EcoOutfitters Attends Sustainable Long Island Conference
EcoOutfitters provides solar installer listings for people all across the U.S, but our staff is also involved in solar energy and sustainability measures right in our own backyard within the New York tri-state area. (When we use the term “in our own backyard,” it’s not just a cliche, either, as EcoOutfitter co-founder Raina Russo’s solar PV array covers nearly her entire southeast-facing backyard roof!)
Earlier this month, Raina and I attended the sixth annual Sustainable Long Island Conference, themed “The Many Facets of Sustainability,” at Carlyle’s on the Green at Bethpage State Park in New York. True to its title, the event covered everything from sustainably grown, local organic food to energy initiatives. We attended the workshop session Greening Long Island, which included David Smith, the director of business development from Lime Energy’s New York and Mid-Atlantic region as the moderator along with some other expert panelists, including Sammy Chu, vice chairman, USGBC—LI Commissioner, Suffolk County Department of Labor; John Franceschina, P.E., director of commercial programs, Long Island Power Authority; Jonathan Lane, president of Quad State Solar; and Mark Wyman, project manager of the New York State Energy Research Development Authority.
The discussion centered largely around how sustainability professionals could get individuals more involved in taking advantage of programs available here on Long Island. We are fortunate to have access to resources such as free energy audits through New York State Energy Research Development Authority and programs like Long Island Green Homes, which offers grant money to residents interested in making energy efficient improvements in their homes.
The money is available, but many people are either too unsure, too busy, or just too skeptical to take the first steps.
The highlight of the afternoon was the luncheon, which featured an array of food from local businesses and sustainably-grown local wine from Bedell Cellars, whose owner Richard Olsen-Harbich is co-founder of the organization Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing. Good food was enhanced by a moving keynote speech from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, the former Babylon Town supervisor. Bellone spoke about the revitalization efforts in Wyandanch, with an emphasis on sustainable building. “Community planning is key to sustainability,” he said.
We were fortunate to catch Executive Bellone’s ear to thank him for supporting sustainability and renewable energy and for being an inspiration to Long Island residents in the Town of Babylon and beyond for so many years. We also reminded him to vote Yes for the New York Solar Jobs Act. (We did, however, forget to ask him if he has solar panels on his own home!)
If one theme stood out during the Long Island Sustainability conference, it was this: Sustainability starts with local communities and, even before that, with simple steps that individuals can take in their own homes. If an island with more than 6 million people (Nassau and Suffolk counties only) can move toward sustainability, it can be done anywhere.
We’d like to hear your thoughts below: What small, green steps can you take to make a difference locally in your community?