With the international emphasis on electrification, we must focus on the amount of electricity that is being generated by renewables rather than carbon based fuels. In all but one state in the US (and in much of the EU), there are not as many renewables as hoped in the energy mix. (Watch the recording of this forum on our Youtube channel!)
By Ansh Sandhu
Conventional power plants produce energy by burning fossil fuel to run turbines that produce electricity, which is then distributed via an extensive transmission system into our homes and businesses. Such systems are expensive to lay out, so utilities worldwide prefer to set these up in urban areas where the population density is higher.
For cities already struggling to reduce emissions from buildings and transportation, conventional power systems have exacerbated the problem. In more remote areas, the fossil fuel model has led to a power disparity, particularly in disadvantaged communities (DACs).
By Alexa Roccanova
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business as usual, it has also heightened awareness of the fragile balance between nature and humanity. To some, the magnitude of the virus’s impact represents a culmination of enduring environmental, economic, and social issues. Sustainability presents a globally beneficial path forward; however, not unlike the pandemic, its extensive scope demands responses that both tackle and develop complex and interconnected systems. Public and private sectors are now seeing the COVID-19 economic recovery as an opportunity for an operational reset.
Ambitious Actions Needed: Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations Sustainability Goals (SDGs) are helping both sectors to pursue environmental and humanitarian targets by providing a universal framework of seventeen integrated objectives needed to facilitate global environmental, social, and economic well-being by 2030.
By Tamanna MohapatraPhoto by Kenton Archer
On July 9th, 2019, GreenHomeNYC hosted a panel discussion on careers in waste management. Our three panelists engaged the audience with inspiring stories about their career paths, and offered insights into this growing and varied field. They also shared great career tips with the diverse group of participants.
June Forum Recap: Water Energy Nexus: Opportunities in our Water and Wastewaster Infrastructure
By Evan Mason, LEED GA
On June 19, 2019, GreenHomeNYC hosted a forum on the Water/Energy Nexus. We are used to thinking about energy and water conservation, but we often overlook the fact that conveying water to us uses electricity. Our two speakers helped us better understand that bringing water to our bathrooms and kitchens takes a lot of energy; once we embrace this concept, we can appreciate that conveying clean water to our homes and businesses presents myriad opportunities to reduce greenhouse gases.
Water and Energy—Real Life Strategies to Reduce Consumption, Save $ and Reduce GHGs (more…)
At GreenHomeNYC’s November Forum, four speakers who specialize in the intersection of art and sustainability came together in ThoughtWorks’ Manhattan office to speak about their work. The panelists, who have differing backgrounds within art and sustainability, provided the audience with a diverse conversation ranging from environmentally-friendly museum buildings to artwork that communicates the urgency of climate change.
Environmentally-Friendly and Disaster-Ready Museums
Sharon Gaber serves as manager at North American Passive House Network, but focused her presentation primarily on her other professional role – development chair for the Environment and Climate Network (ECN) within the American Alliance of Museums. Specifically, the ECN is a community that aims to establish museums and other cultural institutions as leaders in the world of sustainability and climate action. They carry out their mission by providing a multitude of resources to museums seeking to implement sustainability within their facilities. They also bestow Sustainability Excellence Awards on museums and cultural institutions that stand out as true sustainability and climate action leaders.
With the holidays upon us, you can make the decision to be either naughty or nice when it comes to your carbon footprint. From treats to trees, from toys to travel, your choices make a difference in the health of the planet. How can New Yorkers stop dreaming of a white Christmas, and take actions toward a green one? Here are a few ideas for sustainable celebrating.
Choose an earth-friendly tree: According to Thomas Harman, founder of artificial Christmas tree maker Balsam Hill, “The minimal use necessary to make an artificial tree green is about seven years. Use it for three and a real tree is better.” But artificial trees are often made of materials that don’t readily decompose and may even contain toxic chemicals. Leaving a real tree in the ground is still best for the environment, so if you choose to go for a cut tree, make sure you get it from a reliable sustainable source. If you’re not sure what to make of the whole artificial vs cut tree controversy, consider a living tree. Think of it as buying a potted plant rather than cut flowers, only bigger. The tree comes with roots intact, and can be planted afterward. If you don’t have a yard of your own, gift it to someone who does. There are also plenty of community and school gardens in need of green. (Keep in mind that living trees sequester carbon; they actually store it and turn it into nutrition.)
