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The New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), a New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) corporation, in conjunction with Brownfields Listings sponsored Brightfields 2018, a one day, national solar energy development event at the campus of NJIT in late June. Over 150 registered attendees and a robust walk-in crowd gathered on the campus for the dynamic solar development gathering. Brightfields 2018 hosted cities, private landowners, corporations, developers, vendors and scores of other solar professionals and advocates in this dual purpose event designed to educate as well as connect attendees.

The event was kicked off by Colette Santasieri, executive director of policy and planning innovation for Civil Infrastructure and Environment, who welcomed the attendees to NJIT and shared the essential educational and technical role NJII and NJIT serve in the marketplace to train the next generation of doers and drive innovation ever forward. Santasieri then introduced Brownfields Listings CEO, Dan French, who spoke enthusiastically about the opportunity brought by a multitude of break-out energy technologies coming online at the same time, including cost-effective renewable power production, industrial scale power storage, solid state batteries and even hot fusion.

Elizabeth Limbrick, project manager at NJII and NJIT led the morning plenary through a Brownfields & Brightfields 101 session with basics and definitions, nuts and bolts, and key resources.

Santasieri conducted an educational session on EPA’s Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities Program (TAB), of which NJIT is an EPA designated technical resource to thousands of government entities and nonprofits.Santasieri and William Marshall, executive director of NJII’s Defense and Homeland Security Innovation Lab, led an educational session on how the use of unmanned aerial systems (drones) at solar installations can render inspections more effective, efficient, economical and safer than the traditional boots-on-the-ground methods.

Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe of the New Jersey Department of Environment (NJDEP) honored the assembly as the featured plenary speaker in the last event before her official swearing in ceremony. McCabe will tackle the Murphy administration’s ambitious, but well timed environmental goals for New Jersey, which include mitigating the effects of climate change being felt along the Jersey shore, building a clean energy economy with well-paying green jobs, and restoring the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The work to bring New Jersey to 100% clean energy by 2050 has already begun, the commissioner noted.

The afternoon’s active networking connected attendees to each other in both casual and structured formats.