THE SALLAN FOUNDATION ANNUAL REPORT 2013
Executive Director's Report
Sallan's mission is to improve the urban environment by advancing useful knowledge for greener, high performing cities. Throughout its ninth year, the Sallan Foundation continued pursuing its goals and meeting its objectives with strategies that evolved in response to emerging developments, trends and challenges. As Executive Director, I continue to broadcast emerging ideas, foster an informed public and engage in concept formulation and program advocacy.
New York City in 2013 witnessed the final year of Bloomberg Administration-lead programs charted first in the 2007 PlaNYC and then in its 2009 offspring, the Greener Greater Building Plan. Also in 2013, the civic space that is home to the Sallan Foundation went into high gear in response to the devastation wreaked by Superstorm Sandy. During the year, Sallan continued to perform as an agent for reimagining the roles and goals of the metropolis, even as the dearth of federal climate action dragged on. In this context of bottom-up innovation, the Foundation advanced on its path with tenacious commitment to cities as the sustainability labs of the 21st Century.
To advance and make concrete contributions to this commitment I developed projects and establish working partnerships to illuminate urban-scaled sustainability efforts. I mobilized the Foundation's resources with the objective of identifying, incubating and disseminating emerging trends and practices with the capacity to 'green' the built environment and bring its underlying infrastructure into the 21st Century. For example, I continued to build on two conferences organized by Sallan in 2010 and 2012 to educate and inform both the general public and decision makers about shape-shifting changes stirring in the power supply systems. My strategy has been to assemble the best ideas for making global cities into centers of environmental innovation and resilience and to cultivate effective advocacy through project partnerships.
The Foundation, however, is not aligned with any profession, discipline or political party. Since opening its doors nine years ago, Sallan has served as an independent convener and facilitator of stakeholder collaborations and as an educator in the public realm. It will continue to do so.
The Sallan Foundation accomplished the following:
Broadcasting Emerging Ideas
Web-Site Content — Since its 2005 launch, Sallan's website has become an essential tool for advancing the Foundation's mission. It is the primary site for downloading Sallan-sponsored research as it continues to serve as the vehicle for curating content on domestic and global green news in addition to its ever-updated Events calendar. Readership grew again in 2013.
Sallan commissioned and posted the Friends of Benchmarking "Second Year White Paper: So What and What's Next". It starts from the premise that building energy efficiency experts and advocates have shared an expectation the mandatory disclosure of benchmarking data would quickly translate energy efficiency information into action. Now it appears this expectation was too optimistic, but why is that? This White Paper addressed these concerns in detail and made recommendations for improving the nation's largest benchmarking program. In 2013, it was downloaded from our website nearly 1,000 times. The first Friends of Benchmarking White Paper posted in 2012 has been downloaded website over 1,500 times.
Special Features — The website permanently hosts Sallan-sponsored original works. New in 2013 was a special NYC Campaign 2013 page for posting news media articles about candidates' environmental platforms.
Guest Columns/Letters — I guest blogged for the Institute for Market Transformation about the NYC Benchmarking Law and the Greener, Greater Building Plan in the context of the 2013 campaigns. For the Huffington Post, Nada Anid, Dean at the New York Institute of Technology and I co-authored a column based on our 2012 emerging energy systems conference Not Your Grandma's Infrastructure, which called for creation of decentralized power supply resources in light of the City's experience with Superstorm Sandy and we had a Letter-to-the-Editor appear in The New Yorker magazine on the same topic.
Social Media — I continued tweeting @Sallan_Found and by the end of 2013 had 640 followers; clearly, this presence in social media helped to broadcast and share urban sustainability messaging. In addition, Twitter has been a useful social media channel for disseminating original Sallan content like its special reports and columns and for finding breaking stories from major media and research sources for posting on its own website. I also post comments on an array of green-themed media sites, columns or blogs. This year, the Foundation was tapped as an "UTNE Influencer" for its real-time, curated news as a leader in 'influencer networks' driving the public conversation about contemporary urbanism.
Fostering An Informed Public
Committee on Interns and Residents, Health Study Group — I was invited to speak about infrastructure lessons learned from Sandy and their public health implications and then made a second presentation about prospects for the in-coming de Blasio administration's policies on climate and its public health impacts.
Gotham Network — I addressed the City's climate-related initiatives, with a focus on the Greener, Greater Building Plan for this business group at the Friar's Club.
NYU — A group of recent NYU graduates mostly MBA's, invited me to speak about professional opportunities in the climate, energy efficiency and green building fields.
Mayoral Candidate Panel — The Foundation was a co-sponsor of the only public panel of the 2013 campaign where all nine Mayoral candidates articulated their environmental and climate agendas. The New York League of Conservation Voters organized this panel.
NY Passive House — For a second year, the Foundation co-sponsored the NY Passive House annual conference.
Friends of Benchmarking — In 2011, I convened the Friends of Benchmarking (FOB) and organized meetings throughout 2012. Our goal was to mobilize the support of real estate and utility stakeholders as well as green building experts and advocates for the development of a "Benchmarking First Year White Paper", present it to the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning & Sustainability as well as making it public. In light of the ongoing opportunity to foster and advance the City's benchmarking program and to understand the implication of the data being generated about building energy performance, I convened a second round of FOB meetings in 2013, which culminated in publication of the "Benchmarking Second Year White Paper". Our efforts were rewarded when FOB won a contest organized by a Brooklyn on-line public relations strategy firm. Our prize was the development of a new website that allows members of the public to search the City's benchmarking databases for information on individual buildings.
ARC-3 — I was invited to participate in planning meetings for ARC-3, the second Assessment Report of Climate Change in Cities, in coordination with the IPPC. The purpose of this international, multi-disciplinary, city-scale project is to advance a vulnerability and risk management paradigm framework for use by urban decision makers and I was deployed to the Economic and Finance Committee.
New York League of Conservation Voters — I continued engage with the Green Group, which brainstorms about local environmental legislation and how to rate the contribution of elected officials in advancing a green agenda. For the 2013 election cycle, the Group helped develop ideas for the League's "Mobilize for Sustainability" outreach and education initiative as part of a "to do list" for the final months of the Bloomberg administration.
Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Green Finance Subcommittee — I have had ongoing opportunities to share ideas with both emerging green businesses and representatives of established companies that have commitments to sustainable practices and products.
NYC-DDC Town + Gown Project — The City's Department of Design and Construction has a small, visionary unit for thinking hard and creatively about infrastructure projects and processes. It draws on the work of academic and independent experts. Town+Gown's Director and I commissioned a group of Fordham Law School students to write an analysis of prospects for local "greening" codes, with a focus on the City's benchmarking law. The final product was "Smart City: Green Buildings". I also participated on a Town + Gown roundtable that delved into infrastructure design and prospects for microgrids to create energy-sustainable neighborhoods in February.
Architecture 2030 — I joined a working group, hosted at the AIA New York Chapter, exploring the feasibility along with the nuts and bolts for the creation of an urban Eco-District and the strategy to make it happen.
Environmental Defense Fund — I was consulted about building benchmarking and energy auditing for the development of an EDF Mayoral candidate questionnaire.
Marfa Dialogues — I met with Nora York to help her prepare for a cabaret performance about water and climate change at Joe's Pub. It was one of as series of public events on climate change science, environmental activism and artistic practice sponsored by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
NYC Environmental Justice Alliance — I was consulted on proposed amendments to the NYC Right-to-Know Law to better protect communities from storm surges contaminated with industrial hazardous materials. Legislation was enacted at the end of the year.