Sustainable Solutions
The Quarterly Newsletter of Strategic Energy Innovations
Strategic Energy Innovations
Summer Edition
June 1, 2012 – Issue #2

Contents

Message from Cyane Dandridge

Welcome and industry perspective from our Executive Director, Cyane.

Featured Program

Climate Corps Bay Area.

EAH Housing

Building Sustainable Communities Initiative.

Meet Our Community

Skyline College.

Announcements

California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.


Message from Cyane Dandridge
Executive Director

We are always trying to keep our eyes open for innovative solutions. I want to take a moment to share three approaches - energy project financing, regionalism, and behavior change - that we are seeing gain more traction lately.
 
Financing is always a need, but recently with extreme budget cuts hitting our schools, universities, and local governments more than ever we need creative financing options to enable investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.  With our partner Optony Inc., we are launching a unique revolving loan fund that unlocks collaborative energy project procurement for the public sector. Energy efficiency for multifamily affordable housing have always been challenged by the split incentive between owner and tenant, but PG&E's On-Bill Financing program may soon provide a means to tackle that split incentive.
 
Individual communities in California have done a lot of great work on climate protection, however increasingly we're seeing that to really move the ball, cities and counties need to work at a regional scale to leverage their scarce resources. We are seeing this first hand with the seven San Francisco Bay Area cities in the Small Cities Climate Action Partnership.  Through this regional collaboration the cities have been able to participate in bulk solar purchase, access new grant opportunities, establish energy action plans and develop a revolving loan fund.
 
To reach our most ambitious environmental goals, we are going to have to move beyond technological fixes and address energy use behaviors. Although behavior change is not yet a cornerstone of resource management programs, we have found through our school-based Green Teams, that well-planned behavior change programs can realize significant results. For example, through behavior change programs alone we helped the Dixie School District achieved a 10% energy use reduction in just one year and helped the San Francisco Unified School District achieved a 20% waste diversion.
 
SEI will continue to drive these emerging approaches to reach larger scales where they can make a big difference with regional, state, and federal support. The Public Utilities Commission is beginning to look at innovative and targeted financing programs. Regionalism can be difficult as small cities in a region can differ greater. Therefore, regionalism needs to be supported so that the cities can work through their differences. We hope behavior change will also become more widely adopted as utilities accept deemed savings through behavior change as a programmatic approach to energy efficiency. SEI enjoys testing and proving these new sustainable solutions for our communities and look forward to following these trends as they evolve.

Featured Program

Climate Corps Bay Area

For the past 2 years, SEI in partnership with Bay Area Community Resources, has been implementing an innovative AmeriCorps Program. Climate Corps Bay Area is a 10-month AmeriCorps National Service program that places 30 AmeriCorps volunteers with local governments and non-profits to implement climate change mitigation.  We're really excited about this program because we've found a way to simultaneously help communities tackle climate change and cultivate the next generation of environmental leaders.

For example, Katelyn M graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Journalism and Political Science 2 years ago and landed a temporary communications position. When this job ended, Katelyn found herself wanting to use her communication and public relations skills and academic experience to promote sustainability, but she was not quite sure how to make the transition into this field.  That’s when she decided to apply to Climate Corps Bay Area. We placed her with Grid Alternatives, where's she has spent the last 8 months helping accelerate their low-income solar program. 

Grid Alternatives, like our other 14 Community Partners, value Climate Corps Bay Area because they receive the support of qualified passionate dedicated volunteers like Katelyn to implement their programs. Katelyn and the other 29 members get to participate in a comprehensive training program and have the opportunity to spend their term learning cutting edge, and valuable skills while helping Bay Area communities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
 
Because of this powerful matchup of need and opportunity, we are well on our way to completing a second successful year. This year we will provide close to 50,000 hours of support to community emissions projects, and anticipate that over 75% of our members will obtain a job or pursue graduate education in a sustainability field. Katelyn, for example, has accepted a full-time position as Communications Associate at Grid Alternatives. It's stories like Katelyn's that let us know we've got something special in this program. SEI is extremely proud of the work our Members and their partners are accomplishing and excited to grow this program. CCBA is hoping to expand to other regions of California and Beyond in the coming years.

EAH Housing
Building Sustainable Communities
 
In 2009, EAH Housing, a leader in affordable housing development, was looking to take its Building Sustainable Communities Initiative to the next level. An important strategy included the formation of the Marin Energy Partnership with Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI) and the Marin Community Foundation. “SEI was a critical partner, helping us set priorities and implement green projects across so many of our communities,” says Laura Hall, Chief Operating Officer of EAH.
 
Last year 21 EAH Housing properties received green rehabs, which included installing Energy Star appliances, high efficiency water heaters, dual pane windows, native plant landscaping, and other energy efficiency measures. Additionally, solar power was installed at another 21 properties. In just two years, over half of the EAH Housing portfolio has been retrofitted with new green technologies.
 
