Historically, the Fourth of July celebrates America’s independence from England, an event that eventually led to the formation of the United States. Today, the Fourth of July is mostly used as an opportunity to barbecue and drink beer while watching fireworks on the beach.

Don’t get me wrong, I love barbecue and the beach very much – and I plan to participate in both activities this weekend. I imagine, however, that the primary motivation of our founding fathers 240 years ago was not, in fact, the possibility of eating 69 Nathan’s hotdogs on Coney Island, but rather the chance to create a new way of living in the world. They wanted to build their own set of rules, to no longer live their lives under the specific customs and norms dictated to them by the British. For me, what is so inspiring about the story of America’s independence is that a group of people had the courage, conviction, and creativity to imagine and fight for a way of life and a system of government different from what they had always known.

With that in mind, I propose a challenge to all of us. What if this Fourth of July we each ask ourselves this: “If I had a chance to build a new system, with new rules and standards, what would it look like?”

At BEEx we imagine a future where New York City buildings have efficient lighting and HVAC systems, where due to effective insulation and sophisticated ventilation, our homes and offices require limited heating and cooling, and where our government does everything in its power to incentivize this progress. But mostly we imagine a future where our buildings are comfortable, resilient, and are no longer responsible for 70% of New York’s greenhouse gas emissions.

It has been 240 years since 1776, and our country has changed A LOT. In most ways, America is a better place than it was when Thomas Edison had not yet invented the light bulb and when the internet was not even a fathomable concept. But the future can still be better. So this year, while we are watching the fireworks, let’s not forget to imagine how.

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