Panel discusses the greening of business

It’s time for a paradigm shift in our thinking about energy resources according to a panel of architects, system designers and financiers that met in La Jolla last week.

“We are exporting $1.5 billion per day in cash to buy our oil and our gasoline,” said Jay Potter, CEO of GreenCore Capital LLC, an investment firm specializes in generating funds to launch startup and early-stage companies. “And that’s a big number - more than we spend on our national defense.”

“Energy is part of our national defense,” Potter said. “It’s up to all of us to make a change to renewable energy, in our homes and our businesses, and also in our choice of investments. Any way we can capitalize, monetize or distribute something of green: It has some real meaning and value.”

The panel issuing this clarion call for a change in our energy consumption met at Envision Solar on July 22. Envision Solar International, Inc. helps property owners identify energy saving and renewable energy production opportunities that can generate additional revenue while reducing operating costs.

Envision just moved into new offices on the 10th floor of 4225 Executive Square in UTC. The company’s chairman/CEO, Robert Noble, said the sustainable panel discussion on renewable energy was convened because, “We had our office opening … and instead of having just the standard presentation of our company and its products and technologies, we decided to take it to a higher level and join with GreenCore Capital and other green leaders to have a high-level discussion.”

That discussion included: John Bohn, California Public Utilities commissioner; Paul Hannam, president, Bright Green Leadership, and Blair Reynolds, Energy Consultant/System Designer for Sequoia Solar.

Summing up the discussion, Noble said, “What we’re seeing is a clean-technology revolution.”

“The change from non-renewable to renewable energy has to happen, but it’s not going to be easy,” said GreenCore Capital’s Potter. “We’ve got to have a reduction in our dependency on foreign oil and a massive drop in our greenhouse gas emissions, our carbon footprint.”

Noble said it’s going to take time to educate business and the public about the wisdom, and practicality, of going green. “Everything takes time,” he said. “It’s all about public awareness.”

California has a head start in instituting the shift from non-renewable to renewable energy resources, because the state, for years, has been forward thinking. “California government and its population are visionary,” Noble said. “They have supported the California solar initiative and other things, like the alternative fuels vehicle rebate program. California is a leader. It has been supportive on every (alternative energy) front.”

California utilities are mandated to have 20 percent of their energy consumption from renewable sources - solar, wind, biomass, geothermal - by the end of 2010.

One positive sign is that renewable energy sources are becoming cost-effective. “Right now it makes good sense to put solar on your house,” said Noble, adding a similar change is taking place in the auto industry. “There used to be only two or three electric cars out,” he said. “Now that number has tripled or quadrupled. There’s beginning to be a connection between renewable (energy) and transportation.”

“We don’t have to hope for some silver bullet technology,” noted Noble. “All the technology is there now. We have a saying, ‘Ready, fire, aim.’ In other words, we don’t need to aim - it’s a target-rich environment.”

Potter said there is only one solution to extracting ourselves from our over-dependence on foreign oil. “It has to come from renewable energy,” he said. “It’s the largest, single most important item in that equation.”

“This change is inevitable,” concluded Potter. “It will happen. It’s simply a function of everyone having a choice as to how they’ll participate.”

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