In this issue:


New Climate Prosperity Consortium Plugs Into Smart Grid Effort

Joint Venture has convened a diverse consortium of Silicon Valley organizations to deploy Smart Grid technology, chiefly by retrofitting commercial buildings so they can regulate their own utility consumption more effectively.

In order for a building to be both efficient and “smart,” it must be able to adjust its electricity usage automatically when there are changes in prices due to peak load. This process is known as auto-demand response, or Auto-DR.

The foremost goal of the new panel, which includes industry, regional government and labor organizations, is to increase the Auto-DR participation of commercial leased buildings to about 10 times current levels in California within 24 months.

The consortium is pursuing a $9 million Smart Grid Investment Grant from the Department of Energy to support the program. In addition to the DoE funding, the California Energy Commission (CEC) is offering a cost-sharing grant of up to ten percent of the DoE grant. 

In addition to the reduced utility use and cost savings, the project expects to create green jobs (more than 50% of funding is for installation labor for shovel ready projects), train a workforce eco-system of service providers, and showcase proven Silicon Valley technology and innovation.

Members of the consortium are:

For more information about the Joint Venture’s Climate Prosperity Initiative, click here.

Paper Cuts: Santa Clara, San Jose Launch ePlan Submission

ePlan SubmissionThroughout Silicon Valley city building departments process thousands of permit applications, plans, drawings, inspections, revisions and other documents for projects—ranging from simple water heater replacements to multi-story office buildings.

In July alone, San Jose’s building department produced 10,000 documents—from one to one hundred pages or more–conjuring images of copy machines on overload and runners pushing around hand trucks stacked handle-high with papers. 

Now, with the help of Joint Venture, the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara are among the first in the nation to experiment with a pilot program to review plans online, saving untold amounts of work, staff time, storage space, money – and paper.

“All of our customer groups are really excited about this – architects, major developers, contractors and other design groups,” said Joseph Horwedel, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement for San Jose, whose office processed 8000 building plans in July.

“Joint Venture has had the ability to bring together a number of government agencies that might not always agree to ‘play well together.’ They have helped us create a way to test this technology without any city having to go through the software purchase process.”

Santa Clara Building Official Sheila Lee said “having a plan online allows everyone involved on the staff to download and review it, 24/7.”According to Lee, the city has purchased eight 30-inch monitors to accommodate large drawings and is testing a free trial version of online plan software.

To learn more about Joint Venture’s Sustainable Buildings Initiative, click here.


Expert Panel: Business Model is Key to Electric Vehicles

Playmakers Handbook for Going  ElectricThe auto industry is progressing steadily toward mass production of electric vehicles, but consumers are still wary of their costs and limited driving range, a panel of experts told the audience at Joint Venture’s public forum at Menlo College. The panelists noted how internal combustion engine carmakers are reeling from the recession, making low-cost alternatives attractive to consumers. They also catalogued the ways battery technology is improving. But the success of electric cars, all agreed, will depend government support, the infrastructure required and an innovative business model that makes them both affordable and practical. WIRED magazine senior writer Daniel Roth served as moderator for the forum. The panelists were:

  • Jonathan Adiri, special advisor to Israeli President Shimon Peres
  • Ikhlaq Sidhu, founding director of UC Berkeley's Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology
  • Thilo Koslowski, vice president in Gartner's Industry Advisory Service Manufacturing group
  • David Kirsch, associate professor at the University of Maryland business school, and authoritative historian of the electric vehicle industry
Among other points made during the two-hour session: the top of the EV adoption curve will be 8-10 years from now, exceeding 25% market share; the current electric utility infrastructure is ample to handle that level; the total cost of the vehicle is a greater hurdle than range or battery life; California is a fertile market for electric vehicle sales, particularly for fleets, commuters who drive to and from public transit, and environmentally conscious drivers. The program was presented by Joint Venture’s Climate Prosperity Project, which is working hard to grow the clean-tech sector in Silicon Valley and reduce our region’s greenhouse gases. Our thanks to Menlo College President and Joint Venture board member Tim Haight for hosting the event.


