New York City is working aggressively to reduce its carbon footprint – banning heavy fuel oils, promoting solar energy, building bike paths, and requiring large buildings to report their annual water and energy use, among many other initiatives. And while significant progress is being made, a new report suggests that the city still has a long way to go.
The commercial real estate blog Commercial Cafe has ranked the nation’s 40 most sustainably powered cities. New York, at #40, barely made the cut. Sustainability has a decidedly westward tilt – with Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland and Portland leading the way, followed by Boston, Minneapolis, Boulder, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.
The study is based on data from various sources, including the Census Bureau, U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the Carbon Disclosure Project. The rankings take into account such factors as carbon-dioxide emissions, coal usage, nuclear power, solar power, geothermal, wind and hydro power, as well as such green practices as a city’s walkability and the number of electric vehicle charging stations and bike lanes.
The report’s authors don’t mince words about the challenges facing New York City: “The vulnerabilities of New York’s aging infrastructure have become impossible to ignore. A recent report published by the Center for an Urban Future details the outstanding issues that hobble the Big Apple’s efforts towards greener energy. For example, the city’s outdated and leak-prone water delivery system causes an estimated loss of roughly 24 percent of the city water flow to the end-consumer. NYC is increasingly reliant on natural gas for heat and electricity. Con Edison and National Grid operate and manage some of the oldest gas distribution networks in the country – their combined 6,300 miles of gas mains that serve the five boroughs are between 53 and 57 years old on average, and experienced roughly 5,800 leaks in 2012.”
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