CBS Newsletter
Winter 1995
pg. 5

Energy Efficiency Takes Root at the Presidio of San Francisco

The Presidio from the Golden Gate Bridge

The Presidio of San Francisco, recently turned over to the National Park Service, should soon be home to a sustainable development center. Thanks to a public- and private-sector vision of a world-class center for improving the global environment, the Clinton Administration and the Coalition for the Presidio Pacific Center-a group of mainly private-sector interests in the Bay Area-have joined forces to found the Institute for Sustainable Development at the Presidio. One of the Institute's first and most important initiatives is establishing an energy efficiency and renewable energy training activity.

The training initiative emerged at both federal and local levels. In Washington, an interagency task force headed by the White House and the Office of Science and Technology Policy has been generating ideas for sustainable development programs at the Presidio, strongly supporting the concept of a training activity for energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Coalition for the Presidio Pacific Center also supported the training idea. The efforts of Mark Levine, Energy Analysis Program Head and Stephen Wiel, the Energy and Environment Division's Washington D.C. Office leader were central to bridging the gap between the federal and local visions into a single project. DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewables and its director, Christine Ervin, are playing a role in implementing this initiative.

During the next three decades, energy use in the developing world is expected to quadruple. The result will be a large increase in emissions of greenhouse gases, particulate matter, and water pollution. The aim of the new Institute, according to Mark Levine, is to "promote the transformation of energy systems around the world from their current inefficient use of depletable resources to a much more efficient and sustainable system."

Although many energy-efficiency and environmental technologies exist, there is a barrier to the adaptation and widespread use of these advanced technical systems throughout the world. Levine and others on the Presidio task force believe that the paucity of institutions and lack of skilled personnel are a primary factor slowing the spread of cleaner, more efficient technologies. Developing a credible institution with the mission of improving the transfer of knowledge and skills to countries that need them can make a tremendous difference to the health of the global environment.

Goals of the Presidio Pacific Center

Participants in the planning process see the Center, and the Institute it will house, helping to coordinate U.S.-sponsored international energy efficiency and renewable energy training. They hope it will become a testing ground for developing new training ideas and methods that promote environmental sustainability. They also see it acting, in the long run, as a resource base, providing expertise or seed funding to create training programs in the home countries of visitors. In addition to providing a service to the international community, these activities benefit U.S. energy efficiency and renewable energy manufacturers, since they are among the world leaders in the export of these goods and services.

The challenge is to identify and target the training to the energy efficiency experts in developing countries who are expected to have a significant influence on future efficiency and renewable energy technology decisions. In the near term, the objectives are more modest but just as critical. These include securing core funding for start-up and operation of the training activity; identifying and leasing appropriate building space; developing a detailed management plan; development and testing of training courses; and identifying and recruiting the Center's leadership.

The Center's planners expect that it will open its doors and begin offering courses in September 1995. Before then, it will need to complete all of its curriculum planning and development, establish a library of materials, identify participants from countries that can benefit, and, of course, ensure that all physical infrastructure is complete.

In recent planning meetings between the interagency task force and the Coalition for the Presidio Pacific Center, serious efforts toward developing a business plan for the Center began. The task force is establishing links to domestic and international organizations that address energy efficiency and renewable energy policy and forging partnerships with corporate and foundation sponsors of the Center.

Annual operating costs of the Presidio Pacific Center will average about $6 to $9 million per year once it is fully operational. Around $3 million will come from federal sources the rest from private-sector and foundation contributions.

Already, the Center has received a federal commitment of $800,000 for planning and curriculum development, with a matching contribution to be made by the Coalition for the Presidio Pacific Center, bringing initial planning and start-up funds to $1.6 million.

—Nathan Martin

Info icon

Mark D. Levine
Head, Energy Analysis Program
(510) 486-5238; (510) 486-6996 fax


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