THE SALLAN FOUNDATION ANNUAL REPORT 2014
Executive Director's Report
Sallan is a decade old! Since its inception in January 2005, its mission has been to improve the urban environment by advancing useful knowledge for greener, high performance cities. Throughout its tenth year, Sallan continued pursuing its goals and meeting its objectives with strategies that evolved in response to emerging developments, trends and challenges. Although 2014 saw ongoing political paralysis in Washington, with a new Mayor for New York City and Governor Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision at the State level, the field of action continues to evolve.
To advance the Foundation's mission and make concrete contributions in this context, I continue to develop projects and establish working partnerships that will illuminate urban-scaled sustainability efforts. As well, I mobilize 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 its undergirding infrastructure systems. In this way, Sallan adds clear-eyed momentum to help cities realize their potential for high performance in a climate-constrained world. For example, I continue to build on a bi-annual conference series launched in 2010 for educating and informing both the general public and decision makers about shape-shifting changes stirring in the power supply systems and their complex regulatory environments. At Sallan's 2014 conference, There'll Be Some Changes Made: Power System Realignment or Death Spiral? experts focused on leading-edge energy and utility developments. My strategy here, as in all of the conferences I have produced, 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 a decade 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 — The Sallan website is an essential tool for advancing the Foundation's mission. Optimizing the ways to link this content with social media like Twitter and LinkedIn is a work in progress. The website functions as the primary location for posting and disseminating Sallan-sponsored research and its Multi-Media Event Wrap-Ups. It also continues to serve as the vehicle for broadcasting curated content on domestic and global green news and relevant "long-form" media reports. Nancy selects and posts new content on a daily basis and also maintains an Events calendar. This year, Sallan also launched a presence on Google+, the largest social networking site after Facebook, to establish its foundation profile and further build its online community by connecting with other climate activists.
Web-Site Content — This year, Sallan's 7 guest Snapshot columns ranged from Finnish authors who see retailers like Home Depot as ideal places for home renovators to learn about green products to a pointed Op-Ed style column that made the case for building and energy code mandates to drive the property market in a greener direction. Nancy invites some writers to return and update developments covered in previous Snapshots. This year, an advocate for recycling food waste reported on a new program to capture methane and City sewage treatment plants for use as a bio-fuel. Nancy posted 6 Torchlight columns including an interview with Donovan Richards, the new Chairperson of the City Council Environmental Protection Committee as well as an overview of the Mayor's report embracing a low-carbon future for NYC in which she gave a shout-out to the important role of building energy benchmarking. For another column, she interviewed the Mayor's staffer responsible for the NYC Challenge program. Recently, she turned her attention to finding clearer and catchier ways to write and talk about urban "sustainability" and "resiliency". Overall, Sallan's independence and non-partisan history make these columns educational and credible in form and content.
Special Features — Nancy receives regular requests to post notices on the website's Events Page about conferences, meetings or special events that advance useful knowledge for greener cities. Over time, the increased volume of these requests indicates that colleagues view Sallan's website as an effective outreach channel to reach green target audiences.
Social Media —Sallan continues to tweet several times a business day and now has 819 followers, up from 640 last year and 480 in 2012. In November 2014, Twitter launched an "Analytics" page which presents data on who is looking at the Foundation's tweets, demographic and geographic information about followers, along with their interests and what other environmental and energy information they use. Twitter facilitates identification of relevant sites for posting such comments and elevating the Foundation's media profile. 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. Our mass-mailing platform added the capacity to share Foundation materials with Twitter and other social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Participation in social media like Twitter and LinkedIn also have the great advantage of being zero-cost.
In April, Nancy was the only reader to post a comment on a WNYC-FM story about the Mayor's Affordable Housing Plan: "Your report on what to expect in Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing plan omitted any mention of whether it will bake in energy efficiency and storm/flood resilience as must-haves. Here's why this omission is troubling: Energy efficient building is by definition more affordable because it saves on monthly energy bills. Resilience will be important as new or rehabbed housing will push out to NYC's waterfront edges and must be built to cope with future storm surges and floods. These must-haves must be part of what every New Yorker expects and deserves."
Fostering An Informed Public
The Urban Energy Revolution
The year began with The Urban Energy Revolution: How Knowledge Can Save Power, a panel based on Sallan's Friends of Benchmarking (FOB) Report #2. Four years after passage of the NYC Building Energy Benchmarking Law, Sallan convened an expert panel to sift and sort the successes, the challenges, and the future of the law. The panel's keynote speaker co-authored the FOB report; other speakers came from the CUNY Building Performance Lab, investment banking and real estate management.
