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UC San Diego Students, Area Attorneys and Financial Analysts Win Sustainability Award

May 26, 2010

By Rex Graham

Sustainability Award
UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, center, and Economics Professor Richard Carson, right of Fox, congratulated some of the winners of the university’s 2010 Sustainability Awards on May 25. Winners of the “Collaboration Award” included, from left, Karl Olney and Michael Gollner, students in the Jacobs School of Engineering, and to the right of Carson, Adrianna Kripke and Kelley Gale, attorneys in the San Diego office of the Latham & Watkins’s law firm.

UC San Diego, a national leader in sustainability education, research and campus operations, has recognized a collaborative team of students, legal and bond underwriting experts in its 2010 Sustainability Awards. The seemingly unlikely team played a key role in enabling the San Diego region to win $154 million in low-interest Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs), which are now promoting hundreds of new green jobs and boosting the capacity of locally produced solar energy by an estimated 40 percent, or 20 megawatts of additional solar power.

Nine municipalities, school districts and a water district in 2009 submitted applications for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) as part of the federal Stimulus Package. While many individuals and teams worked diligently on the application process, the group of students, lawyers and financial experts were recognized with the first “Collaboration Award” as part of the UC San Diego Sustainability Award for their extraordinary efforts.

“The inaugural winners of this new category have made a significant and positive impact on our campus and also our entire region,” said Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “They and all of this year’s sustainability award recipients have gone above and beyond to make sustainability part of the university’s education, research, planning, operations and outreach programs.”

The Collaboration Award went to four UC San Diego engineering students, Michael Gollner, Kevin Peng, Karl Olney and Ihab Kayhal, the San Diego office of the Latham & Watkins law firm and the San Francisco-based financial services company Stone & Youngberg.

“By creating this new category of collaboration, we hope this award highlights not only a core value of UC San Diego, but an increasingly important key to the economic vitality of the San Diego region,” said Gary Matthews, vice chancellor for Resource Management and Planning.

The collaboration-award winners were part of a coalition of San Diego stakeholders led by CleanTECH San Diego that captured $154 million in allocations for financing renewable energy projects for public facilities under the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) program.  The total allocations to the San Diego region made up 19 percent of the total allocations going to public agencies nationwide.

“We are delighted that UC San Diego has recognized these individuals and companies,” said Lisa Bicker, president and CEO of CleanTECH San Diego.

“While their tireless efforts helped our region received one in five dollars available nationwide for solar photovoltaic installations, the real story is the expanding public-private partnership they have also nurtured, which will continue to help our region excel as a vibrant clean-technology hub.”

The students, working with Jan Kleissl, an assistant professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, created an analytical spreadsheet tool that enabled the San Diego-area partners to perform engineering and economic analyses of cost, solar energy output, and return on investment of their proposed solar arrays. The sophisticated spreadsheets also allowed the San Diego-area municipalities and school districts to complete four applications per hour (or $3.2 million in requests per hour) - saving valuable time and effort. 

The UC San Diego students also assisted in filing and processing many applications. The UC San Diego Sustainability Awards, announced May 25 at the Institute of the Americas on the UC San Diego campus, were broadened this year to include not only UC San Diego students, faculty, staff and alumni, but also members of the outside community who are engaged in all-out efforts to boost sustainability of the campus and the regional community.

Kelley Gale and Adrianna Kripke, attorneys in the San Diego office of the Latham & Watkins’s law firm, donated hundreds of hours of legal assistance, including providing multiple research memos describing the CREBs opportunity, researching prior issuances, making inquiries with the awarding agencies and other support.

“Adrianna really deserves the credit,” said Gale. “She really rolled up her sleeves and provided one-on-one advice and counsel to municipal applicants and even volunteered over the final critical weekend to review all the applications.”

The bond underwriting firm Stone & Youngberg held seminars with municipal partners to demystify the financial portion of the application process and designed a simple financial pro forma model. Anna Van Degna, a partner in the San Francisco office of Stone & Youngberg, embedded the model in the application process to simplify it for the San Diego municipalities and school districts. The model provided essential quality control and review capability of the financial models prior to the submittal of the applications. “I continue to advise the group,” said Van Degna. “That means helping them evaluate the advantages of CREBs over other financing options.”

Both Latham & Watkins and Stone & Youngberg are well known for their pro bono work for community projects.

Sustainability Award
UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, center, and Economics Professor Richard Carson, right of Fox, pose with many of the winners of the 2010 UC San Diego Sustainability Awards.

“Latham & Watkins and Stone & Youngberg were non-traditional, first time partners that worked outside the capacity of their job descriptions,” said Tony Haymet, vice chairman of CleanTECH San Diego and director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “I hope that other regional resources will step forward to collaborate in a comparable fashion for equally ambitious future campaigns that will face rigorous competition in these fiscally troubled times.”

The other winners of this year’s UC San Diego Sustainability Awards are:

Department: UC San Diego Surplus Sales
Managing previously owned materials, campus departments save money and help the environment with a reuse policy. Surplus Sales saved one department more than $80,000.

Faculty: Robert Pomeroy
UC San Diego Chemistry Department Lecturer Robert Pomeroy mentored 20 mostly undergraduate students in the Biofuels Awareness and Action Network (BAAN). The students convert waste vegetable oil into biodiesel for use in a local farmer’s tractor through a UC San Diego student organization called the Biofuels Action and Awareness Network.

Graduate Student: Lindsay Hatch
Hatch has been dubbed the "silent warrior of sustainability" by her UC San Diego peers in her role as the designated compost waste manager for lab. In addition to managing a compost program, she recycles granola bar wrappers, bicycles to school daily and favors reusable over disposable.

Individual: Matt Finkelstein
This UC San Diego graduate is a leader in promoting food sustainability. He works also with San Diego Roots, spearheaded a campus urban farm project, organizes workshops, and even helps students navigate administrative processes to achieve their sustainability goals.

Staff: Judy Keplinger
Keplinger helped launch the San Diego Supercomputer Center Lunch Garden Co-Op last year with the goal of growing organic food for lunches. The staff pooled their money and created a container garden on a little-used balcony and even schedule master gardener speakers.

Student Group: Ecology Club
In the Ecology Club at UC San Diego’s Preuss School, students converted "The Daily Bulletin" from a paper publication to an electronic one. Club members also process the school's recyclables, plant drought-tolerant plants in the school’s Lorax Garden, compost fruit and vegetable waste and even sponsor beach cleanups.

Undergraduate: Anne Marie Ferruzzi
This UC San Diego resident assistant in I-House and advisor for I-Cares obtained grant funds, donations, prizes, and community volunteers to enable I-Cares to launch an all-green fashion show to raise money for survivors of the Haiti earthquake.

Academic Group: GRAIN
The Global Responsibility and Innovation Network (GRAIN) team is made up of graduate students and engineering alumni who brings together student leaders from the "Design for Development" course and the Entrepreneur Challenge. GRAIN is currently working with Nature and Culture International in South America to protect the Amazonas region of Peru by teaching sustainable agribusiness practices to local communities.

Media Contact: Rex Graham, 858-534-5952, ragraham@ucsd.edu

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