Category Archives: GoGreen 2012 Austin

On Twitter? Win 2 Tickets To GoGreen ’12 Austin – Wednesday, April 4!

If you live in Austin and you’re keen on attending GoGreen next Wednesday , we’ve got a great contest going on this week! We’re giving away two tickets to GoGreen ’12 Austin via our Twitter (@GoGreenConf).

The rules are simple:

  1. Tweet the session you’re most excited to attend at GoGreen ’12 Austin to your followers. Here’s our program and if you click on the session titles, you can view descriptions for each panel.
  2. Remember to use the hashtag #GoGreenAUS in your tweet, so we can track your entry.
  3. Include a link to the GoGreen Austin Website so your friends can check out this year’s killer program as well.
  4. Sit back & relax. You’re entered to win two tickets to GoGreen ’12 Austin — one for you and one for a friend/colleague of your choice!
  5. Check your Twitter account on Friday, March 30. We’ll be announcing the winner via Twitter and you’ll have a limited time to respond and claim your tickets before we pass them on to someone else.

We’ll see you next Wednesday for a jam-packed day of sustainability for business at GoGreen ’12 Austin. If you want to purchase tickets today, you can do so here. Remember to use the code “SOCIALMEDIA” to score a $25 discount exclusive to our social media and blog fans!

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GoGreen ’12 Austin Green Line Series: Iga Hallberg on The Next Frontiers of Clean Tech

The clean tech industry is growing up and like any other, maturity is not coming without growing pains. But in Austin, clean tech has helped keep the economy booming despite a global recession and is a solid contributer to the city’s growing reputation as a international hub of innovation. In this Green Line Series interview, clean tech expert, Iga Hallberg, gives us the run down on the industry’s next frontiers and the impact it is poised to make on global energy markets.

GoGreen Conference: The clean tech industry has seen its ups and downs of late. It’s been the darling of the green jobs movement and it’s been at the heart of several major controversies over taxes, subsidies and incentives, and international accusations of bad sportsmanship — despite all of that, what kind of real, progressive impact has clean tech made on the energy and tech industries as a whole in the past five years?

Iga Hallberg: I think we need to look at the clean tech industry as a system and consider both the generation and conservation of energy on assessing the impact of clean tech on our communities and economy. According to Bloomberg Energy Finance, over $1 trillion has been made in investments into renewable energy since 2004. The renewable energy generation industry has grown very rapidly in the past few years with global renewables power capacity (minus hydro) at over 300GW currently.

We have seen similar progress on the efficiency side and huge investments in technologies in smart lighting, thermostats, appliances, building materials and standards. It is fascinating to see the different types of programs that are being supported in different regions globally and as we would expect, those programs typically fit the resources available in those areas.

For example, we have utility scale solar plants being built in the Southwest, while rooftop systems are more prolific in urban areas in California and the Northeast. Likewise, many private homes and commercial customers have taken advantage of new more efficient lighting technology. Today, the German solar industry still employs hundreds of engineers and workers developing technology throughout the whole value chain despite the fact that much of the panel manufacturing has moved to China recently.

The industry is growing globally and continuing to invest even in a soft economy making renewable energy more cost effective and available to many more developing countries than even three years ago.

GG: Has the industry’s image been damaged by the controversies surrounding its growth? Do you see a reframing of the story as necessary to securing the industry’s future success in the States? If so, what is the story that needs to be told?

IH: This is a very young industry which will go through maturing cycles like any other. A lot of the policy and incentives have been offered to support initial growth and are designed to be reduced and ultimately taken away. The industry MUST learn to sustain itself through rapid scale and simultaneous cost reduction in order to be competitive on a global basis. That goes for solar power, as well as things like better insulating windows for homes. We have recently seen similar cycles in the semiconductor and display industry in the 1980s and 90s and the explosion of personal electronics in the past 10 years with rapid globalization of products and applications. Whole industries have been developed to support our use of our favorite communications devices.

