Green Cities? News
What is harmful to the earth is ultimately harmful to humanity.? The removal and irradication of asbestos has been long a focus of many organizations.? Asbestos is in the news again, but now?new technologies and the cost saving aspects of green building may finally spell the end of?the harmful substance .? Joe Lederman of the Mesothelioma Center, guests blogs about Orlando’s push to become asbestos free.
Sustainability and energy guide many aspects of life in Florida. There are many green, eco-friendly materials that replace the need for asbestos and can reduce energy costs annually. ?
The implementation of eco-construction and green energy home solutions will play an important role in the transformation to a healthier and sustainable world. While we all use energy to power us through our daily lives, many people take renewable and sustainable methods for granted.?
Recently, congress passed an economic stimulus package that promotes energy efficiency for home and business owners. The American Recover and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 includes incentives for upgrading to more eco-friendly/sustainable methods of energy and insulation. The move to a greener lifestyle will build on the change to healthier methods of building products, home remodeling and renovation.
Some of the measures eligible for tax credits include:
- Sealing cracks in the building shell and ducts to reduce infiltration and heat loss – these should be sealed so as to be consistent with the 2009 IECC.
- Pigmented metal roofs or an asphalt roof with cooling granules must meet Energy Star requirements.
- Window films certified by the manufacturer that the product meets the requirements of a “qualifying insulation system.”
Asbestos was highly regarded throughout the 20th century as an ideal building and construction material. It?s fire resistant, durable and versatile qualities made it sought out by many industries. Asbestos was used in industrial applications such as insulation, piping, roofing and automobiles. As long term cost and technology continues to evolve, so is the need for environmentally sustainable and healthy materials used for construction.
Many homes, buildings and public facilities built prior to 1980 may still contain asbestos and other hazardous materials. In many instances, the best action is no action at all. Disturbing asbestos in good condition may cause its fibers to be released into the air. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to the development of asbestos-related lung ailments such as malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis. There are a number of factors that can impact mesothelioma survival rate. These factors include latency period, age of diagnosis and cigarette smoking.
Most people are unaware to the fact that eco-friendly products can cut energy costs by 25 to 35 % per year.? Rather than expensive and mal-treated wood, interior walls can be made from steel and concrete, avoiding many of the problems associated with asbestos and other insulation methods. Green alternatives to asbestos include the use of cotton fiber, lcynene foam and cellulose. Cotton fiber is quickly becoming a favorite for home builders and renovators. Made from recycled batted material, it is also treated to be fireproof.
The U.S. Green Building Council conducted a study which estimated a new savings of $50-$65 per square foot for positively constructed green buildings. As education and technology of green sustainable practices increase, the numbers will continue to rise.
Living in a world where environmental sustainability is a vital concern to the future of mankind, it is important to take note of the consequences of improper building materials and environmental degradation. These asbestos alternatives allow for a healthy, safe home, free of health damaging materials.
Karen Gardner of Flipside Florida, the online business magazine covering Jacksonville and northern Florida, is an avid supporter of Green Cities.? We are thrilled to feature her latest story on the future of petroleum alternatives producers in Florida.? Who know the yucky green material floating in the water could yield so much potential.
Florida’s Race for Green Oil – by K. A. Gardner
Believe it or not ? algae, that slimy green stuff,? is one hot commodity!? In fact, the race to use ?algae oil?? as a petroleum alternative is in full throttle and state universities across Florida are chasing after a very green asset.
Florida?s potential as a industry leader in algal biofuel is huge. The Center for Marine?Bioenergy Research was just established in March at Florida State University through a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy.?? Mike Wetz heads up the center, which is under the umbrella of our friend Dave Cartes? Institute of? Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainabilty (IESES).
With our coastline, it only stands to REASON that Florida should be be a leader [in algae biofuel production] in the eastern U.S., Cartes said.
Of course FSU isn?t the only state university in Florida involved in bioenergy research (although news from? University of Florida hasn?t been fully explored).? All eleven state universities make up the Florida Energy Systems Consortium – collaborative? energy research among the universities. They met in May with industry leaders for a Florida overview of the ?Algal Industry Survey? conducted in association with the Centre for Management Technology.
- Secrecy amongst companies in the field that leads to a lack of information sharing between affiliated scientists
- Lack of rigorous assessments of the entire algal biofuel value chain (i.e., from production to distribution
- Lack of trained workforce.
[As a guest blogger for the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy’s blog, Clean, Mike Wetz posts this overview of marine algae biofuels].
FSU researchers are developing a state-of-the-art algal cultivation operation at a site on the North Florida coast, which includes an off-grid, zero emissions facility that utilizes recycled CO2 (from the processing of algal biomass) and nutrients (from local wastewater sources) to support algal growth.? Since this unique operation will be run by an academic institution, a major goal will be to work towards overcoming problems noted in the aforementioned state of the industry report.
