March 1, 2017
Monthly Forum Recap: Everyday People and Sustainabilityby Theresa Baker If you’re trying to make more sustainable choices in your daily life, the GreenHomeNYC February Forum offered plenty of options. The evening featured four speakers who spoke passionately about ways that “everyday people” in New York City can improve their quality of life, save energy and live more sustainably. Simple Steps for Everyone Carmel Pratt, a Sustainability Consultant for Steven Winter Associates, spoke on the top ten ways to save energy in your apartment or home. Pratt pointed out a stunning statistic – the average American uses 140-170 gallons of water per day through choices they make in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry. By simply not running water when washing dishes, limiting shower time, and using cold water instead of hot when doing laundry, residents can significantly reduce this usage. (more…)
February 3, 2017
All the News From the Green Catwalkby Thomas Storck GreenHomeNYC launched another year of monthly forums with the annual Green Catwalk, featuring seven speakers who discussed the latest “green” news. From Saudi Arabia to New York City, challenges remain. But, in New York, in particular, much is being done to overcome them. The speakers offered insight into what needs to happen in order achieve our climate goals, the progress we’ve made already, and the programs and opportunities that are in the works right now. Development in the Desert While New York City has its own sustainability goals and initiatives, we can’t forget that the climate crisis is a global one. Duncan Prahl of IBACOS, began by taking the audience to the opposite end of the earth, to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In 2015, Riyadh became home to the first LEED-Platinum building in the Middle East. Designed to achieve a net-zero energy balance, it holds 28 kW of rooftop solar PV and has enough batteries to last 24 hours. After two years of serving as a high-level consultant on the project, Prahl shared his thoughts on the challenges of building to such standards in the desert: “I would never recommend doing that again… to anyone.” (more…)
December 29, 2016
How Green is Your Hotel: Sustainability in the Hotel Industryby Tamanna Mohapatra We’ve just been through another holiday season with tourists filling sidewalks, restaurants and New York City hotels. According to NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization for the city, over 58 million visitors came to Manhattan in 2015 alone, and another 59.7 million were projected for last year. Clearly, tourism is alive and well in the city – and the one thing all tourists need is a place to stay. Although Airbnb and similar types of housing have become popular in NYC, hotels still provide the bulk of accommodations for visitors. But with increasing competition from Airbnb, along with consumer awareness and general CSR efforts, hotels are taking a serious look at their operations with an eye towards implementing green initiatives. What Exactly is a Green Hotel? Sustainability can mean many things for a hotel. For some, it can be physical, as in being housed in the latest LEED certified building. For others, it can mean working on the nitty gritty details of establishing programs to reuse and recycle soaps and shampoos, or it can mean looking at the big picture by partnering with city government to reduce their carbon footprint. In Manhattan, 19 major hotels have pledged to reduce their individual carbon footprint by taking part in the NYC Carbon Challenge, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% by 2050. It’s estimated that participation will reduce citywide GHG emissions by 32,000 metric tons and save approximately $25 million in energy costs. (more…)
June 30, 2016
June Forum Recap: Community Solar Comes to New York Stateby Pamela Berns According to Dennis Phayre of EnterSolar, even if we utilized all currently available sources, we’d only have about 100 years of energy left on the planet. But New York State isn’t waiting one more second to embark on innovative partnerships that will not only extend that timeframe but also significantly reduce the State’s carbon footprint. On June 15, at the host offices of the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), GreenHomeNYC introduced three key players in these new collaborations for an instructive and exciting program about community solar. Community solar brings together customers, utilities, solar companies, and the state government to develop an interconnected approach to electrical power that will not only impact the way in which we create and move energy, but also the way in which consumers participate in the energy marketplace. (more…)
May 1, 2016
