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  • Edging Toward Energy Efficiency | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    for supportive housing applications and every one seems to be out of the box Nevertheless outreach to residents and training for building supers is available and good news might be forthcoming if and when program evaluations are undertaken In contrast the New York City Housing Authority NYCHA with a staff infrastructure better equipped to apply for grants and manage the physical fabric of its properties than an organization that is rooted in social service is using 423 million in stimulus funding for weatherization and waterproofing work on facades of 300 buildings Authority representative Tony Piscopia expects 60 of this work to be completed next year Work to replace roofs and add insulation to improve energy efficiency is also underway NYCHA currently spends 513 million a year in fuel and utility bills and understands that investing in upgrading its buildings will pay off in lower bills year in year out New York City government is also a recipient of stimulus funds through the US Department of Energy It has obtained 80 8 million through Energy Efficiency and Conservation EE C Block Grants and another 10 1 million for an array of solar power clean fleet and education projects Most of the EE C money will pay for work in municipally owned buildings and support the City s efforts to lead by example 500 000 however will go for a project to improve energy code compliance in privately owned buildings and 16 1 million is set aside to establish the Greener Greater Building Loan Fund to assist private owners in meeting the requirements of the legal mandates in the Greener Greater Building Plan This loan fund is not yet in operation The single biggest allocation 26 1 million is for energy efficiency building retrofits of which 25 has been spent to date The second largest piece of the pie 22 12 million is for building operations and maintenance This information comes from the City s easy to access but detail limited online Stimulus Tracker Despite its wealth of information the Stimulus Tracker does not calculate how much money has been spent to date on any particular project category and information if it exists on program outcomes is not on this webpage In an effort to look beyond stimulus funded work and learn about grass roots energy efficiency projects that made a difference in 2010 I tracked down a new report by the Pratt Center on its Retrofit New York Bedford Stuyvesant pilot program it makes worthwhile reading With funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority as well as a private foundation the Pratt Center partnered with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation focusing their efforts on one block composed of 3 4 family brownstones to make energy retrofits and weatherization easy for owners by packaging financial incentives and delivering services directly to them Fifteen buildings opted to have free energy audits with support of a grant from the State s Department of Environmental Conservation and thirteen of them have

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2010/11/inching_toward_energy_efficiency.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Energy Efficiency: Money Isn't Everything | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    their lenders are unwilling to put money into energy efficiency projects with a longer pay back period The ideal commercial building for purposes of obtaining energy efficiency financing is one that is owned and occupied by a major corporation where the occupancy time horizon is long and the asset profile is deep and robust Even these attractive features may not outweigh the current dearth of measurement and verification data on the performance of energy efficiency projects in other commercial projects The market does not yet know how to value high performance building but it is easier to underwrite a loan for major corporate borrower than a special purpose loan for a smaller borrower Another takeaway is that projects to enhance a building s energy efficiency may produce collateral benefits that the market doe s know how to value The example given was renovation work at Rockefeller Center that yielded thousands of extra feet of rentable space that resulted from its energy upgrades Owners of the Empire State Building New York s Art Deco icon being modernized into an icon of green coordinated overall building renovation work and market repositioning with its energy efficiency upgrades While one speaker cautioned that today financial professionals cannot attribute any value to energy efficiency performance risk on its own the panel s energy engineer did not see the availability of finance as a big barrier to improving the energy performance of commercial buildings Instead he stressed that lenders and borrowers should seek the tangible collateral benefits of enhanced energy efficiency which would make finance a more attractive proposition and could overcome the three year payback metric used by so many commercial property owners On the policy front there was news about a proposal to use 35 40 million in energy related federal stimulus funds to

