Green Governance is a monthly radio show intended to showcase the good work of our friends and neighbors in the public sector seeking to create a more sustainable world.
Each month, host Mark DeMoranville will interview a range of guests, from those working at the municipal, state and federal level here in United States on every level. Our goal will be to highlight innovative approaches, creative projects, and fresh policy ideas designed to move towards sustainability goals, including those focused on resource conservation, a healthy, livable environment, and a robust green economy.
In addition to telling the stories of these important program and policy initiatives, we will focus on their impact, in terms of both benefits and costs, on the citizenry, including both the general public and
To the extent that our cities and towns are attending directly to sustainability in their operations and through the functioning of municipal government, they are setting an example for other communities to emulate on a path that continues to rapidly unfold in ways that did not seem possible even a decade ago. Green Governance recently had a fascinating conversation with Andrew Savitz, Director of Sustainability for the City of Newton, Massachusetts, along with his colleague, Energy Manager Bill Ferguson.
Newton, a city of 87,000 people, lies just west of Boston and has a well-earned reputation as a forward thinking hub of ideas, creativity, and social activism. It is thus not surprising that, through Mr. Savitz and Mr. Ferguson’s work, the city has initiated a comprehensive sustainability strategy which is becoming increasingly visible as the Office of Sustainability continues its outreach to business owners, community groups, schools, libraries, houses of worship and others.
While understanding the need to target the footprint of the entire city, Newton has initially focused on energy efficiency goals for its municipal infrastructure. A striking example of this low hanging fruit has been the replacement of street lights with LED lighting, as well as installation of LED lighting in the city’s schools. Energy savings from these improvements yield cost savings to the city totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. These savings can then be used not only to fund other city programs, but they can be directly applied to implement further energy saving measures, yielding greater cost savings.
The big picture of sustainability must always attend to social and economic issues in addition to environmental concerns (this is the “triple bottom line” to which Mr. Savitz refers in his book title), and the city’s long-term vision is that its residents will embrace sustainability in their lives, recognizing that each of us can make a huge difference through our daily choices. Nowhere is the need for this greater than in the area of transportation. Advocating for improved public transit, biking, walking, and car sharing services is among the strategies that could lead directly to significant change over time.
Biography: Andrew Savitz
Newton’s Director of Sustainability, Andrew Savitz, was born in Newton and attended the Carr School. Leading Newton’s sustainability program, he is focused on helping Newton create environmental, social and economic prosperity. The Mayor has charged him to look beyond the footprint of City Hall to create citywide sustainability by strengthening the city environmentally, socially and economically.
Andrew is an internationally known expert on corporate social responsibility and sustainability. He is the author of The Triple Bottom Line: How the Best Run Companies are Achieving Economic, Social and Environmental Success - and How You Can Too. He was a lead partner in PricewaterhouseCooper's (PwC) global Sustainability Business Services practice and authored PwC's widely cited 2002 Sustainability Survey- the first of its kind in the United States. Andrew Savitz is a creative business leader, advisor, author and speaker, with over 20 years of experience assisting corporations, non-profits and government organizations to become leaders in sustainability and environmental performance and accountability.
Biography: Bill Ferguson
Currently the Energy Project Manager for the City of Newton, Massachusetts, Bill Ferguson is a Certified Energy Manager and a LEED Accredited Professional. He was recently re-appointed by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as a member of the RI Distributed Generation Contracts Board, which oversees the Renewable Energy Growth Program.
He previously was the Executive Director of the Energy Council of Rhode Island, and worked for 31 years with the State of RI managing energy programs, state owned facilities, and the state fleet.
Green Governance recently hosted Clive Davies, Chief of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment Program in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. Mr. Davies joined us to talk about the creation and recent launch of the EPA’s “Safer Choice” program (http://www2.epa.gov/saferchoice).
The goal of “Safer Choice” is science-based protection for people, families, and the environment from the potential risks of pesticides and toxic chemicals. EPA has long been focused on human health as well as the environment, including access to clean air and water for all. “Safer Choice” is a labeling system not unlike “EnergyStar”, a long-standing, well-known system that differentiates products with an improved energy use profile.
Such a labeling system is intended not only to share helpful information with consumers, empowering them to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, but also by the belief that chemical and product manufacturers who deliver safer products to retailers and consumers will be rewarded in the marketplace.
