Sustainable Living in New York City

New York City is one of the most densely populated cities in the United States. While large populations can potentially contribute to major environmental issues, NYC’s population has helped the city become one of the most energy efficient cities in the country. The dense population has made the city’s public transportation system highly efficient and accessible to most of the city’s residents, lowering the reliability on personal vehicles and gasoline consumption. New York is also responsible for only one percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions while comprising almost three percent of the nation’s population.

In a city with such a high population of people, pollution and environmental toxins have skyrocketed. The city has the third highest rate of cancers caused by airborne particles of any county in the United States. In addition, it is one of the top 25 areas of the country affected by particle pollution all year.

The city also has a history of environmental difficulties. In 1950, one of the largest oil spills in the United States occurred in New York City. Exxon Mobil spilled over 17 million gallons of oil into the Newtown Creek. Today, there are still signs of oil seepage into waterways from this oil spill. Several other oil spills have occurred since then. In 2005, residents and elected officials in the area filed lawsuits against Exxon Mobile due to continued damages from parts of the oil spill that still have not been cleaned up.

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 also had a dramatic impact on the environment. The destruction of the towers caused high levels of smoke, ask, dust, and other particles to be released into the air. Toxic fumes were also released in the air during the fires that occurred following the attacks. Research is still being conducted to determine what role these toxins play in the development of cancer and chronic respiratory conditions among those who conducted rescue operations at Ground Zero.

In an effort to reduce the impact of New York City’s dense population and environmental disasters, the city government requires all city offices and public housing developments to utilize only energy efficient equipment. The city also uses hybrid taxicabs and a compressed natural gas-powered bus fleet. The city’s traffic and crosswalk signals also utilize LED bulbs instead of conventional bulbs.

New York City has adopted several green building initiatives as well. Since 2001, over 3,000 new environmentally friendly apartment buildings have been constructed in the city. In addition, 7 World Trade Center uses recycled rainwater for toilets and the building’s irrigation. Developers are also able to take up to $6 million as a tax write-off for constructing sustainable buildings.

In 1976, the Greenmarket program was established. This program allows local family farmers to sell produce at open-air farmers markets in public squares. There are approximately 45 markets throughout New York City. In addition, over 100 NYC restaurants utilize produce from the Greenmarket program and half a million pounds of Greenmarket produce are donated to hunger relief organizations each year. The Greenmarket program not only encourages sustainable growing practices, but also allows residents to purchase locally grown food, reducing the carbon footprint of transporting food from one area of the country to another.

In addition the local foods initiative, New York City has one of the most efficient and widely used public transportation systems in the world. With a series of buses, taxis, and subways, the majority of residents have access to the mass transit system. For those who own cars, New York City has adopted a car share program in order to encourage car owners to carpool. The city has also adopted a bike share program and is in the process of adopting legislation, which would require multi-family houses, community buildings, and commercial buildings to provide indoor bicycle parking.

Despite the city’s dense population and history of devastating environmental disasters, New York City remains one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the United States. NYC has abundant opportunities for green housing, public and shared transportation, sustainable offices and businesses, and locally grown foods to help residents choose to live an eco-friendly lifestyle while living in one of the most urban areas of the country.

Companies looking to expand business operations or open new offices in Manhattan New York will find a multitude of ways in which to support ecologically friendly schemes, from green building initiatives to energy efficient office equipment.