Snapshot Column Archives

Energy Efficiency: Markets or Mandates?
Pat Sapinsley
Sep. 1, 2014

Organic Wastes Are Energy-Rich Resources: Towards A New Era of Productive Alchemy
Kendall Christiansen
Jun. 30, 2014

Eco Districts: Making NYC More Sustainable & Resilient, One Neighborhood at a Time
Llewellyn Wells
Apr. 30, 2014

Gatekeepers: Unsung Heroes Of A Smart Economy?
Aleksi Neuvonen & Tuuli Kaskinen
Mar. 2, 2014

We're Beginning To See The Light
Nick Lombardi
Jan. 27, 2014

Re-Sus-Citate Resilience and Sustainability for the Health of our City
Michele Oberholtzer
Dec. 2, 2013

Buildings Tell The Truth
Chris Benedict, R.A.
Oct. 7, 2013

Building Efficiency and Blower Doors: Essential Responses to Sandy
Ken Levenson, A.I.A.
Aug. 1, 2013

Language Matters, Or What Should I Do With My Banana Peel?
Kendall Christiansen
Jun. 1, 2013

Getting Serious About Daylighting
Yetsuh Frank
Apr. 1, 2013

From Evolution to Revolution: Enabling Clean Energy at the Edge of the Electric Grid
Thomas Bourgeois & William Pentland
Feb. 14, 2013

Obama's First-Term Eco-Legacy and the Road Ahead
John Tepper Marlin
Nov. 26, 2012

Deficit Could Be X-Factor for Carbon Tax
Charles Komanoff
Oct. 10, 2012

Are Building Owners Leaving Money on the Energy Efficiency Table?
Elizabeth Brooke Stein
Aug. 1, 2012

Realizing the Behavioral Wedge — Getting Tenants Involved in Saving Energy
Mirele B. Goldsmith, Ph.D.
Jun. 4, 2012

Commercial PACE Financing: An Innovative Way To Scale Up The Building Retrofit Market In NYC
J. Cullen Howe
Apr. 2, 2012

From MUSH To The City of Tomorrow: Taking District Energy To Urban Neighborhoods
Christina Grace
Feb. 2, 2012

Inconvenient No Longer
John Tepper Marlin
Jan. 3, 2012

The Sad Story Of The National Infrastructure Bank
Joyce Miller
Dec. 1, 2011

Faster, Stronger, Smarter: The Smart Grid's Informational Efficiency
Dania Nasser
Sep. 19, 2011

Over Our Heads: What Will Design Students Need To Know About The Revolution In Sustainable Roof Design?
Lynn Phillips
Aug. 1, 2011

New York City's Benchmarking Law: Does It Go Far Enough and Is It Fair To Building Owners?
Larry Schnapf
Jun. 15, 2011

Climate Change In The Supreme Court: Will Winners Be Losers?
Simon Wynn
Apr. 1, 2011

Historic Preservation & Passive House Working Together In NYC
Ken Levenson, A.I.A.
Feb. 1, 2011

