BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Oct 29

New Operations Center To Help New York State Save 5 Percent On Energy

The following blog by Kit Kennedy, Director of Energy and Transportation, New York for NRDC was originally posted on the Switchboard blog. The original is available online here.

New York State faces a challenge as it ramps up energy efficiency and renewable energy use in its 3,000-plus state buildings. To get the most bang for its buck, the state needs to make sure the systems are working right, ideally in real time, so it can correct problems as they arise, not a month later when the energy bill comes.

That’s where the NY Energy Manager, the state’s brand-new energy management network operations center, located upstate, at the State University of New York’s Polytechnic Institute, will prove invaluable. It will help New York save money, use energy smarter, prevent pollution, and lead by example. More than 3,000 state buildings are currently served by the NY Energy Manager, with more to be added in the future.

As the operations center brings more and more of the state’s buildings online—the whole process will likely take between three and five years—the big-data system will enable the state to monitor its energy use “at a pretty granular level, in real-time,” explains Lloyd Kass, director of the New York Power Authority’s BuildSmart NY program. (NYPA is the nation’s largest state public power provider, and BuildSmart NY designs and administers the state’s efforts to cut its energy use by 20 percent by 2020.) The operations center’s energy analytics will not only report on buildings’ energy use, but, in individual buildings, it will “get the lighting load separated from the chilling load, separated from the data center,” Kass explains. If someone leaves all the lights on at a New York State office building overnight, the folks at the operations center will know right away and be able to dispatch someone to shut the unnecessary ones off.

Today’s enhanced communications infrastructure enables all this and more. “There are new analytic tools out now that can do virtual retro-commissioning and virtual energy auditing, too,” Kass says. Translation: These tools can fine-tune energy use in systems like lighting, HVAC, and elevators, and evaluate a building’s energy use without some of the bulkier, more complicated, hands-on tools energy auditors usually use.  

The operations center is likely the largest of its kind in the nation. “I hate to say we’re the biggest and the best, because everyone does that,” Kass demurs. Still, it’s bigger than state systems in Massachusetts and Missouri, and even more complex (in a good way) than a system operated by the General Services Administration, which runs the 9,600 buildings the federal government owns and operates.

Once NYPA has brought all of New York’s buildings online, the operations center system is predicted to each year save the state 5 percent on its $500 million energy bill—$25 million a year, in other words—and prevent 130,000 tons of global-warming pollution. That’s the equivalent of taking almost 25,000 cars off the road. “We’re doing a lot of energy retrofits in state buildings,” Kass explains. “This is an insurance policy to make sure those investments deliver.”

That isn’t the only reason the state is putting the operations center in place, though. “The whole point of BuildSmart NY is to lead by example,” says Kass, who imagines that the center’s successes will convince counties, local governments, school districts and private industries to get in on the energy management game. “We’re trying to demonstrate the value proposition,” he says.

For us New York taxpayers and all of us dependent on a stable climate, the return on investment is already becoming clear. Maybe soon, following New York State’s  example, our kids will even remember to shut the windows when the air conditioning’s running, too.

Oct 29

Washington Post: What it’s like to win a 19-year union organizing campaign in the South

The following blog by Lydia DePillis from UAW has been cross-posted. The original post is available online here

A couple weeks ago, a group of 14,500 U.S. Airways and American Airlines customer service representatives — people who take reservations over the phone and work check-in counters and boarding gates — voted to unionize with the Teamsters and the Communication Workers of America. The election was remarkable for a couple reasons: First, because of the margin of victory, with 86 percent voting yes on 77 percent turnout. And second... Read the full article >>>

Posted In: United Auto Workers
Oct 29

Found in the Flood

The following blog by Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director was originally posted on the Coming Clean blog. The original post is available online here

Two years ago, news broke about a hurricane called Sandy that might be headed toward the East Coast. Ultimately, Sandy would leave more than 180 people dead, thousands homeless, and indelible images of a darkened Manhattan and storm-surge waters flooding the tunnels of the New York subway system. The total cost of damages was $60 billion -- the only U.S. hurricane in history that cost more was Katrina in 2005. Many of the hardest-hit communities are still struggling to recover.