Panelists (from left to right): Kestana Anokye, Michael Roos, Lindsay Robbins, and Tom Sahagian
On October 9, Green Careers hosted a Career Tracks panel on NYC government jobs. Professionals working to advance sustainability causes in various government sectors discussed their educational background, first steps in the sustainability industry, and job roles and responsibilities, while offering advice to those seeking a career in governmental sustainability.
Kestana Anokye is a Project Manager in the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation, the agency that designs and operates municipal programs for cleanup and redevelopment of vacant contaminated lands. Anokye has a background in Geological Sciences and worked with two environmental consulting companies after college. Two years into her second job, she realized her growing passion for sustainability. When a colleague suggested that she attend forums, like those hosted by GreenHomeNYC, to learn about opportunities in the field, it seemed a bit intimidating that almost every speaker had a degree in engineering. But she was determined to find a way to combine her skills and training with her interests to find the right job.
While networking is invaluable, Anokye advised that persistence in your job search is most important, even when things don’t work out immediately. That tenacity and patience led to her current position at the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation.
Michael Roos graduated with a liberal arts degree in economics and geography, and didn’t foresee his current role as a Building Performance Analyst for the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services Division of Energy Management. While pursuing his master’s degree at Columbia University, Roos learned about the role that local governments play in advancing urban sustainability, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC serving as a case study. One of his professors encouraged him to apply for an internship in the Energy Department of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Interning with the largest public housing authority in North America was a valuable introduction to the field of energy management in city government.
Roos returned to the Energy Department in a permanent capacity as an Energy Analyst, deploying his data analysis skills to work extensively with the Utility Management Information System (UMIS), NYCHA’s utility bill database. He working with technical consultants to conduct energy analyses of NYCHA’s 2,500 residential buildings and facilitate energy benchmarking in compliance with New York City’s local laws. After a few years, he transitioned to his current role at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which serves as the hub of energy management activities for over 4,000 municipal buildings across the five boroughs. His role involves managing energy and performance in alignment with Mayor DeBlasio’s goal of a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from municipal buildings by 2025.
Roos advised job seekers to set up a keyword search on the city’s job website and DCAS Energy Management to stay abreast of new opportunities in city government. He noted that networking is an effective way to connect with the tightly-knit community of energy and sustainability professionals in New York. He added that the DCAS-administered Energy Management Institute offers continuing education classes for city workers to enhance their technical knowledge.
As Director of Strategic Alignment & Implementation for NRDC’s Healthy People & Thriving Communities (HP&TC) Program, Lindsay Robbins works to foster the development of healthy, sustainable communities for all. While studying film and TV production at NYU, she discovered a love for urban studies and decided to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning. During this period, she became involved with several environmental groups at NYU that banded together to advocate for an environmental program at the university and the adoption of sustainable practices. Leading the effort with a few fellow students, Robbins successfully advocated to set up the program and bring other sustainability initiatives to the campus. After graduation, she was hired by NYU to assist in the planning, design, and renovation of university buildings.
Robbins moved into government work when she was hired to work on multifamily efficiency programs at NYSERDA. Working in NYSERDA’s then-small NYC office was a great advantage, as it helped her take on a lot of responsibility quickly. Subsequently she worked for the state of Maryland, managing an energy assistance program for low income households, where she worked to weave energy efficiency into the mix. Now at NRDC, Robbins works on energy efficiency for the affordable housing sector, helping the HP&TC program achieve its broader goals.
She advised job seekers not to be discouraged by the lack of a technical degree; this is a field that requires a variety of skill sets and there are ample opportunities to learn, if you remain curious and keep asking questions.
Tom Sahagian has had extensive experience working in private, non-profit, and governmental jobs, including the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development. He obtained a degree in journalism, later deciding to make the move into energy efficiency. But he noted that his ability to write well has been a huge advantage over his entire career.
Although there are pros and cons to working in government, he felt one compelling advantage is that government organizations are not driven by profit. The tendency to care more about the work, rather than gains or paybacks, can be a rewarding experience.
