Tag Archives: sustainability

Biden Presents Clean Energy Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity

A solar array on a farm in the Finger Lakes, New York State. Vice President Biden is proposing a bold plan to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure based on clean energy that in addition to addressing climate change, will create millions of well-paying jobs. “When Trump speaks of climate change, he thinks of one word, ‘hoax.’ When I think of climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.’ © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the midst of economic, unemployment, and climate crises, Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president,  rolled out the second plank of his Build Back Better economic recovery plan for working families: building a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future. In a sharp contrast to Donald Trump’s disregard for working Americans and the consequential climate emergency at hand, Vice President Biden’s plan will create millions of good paying, union jobs for Americans while building sustainable infrastructure and creating an equitable clean energy future. 

Here’s what leaders from across the country are saying about Vice President Biden’s plans: 

“The plan put forward today by former Vice President Biden will create and sustain the kinds of good-paying, union jobs that provide a ladder to the middle class and make America a leader in manufacturing clean technology, put our nation on a path to doing our part to tackle the climate crisis, rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, and lift up all workers and communities by prioritizing investments in communities of color that have borne the brunt of environmental injustice,” Jason Walsh, the Executive Director BlueGreen Alliance, said in a statement

“As president of the IBEW, the largest union of electrical workers in the nation, I’m pleased that it will create so many jobs in nearly every sector of the workforce we represent, including construction, utility, telecommunications, manufacturing, and railroad. Joe Biden has made it clear that any new federal investments must support American jobs and American made products,” Lonnie R. Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), said in a statement. “These are vital jobs that our nation needs more than ever… The men and women of the IBEW have been part of American’s clean-energy revolution for years now. We look forward to working with a Biden administration in building a clean and sustainable economy that can both save our planet and help rebuild the American middle class.”

“This ambitious plan is a win-win for American manufacturing, auto industry jobs, new technology and a cleaner environment. By focusing on investments in new technology, increasing demand for American-made and sourced clean vehicles; investing in our plants and our auto manufacturing facilities and creating 1 million new jobs, this all-American plan will ensure that the industry will thrive for decades to come with good paying union jobs,” the United Auto Workers (UAW) said in a statement. “This comprehensive plan will also increase investment in batteries and charging infrastructure and set fuel economy standards that involve all stakeholders. And this plan will save consumers money and cut air pollution. UAW members are looking to Washington, D.C. to invest in future jobs; new technologies; a world race to cleaner air; and to save consumers their hard-earned money. This plan checks all those boxes.”

“Joe Biden’s climate plan—by a long shot—is the most ambitious we have ever seen from any president in our nation’s history,” Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund, said in a statement. “It will get our economy humming again, and give our children a healthier, more just and more hopeful future. And he has committed to getting started on day one.”

“Vice President Joe Biden’s ambitious new commitments to a clean energy economy, environmental justice, and equitable climate solutions are more important than ever as our nation grapples with the realities of systemic racism, a global pandemic, and the ever growing climate crisis. Biden’s strong climate leadership stands in stark contrast with the Trump administration, which is continuing this week with its full scale assault on environmental and public health protections,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of LCV Action Fund, wrote in a statement. “We applaud Vice President Biden for again making clear with these plans that combatting the climate crisis, fighting for environmental justice and creating millions of good-paying, high-quality jobs in a clean energy economy will be a very top priority on day one as president and every single day.”

“Vice President Biden is right ‘that environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color,’ and his emphasis on addressing those injustices is a critical part of this plan. For too long Black, Latino, as well as low-income neighborhoods have suffered far more than their fair share of pollution and other environmental impacts, with devastating results on the health of the people living there,” said Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President, Political Affairs, EDF Action Fund in a statement. “The Biden Plan couldn’t be more of a stark contrast to four years of failure by the Trump administration. They have weakened limits on climate pollution, undermined scientists, and surrendered international leadership. America can’t afford another four years of a president who claims climate change is a hoax instead of providing leadership. We look forward to working with the Congress and a new administration to finally take real action on climate change.”

“While Donald Trump spreads lies about windmills, tries to block legislative efforts to advance electric vehicles, and ignores the millions of Americans working in clean energy, Joe Biden is presenting a vision to invest in and grow an equitable clean energy economy,” Sierra Club Political Director Ariel Hayes said in a statement. “The Sierra Club is encouraged by Biden’s proposal, which shows he is listening to the continued calls from activists and organizations across the country demanding a bold and ambitious plan that meets the size and scale of the crisis and completes the transition to a clean energy economy.”

“Today I heard from many in the environmental justice movement across the country who were overwhelmed by the Historic Ambitious speech addressing environmental, climate, social, and economic injustice by the Vice President,” said former South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell and Founder of The ReGenesis Project. “We thank you for listening, and announcing one of the boldest climate and environmental justice plans ever presented by a nominee for President.”

“Joe Biden shares DSCEJ’s commitment to build the power of Black communities, harmed by toxic pollution and vulnerable to the climate crisis, to shape the national agenda for achieving environmental justice and climate justice,” said Beverly L. Wright, Ph.D., Executive Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.

“The Biden Environmental Justice Plan is the most targeted and comprehensive plan to address the legacy of environmental racism and the continuing ambivalence regarding environmental quality in communities of color that has been proposed by a potential presidential nominee,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice based in Harlem, New York,” said Peggy M. Shepard, Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “When I was chair of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to the EPA I witnessed the total disregard of Title 6 administrative complaints by the EPA’s Civil Rights division, and the lack of accountability or reporting on environmental justice progress by the EJ Interagency Council which was mandated to develop plans to address environmental degradation in EJ communities. The Biden plans’ initiative to mandate a report card on progress to the White House is another important proposal to establish accountability which has been absent.”

“It’s encouraging to see former Vice President Biden release an environment, climate , economic and energy plan that places justice and health at the center,” said Dr. Robert. D. Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Texas Southern University, widely regarded as the father of the environmental justice movement. “Given the converging and multiple threats faced by low-income, people of color, and vulnerable communities today, I like the fact the plan calls for an inclusive and All-of-Government approach in setting policy and legislative priorities and a framework for targeting resources to address underlying systemic conditions that create and perpetuate racial and economic inequality and unequal protection.”

“This is a truly historic moment in Presidential candidate history. Environmental Justice elders are being heard and together we can, and we will forge a new pathway for this country to live up to its ideals of justice for all!” said Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Executive Director, Center for Earth, Energy & Democracy; Inaugural Signer of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform; and Co-Chair, Biden for President Climate Engagement Advisory Council.

“We strongly applaud the Biden campaign for taking an ambitious, comprehensive approach to climate change policy that recognizes the renewable energy industry’s ability to grow America’s economy towards a cleaner environment and a more prosperous and equitable future,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association in a statement. “As our country strives to recover from the global pandemic, racial injustices, and economic recession, this is the right moment to grow the investments and good-paying American jobs associated with renewable energy development, including the significant economic benefits, lower cost electricity bills, and diverse community support that wind energy brings to rural parts of the country.”

“I think this plan out of Joe Biden is really visionary. It’s about investing in the technologies of the future and it certainly does deploy a lot of the work that the big three are already doing here in Detroit — and expands upon that and builds that out even further,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “Autonomous vehicles, vehicles of the future, electric vehicles — these are the industries we’ve got to make investments in, that we’ve got to grow, and that will make our environment cleaner and be a much longer-term type of investment for the people of this country. I was excited to hear Joe Biden’s plan today.”

”This is exactly the bold vision for the future that we need in our country,” said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. “What I love about what Joe Biden is proposing is that it’s about making it here, it’s about using it here, it’s about tackling the climate crisis in a way that creates new, clean energy jobs and does it in a way that provides opportunity for everyone and addresses parts of our communities that have been hardest hit by that pollution and the inequalities involved. “

“I’ve spent my time in public service fighting for environmental justice and for workers‘ rights so people who work hard can forge a better life for themselves. I know these two issues go hand in hand. So does my friend, Joe Biden. His clean energy jobs plan, with a strong environmental justice focus, proves it,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

“VP Biden has chosen a bold path to get America to energy and environmental security and confront the existential challenge of climate change with bold and realistic solutions,” said former Senator and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

Here is the plan:

The Biden Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity in a Clean Energy Future

The current COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how profoundly the energy and environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color – allowing systemic shocks, persistent stressors, and pandemics to disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.
 
