Forum Hopes to Supply Roadmap to a Sustainable Sag Harbor


By Kathryn G. Menu

In an effort to provide residents and government leaders with successful models of historic communities that have embraced energy efficiency in the modern era, next Saturday, Sag Harbor’s own environmental organization, 725 Green, will host “Clean Energy Opportunities for Sag Harbor,” a community workshop.

On April 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the community is invited to the Pierson High School Library for a free workshop led by Clean Air-Cool Planet, an organization dedicated to finding and promoting solutions to the global warming crisis.

Clean Air-Cool Planet President and CEO Adam Markham will open the workshop with “Local Climate Leadership: The Story of Local Energy Committees.” According to Sumner Pingree, a member of 725 Green and organizer of the event, local energy committees have been instrumental in addressing and promoting energy efficiency on the municipal level.

 “The establishment of local energy commissions as a part of local government has been a movement that has really gained traction,” he said on Monday. “The organization, Clean Air-Cool Planet, has been a leader in guiding, supporting and giving resources to communities throughout the Northeast to accomplish this in their own way. Some have established energy commissions that sit as an advisory board alongside the zoning board of appeals and historic district commissions, and have helped communities come up with climate action plans.”

Markham’s talk will be followed by a presentation by Anne Stephenson, a certified energy auditor, green building consultant and outreach coordinator for Clean Air-Cool Planet. She will present an overview of Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and Historic Preservation: A Guide for Historic District Commissions – a 40-page handbook developed by the organization to help historic commissions, local organizations and property owners improve efficiency in historic buildings. Stephenson will follow up that lecture with a talk on energy efficiency in historic homes, a discussion aimed at giving homeowners tools on how to make their historic residences more efficient through specific weatherization measures and by working with energy auditors in the community.

Pingree said residents in Sag Harbor have shown a keen interest in addressing energy efficiency in the historic village – an interest seen in communities around the country, as people attempt to make private and public properties not only more efficient for environmental reasons, but more affordable and sustainable over time.

“We wanted, with this workshop, to introduce the range of possibilities that are out there, give people tangible tools,” said Pingree on Tuesday.

Pingree has been familiar with the work of Markham for 20 years, as the two became professionally acquainted in Washington D.C. tackling environmental policy. Clean Air-Cool Planet has been working in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. for a decade, and Pingree said their work in small communities across the region has been impressive, giving towns like Nantucket the resources and support to develop their own climate action plan and energy efficient guidelines, adopted into the town’s building code.

It is Pingree’s hope that Clean Air-Cool Planet will have a similar impact on Sag Harbor, and that the workshop will be beginning of a larger discussion, followed by municipal action, towards creating a more efficient historic village. Prior to Saturday’s community meeting, on Friday Clean Air-Cool Planet representatives will meet with government leaders, including Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board Chairman Cee Scott Brown and Sag Harbor Village Trustee Robby Stein.

“This will be their first visit,” said Pingree. “Really, it is about them coming in, seeing the level of interest here and talking about some of the things they can do. If the village is interested in working with Clean Air-Cool Planet, I think 725 GREEN has already committed itself to doing a baseline assessment of the village’s carbon footprint, which is the first step towards creating a climate action plan.”

Resident and environmental advocate Sara Gordan is leading that task, and according to Pingree, a private funding source may be available to hire Stony Brook University students to aid the organizations in their assessment of government and school district buildings throughout Sag Harbor.

“I think there is some onus on the village board to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down on their interest to perhaps establish something like a local energy commission as an advisory group,” said Pingree, adding Stein has expressed optimism the village could be eligible for funding to tackle the projects.

Clean Energy Opportunities for Sag Harbor will be held on Saturday, April 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Pierson High School Library.