Standing Room Only for Town Hall Meeting on “Re-booting California”

The growing movement for a state Constitutional Convention drew a capacity crowd of more than 300 Silicon Valley civic, government and business leaders and citizens to a “Re-booting California” Town Hall meeting at AMD in Sunnyvale on July 31.

Hosted by Joint Venture in partnership with the Bay Area Council, the event featured presentations and comments by elected officials, public policy experts and members of the public at AMD’s Commons Building Auditorium. The discussion focused on the state’s budget woes and the prospect of a constitutional convention as the only solution to fixing California’s broken state government. The Joint Venture board of directors has voted unanimously to back the movement and to deliver Silicon Valley support.

In addition to Joint Venture CEO Russell Hancock and Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman, other speakers included Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, San Mateo County Supervisor Richard S. Gordon and representatives of the New America Foundation, the Courage Campaign and Common Cause.

For radio and TV reports on the event, visit KCBS Radio and KGO-TV.

For more information about the California Constitutional Convention, visit Repair California.


Joint Venture Spotlight

Meet Mary Dent

General Counsel, SVB Financial Group and Joint Venture Board

Mary Dent admits to being shy and conservative as a child growing up in Southern California, but a full-circle journey from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., to Europe and back to Silicon Valley has changed all that.

The journey has transformed Dent, General Counsel for SVB Financial Group and a Joint Venture board member, into a passionate, committed and confident executive one colleague calls a true “thought leader” with a remarkable ability to coalesce ideas, questions and data into effective outcomes.

Dent’s path to SVB Financial took her through UCLA, Stanford Law School, a clerkship with a Federal judge, a fellowship with the National Women’s Political Caucus, two years on Senator Edward Kennedy’s staff, eight years at a law firm and three years in the Netherlands with a global telecommunications company.

Valley Vision recently visited with Dent in her Palo Alto office. Click here to read Mary Dent’s profile.

Sen. Vasconcellos, Bay Area Council’s Wunderman Debate State Constitutional Convention on KLIV Radio Special

Former State Senator John Vasconcellos and Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman discussed the growing push for a California Constitutional Convention on a special radio program airing on 1590 KLIV AM last month.

Click here to listen to the broadcast.

The program was the second in a series exploring Silicon Valley issues. Host Russell Hancock interviewed Vasconcellos, who served 38 years in the California Legislature, and Wunderman, who has been the most outspoken advocate for a Constitutional Convention.

$75,000 Community Foundation Grant Lifts Boulevard Initiative

The Grand Boulevard Initiative has received a $75,000 boost from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in a grant to evaluate market demand for housing and jobs along the El Camino corridor. The initiative seeks meaningful improvements to the look and feel of El Camino Real, our region’s “main street.”
The grant supports the first phase of Grand Boulevard’s Economic Housing Opportunities Assessment, which will cost out the infrastructure required to facilitate high-density nodes of jobs and housing. The study will also make the economic case for why new transit-oriented development and smart growth will benefit individual communities as well as the region.

The funding, which is being routed through SamTrans, is among more than $800,000 in Community Foundation grants to improve local and regional planning efforts designed to create livable communities for all residents in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

Book of the Month: “What Makes Silicon Valley Tick?”

With the U.S. in one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, business as usual will no longer get us back to economic growth. Innovation is the best and perhaps the only way for us to sustain our prosperity.

In his new book, “What Makes Silicon Valley Tick? (Nova Vista Publishing, 2009), Tapan Munroe argues that innovation must become part of our national psyche and culture, instead of simply creating new waves of the same-old consumer products and services. For this, Silicon Valley serves as the model.

 Click here to read more about the book.

Newsletters by Year

News Coverage

Joint Venture's initiatives, publications, events and regional expertise receive frequent coverage in the national and local news media. Our staff is always available to comment on economic trends in Silicon Valley.

View news coverage.