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  • If Climate's The Question, Is Sticky the Answer? | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    entities like the Federal Reserve Board as sticky institutions Such institutions are designed with precommitment strategies that deliberately make it hard never impossible to change the law in response to some kinds of concerns while providing avenues for change in response to other concerns that are in harmony with the law s central purpose Although Lazarus focuses his recommendations at the federal level in light of the young and rapidly evolving science of climate change as well as the myriad policy and technical solutions that are being proposed and tested in real time a sticky BSCC makes good sense at the municipal level too A specific precommitment strategy for a New York City climate board should be that one seat must be occupied by a senior member of the Mayor s staff and that all other members be drawn from relevant professional civic or community backgrounds and currently hold no government positions Such design features insulate programmatic implementation from powerful political and economic interests propelled by short term concern while allowing for the incorporation of new science technology and experience as they emerge Let me be clear that I am not proposing a Climate Change Authority Typically authorities are sizable bureaucracies that are funded at least in part with proceeds from bonds that they issue Critics of authorities often cite a lack of transparency and accountability as flaws inherent in their institutional nature i The Board I propose should be kept small Board membership would be a distinguished and potent civic responsibility not a career Created by an amendment to the City Charter the BSCC should be given oversight powers related to both the City s Building Code and its energy conservation provisions as well as to New York s progress toward meeting today s commitment to cut its carbon footprint 30 by 2017 A potent precommitment for the Board could be a required role in the mandated tri annual review of the City s Building Code that was overhauled in 2007 Another precommitment could be a designated role in reviewing and revising sustainability indicators for City agencies The BSCC would have direct access to the Mayor although its routine relationship with government staff and would occur through its ex officio member It would also maintain an independent relationship with the City s other elected officials and be in control of its own media relations Such features would create the right level of stickiness needed for smart and effective climate mitigation and adaptation actions while keeping the faith with the openness and responsiveness that we aspire to in a democracy Can such a Board solve all our problems Hardly It would have neither a full time staff nor its own funding source Its power would lie in its stickiness its independence its relationship to the Mayor and its legitimacy in the eyes of the public Such legitimacy would have to rest on two pillars First the sitting Mayor and public or more accurately in New York City its many publics

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  • When Starting Over Is Not An Option | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    can ratchet down demand and protect the grid by increasing energy efficiency without constructing new power plants is a discussion for another day For now let s consider who could join the winners circle in a city of mature high performance buildings underpinned by green housing and energy efficiency code innovations Landlords and tenants of renovated affordable housing would stand to gain with lower monthly operating and utility outlays Provided that first costs can be contained or subsidized and that the work is done right lower operating expenses free up more funds for mortgage payments something of real value to lenders and underwriters Despite New York s well known dearth of affordable housing high construction costs and its complex construction realities there are a number owners architects and contractors who are undertaking green high performance building alterations even if listing them all and understanding how they are performing isn t possible today Other potential winners are owners of commercial buildings with single tenants because carrying out building wide mechanical systems or building envelope upgrades to reduce energy demand adds bottom line value This value only increases as energy costs shoot up in absolute terms whatever their percentage of the operating cost calculation Greening commercial buildings with multiple tenants or residential condos and co ops is a more challenging task according to Chris Garvin a green architect with Cook Fox but that s where legal changes will be needed to create non discretionary standards that are aligned with smart targeted subsidy programs and the right tax code incentives Either the Rogers or the Clinton Climate solutions outlined above could be applicable to these types of building ownership and occupancy profiles Among resources currently on tap NYSERDA will work with commercial and industrial building owners and operators to help them become more energy efficient and reduce electric consumption at peak demand times As well both the availability and sales of Energy Star office equipment is growing A new generation of green collar workers and businesses will make up a third group of winners A New York City Apollo Alliance report finds that An environmentally sustainable NYC brings with it the prospect of economic benefits and good jobs green collar jobs For sustainability to generate widespread prosperity Green collar jobs must provide family sustaining wages safe