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The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has awarded a Public Works grant to SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab partner, Santa Fe Community College (SFCC). This EDA investment will support SFCC’s Building Energy Automation and Microgrid Training Center (BEAMtc), supplied with the necessary equipment to train workers to meet industry driven job demand. The total project budget is over $700,000, with cost-share from the State of New Mexico and Siemens Industry

Siemens, recently acknowledged as the leading microgrid company in North America, was a partner in the Building Energy for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) initiative that informs the design of the Building Energy Automation Lab. The national BEST Center supports publicly-funded 2- and 4-year colleges with programs in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R), controls, building automation, and energy/facilities management. Sponsored by Advanced Technological Education grants from the National Science Foundation, this national collaborative promotes state-of-the-art building technician education and dissemination of the latest research, technology, and industry collaborations in energy efficient buildings. Current partners are Laney College (CA), Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Milwaukee Area Technical College, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The Microgrid Training Center will incorporate building energy management techniques as a component of smart energy systems design, and develop these principles in a “nanogrid” serving SFCC’s new Greenhouse complex for advanced hydroponics and aquaponics. Based on a conceptual design by The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Siemens’ engineers will develop and deploy a complete operating system including multiple generation sources, demand management, storage, thermal loops, islanding capability, and Siemens’s utility-grade Spectrum MGMS microgrid controller.

Both the building energy lab and the Greenhouse nanogrid will be come nodes on the proposed campus-wide microgrid, which is currently in development.

EDA’s mission is to lead the Federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.  EDA implements this mission by making strategic investments that encourage private sector collaboration and the creation of jobs.  EDA investments are results driven, embracing the principles of technological innovation, entrepreneurship and regional development.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is collaborating with SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL), a partnership with Santa Fe Community College (SFCC), in their efforts to develop an advanced campus-wide microgrid for training, research, and testing and validation. NREL is a member of MSL, and SFCC is a founding MSL partner with responsibility for workforce and professional development initiatives.

The campus microgrid will be a state-of-the-art facility, unique among community colleges and comparable to university campus installations, with an emphasis on supporting the college’s educational mission, sustainability goals, operational efficiencies, and MSL’s strategic objectives. It will link existing assets, including a 1.5 megawatt photovoltaic array and a district heating and cooling system, with new technology that is capable of demonstrating the full range of advanced microgrid functionality.

In addition to allowing students to experience hands-on exercises in a functional environment, the campus microgrid is expected to eventually integrate with NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility for grid-scale simulations and modeling, along with other regional microgrid assets. This will allow MSL members and other utility and industry technology developers to test and validate new components and configurations in a controlled-consequence, real-world setting. The vision and objectives for the microgrid were developed through an intensive participatory design process led by MSL, incorporating input from SFCC faculty, staff, and administration, and an external experts panel featuring many of MSL’s member institutions (Duke Energy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Smart Cities Council, Sandia National Laboratories, and NREL).

Greenhouse “Nanogrid”

The first phase of this effort will focus on a single building energy system, sometimes known as a “nanogrid,” to be developed as part of the design and construction of a new Greenhouse facility. The SFCC Greenhouse will incorporate advanced aquaponics and hydroponics techniques, and will illustrate highly efficient uses of water, energy, and recyled wastes. The nanogrid, by optimizing energy generation, storage, and consumption, will therefore be an excellent complement. It also supports the goal of creating a replicable self-sustaining greenhouse configuration that can be located anywhere, including off-grid sites; and SFCC’s approach to an “energy systems” orientation in its curriculum design. The nanogrid design and development is funded by a Capital Outlay allocation from the State of New Mexico, and MSL serves as Project Manager.

NREL Contribution

As the nation’s primary energy efficiency and renewable energy laboratory, NREL develops clean energy and energy efficiency technologies and practices, advances related science and engineering, and provides knowledge and innovations to integrate energy systems at all scales. NREL serves as co-lead for DOE’s comprehensive new Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan, a blueprint for the Department’s research, development, and demonstration agenda to enable a modernized grid. NREL will bring its unique array of experts and resources together to participate in 48 of the 88 awarded projects announced thus far in a $220 million funding round.

In its role with the long-term SFCC infrastructure development effort, NREL will serve as the primary technology design partner for the first phase nanogrid. Its contributions will encompass a general project assessment of goals and factors; establishing an energy and infrastructure baseline of current usage patterns and assets; a series of use case simulations for the Greenhouse; and a conceptual design for the nanogrid to best serve the project objectives. NREL will also evaluate the larger campus infrastructure goals as the context for this initial phase, with an eye toward subsequent stages of development.

