Healthy Environment, Strong Communities, Accountable Government

Clean Energy

Generating and Using Energy Wisely

Problems

  1. Burning Fossil Fuels Contributes to Global Warming
  2. Burning Fossil Fuels Contributes to Local Air Pollution with Adverse Health Impacts
  3. Reliance on Foreign Oil Compromises U.S. National and Economic Security.

Solutions

  1. Clean, Renewable Energy Sources
  2. Energy Efficient Technology
  3. Personal Conservation Efforts
  4. Smarter Policy

Neighborhood Network Projects

  1. Clean Energy Leadership Task Force
  2. Long Island Interfaith Environmental Network
  3. Long Island Energy and Environment Roundtable
  4. Long Island Offshore Wind Energy
  5. Public Education Programs
  6. Clean Fuel School Buses
  7. Energy Star Homes requirement for local building codes
  8. L.E.D Holiday Lights

Burning Fossil Fuels Contributes to Global Warming

The global warming documentary film "An Inconvenient Truth" has been well received on Long Island. To find out more about the film, and find local theaters where it is playing, visit www.climatecrisis.net. To read a Long Island Press article about the film, visit www.longislandpress.com/?cp=162&show=article&a_id=8770.

The Greenhouse Effect

The earth’s atmosphere acts as a natural “blanket” trapping heat. Human beings are increasing the amount of “Greenhouse gases” by burning fossil fuels. The increased greenhouse gases "thicken the blanket,” because, although they allow in visible light from the sun, they trap more of the energy that the earth would otherwise radiate out to space as infra-red light.

What are the “greenhouse gases” ?
• Carbon dioxide (CO2)
• methane
• ozone
• nitrous oxide (NOx)
• and water vapor

As a result of the increased "greenhouse effect" the earth's temperature is increasing. Records show an average global temperature increase of almost 1 degree Fahrenheit, about 1/2 a degree in the past two decades. The rate of increase is very rapid, geologically speaking, and it is speeding up.

James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies claims that his research indicates that the rate of increase in greenhouse gases must be reduced within 10 years, or unstoppable climactic changes will result. Hanson stated on CBS News' 60 Minutes:

"We have to, in the next 10 years, get off this exponential curve and begin to decrease the rate of growth of CO2 emissions, and then flatten it out. And before we get to the middle of the century, we’ve got to be on a declining curve...

If that doesn't happen in 10 years, then I don’t think we can keep global warming under one degree Celsius and that means we’re going to, that there’s a great danger of passing some of these tipping points. If the ice sheets begin to disintegrate, what can you do about it? You can’t tie a rope around the ice sheet. You can’t build a wall around the ice sheets. It will be a situation that is out of our control."

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that the globe's temperature could rise by up to 11 degrees Fahrenheit, in this century. By way of contrast, the last ice age, which ended 12,000 years ago, was brought on by a drop in average temperature of only 5 degrees Fahrenheit, at its peak, the average temperature was only 7 degrees F colder than today.

Effects of Warming

Droughts: It is predicted that droughts may become more common and longer in duration.

Melting Glaciers: Two-thirds of Antarctica's Larsen B ice shelf (the size of Rhode Island) collapsed over a 35-day period between January 31 and March 7, 2002. Both Arctic and Greenland glaciers are melting very rapidly. Permafrost in Western Siberia is thawing for the first time in 11,000 years. The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tons of greenhouse gases (mostly methane) into the atmosphere.

Sea Level Rise: As the oceans warm they expand, and the melting of glaciers releases water that was trapped on land into the oceans, raising sea level.

“IPCC models predict a rise in sea level over the next 100 yrs of 8 to 34 inches, but most likely 20 inches…
Total monetary losses caused by a 39 inch rise are estimated to be between $270 and $275 billion.”

“Such a rise would inundate wetlands, accelerate coastal erosion, raise water tables, and increase salinity of rivers, bays, and aquifers…”

— Our Built and Natural Environments:
A Technical Review of the Interactions
Between Land Use, Transportation,
and Environmental Quality
US Environmental Protection Agency

Increased Frequency and Severity of Extreme Weather: As energy is added to the atmosphere in the form of increased temperature, storms will become more frequent and more violent, heat waves will be more common.

The EPA’s Publication “Regional Impacts Report,” says: “Global climate change is expected to alter the frequency and severity of storms… It also is possible that hurricanes could become more intense.” This is already happening: many cases of unusually violent storms are documented around the globe.