working conditions and chances of advancement A related green collar job initiative Green For All was recently launched in Oakland California under the auspices of the Clinton Climate Initiative Green For All seeks a national commitment to job training employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging green economy especially for people from disadvantaged communities Without the support of and tangible benefits to urban Americans who may not now rate fighting climate change as a top priority we won t have sufficient velocity to overcome the inertia of business as usual and the clamor of other issues pressing for resources and solutions Creating a high performance winners circle requires the right kind of institution building As Rogers observes large scale participation by owners and tenants will require a way to lower the risk of failed installations and steep transactional costs He proposes an organizational solution It consists of an energy efficiency coordinating entity to coordinate upgrade projects a power utility that bills energy consumers and would charge for energy efficiency services in its regular billing an energy customer who pays for the retrofitting a bank that would loan money to the coordinating entity a certified energy auditor to make specific project recommendations and verify that the work was done right and a certified contractor to perform the work The Clinton Foundation Climate Initiative offers a slightly different version of this solution that relies more on energy service companies and less on third party verification Still ahead is development of smart public policy that aligns with and amplifies the impact of code amendments in order to reduce the costs of compliance while increasing the benefits of high performance retrofits Without such alignments competing capital needs as well as the fear of new or untested technologies and a lack of skilled certified contractors will scare off all but the bravest owners and tenants Let s also acknowledge a nearly universal preference for avoiding building code applicability when possible owners and architects have been known to exercise considerable ingenuity to ensure that their proposed alterations fall below the legally defined threshold for building alterations iii It s clear now that the greatest value of greener energy and building codes will lie in the inclusiveness of their application And as always competent and honest code enforcement is a must whether it applies to greener buildings or worker safety Code writers face the challenge of crafting statutory wording that will govern which alternations are covered or exempted from code requirements State City and high performance stakeholders must consult and work together on this fine print A final point to acknowledge in this context is the well known split incentive problem where the builder pays but the tenant benefits But even here a mix of greener code requirements tax incentives and a transforming market place as energy efficient buildings achieve greater market cache would go a long way toward making energy efficient retrofits into Rogers killer app So with so much to gain by greening our existing buildings stock what other barriers or distractions should we anticipate Here too it will be the fine print that matters most The prime task of building codes everywhere is setting minimum standards for public safety and health Relevant energy use standards are found in the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code ECCC that lays out requirements for design of building envelopes as well as the mechanical electrical hot water and lighting systems for residential and commercial properties A critical part of the ECCC is its requirement that mechanical and electrical systems meet the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers ASHRAE 90 1 standard Now a more advanced high performance standard ASHRAE 189 of

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2008/02/when_starting_over_is_not_an_option_1.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Knocking At Our Door | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    revisions of this code from once a generation to once every three years Although the 2007 code revisions could at best be called lite green and another end of year revision makes New York the first city in the country with rules for the use of micro turbines as a clean on site power source the 2010 round of revisions could go much further in nailing down how the City can cut its carbon emissions 30 by 2030 One smart step would be development of performance based standards for construction and building systems New York City is now home to 15 LEED certified buildings and has some 150 projects that have applied for LEED certification As well several outstanding high performance buildings developed outside the LEED system such as Battery Park City s high performance high rise apartments or the New York Times headquarters opened last year And that is in addition to the eight buildings that received State green buildings tax benefits It is important to recognize that there is substantial real world experience to learn from now This real world experience provides a platform for delivering on a technically effective and cost efficient green building code promise As many Torchlight columns have observed good public policy and smart use of public dollars requires that evidence be required collected analyzed and published On this score too NYC has a long way to go The City s Local Law 86 web pages offer no updated information and the PlaNYC 2030 web pages read as if were still April 2007 You can click and learn how we plan to meet our goals That s fine but where can you find out what has happened to date and what the City has