Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pew Center: Corporations embrace energy efficiency

Business leaders' changing perception of energy and climate change has resulted in a launch of aggressive energy efficiency policies, says a new Pew Center report.

The report, "From Shop Floor to Top Floor: Best Business Practices in Energy Efficiency," said there's growing support in the board room for action on energy and environmental issues.

"Energy efficiency has emerged as a key component of these commitments," said William R. Prindle, vice president of ICF International and author of the report. "Leading firms that give greater attention to energy efficiency report billions of dollars in savings and millions of tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions."

The report, which was paid for by Toyota, includes case studies of six companies: The Dow Chemical Co., United Technologies Corp., IBM, Toyota, PepsiCo and Best Buy. The research resulted also in a series of workshops on energy efficiency and additional research on corporate energy issues. got this quote from Pew Center President Eileen Clausen: "In our view, a paradigm shift is occurring in the way corporations view and manage energy. Price volatility and climate concerns are forcing companies to think more strategically than ever about energy use."

Electric motorcycles to proliferate, report says

Marc Michon says that when cranks up the power on his electric motorcycle, there is no satisfying Harley-type rattle and rumble.

In fact, he hears nothing more than the wind. And acceleration is amazingly smooth, says Michon, a veteran of the field who lives in Coarsegold and develops custom bikes for a San Francisco company.

Michon may get company. Others are expected to buy into the electric bike concept. Lux Research Inc., an industry analyst with offices in Boston and New York, released a report today that targets electric motorcycles as the most likely user of new battery technology. The report said, "Electric vehicle storage technology markets will nearly double from $7.7 billion in 2010 to $14.5 billion in 2015."

The report says that while lead-acid batteries drive the hot Chinese market for electric bikes this year, lithium-ion batteries in e-bikes will grow fast.

"Policy-makers, auto manufacturers and the media have locked their attention on battery technologies for plug-in and electric vehicles," said Jacob E. Grose, an analyst for Lux Research and lead author of the report, in a statement. "But in fact e-bikes and scooters will drive the biggest growth for these batteries in the next five years."

Katie Fehrenbacher, a reporter for, speculated the trend could lend a boost to the fledgling industry. "Perhaps the growth projections mean life will soon get better for the e-bike and electric scooter startups. Companies like Vectrix have struggled with profitability, but are now getting a helping hand from China’s battery firms. The co-founder and CEO of electric vehicle maker Mission Motors, Forrest North, told us he thinks the market is now ripe for a higher-performance (and higher price tag) electric scooter technology."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Custom wallpaper provides insulating qualities

Imagine slapping up wallpaper that insulates, provides sound-deadening qualities and covers up imperfections.

Sounds cool, especially for dwellers of uninsulated apartments.

The product, by German-based Saarpor Group, is called Climapor. It's 4 mm thick and comes in various forms in addition to the unencumbered original: one with a laminated layer of aluminum foil, another with wood chips in the material and a third with a layer of paste board. The company says it offers the same insulating qualities as about 68 mm of brick, 79 mm of lime-sandstone and 210 mm of normal concrete.

That's still not a whole heck of a lot so I'll leave the interpretation to Bruce Mulliken of Green Energy News:
The comparison to brick as an insulating material may seem a little baffling. Here in the U.S., builders, architects, even homeowners, have been trained to think of insulation effectiveness in terms of R-value, a measure of thermal conductivity. Brick has a particularly low R-value of between 0.44 and 0.80 for 4 inches, not 3 inches, of brick. But the Saarpor product reflects heat and we’re not accustomed to thinking in terms of heat reflectivity as another way to retain heat in a building. Retaining heat through reflection can do the same job as insulation.

Mulliken said the expandable polystyrene product is impregnated with graphite particles that behave like mirrors, reflecting thermal radiation and reducing heat loss. "It would be a game changer if it worked as advertised," he wrote. "With that in mind, a real world study or two of the effectiveness of the product would be helpful."

And its domestic availability is in question. The manufacturer's Web site says Climapor is available in "DIY stores," but I couldn't find any sales outlets in the United States.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dairy cranks up manure power in Idaho

A new anaerobic digester on in Jerome, Idaho is converting waste from 6,000 cattle to power and is expected to generate about 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, or enough for 1,100 homes, officials said this week.

Bettancourt Dairy B6 Farm, owned and operated by Cargill Inc.'s Environmental Finance group, is the company's second in the state.

"We're proud to be creating a renewable source of electricity," said Bettancourt Chief Financial Officer Rick Onaindia in a statement. "Our digesters are also helping us reduce overall operating costs."