Growing “Up”: Urban Vertical Farmingby Tamanna Virmani When you think of New York City, what’s the first image that comes to mind? For people who have visited or live here, maybe it’s one of the following – crowded, dense, lights or skyscrapers – but not “green” and certainly not “farming”. However, that picture may change with the advent of urban vertical farming. So what exactly is vertical farming and how is it different from other concepts such as roof top farming, hydroponics or aquaponics? Vertical farming is the practice of producing food in vertically stacked layers, inclined surfaces or integrated into other structures, using controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology where environmental factors such as light, humidity and temperature can be controlled. The concept of vertical farming in NYC was developed about 15 years ago by Dr. Dickson Despommier, a former public health professor at Columbia University, with contributions from his students. In The Vertical Essay, Dr. Despommier cites that the earth’s population will increase by about 3 billion people by 2050. Currently, over 80% of arable land throughout the world is already in use and another 15% is unusable due to poor land management. That means if traditional farming practices continue, there won’t be enough land to grow food for the expanding population. Vertical farming is a means of maximizing space by growing food inside the tall buildings of an urban environment. In fact, he refers to it as the third green revolution. (more…)
February 24, 2016
January Forum Recap: Sustainability Trends from the Green Catwalkby Megan Nordgrén Sustainability trends are constantly evolving and at GreenHomeNYC’s annual Green Catwalk, a number of hot topics were placed center stage as seven speakers discussed issues like carbon assets, solar technology, sustainable modular housing, green financing and benchmarking. Carbon Offsets in the Building Industry Reed Shapiro, Director of Business Development at Carbon Credit Capital, started the evening by making a case for integrating carbon offsets in the building industry. To avoid exceeding a global temperature increase of 2°C, broadly seen as the planetary tipping point for catastrophic impact from climate change, we need to look at the critical role that buildings play in greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings make up approximately 40% of the annual 5 BT U.S. greenhouse gas emissions: 15% through manufacturing, 83% through use, and the remainder through design, distribution, on-site operations, and demolition or refurbishment. (more…)
December 28, 2015
Biophilia: Designing with Natureby Lisa Bonanate Have you ever wondered why the sound of waves, a walk in the woods or a secluded refuge are universally appealing? One school of thought says that man has an innate need to connect with the natural world. Biophilia – meaning “love of life” – is the term used to describe this instinctive response to nature. It originated with psychologist Erich Fromm, but became popular through the writings of biologist Edward O. Wilson, who proposed that our attraction to nature is actually rooted in our biology. But beyond the sensory appeal, biophilic design in the built environment plays an important role in physical and psychological well-being – and that can ultimately translate into economic benefits. (more…)
October 5, 2013
The Green Spotlight on BE NYC: Christopher DiamondCountdown to BE NYC! With onlydays until the conference, GreenHomeNYC is shining the spotlight on the experts who will be making BE NYC an exceptional industry event! One of the professionals participating in the conference is Christopher Diamond. Chris is Director of Engineering and Technical Analysis at the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC), an independent, non-profit financial corporation established by New York City to assist the City in implementing its Greener, Greater Buildings Plan and to advance the goals of PlaNYC. NYCEEC’s mission is to support the City’s energy and climate action goals by catalyzing an energy efficiency retrofit financing market for private building owners. Chris earned a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) from Manhattan College, and Master of Science (Engineering) and Master of Architecture degrees from UC Berkeley. He will be one of seven industry professionals participating in the panel “Real Financing, Real Quick (Financing for People with Short Attention Spans),” which is part of BE NYC’s Multifamily track. How did you become involved in this aspect of sustainability? My career path seems a bit scattered, but there is a progression and along the way I’ve learned a variety of skills and perspectives that influence the work I do today. I started as a civil engineer designing gas stations in Southern California. Much of that work was tied to then-new environmental regulations including Title 24. Since the projects were small and quick paced, by the time I got to architecture school I had built more projects than most of my professors. After graduate school I worked for a boutique structural engineering firm on some high-profile projects, including Simmons Hall at MIT, the