“Safer Choice”, which was previously known as “Design for the Environment”, emerged in the late 1990s, working with product manufacturers to demonstrate that safer and at the same time highly effective products could be made. It is intended to meet the needs of residential consumers, but also of institutional purchasing requirements, including schools, hotels, cities, and commercial buildings (for things such as cleaning products). Institutional purchasing decisions can translate directly into a reduction in sick days and fewer cases of childhood asthma, for example.
“Safer Choice”, through an appealing, recognizable logo, gives consumers and purchasers the tools they need to make quick, informed choices. Such a logo, when combined with the hard-won trust that EPA has earned through its devotion to careful scientific analysis of the chemicals in products and an ability to convey what the science tells us about their potential impacts on human health, will contribute in powerful ways to the growing market for products free of toxics and harmful chemicals. Be on the lookout for the “Safer Choice” label in the weeks and months ahead!
Biography: Clive Davies
Clive Davies leads the Design for the Environment (DfE) Branch in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. He is committed to advancing EPA’s chemical safety mission, and is proud to work with a talented, innovative, and dedicated staff of environmental professionals.
Clive began the DfE Alternatives Assessment Program to inform industry decision making in selecting alternatives to hundreds of millions of pounds of high-priority chemicals. He convened multi-stakeholder partnerships that guided the transition for chemicals that included high-volume flame retardants, and BPA in thermal paper.
Clive also built Safer Choice, the Agency’s program to distinguish and label safer products, such as cleaners and detergents. Safer Choice-labeled products – more than 2,000 branded cleaners, detergents, and other classes of products – can be found in retailers and distributers across the country. The program also lists hundreds of high-functioning chemical ingredients that meet rigorous health and environment criteria. These ingredients can be used to manufacture Safer Choice-labeled products, and are being used to process or manufacture safer products around the world.
Clive has also worked in EPA’s Office of Water and in the Office of Air and Radiation. Clive led the first Survey of Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs, which Congress used to allocate up to $1billion per year in infrastructure funding.
When we think of environmental sustainability policy and practices as reflected in the work of our municipal, state and federal governments, it is unlikely that the Department of Defense (DoD) first comes to mind.
Recently, however, “Green Governance” hosted Guy Borges, a civilian contractor and Brown University graduate, who shared abundant examples of the range of innovative energy efficiency projects in which the U.S. Navy and its Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), located on Aquidneck Island, are currently engaged.
To the extent that the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense’s mission can be summarized as working to assure the safety and security of the U.S. and its citizens, it is logical to quickly expand our understanding of what is meant by safety and security to enfold the goals of environmental sustainability, among which are achieving ever increasing energy efficiency and ever diminishing reliance on non-renewable sources of energy.
The Navy is striving, by the end of 2015, to achieve a 30 percent reduction in energy intensity from a 2003 baseline, and is making significant progress toward this goal. Further, it has set a goal of 50 percent reduction in energy intensity by 2020. In addition, they are responding to a federal mandate to install advanced, remote reading meters for electricity, natural gas, steam, hot water, and potable water use.
A goal for new construction of navy facilities is to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. The Navy is also working towards reduction of energy use by its transportation fleet. For example, they have set a goal of 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in its non-tactical vehicles by the end of 2015, and they are creating a Great Green Fleet, wherein aircraft and non-nuclear vessels will operate on non-petroleum fuels.
Finally, it is exploring a wide range of renewable energy technologies and systems, including geothermal, renewable purchases, wind, solar photovoltaic panels, biomass, solar thermal, and ground source heat pumps. The Navy is demonstrating important leadership, both in terms of the comprehensive scope of its activities and the aggressive goals it has set for energy efficiency.
Transitioned to contract engineering support position after retirement as Navy civilian employee in December 2014. Over 37 years experience as senior engineer in operations and maintenance (O&M), design, and planning for major facilities with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Areas of concentration include energy conservation and management; acquisition and oversight of construction, maintenance service, and architect/engineer contracts; acquisition and O&M of HVAC and ancillary building mechanical systems; and management and application of Direct Digital Control (DDC) Systems. Distinctive niche specialization of evaluating efficacy and maintainability of proposed energy conservation measures over the long term relative to the capabilities of the owner's O&M resources.
