Solar 2021

Sustainability Track: Responsible Solar

Session Moderator: Debbie Coleman

As solar becomes the rising star in the energy sector, there comes the responsibility of encouraging its rise in a manner to sustain living on earth. Although it is possible to place PV panels on poorly insulated buildings, or to construct large PV arrays to power luxury subdivisions, fewer PV panels would be needed for structures created with less embodied energy and lifestyles that consume less energy. What happens to the land beneath the large solar arrays covering acres of earth and to the panels themselves at the end of their life? How can solar assist with food production and cooking? These questions will be addressed with insightful presentations in the Responsible Solar Session of the Sustainability Track as examples are shared by individuals, businesses, non-profits and local government.


Aug 05 2021


4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


West Ballroom


  • Amanda Cotton
    Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

    I have been working for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for 13 years, initially leading the Get the Lead Out program promoting non-lead tackle and then moved into coordinating the Minnesota Electronics Recycling Act. E-waste falls under Product Stewardship and over the years I have been able to work on additional products that need proper end-of-life management, such as batteries, carpet and solar panels. I believe that these discussions need to include views of everyone in the field, which is what my co-worker John Gilkeson and I have tried to do with the PV panel recycling topic.
    Presentation Title: A Review of Minnesota’s PV Panel Recycling Stakeholder Process

    Presentation Description: While the United States is excelling at moving from fossil fuels to green energy, such as solar, we have not prepared for how to manage and pay for the end-of-life of solar panels and additional equipment and infrastructure. We need to create a circular economy/sustainable materials management system where we are recycling and recovering valuable and highly engineered resources vs. landfill disposal. Now is the time for industry and other stakeholders to work together because “…proper end-of-life management is an indispensable issue for “clean” energy technologies.” [IRENA-IEA PVPS Task 12 PV Sustainability, Report IEA‐PVPS T12‐10:2018, page 5.]

  • Barry Febos
    21 Acres Center for Sustainable Living

    Barry Febos is the Energy Manager & Educator at 21 Acres a non-profit based in Woodinville, WA that promotes integrated climate solutions through agroecology, green building, and local food systems. Barry has an MS in Appropriate Technology from Appalachian State University where he developed regenerative energy and soil building systems for resource-limited local farmers. He has diverse work experience ranging from the design, construction, and analysis of renewable energy systems and buildings to cooperative business management, writing, art and education. Barry is a passionate advocate for sustainable technology and has been a panelist and presenter at a variety of conferences.
    Presentation Title: Integrated climate solutions from the food system and built environment

    Presentation Description: There is no silver bullet for solving the climate crisis, instead there are a plethora of climate solutions that we must integrate into daily life from the personal to the societal scale. The 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living works to demonstrate this approach using their LEED Platinum building and farm campus as a living laboratory of integrated climate solutions. Barry Febos, Energy Manager and Educator at 21 Acres, will explore their agroecological vision and the integrated sustainable technologies, practices and systems on campus, that work to model a symbiosis of regenerative agriculture and green building.

  • Kate Collardson
    BayWa RE
  • Mindy Fox
    Solar Cookers International

    Ms. Fox envisions, assesses feasibility, and administers projects that promote the SCI mission, including gathering data and conducting analysis of the economic impacts of solar cooking through avoided health and environmental costs.
    Mindy has over two decades of experience in environmental protection in the public sector. She oversaw hazardous waste site cleanups. She also facilitated public participation and environmental justice efforts. She co-managed, with California EPA, the creation of a State Board of Education approved environment-based curriculum for use in K-12 classrooms. She managed teams implementing policy analysis, public affairs and outreach, legislative work and varied program activities.

    Presentation Description: 2020 was an unprecedented year and 2021 is facing many of the same challenges. Solar cooking supports all 17 UN SDGs and is essential during times of crisis, and beyond. The benefits of solar cooking are many, including preventing greenhouse gas emissions and indoor air pollution; creating time for educational and microenterprise opportunities for females no longer collecting cooking fuel; increasing safety; saving money through reduced fuel costs; and protecting biodiversity.
    All solar cooking collaborators are encouraged to utilize, contribute to, and share these resources to increase the adoption of solar cooking worldwide so many can reap these benefits.

  • Paulo Soares

    A Brazilian living and studying in the US. Ph.D. In Brazil I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the Federal University of Paraná. In 2017 I started my Ph.D. journey at Penn State University – researching on solar energy.. My research interests include the generation of energy from renewable sources (wind and especially solar photovoltaics) and the relationship between clean energy generation and climate change. At Penn State, I work in the line of research called Solar Ecology, where I develop economically accessible systems for measuring the solar resource, using Python language, 3D printing, and machine learning algorithms. I apply these systems and their data in models and solutions aimed at understanding and adapting to the new climate reality. Besides working, I like to do long bike trails, preferably accompanied by my partner for work, cycling, and life, Vanessa.
    Presentation Title: PV+CROPS: A Transdisciplinary Framework for the Assessment of Suitable Agrivoltaic Areas Under Changing Climates

    Presentation Description: The rapid transformations in our environment caused by climate change demand innovative holistic approaches that can generate effective responses to those transformations. This work fulfills this demand by presenting a tool designed to facilitate the interaction of the elements within multi or transdisciplinary groups, potentially decreasing the time from planning to action. The framework focuses on the use of agrivoltaic systems in places likely to experience increased drought events, offering a comprehensive display of the interconnections between food, energy, water, and people nexus.

  • Victor Olgyay
    Rocky Mountain Institute

    Victor Olgyay, AIA is a Principal in Rocky Mountain Institute’s Buildings Practice where he promotes widespread adoption of net zero district developments, low embodied carbon materials, and comprehensive building energy retrofits.

    From 1993 to 2000 Victor was an Associate Professor and Director of Research at the University of Hawaii School of Architecture and was Chairman of the AIA Honolulu Energy and Environment Committee. Victor has served on the Board of Directors for the American Solar Energy Society and is currently on the University of Colorado Design Review Board, the AIA National COTE AG, and the GSA Green Building Advisory Committee.
    Presentation Title: The Economics of Embodied Carbon: Driving change quickly

    Presentation Description: To drive change quickly, address climate change, and move the market, we need to demonstrate the economic benefits of low embodied carbon materials. This presentation demonstrates the business case for using low embodied carbon materials in high performance building construction. We show that we can cost-effectively reduce embodied carbon significantly in our new buildings today, by using existing materials that are widely available. This information helps consumers and municipal entities to justify their demand for low embodied carbon products, and for manufacturers to develop them. In this way we can move the market for low embodied carbon materials.

  • William Young_
    Florida Solar Energy Center

    William Young career specialized in renewable and alternative energy for use in disaster relief and in ensuring a sustainable future for over 30 years. Bill holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Sciences with a major in Electrical Engineering from the University of Central Florida. He cooperated with the U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, SANDIA labs, Solar Energy Industry
    Association and many other organization. In 1990, he started work at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) as a Senior Research Engineer. FSEC is an energy research institute of the University of Central Florida. Bill’s work included development, design, evaluation, standards, testing, teaching and implementation of photovoltaic (PV) power applications, both stand-alone and utility grid-tied interactive systems for projects across the world.
    Presentation Title: Growing Implementation of City and County Sustainability Plans

    Presentation Description: This presents a growing movement by local governments towards sustainability in a real way. Plans are being developed and implemented by City and County government across the country. What worked and did not work in the design and operation was researched during 2020 program inspection and evaluation providing real life research and results that effected each system performance.

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