June, 2013 – Issue #5
Message from Cyane Dandridge
What did you do for Earth Day? That’s a question that I’d like us to ask not just on one day of the year, but every day, to everyone. Because there is so much to do, so many large and small steps we can take to reduce our environmental impact, change our habits, and restore our planet. You can get started by acting on the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. In recent years these R’s have expanded to include Rethink. At SEI, I ask my team and myself to Rethink the norm, and create impactful approaches to address our sustainability challenges.
The environmental movement is as strong as our individual ideas, voices, and actions. I have become increasingly excited about the new and innovative programs that SEI has developed through the Rethink “R”, by diving into the challenges that many communities face when engaging in climate protection implementation, and coming up with innovative solutions to overcome those challenges. Our CCBA
program, SEED Fund
, and Marin School of Environmental Leadership
are three examples of where Rethinking the norm has led to effective and cutting edge approaches to integrating sustainability in our communities. As Earth Day recedes behind us, I ask that all of us rethink how we do things, and come up with approaches that can make a difference now and in the future.
Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED) Fund
Recently the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Fund
reached a major milestone. After months of building interest in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties, the SEED Fund team (SEI and partner Optony Inc.
) have reached critical mass; Twelve public agencies with a potential PV capacity of over 5 MW have signed MOUs, the City of San Rafael
has agreed to act as SEED Fund's coordinating agency, and Marin Clean Energy
has offered to provide technical support for San Rafael to facilitate this regional program. All of this activity caught the attention of the Marin Independent Journal who ran an article on March 17th
outlining San Rafael’s role and the status of the program.
Our vision for the SEED Fund was to create a unique opt-in program to empower public agencies to evaluate and participate in a regional group purchase of municipal solar PV projects. As of this Spring, we are one step closer to seeing that vision become reality. As San Rafael City Council Member Damon Connelly noted during the March 18th City Council meeting, “This really started as a way of acting on an idea; for how to utilize our structures in the city to increase renewable energy, and in that way we can also achieve our goals under the CAP. I believe San Rafael is prepared to lead the effort, and this really represents public private partnership in the best sense.” In the coming months, SEI and Optony will work to finalize the agencies who want to participate, hold vendor workshops to make sure solar installers are aware of the program scope, and work with the City of San Rafael to craft and release the collaborative proposal.
SEI's Non-Profit Leadership Fellow Program
We’re particularly proud of SEI’s track record of forging new pathways to support green careers. Working across age groups and candidate profiles, from students, to recent graduates to workers in transition, and spanning volunteer and internships to full-time placements, SEI has demonstrated a commitment to finding and developing talented individuals. This spring we’re celebrating our Non-profit Leadership Fellows, two young professionals who are considering a career in the nonprofit sector. Our first cohort consists of the very talented Liz Jones
and Antone Jain
, who each have dedicated a year of service and professional development with us.
Liz expresses that “working at Strategic Energy Innovations as a Nonprofit Leadership Fellow has been the perfect way to expose myself to the various aspects of a small environmental nonprofit.” Liz is leading our effort to green the Bitter End Yacht Club (BEYC)
on the British Virgin Island (BVI) of Virgin Gorda. She has visited the BVI to audit the facilities and initiate a staff "Green Team" to further sustainability issues at the resort in the areas of communications, waste, water / marine preservation, and energy. In addition to leading the BEYC project, Liz supports several projects in our Sustainable Communities sector. She appreciates that “over the last year I have been able to select projects that allowed me to improve my grant-writing, data analysis, report-writing, presentation, volunteer management, and customer relations skills. Most importantly, I am able to work on projects that produce meaningful results.” After completing her Non-profit Leadership Fellowship, Liz will begin a JD / MS program at Stanford University where she intends to go into public interest environmental law practice “likely working for a domestic nonprofit…I just can't get enough of those nonprofit environmental organizations!”
