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Sustain OC 8th Annual Conference & Expo

October 19, 2017 @ 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

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Sustain OC’s Annual Conference and Expo takes place October 19th and focuses on energy innovation.

Conference keynote speakers:

Dr. Michl Binderbauer of Tri Alpha Energy

Dipender Saluja of Capricorn LLC

Phil Graves of Tin Shed Ventures

Interested in being a sponsor or exhibitor at this event? Please contact Scott Kitcher at scott@sustainoc.org.

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 Sustain OC 8th Annual Conference Presentations

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Scott Kitcher

Scott has 27 years of financial services experience in investment banking, investment management, private equity, and consulting. Just over 12 years ago, he began focusing on clean technologies. Today, he is President & CEO at Sustain OC, Principal at EcoFin Consulting, LLC, and serves on various corporate, non-profit and academic boards and committees in various roles almost all related to cleantech and sustainability.

Dr. Michel Binderbauer

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Michl Binderbauer – President and CTO, TAE Technologies – Dr. Binderbauer is the architect of Tri Alpha Energy’s research and development program and is a co-inventor of many of the company’s technological advancements.

He has dedicated the past two decades to evolving Tri Alpha Energy’s knowledge and technology. He is an expert in reactor kinetics, equilibrium, and stability of advanced beam-driven Field-Reversed Configurations and aneutronic fusion systems. Recently, he has focused on reactor physics, engineering and enabling technologies, and a wide array of applications of Tri Alpha Energy’s core technologies — from medicine to isotope production and chemical processing. He holds more than 40 issued and pending U.S. patents and numerous international technology patents, and he has authored or co-authored many peer-reviewed publications in the areas of plasma physics and fusion. Dr. Binderbauer holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Irvine.

Dipender Saluja

Keynote Speaker

Dipender Saluja is Managing Director at Capricorn Investment Group, an investment firm founded to demonstrate that it is possible to invest profitably while driving sustainable positive change. Capricorn manages about $5 billion in assets and strives for extraordinary investment results by leveraging market forces to accelerate large scale impact. Capricorn’s past and current investments include Tesla, Planet Labs, QuantumScape, Innovium, SpaceX, Twitter, and Saildrone. Prior to Capricorn, Dipender was Chief of Staff at Cadence, a global market leader in electronic design, where he built and managed businesses that worked closely with electronics companies around the world. Prior to that he was at Data General (EMC), Honeywell, ROLM (IBM), and the GF Energy Research Center. He is an electrical engineer by training, and attended UND, Univ of Minnesota and Stanford. Dipender serves on the boards of AST, Automatiks, Innovium, Joby Aviation, Navitas Semi, QuantumScape, RayVio, Sense and Sunpreme, and on the investment committee of PRIME. He is based in Palo Alto, CA.

Phil Graves

Keynote Speaker

As head of corporate development, Phil reports to Patagonia’s CEO and plays a significant role in investments, innovation, strategy, and new business ventures. Phil leads Patagonia’s Tin Shed Ventures, which invests in environmentally and socially responsible startup companies, and oversees Patagonia’s Worn Wear business (www.wornwear.com). For Phil, one of the most rewarding aspects of working for Patagonia is the opportunity to demonstrate that businesses – and investments – can be good for the planet and profitable.

Phil came to Patagonia with 10 years of experience consulting on corporate finance, investment, valuation, private equity, and M&A-related issues with Deloitte and PwC.

Phil earned his bachelor’s degree in Accounting (magna cum laude) and master’s degree in Finance from Texas A&M University. Phil also serves as a Board Member of U.C. Berkeley Haas’s Center for Responsible Business. He has been recognized by multiple organizations, including Global Corporate Venturing (“Powerlist 100”) and Texas A&M University’s Association of Former Students (“12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight”).

Outside of work he enjoys surfing, skiing, and exploring wild places with his wife and three young daughters.

