It was Standing Room Only Tuesday night as Cheryl McMurtry and Erica McBride of Arch Nexus talked about how they met the Living Building Challenge and Rich DiGirolami touted the heavy-equipment hybrid systems it is developing for off road equipment.  The MeetUp was held at the impressive new offices of Valley Vision in Oak Park at the corner of 34th Street and 3rd Avenue.

Arch Nexus took an “ugly duckling”, nondescript office building across from the Fox and Goose on R Street and renovated it into a knockout demonstration structure showing how to meet the tough Living Building Challenge (LBC) goals of net energy production and net water export, much tougher than any LEED platinum goals.  So far it is the ONLY such LBC-compliant building in California. Arch Nexus had to be very creative, but the result speaks for itself. The building captures all rainfall, re-uses grey water, is extremely energy-efficient and is covered with PV panels, as well as having “living walls” of foliage inside and out. They are now looking to do the same for a whole city block of buildings or a small neighborhood to come closer to showing how the Living Building goals can be economical.  The current demo had costs about 30% above what a LEED renovation would have required. That was largely due to installing equipment that was far oversized for their needs, but was the smallest size available.

Professor Rustin Vogt at Sac State is preparing to lead a team of engineering students to renovate the Solar Challenge building on campus to meet the LBC rules, so there may be another outstanding example in our area soon.

Rich DiGirolami gave a short presentation on the technology from Terzo that just won the award for Sustainability Innovation of the Year in the region.  As we have written about before, Terzo is attacking a largely overlooked market segment that is responsible for using a lot of diesel fuel and creating massive emissions.  It is the market for off road heavy equipment that uses a lot of hydraulics. By converting to more efficient Terzo modules and becoming an electric hybrid, users can cut fuel use dramatically, downsize the engines they use, and save a great deal of weight. Terzo is getting a great deal of interest from the major OEMs in this space.

Given the amount of Q&A on each presentation, the crowd clearly was very interested in what these companies are doing.   We had a number of first-time attendees who discovered what a gem these MeetUps have become. If you haven’t been to one, you are really missing out.

The MeetUps will return in January, with ten planned sessions for 2019.  Be sure to be on the lookout for our announcements.

Thomas Hall


Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

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