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By Racquel Palmese

A host of environmental policies are rolling out in California, including new pathways to finance energy efficiency, implementation of mandatory green building codes and all the aspects of the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32.  The education program at the Green California Summit, taking place at the Sacramento Convention Center on April 26 & 27, will include a slate of concurrent sessions and panels addressing these and many other issues vital to California governments, businesses, professionals and supporting organizations.

The Summit, which is the state’s major conference devoted to environmental policy and green practices, attracts thousands of representatives of local and state government, clean tech companies and organizations that support sustainability.  The Summit’s Exposition this year will feature over 120 vendors, and will include the unique “Buyer-Vendor Lounge,” during which government purchasing agents conduct scheduled meetings with vendors to discuss their needs and how best to work with them. The conference will also feature the highly popular Green California Leadership Awards, which are given out in recognition of outstanding green government efforts in eight different categories.  

“The Summit attracts people who are intensely involved in many levels of government policy, such as green building, energy efficiency and alternative transportation,” said Green Technology publisher Keith Miller. “The education program gains real strength from the fact that presenters are often those who helped write the policies, or who oversee their implementation at state and local levels.”


New: Green Schools Sessions and a Full Day Workshop 

This year at the Green California Summit, for the first time, there are sessions geared to schools and community colleges. “Becoming a Green School: The Blueprint to a Sustainable Future,” is in the very first time slot on the opening day.  The panel includes Jonathan Raymond, Superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District, Jason Messer, Superintendent of the Manteca Unified School District, along with others who will use their years of investing in school sustainability to share a blueprint for greening all aspects of building, running and engaging students. In Curriculum and Environmental Literacy, the CREEC Network will offer a range of environmental curriculum ideas.

A panel discussing successful solar projects at community colleges will include representatives from West Valley-Mission and Yuba Community College Districts, as well as the Public Agency Law Group and the Community College League of California. 

Ed Begley, Jr. will be the keynote speaker at a special full-day Green Curriculum Institute for teachers on April 27. The event will focus on the new Education and the Environment (EEI) curriculum created for K-12 teachers by the California Environmental Protection Agency. The EEI materials include 85 units of study aligned to more than 100 science and history-social science academic content standards, and supports English language arts standards for K-12 grade. Scholarships for the Institute are still available for teachers on a first-come, first served basis. (Call 626.577.5700 for an application.)

Another schools offering takes place on 4/27 with the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), which assembled a panel including William Orr, CHPS executive director. Chet Widom, the new California State Architect, along with Kathleen Moore from the California Department of Education have been invited to participate. Rounding out the educational offerings will be a session on 4/27 on the impact of energy assessments in K-12 schools on workforce training. 

“Many teachers were unable to attend the Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summits that took place in Southern California last October,” said Miller. “In response to many requests from Northern California educators, we decided to devote a major portion of the Green California Summit to green schools and green curriculum this year.”


Saving Every Ohm

As all of government, including schools, cities, localities and state agencies deal with deep budget cuts, the Summit’s education program is responding with sessions devoted to financing opportunities, incentives and ways to make the most of shrinking pots of money. 

There will be several presentations on implementing PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing to improve energy and water efficiency in existing buildings.  Many of the goals of lower electricity and water usage can be reached simply by making existing buildings more energy efficient. The challenges and benefits of retrofitting built environments – and how to reap the most savings in electric and water bills – will be discussed in several education sessions. Adding to that savings will be the type of fuels coming online to power buildings. In Renewal Energy Innovation, Hybrid Solar Cogeneration solutions and Radio Frequency Accelerator Driven Heavy Ion Fusion will be highlighted.  

A special 2 -1/2 hour session on energy innovation open to all attendees, the Fuel Cell Technology Institute, organized by the National Fuel Cell Research Center of the University of California at Irvine, will delve into the operating principles of stationary and mobile fuel cell applications. 

State Assistance for Energy Efficiency Financing in the Residential Sector, and SB 71’s Impact on Green Job Creation and Other Funding Opportunities – both presented by the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA) – provide much-sought after information on financing opportunities for green manufacturers and home energy makeovers,


Code Green

CALGreen, the new mandatory green building code for California, requires developers, contractors, architects, builders and construction professionals to have an understanding of its objectives and requirements. In addition, there are revisions of the code that will become mandatory in July.

Three sessions will give attendees an understanding of CALGreen and how to navigate the code to find answers to questions about projects they are working on or planning. Local jurisdictions have made different choices when it comes to adopting the code with their own amendments, and these sessions will help illuminate the variety of these choices. 

In CALGreen, Title 24 and the Net Zero Energy Standard, attendees will understand what a “Net Zero” building is, what the goals are for net zero buildings and how to prepare for the anticipated changes and deadlines. 


Not Corporate Benefits, but Benefit Corporations 

A new structure for green businesses has been created in California that will allow for the formation of a corporation around  specific benefits to society, such as environmental or social objectives. Not harnessed to having to choose short-term solutions for profits as regular corporations do, these new corporations have the discretion to prioritize social and environmental issues over profits. Donald Simon, an attorney who helped author the Benefit Corporation bill, will describe the benefits of benefit corporations.


Sharing What Works 

In Stockton, private businesses, municipal and county solid waste divisions, economic development professions and the community of San Joaquin County got together to create a new type of recycling infrastructure to meet the objectives of AB 32 and AB 341 regulations. Many of California’s cities and counties are demonstrating leadership, adopting environmental programs and policies that save energy and reduce emissions, promoting healthy communities and healthy economies. 

Sessions by the Institute for Local Government and by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce will highlight many of these programs. Alameda County’s sustainability team will share strategies on ways to implement a sustainability plan, and


Riding into the Future

Throughout the state, fleet managers from cities and counties, to school districts and sanitation districts are wondering how to plan for the future of their automotive and truck stock. When is the right time to jump into alternative fueled vehicles? Electric cars?  Building the infrastructure that can accommodate the new wave of vehicles is at hand.

Sessions featuring panelists from the Air Resources Board, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the County of Los Angeles Office of Sustainability, the Clean Fuels Connection, Clean Energy and Roush Clean Tech will share the latest information on Plug-in Electric Vehicle and Natural Gas Refueling infrastructure.  Sessions on green fleets and new vehicle technologies will round out the transportation sessions.


Water, Water… 

World renowned expert on California’s water issues, Dr. David Zoldosky, director of the Center for Irrigation Technology at California State University at Fresno, will discuss regulations that are increasingly being used to reduce the quantity of water used to irrigate landscapes in California and emerging technologies that are aimed to protect green landscapes with a lot less water.  Ron Wolfarth, director of the Rainbird Services Corporation will show examples of successful irrigation applications, and containing stormwater runoff management will be the subject of a presentation by Firestone Building Products. 

The education program is developed through collaboration with the Summit’s Advisory board, suggestions from previous year’s attendees and the many experts in green policy and sustainability who participate in Green Technology conferences and events. For more information, or to register, go to www.green-technology.org/gcsummit.  Or call 626.577.5700.


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