Antone, our other Non-profit Leadership Fellow, has focused on advancing the pedagogy and administration of an innovative new magnet school, the Marin School of Environmental Leadership (MSEL)
, in which students develop the 21st century skills of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication, within the cost-effective framework of an existing public high school. With a background in environmental engineering, Antone served as the mentor to a group of students researching the SF Bay water quality. In order to expose the students to primary scientific literature on pollution in the Bay, environmental sampling approaches, and the complexity and precision of science research, he gave them articles from the journals Marine Chemistry and Marine Biology, and read through the introductions together and discussed the scientific methods. Antone explains that “In many ways, doing environmental science research is a task outsized for high school students. But when the MarinSEL students reached walls, they learned how to climb.” After completing his Non-profit Leadership Fellowship, Antone plans to attend a PhD program in environmental engineering as he aspires to develop new technologies and advance knowledge to protect the environment and produce renewable resources.
Meet Our Community
Bay Area Climate Collaborative
This month we feature another leader in the community – the Bay Area Climate Collaborative (BACC)
, and in particular, Rafael Reyes their Executive Director. The BACC under Rafael’s leadership has become a leading voice for advancing the regional clean energy economy. We’ve been fortunate to get to know the BACC over the last two years, as one of Climate Corps Bay Area’s community partners, and are pleased to embark on a new partnership with the BACC to launch a regional Schools Clean Energy Partnership.
The BACC was launched by the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as a public-private partnership project of the Silicon Valley Leadership group to drive clean energy progress. The BACC leads region-wide program strategy, executive engagement, and industry partnerships. The Schools Clean Energy Partnership builds on the BACC's detailed regional action plan, Bridge to the Clean Economy
, outlining the market context, key players, and action steps for solar on schools and other market-oriented clean energy initiatives for near-term emissions reductions of 5 million+ MMtCO2e over 10 years. Click here
to learn more about the BACC’s region-wide programs and executive engagement from their Annual Report.
BACC Executive Director Rafael Reyes is former Program Director of ecoAmerica, where he was responsible for the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and had a major leadership role in the Sierra Club's Cool Cities program supporting the Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement. He has consistently found innovative ways to bring stakeholders to the table on important climate issues, and we are excited to work with Rafael on this new initiative.
The Schools Clean Energy Partnership is a regional initiative designed to assist K-12 schools to increase their energy efficiency and to generate renewable energy, while saving money on energy costs. The Partnership, which launches this year, will pilot in the San Francisco Bay Area, and then grow statewide. Participating districts will receive specific guidance, resources and support to remove barriers to clean energy adoption by addressing technical, administrative and financial needs.
The team at SEI is delighted to be working in partnership with the effective and inspiring BACC team to catalyze clean energy action and education.
Looking for a FUN and exciting summer camp for this year? Check out SEI's Planet Energy Summer Camp! Planet Energy is a place for innovation, creativity, and FUN—a place for kids to learn about the most pressing issue facing our world today, and to design projects and ideas that help us fix that issue. It's a place for the environmental designers and leaders of tomorrow, and a place for kids to learn that EVERYONE can help change the world. Our week-long program for campers entering grades 4-6 has a focus on climate change and ways to be a part of the solution—clean energy, the 5 R’s, and conservation—through exploratory, hands-on science projects and activities. The camp is designed to strengthen environmental literacy and values among campers while showing them that being an environmentalist can be ridiculously fun, and includes a healthy dose of outdoor, nature-filled activities. Registration is now open at www.marinwood.org (click "Registration")! Click here for more information, or contact Amanda Wilmsen at Amanda@seiinc.org.
3 Sustainability Certificates Available
SEI offers high school educators 3 semester-long curriculum packages for instruction in a wide range of disciplines including science, math, social studies and career tech ed. If students successfully complete the curriculum, they concurrently earn high school and community college credit, as well as a Certificate from SEI.
SEI is excited to announce the development of a new Sustainability Certificate in Sustainable Enterprise to add to the existing Certificates in Energy, Green Building and Green Transportation. SEI is currently developing and piloting the Certificate in Sustainable Enterprise at the Marin School of Environmental Leadership (MSEL)
, a school within a school launched and supported by the SEI team. The MSEL students are currently developing a business plan for a sustainable enterprise of their design. At the end of the semester students will present their plan to a pool of investors and industry experts. 5-7 plans will be selected for implementation by student teams in the Fall. For more information on SEI’s Sustainability Certificates, please visit our Curriculum
site or contact Emily Courtney at Emily@seiinc.org