Green Government: Update on Stabilizing Solar Sector for NJ

Pony up for a stable, strong solar sector in NJ.

With tax subsidies.

That’s essentially the gist of the conversation in Trenton right now.

It’s pretty clear that the sector will collapse without financial support from taxpayers.

The question is, how much?

And will that cost be worth it?

Here’s a solid round-up of the issues and major players:


Solar Subsidies Raise Questions

Proponents say it’s a worthwhile tradeoff, noting solar energy has the promise of meeting a reasonable balance of environmental, reliability and economic objectives.

The Governor is aligned with major industry players who say that supporting solar subsidies is the right move now.

Pay a little bit now, get a lot of jobs and future revenues later.

Opponents claim that it’s time to stop propping up solar and let market forces (aka “survival of the fittest”) decide.

I’d be down with the let-the-market-decide if it were a level playing field.

It’s not.

Oil enjoys tremendous government subsidies. The thing is, we’ve all gotten so used to it that we forget to account for it in the math.

Here’s a nifty infographic on what oil and solar would look like with comparable support.


What if Solar Power Had Fossil-Fuel like Subsidies?

Governor Christie knows that too many people have skin in the solar sector to let it go down.

For once, I’m in agreement.


Green Business: Empire State Bldg. Gets Green Makeover

Let’s just start calling NYC the Green Apple.

Move over all you shiny new LEED-certified buildings.

There’s a new retrofit in town proving that some things just get better with age.

Like an 81-year old Art Deco landmark.

Sixty-five hundred new windows later (all built on site, how’s that for a short supply chain?), and a whole lot of other upgrades, the Empire State Building is now a case study for successful green retrofitting.


Empire State Building Saves $2.4 Million in Energy Costs After Retrofit

One year after the large-scale retrofitting project was completed, the Empire State Building has surpassed expectations and saved $2.4 million in energy costs. The building saved an estimated 4,000 metric tons of carbon, the equivalent carbon offset of a 750-acre pine forest.

The series of efficiency measures were accomplished through a partnership of the Clinton Climate Initiative, the building owners and a group of organizations including the Rocky Mountain Institute.

See that? Another multi-player partnership.

And what’s more, this project demonstrates ongoing potential for urban green retrofit projects.

According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, buildings are responsible for 40 percent of energy consumed in the U.S. In large cities like New York, commercial buildings make up 75 percent of energy used, meaning retrofit projects can have an even bigger impact. If every commercial building in New York City took on the upgrades that the Empire State Building has, carbon emissions would be reduced by 4 million tons – the equivalent of a typical coal-fired power plant.

Big fish make big waves. When large-scale properties like skyscrapers get greener, they reap huge cost, energy and carbon emission savings that benefit all of us.



Green Business: Sustainable Business Group Meets with the White House & the Hill

The tide is turning towards Sustainable Business.

Next week, the world’s government, industry and citizen groups will convene in Rio de Janeiro to discuss Sustainable Development.

This week, the Sustainable Business community held a first-of-its-kind full-day Washington summit.

The Alliance of Sustainable Business Council,a group of business owners with a commitment to Sustainable Business practices, also met with White House and Congressional officials.

The group supports business-friendly legislation and policies that are also kind to the earth and protect future generations.


ASBC Issues Call to Action at Historic White House Meeting

The largest U.S. business organization focused on sustainability has sent a letter to the White House and Congress, calling for a growing economy compatible with shared prosperity and environmental stewardship. The message was also conveyed to Administration officials at a first-of-its-kind, day-long summit at the White House on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, and will be shared in meetings with Senators and their staff on Wednesday, June 13, 2012.

Since all politics is local, it’s important to get connected and active in our own business community.

Check out the Member names down the left column of the  White House letter. It’s a long list of Sustainable Business groups nationwide.

Green Shift: Sustainability Simplified

It’s easy to lose the forest for the trees in the Sustainability conversation.

All too easy to get caught up in supply chains.

Be overly focused on dashboards and metrics.

Fixated on melting glaciers and broiling plains.

So, let’s get back to basics.

Sustainability is profitably and responsibly living and working today so that future generations can thrive.

In the story below, “Voice of America” essayist and reporter Ted Landphair suggests that Rio+20 attendees keep things simple.

It’s a nice 2-minute read about why Sustainability matters, minus the fluff and jargon.


Sustainable Sustainability

Instead of tossing around ecological jargon like it’s a secret code amongst you, how about doing a better job of telling the average Jane and Jose what words like “sustainability” really mean?


Green Science: NYC Hosts Solar Energy Hub

The coolest city in the world has a new claim for being hot.

As in, solar energy hot.

New York City has announced it will be a Solar Energy Hub.

What’s that?

It’s basically the whole city being a  living laboratory to figure out the best, more cost efficient ways for cities around the world to get solar-powered.

Through a partnership with IBM, CUNY, and the City of New York, the Hub will track, measure, implement and then share best practices for deploying large-scale urban, networked PV power grids.

All online. All in real-time.

Note the triple-win partnership: business, academic, government.


NYC Solar Hub to Bring Solar to Cities Worldwide

Using IBM’s intelligent software platform for Smarter Cities, the output of every solar system in the city can be seen in real time, giving crucial information on whether that’s enough energy to offset costly upgrades to the grid or use fossil fuel  generators during peak usage periods.

