green building

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Updates

Here are your wEEkly Updates:

1. First, a reminder that the Commercial Sector Subcommittee Meeting of the California Energy Efficiency Coordinating Committee is going on today! (Click here for more info.) This is an important opportunity to share feedback (or just listen in) on utility and other program administrator business plans for energy programming that are in the works now. To get direct alerts on subcommittee meetings, visit

2. Registration is open for the ACEEE 2016 Summer Buildings Study in Pacific Grove this August. This year’s theme is “From Components to Systems, from Buildings to Communities.” To learn more or register, click here.

3. State-level EE 101 webinar: Looking to better understand state-level programs and resources for local government energy efficiency? Click here to learn more about and register for our upcoming April 19th webinar.

4. Webinar on DSM-focused customer engagement: Greentech Media is hosting an April 21st webinar, “Key Strategies for Driving Energy Efficiency and Customer Engagement.” The webinar may be of interest to utility partners and local governments seeking to support and leverage customer-centric demand side management (DSM) for deeper energy savings. For more information click here.

5. Tools for PACE standards adoption: As the market for PACE financing as grown hot, many local governments have been working to adopt local standards for PACE financing firms that wish to operate in their jurisdiction. The Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) has released an Agreement template: click here for more information.

6. Increasing Home Value through Energy Upgrades: More interesting findings this week on energy improvements in buildings increasing building values – this time, specifically in residential. Click here for more information.

7. EE leaders in business: Click here to read about Ford’s renovations of its existing campus in Dearborn that will make it a state-of-the-art, water- and energy-efficient facility complete with a living machine and driverless cars.

8. Using data to plan holistically: Cities like San Jose are deploying data solutions to holistically understand their buildings and achieve energy efficiency and air quality goals. Click here for coverage on data use from Environmental Leader.

9. Green historic preservation requirements: ASHRAE is working on an update to their Guideline 34P, or Energy Guideline for Historic Buildings – with comment periods upcoming. Learn more in this Energy Manager Today article.

10. Resources for going beyond code: cool roofs: the CEC and the Utilities Statewide Codes and Standards teams have been working on some new resources to help local governments efficiently implement reach codes. One of them, a cool roofs cost effectiveness study for all climate zones, is now available. Learn more and review the study here.

11. Resilient Communities training: The Resilient Communities Initiative will be holding a special training, Engaging Communities for Effective Problem Solving, for local government officials tasked with protecting public welfare June 6th. Click here for more information.

12. Job announcement: San Diego International Airport seeks a highly-motivated professional to join its Environmental Affairs Department as a Senior Environmental Specialist! Learn more here.

13. Job announcement: MCE is hiring a Legal Counsel! Learn more here.

14. Recruit a CivicSpark fellow: Looking for capacity at the local level for energy, water, and sustainability projects? If you missed the webinars on how to apply for the CivicSpark AmeriCorps program, you can review a recording online.

As always, you can keep track of relevant events by connecting to the EE Events Calendar, and find more resources being added daily on the EECoordinator website.

That’s all for this week!

UC Merced sets the sustainable bar way, way up

The newest campus in the University of California system is quietly becoming a sustainable model and developing a reputation as a center for world-class research.

The University of California, Merced just had its seventh building certified gold by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program.

Its long-range plan, which embraces economic, social and environmental sustainability in campus facilities, was named to the American Institute of Architects' Committee on the Environment Top 10 Green Projects program.

And physics professor Sayantani Ghosh, along with Richard Inman, Georgiy Shcherbatyuk, Dmitri Medvedko and Ajay Gopinathan recently won recogntion of their research in renewable energy in the clean energy press.

Renewable research leader

Zachary Shahan of explains the research breakthrough as an effort "to redesign luminescent solar concentrators in order to make them more efficient at sending sunlight to solar cells."

Efficiency is the key to commercial viability in the renewable energy game. Keeping up with lower priced fossil fuels is the ultimate goal. Ghosh explains in Shahan's article that his team tweaked the traditional flat design for concentrators and made them hollow cylinders. Should the technology prove itself in cost and efficiency boosting, many, many more will hear about UC Merced.

The concentrator project is just one of a number of top-notch research programs that involve renewable energy at the San Joaquin Valley institution. Open just since Sept. 5, 2005, UC Merced is the 10th campus in the University of California system and calls itself "the first American research university of the 21st century."