[NOTE:? Not all details of next month’s meeting are solidified – a team of industry and state university academia is being put together now – UPDATE later]
Although the state of the industry report may seem mediocre,? Florida does have a number of established algal biofuels companies. Melbourne, Fla.-based PetroAlgae, for example, is a publicly-traded biofuels industry leader. The company received the Sustainable Energy Technology award? at the international Green Power Conference held in Brussels, Belgium this past March.
PetroAlgae is an important player in the state,? said Wetz. I have good interactions with them.
BUT OF COURSE ? California also has plenty of coastline AND top-notch research universities ?
Asked about California?s progress in algal biofuels, Cartes replied:
We have unique capabilities in FLORIDA. We don?t NEED to go to California to find our expertise.
– Karen Gardner
You?ve probably already heard of Harmony, Florida; the community built on environmentally focused ideas.? Their quest for a truly sustainable community continues as Harmony has announced a partnership with Florida State University?s Energy & Sustainability Center to create a way to power the community from within.? The proposed method is titled the ?Dual Approach? whereby thermal energy and biomass work together to produce energy when the sun clocks out for the day.
FSU plans to build a 5-megawatt plant that combines thermal energy and energy created from burning organic matter to generate enough juice for 2,000 homes.? The biomass would first come in the form of ?Slash Pine? and other options such as fast growing weeds would be sought out for generating energy as well.? The project will not be completed for almost another two years, but will provide FSU a satellite research center in Harmony and valuable experience for doctoral candidates.
Rarely do collaborations make as much sense as the one between Harmony and FSU.? Harmony will become a location based on sustainable innovation, with the help of one of the most prestigious schools in the South.? FSU will have the opportunity to bring in other organizations while researching and developing new ways to curb energy usage effectively.? Ultimately, the plan is to continue the proliferation of solar technology to the point where it becomes the most practical and cost effective choice for consumers.? Currently the technology has not become as price friendly as many would like to see and further funding, investigation and development will make the basic version of solar panels much more affordable to the average home owner.
Beginning?this week all construction projects?pursuing LEED certification will be subject to new, stricter standards.? The?biggeset change is how energy usage is reported.? Building owners must now report their total annual energy and water consumption or be recertified every two years.? The idea is more reporting will lead to energy consumption reduction as owners will have better information to plan for the future.? The end result will be better ?performing? ?buildings, operating with optimum efficiency.
USGBC?S LEED program has often been criticized for its shortcomings and inaccuracies.? While the program is far from perfect, the good news is that the USGBC is constantly improving upon the original idea.? This should also improve the future of companies who provide services and technological solutions for maintaining green buildings.? The new standards do not remedy every flaw in the LEED certification process, but do improve the future of sustainable building.
When does a trend become the new status quo?? 2009 will have to be considered a major turning point for the green building industry.? Fresh off the news that the iconic Sears Tower (soon to be renamed Willis Tower) is set to undergo a $350 million dollar green retrofit;?just reported?is?the Empire State Building’s similar self improvement mission.? Much of the Empire State Building?s concern is curbing greenhouse gas emissions and saving on energy cost as they will be placing insulated windows throughout the building.? Out of the $120 million project, $13.2 has been allotted for investment in green technology, which they expect to be paid off in savings over the next four years.
Why so much attention to sustainability?? The simple answer is that tenants?are using their dollars as votes for or against the direction these landmarks are pursuing.? Take this quote from an Associated Press article written by Chris Kahn:
Many high-profile tenants won’t even consider moving into a property without the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, said Allan Skodowski with Transwestern management group. They may not even know what the certification means, he said, but they demand it nonetheless.
“They say ‘We want LEED,’” Skodowski said, “and that’s it.”
Social and political pressure to improve our infrastructure is working.??Whether through?conferences of like-minded people, design/idea competitions or government initiatives, the world is responding to a very real problem.? ?The greening of the Empire State Building and Sears Tower are incredibly significant ideas that will spur further greening of high profile buildings.? To answer the question I posed at the beginning:? I believe a trend becomes tradition only when people, business and government are all on the same page.? The green building movement may have just crossed that threshold.
Green Cities is founded on the idea of activating local citizens and government officials to improve their surroundings and ensuring their future.? Despite how popular the green movement may be there are still the naysayers, dare I say ?haters? who oppose moving forward with sustainability.? Build Baby Build recently ran a story about local opposition to wind farms, bio fuel plants and other green projects.? The article is a great reminder that not everyone is on the green bandwagon.
This is actually good news.? ?Green? should not always be considered synonymous with ?good? and opposing viewpoints should be welcomed to any idea.? ?Run a quick internet search for opinions on the proposed ?cap and trade? system and you?ll find good points being made on both sides. ??We know the importance of starting change locally and how difficult that can be.? Communities aren?t comprised of like minded people nor should they be.? What a boring world that would be. ?Instead of isolating or dismissing those with opposing views, we should try to understand where they are coming from and what they stand to lose in a greener economy.? You can?t win everyone over, but knowing why you can?t will often make your position stronger in the long run.