Steve Churm

Steve Churm is the Chief Communications Officer with Aliso Viejo-based FivePoint Holdings, LLC, one of the largest developers of mixed-use master-planned communities in coastal California with projects in Orange and Los Angeles Counties and the San Francisco Bay area. He oversees the company’s external and internal communications with a wide spectrum of stakeholders including the media, business and community leaders, partners and associates.

Before joining FivePoint, Churm served as Chief Revenue Officer at Freedom Communications, where he lead the print and digital sales operations, at its two major Southern California newspapers, the Orange County Register and The Press-Enterprise in the Inland Empire

Prior to Freedom, Churm founded Churm Media in 1990. Churm Media’s print publications and websites served 1.5 million readers per month across Southern California prior to its acquisition by Freedom Communications in 2012.

A former journalist, Churm spent 15 years as a reporter and editor at four California daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register, covering, among other topics, politics and the environment.

Churm is a respected leader within the media industry regionally and nationally as well as the Southern California business community, and frequently serves as a speaker on media trends and as an emcee at industry and regional events and symposiums. He currently serves on four nonprofit boards: The Orange County Business Council; The Values Institute; United Way Orange County and Global Grins.

Jeffrey Reed

Jeffrey Reed is the Director of Business Strategy and Advanced Technology for Southern California Gas Company. In that capacity he leads a variety of activities aimed at supporting the development and deployment of sustainable energy solutions. In his current and prior roles Jeff has led the electric and natural gas RD&D, venture investment, low-emission vehicle and environmental affairs programs and he is responsible for the company’s long-range technology forecasting and strategic planning. Jeff is currently on the Leadership Council of the Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator and is board president for the California Hydrogen Business Council and a number of other trade association boards. Prior to joining the Sempra utilities, Dr. Reed was a senior strategy consultant, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development with ABB Power Generation and held various prior positions in product design, development and research in the defense industry. He holds a doctorate in engineering from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in management from Stanford University.

Mike Carella

Mike Carella is a passionate and effective business development specialist with a decade of experience helping customers become more sustainable energy consumers. Currently, Mike is VP of Business Development at Sterling Analytics, with a focus on fulfilling Sterling’s SCE LCR contracts in Orange County. Prior to Sterling, Mike was with Green Charge Networks, developing behind-the-meter energy storage projects in California. Mike started his career at Sterling Planet, Sterling Analytics’ sister company. While at Sterling Planet, Mike managed some of their biggest accounts and some of the nation’s largest green power purchasers, including; Intel, Kohl’s, McDonalds, Cisco and Staples. Mike is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM) and holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Laurie ten Hope

Laurie ten Hope is Deputy Director for Research & Development at the California Energy Commission. She leads the State’s public interest R&D to stimulate clean energy technology development. The program invests $140M annually and is a catalyst for innovation, transforming California to a renewable and efficient energy future. Laurie previously served as Senior Advisor for Commissioner Jeffrey Byron, with policy focus on energy efficiency, distributed energy, public interest R&D, and transmission access for renewables. Previously, Laurie managed the Energy Systems Research Office at the Energy Commission, directing research to expand the value of distributed resources, improve electricity infrastructure, develop clean transportation alternatives, and understand/mitigate environmental impacts.

Clarke Pauley

Clarke Pauley is a Vice President in CR&R Environmental Services’ Organics & Biogas division which presently encompasses organic waste recycling, anaerobic digestion, and composting. CR&R is a privately held integrated waste management company based in Orange County, CA with 50 municipal contracts and over 3 million customers in 5 counties. Clarke’s primary focus at CR&R is managing the product side of their Anaerobic Digestion projects: sales of Renewable CNG, Carbon Credits, and organic soil products. Clarke has a diverse background in renewable energy, environmental science, marketing, and business development. He has worked in the fields of environmental engineering, Gasification, Biochar, and most recently Anaerobic Digestion of organic wastes. Clarke has previously worked for Merged Energy Solutions, Tetra Tech-San Francisco, and has owned his own marketing services company. Clarke is a graduate of UC Berkeley and aside from his extensive travels has been a California resident for his entire life.

