Saturday, March 27, 2010

Colorado Adopts 30 Percent Renewable Energy Standard for Electricity by 2020; "Cements" Colorado's Reputation as Center of "New Energy Economy"

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has signed into law legislation requiring that 30 percent of electricity generated by state regulated utilities be from renewable sources by 2020. It represents the largest renewable portfolio standard in the U.S. Rocky Mountain West.

According to the Governor, the law will create thousands of new jobs and result in 100,000 solar rooftops between now and 2020. Please click here to listen to Gov. Ritter's remarks about this historic legislation.

In signing the legislation, Gov. Ritter said, "Today we continue to chart a new course for Colorado's New Energy Economy and America's clean energy economy. Colorado is giving every state and the entire nation a template for tomorrow. This is a game-changer. We are transforming the future of Colorado and our country."

Over the past six years Colorado's renewable energy goals for electricity generation by 2020 have increased from zero in 2003, to 10 percent in 2004, to 20 percent in 2007, to 30 percent in 2010. The law calls for three percent of the 30 percent to be met by local solar power.

The measure, which was supported by the state's largest electricity provider Xcel Energy, was embraced by Environment Colorado (EC). "Today we've truly 'hit it out of the park,' taking Colorado's vision for new energy future to the big leagues," Pam Kiely, program director with EC, said.

As this blog has reported many times, Colorado is at the center of the nation's new energy economy. Come learn about it at the Sturm College of Law, where you will find an impressive and steadily increasing offering of energy and renewable energy offerings taught by the nation's best renewable energy policy and technology experts and practitioners.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Matthew N. Wagner Earns 2010 "Masters of Resource Law Studies Student of the Year" Award

Matt Wagner has earned the 2010 "Masters of Resource Law Studies Student of the Year" award. The award is presented annually to the student with the highest grade point average in the Master's of Resource Law Studies (MRLS) program at the Sturm College of Law.

Mr. Wagner, who also has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Indiana, had a long and impressive career in professional communications before enrolling at the University of Denver in August 2009. His experience included serving as a principal at Public Strategies Inc., a Washington, D.C., communications consulting and strategy firm where he supervised an effort to rebuild investor confidence in the capital markets following the stock market upheaval in 2002. In 2005 he joined LeGrand Hart consulting in Denver where he was lead client counselor and strategist for several of the firm's largest accounts.

While studying at DU he has worked in an externship role at Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's Energy Office, the key state government agency aimed at establishing Colorado as the center of "the new energy economy." Currently Mr. Wagner is serving as interim director of communications for Freedom to Roam, a Denver-based coalition of leading business, government and conservation organizations formed to improve understanding and funding for wildlife corridor conservation efforts.

Don Smith, Director of the MRLS program, said, "Matt Wagner was a successful communications professional before beginning his studies in the MRLS program. He has performed exceptionally well as a student in our program. Matt has chosen to complement his communications expertise with a growing understanding of key environmental and natural resources issues. His work should position him well to effectively address the types of environmental and natural resources issues that are and will continue to face businesses, governments, and NGOs in the future. Assistant Director Lucy Daberkow and I are confident that Matt has taken the steps that will establish him as a leader in this growing field."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Article by DU Law Professor Published in "Revista de Derecho Ambiental," a Leading South American Environmental Law Journal

Graduate program director Don C. Smith was recently published in the "Revista de Derecho Ambiental" (Journal of Environmental Law), a Buenos Aires-based publication that is distributed across the whole of South America and is read by the leading environmental law practitioners and academics across the continent.

His article was titled, “Políticas de energía y cambio climático de los Estados Unidos al inicio de la administración Obama: Legislación, regulación o ambas." (In English the title is, "Energy and Climate Change Policies in the United States at the beginning of the Obama Administration: Legislation, Regulation, or Both.") It can be found in issue 19 of the journal beginning on page 257.

In essence, the article explained the energy policies of President Obama and legislative and regulatory actions taken through the summer of 2009. He intends to write a follow up piece later this year explaining the events that have transpired since the publication of the first article. The invitation to write for the prestigious South American journal was extended by Prof. Néstor A. Cafferatta, a well-known and highly respected environmental law professor in Argentina who has also worked in the Argentine Environmental Ministry.

Producing the final version of the article involved a team effort of three graduate program actors. Prof. Smith wrote the article in English and Assistant Program Director Lucy Daberkow translated it into Spanish with the help of Noemí Nuñez, a 2009 LLM graduate.

The DU LLM graduate program has a long and rich history of attracting many of the brightest and most talented individuals from South America. Through this academic year, the graduate program has had students from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Perú, and Venezuela. Many of these students now hold high level positions in law firms and natural resources companies spanning the entire continent.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brazilian LLM Student Glauce Santesso Coelho Wins "2010 Outstanding LLM Student of the Year"

Glauce Santesso Coelho, an LLM student from São Paulo, Brazil, has earned the "Outstanding LLM Student of the Year" for 2010. The award is presented on an annual basis to the student with the highest grade point average in the LLM program.

Ms. Coelho, a graduate from the prestigious Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, is a licensed member of the Brazilian Bar. Her professional career began at two of the most well-known and well-respected law firms in Brazil, Demarest & Almeida and Mattos Filho Advogados. At these firms she gained knowledge and expertise about civil and business law.