A recent Pew study shows that Florida?s green economy is growing, but still needs to clear a few hurdles before it can make the next big shift.? The biggest hurdle is investment, followed by policy support.? The study puts Florida?s green economy in the top 10, but also points out the state?s failure to pass legislation (like Gov. Crist?s renewable energy portfolio standard) as a key barrier to further growth.?
So where does the Sunshine State go from here?? Concerned citizens will undoubtedly continue with the tremendous momentum they?ve created thus far, but opposition still remains (read the first comment on the article).? Without further investment the green economy in Florida would be at risk of slowing down, but should the burden of funding fall on the people?? Should the green economy ?pay for itself? to prove it is as viable as supporters would have us believe? ?Time will tell whether Florida commits to the movement or tip-toes towards the future.
Here are a few articles from around the super information highway that tripped our alarms this week:?
Downsizing your dream home.? New home buying trends lean to the green.? (ABC News)
eVolvo Skyscraper Competition is ready for entries: (Inhabitat)
Chicago?s Sears Tower to receive $350 million green facelift:? (AP?)
Sustainable Industries Top Green Products of 2009 (Jetson Green)??
Konstructr TV Episode 1 (collector?s edition)? (Konstructr)
7 ways to conserve water usage (Treehugger)
Robin Cape, Asheville Councilwoman and sponsor of the city’s Committee on Energy and Environment, offers her perspective on sustainability from a local government level.? “Change starts at home” is an old saying, but it is still relevant. We often forget how important local government agencies and officials?are when?we aim? to?change our communities.
Ms. Cape gives us advice on how to approach sustainability and her unique perspective as a public servant makes this a video not to be?missed.
This week we highlighted the Malkis’ vision in founding Green Cities and Jerome Ringo’s focus on the human element of sustainability. Creative Loafing’s? Joshua Michael Poll reviews the latest Green Cities event and highlights the 1 MW Solar Electric System at the Orange County Convention Center and Orlando?s Mayor Buddy Dyer?s announcement of ?Green Works Orlando?. Here’s a list of posts about Green Cities from this week, in case you missed them:
Green Cities in the news this week:
Georgia Malki, co-founder of Green Cities, discusses the meaning of? sustainability in video one of a three part series. Malki says that sustainability includes being socially and economically responsible while considering how your actions relate to community.
Click below for the full video.
Joseph Malki of Seven Star is the Founder of Green Cities?, and from my brief meeting with him it’s easy to see he has big ideas about bringing the green movement to cities and homes across the world. I was amazed at how deeply he understood the core issues of the green movement, and how he applied them in a way that was agreeable to both right and left political leanings.
For me, this was a breath of fresh air. Often when in a green convention, you’re likely to meet a huge mass of straight-ticket voters who hold the party line no matter what. Joseph Malki seemed pleased to rock the boat a little in revealing that he was a self-proclaimed radical green Republican. It was startling for a minute, and then it made sense. In order for the green movement to stick, it needs to have firm supporters on both sides of the aisle. Joseph Malki could be that guy.
Joseph talked to us about the science of sustainability, and made the point that business and government aren’t cooperating on green initiatives in a meaningful way. Joseph argued that green was turned into an ideology by progressives, activists, and the political left. He cited numerous instances where green initiatives turned out to be disasters, namely biofuel and CFL life-cycle risk-assessment.
It all makes sense to me. Creating meaningful change with this momentum requires a scientific, codified approach if we want it to last longer than the current administration. Joseph Malki may represent the future generation of green conservatives, or even the green movement as a whole.
Our partners over at EcoFactory were able to catch up with Jerome Ringo of the Apollo Alliance for a few quick questions at Green Cities Florida. Fresh off his workshop ?The Color of Green: The Next Inconvenient Truth ?, Mr. Ringo addresses several issues. A personal favorite is ?The problem of nature vs. Nintendo? and how we reconnect youth back to nature in the age of digital entertainment. Ringo?s focus on the human element brings the green movement back to where it matters the most. Hope you enjoy the interview and stay tuned for more highlights from Green Cities Florida.
What a busy week!? Between interviews with Steve Cochran and Joseph Malki, then?Orange County Update featuring Green Cities Florida, we?barely had time to keep up with everything else going on in this green world.? Here are a few highlights that showed up on our radar.
A debate on whether nuclear energy can be considered renewable. (Build Baby Build)
Ferrari revs up the green movement. (Cars and SUVs)
The good people from Orange TV and Vision TV cover the happenings at Green Cities Florida. The?story focuses on flipping the switch on the solar array, Orange County taking the lead on environmentalism, and what Senator Constantine calls ?a green revolution?.? The Orange County Convention Center boasts many green advances such as recycling, low flow faucets and reclaimed water for irrigation. The new solar array provides the energy equivalent of powering 100 houses. Check out the video?for more information on all of the green happenings at the Orange County Convention Center.
Part two in a series of interviews with Steve Cochran about the Open Space session he facilitated at Green Cities Florida. This time, he spoke with Kimberly Miller of Green Cities Media.
