The Sallan Foundation Annual Report 2019
Executive Director's Report
Since opening 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. Fifteen years on, along with the Trump Administration's environmental and climate demolition derby, it is becoming clear to science that the impacts of climate change won't be starting mid-century, they have already started altering the planet and our lives. This means the fuse has been lit for an "existential" level climate crisis and effective systemic systemic actions must get underway now. Is this alarming? Yes. It, it must be said, that along with the now defunct fashion for climate denialism, an era of climate silence has ended. As such, the Sallan Foundation is sustaining its focus on work at the civic, urban and state scale. It is a privilege to work with like-minded New Yorkers to pursue its goals and meet its objectives with strategies that respond to significant developments, trends and challenges.
At the same time, the Foundation remains unaligned with any 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, when it closes its doors, it will leave a legacy that matters.
Goal IFoster an informed public that gives priority to high performance urban agendas
ObjectiveDisseminate and refine useful knowledge for developing greener cities
StrategiesDevelop and host public forums with the participation of scholars and professional experts, media as well as professional and citizen advocates to identify and advance green urban issues. E-publish Sallan sponsored reports. Undertake speaking engagements
Building Energy Exchange
By utilizing the Foundation's website Events page and Twitter, Sallan fosters an on-going relationship with BEEx around event promotion and it benefits by being listed as an event sponsor. This year, Sallan co-sponsored a public event where the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority awarded millions of dollars through its "Building of Excellence" initiative to 18 outstanding multi-family, energy efficient building projects.
NYC Architecture 2030
Sallan continues to participate in a working group to identify and get buy-into establish a NYC Architecture 2030 district, which will be a "living lab" urban energy-efficiency district. This year, the NYC district achieved formal recognition by the national organization as a fully-functioning participant. This new status enabled district supporters to get a meeting with NYC Council staffers to educate them about the goals of the NYC project and to share ideas about how to move forward. The 2018 Capstone project, "Bridging the Gaps: Connecting NYC's Residential Co-ops and Condos to Energy Efficiency Resources" was utilized in 2019 as the theme of a conference for the real estate industry and green buildings that was hosted by the New School. Sallan also contributed to the development of a presentation made at the NYCArchitecture 2030 District on prospects for building energy efficiency retrofits at the NYC Real Estate Expo and Sallan also shared the Guidebook with the directors of IEBG, a group of environmentally engaged Upper West Side retired persons.
Goal IICultivate effective advocacy for greener cities
ObjectiveFuse useful knowledge with collaboration to advance eco-smart urban agendas
StrategiesInitiate targeted projects. Participate on boards, task forces, working and advisory groups whose aims are congruent with the Foundation's mission
An Ear To The Ground
The capacity to cultivate advocacy includes discovery of and learning from grassroots' citizen interest and engagement with climate advocacy and urban sustainability. In 2019, three activities highlighted this new direction for the Foundation: attendance at a Manhattan Community Board Environemental Committee meeting where the topic was the restoration of a small neighborhood park; making a presentation at a Village Independent Democrats dinner about opportunities for urban scale climate action; as well as attending and meeting with the founders of Its Easy Being Green, a newly launched senior citizens' initiative.
Energy Efficiency Coalition
Spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sallan continues its involvement in the conceptualization and signing of letters sent to The New York Public Service Commission 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 policies and the State is now among the top climate and clean energy stars in the nation.
New York League of Conservation Voters
As in previous years, Sallan continued to participate in the Green Group spearheaded by the New York chapter of a leading national environmental advocacy organization. These forums provide the opportunity to meet with senior members of the Mayor's staff and to work both with leading "Big Green" and grass roots advocates to advance urban sustainability and environmental equity agendas.
Goal IIIEnvision emerging ideas and practices for high performance cities
ObjectiveBroadcast useful ideas and debates about greener cities
StrategiesCurate and expand access to and presence on web-based communications media
The Sallan website has served for fifteen years as 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 Multimedia Event Wrap-Ups by growing its readership, even in the face of surging social media competition. The website also continues to serve as the vehicle for broadcasting curated content on domestic (In the Carbon Age), hyperlocal (Subway Reading), global green news (Worldwide) and relevant "long-form" media reports (In the Media). The website is also used to repost comments it has made in other news media, such as the New York Times. Sallan finds continuing value by linking to climate relevant videos.
This year, Sallan's six guest Snapshot columns covered topics ranging from organized labor engagement to improve building energy efficiency, thus cutting the size of NYC's carbon footprint to #EndClimateSilence, a topical demand for the news media to make informed climate reporting part of its standard operations. In 2019, Dr. Anderson wrote four Torchlight columns. "Climate Action Meets the Piecemeal Problem" took a hard look at NYC's scattershot legislation in the context of meeting its ambitious mandate to cut its carbon emissions 80% by 2050. "DEE-dense" introduced readers to the renewable Energy Legal Defense Fund, which inverts the usual practice of eco-activists using the law to fight against a project proposal. Instead, the RELDF will offer free legal counsel to individuals or local organizations that would welcome solar or wind power projects into their communities, but face opposition. Her year end column "Demand Accountability", called for a reckoning on keeping climate promises made by elected officials, industry, labor and finance.
Using the handle @Sallan_Found, the Foundation has been tweeting since 2008 and has culled nearly 1,400 followers that we have determined to be influencers. The leading categories that comprise Sallan's Twitter audience include: politics and current events, along with green, business, technology, and financial news.
Sallan continued receiving numerous requests to post notices on the website's Events Page about conferences, meetings or special events that advance useful knowledge for greener cities. This "town crier" opportunity was unexpected, but has proved to be durable.
Under the auspices of the Sabin Environmental Law Center at the Columbia University Law School, the Sallan Foundation website from 2005-2019 is now archived and permanently available to the public online at the Avery Library at Columbia's School of Architecture and Urban Planning. This Sallan archive ensures long-term access to our website content by students, scholars, the media, activists and the general public. Our hope is that this archive makes a lasting contribution to advancing useful knowledge for greener cities.