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Torchlight

Meet Donovan Richards: NYC's New Environmental Protection Chairperson

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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Aleksi Neuvonen & Tuuli Kaskinen

Gatekeepers: Unsung Heroes Of A Smart Economy?

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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