An Urban Green Metropolis New York City Leads the Way in Sustainable Practices

The Big Apple is looking awfully green these days. After all, there’s so much going on in the city to make it greener, more environmentally conscious and more energy efficient than ever before. A few years ago, New York City was named one of the top 10 green cities in America thanks to the use of public transportation, energy-efficient housing and low use of fossil fuels and pesticides.

Last year, in David Owen’s book Green Metropolis: What the City Can Teach the Country About True Sustainability, he named New York City ‘the’ greenest city in America. Although New York City still has a long way to go, over the last decade it has become something of an international model among large city for green practices and innovations.

A Little Green History

But this idea of a green city isn’t new. According to the Urban Green Council, New York's first comprehensive green building project was a series of renovations to the historic Schermerhorn Building in 1992, which now serves as the National Audubon Society headquarters. In 1998, several floors of the Natural Resources Defense Council building in Manhattan was renovated to address energy efficiency, light, air quality and the health and well-being of the buildings occupants. Four Times Square became the first green skyscraper in North America in 1999. From there, the Office of Sustainable Design was created in 1997 and published the High Performance Building Guidelines in 1999.

In January 2000, the Battery Park City Authority published the Residential Environmental Guidelines, to establish a process for the creation of environmentally responsible residential buildings, appreciably ahead of current standards and practices for development. These guidelines were responsible for the construction of the first "green" residential tower in the United States. This innovative building, The Solaire, was the first in a succession of residential buildings that will become the model for healthier, ecologically responsible environments where occupants collectively enjoy the benefits of living in a "green" community.

When Battery Park City is complete, it will be home to eight green residential high-rise buildings, including the Solaire and The Visionaire. The Goldman Sachs world headquarters, which is scheduled for completion this year, will be the largest LEED-certified building in the country and the New York Mercantile Exchange, is the first commercial building in New York State to receive a LEED for Existing Buildings rating.

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