Alfredo Choperena

Al Choperena is the founder and CEO of Smartenit, Inc., a company dedicated to enabling IoT end-to-end applications in energy, water and security. Prior to his entrepreneurial career, Al served executive roles at several multinationals, including venture manager of immunoassay systems development at DuPont, Sr. VP Operations and Technology at Sanofi, and worldwide VP of R&D at Johnson & Johnson’s Advanced Sterilization Products unit. His contributions at those companies resulted in new businesses that today account for yearly sales in the billions. An electrical engineer by training, Al has held a variety of senior management roles leading operations, engineering, product development, product management and business development. With over 30 years experience in embedded, wireless, broadband and semiconductor technologies, Al now applies his entrepreneurial passion to deliver on the promise of the “Internet of Things”.

Jeff Bowman

Tesla Energy, a suite of energy solutions for homes, businesses, and utilities fostering a clean energy ecosystem. Jeff is an aggressive, hands-on deal maker and rainmaker, he has delivered against all challenges by leveraging his intelligence, determination and his willingness to roll up his sleeves and do whatever needs to be done to successfully serve his client.

Michael McMahon

Michael McMahon is a serial entrepreneur, focused on bringing disruptive products and services to market. Since joining Phoenix Energy Technologies in 2013 Michael has helped to bring the first Enterprise Energy Management solution to the US retail market. Since coming on board the company is experiencing its largest growth in the companies 14 year history. Prior to Phoenix Energy Technologies, Michael was general manager for an international Virgin Cleantech company and led the 12-year high-tech company to first profitability and scalability in the U.S. and European markets.

Randy Palombi

As Vice President of Sales, Randy is responsible for building and leading Stem’s direct and channel partner sales teams. Randy has over 25 years of experience in the energy industry, spanning: sales, marketing, business development and operations. Prior to joining Stem, he was a Vice President in Constellation’s Load Response organization, where he oversaw the sales and delivery of innovative energy management solutions for end-use customers, as well as utilities. Previously, Randy served in sales leadership positions at CPower, APX, and Sempra Utilities and led management consulting practices for PwC Consulting and eLoyalty. Randy graduated from California State Polytechnic University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and earned his MBA from Pepperdine University.

Michael McMahon

Michael McMahon is a serial entrepreneur, focused on bringing disruptive products and services to market. Since joining Phoenix Energy Technologies in 2013 Michael has helped to bring the first Enterprise Energy Management solution to the US retail market. Since coming on board the company is experiencing its largest growth in the companies 14 year history. Prior to Phoenix Energy Technologies, Michael was general manager for an international Virgin Cleantech company and led the 12-year high-tech company to first profitability and scalability in the U.S. and European markets.

Daniel Sullivan

Daniel Sullivan, current CEO of Sullivan Solar Power, founded the company in May of 2004. Previously, he served as an instructor for photovoltaic design and installation at the San Diego Electrical Training Center and as a Journeyman Electrician at Dynalectric. Under Daniel’s guidance the Company has installed more than 6,300 solar power systems on homes, businesses and large institutional buildings across San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties. Daniel believes there is a better future through solar power and has dedicated his life to making that future a reality.

Janice Wang

Janice is a Senior Project Manager in the Customer Programs & Services division of Southern California (SCE). In this role, she coordinates the procurement of behind-the-meter distributed energy resources including Energy Efficiency, Demand Response, and Distributed Generation. Prior to her current role, she managed the CREST Feed-in-Tariff for 1.5MW generators, led the development of Re-MAT, managed a portfolio of conventional and renewable contracts, and brought 72MW of new solar generation to commercial operation. Janice received her MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business and her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

Rich Bluth

Rich Bluth is the Vice President, Energy Management for Irvine Company. He oversees enterprise-wide energy management initiatives including utility account management, energy procurement, building energy management and metering infrastructure, Energy Star benchmarking, demand response and emerging technologies. Irvine Company’s diverse asset base of commercial office, retail, apartment communities and hotel properties is primarily located in coastal California and Chicago. His most recent project for Irvine Company is the establishment of the world’s first fleet of hybrid-electric buildings in Orange County, CA. Once completed in early 2018, Irvine Company will host over 20 energy storage installations with a total capacity of 10MW/60MWh.
Prior to joining the Irvine Company in 2006, he held positions in facilities engineering and management in the semiconductor and aerospace manufacturing sectors. He holds a BSME from Santa Clara University a MSME from California State University-Long Beach and is a California Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer.

