Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

LIVE Blog! from NESEA BE 12 – WTC – Boston, MA


Wednesday, March 7, 8:45am-10:30am

BE12 Keynote Experience:
The Only Way to Predict the Future is to Design It

Three NESEA practitioners shared their breakthrough thinking and practices. Each of them aims to predict their future by designing it – revealing the historical and emerging know-how that is NESEA’s “secret sauce.” With John Abrams: Next Economy, Chris Benedict: Intentional and Vicarious Learning, and Bernice Radle: Cities as the Next Frontier. These TED-like talks encourage that our learning community consider what we EACH might do, more boldly, and how we might get there. This experience was facilitated by Robert Leaver.

Following the keynote was be the presentation of $10,000 to the winner of NESEA’s Zero Net Energy Building Award.  READ ON!

All notes taken ‘live’ by Katherine Leversee from Green Energy Times! These are the completed notes from the keynote Address Wednesday morning. Updates are at the bottom, including the winner of  the NESEA Zero Net Energy Building Award.

Exhibitor Demonstrations Schedule

3000 hrs of volunteer time put into producing NESEA conference – totally collaboratively designed!

Robert Lever, Chair of BE12 – committed to turning NESEA into a learning laboratory:
⁃    for communities of practice to begin to change the world. We are taking the first steps to begin these measures at the closing ceremony tomorrow, and invite new practitioners into the fold to strengthen and progress sustainable energy practice!
⁃    form a library of useful reading and practical tools online
⁃    ‘building energy master series” – interative learning from renewable energy masters

Lever: Moved by Encosi Johnson, who at 14, died of aids in Africa as was aired on NPR: “Do all you can with what you have with time time you have, where you are”.

We have got to start thinking about leadership and risk taking  –  at a level we have not done thus far!

“Know How’ – knowledge applied hands-on, with certainty

⁃    whole systems in action
⁃    design/aesthetics/building renewable energies
⁃    integrated design process for getting stuff done
⁃    emergent:
⁃    sustainable regenerable urbanism
⁃    grass-roots
⁃    gov by ppl
⁃    pratie-based ed at higher levee
⁃    engaging youth – YOUNG youth
⁃    new forms of collaboration across disciplines at depth inexperience thus far

Immediate conditions:

  • “green-washing” and junk myths
  • steady-state economy replaces growth economy
  • converging recourse depletion charts
  • emergent condos.:
  • resilience owing into it’s own
  • new understandings
  • occupy and tea parties awakening activism
  • measuring with real data and not claims

    Chris Benedict: Intentional and Vicarious

Chris Benedict

Architect in NY, NESEA member for 16 yrs. Their firm specializes in safe, enviro buildings for same price as regular design and build.
⁃    built 80 unit hotel in bronx
⁃    live your work, strive for excellence
⁃    teaches energy, in a design studio, at Pratt Institute, navigating world btw academia and gritty construction
⁃    near end of design class, students required to state the energy load of their building designs. When this is done and they compare their scores to others in the class, many of them lower their load, simply by the act of comparing with their peers
⁃    think about buildings as bodies- holistic building!
⁃    exterior insulation – in NY, adding insulation is/was considered additional floorspace, many buildings already overbuilt, thereby making it illegal to insulate the buildings making them more energy efficient.  Chris worked with NY gov’t to work through the legal issues and making insulating buildings up to 8″ thick NOT counted as additional floorspace! – a huge triumph.

Occupy Wall Street – headquarters made of cold stone, literally sucked energy out of human bodies in the building – opportunity to bring energy insulating to people already active.  Harness existing activist energy.
started making foam seat for people so that people could sit on granite benches w/out catching cold
called “freedom squares” – headed to liberty park after hyde park was brutally cleared surrounded by police, threatened with arrest b/c the blue squares made the police feel that something “very bad was going on”.


“Cities as the Next Frontier”

Bernice Radle: Cities as the Next Frontier

Speaker – Bernice Radle – 25 yrs old. Lives and works in Buffalo, NY.
“Think urban, Think sexy”. cities are our retest resource and the future of out industry.
Only in cities can you walk, bike, take mass transit! Millennial generation and empty nesters are very urban – connect, love high design and walkable neighborhoods, like to ride bikes and enjoy working, being in coffee shops and love and crave grass-roots initiatives. “88%” want to live in an urban center.
Empty nesters in cities: getting rid of big houses in suburbs, too much space, too expensive to heat, moving to cities offers easier access to services close by.

  • need to learn how to appeal to the urban dweller.
  • drive the market
  • drive the policy

Market: urban dwelling sophisticate consumers. If industry wants to advance, it needs to think high design, allure. modern front, clean lines. (the nature of renewable and emerging energies is modern – make it look the part)

The Buffalo zoning code is revolutionary:

  • taking away minimum parking requirements.
  • do not have to build parking if building a new building.
  • shoot for 100% storm water retention.

