Posted in banking, divest, solutions

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Her retirement funds were doing well, but my friend Lynn was feeling guilty.

A retired schoolteacher, she had a 401K fund. Every pay cycle, a percentage of her income had gone into this fund. Over the years, she also put money in individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Both funds are tax-exempt, meaning she didn’t pay taxes on this income the year she earned it. Both accounts were also invested in mutual funds, an aggregation of stocks, bonds and commodities that diversify investments, and therefore spread risk.

This was written for the January 2020 issue of GRID Magazine. Read entire column here.

Posted in electrify everything, energy efficiency

Better buildings, better future

You tune up your bike each year, right? And your car? So, why not buildings?

By improving the energy efficiency of our buildings, a report by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy claims our country could reduce emissions by 33 percent.

This may be because when contractors design buildings, their primary priorities are function, comfort and ease of use—not energy efficiency, according to Dianne Herrin

This was written for the December 2019 issue of GRID Magazine. Read entire column here.


Posted in clean renewable energy, decarbonization, electrify everything, EV, goals, policy, solutions, transport

Testimony on 10/2/19

Below is my testimony on 10/2/2019 at a meeting of PHL Council’s Environment Committee. Video available here.

Hello! I’m Meenal Raval, an active member of Philly’s Ready for 100! I also write an Energy column for GRID magazine and produce a weekly radio show Philly Talks Climate.

Today is October 2nd. Mahatma Gandhi was born 150 years ago today. Gandhi is known for satyagraha — sticking to the truth, and ahimsa — non-violence toward all living things. In the US, ahimsa, or non-violence has been used by many activists. I’d like to expand non-violence to the climate movement, to saving the ecosystem we all call home.

In light of this, I support bill 190600, also known as the building energy performance policy. Regularly checking on thermostats, motion sensors, HVAC systems and more could save the owners money, use less energy & water, and reduce emissions. They also make the space more comfortable. How many times have you complained about an auditorium, a library or an office space being too warm or too cold?

In reading this bill, it seems our Office of Sustainability would be reviewing the energy usage of 2000 or more large buildings. If you want this bill to succeed, this office may require additional staffing.

I’d like to remind this committee that the building energy performance policy is but one component of our bigger ask — to transition our entire city to renewable energy as soon as possible, that all of Council voted upon last week — bill 190728, AKA the Ready for 100 resolution.

A recent report titled Halfway There, shows how the US can reduce emissions by 50% by just being smart — by focusing on energy efficiency. We’ll be looking at the policy suggestions on this report, and plan to have a list ready for when this committee meets next with a new chair.

A hint of what those could be are…

Zero energy buildings could reduce emissions by 11%. This is for new buildings, whether residential or commercial, which can be built so that they don’t need much energy. How? Make ‘em tight, make ‘em electric, and what little energy they need would be electricity from rooftop solar panels. Policy-wise, this translates to all new construction being electric only, with no gas hookups and of course, rooftop solar.

Building improvements account for about 14% emissions reduction — whether tuneups like being discussed today, or smart buildings, or heating with electricity instead of gas.

About 30% emissions reduction can be had by encouraging more fuel efficient cars. The most fuel efficient cars are, of course — electric cars. Policy-wise, this means massive buildout of public EV charging stations at under-utilized parking lots — churches, schools, and of course, grocery stores and hospitals. Yesterday’s article in the Inquirer, with me showing off my electric car, was a start towards this policy.

We could have 16% emissions reductions by reducing our vehicle miles traveled and flying less. This means encouraging walking, cycling, using SEPTA, and… tele-commuting! It also calls for being smart about how we move our stuff around.

As we loop in other groups, we’re hearing that we need to move faster on this timeline.

So, though we’ve agreed on 2030, 2035, and 2050 as milestones, when we put our ear to the ground, we hear that we’ll need to move fast, with much sooner milestones, like 2030 — to do away with all emissions, and power only with clean renewable energy sources.

Are you ready? We sure are Ready for 100% !!

In closing, I’d like to thank Council and the entire behind the scene team, for running with us, for getting the Ready for 100 resolution introduced & passed in Council. I look forward to working with you all come January!

Wed Oct 2, 2019, Sierra Club press release: Philadelphia Commits to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy


Posted in clean renewable energy, goals

Are you ready for 100% renewable energy?

The climate crisis. We’ve all been saddened and alarmed by the news—species going extinct, unbreathable air, ice caps melting, extreme flooding and extreme temperatures. That’s why it’s no longer called “global warming,” but a climate crisis affecting us all.

How do we think our way out of this planetary catastrophe? There’s no one person to blame and no one person who can solve it. Instead of shrugging your shoulders and disappearing into your own virtual reality, read about the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign.

This was written for the October 2019 issue of GRID Magazine. Read entire column here.

Posted in democracy

Back to School, to Strike for Climate!

There’s a Global Climate Strike planned for Friday, September 20, days before the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City on September 23. The Global Climate Strike invites people of all ages to strike—by refusing to attend work and school—to disrupt the social order and to push our governments to act on the climate emergency we find ourselves in. Imagine the distruption possible when both young and old join forces.

This was written for the September 2019 issue of GRID Magazine. Read entire column here.

Posted in cooling, energy efficiency

Keep Your cool Without AC

Thanks to the climate crisis, we’re guaranteed hotter and wetter weather in the years to come. We’re used to our humid summers in Philly—but hotter and more humid? How are we all going to cope with that? When we cool our indoor spaces with air conditioners, we’re basically pushing the heat and moisture outside, making the outdoors even more uncomfortable. Using AC also means we use more electricity, meaning more greenhouse gases from the power plant.

This was written for the August 2019 issue of GRID Magazine. Read entire column here.

Posted in transport

This July, Declare Independence from the Pump!

Fossil fuels are everywhere in our daily lives. So much so that we hardly notice them. Doing the laundry? Your dryer is likely burning gas. Taking a shower? Your basement water heater is likely burning gas, too. A quick quesadilla before heading out? Umm…likely your stove is a gas stove. And that disposable water bottle you just tossed into your bag for the day? It’s made of plastic, which is made from oil.

This was written for the July 2019 issue of GRID Magazine. Read entire column here.