Jan 3, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
When we wrote about SVLG's CEO's speech on August 30, here's how we described the group: The Silicon Valley Leadership Group started out as the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group. Founded by David Packard in 1977, it changed its name in 2005 to reflect its broader constituencies. Its 200+ members employ over 250,000 people (1/4 of the area's workforce) and generate over $1 trillion of business.
Now SVLG has unveiled its Silicon Valley "Clean & Green" Energy Action Plan, saying, "The following list of projects and initiatives has been embraced by the Leadership Group's members. We welcome additional community, business and individual participation, and invite your comments and suggestions." PHEVs are high on the list. Excerpt below, followed by a lead column on page B1 of the Wall Street Journal about the significance of SVLG's efforts.
http://www.svlg.net/Action/SV_Clean_Green_Energy_Action_List.htm Building a Market for Alternative Fuel Vehicles One way to substantially reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is to dramatically increase our use of alternative fuels. The challenge is the limited production of such vehicles and the lack of infrastructure to support them-a chicken and egg dilemma. Employers can help change that dynamic by demonstrating that there is a market for such vehicles. They can offer incentives to their employees to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles, they can change their fleet specifications to favor the purchase of flexible fuel vehicles, place a "soft" order for plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles [a statement that the organization will "seriously consider" purchasing a stated number of vehicles if they are produced by automakers], and/or they can sign a consumer petition in support of plug-in hybrid-electric flexible fuel vehicles. They can also communicate information about these opportunities to their employees.
Mission: By demonstrating widespread
support, we can motivate automakers to act.
Get involved: Contact Plug-in Partners, and place your 'soft-order'.
Contact: Laura Stuchinsky
Links: Plug-in Partners http://www.pluginpartners.org/
Wall Street Journal January 3, 2007; Page B1 PORTALS By LEE GOMES It's Not That Easy Being Green, but Techs Are Trying This Year http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116776457794765118.html
Quick, name the speech in which Al Gore said the following: "Climate change is an important environmental issue. The broad consensus of established scientific experts is that warming can be attributed to human activities. Significant steps are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
OK, it's a trick question. The sentences are taken from the Web site of Intel and represent the chip maker's official position.
Among U.S. companies, such explicit declarations that global warming is real and worrisome are still relatively rare. The position on manmade warming from the National Association of Manufacturers, for example, is less definitive. "We aren't entirely persuaded," says a spokeswoman. "There is evidence out there, but it is not conclusive. The mainstream media ignores research that goes against global warming."
In Silicon Valley, though, climate change is pretty much taken as a given. It's part of the tech industry's shift in recent years toward the green end of the spectrum. This year, Silicon Valley delegates -- in a combination of good will and self-interest -- will be fanning out across the country to preach on the issue to the unconverted.
Just last week, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a regional business booster association founded in 1977 by David Packard, of H-P fame, announced a 12-point campaign called Clean and Green that takes traditional regional planning issues, such as ride-sharing and mass transit, and frames them in the context of global warming. The same group made headlines earlier last year by breaking with other California business groups to endorse the legislation being pushed by nouveau-environmentalist Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to limit greenhouse gases, among other steps.
Carl Guardino, the tech group's CEO, says the position on global warming has the support of all 210 member companies, which includes virtually all of the area's major technology players. Mr. Guardino says his group will be spending this year challenging business groups around the U.S. to follow the example set by his association, such as to greatly increase car pooling at local companies.
Silicon Valley is often associated with liberal political causes. Mr. Gore, for instance, is on the board of Apple Computer. But inside the valley, most tech companies aren't especially political. Certainly, Intel tends to stay away from controversial issues. The same for Hyperion Solutions, a software maker that gives a $5,000 bonus to employees who buy cars that get better than 45 miles to the gallon, which essentially means hybrids like the Prius.
"These are engineers and they are really good at looking at science," says Mr. Guardino. "And the science with climate change is undeniable."
As for the politics, Mr. Guardino is bipartisan, praising both Republican Sen. John McCain and California's two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. As for the White House, Mr. Guardino sighs, "we have not been successful in capturing the attention of the current administration."
In some ways, it's easy for Silicon Valley to be on the green vanguard -- far easier than it might be for, say, the coal industry. Among the region's several current economic booms is one involving clean technology, a broad category that is one of the busiest areas for venture-capital investing. Because many of these clean-tech start-ups are located in the area, expressing a concern about the environment in Silicon Valley is close to doing an advertisement for itself.
Also, increasing power consumption is proving to be one of the technology industry's biggest impediments to growth. These days, companies across nearly all industries have back rooms stuffed with "server" computers requiring enormous amounts of electricity to operate and to cool. Often, companies can't buy more servers because extra electricity isn't available at any price. Many utilities, especially those in crowded urban areas, are telling customers they simply have no more power to sell.
Tech companies know they have to make more energy-efficient products if they want to keep selling them. That's one reason Silicon Valley has been looking for an assist from federal environmental regulators. Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency is in the early stages of developing Energy Star standards for computer servers, just as it has done for refrigerators and washing machines.
Of course, green is relative. As a significant user of energy, computer technology is itself one of the causes of climate change that the industry is concerned about. It has been calculated that considering only the power it takes to use a home computer connected to a typical Web application, and the servers involved, the average American uses as much energy as a resident of the developing world in the same period.
But this is an industry used to challenges.
"When engineers look at the energy issue, they see it as another problem that can be overcome," says Andrew Fanara, the EPA official working on the Energy Star project. "They seem to have an ability to engineer their way out of anything."