The San Joaquin Valley is no stranger to the practice. David Albers, president of the 2,800‐cow Vintage Dairy in western Fresno County, told Fresno Bee reporter Robert Rodriguez earlier this year that he is "trying to raise money to build a network of 40 digesters on dairies throughout the region, and he has been approached by several brokers interested in selling his clean‐air credits.

Dairies collect a lot of manure. That manure releases methane as it decomposes and is blamed for contributing to air pollution. Building systems to divert and use that gas is gaining converts.

Albers uses a system that collects methane in covered manure lagoons and processes it, Rodriguez wrote. The refined natural gas is fed into a pipeline and sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Albers also operates BioEnergy Solutions, which helps build digesters.

"Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations, aka CAFOs, aka Factory Farms, are the source of overwhelming pollution for the areas they're situated in -- imagine just how much waste 6,000 cows creates in a day, much less a month or a year or a decade," reported. "And Cargill has another CAFO nearby with 10,000 cows, which also has an anaerobic digester."

Britain embraces clean energy

Britain's energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions decreased last year, said this week.

The green energy trends Web site quoted a publication by the United Kingdom's Department of Energy and Climate Change, which said total energy production in 2009 declined by 5.8 percent from the previous year, and primary energy consumption fell for the fifth consecutive year in a row and at the fastest rate since 1980.

It also said Britain's greenhouse gas emissions fell 8.6%. However, while the country's supply of "renewable" electricity supply grew by 12.7 percent in 2009, it still only makes up less than 7 percent of the UK’s total supply, the site said. The contribution from wind grew by the largest margin at 19.9 percent.

And, perhaps more importantly, the report said the decrease can be attributed to the economic downturn and increased use of nuclear power to generate electricity, which rose by over 30 percent in 2009. Still, quoted Joan Ruddock, Britain's minister for energy and climate change, who said that efforts by the government, industry, business and homeowners are having an effect.

billions of stimulus to small businesses

Small clean-energy businesses in the United States have reaped the benefits of stimulus funding, reaping nearly $5.4 billion, The Phoenix Business Journal reported, citing the federal government.

New use for old subdivisions?

Here's an idea. Maybe some of those abandoned subdivisions, victims of one of the most severe real estate slumps in recent history, can be used as solar fields or plants.

Greentech Media had this fascinating story about a solar company, attempting to avoid restrictions by the federal Bureau of Land Management, that is considering putting a solar project on a dead residential project.

What do you think of that idea? Is that feasible?

Photo by Michael Zacharzewski

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Speaker to talk about future of energy efficiency

The next 21st Century Thought Leaders in Essential Industries Speaker Series from the Policy and Planning Division will feature Ralph Cavanagh, Senior Attorney and co-Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Energy Program.

The event is 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. April 8 at CPUC Auditorium, San Francisco. It also is available in real time and archived via video webcast at

Mr. Cavanagh is internationally known for his vision and leadership on energy efficiency, clean energy, and climate change policy issues, which he will address along with related topics. See bio below for more information.

Register: Registration is appreciated (whether attending in person or viewing online) at .

Questions: Please email .

Climate change law won't hurt economy, study says

A new report says climate legislation aimed at reducing the state's greenhouse gas emissions won't hurt California's economy.

The findings by the California Air Resources Board and vetted by an independent panel of economists and business experts contradict a study by analyst Thomas Tanton and commissioned by the AB 32 Implementation Group. The Tanton study claimed that AB 32, which seeks to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, would create "annual job losses to the California Economy of 76,000 to 107,000 the first year growing to perhaps 485,000 jobs in 2020."

Air Resources Board staffers plan to present the findings of the new study to the board today.

“This analysis confirms what economists have been saying all along: that full implementation of the Scoping Plan is the right choice for California to make an affordable transition to a clean energy economy,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols in a statement. “It supports continued economic growth and sets us on a course for greater energy security and less dependence on petroleum.”

The study found that when the AB 32 scoping plan measures are in place, "increased
investment in efficient buildings and technologies and in advanced fuels pays off: The economic growth rate remains 2.4 percent per year but fuel expenditures are reduced 4.9 percent and GHG emissions reduced by 15 percent."

The battle over AB 32 is expected to continue despite the 118-page study's findings. The Los Angeles Times reported that in recent weeks, "the protracted dispute over the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act has flared anew as oil refiners and other industries have poured more than $950,000 into signature-gathering for a November ballot initiative to delay climate-related rules."

