GreenHomeNYC Year in Review: Taking on the Environmental Challenge

December 4, 2017

by Pamela Berns  

Photo credit: Pamela Berns

It’s been a year marked by extreme weather events, with hurricanes, fires, droughts, and flooding all across the globe. In the United States we saw Houston drown and Santa Rosa burn just a few months after Trump’s pullout from the Paris agreement in June. Climate advocacy groups, local policy makers, corporations, entrepreneurs, individuals, and nonprofits all stepped up their game in defense of the planet, and GreenHomeNYC was no exception.   Thanks to the dedication of our volunteers, we were able to deepen our commitment to providing education and calls to action. Our speakers and our blog writers shared critical information on local policy, business actions, and academic initiatives. Record numbers of event attendees turned up to hear from innovators in energy, food waste, recycling, and sustainable building. Green careerists came out to find out where to point their compasses in the new paradigm.   We’re proud of the hard work that went into this challenging year, and hope that our contributions made a difference. Here are just a few GreenHomeNYC highlights for 2017:   Our annual Patty Noonan Memorial Forum on Policy, “Beware the Ides of March,” tackled fears about how proposed policy changes in the new White House would affect the sustainability agenda. Andy Padian, President, PadianNYC Consulting and one of GreenHomeNYC’s earliest friends, joined Marcia Bystryn, President of the League of Conservation Voters, and Charles Komanoff, Director of the Carbon Tax Center, to share best practices in environmental advocacy and move listeners to get involved.   The GreenHomeNYC Green Careers program hosted a Sustainable Career Tracks event that explored careers with action groups, with experts from The New York League of Conservation Voters, NRDC, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Natural Areas Conservancy. Our first ever webinar, “Sustainable Careers in Our Changing Political Landscape”, was delivered shortly after Inauguration Day, and was so well received that we’ve invited Bard’s Director of Graduate Programs in Sustainability, Eban Goodstein, back for a second round this month.   One theme that came through loud and clear this year is that environmental action can take place at any level – from government to business to individuals.  In July, our Green Building Tour drew a record number of attendees for a visit to the Starrett-Lehigh Building, which strives to be the most sustainable building in New York City through energy conservation, recycling and composting initiatives, and a rooftop farm.  Our Monthly Forum on Sustainable Food Systems sold out to a standing room only crowd that came to learn about cutting edge programs and business models such as Baldor’s SparCs program, a unique approach to repurposing food scraps that would otherwise end up in landfills. Our blog featured another way that businesses are stepping up – by participating in TerraCycle’s novel waste stream solutions for hard to recycle items.  And in February, our Forum on Everyday People and Sustainability focused on ways that individuals can help pioneer a sustainable future.  

Photo Credit: Columbia Spectator

Our two-part feature, “No Paris? No Problem: Climate Action Marches On,” demonstrated how initial disappointment with the White House decision to withdraw from the Paris accord had “morphed into strengthened resolve and galvanized coalition building within and across public and private sectors, U.S. localities, and around the world.” Four months after our second post, announcing the launch of America’s Pledge on climate change by partners Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown, the group published their Phase 1 Report. Their first key takeaway was optimistic: “Despite efforts to roll back policies and programs, action is robust and accelerating across an increasing swath of America.” But the final takeaway warned that “we cannot underscore strongly enough the critical nature of federal engagement to achieve the deep decarbonization goals the U.S. must undertake by 2025.”   As those of us at GreenHomeNYC head into 2018, we certainly plan to stay engaged – and to engage others. To quote Andy Padian, “We have to fight, but we have to do it in a very, very logical manner…We can’t be screaming advocates and we can’t be left wing loonies, because everything that’s good for the environment is good for business…We have to fight…with facts and figures. Know all of your elected officials and talk to them.” And “Give to organizations that can do more than you can.”   Thanks to all who gave their time and energy to help GreenHomeNYC make a difference in 2017. We hope you’ll join us on our continuing journey in 2018, and that you’ll bring along new faces and helping hands to keep the momentum alive.