Green With Envy

Orre, an intern at the Long Island Progressive CoalitionThere are many ways to make your everyday life greener without sacrifice. You probably waste more energy than you think, thus also wasting your money. Energy is expensive, but changing just a few of your habits can lower your usage and bills, and help save the environment at the same time. Install a low-flow showerhead, turn off the tap while you brush your teeth, cut one minute from your shower time to save gallons, don’t let tap water run while you wash your dishes, and fix your water leaks. Unplug chargers and small appliances when not in use because plugged-in electronics still use energy. Use your refrigerator efficiently by adjusting the thermostat to recommended setting, allow hot food to cool before putting it inside and avoid opening the door multiple times. Before working at the Long Island Progressive Coalition I was never really concerned with environmental issues or energy efficiency. I have become increasingly more aware of adjustments in my own life I should take that will not only benefit me when it comes to utility bills, but will also have a small environmental impact on the planet. I believe that these small changes are something everyone should be able to incorporate into their everyday life.

To take your green new lifestyle to the next level and save even more money contact the Long Island Progressive Coalitions PowerUp Communities program and get your home retrofitted! It all starts with a free home energy assessment, conducted by a certified contractor who will comprehensively assess your homes energy use. Shortly after the assessment, your contractor will present a report of your homes efficiency and outline the ways you can reduce drafts and save money on your utility costs. PowerUp will walk you through the process of getting the rebates and financing you qualify for. Some energy efficiency measures that can cut your energy waste significantly are replacing and upgrading your boiler, converting from oil to gas and properly insulating your home. Make these changes, save a heap of money and make your neighbors green with envy! Working closely with PowerUp over the past couple of months I have learned about how the process can really change someone’s life. I think that it’s a program that results in a spectrum of positive outcomes, from cutting waste and saving people money to sparking job and business opportunities locally. I am sure that having a larger amount of energy efficiency programs like PowerUp would reduce green house gases emissions significantly worldwide.

I recently attended a meeting with my magnificent supervisor Marriele Robinson for New York community based organizations working for energy efficiency. One of the interesting issues we discussed was how important it is for the different organizations to have energy efficient offices. Some of the simpler changes in habits offices can implement have to do with making office operations and office purchasing more energy efficient. It can include using environmental friendly copiers, paper and ink. You can cut down on electronic waste by using power strips, setting computers to sleep after a given time and having an admin-controlled thermostat. Digitizing folders, printing double sided and having electronic signatures can significantly cut down the usage of paper.

It is a fact that the climate is changing and that people have a profound effect on that change. We need to significantly reduce our emissions and one way to do that is to use energy more efficiently. Energy efficiency improvements can slow down global warming and its frightening consequences.


Senator Foley Leads Charge for Groundbreaking Energy Efficient Building Standards

State Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) was joined by environmental advocates to hail Senate Bill 6912-A being reported out of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, and to urge its swift passage by the full senate.

This legislation, sponsored by Senator Foley, would make New York State a leader in requiring new residential construction state-wide to meet strict energy efficiency standards. The implementation of the standards would result in the creation of hundreds of new green collar jobs and increase work opportunities in implementing efficiency improvements for thousands of laborers in the building trades across the state.

“I am proud to be the lead sponsor of the New York State Energy Star legislation,” said Senator Foley. “This legislation will make New York a nationwide leader among states in residential energy conservation standards. More than that, it will help to put New Yorkers back to work at a time when job creation is critically needed.”

The legislation amends the State Energy Conservation Construction Code to create a higher standard for the energy efficiency of new homes. It has taken six years since the last updated standards were released by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for the New York State Code to be updated. In that time period, new standards have already been released and reviewed extensively by ASHRAE. In the future, new codes would be required to be adopted within eighteen months.

Energy Star building standards for new residential construction have already been adopted in some areas of New York State; most notably, ten of Long Island’s thirteen towns have adopted some level of energy conservation standards. While Supervisor of Brookhaven Town, Senator Foley was the first town supervisor on Long Island, and perhaps in the state, to introduce Energy Star legislation.

“It is extremely gratifying to be able to continue state-wide a mission I began while at Brookhaven Town,” said Senator Foley. “The adoption of these standards by Brookhaven and the other nine towns was a major step in reducing Long Island’s emissions and environmental impact, but adopting it on a state-wide level is an even larger step towards reducing our energy consumption and beginning to incorporate energy efficiency and alternate energy sources into our everyday lives.”

“Building the economy of tomorrow requires our commitment to energy efficiency today,” said Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson. “By creating a statewide energy code for residential buildings we can cut energy costs, reduce carbon emissions and create new green jobs to fuel economic growth. I applaud Senator Foley for his innovative approach to improving our economy and protecting our environment.”

“We are very proud to have worked with Senator Foley to pioneer performance based home energy codes that are now working in ten of thirteen Long Island towns,” said Demosthenes Maratos, Program Director of the Long Island Neighborhood Network. “And we are pleased once again to stand with the Senator in support of this groundbreaking legislation. Once this law is in effect, buyers of new homes throughout New York State will be secure in knowing their homes have been performance tested to meet stringent energy efficiency standards – both saving them money and reducing their carbon footprint.”

“The Residential Energy Efficient Building Code will not only help clean New York’s air and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, it will help put New Yorkers back to work,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “We salute Senator Foley, Majority Leader Sampson and the members of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee for their leadership, and we urge the full Senate to approve this groundbreaking legislation as soon as possible.”

“Updating our residential energy efficiency codes has been delayed for far too long,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment. “This legislation is an essential component to usher in an energy efficient future for New York. We congratulate Senator Foley for sponsoring and advancing this important bill, and now urge the full Senate to pass this legislation.”

“Updating the New York State Energy Conservation Code is long overdue and will provide an undeniable win-win scenario for the environment, for the consumer and for our energy infrastructure,” said Bob DeLuca, President of Group for the East End. “By increasing the required efficiency of every new home, New Yorkers will save millions in heating and cooling costs while taking tons of toxic and greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and reducing the rising pressure on our aging electrical grid. Few legislative actions could have a more widespread and positive impact on residential conservation and related economic saving for homeowners.”

“Senator Foley has been a leader on Long Island in making Energy Star successful,” said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “Now he is doing the right thing by bringing this important program statewide. This bill is a win-win. It will reduce carbon footprint while saving families money.”

“Energy efficiency improvements can significantly reduce a building’s energy consumption, save New York homeowners tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ross Gould, Air and Energy Program Director, Environmental Advocates of New York. “We strongly support updating these standards in the State Energy Law and passing this bill in a timely manner.”

“It is a little known fact that buildings are responsible for almost half of our country’s total energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Gordian Raacke, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Long Island (reLI). “Once a home is built, its owners are often stuck with a substandard and energy-wasting building for decades because it is much more difficult and costly to fix later what should have been done right in the first place. That’s why Senator Foley’s legislation is so important.”

“Energy efficiency standards have put money into the wallets of families across Long Island for years, and now New Yorkers across the state can benefit from this common-sense approach,” said Jessica Helm, Conservation Chair for the Atlantic Chapter for the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club. “By raising energy efficiency standards for all new residential construction, New York State can generate well-paying jobs, save rate-payers on utility costs, and slow the growth of our energy consumption.”

Senate Bill 6912-A was reported out of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee on April 27, 2010. Its companion bill in the Assembly, sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Englebright, has not yet been reported out of committee,

“I am confident that this bill will pass the senate with bi-partisan support,” said Senator Foley. “I urge the assembly to take action on its legislation so that we may more quickly realize the positive effects this legislation will provide.”