2004 U.S. Hurricanes
Hurricane Charley -Category 4 = Winds 131 - 155 mph
Hurricane Frances -Category 4
Hurricane Ivan -Category 5 = Winds >155 mph
2005 U.S. Hurricanes
Katrina, Wilma, and Rita all were Category 5 before they hit land.
This season was the most costly in U.S. History, surpassing the $45 billion record set the prior year.

Not every area will become hotter as the earth warms: One model predicts that global warming could diminish the flow of the gulf stream. This would cause temperatures to drop on the east coast of North America and in Western Europe

The Insurance Industry Sees Weather Risks Ahead: According to insurance industry data, weather-related disasters cost the insurance industry an average of about $2 billion/yr in the 1980s and more than $12 billion/yr in the 1990s (From The Heat Is On, by Ross Gelbspan)

In March 2004, the world's second-largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, warned that the economic costs of natural disasters, aggravated by global warming, could double to $150 billion a year in 10 years.

Warm-Weather Diseases May Spread Northward: As temperatures rise, diseases now endemic to tropical and sub-tropical areas may increase their range. “Diseases that are spread by mosquitoes and other insects could become more prevalent if warmer temperatures enabled those insects to survive winters.” --EPA

Such vector-borne diseases include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, and West Nile. Malaria reemerged on L.I. in 1999.


Burning Fossil Fuels Contributes to Local Air Pollution with Adverse Health Impacts

A recent study from the University of California showed that children with asthma are at much greater risk of increased asthma symptoms when they live in communities with higher levels of ozone and particulate matter, like Nassau & Suffolk.

Diesel (which runs children’s schoolbuses) is a fossil fuel which contains several carcinogens, and releases a high level of particulates when burned.

Long Island is a Non-attainment Area for Ozone

Ozone is formed when nitrogen oxides (NOx) react with other pollutants - such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) - in the presence of sunlight. The major sources of ozone are automobile and power plant emissions.

Health effects of ozone include: rapid shallow breathing, airway irritation, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath. Ozone makes asthma worse, and it may be related to premature birth, cardiac birth defects, low birth weight and stunted lung growth.

People who are more vulnerable to ozone include: children, the elderly, people with asthma or other respiratory disease, and people who exercise outdoors.

Long Island Lung Disease Incidence

Nassau County
Pediatric Asthma 26,713
Adult Asthma 78,237
Chronic Bronchitis 42,687
Emphysema 17,129
Cardiovascular disease 369,834
Suffolk County
Pediatric Asthma 31,031
Adult Asthma 84,906
Chronic Bronchitis 44,577
Emphysema 16,341
Cardiovascular disease 369,325

Solutions

Clean, Renewable Energy Sources

Biodiesel production facility opened in Bohemia.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony for the biodiesel plant (left to right): Andy Edelman, Corporate Board Member of NAFBC; Legislator Wayne Horsley; Gary Weiner, President of Russell Reid; C. David Butler II, CEO of NABFC; County Executive Steve Levy; Deputy Presiding Officer Vivian Viloria-Fisher; and Neal Lewis, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Network.

North American BioFuels Company has opened the first commercial processing facility in the northeastern United States to convert restaurant grease into biofuel. The Bohemia-based North American BioFuels Company, Inc., will initially be producing up to 1,000 gallons of biodiesel per day in its pilot program, and anticipates it can produce as much as 20,000 gallons daily with a steady waste stream of restaurant grease. Russell Reid, a local, non-hazardous liquid waste hauler, will provide the waste grease supply which will be converted into biodiesel fuel for on-road use, as well as home heating oil.

Biodiesel can be used in any diesel vehicle, or in home heating oil burners. It can be used alone, or mixed with petroleum diesel at any percentage. Biodiesel greatly reduces most diesel emissions, especially particulate matter, sulfates, hydrocarbons (which contribute to ozone formation), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (potential carcinogens). Because it is made from plant material, the carbon dioxide released when biodiesel is burned was absorbed by the plant while it was growing, greatly reducing net greenhouse gas emissions.

This project is an environmental plus on many levels; it takes a local waste product and produces a clean fuel for local use.


Energy Efficient Technology

The Long Island Green Homes Consortium is helping Long Islanders participate in government and utility programs to improve home energy efficiency.