- Registered Professional Engineer, Virginia (since 1983) & Massachusetts (since 1998)
- Certified Energy Mgr (CEM), Assoc. of Energy Engineers (AEE)
- Certified Indoor Air Quality Professional (CIAQP), AEE
- Certified Plant Engineer, Assoc. for Facilities Engineering (AFE)
- Certified Plant Maintenance Manager, AFE
Green Governance was recently joined by Ken Ayars, Chief of the Division of Agriculture in the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, along with Dan Costa, the State Port Manager in the Division of Coastal Resources, who both provided a wealth of information on Rhode Island’s food system, economy, and resource base.
The priority to support agriculture and the food economy on the part of Rhode Island and other New England states became apparent as a result of the significant reduction over time in the land available and/or in use as farm land, general concerns about land and natural resource degradation due to development and industrial economic activity, and an increased understanding of the limits and potential vulnerability presented by the global food system. Currently, only ten percent of New England’s food is grown within its states’ borders, but the New England Food Vision has a goal of increasing this to fifty percent by 2060.
Among the many successes that DEM’s Division of Agriculture has participated in and contributed to is the growth of farmers’ markets throughout the state. Over the past 15 years, they have grown from eight to fifty. These markets provide an ambiance that fosters relationship building between farmers and their customers, allow direct sales by farmers and access to fresh, healthy food to customers, and are cultural events than many have come to look forward to.
Concurrently and complementing these initiatives is the support provided by DEM’s Division of Coastal Resources to support fishermen and aquaculturists, who continue to play a vital role in the state’s food economy. The unique resource that is Narragansett Bay and the south coast allow the state to factor seafood into the equatio of increased food security, and the Port Manager’s office engages in a range of activities that support this.
Rhode Island’s size and resulting unique nature has allowed state government to support agriculture in ways that may present greater challenges in other states. There is a spirit of cooperation among farmers, aquaculturists, and state government that has resulted in one of the strongest local food movements in the country.
Over the past decade, a movement has swept the nation at our institutions of higher education to integrate sustainability principles and practices across the spectrum of their activities, from teaching and learning to operations and facilities management.
Our publicly funded colleges and universities are no exception to this evolution, and both the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, despite at times facing challenging resource constraints, are engaged in a wide range of innovative projects, programs, and campus-wide approaches that have fundamentally changed not only the cultures of the respective campuses, but also created a shift in the ways that an ever increasing number of students see possibilities for themselves to make contributions to promoting and achieving greater environmental sustainability.
These possibilities include not only opportunities for advocacy and civic engagement, but options for environment-focused career paths that continue to emerge as the cultural shift toward greater balance between economy and environment moves forward.
At URI, sustainability initiatives include the Green Teams/Green Office program, which encourages and supports greater attention to resource and energy conservation across university departments, offices, and programs, and among all faculty, staff and students. URI is a signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), expressing the university’s intention to achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible. Complementing this has been URI’s compilation of a Greenhouse Gas Inventory, a necessary baseline assessment of the institution’s energy use and emissions which will act as the springboard for achieving energy efficiency gains in the future. Most comprehensively, a Strategic Plan for Campus Sustainability focuses on five key areas: facility operations, transportation, curriculum/research, community culture, and communication. At RIC, sustainability initiatives are perhaps most visible as one walks across campus, where one notices the Community Garden, the Bee Education Center, and clearly marked recycling bins strategically located throughout. However, if one scratches the surface, one quickly discovers that RIC has committed to a comprehensive approach to sustainability. This includes a building management system controlling its heating, ventilation and air conditioning, installation of energy efficient lighting, and the use of green cleaning products for its janitorial services. In addition, faculty across a wide array of disciplines are increasingly integrating sustainability into their for credit undergraduate offerings, and programming for the wider Rhode Island community is ongoing, including the recent 2014 Sustainable Schools Summit and a Green Business Forum on anaerobic digestion.
“Green Governance” recently hosted Nicole Pollock, who is Legislative Liaison for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and is an Assistant to the Director for Policy and Program Development. In this role, Nicole coordinates DEM’s federal and state legislative agenda, manages special projects, and supports new program implementation.
