The Sallan Foundation Annual Report 2017
Executive Director's Report
Over the last thirteen years, 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. It is clear, with the Trump Administration in power, that the multi-decadal trajectories of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy are being redirected in ways that are dissonant with our mission. Consequently, Sallan has doubled down on activities at the civic, urban and state scale as it perseveres in pursuing its goals and meeting its objectives with strategies that respond to emerging developments, trends and challenges.
To advance the Foundation's mission and make tangible contributions to the urban environment, Sallan continues to develop projects and establish working partnerships that best advance an array of urban-scaled sustainability efforts. As well, the Foundation's resources are mobilized with the sustained objective of identifying, incubating and disseminating emerging trends and practices for boosting 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 is aligned with no profession, discipline or political party. Since its inception in 2005, 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 getting ahead of the curve, discovering what's happening now — or isn't — 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
Underwriting Energy Efficiency
The Sallan Foundation proposed and organized an expert panel to assist the launch as well as amplify the impact of Underwriting Efficiency: A Mortgage Lender's Handbook for Realizing Energy and Water Efficiency Opportunities in Multifamily Housing. Starting in 2016, the Foundation, working with The Community Preservation Corporation, the Natural Resources Defense Council along with a consortium of private and public partners, developed a publication, which serves as a free resource for lenders in their efforts to incorporate energy and water efficiency features into the financing of first mortgages for multifamily building owners.
Underwriting the potential savings and providing additional low-cost, long-term capital in the mortgage, can help break down the financial barriers that building owners of all sizes currently face in implementing sustainable property improvements. The May 2017 public panel was a milestone for educating a sector of the local financial industry that plays a key role to enable residential buildings owners choose the path of energy efficiency upgrades.
Offshore Wind In NY: What's Next?
For a third time, the Foundation partnered with the Sabin Center for Climate Law at Columbia Law School to mount a NYC Climate Week-featured event. This year's panel, hosted at Columbia, was prompted by the upending of conventional wisdom about dim prospects for offshore wind. Brighter prospects have resulted from changes in policy, technology, project economics, and the consequences of climate change, which the world is feeling now. With the payment of $42 million for an offshore lease by a world-class Norwegian energy company, Statoil, it became clear that these changes were taking place, regardless of Washington's incumbents. Audience members at this Climate Week event made robust use of Twitter to share their observations. As in previous years, Sallan produced and posted a Multimedia Event Wrap-up
Northeast Sustainable Energy Association
Nancy was invited to moderate a panel on building energy benchmarking at the annual NESEA conference. She worked closely with a NESEA conference planner and the speakers to ensure a tight, focused discussion for an audience of building professionals.
New York Passive House
For a sixth year, the Foundation co-sponsored the NY Passive House annual conference. Given our successful social media engagement in 2016, Sallan tweeted extensively at the 2017 conference.
Fostering An Informed Public And Stakeholder Engagement
Carbon Tax Center
In 2013, Nancy joined the board-in-formation of the Carbon Tax Center. Its role, since then, has been 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. This year, after some early optimism about bi-partisan support in Congress for a carbon tax, hopes were extinguished. As such, just one Board meeting was held and prospects for future activity are uncertain. Still, there has been some refocusing on carbon tax campaigns at the state level., although nothing has come to fruition yet.
City + State
In recognition of the Sallan Foundation's ongoing work, City + State, a publication that covers New York politics and business, gave Nancy a Corporate Social Responsibility award.
Advancing Energy Efficiency For Existing Buildings
Nancy attended a by-invitation-only press conference held during Climate Week 2017 where Mayor de Blasio announced a legislative proposal for mandating energy efficiency upgrades in existing buildings. While there, Nancy had immediate access to non-government stakeholders whose analysis of the proposal will be important in shaping public opinion and prospects for legislative victory.
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, has been justified in this project due to increased local participation as well as the growth of Architecture 2030 districts in other cities. This year, Nancy played an active role in a meeting with 2030 national leadership. She also worked with a project intern who wrote a District Resource Manual. Once full 2030 District status is obtained, Nancy will become part of a small, strategic Advisory Committee to advise the larger working group.
New York League of Conservation Voters
Sallan has an ongoing relationship 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. It remains an effective, one-of-a-kind venue to foster discussion and assessment of what elected officials are actually doing. In particular, meetings with staff from the Mayor's Sustainability Office as well as with "Big Green" organizations and grass roots advocates provided opportunities for in-depth exchanges about the City's climate action legislative intentions and assessing the realization-to-date of the Mayor's broader climate and equity vision. Sallan expects this forum to have an impact on 2018 legislative action.
Using The Web To Advance Useful Knowledge For Greener Cities
The Sallan website provides an essential and evolving tool for advancing the Foundation's mission. After its recent upgrade to improve the reading experience on all platforms, Sallan's 2017 performance data points to the readership value of this undertaking, with visitors spending substantially more time on the site per visit than in previous years. As such, it demonstrates that the website continues to advance its core function as the primary location for posting and disseminating Sallan-sponsored research and its Multimedia Event Wrap-ups.
This year saw expanded readership for "Storified" Twitter feeds that create content-rich portraits of selected events Nancy attends. The website also continues to serve as the vehicle for broadcasting curated content on domestic (Subway Reading) and global green news (Worldwide) in addition to relevant "long-form" media reports (In the Carbon Age). Nancy selects and posts new content on a daily basis and also maintains an Events calendar, which is one of the site's most reader-popular features. A major technical industry-standard, security upgrade was completed this year.
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. Nancy posted 4 Torchlight columns in 2017. They ranged broadly from a review of an art exhibit by an artist of the "Anthropocene" Era, to using climate action to foster the growth of good green jobs and finally a review of "Bill Nye Science Guy", which underscored the rising tide of attacks on climate science today. The October posting of the Multimedia Event Wrap-up of our conference "Offshore Wind in NYC: What's Next?" generated a robust readership and has been tweeted and shared via Google+.
Sallan contributes to its Twitter feed almost every day the and number of its followers continues to tick up. Since joining Twitter in 2008, Sallan has posted some 26,000 tweets. Twitter "Analytics" reveals that leading categories comprising Sallan's Twitter audience include: politics and current events, along with green, business, technology, and financial news. Twitter continues to serve as a one-of-a-kind 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 its own website.
As in previous years, Nancy receives many requests to post notices on the website's Events Page about conferences, meetings or special events that advance useful knowledge for greener cities. This gives Sallan the opportunity to become an official event co-sponsor and amplify awareness of its "brand". 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.