing K-12 schools sector program area. For more information and to apply, click here.

Climate Corps Communications Volunteer 
SEI is seeking a volunteer to support the branding and visual identity of our Climate Corps Bay Area (CCBA) program communications and online. The communications specialist will work with CCBA staff to update and redesign the program websites, newsletter, and social media along with other communications material. For more information and to apply, click here
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Strategic Energy Innovations
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