learned from this experience however visionary and well intentioned You won t find out on the City s website so for now you ll have to rely on your clippings files your website bookmarks and your grapevines The need to green our infrastructure with high priorities on mass transit electric power generation and the combined sewer system was underlined by the subway floods of last summer Rising groundwater levels will also imperil our infrastructure and cannot be ignored There is no question that upgrading all these systems will require the mobilizing of technical ingenuity and capital investments in addition to improved routine maintenance Prudence dictates that planning design and investment in each of these infrastructure systems should also incorporate climate adaptation components For instance the City s subway system needs pumps and public address systems that can handle severe storms because it s likely that more severe wet weather will be part of the City s future Among ideas worth looking into are innovative siting of shrubs and plantings as well as reconfiguration of subway entrances to capture storm water runoff The City and the State continue to be shortsighted on the land use and development front For example the City s zoning rules which play a fundamental part in

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2007/12/knocking_at_our_door.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Possible But Not Probable | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    a proper grasp of the history of 20th Century environmental policy in the US The era of modern American environmental policy is defined by passage of landmark federal legislation including the Clean Air Act the Clean Water Act the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Superfund What all these laws have in common is the operating principle that pollution is reduced by permitting systems thereby regulating and reducing it All these laws provided the impetus for vast new areas of scientific and engineering expertise and the appearance of new industries Although the 21st Century has not been returned to an environmental Eden the success of these landmark laws is indisputable Laws that permitted and constrained pollution produced great technical and economic growth Such growth would be inconceivable without the mandates and restrictions imposed by law The N S prescription for positive thinking and investment to address 21st Century climate change also lacks a sure sense of the actual role of national leadership on climate in the Bush era especially where enormous economic forces are in play not to mention the high stakes arena of international energy competition And let s not forget if Tom Ferguson is right even if he s not 100 right understanding policy making as well as political outcomes cannot be reduced to polling and popularity It s worth noting that N S are silent for example about investing in innovations or updating building codes that make buildings much more energy efficient in order to shrink our carbon footprint Well insulated buildings and low e value windows don t seem like requirements that would send voters running in the other direction It s N S who are running in the other direction by pouring some of their greatest rhetorical scorn on environmentalists unsuccessful campaign to win legislation that would increase CAFE standards while saying nothing about the role of the auto industry in fighting new standards or cutting CO2 emissions both in Congress and the courts Don t be fooled by recent green advertising by Detroit automakers Contrary to their image makers investment in the research and development in cutting carbon emissions from their products is driven first by European and Japanese carbon emissions standards If domestic companies sold cars and trucks only in the US would there be similar investment in carbon emissions research Draw your own conclusion and decide whether it s in keeping with the N S breakthrough While making the case for the alternate energy investment strategy N S take time to write off legislation that sets carbon limits The problem with regulation centered approaches from Kyoto to a carbon cap and trade system is not just that they are ecologically inadequate but also that they are economically insufficient for accelerating the transition to clean energy N S 258 At the same time they call legislation that would cap the nation s carbon emissions a small incremental policy While incentives and carrots certainly can be powerful change agents there is no evidence that

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2007/10/possible_but_not_probable.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Rolling Up Our Sleeves | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    roofs and porous pavements That way the effects of any future sorry subway sagas can be mitigated while bringing more green economic development to New York Together these and other clean technology proposals hold great potential for attracting both private and public investment on the supply side of an equation that can stimulate new research and develop clean industries and green collar jobs Delivering on the Promise of New York is optimistic that the demand side of the cleantech equation will find a home in New York and it makes a good case for an essential government role in espousing public policy favorable to this kind of growth None of this means that New York City is likely to become home to large scale heavy manufacturing Still even a post industrial metropolis like New York can function only with a reliable infrastructure that incorporates up to date products and technologies This fact points the way toward a mutually beneficial path that could knit together downstate and upstate