Unusually powerful storms like Sandy and Katrina are extreme weather at its most dramatic -- a predictable consequence of a warmer atmosphere and oceans. When you combine such storms with rising sea levels, it's obvious that coastal communities everywhere are vulnerable.

But although we can't prevent more powerful storms, we are far from powerless. We still have time to take action to limit the climate disruption that makes storms more severe. But let's be clear: That time is limited. We can't pass off responsibility to future generations because that tactic has already been used -- on us.

Last week, the European Union showed the rest of the world what taking responsibility looks like by striking an initial deal to require its member countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Could the U.S. make a comparable national commitment? Absolutely. In fact, we could do even better, but only if we force our government to get serious about solving the problem. That will take a powerful, people-driven movement to overcome the money and influence of the corporations whose existence depends on their ability to pollute and exploit without regard for the consequences.

The good news is that such a people-driven movement has already started in this country, and you don't need to look further than the flooding of New York's streets and subways to see it. No, I'm not talking about the storm surge from Sandy but about the human surge of the People's Climate March in Manhattan last month -- the biggest climate demonstration of all time. In fact, so many people filled the streets on that Sunday, September 21, that the same subway system that had been inundated by Sandy set a new ridership record.

The sight of hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets (and mass transit), united by a common purpose, was a powerful reminder that together we are strong, we are positive, and we are not about to give up on the future.

 
Posted In: Sierra Club
Oct 29

The Green Jobs Source for Wednesday, October 29, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

 

Renewable energy and energy efficiency are responsible for 70 percent of the drop of carbon pollution in the U.S. since 2007, according to a new report. (Clean Technica)

WHAT’S TRENDING 

A sad anniversary – Two years ago today, Superstorm Sandy crashed into America’s East Coast, causing 150 deaths, an estimated $65 billion in damage, and destroying or damaging more than 650,000 homes. The storm illustrated the woeful preparedness of America’s infrastructure systems, flooding subway tunnels and knocking out power to millions of people. Even two years after, work is still in progress to make communities whole again. (Mother Jones) 

EU climate goal – An editorial says the latest carbon reduction goal from the European Union is a signal to other nations to get aggressive on their goals. (New York Times)

RPS – A letter calls for Michigan to renew its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) set to expire next year and highlights the good jobs being created in the clean economy in the state. (Battle Creek Enquirer)

Ranked – Minnesota ranks 10th in the nation for its efforts on energy efficiency. Where does your state rank? (MinnPost)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

The Hill: Sen. Whitehouse to push carbon price bill

New York Times: Generating Power From Tidal Lagoons

Houston Chronicle: Kids in the chemical danger zone

The Hill: EPA reveals carbon emissions targets for tribal lands

Politico: Labor gets aggressive under Tom Perez

St. Louis Times-Dispatch: Let's support a clean energy plan for Missouri

Washington Post: Maybe you can change people’s minds about climate change after all

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You can sign up here.

Oct 28

The Green Jobs Source for Tuesday, October 28, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW… 

Officials in Ohio unveiled the first green project that will use natural landscaping to absorb rainwater and runoff that flows into Lake Erie. There will be several other similar projects around the lake to help prevent incidents like the algae bloom that left hundreds of thousands of Toledo residents without water this summer. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

WHAT’S TRENDING 

Climate and elections – The group led by environmentalist and philanthropist Tom Steyer has released a hard-hitting ad voiced by Woody Harrelson arguing to hold politicians accountable for their wrong views that climate change isn’t happening. (The Hill)

Bhopal – Thirty years ago, a chemical disaster in Bhopal, India released more than 40 tons of toxic chemicals into the air, killing 10,000 immediately and affecting hundreds of thousands over the coming decades. This piece examines how safety has (and mostly hasn’t) improved in the U.S. years after the world’s worst chemical disaster. (Al-Jazeera America)

SWITCH – Researchers at Cal-Berkeley have developed a tool to aid policymakers and planners move to renewable energy. (Clean Technica)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

New York Times: Trying to Raise Profile of Climate Change for Washington Voters

The Hill: GOP senator urges withdrawal of water rule

Upper Michigan’s Source: City council looks for renewable energy opportunities

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You can sign up here.