As the lead state agency charged with the dual roles of environmental protection and natural resources management, DEM initially emerged in response to the mandates of the Federal Clean Air and Clean Water Act, which requires states to adopt and implement programs and standards for environmental protection. The DEM therefore works directly with its federal counterpart, the Environmental Protection Agency, along with other federal agencies to implement federal requirements. Many of the rules, standards, and processes governing environmental protection and natural resources management in the state were created at the federal level as part of a national program. The RI DEM therefore works to implement these national mandates in ways that work for Rhode Island.
Currently, the RI DEM is focused on several key programmatic priorities. These include building a strategic vision for waste management; eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens and improving agency efficiency; promoting Rhode Island’s great outdoors and protecting parks for people; protecting and ensuring public health; growing the state’s agricultural and seafood economy; and investing in green infrastructure and storm water management.
Throughout our discussion with Ms. Pollock, what came through consistently was a strong sense of shared mission on the part of agency staff to serve the people of Rhode Island as effectively and efficiently as possible. Towards this end, they have prioritized several management areas, including improved customer service, promoting the green economy, connecting people with nature, and leveraging partnerships.
To better achieve its goals, DEM has initiated a lean, or continuous improvement, business model to create more efficient, effective processes. The exemplar of this commitment is their Permit Application Center, a one stop customer service center that works with business owners on the permit approval process.
To build on its current efforts, DEM is seeking the passage this November of Question 7, the Clean Water, Open Space, and Healthy Communities Bond, which will provide much needed funding for clean water improvements, farmland protection, flood mitigation, and Providence Parks and the Roger Williams Zoo.
Green Governance recently welcomed the staff of the Rhode Island Department of Education’s (RIDE) School Construction Program to the program to discuss the many innovative ways that they are working to create both an infrastructure and a culture of green, sustainable, and healthy schools throughout the state.
Mario Carreno, Manuel Cordero, Joseph Da Silva, & Mark DeMoranvilleHistorically, many of us grew up thinking of the school buildings, where we spent much of our time during the formative years of our lives, as mere bricks and mortar structures – places separate from our homes, families and communities – where we went to learn content in a range of unrelated subject areas. However, the Green Schools movement, in which RIDE’s School Construction Program staff have so passionately participated in recent years, demonstrates that schools can be part of and catalysts for lively communities, learning and growing together. Further, the structures themselves can be sources of learning, with bountiful opportunities to integrate lessons about their design, materials, and systems into the curriculum.
We were joined in the first segment by Joseph Da Silva, RIDE’s School Construction Coordinator and a nationally recognized architect, educational planner and educator.
RIDE’s School Construction Program, as currently constituted, was created in 2007 by the Board of Education to contain costs and to establish equitable and adequate statewide standards for school construction. The regulations contain language that guides the School Construction Program’s goal of greening the schools as a priority – including energy efficiency, water conservation, attendance to indoor air quality, and passive solar design, among other features.
Specifically, the Board adopted the New England Collaborative for High Performance Schools (NECHPS) standards as a guide and protocol for all public school construction projects. As a result, Rhode Island is an exemplar and leader in the green schools movement nationally. Manuel Cordero, the Assistant School Construction Coordinator at RIDE, joined us in the second segment to share some of the successes of Rhode Island’s green schools and discuss ways in which they meet the NECHPS standards and strive to create healthy and inspiring 21st century learning environments.
In our third segment, Mario Carreno, the School Construction Finance Specialist, highlighted the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award program, a national comprehensive assessment of a school’s green features that has counted on Rhode Island participation since its inception. It includes three pillars:
a) reducing environmental impact and cost,
b) health, safety and wellness of students and staff, and
c) integrating sustainability principles into the curriculum.
Recently, Green Governance hosted Kevin Flynn, Associate Director of the State of Rhode Island’s Division of Planning. Kevin was joined by Jeff Davis, Principal Planner for Land Use in the Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program. The topic of our discussion was RhodeMap RI, the most comprehensive planning process in which Rhode Island has ever engaged. As Flynn and Davis explained, the process has yielded a rich harvest of ideas and creative suggestions, and has successfully engaged citizen’s from all walks of life in providing their input.