"We’re attempting to set new standards for energy efficiency and environmental stewardship,” says Thomas Lollini, campus architect and an associate vice chancellor, in a statement, referring to the buildings on campus. However, the campus has embraced sustainability on multiple fronts.

Green building movement

The U.S. Green Building Council reports that LEED certified projects are pushing 1.9 billion square feet nationally. The designation was set up in 2000 to provide independent, third-party verification of cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

In the United States, buildings account for about 36 percent of total energy use and 65 percent of electricity consumption, 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 30 percent of raw materials use, 30 percent of waste output (136 million tons annually) and 12 percent of potable water consumption.

Any dent in that is a big deal.

Effort already a decade old

Richard Cummings, principal planner at UC Merced, says the green building movement on his campus began in 2002, when founding Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey established the goal of the campus meeting LEED silver for all buildings. What ended up happening is that all buildings but one ended up LEED gold, he says.

"As a result, our new 2009 master plan requires that all new buildings meet LEED Gold at a minimum and that the campus be zero net energy, zero waste and zero net emissions by 2020," Cummings says, adding that the campus also uses an internal, more-rigorous-than-LEED, benchmarking approach to energy efficient buildings.

The buildings certified LEED gold on the campus include the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library, Classroom Office Building, Science and Engineering 1, Sierra Terraces Dormitory, Joseph Gallo Recreation Center and the Central Plant. The Valley Terraces Dormitory is certified LEED silver.

Going for gold

Buildings expected to achieve gold certification include the Dining Expansion, the Early Childhood Education Center, Housing 3 and Social Science and Management Building. Building pursuing certification are Housing 4, Student Activity and Athletic Center, Science and Engineering Building 2 and the Student Services Building.

"UC Merced's commitment to LEED Gold combined with its aggressive energy saving design standards enables the campus to reduce energy costs by approximately $1 million per year when compared to typical university buildings in California," Cummings says.

"In addition, UC Merced's state of the art buildings are supplemented by a campus solar array that routinely produces half of campus electricity when the sun is shining and 1/6th of annual electricity needs."

Newest green building

Construction of the Logistical Support/Safety Facility, the seventh building certified gold, featured a number of sustainability-related achievements. About 77 percent of construction waste did not go to landfills but was ground up for reuse by farmers and nurseries.

Water use in the facility was reduced by 48 percent via the installation of waterless or low-flow urinals, lavatories and sinks. And 24 percent of the materials used in construction were made from recycled content.

All of those factors contributed to the high LEED ranking, officials say.

“This is a profound example of taking the long view of the built environment, setting out an early plan, identifying benchmarks, designing and building a campus, seeing if you are meeting your benchmarks, and continuous improvement until hopefully you reach the goals of zero energy and zero waste for 10,000 students in 2020,” wrote one juror who contributed to the American Institute of Architects' Committee on the Environment ruling that put the campus on its Top 10 list.

“It’s an astonishing ambition, and they are on track.”

Learn More About New CALGreen Regulations At Fresno State Event

California's building code is tighter and more environmentally friendly in 2011 thanks to mandatory requirements effective Jan. 1 under the state's new CALGreen program.

The new code includes rules for, among other things, water conservation, indoor air pollution, and construction waste, and will apply to residential and commercial properties. The Center for Sustainable Energy has more information here, state officials have a recap here, and this is a 181-page guide.

The new provisions are intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 3 million metric tons by 2020, and to cut energy and water use. To help prepare industry officials, Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission, will headline an all-day forum on CALGreen on Jan. 28 at California State University, Fresno.

The event will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in room 2206 in Henry Madden Library. The forum will be limited to 60 people balanced between building officials, design and construction professionals. The event is free, however firms are encouraged to donate $250 to help co-sponsor the program. Checks should be made out to "Fresno State Construction Management."

RSVP is required. Register at by Jan. 14.

E-mail for information.

photo image by

Green Building Picks Up Speed

Green building is accelerating in the United States, even in this down economy. According to the Las Vegas Business Press and McGraw-Hill Construction, one-fourth of all construction in 2010 will fall into the "green" category - an increase of 50% over the last two years.

"It's an amazing area of opportunity at time when the construction market is extremely challenged," McGraw-Hill Vice President Harvey Bernstein said in the story.

Going green can increase returns almost 10%, which is an incentive, McGraw-Hill said. The green mandate is increasingly being seen on commercial construction, particularly health care and government.

