California Dream 2.0

How an Innovative Partnership is Cutting Refrigerant Pollution and Creating Profits

ca_innov_series_icon_283x204EDF’s Innovators Series profiles companies and people across California with bold solutions to reduce carbon pollution and help the state meet the goals of AB 32.  Each addition to the series will profile a different solution, focused on the development of new technologies and ideas.

Refrigerants are modern day inventions that allow us to keep our ice cream cold and our homes comfortable. These gases are used everywhere from kitchen refrigerators to cooling systems in grocery stores and food warehouses to air conditioning in homes, office buildings, data centers, and cars. While refrigerants have become essential to modern society, most are very harmful to the environment when released into the atmosphere. Refrigerants such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), also known as F-gases, are greenhouse gases thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Who: EOS Climate was founded in 2008 and has more than 20 full-time employees. JACO Environmental is a leading appliance recycler in the U.S., with a network of over 30 collection facilities around the country, including two in California that employ 60 people.

What: EOS creates economic incentive for companies to responsibly manage refrigerants across their lifecycle. In partnership with JACO and other global sustainability leaders, EOS is preventing emissions of millions of tons of greenhouse gases.

Where: EOS is headquartered in San Francisco. JACO has facilities in Hayward and Fullerton.

Why: EOS aims to transform business as usual by treating refrigerants as financial assets rather than consumables. AB 32 has given EOS a foundation for this business innovation and economic opportunity.

Over the past 50 years, global population and economic growth has resulted in a dramatic increase in demand for refrigeration and air conditioning worldwide. As a result, a significant amount of leaked refrigerants have reached the atmosphere. Further, the common practice of sending retired equipment to recycling centers and landfills, many of which are not equipped to properly dispose of refrigerants, has meant that most refrigerants are released during end-of -life practices. EOS Climate  and JACO Environmental are aiming to solve this problem.

Based in San Francisco, EOS Climate was founded in 2008 by Presidio Graduate School classmates Jeff Cohen, Todd English, and Joe Madden, as an outgrowth of their MBA program in Sustainability Management. Their idea was to create economic value for organizations that properly manage refrigerants and other F-gases. EOS’s solution was to develop a scalable system to recover and destroy CFC refrigerants from older equipment, which could be financed through the generation and sale of Verified Emission Reductions in California's cap-and-trade program under the Ozone Depleting Substances offset protocol.

By working through AB 32, EOS has avoided millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions, bolstered California’s recycling industry, and helped accelerate a transition toward more climate-friendly technologies. With venture backing from Firelake Capital and partnerships with companies like JACO Environmental, CleanHarbors, and Hudson Technologies, EOS is proving that AB 32 gives companies the tools to make fighting climate change a winning business model.

Photo credit: EOS Climate

Photo credit: EOS Climate

"We figured out a way to help cut climate pollution while making a profitable company. Without AB 32, CFC refrigerants would continue to be released from aging equipment and the climate benefits would not have been possible" says Todd English, VP of Operations at EOS. "The rise in refrigerant emissions threatens the progress the world is making to cut other greenhouse gas emissions. We wanted to make a company that could move the needle by showing that alternatives are out there – helping cut emissions while growing jobs. I think we've demonstrated that it can be done… and we are just getting started. We recently launched the Refrigerant Asset System (RAS) which expands our initial approach of using markets to drive economic and environmental outcomes to address the entire refrigerant lifecycle across multiple industries and sectors."

One sector that EOS has seized upon is appliance recycling. By working with JACO Environmental, they are changing the way refrigerators are collected, handled, and recycled. In the partnership, JACO collects fridges and sends them to specialized facilities like the ones in Hayward and Fullerton. There, the fridges are taken apart and the refrigeration gases inside are sucked out, collected, cleaned, and measured. The gases are then further processed and transported to a certified destruction plant. According to JACO, the removal of a single aging refrigerator or freezer can prevent up to 10 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent gases from entering the atmosphere. EOS and JACO estimate that together they have prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 800,000 cars off the road annually.

Photo credit: JACO Environmental

Photo credit: JACO Environmental

“Recycling refrigerators and freezers in an environmentally friendly way is something my company is very good at. The partnership with EOS is good business, and has given us more opportunities for growth.” says Michael Dunham, Director of Energy & Environmental Programs at JACO. “We aren't doing all this just to stop climate change. We are doing it because it's good business, and the fact that AB 32 says the state has to cut greenhouse gases has helped us expand year after year. Our experience in California, in conjunction with our partnership with EOS, means we are poised to transform the way we approach refrigerator lifecycles across the United States.”

With their rising ‘Refrigerant Revolution’ Refrigerant Asset System, and a growing list of customers and partners, EOS Climate has created a business model that drives economic and environmental outcomes while helping the Golden State reach its aggressive climate goals and bolster its position as the global hub of innovation.