Sahagian’s advice is to be willing to start at the bottom, work hard, and learn new things every day to steadily climb up the ladder. He recommended pursuing continuing education for technical topics, and reading magazines on energy efficiency to stay abreast of the latest tools, technologies, and concepts. A few other important qualities for success: Be smart and committed. Be ready to do a lot of reading, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The panelists noted there’s often a long period between applying for a government job and getting an interview, so it’s important to be patient and persistent. And they agreed that regardless of your educational background, keep learning, keep reading, and keep applying until you find your dream job in sustainability.
How can an individual drive sustainable economic development in a city of 10 MILLION?
On August 23rd, join Hunter Lovins, global sustainability pioneer and Founder of Natural Capital Solutions, to explore the power and potential of local action on sustainable business growth and community development.
In our busy 21st century, technology-bound lives, the idea of community is in some ways diminishing. Why do there seem to be modern dimensions of life that actually reduce the importance of local communities? Are we distorting the very meaning of life when local communities are set up to feed larger societal systems?
As part of this forum, Hunter will introduce us to LASER – Local Action for Sustainable Economic Renewal. The LASER platform’s purpose is to create wealth that provides people with long term economic security and the ability of future generations to live healthy and fulfilled lives. Real wealth is inextricably linked to the satisfaction of our human needs and overall well-being. The LASER approach provides a structure for how individuals and organizations can impact economic advancement within their communities and sustainably improve the lives of others.
It may be easy to get lost in the speed and vastness of New York City, but there are powerful tools and techniques for individuals to discover what community really means and first-handedly drive economic and social impact in this concrete jungle.
We look forward to seeing you at the August forum with Hunter!
The forum is presented by GreenHomeNYC in collaboration with Bard College’s MBA in Sustainability program. We thank Bard in advance for kindly hosting this event at their NYC satellite campus within the LMHQ collaborative workspace.
Date: Thursday, August 23rd, 2018
Time: 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: LMHQ, 150 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10038
Our featured speaker will be:
L. Hunter Lovins is the President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions (NCS), a non-profit formed in 2002 in Longmont, CO. A renowned author and champion of sustainable development for over 35 years, Hunter has consulted on business, economic development, sustainable agriculture, energy, water, security, and climate policies for scores of governments, communities, and companies worldwide. Within the United States, she has consulted for heads of state, departments of defense, energy agencies and hundreds of state and local agencies.
Hunter believes that citizens, communities and companies, working together within the market context, are the most dynamic problem-solving force on the planet. She has devoted herself to building teams that can create and implement practical and affordable solutions to the problems facing us in creating a sustainable future.
Hunter has co‐authored fifteen books and hundreds of articles, and was featured in the award‐winning film, Lovins On the Soft Path. Time Magazine recognized her as a Millennium Hero for the Planet, and Newsweek called her the Green Business Icon. She has taught at numerous universities around the world and is currently a founding professor of Sustainable Management at Bard MBA.
by Karen Hindie
The June GreenHomeNYC Forum, Sustainability and Social Justice, explored how less advantaged communities can benefit from sustainable development. Our speakers focused on construction, landscaping and agriculture-related jobs for low-income workers. Speakers Matthew Caruso, Program Manager for Intervine, a division of the Hope Program, and Thomas Perry, Bronx Program Director, described training and transitional jobs that prepared workers for permanent positions in construction and landscaping. Jose Chapa, Legislative Campaign Coordinator of the Justice for Farmworkers Campaign, represents farmworkers and agricultural workers across the state. He described the difficulties farmworkers have and attempts to correct them.
Hope Through Sustainable Job Training
Caruso and Perry spoke about the Hope Program, which enables people who have difficulty obtaining a job to acquire the skills necessary to start and maintain sustainable careers. The Hope Program’s Bronx location focuses on green construction and building operation skills through the Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) training program and transitional paid jobs for graduates of the program at Intervine and Cool Roofs. Through the SSBx 12-week training program, students are provided classroom education, and experience in creating and maintaining green infrastructure. They earn industry certifications in safety and basic construction skills. They also receive assistance with resume writing and interview skills.