Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation
Spring 2013: Energy Efficiency

Letter from the Executive Director

Lissa Widoff
Executive Director Lissa Widoff

This year has been both dramatic and remarkable with respect to the imagery and impact from extreme weather events in the US and abroad, and in the mobilization of citizens in support of action on climate change.  Superstorm Sandy, wildfires in Russia and chronic drought in the Midwest US have wreaked havoc on urban infrastructure, communities and our food system.  Our politicians are called on to address these disasters not as aberrant weather events, but as part of a global pattern of climate change that requires honest debate and immediate action.


While calls for fossil fuel divestment, increased deployment of renewable energy and a carbon tax are all viable and necessary strategies to consider, so too are calls to reevaluate our current energy consumption patterns to help us demonstrate new models of energy use, responsibility and sustainability. Amory Lovins' time has come, as one of the earliest advocates for energy conservation as the least cost and most effective way to reduce fossil fuel consumption, at least in the short term.

In this newsletter, we are highlighting several Switzer Fellows who are taking this call to action to reduce energy use in their own lives - at work and at home - very seriously.  Whether through new home design, "net-zero" co-housing or urban housing retrofits, Fellows are personally incorporating the values of sustainability for cost savings as well as serving as a role model and catalyst for others. Fellows are also working on local, state and national policy actions that can promote more responsible energy use, sending a message to markets, consumers and policymakers that energy efficiency makes economic and social sense. I'm proud that we have so many Fellows leading the way towards a future that must account for less energy use, as well as different sources of energy. We look forward to your feedback, and please reach out to our Fellows as leaders on this important issue so we can all learn together.

Switzer Fellows Lead Their Organizations and Communities to Greater Energy Efficiency
Reducing Demand Through Energy Efficiency Programs in Marin, California

Beckie Menten

2008 Switzer Fellow Beckie Menten is the Energy Efficiency Coordinator for the Marin Energy Authority, the first Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) system in California. Community Choice Aggregation allows cities and counties to aggregate the buying power of individual customers to secure alternative energy supply contracts.  Marin Energy Authority's goal is to address climate change by reducing energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and securing energy supply, price stability, energy efficiencies and local economic and workforce benefits.  Reducing energy demand is a key strategy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the progressive county of Marin, California, as Beckie explains in this video.
In This Issue
Letter from Lissa Widoff
Fellows' Work Cutting Edge
Fellows Working in Energy
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Spring Retreats
Open to Switzer Fellows
and Colleagues!
Switzer spring retreats have proven to be valuable learning opportunities for our Fellows, and our colleagues!  This year's retreats will focus on current environmental policy issues. Each retreat has been designed by Fellows and has attracted high-level science and policy speakers.  These events are open to our colleagues as well as our Fellows.  Professors, please share with interested graduate students!  Space is limited, and registration deadlines are March 8th, so register soon!
Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta: The History, Ecology and Politics of Place
March 22-24, 2013
Walnut Grove, CA
Through discussions and site visits, participants will examine issues of water supply, ecosystem function, and community history of the Delta. Read more!

Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning - From Policy to Practice: Competition or Coexistence?
April 5-7, 2013
Woods Hole, MA
This conference will draw speakers with regional and national perspectives on ocean planning, as well as stakeholders and practitioners involved in policy and management of ocean resources. Read more!
Webinar: Lessons for Homeowners from Green Affordable Housing
On March 18 at 12:30 pm Eastern, Bev Craig will present a webinar for the Switzer Foundation, Lessons for Homeowners from Green Affordable Housing. The event is free and open to the public. 
Making Affordable Housing Green in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Making Affordable Housing Green with Switzer Fellow Beverly Craig Housing developers are always looking to improve their bottom line.
1994 Switzer Fellow Bev Craig works with Homeowner's Rehab, a nonprofit that owns over 1,000 units of affordable housing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that goes about this in a unique and sustainable way. They "green" their portfolio by installing energy efficient devices in their properties, which helps them meet both financial and social goals. 

Webinar with Bev Craig March 18th!

Bev is doing a webinar for the Switzer Foundation, Lessons for Homeowners from Green Affordable Housing, on 
Monday, March 18.  The event is free and open to the public. Register today!
Chicago Conservation Corps Builds on Volunteer Efforts for Weatherization
Kristen Pratt
2011 Switzer Fellow Kristen Pratt is the Program Coordinator for the Chicago 
Conservation Corps (C3) at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. One of the group's most successful projects has been the Community Weatherization 
Action Teams (CWAT) program, which helps volunteers plan weatherization events and campaigns all over the city. Over 25,000 homes have been weatherized through the city program and with their assistance. Kristen says that, although the kits are instrumental in providing homeowners with the tools they need, C3's involvement added the critical element of educating people on how to use the kits they receive so that their efforts are successful.
In addition to her professional work with weatherization, Kristen also participated in the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association's Energy Savers program to make her 100-year-old house a more comfortable and economical place to live.  You can watch a short video about her experience with the program and tell us about your community's weatherization efforts in the comments section.
How Will California Get to 33% Renewables by 2020?

