More Green Buildings Likely in Big Apple's Future

New York City (Photo: Tim Pearce, Flickr Creative Commons)

Sure, building regulations are typically pretty dull. But yesterday, something cool (maybe I use the term “cool” loosely, but still) went down in the move toward making the Big Apple more eco-friendly.

The Urban Green Council’s NYC Green Codes Task Force—convened by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in June 2008—announced more than 100 recommendations to make more environmentally friendly the laws and regulations that guide New York City buildings. You should know, in that city, 75% of greenhouse gas emissions and 85% of water consumption come from its buildings.

The recommendations stretch across the board, based on analysis of 10 overarching categories (listed below, with examples in parentheses) in terms of their projected impact on the environment, human health, operational savings, and construction cost:

- Overarching code issues
- Health and toxicity (limiting harmful emissions from carpets, paints and glue; keeping street contaminants out of buildings)
- Energy and carbon emissions, broken down into fundamentals, operations and maintenance, and efficiency (giving residents more control over their heat, so it doesn’t stay on or too high unnecessarily)
- Building resilience (making sure toilets and sinks work during blackouts)
- Resource conservation (recycling construction waste; using recycled asphalt)
- Water efficiency (reducing use of drinking water to clean sidewalks)
- Storm water (sending rainwater to waterways)
- Urban ecology (increasing biodiversity in sidewalk plantings)

The impact of these suggestions could be far-reaching, if other cities choose to follow suit. The Urban Council’s Exec Summary touts: “While the 111 recommendations of the NYC Green Codes Task Force are tailored to New York City, many of them will be applicable to other jurisdictions.” Let's keep our fingers crossed.

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