Robert Flores

Robert Flores is a research engineer who works at the Advanced Power and Energy Program at UCI. His research is focused on the optimal design and control of energy systems when considering interaction with transportation systems and environmental impact. He graduated with his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from UCI in 2016.

Jim Maclay

Mr. Maclay is an Associate Principal and energy engineer at Altura with 15 years of industry experience. Mr. Maclay has led many design, energy master planning and on-site energy system feasibility analyses efforts. This work has resulted in the successful implementation of large scale energy installations that have provided numerous benefits to multiple clients. Mr. Maclay holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Irvine, and a B.S. in chemistry from University of California, Davis.

Ramin Faramarzi

Ramin is a member of NREL’s Commercial Buildings Research Group. He has extensive experience in building science, applied energy efficiency research, and building energy modeling. He is responsible for developing new strategic partnerships and collaborative projects in support of California energy and environmental policies and initiatives. He also manages research projects in support of NREL’s business partners to advance and improve their HVAC and refrigeration technologies through incubator programs.

Prior to joining NREL, Ramin worked at Southern California Edison where he founded and managed SCE’s Refrigeration and Thermal Test Center (RTTC) for nearly 20 years. Ramin holds a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina and California State Universities. Ramin is a registered mechanical engineer in state of California.

Evan Birenbaum

As CEO for Chai Inc., Evan Birenbaum is responsible for all things related to business strategy and development, energy-market dynamics, customer engagement, disruptive technologies, and day-to-day business operations. Chai is building products that give consumers a simple and mobile way to understand and reduce their energy use by up to 20 percent. Leveraging these consumer products, Chai will provide multiple services for utility companies, including customer engagement, behavioral energy efficiency, and interactive demand response.

Prior to joining Chai, Evan was the program manager for Environmental Strategy and Sustainability at Southern California Edison (SCE), where he was responsible for the development, strategy, and implementation of SCE’s corporate responsibility and sustainability program. He worked with company executives, business managers, regulators, NGO’s, and internal and external stakeholders to identify and prioritize emerging issues in order to address challenges related to climate change, water impact, habitat protection and biodiversity, and energy and water availability. He has been partly responsible for Edison’s charitable contributions in the area of environmental giving. Evan also works with the Los Angeles Clean Tech Incubator to develop sustainable jobs in Southern California.

Amanda Sabicer

A native New Yorker, Amanda devoted her early career to helping low-income New Yorkers overcome barriers to employment and obtain living-wage jobs. She later worked for Amgen’s Oncology Sales and Marketing department, where she sold six oncology products to community oncology clinics and hospitals, managed over $10M in revenue a year, and was named Rookie of the Year for the Western Region.

After several years serving as a strategy and development consultant for mission-driven organizations, Amanda joined LACI in 2014 as VP Development. In her Development role, she worked closely with federal, state, and local funders to support LACI’s mission to create a green economy. More recently, Amanda transitioned to a new role at LACI as VP Energize California. Energize California is a five-year project funded by the California Energy Commission that links, convenes, and supports clean energy entrepreneurs and researchers in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange Counties in order to encourage and accelerate clean energy technology commercialization.

Amanda graduated cum laude with a B.A. from Pomona College and received her MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Jam Attari

As a senior member of BayWa r.e.’s $1 billion global solar energy portfolio, Jam currently serves as the CEO of Solar Projects North America. In this role, he oversees the development, financing and construction of BayWa r.e.’s solar project portfolio in the US and Mexico. He sits on the Board of BayWa r.e.’s North American Solar Projects Business and also serves as the Chairman of Sustain OC.

