Thursday, June 20, 2013

Is New York City the Greenest City in the Nation?

Despite its availability of actual green grass and plants, New York City is considered to be one of the "greenest" cities in the nation due to its excellent energy efficiency, ranking just below other metropolitan cities such as Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta. New York City reported 90 Energy Star Buildings in 2009 and has saved over $80 million dollars in energy bills. Due to its high density of buildings and its wide use of mass transit, New York is a leader in the environmental movement.

Mayor Bloomberg has been instrumental in the step toward an environmentally friendly city, pledging to plant 1 million new trees, promoting the new Citibike Bike Share program, and encouraging city leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Bloomberg has also mandated that privately-owned buildings must report their energy and water use as a way to publicly shame those who waste resources and to create transparency in real-estate. 

However, many are fearful that when Bloomberg resigns from office next January, that the green initiative will crumble. The Urban Green Council along with several organizations in the real estate industry have released the "Green Building Roadmap for NYC's Next Mayor," which outlines steps to continue energy-efficiency efforts, including improving waste management and heating in schools and removing the use of low-grade oil in city factories. 

Although mayoral candidates do not necessarily have to use this roadmap, the coalition of environmental and real-estate groups could prove to be a useful ally during the campaigns. Urban voters and residents are becoming more aware of green initiatives and the necessity of energy-efficiency, suggesting that even though Bloomberg will leave office, green campaigns are here to stay.