Joe Biden is running for President to ensure that all Americans have a fair shot at getting ahead. That means rooting out the systemic racism in our laws, policies, institutions, and hearts. Any sound energy and environmental policy must advance public health and economic opportunity for all Americans, in rural, urban, and suburban communities, and recognize that communities of color and low-income communities have faced disproportionate harm from climate change and environmental contaminants for decades. It must also hold corporate polluters responsible for rampant pollution that creates the types of underlying conditions that are contributing to the disproportionate rates of illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 among Black, Latino, and Native Americans. That means officials setting policy must be accountable to the people and communities they serve, not to polluters and corporations.
 
Addressing environmental and climate justice is a core tenet of Biden’s climate plan. Biden will:

Use an inclusive and empowering All-of-Government approach;

Make decisions that are driven by data and science;

Target resources in a way that is consistent with prioritization of environmental and climate justice; and

Assess and address risks to communities from the next public health emergency.


USE AN INCLUSIVE AND EMPOWERING, ALL-OF-GOVERNMENT APPROACH

Our nation’s environmental justice policy was developed more than twenty years ago and no longer addresses the needs of the present or future. In order to clean up our communities and provide new opportunities to those that have been disproportionately burdened by pollution and economic and racial inequality, Biden will revise and reinvigorate the 1994 Executive Order 12898 (EO 12898) on Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. Specifically, Biden will:

Establish an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the U.S. Department of Justice. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department (DOJ) in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences, perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. Biden will direct his EPA and DOJ to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited. Going beyond the ambitious proposals that the Biden plan for a clean energy revolution already includes, the Biden Administration will establish a new Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the DOJ, as proposed by Governor Inslee, to complement the work of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. In line with the new Division’s mandate, Biden will instruct the Attorney General to: (i) implement, to the extent possible by executive action, Senator Booker’s Environmental Justice Act of 2019; (ii) increase enforcement, in line with the commitments already detailed in the Biden Plan; (iii) strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters; (iv) address legacy pollution that includes real remedies to make communities safe, healthy, and whole; and (v) work hand-in-hand with EPA’s Office of Civil Rights.

Elevate environmental justice in the federal government and modernize the all-of-government approach. Currently, the federal government has two key environmental justice groups. Biden will elevate and reestablish the groups as the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, both reporting directly to the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), who reports directly to the President. To support this work, Biden’s CEQ will also have senior and dedicated environmental justice staff. These two councils will be charged with revising EO 12898 in order to address current and historic environmental injustice, in collaboration with local environmental justice leaders. And, they will be tasked with  developing clear performance metrics to ensure accountability in the implementation of the Executive Order. Once the revised EO is finalized, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council will publish an annual public performance score-card on its implementation.

Overhaul the EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office. For too long, the EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office has ignored its requirements under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That will end in the Biden Administration. Biden will overhaul that office and ensure that it brings justice to frontline communities that experience the worst impacts of climate change and fenceline communities that are located adjacent to pollution sources, beginning with the following actions: (i) revisit and rescind EPA’s decision in Select Steel and its Angelita C. settlement, which allowed state environmental agencies to issue dangerous permits, and to conduct its business in a way that harmed communities; (ii) conduct a rulemaking and open a public comment process to seek Americans’ input on agency guidance for investigating Title VI Administrative complaints; and (iii) work with Congress to empower communities to bring these cases themselves, by reinstituting a private right of action to sue Title VI, which was written out in the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Alexander v. Sandoval.


MAKE DECISIONS DRIVEN BY DATA AND SCIENCE
 
President Trump denies science and disempowers experts in the federal government. Biden will choose science over fiction, ensuring we make data-driven decisions when it comes to environmental justice.
 
Building on EPA’s EJSCREEN tool, developed in the Obama-Biden Administration, and lessons learned at the state level, Biden will charge the newly elevated White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, in close consultation with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, to create a data-driven Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify communities threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution. To ensure that information is accessible and transparent, the Screening Tool will be used to publish annual maps in multiple languages that identify disadvantaged communities; including disproportionately burdened tribal areas. In addition, since too often low-income and communities of color lack air quality monitors and are, as a result, unaware of unsafe pollution levels that threaten their health, Biden will:

Mandate new monitoring in frontline and fenceline communities. Biden will ensure that the federal government recommends that each state adequately monitors environmental pollution, including emissions, criteria pollutants, and toxics, in frontline and fenceline communities. This will include installing new monitors where they are lacking to provide accurate and publically-available real-time data. Biden will also create a new environmental public health corps that boosts communities’ capacity to use this data meaningfully. 

Require community notification. In line with Congresswoman Blunt Rochester’s Alerting Localities of Environmental Risks and Threats (ALERT) Act, Biden will direct the EPA to create a community notification program requiring “industries producing hazardous and toxic chemicals to engage directly with the community where they are located to ensure residents have real-time knowledge of any toxic release and ensure that communities are engaged in the subsequent remediation plan.”

Establish interagency teams to address targeted issues and partner directly with communities. Biden will also establish an Interagency Climate Equity Task Force to directly work to resolve the most challenging and persistent existing pockets of climate inequity in frontline vulnerable communities and tribal nations. This work includes addressing the challenge of lack of access to credit and capital for many local governments and small businesses owned by and located in environmental justice communities. Biden will rely on the leadership of these communities to identify what they need most. The Biden Administration will let community leaders lead by investing in community self-determination, marshalling federal resources to support local leaders and organizations, and directly funding capacity building — from critical tools to talent — to arm the creativity of local leaders and help them build back better.

Biden will also:

Tackle water pollution in a science-based manner. Biden will focus on improving water quality in a comprehensive way. For example, it is estimated that up to 110 million American’s drinking water could be contaminated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a suite of chemicals that cause a host of health issues, including cancer, and are found in states from Michigan and Wisconsin to Colorado and New Hampshire. Instead of making empty promises with no follow-through, Biden will tackle PFAS pollution by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance, setting enforceable limits for PFAS in the Safe Drinking Water Act, prioritizing substitutes through procurement, and accelerating toxicity studies and research on PFAS. In addition, Biden will accelerate the process to test for and address the presence of lead in drinking water and housing, in line with the CDC’s determination and in partnership with labor, and state, local, and tribal governments. Biden will also help protect rural communities from water and air pollution and make water bills affordable for low-income communities, rural Americans, and tribes through targeted state revolving funds and Rural Utility Service funding for disadvantaged communities.

Prioritize strategies and technologies that reduce traditional air pollution in disadvantaged communities. Biden will direct his Cabinet to prioritize the climate strategies and technologies that most improve public health. He will also direct his Office of Science and Technology Policy to publish a report within 100 days identifying the climate strategies and technologies that will result in the most air and water quality improvements and update analytical tools to ensure that they accurately account for health risk and benefits. Finally, Biden will recommend that every state prioritize emission reductions within the disadvantaged communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool in their state-level air quality plans.


TARGET RESOURCES CONSISTENT WITH THE PRIORITY THAT ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE REPRESENTS
 
The Biden plan already commits to providing low-income and communities of color preference in competitive grant programs. Today, Biden commits to go even further and target 40% of his historic investment in a clean energy revolution to disadvantaged communities. Building on the ambitious New York State climate law, Biden will:

Target relevant investments with the goal of delivering 40% of the overall benefits from those investments to disadvantaged communities, specifically:

Targeting investments made through programs related to clean energy and energy efficiency deployment; clean transit and transportation; affordable and sustainable  housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure; and

Utilizing the results of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to help identify these disadvantaged communities, which are threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution.

In addition, Biden will directly fund historic investments across federal agencies aimed at eliminating legacy pollution – especially in communities of color, rural and urban low-income communities, and indigenous communities. Biden will also address common challenges faced by disadvantaged communities, such as funds for replacing and remediating lead service lines and lead paint in households, daycares, and schools in order to ensure all communities have access to safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. These investments will create good-paying union jobs and help to build infrastructure that is resilient to the impacts of climate change in frontline and fenceline communities.