expansion to MoMA, and the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City. I then transitioned my career toward sustainability and energy efficiency and worked at an architectural firm and later Steven Winter Associates. The work I do today is integrating energy efficiency design and construction into the financing process. The breadth of my previous experience helps me clearly see the big picture. What are the main reasons that your panel at BE NYC, “Real Quick (Financing for People With Short Attention Spans),” is important to someone trying to gain a better understanding of the sustainability field at large? The excuse not to do an energy efficiency retrofit—even one with a great payback—is often a lack of financing. NYCEEC was established to eliminate that excuse and catalyze a financing market for energy efficiency. Financing can be very specific to the type of project under consideration and oftentimes people don’t know what is available. The format and collection of speakers on this panel will give the audience a great overview of the types of financing available for different types of projects. Spoiler Alert: In the end, if there’s a project that doesn’t fit into any of the categories we discuss, people should come talk to NYCEEC. Can you mention one or two projects you’ve been involved with at NYCEEC that are pertinent to this panel discussion? I’ve worked on two mortgage products in particular. The first is with the NYC Housing Development Corporation (so it’s limited to affordable housing). Over the summer we closed our first deal—with Franklin Plaza Apartments, a Mitchell Lama cooperative in Harlem—that is providing additional loan proceeds to incorporate energy efficiency into major renovations that were already planned. We’ve even been able to leverage a separate loan to do extra energy efficiency measures. The energy savings of these measures will go a long way to keeping the units more affordable for a long time into the future.
The second mortgage product is now rolling out with Fannie Mae. We’re working with some of their partner lenders to provide additional loan proceeds for energy efficiency improvements at the time of acquisition, refinancing, or even as a supplemental loan on top of an existing Fannie Mae mortgage. We’re fundamentally changing the way Fannie Mae underwrites loans: A portion of the projected energy and water cost savings can be used during the underwriting process.What other discussions at the BE NYC conference are you most interested in attending? The ones pertaining to resilience. The steps we’re taking with energy efficiency will only reduce the changes to our climate. Over the course of my lifetime and my children’s, we’ll need to learn to adapt and be resilient as well. Interested in learning more from Christopher Diamond? Look for him at the Multifamily Track at BE NYC. CLICK HERE to register for BE NYC. For more information on workshop sessions, sponsoring and exhibiting at BE NYC, CLICK HERE. Interview conducted by Steve Knight. To know more about GHNYC’s The Green Spotlight, CLICK HERE!
September 20, 2013
The Green Spotlight on BE NYC: Pat Logan
Countdown to BE NYC!
With onlydays until the conference, GreenHomeNYC is shining the spotlight on the experts who will be making the BE NYC an exceptional industry event!One of the professionals participating in the conference is PAT LOGAN. Pat Logan is Director of Project Finance in the New York office of Enterprise Community Partners, a nationwide nonprofit focused on creating opportunities for low- and moderate-income people through affordable housing in diverse, thriving communities. Pat will be appearing at BE NYC on a panel titled “Real Financing, Real Quick (Financing for People With Short Attention Spans),” which is part of the conference’s Multifamily track. Pat’s scheduled co-panelists are: John Skipper from Con Edison; Lindsay Robbins from NYSERDA; Chris Diamond from NYC Energy Efficiency Corp.; Sadie McKeown from Community Preservation Corp.; Lou Rizzo from National Grid; and Jesse Elton from LISC. Pat’s interest in financing affordable housing comes from his longtime commitment to the public sector. He attended Fordham University first as an undergraduate, then earned a master’s degree there in international political economy and development. This was followed by a stint as an 8th grade teacher at St. Elizabeths in Washington Heights and an after-school program instructor in the Fordham section of the Bronx, where he made connections that eventually led to a position on the development team of a local nonprofit, the Fordham Bedford Housing Corp. Pat remains active in local community affairs to the present, serving on the board of the Bronx County Historical Society. We sat down with Pat and talked about how he hopes to contribute to his BE NYC panel’s mission to introduce the audience to various funding and grant opportunities for retrofits and/or audits leading to energy-efficient renovations: (more…)