When the name of the Energy, Water & Environment Committee was changed to the Environmental Sustainability Council, the thought was to broaden the Chamber’s vision of how to promote economic growth through sustainable, pro-jobs energy and environmental policies. In 2011, in addition to tackling the traditional topics of environmental regulations, energy supplies and reliable water sources, the Council partnered with Opportunity Green to design panels that creatively focus on where green and clean innovation is headed.
Last Friday was the second such event- Building for the Future: Benefits, Challenges and Financing Models for Net Zero Commercial Buildings. Moderated by Jeff Gould, a senior associate at Collier’s International, the panel featured Luis Bobadilla, the President & co-founder of SolaDyne Capital, Inc., Lauren Gropper, sustainability consultant with Gensler, and Gerry McCaughey, the CEO of Infineco, LLC. They started off with a discussion acknowledging that though “net-zero” is the goal, we aren’t there today. Barriers to entry include cost and a struggle to accurately benchmark performance and achieve stakeholder buy-in.
The speakers also touched upon issues with the LEED certification program, the juxtaposition of energy efficient buildings still getting energy from dirty sources, and whether incentives were an appropriate mechanism to spur change. The liveliest part of the meeting occurred when the panel and attendees engaged in a debate on government mandates and whether energy efficient standards should just be written into law like ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. Gerry talked about his experience with European models, where elected officials were able to “lay out a roadmap that allowed companies assurance,” while others referenced the political realities of American governance.
The Chamber thanks all the panelists for leading a great discussion. And a special thank you to the representative from the German consulate, who reminded us all that maybe Angelenos could be a bit better on conserving heating and cooling energy since we are lucky enough to live in one of the best climates in the world.
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