Monthly Archives: July 2014

Pres. Obama Announces Climate Change Initiatives

President Obama announced a series of climate change initiatives on July 16, 2014 aimed mainly at improving the nation’s ability to withstand adverse physical effects of climate change (adaptation), such as safeguarding electricity production and transmission, improving flooding, erosion and storm surge planning, and better managing landslide risks. A Fact Sheet describing the initiatives:

These actions were among the recommendations of the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, a group of 26 officials who have worked since November to develop the proposals.

One of the recommended projects involves safeguarding the nation’s power supply during climate catastrophes, such as extreme storms damaging power infrastructure and lines and hotter weather resulting in greater surges in demand that the system may not be able to currently meet. The Dept of Agriculture awarded $236.3 million to 8 states to improve electricity infrastructure in rural areas.

Addressing another recommendation, the US Geological Survey and other federal agencies said they would spend $13.1 million to develop advanced 3-dimensional mapping data available to any municipality to provide information to draft strategies in response to weather-related disasters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a guide titled “Assessing Health Vulnerability to Climate Change” ( to help identify health hazards that might be caused by climate change.

These new initiatives are part of a broader White House strategy to address climate change. Besides these initiatives to prepare for adverse physical climate change effects, the White House wishes to become a leader in reducing GHG emissions to lessen climate change impacts. It issued an Executive Order to support a USEPA plan directing states to submit proposals to reduce GHG emissions from coal-fired power plants. The plan is expected to reduce demand for coal, spur growth in the usage of natural gas for power (which emits much less GHGs than coal per Btu), and foster research into reducing GHG emissions from coal combustion.

CCES has been researching and is qualified to consult in ways for you to adapt to future climate change effects. Lessen the damage and negative business impacts on you of severe storms, drought, and extreme hot weather, and also enable you to bounce back (be resilient) faster. We can help you survive and thrive. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Good Things You Can Do At Home

The articles of this blog and newsletter focus mainly on new regulations, Supreme Court rulings, how you can save energy and lessen environmental impacts at your office or industrial area, etc. Good things to help you at your job. One thing I should also provide is good energy/environmental tips for you at home to save you money, too because we all know that energy is a growing portion of our household budget. So here they are. And feel free to use these to put together your own list to provide to your employees so you can have a hand in making their lives better to and engender support at work.

1. Buy Energy StarTM-labeled products. This joint EPA/DOE program lists the most energy efficient products around. Such products are typically a little more expensive upfront than non-Energy Star rated equivalents, but pay back that difference in a short time. This covers household items like TVs, refrigerators, laptops, printers, etc. This is probably the most cost effective way to reduce your energy costs.

2. Convert lighting to LEDs. After some initial problems, LEDs are now reliable and here to stay. LEDs are made for nearly every application in a home (or office), and can be dimmed or similarly controlled. Yes, they are more expensive, but make it up in energy savings and their longevity (fewer replacements and trips up the ladder).

3. Your car. Certainly, a car with a high mpg rating will provide major cost savings and fewer trips to the gas station. But it also means lower emissions from the tailpipe and lower exposure to your family and others. With that in mind, minimize the idling you may do at your children’s school, the supermarket, etc. Carpool with neighbors and encourage them not to idle either. Your town may have a law against it already.

4. Your clothing. Choose a dry cleaner that does not use “PERC”, a toxic compound. PERC can stick to your clothes and be slowly released and build up in the contained space of your closets or on your body, where it can be absorbed into your bloodstream. “Green” cleaners are popping up in a lot of communities.

5. Your indoor air. We all spend more time indoors so the quality of that air we breathe is important. Be careful if you “freshen” a room with scented candles or air freshener. The chemicals contained in air fresheners, while smelling nice, and released from burning candles may be harmful. Consider opening a few windows regularly (if safe) to let in fresh air, such as on a summer night. Also, consider reading labels and buying “green” home cleaning products to minimize volatile toxics in the indoor air.

6. Your food and water. What we should eat or drink is up to us. However, we all can agree that it is best not to re-heat food stored in plastic in the microwave. This can cause leaching of chemicals from the plastic container or wrap onto your food. Be aware of your municipal water. Most meet regulatory standards. If you are concerned, use a filter and store in glass or steel containers and minimize plastic.

