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Rilling announces Mayor’s Energy and Environment Task Force

Correction, March 21: Eric Gribin, not Griblin

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk is going green – at least that’s the hope of the people on Mayor Harry Rilling’s new Energy and Environment Task Force.

The fulfillment of one of Rilling’s last campaign promises before the November election was announced Thursday at Naramake Elementary School, where Rilling was joined by task force members Councilman John Kydes (D-District C), Superintendent Manny Rivera and Diane Lauricella, an environmental and energy professional. Kydes will be the group’s chairman.

“We’re looking at all aspects of energy consumption, conservation, water purification – everything that will come before this task force is up for discussion,” Rilling said. “We’re not going to leave anything untouched. We have a very good group of people, people with various degrees of knowledge in these areas and they will be working with us. Today, by announcing the formation of my Mayor’s Energy and Environment Task Force, we will begin to assess how to accomplish the economies of scale, savings and inform the public of opportunities that they, too, can participate in order to increase our quality of life while decreasing their costs.”

The task force has not yet worked out the details of when it will meet, but the goals, according to a press release, are:

• To form a collaboration between the city and the Board of Education for purchasing energy commodities

• To streamline the bidding process for planned energy and environmental management responsibilities and structure.

• To assess the city and BOE energy and environmental management responsibilities and structure

• To identify and create opportunities for collaboration with energy and environmental stakeholders and hold periodic public forums

• To review and compare other cities, towns and the state energy and environmental structure

• To monitor energy commodity rates

• To identify and pursue available grants, programs and incentives for the city of Norwalk and the BOE with the goal of reducing operating expenses

• To evaluate all Norwalk and BOE building projects for renewable and clean energy opportunities

• To create workshops that inform the public of energy saving opportunities

• To publicize household hazardous waste collection days to reduce illegal dumping

• To increase recycling initiatives within our schools

• To review and update city zoning and policies in order to capture state and federal programs that focus on sustainable building and construction standards

•To work with Norwalk Community College to create green jobs and training partnerships

• To be the “go to resource” for Norwalk’s energy and environmental needs.

Rilling said Kydes came to him with the idea of “capturing school energy purchasing opportunities.” Lauricella came to him with idea of assembling “a team with broad experience to assess our energy and environmental responsibilities and opportunities for savings in a comprehensive manner.”

“This is something that we hope to reach out to the residents in their homes, but in other commercial establishments,” Rilling said. “…. We want this task force to be seen as a resource, not just something that is going to be operating in a vacuum, but a task force that is going to be providing information, providing opportunities and reaching out to the public and offering these kinds of economies of scale and these partnerships of energy consumption.”

Rivera endorsed the concept.

“This a tremendous opportunity for a learning experience for students and our staff,” he said. “There are energy programs where students can get involved and take ownership for the school buildings and the environments that they are in, not only at school but even at home. We think that the kind of learning experiences that they are going to have from this are going to extend and ripple across the community in different ways. There are some excellent programs.”

“All of these will translate into adults who are aware of their responsibility to take advantage of these energy efficiencies and to do whatever they can to reduce energy costs and find alternative sources of fuel,” Rilling said.

The members of the task force are:

• Common Councilman John Kydes (D-District C), chairman

• Board of Education member Rosa Murray

• Board of Education member Jack Chiaramonte

• Diane Lauricella, member Connecticut Green Building Council

• Eric Gribin, Norwalk Community College building efficiency and sustainable technology program director

• Former Common Councilman Bill Wrenn

• Kerry O’Neill, Connecticut Greenbank, a division of Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment

• Dianne Seldich, Ledgebrook Condominium Energy Taskforce, Soundwaters Environmental Center Director

• Steve Winter, president of Steve Winter Associates, residential and LEED green design

• Robert Eydt, financial executive and certified public accountant in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

• Mayor Harry Rilling, ex-officio member

• Superintendent Manny Rivera, ex-officio member

• State Sen. Bob Duff, adviser (Duff is chair of the state Senate Energy & Technology Committee)

Staff support

• Norwalk Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo

• BOE interim Building and Operations Director George Giannitti

• Senior Environmental Officer Alexis Cherichetti

• Environmental Health Director Tom Closter

• Building Department Director Bill Ireland

• Purchasing Director Gerald Foley

7 comments

spanner February 21, 2014 at 6:27 am

Mayor Rilling is working in the right direction,updating the Radon information within the schools won’t be hard most of the Task Force members have close ties to the environment or the schools.Unless the schools effected have been tested since the remediation its time again its long over due,cant think of a better issue to start out with for our kids,teachers and janitors health.Then to let the public know would be a plus of the test results or the fact its been done before this request.

EveT February 21, 2014 at 8:07 am

Glad to see this initiative. The list of Task Force members is very impressive. Let’s hope they are able to accomplish their goals.

SoNoCC February 21, 2014 at 9:33 am

This is a wonderful and much-needed initiative. Diane Lauricella is a passionate advocate for environmental causes and is well qualified to handle this responsibility. The best of luck!

ShibaMom February 21, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Just curious. Just what are Diane Lauricella’s qualifications! I know that she’s passionate about the environment.

the donut hole February 21, 2014 at 2:19 pm

When they gather a full list of deficiencies, they should be compared to what was supposed to have been done with our hard earned tax dollars in the first place that hasn’t been done. Then heads should roll.

spanner February 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm

@ShibaMom Dianes qualifications would be about the same as Bobs Duffs in the State house.Lending resources and knowledge on certain grants policies and programs along with research always available but not always embraced by some our past politicians.Personally having the list of people our Mayor has picked gives us some hope the city will be better off than years past.Darien was able to get some funding for the Environment recently from the State as Norwalk could always use some itself.I realize this doesn’t answer your question but in the past the Hazardous waste days Diane help run probably saved a lot from going the storm drains into the Norwalk River over the years.

Mike Mushak February 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm

I applaud Mayor Rilling and the dedicated local environmental activist Diane Lauricella for this long overdue action. This will improve energy efficiency and save a ton of money for city taxpayers, as the article explains. This is how smart government is supposed to work.
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For instance, I just heard from someone after the Mayor’s Night Out at Fox Run School last night that most of our schools do not recycle tons of cafeteria trash. We can save money and teach kids a good lesson by fixing this immediately.

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Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.