Solar Austin

Solar Austin Happy Hour: UT Austin Sustainability Master Plan

For our March happy hour, Jim Walker will give an overview of the UT Austin Sustainability Master Plan and specific initiatives related to energy and renewables.  He will share his perspective on how university efforts fit into the broader context of City of Austin and Austin Energy efforts, as well as higher education in general.  The UT Austin Sustainability Master plan was adopted in 2016 and updated in 2018 and sets a goals for the university out to 2030.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM 
Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto Boulevard Austin, TX 78701)
RSVP Here

More about Jim Walker: 

Jim Walker was appointed Director of Sustainability for the University of Texas at Austin in April, 2009. He works closely with the President’s Sustainability Steering Committee on the UT Austin Sustainability Master Plan and is the university’s USGBC Liaison related to LEED and SITES on new capital projects. Jim has a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.  Jim currently serves on the boards of the Mueller Foundation, the USGBC Texas Chapter, and Earth Day Austin, and recently served on the City of Austin Joint Sustainability Committee. Jim is originally from Oregon and accidentally moved to Austin in 1992. He was introduced to sustainability by Pliny Fisk and Gail Vittori at the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, and soon after by Lars Stanley, FAIA, LEED AP and Girard Kinney, AIA.

What are my parking options for the event?

State Parking Garages can be found next to, behind and across from Scholz Garten. San Jacinto Blvd., 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and Trinity have parking garage entrances. 

Although our happy hours are free and open to all, we hope you’ll consider donating to Solar Austin.  Help us keep solar energy growing in the Austin area.  You can purchase a ticket to the happy hour or go to our website, solaraustin.org, to donate and avoid fees.

For regular updates on our Happy Hours and more information about Solar Austin, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, and sign up for our email list via solaraustin.org

Solar Austin February Happy Hour: Tour of Austin Central Library Green Features

We’re switching things up a bit for our February happy hour.  We won’t be at Scholz Garten this month, so don’t go there, or you’ll be lonely.

Instead, we hope you’ll join us for an expert-guided look at the green features – including the on-site solar energy system – of the Austin Central Library. This LEED Platinum-certified building opened late October 2017 has the distinction of being the first new building with a solar array on the downtown sector of the electric grid, which comes with added complications.

Because we want to do the tour before it gets dark, we’ll be starting our program a bit earlier than usual. The presentation will start at 5:45, but please join us even if you’ll be a bit late.


When:
Tuesday, February 26, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Where: Demonstration Area 1st floor Austin Central Library (710 W Cesar Chavez St)
RSVP now!

The lead architect Jonathan Smith, of Lake Flato Architects, and solar designer Bungane Mehlomakulu, of Integral Group, will be leading the tour and discussion.

Get more information and RSVP here.

We hope to see you at the library!

Solar Austin Board of Directors

 

More about the Speakers: 

Jonathan Smith, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is an Associate Partner at Lake Flato Architects. Jonathan’s designs foster meaningful and lasting relationships between building occupants and the natural environment, demonstrating excellence in the art of building, the science of sustainability and love for the natural landscape. Jonathan has a strong passion for transformative projects that have an impact beyond their property lines through environmental sustainability, performance-based design and response to climate. Jonathan was Project Architect on the LEED Platinum 180,000 square foot new Central Library in his hometown of Austin, Texas. In 2018 the Austin Central Library was named one of Time Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places. Jonathan is currently working on projects in Texas, California and Hawaii.

Bungane Mehlomakulu, PE, LEED AP BD+C, is a Managing Principal at Integral Group in Austin. Bungane is a design principal working at the boundary between architecture, engineering, and sustainability to deliver a balanced, efficient, and meaningful services to customers and clients. His passion for sustainable building design and operation made him an expert in passive strategies including natural ventilation, daylight harvesting, plug load reductions, and solar control and the application of energy efficient technologies, including radiant floors, displacement ventilation, and chilled beams.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: The Future is Bright – Utility-Scale Solar Development

This month we will be joined by Rich Clark, Director of Development and Engineering at 7X Energy, who will discuss utility-scale solar development with a focus on the Texas market and how new technology is helping lead the solar industry into a bright future. 7X Energy serves corporations, utilities, municipalities, and electric co-ops with cost-competitive solar energy.

