What will it take to catalyze and accelerate the kind of energy transformation required to increase reliability, enhance resilience, meet ambitious climate goals and create economic development opportunities? And what role can foundations play? Key takeaways from a recent gathering of funders interested in urban sustainability sponsored by the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.
Two thirds of the world’s energy use and 70% of global carbon emissions come from cities. There is no way we can address climate change without them. Larger cities like Boston have demonstrated critical leadership. Yet, success against this global challenge depends on leadership from smaller cities too, where the opportunities and challenges are different. Even if their goals are the same, smaller cities need their own playbook. Learn about a Barr grantee that has been creating one.
If we care about equity, we ignore climate change at our peril. Climate change is an inequity expander and accelerator. But it doesn’t have to be. The Green Justice Coalition, a Barr grantee, has been showing the way to meet both climate and equity goals.
Topics: climate, community labor united, energy efficiency, equity, green justice coalition
A new report released this week by the Boston-based Analysis Group summarizes the significant benefits to Massachusetts of its signature climate and energy policy – the Green Communities Act of 2008.
Topics: analysis group, climate, energy efficiency, green communities act, massachusetts
A new report from Environment Northeast suggests a pathway to reach the daunting, but necessary goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
Topics: climate, electricity, energy, energyvision, environment northeast, renewable energy
At a kickoff for a new cohort of Boston-area businesses embracing the “Challenge for Sustainability,” I had the chance to talk about the part they play in creating a more sustainable (and hopeful) world.
Topics: a better city, challenge for sustainability, climate, energy efficiency, sustainability
What happens when a state gets serious about climate change? A new report says the answer, at least in Massachusetts, is a shrinking carbon footprint and a growing economy.
Topics: climate, energy efficiency, global warming solutions act, massachusetts
How much difference would it make in a city if its business and other leaders signed on to aggressive goals to address climate change, and led by example in their sectors? In Boston, we have been starting to find out. And I am pleased to introduce a new report that details the evolving story of what Boston Mayor Tom Menino once called “the biggest team effort in our city’s history.”
Reducing GHG emissions 20% by 2020 is no easy task. Yet, 80% by 2050 is whole new kind of undertaking. How different are these two goals?
Topics: aceee, climate, emissions reductions targets, mount everest, mount washington, usdn
In her last post, Senior Program Officer Mariella Puerto wrote about the Copenhagen leg of a recent learning tour to Denmark and Germany. She featured Copenhagen’s bike culture, its commitment to wind power, and other ideas driving progress towards that city’s goal to be the world's first “carbon neutral” capital by 2025. In this companion piece, she shares lessons from a firsthand look at Germany’s “Energiewende” (the “energy transition”). Between 2010 and 2011, committed to building on three decades of solid progress on renewable energy and unnerved by Fukushima, the German parliament enacted a series of polices to shift its power sector away from fossil fuels and nuclear to 80% renewables by 2050. Two years later, building on a foundation of sound energy policies and three decades of steady progress on renewable energy, Germany is at 25%. It also leads the world in installed solar capacity, even though the country gets less sun than anywhere in the US, except Alaska.
Topics: climate, cooperatives, energiewende, feed in tariffs, germany, renewable energy
Copenhagen is on track to become the world’s first carbon neutral capital by 2025 – even while attracting 100,000 new residents. In June, Mariella Puerto, Barr Senior Program Officer, joined a group of US-based foundation staff to see firsthand how they were doing it, and what lessons it might hold for us on this side of the Atlantic.
Topics: bicycles, clean energy, climate, copenhagen, district cooling, district heating, wind
In early spring, Barr Senior Program Officer Mariella Puerto was invited to speak at a 10th anniversary celebration for the Boston Nature Center - a project she had been involved with from its earliest days. In her remarks, she recounts BNC's story of disruptive innovation that catalyzed big change in two very complex and (in different ways) stuck systems.
Topics: boston nature center, boston public schools, disruptive innovation, education, environmental education, green design, mass audubon, systems thinking
For two years, Massachusetts has been ranked number one in the country for energy efficiency. In 2010 alone, reductions in energy use prevented over a billion cubic feet of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. Two recent reports, however, shine a spotlight on an until-recently unaccounted for source of GHG emissions – methane that leaks from old and leaky pipes that, by the authors’ estimates, mean the state is losing more ground than it’s gaining. Read on…
Topics: boston, boston university, conservation law foundation, energy efficiency, massachusetts, methane, natural gas, natural gas leaks
One of the most difficult groups to engage in energy efficiency is low- and moderate-income families – even though the potential cost savings are significant, and even though their participation is crucial for cities like Boston with aggressive targets for emissions reductions. Into this gap steps Renew Boston, a one-stop shop to help Boston residents and businesses get into the energy-saving game at no cost. Between August 2010 and April 2012 Renew Boston conducted energy assessments in 6,500 income-eligible households (60%-120% of the state median income) – in addition to its work with businesses. Roughly half of those households receiving energy assessments implemented some or all of the recommendations using utility rebates and federal stimulus funds to pay for the upgrades. To get a better understanding of what worked and what didn’t, Barr commissioned an independent assessment. For some of the major findings and to download the full report, read on…
In Boston and most cities, the majority of GHG emissions come from buildings (in Boston, they are responsible for 74% of the city’s carbon footprint). This means that, without the support and participation of businesses that own and manage buildings, there is little hope of Boston or any city hitting the kind of GHG reduction targets necessary to curb climate change. What can be done? A new program in Boston is showing the power of peer networks, fun, and healthy competition to do right by the environment and their companies’ bottom lines. For videos featuring participants' work and highlights of an independent evaluation, read on…
For the second year in a row, Massachusetts nabbed the number spot on a list ranking states by their energy efficiency initiatives. In this post, Senior Program Officer Mariella Puerto talks to Ian Bowles, former Secretary of Energy and Environment for Massachusetts, and Jeremy McDiarmid, Massachusetts Director at Environment Northeast, to find out what this designation means, how Massachusetts got it, and what it will take to keep the momentum going.
Topics: aceee, climate, energy efficiency, environment northeast, ian bowles, jeremy mcdiarmid, massachusetts
We often hear what cities like New York, San Francisco, or Boston are doing in response to climate change. But what about smaller cities and towns that are every bit as interested in saving money and reducing their carbon footprint? A new approach in greater Boston is showing early promise accelerating such efforts.
Topics: climate, energy efficiency, mapc, small cities, sustainability
10% of housing in Massachusetts is affordable housing. Many of these units are highly inefficient. This means some low-income residents can spend up to 40% of their incomes on energy and that building emissions are unnecessarily high. Yet until recently very little was being done to improve energy efficiency in this sector. In 2009, Boston LISC and New Ecology piloted a new approach that brought energy upgrades to 2,000 units of affordable housing – where energy use is already down by 19%, leading to a federal grant to bring the model statewide. To learn more and see a new video about the program, read on…
Topics: climate, energy efficiency, lisc, low-income housing, multi-family affordable housing, new ecology
For three years, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – a collaborative effort of 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states – has been testing the nation’s first cap-and-trade scheme to reduce carbon emissions. The commitment from participating states has been wavering lately. New Jersey announced it would be pulling out. Some others are threatening to do the same. However, a new report about the significant economic benefits RGGI has created already might give them pause.