Prior to this role, Jam was a founding member of, AMSOLAR International, a San Diego-based solar development and finance company delivering solar projects to the Government and Educational Sectors. For much of his career he has led the development of global strategic efforts for a number of Fortune 100 companies such as Motorola, HP, Samsung and AT&T. During this time, Jam was a Partner with Archstone and Charter Consulting; VP at Sapient, where he helped lead the North American Strategy/Business Consulting practice; and a Senior Manager of Ernst & Young Strategic Advisory Services. He began his career at Dow Chemical. Mr. Attari holds an MBA from The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Bioengineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Harman Sandhu

As President, Harman leads the strategic growth initiatives at Smart Energy Water. He has extensively advised Energy and Utility companies on commodity management, regulation, Smart Grid, metering, and information technology projects. Prior to joining SEW he worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG for over 11 years where he led the delivery of business strategy and technology consulting services to Fortune 1000 companies. He is passionate about developing impactful technology products and scalable SaaS business models. Harman holds a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Computer Sciences and Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Antonia Castro-Graham

Antonia Graham brings 15 years of experience managing sustainability and environmental compliance programs for municipalities. Currently she is the Assistant to the City Manager/Sustainability and Energy Manager for the City of Huntington Beach where she is leading a regional effort to create a circular economy. Recently the City acquired and is in the process of retrofitting 11,000 streetlights within the City to LED, this project will save 2.4 million pounds of CO2 and 3.5 million kWh annually. The City of Huntington Beach along with the University of California, Irvine and NREL was recently awarded $1.9 million to create an advanced energy community in a disadvantaged part of the City. Additionally, Ms. Graham works with businesses to help them achieve the Triple Bottom Line and recently launched a Sustainable Business Certification program in Huntington Beach.

She holds a BA in Political Science and American Studies, an MPA with a concentration in Public Finance, and a Master’s degree in Sustainability from Arizona State University. Ms. Graham also teaches courses focused on sustainability at California State University Fullerton and Irvine Valley College. Ms. Graham recently had a case study published in the book, Sustainable World: Approaches to Analyzing & Resolving Wicked Problems.

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Sustain OC Annual Awards 

Every year at our Annual Conference & Expo, Sustain OC announces four award recipients – a Cleantech Company of the Year Award, Sustainable Government of the Year Award, the Van Vlahakis Sustainability Excellence Award and the Sustain OC Chairperson’s Award for Outstanding Leadership in Community Sustainability. Orange County stakeholders are encouraged to submit an application for consideration.

Cleantech Company of the Year: The company must be classified as a “pure-play” cleantech company, and be either based or have substantial operations in Orange County.

2017 Cleantech Company of the Year: Iteris, Inc.

Sustainable Government of the Year: Recognizes sustainability initiative(s) adopted by a government entity within the past two years that distinguishes it from its peers. Applicant must be based in Orange County.

2017 Sustainable Government of the Year: City of Irvine

Van Vlahakis Sustainability Excellence: Sponsored by Earth Friendly Products and named after its founder, this award recognizes the outstanding performance, programs and projects of an Orange County business or organization that goes beyond the norm to advance environmental initiatives and sustainability and makes these examples available to others who may emulate them. Applicant’s efforts should demonstrate environmental improvements and cost savings associated with resource use efficiency.

2017 Van Vlahakis Sustainability Excellence Award: Disneyland Resorts

Sustain OC Chairperson’s Award for Outstanding Leadership in Community Sustainability: This award is in its inaugural year and was presented for the first time at the Sustain OC Annual Conference. It recognizes leadership by action and example in raising sustainability issues and implementing solutions to improve the environment in Orange County and beyond.

Sustain OC Chairperson’s Award: Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks


Recipients were awarded in presentations at the Sustain OC 2017 Annual Conference and Expo on October 19, 2017, and provided a complimentary membership with the organization for one year. The winner of the Van Vlahakis Sustainability Excellence Award is also awarded up to $3,000 retail value of ECOS cleaning products. Additionally, all award finalists will be invited to attend the Conference as guests of the Sustain OC Board of Directors.

2018 Sustain OC Award Applications to be available in early 2018. Below are links to the 2017 Application



October 19, 2017
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
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