In 2008, Ms. Coelho moved to the U.S. with her husband, Eber Coelho, to pursue an international career. In August 2008 she began her studies at the Sturm College of Law where she has gained significant expertise in the key areas of environmental and natural resources law and policy.

Don Smith, Director of the LLM program said, "Glauce Santesso Coelho is one of the finest LLM students ever to study in the University of Denver graduate program. It has been a pleasure for all of us at the law school to have her as a student and soon as a graduate of the program. Ms. Coelho has a very promising career ahead of her. She will be a leader in Brazil as her home country becomes one of the most important and influential economic powers in the world."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Global Mining News" Publication Available for Free from Behre Dolbear

Those interested in the global mining sector should be sure and check out the freely available "Global Mining News" (GBN) from the consultancy Behre Dolbear, one of the world's oldest mining industry service firms.

The company specializes "in performing studies and consulting for a wide range of businesses with interests in the minerals industry including major and junior mining companies, banks and other lenders, venture capital syndications and private individuals, [and] government agencies..." Behre Dolbear is headquartered in downtown Denver, providing another reason why many call Denver the "mining services capital of the world."

The latest edition of the Global Mining News (March 15, 2010) includes stories from Reuters, Hong Kong Standard, Mining, Bloomberg, and Economic Times India. The far-reaching coverage of the GMN makes it an invaluable resources for those in the mining sector.

You can subscribe to the GMN by writing to

Monday, March 22, 2010

Erick Hartzell, Project Manager for Haselden Construction, on Construction of Net Zero Energy Building at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Recently Lucy Daberkow, Assistant Program Director, interviewed Erick Hartzell of Haselden Construction about the firm's involvement with a "net zero building", the Research Support Facility, Haselden is building for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, about 25 miles from the University of Denver campus. The interview follows:

1. When was the project started? When will it be completed?

We were awarded the project in July of 2008 and started with design. Construction started in February 2009 and will complete in June of 2010.

2. How did you become involved in the project? What are your responsibilities?

I became involved in October 2008 and am responsible for design coordination, budgets, material procurement, billings, schedule, scope changes, and ensuring we exceed the customer’s expectations on this project. I’m assisting in public relations.

3. What makes this construction different from other projects you’ve been involved in?

This could be a very long list. The contract delivery is a design-build approach, where we are contracted to design and build to a performance specification. It takes intense collaboration and more work upfront, but worth the effort for all parties. The traditional delivery method is design-bid-build where the design team draws the plans, the contractor bids what is on the plans, and anything not included in the plans or specifications is a change. In design-build, the owner states what they want the building to do (in this case, office a certain number of people, meet certain energy usage requirements, meet maintenance requirements, and many other requirements that filled a 3” binder). The design-build team then provides a proposal of how they will solve the problem (meet the owner’s project requirements) for a guaranteed firm fixed price. Haselden and our architect, RNL, competed against 2 other groups and our proposed solution was selected by the client as the best value.

This is a cutting edge project, and as such, every detail is scrutinized far beyond anything I’ve experienced in the past. The accepted system for rating green buildings is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The highest level of building certification is Platinum. The Research Support Facility (RSF) will use around ½ the energy of a traditional LEED Platinum building. Therefore, details that are generally “good” applications in general industry will not work because of thermal bridging or other energy hindering performance issues.

The building uses thermal mass and radiant heating and cooling as the principal means of controlling the internal environment. This is not a new approach, but not common in today’s commercial environment. The paradox is that in designing and building a cutting edge office space, we are getting back to basics in many respects.

4. Anything else you think we should know about this project…

There is a misconception that this building is built with unlimited Federal funding but this is certainly not the case. One of the design-build problems to solve is how to create this building at a commercially viable price point with materials that are readily available. This is critical to the Department of Energy and to NREL. The project team is generating a “lessons learned” manual which will be shared throughout the industry to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings.

This will be a “Net Zero Energy Building” with photovoltaic panels generating enough energy to offset the energy the building uses. This will be the largest Net Zero Energy Building in the world when it opens this summer.

--Lucy Daberkow

Sunday, March 21, 2010

U.K. Conversative Party Endorses Carbon Tax on Generation of Electricity

With a British general election now just weeks away (probably in early May according to most election observers), the major parties are beginning to expand on their campaign proposals. On Friday, the U.K. Conservative Party, under the leadership of David Cameron (in the picture), announced that it will enact legislation -- if elected to govern -- establishing a floor on the price of carbon in the energy sector.

A Conservative Government would implement "revenue neutral" legislation providing "incentives primarily for future generating capacity rather than [penalizing] existing capacity." The legislation would be put in place for 25 years so as to match the life of all but the longest investments in [electricity] capacity."

The policy is set out in "Rebuilding Security: Conservative energy policy for an uncertain world," which was released last Friday.

The Conservatives' energy proposal is particularly interesting since they are likely to form the next British Government. The Labour Party, which has governed since 1997, is seen as widely unpopular at this point. The fact that the Conservatives have taken the lead, in a sense, in the energy debate is one indication of how far Labour has fallen.