The Big Green Apple Greener, Greater New York Buildings

It will come as no surprise to anyone that between the cars, industry, residents’ power needs, and other energy use, New York City has a pretty mammoth carbon footprint. According to a recent carbon inventory of the city, nearly 80 percent of New York’s carbon emissions come from buildings (including multifamily residential buildings), with the remainder coming from transit-related emissions and other factors. In light of that finding, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg launched the PlaNYC sustainability program in 2007 to decrease the city’s environmental impact. Part of that larger plan was the “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan” initiative, which directly affects co-op and condo communities.

Understanding the initiative is important for city residents because their help is crucial to the success of the plan. Residents and employees of co-ops and condos also have selfish reasons for understanding the initiative, since instituting its recommendations could help their buildings save on their expenses while helping to save the environment as well.

According to Jason Post, a spokesman for the PlanNYC initiative, the strategy will lower emissions in the city over the long-term—a change that is sorely needed. The 80/20 buildings-versus-transit ratio is actually reversed in most other cities. However, Post says, “Because of our intensive use of mass transit, buildings are a key place where carbon emissions can be reduced.”

Needs Recognized

PlaNYC is essentially an eco-friendly strategic plan aimed at sustainability for New York City. PlaNYC sets a goal of achieving a 30 percent reduction in New York City’s annual greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.

The plan grew out of policies and initiatives in Mayor Bloomberg’s first term that focused on pro-growth strategies and also sustainability in New York City. During that first term, the mayor’s business background and approach to governing led city leaders to begin thinking anew about land use, infrastructure, the environment and other issues. In 2004, some city initiatives addressed sustainability questions, most notably through the mayor’s Energy Policy Taskforce. The taskforce developed a report that predicted energy demand would outpace energy supply within a decade.


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