We have also had a number of public failures and one wonders about motivations for their massive publicity, but those of us in the industry watching the rise and fall of certain technologies and services recognize that it is a natural process of industry maturity. We all can point to different technologies that have had great  Continue reading

GoGreen ’12 Austin Green Line Series: Seton Healthcare Family’s Trennis Jones on Sustainability’s Growing Business Case in Healthcare

Healthcare organizations account for four percent of the nation’s billable square footage, yet they consume more than eight percent of the nation’s energy annually. And their costs, along with demand, are sky rocketing as baby boomers age and key resources (oil, water, etc.) grow scarce. Sustainability, it would seem, is on the mind of every hospital executive in America. And if it’s not, it should be. In this installment of the Green Line Series, Trennis Jones, Senior Vice President at Seton Healthcare Family, gives us the big picture breakdown for sustainability’s business case in healthcare.

GoGreen Conference: Let’s start big picture. This is a transformative time for healthcare — lots of questions are being asked on how it can improve, how it can increase the quality of care and how it can be more financially efficient. From your perspective, what is the overarching vision in your industry for how sustainability can make an impact on what you do?

Trennis Jones: If you look at hospitals alone — we use about 836 trillion BTUs of energy annually. We produce a little over 30 pounds of CO2 emissions per square foot — broken down, that is more than 2.5 times the energy intensity in carbon dioxide emissions for commercial office buildings. So, if U.S. hospitals spend over $5 billion annually on energy ­­ — often equaling one to three percent of a typical operating budget — that works out to about fifteen percent of the profits. That’s a big chunk.

Then you have in-patient facilities, which use an average of 240,000 BTUs per square foot. Hospitals account for four percent of the national billing square footage, but we account for eight percent of national energy consumption on average. That four percent of difference represents a big opportunity for us. The question is:  How do we capitalize on that and not lose the sight of the fact that our number one goal is to care for our patients better?

Big picture for us involves looking at how we can construct and renovate better. How can we construct that building going up differently than we would have in the past in order to be greener and more efficient? We recently finished construction on Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin. That building was constructed with the vision of it being a “green hospital.” In fact, it was the first LEED platinum hospital in the world. And even though we just closed out on the main building, we are adding on a new unit that will feature at a 20-kilowatt photovoltaic array for the solar water heating system that will reduce energy consumption for that unit by three percent. With the future in mind, we are also installing three electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for patients who are driving progress by owning an EV.

GG: Obviously these initiatives are already having an effect on Seton’s bottom-line. Do you feel sustainability can directly affect the quality of patient care as well?

Continue reading

Topic DrillDown: How to Become a Green Business in Austin

Image Credit: City of Austin

If you live in the City of Austin, Texas and you want to run a green business—you’re in luck. Not only does the City support and encourage its hometown organizations (over 80% of which are micro-businesses; having 20 employees or less) to embed sustainability into their values and operations, but it provides coordinated programs to make the process easier, faster and the results more impactful. At this year’s GoGreen Austin event, the City will be hosting a special session called How to Become a Green Business:  An A – Z Guide. This session, in particular, will be a great opportunity to pair the strategic and tactical advice learned throughout the day at GoGreen with concrete information about the real-world resources available in the Austin area. Austin’s own Chief Sustainability Officer, Lucia Athens, will moderate a panel of local business leaders who have worked with the City to lead their companies through the adoption of greener values and programs. The session will focus on the following aspects of greening your organization:

  • Energy Efficiency (and available upgrade incentives)
  • Water Management
  • Zero Waste Strategies
  • Commuting Solutions
  • Carbon Footprint Reduction

This session will also speak to a new understanding of what sustainability means for the Austin Community. The City’s Office of Sustainability has outlined a definition  that shows the integrated nature of how it applies to all aspects of doing business and building a thriving, prosperous community.

Sustainability means finding a balance among three sets of goals: 1) Prosperity and jobs, 2) conservation and the environment, and 3) community health, equity and cultural vitality. It means taking positive, proactive steps to protect quality of life now, and for future generations. — Office of Sustainability, City of Austin

Image Credit: Office of Sustainability, City of Austin

Learn more about the City of Austin’s Green Business Leaders program at their website. To view all GoGreen ’12 Austin sessions and register for the event, Wednesday, April 4, visit austin.gogreenconference.net.