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Green California Summit 2009
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Green California Leadership Awards
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by Racquel Palmese

As testament to the bright spot on the horizon that the emerging green economy represents - and California's commitment to environmental preservation despite tough economic times - over 6,000 people turned out for the third Green California Summit & Exposition.

Attendance at the event, held at the Sacramento Convention Center from March 16-18, more than doubled that of the inaugural Summit. The Expo, the largest yet with almost 300 companies, reflected the confidence that business and government have that green solutions can solve both economic and environmental challenges.

The Summit was created under the guidance of an advisory board of top government officials and private sector leaders, co-chaired by Linda Adams, secretary of CalEPA, and Will Bush, director of the California Department of General Services. An annual event, it works to assist California government, and those who provide products and services to government, to navigate emerging environmental programs and policies and to bring the best technologies to the service of policy.

"It is a pleasure to extend my greetings to everyone gathered for this fantastic event," wrote Governor Schwarzenegger in a welcome message. "Protecting our environment is one of my administration's top priorities, and I know that the steps being taken at this conference will help us succeed in our efforts."

Under the theme "Green Solutions for Tough Economic Times," the Summit offered a host of events and programs addressing major issues and challenges facing California, from implementation of the state's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act and green building codes to accessing billions of federal stimulus dollars targeting green job creation, infrastructure projects, renewable energy research and development and education.

"The Summit was an excellent example of how far California has advanced in the development of green and sustainable products and services," said Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission. "From eco-friendly artificial grass systems to electric cars, it had excellent opportunities for everyone to view the latest green technologies and attend valuable workshops and training seminars.

"This Summit gave us the opportunity to provide valuable information to the public via a booth and a workshop," he added. "The workshop presented California's new green building codes, the first in the nation, designed to lighten carbon footprints and lower energy and water consumption in the state's built environment."

Executive Forum

The Executive Forum, which took place on Monday March 16, is a yearly invitation-only luncheon that brings senior state officials together with private sector leaders.

The 2009 forum, "Growing a Green Economy," took stock of estimates that California's climate change initiative could increase gross state product by $76 billion, boost household incomes by $48 billion and create 403,000 jobs. Speakers including Janet Lamkin, president of the Bank of America California, Victoria Bradshaw, Cabinet Secretary to the Governor, and CalEPA Secretary Linda Adams offered views on the strategies that can keep the state in its leadership position and support a federal call for change.

"Green is not just a color anymore, it's a frame of mind and a mode of operations," said Secretary Adams. "Today, more than ever, green is about proactive change and a giant leap forward for the United States as it enters a whole new era of leadership
."

An economic development panel, moderated by sustainability expert Deeptika Patel, included Barry Sedlik, chairman of the California Green Collar Jobs Council and Adam Procell, vice president and national director of energy efficiency and carbon management for AECOM Energy. (Sedlik left the event early to join the Governor to announce the launch of the California Green Corps.)

Sedlik cautioned about the potential for stimulus funds to be spent in ways that bring only short-term relief. "How do we take this opportunity, this unique set of circumstances right now to the greatest benefit?, Sedlik asked. "We don't want to create jobs that won't go anywhere."

David Roland Holst, UC Berkeley Professor and co-author of the often cited Next 10 studies on the green economy, moderated the second panel on Energy and the Economy. He was joined by Jim Parks, Energy Efficiency and Customer R & D with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and Nancy Hartsoch, vice president of marketing for SolFocus. Holst evoked the potential of a smart grid that focused not merely on delivering energy, but on enhancing lives, while Parks gave examples of SMUD's efforts to increase customer control of energy use - as well as the source of the energy itself.

General Sessions


The morning sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday offered attendees important insights into the present interchange between climate, energy and economy. The good news that emerged amid disturbing evidence of near-term effects from global warming is that California's policy leadership, rich solar, wind and geothermal resources, and its history of technological innovation, make the Golden State the natural place to start a national energy revolution.

