Sunday, June 21, 2009

Climate Change and Independence from Oil

The release of climate change related reports continues to confirm the reality that scientific observations show more rapid warming rate than originally projected. On Fathers day, I wonder what we are going to do leave for our kids and grand kids? Waste time in debating whether climate change or global warming is happening? Are we doing it or it is happening by some other natural phenomenon? The oil exporters win in this unnecessary debate since they get more and more of our money.
The change to alternative energy is critical and sustainable green communities are focusing on the energy issue. The flash floods in Milwaukee caused by extreme rain event last week simply gives a glimpse of what is expected to happen in future. Imagine 100 yr rainfall event taking place at 10 year interval?? Our infrastructure is not ready for it and must be modified to manage the storm water at the point of generation.
So here is what I intend to do on my part- Keep talking to municipalities that we need to think Green and go after any stimulus funding to retrofit our infrastructure to reduce energy use, produce new alternative energy and recycle and reuse the storm water. This will need education of Municipal leaders and the public as we move forward with the new hope and expectation to create green jobs and economic development. The money spent on energy must stay in America and not be allowed to go overseas to help others. It is our own fight for energy independence and it happens to be that it also helps fight climate change.
Whatever the reason for any political party, the action remains the same- focus on energy independence and water conservation. Our kid's future depends on it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Smart communities think long term solutions

As the federal stimulus funds come to communities across America some will act smarter than others. It is normal to expect old pet projects to be first on line to build with this money. If the project does not generate a constant sustainable source of money then the choice is not good one. Smart communities are those who will do the projects that save them energy and water costs and they will invest the savings each year in similar activities. Smart communities are those that will set aside a percentage of grant funds into a revolving loan fund for their residents and business owners to borrow at zero interest loans and make energy efficiency retrofits. The first thing to do with such funds is to set aside 20% for strategic planning of sustainable green projects with community input from all stakeholders.
Economic development and job creation is expected to be the long term impact of such investments. Let us see what choices our community leaders make.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Stimulus Funds to Municipalities for Green Projects

This was a good week for promoting Green and sustainability to Government entities in Rochester New York area. Two conferences presented seminars explaining why Green design is needed to deal with climate change and energy issues.

The stimulus funds from DOE clearly point out the goals for doing projects that save energy or create energy and offer long term benefits. Some funds are given as block grants and require identifying what the community will do with the funds before the money is given. Applications showing list of planned projects is required by June 25th 2009. So what should a smart green community should do?

Look for projects that educate and inform people and start saving money for ever. This will give them funds to do more each year. Example - how about changing all the street or yard lights with LED. Save 75% + energy cost right away. If a Town pays $100,000 per year to the Utility company, they can save $75000 in energy cost and not worry about changing the light bulbs for 15 -20 years. Imagine what they can do with saved money? How about starting a Green loan fund to help commercial industrial companies install similar measures with zero interest loans.

Another example would be installing Green roofs on the government buildings, this would save over 25% in energy cost and extend the life to 40 + years avoiding new roofs needed every 20 years for standard roofs. At the same time the storm water collection can be done and recycle it for non potable water conserving water and reducing storm water flows. These are real practical solutions that have high front end cost but long term benefits. Having the 90 - 100% grant funds can make it possible to do the right things. Let us not build facilities that have no long term energy or water saving benefits. Ideally, the block grant fund recipients will reserve 20% of the funds for Sustainable green strategy planning to collectively identify what is best for their community.

Good luck to the Municipal Leaders to take the Green Steps in every Village, Town and City.
We will be happy to guide any community seeking help and learning about what some communities have done to serve as examples.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Smart Communities Collaborate for Improvements

These are very unusual times and at the same time very exciting times for all communities. As stimulus money becomes available, it brings some strings that can help us all. Recently the Block grant funding from Department of Energy ( DOE) was announced and it requires completion of sustainable green energy plan as a condition for the capital grant. The rules are known and some smart communities will move fast and start the planning process NOW. What is the payoff for the risk? getting hold of 90% grants to reduce costs in the community and help the private sector improve their plants become efficient.
Imagine Town of " opportunity" undertaking the green planning and forming a group of stakeholders of all government department heads and including the local schools, and businesses in identifying the areas where they can conserve energy, create green power and save on water. With input from local residents the plan lists the potential improvements, costs and their benefits. This planning report would be submitted with the grant application in July and then hopefully beat other communities who have not done the planning. Money comes to Town of Opportunity and saves them money each year forever. The money saved with green initiatives will fund many other future projects, and the Town gets financially stronger. Businesses reduce cost, stay in Town and create jobs. Soon such a dream could come true.. This is the time smart communities will notice the trends and lead as compared to " do nothing" attitude.
Leadership and foresight in Mayors, Supervisors and County executives would be tested very soon as the Grant applications are made available by State Agencies. Time will tell who loses and who wins.