That's certainly good news and could foreshadow what could come when construction picks up as the economy improves.

Green Building Council Urges “No” Vote on Prop 23

The Central California chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council believes passage of Prop. 23, the so-called “dirty energy proposition,” will devastate the emerging green building and technology industry in the state.

The chapter recommends a “no” vote on the legislation, which would suspend AB 32, California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, until the state’s unemployment rate stays below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters – which has happened only three times since 1980.

Texas-based oil companies and a large coal company are pouring millions into the Prop. 23 efforts. The Green Building Council, however, believes the proposed legislation, which will be on the Nov. 2 ballot, will:

· Stifle a blossoming green industry in California. Since 2005, green jobs have grown 10 times faster than other industries. There are currently 500,000 green jobs in the state, of which 68,000 are in construction – an industry that has been hit hard in the recession;
· Put California’s new green building code at risk;
· Threatens green building and investment. The state has 12,000 clean-tech firms and received $10.4 billion in investment capital between 2006 and 2010.

The Central California chapter is urging members to get out and vote and to spread the message to 20 colleagues or friends through e-mail, USGBC CAC or StopDirtyEnergyProp on Facebook.

The “No on Prop 23” campaign has strong bi-partisan support. Both gubernatorial candidates, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, also oppose the legislation, as do many business, health, labor and environmental organizations.

Parking Garage Takes The Green

More cities and businesses are turning garages and carports into generators of solar power. This 11-story parking garage in Chicago takes that a major step forward. It has to be one of the coolest green projects in the country.

Introducing Greenway Self-Park. It features an array of vertical wind turbines on its southwest corner to make the most of the Windy City's namesake features. It has plug-ins for electric cars, a cistern rain-water collection system and services by companies that allow people who don't have vehicles to share one when they need wheels.

The developers are pursuing LEED certification. Read all about it here at Clean Fleet Report, where reporter John Addison also praises the sustainability efforts of Chicago city leaders. The lakeside city receives high rankings by SustainLane.

An industry blog, Concrete Products, also has information.
(Photo by

Community Colleges Going Green Summit

Community colleges such as West Hills in Lemoore, Firebaugh and Coalinga are on the front lines of the efforts to "green" America's workforce.

Toward that end comes the Green California Community College Summit Oct. 12 and 13 in Pasadena.

Speakers include Doug Henton, chairman and chief executive of Collaborative Economics, who will discuss green job development in California, and Alec Loorz, the teenage founder of Kids Vs. Global Warming.

Professionals in career technical education, workforce investment boards and economic development are encouraged to attend.
Participants will learn about CALGreen, the state's new green-building code that is effective in January 2011.

The event is at the Pasadena Convention Center. Information: Cindy Dangberg, summit director, 626-577-5700,

Green Building Certifications to Grow

About 1.2 million square feet of commercial and campus structures between Merced and Bakersfield are LEED certified, but many more could obtain some sort of green certification in the next decade as environmental and energy awareness continue to increase.

A report by clean-energy consultant Pike Research says the amount of property certified as green could increase from 6 billion square feet worldwide to a whopping 53 billion square feet in only 10 years.

LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - is considered one of the highest ratings for sustainable construction. The number of structures achieving that rating, or other green certifications, should climb until 2020 because of new regulations, desire for better energy efficiency and lower power bills, the ability to command higher rents and property values and increasing awareness in all things green will drive the movement, researchers said.

"Green building techniques are increasingly becoming the standard within the architecture and construction industries," said research analyst Eric Bloom. . . "There are three major drivers behind green building certifications: environmental responsibility, reducing operating expenses through energy efficiency and regulatory requirements that mandate energy efficiency and certifications."

The "green" movement is expected to be evident in other industries too. Another report by Pike Research says investments in green data centers - in an effort to cut energy bills and carbon emissions - will climb over the next five years from $7.5 billion in global revenue to $41.4 billion - representing 28% of the entire market.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.

The Coolest School in the nation

Vermont's Green Mountain College nabbed the top spot in Sierra magazine's fourth annual Coolest Schools environmental sustainability ranking, while two California schools, Stanford placed fifth and University of California Irvine sixth.

Green Mountain -- a school of about 900 students -- was one my colleague suggested and recommended to his daughter, who ultimately chose the University of Oregon, which didn't crack the top 100.

