News: New York City Goes Green
(Long Island, N.Y.) This week Mayor Bloomberg announced green-initiative updates to the project known as PlaNYC that began in 2007 to coincide with that year’s Earth Day. Not only did the mayor announce the goals and successes of the environmental-friendly program, but new initiatives were added to the lengthy list of the project’s ambitious goals. Among the updates, the mayor has proposed putting enough solar power plants on capped landfills to power thousands of New York City homes.
The landfills, most of which are found in Staten Island and Brooklyn, can be used to help generate fifty megawatts of energy. As part of the new proposal, the mayor has launched a nonprofit organization called New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation. A forty million dollar federal stimulus was used to finance the organization.
New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation will help New York City property owners combat the high startup costs involved with green-initiative projects. It will function as a type of loan program and help provide low-cost financing to pay for efficiency upgrades. When banks are reluctant to lend money for energy saving projects, the organization will provide the finances for property owners to conserve energy and reduce utility bills with more efficient lighting, heating, and insulation. The organization will also provide technology advice and energy-saving information, in addition to informing property owners about financing options.
One of the original goals of PlaNYC was to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by thirty percent by 2030. That goal is being renewed as part of the mayor’s updates, which are required by law to happen every four years. Greenhouse gas emissions have already dropped fifteen percent since 2005.
The mayor’s updates were given at a performing arts venue in upper Manhattan called the Harlem Stage, at a gatehouse that guards a tunnel that delivers water from a reservoir system. The gatehouse is an estimated one hundred and twenty years old. One of the ultimate goals of the project is to reduce the city’s dependence on emergency generators that burn petroleum-based fuel during the hot summer season when the electricity demand is at its highest.
Another goal, which speaks to the recent outdoor smoking ban, is to purify the city’s air supply. An estimated one percent of all buildings in New York City account for eighty-six percent of the city’s soot, which is more than what all of the vehicles in the city produce together. The buildings account for such a large percentage of the city’s soot because they burn the dirtiest grades of fuel. To combat this issue, the mayor’s plan will attempt to phase out lower-quality fuels and have companies switch to natural gas or low-sulfur oil.
Some other dimensions of the updated plan include adding hundreds of miles of new bike lanes, incorporating public plazas in every neighborhood, and planting a million trees by 2017. An estimated 97 of the original plan’s 127 initiatives were launched within the first year of their proposal. About 132 new initiatives have been added to the program’s goals.
The plan also intends on building community gardens in city schools and public housing areas, as well as building more green roofs on top of buildings and creating new farmer’s markets. Currently, the project deals with tree plantings, rainwater recapture, reflective paint, and over a hundred other programs.