Photo: Skyline of LA smog by Charis Tsevis.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

California cities dominate energy efficient buildings list

California building owners appear to believe in Energy Star.

Los Angeles topped a list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest number of energy efficient buildings -- 293 -- that earned EPA’s Energy Star rating last year. San Francisco with 173 buildings came in at No. 3, while Sacramento ranked No. 16 with 61 buildings and San Diego No. 17 with 58 buildings.

Second place went to Washington, D.C. Denver and Chicago round out the top 5 in that order. The other West Coast cities were Portland at No. 12 and Seattle at No. 14.

"These cities see the importance of taking action on climate change," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, in a statement. “Communities from Los Angeles to Louisville are reducing greenhouse gases and cutting energy bills with buildings that have earned EPA's Energy Star."

In 2009, about 3,900 commercial buildings earned the Energy Star, representing annual savings of more than $900 million in utility bills and more than 4.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the EPA reported. Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of over $100 billion per year.

Buildings reduce that by a combination of energy efficiency efforts: lighting, heating, cooling, insulation, water use and other practices. Municipalities in the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership will institute retrofits over the coming months to reduce their buildings' carbon footprint.
Photo: LA skyline by J. Sherbert.

Nuclear energy proposed for San Joaquin Valley

The chief executive of a French company thinks the San Joaquin Valley would be an ideal spot for a nuclear power plant. It may not happen for years - or at all - but here's more on the proposal from The Fresno Bee.

Colleges plan energy for sustainability course

The University of California at Merced and UC Berkeley Extension will offer "Energy for Sustainability: Technology, Planning and Policy" on May 14 and 15.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the UC Merced Center in Fresno. The two-day course is geared for professionals in public and private sectors who recognize the importance of planning renewable energy communities and those who wish to advance their careers or start a new one, said Brandy Nikaido, a spokeswoman for UC Merced.

Here's a bit about the course from UC Berkeley's site: "Review the environmental impact of global energy systems, energy-use life cycle and alternative options. Learn strategies from energy efficiency, conservation, renewable energy sources, green buildings, environmental responsibility and emerging clean tech innovations. Study the financial impact these strategies have on our economy and their effect on global climate change."

Those interested can register online.

Green Expo comes to Fresno Fairgrounds

The Green San Joaquin Expo is planned May 22 at the Fresno Fairgrounds.

The event promises to feature just about everything green, including alternative energy, green building and agriculture. "It will be bit on farming and gardening," said Marc Michon, organizer of the event.

Michon is a pioneer in the development of electric motorcycles and offers consulting services to various start-ups in the industry. He said he expects to have on display four to six electric vehicles and several biodiesel burners. "It will also be big on farming and gardening," he said.

Michon said the goal of the expo is to get people to network. "Just enjoy sharing what you're interested in," he said.

UC Merced honored for greening efforts

UC Merced is living up to its reputation as a green campus and model of sustainability for the Valley.

This time it was honored for its long-range vision. The SJVCEO welcomes its efforts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More thoughts on Chevron's Bakersfield solar project

This blogger weighs in with some compelling thoughts on Chevron's solar testing project in Kern County.
Check it out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oil giant powers up solar site near Bakersfield

Chevron Corp. is taking the wraps off an 8-acre site in Bakersfield where it is testing various types of solar panels.

The oil giant is becoming more green - and a massive refinery in Kern County has become a test site of sorts, according to the Los Angeles Times. Chevron is considering using solar to run its operations, and has already seen significant energy savings by using alternative energy.

Here's the story.

It is yet another example of the emergence of solar energy, and the role the San Joaquin Valley can play.

Friday, March 19, 2010

L.A. surcharge to pay for renewable energy

California's largest city is taking steps toward moving away from coal power and embracing renewables.

Directors of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power agreed to boost customers' power bills, despite the objection of some business groups. The goal is to obtain 20% of its power needs from clean energy sources such as solar and wind.

Some businesses objected because a surcharge would add to their costs, they said. Residential bills could increase up to 28.4%, The Los Angeles Times reported, citing information from the mayor's office. Likewise, businesses could see increases of 21% to 22% after the increases are in place.

The City Council has must now decide it it wants to review the Department of Water and Power vote.

Coal comprises about 44% of the agency's power portfolio, and is considered a large polluter.

If this stands, I wonder if Los Angeles will become a model for other cities.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Company produces energy audit software

One of the chief components of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant application through the state was the energy audit. Cities and counties were required to find energy efficiency opportunities to spend the Stimulus money. This meant targeting outdated lighting, air conditioning and electrical motors in pumps, among other things.