ASSESS AND ADDRESS RISKS TO COMMUNITIES FROM THE NEXT PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

As a country, we must do a better job to prepare for and prevent public health emergencies, particularly in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental stressors. The link between climate change and health security is well-documented – climate change creates a growing threat to Americans and hits low-income and communities of color the hardest. We must heed the warning signs from the current pandemic and prepare all communities. Building on The Biden Plan to Combat Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Prepare For Future Global Health Threats, Biden will take the following actions to minimize the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided:

Create a National Crisis Strategy to address climate disasters that prioritizes equitable disaster risk reduction and response. The Trump Administration’s lack of preparedness and failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced that the next President must develop a science-based, national climate crisis strategy to support states, tribes, and territories. The next President must ensure the efficient and equitable allocation of disaster risk reduction-related resources and that we build back better after climate-related disasters. Building on Senator Markey’s Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, Biden will use a whole-of-government approach to develop a national climate crisis strategy for each type of climate disaster that the National Climate Assessment warns will put Americans at risk (e.g., heat waves, sea level rise, wildfire, air pollution, infectious disease, hurricane, and floods). And, in line with recommendations from the American Lung Association, Biden will provide additional CDC grants to every state and territory to work with their local health departments to develop climate disaster mitigation plans.

Establish a Task Force to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable. The Biden Department of Health and Human Services will lead a Task Force to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable including disadvantaged and frontline communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool.  The Task Force will identify the health impacts of climate change that will pose the largest risk to the most vulnerable populations and work across the Department and with other agencies to use a whole-of-government approach to decrease those risks, including baseline health inequities. In addition, this Task Force will be charged with developing a ready-to-deploy recovery strategy that ensures adequate housing for individuals displaced by climate disasters.

Establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity at HHS and Launch an Infectious Disease Defense Initiative. In order to fully prepare for and minimize the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided, Biden will establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity in the Office of the Secretary of HHS, modeled after the Office of AIDS Research that was created in 1983, and invest in surveillance, early-warning systems, and research to decrease climate change and health equity risks. This new HHS Office, in collaboration with the CDC, will partner with the Department of Defense to predict the infectious diseases with the highest probability of being exacerbated by climate change, evaluate their population risk, and work with additional federal agencies to accelerate the development of vaccines or other mitigation measures that reduce the risk to Americans.

Improve the resilience of the nation’s health care system and workers in the face of natural disasters. Building on guidelines published in the Obama-Biden Administration, Biden will establish a biennial Health Care System Readiness Task Force, a public-private task force to assess the current state of the nation’s health care system resilience to natural disasters and recommend strategies and investments to improve it, which will include participation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The evaluation will include an assessment of both physical health care infrastructure and the frontline health care workforce, including opportunities to provide workforce development opportunities in disadvantaged communities. In order to inform the Readiness Task Force, beginning in 2021, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in coordination with the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Security Council will publish a declassified, annual report identifying the type, likelihood of occurrence, and locations at the highest risk, and potential impacts of natural disasters in the United States.

NYS Makes $4.3 Million in Grants to Reduce Food Waste, Help Hungry New Yorkers & Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Following a Gold Coast International Film Festival screening of the documentary “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste,” panelelists discussed the issue of food waste, how it directly contributes to climate change, and what the state, local community and individuals can do to help solve one of the greatest problems of the 21st century. The panel consisted of Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO of Island Harvest, Halie Meyers chief of staff representing NYS Senator Todd Kaminsky and NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright. Not shown, Kendrick Repko, Brand Lead, Sustainable Retailing for Stop & Shop. The documentary, from executive producer Anthony Bourdain, gives persuasive argument and offers realistic solutions for changing the way food is raised, distributed, stored, processed, purchased, cooked and recycled. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has made $4.3 million in grants for 111 projects across the state that will help prevent hunger and reduce the disposal of food waste though food donation and recycling. The grants will support efforts by municipalities and organizations, such as pantries and soup kitchens, to help divert scraps for recycling and reduce the amount of organic waste by redirecting excess, edible food to New Yorkers struggling with food insecurity.

“Wasted food hurts needy families facing the terrible challenges of food insecurity and harms the environment by growing landfills and contributing to climate change,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said“These awards are the latest step New York is taking to help local governments and community organizations support smart investments that prevent food waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by food disposal, and provide nutritious and healthy food to combat hunger across New York State.”

Wasted food has significant environmental, social, and economic impacts and these grants help support municipalities and emergency food relief organizations by improving food rescue efforts and diverting food scraps from disposal in landfills. Reducing the landfilling of food scraps is also recognized as a valuable mitigation measure in the state’s ongoing fight against climate change. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will administer the grants.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “It is a sad fact that Americans waste about 25 percent of the food purchased, leading to negative impacts on our environment and a waste of food resources that could otherwise be used to help people in need. The projects supported by the grants announced today are a combination of public outreach initiatives and innovative, common-sense approaches to promoting food recycling, helping the hungry, and reducing waste to build stronger, healthier, and environmentally sustainable communities.”

Municipal Food Scraps Reduction, Food Donation, and Food Scraps Recycling Grants

DEC is awarding a total of $3.28 million in grants to 27 municipal projects that will use innovative and comprehensive approaches to support wasted food prevention and reduction initiatives, streamline food donation and rescue efforts, and/or develop organics recycling programs and facilities. Many projects involve strategic partnerships with community-based organizations to reduce the volume of wasted food and food scraps entering the municipal waste stream. This is accomplished through the development and implementation of wasted food reduction education and outreach programs and by establishing municipal composting and other organics recycling infrastructure. Among the highlights of the municipal grant projects:

  • City of Cortland $195,936: The funding will support the Cortland Food Project Rescue and Waste Prevention, a comprehensive community education campaign focused on wasted food prevention and reduction. The city will develop and implement Cortland’s first local food rescue system and volunteer network to seek out large quantities of “past prime” produce that program staff and volunteers will be trained to process into value-added food products. The city will then coordinate with existing local hunger projects, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and the planned commercial community kitchen and entrepreneurship program to be located at the Homer Avenue Revitalization Project site;
  • Town of Ossining $99,145: The town will create a comprehensive food scraps recycling pilot program to serve approximately 38,300 residents and neighboring areas. The town will: purchase collection bins for several public sites, including nearby Environmental Justice communities and for residential home use; develop informational materials to include in the kits residents will use in their homes; and Teatown Lake Reservation will begin community education events and programming regarding food waste prevention and reduction, composting, and the town-run food scrap recycling program;
  • Tompkins County $70,426: The county will address wasted food prevention and food donation by targeting apartment complexes and multifamily units in the county. The project will educate tenants and property managers, focusing on smart shopping, smart storage, and smart food prep; site a food hub cooler for sharing excess edible food, with leftover donations going to Friendship Donations Network (FDN) for further distribution throughout the Tompkins County community; provide tenants with free toolkits to collect food scraps from their kitchens for composting; and develop “kitchen to compost” educational materials; and
  • Village of Sleepy Hollow $11,286: The village will develop and launch a comprehensive food scraps recycling program that includes: education efforts and materials that are accessible for all residents, despite income or language barriers; create a food scraps recycling program that offers 500 free starter kits (countertop food scraps collection pail and storage bin) to residents for composting; and create outreach materials designed to reach all demographics in the village, including Spanish-language translations, and engaging low-income residents and seniors in the participation of the project.

Emergency Food Relief Organization Grants

Food pantries and other local emergency food relief organizations are on the front lines when it comes to helping those in need. These organizations often rely on donations of food through partnerships with local businesses, farms, and other food donors to supplement their inventories of wholesome food. However, as many of these food pantries and organizations are volunteer-run and have limited funds, they often do not have the resources to establish these partnerships or purchase the necessary storage equipment and vehicles to transport donated perishable foods. Due to these challenges, highly nutritious, perishable food that is ready to be distributed to food pantries and soup kitchens — such as fresh produce ­— often goes to waste, despite the efforts of donors and food rescue organizations.