CUNY Ventures, a City University of New York (CUNY) Economic Development Corporation, will be able to monitor and analyze solar production and capacity through the NYC Solar Portal on the web. They’ll be able to fine-tune current resource use, quickly identify barriers, foster inter-agency permitting and tracking, solar empowerment zones, and a NYC Solar Map – which shows existing solar PV and solar thermal installations in the city and estimates the solar PV potential for every, single rooftop (1 million in NYC).

Included in the individual calculations for every building is how much solar can be installed, how much power that will generate, how much can be saved on an annual electricity bill, how many pounds of carbon emissions can be reduced each year, and what the equivalent would be in planting trees.

Green Living: Simple Steps to a Green Lawn

You know what’s really beautiful?

A healthy lawn that’s safe for kids and pets and people to sit on and have a picnic.

A space for playing and lounging.

A lawn that can handle going to sleep a little in the summer’s heat and flourish again in fall’s cool temps.

Not a chemically doused, fertilizer-pumped wastefully-watered monoculture turf lawn.

I’m passionately vocal about this topic because I care about the health of my neighbors, near and far.

I care deeply about the health of our waterways.

The simple truth is that what my neighbors do on their own property doesn’t stay there.

Fertilizer run-off and pesticide drift are real problems.

Weaning a lawn off chemicals takes some time.

And it’s not hard.

The results are worth it.


Simple Steps Toward An Organic Lawn



Green Government: UN’s Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference Kicks Off

Wish I were in Rio.

Not for the beaches or the music or Carnival.

I wish I were in Rio to hear the world’s economic, government and industry leaders talk about Sustainable Development.

It’s called Rio+20, marking 20 years since the UN hosted a worldwide conversation on Sustainable Development in Rio de  Janeiro and the the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.

Whether you care about climate change, or ending poverty, or eliminating health disparities, or protecting biodiversity, or innovating renewable energy, or bringing peace to the world’s conflicts, or just care about your kids and grandkids having a healthy world to inherit, this is the place to be.

From the Rio+20 site:

Sustainable development emphasizes a holistic, equitable and far-sighted approach to decision-making at all levels. It emphasizes not just strong economic performance but intragenerational and intergenerational equity

At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want.


A Global Dialogue on Sustainability: Rio+20 Kicks Off This Week

For the next two weeks, the city of Rio de Janeiro will host a truly global dialogue on sustainability. Though the main official event will not start until Wednesday, June 20, a 3rd ‘Prep Com’ begins this Wednesday. It aims to finish the negotiations on a draft outcome document which is to be adopted by our governments at next week’s official UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Major themes are the transition to a ‘green’ economy and global environmental governance, but the draft document also includes a wide array of sub-themes, many of which are relevant to biodiversity.

Green Government: NJ Legs Seek to Stabilize Solar

News from Trenton about legislative efforts to stabilize NJ’s sinking solar sector.

On June 4, the NJ Senate passed a bill of measures to stabilize the NJ solar market.


Senate Ratifies Bill to Stabilize Solar Sector

Despite deep divisions about many aspects of the bill among the widely diverse solar industry, there is a general consensus that a compromise must be signed by Gov. Chris Christie shortly after the budget is signed. If nothing else, it would send a signal to investors and industry executives that New Jersey is not going to scale back its efforts to promote solar.

Sensing the breeze, NJ Utilities have signed on to support the measure.

In Turnaround, All NJ Utilities Agree to Promote Solar Development

In a bit of a surprise, all four electric utilities in New Jersey plan to participate in an extension of a program aimed at promoting the  installation of new solar systems on homes and businesses in the state.

But at least one trade group is crying foul, claiming that legislative fixes would unfairly advantage utility players and will cost  taxpayers money.

Crucial Vote Set on Legislation Aimed at Reviving Solar Sector

With a crucial vote on a new bill to prop up the solar industry in New Jersey possible as early tomorrow, a trade group yesterday warned it could cost consumers at least $300 million annually, and possibly as much as $400 million.

The Retail Energy Supply Association, an organization whose members provide electricity to residents and businesses who shop around for cheaper prices than what their incumbent utilities offer, is seeking amendments to a bill (A-2966) scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee on Thursday.

Now it’s on to the Assembly on Thursday June 7.


Green Business: Turning Climate Change Into Cash

Entrepreneurs see opportunity where others see problems.

Here’s a fascinating multi-part review of a new book called Cold Cash, Cool Climate: Science-based Advice for Ecological Entrepreneurs.

The book offers inspiration and science-backed steps for making the world a better place while making money.


Cold Cash, Cool Climate: Science-based Advice for Ecological Entrepreneurs

For those who profess to acknowledge climate science but are nevertheless bearish on renewables because they claim wind and solar can’t replace fossil fuels in time to avert catastrophic climate change, Koomey offers informed optimism – and lays out a path for transition within the short and medium term.


Green Business: 4 Fresh Ways to Green Your Workplace

Don’t use styrofoam cups. Blah blah blah.

We’ve all heard the tired advice about photocopying on both sides and bringing our own mug to work.


But since most of us spend more of our waking hours at work than at home, it  does matter.

Here’s a fresh quartet of greener workplace ideas, and the links to put them into action.


4 Ways to Embed Sustainability at Work–and Challenge your Boss!

I don’t have to tell you that greening your workplace takes more than just a potted plant and a recycling drive.

Think more full-on Energy Audit. But all positive steps count.