Engineers went building to building in most of the 33 cities and three counties in the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership and took stock of lighting wattage, AC tonnage and pump horsepower. Then they calculated the savings retrofits would provide.

Cambridge, Mass.-based kWhOURS Inc. hopes to simplify that process with energy audit software it is due to release in the next several days.

"We firmly believe that a skilled energy auditor should focus on the engineering challenges that require his/her expertise, rather than attending to time-sinking and repetitive data migration and calculation tasks," the company said on its Web site.

kWhOURS describes the product as an easy-to-navigate program that "organizes your work as you go, making it simpler to collect and analyze data." The company said the software offers guidance throughout the auditing process and allows the user to improvise.

"kWhOURS' potential customers are interested in its technology because of the lengthy, expensive and archaic process through which most energy audits are currently conducted," wrote Yoni Cohen of Cohen said a number of companies, most notably San Francisco-based Recurve, which focuses on residential audits, are developing similar products.

A pizza business goes green

A popular pizza restaurant in Arvin, a little community of 15,000 near Bakersfield, has become a showcase of sorts for energy efficiency.

Bear Mountain Pizza has gone green, with the help of officials with the city and the non-profit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, which is dedicated to helping the eight Valley counties become more energy efficient.

This small business in Arvin agreed to be a demonstration project to install energy-efficient technologies, including a solar array.

It also is part of an ambitious “Greening Arvin” program, sponsored by the city.

The energy upgrades at Bear Mountain Pizza included replacing windows, lights and doors with more energy-efficient models and adding a 3-kilowatt solar power system. The combined upgrades are expected to cut energy consumption 12%, slash the annual power bill $1,100 and avoid an estimated 3.2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (the gases that cause global warming) per year, said Mike Kunz, the city’s development associate.

Restaurant patrons can see for themselves how the upgrades are working. A computer screen on a wall in the dining room monitors the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and energy savings.

Restaurant owner Manuel Pantoja said customers study the screen and can make the connection between energy upgrades and savings. He hopes to recoup his investment within six years through lower energy bills.

Pantoja received greater benefits because the upgrades coincided with a city-sponsored façade-improvement program that required participation in an Energy Watch plan by the local utility.

The city’s redevelopment agency picked up 90% of the cost improving the façade while Pacific Gas & Electric Co. paid for the Energy Watch upgrades, Kunz said. Together, those helped lower the cost to the business owner.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Private industry begins shift to energy efficiency

Businesses are starting to see the green in energy efficiency. Their motives are not necessarily altruistic. What many business owners and managers now recognize is the practicality of saving energy. It saves money. Lots of it.

The Stockton Chamber of Commerce's REACON program is one of the leading San Joaquin Valley proponents of this greening Main Street concept, working with more than 400 businesses to overhaul or tweak their practices to become more sustainable, reduce energy costs and clean the air.

Corporate America, likewise, is figuring out the benefits. Late last month, Wal-Mart announced a goal to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015. The amount, the company said, is the equivalent of taking more than 3.8 million cars off the road for a year.

At the Stockton Chamber's Recycling Expo, or REXPO, this month, two Wal-Mart employees shared a luncheon table with the staff of the SJVCEO, offering some visibility to the corporation's interest in sustainable practices.

"Think about what this means for Wal-Mart's suppliers," wrote Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen of "They are accountable to not just the world's largest retailer, but the world's largest company. In China alone, the Bentonville behemoth holds sway over 10,000 suppliers, and it is making sustainability a benchmark for all."

Hollender and Breen also wrote about UK retailer Marks & Spencer, which wants to ensure that by 2015, half of its 36,000 product lines will include at least one sustainable attribute. "It's all part of Marks & Spencer's audacious aim to become the world's 'most sustainable major retailer' within five years."

Wal-Mart has rolled out its Supplier Energy Efficiency Project in which it has offered to conduct “energy audits” of its suppliers' facilities. Then using practices it's learned from its own efforts to improve building efficiency, Walmart helps suppliers identify projects that can help save energy and money.

LED lighting to transform market, report says

Over the next 20 years, demand for lighting will increase but energy consumption will drop by as much as 38 percent, a new federal report says.

The culprit? Innovations largely led by light emitting diode and organic light emitting diode products. The transformation won't happen overnight. Prices remain high, limiting demand. However, incentives, like those offered by Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grants, are introducing the money-saving lighting, enhancing its visibility and building market share. Already, local governments and businesses are taking advantage of utility incentive plans and retrofitting entire buildings.

