April 17, 2017
by Thomas Storck
This year’s Pa
tty Noonan Memorial Forum on Policy addressed concerns over proposed policy changes made by the current White House administration to undermine ongoing sustainability initiatives. Drawing inspiration from the legacy of founding GreenHomeNYC member Patty Noonan, Andy Padian, President, PadianNYC Consulting, joined Marcia Bystryn, President, NY League of Conservation Voters, and Charles Komanoff, Director, Carbon Tax Center/Komanoff Energy Associates, to share past experiences and to offer insight into how to be an affective environmental advocate.
THIS IS WHAT AN ADVOCATE LOOKS LIKE
It was 14 years ago that a group of 30 affordable homes in the South Bronx became the first of their kind in New York State to be built to Energy Star standards. Compared to typical affordable housing in the area, the project cost $1.36 more per ft2 and used one-fifth the energy. Today, all affordable housing is built to similar standards, but we didn’t get there without a fight. “This was thought of as completely berserk,” said Andy Padian. “[The developer] wouldn’t have done it without Patty kicking really hard.”
To provide some historical context, Padian recalled the mood among his colleagues at Mayor Ed Koch’s Energy Office when President Reagan was elected. “We were horrifically depressed.” Yet despite the President zeroing out both weatherization funding and the Home Energy Assistance Program in every budget, he encountered push back from a variety of groups who worked together to voice their opposition. As a result, funding for these programs actually increased under Reagan. When NY Representative Bill Green opposed federal solar and conservation tax credits because his low-income constituents failed to take advantage, Padian called Green’s Legislative Assistant on Housing and Energy and explained how these credits could be useful. Much to Reagan’s disappointment, Green was persuaded to change his vote. “This is what advocacy is about,” Padian said.