A conglomerate of unlikely team players is coming together today for a regional community summit called Smart Energy Solutions at San Luis Obispo Vets Hall.
Patricia Wilmore, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, said they are expecting a wide range of participants because of the variety of sponsors, including Cal Poly Renewable Energy Institute, Coast National Bank, SLO Green Build and PG & E.
“You’ve got environmentalist and business groups coming together,” Wilmore said.
Likewise, Andrew Christie, the Santa Lucia chapter president of the Sierra Club, commented on the uniqueness of the situation.
“The most interesting thing we’ve found putting this together.is the fact that we’re working with organizations we don’t usually work with and occasionally work against,” he said.
The summit will cover private and public buildings, land use, new vehicle and transportation options and tools to redirect energy consumption, among other topics.
“If we get enough people there, and we should because we have a very impressive line up of speakers.it should have a big impact,” Wilmore said.
Wilmore noted a well-known author and leader in the area, Paul Fenn, who will be the lunch keynote speaker on “It’s Our Choice.” Fenn is responsible for the Community Choice Law, which allows communities and cities to buy energy from any utility they choose.
Cal Poly’s Renewable Energy Institute (REI) is one of 12 members of the steering committee. Margot MacDonald of REI said the planning phase has already had an effect on the people involved.
“I think the main impact is going to be the fact that we’re bringing different groups together to talk about issues that are really of concern to everyone,” MacDonald said.
While the media tends to talk more about national energy issues, this summit is designed to be more practical for locals.
“The summit allows us to bring into focus regional solutions to energy problems.to answer the question, ‘How can I have an impact?’” MacDonald said.
Wilmore noted that other small town communities have come together to make a difference in the world of energy. She thinks San Luis Obispo can follow those models.
“We feel that there are solutions that can be undertaken,” she said.
The Sierra Club started planning this event last summer by talking to local business owners with the aim of setting up a panel. By early October, Christie said, the conference “took off,” and had expanded from one to eight panels.
“We didn’t want to do just a big show and a big splash.Ideally, I’d say, we’re looking to get the builders to sit down with the regulators to make it easier and cheaper to build green,” Christie said.
Building green increases efficiency of water and energy use and reduces impact on human health and the environment. It is also known as sustainable building.
Another goal is trying to get the greenhouse gas emission levels, which results from operating a building, down to zero by 2030.
“One of the key issues is the urgency of our climate change,” MacDonald said.
Those who wish to participate do not need to attend each toic, but all participants should register at www.smartenergysummit.org. The cost including lunch is $15 with reservations and $20 at the door.