Leaving Inman, speedwalking, heading up Broadway. It’s Cambridge, a month ago. And I’m on foot, all alone, and in a blizzard. No worries, I’ve just had a great meal, left the kids’ warm home… heading only ten blocks or so to our Harvard Square Airbnb.
It’s intense… I’m breathing in snow, it’s cold, I’m unprepared. My face is white, snow melting down my neck… Terry would hate this! Yet, I smile, I think of psychologist and teacher Herb Leff and his cognitive sets. Look at this for its best virtues. I’m from California. This is cool, really cool, literally and figuratively. How often does someone from LA get caught in a white out? Gotta love it, embrace it, breathe it in. How lucky I am. Then quickly, I’m in a heated vestibule… the experience over, cold fades to wet, and then wet to dry.
“Dad, you did a really good job,” said my daughter Skye. I was honored to have been asked to be a guest lecturer at the Harvard Law School, for its brand new Climate Solutions Living Lab. And I was happy that my two-hour seminar went well, students were fully engaged, one of my very best critics pleased and likely relieved.
The Living Lab’s students come from a number of disciplines – from the Law School, the Business School, the School of Public Health (where Skye works), Engineering, and the Kennedy School of Government. I present means of innovative financing for clean energy… and use two current clients as case studies for the class, EcoMotion’s work with creating microgrids and PERCs at 12 school sites in Monterey and Santa Clara counties. Father-daughter, we walk through the main quad, then down Mass Ave. to a delectable and hip Cambridge restaurant.
Flying into the Bay Area… the hills so verdant, so green. They’re mellow, soft, rolling contours… so different from the dry and rocky geography around LA. The morning sun makes the landscape idyllic; shadows poetic. Gotta love the Southwest commuter experience.
From my aerial standpoint, I see that this paradise is just miles from the busy Bay Area civilization. Jeep trails run everywhere, there are a few homesteads, private all but from the air. We land in Oakland where pilots seem to have more license to wheel the planes around like parking garage attendants. Deplane, pass wine bars, 15-minute masseurs.
AirBart, the infamous bus ride from hell (well from the airport to BART’s Oakland Coliseum stop) is two year’s gone, replaced with a sleek light rail system, the 3.2-mile Oakland Airport Connector. It’s an “autonomous cable-driven system” built by the Austrian company Doppelmayr. We momentarily stop at the center-point wheelhouse to switch from one cable to another. Sure, critics say it cost too much to build ($464 million), and now that it costs too much to ride ($6 each way), but BART officials are pleased with its operation and airport officials see an uptick in airport passengers.
Going to visit Advanced Microgrid Solutions; excited I am. CEO and Founder Susan Kennedy is sharp as a tack, on fire leading her company’s transformative role, and a friend. I walk from the Montgomery BART station, passing restaurants and watering holes. It’s St. Patrick’s Day and I think of Sheilds, fellow Irishman. He introduced me to AMS. Don’t think I’ll drink any green beer today, but lots of young San Franciscans are! A sunny and warm day in the Bay Area it is and the sun-starved are out in droves.
The AMS office is hip and happening. Black walls accentuate grey and white patterns, open seating, glass bull-pen offices, break areas fully stocked with healthy snacks. I have a kombucha. Susan gives me a tour of her growing operation, over 50 staff now. I meet engineers and programmers; AMS now has three lawyers. AMS is installing battery banks – notably Tesla PowerPacks – with super-smart controllers at facilities across the country. Its business model is one of fully financed systems, with savings guarantees for host sites. We hit the roof deck to discuss EcoMotion’s PERCs, Powered Emergency Response Centers.
Home, Glendale… one of LA’s original bedroom communities. I check our new solar system to be rewarded by how much power we’ve generated that day. On weekends, I check several times a day. I’m a bit obsessed. This is our third solar house; this system powers 100% of our electricity use. Our 7.8 kW system is testing two kinds of panels, 300-watt Silfab panels and 300-watt frameless, bifacial Sunpreme panels that collect photons of sunlight from above and below. Our Delta inverter is silent; no annoying “sound of power.” Feels good to own and operate a carbon-free power plant.
I arrive early, unlocking the front door to the P. Intercontinental Building here at Pershing Square in Los Angeles. This is a classic old building. I take the old and creaky wooden stairway to the second floor, to EcoMotion’s new office. The hallways are fresh, newly carpeted, and brightly lit with LEDs. The building was built in 1907, there’s old wood molding, a well-used sense to this four-story relic among LA’s giant skyscrapers. My office is spacious with exposed brick walls, a large operable casement window with a view of the tree outside and Olive Street scene below.