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Go Solar NOW! June 30, 2009

Posted by sunlightmyfire in business, development, economics, education, green living, politics, solar energy.
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It’s a name dropping day today, this first work day after the House passes the first legislature geared at reducing global warming. That’s right, this bill was written to REDUCE the amount of energy produced by fossil fuels (and their related heat-trapping gasses which in turn are responsible for global warming) and SHIFT towards energy procurement from renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, solar thermal (so hot right now) and other renewable energy sources.

Paul Krugman, one of my favorites, wrote an excellent piece today about American Betrayal of our planet.  He called out Representative Paul Broun of Georgia who, for some reason, still thinks that all the scientists in the land are full of it and just making up all the fantastic climate changes that America has been experiencing for the past number of years.  It’s as if personal experience doesn’t even count anymore.  Who elected this guy?

Best quote of the day, “I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.”

And we’ve seen some action already!  BP of Austin is cited in 53 pollution violations (including one that occurred in March of ’05 where 15 workers were killed, 170 injured).  The temporary injunction will see that BP follows state environmental laws (duh?) while the pollution lawsuit is in court.

I’ll now cite my fantastic boss who pulled up a fantastic quote to explain away the insanity of our misinformed politicians.  He reminded me that Upton Sinclair spoke the truth when he said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”   Broun, you’re being called out.  Where are you reelection dollars coming from?

In other important news, Obama wants energy efficiency standards for lamps and light bulbs, not sexy, he notes, but overall could reduce spending by a heap of money ($4 billion annually over the next 20+ years) and reduce emissions equivalent to 166 million cars.  And he doesn’t think that light bulbs are all that sexy?  Go Chu!

So what does this have to do with Solar Training?  Everything!  Government says go renewable.  The steps are being taken, stimulus package, legislation, the writing has literally been prepared.  For Republicans like John Boehner of Ohio who says the administration hasn’t done enough to stimulate the creation of new jobs, a little patience first but seriously, look around.  How many new solar companies are popping up around you?  The financial climate is clearing up.  The policy requirements for new installers is clearing, the hurdle and barriers to entry are lowering as solar training alumni are entering the marketplace, becoming successful and sourcing their knowledge to the next level of installers.

It’s coming!  The Department of Interior is speeding the South West landscape through the process of becoming Solar Energy Studies areas (not the brightest idea to exploit uncharted territories when you can have solar roofs installed in every developed nook of the US) but Hey- It’s Jobs! 

Jobs are being created in infrastructure redevelopment at lightning speed.  Right now.  Do you know what you’re doing?  Are you ready for the wind energy revolution?  Solar Thermal is only .2% market penetration in the US.  You are correct if you comprehend that that means there’s 98.8% room for MARKET GROWTH in this country.  Do you know your solar thermal terminology?  Are you trained in Solar Thermal? (It’s my favorite, can’t heat my pool without it.)

So, like Gandhi said, “Be the Change you want to see in the world.”  You want new green jobs?  Start a business and hire other people to help.  Stop making excuses, get some solar training, and get to work.  There’s a lot to be done. 
Thanks Obama!

 –because I can’t post how I really feel on my work blog…—






Successful Oversight – The Plan January 29, 2009

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What’s the solution to distributing stimulus money and making sure people put it to good use?  Transparent oversight so that people who are interested in seeing where their tax dollars are going can check (Michael Moore, I’m talking to you).  Piece A- the Internet.

Piece B- Pull some Canadians from the Toronto banking community.  Let the new Canadian Golden Age be born.  Their economy hasn’t tanked (yet) because they haven’t gotten embroiled in American Bushy BS.  They stayed neutral.

Pick a few Canadian team leaders (appease the GOP, bring them in from Alberta if you’d like), let them bring their top teammates, and then employ all the desperate Obama-philes who toiled away through the campaign.  Obama organizers created the mental change in America that will allow growth to be possible again.  They could use Liveblog, internet, twitter, reality tv, get paid $48,000 for a one year contract and we’d be off to recovery.  I believe with the right organizers in place, America can get out of this in One Year.  We have the backbone, the organizing efficiency, and the worker potential to just do it.  But bring in the smart, savvy, honest Canadians.  They’ll stand on guard.

Canada and Better Place January 19, 2009

Posted by sunlightmyfire in business, development, economics, green living, renewable energy.
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Imagine  my surprise when I drove through paradise to arrive at the doorstep of Better Place.  Marie told me it was my enthusiasm that made me think that rolling hills covered in grass, nibbled by herds of horses lit by glowing sunshine seemed like paradise; I think it was the horses.