Please note that EDF has a standing corporate donation policy and we accept no funding from companies or organizations featured in this series. Furthermore, the EDF California Innovators Series is in no way an official endorsement of the people or organizations featured, or their business models and practices. 

 

Read more on our California Innovators Series:

Posted in California Innovators Series, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Offsets / Read 1 Response

Art and Sustainability: The Next Big Thing

"Today is about making our community more beautiful,” exclaimed State Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), at a recent EDF-sponsored community art show and mural launch complete with live DJ’s, an interactive urban planning workshop, local artists, and youth activists.

I know what you might be thinking. “Say what? EDF and art?”

This is one of the new routes we’re taking in our commitment to “finding the ways that work.”

We looked to accomplish two things with this project: to help spark imagination and civic pride by bringing local artists and youth together to create a vision for a more sustainable city, and to make a concerted effort to meet the community where they are on the environmental issues they care about. The results were both inspiring and enlightening.

  • Fresno youth put finishing touches on the mural

Our first launch event, in Fresno, CA, featured local muralist Mauro Carrera and local nonprofit partner organizations Valley LEAP, Arte Americas, and Fresno Building Healthy Communities.

The vivid imagery of the Fresno mural was spectacular: an 8’ x 16’ mobile fresco honoring the agricultural heritage of California’s Central Valley and its hardworking migrant workers, while integrating and embracing a new vision of more clean energy, fresh water, bike access, clean air, and green space.

The mural will be rotated throughout the year around several local community organizations and used for future youth conferences and monthly art walks in downtown Fresno.

The next day we moved the party to Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, partnering with Pacoima Beautiful and local artist Kristy Sandoval for a 15’ x 30’ mural painted outside the city’s Community Center, which houses numerous non-profit youth organizations. This project featured a call to “keep Pacoima beautiful,” and a bold vision to capture some of the vast solar potential in sunny San Fernando Valley (a recent EDF study found that capturing just 5% of the rooftop solar power in the area could create thousands of jobs and reduce carbon emissions by over 200,000 metric tons per year).

The mural will expand in the future along the Community Center’s outdoor wall to include images calling to mind water conservation and urban greening, and will occupy an anchor spot on the regular Pacoima mural walking tour.

So why sustainability through art?

EDF’s Keith Gaby nailed it last month with a blog that set a refreshing tone for the environmental movement:

The reality is that environmentalists often have a difficult time reaching the people with whom we most need to build trust in order to accomplish our goals: Americans who don't feel a natural kinship with the traditional environmental movement. We need to accept that other people's priorities — economic or cultural — are valid and important.

Effective environmental policy needs to recognize and prioritize the local and regional needs of communities; part of doing this means communicating policies and values that meet folks where they live, literally. Public art (such as murals) is a special way to facilitate a conversation that anyone can access, a conversation that comes from the community, for the community.

In the weeks and months leading up to the mural launches, EDF staff and partners participated in local workshops with community members to discuss climate change, clean energy, and resiliency. Our partners led the conversation and the artists took in feedback about the collective vision, incorporating it into each mural’s design. The end result was something enduring and beautiful, a bold vision for a sustainable future and a rousing call to action to help us get there.

Stay tuned to EDF to learn more about the official mural launch parties – including two mini “web-isodes” – and more of our ideas on how we plan to jump on the “next big thing” in sustainability.

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate / Comments are closed

First Scoping Plan Update Lays Groundwork for a Low-Carbon Future

Erica Morehouse photoThe Proposed First Update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan (Proposed Update), released today by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), is a more focused and ambitious version of the document first released last fall that is part of a larger California climate strategy. Importantly, the Proposed Update continues to build a framework for significant post-2020 carbon pollution reductions needed for the state.

California is on the cutting edge of climate action but is not alone on the international stage when it comes to planning for the future. On January 22nd, the European Commission released a climate and energy plan proposing the EU reduce emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.  Last November, Mexico announced plans for a carbon tax that will include offsets.  And last summer, President Obama released a Climate Action Plan that builds on much of California's success especially in the areas of reducing emissions from cars and trucks and controlling emissions from new and existing power plants.

CARB’s Proposed First Scoping Plan Update:

Recommends smart 2030 targets

This Proposed Update recognizes that not only do we need to dramatically reduce carbon pollution in the first half of the 21st century, but with commitment and planning it is an attainable goal. Achieving an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050 will mean California must slash emissions across the board and CARB is recommending that every sector explored – transportation, energy, waste, water, agriculture, and natural and working lands – should have a sector-specific target.  It's appropriate that California first focused on big emitting sectors like energy and transportation, but sectors like agriculture and working lands which are harder to regulate can't be ignored as we consider long-term reduction goals. These sector targets will serve as guides for cutting pollution, driving innovation, and spurring investment in California.

