Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in Rhode Island

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While Rhode Island, known as the Plantation State or the Ocean State, is one of the smallest states in the United States, it still looks to pack a punch when it comes to renewable energy and energy efficiency. It is listed as having some of the best potential for water power and offshore wind farms because of its proximity to the ocean. As well, it is known for having a very green conscious society. No one should underestimate Rhode Island in terms of its renewable energy and energy efficient capabilities. Listed below are just ten of the many highlight of clean technology throughout Rhode Island.

1 ) Brown University. Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University is one of the oldest institutions for higher learning in the United States. The university has also made the commitment to reduce energy use as well as harmful environmental impacts while increasing environmental stewardship. Through its Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee, the university has set a number of goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and maintain a level of carbon neutrality. This is done through the installation of energy efficient technologies in buildings, having regulations that all new buildings must meet the United States Green Building Council’s LEED Silver Certification standards, numerous student-led environmental sustainability initiatives, including conservation-based competitions and the Environmental House, and also a number of transportation initiatives to get the Brown community using alternative modes of transportation, including carpool and bike sharing programs.

2 ) Providence College. Also located in Providence, Rhode Island is the beautiful Providence College. Much like its neighbor, it does what it can to ensure it maintains its promises to environmental sustainability. This includes using a campus-wide energy management system for all buildings, installing a variety of water saving technologies, Updating HVAC systems in 14 buildings throughout campus, and free public transit passes for all students.

3 ) Rhode Island Financial Incentives for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. In an effort to help residents and businesses in Rhode Island afford making the switch the renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, the state of Rhode Island has created a number of incentives for renewables and efficiency. These incentives include corporate tax credits, local loan programs, performance-based initiatives, property tax incentives, sales tax incentives, state grand and loan programs, as well as utility rebate programs created by the primary utility in the state, National Grid (both electric and gas).

4 ) Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation Renewable Energy Fund. The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation Renewable Energy Fund is an official economic development organization that offers full services throughout the state of Rhode Island. It services as a community and government resource to assist in streamlining the business expansion in, and relocation to, Rhode Island. According to the website, “Rhode Island’s economy has changed. Rhode Island must now compete in a global economy where innovation and knowledge are the primary drivers of economic growth. Our Economic Growth Plan describes our strategy to create jobs and accelerate the state’s economic transformation.”

5 ) Rhode Island Solar on Schools Initiative. The Solar on Schools Initiative in Rhode Island provides participating school systems with solar photovoltaic installation and web-based data display on the photovoltaic system performance. The data collection as well as display system enables teachers and students to access system performance data and utilize it in science classes as well as other curricula. A primary potion of the funding for the cost of the photovoltaic system and the educational support will come from renewable energy fund as well as the Office of Energy Resources.

6 ) Rhode Island Renewable Energy Projects Receive Millions in Funding. The smallest state in the United States has some major green aspirations. The governor of the state, Lincoln D. Chafee as well as the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation executive director Keith Stokes announced in November 2011 the disbursement of $2.7 million in federal stimulus funding to 16 municipalities and organizations throughout the state for their renewable energy projects. “Lowering the cost of doing business in Rhode Island is a top economic development priority. By providing increased renewable energy alternatives that will help businesses realize energy cost savings that directly contribute to their bottom line, we will make the state more competitive and encourage future industry and job growth,” said RIEDC Executive Director Keith Stokes. “We look forward to funding some exciting new projects, which can be up and running by next year through this RFP.”

7 ) Rhode Island Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council. The Rhode Island Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council was established to “Provide an integrated, comprehensive, public, stakeholder-driven organizational structure to secure for Rhode Island and its people the full supply, economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency, conservation and resource management.” The purposes of the council are to evaluate as well as make recommendations for energy programs and plans, provide stakeholder involvement in energy planning, evaluate and monitor the overall effectiveness of energy programs, and lately promote public understanding and awareness to energy issues.

8 ) Rhode Island Rebuilds Water Treatment Plants to Utilize Green Technology. In January of 2011, senior federal and state elected and environmental officials announced new efforts to aid in the rebuilding of Rhode Island water treatment plants that were heavily damaged by devastating floods over the spring months. These new water treatment plants will include state-of-the-art energy efficient and green technologies. “This is a smart investment in our state’s water and sewer infrastructure that will improve water quality and reduce costs. Energy efficiency upgrades are expected to help this Warwick facility reduce energy use by up to 30%,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who noted that Rhode Island has received more than $135 million in federal funding so far to help the state recover from last spring’s flood. “The floods last spring were devastating, but we will continue to rebuild and repair in a way that strengthens our community and ensures that we are better prepared going forward.”

9 ) Rhode Island Green Building Act. The Rhode Island Green Building Act passed in November of 2009 by Senator Louis P. DiPalma was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Carieri and requires that all brand new major public facility projects and major business renovations throughout the state be designed and then constructed in conformance with high performance green building standards. “We are no longer in an era when environmentally friendly design is a luxury. Not only are green building materials and systems more affordable and available than they used to be, but environmentally responsible design pays off in lower costs for energy, water and more over the life of a building. Building green is good for the health of our environment, the public and the bottom line. It’s time we made it the standard,” said Senator DiPalma.

10 ) Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation. The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation maintains responsibility for management solid waste and recyclables in Rhode Island. It is made up of landfill management and recycling professionals that are committed to providing environmentally safe and economically sound safe solid waste management services to the community of Rhode Island. Some of the general services provided include sanitary landfilling, recyclables sorting and processing, commercial composting, construction and demolition debris grinding, and small vehicle waste sorting area.

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.

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