Landmark Renewable Energy Legislation with Switzer Fellow Laura WislandAs an energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
2007 Switzer Fellow Laura Wisland focuses on developing state policies that will effectively increase the amount of renewable energy used in California. She provides technical and policy analysis to legislative and regulatory agencies to successfully guide implementation of the state's renewables electricity standard and designs effective electricity sector climate change policies in accordance with the state's landmark global warming bill.
Laura also did a webinar for the 
Switzer Foundation in 2012 about how California's utilities are faring under the new rules.  She also talked about the Renewable Portfolio Standard with a specific focus on the top 5 largest utilities in California, and other policies on the table, including the Governor's goal to install 12 gigawatts of clean distributed generation by 2020.
Keeping Solar Clean in California and Across the Nation

Keeping Solar Clean with Switzer Fellow Dustin MulvaneyProducing electricity from the sun with solar panels seems like the perfect solution to our energy needs. But solar panels can also create problems for the environment.

2004 Switzer Fellow Dustin Mulvaney is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at San Jose State University. With the Silicon Valley Toxics 
Coalition (SVTC), Dustin researches environmental, health, and safety issues in the photovoltaic (PV) energy industry for their Towards a Just and Sustainable 
Solar Industry campaign. This encourages product stewardship and design for recycling in an industry that relies on a green reputation. He believes there are win-win solutions out there, and he talked with Switzer Network News about them in this 2012 video.

Switzer Fellows Walk Their Talk by Living in 
Energy Efficient Homes and Communities
Zero Net Energy Residential Project on Lopez Island, Washington

Many of our Fellows live in innovative housing that uses advanced energy efficiency to achieve notable progress towards net zero energy use.  A few Fellows even live in net zero energy communities, like 1999 Switzer Fellow Chris Greacen.

The Common Ground After years working overseas in Asia and South America, Chris Greacen recently moved back to the United States to live in the Common Ground co-housing project on Lopez Island in western Washington State. This housing development of the Lopez Community Land Trust received four major "green" awards for its architectural and energy elements, and was spotlighted in the June 2010 issue of Builder magazine. Completed in 2009, it is a sustainable net zero energy project featuring straw bale construction with earthen plaster, rainwater catchment, solar hot water and a grid-tied solar electric system. It is a mixed-income development of 11 homes and 2 rental units along with an office/resource center.
As a homeowner in the community, Chris and his wife had to help build the project. Between them they were responsible for putting in 26 hours a week of sweat-equity labor for about a year.
He has also been involved with hiring the contractor that supplied the solar PV arrays, worked with homeowners to install them, and participated on a committee that focused on energy-related design improvements in the latest four homes. He has been helping the Land Trust on planning for future expansion, including a sustainable skills learning center, and conducted energy monitoring of the project over the years.

Chris delivered this presentation about Common Ground and its development at UC Berkeley in October 2012.  Read more about the community and watch four videos, including a time-lapse movie of the installation of the community's solar electric array.

Building an Energy Efficient Home From the Ground Up in Santa Cruz, California

Erika Zavaleta's home in Santa Cruz
1999 Switzer Fellow Erika Zavaleta strives to bridge ecological theory and research to sound conservation and management practice in her work and personal life.  Between 2008 and 2010, she and husband Bernie Tershy worked with Anni Tilt of Berkeley-based Arkin Tilt Architects and Santa Cruz builder Marc Susskind to design and build a home that did just that.  The home won the Best New Home award from Fine Homebuilding Magazine.

Erika wrote a short piece for us about how the process of designing and building their house made her aware, maybe more than anything, of how closely tied the comfort of a structure is to the same energy design elements that make it efficient.  She says, "When we sell energy efficiency, we usually focus on environmental and/or economic arguments.  But for passive innovations that manipulate solar gain, thermal mass, and airflow, comfort is the best selling point, and we should talk about it more."

Read Erika's piece and check out two articles about it in local media, one about the Fine Homebuilding Award and the other about the playful spin the house puts on environmentally conscious design (with photos).

Closing Thoughts: Moving Beyond Payback in Washington State

Thor Hanson
1998 Switzer Fellow Thor Hanson is an award-winning author who lives in a home with a grid-tied photovoltaic system and solar hot water heater on San Juan Island in Washington State.  He says we need to move away from the idea of payback for every energy efficiency measure we take, and look to the other benefits of renewables and other measures.

Switzer Fellows Work on Energy Efficiency and Related Topics
Nationally and Internationally
Many Switzer Fellows are professionally engaged as leaders in energy efficiency, renewables, climate change and related energy topics. To access more info about any of these Fellows or reach them directly, you can use our Fellows Directory for their complete bio and contact info.
Xantha Bruso (2006)
Xantha is an energy and climate change specialist with Pacific Gas & Electric Company in San Francisco, CA.  Her recent work has involved AB 32 cap-and-trade program implementation, GHG emissions reporting, environmental policy analysis and advocacy, and corporate sustainability strategy development.

