Wells Fargo’s Lofty Green Economy Goals: $30+ Billion for Renewable Energy, Community Environmental Initiatives


Photo courtesy Wells Fargo

 

Wells Fargo announced the setting of some lofty 2020 “green” goals last week, testament to financial industry players’ growing commitments to financing renewable energy, clean technology and environmental initiatives. The San Francisco banking and financial services group April 23 announced that, by 2020, it intends to make $30 billion in “green economy” loans and investments, $100 million in community grants for grassroots environmental initiatives and an increasing of the group’s own energy efficiency by 40%.

“Our commitment to the environment reflects our belief that Wells Fargo’s responsibility as a corporation goes beyond its mission of helping customers succeed financially. We also have a major role to play in promoting the long-term economic prosperity and quality of life of the communities we serve,” said Chairman, President and CEO John Stumpf. “By bringing our talents and resources to these efforts, we seek to work jointly with businesses and communities in protecting and preserving this planet and its precious resources for future generations.”

The results of its own consumer research played a big role in management formulating its green economy lending and investment and community-focused environmental initiatives. “Our research shows more than 80 percent of our consumers think environmental issues are important,” said Mary Wenzel, Wells Fargo’s director of Environmental Affairs.

“We share their values and concerns and are acting on them through a broad-based, financially powerful approach to the environmental opportunities and needs we see on the horizon. We hope to demonstrate that progress for Wells Fargo and for the communities we serve does not have to come at the expense of the planet we share.”

Wells Fargo’s “comprehensive commitment to investing in environmental solutions for stronger communities” is focused on these areas:

  • Accelerating the transition to a “greener” economy: $30 billion in loans and investments to promote a “greener economy,” including wind and solar energy, clean technologies, energy efficient buildings, environmental innovation, and environmentally responsible public financing
  • An approach to environmental and social risk management focused on responsible ways of doing business together with our business customers
  • Engage its 70 million customers through marketing and communications aimed at raising awareness about products and services that can help customers succeed financially as well as protect the environment – e.g. promotions of paperless banking services and financing for energy efficient home improvements
  • Encouraging stronger and more sustainable communities: $100 million in community grants and increased volunteerism for grassroots environmental initiatives, such as programs that bring people together to plant and care for city trees and open spaces. Grants also support “innovation” led by nonprofits and universities aimed at promoting clean technology and breaking down barriers to a “greener” economy
  • Target $1 billion for low- to moderate-income communities to prove the added value of community investments with environmental benefits
  • Reducing the environmental impact of Wells Fargo’s operations: Create a culture of sustainability by increasing team member environmental stewardship in our communities, at work and in our daily lives
  • Achieve measurable environmental performance goals by 2020: 40% increase in energy efficiency, 65% waste diversion rate, 35% reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions below 2008 levels, 35% of buildings will achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification,
  • Engage suppliers to enhance its environmental performance through increased accountability and transparency in its supply chain

More information is available on the Wells Fargo Environmental Forum.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1am20)

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Clean Energy Crowdfunding — Crowdfunding Wind & Solar Projects in the UK

clean energy crowdfunding

Community-funded or crowdfunded wind and solar power is now being encouraged in the UK by renewable energy networking site EnergyShare, which is offering up £5,000 each for the first 5 renewable energy projects that also raise £5,000 on their own via the crowdfunding website. Another company,Abundance Energy, is also trying to get individuals and businesses to help fund and gain from clean energy projects, encouraging them to invest as little as £5 in wind turbines for an upcoming project. Is crowdfunding about to sweep into the clean energy sector?

This is similar to what Solar Mosaic is doing in the US and what the Solar Schools program is doing for schools across the UK, but it is still a rather quiet trend, and the question is, will it take off? I certainly think it will. There is something very uplifting and fun about crowdfunding. And renewable energy is one of the most-liked, most-supported things on the planet. Combine the two and you allow people to ‘go solar’ or ‘go wind’ in steps and in cooperation with others, for a common good (what renewable energy is all about). If you’re also offered nice returns on investment, as it seems Abundance Energy is offering, what’s not to love?

Real quickly, let’s run down what these two new options entail (since I’ve already covered Solar Mosaic and Solar Schools a bit).

EnergyShare

As stated above, EnergyShare is offering matching funds to early crowdfunders of solar or wind power projects. This initiative was just launched on April 12.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for community energy projects to increase their funding support by unlocking the power of the local community on peoplefund.it,” said Nick Underhill, managing director of Keo Film’s digital division. ”We are looking forward to seeing communities really get behind some great projects.”

EnergyShare and peoplefund.it are owned by Keo films, and as far as I can tell, they seem to just really be behind crowdfunding and renewable energy (while making a living off it themselves, I imagine).

Abundance Energy

Abundance Energy’s first project is an effort to raise £1.3 million for a Resilient Energy wind turbine in the Forest of Dean. “Abundance will raise the money by offering debentures – a type of bond issued by an individual project. In return, the project commits to pay the member a share of the profits it makes generating green energy,” Business Green writes.

