Smart Cities – Challenges and Opportunities


In just over three decades, 70 percent of Earth’s population is expected to live in cities. A study from The Economist asks citizens and businesses in 12 diverse cities around the world, from Los Angeles to Shanghai, for their thoughts about the potential benefits of smart cities.

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Nation’s Largest Net Zero Plus™ Commercial Building Retrofit Opens in Los Angeles


The Net Zero Plus Electrical Training Institute includes demonstration center & living laboratory for emerging energy technologies

 LOS ANGELES – June 6, 2016 – Today marked the opening of the nation’s largest net zero plus commercial building retrofit, the Net Zero Plus Electric Training Institute (NZP-ETI) located in Greater Los Angeles. The 144,000-square-foot demonstration center and living laboratory on advanced and emerging clean energy technologies showcases the future of smart energy-efficiency design, microgrid system integration, energy storage solutions, building resiliency in the wake of natural disasters or grid interruptions, and a suite of integrated electrical technologies and controls. The center is also an educational facility that trains approximately 1,500 electrical apprentices, journeymen and contractors annually for careers at the forefront of the electrical industry.

A building dedication ceremony held over the weekend was attended by more than 500 Los Angeles government, business, and community leaders and featured comments from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the California State Assembly; Rear Admiral Mark Rich, Commander of USN Region Southwest; Len Hering, Center for Sustainable Energy CEO, RADM-USN, Ret.; Ali Zaidi, White House Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy & Science; and Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.

“This innovative program embodies all we are trying to accomplish in creating a more sustainable region: solar energy; energy efficiency; back up power; recycled materials; livable workplaces; green jobs; and economic opportunity for everyone,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “It is the largest net zero plus commercial building retrofit in the U.S. and a great example of how we can transform our existing buildings — and thanks to IBEW Local 11 and LA/NECA, 1,500 people will now be prepared to be part of the clean energy future and have access to good paying jobs.”

As defined by the U.S. Department of Energy, “zero net energy (ZNE) is a building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.” The NZP-ETI takes it a step farther, as it will generate more energy than it consumes each year. This excess energy, generated by an onsite photovoltaic solar array, can be stored in the center’s battery storage system or discharged back into the electric grid system.

“The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 and the Los Angeles National Electrical Contractors Association formed a partnership to develop the NZP-ETI with the mission to provide world-leading electrical training and have nationally recognized programs of excellence in training,” said Marvin Kropke, Business Manager of IBEW Local 11. “Through this partnership and in cooperation with utilities and private companies, IBEW Local 11 and LA/NECA are pioneering the Net Zero Plus program to transform commercial markets by employing the newest electrical technologies and training the most skilled workforce in the U.S.”

Commercial buildings account for nearly 65 percent of Los Angeles’s energy use and are responsible for vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. In the U.S., CO2 emissions from all building types are estimated to increase faster than any sector, with emissions from commercial buildings projected to grow the fastest. In California, new construction standards will require that all new residential construction be built at net zero energy by 2020 and all new commercial buildings be built to net zero standards by 2030.

The energy, environmental, economic and community benefits of this multi-million dollar retrofit include:

  • 51 percent reduced total energy consumption
  • 185,000 KWh/yr. more energy than consumed
  • 520 metric tons/yr. reduction of CO2
  • 1,500 individuals trained each year for long-term careers in the energy industry
  • A resource for architects, developers, and building owners to learn about the integration of advanced technologies
  • Enhanced grid stability and improved natural disaster and emergency response solutions
  • Maintenance of a goal of 50 percent veteran enrollment in each new apprenticeship class, as well as a comprehensive outreach program encompassing disadvantaged communities throughout Los Angeles County

“We are preparing the electrical industry of the future with transformational training to help them serve their customers with energy cost reduction strategies, realize new revenues, manage costs of reliability, invest in energy independence and achieve sustainability goals,” said Jim Willson, Executive Director of Los Angeles NECA. “Our member contractors and workforce are receiving classroom education and jobsite training as well as developing integrated energy solution capabilities in renewable energy, battery storage, and microgrids. This state-of-the-art training enables our contractors and workforce to design, safely install, and maintain complex energy systems.”

The NZP-ETI will earn the International Living Future Institute’s net zero energy certification and will be verified a net zero building by the New Buildings Institute. In addition, it was built to USGBC’s LEED Gold standard.

NZP-ETI project sponsors include One Source Distributors, Samsung SDI (Energy Storage Solutions), Square D by Schneider Electric, Milwaukee, and Sage Glass. The project development team includes PDE Total Energy Solutions, stok, O’Bryant Electric, Western Allied Mechanical, Hutchens PR, Avery Energy Consulting and SimonGlover Architects.

For more information about the NZP-ETI, please visit:

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Potential GEELA Nominees: Meet with CalEPA at the Green California Summit

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The Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) is California’s highest environmental honor. Established in1993, the award recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations that demonstrate exceptional leadership in conserving resources, protecting the environment and building partnerships to strengthen the State’s economy.

Award winners are featured on the CalEPA website, promoted via social media and press release, and receive a winner’s GEELA logo. Additionally, GEELA celebrates its award recipients at a catered event that is attended by Legislators and Cabinet Secretaries.

New this year, nominees will submit their GEELA applications and supporting documents using an online awards software that is secure, and easy to use.

Some of the prestigious winners from previous years include: Disneyland Resort, Stanford University, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Prather Ranch, Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, Domus Development, Raytheon, Nicole Gatto, MPH, PhD, City of Watsonville, Homewood Mountain Resort, Hilton Concord Hotel and 275 more.

