The Garrison Institute

The Climate Mind and Behavior (CMB) Program at the Garrison Institute in New York connects new insights from social and behavioral sciences with new thinking on social and energy solutions to the climate crisis. The program director, Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, describes CMB as “a hub of a growing learning network connecting science, policy, regulation and implementation to make people-centered solutions available to policymakers, building owners, sustainability managers, and community organizations.”

I can’t say how excited I have been to participate in this year’s Climate, Buildings and Behavior program. Hosted in this old monastery, the community of invited practitioners really bonded over shared meals, the packed schedule of lectures, and of course some after-hours socializing.

The idea behind the Garrison Institute is to provide a space for retreat and reflection, to crystalize learning, and then bring that back to the workplace. Before and after each session of lectures, we sat for a few minutes in quiet contemplation. John McElroy (from the ULI) facilitated these windows of pause, and helped everyone take a few deep breaths to really enable the discussion to settle into our selves. I was glad for this new dimension in conference behavior and hope to do this in more settings in the future. The practice of mindfulness and the integration of intuition with intelligence is an important aspect of our paradigm shift. I’m happy to be a part and ally in this process with this new tool – contemplative practice.

The location was really effective at fostering a peaceful and reflective tenor for the presentations. I took 24 pages of notes and connected with a few dozen new professional contacts.

Some of the best tidbits I picked up:

Skate where the puck is going, not where it’s been (Wayne Gretzky, about focusing on goals)

Set up commitment structures – events, meetings, publications – to manage follow-through

Lord Stern, author of The “Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change” pegs the target for global per-person carbon emissions as 1 Ton / person /yr. US per person/yr is 23 Tons currently.

A ship may be safe in the harbor, bu that’s not what ships are for – William Shedd

Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it is the soft voice in penis enlargement extender the evening that says “I’ll try again tomorrow” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Stuart Brodsky – formerly at GE Capital Real Estate, noted that the increasing presence of automatic technologies to manage things like lighting mean that people don’t have to think as much about using energy – and maybe this is the opposite of what is actually more powerful. We need people to care about energy and want to not use much; rather than rely on technology to make energy conservation effortless.

Jeff Brodsky from the Related Companies explored why in 40 years we still have not “solved” the energy/carbon crisis. Why not? One reason is that the technologies that are available for buildings creates complex systems that don’t have 100% certainty. He noted that in seeking confidence from engineers and project managers about a prospective design choice, 80% of 80% of 80% is 50%, which is a coin toss. Not exactly motivating.

Patricial Connnolly – Dir of Sustainability for REEF noted how efficiency gains in buildings are eaten by growth of space use. We need to measure kWh/occupant-hour, not the usual kWh/sf.

Constantine Kontokosta – Director at the Center for the Sustainable Built Environment at NYU described his work to gather data on 11,000 buildings in NYC and to make available their energy performance data. It is not forcing owners to change, but the market will respond – just like putting calorie labels on confections at a coffee shop.

There is really too much to report. I’ll make a few more entries to expand on some of this. One more note I recall from Susan Hunt Stevens, of Practically Green, who made sure we remembered that our efforts at “occupant engagement” are actually about people. We are doing community engagement with sustainability. These occupants are actually real people, and we better not forget that.

Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez left us with a few more thoughts, especially the idea that behavior change can lead values change: we don’t have to change values first. So there are opportunities to use technology, peer modeling, and repeated messaging to spur behavior change, which can then open up and result in new, deeper values, in line with the new behavior. Something to work on already.

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