Most Long Islanders have already started making their homes more energy efficient, and less costly to heat and cool.
Shouldn’t you?

According to a 2008 survey, 75% of Long Island homeowners have invested in more insulation in their homes. Energy efficiency investments in your home more than pay for themselves and save you money for years.

  • Now it’s easier than ever to upgrade your home’s energy performance.
  • Start with a free or reduced-cost home energy audit.
  • All contractors are BPI accredited and approved by State and utility.
  • Energy bill savings more than pay for improvements to your home.
  • With low cost financing from NYSERDA, you could have little or no out-of-pocket expenses.

Several utility and government program are available to Long Island homeowners. Visit the LI Green Homes Consortium website to find out how you can get the incentives and benefits that are best for your home.

The Neighborhood Network is partnering with other Long Island environmental, civic, public health and business groups in what may be the largest grass roots public awareness campaign ever on Long Island. The collaborative is working to make every Long Island homeowner aware of the many State, local government and utility sponsored programs that are available to provide assistance in making homes more energy efficient, and urging all Long Islanders to take advantage of these programs.


Neighborhood Network Clean Energy Projects

The Neighborhood Network's clean energy efforts are funded in part by a grant from the Henry Phillip Kraft Memorial Fund at the Long Island Community Foundation.

Clean Energy Leadership Task Force

The Neighborhood Network has launched an exciting program that will work with municipalities to transform their buildings and vehicle fleets to clean energy technologies. See Clean Energy Leadership Task Force.


Long Island Places of Worship Clean Energy Committee

There is growing interest among many religious institution around the country in good stewardship of the planet earth. The Neighborhood Newtork is working to foster and harness this interest on Long Island, to create positive change. To that end we have joined with a number of representatives of religious congregations to form the Long Island Places of Worship Clean Energy Committee. The mission of the committee is to educate leaders and facility managers about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that they can implement in their places of worship.

See Long Island Places of Worship Clean Energy Committee.

The committee presented a conference on Energy Efficiency for Religious Congregations, Thursday, May 10, 2007. The confernece was held at the Neighborhood Network office in Farmingdale, and featured presentations on:

  • Why energy efficiency makes us good stewards of the earth,
  • Financial incentive programs are available to places of worship, and
  • Inspiring success stories from places of worship in our region.

Download a flyer about the conference (pdf format)

The Long Island Places of Worship Clean Energy Committee is made up of various faiths including representatives from Catholic Charities, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington, St. Martin of Tours Outreach, Amityville, Sophia Garden/Homecoming, the LI Council of Churches, Molloy College, and New York State Interfaith Power & Light.

Encourage your congregation to participate; all faiths welcome. Find out more by calling the Neighborhood Network at 631-963-5454.


Neighborhood Network Public Education Campaigns and General Information

Save energy and money with LED holiday lights

Energy Saving Tips -- It's easy!

Global Warming and Fossil Fuel Use Facts

Global Climate Change Presentations

Neighborhood Network hosts Greater Long Island Clean Cities seminar "Municipalities - Fleets of the Future" July 27, 2005

4/18/05 -- LIPA releases Clean Energy Initiative Report for 2004

New York Times Long Island Section profiles Neighborhood Network sponsored screening of "End of Suburbia"

Lessons from the 2003 Blackout


Save Energy!

The United States accounts for 4% of the global population but 43% of energy use. The time is ripe for changes in public attitudes and behavior on energy consumption and climate change. Climate scientists have extensive documentation of the effects of climate change already occurring. The continuing violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel & Palestine, highlight the instability of the Middle East. The heightened focus on national security call into question the U.S.'s increasing dependence on foreign oil, when the world's largest reserves are located in extremely volatile regions. These energy supply and national security concerns, rising fuel prices, combined with the environmental goals of improving local air quality and reducing climate change provide strong incentives for change.

There are a number of steps that all of us can take, both by adopting new technologies and by changing our habits to reduce our use of non-renewable energy resources:

Five Steps Towards Energy Efficiency

1) Lighting -- Replace incandescent bulbs with long-lasting, power saving compact fluorescent bulbs. By changing to compact fluorescence the average consumer can save 50-80% in their lighting energy costs. (To learn more about efficient lighting see www.greenseal.org.) LED lights are even more efficient and are being used in applications from exit signs to holiday lights. Install motion sensors so lights are not left on when there is nobody present. Use task lighting instead of room lighting. When possible use natural lighting sources such as skylights and "light-pipes."

