On Earth Day, a look at New York's green initiatives
New York is one green apple.
The city is among the most environmentally conscious big cities in the world, with its massive public transit system, efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and recycling push, regularly topping rankings of green cities worldwide.
And New York is taking it a step further, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced the expansion of the Carbon Challenge, which calls on city organizations to cut their environmental impact.
"The Carbon Challenge is an essential partnership between the city and our businesses, universities and organizations who share our commitment to a greener, greater New York," Bloomberg said Thursday.
The challenge is part of the city's larger PlaNYC initiative, started in 2007, which established goals of cutting emissions in municipal buildings 30% by 2017 and reducing citywide emissions 30% by 2030. Just six years in, the city is more than halfway to that goal, having achieved 16% in citywide emissions cuts.
Expansive as PlaNYC is, it is only one part of the city's move to be as green as possible. In his final State of the City address in February, Bloomberg laid out a number of plans to improve the environment, including the addition of 10,000 parking spots for electric cars over the next seven years, 50 new electric cars to the municipal fleet, the city's bike-sharing program, a new food waste recycling program and the now-infamous ban on Styrofoam.
These will give "New York the cleanest air of any big city in the country," Bloomberg said during his State of the City. "Even if you don't care about climate change, cleaning our air is good for your health."
Currently, there is a proposal to bring more than 100 new public charging stations into and around the city, and as electric cars are more widely deployed -- in the municipal fleet, among taxi fleets, in the form of a pilot electric bus and among consumers -- the city hopes to make them a tentpole of green transportation, alongside Citi Bike, which is slated to launch in May.
New York also is well into its Zone Green effort, which aims to improve the efficiency of new and existing buildings by changing zoning regulations to allow for greener conditions. The sweeping program, adopted last year, has already been recognized nationally. Earlier this year it won the American Planning Association's 2013 National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning.
The city's green efforts aren't all on such a broad scale -- the first green food truck hit the streets earlier this year. The Neapolitan Express pizza place on wheels launched in February, running on compressed natural gas.
NYC GOING GREEN
Here are some of the major environmental efforts in the city:
ELECTRIC CAR CHARGING STATIONS
In his final State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city is working to create 10,000 parking spots for electric cars over the next seven years, and that there is a proposal to bring about 100 new public charging stations to the city by 2014, which is part of a larger statewide plan. The proposed additions also will make the city more accessible to electric taxis, and six all-electric Nissan Leaf taxis will join the city’s fleet this year.
This is an initiative to fit new and existing buildings with energy-saving technology. Adopted last spring, the program ended zoning rules that restricted green developments. The changes enacted under Zone Green make it easier for builders to implement green technology, like solar panels, rooftop gardens and wind turbines. Zone Green improvements also allow for increased heat-retention in walls, cutting back on carbon emissions while taking in natural energy.
New composting programs might convert your leftovers into fertilizer for city parks, and starting this spring, the city is piloting a compost program on Staten Island. “We bury 1.2 million tons of food waste in landfills every year at a cost of nearly $80 per ton. That waste can be used as fertilizer or converted to energy at a much lower price,” Mayor Bloomberg said. If the program is successful on Staten Island, it may be expanded to other boroughs.
CELEBRATE EARTH DAY
Reuse with a free bowl from Just Salad
Stop by any Just Salad Monday for your free reusable bowl with the purchase of any salad. Every time you return with your bowl, you will receive two free essential toppings or one free cheese topping on any salad of your choice. justsalad.com
Biodynamic wine dinner
Foragers City Table hosts a dinner with Château Maris, eco-friendly produced organic and biodynamic wines. Three-courses with wine are $60 a person. (Tuesday, 6-9 p.m., Foragers City Table, 300 W. 22nd St. Info and reservations: email@example.com)
Earth Day at Grand Central
Grand Central Terminal will play host to a slew of Earth Day-related events Monday, from live performances to kids’ activities, sustainability talks and interactive displays. FREE. earthdayny.org
Earth Day at Eataly
Head to Mario Batali’s locavore-centric food market at 200 Fifth Ave. for a food producer “farmer’s market,” complimentary samples and local foods.
Buy one, get one free bike rentals
In honor of Earth Day, Bike & Roll NYC has introduced 2-for-1 rentals at all locations Monday. bikenewyorkcity.com