Tuesday's keynote, Dan Kammen, founding director of UC Berkeley's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, had just returned from a scientific meeting in Copenhagen in preparation for negotiations at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference.

While being forthright about the looming consequences of climate change for California, he pointed to the dramatic increase in renewable capacity following the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act as evidence that it may not be too late to prevent the worst effects.

Also on Tuesday, CalEPA Secretary Linda Adams helped place California's climate policy in the context of global efforts, and gave an outline of the state's efforts to help developing countries such as China and India to develop a tangible roadmap to emission reduction. As a result of this work, California has emerged as a global leader in climate policy, and is expected to play a significant role in the evolution of a new climate change accord.

On Wednesday, Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, offered a riveting look at the unprecedented opportunities for growth in renewable capacity. As others before him had done, he made it clear that California has unequalled ability to quickly capture the economic and environmental benefits that will come from reinventing our energy infrastructure.

In a rousing speech on the same morning, Phil Angelides, National Chairman of the Apollo Alliance, former California State Treasurer and 2006 nominee for governor, evoked the promise of a building a green economy that offers good jobs with real growth potential.

"We're making the kind of commitment John F. Kennedy made when he launched the first Apollo Mission," he said. "In the middle of the Cold War and with serious economic troubles, America went for an impossible dream, just as we're doing now."

Making Policy a Reality

"There is no question that California is setting the pace for the 'green recovery' that leaders in the public and private sector envision," the Summit co-chairs wrote. "If there's any place this is within grasp, it's the Golden State!

"The Summit exists to help you obtain the information, training, technology and relationships that you need to play your part in this green revolution," they added. "No matter what your professional role may be, at a time when issues such as climate change and the reinvention of energy infrastructure are at hand, this is part of your job."

Education is an essential element of each Green California Summit, and in 2009, a remarkable group of policy experts, administrators, thinkers and technology experts joined together to demonstrate how policy can become reality.

The education program began with a series of daylong pre-Summit workshops on Monday. In these workshops, some of the country's most expert practitioners laid out the nuts and bolts of green purchasing, green fleets, LEED project management and other subjects.

Tuesday began a two-day program built on dozens of concurrent sessions focused on the themes "Green Building," "Transportation," "Green Basics," "Energy" and "Climate Change." Expert panels brought life and understanding to topics ranging from the still-evolving (green leases) to well established but under-utilized energy efficiency strategies. In one of the most popular, Next10 founder Noel Perry led a panel that engaged a crowded room in the next steps of AB 32 implementation.

"The Summit was great!," said Yvette Rincon, sustainability coordinator for the City of Sacramento, "I was able to attend the seminars on the first day and I got a lot of great information that is relevant to what we are doing in the City."

Note: A number of panelists have given permission for their presentations to be posted online - click here for a listing.

On the Exhibit Hall Floor: "Amazing Energy"

From cutting-edge vehicles (including a fuel cell powered motorcycle) in the Green Auto Mall to the "Green Innovation Connect" pavilion organized by Nikkei America and JETRO to introduce Californians to the best green products from Japan, the Exposition was an event in itself, providing an exciting array of opportunities for exhibitors and attendees. Nearly 300 companies were present.

"It was so exciting to be the company of such positive, forward thinking, people who are motivated to change the world, with our GREEN PRODUCTS," said Normand Marchand, CEO of Clear Wall Corporation. "The overall experience was amazing energy. We have made a lot of contacts."

California law mandates green purchasing, and in addition to the many hands-on learning opportunities for attendees Green Technology worked with the Department of General Services (DGS), which oversees all purchasing for the state, to create new ways for purchasers and companies to share information about the state's purchasing needs and the products that can meet them.

Navigating the process of selling to government can be difficult and confusing, and exhibitors had a chance to listen to DGS EPP Program Manager, Bob Tetz, give a one-hour briefing on how to work with the state.

DGS hosted an entertaining and informative Product Demo Showcase, where a panel of procurement specialists judged five-minute presentations by companies before a live (and lively) audience. The showcase quickly became one of the most popular events of the exhibition.