I?m Kimberly Miller with Green Cities Media here with Steve Cochran on site in Orlando. Hi Steve, how?s it going?
Hi, Kimberly. Just fine, how are you? Nice to see you again.
It?s nice to see you too. So you just facilitated an open spaces event if you will. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Well what I just did was open space for the participants here at Green Cities Florida. I literally opened the space for them to take advantage of the opportunity to convene individual sessions about topics that they have an interest in that they felt they?d like to explore more from this wonderful conference of two days that they have a concern about, perhaps they have a model they would just like to describe that they see has worked. Perhaps they have a fear they?d like to express, just whatever at this point is on their mind that they would like to take advantage of an opportunity to explore more deeply. So my job as the facilitator which really is a misnomer was just to take that responsibility to empower them to do what they want to do which as you see they?re hard at work already doing. They?ve created probably about twenty 45 minute sessions which will occur in just the next less than two hours.
So give me an example of some of the sessions that have been created.
Some of the folks right now are talking about encouraging electric drive in Florida. One young man I know is talking about bringing sustainability education to public schools. One woman has a very specific model that she wanted to present about the triple bottom line tool. Some people have a question, they said, ?I?m looking for someone who knows something about this.? So really to take a look at the marketplace which they?ve created for themselves; it?s kind of all over the map.
So what do you expect is going to come out of this open space session?
Well when I have used these tools with other groups, for one thing I think there?ll be a lot of energy and excitement which at the tail end of a long very packed two-day conference is always its own sort of reinforcement rather than the dribbling end of something. Almost always, too, I?d be very surprised if there aren?t some very concrete commitments where people will have said ?I?m going to go forward and do this specific thing? or partnerships will have been formed which will enable actions to occur and they are encouraged in these sessions to have very declarative statements and concrete actions to take.
So how has Green Cities been for you so far?
Oh, it?s wonderful. It?s a great privilege in my work to really only work around groups of people who are mission-driven people, who care very deeply about the work of sustainability and what the entails so the great honor and privilege to be with and share time and serve and support people who care deeply about the common good is just always?I get chills just talking about it. Really it?s quite an honor and really a sacred thing. Also the very concrete and actionable sessions which were created in the conference itself, I?ve heard many people talk about the range and depth and just how usable information they?ve gained and the interactions they?ve had so I know people are going to go forward and Green Cities will help Florida become even more engaged in the sustainability imperatives than they are now so I feel very strongly about that.
So have you learned anything new while you?ve been here?
Oh, sure! I learn from everyone and in this field right now especially, I think I?ve mentioned to a couple people here, anyone who builds themselves as an expert in this or that or sustainability?we?re all on a learning journey anyway but particularly in areas like sustainability which so often are new now to plug in, so I learned amazing things about Florida. I mean I was not nearly aware at all about just how engaged Florida and central Florida, Orlando the kind of political commitment which exists here. The kind of very concrete actions which are occurring already I admit I have sort of the Orlando Megalopolis ya know, Disney World only lots of pavement ?
Right I was pretty pleasantly surprised as well. I had no idea what was going on here in Florida.
So I intend to be an advocate for that and help people understand that they are doing some really serious things?really good people down there.
So what do you think it means for Green Cities that they had their first of a series of conferences in Florida in a place where people maybe don?t expect sustainability to be at the forefront. What do you think that means?
I think it sends a wonderful message and just as I described it?s sort of not exactly a paradigm shift for me but learning last week in Huntsville Alabama there was a modified Green Cities which actually was a small version of what occurred here over the last two days within just a few hours where a group of 200 civic leaders in Huntsville Alabama came together to envision Green Cities Alabama over several days which will occur further on down the road in the fall or the first part of next year.
Yeah that?s another shocker right? Alabama
I like Huntsville, Alabama. A lot of people who know the kind of work I do?I?m usually traveling internationally and I?m in Washington lots and as I said I live in Asheville, North Carolina work with energy companies in the southeast so friends were saying ?Steve, Huntsville?? and ?Orlando?? and ?Have you changed careers or something?? and so I said I can go forth and say ?no.? I mean these are places which ask us to come in and help because they are taking ownership and responsibility for their region so I think that sends a wonderful message and there?s always the usual places of Portland and Burlington and we all know that so the message is not just hopeful but I mean they?re very concrete things with people very engaged in their leadership.
Does it make you excited about the future of sustainability in America?
Oh absolutely. I?ve always been excited about it but with events like this occurring?not just events, mountain top events, but places like this where people come away and get real tools. They fill up their leadership toolbox and they go forth and they use it so it?s, as many of the presentations showed us here we?ve passed the tipping point you know whatever metaphor it is?this is off and running in a bad economy I mean to have a conference with 500 people in this kind of an economy around a topic like this which used to be kind of esoteric and nice if you can afford it on the side after you do real work type of thing. It shows that this is what is going to enable us to do anything else.