Curriculum Offerings

In parallel with the campus infrastructure development, SFCC’s first offerings under its new “Smart Grid and Microgrid Program” are now launched and will be taught in Spring Semester of 2016, and will be further developed and integrated with other aspects of the college’s sustainable technologies offerings. This curriculum development was funded by Santa Fe County, and led by MSL Advisor Christian Casillas, PhD. It currently features a variety of courses linked to Certificates, and Associates of Applied Science Degrees, in the areas of Computer and Information Technology and Solar Technology.

New Mexico Highlands University, one of two core partners in SFIP’s affiliate the Center for Cultural Technology, will offer expanded opportunities thanks to a new degree program to be offered by the Department of Media Arts & Design. On November 17th, the New Mexico Board of Finance approved the MFA in media arts and cultural technology in a unanimous vote. According to Professor Miriam Langer, the new MFA program will build upon a strong 10-year partnership between Highlands and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs in the Center for Cultural Technology (CCT). The partnership places paid interns in museums and other cultural institutions throughout the state as part of the university’s one-of-a-kind AmeriCorps Cultural Technology (ACT) program. Each MFA student will be required to complete a minimum of 600 hours of internship in a cultural setting. Highlands is now submitting the new MFA to the Higher Learning Commission, the university’s accrediting agency, for approval. The new program will begin fall semester 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

The Microgrid Systems Laboratory (MSL), an SFIP joint venture with Santa Fe Community College, was pleased to help develop and participate in the Santa Fe Energy Summit of August, 2015. Convened by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, in collaboration with Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzalez, the Summit “…brought together experts, business and tribal leaders, public officials, and decision makers to advance the clean energy economy in northern New Mexico through innovation, investment, smart policies, and collaboration.” Senator Heinrich sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and has proposed and promoted legislation bearing on several aspects of grid modernization.MSL logo

MSL Managing Director David Breecker worked with staff at the City and the Senator’s New Mexico office to help plan and design the event. MSL was then asked to form a Microgrid Panel as one of three break-out sessions (along with Tribal Energy and the Energy/Water Nexus), which met following keynote remarks from the Senator, and from distinguished guest DOE Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall. Video of the keynotes, including the Senator’s extensive discussion of the value of microgrids and MSL’s contributions, can be seen here, and a radio interview with the Senator and Mayor can be heard here. Read the rest of this entry »

We had the great pleasure of visiting Oaxaca, Mexico recently, an amazing city with striking parallels to SFIP’s home town of Santa Fe: a strong cultural, artistic, and culinary flavor; significant indigenous populations; and efforts to grow both a creative economy and a social impact ecosystem. The potential for collaboration was immediately evident, and the opportunity to do so presented itself serendipitously.

Oaxaca graffitiIn addition to outstanding cultural institutions, a well-preserved colonial-era downtown, fabulous restaurants, artisanal craft villages of world renown, and Zapotec ruins (including their capital city of Monte Alban), the overall spirit of the place is warm, friendly, cheerful, and welcoming.

Happily, we had heard about Hub Oaxaca, one of many “impact hubs” worldwide which share interests with SFIP’s impact investing collaboration, IN Santa Fe. A visit to their facility and conversations with key personnel proved fruitful, as we uncovered similarities, shared challenges, and potential solutions; and that resulted in an ongoing dialog with Daniel Oxenhandler, the new curator of the affiliated CATAPULTA  Social Innovation Festival about how we might work together under the framework of “sister social innovation cities” to collaborate on projects and programs, with the working project title “Viejo/Nuevo.” Read the rest of this entry »

This post, on initial activities of SFIP’s collaboration with Story of Place Institute on the IN Santa Fe (Impact Network Santa Fe) impact investing project, originally appeared on the Santa Fe Startup Weekend blog:

“Social entrepreneurs recognize social problems and use entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change. To be one takes courage, a keen mind and a big heart. —It’s no easy gig.”   – Octavious Murphy

Have an idea for something that could really benefit the well being of our community—or the world? Bring it to Santa Fe Startup Weekend!

At this year’s Santa Fe Startup Weekend, participants will get an introduction to thinking more broadly about the kind of social impact their emerging businesses can have.

IN Santa Fe (Impact Network Santa Fe) is championing the idea of “place sourced, impact investing,” to all current entrepreneurs and potential investors. IN Santa Fe’s design combines doing financially well with doing social good. Through the growing network being formed by IN Santa Fe Directors David Breecker and Nicholas Mang, emerging social enterprises can be aligned with potential impact investors to leverage social, environmental, and economic benefits within the communities they thrive in.