The report, "Energy Savings Potential of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications 2010 to 2030," predicts LEDs moving into more consumer friendly territory.

"Starting around 2016, the price and performance become sufficiently attractive that the forecasted energy consumption for lighting drops in absolute terms even as the lumens of service are increasing," the report says. The document was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy and released last month.

The savings, quantified by the report, is substantial if LED market takeover proves successful. It amounts to about 404 million barrels of oil over the next two decades.

"That's a lot of energy, money, and carbon to be saved," writes Eric Wesoff of

Not bad.

Stimulus helps renewable energy during recession

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that this wicked economic downturn didn't deter growth of clean energy last year, thanks in large part to stimulus funding.

Still, the growth was more moderate than before the recession. An estimated $100 billion of the $787 billion stimulus package will be devoted to clean energy, the Chronicle reports, citing a study by the Clean Edge, Inc. research firm.

. That amount is significantly less than China's projected $440 billion investment in the industry over the next decade. "China indeed will be a formidable opponent to any other country...," said Ron Pernick, one of the report's authors.

Here at the SJVCEO, we are working with cities throughout the Valley to get clean-energy projects.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Governors push for wind energy

Interesting story off Associated Press today. It seems that governors of 29 states, including California (where Arnold Schwarzenegger is a founding member of the bipartisan coalition), are urging the federal government to boost the profile of wind energy.

Other recommendations include funding technology to develop more wind energy in coastal regions, streamlining the permitting process and extending a stimulus program for the industry.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Valley could be home to huge solar project

One of the world's largest solar projects is proposed for retired farm land in the central San Joaquin Valley.

It is one of at least a dozen utility-scale solar proposals, ranging from 5 to 250 megawatts, planned in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties - and certainly the largest, reports The Fresno Bee.

However, the development is likely to face regulatory and environment review, and could cost a bundle to build. But, it is an example of what some say is the extreme potential of the Valley: The Westlands Water District land is close to cities needing electricity and to a main transmission line along Interstate 5.

Chevron and solar to cut costs to schools

Chevron Energy Solutions has started building a 3.7-megawatt solar project that will help save a school district in San Jose $7.6 million over five years, and slash utility costs 30% over the life of the project.

The partnership with East Side Union High School District calls for solar panels at six schools, including Santa Teresa High School, where a ground-breaking ceremony was held. the project, which will provide 100 union jobs, is expected to be complete this year.

Chevron Energy Solutions will design, build and operate the system. The panels will generate enough power to limght more than 250,000 average-sized compact fluorescent light bulbs, Chevron said in a news release.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Business happy going green

Wendy Foulks understands why some businesses resist going green. The practice is still novel, and companies worry the cost will be too much and the results too small.

Foulks, who helps operate Premier Finishing in Stockton, says businesses shouldn't be afraid. The first business to be certified green by Stockton's new Green Team San Joaquin, Premier Finishing, which applies a variety of coatings to products, has recouped its costs through reduced energy bills in only three years.

"It's been fantastic," said Foulks. "It was the best thing we could have done."

She said businesses can tailor their upgrades according to their budgets, so they don't have to bust the bank to start on the road to sustainability. Many of the upgrades come at no or little cost.

Premier's biggest results came from changing out lighting. It cost $16,000 over two years to replace all the lights in the 50,000-square-foot plant, but the savings was so significant that the expenditures were recouped in less than a year.

The biggest expense was $300,000 for a cool roof, but a tax rebate partially offset that. Now, the 110 employees work in a much more comfortable environment, she said.

Green Team San Joaquin works under the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce.

Greening Main Street

Many workers don't think about conserving energy at work. After all, they aren't paying the power bill. Who cares if I leave the lights on or the computer on?

Phil Pennino of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says that kind of thinking is shortsighted. Pennino, speaking at REXPO VI , an annual green-energy workshop in Stockton on March 11, said reduced energy costs and less consumption translate to an improved bottom line.

PG&E is committed to increasing the use of renewables from 14% of its current portfolio to more than 20% over the next decade. As incentives, the utility offers rebates to businesses and individuals who conserve.

In San Joaquin County, for example, 6,675 applicants between 2007 and 2009 received almost $30 million in rebates and saving 67,699 kilowatts of power. "If you buy a new dishwasher," Pennino said, "You might be able to get rebates."

