Snapshot Column Archives

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


The Color of Money
Jon Lukomnik
Mar. 1, 2007


Saving Energy In Existing Residential Buildings
Richard Leigh, P.E. & Eduardo Guerra
Jan. 4, 2007


Birth of 21st Century Construction in Harlem
The Full Spectrum Team
Nov. 1, 2006


To Move Mountains, Fix Markets
Charles Komanoff
Sep. 27, 2006


Make Room for Green Work
Jenifer Becker
Aug. 29, 2006


What is DG and Why Should We Care?
Michael Bobker
Jun. 30, 2006


Beyond Pilot Projects
City of New York DDC
May. 24, 2006


Transparent Green
David Bergman
Jan. 2, 2006


Kendall Christiansen

Snapshot

Organic Wastes Are Energy-Rich Resources: Towards A New Era of Productive Alchemy

June 30, 2014

By: Kendall Christiansen

Prediction: by 2020, New York City's wastewater treatment facilities could produce biogas to heat and power their own operations, power some of the agency's fleet, and provide biogas to Con Ed and National Grid pipelines. In addition to the economic benefits, less trash shipped to distant landfills and waste-to-energy facilities reduces truck miles, greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, and creates carbon-positive benefits — all of which are goals of PlaNYC/2030.

How will that prediction be achieved? It's not crystal ball-gazing to see a combination of upgraded and expanded facilities, capable of accepting new sources of materials, or "feedstock" for their anaerobic digesters, complementing the energy potential already present in the city's sewage sludge. Kathryn Garcia, the new Commissioner of Sanitation, notes that digesters love "diner food" — clean, energy-rich, and maybe a little too much fat. But what is anaerobic digestion?[1])

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Llewellyn Wells

Snapshot

Eco Districts: Making NYC More Sustainable & Resilient, One Neighborhood at a Time

April 30, 2014

By: Llewellyn Wells

What is an Eco District? I am glad you asked.

"An Eco District is a neighborhood or district with a broad commitment to accelerate neighborhood-scale sustainability. Eco Districts commit to achieving ambitious sustainability performance goals, guiding district investments and community action, and tracking the results over time. An Eco District is a neighborhood committed to sustainability with the components of empowered people, green buildings and smart infrastructure."

But why now, and more importantly, why in New York City?

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Aleksi Neuvonen & Tuuli Kaskinen

Snapshot

Gatekeepers: Unsung Heroes Of A Smart Economy?

March 02, 2014

By: Aleksi Neuvonen & Tuuli Kaskinen

Ever had to personally refurbish a house? Ever had to think of buying windows, replacing the old roof with a new one or changing the heating system? Have you taken energy efficiency and climate emissions into consideration when making these decisions? Anyone who has gone through all this knows the right answers and solutions can be hard to come by.

Although it is well-known that the most efficient way to cut residential carbon emissions is through thoughtful building renovations, it is far from common practice. The challenge is that these potential improvements require decisions by millions of people in homes and at workplaces — people who usually don't feel themselves very competent in the area of energy efficiency. Adequate policy measures are rare: traditional public awareness campaigns are rarely nimble and voluntary participation makes their impact is slow, but introducing ambitious building performance norms for already existing building stock often faces strong opposition.

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Nick Lombardi

Snapshot

We're Beginning To See The Light

January 27, 2014

By: Nick Lombardi

Among the groundbreaking package of laws and regulations that comprised Mayor Bloomberg's Greener, Greater Buildings plan, the Local Law 84 Benchmarking requirement (LL84) was designed to be simple and straightforward, intended to lift the veil that concealed the energy use details of New York City's commercial building stock.

Access to new information generated by benchmarking and disclosure would, it was hoped, transform real estate transactions by introducing energy considerations into the space and investment markets decision chain. Now, three years in, there seems to be some appetite to take stock and measure the true effectiveness of LL84, and to respond to some bubbling sentiment in New York City that it hasn't really "worked" as intended.

