Friday, July 30, 2010

Albany And The City Council Legislate Greener Buildings In N.Y.C.

New York City by definition is greener than most metropolitan areas. The widespread use of mass transit and higher population density put us way ahead of the sprawling cities of the South and West. However, being in the more temperate Northeast combined with old, large buildings where people live means that New Yorkers rely on antiquated heating oil systems. The large trucks bring it in, and the chimneys belch out the black, smoky byproduct that at first glance gives the impression that a building is on fire.

With hybrid taxis, prohibitive costs of driving in general and an extensive transit system (save for the recent death of the V and W trains), buildings are the last frontier in the green revolution within New York City's sphere of influence. Yesterday the City Council passed legislation that aims to curb that nasty pollution we are accustomed to.

From The N.Y. Times:

As announced earlier this week by the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, one of the new laws will halve sulfur levels in a common type of home heating oil, No. 4, starting in October 2012. The law also will require that biodiesel fuel make up at least 2 percent of all grades of petroleum heating oil.

With the enactment this month of a New York State law that will drastically reduce the sulfur content in No. 2, the most common type of heating oil, the city’s action is expected to make an important dent in soot pollution and asthma cases.

The City Council also approved a package of bills ushering in the first major overhaul of recycling laws adopted in 1989. The new laws will increase plastics recycling, put more recycling bins in schools and public areas and allow residents to recycle hazardous waste like paint.
Quinn might be ethically-challenged in other areas, but when it comes to the environment this was the right move. In the future our buildings will hopefully all be LEED certified, but for now those historic relics of the 1800s and early 1900s should be adapted to limit their pollution as quickly as possible. These city and state laws will help to accomplish that.