The University of California Merced placed 39th. Other California schools included UC Santa Cruz at No. 11, UC Davis No. 16, UCLA No. 25, Pomona College No. 31, UC Berkeley No. 32 and UC Santa Barbara 44.

The rankings were based on responses to an 11-page questionnaire and how colleges measured up in terms of commitment to sustainability. Energy supply carried the most significance, followed by efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments and a catchall section titled "other initiatives."

Where appropriate, standards like the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification were used, the magazine said.

The Coolest Schools list is the cover story for the September/October issue of Sierra magazine, a publication of the Sierra Club.

"Green Mountain College excels in most categories, and it's the MVP when it comes to creativity. The campus gets power and heat from biomass and biogas (a.k.a. cow power)," the magazine said.

Green Mountain has a new combined heat and power biomass plant and participates in Central Vermont Public Service's Cow Power program, which converts cow manure on Vermont farms to methane gas, the school said in a statement. The new plant will use local wood chips to provide 85 percent of the school's heat and generate 20 percent of its electricity.

"Green Mountain established its environmental liberal arts mission in 1995, so we are an 'early adapter' in responding to the social and environmental challenges of our times," said Green Mountain President Paul J. Fonteyn. "Through our Environmental Liberal Arts program, we've sought to provide an education that emphasizes sustainability across all disciplines. This recognition is a testament to all the hard work of a whole generation of students, faculty and staff."

Avital Binshtock and Kyle Boelte wrote in a post on that the magazine shifted priorities in this year's survey after consulting the Club's conservation experts, "who encouraged us to give more weight to each school's energy supply."

That adjustment meant this year's top 20 includes nine newcomers and elevated Green Mountain, which placed 35th last year. No school scored a perfect 100 score. Green Mountain came closest with 88.6.

"Although we worked hard to apply rigorous, objective standards when evaluating the questionnaires, a certain amount of subjectivity was inevitable, and we hope that readers (and the growing legion of college sustainability officers) will bear that in mind," wrote Binshtock and Boelte. "The point, after all, is to create competition, to generate awareness and to celebrate that so many colleges even have a sustainability officer."

Through this project and several other initiatives, Green Mountain officials said they expect to be the first college in the country to reach carbon neutrality after having reduced carbon emissions by more than half. The college also received a score of 98 out of a perfect 99 in the Princeton Review's annual college "green" rankings and its Students for Academic and Green Engagement, or SAGE, Hall was designated as LEED gold certified building by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Princeton Review gave UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara honor roll status in its green rankings for schools that achieve perfect ratings.

How Green Is The Valley?

As it turns out, the San Joaquin Valley - and the rest of California - is getting greener, at least when it comes to businesses.

At least 172 companies in the eight counties from Stockton to Bakersfield work in one of five green components: low-carbon energy, energy efficiency, transportation, green buildings or carbon markets, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Originally released last year with 2,200 businesses, the EDF's 2010 map shows 3,500 green entities in California,. The map identifies businesses that use sustainable practices and some non-profits, schools and public agencies that design policies, train workers and educate.

The businesses run the gamut - from developers to vehicle repair and business services. Fresno County is home to at least 43 of them. According to the map, Kern County has 45, San Joaquin County has 37, Stanislaus County has 20 and Tulare County is home to 17.

Merced County has 4, but you can bet that will expand as UC Merced, which is focused on green technology, ramps up.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.

Three Reasons To Divert Building Materials From Landfills

A non-profit organization devoted to diverting building materials from landfills has expanded to the Central Valley, providing more green options for builders, potential tax savings for property owners and employment opportunities in the field of "deconstruction."

The ReUse People salvages building materials - everything from toilets to landscaping to drywall - and packages it up to resell at bargain prices. The goal is to deconstruct rather than demolish a building.

Alex Breitler of The Stockton Record describes it as "watching a house being built in reverse" in this story about ReUse's expansion to the Valley. The ReUse People, which is based in Oakland, recently opened a warehouse in Sacramento to sell the recycled merchandise to do-it-yourselfers, other nonprofits and the budget conscious.

The organization has recycled about 270,000 tons of building material since it debuted in 1993, said Kristin Williams, the group's Central Valley manager.
Williams said the primary mission is to divert construction material from landfills, but also noted that property owners can get a pretty tidy tax write off and that contractors, who are struggling in this real estate recession, can use deconstruction to generate work.