DEC is funding 84 projects with $1.1 million to support projects including: hiring food recovery staff focused on developing donation partnerships; purchasing efficient cold storage equipment; kitchen equipment to prepared rescued, perishable produce; vehicles to transport rescued food; and the implementation of hyper-local perishable and prepared food recovery and distribution networks. In addition, several projects include the establishment of nutrition and cooking classes to help them use the food they receive from the pantries most efficiently. These classes and workshops help clients reduce wasted food and stretch limited food budgets. Highlighted grant projects include:

  • Iris House $13,720: Iris House in Central Harlem will use the funds to support efforts to distribute food closer to the residents of East Harlem in New York City. Iris House will use part of the grant funds to cover the operation costs of a van to transport food pantry bag distribution to pop-up locations in East Harlem to save residents the costs of transportation to Central Harlem. Iris House will also develop and distribute brochures about nutrition and to advertise their services and provide information about free food availability;
  • Second Chance Foods $15,000: Second Chance Foods is not-for-profit food rescue organization in Carmel, New York, that will use the grant to support the salary of a kitchen manager to process rescued food into cooked meals or prepare parts of meals to donate to local food programs. By processing rescued food such as blemished produce and unfamiliar foods, Second Chance Foods makes more rescued food “usable” by soup kitchen managers and pantry clients, preventing wasted food and increasing the amount of wholesome food available to people;
  • Comfort Food of Washington County, Inc. $12,420: Comfort Food Community serves a rural county with limited access to grocery stores and a significant percent of the population in poverty. CFC will hire a seasonal Food Recovery Assistant to improve gleaning efforts at the 35 farms in their service area through volunteer recruitment and management, as well as coordinating and supervising rescue efforts. The Food Recovery Assistant will also work on outreach and education elements of the Fresh Food Collective. CFC will also use these grant funds to dedicate staff time to developing recipe cards and coordinated meal kits for the gleaned produce to help ensure that recipients of the produce are able to use all of it properly and incorporate more nutritious food into their diets; and
  • Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc. $15,000: Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc., is not-for-profit organization in Saratoga Springs dedicated to urban agriculture, farmland conservation, community empowerment, and increasing access to fresh, healthy produce. The farm will install a “Giving Garden” dedicated to growing food for food pantries and will use the grant to hire a farm manager to oversee the Giving Garden and associated donation partnerships; construct a wash/pack station to properly prepare freshly harvested vegetables in a safe, reliable, and convenient way; and install a walk-in cooler to store food before it is donated to local pantries.

A complete list of awardees/grantees and summaries of projects is available at the DEC website. For more information about how to reduce food waste in all New York households: https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/98102.html.

New York State has long been committed to the fight against hunger and Governor Cuomo has launched groundbreaking initiatives and programs in recent years, including the Council on Hunger and Food Policy, Vital Brooklyn, and the No Student Goes Hungry initiative to combat hunger, improve access to healthy, locally grown foods, and bring New York-grown foods and beverages to underserved communities. The grants announced today also build upon the success of the 2019 Food Donations and Food Scraps Recycling law signed by the Governor, that requires all designated food scraps generators to first donate edible food to those in need, and secondly, to recycle food scraps if a viable recycling facility is located within 25 miles. In response to this crucial legislation, DEC has provided $800,000 to Feeding New York State for additional resources to handle the anticipated influx of donated food.

The grant announcement was made at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham, to help prepare New Yorkers for the statewide ban on plastic carryout bags, which begins March 1. DEC, in coordination with Feeding New York State, will distribute reusable bags to food banks across the state as part of DEC’s efforts to encourage consumers to bring their own bags whenever and wherever they shop. Feeding New York State helps feed millions of people each year through more than 5,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other programs.

The BYOBagNY initiative is part of New York’s comprehensive outreach campaign with state and local partners to educate retailers and consumers about the plastic bag ban, which will help reduce the scourge of plastic bag waste in the state’s environment and communities. New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually—each for about 12 minutes—and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets. For more information about the outreach efforts and details of the law’s implementation, visit DEC’s website.

NY, CA, WA Form US Climate Alliance to Counteract Trump’s Withdrawal From Paris Accord

Wind turbines near San Francisco, California. Governor Jerry Brown is leading a newly formed US Climate Alliance of states and cities that want to hold to the Paris Climate Agreement. NY is moving ahead with the nation’s largest offshore windfarm, off Long Island’s coast © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo joined California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay R. Inslee in forming the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.

“The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet. This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change which is why I am also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”

New York, California, and Washington, representing over one-fifth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, are committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” said Governor Brown. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

“I am proud to stand with other governors as we make sure that the inaction in D.C. is met by an equal force of action from the states,” said Governor Inslee. “Today’s announcement by the president leaves the full responsibility of climate action on states and cities throughout our nation. While the president’s actions are a shameful rebuke to the work needed to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren, states have been and will continue to step up.”

Together, New York, California, and Washington represent approximately 68 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and the states account for at least 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. California will continue to work closely together with other states to help fill the void left by the federal government.

With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

New York’s Climate Leadership

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions: Established ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These targets have made New York a leader across the country in fighting climate change.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI): Spearheaded the formation of the successful RGGI cap-and-trade program between northeast and mid-Atlantic states, led effort to reduce RGGI’s carbon emission cap by 45 percent in 2014, and recently called for an additional cap reduction of at least 30 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Reforming the Energy Vision: Established a comprehensive energy strategy to make the vision for a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system a reality, while actively spurring energy innovation, attracting new jobs, and improving consumer choice.

Clean Energy Standard: Established the most comprehensive and ambitious clean energy mandate in the state’s history, requiring that 50 percent of electricity in New York come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030.

Clean Energy Fund: Established a $5 billion fund that is jump-starting clean-tech innovation, mobilizing private investment, capitalizing the nation’s largest Green Bank, and helping eliminate market barriers to make clean energy scalable and affordable for all New Yorkers.

Coal-Free New York: Committed to close or repower all coal-burning power plants in New York to cleaner fuel sources by 2020.

Offshore Wind: Approved the nation’s largest wind energy project off the Long Island coast in 2017 and made an unprecedented commitment to develop up to 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.​

 

White House Smart Cities Initiative Doubles Number of Participating Communities, Gets $80 Million Infusion

 

 

New York City, with its annual TD Bank 5-Boro Bike Tour, has embraced sustainability issues and will be benefiting from DOE’s new one-stop shop for cities and counties to plug into DOE resources and AmeriCorps resources from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support them in tackling energy and climate challenges. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York City, with its annual TD Bank 5-Boro Bike Tour, has embraced sustainability issues and will be benefiting from DOE’s new one-stop shop for cities and counties to plug into DOE resources and AmeriCorps resources from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support them in tackling energy and climate challenges. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

FACT SHEET: Announcing Over $80 million in New Federal Investment and a Doubling of Participating Communities in the White House Smart Cities Initiative

“If we can reconceive of our government so that the interactions and the interplay between private sector, nonprofits, and government are opened up, and we use technology, data, social media in order to join forces around problems, then there’s no problem that we face in this country that is not soluble.” President Barack Obama

The White House issued a Fact Sheet on $80 million in new federal investment, and doubling in the number of participating communities in the White House Smart Cities Initiative:

With nearly two-thirds of Americans living in urban settings, many of our fundamental challenges—from climate change to equitable growth to improved health—will require our cities to be laboratories for innovation. The rapid pace of technological change, from the rise of data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and ubiquitous sensor networks to autonomous vehicles, holds significant promise for addressing core local challenges.

That’s why last September the White House launched the Smart Cities Initiative to make it easier for cities, Federal agencies, universities, and the private sector to work together to research, develop, deploy, and testbed new technologies that can help make our cities more inhabitable, cleaner, and more equitable.