Again, it looks like an effort to find creative funding for clean energy projects while also providing more people with the chance to prosper from clean energy investment. Here are some more details.

The platform is aimed at individuals who are unable to install their own onsite wind turbines or solar panels but want to benefit from the returns of green energy projects.

It will also be open to businesses, pension schemes, charities and other organisations. The original investment is paid back over the lifetime of the debenture, or as a lump sum at maturity.

Resilient Energy’s project already has planning permission for a 500-800kW turbine it intends to install this year. Investments can range from £5 to £50,000 and Abundance has said it expects investors to get a rate of return of between 6.4 and 8.5 per cent during the lifetime of the project.

Debentures will be issued on a first come, first served basis, and the offer will close once the target amount is reached. Early bird discounts will also be offered to people from the Forest of Dean or nearby area.

The company aims to raise £250m of investment over the next five years and already has “several million pounds” of renewable energy projects planned for its first year.

This is exciting stuff, in my opinion — skeptics amongst you, am I missing something or is this 100% good news?

If I’m not off my rocker and this really is as cool as it looks, I certainly hope more folks will pioneer clean energy crowdfunding in the U.S. soon.

Image Source: Abundance Energy

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/19PQI)

Balfour Beatty Construction Delivers Two LEED® Platinum Buildings at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

(3BL Media) San Diego – April 10, 2012 – Balfour Beatty Construction announced today that the Wounded Warrior Headquarters and Hope and Care Center at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., received a LEED® Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

Construction on the two-building project began in April 2010 and completed in October 2011.  The facility serves as the West Coast headquarters for the Marine’s Wounded Warrior program.

The Hope and Care Center is 30,995 square feet and includes a resource and recovery center, weight training center, outdoor amphitheater, therapeutic gardens, indoor therapy pool, outdoor lap pool, climbing wall and an 1/8 mile covered track. It also includes space for counseling, employment support, financial management, community orientation, training, and outreach programs.

The headquarters administration and multi-purpose facility includes 9,354 square feet of space for administration and operations as well as multi-purpose space for a visitor waiting area and conference rooms. In addition, the offices are comprised of flexible components, easily modifiable for future office needs

Both facilities are 100% ADA-compliant and are designed to complement the community atmosphere created by the nearby Wounded Warrior Barracks, also completed by Balfour Beatty Construction in 2010.  That facility received the first-ever LEED Platinum certification for a U.S. Navy and/or U.S. Marine Corps project worldwide.

“Our primary focus was to create a holistic, integrated design process which provided the highest level of sustainable quality and a healing environment to the wounded warriors,” said Sean Hulen, Balfour Beatty Construction vice president and project executive. “Combined with a design-build delivery method, the use of Building Information Modeling, or BIM, enhanced the LEED process by allowing the project team to quantify materials, minimize contingencies, and reduce waste generated on site.”

“Both facilities far exceeded the minimum amount of points to achieve LEED Platinum,” said Eric Stenman, Regional CEO for Balfour Beatty Construction. “I’m proud of our team’s commitment to deliver high performance buildings at the highest level of sustainability possible for the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base,” Stenman added.

The project’s sustainable design solutions are expected to reduce water usage by more than 84,000 gallons per year, and provide over $52,000 in annual energy savings, combined for both buildings.

The Wounded Warrior facilities were designed by architect Cass, Sowatsky, Chapman & Associates of San Diego. Balfour Beatty Construction staff working on the project included Sean Hulen, vice president; Dave Christensen, general superintendent; Sean Phillips, superintendent; Charles McArthur, senior project manager; Matt Wathen, project engineer; Joseph Mansour, quality control manager and Don Sutton, site safety health officer.

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About Balfour Beatty Construction
A leader in the U.S. commercial construction industry, Balfour Beatty Construction provides general contracting, at-risk construction management, and design-build services through more than 2,400 professionals nationwide. The company has been cited as a Top 10 Green Builder by Engineering-News Record for the past two years, and as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For® by FORTUNE magazine for three years in a row. The company is part of London-based Balfour Beatty plc, a global leader in professional services, construction services, support services, and infrastructure investment, with more than $18 billion in annual revenues. To learn more about the company and its subsidiary—Howard S. Wright—visit balfourbeattyus.com.

About Wounded Warrior Battalion West
Wounded Warrior Battalion West provides assistance to wounded, injured, and ill Marines and Sailors and their family members throughout the phases of recovery. More information is available at www.bnwest.woundedwarriorregiment.org.

 Source= 3bl Media

Building Codes: Simple Energy Savings

In energy policy, lawmakers often prefer carrots to sticks because it minimizes the opposition. But mandatory rules, like building energy codes, can save energy and pay back several times over during the useful life of buildings.