Founded in 1993, the organization's best year was 2008 when 200 houses in California were deconstructed. The ReUse People will teach the deconstruction trade through courses. If interested, there's more on the Web site.
(photo from

Green press chronicles clean energy evolution

Green jobs, green business and green energy. The terms are batted around like crazy, especially on the clean energy news sites we follow here at the SJVCEO.

And according to a series of studies, the sector is due for substantial growth -- or could be depending on friendly legislation, according to a series of studies.

Here are a couple of stories offering anecdotal evidence of that green surge. Tony Illia of the Las Vegas Business Press does a good job showing the connection clean energy and green practices have to saving money and providing value in a battered economy in his story "Green's monstrous growth."

The gist of the story is perhaps best reflected in a quote Illia got from McGraw-Hill Construction Vice President Harvey Bernstein, who said, "Green growth is phenomenal across the globe. The expansion of green products and services will have a long-term impact on our future economy and ability to build green."

He also quoted Rick Van Diepen, 2010 president of the Nevada chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, as saying, "Developers and owners are seeing the value in green building as a competitive differentiator. The bottom-line decisions are becoming paramount in terms of lowering operating costs."

We've heard the same from Loren Aiton, board president of U.S. Green Building Council Central California, who says building green pays for itself and is relatively cheap on the front end. He said LEED certification adds 4 percent to 5 percent to construction cost and a little more if you go to the ultimate platinum level, but the building's efficiency pedigree speaks for itself in the marketplace for buyers and renters. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and has become an industry standard for energy efficiency and green building practices.

Another round-up of green energy activity comes from online news service in the story, "Tulare & Kings Counties Going From Nada Watts To Mega Watts."

The Central San Joaquin Valley, sierra2thesea founder John Lindt offers, "is suddenly ground zero for the solar transformation of California." His story lists a range of projects: "Tulare County has attracted 13 applications for special use permits mostly 20 megawatts." Kings County has potential projects from 20 to 5,000 megawatts.

We'll be watching closely.

Photo: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union in Bakersfield, among the first LEED certified buildings in the Central San Joaquin Valley, courtesy USGBC CC.

Who Knew Postal Service Could Be Model Of Green

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Anyone who thinks energy efficiency isn't worth the cost should study the example of the U.S. Postal Service.

The federal agency figured it would cut energy bills at a New York City processing center by $30,000 per year. Instead, the new green roof and other energy-saving measures whacked off a whopping $1 million.

Installing the green roof, changing 1,600 windows and other upgrades slashed energy consumption 40% per month. The crown jewel of the project, the green roof, covers nearly 2.5 acres. Nearly 90% of the original roof was recycled and used during the remodeling. The new roof is project to last 50 years, twice as long as the original covering.

The New York City building is pursuing LEED certification, following post offices in Denver, CO. and Southampton, N.Y., and processing centers in Greenville, S.C., and Troy, MI.

As a result, the Postal Service is more than two thirds of the way to achieving its goal of 30% energy reduction by 2015.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley
(photo by Sigal Ben-Shmuel/EKLA)

Get ready for Home Star: federal help for energy efficiency retrofits

This is a guest post from Houston Neal, director of marketing for Software Advice, an Austin, Texas-based software consultant.

The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 -- informally known as "cash for caulkers" -- is nearly here. The bill was passed earlier this summer by the House of Representatives and now awaits approval from the Senate. Supporters predict it will pass before the end of the summer.

In the meantime, homeowners and contractors should be doing their homework. The legislation describes 13 types of renovations that will be eligible for funding. Each renovation has unique eligibility requirements and predetermined rebate amounts. To take advantage of coming funds, homeowners need ensure their retrofits comply with the bill's specifications.

Software Advice, an online technology resource for contractors, recently put together a "definitive guide to cash for caulkers." The company lists all the detailed requirements in an easy-to-read table. It also has combined the retrofits into three packages to help homeowners make the most of the rebates:

  • Seal Your House Envelope and Improve Insulation -- Homeowners need to weatherize and seal their house “envelope” before carrying out any serious retrofit.
  • Repair and Replace Leaky Ducts -- Ducts are notoriously leaky and inefficient. They are one of the usual suspects in a crime of high utility bills or when rooms are difficult to heat and cool.
  • Upgrade Your Furnace and Water Heater -- Improving the heating efficiency of your home will have the biggest impact on lowering your energy costs. Sealing air leaks is a good start, but replacing your heating system could provide real leverage toward cost savings.
To learn more, click here.