SEI provided technical assistance throughout the retrofit process including identifying opportunities, reviewing contractors, producing trainings and engaging residents. SEI’s work with EAH Housing was recently highlighted by the Bay Area Climate Collaborative as delivering, proven, large-scale emissions and economic benefits. 
 
To cover the cost of rehabilitation work, EAH Housing has raised over half a million dollars in grant money, formed innovative partnerships with private solar companies, and received federal tax credits and state rebates.
 
“We are thrilled to have had such a successful 2011,” said Mary Murtagh, President and CEO of EAH Housing. “There is a natural synergy between sustainability and affordable housing, as both have the same end goal of creating vibrant, healthy communities.”

Meet Our Community
Skyline College

In this newsletter, we’d like to highlight SEI’s unique partnership with Skyline College, and in particular, Mike Williamson, Vice President of Instruction, and Anjana Richards, Director of Workforce Development.  Our work with Skyline began in 2008, when SEI helped launch a solar installation program for incumbent workers.  The solar course evolved into two certificates, one for solar installation and one for solar technology.
 
Mike had the foresight to bring together a group of Bay Area energy professionals to lay the groundwork for training programs in clean energy and renewable energy.  His proactive approach resulted in a 1.9 million dollar Community Based Job Training award to Skyline by the Department of Labor to prepare students for careers in energy efficiency, solar and green building.  Bringing together local community colleges, workforce investment boards, and non-profits, the project trained 265 students and laid the groundwork for career paths in the clean energy field. As part of this grant, SEI developed high school certificates in energy and green building, which articulate with community college courses.  
 
When Anjana Richards was recruited to head up Skyline’s green workforce programs, and build Skyline’s trajectory of careers in energy efficiency, solar, and home performance, she brought a stellar background in environmental compliance, pollution prevention and sustainability.  Yet, even with her extensive technical experience, her project management expertise proved to be the critical ingredient in attracting a diverse and talented team, and contributing to Skyline’s great success expanding its environmental offerings.
 
SEI has continued to partner with Skyline on large federally funded projects.  The Home Energy Retrofit Occupation (HERO) program, funded by the US Department of Labor, will train 215 dislocated and incumbent workers in the home performance area.  Recently, SEI helped Skyline think through the development of future associate degree programs in environmental technology.  As these projects have been awarded, Skyline’s faculty has grown.  Please check out Skyline’s Environmental Technologies portal for more information.
 
SEI’s work with Skyline faculty continues to be a source of inspiration and invigoration and we look forward to the projects ahead.

Announcements

CHES Anyone?
SEI is excited to once again participate in the annual California Higher Education Sustainability (CHES) conference.  UC Davis is hosting this year's gathering, from June 18-22.  Steve Miller and Candis Mary-Dauphin will be learning and sharing successful approaches to greening the campus, the curriculum, and preparing the next generation of sustainability leaders.

Announcing SEI’s Energy Certificate Training:
On June 26th, all interested adults are invited to a High School Training Workshop on Energy. Topics include: Climate Change; Fundamentals of Energy; Performing Classroom Audits; Solar Site Assessments; Green Career Paths for Youth.  Continuing Education Units are available from Dominican University. 

Participants will receive the training, lunch, and curriculum for $125.
Full scholarships available for Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and Solano educators who qualify!

How to Sign Up: http://shop.seiinc.org/training
Contact: Sandy Wallenstein, sandy@seiinc.org

SEI Multifamily Programs
SEI's Multifamily Partnership program model is featured in the recently released Bridge to the Clean Economy Report by the Bay Area Climate Collaborative. The report highlights strategies that offer proven, large-scale emissions and economic benefits. SEI's integrated technical assistance offerings simplify project execution from a building owner's perspective, maximize savings opportunities and reduce upfront investment.

Transitions
With the end of the second Climate Corps members’ year of service approaching, we are sad to say goodbye to our amazing Andrea and Lauren who are moving on to continue their environmental work and studies. However, we are excited to hang onto one of our members, Claire, who will be joining SEI as a full-time staff member in August! We are also going to miss Sandy Wallenstein, who led our K12 programs over the last four years.  Sandy is moving on to pursue her interests in environmental education consulting. And finally, we welcome our newest intern Rachel, who has been hired to support our programs over the summer. With all of these exciting changes, we appreciate that SEI continues to attract great talent!


Volunteer Opportunities
SEI is seeking volunteers to support our work in each of our primary focus areas: Eco-Smart Education, Green Housing, and Sustainable Communities.  This is a 3-month, part-time, unpaid position, for which we intentionally pair up volunteers with an SEI supervisor to set goals and identify substantive, meaningful work.  To find out more click here.


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Strategic Energy Innovations
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