2011 Green Priorities for Albany
Marcia Bystryn
Dec. 15, 2010

C40: Hammer In Hong Kong
Stephen A. Hammer, Ph. D
Nov. 8, 2010

Disclosure: A Powerful Motivational Tool
Adam Hinge
Oct. 1, 2010

Finding the Proof of Energy Retrofits
Michael Bobker
Aug. 2, 2010

Green Buildings & Perverse Incentives
Albert F. Appleton
Jun. 1, 2010

The Switch: A Green Reporter's New Beat
Alec Appelbaum
Apr. 1, 2010

Hiding In Plain Sight
Victoria Anstead
Mar. 2, 2010

Smart Building Technolgy: Not Smart Enough
Stephen Samouhos
Jan. 1, 2010

Advancing Energy Efficiency in Russia
Mark Izeman
Nov. 3, 2009

Blue/Green — Making It Work Takes Work
Ed Ott
Aug. 31, 2009

Transparency & Innovation: Open Data For Green Building
Bomee Jung
Jul. 1, 2009

Climate Change & Environmental Impact Statements
Michael B. Gerrard
Jun. 1, 2009

Another Berkeley FIRST
Mayor Tom Bates
Mar. 1, 2009

New Space, New Faces
John Tepper Marlin
Feb. 2, 2009

Taming the Concrete Dragon?
Stephen Hammer & Elizabeth Balkan
Dec. 1, 2008

Green Zoning
Caroline G. Harris
Oct. 1, 2008

International Influences on City Sustainability Plans
Gail Karlsson
Aug. 1, 2008

Growing Green Collar Jobs in NYC
Joanne Derwin
Jul. 2, 2008

USGBC to Accredit Green-Building Certifiers
John Tepper Marlin
Jun. 5, 2008

Energy Efficiency in NYC: The Problem of Split Incentives
Kate Bashford
Apr. 7, 2008

Contractors Wanted
Wendy Fleischer
Feb. 1, 2008

The Status of LEED in NYC, Positive Lessons
John Tepper Marlin
Dec. 3, 2007

The Healthy School and The Sustainable City
Stephen Boese
Oct. 1, 2007

The Green Manufacturing Scene
Sara Garretson
Jul. 31, 2007

Energy and Environmental Reality Check
Peter Fusaro
May. 30, 2007

Plant-Based Heat for Your Home
John S. Nettleton
Apr. 16, 2007

Shravya Jain


NYC 2030 District: A Living Lab Of Sustainability Efforts And Innovation

November 11, 2015

By: Shravya Jain

The verdict is in: 2015 is on track to be the warmest year on record. Fortunately, 2015 also promises to be the year when nations sign a climate agreement that will alter the course of history. Understanding that national ambitions to combat climate change need bottom-up support, the United Nations sponsored the Compact of Mayors — a global coalition of city leaders pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and head towards sustainability and New York City is one of those leaders. Consecutive mayors have made greenhouse gas emissions reduction as well as enhancing the resiliency of our built environment a priority. At present, the cities spew more than 51 million tons of greenhouse gases per year — a majority of which is building-related, so there is much to be done to meet Mayor de Blasio's goal of cutting our carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

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Lauren Kurtz


Climate Scientists in the Crosshairs

September 01, 2015

By: Lauren Kurtz

The scientific method is based on the belief that research results should be subjected to the utmost scrutiny. But this principle can be turned on its head and scientists operating in politically controversial areas, particularly climate science, have been attacked by ideologically motivated groups trying any means possible to discredit, distract, and intimidate. Such tactics have included hate mail, death threats and even an anthrax scare. Less violently but no less noxiously, attacks via the legal system are an increasingly common way for self-styled "skeptics" to go after climate scientists with whom they disagree.

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Victoria Anstead


Do Tourists Care?

August 04, 2015

By: Victoria Anstead

This question provoked passionate — and divided — responses from participants at a recent Innovators Think Tank on the effects of climate change on travel in the Caribbean and other coastal areas. Held in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, it was sponsored by the Washington, DC based Center for Responsible Travel (CREST).

I was there with the aim of expanding the dialogue associated with climate change from one of dueling dire predictions and dramatic uncertainty to one that factored in the intellectual and emotional effects of the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in, individually and collectively.

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Constantine E. Kontokosta, Ph.D., PE


Data and the City: The Promise and Perils of Urban Informatics

July 07, 2015

By: Constantine E. Kontokosta, Ph.D., PE

While the marketing rhetoric around Smart Cities is replete with unfulfilled promises and the persistent use (and mis-use) of the term "big data" has generated confusion and distrust around potential applications, the reality remains that disruptive shifts in ubiquitous data collection — including mobile devices, GPS, social media, and synoptic video — and the ability to store, manage, and analyze massive datasets require the next generation of practitioners of urban policy and planning to have new capabilities that respond to these innovations. For students in the emerging fields of Urban Informatics and Civic Analytics, core competencies cross traditional boundaries of computer and data science, public policy and urban planning, and business and technology management. This results in requirements for both technical and non-technical (or non-computing) skills, as well as breadth and depth across informatics disciplines and domain applications. These include knowledge of programming (Python, R, etc.), data mining and management (Hadoop, MapReduce), applied mathematics and statistics, machine learning, and visualization (CartoDB, D3).

