Growing Green: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Cleantech Innovation in San Diego


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our utility, through a $99.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, recently announced plans with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec), to build out the largest transportation electrification project in the nation. Debra L. Reed, SDG&E’s CEO, says the project will make San Diego “a national center for clean technology that will help achieve our nation’s goals of energy independence and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions.” ETec, a subsidiary of ECOtality, Inc. (OTCBB: ETLY), also is partnering with Nissan North America to introduce thousands of electric vehicles and significant charging infrastructure in five markets, including San Diego. As eTec President Don Karner said, “By studying lessons learned from electric vehicle operations and the infrastructure supporting these first 5,000 vehicles, the project will enable the streamlined deployment of the next 5 million electric vehicles.”

The San Diego Regional Sustainability Partnership is building a voluntary consortium of business, academic, government, and other groups to promote sustainability, reduce pollution, enact energy savings, and improve quality of life in the region. Other non-profits that are advancing specific cleantech topics include the San Diego Renewable Energy Society, which promotes the use of solar energy, and the San Diego Clean Fuels Coalition, which is helping to advance the use of cleaner fuels and vehicles.

—The San Diego Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has over 600 members. Executive director Gary Gibson, who works to advance the use of greener building techniques in San Diego, says, “Our goal is to make San Diego the greenest city in California.” In addition to maintaining the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard for green building certification, the USGBC helps people earn green credentials as LEED AP (accredited profession) and LEED Green Associate.

—The City of San Diego has a lot at stake in the growth of cleantech, helping both the local economy and the local environment with its outreach to the business community, and recycling offered through the city Department of Environmental Services. A key contact for cleantech businesses Jacques Chirazi, manager of the city’s cleantech initiative in the City Planning & Community Investment Department. “We help them to navigate the process,” Chirazi says. The city is also working to stimulate the demand for green products and services by developing a financing alternative for … Next Page »

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Robert Noble is the founder, chairman, and CEO of San Diego-based Envision Solar International, Inc. and Chairs the California Center for Sustainable Energy. He is an architect, environmental designer, industrial designer and environmental technology entrepreneur. Follow @

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