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2010/11/energy_efficiency_money_isnt_everything_1.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Hear A Pin Drop | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    homeowners Electric utilities around the State received 276 million for grid modernization work With a shaky economy and grim unemployment figures how the next Governor might parlay this 1 6 billion bonanza or any future federal funds into green growth could have been a campaign trail staple or a salient media question But it s not New York State is a member of the all volunteer Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative RGGI a ten state carbon cap and trade program and has been raising revenue for the state through regular auctions of emissions permits Will the next Governor opt to remain in RGGI If so what will he try to do with its revenues during periods of fiscal stress In New York City home to half the State s population Mayor Bloomberg s PlaNYC 2030 with its core effort to cut the City s carbon footprint and improve the City s resilience to the deep impacts of climate change has garnered wide acclaim How could the State and the City work to make these efforts even stronger in the near future The public wouldn t know either from the traditional or the electronic news and opinion media Yet both traditional and electronic media devote vast resources to environmental climate and energy issues and politics The New Yorker ran a long and scathing piece on the failure of the Senate to pass climate change in September The New York Times regularly reports on the California governor s campaign and headlined a Jerry Brown story with his status as an environmental champion Although the Huffington Post ran a piece in praise of Andrew Cuomo s energy report the on line Pew Center for States environmental page has yet to cover the New York Governor s race Of course New Yorkers won t have

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2010/10/hear_a_pin_drop.php (2016-02-10)
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  • PACE Goes Poof! | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    Fannie s and Freddie s own near melt down averted with 163 billion in help from the Treasury it s hard to be surprised by this hostile reaction to anything that looks like a new debt opportunity even one with a great green pedigree and no evidence of increased financial delinquency by PACE participants Nor is it surprising that PACE bond supporters and their climate action and high performance building allies see the federal mortgage agencies as hidebound bureaucrats at best and stealth climate skeptics at worst and they have sprung into action The California Attorney General has announced plans to sue Fannie and Freddie based on a theory that since the PACE bond program is based on local property tax policy the federal government cannot interfere The town of Babylon New York is seething and talks about the redlining of less well off home owners who could afford to make their properties more energy efficient or solar power equipped only with PACE financing In May the Department of Energy issued PACE program guidelines to create a more rigorous loan assessment process and offered to gather and crunch the energy performance data on properties with PACE loans in hopes of forestalling a Fannie and Freddie home mortgage freeze out but to no avail A bill has been introduced into Congress to override federal mortgage agency opposition to PACE loans and a Long Island Congressmen met with Fannie and Freddie officials seeking to convince them to go forward with a pilot project but as of this writing there has been no official response While it is also no surprise that New York City s Economic Development Corporation is mum on whether it will take advantage of the State law allowing localities to establish their own PACE bond programs and use federal ARRA money to start them up still it is shaping up to be a lost opportunity With enactment of the City s Greener Greater Building Plan in late 2009 benchmarking auditing retro commissioning and enhanced energy efficiency and lighting code requirements will soon create demand for building improvements in some 22 000 large commercial and residential properties Although I cannot document it it seems likely that many owners of these 22 000 properties or owners of units within these buildings do not qualify for direct or indirect mortgage financing through Freddie or Fannie under the auspices of programs like My Community Mortgages for low and moderate income people or Fannie Neighbors which encourages home buying in central city locations They would not qualify either because they own commercial buildings or they are residential condo or co op owners who might elect to install energy upgrades without PACE financing as a consequence of market pressures and greater awareness generated by the 2009 legislation Of course some large apartment buildings will be put at a disadvantage without access to PACE bonds Since the Greener Greater Building Plan offers neither inducements nor incentives for early adapters and energy innovators a vibrant PACE bond