Another addition to the exhibit hall for 2009 was the Buyer-Vendor Lounge, also hosted by DGS. Over two days, exhibitors arrived at the lounge for scheduled meetings with one or two government procurement officers to develop relationships that could help inform procurement of green products and services.

"The buyer/vendor lounge was a great opportunity for me to meet with vendors that wanted to do business specifically with my department," said Kevin J. Aria of the Department of Consumer Affairs. "I was surprised at the number of amazing 'green' products that are out there; many that I had never even heard of before. Next year, I plan on bringing more staff with me so that our department can better take advantage of the opportunities that are available to buyers."

"The buyer/vendor lounge was a fantastic opportunity to connect with those individuals that are generally difficult to connect with," said Alex Smith of Suntrek Industries. "This lounge allowed me access to state officials that were pleased to talk to me, and I have followed up with them and am excited about meeting with them in the future."

Summit sponsors drew crowds for sessions on their products and services at a Sponsor Showcase Theater. Presentations ranged from "Greening Fleets in a Challenging Economy," from Sabertec, to "LED Technologies - a Utility Perspective," from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

As he did last year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger visited to the Expo, spending more than an hour talking to exhibitors and learning about their products. His first stop was the Green Auto Mall, where he arrived with an entourage of photographers, videographers and others in tow. The Governor's determination to create a new green economy in California, and his fascination with green products were fuel for many lively interchanges.

"The most telling sign of the robustness and the impact of the exhibition," said Keith Miller, Publisher of Green Technology, "is that at the end of the last day of the event, the floor was still active. In fact, new people were registering and entering for the first time."

Green Leadership Awards

The Green California Leadership Awards, developed at the request of the Advisory Board to honor outstanding public sector accomplishments in environmental sustainability, are coveted among government agencies and departments. This 2009 awards covered eight categories that span a wide swath of the sustainability landscape - Climate Change, Energy Innovation, Transportation, Green Building, Waste Management, Purchasing and Green Culture.

The winners ranged from CalFire's program for recycling damanged fire hoses (a problem exacerbated by disastrous wildfire seasons) to the innovative water recycling initiative by the Orange County Water and Sanitation Districts.

Project creators and managers were met with much applause from agency chiefs, board supervisors, legislators and staff as they received their awards from the Summit co-chairs, CalEPA Secretary, Linda Adams, DGS Director, Will Bush and representatives from the companies sponsoring the awards.

For a slide show featuring the 2009 Green California Leadership Award winners, click here.

Stimulus Coming?


Numerous presentations at the Summit alluded to the potential impact of federal funds on the state's green programs. To help state and local officials better prepare to access these funds, Panama Bartholomy of the California Energy Commission organized a special session, "The Revolution Will be Funded," to highlight which government agencies will be disbursing billions of dollars in stimulus funds, and what the priorities for these funds will be.

Partners in Learning

The Green California Summit also serves as a place where organizations involved in sustainability can meet during the conference. The Partners in Learning program provided meeting space at the Convention Center for groups including the California Commissioning Collaborative, the California Building Standards Commission, the California Association of Public Purchasing Officers, the State of California Commute Coordinators Meeting and the California Agency Recycling Coordinators Committee.

Toward 2010


The 2009 Summit provided ample evidence that California, the nation, and the world, are in a state of accelerated transition and that the Golden State is unquestionably a leader in navigating the convergence of environmental and economy - at the global as well as the local level. And, as the Advisory Board hoped, there was also evidence that attendees came away empowered with information, inspiration and resources to help move the green revolution forward.

Among them was Dan Chadwick, Public Works Manager for the City of Fontana. "I absolutely enjoyed the conference this year," he said. "Our City Council is moving forward with going green and the conference provided us with the information and the tools for us to respond to Council direction and to new regulations being adopted for sustainability. Looking forward to next year's event. Go Green!"

 

 

 

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