The Sallan Foundation Annual Report 2018
Executive Director's Report
Since launching in 2005, the Sallan Foundation has been dedicated to the mission of improving the urban environment by advancing useful knowledge for greener, high performance and resilient cities. With the Trump Administration about to enter its third year in power, there is ample and persistent evidence that the multi-decadal trajectories of the federal government are being redirected in ways that are dissonant with our mission. This Administration's direction has be unaltered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2018 Special Report, which underscores that the world is running out of time to take sweeping action in order to mitigate climate disruptions that are already underway as well as devastating climate disruptions, expected as early as 2040–2050. In light of these realities, as this year's Annual Report makes clear, Sallan has redoubled its focus on work at the civic, urban and state scale while continuing to pursue its goals and meet its objectives with strategies that respond to significant developments, trends and challenges.
The Foundation is aligned with no profession, discipline or political party. Since its inception, Sallan has served as an independent convener and facilitator of stakeholder collaborations and as an educator in the public realm.
Because Sallan is independent, small and nimble, it is well-positioned to focus public attention and engagement on emerging urban climate and energy trends and make connections among incumbent stakeholders as well as with those just beginning to see what's at stake for them in a "weird climate" world. The Foundation is committed to staying ahead of the curve, discovering what's happening now and making its voice resonant. Looking ahead, it will leave a legacy that matters.
The Sallan Foundation accomplished the following:
Convening To Broadcast Emerging Ideas + Practices
Fighting Back Against Attacks on Climate Science
For a fourth year, the Foundation partnered with the Sabin Center for Climate Law at Columbia Law School — along with the Columbia University Earth Institute and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund — to mount a New York City Climate Week-featured event. This year's panel, hosted at Columbia, was keynoted by Gina McCarthy, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama. Speakers came from the media (the New York Times, Climate Nexus and TEDEd), academia and environmental justice litigation. As in previous years, Sallan produced and posted a Multi-Media Event Wrap-up on its website.
Building Energy Exchange
By utilizing the Foundation's website Upcoming Events Calendar callout on the Sallan homepage for higher visibility with an accompanying event page for each featured event and Twitter, Sallan fosters an ongoing relationship with BEEx around event promotion and it benefits by being listed as an event sponsor, with Sallan's logo appearing on their event notices.
New York Passive House
For a seventh year, the Foundation co-sponsored the NY Passive House annual conference in June. This year, I moderated a developers' panel that delved into the risks and rewards of PH new construction and renovation projects. It was well-attended by architects, builders and policy experts as panelists spoke in-depth about whether project execution met expectations.
NYC Architecture 2030/Lender Learning Handbook
Drawing together two long-standing efforts of the Sallan Foundation, I made a presentation about the "Lender Learning Handbook" at a NYC Architecture 2030 Property Partners Forum. The goal was to introduce potential borrowers to the idea of "underwriting to efficiency" in order to equip them with useful information when meeting with prospective lenders for making the case for upgrading the energy performance of properties being purchased or undergoing significant capital improvements.
I was taped for a podcast on sustainable urban sewage management that was a project of a student seeking an advanced in environmental management.
Fostering An Informed Public And Stakeholder Engagement
Lender Learning Project
After the publication of the Lender Learning Handbook and the Sallan-sponsored panel to introduce the publication to a wider audience in 2017, Handbook advisory group participants, including Sallan, sought to develop mechanisms for further engaging multi-family lenders' to underwrite to energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency Coalition
Spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sallan was involved in the conceptualization and signing of two letters sent to Governor Cuomo that set forth detailed proposals for advancing New York State energy efficiency policies as well articulating specific rule-making and program opportunities for realizing these policy proposals. The impact of Sallan's participation was highly leveraged by way of the opportunity to work with top-tier experts in New York State energy and utility policy.
Intro 1745 Working Group
I participated in a by-invitation-only talking and listening group organized by a major environmental organization in order to allow full and frank discussions of the controversial building energy efficiency retrofit legislation being considered by the New York City Council. While no consensus was reached, these meetings helped to inform all parties who will continue to be engaged in this high-impact NYC climate policy frontier.