The Administration kicked off Smart Cities Week by expanding this initiative, with over $80 million in new Federal investments and a doubling of the number of participating cities and communities, exceeding 70 in total. These new investments and collaborations will help cities of all sizes, including in the following key areas:

  • Climate: The Administration is announcing nearly $15 million in new funding and two new coalitions to help cities and communities tackle energy and climate challenges. For example, one Department of Energy (DOE) campaign has already signed up 1,800 buildings representing 49 million square feet with data analytics tools that could reduce their energy footprint by 8 percent or more, on average.
  • Transportation: The Administration is announcing more than $15 million in new grants and planned funding to evolve the future of urban transportation, including National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for researchers in Chattanooga to test, for the first time, how an entire urban network of connected and autonomous vehicles can automatically cooperate to improve travel efficiency and operate safely during severe weather events.
  • Public safety: The Administration is announcing more than $10 million in new grants and planned funding for public safety, resilience, and disaster response. For example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is funding the development of low-cost flood sensor-based tools in flood-prone areas of Texas, where predictive analytics will give first responders and local officials new capability to issue alerts and warnings, and the ability to respond more rapidly to save lives when a flood strikes.
  • Transforming city services: MetroLab Network is launching a new effort to help cities adopt promising innovations in social programs, like a collaboration between three counties surrounding Seattle and the University of Washington to use predictive analytics to identify precisely when city services succeed in helping homeless individuals transition into permanent housing, offering the promise of a future of personalized intervention.

Background

The White House Smart Cities Initiative represents an example of how the Administration has worked over the past seven and a half years to develop a smarter, more collaborative approach to working with local communities—putting citizens, community groups, and local leaders at the center of its efforts. The Administration’s approach involves working together with communities to identify local needs and priorities, develop and build upon evidence-based and data-driven solutions, and strategically invest Federal funding and technical assistance.

The Smart Cities Initiative is informed by and builds on the work of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), including its Technology and the Future of Cities report. In the report, PCAST identified several actions that the Federal Government can take to help cities leverage technology, and which the initiative is already beginning to implement.

The initiative has supported a number of breakthrough activities in the last year. Two such examples are:

  • Smart City Challenge: In June, the Department of Transportation (DOT) selected Columbus, Ohio to receive $40 million to prototype the future of urban transportation, out of 78 cities that accepted its Smart City Challenge. The city’s plan, which will also leverage over $100 million in private resources, involves piloting new technologies, from connected vehicle technology that improves traffic flow and safety to data-driven efforts to improve public transportation access and health care outcomes to electric self-driving shuttles that will create new transportation options for underserved neighborhoods.
  • Fitness Tracker for Cities: With funding from NSF and Argonne National Laboratory, the City of Chicago and the University of Chicago last month began installing a “fitness tracker for the city”—500 outdoor sensor boxes called the “Array of Things” that will allow the city and public to instantly obtain block-by-block data on air quality, noise levels, and traffic. This real-time open data will help researchers and city officials reduce air pollution, improve traffic safety, and more. For example, a team is already working to build a mobile application that will alert asthma sufferers about poor air quality based on real-time measurements taken on their city block.

In addition to the initiative, the Administration has also taken several complementary steps that support local innovation, including the newly-announced Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, through which NSF is working with the private sector to invest nearly $100 million to develop four city-scale testing platforms for wireless technologies, including 5G and beyond. Additionally, the Administration’sOpportunity Project is spurring the creation of private sector digital tools based on Federal open data that help communities find information about resources needed to thrive, such as affordable housing, quality schools, and jobs. The Police Data Initiative and Data-Driven Justice Initiative are helping local authorities use data to improve community policing and divert low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system, respectively.

The upcoming White House Frontiers Conference, held in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, October 13, will further advance the initiative by bringing together some of the world’s leading innovators to discuss how investing in science and technology frontiers—including smart and inclusive local communities—can help improve lives and keep America on the cutting edge of innovation.

Key Steps by the Administration 

NSF is announcing over $60 million in new smart cities-related grants in FY16 and planned new investments in FY17. NSF is bringing together academic researchers from an array of disciplines with community stakeholders to unlock transformational progress on important community challenges. Examples of this work include an effort by researchers in Chattanooga to test an entire urban network of automatically cooperating connected and autonomous vehicles; and a flood-warning pilot project in several Maryland cities that integrates sensor data and social media posts in a novel way to potentially save lives by providing advance notice of flash floods, which kill more people in the United States each year than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning. The investments include:

  • $24.5 million in planned investment in FY17 and $8.5 million in new awards under the Smart & Connected Communities program. The planned investment significantly expands NSF’s research focus in this area and builds on a number of high-risk, high-reward Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research awards supporting integrative research that enhances understanding and design of our future cities and communities.
  • $10 million in new awards to develop and scale next-generation Internet applications and technologies through the US Ignite program, supporting access to the gigabit-enabled networks and services that bring data and analytics to decision-makers in real time.
  • $7 million in new Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity projects that involve academic-industry collaborations to translate breakthrough discoveries into emerging technologies related to smart communities, ranging from smart buildings to sensor networks that improve transportation efficiency.
  • $4 million in new Cyber-Physical Systems awards focused on Smart & Connected Communities. Collectively, these awards help establish the technological foundation for smart cities and the Internet of Things, which enables connection of physical devices at enormous scale to the digital world through sensors and other IT infrastructure.
  • $1.5 million in new Smart and Connected Health research awards with a focus on Smart & Connected Communities. The awards being announced today will support the development of next-generation health care solutions that leverage sensor technology, information and machine learning technology, decision support systems, and more.
  • $1 million for researchers to participate in the 2016 NIST Global City Teams Challenge, supporting high-risk, high-reward research on the effective integration of digital and physical systems to meet real-world community challenges.
  • $1 million in new research and capacity-building awards supporting lifelong learning that will be critical to cities and communities of the future. 

DOE is announcing new coalitions to build cleaner, smarter communities, and more than $15 million in new and planned funding to support smart, energy-efficient urban transportation systems and to unlock distributed clean energy sources.

  • DOE is announcing the launch of the Better Communities Alliance (BCA), a new DOE-led network of cities and counties with the goal of creating cleaner, smarter, and more prosperous communities for all Americans. Through the BCA, which is part of the Better Buildings Initiative, DOE is creating a one-stop shop for cities and counties to plug into DOE resources and AmeriCorps resources from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support them in tackling energy and climate challenges. DOE will gather key stakeholders to promote knowledge exchange and collaboration, while streamlining access to community-focused DOE resources and funding through coordinated assistance across programs and a common digital portal. Initial member communities and affiliate organizations include:
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Broward County, Florida
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Chula Vista, California
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Dubuque, Iowa
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Huntington Beach, California
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • King County, Washington
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Los Angeles County, California
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • New York, New York
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Roanoke, Virginia
  • Rochester, New York
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Francisco, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Sonoma County, California
  • West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Will County, Illinois
  • Alliance to Save Energy
  • American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
  • Arup
  • C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
  • Cityzenith
  • Emerald Cities Collaborative
  • Energy Foundation
  • Global Cool Cities Alliance
  • Governing Institute
  • Hatch
  • ICLEI USA – Local Governments for Sustainability
  • Institute for Market Transformation
  • Institute for Sustainable Communities
  • International City/County Management Association
  • Kresge Foundation
  • National Association of Counties
  • National Association of State Energy Officials
  • National League of Cities
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Philips Lighting
  • Smart Cities Council
  • Solar Foundation
  • STAR Communities
  • Surdna Foundation
  • U.S. Green Building Council
  • Urban Sustainability Directors Network
  • DOE is launching a new Better Buildings Accelerator to assist local governments in developing “Zero Energy Districts” within their communities. Through the Accelerator—which will help participants overcome deployment barriers by providing a framework for collaboration among participants as well as technical assistance—DOE will work with city leaders, district developers, planners, owners, and additional key stakeholders to develop the business case and energy master planning documents needed to replicate Zero Energy Districts, which aggregate buildings’ renewable energy sources so that the combined on-site renewable energy offsets the combined building energy usage from the buildings in the district.
  • DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative is launching a Smart Energy Analytics Campaign with an inaugural group of members committing to using smart building energy management technologies to unlock energy savings. Eighteen inaugural members representing 1,800 buildings and 49 million square feet have signed up to adopt data analytics tools—known as Energy Management and Information Systems (EMIS)—that could reduce their energy footprint by 8 percent or more, on average. Some of the campaign participants and their plans include:

o   The Wendy’s Company is piloting software to move all 300 of their company-owned restaurants onto EMIS analytics.

o   Macy’s will leverage its experience using fault detection and diagnostics across their portfolio of over 700 stores to share best practices.

o   University of California, San Francisco will expand its innovative program of “Connected Commissioning” to use fault detection and diagnostics based on a consistent flow of building data analytics to help commission major building renovations and ensure they operate efficiently from the start.

o   Rhode Island Office of Energy is starting a multi-year EMIS project with 18-buildings that will leverage lessons learned through the Campaign to help streamline the rollout of EMIS to a large portion of their portfolio.