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Marcia Bystryn


How New York City Can Deliver On Its Zero Waste Goal

May 06, 2015

By: Marcia Bystryn

On Earth Day, Mayor de Blasio presented a bold vision for a New York City that sends zero waste to landfills. This ambitious goal figured prominently into the sustainability section of his OneNYC plan. I believe we can get there, but it will require a great deal of focus and innovation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the release of “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City,” a comprehensive plan for a sustainable and resilient city for all New Yorkers

New York City currently sends four million tons of waste to landfills every year. Landfills are notorious emitters of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Sending waste to out-of-state landfills is expensive too — in 2012, it cost the City over $85 million. Removing organic material from landfills not only reduces methane in the atmosphere and carbon emissions from collection and long-haul carting trucks, it also presents an opportunity to harness its positive value as a potential clean energy source or compost input. The City knows this export option is not sustainable over time.

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Wendy E. Brawer


Mapping The Way To A Brooklyn Passive House

March 11, 2015

By: Wendy E. Brawer

Given the opportunity to do something with the potential to be world changing, would you take that chance?

Our story begins in 1992, when the original Green Map of NYC debuted. The creative outcome of my 'light bulb' moment — enriched by a group process — provided people with a surprising perspective on a familiar place. That place-based visual catalyst has sparked a global sustainability mapping movement, and today, in 65 countries, locally made Green Maps generate meaningful action as they bring resources for sustainable living into view. Each edition is a powerful tool for finding our way and finding that we're not alone.

Here's how energy moved to the forefront. Green Mapmaking had already spread to every continent when the Great Northeast Blackout of 2003 struck. Coming so soon after 9/11, it propelled me to consider the security crisis of our dependence on fossil fuel, and before the lights came back on, the Powerful Green Map of NYC began taking shape. It was exciting to assess our city's progress as our nonprofit highlighted everyday efficiency and renewable investments in the five boroughs along with the dark side of our energy choices. See this map's genesis since 2006.

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Chris Benedict, R.A. & Henry Gifford


The Perfect Energy Code

January 20, 2015

By: Chris Benedict, R.A. & Henry Gifford

A building is a complex system, set within a larger complex system. Systems can work elegantly or poorly.

Acknowledgement of senseless waste, and the desire to be kinder to the life on our planet have spurred the creation of energy codes for our buildings. It is imperative that a code devised to intervene into a poorly performing system be as elegant as its desired outcome in order to be effective.

On 25 November 2014, as guests of the Building Enclosure Council of New York (BECNY), Henry Gifford and I performed a play entitled, The Perfect Energy Code, at the Center for Architecture in NYC. In the play we dramatized an Architect's visit to the NYC Department of Buildings and her pursuit of energy code approval for her building design.

Please take a look:

Or read on...

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Rory Christian


Amid Global Efforts, NY Plants Seed For Energy Reform in 2014 That Will Bloom In 2015

December 26, 2014

By: Rory Christian

In the future, when we look back on 2014, I believe it will be remembered as the tipping point for climate action. In the Northeast, we'll remember the devastating early-season snowstorm that caused over a dozen deaths. In the Southwest, many will remember the third-straight year of a drought that seems without end. And, nationally, many will remember 2014 as one of the hottest years in recorded history — the hottest since 2010 and the 11th time the record for hottest year has been set since 1998.

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Llewellyn Wells


Resiliency. Sustainability. Equity.

November 04, 2014

By: Llewellyn Wells

There are those who say resiliency, sustainability and equity are at odds with one another. They are wrong. We can have all three — and we must. Like the old saw, "You can have two of these things, but never all three: Fast, Cheap and Good", we are told that equity, resiliency and sustainability can't be achieved concurrently. But I am convinced of the opposite: it is not possible to develop any of these things within a 21st Century city without developing all three of them equally. Inequality is not sustainable, and it most surely isn't resilient. If a place isn't resilient, how can it be sustainable? And what matter sustainability if there isn't social equity and long-term resilience built into the fabric of a community? You see what I'm driving toward and now I want to show you we have pathways to get there.

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