There'll Be Some Changes Made Conference & Multi-Media Wrap-Up
Following up on our September conference, There'll Be Some Changes Made: Power System Realignment or Death Spiral?, the third in a series of bi-annual conferences focused on leading-edge energy and utility developments, an on-line Wrap-Up was posted in October. The conference, the first event of NYC Climate Week 2014, was hosted by the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Urban Future Lab and co-sponsored by the Columbia University Law School Center for Climate Change Law, the Environmental Defense Fund, the New York League of Conservation Voters and the NYU Wagner School.
NY Passive House
For a third year, the Foundation co-sponsored the NY Passive House annual conference in June. Booming interest required a larger conference space this year. In October, Nancy went to on site visits at two new Passive House multi-family buildings in Brooklyn. A tweet about her site visits was retweeted numerous times, showing that her social media following is paying attention.
Village Independent Democrats
In April Nancy gave a talk at the VID on leading environmental issues facing the new de Blasio administration. She highlighted climate change, energy efficiency and the importance of making the electric power system more reliable in the face of future storms and flooding and underlined the role of government and communities in leading by example.
Committee on Interns and Residents, Health Study Group
In June, Nancy was invited once again to speak to this group, this year about green implications of Mayor de Blasio's first proposed budget.
Friends of Benchmarking
In 2011, Nancy established the Friends of Benchmarking and organized meetings throughout 2012 and 2013. Our goal was mobilization of support by real estate and utility stakeholders as well as green building experts and advocates for the FOB Benchmarking First Year White Paper, followed up by a Second Year White Paper. Both White Papers were presented to the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and posted on the Sallan website. The Second White Paper served as the basis for our January 2014 panel (see above The Urban Energy Revolution). It also served as the basis for the feature article that appeared in the prestigious Environmental Law In New York publication in July.
In September 2013 Nancy was invited to participate in planning meetings for ARC-3, the second Assessment Report of Climate Change in Cities, in coordination with the UN's International Panel on Climate Change. 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. As a Contributing Author on the Economics and Finance Committee, in 2014 Nancy was involved with writing the scope of work for Chapter 5, "Economics, Finance and the Role of the Private Sector" as well as doing extensive editing on draft chapter.
New York League of Conservation Voters
Sallan continued to work with the League-organized Green Group, which brainstorms about local environmental legislation and how to rate the contribution of elected officials in advancing a green agenda. Green Group meetings were held in February, April, May (on City eco-budget issues), and September. Given the new cohort of City Council members and committee chairs, in coordination with the Green Group, the Foundation wrote to the new Chair of the Council's Housing and Building Committee in support of conducting public hearings on an array of high-performance bills in April.
New York City Council, Environmental Protection Committee
Sallan gave testimony in October on Intro 378, a bill that would require the City to cut its carbon emissions 80% by the year 2050. The testimony offered five recommendations to improve the chances of meeting this ambitious goal. The City Council passed Intro 378 in a 47-0 vote.
The Carbon Tax Center
In 2013, Nancy was invited to join the Board-in-Formation of the Carbon Tax Center as it awaited formal foundation recognition by the IRS. Its role is to serve as a brain trust to build support for passage of a federal tax on carbon, a key to climate action based on pricing. In 2014, the IRS granted the CTC its 501(c)(3) and the board met on several occasions.
Nancy served on a focus group to discuss the initial results from a Rutgers study on the best ways to present building energy information. The opportunity was an outgrowth of the work done by the Friends of Benchmarking.
Sallan participates in a working group, hosted at the American Institute for Architecture New York Chapter, exploring the feasibility along with the nuts & bolts for the creation of a special urban energy efficiency district and the strategy to make it happen. Meetings are held every two months. Architecture 2030, with ongoing projects in five US cities, relies on a public-private partnership model to mobilize technical and market-oriented strengths for cutting fossil fuel and water use, promoting innovative and financially attractive building energy improvements and promoting district energy developments that benefit both district members and the city at large. This year, with formation of an Exploratory Committee, the group identified a short list of potential 2030 NYC districts and met with the founder and Executive Director of Architecture 2030. As well, the Architecture 2030 group convened with Eco-Districts, another group seeking to foster grass roots climate activism at a district scale. Nancy attended two of these meetings along with a meeting of urban grass roots activists and an executive from the national Eco-Districts office. She invited the Eco-District leader to write Snapshot columns about the challenges of starting up an Eco-Districts project in New York.