Warren Byrne (1992)
Warren is President and CEO at Foresight Solar in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Under Warren's leadership, Foresight Solar has four power purchase agreements and a pipeline of nearly 700 photovoltaic projects, and sister-company Foresight Wind Energy developed a 100 MW wind project in commercial operation and over 2,000 MW in various stages of development.

Christian Casillas (2011)
Christian is an advisor to the blueEnergy Group and co-founder of La Mesita in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Much of his work over the last seven years has focused on understanding how electrification using renewable energy sources can complement development goals in rural communities

Alexander Eaton (2007)
Alex is the Executive Director of the International Renewable Resources Institute in Mexico and a director and technician for Sistema Biobolsa. Alex has developed and managed carbon offset and renewable energy projects across Latin America, including projects that have been commercialized under the Kyoto Protocol, and has also evaluated, developed, and managed small scale and industrial anaerobic digestion systems worldwide.

Garrett Fitzgerald (2004)
As the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Oakland, Garrett has led development of the city's draft Energy and Climate Action Plan, worked on various targeted sustainability projects including planning for electric vehicles and an energy efficiency program strategy, and sought innovative ways to finance sustainability improvements.

Cathleen Fogel (1997)
Cathy is currently working to advance Zero Net Energy buildings in California as a Senior Analyst in the Energy Efficiency Planning Section at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). A zero net energy building is one that produces as much renewable energy onsite as it consumes in a year.


Karina is currently a Visiting Research Professor at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California.

Harold Glasser (1990)
As Executive Director for Campus Sustainability and a Professor of Environmental Studies at Western Michigan University, Harold assists schools, communities, organizations, and businesses in their efforts to promote ecological and cultural (ecocultural) sustainability by enhancing engagement and by doing more with less.  He has led numerous groundbreaking projects at WMU, most recently solar-powered EV charging stations and a 12-megawatt solar array on campus.

Shannon Graham (2000)
Shannon is an Associate Director at Navigant Consulting, one of the top global renewable energy consultancies.  She provides strategic advisory services for renewable energy equipment manufacturers, investors, electric utilities and leading government agencies, including the Department of Energy.

Holmes Hummel (2005)
Holmes is currently serving as Senior Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Policy & International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy.  Her portfolio includes international climate negotiations (UNFCCC), federal energy legislation, federal energy regulation and executive branch actions, and engagement with state energy policy.

Kevin Kennedy (1989)
Kevin is Director of the U.S. Climate Initiative in WRI's Climate and Energy Program. He oversees the Institute's domestic climate and energy strategy, working with federal agencies, Congress, state governments, businesses, and other stakeholders to advance a clean energy economy and respond to climate change.

Julia Ledewitz (2011)
Julia is a Sustainability Engineer with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She co-authored Efficiency Forward, a three-year energy efficiency collaborative program between and the local utility and MIT, and is also managing LEED certification for nine projects at MIT.

Sherry Login (1993)
Sherry is the Manager of Electric Vehicle Programs at Consolidated Edison in New York, where she supports customers in the company's service territory who have electric vehicles or are thinking about purchasing them.  She also works with the City of New York on pilot programs to site public charging stations, and with Nissan on a pilot electric taxi program.

Jason Mark (1995)
Jason is the VP, Deputy Director of US Programs at The Energy Foundation, which  promotes the transition to a sustainable energy future by advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Matthew Orosz (2009)
Matt is President and Director of STG International. His work focuses on providing access to an affordable, distributed, renewable form of solar energy generation that can improve productivity and quality of life in rural villages, clinics, schools, and organizations without increasing their carbon footprints.

Maximilian Parness (2010)
Max is currently as an Environmental Researcher at Toyota Motor North America's Washington, DC, offices.

Nicole Wobus (1999)
Nicole is a Managing Consultant with Navigant Consulting's Energy Practice in Boulder, CO. She conducts independent program evaluation and market studies for utilities and state agencies. These studies provide data on program effectiveness and market trends that help guide energy policy decisions, as well as energy efficiency and renewable energy program investments.

Thomas Starrs (1993)
Tom is Managing Director of Market Development at SunPower Corporation's Utility and Power Plants business unit, responsible for early-stage business development, market assessment, and business strategy.  He has more than 25 years of renewable energy experience, with an emphasis on both distributed- and utility-scale solar photovoltaic technology development.

Stephanie Stern (2010)
Stephanie is a Program Manager with in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She is working to develop a voluntary building energy labeling system for Alameda County for commercial and residential buildings.

Dipti Vaghela (2008)
Dipti is working in rural India and other developing regions as a consultant assisting field-focused stakeholders to implement sustainable energy and rural livelihoods projects. She is also developing capacity building tools with micro hydro practitioners in south and southeast Asia.

Alexandra von Meier (1994)
Sascha is currently Co-Director of Electric Grid Research at the California Institute for Energy and Environment, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UC Berkeley.  She focuses on power distribution systems, Smart Grid issues, and the integration of distributed and intermittent generation.

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