Monday, October 16, 2017

Envisioning NYC Community Energy Forums

350NYC is now organizing a series of interactive community forums on energy and climate, with the first one to take place this winter.

About 70% of of NYC's energy use goes to heat, cool, light and power buildings, and most of us live in apartment buildings, so that's where we'll focus.

The two hour forum will feature presenters from the official NYC programs to facilitate energy conservation retrofit projects and rooftop solar panel installations in apartment buildings, NYC Retrofit Accelerator and Here Comes Solar.  We'll invite a property manager or a coop board leader who can describe their successful project.  Then, we’ll ask for attendees willing to connect the programs with the property managers and coop board leaders of their buildings, so this meeting will lead to actual projects.  

Next we’ll hear briefly from representatives of three campaigns to strengthen NYC and NY State policies. Lastly, we’ll facilitate discussion among small groups of neighbors in the audience. 

It's a lot in a short period of time, but very doable.  We’ll distribute print copies of the following draft backgrounder, which will allow attendees to follow up on the forum's short presentations and learn more at home. 

Want to get a forum in your neighborhood? Let's start with an introductory talk to one of your local groups. Contact

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Draft Handout for Attendees
Climate Change and NYC

The NYC Panel on Climate Change includes scientists and legal, insurance and risk management experts.  Their latest report, Building the Knowledge Base for Climate Resiliency, contains their predictions for the direct challenges to city infrastructure.

- Increasing temperatures: From 1900 to 2013, mean annual temperatures in NYC rose 3.4 degrees F.  A further 4-5 degrees F increase is expected by 2050.  By 2080, the City will experience 6 heat waves per year.
- Sea level rise: NYC sea levels have risen a foot since 1900.  By 2050, one to two feet more is expected.  Sea levels could rise as much as six feet by 2100.
- Dangerous storms:
Precipitation will increase and become more erratic leading to more frequent and more intense storms, and both more droughts and floods.

Many other indirect impacts - on agriculture, public health, the economy – in the US and around the world – will affect us.  Some scientists claim that the scenarios put out by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are too conservative. A recent article in New York Magazine illustrates other possible scenarios.

What do we do?

We must try to slow down and reverse climate change – while making ourselves and our communities more resilient to its impacts. The Paris Agreement, aimed at limiting global warming to under 2 degrees C (3.6 F), was a step in the right direction, even though its measures wouldn’t have been sufficient.  With the US federal government captured by fossil fuel corporate interests, and in full denial of reality, US cities and states are acting independently.  NYC and the US Conference of Mayors have agreed to commit to the Paris goals.  There is no time for complacency.  Fortunately, there are many ways for New Yorkers to take action.

Individual green lifestyle choices are necessary, but not enough.  NYC plans are quite good, but also not sufficient.  We can help NYC implement and strengthen its plans by plugging our neighbors and communities into current programs to increase energy conservation and renewable power in City buildings. Expanding these local efforts builds the foundation for the next steps: organizing to massively upgrade City, State and National responses.

NYC’s Plans for Sustainability and Climate Change Response

PlaNYC, the City’s first sustainability plan, was released in 2007 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  In 2014, Mayor Bill di Blasio updated the plan as OneNYC, detailing hundreds of initiatives underway at City agencies.  NYC’s Roadmap to 80 x 50 report of 2016 analyzed potential emission reductions from the city’s energy, buildings, transportation, and solid waste sectors.  It found that the City is on track to meet its 2030 target, but still has to work harder to get to 80%.


Many reports on NYC sustainability, resilience and energy use are at:


What you can do personally

There are many ways to lower your personal carbon emissions:
- use mass transit
- turn off and unplug electronic devices when you leave home
- limit the amount of materials you use and the waste you produce
- recycle, compost and donate wherever possible
- support local farmers and buy organically grown food. 


Switch your personal electric use to wind and solar energy
350NYC makes this green action very easy. Electricity can be generated by a fossil fuel burning power plant, a nuclear power plant, hydropower, or a utility scale wind or solar facility.  Only 2% of the electricity used by most NYC residents comes from renewable power: the other 98% is from other sources.

If you rent or own an apartment, and pay your own utility bill, the easiest way to change that is to switch to a wind or solar energy provider.  They will contact ConEd, modify your account, and will purchase the power you use each month from renewable sources. You will have personally divested from fossil fuels.

Choosing among many suppliers of green and renewable electricity can be confusing.  After 350NYC reviewed over 30 independent energy suppliers in 2014, we decided to recommend and partner with Clean Choice Energy (previously known as Ethical Electric). If you sign up with them, 350NYC will receive a $150 sign-on bonus.  Go to:

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