The following organizations will also provide technical assistance to the campaign partners: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Building Owners Management Association, International Facility Managers Association, Commonwealth Edison, California Commissioning Collaborative, and the Building Commissioning Association.

  • DOE is announcing $10 million in current and planned investment to expand the DOE SMART Mobility consortium to support the emergence of smart, energy-efficient urban transportation systems and establish a “Technologist in Cities” pilot. In collaboration with the DOT Smart City Challenge, and with an initial focus on Columbus, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan, DOE’s “Technologist in Cities” pilot will pair national laboratory technologists with city leaders to help cities address critical mobility needs with new capacity, tools, and technologies that significantly improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. The DOE Systems and Modeling for Accelerated Research in Transportation Mobility consortium leverages the unique capabilities of DOE National Laboratories to examine the nexus of energy and mobility for future transportation systems, including through connected and automated vehicles, urban and decision sciences, multi-modal transport, and integrated vehicle-fueling infrastructure systems.
  • DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability is announcing approximately $7 million in funding to support the development of sensors and modeling that allow communities to more effectively integrate distributed clean energy sources into their power grids. Currently, integration of distributed clean energy sources—and the emissions, reliability and resilience benefits they provide—is a challenge for electric grids originally designed solely for distribution of electricity, not local generation. Funding will support research and development at utilities and technology providers to harness new sensor data and improved modeling to allow for integration of these resources with greater efficiency and reliability, while aiming to deliver new benefits, such as improved grid resilience against outages in emergency situations. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is continuing to expand the smart cities movement and support technical progress in the Internet of Things.

  • NIST and its collaborators are announcing a new international coalition dedicated to developing an Internet of Things-Enabled Smart City Framework, with an initial release planned for next summer. Through an open, technical working group studying real-world smart city applications and architectures, the coalition will identify pivotal points of interoperability, where emerging alignment on standards can enable landscape of diverse but interoperable smart city solutions. Coalition members include the American National Standards Institute, the U.S. Green Building Council, the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning, the Italian Energy and Innovation Agency, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, and the FIWARE Foundation.
  • NIST’s Global City Teams Challenge is establishing multi-team super-clusters to take on grand challenges too big for any single city team to tackle. Examples include multi-city resilience to large-scale natural disasters, intelligent transportation systems that work in any city, and regional air quality improvements through coordinated local action. This initiative brings together groups of communities formed around lead cities—Portland, Oregon; Atlanta, Georgia; Newport News, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; Bellevue, Washington; Kansas City, Kansas; and Kansas City, Missouri—to work with NIST and its collaborators, including DOT, DHS Science and Technology Directorate, NSF, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the International Trade Administration, the Economic Development Administration, IBM, AT&T, CH2M, Verizon, Qualcomm Intelligent Solutions, Intel, US Ignite, and Urban-X, to develop ‘blueprints’ for shared solutions that will be collaboratively implemented in multiple cities and communities.
  • NIST is announcing $350,000 in four new grants enabling 11 cities and communities to work together on innovative smart city solutions. The Replicable Smart City Technologies grants to teams of communities led by Newport News, Virginia; Bellevue, Washington; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Portland, Oregon focus on the development and deployment of interoperable technologies to address important public concerns regarding air pollution, flood prediction, rapid emergency response, and improved citizen services through interoperable smart city solutions that can be implemented by communities of all types and sizes. 

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) within the Department of Commerce is releasing a new toolkitto help communities leverage private-sector resources and expertise to advance smart cities. A core challenge that communities face when implementing smart city solutions is limited expertise and resources needed to develop and deploy new large-scale technology projects.Successful public-private partnerships can be a cost-effective way to ensure the fastest delivery of improved services to local residents. To assist local communities, NTIA is releasing a toolkit for local officials and citizen groups to use as a guide for building productive public-private partnerships that will enable smart cities to flourish. Using Partnerships to Power a Smart City: A Toolkit for Local Communitiesidentifies factors to consider when developing a partnership—including what to look for in a partner, assessing partner contributions, and how to structure the most fruitful partnership agreements.

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate is announcing an investment of $3.5 million for development of low-cost sensor technologies through its Flood Apex Program. The program is applying Internet of Things-based approaches to facilitate evacuations, flood monitoring, and resilience of critical infrastructure. For example, through a collaboration with the Lower Colorado River Authority, FEMA, and the National Weather Service in flood-prone areas of Texas, the program will share real-time data to give first responders and local officials the ability to respond more rapidly when a flood strikes and make the right preventive investments in flood protection to help save lives and protect infrastructure.

The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program is announcing a Federal Smart Cities and Communities Task Force. Recognizing the need for collaboration across agencies given the cross-cutting nature of community challenges like resilience, the task force is charged with developing a draft strategy for interagency cooperation on smart cities. It will also create a resource guide to Federal smart city programs, helping stakeholders discover the broad array of Federal funding opportunities and other resources. The draft strategy will be available for comment this fall, and the resource guide will be online in November.

New Steps Being Taken by Communities, Universities, Industry, and Others in Response to the Administration’s Call to Action

Four additional companies are joining the Administration’s NSF-led Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, collectively committing over $8 million in in-kind contributions to help support the design, deployment, and operation of four city-scale advanced wireless testing platforms. The companies joining the effort are announcing the following new steps:

  • Anritsu will contribute microwave components, spectrum analysis tools, and equipment to support testing, measurement, and service assurance.
  • Crown Castle will support the testing platforms by providing network deployment and tower siting advice and space on wireless towers.
  • Ericsson will provide resources in the form of researchers, systems and technology expertise, software-defined networking and radio network engineering support, with a focus on spectrum flexibility, spectrum sharing, security, IoT, and advanced radio technologies.
  • FiberTower will contribute mmWave spectrum services in support of selected geographic regions.

MetroLab Network, with new support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, will launch a Lab focused on the intersection of big data and human services. The Big Data and Human Services Lab will bring together stakeholders from the Network’s membership—local government policymakers and university researchers—as well as industry, policy experts, and non-profits to connect disparate policy and research efforts that harness data-driven approaches to transform human services. This effort will support coordination across communities, develop new tools and infrastructure, and help replicate what works, such as the collaboration between University of Washington and Seattle to use predictive analytics to identify precisely when city services succeed in helping homeless individuals transition into permanent housing, offering the promise of a future of personalized intervention. In addition, in the year since its launch, MetroLab has added the following new members, including four that are first joining :

  • Los Angeles, with California State University, Los Angeles (joining)
  • Greater Miami (Miami-Dade County, City of Miami, City of Miami Beach), with University of Miami, Florida International University, and Miami Dade College (joining)
  • San Francisco, with University of California, Berkeley (joining)
  • University of Pittsburgh, joining an existing collaboration between Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University (joining)
  • Arlington County, with Virginia Tech-National Capital Region
  • Austin, with University of Texas at Austin
  • Baltimore, with John Hopkins University and University of Baltimore
  • Boulder and Denver, with University of Colorado-Boulder
  • Burlington, with University of Vermont
  • Charlotte, with University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Columbus, with Ohio State University
  • Jacksonville, with University of Florida and University of North Florida
  • Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, with University of Missouri-Kansas City and University of Kansas
  • Newark, with New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Orlando, with University of Central Florida
  • Santa Fe, with Santa Fe Institute
  • Schenectady, with University at Albany, State University of New York
  • Columbia University, joining an existing collaboration between New York City and New York University 

The Smart Cities Council will award challenge grants to help five American cities apply smart technologies to improve urban livability, workability, and sustainability. For each of the five winning cities, the Council will deliver a tailored one-day readiness bootcamp, where experts from the Council, its members, and its advisors will assist each city in building or enhancing its smart city roadmap based on what works. In addition to the readiness bootcamp, the following Council members will contribute the following to each winning city:

  • Ameresco will provide consulting to help optimize smart street lighting.
  • AT&T will provide up to 25 AT&T Internet of Things Starter Kits.
  • CH2M and Qualcomm will collaborate to host a one-day follow-on workshop to develop and deploy a smart cities ecosystem.
  • Computing Technology Industry Association will provide free training, software, and access to its technology educational materials.
  • Dow Building and Construction will provide consultation on optimizing building design as part of a smart cities ecosystem.
  • IDC will assess each city’s progress through a comprehensive Smart City Maturity Benchmark.
  • Sensus will provide a citywide hosted communications network free of charge for one year.
  • Telit will provide each city free access to its Telit IoT platform.
  • TM Forum will help cities assess progress through its Smart City Maturity and Benchmark Model.
  • Transdev will provide up to three days of technical assistance to investigate new and more efficient urban mobility options. 

