The Sallan Foundation Annual Report 2015
Executive Director's Report
Since its inception in January 2005, the mission of the Sallan Foundation has been to improve the urban environment by advancing useful knowledge for greener, high performance cities. Throughout its eleventh year, Sallan continued to pursue its goals and advance its objectives, with strategies that evolve in response to emerging developments, trends and challenges. The Foundation acts with purpose in the context of global, national, state and local events. In 2015, the Paris Climate meeting made some meaningful headway on global climate action and despite many political roadblocks, the year saw President Obama draft an ambitious Clean Power Plan to cut GHG emissions from power plants. The year also saw advances in Governor Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision, which is animated by the goal of remaking the electric power regulatory framework and its relation to the market forces that shape that supply system and its role in advancing a climate-friendly future. In New York City, Mayor de Blasio continued to speak out about the importance of a sustainable city and joined that to his social equity agenda.
To advance the Foundation's mission and make concrete contributions in this context, Sallan continues to develop projects and establish working partnerships crafted to best illuminate urban-scaled sustainability efforts. As well, the Foundation's resources are mobilized 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.
The Foundation, of course, is not aligned with any profession, discipline or political party. Since opening its doors in 2005, 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
Smart Money For Sustainable Cities Conference
The Innovations In Green Finance Multimedia Event Wrap-Up was email blasted to event attendees, Sallan's Newsletter subscribers and is permanently posted on the website as well. This online resource ensures a wider and more durable reach for the useful knowledge shared in Sallan's public events.
Building Energy Benchmarking: Acting on the Results
The Benchmarking Brain Trust Multimedia Event Wrap-Up, was e-blasted to more than 1,800 Newsletter subscribers and is permanently posted on the Sallan website, thereby facilitating a wider and more durable reach for the useful knowledge conveyed in Sallan's public events.
Fostering An Informed Public
Convening and Communicating
Smart Money For Sustainable Cities Conference
Rising seas, stronger storms and changing landscapes are literally reshaping the world in which we live. We find ourselves in a pivotal moment: new sources of renewable energy, energy efficiencies and technology are being developed to reduce the carbon output of our energy systems, but what does that mean for the world of finance?
To answer this question, the Sallan Foundation brought together leaders in the emerging field of green finance to the New York Institute of Technology for the conference Innovations in Green Finance: Smart Money for Sustainable Cities. The panelists, hailing from the worlds of government, private finance, and nonprofit advocacy, discussed new tools for lowering the carbon emissions of the global power supply, as well as the financial innovations undertaken by corporate and public entities to finance those important endeavors.
Building Energy Benchmarking: Acting on the Results
As part of Sallan's sustained commitment to NYC's Building Energy Benchmarking Law, the Executive Director Nancy Anderson organized a panel of the city's and nation's benchmarking brain trust that was a featured event of Climate Week NYC 2015. Co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Committee of the NYC Bar Association along with Columbia University Law School Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the New York League of Conservation Voters it was hosted at the NYC Bar Association.
Supporters of the Benchmarking law have had shared expectations that gathering and disclosing benchmarking data would quickly be deployed in the form of useful information for guiding decision-makers to actions with very cost effective returns. Our panelists were charged with addressing the following questions: What is the evidence to support such expectations and is the benchmarking law generating actionable information?
NY Passive House
For a fourth year, the Foundation co-sponsored the NY Passive House annual conference. Booming interest required a larger conference space this year.
Urban Land Institute
The Foundation's Executive was invited to give a presentation on building energy benchmarking and building performance metrics to a group of real estate professionals and bankers.
New York University
In October, Sallan's Executive Director gave a lecture on the greening of urban energy infrastructure and opportunities for renewable power to a class of undergraduates in urban studies.
Merchants of Doubt
A first NYC screening of Merchants of Doubt, a documentary made by Harvard scholar Naomi Oreskes, which drew parallels between the disinformation public campaigns of Big Tobacco and Big Fossil fuel, offered the opportunity to solicit and post Sallan's first film review.
The Sallan website, an essential tool for advancing the Foundation's mission, underwent a once-in-a-decade upgrade and has been optimized across a range of devices from desktop to mobile. Along with a renewed design, search functionality allows visitors access to ten years of original content.
