Torchlight Article Archives


Hedgehogs And Foxes
Feb. 21, 2013

Taking Stock of Benchmarking
Oct. 10, 2012

Irrigated With Sunlight
Sep. 24, 2012

The Data-Driven Built Environment
Jun. 27, 2012

Measuring Up
Apr. 2, 2012

Show Us The Application
Feb. 6, 2012

A Whole Lotta Learning Going On
Dec. 7, 2011

X Marks The Spot
Jun. 29, 2011

Reimagining The Middle Distance
May. 16, 2011

Dear Sustainability Officer
Mar. 22, 2011

Moral Hazard
Jan. 25, 2011

Edging Toward Energy Efficiency
Nov. 22, 2010

Energy Efficiency: Money Isn't Everything
Nov. 4, 2010

Hear A Pin Drop
Oct. 12, 2010

PACE Goes Poof!
Jul. 31, 2010

Till Human Voices Wake Us
May. 31, 2010

Home In The Dome
Mar. 22, 2010

Paving The Way
Jan. 29, 2010

It's Not A Wrap
Nov. 24, 2009

More Than Hope
Sep. 24, 2009

We The People
Jul. 2, 2009

Getting Down To Work
Apr. 22, 2009

A Glass Act
Mar. 5, 2009

Don't Get Lost In Translation
Jan. 1, 2009

The Deep Green Quartet
Oct. 30, 2008

Memories of Next Summer
Aug. 26, 2008

Can't Wait
Jun. 26, 2008

If Climate's The Question, Is Sticky the Answer?
Apr. 30, 2008

When Starting Over Is Not An Option
Feb. 28, 2008

Knocking At Our Door
Dec. 28, 2007

Possible But Not Probable
Oct. 31, 2007

Rolling Up Our Sleeves
Aug. 31, 2007

"If We Don't Act Now, When? And If We Don't Act, Who Will?"
Jun. 29, 2007

In Dreams Begin Accountability
May. 2, 2007

How To Get What We Pay For
Mar. 9, 2007

Giant Steps
Jan. 4, 2007

Waiting for Godot in NYC
Nov. 29, 2006

Countdown for NYC's Green Building Law
Oct. 18, 2006

Measuring Up to Lord Kelvin
Aug. 16, 2006

Greener With Envy
Jun. 30, 2006 — A Modest Proposal
Apr. 17, 2006

"Que Sera" is Not the Answer
Feb. 24, 2006

Lost in Translation
Jan. 3, 2006

A Green Pulse Beats in NY
Nov. 23, 2005

A Green Pulse Beats in NY
Nov. 23, 2005

A Closer Look at
Sep. 26, 2005

How Sallan Fits In
Aug. 2, 2005

Torchlight Articles
Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Meet Donovan Richards: NYC's New Environmental Protection Chairperson

March 13, 2014

By: Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Council Member RichardsShortly after Superstorm Sandy wreaked its havoc on New York, Donovan Richards won a special City Council election to represent the super-soaked residents of southeast Queens. In January 2014, his Council colleagues tapped him to become Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee. Talk about being fast-forwarded into the center of urban climate change and resilience politics!

I caught up with Council Member Richards in March to find out about his vision, the mission and a legislative agenda for his committee. With his new citywide responsibilities, our discussion started at his plans for representing his southeast Queens constituents, with their Sandy recovery and resilient infrastructure needs along with their concerns about the health impacts of air pollution. He spoke at length about how these concerns interface with the environmental and climate needs of the entire City now that he will be leading environmental legislative and oversight initiatives.

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Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Carpe Diem

February 12, 2014

By: Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

At a press conference announcing his picks for senior housing agency positions, Mayor de Blasio flagged the need for retooling public housing to make it energy-efficient. The New York Times quoted the Mayor as saying, “It’s a total reset”. While this embrace of energy efficiency as part of his campaign for significantly expanding the City’s stock of affordable housing, is something to cheer about, it will not be a “total reset” because it will be building on the pioneering work of other can-do, affordable housing visionaries. What the Mayor’s engagement can do is scale up new construction and rehabbing of affordable homes to make energy efficiency and fuel economy the new normal. He can end forever the critics’ claim that climate friendly, energy efficient housing is a luxury American cities can’t afford.

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Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Tallying 2013

November 30, 2013

By: Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

At the risk of trivializing Walter Benjamin's musing on world history:

Torchlight-Tallying-2013"A Klee drawing named 'Angelus Novus' shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history... But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."

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Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Notes From A Green Building Transition Talk NYC 2013

November 18, 2013

By: Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Based on the Talking Transition format of self-organizing, break-out tables with 8–10 people discussing opportunities for and obstacles facing the task of making NYC's building stock more energy efficient, here are the ideas advanced for a green, energy efficient building agenda in the de Blasio administration.

I was excited by the focused quality of engagement and civility in the Canal Street tent. Here's my takeaway done as bullet points, in keeping with the quick summaries presented by each table's reporter. I have neither prioritized participants' ideas, organized them into themes nor tried to interpret them.

My only comment is that few people at this discussion made reference to the suite of NYC's building energy efficiency laws in effect since 2009. That said, here is a sketch of what I heard on November 17.

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Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

So Quiet You Can Hear A Plank Drop

September 23, 2013

By: Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Here's an understatement: climate, energy, and urban resilience have not been audible issues in the 2013 campaign for mayor in New York City. Search the campaign web pages of the likely Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio and you'll find a green plank, but you'd really have to search hard to find him say anything about urban environmental issues on the campaign trail. Republican candidate Joe Lhota's web page has nothing to offer on these subjects.

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Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Energy Auditing In San Francisco: An Owner's POV

July 08, 2013

By: Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

San Francisco Building StockWriting in The New Yorker about recent fiction that uses climate change as the plot device, the reviewer makes this chilling point, "Today, novels that would once have been called science fiction can be read as social realism."

Since "Torchlight" columns are restricted to non-fiction, I jumped at the opportunity to peer into the climate-action future, by interviewing the owner of two San Francisco commercial buildings who has just completed her first energy audit reports. San Francisco is a just one step ahead of New York City in its campaign to cut its carbon footprint with a law requiring owners of some 3,000 buildings to conduct in-depth energy audits of large buildings every five years and make menus of cost-effective building upgrades and retro-commissioning options. The goal of the law is to improve the energy and resource efficiency of buildings as part of meeting the city's greenhouse gas reduction targets and New York City is gearing up to follow this West Coast lead.

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Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Industrial Strength Sustainability

April 24, 2013

By: Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Which New York City Mayoral hopeful has the muscle to deliver on the promise of an industrial strength urban sustainability agenda? The nine declared candidates had the chance to convince New York voters they were the one at a 2013 Earth Day Sustainability Forum.

Organized by the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and the Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design, a near-overflow crowd listened and sometimes cheered or jeered as Sal Albanese, John Catsimatidis, Adolfo Carrión, Bill de Blasio, Joe Lhota, John Liu, George McDonald, Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson responded to the questions of WNYC's Brian Lehrer. At times, he asked them to raise their hands if they agreed with the statement that humans caused climate change or who wanted to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Switching gears, Mr. Lehrer also asked roomier questions about questions ranging from air quality to zoning. At one point, he expressed surprise that virtually all the candidates gave a thumbs-up for the energy efficiency makeovers of existing buildings, surely, in his view, a rather dry campaigning point.

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