Well thanks so much for coming and for talking with me.
Thanks you. I?m delighted to be here.
This post is from our good friend Joel Wilcox at EcoFactory.
We here at EcoFactory managed to catch Steve Cochran at Green Cities? Florida and talk to him a bit about Open Space. It’s quite an impressive concept, to think that you can solve problems that might take weeks of meetings by doing an Open Space session for a few hours. I didn’t have the chance to ask everyone what they accomplished in sessions on May 21, but judging by past successes, I’d say some good things were accomplished.
Cochran told me that he’s done Open Space sessions with groups of all sizes, most recently with attendees at the Green Cities? Alabama Summit. Seems like it always produces some good ideas. I can believe that, considering that some of my best classes in college were based on the sort of discussions that Open Space tries to foster.
Here’s how Open Space works: You gather a bunch of people together and encourage them to bring up topics on a particular theme. Those topics are written on pieces of paper, and anyone interested in that topic follows the piece of paper to the sidelines, where a discussion will start on the topic. Essentially the idea is that the people, not the leadership, set the agenda. If you get a bunch of people together in one room and encourage them to think freely to bring up solutions, odds are you’re going to come up with something original and creative.
The only requirements Open Space puts on participants govern how the discussion works, rather than what is discussed. Principles like “if you’re not contributing or learning, move on” and “when the discussion is over, it’s over” indicate that the direction is not to force accomplishment, but instead to foster it.
I hope that the Green Cities? Florida Open Space session managed to accomplish some great things. Certainly there were some big movers involved in the discussions, with people coming from businesses, non-profits, and government offices. The biggest thing I brought away from the whole event was that there are people out there with big dreams for a greener planet. Let’s hope those dreams come true!
The cure for a big problem is an even bigger idea.? Some times to provoke those big ideas you have to invoke the spirit of friendly competition.? Urban Revision is a series of competitions designed to find solutions for some very serious problems inflicting our society and infrastructure.? Eric Corey Freed is principal of organicARCHITECT, an architecture and consulting firm in San Francisco.? He spoke about Urban Revision during the Green Cities Florida conference with the undisputed champion of interviews Kimberly Miller.? Though he spoke about the Urban Revision project as a whole, the hot topic was latest contest Re: Vision Dallas.
If you were asked to transform a notoriously neglected city block in one of America?s most recognizable cities into a model example of sustainability what would you create?? Hundreds of designers, architects, students and engineers entered the Re:Vision Dallas competition to answer this question.? The entries were diverse, imaginitive and showed an incredible passion for the future of Dallas and the world.??? Mayor Tom Leppert, Central Dallas Community Development Corporation, and Dallas community organizations have to come together to select a winning design and the top 3 entries are on display here.? Media kits are available for download below each design.
Eric Corey Freed was in the unique position as a juror for the competition.? Imagine the difficulty of narrowing down over a 150 incredibly intriguing and forward thinking entries into 3 winners.? Listen to the podcast or read the transcript below to hear Mr. Freed?s thoughts on the entries and what were some of his favorites.
To learn more about Urban Revision check out the websites www.urbanrevision.com and www.revision-dallas.com.? You can also follow us on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/urbanrevision
May 20, 2009
?Talking with Eric Corey Freed, organic architect, who is also a member of Urban Re:Vision.
So I just spent an hour talking to a room-full of people about urban revision and our entire story of how we started with a series of five competitions that looked at different aspects of sustainability, energy, water. And then our big competition which just closed in May, and we just had the judging yesterday, and we announce the winners next week of a city block in Dallas for a real block, for a real place in a real city that will really get built, and we pick three winners and three honorable mentions, and people can go online at urbanrevision.com and see them next week.
So if you can tell me, not the winners, but name an entry that you found particularly interesting.
There was an entry that I found very interesting that was a building that absorbed carbon and filtered the air, and they had a lot of science and documentation reams of paper showing how this could work, and it was a very intriguing idea of a building that?s truly regenerative not just in terms of providing energy but fixing some of the problems such as carbon emissions. There was one, actually showed it today that took aircraft fuselage, the tubes of the airplane, and cut off the ends and stacked them into a rack and became apartments, kind of a modular housing thing.
So there was a lot of great ideas. I mean the range and depth of the entries was phenomenal. In fact that?s what made it such a long two days because we had to narrow down 100 incredible entries down to three.
So you were impressed with the entries then?
Oh very impressed! It was far above what I ever could have imagined coming in. And they clearly spent hundreds of hours putting these things together.
So was it mostly professionals then who were entering the contest, or did regular citizens and students get involved too?
We had everybody. The entries were anonymous and then at the end we were able to look to see who did what, and there was a range of everything from students to big large gigantic corporate firms to everybody in between.? That was the real intent of the competition was to get that broad range of entries. And you wouldn?t know it by the entries? I mean they were just so overwhelming, but people can go online and look and see what was entered.
Cool thanks for talking with us!