CCES has the experts to help you with technical upgrades to help your commercial space use less energy and to reduce the environmental and health impacts on your staff. Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.

More About Selling Your Energy Projects Internally

Last month, this newsletter’s featured article was about how to sell energy or sustainability projects internally, to explain the value of a proposed project to the decision makers and get them to say yes. It got a lot of clicks (Thank you!), and I hope it gave you some good ideas to apply at your organization. With that in mind, I present more approaches and strategies to communicate the value of such projects. Much of this material derives from academic research conducted by Ann Dale and Rob Newell of Royal Roads University in Meeting the Climate Change Challenge (

Here they provide additional tips (with some interpretation from me) to help anybody communicate the need and benefits of performing energy and sustainability projects.

1. A picture is worth a thousand words

As discussed last month, it is critical to communicate the total value and benefits of a proposed project. While we engineers and scientists like to use numbers to express this, visual images could more effectively show (non-technical) decision makers the benefits of a proposed energy or sustainability project.

Visualization might include showing maps of where a company’s properties or manufacturing centers are located contrasted to nearest energy sources or water availability, etc., potentially demonstrating the future shortage or high cost of obtaining such resources. A map may be able to show vulnerable properties near bodies of water or in flood zones, demonstrating how they may be vulnerable to severe weather. Another example is showing pictures of transportation routes to and from key facilities and how vulnerable they may be to hurricanes, flooding, fires, and other disasters. For a municipality, a map can show vulnerable areas that would potentially need more resources unless preventive infrastructure upgrades can be implemented.

2. Demonstrate that your proposed project will benefit many departments

It is natural to focus the selling of a potential project on the benefits to one’s own group (after all, that’s what we focus our time) and/or the overall organization. However, it is also more effective to list specific benefits for other departments and how it may help them solve their problems. Remember, in the example I gave last month, I cited how efficient lighting will save a municipality significant costs (making the Treasurer happy), free maintenance workers to do other tasks (pleasing Public Works), and make downtown more inviting for people to shop and spend money (make the Mayor happy). Senior managers like to be able to solve multiple problems at once. Who wouldn’t like a project that can assist in addressing multiple problems and facilitate progress?

3. Success requires collaboration, which breeds more innovation

Sustainability and energy conservation are unique in that it takes many different skills for a program to work. No single expert or group has all the solutions for sustainability. Multiple specialties, such as engineering (electrical, mechanical, environmental, energy), legal, financial, product development, marketing, and social, must work as a team to accomplish all of the goals reliably. Sharing of multiple talents across departments and specialists outside the organization spurs innovation and success.

4. Look inward for valuable information

Some of the best sources of information about how a facility operates and how they can benefit are from those that work there. Yes, managers and directors. But also, “blue-collar” staff employees have valuable ideas, working there every day. I have worked on many environmental and energy projects where plant employees and Admins. have given me valuable information about the workings of the plant, office, etc. that was unknown to managers. Explaining to them your ideas to save the organization money or improve flexibility and sustainability will likely motivate them to provide such information to you and can provide additional benefits to work performance to share with managers.

5. Phrase such proposed project as “Win-Win” opportunities and as real

With all of this, there may still be skepticism among decision makers for sustainability and energy projects because they were not taught about this in school and/or have never faced an energy “crisis”. While this project may be proposed to avoid a crisis, the decision maker may not have served during an actual crisis, such as the Oil Embargo of the late 1970’s, to fully appreciate the impacts. Therefore, it is important to point out the implications and the risks involved in either not performing the project or doing so while “cutting corners.” Numerical estimates of potential money, prestige, markets, etc. lost by not performing the project at all or properly should be researched and included.

Decision makers sometimes fear being the “guinea pig.” Therefore, it is a good idea to document similar projects done by other organizations, including competitors, enabling the decision makers to realize this is not theoretical material, but real science that has worked in the “real world” and has benefited others.

CCES can help you or your group prepare proposals and presentations concerning energy, sustainability, and environmental projects for internal review and approval, highlighting the many and specific values that it can give your entity. And, of course, we can manage and implement the projects, too, to achieve those savings and benefits. We are here to help you succeed and meet your goals! Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.