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2010/07/pace_goes_poof.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Till Human Voices Wake Us | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    and disrupt the telecommunications systems that lie just underground New York along with much of the global financial system would be brought to its knees None of the elaborate post 9 11 security measures would do a thing to stop the inundation that is surely coming in the next few decades Since there is little reason to be optimistic that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will be cut to 350 ppm during this century we can only become a sustainable and resilient city by focusing our vision and mobilizing our imagination energies and resources starting now Rising Currents which appeared to be a hit at MoMA is one of those starting points It foresees Adaptive design strategies deployed here would include increasing the height of the existing sea wall to prevent inundation Peripheral land may also be reconsidered a wetland zone and sloped fill may be built up against the seaward side of the seawall Channels and slips may be extracted from streets that were formerly inlets to allow water to move inland in a controlled way The shallow areas just south of Lower Manhattan are a potential site for a protective offshore archipelago of artificial islands This vision assembles resources from new and old sources alike ranging from the installation of up to the minute geotubes to create sloping shorelines that would slow the landward rush of stormwater to using decommissioned subway cars to construct artificial reef habitats in the harbor These subway reefs would create 800 to 1 000 times more biomass than the open ocean while deflecting strong sea turbulence On high Rising Currents recommends lightweight soils that could be used for green roofs to absorb rainwater that otherwise would overwhelm the sewage treatment system Beneath our feet porous pavements could also soak up storm water and reduce the need for large and costly engineered water retention devices now deployed to protect New York Harbor from pollution In more bureaucratic prose the PlaNYC Progress Report 2010 sketches a three stage approach to bolster the City s resilience to the future impacts of climate change It places special emphasis on creating up to date floodplain maps working with vulnerable communities and rethinking zoning regulations while also devising a broad approach to minimizing the vulnerability of infrastructure systems to storm surges flooding and higher sea levels This is a daunting task in light of projected sea level rise ranging from 12 to 55 above current levels The 2010 report of Green Building Codes Task Force also weighs in on planning for climate change by incorporating flood risks into new building standards For example the report recommends study of how to make buildings better able to withstand the loss of electricity or interruptions to water and sewer services Obviously planning for a resilient New York will require sustained diligence and significant investments over the span of decades Easy Of course not especially now Consider America s inability to pass comprehensive climate legislation its economic insecurity and the rise of the Tea

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2010/05/till_human_voices_wake_us_1.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Home In The Dome | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    among Republicans voters But don t despair Instead consider what it means to legislate A crucial underlying reason for passing laws rather than relying on the market and the zeitgeist is that legislative goals are not universally shared or practiced Laws at the time of their enactment express disagreement and conflict not consensus and one side or coalition of interests prevails Only then do statutes start to generate their own support and legitimacy or get thrown back into the political realm or overturned in court Let s rewind the tape and look for a more positive message in the CO 2 dome study Let s assume because I don t know for certain this CO 2 that collects over cities rises up from urban sources rather than is attracted magnet like from far away In other words it behaves more like the air pollutants we traditionally regulate at the state and local levels ozone acid gases and soot Let s also assume that CO 2 domes form over definable metropolitan areas rather than stopping neatly at political boundaries So San Francisco would include Oakland Richmond and Berkeley New York City encompasses counties in the tri state area greater Los Angeles extends beyond the county line and ditto for Dallas Fort Worth We re talking about a lot of people Add to this the crucial fact that for the first time we have reason to believe that carbon dioxide is dangerous to the public s health right here right now Unlike climate change which is harder for many to get alarmed over because it s not happening right here right now or if it is its consequences are harder to detect local sources of CO 2 can been seen as dangerous and worthy of prompt public action and large scale private