The solar industry is on fire? in a good way.? Solar panels and solar farms are popping up all over the nation, but do you ever consider who is behind the production of this hot technology?? Maureen McHale of Advanced Solar Photonics (ASP) took a minute to speak with Kimberly Miller of Green Cities Media at Green Cities Florida to discuss some of their recent advancements and the status of solar in the Sunshine State.? One thing is clear from this interview; Florida is keeping Advanced Solar Photonics busy.? Born from a laser systems producer, Advanced Solar Photonics quickly found a home in the sustainability industry by creating parts for solar panels.? The demand for parts led to the idea of selling entire solar panels and even the production of solar farms.? Green Cities turned out to be the perfect opportunity for this rapidly expanding company.? The media attention and sheer number of participants made it a perfect place for Advanced Solar Photonics to spread their message to a diverse and attentive audience.
In the spirit of true sustainability and the triple bottom line, ASP is a completely American made company, even their productions means are 100% American.? Not only does this mean a more efficient way to produce their panels, but their expansion directly relates to Florida?s economy.? Maureen states that they are expected to fill 1,500 green jobs over the next two years in Florida?s Lake Mary region.? When asked about their future opportunities Ms. McHale responded with one word ?Endless?.? She and ASP have plenty to look forward to, especially with the backing of government initiatives from the Obama administration and locally in Florida.
They have no intention on squandering their good fortune, as they are making plans to diversify their brand.? One way in particular are the ?Brown Fields? created by past manufacturing sectors in Florida where developers cannot build homes.? Here they found opportunity in crisis as ?Brown Fields? are perfect for installing solar farms, which in essence turn the land from brown to green.?? These farms range from the size of a city block to a 2,500 acre lot.? This opens the door to become one of the largest energy producers selling power back to utility companies.?? Combine this with their assorted list of clients and Florida?s initiative to create solar cities and Advanced Solar Photonics is set to be a major player in the industry for years to come.
Transcript of Interview
May 20, 2009
I?m Kimberly Miller for Green Cities Media speaking today with Maureen McHale of Advanced Solar Photonics, whose tagline is ?innovation today for a brighter tomorrow,? and we?re broadcasting actually from Green Cities here in Orlando, Florida. Welcome, Maureen. Thanks so much for joining me today.
Thanks for having me.
So I want to go ahead and start off by asking kind of the history of the company, where the idea for Advanced Solar Photonics come from and what kind of things were you guys interested in whenever you started this company?
Sure. The owner of the company actually started making laser systems for all different types of industries, everything from flat panel displays, semi-conductor, aeronautical, automotive, industrial applications. A lot of those applications are very similar to the photovotaics where the panels need to be cut; the glass needs to be cut. They need to be scribed. Lots of lasers are used in the making of them so we developed a solar line, and from that point, because there?s so much demand for solar panels, the owner said, ?You know what? We should not only sell the equipment that makes the panels, we should make panels.?
And here we are.
Terrific, so how long ago did that get started?
The company?s been around since nineteen ninety something?in the nineties, and Advanced Solar Photonics spent the last several years making equipment specifically for the solar industry. The first panels are actually coming off our line in July of this year.
Terrific; and whenever these panels come off of your line, what is it specifically that is going to set them apart from other panels that are out there?
Well not only are they made with the latest technology and lasers, they?re also manufactured in a lean way in that all of the processes and technologies used are very efficient making our panels very efficient and also the panels are going to be made of 100% American made components the equipment even is made in America.
So we?re 100% American-made.
Alright, and you know sometimes I think people forget that? part of the triple bottom line and sustainability and this kind of conversation also needs to have jobs here in the United States. That?s really important.
Right; and we are growing so fast. In the next two years we?ll have fifteen hundred new green positions.
That?s terrific. And so will those be located in Florida?
Yes, actually in Lake Mary, which is just north of Orlando.
So you guys are located here in Florida, the sunshine state; seems like it?s a good place for you guys to be. How has the reception been for this kind of technology?
It has been fantastic. As soon as we announced that we were going to be making panels, the phones were ringing, the emails were coming in left and right, and shows like this just attract more attention to what we?re doing and how great renewables can be for everyone.
Certainly; and so who do you see as your biggest client? Is it business people? Is it people who are wanting to put solar panels on their homes? Who?s your target audience?
We?re working with everyone along the chain. We?re going to work with installers, distributors, all the way up to utility companies that want to buy our power. We intend to put solar farms together so that we can sell back to the electric companies.
That?s terrific. So what do you think is the future of solar photonics?
It?s endless. Literally every week we get bigger and bigger, and more things change. It?s nothing but bright and green.
So with the new Obama administration a lot of green initiatives being put into place?do you think that?s going to affect your business specifically? And do you think this is an easier climate with this administration to try and advance this business?
I think more people are talking about renewables because of the government initiatives today. It?s nothing but good. It?s a start at least people are starting to understand and recognizing solar panels. I went down to the beach this past weekend, and I saw solar panels lighting up the channel markers for the beaches and the boats so it?s becoming recognizable. Everybody?s talking about it, and the more government incentives, the more state incentives that can bring down the costs for normal people like you and me to put them on their houses, and the better it is.
