Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in San Antonio, Texas

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San Antonio is not new to clean technologies as Texas is one of the leaders in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Not to be done under like other cities, including Houston and Austin, San Antonio has numerous projects, initiatives, and institutes in the city with two major goals in mind – promote clean technologies across the nation and make San Antonio one of the leading cities when it comes to clean technology.

1 ) Trinity University. In 2011, Trinity University in San Antonio received a Green Report Card grade of B from the Sustainable Endowments Institute. The university was recognized for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent from 2005 levels and reduction in energy use through implementation of a variety of energy conservation technologies, including lighting sensors and LED lighting. The university is also dedicated to ensure all new construction as well as renovation projects meet LEED Silver Certification standards, and that the entire campus community is able to use alternative means of transportation, including discounted public transportation passes and carpooling.

2 ) Solar San Antonio. Solar San Antonio is a nonprofit organization that is looking to ensure that solar energy is a primary contributor to the establishment of a brand new clean energy economy. Solar San Antonio looks to connect the public and private sectors via innovative marketing, education, as well as creative financing programs. This organization looks to “actively encourage the widespread use of solar and other renewable and sustainable energy sources informing the community about benefits to the regional economy, environment, and human health, as well as supporting public policies that advance this possibility.”

3 ) Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute. The Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute is located in San Antonio and was developed to help leaders in the community remain committed to transforming San Antonio’s energy future as well as Texas and the entire nation. According to the official website, “The institution integrates scientific discovery, engineering innovation and policy deliberations with pragmatic implementation and commitment to our multicultural traditions to realize the promise of tomorrow’s America as a global energy leader. The Institute also serves as a center of intellectual creativity that promotes socioeconomic development regionally, nationally and globally. We provide systems solutions that pursue novel opportunities for technology insertion to reduce costs, improve reliability and assure responsible environmental stewardship that contributes to our energy future. Our impact will drive San Antonio’s economic future, coalesce our intellectual capital, serve as a magnet for thought leaders from around the nation and the globe and secure a foundation for enhanced prosperity for south Texas and the Alamo region for decades to come.”

4 ) San Antonio Utility Negotiates Another 400 Megawatts of Solar Energy. In January 2012, a local utility in San Antonio, CPS Energy, started negotiations on a new deal to build 400 megawatts of solar capacity over the next five years. According to the official press release, “[This] announcement caps an 11-month effort by San Antonio officials to attract a solar manufacturer to the city and to boost use of emission-free power to meet a 20 percent target of 1,500 megawatts by 2020. City officials said the economic development proposal could involve $100 million in capital investment and 800 new jobs.”

5 ) Texas Solar Energy Society. The Texas Solar Energy Society, located in San Antonio, is a nonprofit organization established in 1976 that has a very long history of solar energy and renewable energy education and outreach. It is a chapter of the American Solar Energy Society and its mission “is renewable energy education and outreach. [Texas Solar Energy Society] continue[s]to seek organizations to partner with to spread the message of renewable resources and conservation.”

6 ) San Antonio Army Bases Look into Smart Grid Innovation. In June of 2011, the United State’s military’s Joint Base San Antonio planed to review smart grid technology innovations as well as other energy management developments during a July workshop organized by the Joint Base San Antonio and the Defense Transformation Institute. It was a one day workshop that explored the initiatives and requirements in energy management and control systems, as well as presentations by the University of Texas – San Antonio and Texas Engineering Experiment Station.

7 ) San Antonio Clean Energy Incubator. The San Antonio Clean Energy Incubator was established in 2011 as a collaborative partnership between a number of entities, including the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute, Texas State Energy Conservation Office, the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Institute of Economic Development, the San Antonio Clean Tech Forum, the Mission Verde Alliance, and the University of Texas at Austin Technology Incubator. The mission of the incubator is “to develop new companies and foster new business activity related to clean technology in San Antonio, in ways that can be expanded to Texas, [the]nation, and the world in order to promote socioeconomic prosperity.” This incubator serves as a primary resource for all companies looking to develop solutions for clean technology that benefit the city of San Antonio. Some areas of help include business planning, fundraising assistance, networking, connections to business leaders, access to laboratory and office facilities, and hooking entrepreneurs with experienced mentors.

8 ) Build San Antonio Green. Build San Antonio Green is one of the primary residential green building programs in San Antonio. Build San Antonio Green is a nonprofit organization providing a number of options for contractors and builders looking to build green, when it comes to new constructions and retrofitting existing structures. Some initiatives include technical workshops on energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, as well as green building, and working with insurance groups and local legislators to provide new incentives for green building.

9 ) San Antonio as Leader in Affordable Renewable Energy. In February 2012, it was noted that San Antonio may just be a national leader in affordable renewable energy. It is home to a number of advocacy organizations that believe in community outreach and education and was designated as a Solar American City by the United States Department of Energy. The city was also labeled as “Solar Power Capital of Texas,” and it does not hurt that the city is home to the largest solar photovoltaic display in the state.

10 ) Electric Vehicle Chargers for Public Use. In December of 2011 the mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro unveiled new electric vehicle chargers available to the public throughout the city. In total, eight electric vehicle charging locations were placed throughout the city, with five of them in city-owned parking garages throughout the downtown area of San Antonio. Locations of these chargers included the Thousand Oaks Library, Central Library Garage, San Antonio International Airport Long Term Parking Garage, and Houston Street Garage. According to Mayor Castro, “These new electric vehicle chargers bring our community a step closer to achieving the long-term sustainability goals outlined under the Mission Verde resolution adopted by City Council last year.”

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He is also author of The 2012 Cleantech Directory. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.