Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NYAGP Green Expo and Talks

This event happened on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 6:15 at Amber (432 6th Ave., NYC)

About NYAGP: New York Association of Green Professionals was launched in November 2010 by Pankaj Gupta and has quickly grown to 185 "Green-tech lovers." Pankaj's goal is to
“We want to help small business in growing and developing. NYAGP is committed to make their products / services more visible through this event and it`s distinct features such as 'Green Expo' and 'Presentations'.”
`NYAGP is a distinct platform which provides great networking and learning opportunity to Green Professionals through conferences and networking events. 
NYAGP also helps innovators and entrepreneurs get their idea commercialized by providing help in finding a well- balanced team, writing business plan and generating seed funding.
Here are their sites:
Meetup (main site)

Their next Meetup is already scheduled for March 26 - check it out here.

Last night's event was mainly networking with 3 presentations in the middle. The following is my summary of the presentations.

1. Brett Anitra Gilbert, Ph.D. (Texas A&M University, Rutgers University): Challenges for Entrepreneurs in the Commercialism of Green Technologies
Brett Anitra Gilbert has a background in hydrogen fuel cell technology. Once she began to see how useful fuel cell tech. is, she wondered why is wasn't more widespread. Her presentation was aimed at showing the challenges faced by creators of green technologies in marketing their products. These challenges were divided into market challenges and then business challenges. (Arrows represent her ideas for solutions.)
  1. Lack of awareness of the environmental problem --> Educated the market place
  2. Apathy (people just don't care) --> Make the products convenient
  3. Cost (new products are ore expensive because they are not yet produced on a large scale), and limited value proposition --> Marketing
  4. Lack of infrastructure to support new technologies / insufficient supply chain (limited number of suppliers who control the market and can increase prices) --> Create aftermarket support
  5. Competing technologies (people don't understand the uses) --> Education
  6. Politics! 
    • Gilbert's claim was that the government is constantly changing preferences, like flavors, each year, so each year investments from the government shift. 
    • Big business prevents new technologies from coming up --> Entrepreneurs need to plug into their trade association to have support and lobbyists on their side. 
Questions for consideration:
  1. How efficient is hydrogen? (At the moment it is still being produced by coal plants, which is horribly inefficient.)
  2. How can we get past U.S. government subsidies for big business?
    • At the moment big business has so much control over the government that they effectively push down new, sustainable technologies because they fear the competition. 
    • Gilbert's answer was that only time will let this pass. If the people make a change in demand, then businesses will follow. However, I don't think this can come quickly enough. We need the government (not lobbyists) to step in and take control of the situation: to promote sustainable technology, and take away power from big business. 
    • Her other answer was a carbon tax. [My opinion] Carbon taxes have been widely supported, but big business is not going to tax itself, and, at the moment, they likely have too much power for the government to side-step them. In Maryland a carbon tax was imposed that was above the carbon output. When carbon output fell the tax remained at previous levels and was completely ineffective. 

2. Scott Van Pelt, LEED GA, Urban Green Energy: Advances in Small Wind
Since the first wind farm was started in New Hampshire in 1980, the wind turbine industry has been growing. Wind turbines use wind to move the coils of a generator rather than the traditional method of steam. There are 3 types of wind turbine - Horizontal axis (which whistles), the Savonious type, and the Darrieus type. The latter two are both on a vertical axis. Pelt's company, Urban Green Energy installs Darrieus type turbines on a small scale.

There are 3 things to consider when setting up a wind project: swept area, siting, and battery vs. grid tie. And there have been quite a few advances to the wind industry recently - venture capital funding is increasing, the federal government has increased funding, universities are creating majors based on sustainable energy, and improved siting technology.

It is also important to consider buyer motivations for wind energy: 1. living a more sustainable lifestyle (for the true tree-huggers among us) 2. LEED/marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility for businesses who want to have a 'green image' 3. Return on investment.

So, why wind? There are a number of benefits to wind energy: 1. Wind can be harnessed almost anywhere 2. Wind turbines have a smaller footprint than solar (claim by Pelt, although I am not sure of the data for this) 3. Lower cost 4. Wind-solar hybrid systems (these are very useful because on nice days it is sunny but not windy, and during storms it is windy but not sunny etc.)

Questions for consideration:
  1. What resources do we have here in NYC?
    • Wind is relatively viable in NYC and there are a few companies
    • Urban Green Energy is launching a pilot project in the Bronx

3. Christine Vescovo: Greensulate
Greensulate was founded by Amy Norquist and has won many awards. They focus on designing and creating green roofs and make very individualized projects. They work with the New York Restoration Project. Normal roofs have to be replaced every 10-15 years, but green roofs can last up to 100 years!
About Greensulate: "Greensulate is on the leading-edge of integrated design, engineering, installation and maintenance of Green Roof Systems for the residential, commercial, and industrial markets as well as public & private institutions. We partner with architecture firms, conventional roofing contractors, engineers, real estate owners & developers and facilities managers across the U.S. to design highly customized Green Roof Systems, manage their installation, and offer important on-going maintenance services. All Greensulate Project Managers are certified Green Roof Professionals (GRP’s) accredited by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities." 


Overall the event went very smoothly. It was great to be able to talk to everyone, rather than the general format in which everyone sits down and listens to a few panelists and then leaves without having connected. I think this sort of even will be very important for connecting the environmental community and increasing collaboration. 


  1. Interesting how you really did not cover the very important question about how whether government was in fact stopping sensible sustainability efforts by interfering in the free market. Its not only about the government also supporting petro, coal and other industries but how they eliminate competition and investment by giving grants to only their connected favorite companies. If we are truly going to implement technology for the benefit of humanity then we should get the government out of the business of business. Let's just look at what ethanol has done to food shortages and now mid east food prices. Can we get logical? That is why we participate in these industries to help humanity....and make money.

    (Re meetup)This group is excellent and will do a great deal for small business, I highly recommend it.

    Mark Nejmeh

  2. I agree with what you're saying but do think i touched on it in my post.

    "How can we get past U.S. government subsidies for big business?
    At the moment big business has so much control over the government that they effectively push down new, sustainable technologies because they fear the competition."

    The government interferes with the free market because of pressure from big business. However, it is more complicated than just 'getting government out of the business of business.' Doing this is complicated - it is way easier to say than it is to do. It is natural that companies that control much of the money in the country will have a big say in the politics.

    Mark, any ideas for how we could feasibly 'get government out of the business of business'?

    Thanks for the comment and I look forward to continuing the discussion.

  3. Sara,

    I must respond by saying that it was definitely the egg before the chicken. Government favors were sold to big business for the sake of power. The left supports the government and the government supports their connected friends. Big business is no longer threatened by any competition because they have eliminated the access to capital to new technologies and sold all of the lefties to support the governmnet, and preach the goverment is the only cure. Unfortunately this medicine is bad, its been tested and no one cares. Our financial markets are no longer a tool for capitalism they are the pawns of lobbyists and special interests especially the unions and big companies. If you truly want to see humanity flourish get behind free markets and an ever rotating congress. The path has been clear to me. Our educational institutions have been heavily supported by endless government funding . Within these institutions are deeply implanted unions that support a socialist approach to moving humanity forward. We don't have two seperate political parties any longer with seperate goals. They have the same goal, control the middle class by keeping them down by manipulating the free market system for chrony capitalism.

    Would love to continue this in an open forum debate.

    Mark Nejmeh