Winners come from the public and private sector, large corporations and small businesses, local, state and federal government, schools and non-profits. CalEPA looks forward to meeting potential GEELA nominees at this year’s Green California Summit on April 21-22, answering application questions and demonstrating our new application software. Hope to see you there!

More information about the Summit can be found here.

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El Niño, Drought, Mudslides, Hurricanes: Schools Keynote Offers Insights

JPL Scientist Bill Patzert

What will the winter bring? A “Godzilla” El Niño sits in the Pacific, and some have wondered if the recent mudslides that shut down the Grapevine are a preview of what the winter will bring. Even if record rainfall does arrive, what will that mean? What are the prospects for Sierra Nevada snowpack?

The “final answer” to such questions will only be known once the rain season has ended, but the keynote speaker at the upcoming Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit, JPL’s Bill Patzert, is well qualified to address them. A research scientist and oceanographer who has been called “the prophet of California climate,” Dr. Patzert is both a scientific expert and an engaging speaker.

The keynote session begins at 8:30 am on October 29, at the Pasadena Convention Center. Registration for the keynote and Expo is free. To register, click here.

The Summit also includes three days of education sessions on topics ranging from low-water landscapes and environmental literacy to sources for funding school building projects and best practices for Prop 39 energy efficiency projects. Details here.

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CHPS Updates: Summit Sessions Open to All


The California-based Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) was founded in 1999 to address energy efficiency in schools. CHPS quickly expanded its efforts to encompass all aspects of school design, construction and operation. The CHPS Criteria were the first comprehensive guidelines available to California schools for use in planning and building high performance facilities.

CHPS will be offering two sessions at the upcoming Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit, and both are open to all Summit registrants:

PreFAB: From prototype to production to two-story (October 29)
This facilitated listening session will kick off the update of the CHPS Best Practices Manual for prefabricated, modular and relocatable classrooms for manufacturers, school districts, and all prefabricated classroom stakeholders. Details here.

Time to Take Another Look at CA-CHPS (October 30)
The 2014 CA-CHPS Criteria is the most significant change since the California CHPS Criteria was first introduced in 2002. Hear from the experts about how CA-CHPS harmonizes with key state policy objectives and results in healthy, high performance learning environments. The session will also cover the Energy Commission’s new open source energy model that quantifies performance under the 2013 Title 24 Energy Standards, and more. Details here.

For more Summit program information, or to register, click here.

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Video: How is Prop 39 Implementation Going?

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Prop 39 will be discussed in numerous sessions at the upcoming Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit. We recently had a chance to talk to one of our speakers about her session and her perspective on the state of Prop 39 implementation.

Christine Marez, Director, Energy for Cumming will moderate a session in which three districts will recount their Prop 39 experiences and successes. To view the video, click here. 

For details regarding her session, click here.


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Low-Water Landscapes for Schools – Beyond Gravel


While there’s no question that gravel has a place in water-efficient landscape design, over-reliance on this material can produce results that fall short of what school officials, parents, community members and students expect from school grounds. Other low-water options exist that can provide habitat, ecosystem services, beauty, learning opportunities and even food.

At the 2015 Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit, several of the state’s leading school garden practitioners will be on hand for a Pre-Summit session designed to highlight a wide range of possibilities for school sites. Presenters for “Landscape Alternatives: Drought with the Possibility of Rain,” from 10 am-3 pm on October 28, will include authors of some of the most influential guides to making the most of the aesthetic, ecological and educational potential of school landscapes.

All attendees will receive a copy of the book Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation, which documents inspiring green schoolyard examples from almost 150 schools in 11 countries. (The author, Sharon Danks, will be among the presenters.)

For session details, click here. To register for the Summit, click here.

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Electric Vehicle Infrastructure, Incentives for Schools


Since 2011, California has accounted for more than 40 percent of all plug-in electric vehicle purchases in the U.S. Whether schools are already thinking about EV infrastructure or not, the vehicle decisions being made by teachers, administrators and parents will increase the need for this to be part of their planning.

A newly-added session at the 2015 Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit will feature a remarkable panel of EV experts who will share their insights regarding the state of the market today, ideas for incorporating charging on school campuses, and available incentives.

This session will be open to all Summit attendees. For session details, click here.

To register for the conference, click here.

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ZNE School Retrofits: Interview and Training


The next stage in the evolution of energy efficiency is the “Zero Net Energy” building – one that, on an annual basis, produces as much energy as it consumes. ZNE projects will play a big part in California’s efforts to improve the efficiency of existing buildings by 50 percent by 2030.

A Pre-Summit training at the Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit, on October 28, will offer an in-depth look at strategies for ZNE retrofits on school and community colleges campuses. The event will be facilitated by New Buildings Institute, a non-profit at the leading edge of national efforts to improve building energy performance.

NBI CEO Ralph Di Nola and Project Manager Heather Flint Chatto recently joined Green Technology for a short video chat about their session at the Summit.

To view the video, click here.

“Path to Zero Net Energy School Retrofits” is free to all Summit registrants, and offers 5 AIA continuing education credits. For details, click here.

To register for the Summit, click here.

Photo: West Berkeley Library, a ZNE facility designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux.

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New Video Series: Meet our Speakers


The Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit offers attendees the chance to hear from inspiring individuals and organizations that are working to help districts create healthy, efficient schools. In this new series of interviews using the Blab platform, we’ll be conducting video chats with some of these groups and people.

These will give you a chance to find out more about what they are presenting, and why you should join us in Pasadena on October 29-30. Today, you’ll hear from Allie Bussjaeger of Grades of Green. To view the video, click on the image above. (You can also click here.)

If you’re on Twitter, follow us at @grn_tech and you’ll receive a notification via Twitter each time we have a new conversation, and you can join us live.

You can find more information about the Summit education program here, or click here to register online. See you in Pasadena!

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