Our recent blogs have mentioned a bit about Environmental Justice, the movement in response to the fact that environmental issues and climate change disproportionately impact low-income and BIPOC communities. This begs the question - is all environmentalism inherently just? It should be, but it is not. Though well-meaning in their ultimate goal, environmental and earth sciences (and STEM fields in general) are highly lacking in diversity.
Diversity in Energy Spotlight
WE ACT for Environmental Justice was founded in 1988 in response to environmental racism in Harlem. The three founders of WE ACT were fundamental in the beginnings of the environmental justice movement, which officially began in 1991. WE ACT works hard to represent BIPOC voices in an environmentalist movement that is overwhelmingly white. For more information on the environmental justice movement, read our primer here.
Diversity In Energy Spotlight
The environmental justice movement works to address the inequities in US environmental policy which disproportionately expose Black people to environmental hazards including close proximity to waste facilities, poor quality water infrastructure, and air pollution. Last week, we provided a primer on the environmental justice movement which discusses the movement’s origin, history, and urgent relevance today. We will continue to call attention to the environmental justice movement by highlighting organizations doing this important work. Today, we focus on the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.
By Eve Marenghi
Fitwel is a building certification program developed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA) that sets standards for design features and operational strategies that support the health of building occupants. Fitwel offers more than 50 evidence-based design and operational strategies generated by expert analysis of over 3,000 academic research studies and tested across a portfolio of buildings. The Center for Active Design was selected by the federal government as Fitwel’s operator in 2016. Since then, Fitwel has become the world’s leading health certification system, with more than 1,000 registered projects in over 40 countries, impacting 830,000 people worldwide.
Diversity In Energy Spotlight
The American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) was founded by Clarke A. Watson, a prominent black community activist and mentor, in the summer of 1977. Watson saw a need for change in U.S. national energy policy and a need for black people and other minorities to have a voice in energy policymaking. In response to the energy crisis of the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter established a special task force to study the energy problem and develop recommendations. There were no persons of color representing the interests of black people and other minorities on the task force.
Gotham 360 attended an event hosted by the Building Energy Exchange focused on Local Laws 92 and 94, that require solar and/or green roofs for all new constructions and major roof renovations. The laws were passed as a part of the Climate Mobilization Act (CMA). Thanks to these laws, NYC may now have the most sustainable roofing policy in the world.
The New York City Council has enacted a new amendment to the Local Law 87 Rule. This amendment increases the retro-commissioning testing requirements, and is enforced on buildings filed with the city starting on January 1, 2020.
The words you choose are important, especially when attempting to communicate very complex issues to a broad swath of people. Take for example Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statement during his press conference to announce the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act, which intends to cap greenhouse gas emissions for all buildings in NYC:
As we discussed in last week’s blog post, Intro 1253 will have operational and financial impacts on buildings throughout the five boroughs, in all sectors. As originally conceived, Intro 1253 targets buildings larger than 25,000 square feet and requires them to meet certain emissions caps beginning in 2022. The bill is set to be passed on Earth Day.
Carbon taxes are coming, and they’re coming fast!
Last week, the NYC City Council released an updated draft of Introduction 1253, a new bill that is likely to be passed into local law. If passed, this legislation will be the nation’s first legislative cap on carbon emissions. It is a part of NYC’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 80% by 2050 (the 80x50 program).