When: Tuesday, January 22, 5:30-8 p.m.
Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP now for this important and engaging conversation.

At 7X, Rich leads the engineering including design, energy simulations, site studies, and permitting that support development of the company’s growing solar project pipeline. Prior to joining 7X, Rich worked at SunPower as the Development Engineering Manager for Utility Power Plants (UPP) covering North and South America. There, Rich worked on numerous power plant projects in the early development phase totaling over 3 GW of capacity. He also led the development engineering on seven UPP projects totaling over 450 MW in the U.S. and Latin America. Before SunPower, Rich was a Project Engineer at NRG Energy working on development for solar distributed generation and utility solar power plants.

Rich has an MBA from Drexel University and BS in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. He is also a licensed PE in New Jersey.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Equity and Inclusion in the Solar Industry


This month we are hosting a panel on how to make the solar industry more inclusive, equitable, and diverse for our November 2018 Happy Hour.

The panelists will be:

  •  Rubén Cantú, Director of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Austin;
  • Jenn Goodwillie, Counsel at Counsel at EDP Renewables North America (EDPR), representing WRISE (Women in Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy);
  • Kazique Jelani Prince, Senior Policy Advisor & Education Coordinator in the Office of Mayor Steve Adler and Project Manager from the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism & Systemic Inequities; and
  • Karen Magid, Director of Sustainability and STEM at Huston-Tillotson University.

When: Tuesday, November 27th, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP now for this engaging and important conversation.

The panel will examine barriers that employers face to systematically make businesses, nonprofits, and the industry as a whole, more welcoming, inclusive and accountable spaces for underrepresented people and some of the solutions to these issues. This includes examining why people of color, women, LBGTQ+ people, and others often remain excluded from businesses’ recruitment strategies and leadership development.

Panelists will discuss best practices for outreach and inclusion, as well as retention and leadership development to help minority employees succeed. The discussion will a look at how to ensure an organization’s leadership understands the root causes of employment inequity and how to address the inequities that current and employees prospective employees face.

Vote Early, Vote Local, Vote Solar

Early voting is in full swing and Texans are showing up at the polls to exercise their precious right to vote.  Austinites have a petty long ballot to vote on and we know it can be difficult to get educated on all of the races.  Local leadership is critical for advancing the use of solar energy and addressing climate change though.  Climate change and energy issues aren’t often front and center in campaigns, so we worked with our partners at Earth Day ATX, Shades of Green and 350 Austin to develop a climate and energy questionnaire for the Austin mayoral and city council candidates. 

We encourage you to read the candidates responses before deciding who most deserves your vote for Austin mayor and your city council member (if your district is up for an election this year).  If you don’t have time to read the questionnaire responses though, we made a shortcut for you.  We scored all responses based on two measures:

  1. Support: How much the candidate’s response demonstrates support for expanding the use of solar energy and phasing out the use of fossil fuels, and, more generally, support for action to slow climate change and respond to the impacts of climate change. (High, Low, Medium)
  2. Knowledge: How much the candidate’s response demonstrates knowledge of the problems and potential solutions. More specific, detailed responses generally score higher, as long as they are based on facts. (High, Low, Medium)

Candidates were scored based solely on their written responses to the questionnaire.  Responses to questions asked at the candidate forums Solar Austin co-hosted, and other information (from candidate websites, for example), was not factored in.

Solar Austin is not endorsing specific candidates, but we do encourage all Austin voters to keep support for clean energy – especially solar – in mind when voting. 

Don’t forget that city elections are non-partisan, so voting “straight ticket” won’t cast a vote in the mayoral or city council races.  Keep clicking through and vote all the way down the ballot.  Many important decisions are made at the local level.