Let's start with the take-away; despite what feels like a long time since its enactment, it's still far too early to make such declarations, and the evidence we do have suggests LL84 has indeed started to have its intended impact.

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Michele Oberholtzer

Snapshot

Re-Sus-Citate Resilience and Sustainability for the Health of our City

December 02, 2013

By: Michele Oberholtzer

Like a somber "talking-to" from a family doctor, Superstorm Sandy forced New Yorkers to face an uncomfortable reality: the irresponsible lifestyle we have lived for so long has put us at risk, and we must take significant measures to preserve our health going forward. It will take a dual approach of both sustainability and resilience to prevent and respond to the threats of climate change. These issues are as important as they are complex, so let's borrow some familiar concepts from medicine to understand what they mean for the health of our city.

In healthcare, we recognize a need for both preventative care — avoiding problems before they arise — and curative care — anticipating problems that will come about despite our best efforts to prevent them. The health of the urban environment is no different. When it comes to climate change, sustainability means "reducing it" whereas resilience means "reducing its impacts." In one case we are trying to prevent something from happening, in the other we are trying to mitigate the negative impact when it does. While the two issues are complementary, their differences are important. "Sustainability" and "resilience" are not synonyms, but rather complementary forces, a yin and yang, which must be tackled in equal measure.

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Chris Benedict, R.A.

Snapshot

Buildings Tell The Truth

October 07, 2013

By: Chris Benedict, R.A.

Buildings always tell the truth and my passion for buildings is boundless, sometimes I feel my heart will explode as I walk through a construction site, a deep rush of joy. I started my Architecture office in 1995 never dreaming of the fulfillment I've had over a career of innovation, breakthroughs, setbacks and celebrations. Over those years my office has been responsible for leading the way in the critical area of what is now called building performance, but what I prefer to think of as an artful quest for refined elegance in the infrastructure of buildings. Always inventing, always implementing, always questioning, always learning and going where most Architecture firms fear to tread, my firm has changed the industry and taught the profession by showing what is possible.

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Ken Levenson, A.I.A.

Snapshot

Building Efficiency and Blower Doors: Essential Responses to Sandy

August 01, 2013

By: Ken Levenson, A.I.A.

Superstorm Sandy has produced a torrent of meetings, plans, reports, announcements and actions by city, state, federal and non-governmental organizations. Today, before their terms expire, the New York City Council and Mayor are racing to pass important legislation based on these past months of herculean effort. While the action may be understandably focused on measures directly related to storm survival of our built environment from wind and flood damage, systemic failures of water, transportation, power and other services — legislative efforts thus far have focused on the symptoms of our problems and not the root causes.

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Kendall Christiansen

Snapshot

Language Matters, Or What Should I Do With My Banana Peel?

June 01, 2013

By: Kendall Christiansen

Let's talk about paradigm shifts and disruptive technologies — when and where they're least expected, in places usually out of sight/out of mind.

Today, big changes are underway in the nation's utilities that manage what used to be called sewage, or wastewater; changes with the potential for answering the question of how best to deal with your banana peel while forging the future of energy self-sufficiency.

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Yetsuh Frank

Snapshot

Getting Serious About Daylighting

April 01, 2013

By: Yetsuh Frank

In the aftermath of Sandy, the New York City environmental community has been consumed with questions of resiliency and reconstruction. While these subjects are of pressing importance, it's critical that we do not focus solely on adaption to climate change impacts, or grow lackadaisical in our efforts to curb the consumption of energy. It would be even more unforgivable if we ignore an area of action and study that might benefit the goals of both adaptation and mitigation. Resiliency is mostly concerned with how to ensure our buildings remain habitable in the absence of electricity. Efficiency is mostly concerned with designing systems that use as little electricity as possible to provide the same service. Taking advantage of daylight to brighten our interiors rather than electric lighting addresses both concerns.

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