Wed, Mar 25, 2015 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM EDT

 Through the efforts of several national civil engineering associations and the Harvard School of Design, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) formed to advance the development and practice of a web based tool for measuring and encouraging sustainability in civil infrastructure projects of all kinds, other than habitable buildings. “Envision™” is now an in-depth guidance and rating system used to assess and improve the sustainability metrics of all types and sizes of infrastructure projects.

During this interview, participants with learn about Envision’s watershed approach to water infrastructure as panelists explore Envision’s application to water infrastructure projects on the Mississippi River. In this day and age of casting about for ways to address the great river’s water quality and its infrastructure, Envision provides a practical and feasible way forward.

Interviewees:
– William Bertera is Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. He is the former Executive Director of the Water Environment Federation, the Rebuild America Coalition and the American Public Works Association. He has also held senior executive and management positions with the International City Management Association, the National Association of Counties and the National Solid Wastes Management Association.

– Anne Lewis is the founder and director of America’s Waterway, a non-profit organization advocating civic engagement and a National Dialogue for the Future of the Mississippi River. Coming from a background of professional communication planning, she created America’s Waterway to address the Mississippi River’s sustainability in holistic ways, taking its social and economic – as well as environmental – aspects into account, with stakeholder involvement as the pivotal component.

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“India is not China,” stated Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the World Resources Institute (WRI) at the January 30th briefing on President Obama and Prime Minister Modi’s Climate & Clean Energy Agreement. Indeed, occurring only two months following the U.S.-China climate negotiations, although all the nations have a similar need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, India and China and the U.S. are very disparate nations. While the goals are the same — to combine environmental security with improved human health alongside economic growth — India is no more China than the U.S. is India.

For context, China and the U.S. hold the first and second place, respectively, for total greenhouse gas emissions. India comes third (or fourth, if you put the EU together). Yet, India is around 1/11th per capita greenhouse gas emissions of the U.S., which is about 1/3rd the global average per capita [1]. This is attributed to India’s 300 million people who lack access to electricity [2].

This also plays an important factor in food, health, and quality of life demands in India versus China or the U.S. At the briefing, Jake Schmidt, International Program Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), noted that China has a vast middle-income society now demanding restrictions on coal burning to improve quality of life. Although India houses dense populations in thirteen of the world’s twenty most air-polluted cities, the “public angst,” as Schmidt phrased it, has not yet risen as it did with China’s middle-class. This is in spite of over six percent of India’s GDP already going to the costs of premature deaths resulting from air pollution. That number may rise as air pollution is rapidly becoming a leading cause of premature deaths [3]. As Indian Prime Minister Modi has made ambitious announcements regarding renewable energy, one wonders if India can leapfrog both “public angst” along with high-carbon energy technology through the U.S.-India agreement and other robust domestic renewable energy plans.

An optimist might think it is just possible. While Prime Minister Modi must now focus on poverty, job creation, and public health because these are pressing, constant drivers, India’s participation in several bilateral programs promoting clean energy indicates that he clearly recognizes the multi-faceted opportunities that renewable energy can bring from access to electricity to improved human health to jobs. In the span of four years, India grew its solar market more than 100 fold to almost 3 Giga-watts by the end of last year [4]. It is already the world’s fifth largest wind energy producer and third in the world for LEED certified and registered buildings [5]. Still, Prime Minister Modi’s low-carbon path may be more ambition than pathway because unlike China that invested in job creation through manufacturing, India invested in services [6]. Combine manufacturing needs with affordable renewable energy infrastructure financing woes and a pressing need for policies that enable and encourage investment, and India and its state governments have a lot of work to do.

Much of this work will involve creating stable policy plans that encourage clean investment without stalling economic growth. Prime Minister Modi recently announced a plan that includes bringing electricity to all Indians by 2019, much of it through solar energy. This solar scheme could make cleaner, solar energy cheaper than coal [7]. Proper policies that would encourage investment in solar also means job creation and long term goal-setting to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable populations from climate change as sea level rise threatens nearly half of India’s 28 states [8].

The State governments of India are important players in finding solutions. For example, the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) announced that it would extend exemptions to grid usage charges to new solar plants commissioned through March 31, 2018 and provide the exemption for ten years (previously it was only a five year exemption). Policies such as this may give banks and private investors the stability they want from long-term projects in the Indian states [9].

Crucially, India must remain a global player and leader. Already leading in aspects of clean energy and “green” buildings, India is still running against time in its hopes to meet the needs of its fast-growing population and better the status for those in poverty. It is estimated that the population living in Indian cities will increase from 380 million to almost 600 million in the next 15 years [10]. Compound this predicament with what World Bank researchers presented at the Climate Change and Poverty conference (February 9-10, 2015) about the chances for sea level rise causing environmental migration, with trends into cities, and that city dwellers can be particularly vulnerable to shocks from climate events creating more poverty. It is no wonder that India’s leadership is so motivated to build a more stable, electric grid with new goals set at 100 Giga-watts of solar capacity by 2022 and plans to develop 100 sustainable urban areas (“smart cities”) through the nation [11].