The state of Illinois is poised to become a regional leader by adopting the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), an example of small-seeming rules with big impact. For example, 40% of primary energy consumption in the U.S. is in buildings, along with about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, adopting the 2012 IECC (as Illinois is doing), with energy efficiency standards 28% stronger than the 2006 code, can make a big dent in carbon emissions.

The financial savings can add up, as well. The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated in 2005 that homeowners in the Midwest spent an average of $1,800 per year on household energy use. Assuming states had already adopted the 2006 IECC for the previous expenditure figure, the implementation of the 2012 code could save families $500 per year.

Builders often fight codes, and the ones in Illinois are no different, claiming the cost of the improvements will add $5,000 to the cost of a new home. But in fact, the increased cost of a home built to the 2012 code in Illinois will increase the home’s cost by $1500 (~$6 a month) but save $33 per month in energy costs.

In other words, improved energy efficiency in building codes saves homeowners from
day 1.

The U.S. Department of Energy supplies maps depicting the current status of state building codes — its residential map is shown below (hold ‘ctrl’ or ‘command’ and click the ‘+’ button to make larger).

Already, 30 states have adopted the 2009 IECC or better, and interestingly, the pattern does not follow traditional red-blue state political divisions.

Of course, a code is only as good as compliance — enforced by municipal government — and the Alliance to Save Energy suggests that it can be spotty. Anyone know of good studies of code compliance?

Source: This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (check out our new website!).

 

NYC to Build Wind and Solar Farm on Old Dump Site

Who would know that an old garbage dump at Staten Island in New York City would house 20 MW of renewable power? If they succeed with their plans, “Fresh Kills landfill” will be transformed into a combined solar and wind farm that could generate enough electricity to power 6,000 average American households!

The old landfill has serviced the city for 53 years, and taken care of a whopping two billion tons of thrash, before closing early in 2011.

Fresh Kills Landfill

Soliciting Bids

NYC says it has 75 acres that are available for lease, and it is currently soliciting bids to see who’s qualified for the job. It will be interesting to see what the bids end at — the main motivator for the companies to be involved is cost-competitive electricity from solar and wind power.

The Future Looks Green

Last week, Deputy Mayor Holloway stated the following about the project:

“New York City needs energy to keep it running, and we want that power to be reliable, clean, and affordable. Renewable energy is the most sustainable kind, and under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership we’re maximizing the use of City assets to develop as much capacity as possible.”

Financial support from the government and states is exactly what we need to push renewable energy forward. This is what has made the solar power industry in Germany triumph, resulting in the country becoming the largest shareholder of the world’s PV solar cells. Even with the recent proposal of cutting subsides as much as 30%, German energy policies could make solar in America a lot more affordable.

We sure hope that NYC’s renewable energy plans go through as dreamed. This would mean a doubling of the city’s renewable power capacity, and could be the catalyst for similar projects in the future.

It sure will be interesting to see how the project develops. In the meantime, feel free to comment below with what you think about NYC’s plans.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/17YZH)

Massive Solar Power Deal Being Made in San Antonio

“In a unique, first-of-its kind generation-to-manufacturing proposal, CPS Energy is entering into negotiations for a power purchase agreement from one of the nation’s largest solar projects,” CPS Energy wrote yesterday. “The project will mean new corporate headquarters and U.S. manufacturing operations for global companies in San Antonio.”

The solar project, offered by OCI Solar Power, is expected to:

  • have up to 400 megawatts (MW) of power capacity (which will be bought through a 25-year purchased power agreement)
  • create over 800 professional and technical jobs
  • result in over $1 billion of construction investment

Multiple solar manufacturing facilities in the San Antonio area to produce proven components of solar power plants” under the agreement.

“This proposal would diversify our energy sources in a manner that makes good business sense and meets our objectives. Our goal is to always provide our ratepayers safe, reliable and affordable energy, and wherever possible, bring additional value to our community,” said CPS Energy’s President and CEO Doyle Beneby (a top utility company CEO when it comes to solar). “As San Antonio becomes a central hub for solar development in the U.S., there is also a beneficial opportunity for other Texas based municipal utilities to achieve their renewable energy goals by becoming sites for parts of the project.”

The solar project is supposed to be built in phases over the next 5 years.

“In just a few short years, this initiative could help CPS Energy achieve our Vision 2020 goal of attaining 20 percent or 1,500 MW of renewable resources by the end of the decade. It’s a phenomenal opportunity that propels this utility to a leadership position for both wind and solar energy,” stated CPS Energy Board Chair Derrick Howard.

With this company relocating its headquarters to San Antonio due to CPS Energy’s work, the utility has now brought 7 clean energy companies to the area. The utility announced last June that it intends to become “a New Energy Economy hub” — looks like it is sincere about that.

Here’s a list of some of CPS Energy’s additional clean energy stats:

  • 14-MW Blue Wing solar farm launched in 2009, largest solar project in Texas
  • 30 MW more under contract with Sun Edison
  • 1059 MW of wind energy under contract

Source: CPS Energy | Blue Wind Solar Project image via CPS Energy YouTube video

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/15duk)