Positions California as an international leader and collaborator

The Proposed Update recognizes that in order to remain at the forefront of international leadership, California must continue to lead by planning for reductions after 2020 and by continuing collaborations with other states, provinces, and countries that are taking action on climate change.

The Proposed Update identifies international sectoral offsets, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), as a potential key opportunity for California to help curb deforestation, the cause of roughly 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, while efficiently meeting the state’s domestic emission reduction targets.  The state’s engagement on REDD, along with the ongoing collaborations with China, Mexico, and other U.S. states, is a building block of meaningful global climate leadership

Provides economic opportunity

The Proposed Update articulates how economic opportunity goes hand in hand with innovative environmental solutions. California has enjoyed a strong economic recovery during the first year of cap and trade, but the state isn’t turning a blind eye to the challenges that lie ahead. California needs significant innovation before we can reach our target of 80% reductions below 1990 levels by 2050. CARB’s plan will encourage new economic opportunities and ways to cost-effectively reduce carbon pollution such as: carbon capture and sequestration, expanding the electrification of our personal car fleet, and developing reliable electricity storage. We can expect to see growth in low-carbon sectors, new clean energy jobs, and auction proceeds investments that will further strengthen local communities and businesses.

Prioritizes emission reductions in uncapped sectors 

This plan brings needed attention to emission reductions in sectors not regulated by cap and trade such as agriculture, working lands, water, and waste, and recommends setting sector-specific targets. CARB identifies pragmatic policies for these uncapped sectors such as incentivizing the efficient use of fertilizers and reuse of organic materials. CARB should continue to promote these opportunities, and recognize that pragmatic working and natural lands policies will also provide co-benefits such as more efficient water use.

As the saying goes, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” CARB’s Proposed Update not only lays the groundwork for a low-carbon and clean-energy future, but points us towards strategic, and quantifiable, short and long-term goals – potential opportunities that will spark a much-needed conversation about what is possible as we approach 2030 and beyond.

Posted in Cap and trade, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Jobs, Offsets / Comments are closed

California’s Carbon Market Could Help Stop Amazon Deforestation

(This post first appeared in Point Carbon North America)

By Juan Carlos Jintiach, Shuar indigenous leader from the Amazon basin, and Derek Walker, Associate Vice President for the US Climate and Energy Program at Environmental Defense Fund

From left to right: Juan Carlos Jintiach, Megaron Txucarramae (a leader of Brazil’s indigenous Kayapo tribe), Lubenay.

A recent article in the Journal of Climate predicts that destroying the Amazon rainforest would cause disastrous drought across California and the western United States. Californians are already no strangers to drought – the state is suffering one of its worst on record. But the research adds an interesting dimension to what we already know from numerous studies about deforestation: that greenhouse gas pollution in California and around the world makes forests, including the Amazon, drier and more susceptible to widespread fires. California may be thousands of miles away from “the Earth’s lungs,” but how we treat our diverse ecosystems directly affects the one atmosphere we all share.

It is good news for everyone that California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) – which includes the world’s most comprehensive carbon market – is already helping reduce the state’s greenhouse gas pollution. Amazon states and nations have also greatly reduced their greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, which collectively accounts for as much greenhouse gas pollution as all the cars, trucks, and buses in the world. California now has a terrific opportunity to show global environmental leadership by helping Amazon states keep deforestation rates headed for zero while helping save money for companies and consumers in the Golden State.

The current world leader in greenhouse gas reductions is Brazil, which has brought Amazon deforestation down about 75% since 2005 and kept almost 3 billion tons of carbon out of the atmosphere. Indigenous peoples and forest communities have played an essential role in this accomplishment. Decades of indigenous peoples’ struggles against corporate miners, loggers, ranchers, and land grabbers and advocacy in defense of their land rights have resulted in the legal protection of 45% of the Amazon basin as indigenous territory and forest reserves – an area more than eight times the size of California.

Credit: Dylan Murray

Credit: Dylan Murray

These dedicated indigenous and forest lands hold about half of the forest carbon of the Amazon, and have proven to be effective barriers against frontier expansion and deforestation. In a real sense, indigenous and forest peoples are providing a huge global environmental service, but that service is almost entirely unrecognized, let alone compensated. And in Brazil, where agribusiness is pushing back hard against law enforcement and reserve creation, deforestation is back on the upswing – increasing nearly 30% last year.

California has a role to play in keeping Amazon deforestation on the decline and giving indigenous and forest communities the recognition and support they need. A program called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) gives countries or states that commit to reducing deforestation below historic levels “credits” they can sell in carbon cap-and-trade markets. Getting these programs recognized by California’s carbon market would send a powerful signal that forests in the Amazon and around the world are worth more alive than dead, and would also provide real incentives for further reductions.