About the author: Houston Neal joined Software Advice in 2007, just shortly after the company was started. He spends most of his day writing for the company blog and getting the word out about Software Advice's resources. He enjoys researching and reporting trends in software and technology, and has a particular interest in developments in "green" technology.

Saving billions of dollars the easy way

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We here at the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization are all about energy efficiency. We know retrofits and upgrades are an easy cost-effective way to cut utility costs. And when your power bill is less, you have more money in your pocket.

But even we were stunned by how much money businesses and landlords across the country are leaving on the table: $41 BILLION per year. That's how much the nation could save if all 79 billion square feet of commercial buildings in the U.S. was retrofitted to be energy efficient, according to a study released by Pike Research and noted by CNET News.

Just imagine what that means in an economic crisis like this. Businesses and government could hire more people, or at the very least not cut as many jobs. Companies could invest and devote more resources to research and technology. People would be put to work making the upgrades.

Consumers would have more money in their pockets. They would buy more cars, refrigerators and clothes. And that doesn't include the other positives of greenhouse gas reductions, energy independence, higher property values and increased productivity, as noted in this report by Candace Lombardi.

Of course, building owners have the initial cost of the upgrades, estimated collectively at $22.5 billion a year over 10 years . That, of course, is part of the problem, Lombardi notes when she quotes the report: "The current financial crisis has had a significant dampening effect on property owners' investments in their properties. Financing for such projects is scarce."

Despite that, Pike Research believes energy retrofits will grow over the next four years. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman in this just released op-ed piece that argues for climate legislation, says such investment is crucial.

He cites research that shows annual investment in energy would increase $11 billion if climate legislation passed. "That’s new employment from a private sector stimulus," Friedman says.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.

Reports project green jobs, power

A couple of recent reports spell a bright future for the green building movement and renewable energy.

The green building industry will more than double by 2015 to a market value of $173.5 billion, according to the first of the two reports.

Fort Collins, Colo.-based EL Insights, an online energy industry trade publication, said expansion will proceed at a clip of about 19.5 percent annually from an estimated $71.1 billion this year. The magazine cited increased environmental awareness as the result of the Gulf oil spill, direct investment by large corporations and commercial construction.

Commercial green building is projected to grow by 18.1% annually, the magazine said. This would take the sector from $35.6 billion to $81.8 billion and create a potential 2.5 million jobs, which could expand the construction industry by a third.

"So if you haven't been paying attention to the U.S. Green Building Council, now is the time to start -- the nonprofit offers virtually endless amounts of information on green building studies and LEED certification," writes Ariel Schwartz of LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The second report, "Economic Benefits of a Comprehensive Feed-In Tariff: An Analysis of the REESA in California," contains a caveat. The report by the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley says that nearly 300,000 green jobs could be created in the next decade but their materialization requires passage of the Renewable Energy and Economic Stimulus Act now pending in the state Legislature.

The report says the act -- AB 1106 and now in the Senate Appropriations Committee -- would not only enable the state expand its renewable energy to a third of all power generation by 2020 but create 280,000 jobs over the next decade. It also would "increase state revenues by an estimated $1.7 billion" and "stimulate up to $50 billion in total new investment in the state."

A feed-in tariff is defined as a "pre-specified electricity price paid to mid-sized clean energy distributed generation installations ... with rates set commensurate with the projected cost of generation." Said another way: Renewable energy generators would get about what it costs to the produce power.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.

Building green costs about the same, despite perceptions

Much of the public continues to believe that building green costs far more than it does, according to a recent study.

Some 62 percent of those surveyed indicated there is a "significant premium" to building green, while 42 percent said that premium would tack 10 percent or more to the cost of construction, says "Opening the Door to Green Building," a 24-page study by Shaker Heights, Ohio-based Sustainable Rhythm and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

"The perception of cost implications remains a difficult one for the market to address," the study said. "While new studies and data are becoming available that illustrate negligible or no premiums to build green, this message is not being communicated."

In fact, the cost for building green -- depending on what level of green is sought -- adds more like 1 percent to 2 percent to a construction project, according to the Urban Green Council. Of course, much depends on the level of LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification. Loren Aiton, a board member of USGBC Central California Chapter, said it may cost a little more, between 4 percent and 5 percent to meet LEED standards.

Even the increased amount is far less than that perceived by the majority in the survey.