green growth By taking this path our transportation sector power supply system and building stock would thrive with cleantech developments New York has to live with its venerable sewer system that combines domestic waste and rainwater and sends it to sewage treatment plants in dry weather and directly into our waterways in wet weather As noted above green roofs porous pavements and other means to soak up water should be installed to forestall the floods in our basements sewers and subways and better manage the increased rainfall that New York can expect this century So too our power system built on an early 20th Century model of carbon based centralized power production is no longer the dominant model Energy efficiency demand reduction distributed and alterative energy sources are all high on the 21st Century menu that will put us on a strict carbon diet Design manufacture installation and maintenance of these products and systems would mean good jobs for New Yorkers Nanotechnologies and computer aided design can find many more places to set up shop than old fashioned smokestack industries One caveat research development and cleantech products cannot replace the ongoing need for old fashioned labor intensive maintenance of all infrastructure components Before green and cleantech products make it to market the research and development for new materials and new processes also should be encouraged to make its home here Neither the City s 2030 Plan nor the State s economic development report provide any detail about the potential for downstate upstate co operation but the latter correctly notes that there is a disconnect that leads to lost opportunities This should be remedied the need is clear and the demand is here because the infrastructure can never pick up and relocate The Syracuse University Center of Excellence is one example of a new upstate downstate incubator for an emerging strategic sector to develop finance and market green clean technologies Here s a good idea that s in its infancy let s see if

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2007/08/rolling_up_our_sleeves.php (2016-02-10)
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  • "If We Don't Act Now, When? And If We Don't Act, Who Will?" | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    markets and leading by example even if it can t achieve climate related emission reduction scales on its own City government is also adding to this carbon cutting momentum with its Green Desk at the Economic Development Corporation which provides assistance to green firms moving to New York City and to existing firms expanding into the green market It s clear from all this ferment that both market transformation and real cuts in the energy demand of our built environment are more than wishful thinking It s equally clear that New York won t be the only major city to find its way to the high road for cutting carbon by building smart For example Berlin Germany and that city s energy agency manage a program for retrofitting public and private commercial buildings and it s led to a cut in CO 2 emissions an average of 26 per project To date 1 400 buildings have been made so much more energy efficient that they re reducing Berlin s carbon footprint by 60 400 tons a years at a cost of 45 million euros What s more these building upgrades cost property owners nothing while providing a total guaranteed savings of 10 million euros Average payback periods are 8 12 years with savings beginning immediately due to lower fuel and electric bills Energy service companies called ESCOs perform this work Typically ESCOs develop install and finance projects designed to improve the energy efficiency and maintenance costs for a wide range of facilities In Berlin ESCOs bid competitively for the work ESCOs must guarantee energy savings to the building by deploying innovation state of the art technology ideas and value for the money The winning ESCOs pay upfront for the retrofits and building owners pay them back over an agreed time period At the C40 conference hosted by NYC in May 2007 a major announcement by the President Clinton Foundation heralded development of powerful tools to carry out and verify an urban climate policy that relies on a high performance energy efficient built environment More specifically the Clinton Foundation and Microsoft announced a partnership to devise new software tools pioneered by the climate change advocacy group ICLEI that will help large cities forge track and share strategies to reduce GHG emissions Just like the profound impact made by the Ford assembly line which standardized 20th Century mass industrial production this software could create standardized ways for cities to measure GHG with that ability they will be able to track the effectiveness of their carbon cutting tools and rules While this Microsoft web based tool to deliver evidence based climate policy will take some time to develop NYC should start working today on its next cycle of Building Code upgrades to forge the routine regulatory tools for greening our built environment This is consistent with the PlaNYC 2030 promise to speed up the cycle for reviewing and revising the Building Code from once every generation to once every three years At the

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2007/06/if_we_dont_act_now_when_and_if_we_dont_act_wh.php (2016-02-10)