Supreme Court Rules on Regulating GHGs

On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court mostly upheld and partly rejected USEPA’s “Tailoring” rule pertaining to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary sources.

The decision concerns two major stationary source permitting programs, PSD and the Title V, being “tailored” to address GHGs. In 2010, the USEPA announced that it was adding GHG emissions to the list of pollutants covered in each program. Various states and industry groups challenged the change, and the Supreme Court gave its ruling.

7 justices held that the USEPA can require sources that are subject to PSD because other pollutants exceeding thresholds (“Anyway Sources”) to also control their GHG emissions. However, a majority of the Court also held that a source’s GHG emissions by itself cannot mandate PSD and Title V permitting, a setback for the USEPA.

By exempting sources of GHGs which are not subject to PSD or Title V due to other pollutants, many large sources of GHGs who emit relatively small quantities of other pollutants would be exempt from such permitting and control, which includes some landfills, pulp and paper producers, electronics plants, and beverage producers. However, the USEPA stated that despite the ruling, about 83% of GHG emissions would still be covered, compared with 86% of emissions had the Court allowed regulation of all sources.

The Supreme Court focused its decision on the application of GHG regulation to the specific programs and not to Section 111(d) of the CAA, which gives the agency latitude to add pollutants to any program if the prevailing scientific research states that the pollutant in question needs regulating to protect public health and the environment. Some complainants said this part of the CAA was unfair and should be struck down. The Supreme Court did not address this in its ruling.

This ruling is also unrelated to the USEPA’s request to set emission standards for GHGs under a separate provision of the Clean Air Act. On June 2, Pres. Obama announced proposed rules calling for a 30% reduction in GHG emissions from existing power plants, including coal-fired facilities.

CCES has the experts to provide you with technical interpretations of Air and other environmental rules applied to your operations and facility. While it is important to retain the proper legal experts, CCES can provide technical explanations to these very technically-written rules and also provide the most cost-effective strategies to reliably comply with the rules. Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.

Climate Change And US Energy Infrastructure

According to a recent GAO report (, US energy infrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to a range of climate change impacts, increasing the risk of disruptions of energy critical for your operations, such as:

• Resource extraction/processing infrastructure. Oil and gas platforms, refineries, and processing plants are often located in areas vulnerable to severe weather/sea level rise.

• Fuel transportation/storage infrastructure. Pipelines, railways and storage tanks are susceptible to damage from severe weather, melting permafrost, and increased rain.

• Electricity generation. Power plants are vulnerable to severe weather/water shortages.

• Electricity transmission and distribution. Power lines and substations are susceptible to severe weather and stressed by rising demand for electricity as temperatures rise.

What can be done to help reduce climate-related risks and adapt energy systems to climate-related impacts? Options generally fall into two broad categories—hardening and resiliency. Hardening measures involve physical changes that improve the durability of specific pieces of infrastructure, such as elevating and sealing water-sensitive equipment. Resiliency measures allow energy systems to continue operating after an event and to recover more quickly, such as, installing back-up generators.

The report states that the most of the changes to adapt to climate change must occur at the local government and private levels, although some federal support can happen. Energy infrastructure adaptation is best accomplished by good planning and design. Some useful approaches by local municipal and private entities include:

• Design more resilient, lower maintenance roadways, bridges, facilities and roads;

• Incorporate materials which will perform well in weather extremes;

• Better control of precipitation runoff including pavement redesign and strengthening its conveyance system to prevent erosion;

• Stronger and lower maintenance bridge design, looking to long-term usefulness;

• Maintain proper wetlands to ensure water uptake during floods/erosion resiliency;

• Larger capacity pumps/pump stations to mitigate key road flooding;

• Improve infrastructure to resist more freeze-thaw, deep frosts and droughts; and

• Encourage residents/businesses/workers to reduce demand on electric grid.

CCES has the experts to help your building, company, or municipality understand potential impacts of extreme weather and help you plan to reduce the risks and increase the speed in which you bounce back from an event. The time to plan and act is now. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at