Recent EFC Eventsefc staff

Historic Preservation and Green Design Workshop
November 19, 2009, Newburgh NY

A crowd of roughly 40 local Newburgh-area landlords, architects, real estate companies, and others attended the three hour afternoon information session, with speakers on various aspects of greening historic structures. David Church, Commissioner of Planning for Orange County, shared some valuable federal funding opportunities for the city, and Robert Politzer, principal of GreenStreet Construction, presented on green construction projects and the importance of early integrated design. Daniel MacKay of the Preservation League of NY (PLNY) spoke at both the afternoon and evening events, sharing how the PLNY has been influencing state legislation to make rebates and tax credits more accessible and practical for restoring historic homes.  The evening event for home and building owners featured the Orange Rural Development Advisory Corp., which introduced its Weatherization Project, free to homeowners under a certain annual income level. Amy Freitag of the World Monument Fund showed a video clip of her organization's community efforts to restore the stage at the Dutch Reformed Church.

Additional speakers included:
  • Patrice Courtney Strong, NYSERDA
  • Chuck Snyder, Rural Ulster Preservation Company
  • Simon Gruber, Hudson Valley Regional Council
  • Chuck Thomas, Newburgh Free Library
  • Joe Fama, Troy Architectural Program, sharing on the historic renovation and upkeep of Public School 10, a low-income apartment building in Troy, NY.

Smart Water Management: From Watershed to You
Technical Assistance Partnership Forum
November 19, 2009, Syracuse NY

The event started with a panel on Sustainable Approaches for Managing Water followed by a semi-structured facilitated networking session led by Khris Dodson. Attendees found this very useful, as they we able to make valuable connections and share project experiences. Dave Miller from USDA Rural Development and Matt Millea from  NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation provided the group with funding updates. Finally, Stephanie Wojtowicz provided information on the NYS DOS Division of Coastal Resources recently released Watershed Planning Guidebook and video.

The next TAPF will be held at the end of February 2010 and, as requested by our recent participants, will include a tour of the Syracuse Center of Excellence's Headquarters Building. For more info on this visit: http://www.syracusecoe.org/hqbldg/index.aspx

Please visit our website to view and download the presentations and NYS DOS Guidebook.

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Upcoming EFC Events

Overview of Green Design and Energy Issues for Planning and Zoning Officials
This program will provide information and ideas about incorporating green design principles and technologies in new commercial and residential development. It will offer continuing education credits for planning and zoning board members to help them meet state requirements for 4 hours/year.

November 30, 7-10 pm
Rockland County Community College Technology Center, Ellipse Room
145 College Road, Suffern NY 10901

For more information or to register:
Rockland Municipal Planning Federation
Arlene Miller, Executive Director

Education and Workforce Development for the Emerging Sustainable Economy 

December 4, 9:00 - 4:30 pm
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Plant Science Building,  2801 Sharon Turnpike (Route 44), Millbrook, N.Y.

For more information or to register:
Hudson Valley Regional Council

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EPA Soliciting Applications for Environmental Justice Grant Funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is accepting grant applications for a total of $1 million in funding for projects aimed at addressing environmental and public health issues in communities. EPA expects to award approximately 40 grants of up to $25,000 each and will accept applications until January 8, 2010. Local governments and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply.

The goals of the Environmental Justice Grant Funding Program are to help communities understand and address environmental challenges and create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships focused on improving human health and the environment. Past projects have focused on issues including exposure to toxins, farm worker pesticide protection, mercury in fish, indoor air quality, drinking water contamination, and pollution from shipping ports.

In addition to the traditional criteria, EPA is encouraging applications that address the disproportionate impacts of climate change in communities by emphasizing climate equity, energy efficiency, renewable energy, local green economy, and green jobs capacity building.

For information on eligibility and application materials:

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New York Legislature Passes Municipal Finance Bill

The New York legislature has passed a bill in an emergency session last week allowing municipal governments to set up renewable energy (and energy efficiency) finance programs by incorporating loans into property tax assessments - also known as PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs. This allows municipalities to leverage the $400M in recovery act funding that has been recently made available for such programs.

PACE programs eliminate the upfront cost for energy improvements by allowing property owners to pay for the improvements over 15-20 years through an increase in their annual property taxes. PACE programs are a recent innovation in finance and have emerged nationwide over the past year during which time 15 states have passed enabling legislation.

The assembly news release on the bill can be found here.

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What are Ecosystem Services?

Humans benefit from a multitude of resources and processes supplied by natural ecosystems. Collectively, these benefits are known as ecosystem services and include products like clean drinking water and processes such as the decomposition of wastes. While scientists and environmentalists have discussed ecosystem services for decades, these services were popularized, and their definitions formalized, by the United Nations 2004 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), a four-year study involving more than 1,300 scientists worldwide. This grouped ecosystem services into four broad categories: provisioning, such as the production of food and water; regulating, such as the control of climate and disease; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and crop pollination; and cultural, such as spiritual and recreational benefits.
Experts currently recognize four categories of ecosystem services. The following lists represent samples of each:

Provisioning services
  • food (including seafood and game), crops, wild foods, and spices
  • water
  • pharmaceuticals, biochemicals, and industrial products
  • energy (hydropower, biomass fuels)
Regulating services
  • carbon sequestration and climate regulation
  • waste decomposition and detoxification
  • purification of water and air
  • crop pollination
  • pest and disease control
Supporting services
  • nutrient dispersal and cycling
  • seed dispersal
  • primary production
Cultural services
  • cultural, intellectual and spiritual inspiration
  • recreational experiences (including ecotourism)
  • scientific discovery
To understand the relationships between humans and natural ecosystems through the services derived from them, consider the following cases:
  • In New York City, where the quality of drinking water had fallen below standards required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), authorities opted to restore the polluted Catskill Watershed that had previously provided the city with the ecosystem service of water purification. Once the input of sewage and pesticides to the watershed area was reduced, natural abiotic processes such as soil adsorption and filtration of chemicals, together with biotic recycling via root systems and soil microorganisms, water quality improved to levels that met government standards. The cost of this investment in natural capital was estimated between $1-1.5 billion, which contrasted dramatically with the estimated $6-8 billion cost of constructing a water filtration plant plus the $300 million annual running costs.
  • Pollination of crops by bees is required for 15-30% of U.S. food production; most large-scale farmers import non-native honey bees to provide this service. One study reports that in California's agricultural region, it was found that wild bees alone could provide partial or complete pollination services or enhance the services provided by honey bees through behavioral interactions. However, intensified agricultural practices can quickly erode pollination services through the loss of species and those remaining are unable to compensate for the difference. The results of this study also indicate that the proportion of chaparral and oak-woodland habitat available for wild bees within 1-2 km of a farm can strongly stabilize and enhance the provision of pollination services, thereby providing a potential insurance policy for farmers of this region.
For more information, the USDA Forest Service website provides greater detail.
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Please visit our website: efc.syracusecoe.org  or contact us at efc@syracusecoe.org