From their web site (www.rhodemapri.org), “RhodeMap RI builds on existing plans like Land Use 2025, Transportation 2035, and Water 2030 to make new state Housing and Economic Development plans that help create a better Rhode Island by strengthening our economy, creating vibrant neighborhoods, and planning for future growth. To achieve these goals, we will need to create jobs and train workers, provide safe homes people can afford, and grow in a way that reenergizes our cities and towns and protects our quality of life.”
We began the show with a discussion of the context in which RhodeMap RI emerged. By the mid-2000s, it was clear that there was a need to update the state’s land use plan. Development in the state had been proceeding over a 50 year period in ways that were not sustainable. For example, the state’s land use growth rate was nine times the rate of its population growth, in part caused by low density suburban development.
In 2012, the state received a regional planning grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Sustainable Communities Program, the only state to receive such a grant for planning at the statewide level. HUD considered RI, as the smallest state, to be the perfect laboratory. HUD’s understanding of the nature of the challenges has evolved over time to be more holistic, recognizing the importance of community engagement and the connections between housing, land use planning, economic development, and prosperous communities.
RhodeMap RI was launched in the spring of 2013, and has experienced remarkable success, in part through the creation of a Social Equity Advisory Committee, in attaining the participation of diverse Rhode Islanders through a wide range of forums and media, including meetings in a box, a community planning game, focus groups, and the on-line tool Mind Mixer.
Rhode Island Administrators and The Move Towards Sustainability
The first installment of Green Governance featured Allison Rogers, the Director of Policy for the State of Rhode Island’s Department of Administration, as well as Christopher Kearns of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.
The program began with a discussion of the launch of Rhode Island’s electric vehicle (EV) charging station infrastructure. Over the past six months, the state has installed 50 charging stations intended to support an increase in the use of electric vehicles by Rhode Islanders. All of these charging stations are now operational, and they are located strategically throughout the state, including two at Rhode Island College in Providence. It is also noteworthy that this infrastructure has been designed to complement similar infrastructures in neighboring states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The second topic of discussion was the 40 megawatt Distributed Generation Standard Contracts (DG) program, which requires National Grid to enter into fifteen-year renewable energy contracts with private landowners, businesses, and municipalities at a set and fixed price. Currently, wind, solar photovoltaic, and anaerobic digestion technologies are eligible to participate in the DG program.
Next, we discussed the Rhode Island State Energy Plan. This effort by the State involves the adoption of policies addressing energy efficiency and system reliability, renewable energy, and petroleum reduction.
Fourth, our guests informed listeners about the Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership (RIPEP), a 3-year (2012-2015) collaborative effort, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of this initiative is to achieve deep energy savings in state and municipal facilities and build a sustained, effective infrastructure for ongoing savings.
Finally, the new residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program was introduced. The General Assembly passed the legislation and in July 2013 Governor Chafee signed the PACE legislation into law. PACE is a financing program designed to help qualifying homeowners invest in specified energy efficiency and/or renewable energy improvements. PACE is a voluntary program that municipalities can choose to participate in.
Currently teaching as an Adjunct Instructor in the English Department at Community College of Rhode Island, Mark was most recently the Interim Executive Director of the Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living, where he oversaw program development and operations of this 501 (c) non-profit environmental education and green jobs training focused organization.
Other current projects include his work with the Renewable Energy Initiative Team, a recently established 501(c) non-profit whose goal is to promote renewable energy policy through education and opportunities for networking among business owners interested or already doing business in the green economy; and the design of a new course on Sustainable Systems that he will co-teach at Rhode Island College this summer.
Mark holds a Doctorate of Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Center for International Education, and his dissertation topic was Stewardship as a Transformative Practice: An Inquiry into the Nature of Ongoing Learning and Sustained Involvement of Environmental Stewards.
He has designed and/or taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the Schools of Education at UMass Amherst and RIC, in Communication Studies at URI, and in Composition and Reading at CCRI. Most recently, he created a graduate course at RIC on The Teaching and Practice of Environmental Sustainability.
Mark also launched the Newport Skills Alliance on the ground as its first Coordinator, and has worked in the International Training Program at the URI’s Coastal Resources Center, as a Project Manager at Bergen Community College’s Center for International Studies, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in agro-forestry in Senegal.
He has served on the Boards of both Apeiron and the American Society for Training and Development’s Bay Colonies chapter.