Leadership will play an important factor, in all nations, but how leaders find support for domestic climate change policies and enact international agreements is a very different process in India, China, and the U.S. For example, if a similar method for negotiating the 2014 U.S.-China climate deal was used in India, the public would perceive the U.S.-India agreements skeptically, and feel their political leader caved to President Obama’s “imperialist agenda,” as some quarters felt following President Obama’s November 2010 visit [12]. Jake Schmidt stated that there must be a more “organic approach” in India, from the bottom to the top for publically supported agreements.

Prime Minister Modi is setting bold agendas to address this daunting responsibility, and lead India into the international forefront and remain true to the political and cultural nature of the country. In making a statement about taking action on climate change, he said that his lofty goals are not motivated by international pressures. Instead, “there is a pressure of a different kind, the pressure of what kind of legacy we want to leave for our future generations. Global warming is a pressure. . . We understand this pressure and we are responding to it” [13].

Sources and Links:

[1] Damassa, T., Friedrich, J., Ge, M. (25 Nov. 2014). 6 graphs Explain the World’s Top 10 Emitters. http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/11/6-graphs-explain-world%E2%80%99s-top-10-emitters.

[2] Bapna, M. (15 Jan. 2015). India’s Energy Moment: Ready for a Low-Carbon Future?. http://wri-india.org/blog/india%E2%80%99s-energy-moment-ready-low-carbon-future.

[3] Id.

[4] NRDC. (Dec. 2014). India: Addressing Climate Change and Moving Toward A Low-Carbon Future. http://www.nrdc.org/international/india/files/low-carbon-future-FS.pdf.

[5] Id.

[6] Bapna, Manish. “Briefing on President Obama and Prime Minister Modi’s Climate & Clean Energy Agreement.” World Resources Institute Briefing. Washington, DC. 30 Jan. 2015.

[7] Bapna, M. (15 Jan. 2015). India’s Energy Moment: Ready for a Low-Carbon Future? http://wri-india.org/blog/india%E2%80%99s-energy-moment-ready-low-carbon-future.

[8] Bapna, M., Waskow, D. (27 Jan. 2015). US-India Climate Partnership Can Benefit Environment and Economy. http://www.wri.org/print/42538.

[9] Parthasarathy, T., Perera, A. (18 Dec. 2014). New Solar Policy Gives Boos to India’s Energy Market. http://www.wri.org/print/42474.

[10] Bapna, M. (15 Jan. 2015). India’s Energy Moment: Ready for a Low-Carbon Future?. http://wri-india.org/blog/india%E2%80%99s-energy-moment-ready-low-carbon-future.

[11] Bapna, M., Waskow, D. (27 Jan. 2015). US-India Climate Partnership Can Benefit Environment and Economy. http://www.wri.org/print/42538.

[12] Kronstadt, K. India: Domestic Issues, Strategic Dynamics, and U.S. Relations. 1 Sept. 2011. RL33529. https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33529.pdf. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.

[13] The Straits Times, Asia. 25 Jan 2015. Indian PM Narendra Modi says no climate change pressure on India after US-China pact. http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-asia/story/indian-pm-narendra-modi-says-no-climate-change-pressure-india-after-us-ch

 

– By Ruth Hannah White, The Security & Sustainability Forum

*For background on the U.S.-China Climate negotiations, visit the SSF Archives and watch the recording of “What’s the Deal with the U.S.-China Climate Deal?” where international experts discuss the November 2014 climate negotiations.
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Thu, Mar 19, 2015 1:15 PM – 2:45 PM EDT

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will present an introduction into its unique research-based capabilities across a wide spectrum of renewable energy and energy efficiency focus areas. NREL’s analysis informs various stakeholders on technological, environmental, policy and economic decisions as energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies advance from concept to commercial application to market penetration. With objective, technology-neutral analysis, NREL aims to increase the understanding of energy policies, markets, resources, technologies, and infrastructure and connections between these and economic, environmental, and security priorities.

NREL is extremely interested in working with institutions and other team members to build upon and advance its own research efforts.