That very day I walked in, Shai Agassi and his team were in Toronto celebrating Ontario’s commitment to join the Better Place network.  Shucks, I was just in Toronto.

Congratulations Canada, you’re another name to add to the list of countries looking at the big idea.  Way to go! But I’m going to not freeze here in California, thank you very much.   I’ll try for an interview at Better Place sometime in the future, when everyone is back in paradise.

You Too Can Live in a SolarCity January 17, 2009

Posted by sunlightmyfire in business, development, economics, family, green living, renewable energy, solar energy.
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The goal is oil independence.  We all know that Julia Roberts has a solar installation on her roof, but what if Joe the Plumber wants to go green too.  Lyndon and Pete Rive decided that the residential sector, regulars like you and me, deserved the opportunity to join the green movement!   We the people haven”t had easy access to solar instillation in the past but we do now.   The two brothers have worked hard at making the entire process as simple and cost effective as possible.  Ever since Energy Independence Day, July 4th, 2006, when SolarCity launched, they have helped regular consumers and small commercial areas, go solar by streamlining the process from desire to delivery.  Questions about the tax breaks or the changing tariff situation?  No worries, SolarCity experts have it all covered, from financing, design, instillation and monitoring, they do it all for you!

The company itself definitely gets personal kudos and an endorsement from me.  It takes vision to perceive that the media landscape is changing and any member of the bloggosphere can attest to the difficulty in getting access to targets.  But with a decidedly open door policy,  Jonathan Bass, Director of Communications at Solar City spent a full fifteen minutes or more with me (new blood in the San Francisco area, blogger extraordinaire) answering my questions and explaining to me how SolarCity went from birth to the number one solar energy procurement company in the state of California in a year!

I needed to know how the company was organizing the community around solar energy.  Great ideas need to be shared and as I’ve mentioned before, a cohesive team moves a project along quickly.  Community organizing began with their aptly named “community program,” where geographic groups came together to Go Solar, obviously lowering costs with some collective leveraging.  Mountain View went first and now Marin County has a group contract with SolarCity.  The original concept of geographic community involvement evolved and now CitySolar partnered with the nonprofit, community advocacy group 1BOG (1 block off the grid), who will reach out to more residential communities pushing a move towards renewable energy.

Can I go solar?  Yup!  SolarCity has introduced some fantastic options to make solar energy more accessible to everyone.   With different financing, their most recent addition is a solar lease program.   So like your sweet Red Civic, you can lease your solar panel instillation and save money on your monthly energy bill at the same time- no giant up front costs involved at all.

Looking for energy on the cheap?  There’s a new gizmo that allows solar homes to monitor energy production and usage through graphs on the internet!  Right on your computer you can determine if you’re using lots of power at 3pm or 6 or whenever.  After figuring out why, maybe you can reduce your draw a little with some life changes.  The visual indicator enables recognition and change of energy usage habits, lowering costs even more!

Sales people, we all know, are on the front lines of any business’ development and growth (even if you have a great product, if no one buys it, no profit).  Daniel Bacon, a sales manager with three years experience, took some time to speak to me about the sales process.  He knows what’s up, if you have questions, definitely ask him.  He gets my vote: 888 765 2489 (ask for Dan, tell him the blogger sent you).

Got some time on your hands? Join the SolarCity!  Serious guys, the company’s coming to your state this year (well, 10 more states in addition to CA, AZ and the Portland area).  Look them up.  They’ve got renewable energy down.  And you can get a solar system up whenever you want.  Just call and find out how.

Go to gogreensolar.com! January 13, 2009

Posted by sunlightmyfire in business, development, green living, renewable energy, solar energy.
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O Mr Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me!!

I spent the afternoon with Deep Patel, founder and CEO of gogreensolar.com, seriously passionate about renewables and well on his way promoting the solar mission to needy Los Angelinos.  We had a great conversation over coffee and then we took a tour of the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poli in Pomona.

Deep knows his stuff and he’ll help you get started on your way to renewable energy bliss.  Along with anyone else in the business, he loves  individuals with the perfect client mix: business savvy matched with the desire to participate in the green revolution.   Don’t we all!

