The city could become a victim of its own success; with the quality of life soaring, so is the population. It’s estimated there will be one million more New Yorkers by 2030. And climate change will continue making the city hotter, straining the electrical grid and water resources. But the city’s government and citizens are striving to make NYC ever greener.
Some of NYC governments’ accomplishments include:
Parks and Public Spaces – the city has added more than 200 acres of parkland, and improved existing parks. It has created public plazas for pedestrians (like in Herald Square and Times Square), and planted nearly half a million trees (with another 500,000 planned). The goal is to ensure all New Yorkers live within a ten-minute walk of a park.
Transportation – NYC is expanding sustainable transport options, including the western extension of the #7 subway line, creating the 2nd Avenue subway, and increased water taxi service. The MTA has 1,171 hybrid-electric buses (the largest fleet in the world) which travel faster on newly dedicated bus lanes. Over 30% of the yellow taxi fleet is now “green” with reduced emissions.
Citi Bike is a self-service bike sharing system with 10,000 bikes available at 600 docking stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Environment – the city is working to clean up all contaminated land in NYC, improve the quality of the waterways and restore coastal ecosystems, ensure the high quality and reliability of the water supply, and achieve the cleanest air quality of any big U.S. city.
Energy – NYC is reducing energy consumption and making its energy systems cleaner. NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 13% since 2005, with a goal of 30% reduction by 2030. The city has enacted ambitious laws to make buildings more energy-efficient, retrofitting over 100 city-owned buildings for maximum efficiency. Not only are new buildings designed with energy efficiency in mind, but iconic skyscrapers like the Empire State Building have been retrofitted to meet “green” standards.
And New Yorkers are doing more than simply recycling and shopping organic at Whole Foods.
Community-based organizations and neighbors are coming together to increase sustainability in their neighborhoods. Groups like the Bronx River Alliance, who are helping clean up the Bronx River, the Sustainable Flatbush effort in Brooklyn, that promotes energy efficiency and recycling, and the Lower East Side Ecology Center in Manhattan, which organizes community composting and education.
New Yorkers are increasingly shopping at local Farmer’s Markets for locally-produced, organic foods, while neighborhood Community Gardens grow produce for themselves and for low-income neighborhoods where fresh, healthy foods are harder to access. Finally NYC’s roof garden movement has taken off, with large farms like the nearly one-acre Brooklyn Grange, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, and Gotham Greens. To make more rooftops available for food production, the NYC Department of City Planning is working to amend city zoning laws.
These are are just a few of the ways NYC is working to become ever more livable, clean…and green.