Experts discuss energy sustainability


Illustrating a point about how easy building a sustainable energy future can be, Rep. Susan Davis noted she lost her place midway through a speech once, until she realized it had been printed on a double-sided page as a conservation measure.

The San Diego congresswoman’s remarks came during an experts forum titled “Building a Sustainable Future” on Jan. 22 at UCSD. The forum brought in experts from the Navy, the city of San Diego, the state and UCSD to talk about progress being made to cut energy consumption via new, cutting-edge “green” technology.

Art Ellis, UCSD’s vice president for research, said

$110 million has been funneled into the university’s coffers in federal stimulus funds, a lot of which he said has gone into energy sustainability research.

“It’s leading to new technologies and new jobs down the road,” he said. “It’s been very valuable in partnering in the region, thinking about how we can take our operations and activities and green them, make them more sustainable.”

Rene Trevino, executive director for Navy Region Southwest, which has several facilities throughout San Diego and the rest of California, talked about what will be required to make energy sustainability a success.

“As consumers, it has to become a way of life,” he said. “It just can’t be a word. It can’t be something we do today. It has to become something we sustain through a lifetime.”

Trevino detailed advances the Navy is making in San Diego on a broad range of energy-saving fronts, everything from turning algae into biofuels to using solar energy in carports and conducting intensive “audits” of energy use in buildings, even ships, trying to find every conceivable way to cut costs while saving energy.

Jacques Chirazi, program manager for San Diego CleanTech Initiative, said much of the new sustainable technology being designed to save energy is as new as it is clean, non fossil-fuel burning.

Chirazi said the visionary CleanTech Initiative was launched by Mayor Jerry Sanders in 2007.

“The mayor wants the city of San Diego to become a hub of clean technology for creating new jobs to have a (positive) environmental impact and make a better quality of life here,” he said.

Davis talked about how Washington is setting a good example of energy sustainability by “greening” federal Capitol offices including Congress.

Davis added government is also using tax-incentive and rebate programs stimulating homeowners to engage in energy-sustainable practices like retrofitting their homes. “Having more green sense is having more common sense,” she concluded.