What’s different this year?

In addition to basic business coaching that all Startup Weekend events provide, social enterprise coaches will also be made available at Santa Fe Startup Weekend this year to help interested entrepreneurs in developing their “social impact plan” as an integrated part of their overall business concept. When participants get together to explore the value of their potential startups, they will be evaluated for more than just the bottom line. Judges this year will also evaluate those that are looking at overall impact on the society or group in which the venture seeks to market its product or service.

Through this year’s social entrepreneurship experiment, participants will not only get free mentorship, they have a chance to be chosen as a member of the IN Santa Fe “Social Entrepreneur Challenge,” to further learn about building their enterprise with free working space, startup support and connection to a growing network of local impact investors.

So to all those entrepreneurs who want to make a big difference in your community:  bring your ideas to Startup Weekend and join experts in the art and science of the business of doing good. Register here!

Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) recently took a significant step toward fulfilling the goal of integrating creative problem solving techniques with challenges and processes in other domains. The following post originally appeared in the MSL news blog on May 5, 2014:

In support of its human factors work on the DOE-India microgrid pilot feasibility study, MSL convened a cross-sector workshop of a dozen experts drawn from a broad range of  relevant disciplines and on-the-ground experience. The highly successful workshop was co-facilitated and hosted by the Santa Fe Art Institute (an affiliate of MSL partner institution the Santa Fe Innovation Park) and its director Sanjit Sethi, an expert in “design thinking” and its application to many problem-solving settings. It featured a user-centered design approach to the Human, Social, and Cultural (“HSC”) factors bearing on successful technology and energy projects in rural community settings. Joining Sanjit in leading the session were MSL General Manager David Breecker, and Christian Casillas, who recently completed his Ph.D. at the Energy and Resources Group of the University of California, Berkeley. Christian did his field work in community participatory energy planning in Nicaragua, and also has practical experience in India. Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP’s Place Sourced Impact Investing project is now moving into implementation; and given the problems plaguing the financial sector, and its apparent inability to create true prosperity, this partnership with the Story of Place Institute may come at an opportune time. To quote Pavan Sukhdev of Corporation 2020, the market-centric economic model “…is recession-prone, leaves too many people unemployed, widens the gap between the rich and the poor, creates ecological scarcities that affect water and food, and generates envrironmental risks such as climate change.” We can do better.

Building on last Spring’s preparatory work, the PSII implementation strategy has two major components. First, it calls for the selection of a small group of pilot projects and social entrepreneurs, with whom we’ll work very closely to maximize their ventures’ potential returns across a broad range of capitals (e.g., financial, social, human, built, and natural), at the community scale.  Read the rest of this entry »

The St. Michael’s Corridor Revitalization Initiative

SFIP is pleased to lead the renewable energy component of Santa Fe’s RE:MIKE initiative, under its Microgrid Innovation Lab. This initiative, which is designed to catalyze the revitalization of a “Central Santa Fe” district, kicks off with “a participatory festival-style public event on September 21, 22 & 23: A pop-up previtalization of Central Santa Fe.” The RE:ENERGIZE component will feature pop-up renewable generation and infrastructure; an “Energy Village” with displays, electric vehicles, and passive efficiency techniques; a Smart Home demo; and an exploration of what a future “neighborhood energy network” might look like. A fuller description from the initiative’s website follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Some recent readings have conspired with the launch of SFIP’s collaboration with artist Sydney Cooper and the Portray.It project’s design phase, to make us ponder the essential role of the imagination in deep innovation.

Let’s start with the magnificent Marina Warner, one of our most profound scholars of and thinkers in the realms of magic, myth, and mystery. In her new book, “Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights,” she offers the following observations (emphasis added):

“Magic is not simply a matter of the occult or the esoteric, of astrology, Wicca and Satanism; it follows processes inherent to human consciousness and connected to constructive and imaginative thought. The faculties of imagination — dream, projection, fantasy — are bound up with the faculties of reasoning and essential to making the leap beyond the known into the unknown. At one pole (myth), magic is associated with poetic truth, at another (the history of science) with inquiry and speculation. It was bound up with understanding physical forces in nature and led to technical ingenuity and discoveries. Magical thinking structures the processes of imagination, and imagining something can and sometimes must precede the fact or the act; it has shaped many features of Western civilization. But its influence has been constantly disavowed since the Enlightenment, and consequently misunderstood.” Read the rest of this entry »

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