More than twenty cities, along with the newly formed Council of Global City Chief Information Officers, are launching a new initiative focused on ensuring responsible and equitable deployment of smart city technologies. The effort, led by the City of New York, has three primary goals: (1) provide a common framework to help governments develop and expand policies and procedures related to the Internet of Things; (2) ensure openness and transparency regarding the use of public space or assets for smart city technologies; and (3) advance the public dialogue about how government, the private sector and academia can collaborate to ensure these technologies are used in a way that maximizes public benefit. The following twenty-one cities have committed to a common set of guiding principles that emphasize privacy, security, sustainability, resilience, equity and efficiency in their use of these technologies:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Austin, Texas
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Los Angeles, California
  • New York, New York
  • Palo Alto, California
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Washington, District of Columbia

US Ignite is announcing the addition of four cities joining the network of Smart Gigabit Communities. The Smart Gigabit Communities Program was announced by NSF with the launch of the Smart Cities Initiative last September. The four cities each committing to developing six gigabit applications that serve community needs are:

  • Adelaide, Australia (also the first city outside the United States to join)
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Salisbury, North Carolina
  • Washington, District of Columbia

1776 is launching the Urban Innovation Council, a coalition of cities, startups, and corporate stakeholders dedicated to overcoming challenges to building smarter cities through entrepreneurship. The council will tackle a range of enablers for startup innovation, including development of model urban regulations that enable rather than stymie innovation, and practical research that informs decisions made by entrepreneurs and city leaders. Initial members include:

  • Arlington County, Virginia
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Global Automakers
  • Microsoft
  • Radiator Labs
  • SeamlessDocs
  • TransitScreen
  • Uber
  • Vornado

Additional efforts being announced include:

  • The Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, State University of New York is creating smart city guidebooks for small and medium-sized cities. Mayors of such cities face a wide range of financial, organizational, policy, and political challenges that can slow the pace of innovation. The guidebooks will focus on key considerations for technology adoption in the small and medium-sized city context, with a focus on critical implementation steps.
  • The City of New York is launching a new digital platform to help local governments navigate the smart city marketplace. Developed through a public-private partnership, marketplace.nyc includes information about a growing list of more than 100 companies—including new and emerging firms—and their relevant products and services. The platform helps local government employees identify innovative technologies within their respective focus areas while also encouraging interagency coordination by offering a repository of information on past or existing city pilots and contracts. The resource is designed to enable both replication and data sharing across cities.
  • City Digital, a Chicago-based consortium, is announcing results from its first pilot launched in September 2015 as part of the Smart Cities Initiative, including new technology components to create a novel digital underground infrastructure mapping platform. The pilot team has now successfully engineered the platform’s components, which will allow cities and utilities to move through construction and development processes in less than half the current time.
  • Dallas Innovation Alliance and Envision Charlotte are announcing “For Cities, By Cities,” a new collaboration that will bring cities together from around the globe over the next two years to workshop steps to become smarter, more sustainable, and efficient. Convening in Dallas, Texas in 2017 and Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018, the conferences will feature city officials sharing their perspective with peers about lessons learned regarding what works, what to avoid, how to get started, and how to define success.
  • Dallas will be launching the Dallas Innovation District in the West End neighborhood in downtown Dallas, focused on bringing together civic, corporate, and startup innovation efforts through a single district-level testbed. This collaboration will bring together the Dallas Innovation Alliance’s Smart Cities Living Lab, the Dallas Entrepreneur Center’s efforts to seed new startups, and new innovation initiatives from corporations in the technology, banking and healthcare sectors.
  • Mapbox is announcing the launch of the Mapbox Cities Lab, offering municipalities free access to Mapbox tools and support, and providing three cities with in-depth mentorship to help tackle their most pressing issues, from traffic safety to neighborhood health. Mapbox will work with each participating city to gather data on its particular challenges, and then collaborate to create insightful and actionable data-driven maps incorporating open data and real-time traffic data from Mapbox.
  • Microsoft is announcing new smart cities-related resources to help communities across the country leverage technology for public safety and transportation. Microsoft and Genetec are providing 10 U.S. cities with Project Green Light starter kits to enable local businesses to connect surveillance cameras to the cloud and local law enforcement. Working with Cubic, Microsoft also is offering a cloud-based surface transport management solution pilot to five U.S. cities to help them increase efficiency and safety.
  • Orange Silicon Valley will launch a workshop this fall on business-to-business data sharing for public and private benefit, with a particular focus on smart cities and the Internet of Things. The workshop will bring together private sector actors with other stakeholders to examine models for private sector data sharing across businesses and sectors, related challenges and opportunities, and new models for generating social value from private sector data.

 

White House Announces 2016 GreenGov Presidential Awards, New Steps to Advance Federal Sustainability

The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, received a 2016 GreenGov Presidential Award for reducing water use at its museums and the National Zoo by 54.5% since 2007, exceeding the Federal 26% reduction goal for FY 2020.  The Smithsonian accomplished this achievement by using sub meters and leak detectors to discover water waste, and by focusing on water efficient landscapes for iconic public buildings on the National Mall and at the National Zoo © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, received a 2016 GreenGov Presidential Award for reducing water use at its museums and the National Zoo by 54.5% since 2007, exceeding the Federal 26% reduction goal for FY 2020. The Smithsonian accomplished this achievement by using sub meters and leak detectors to discover water waste, and by focusing on water efficient landscapes for iconic public buildings on the National Mall and at the National Zoo © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Since taking office, President Obama has taken unprecedented steps to address climate change and protect our planet for future generations. Building on the President’s historic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a clean energy economy, the Administration has sought to lead by example, investing in Federal sustainability to improve environmental, energy and economic performance across the Federal government,” the White House stated in a fact sheet announcing the 2016 GreenGov Presidential Awards, along with new initiatives to advance federal sustainability.

“With 343,000 buildings, 630,000 fleet vehicles, and $438 billion in annual purchasing power, the government has taken significant steps to operate more efficiently across the board.”

Here is the fact sheet:

Today, in recognition of the progress our Federal agencies have made, the White House announced the winners of the 2016 GreenGov Presidential Awards, honoring those who have gone above and beyond to implement innovative sustainability projects within the government. Senior Administration officials will recognize the 12 individuals and team winners today in a ceremony at the White House.

The Administration also announced today new steps to advance sustainability in federal purchasing with the release of the General Services Administration’s new “Green ✓” tool to help agencies make informed decisions about products and services that save money, increase sustainability and meet green purchasing requirements. Additionally, this week, Federal agencies will release their annual Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans, outlining how they are working to meet sustainability goals such as achieving a 40% reduction in Federal greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Winners of 2016 GreenGov Presidential Awards 

The GreenGov Presidential Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in the pursuit of President Obama’s Federal sustainability goals. They recognize Federal civilian and military personnel, agency teams, agency projects, facilities, and programs. These awardees have contributed to the Nation’s prosperity, promoted energy security, protected the interests of taxpayers, and combated climate change to safeguard the health of our environment.