Oct 27

The Green Jobs Source for Monday, October 27, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW… 

You should check out this piece that looks at how the community leaders are driving action at the local political level over concerns about climate change. Reality is setting in, especially in Florida and other areas on the coast, and that’s causing local leaders to focus on climate change and look for solutions. (New York Times)

WHAT’S TRENDING 

Leading the charge – An opinion piece from the BlueGreen Alliance’s Executive Director Kim Glas and Utility Workers Union of America's National President Michael Langford lauds the action recently taken by California to curb methane emissions from natural gas distribution lines and argues for other states to follow suit to reduce methane emissions now. (Sacramento Bee) 

23 chemicals – The EPA is adding 23 chemicals—including bisphenol A (BPA)—to a key list that will get scrutinized for possible regulation. (BNA) 

Don’t lose hope – That’s the message to world leaders from the chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who says that dire warnings on climate change are no reason for inaction. (The Hill) 

Action needed – Action is needed at the international level to help avert the worst impacts of climate change. A new scientific study due out November 2 will be a guide to international leaders as they sit down for talks later this year. (Huffington Post) 

Making the grade – We released our newest report, Making the Grade, which showed both the economic and environmental benefits of repairing America’s infrastructure last week. (BlueGreen Alliance and Transport Topics)

Ready – Clean energy companies in Ohio says they are ready to meet the demand for renewable energy to achieve the goals of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. (Public News Service)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

Businessweek: Squabble Over $100 Billion Aid Stalls Global Warming Deal

Politico: Yes, BP Did Damage the Gulf

New York Times: Dividing and Conquering the Trash

Philadelphia Inquirer: Pipe replacement at heart of PGW debate

Columbus Dispatch (OH): New Ohio rules halve safe lead level

Providence Journal (RI): Peter Rothstein: R.I.’s next governor should back clean energy

Arkansas Business Journal (AR): Clean Power Means Good Jobs for State

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You can sign up here.

Oct 24

The Green Jobs Source for Friday, October 24, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

An innovative report released today shows that repairing America’s infrastructure could create 2.7 million jobs across the economy and increase the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $377 billion, while reducing carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions and better protecting communities from the impacts of climate change. (BlueGreen Alliance)

WHAT’S TRENDING

EU to lower emissions – Leaders from 28 European union countries have agreed on a target to lower emissions by at least 40 percent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030. (New York Times)

Renewables at home – According to a new study, politics and income may not be as important factors in solar use as previously thought. (Washington Post)

$15 billion – The additional amount Warren Buffet plans to commit to investing in renewable energy projects. (Wall Street Journal)

Going solar – Big utility companies that have in the past resisted solar investments are now getting in on the game. (Reuters)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Gulf Business: Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power Shifts Toward Renewable Energy

The Guardian: Canada switches on world's first carbon capture power plant

Los Angeles Times: 199 drought maps reveal just how thirsty California has become

Washington Post: Meet the mysterious microbes fueling climate change

Think Progress: Texans Call On School Board To Remove Climate Denial From Textbooks

USA Today: Eight automakers join in electric car charging test

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You can sign up here.

Posted In: The Source
Oct 23

Infographics for Making the Grade report

Making the Grade: How Investments in America’s Infrastructure Benefit Our Economy and Environment is our innovative report shows that repairing America’s infrastructure could create 2.7 million jobs across the economy and increase the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $377 billion, while reducing carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions and better protecting communities from the impacts of climate change. 

