IMT participated in New York City’s Climate Week this year in a few new ways. Here are our takeaways:
Equity and climate justice must be front and center
This year IMT was proud to have Precious Rideout, Director of IMT’s Community Engagement team, as a Grist 50 Fixer. She presented onstage for a storytelling session during the Clinton Global Initiative event. Precious and her team‘s work over the last two and half years has led to a significant shift in the way that IMT collaborates with communities as we pursue solutions like building performance standards.
Our webinar on equitable policymaking for the built environment was also officially a Climate Week event (200+ registrants!), and one of our Community Climate Shift grantees, Melissa Miles, spoke at a New School event on centering environmental justice.
Highlighting the work of individuals and communities dedicated to climate justice provides a much-needed perspective for traditional climate events. It’s also worth noting that the first day of the conference coincided with a youth-led March to End Fossil Fuels. All this reflects the understanding that we cannot simply lower carbon emissions at the expense of frontline communities. We must consciously and continuously center BIPOC, low-wealth, and other historically marginalized people in our efforts to co-design equitable climate solutions rooted in a Just Transition.
Better buildings are critical for a better climate
On Sep. 21, IMT Executive Director Lotte Schlegel attended a Climate Alliance event in New York City announcing new state climate commitments to be achieved through building improvements. This week, the state of Oregon joined the National Building Performance Standards Coalition (Coalition). This means approximately 1/3 of U.S. buildings over 25,000 sq ft are now within the Coalition.
First announced in January 2022, the National BPS Coalition comprises state and local governments that commit to equitably decarbonize America’s buildings and increase community ownership in climate action by establishing co-designed building retrofit and upgrade policies in their communities by Earth Day 2024 (first cohort) or 2026 (second cohort). With the addition of Oregon, IMT estimates the potential impact of the Coalition to be:
- Better buildings for almost 82 million people
- $123 billion cumulatively invested in buildings through 2040
- 632 million metric tons of CO2e cumulatively eliminated through 2040
To date, IMT has provided hands-on support to BPS efforts nationally and will continue to provide tools and guidance for all entities interested in turning Coalition efforts into reality.
Funding for climate justice is still needed
IMT has partnered with the People’s Climate Innovation Center and a network of equity, environmental justice, and building decarbonization leaders to enable a new, community-led model of policymaking. Our initiative, Community Climate Shift, has issued a call for philanthropic support to fund community engagement and leadership in relation to these policies. IMT and its team recently received a $5 million award from the Department. of Energy to provide certain jurisdictions technical assistance. Due to onerous federal reporting requirements, funds for community organizations must be raised separately. Community Climate Shift is working to match or exceed these federal dollars. The goal is to offer a scalable, viable model for just policies that reduce carbon emissions from buildings.