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  • In Dreams Begin Accountability | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    release What matters from the perspective of understanding PlaNYC as a plan is the fact as expressed in the Mayor s own terms that these are distinct challenges and separate initiatives To speak metaphorically what we have here is a field strewn with Big Apple seeds that might grow into sturdy fruit bearing trees Doubtless some of these Big Apple seeds will take root and flourish others won t But which ones will bear fruit and will they meet PlaNYC s lofty goals It s too soon to say but it s not to soon to start asking When we look at this field of opportunity do we see a robust plan one designed to effectively meet its sustainability goals or is it just a rag tag heap of hopes I have difficulty sensing a strategy in this PlaNYC and this troubles me Consider the acreage in PlaNYC s Land Energy and Climate Change chapters Starting from the last chapter on climate change using the year 2005 a baseline its explicit goal is to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 by the year 2030 This translates into an annual reduction of 33 6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions with another 15 6 million tons of avoided emissions because nearly one million new residents will live in this sustainable metropolis Meeting the 30 reduction target will require major improvements in NYC s electric energy supply to save 10 8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings will save another 16 7 million metric tons So far so good Turning to the Energy chapter which contains the bulk of the initiatives to transform the City s built environment we find an array of innovative ideas on energy planning demand reduction new clean supply and the electricity delivery infrastructure Some of the ideas in this array can be carried out directly by City government for instance cutting its own energy consumption and committing 10 of its own annual energy bill to investments in energy saving City operations The Mayor deserves applause for his announced intention to amend the City Charter thereby ensuring that this commitment will live on past his tenure in office In addition changes to the City s energy and building code are recommended But reading the fine print uncovers an acknowledgement that the soon to be completed overhaul of the local building code While the new code will include a number of green elements including rebates for some green building features more can be done And here the vision for our Citta Ideale starts to blur Since any Building Code revisions will take place on a three year cycle progress in further greening it must be carried over onto the wish list for New York s next Mayor For now this cycle in combination with the Plan s prose style makes it hard to understand exactly what the Mayor promises to do and how he will do it To cite just one

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2007/05/in_dreams_begin_accountability.php (2016-02-10)
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  • How To Get What We Pay For | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    update the regulations DEC will not be able to accept Period two applications for the initial Credit Component Certificates until the updated regulations are promulgated Put bluntly TC 2 implementation is on hold and the delay is stretching into a second year with no end in sight What is going on here How could a law providing tax relief to energy efficient high performance builders which was reauthorized in 2005 not be operational in 2007 A January 29 2007 headline in Crain s New York Business blared NYC developers resist the push to go green and cited the jejune but persistent view that going green costs too much money As evidence the article points to the small number of buildings designed to meet LEED standards but it is silent about the impact of the 25 million in tax credits distributed to developers as a result of the State s initial green building law which was intended to be an exercise in market transformation It is possible that developers just didn t know about the State s green tax credit Maybe they didn t find the available tax credit financially attractive or found that the transactional costs paperwork were too onerous We don t know Let s consider a very different hypothesis about the reason for the delay lack of interest by developers In response to a question regarding the apparent lack of concern about the current status of TC 2 one New York real estate insider speculated that today there s enough market demand for high performance building so that tax break incentives are no longer needed This rosy view does not easily equate with the dour view expressed in the Crain s headline about NYC developer resistance to going green or the still miniscule number of buildings with a LEED rating Whatever their accuracy either view leads to a related reason we should find out what s going on A February 5 2007 Crain s New York Business Com story spotlighted the continued torrid growth in New York City residential construction in 2006 but there s no solid evidence that this building market is being transformed by the Green Building Tax Credit law This means we are perpetuating an environmental problem because what is built today will determine energy and fuel consumption levels as well as their associated greenhouse gas emissions for fifty years or more We ve got a building surge that is torrid in more ways than one but since it s not on the cutting edge of energy efficiency and high performance it s not capturing the intended value of the State s tax credit policy In light of what we know or more precisely what we don t know about how buildings that used the TC 1 credits performed it s hard to predict what we should expect from the 2005 reauthorization TC 1 of course reflected the knowledge and best practices of its time Since then we have witnessed an explosion of high performance

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2007/03/how_to_get_what_we_pay_for.php (2016-02-10)
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