Chris Bonnet, owner of American Recycling in Modesto, said businesses can cut their landfill costs and save money through a recycling program."We go into your trash and find stuff," Bonnet told participants at REXPO.

He saved one mid-sized company $12,000 per month in "tipping fees," which are charges to use landfills. Shrink wrap, office paper and plastic strapping are among the items that can be recycled more than they already are.

Stockton is proving to be a model of green for other cities. Its Commute Connection ride-share program accommodates 8,862 registered commuter and 132 van pools. The average commute distance: 29 miles one way, said Yvette Davis of San Joaquin Council of Governments.

The city even has a program for toilets - or rather replacing old ones with new high-efficiency ones that use less water. The new program will pay for the installation of 500 toilets, saving the equivalent of 1,000 households of water, said Sharene Gonzales, Stockton's water conservation manager.
(Photo of Paul Johnson, executive director of San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization adressing panelists.)

Building green can save money

A visiting professor at UC Berkeley compared real estate transactions and found that office buildings with energy-efficiency certification get higher rents, more tenants and higher sales prices.

Dr. Nils Kok presented the information at a workshop entitled "Doing Well by Doing Good: Green Office Buildings" last month. The study included about 10,000 buildings in the United States and concluded that those with a green rating commanded rents that were 3% higher than comparable non-green structures - and the sales prices increased 16%.

Studies showed that a $1 dollar saving in energy costs translated to an $18 increase in value. And the gain in value appeared to be greater in smaller or low-cost regions, and in less tony neighborhoods.

The study concluded that sustainable builders have longer economic lives due to less depreciation and less volatility in value.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NASA and climate change

NASA released some fascinating news. 2009 was tied for the second-warmest year in modern history, and was part of the hottest decade.

The analysis of global surface temperatures also shows that, in the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest since modern records began in 1880. A NASA official was quoted as saying, "global warming is continuing unabated."

The NASA group concluded that 2010 could be the warmest year on record if the current El Nino persists.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Google and world domination

Well, not exactly, but Google certainly has ambitious plans.

The nation's dominant search engine has plans, according to Alternative Energy News, to develop its new solar mirror technology for cheaper solar power.

Google official Bill Weihl is quoted as saying that the company wants to reduce the cost of making heliostats - which track the sun - by at least double. Google also is pursuing gas turbines, which would also reduce its electrical costs.

Google early on invested in green companies, but has decided to develop its own technology.

A nonpartisan legislative analyst says California's greenhouse gas reduction law won't produce the jobs Gov. Schwarzenegger's office predicted it will and could cost jobs in the near term, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The analyst, Mac Taylor, was quoted by the Bee saying, "Employment forecasts in response to policy changes can be especially difficult. There is generally not a simple relationship between policy changes and jobs per se."

Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, requested the report, and has asked the governor to stall the law, the Bee said.

The measure, AB 32, seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a 14-ton per capita reduction of carbon dioxide. For cities in the Valley, the law requires establishing greenhouse gas baselines by determining energy consumption of city buildings and coming up with climate action plans to reduce it. Energy efficiency measures and retrofits are the expected tool. Installing better lighting, improved insulation and windows and energy systems is where the jobs come in.

Measure 94, a proposed ballot initiative, would suspend AB 32. A story by the L.A. Times in January said the initiative would cripple the Global Warming Solutions Act.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Move over Energy Star

A proposal dubbed Building Star before the U.S. Senate would provide $6 billion for commercial and multi-family energy efficiency retrofits. Justin Moresco reported the story in Earth2Tech, likening it to a sibling of the White House proposal Home Star, which would provide billions more in residential retrofits.

"The bill, dubbed 'Building Star' and playing off the name of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, would cover about 30 percent of the cost of energy-related equipment and services including energy audits, building envelope insulation, mechanical equipment upgrades, lighting and energy management and monitoring equipment," Moresco writes.

Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., sponsored the bill touting its job creation benefits and small business friendliness. A statement on Merkley's Web site said that by utilizing rebates and low-interest loans, the Building Star program would leverage between two and three dollars in private investment for every federal dollar spent. “Clean energy is not only the next great growth industry, but it’s an engine for job creation,” Merkley said.

The proposal would fit very well with what the SJVCEO hopes to accomplish in its quest to revitalize Main Streets in communities across the Valley. We haven't heard whether our Greening Main Street proposal before the U.S. Department of Energy has been successful but we hope through any means possible to substantially improve the efficiency of downtown districts, save money and create jobs.
Photo: Corcoran recently revamped its downtown with facade face lifts on many buildings.