So what is it about Green Cities specifically that was attractive for your company to come here?
It?s definitely the number of people we were able to get in front of, the media attention, the government officials that were here, the fact that Orlando is becoming a green city. I mean it?s huge for us. So anything that we can tag along with and be involved in is where we want to be.
So what kind of advancements would you like to see in Florida happen in the next 5-10 years?
I?m definitely excited about the new solar studies about more green everything; from the booth next to us has the pavers that the water penetrates through to, like I said, the solar panels lighting up traffic lights and overhead displays and all those kind of things. Just more and more renewable sources
Right; it seems like a real change towards sustainability is actually happening, and to see it happen here in Florida is exceptionally exciting I think. So are there any upcoming projects that you guys are going to be working on that maybe you?re excited or that you could share with us?
Yes, actually we?re looking to do a project for Seminal County School systems, and trying to put panels on their roofs, and power their buildings. There?s, like I said, solar farms that we?re putting together. There?s something called Brown Fields, where there?s been waste from companies and other manufacturing processes that have gotten into the ground, and they can no longer use the ground for new buildings. They can?t put houses there unless they do a huge cleanup. Our panels and our solar towers are perfect for that because we can make a solar farm, put panels on there, and generate electricity from a piece of land that may not even be usable.
That?s terrific. So with these Brown Fields and solar farms, about how long does it take to complete a project like that?
Well thankfully we have this great technology we?ve just partnered with, a manufacturing fabricator that has a technology that can put a post for the tower into the ground in about three hours time. Normally, it would take a month for the concrete to set and things like that. It?s the same technology that was used to put the fence between Mexico and Texas so it?s like 120 miles plus, and they did it in like sixty-one days. So this is a fast way to do things. So literally we can put a farm up in a matter of weeks and not months or years
Great; so more efficient.
So how big are these Brown Fields and solar farms? Do you have a rough estimate?
There?s all different sizes. Depending on the size of the contamination, it could be anywhere from a city block to acres and acres. We?re looking to cover probably about twenty-five hundred acres. There?s some in Pensacola; some here; other local companies have them. So we?re partnering with these people to make those Brown Fields green. It?s what we?re trying to do.
Right. That?s amazing. Well I wish you the best of luck. It sounds like you guys have an incredible year or five ahead of you.
It?s very exciting
And it?s really nice to meet you and have you here at Green Cities.
Well thanks a lot!
On Gil Friend?s blog, you?ll notice a kind face smiling and a hand pointing as if to say ?You and me?we?re going to make it happen.? You wouldn?t figure this man is trained in Aikido, but that may be
why he always seems so peaceful. One of my favorite running themes on his blog are the Green Business Lies that gives you a glimpse inside his newest book ?The Truth About Green Business,? which hits stores May 29th. ?It?s like green business for dummies, except not for dummies? states Friend during an interview with Kimberly Miller of Green Cities Media.
The founder, CEO and president of Natural Logic (a strategic sustainability consulting firm) was one of the more active elements of Green Cities Florida, contributing to two different sessions. One session based around his book, dedicated to explaining the opportunities of green business and debunking some of the myths. The other session was a speaking engagement along with Terry Gips (Sustainability Associates Minneapolis) for a discussion on greening your business while turning a profit in a recession. This session focused on getting everyone in an organization on the same page when it comes to making a business more eco-friendly. As Gil puts it, ?The engineering is easy?Getting it so that Joe and Mary do different things when they show up at work on Monday morning, that?s where the real art and challenge of this work is.?
After helping such clients as Nike and General Mills develop strategies to become more sustainable while still being profitable, Friend had plenty of experience to offer the attendees of Green Cities Florida, who ranged from local government types to university officials developing sustainability curriculum. His experience in the field is a goldmine for Green Cities and the future of Florida?s sustainability movement. In his interview, Gil talks about Green Cites as a place to connect and refers to several people developing courses for their educational institutions that are now have a relationship to build a better model for sustainability in academia. Building relationships to find solutions is the essence of Green Cities and the idea is gaining momentum with every event.
We at Green Cities Media would love to thank Gil Friend for helping to make the Florida event one to remember and hope to work with him again in the near future.
Want more Gil Friend? Of course you do. Below is the Green Cities Florida onsite interview with Mr. Friend, by one of his biggest fans Kimberly Miller.
Make sure you check out the pre Green Cities Florida interview
You can learn more about Gil Friend and Natural Logic here
Interested in reading Gil?s newest work? Order here online.
I?m Kimberly Miller with Green Cities Media, standing here with Gil Friend of Natural Logic, on site at Green Cities in Orlando, Florida.
Could you recap for me what you?ve been doing here at Green Cities and the sessions you?ve been teaching?