Buffalo is giving away houses and attempting to breathe new life into areas that have been forgotten, promoting sustainablity through legislation, policy – to create a sustainable city.
As an organization we need to begin thinking creatively

  • Think sexy.
  • Think urban.
  • Appeal to the urban dweller.

Stop building energy efficient building with lots of parking in the middle of nowhere.
Middle-size cities with lots of people living in them – Northampton, Buffalo, etc. Don’t focus on New York as much. It is certainly not only city out there.

John Abrahms, South Mountain Company – 25 years as a worker-owned company

John Abrahms, South Mountain Company - 25 years as a worker-owned company

“America the possible”. Living in most peaceful time in history, with great potential for big change, economic equality. addiction to growth etc. has potential to wreak huge havoc on the world.
Last 30 yrs in U.S., working class has been living on debt, exhausted physically finically and psycho-emotionally. (paraphrasing Wolfe) Wolfe understands the need for a new -the next-economy. choice: prosper or continue to grow, but not both.

How are we as practitioners responding?
Island Plan of Martha’s vineyard:

  • Vineyard power – a consumer co-op aspiring to create energy for majority of island dwellers combining wind, electric vehicles, etc.
  • Worker owned co-op jointing with consumer-owned co-op (S. Mountain and Vineyard power)
  • Parking lots: provide temporary storage for vehicles. Parking lot canopies can transform already trash real estate into valuable land.  (need research on specifics)
  • Curiosity of species is the engine of progression, invention, innovation.

Post-presentation Discussion:

Chris – “where most uncomfortable in practice: communication, conversation, relationship creation. Feels need to gain skills to get people with the renewable energy movement, tension in teaching and talking, creating relationships.”
Bernice: “greatest insecurity is her age, less experience. As we need more density and compactness, how do you keep the place thriving and the soul alive at the same time?”
Chris – “cities are so overwhelming that making dents is possible but not denting the soul of a whole city.”
John: “Small island, easily make a dent. Talk to individual companies. They are the client, but the neighborhood is client too, island is too, planet is too.  Tell new clients that up front. Need to work equally for all of their clients, not just the new company.”
Bernice: “renovating existing buildings. not changing the footprint so much but transform empty structures. preserving some of those buildings drives community and drives our industry.”

1 or 2 edgiest, burning issues we need to address in next decade?
John: “lots of conferences going on in all kinds of fields. don’t need to worry about future of work, already assured to an extent. all we need to do is figure out how to do it.  the work will be there, we just have to find the how.”
Chris: “challenged NESEA to go live stream to be free, accessible to the entire world in real-time. challenge is to continue to make money for sustainability companies while making access to information and resources available.

Winner of $10,000 NESEA Zero-Net Energy Building Award: Ross family Residence in Amherst, MA

Winner of $10,000 NESEA Zero Net Energy Building Award:

Ross residence in Amherst, MA, for:
⁃    excellent integration of systems.
⁃    whole building focus.
⁃    real home for real people with real needs.
⁃    turned 100 yr old farm house into an energy producer – produces 33% more energy than it uses.
⁃    finances: had to buy the PV system up front, was no financing available, but saw that it was a good investment.  (2007-ish) they did not have the tools they needed to make these kinds of investments.  Mrs. Ross has addressed this issue by building a business of her own.


There will be a tribute being held for Richard Gottleib. TBA


“Results Results Results”

– loans for energy-retrofit projects and auditor accountability

New york city retrofit projects:

  • To obtain data and analysis worked with NYSERTA, weatherization programs, others
  • How do you translate the analysis of the data to the lending community?
  • It is DIFFICULT TO MEASURE ENERGY SAVINGS, especially in small amounts (10%, 20%)
  • For portfolio-wide savings (all retro-fitted projects on average): fuel: saved 19%; electric: 7% saved
  • Actual savings correlated with pre-retrofit usage – energy hogs save more than projects that had lean energy consumption pre-retrofit.

Interesting: residential buildings tend to use more fuel than electricity, while commercial buildings use more electric.
Potential savings v. cost of retrofit is always a careful consideration.

Energy auditors have increasingly reliable and varied data on energy savings as more retrofits are completed and metered.  Auditors tend to over-project savings.  The variables affecting actual energy usage are myriad including homeowner habits, efficiency of the retrofitted fuel/electric/whatever equipment, backward-looking data points This means you can’t really guarantee similar savings for new projects.

The concept of using an average as a cap for projections. Drawback = some projects with very high energy saving projections might be more heavily penalized than project with more modest projections.  Benefit =  this keeps expectations realistic and increases the portfolio-wide realization percentage (making a loan more likely to be granted). But still not a risk-free proposition:  because some projects do not save as much as projected.

The infamous NESEA Night is Cruizing It tonight! Due to Climate Change, the weather seems to be unusually perfect for it ...

NESEA Attendees: Peter Temple & Sabine Duran (Energy Smart), Harrisville, NH

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