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2010/03/home_in_the_dome_1.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Paving The Way | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    value for energy efficient commercial and residential real estate Mr Stolatis is confident in saying the reduced operating expenses mean higher building value For him energy efficiency and benchmarking are part of a holistic and prudent way to manage buildings Let s look at what public policy is doing to help other typically smaller property owners pay for energy improvements A March 2009 Snapshot by Mayor Tom Bates spelled out the Berkeley FIRST initiative Berkeley California through its own financing authority raised a pool of 80 million to provide up front financing of as much as 37 500 to a property owner who wants to install solar power roof panels The loan is repaid over twenty years through an add on to property tax payments at zero percent interest with a one percent charge to cover administrative costs The loan goes with the property which means if the building is sold the obligation to repay goes to the new owner The town of Babylon NY offers a similar program to encourage energy efficiency upgrades that will cut CO 2 emissions from existing buildings The orientation of both these programs is toward residential owners who have twenty to thirty year mortgages and these long repayment times are congruent with a home or multifamily mortgage time frame Expanding on this model eighteen states now authorize PACE that s Property Assessed Clean Energy bonds or taxes New York is the latest state to join in and there s good reason to believe that the New York City Council will be considering PACE bond legislation in the near future After this Torchlight went to press Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced her support for PACE bond type legislation in her State of the City address Before that happens however the State law may need some tweaks New York s statute as written requires municipalities that issue PACE bonds to be recipients of federal stimulus funds Although New York City has applied for block grants from the US Department of Energy it won t learn whether it will receive funding until Spring 2010 amended legislation would allow municipalities to move forward without federal stimulus funds in hand The Natural Resources Defense Council a well known green advocacy organization champions PACE bonds as one of several innovative instruments to finance energy efficiency improvements Enactment of local PACE legislation would create an entirely new revenue stream for greening the City s biggest energy consumers its buildings According to NRDC New York City would likely issue PACE bonds through a new local development corporation or similar City subsidiary PACE bonds cannot be plain vanilla general obligation bonds guaranteed by property taxes because they are taxable revenue bonds Repaying a PACE bond would be guaranteed in two ways First a loan to a property owner would be structured to make monthly energy savings greater than monthly loan payments Second PACE bonds would have a super lien status which means investors are paid before mortgage holders in cases of bankruptcy or

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2010/01/paving_the_way.php (2016-02-10)
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  • It's Not A Wrap | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    and running several hundred pages there will be plenty of fine print to pore over on long winter nights Anticipating 2010 s scheduled review of the Code this report should be an eco Santa s list of specifics for greening the code Of course since money doesn t grow on holiday trees and these days it s rarely found nicely wrapped beneath them tracking the arrival of eagerly awaited federal stimulus dollars makes the Stimulus Tracker page on the Mayor s website another must read Direct federal block grant funding to New York City for its energy efficiency efforts totals 80 51 million What does this figure entail Nine project categories will be supported in whole or in part it s not entirely clear from the information posted in the website For instance the largest program allocation targets 27 28 million for the energy efficient upgrades of municipal buildings The federal money is in addition to 60 million appropriated in the City s FY 2010 budget for this purpose In another category 16 1 million originally slated to assist financially stressed property owners in undertaking statutory building energy retrofits will now go to a pilot loan program For the present only the Administration of the City s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy is underway The rest should kick in next year Torchlight s regular readers may recall NYC s Local Law 86 Signed into law by the Mayor more than three years ago it requires new municipal construction and substantial renovations to meet LEED Silver standards In January 2009 I wrote about the first published Local Law 86 Annual Report and had aspired to write something about this year s report But until the Mayor s office posts the Annual Report there is nothing to be said Has Local Law 86 covered construction fallen victim to the economic downturn or has the City s attention strayed It is evident that the Mayor has come to see 2007 s PlaNYC 2030 as a power tool for doubling the number of local green jobs over the next decade 2009 saw a blizzard of reports and press releases announcing the City s intention of extending that Plan in the direction of green economic development and job growth The Economic Development Corporation issued a directory of federal state and city programs for promoting green economic growth in addition to a menu of financial resources for this purpose City Hall amped up its high performance building vows in a report which sets a goal of creating 19 000 new jobs through its greener greater building plan If that wasn t enough the Mayor also unveiled thirty initiatives to grow the green urban economy This growth is projected to come from energy efficient building on site renewable energy installations carbon trading and finance as well as greener neighborhoods Accordingly an alphabet soup of entities like the Economic Development Corporation Small Business Services and CUNY are supposed to create a supporting environment for this green economy True

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2009/11/its_not_a_wrap.php (2016-02-10)
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