Saturday, April 18, 2009

Energy Smart, Climate Smart or Sustainable Smart?

These terms are being used to recognize smart actions to achieve certain goals. The goal of sustainability is critical for us to be energy independent, help deal with climate change, create local economic development and improve health of the residents. This is the reason the all inclusive term of " Sustainable Smart" community makes more sense to use.

With this logic I used it in a Municipal conference on April 16th, at Blue Mountain Lake arranged by the Syracuse based Environmental Finance Center. About 25 Village Mayors and Town Supervisors were present to learn about how to manage the municipal infrastructure and save money. Many Green ideas were presented as solutions for the rising cost of government operations.


Sustainable Green Communities are Smart Communities

As we move into Green Economy new words are being used to recognize the communities for their foresight and leadership to save energy and protect the environment. We are all familiar with " Energy Star" labels for appliances and homes. Now " Energy smart" is being promoted for communities that implement certain energy efficiency related measures. New York State is now promoting " Climate Smart" pledge for communities that adopt energy and some environmental measures to improve quality of life. Considering the results of lower cost and enhanced quality of life achieved by Green communities, we should consider a more universal term - " Sustainable Smart" community that incorporates all virtues of sustainability including energy, climate, environment, transportation, recreation, public housing, education etc. etc.

Time has come for our Municipal Leaders to follow what President Obama has done at the Federal Level by striving for Energy Independence. Why wait for Federal program when every Community can take control within their own hands to become " Sustainable Smart" community. A pledge for energy independence is every citizen's right and privilege and we hope that our Municipally leaders will lead the way by helping us reduce our energy costs and providing incentives for green retrofits. Billions of dollars of pension funds could be the source to put some of it in Revolving green fund that can be used for 5-10 year loans to residents and small businesses and paid back from the future energy savings. It is win -win proposal as the money never ends and savings pay for the retrofits. Let us go for it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Green Communities need to move fast to get stimulus funding

The goals of President Obama's stimulus investment package are great but the government process is very slow to get the money in the hands of local municipalities. Many agencies have taken months to make the rules for distributing the funds but forgot to allow enough time for educating the potential recipients. Now the State agencies want to move fast and have the application in 6 weeks. Unfortunately by the time communities learn about the details of the program and the documentation requirements, the deadline could be missed.
In New York the EFC is expecting all the applications need to be submitted by May 29th. This is an excellent chance to implement the green infrastructure projects and pay only 10% of the total cost. Hopefully the local communities will quickly move and take the required actions to bring significant savings in cost of operations. It is first come first serve, so those who are able to move fast will win the prize of 90% green grants.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Stimulus funding promotes Green Infrastructure investments

April is the month when we celebrate Earth Day. This year something is very different. It is a special year for earth's sustainability, since it is the first time the Federal Government has taken action to provide MONEY.
Long term solutions require life cycle thinking and most communities do not have the financial resources to invest in solution which costs more capital for implementation. Most innovative ideas- solar cells, LED lights, Green roofs, Geothermal HVAC systems cost more but save in the long run. What holds back is that future savings are in future and present conditions lack funding sources to spend more than traditional choices. Regular light bulbs are cheaper, basic roofs are cheaper, low efficiency furnaces are cheaper, double pane windows are cheaper. The list goes on and we continue to install stuff that costs more to operate.
It was absolutely essential for Federal and State Governments to create a green funding source and provide GRANTS not loan to implement new solutions. The dream has now come true by Obama administration and the new younger generation team. They have set a new climate change agenda and started the journey for " Energy independence". It is starting in April 2009 with green infrastructure funds under the stimulus funding bill.
In New York, the 90% grant application forms were published by EFC on Friday April 3, 2009. Now is the time for all small municipalities to apply for funds and go for the maximum goal of energy and water conservation at their facilities. The local municipal share of 10% can be saved in operations, and the future cost of energy will be reduced for the life of the facilities to help control the taxes. Many educational events will be taking place to get the word out. Time is short to apply, so one needs to move fast.
For New York State municipalities there is an event coming up soon on April 14-16th. The title of this program is "Smarter Management For Small Communities" at Blue Mountain Lake as NYEFC's Minnowbrook Spring Conference. I am excited to be one of the speakers at this event and pan to show how going Green is Smart thing to do.

Smart (Green) community summit April 14-16,2009

The Environmental Finance center has scheduled a training summit to teach the Municipal officials from New York State about how to control cost and manage the government more efficiently. Doing green things makes the community smart. I am grateful to the EFC for allowing me to share ideas as one of the speakers.
The timing is good as the Environmental facilities corp. has also announce Green Grant opportunity to get 90% grants from the stimulus funding. Hope to connect ideas with implementation at this meeting. We now have the opportunity to show that Green solutions make smart investments and smart communities will take advantage of the 90% grants to reduce their costs for many years in future.
Better days are ahead for all of us and the country, as we implement green solutions to meet our energy and environmental challenge.
More later