Optimizing the ways to link this content with social media like Twitter and LinkedIn is advancing with the integration of Sallan's event tweets and photos into In-the-Media segments — for example, creating a segment on a Governor Cuomo/Al Gore climate event announcing the State's commitment to reducing its GHG emissions — along with a customized and automated Twitter feed of some of Sallan's favorites. Sallan' Twitter handle is @Sallan_Found.
In 2015, the website broadcast 14 In-the-Media postings. The website also continues to serve as the vehicle for broadcasting curated content on domestic and global green news and relevant long-form media reports. The Executive Director selects and posts new content on a daily basis and also maintains an Events calendar. Sallan also maintains its 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.
Long-form Original Content
This year, Sallan's seven guest Snapshot columns ranged from a high-performance architect's feisty proposal for a radically pared-down building code to a column by a partner in Brooklyn's first net-zero carbon Passive House and what it took to get it built to a piece on greening tourist awareness. As well, five Torchlight columns written by Nancy Anderson appeared. This year she critiqued a Chicago Law School professor's book that, in essence, claimed public disclosure laws were a waste of time, wrote about the increasing number of Passive House projects in NYC and co-authored a benchmarking column with the moderator of Sallan's Brain Trust of Benchmarking panel. Overall, Sallan's independence and non-partisan history strengthen readers' confidence that her Torchlight columns are educational and credible in form and content.
The Foundation 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.
Sallan continues to tweet several times each business day and now has nearly 1,000 followers. Twitter continues to serve as 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.
In 2005, Nancy undertook a listening tour both to put her ear to the ground and hear about the biggest and emerging urban environmental trends, but also to introduce the Sallan Foundation to peers, colleagues and stakeholders.
To begin Sallan's second decade Nancy undertook another listening tour with action and thought leaders in New York City's environmental community. One outstanding direct outcome was the Brain Trust of Benchmarking panel and another outcome was the invitation to speak at the Urban Land Institute.
In September 2013, Executive Director, Nancy Anderson was invited to participate in planning meetings for ARC3.2, the Second Assessment Report of Climate Change and 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, Dr. Anderson 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. In 2014, she completed an extensive review and edits of the 15,000-word chapter in preparation for the release of the final report at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015.
Sallan was invited by a Bloomberg Media journalist to apply and was accepted to participate in the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) development process. The Foundation was selected as a "civil society" representative to review and comment on draft SASB electric power industry sector standards.
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 provided the opportunity to meet the new chair of the City Council Environmental Committee and work with leading grass roots green advocates.
Carbon Tax Center
Dr. Anderson continues to serve on the Board of Directors for the Carbon Tax Center. Its mission 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 keeping with a commitment to foster development of the next generation of green policy analysts and advocates, Sallan was pleased to recommend a recent London School of Economics graduate to the Director of the CTC where he produced an online slideshow for use in presenting the carbon tax idea to diverse audience groups.
NYC Architecture 2030
Sallan participates in a working group, hosted at the American Institute for Architecture New York Chapter, to nurture the feasibility along with the nuts and bolts for creating a "living lab" urban energy-efficiency district and the strategy to make it happen. Architecture 2030, with ongoing projects in eleven US and Canadian 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, which was upgraded in November to an Emerging District, the group identified DUMBO, downtown Brooklyn, the Navy Yard and a nearby cultural district as a feasible 2030 NYC district. Sallan's Executive Director helped to secure the fiscal sponsor services of the Fund for the City of New York and she received a citation in a new publication for use by both the NYC Architecture 2030 and the EcoDistrict project deployed to advance public introduction and foster education.
Building Energy Exchange
By providing access to the Foundation's website Events page, Sallan has fostered a relationship with BEEx, a major local player in green building public education, advocacy and outreach.
Electricity Innovation Lab
Sallan was invited to attend the eLab conference sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Carbon War Room. It explored how to encourage more energy efficiency and clean energy projects in NYC's low income housing. The conference served as a lab where experts, regulators, financial innovators and grass-roots activists worked together to conceptualize and sketch out innovative projects to advance these energy transformations. Sallan worked with a group-in-formation. We are proposing an education and outreach initiative to financial lenders and calling it the "Lender Learning Project".