A few weeks ago, indigenous leaders from Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico are in California engaging state leaders and policymakers on the issues of deforestation, indigenous and local peoples’ rights, and potential partnership with California’s carbon market. California should insist that only jurisdictions that respect indigenous and local peoples’ rights, territory and knowledge, and ensure that they benefit from REDD+ programs get access to its market.

The successful adoption and implementation of AB 32 is proof that California is leading the nation on effective, market-based climate change policies. But it’s time to take that another step forward. By allowing credits from REDD+ to play a role in the AB 32 program, the Golden State can be a world leader on one of the most significant causes of climate change and take action to protect the health and prosperity of a threatened land and its people.

 

Learn more about REDD+ and California:

Posted in General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Offsets / Comments are closed

Record-Setting ‘PACE’ for Commercial Buildings in California

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Hilton Hotel executives were all smiles last week, and for good reason: they had just cut the ribbon on the completion of a $7 million energy efficiency upgrade to the Universal City Hilton – the largest project of its kind in the U.S.

LA’s record-setting project is the third in a string of major commercial building retrofits in California in just the past two years, all thanks to Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), a program that allows customers to finance clean energy upgrades and pay them back, over time, on their property tax bills.

What’s made PACE so successful is that it allows customers to avoid the sizeable up-front costs of major building upgrades, while saving energy and money.

Case in point: the Universal Hilton projects close to $1 million of savings per year from these energy efficiency upgrades.

The promise of large-scale, commercial PACE was first demonstrated in 2012, when the ProLogis Pier 1 Building in San Francisco received the first-of-its kind financing for $1.4 million of energy efficiency upgrades. This project kicked off what has become one of the most successful clean energy financing programs in the nation.

In July 2013, an EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office helped set a new commercial PACE record when the Metro Center Corporate Park closed a $3.16 million deal through the Clean Energy Sacramento program.

But these records don’t last long; each of these new projects received more than double the financing of the previous project, a positive sign for the future of commercial PACE programs in California.

In fact, there are currently 25 active commercial PACE Programs in 10 U.S. states, proof that the trend is growing beyond the Golden State’s borders.

Last year, Connecticut launched their own PACE program, finalizing nearly $20 million of transactions for commercial properties. Similarly, Toledo, Ohio executed $18 million of commercial PACE transactions in 2013.

While the commercial PACE market continues to evolve, California continues to raise the bar, providing energy efficiency financing opportunities – and future ribbon cutting ceremonies – that benefit building owners and protect the environment.

 

Learn more about PACE in California:

Posted in Energy, Energy Efficiency / Comments are closed

Does the future of the Amazon rainforest lie in California?

(This post first appeared on EDF Voices)

By Derek Walker and Steve Schwartzman.

Over the past year, California’s new carbon market has held five auctions, generating $530 million for projects that reduce climate pollution in the state. This is just the start, however, as we believe the program has potential to achieve substantial environmental benefits half a world away in the Amazon rainforest.

We are working with community partners, scientific and business leaders, and California policy makers to craft a rule that permits credits from REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) to be used in California’s carbon market, rewarding indigenous and forest-dwelling communities with incentives for ecosystem protection.

From left to right: Lubenay, Juan Carlos Jintiach, Derek Walker and Megaron Txucarramae (a leader of Brazil’s indigenous Kayapo tribe).

Using California’s new carbon market to reward rainforest protection would be a powerful signal to Brazil, Mexico, and other tropical countries—and to the world—that leaving forests standing is more profitable than cutting them down.

With the right rules in place, California could create an international gold standard for REDD credits that could be adopted by emerging carbon markets in China, Mexico and beyond.

The right technology

There’s a misperception about how hard it is to measure whether forests are being destroyed or protected. Current technology makes it possible, right now. Satellite and airplane-based sensors are already capable of recording what’s going on with high accuracy. This technology enables us to measure emissions reductions across whole states or countries, the best way to ensure that the reductions are real.

The right partners

We need to help pull together the best policy experts, scientists, and environmental organizations to help California government officials write model rules for REDD that can create a race-to-the-top for forest protection around the world. We need to show that trailblazing states – like Acre in Brazil and Chiapas in Mexico – are ready to be partners with California and can deliver the rigorous level of enforcement and program implementation that California requires.

The right time

There’s real urgency to linking California’s carbon market with REDD. Even though Brazil, home to the world’s largest tracts of tropical forests, has cut deforestation by about 75% from its 1996-2005 levels and consequently become the world leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, that progress is fragile. Over the past year, agribusiness has been pushing back hard against law enforcement and the creation of protected reserves, and deforestation increased nearly 30%. If we want Brazil to continue reducing its deforestation towards zero, we must provide economic incentives to protect the Amazon, and California can be an important catalyst in doing that.

Posted in Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Offsets / Read 1 Response