Having chaired a panel at the 2017 NESEA annual conference, I was tapped to participate in a brainstorming meeting to develop themes and ideas for its 2018 conference.
NYC Office of the Comptroller
At the request of the NYC Comptroller's Office, I met with senior staff to suggest themes and directions for the development of Comptroller Stringer's environmental agenda.
NYC Architecture 2030
Sallan continues to participate in a working group, to identify and get buy in to establish a NYC Architecture 2030 district, which will be a "living lab" urban energy-efficiency district. Although progress has been slow, Sallan's sustained commitment to advancing useful knowledge for greener cities at the urban scale, is justified by increased local participation as well as the growth of Architecture 2030 districts in other cities. This year, I joined as an advisor in a "Capstone" Masters' Degree project of a student at the New School. The student's "Capstone" will become a Guidebook about the nuts and bolts of "aggregate purchasing" that NYC Architecture 2030 will make available to member organizations. Advising on this "Capstone" is part of Sallan's commitment to educate the next generation of "greener cities" experts and advocates.
New York League of Conservation Voters
Sallan continued to work with the League-organized Green Group, which brainstorms about local environmental legislation and the contribution of specific elected officials in advancing a green agenda. These forums offer invaluable opportunities to meet with the Mayor's Office of Sustainability and work with leading "Big Green" and grass roots advocates to advance a sustainability and resilience agenda for New York City. Among the most notable and challenging legislative efforts, first announced in 2017, was a bill with some Mayoral and City Council Environmental Protection Committee support to require existing buildings to improve their energy performance and meet new, stringent climate-concerned standards. (See Intro 1745 Working Group above)
Using The Web To Advance Useful Knowledge For Greener Cities
The Sallan website continues to be an essential tool for advancing the Foundation's mission and its core function as the primary location for posting and disseminating Sallan-sponsored research and its Multi-Media Event Wrap-ups by growing its readership. The website also continues to serve as the vehicle for broadcasting curated content on domestic (Subway Reading), global green news (Worldwide) and relevant "long-form" media reports (In the Carbon Age).
This year, Sallan's 6 guest Snapshot columns covered topics ranging from using 'blockchain' tokens to scale up renewable energy to using urban design to mitigate the public health risks of the urban heat island effect and further afield, a report on the Brussels Passive House law. I posted 4 of my Torchlight columns. "Show Us the Power" highlighted current public discussions about how NYC can meet its legal requirement to cut its carbon footprint 80% by 2050. "There Ought to Be A Law" considered what kind of coalition in needed to pass a sturdy building energy efficiency law and "You Can Lead A Horse to Data" examined a new report aimed at turning data about building energy consumption to actions that result in significant energy savings. My year-end column, "Rock Around the Sun" mulled over whether we have enough time left to save the planet from devastating climate disruptions. Posting of the Multi-Media Event Wrap-up of our NYC Climate Week conference Fighting Back Against Attacks On Climate Science is generating a robust readership.
Using the Twitter handle @Sallan_Found, I tweet every business day and have over 1,300 followers. The leading categories that comprise Sallan's Twitter audience include: politics and current events, along with green, business, technology, and financial news. Twitter continues to serve as a potent social medium 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 the Foundation's website. This year, a tweet from a colleague led to development of a "Snapshot" guest column, which offered a bold idea for WeWork to become a leader in urban energy efficient tenancies.
As in previous years, I receive many requests to post notices on the website about conferences, meetings or special events that advance useful knowledge for greener cities.
I approached the Sabin Environmental Law Center at Columbia Law School with the idea of archiving the Foundation's entire website in anticipation of ensuring long-term access by students, scholars, the media, activists and the public to a continuous 15-year record of urban climate and energy matters. Early 2020 is the current anticipated launch of Sallan's web archive via the Columbia University Avery Library — Historic Preservation and Urban Planning Archive.