2) Efficient appliances -- Replace old, electricity-hungry appliances that waste power and money with new, Energy Star labeled devices. Heavy electricity users include: refrigerators; washing machines (LIPA offers a rebate off the purchase of Energy Star clothes washers); dishwashers; and air conditioners. (LIPA also provides rebates on Energy Star central air conditioners.) To learn more about efficient lighting see www.greenseal.org.

3) Energy saving practices --

  • Check your refrigerator -- defrost, check seals, clean coils.
  • Use a programmable thermostat for heating and central air, don't waste money and energy heating or cooling your house when nobody is home. (See the LIPA Edge program for getting a thermostat.)
  • Use fans instead of air conditioners.
  • Many appliances and electronic devices use power even when they are turned off, unplug them, or use a power strip with a switch to cut these "energy vampires" off.
  • See LIPA's web site for a web-based, do-it-yourself home energy audit.
  • Cut down on peak usage, do laundry and dishes at night or in the morning, set pool pumps to run during off peak hours (after 8:00 p.m.)

For more tips see the Sustainable Energy Alliance of Long Island and the NRDC web sites.

4) Hybrid and alternative power cars -- If you are in the market for a new car, hybrid cars are becoming available in more models (Honda Insight & Civic, Toyota Prius, Ford Escape, and others), and more are slated to be on the market soon. Using both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, hybrid cars get substantially better gas mileage than conventional cars, but don't have the range limitations and special recharging requirements of electric vehicles. (More information about how hybrid cars work.)

Read about the Neighborhood Network staff's experience with a compressed natural gas (CNG) powered car.

5) Major home system upgrades --

Geothermal heating and cooling -- Geothermal heat pumps use the ambient temperature of the earth to heat and cool your home. An EPA study found that geothermal systems are the most energy and cost efficient available.

Solar power -- The power of the sun can be used to heat water, or to create electricity. Photovoltaic systems produce the most electricity in the summer, when demand is the highest, and could potentially reduce the peak load significantly. The cost of photovoltaic systems can be offset by Federal and NY State credits and LIPA's Solar Pioneer program, and now NY State and Suffolk County have eliminated the sales tax on solar PV systems.

 


Lessons from the 2003 Blackout

1) We know the blackout spread quickly and widely because of an antiquated electricity transmission system during a period of heavy load. An updated transmission grid would be more energy efficient and less likely to fail. Electricity providers also need to fix bottlenecks in the grid where they exist.

2) The blackout makes it more apparent that we must conserve energy (see LIPA statement below) and should actively urge our representatives to reinstate higher efficiency air conditioner standards that were recently overturned by the Bush administration. Reducing strain on the electricity grid through efficiency conservation not only means that we are doing our part for the electricity grid, but also saves us money on energy bills, and reduces the amount of greenhouse gases we produce which contribute to global climate change. See LIPA's "LIPA Edge" program at www.lipaedge.com which allows LIPA to lower central air demand if needed.

3) We must also urge for alternative power such as solar panels, wind and hydrogen fuel cells, and adopt new federal rules that allow these alternative power sources access to the electricity grid. LIPA offers an excellent rebate for solar panels for homes and businesses. See www.lipower.org/solar/index.html.

4) Some policy makers are already starting to take advantage of the blackout to push environmentally destructive energy policies that will do nothing to solve the transmission grid problems. Relaxing environmental regulations on power plant air pollution, drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and opening up sensitive public lands to oil and gas exploration will do nothing to fix transmission bottlenecks at the root of the recent blackout.


Additional Energy Related Links:

www.lift.org/committees_detail.cfm?id=3 (Great L.I. Clean Cities Coalition)

www.renewableenergylongisland.org

www.fuelcells.org

www.geoexchange.org (ground source heating and cooling)

sips.org (structural insulated panels)

www.awea.org (wind generation info)

maglev2000.com (magnetically levitated trains)

www.eren.doe.gov/hydrogen (hydrogen info)

www.nrel.gov (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

www.lipower.org/cei (LIPA's Clean Energy Initiative)

www.lipower.org/watts (to enroll online in LIPA's Watts Going Down program)

 

Neighborhood Network
7180 Republic Airport, East Farmingdale, NY 11735 Tel: (631) 963-5454
Advocates for Long Island's Environment