March 18, 2009 By Corey McKenna
The state of the global climate is worse than scientific models predicted, said Daniel Kamen, professor and founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Use Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. But the good news is there has been an explosion in the number of megawatts generated by renewable energy during the last few years. What troubles Kamen, however, are long-term predictions that Earth will run out of atmosphere before it will run out of available hydrocarbon sources of fuel. Market forces, he predicts, will not drive investment in clean alternative energy, but in refinement of exceedingly dirty fossil fuels, such as Alberta shale oil. So there is a need for government to set tough environmental standards, such as California has done in AB 32, to drive investment in alternative energy.
Two factors will drive clean energy use and the "green revolution:" good policy and innovative technology, Kamen said. California has already taken the lead on implementing leading environmental standards legislation. Now it needs to adopt the technology and implement those plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And in order to encourage that, agencies need to document and share experiences in reducing the carbon footprints of their operations.
The California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters is the greenest skyscraper on the West Coast, said California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Linda Adams. The building, which cost $4 million to outfit with energy saving-technology, is carbon neutral and saves the state $1 million per year by taking advantage of technology including solar panels, smart lights and the purchase of power from renewable resources.
Greening Transportation: Fleet Management and Alternative Fuel Vehicles
About 40 percent of California's green house gas emissions come from cars, trucks and other modes of transportation. Making a major dent in carbon emissions will take a combination of extensive public outreach and incentives and appropriate regulation, but there are things state, city and county agencies can do to do reduce the environmental impact of their operations and realize economic savings as well. Sacramento County heavy fleet manager James Collins shared the mix of the county's fleet with attendees at the Green California Summit in Sacramento this week.
Both the county of Sacramento and California Department of General Services are implementing fleet management systems. The state's system will allow it to identify vehicles in its fleet and reduce the time agency personnel spend gathering data for reports. Departments spend an inordinate amount of time tracking down inappropriate use of vehicles, Kathy Hicks, chief of fleet administration for DGS, said.
The state's fleet management system already has data from 62 of about 130 state agencies in it. The deadline for having all the data in the system is April 1st, which the department intends meet.
In addition to implementing a fleet management system, DGS is looking at revising regulations that require agencies to put 6,000 miles on a vehicle every six months in order to demonstrate a business need for it and others that don't contribute to achieving the state's climate change goals. The state is also looking at leasing vehicles instead of buying them. Hicks said that would allow the state to leverage a greater mix of alternative fuels in its fleet.
The state's parks and recreation department is moving from sport utility vehicles to trucks.
Hicks noted that the state has a mandate from various pieces of legislation to use alternative fuels in its vehicles but the fueling infrastructure doesn't exist for the alternatives like it does for conventional fuels.
Sacramento County uses a mix of alternative fuel vehicles in its heavy-duty fleet. Electric motors work great for forklifts, floor scrubbers and aerial lifts but aren't