Deep is using community building to connect with individuals all over the world who are passionate about PV and solar technologies.  (Interesting enough, he uses the same community platform as Better Place.)  As his community grows, it’s apparent that intelligent, passionate power brokers are reaching out to talk and connect with him (his phone rings off the hook).  He’s getting the right mix of contacts for progressive development: business, activists and government.  He’s the hub of a movement, and if you’re interested in solar, get in with him.

a Green Middle East? January 9, 2009

Posted by sunlightmyfire in business, development, economics, family, green living, renewable energy, solar energy.
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It’s possible, though my Bengali IT friend working in Dubai admits that his adopted community doesn’t quite believe in the green movement.  I suppose that’s understandable when you can stick a straw in some sand and suck out the energy…  The United Arab Emirates is different.  Have you heard of Abu Dhabi’s sustainable city project Masdar (the Source in Arabic)?  The UAE’s in the process of developing “the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city powered entirely by renewable sources”  I want to go!  It’s seriously happening in the Middle East.  And it’s growing fast. (Need a change? Send in your CV.)

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed ah Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi gets today’s Visionary of the Day Award for enacting the vision of the UAE founding father HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a green strategist who wanted to change the world.   Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh chairs the project, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jabar is the official CEO of the multifaceted initiative, a “response to the need for sustainable solutions to meet the world’s future energy needs.”

If you’re in the area, Abu Dhabi’s hosting this year’s World Future Energy Summit from the 19th to the 21st of January.  Someone should go, take notes (video, interviews, photos etc) and post them so I can read and write reviews.  I’ll go if someone’d like to send me over!

I’m interested in who will will the Zayed Future Energy Prize ($1.5 million for idea development doled out by the Mubadala Development Company) to be awarded at the summit in Masdar.  This prize money will definitely lead to some significant green innovation.  The panel deciding the winner is chaired by the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. P. K. Pachauri who now heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.   Big brains working on this project, more info to come.

New Year New Green Money Making Idea January 5, 2009

Posted by sunlightmyfire in business, cars, development, economics, education, green living, public transporation, renewable energy, solar energy.
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Toronto,  giant city larger than Chicago by a  few million people, moves everyone around on a subway system which reminds me of the Loop.  But easier, convenient, fast, super clean and efficient.  Yes, I said clean, we’re talking about civil Canada here.  However, the traffic in TO reminds me of Los Angeles except the out the window visuals- it’s really cold, there’s snow and icey patches that lead to accidents… The difference is in the walkers, clad in professional pea coats (DC style), they stand in bar lines on Saturday nights concerned about freezing fingers, toes and noses… (Nothing compared to Montreal…)  Toronto has it all, positive banker mentality, operations vs. finance, American banks are in crap, job interviews, expensive condos, Canadian political discussions (coalition government?  must put it to a vote), savvy, a slightly slumping housing market (buy now, property is usually really expensive) and way too many signs telling people what not to do.  But it’s the most amazing, diverse, dynamic city.  You should go and I’ll hold my tongue and not bash it Montreal style (just like Michigan bashes Ohio, it’s our job).

Here are some fantastic money making green business ideas to start your 2009:

Carbon dioxide eating cement:  Supposedly cement manufacturing produces 5% of overall global carbon emissions .  This new cement idea is carbon negative, actually helping to reduce the overall carbon dioxide levels in the air by eating it.  Delicious, thank you British engineers!

MIT freshman Ben Gulak, from Toronto interestingly enough, invented the UNO at MIT.  Kind of a motorcycle but electric and uses two wheels side by side instead of front and back.  Very very cool Ben.

Toyota and a solar powered green car.  Enough $aid.  And finally,  news for the province of Bihar in India (think, poor, rural communities, family farming, many Biharis leave for Nepal and other provinces to work as help… but the Buddha hung out there so it’s an interesting place to visit).  Manoj Sinha and Charles Ransler teamed up with another Bihari named Gyanesh Pandey (Ganesh- elephant headed God of luck, money and travelers) and together they’ve developed a method that uses agricultrual waste to produce electricity.  300-500 houses get power for 8 to 10 hours a day based on their portable looking system.  Good one guys!!

The Husk Power System, currently incubated in the Uof Texas business development center in Austin (Darden School of Business), creates small-scale power systems, developed for certain segments of society, but will help us all.  Find out more, invest, help bring us into the future.

Happy New Year everyone!

I’m going going back back to Cali Cali… – BIG

Light Rail Hurray! December 30, 2008

Posted by sunlightmyfire in business, cars, development, economics, family, green living, public transporation.
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Not enough has been made of Phoenix’s BRAND NEW downtown light rail system.  America -this is huge!!  People moving collectively, cheaply, efficiently through a downtown metropolitan space.  This is the future happening today.  The system connects Tempe and Mesa, both beautiful places to live, go to school, and hit the dirt biking trails through the desert. I want everyone to read about it.

One concern is waiting in 109 degree weather.  Two suggestions, urban gardens near the stops or water misters of some sort…  Although water conservation has to be figured into the equation, there are two expandable ideas.

Go Phoenix!