Well I taught two sessions here. We did one yesterday on the Truth About Green Business, based on my new book coming out on May 29th from Financial Times Press. It was a high density overview of Green Business, like Green Business for Dummies except not for dummies. So, we did a course based on that, a one hour drinking-from-a-fire hose, here are some of the basics about green business, to a full room. This morning I shared a session with Terry Gips from Sustainability Associates in Minneapolis and we did a 2.5 hour session on how to green your company and profit from greening in a recession. So, a more sweeping overview that was grounded very much in the Natural Step framework as a basic way of thinking about these issues and communicating about them and getting everybody in the organization on the same page. Because the truth is, that?s really the key. The hard part isn?t the technical issues. As much innovation as it requires, the engineering is not the hard part. If you tell an engineer you need a building that uses half as much energy, she can build it. If you tell an engineer you need a building that uses 40% or 80% less water, he can build it. But getting the human beings who live and work in that building to change their behavior is where the real art and challenge of this work is. The natural step framework is really one of the indispensable tools for doing that. So, we did a basic quick introduction to that and talked about how to apply it with case studies of how companies have put this to use. Then, there was a lot of discussion with the room.
Who were the attendees in your sessions?
It was a broad mix. We had people from government, mostly county and city governments in the region and all the way down to South Florida, a bunch of people from Universities and Colleges who were developing curriculum programs in this area, a lot of business people, too. Both small businesspeople and from larger aerospace companies, a number of scientists and a bunch of folks just checking it out trying to figure out what their place in this new revolution is.
What do you think is the vibe here? Are people optimistic for the future, are they hopeful?
I think some are. I haven?t been through the Open Space session yet so I haven?t had a chance to really feel that. But, the people I?ve talked with one-on-one and in my sessions are very enthusiastic and eager to be a part of this. If we?re being realistic, there is more fear today than there was a year ago. I find it in myself. I am a congenital optimist, always have been. We?re in a world of challenge right now. We?ve got the financial meltdown to deal with and stacked up behind that are a half a dozen other crises waiting to roll in from off shore. Ranging from energy to carbon to soils to biodiversity to collapse of fisheries and on down the list. So, it is important not to be facile about this.
On the other hand, it is an enormously exciting time because we?re in a sustainability explosion. Not just the number of people, but the type of people, and the range and diversity in the business world and in government who get this, that understand we?re in a transformative moment at least in American history if not world history. I know that sounds ?high falutin.? but this is the kind of time that when people look back 50 years they will say ?that was historic?. We are in historic now. And we have the opportunity to reinvent the economy, and reinvent infrastructure and reinvent the ways we do business. OR not. We might fail. But if we do that successfully it?s like opening a new frontier and there?s enormous business opportunity for businesses and people of all sorts.
How do you think a conference like Green Cities fits into this historic moment?
A conference like Green Cities fits into this historic moment because it brings together this kind of diversity of people: government, business, academia, NGO and individuals with an interesting focus around a region, here, where we are in Orlando, central Florida. One thing that has happened here is not just people hearing from experts but people meeting with each other and forging connections with each other. Now, this open space session that the conference is ending with is an opportunity for people to find where their common interests are, where they can support each other, where they can work together. Just one example of that, today: we had somebody leading an MBA program at a college, someone developing a sustainability bachelors program at another college, someone developing an online program at another college, several people in the extensions service doing outreach to agriculture and industry, and I think none of them knew each other before today. It?s a place to connect not just for friendship, relationships, and support (although that is good too) but to connect for action and to connect for commitments to move things forward because there is a lot of work to do.
Did you have a chance to attend any of the sessions?
I attended a few sessions myself. I attended the opening keynotes yesterday morning and in particular I thought Brian Nattrass?s talk was a real knock out. You would expect that I have a bias toward Brian because he?s also based in the Natural Step framework. What was really striking in his talk was the work he?s done with the US military. And the way the US Military has embraced sustainability to a surprising degree. It is one of the big surprises, and of course Wal-Mart is another surprise. Places that were the least expected players and the least expected leaders are doing remarkable work. So I was in a session yesterday with some lawyers and people from NRDC and from a sustainability consulting firm talking about some of the finance and strategy issues specifically in relation to the power industry. One person pointed out that FPL here is planning to build some nuclear reactors. There was significant cost as there always is with nukes. There are now looking at about 22 billion dollars to develop about 1.1 megawatts of generated capacity and the woman from NRDC pointed out that for that much money you could generate 4.4 megawatts through efficiency. So, the question is ? what?s economical? Why do we make the financial decisions that we make? And how would the nuclear industry survive if it wasn?t heavily subsidized? And for all of the people who say ?Oh gosh, we can?t afford solar? I ask, what can we afford if we pull the subsidies out from under coal, oil, and nuclear and actually have a free market in energy?
What are you doing after you leave Orlando?
I?m hopping a plane to Los Angeles. I have a meeting tomorrow with a Chinese delegation that?s looking into clean tech developments in cooperation with the United States and China.
Good luck with that and with your future projects. It was nice to see you!
Thanks so much, great to see you.