Nigel Hughes is a San Francisco based consultant who has held a variety of corporate and consulting positions in the commercial real estate industry. Nigel’s real estate experience extends fifteen years and encompasses financial analysis, market studies and business process engineering. Nigel is a LEED Accredited Professional and advises clients on issues related to green leasing, sustainability reporting and other aspects of green building and sustainability. He also has extensive international expertise, having lived and worked in the United States, Australia and the UK. Currently, Nigel lives with his family in Marin County, California, and is a member of Navigant Consulting’s real estate practice.
Lorraine White is a Senior Energy Specialist at the California Energy Commission and is the Commission’s expert on the relationship between the water and energy sectors. She represents the Commission as a member of DWR’s 2009 State Water Plan Update Steering Committee and as a member of the Water-Energy Subgroup to the Governor’s Climate Action Team.
As program manager, she recently completed the California Energy Commission’s Integrated Energy Policy Report proceeding, producing the state’s primary energy policy document. Since joining the Energy Commission in 1992, Ms. White has held positions as a water resource analyst and project manager in the Energy Commission’s power plant siting regulatory program, energy program and policy analyst, and energy policy advisor to former Chairman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel. Previously she was a legislative analyst for California Assemblywoman Marguerite Archie-Hudson and Assemblyman Phil Isenberg.
Ms. White holds a BS in Biochemistry from University of California at Davis and was a California Assembly Fellow.
Laurie Park, a member of the California Sustainability Alliance’s Steering Committee, is a senior consultant with GEI Consultants and has more than 25 years of experience in the planning and management of energy and water resources and infrastructure. Prior to joining GEI, Laurie led several sustainability initiatives as a Director with Navigant Consulting. A recognized leader in the emerging area of water-energy, Laurie previously managed San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy Water and Power division. Laurie is President and founder of The Public Sustainability Partnership, a non-profit corporation dedicated to accelerating sustainability adoption, and President of the Founding Board of the Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment.
Amul Sathe is a Managing Consultant in the Energy Efficiency & Sustainability Strategies group of Navigant Consulting’s Energy Practice. His work has focused on the water-energy nexus, including serving as principal investigator for two studies for the CPUC on the embedded energy in water in the state of California. Mr. Sathe brings a strong understanding of the energy use by water supply, conveyance, treatment, distribution, and wastewater infrastructure. He also focuses on analyzing technologies and strategies to improve utility energy efficiency programs.
Prior to joining Navigant Consulting, Mr. Sathe was a summer fellow with the Natural Resources Defense Council and intern at the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University where he researched the economics of carbon abatement options for California.
Approximately half of all residential water use in California is for outdoor purposes—and, of that, the majority is used for watering lawns and gardens. In total approximately 1,300,000 acre feet of water is used for watering lawns and gardens; enough to cover the entire County of Los Angeles with six inches of water. Producing, transporting, treating and delivering that water requires a significant amount of energy. In a state that had below-normal precipitation in 8 of the last 10 years (including a 3-year drought), can using such significant amounts of water (and related energy) in this manner be considered sustainable?
New technologies and approaches allow for greater efficiency of outdoor irrigation. Options range from high efficiency nozzle replacements on sprinklers to weather sensing irrigation controllers. Meanwhile, some have suggested outright replacement of grass with synthetic turf. However, one option stands out for not only reducing water use but also adding to the property values of California homes, while at the same time reducing ocean pollution: ocean friendly gardens (sometimes referred to as xeriscaping).
Ocean friendly gardens utilize drought resistant California native plants in plots that are designed to capture home stormwater runoff. They require little, if any, irrigation. Water is supplied to the gardens by rerouting downspouts that would normally send rainwater to the streets or sewer systems—water that would otherwise wash pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and oil into California’s rivers and ultimately pollute our oceans and beaches. Ocean friendly gardens are specially designed to retain the influx of storm water and achieve near-zero runoff. Contours and dry creek beds built into the landscapes retain water, allowing it to percolate into the ground.
An increased number of these gardens and landscapes would help alleviate water supply stresses and flash flooding problems in Southern California. A significant portion of Southern California’s water supply, imported from 450 miles away at a very high cost, has been under stress in recent years due to shortages. Meanwhile, in many Southern California urban areas, elaborate storm drain systems are used to drain any rainfall cities do receive into the ocean. During large storms, these drainage systems can be overwhelmed, resulting in flash floods. During the heavy rains this past December, for example, the volume of water washed off of Los Angeles’ streets and into the ocean was enough to supply water to 130,000 Southern California homes for a year. Using this local source would help alleviate local water supply problems while decreasing the amount of pollution washed out to sea.
While ocean friendly gardens are a great benefit to homeowners, water utilities, and the environment, they are still few in number. Many water agencies support ocean friendly gardening, offering multiple resources to their customers. These include “Cash for Grass” incentives as well as demonstration gardens. However, barriers to adoption still exist, including a lack of awareness of ocean friendly garden design, a lack of understanding of the significant amount of water currently used to irrigate lawns and gardens, and a lack of understanding of the cost of current watering practices (ranging from $200 to $400 per year for a typical house). Innovative community outreach programs are needed to shift California’s outdoor landscaping paradigm.
