Clean Energy in California

Day One: Planes, Green Buildings and Energy Efficiency
by -- March 6th, 2011

My Not-So-Amazing Clean Energy Race to SFO ends on a very positive note

I am an avid fan of the Amazing Race.  I love to live vicariously through the travelers as they race around the world encountering all types of detours, challenges and the occasional travel mishap. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the Amazing Race and as I departed on a 6:00 AM flight Saturday morning for a 4-day Clean Energy field trip to San
Francisco, I couldn’t help but feel like I was on my own little “Amazing” adventure.

Even at 6 AM, you are bound to see people you know at the Raleigh-Durham airport – especially if they are fellow Nicholas School classmates heading to San Francisco.   “See you in San Fran” we all called to each other as we took off on different
flights in the great race to get to our destination.  It was a race to the finish line.  We were all eager to get there, but who would get there first?

Spoiler Alert:  I don’t win the race.

In true Amazing Race style, my race was delayed by a travel mishap.  Due to various mechanical problems, my flight sat for 2 ½ hours at the gate waiting for various electrical and landing gear equipment to be fixed.  I’m
no mechanical genius, but I do support the notion that electrical (and especially landing gear) equipment should be fixed before I fly the friendly skies.  But, finally we were approved for take-off and 8 hours later I arrive at San Francisco airport.

After we all arrived, we piled onto a bus en route to our first destination:  Chrissy Field, a  Project Frog designed “super smart” building that was built with energy efficiency in mind and designed to continually measure and monitor energy consumption.

Because it is made from pre-fabricated materials and salvaged wood, the Chrissy Field center was built in only 6 months.  It employs passive solar heating and rainwater catchment and offers environmental education to visitors of all ages.  More info on Chrissy Field here.

Thanks to the detailed reporting from my esteemed classmates, we also learned about green building, energy efficiency and the Bay Area economy:

Blakely Blackford leads a lively discussion of the features and energy efficient benefits of Chrissy Field Centerin downtown San Francisco.


Joe Cheng updates us on the benefits of Green Building, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the growing demand for LEED certified buildings. Did you know that In the United States, buildings account for almost 40 percent of total energy consumption and 38.9 percent of carbon dioxide emissions?  Green Buildings can help reduce both of these staggering numbers.

Jenna Feistritzer gives us the numbers for the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.  Silicon Valley is home to some of the most noteworthy industries in the nation like Google, Apple, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, Adobe, Twitter, and Intel.  Dozens of solar companies have sprung up here in recent years causing some to think it might be renamed “Solar Valley.”

The first day of our Amazing Clean Energy race ended much better than it began (for me anyway!).  We had a great dinner in Fisherman’s Wharf and relaxed back at our hotel.  The only downside was that Duke lost to Carolina in basketball.  But, March Madness is right around the corner.  Never fear Duke Basketball fans!

Looking forward to a great day of adventures tomorrow ….


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