Last week, as I was writing this blog, I came across a New York Times article: “The Amazon, Siberia, Indonesia: a World of Fire.” By now, I’m sure most of us are aware that the Amazon Rainforest has been burning for weeks, but this deliberate act of environmental destruction will contribute to a feedback loop. These fires release carbon dioxide and kill the trees and species that not only remove greenhouse gasses from the air but are part of vital fragile ecosystems. As more climate-warming gasses fill the air, extreme weather patterns, drought, species loss, and global warming are exacerbated. These effects then accelerate the spread of infectious disease, global poverty, and human health defects. Overall, climate change and environmental degradation negatively affect both humans and the planet, which makes us less resilient and allows for climate change to accelerate even more aggressively. And the cycle continues.
So, for the sake of our (really wonderful) natural planet, and humankind, it is crucial that we try to hinder this feedback loop and make climate action a priority around the world. And, although individually we can try to have a more reciprocal relationship with the planet, our actions and voices carry more weight collectively, which is where Climate Week NYC comes in.
What is Climate Week NYC?
Organized by The Climate Group, Climate Week NYC is an annual week-long gathering for citizens and global leaders to join forces and take action to mitigate environmental harm caused by human activity. There will be a number of public events each day from September 23-29, including tours, film screenings, conferences, and more.
Fun fact: Swedish teenager and activist Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic all the way from England to meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit, scheduled on the first day of Climate Week NYC!
How Can I Get Involved?
The official ”week” kicks off on Monday, September 23, but there are a number of related events happening the week leading up as well, such as a two-day speaker series focused around Climate Change and Ocean Health hosted by Oceanic Global and Arcadia Earth, a Global Climate Strike, and the Our Futures Festival.
Companies and organizations can register their events as an official Climate Week NYC Event with The Climate Group, and then each event is sorted into a topic. The Climate Week NYC 2019 events are categorized into the following Programs:
- Energy Transition
- Industry Transition
- Clean Transport, Buildings and Infrastructure
- Food, Land and Nature Based Solutions
- Youth & Climate Activism
- Climate Finance, Investment and Carbon Pricing
- National Government Policy and Commitment
- State, City and Local Action
- Health, Equality and Justice
- Sustainable Travel and Leisure
- Resilience and Adaption to Climate Change
Let’s say you’re really passionate about agriculture and reforming our food system, you can click on the “Food, Land, and Nature” program category and see all the possible events that you can attend pertaining to that topic. But it also wouldn’t be a bad idea to step outside your comfort zone and attend an Energy Transition event, or maybe a Health, Equity and Justice event. It may not be your forte, but it’s important that we all try to develop a holistic understanding of environmentalism and climate change!
Speaking of specific programs, SWA is especially excited about a number of events at Climate Week. If you’re someone who is interested in energy efficiency and green building, or you’re someone who’s looking to broaden your horizons and learn more about this method of combating climate change, here are some events we suggest checking out:
- Do No Harm: Achieving Net Zero
- The Net Zero Industry Transition
- Achieving Net Zero Embodied Carbon
- International Pathways: Cities Decarbonizing Buildings
- BuildingEnergy NYC
SWA’s participation is through the BuildingEnergy NYC conference on Thursday September 26th. We have two presentations (listed above) and will be exhibiting in the main lobby at Booth 20. Make sure to stop by and say hi!
What Impact Do Buildings Have on the Environment and What Are We Doing About It?
Buildings account for over 70% of Greenhouse Gas emissions in NYC and 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions globally. Improving the way we design, construct, retrofit and maintain buildings is essential to reduce the impact of climate change. Building operations, such as heating and cooling, account for most of the carbon emissions, but other factors, such as the release of embodied carbon in building materials, as well as the overall construction footprint, are being examined more closely as evidence suggests these are responsible for a greater amount of emissions than previously realized.
According to the UN’s 2017 Global Status Report, the energy intensity per square meter (EUI/m2) of the global building sector needs to improve on average by 30% by 2030 (compared to 2015) to be on track to meet global climate ambitions set forth in the Paris Agreement. The population, building sector, and demand for energy are all growing, so it’s vital that we make sure that this growth is sustainable.
SWA partners with building owners and managers to provide capital planning and technical guidance to make high-impact upgrades that will significantly reduce carbon emissions, as well as operator training to ensure efficiency levels are maintained. Common sustainability upgrades include:
efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems,
- solar panels and/or utilizing renewable energy,
- using healthy building materials,
- pursuing Net Zero and/or Passive House certification for significant retrofits.
Green building is a feasible way to avoid furthering climate change. Not only do we have the technology readily available for us to make substantive changes to buildings’ energy efficiency, but these changes often yield significant cost savings. Contact us to learn more!
Why is it So Crucial to Take Part?
Despite the overwhelming evidence and consensus on climate change, the US still lacks the necessary federal support for and action on environmental issues. These are real concerns for young people thinking about the future, and as the realities of environmental destruction become more and more overwhelming every day, the situation is often faced with frustration and fear. Global movements such as Climate Week NYC, however, instill hope by providing an opportunity for a collective consciousness of people from different sectors of society to gather, learn, and initiate change.
If you want to be involved in Climate Week NYC but can’t attend in person, share the events and information with your friends and family, educate yourself about the various causes and impacts of climate change, look into the organizations and companies participating and support them in their endeavors (if you’re reading this blog, share it).
But if you can make it, gather your friends and go to an event (or go by yourself – you’ll meet like-minded people). Make it a point to show up for something that really matters, and be part of a monumental moment in history. If climate change is the defining issue of our generation, then we have to make it a defining issue to our lawmakers, companies, and to everyone who relies on a stable and healthy planet to live.
Written By Jayd Alvarez, Marketing Coordinator