  • Climate Champion Award: Dr. Richard Bennett, Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Following the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Dr. Richard Bennett led the Department of the Interior team charged with helping the region recover, overseeing 167 million dollars in project funding to revitalize the Northeast, and to protect it from future storms and sea level rise. Dr. Bennett worked to launch more than 100 sustainability-focused projects, and led a team that developed performance metrics for climate resilience that are changing the way the Federal government prepares for severe weather events.

  • Sustainability Heroes Award: Dr. Rosalind A. Grymes, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

For nearly a decade, Dr. Rosalind Grymes has been working to enhance NASA’s sustainability portfolio with a focus on optimizing the use of water, energy and other resources.  She has held numerous leadership roles in the pursuit of a more sustainable NASA, including as the Executive Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and as the Founding Director of the Advanced Studies Laboratories.

  • Green Innovation Award: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers & Department of Defense

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Defense have created a software tool that is revolutionizing sustainability planning for their agencies. The tool helps evaluate the sustainability and energy needs of an installation, and then generates a list of energy projects perfectly suited to meet the organization’s goal. The software tool has been successfully leveraged by other agencies across the country to transform federal sustainability planning and implementation.

  • Lean, Clean, and Green Award: Department of Veterans Affairs

Under the leadership of Timothy Morris, the Calverton National Cemetery has implemented energy saving measures and revolutionized its sustainability efforts, including the incorporation of the first ever installation of solar power at a national cemetery. From the use of automatic lighting sensors to programmable thermostats and timers, the Calverton National Cemetery has made sustainability a core part of its daily mission, becoming an energy efficiency model for cemeteries across the country.

  • Green Dream Team Award: Environmental Protection Agency / General Services Administration

An employee-led team at EPA established the first compost collection program at EPA’s Washington, DC headquarters. The team coordinated with custodial staff, repurposed existing collection bins, and developed low cost communication tools to educate 4,500 employees about the program. GSA partnered with EPA in this effort, and is now working to expand compost services to over 50 Federal buildings in the National Capital region.

  • Good Neighbor Award: Environmental Protection Agency

In the years following the foreclosure crisis, the number of vacant homes across the country grew by 44% from 2000 to 2010. To guard against the significant environmental impact from demolishing these homes, EPA created a toolkit that’s changing the way communities deal with demolitions across the country. The toolkit helps municipalities make sound environmental decisions during the demolition process, reducing pollution, among other benefits.

  • Building the Future Award: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers & Department of Defense

The Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Defense have constructed the first LEED Platinum certified, net-zero energy aviation hangar at Fort Carson, Colorado.  This innovative building includes high efficiency lighting and solar panels that supply half its power needs, and is a major step in support of Fort Carson’s goal to become a Net Zero Energy facility by 2020.

  • Greening the Fleet Award: Timothy Currie, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

As NASA’s Fleet and Transportation Manager, Timothy Currie has helped transform NASA’s fleet of over 3,000 vehicles nationwide. In just two years, NASA has replaced almost two-thirds of its fleet with vehicles that run on cleaner fuels, including biofuels, compressed natural gas, and electricity. This transition contributed to NASA achieving a 62% reduction in petroleum use since 2005.

  • Purchasing Power Award: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico has developed a software tool that seamlessly integrates management and oversight of green purchasing. The tool provides a list of green products available for order, captures data on purchases, and tracks compliance with sustainability requirements. With real-time data, NASA’s Sustainability Program team members can now track performance on green purchasing goals from their desktops.

  • Keeping It Clean Award: Department of Energy

Faced with the need to treat groundwater at a former nuclear weapons production facility, the Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management developed an innovative groundwater treatment system.  Installed at Rocky Flats, Colorado, the system runs on battery power and recharges with solar power.  This design enhances safety, improves groundwater treatment reliability, reduces long-term maintenance and costs, and reduces waste.

  • Resilience Role Model Award: Environmental Protection Agency / Department of Homeland Security-FEMA

Soon after Hurricane Sandy, a group of Federal, State, and local government leaders formed the Long Island Smart Growth Resiliency Partnership, focused on implementing recovery efforts that would be environmentally sustainable, and make the region more resilient to climate-related threats in the future. The partnership has held numerous events to educate and train the public, and is currently developing a joint EPA-FEMA guidance document for use by other impacted communities throughout the nation.

  • The Ripple Effect Award: Department of Health and Human Services

In response to employee interest in electric vehicle (EV) charging, the Department of Health and Human Services launched an initiative to support EV commuting, and to install charging infrastructure across its agencies. The National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration have developed innovative plans to make commuting by EV easier, including dedicated parking spaces and use of the conference room scheduling system to reserve charging stations.

To find out more about the GreenGov program visit:https://www.whitehouse.gov/greengov.

Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans 

This week, the Administration is also releasing the Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans.  In these strategic plans, Federal agencies detail how they are working to meet the President’s goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase use of renewable energy, reduce energy and water used in Federal buildings, improve efficiency of Federal fleet vehicles, and enhance climate resilience.

Below are some examples of how Federal Agencies are leading by example:

  • Saving Energy and Saving Money for Veteran Care: When compared to hospitals nationwide, Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals are a top energy performer. VA hospitals are approximately 35% more efficient than the average U.S. hospital, allowing more resources to be directed to the care of Veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs has reduced energy intensity by 23.2% compared to a 2003 baseline.
  • Reducing Water Use at the World’s Largest Museum and Research Complex: The Smithsonian Institution has reduced water use at its museums and the National Zoo by 54.5% since 2007, exceeding the Federal 26% reduction goal for FY 2020.  The Smithsonian accomplished this achievement by using sub meters and leak detectors to discover water waste, and by focusing on water efficient landscapes for iconic public buildings on the National Mall and at the National Zoo.
  • Navy Achieves 1 GW in Renewable Energy: In the 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama announced that the Department of the Navy would seek to produce or procure 1 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy by 2020.  The Navy not only met that goal, but they did it by the end of 2015, five years ahead of schedule.  One recent project represents the largest renewable energy procurement in Federal government history – a solar project that will bring 210MW of renewable power to 14 Navy bases in California.  Over the life of the 25-year contract, the Navy will save more than $90 million, while enhancing energy security and resiliency.

Obama Administration’s Record on Federal Sustainability 

Since taking office, President Obama has taken unprecedented steps to lead by example in the Federal government, investing in innovative and cost effective initiatives to reduce carbon pollution. In March 2015, President Obama set aggressive targets for the government to cut Federal greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by the year 2025, from a 2008 baseline. To date, the Federal government has met the challenge by achieving the following: 

Emissions Reductions:

  • The Federal Government has reduced its annual greenhouse gas emissions 17.6 percent since 2008, and avoided the emission of over 41 million metric tons of GHGs, equivalent to taking 8.7 million cars off the road for one year.
  • Federal agencies have cut energy use at Federal facilities by 15.4 percent since 2008. In 2015 alone, the government consumed almost 38 trillion British Thermal Units less than 2008, saving $680 million in energy costs.
  • The amount of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from Federal government business air travel in 2015 was 35 percent less compared to 2008. That is comparable to 4.8 million flights across the U.S.

Water Consumption:

  • Over the past 8 years, the Federal government has saved almost 140 billion gallons of drinkable water, comparable to the amount of water used by almost 1 million households over the course of a year.

Clean Energy Use:

  • The Federal government has nearly doubled the amount of clean energy used in facilities since 2008, totaling over 6% of facility energy use.

Vehicle and Equipment Energy Use:

  • The Federal government reduced spending on  gasoline/diesel by more than $963 million in 2015 compared to 2008.
  • The government has tripled its consumption of alternative fuels since 2005, to 15.1 million gallons, surpassing the Administration’s fleet alternative fuel consumption goal by 50 percent. These fuels are produced in the U.S., decreasing our dependence on foreign oil and enhancing our energy security.
  • The number of electric vehicles in the Federal fleet have increased over 50-fold, from 83 vehicles in 2008, to 4,337 in 2015. The number of hybrid electric vehicles in the Federal fleet increased 1,194% between 2008 and 2015, from 1,766 to 22,863 vehicles.