Hammer Out Passive Houses December 30, 2008

Posted by sunlightmyfire in business, cars, development, economics, family, green living, politics, renewable energy.
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It seems intelligent people are interested in passive housing construction.  (Rosenthal’s article maintains its top spot on most emailed New York Times article- day 4?)  Profit driven individuals who recognize good ideas when they’re shoved in front of their face seem very interested in passive houses.  Way to be among the visionary elite about to seize the reigns and create change for good as soon as Obama and his cusper crew enter the oval and the shoe dodging dingo slinks into oblivion.

As design teams and construction companies scramble to get LEED certified , becoming leaders in energy and environmental design, house construction halts here at home due to our current financial crisis.  But some of the millennials are coming up and thinking about starter houses.  Think about the near future consumers- who value high mpg vehicles (useful during ice storms) and aren’t lulled into tryptophan unconscious by the convenient lowering of gas prices in the winter just as house heating bills skyrocket.  (Just wait till next summer all you new truck drivers… SUV sales this December will outnumber small car sales for the first time in a while…)

My advice- study hard and produce for me.  I am your target market.  An intelligent, up and comming owner who is not quite there yet but will be as soon as you all get your products figured out and produced.  I’m not buying until the green good stuff comes out anyway.

Better Place’s electric car network will test in Israel. Perhaps passive houses could test in Gaza since there’s a whole area that needs to be reconstructed…  Talk about an environmentally savvy peace offering.  (German construction in Gaza, what a concept.)  In fact, teach citizens of Gaza LEED construction techniques and send them out to do their own reconstruction (teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life).  Pride in reconstruction might keep everyone’s minds off of rockets for a few minutes.

As a side note, I’m a firm believer in the power of the reality tv show.  If we made the whole reconstruction transparent and had the world vote on the best construction designs,  keep the entire process open to observation and critique. It’ll create jobs.

Learn from Germany- Passive Housing Construction December 28, 2008

Posted by sunlightmyfire in business, development, economics, green living, politics, renewable energy, solar energy.
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Super sales people become great by stealing.  Stealing the greatest, most profitable ideas and executing on them immediately to change, enhance, our own profit margin in whatever sales game we’ve got going.  Not a difficult concept and it makes a lot of sense – find out who is doing what better and then do it too.  If you get in on it fast enough, the saturation point will be a delayed concern.  And Germany seems to have all the best ideas at the moment.  Simplified solar lending, feed in tariffs, since 2004 Germany has endorsed solar energy as the new way and society’s climbing on board, and Italians and Spanish citizens are coming along, following their lead.  America woke up from Bush inspired dormancy, Berkeley First, the state of Connecticut and according to IREC, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (celebrating 26 years, sends out emails if you want to update yourself firsthand), other states are coming along with market provisions for greater renewable energy endeavors here in the US. Slow progress but thankfully, we’re coming along.  Obama and his ‘cusper’ crew are going to show us the way and if we’re smart, we’ll all move forward, fast, thanks to their visionary leadership.

Back to Germany, because they’ve been taking action and leading the pack.  Elizabeth Rosenthal’s article on the New York Times (she is decidedly green and a great writer) put out a fantastic piece on passive houses.  Passive housing construction really is the ultimate in green development as it uses minimal energy input to maintain perfect indoor temperatures no matter the weather.  (The new renewable energy movement would be the penultimate solution, needing no energy for daily life being and even greater achievement.)  The first physicist to develop the idea of warm houses without energy demand was Wolfgang Feist.  As a German intellectual, he wrote in German, preventing **Americans** from being included in the dialog.  Wolfgang  Hasper of the Passivhaus Institut is publicizing the idea with his website, although written in German, has buttons for  English and French translations of this brilliance.  The idea is an airtight house with mechanical ventilation to create air flow in the home without heating or cooling, breezes or air recirculation resulting in 80% less energy consumption for comfortable living.  Supposedly, the ventilation system is Swedish (where old people use kick sleds to carry their groceries over ice and snow to and from their walk to the markets and the sun shines infrequently in winter yet they have a huge FREE solar engineering school in Borlange).  Go Sweden!

Now let’s talk visionaries.  Nabih Tahan brings passive housing construction to the US from Europe and sets up shop where?  Berkeley.  Go California.  For more information, check out any of these links. Green ideas are a go.  Better to inform yourself on next wave ideas than check out Obama without his shirt (hot).  If the media stays focused, we can all move forward together.

**What do you call a person who speaks three languages?  Trilingual. (A regular Montrealer…)

**What do you call a person who speaks two languages?  Bilingual.

**What do you call a person who speaks one language?  You guessed it.  American.