PolicyPalooza 2013 Recap: Three Big Days in Sacramento

policypalooza After last year’s epic USGBC California Road to Greenbuild/"Top10"Advocacy Day, more than one commentator posed the “how can we top this?” question. It turns out that there was little need to worry. This year’s model, PolicyPalooza 2013, was bigger, better and bolder, comprising three full days of meetings, sessions and convening.

We began by assembling the morning of the 17th at our headquarters, the aptly named Citizen Hotel, for our annual Day at the Capitol. Over 50 representatives from the eight statewide Chapters made the trip. After a breakfast briefing, advocates fanned out across the Capitol to tell over 50 legislators and their staffs about USGBC California’s organization and “big-tent” membership, our mission, vision, policies and principles, our sponsored and supported legislation, our budget initiatives like CO2toEE, and our ability to consult on a wide range of expert issues.

kevindeleonAdvocacy Day concluded with a gala “Green Hard Hat Award” Reception honoring the efforts of Senator Kevin de León for “transformational leadership financing a sustainable California,” most recently chairing the Prop 39 campaign, shepherding implementation for K-12 school retrofit financing through Senate Bill 39 (holding five statewide Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearings where USGBC California representatives testified) and setting the stage for utility on-bill repayment programs through SB 37. Also recognized were Sustainable Ag icon Rich Rominger (Governor Brown’s first term Secretary of Agriculture and the overseer of the Organic Certification as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Administration), AB 341 author Assemblymember Roger Dickinson and South Bay legislative champion Assemblymember Paul Fong. Kudos to program participants Dan Geiger, USGBC’s Jeremy Sigmon and Sacramento stalwart Brian Sehnert. Keeping with longstanding tradition, the reception concluded with Kevin Hydes and yours truly leading a semi-rousing rendition of “You Are My Sunshine,” set to new lyrics.

exhibitThis year USBGC California joined forces with Green Technology Magazine to become a major Educational Partner for the 2013 Green California Summit. We succeeded in putting on a mini-Greenbuild of informative and entertaining programs. Three of the four major event speakers, 2011 USGBC Leadership Award Winner Greg Katz, Center for Green Schools Director Rachel Gutter and Next Generation Energy & Climate Program VP Kate Gordon, had strong USGBC ties. The six-session USGBC California Track featuring leading voices across a range of important advocacy issues spanning Building Code (featuring USGBC California Vice-Chair Wes Sullens) to Healthy Buildings (with NCC Board member Anthony Bernheim) to Land Use Planning and LEED ND (featuring Sustainable Communities Co-Chair Scott Watkins). Green Schools topics comprised four other sessions presented by Alice Sung, Farah McDill and Pauline Souza, and Kevin Nunn and Tenaya Asan led another program devoted to residential finance topics. In addition to eleven “large” sessions, we debuted more informal interactive “Pull Up a Chair” sessions at the double-wide USGBC California booth where Kevin and Tenaya reprised their presentations, Lorna Fear talked about home envelope assessment, Susan Rainer described the Living Building Challenge, and Randy Potter presented zero energy home strategies.

neighborhoodsgogreenThe USGBC California booth also faced across a temporary installation of the Neighborhoods Go Green! Exhibit installed by PolicyPalooza MVP Scott Watkins leading a team of Paul Wermer, NCC Staffers Marcia, Monica and Sarah and Capital Branchers Jessica Morrow, Regina Souchek and Shelly Didley. Diablo East Bay Branch leader Marsha Golangco added a helpful, cheerful presence throughout. Once the Summit ended, Team NGG!, aided by Brian Sehnert and Jackie Cole of Ecoconsult, made the move of the exhibit to the Capitol Dining Area for the rest of April.

So… it is safe to say that we kicked up quite a lot of dust over the three days of PolicyPalooza. While we recognize that there’s always a lot of following up afterwards, we can say that all of us within USGBC are having an impact on state level, we’re creating mindshare, and we’re starting to make our voices heard on a wide range of issues. And, with a nod to the late, great Molly Ivins, we’re having some fun doing it, too.


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