Below, you'll find infographics for the report. Click on the images below for full-sized graphics. Please feel free to share these on social media:

 

 

 

Oct 23

The Green Jobs Source for October 23, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Five years and 2,000 scientists later , the U.N. will release a report by over 30 governments pushing a strong explanation of climate change that presses the urgency of taking action. (Bloomberg)

WHAT’S TRENDING

Securing solar – Employees at four companies through a new arrangement will have the option of buying or leasing solar systems for their homes at discounted rates. (New York Times)

Mission: secede – The city of South Miami recently passed a resolution to separate from northern Florida. The divisive issue this time however isn’t politics or money, it’s about climate change. (National Journal)

Campaigns & elections – The midterm election is a few days away and the issue of the environment has never been a more important issue for voters. (EcoWatch)

Fast track – A new prototype train in Japan brought riders through the mountains at top speeds of 314 miles per hour—what would be a one hour trip from New York City to Washington, DC. (New York Times)

Clear cut case – Energy is key to repositioning Michigan as a manufacturing power. (The Detroit News)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Time: Why Receipts and Greasy Fingers Shouldn’t Mix

Bloomberg: EU Braces for Battle to Set Energy Goals for Next Decade

Washington Post: There’s a surprisingly strong link between climate change and violence

U.S. News & World Report: Which States Are Most, Least Energy Efficient?

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You can sign up here.

Oct 22

The Clean Water Act -- 42 Birthday Candles and Half a Million Americans Who Support It

The following blog by Jon Devine, Senior Attorney for the NRDC in Washington, DC was originally posted in The Switchboard blog. The original post is available online here.

Forty-two years ago this past Saturday, Congress passed the law known today as the Clean Water Act.  I salute their forethought and bipartisan leadership, not just because I make my living implementing that law, but because it has helped to restore waters that are special to me. 

I grew up in Massachusetts, where the water pollution was so bad in Boston Harbor and the Charles River that the Standells’ “Dirty Water”became the city’s unofficial anthem.  I remember going into Boston on a boat for Fourth of July fireworks and my mom telling me not to touch the Charles.  My family also spent a lot of weekends by the Pemigewasset River in New Hampshire, which “was for yearsone of the most polluted rivers in New England, the repository for raw sewage from factories and towns,” and which “emitted an overwhelming odor and was known to peel the paint off buildings located on its banks.”  Today, these water bodies are significantly improved – thanks in part to the Clean Water Act’s requirements limiting pollution into the nation’s waters.  My sisters and I could swim in the Pemigewasset, and when we took a “duck boat” tour of Boston a few years back, I didn’t have to warn my own kids not to touch the water.

Despite the law’s successes, it is under attack today.  Many waters around the country are at risk of becoming polluted because a pair of Supreme Court decisions and policies implemented by the prior administration left the status of small streams and wetlands in legal limbo.  As a result, it is unclear today whether the law protects these kinds of resources from pollution or destruction, even though they help provide drinking water for one in three Americans.  I’ve discussed this problem more times than I care to count, dating from my very first post on this site seven years ago.

We’re hopeful that this mess will soon be cleared up and this dangerous loophole will be fixed, thanks to the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Water Protection Rule.  Sadly, a daunting lineup of industry lobby groups have joined together to attack the proposal.  I’ve previously posted an overview of the clean water proposal, as well as a number of blogs responding to the misinformation campaign that opponents have launched.

After many years of work on this issue, I’m extremely excited today to report that NRDC and other environmental groups, sportsmen, health advocates, and the sustainable business community are delivering more than 500,000 comments in support of the proposed clean water rule to the Environmental Protection Agency.  (Don’t fret about the trees – this is mostly a virtual, not paper, delivery.)  We’re announcing this milestone at an event along the Anacostia River in the Washington, D.C. area, another water body I am happy to report has been significantly improved thanks to the law.  Today’s event showcases the enormous support that Americans have for protective clean water policies.  It should be an inspiration to the Obama administration to keep moving forward to strengthen and finalize its proposal, and it should be a warning to polluters and their political allies on Capitol Hill that they risk alienating the public when they attack clean water.

To all of you who have commented and whose comments we’re delivering today – thank you!  Your involvement in this process is critical to getting a strong final set of protections in place.  And if you haven’t yet had the chance to weigh in, you can still do so, as the comment period on the rule was recently extended until November 14th.  You can take action to support it by clicking here

Posted In: Climate Change, Natural Resources Defense Council