Steven Cohen on the Small Steps Toward a Renewable Energy Economy

In an article in The Huffington Post, Steven Cohen, academic director of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management, discussed the possibilities for a renewable energy economy in the U.S. and how it can be achieved.

According to Cohen, "The low-hanging fruit in the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is energy efficiency." He described how New York City is an outlier in this field because "we use a higher proportion of energy in our buildings than in transport," whereas "in most parts of the United States, a large source of greenhouse gas emissions is from transportation."

The way to tackle this, Cohen explained, has been described in a report released by the nonprofit organization Energy Efficiency for All. "The report advocates a number of low-cost changes in heating equipment and training that they estimate could save $147 million dollars and 312,000 tons of carbon a year. While the basic source of energy for New York's boilers remains gas and oil, we can still reduce the amount we burn while remaining warm and comfortable in the winter."

Cohen said that another significant way that energy is wasted "is in the process of transmitting energy from generating plants to homes and businesses." Innovative power grids with higher degrees of efficiency are being proposed, and "Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYSERDA Chair Richard Kauffman, and NYSERDA (New York State's Energy Research and Development Authority) CEO John Rhodes deserve praise for putting in place a modest, but creative program to start the process of building a smart grid in New York."

Lastly, Cohen talked about solar energy, criticizing the coming reduction in tax credit. "The renewable energy tax credit, now in place, has been dramatically successful in seeding the solar energy industry. Currently 30 percent of the cost of the new technology is provided as a tax credit. In January of 2017, that number goes down to 10 percent. It is impossible to project the impact of this reduced tax credit on new solar installations, but it can't be helpful. Solar has great momentum behind it and this is not the time to make it less attractive to finance."

Cohen concluded by pointing out how "these small scale improvements...are the front line of the transition to a renewable energy economy in the U.S. The transition will take at least a generation, and while it has already begun, its speed depends on the attention we all pay to the nuts and bolts of implementing these changes in our homes, businesses, organizations and communities."

Read the full article here, and find out more about our Sustainability Management graduate program.