Highlights of this Webinar Include:

1) Background on NREL (only DOE lab focused on renewable energy & energy efficiency)
2) NREL’s Work on DOD, US Governmental, Tribal, and International projects
3) Highlight NREL’s campus as a living laboratory
4) Site Screening & Assessment (i.e. description of proprietary tool – REOpt)
5) Net Zero Energy Building Design & Retrofit initiatives
6) Microgrid evaluations (i.e. Miramar, etc)
7) Transportation
8) Data Center Optimization
9) ESI – high level description of latest capabilities across Energy Systems Integration
10) Results

Sponsored by: NREL of the DOE and Willdan Energy Solutions

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Collaborating for Resilience

by Arturo Herrera on February 4, 2015

February 26, 2015 Noon to 1:15 PM EST

Presenters

Drew Curtis, Director of Community Development & Environmental Justice, Ironbound Community Corporation;

Jacqui Patterson, Director Environmental and Climate Justice Program, NAACP;

Veda Truesdale, Senior Research Specialist, Rutgers University

 

Download this report prior to the webinar:
Equity in Building Resilience in Adaptation Planning

The challenging impacts of climate change disproportionately affect those with the least resources to prepare, sustain and recover. How do municipal decision makers and civic leaders promote effective engagement with all community members, especially those that are likely to be most impacted? This webinar will cover:
  • How to build equity into resilience and adaptation planning and implementation;
  • How to approach effective engagement with community-based organizations and historically marginalized populations.
REGISTER HERE
Password to Register is: resilience

 This webinar is presented at no cost to participants, thanks to generous support from our sponsors.

 

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 “Really well done! Very organized! Concise! Clear! Great set of topics. Please keep me on the email list for future webinars. A great format”

Eileen Mecray

Regional Climate Services Director, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration

—–

“Thank you Security & Sustainability Forum!  I’ve recently discovered your work and outstanding webinars.  A real treasure trove for those of us deep in the throes of climate adaptation work and just as beneficial to those in government, organizations and collaborative groups just diving in.  Keep up the great work!”

Gloria Flora

Executive Director, Sustainable Obtainable Solutions

Colville, WA 

—–

I have been working in climate change and health since 1999 in Bolivia and I want to send you congratulations for this important “initiative.”

Marilyn Aparicio

Professor, Universidad Mayor de San Andres

—–

“The differing views. More conversations like this need to be held in order to move the profession forward. I also appreciated the rigor behind the presentations of existing certification programs.”

Paul Smith

President, Paul Smith Consulting

—–

“Very useful with articulate and knowledgeable presenters. Thanks so much for putting this together!”

Lynne Carter

Associate Director, Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program

—–

“In Broward County Florida we have completed a countywide climate action plan and participated with three surrounding counties to prepare a regional climate action plan. Neither plan sufficiently covered the public health issue. This webinar helped to clarify some of the issues that will be considered as we move forward in the near future to address health issues for these plans.”

Donald Burgess

Broward County (FL) Government, Land Preservation Administrator

—–

Clear, short, focused information in understandable language. Presenters were articulate and informed and moved the topics’ information forward well.”

Rose Schneider

Heath Systems Management,Johns Hopkins University

—–

“Very well structured presentations and a timely topic area. I am very interested in opportunities to combine hazard mitigation, economics & conservation/restoration.”

Trevor Clements

Director, Water Resources for TetraTech

—–

“Graphic representations of potential damages from SLR and SS were very compelling and I imagine would be quite effective in a community discussion setting.”

Doran Duckworth

State Support Unit Manager & State Planner, Michigan State Police – Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division

—–

“Balance of free flow discussion and capable moderating to stay on topic; diversity of viewpoints represented and expressed; very important topic!”

Susan Flynn

President, Flynn Leadership Communications

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Innovative Approaches to Sustainability Education at U.S. Universities – How to Prepare Future Sustainability Leaders

December 19, 2014

Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability was the first comprehensive degree-granting program of its kind in the United States, with a focus on finding real-world solutions to environmental, economic, and social challenges. In this webinar, viewers learn how ASU and three other leading U.S. universities are providing future sustainability leaders with the education they need […]

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Recommendations from the Resilience & Preparedness Task Force

December 12, 2014

In November 2013, President Obama issued Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, and created The State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The Task Force Members brought first-hand experiences in building climate preparedness and resilience in their communities. They conducted broad outreach to thousands of government agencies, trade […]

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Growing Livable Communities Webinars Two Part, Webinar Event Dec. 9th and Dec. 16th 11:30 am – 1:00 pm EST

November 19, 2014

Are you concerned that current efforts to make our communities more sustainable are falling short? Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend a three-day workshop about establishing grassroots green organizations that promote local sustainable practices and also have positive economic impacts in the community.  The workshop was a product of theLivability Project and led by […]

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What’s the Deal with the U.S.-China Climate Deal?

November 18, 2014

In light of November 2014’s climate negotiations between U.S. President Barack Obama and China President Xi Jinping, the Security and Sustainability Forum convened global experts to discuss the negotiations, and their historical and potential significance in light of existing and expected U.S. and China policy. Some were heralding these diplomatic moves as historic steps in […]

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Assessing Vulnerability of Water Conveyance Infrastructure from a Changing Climate in the Context of a Changing Landscape

November 13, 2014

This webinar presents results from NOAA and US EPA funded research from 2007 thru 2013, in the context of rural, the peri-urban and urban watersheds in New England and the upper Midwest. This research examined the hydrologic impact of climate change and land use scenarios on existing water conveyance infrastructure. The built infrastructure in the […]

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