Organizations like the Green Gardens Group – which is currently partnering with the Surfrider Foundation – have facilitated hands on workshops for local communities to spread the word about ocean friendly gardening in Southern California. These workshops are typically held at local homes where volunteers (usually friends and neighbors of the homeowner) are taught how to evaluate the home’s existing landscape and convert it into an ocean friendly garden. The volunteers then return to the same location one month later to construct the newly designed garden. The result: a garden that not only reduces water use by 60-80%, but also educates and empowers the local community. Volunteers leave with the knowledge necessary to design and build their own ocean friendly gardens.
This community involvement model is not new. The Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) organizes “barn raisings” in Cambridge, MA where a similar approach is used to teach homeowners how to weatherize their homes in order to make them more energy efficient.
These gatherings are more like a block party than a lecture or work camp. Food and drink are aplenty, neighbors meet and help each other, and new friendships are formed. Often when the work is complete, there is live music to entertain the volunteers. If saving water and energy is as easy as inviting your friends and neighbors over for a party, why aren’t we all doing it?
The nation’s water and energy resources are inextricably entwined. Significant energy is used by water infrastructure to pump, treat, transport, heat, cool, and recycle water. At the same time, a significant amount of water is also required to produce electricity.
Growing population is increasing the demand for water and the energy needed to deliver and treat it. Meanwhile, climate change threatens to adversely affect existing water resources, demanding new methods of mitigation and adaptation. Without advances in technology, water-related energy use is likely to grow significantly. This growth will be caused by increasing water conveyance and treatment requirements.
With the assistance of its Water-Energy Advisory Committee, the Alliance is exploring opportunities for optimizing the state’s vital water and energy resources on a fully integrated basis and is documenting strategies for water agencies to reduce their own energy use and supply more sustainable water. As part this effort the Alliance issued its study of “The Role of Recycled Water in Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Reduction” in May 2008. That study concluded that substantial water, energy and environmental benefits were achievable by accelerating development and use of recycled water in Southern California.
To ensure a truly sustainable future for California, we must better understand the water-energy nexus and implement mutually beneficial strategies to improve the sustainable development and use of water and energy resources.
Local governments wield significant influence and authority that can drive environmental sustainability within their jurisdictions. In addition to moderating their own resource and operational decisions, local governments can substantially influence the resource behavior and associated carbon impacts of their constituents and other key stakeholders through a variety of policies, plans and actions.
In its Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) established a strategic framework for helping local governments advance sustainability within their jurisdictions.
- Lead by Example
Local governments are significant consumers of natural resources in their own facilities. By improving resource efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and cutting energy bills, local governments can showcase the products and practices that will become commonplace in a sustainable community.
Local governments can effectively influence their residents and businesses through a range of measures and techniques such as marketing and outreach efforts, incentives and entitlements, financial and technical assistance, redevelopment and economic development.
Local governments have the authority to encourage and reward sustainable projects through local plans, permits and approvals. They can also improve the sustainability of new and existing buildings by enacting code requirements, ordinances and programs.
The California Sustainability Alliance has embarked upon multiple activities to help local governments implement these strategies.
In September 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission adopted the most aggressive energy efficiency goals in the nation through its Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan (CEESP).
The CEESP identified commercial buildings as the single largest users of energy in California, accounting for more than 38% of California’s electricity consumption and 25% of its natural gas use. Office buildings account for 25% of all energy used by this sector.
The CEESP established the following goals for commercial buildings:
- Zero net energy performance for all new commercial construction by 2030
- Fifty-percent (50%) of existing buildings achieve zero net energy performance by 2030
The California Sustainability Alliance assembled an expert group of professionals with substantial experience in commercial real estate to develop a pilot project designed to significantly accelerate development of green buildings in California. Through a series of workshops, the Alliance’s Green Buildings Advisory Committee observed that in California, much more office space is leased (90%) than is owned (10%). The Alliance’s Advisors strongly recommended focusing on greening the 90% of California’s existing office buildings that are leased.
The Alliance thus embarked upon a Green Leases Initiative that commenced with development of a Green Leases Toolkit 2.0 that creates a template for landlords and tenants to integrate green elements into commercial office leases.
In May 2009, the Alliance published a study exploring the opportunities and constraints in the greening of leased office space in California. Click here for the full report.
Thanks for visiting the website of the California Sustainability Alliance!
For questions or comments, media inquiries, and other requests:
Please contact us at email@example.com
The California Sustainability Alliance
c/o Navigant Consulting, Inc.
One Market Street
Spear Street Tower, Suite 1200
San Francisco, CA 94105
One common theme has emerged from our discussions with targeted adopters of sustainability: Everyone is asking, “What does it mean to be 'green'?”