Greener Than Thou
The sidewalks of Manhattan are famous for surprises—outré fashions, bizarre dog breeds and outlandish happenings (where else would an underwear-clad cowboy have a hard time turning heads?)—but it’s not often that the sidewalks themselves cause double-takes.
Recently, though, an unusual sidewalk/curb/tree pit combo by the corner of Columbus Avenue and 76th Street has been catching the eyes of local passerby. At first glance, the elongated tree pit doesn’t appear all that different than its Upper West Side peers: a delicate sapling protected from the large population of neighborhood dogs by a shin-high iron railing. But on closer examination, the odd characteristics pop out: rather than a standard curb, a border of rocks rings the pit, broken up by two big notches cut out of the curb. Manhattan’s first bioswale, according to the Columbus Avenue BID which installed it.
With the exception of a deadly construction accident in March, things have been fairly quiet on the western front of Harlem. Starting nearly a decade ago, Manhattanville became one of the most hotly contested corners of the city, as Columbia University first worked to have the neighborhood rezoned for a new 17-acre campus, approved in 2007, followed by the state leading an eminent domain case on the school’s behalf to repossess the land of two local business owners, which culminated in 2010. (Since then, the city’s focus has shifted south, to another university-led redevelopment.)
All the while, Columbia has gone about the work of creating the most environmentally progressive neighborhood in the entire five boroughs, all from whole cloth.
Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Columbia’s new campus with LEED ND Platinum, the highest rating in the council’s new-ish neighborhood development program. It is only the fifth project in the state to earn such recognition, and the first to achieve LEED ND Platinum. The designation means that the project has embraced the goals of accessibility, density, design and environmental efficiency, creating a model for future development.
“We like to think of it as a three-legged stool: environment, economy, equity,” Jason Hercules, director of the LEED ND program, told The Observer. “Manhattanville excelled in all three.”
Green Is the New...
Mayor Bloomberg has said that mayors should give up living at Gracie Mansion, which makes sense when you have not one but two multimillion-dollar townhouses of ones own. Still, it is comforting to know that the policies the mayor preaches take hold at home. At an announcement today about the city’s growing investment in solar power and other green technologies, the mayor took a moment to show off his own green credentials.
“We’ve got a green roof at the foundation and a white roof on my home,” Mayor Bloomberg told reporters
The current mild winter, without the habitual annoyance of your feet tracking snow all over the apartment, could excuse some hard-nosed New Yorkers for not giving two hoots about global warming.
However today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced that 29 recommendations aimed at making the city’s buildings more sustainable have been drafted into law. Eight more recommendations are currently being codified.
Green Is the New...
Politicians are good at coming up with plans, proposals and white papers. The Bloomberg administration has been surprisingly good at enacting them.
PlaNYC begat 127 ideas for making New York more sustainable and cutting its carbon footprint by 30 percent. This begat the Green Codes building proposals, released almost two year ago, with 138 specific proposals for improving the city’s environmental profile.
The challenge has been enacting those ideas, which the City Council has been doing in bill after bill for the past year. Now, the Department of City Planning is getting in on the act, and yesterday it released a handful of new zoning amendments that will make certain sustainable building practices easier to do without seeking special approvals.
It all began, modestly enough, with the relatively simple task of implementing an energy-savings plan across Reckson Associates’ portfolio of 32 buildings in Westchester and Fairfield counties.
A regional architect with Reckson named Jason Black orchestrated a portfolio-wide program that included the installation of L.E.D. exit signs and occupancy sensor devices in private offices.
Finally, Staten Island is good for something besides a cheap booze cruise.
As part of the mayor’s PlaNYC 2.0, the Bloomberg administration is once again looking at turning the massive Fresh Kills Park into a power plant. Once the city’s largest landfill, Fresh Kills in in the process of becoming the city’s largest park, Read More
Over the past decade, no one has built more “green” buildings than the city’s School Construction Authority. Even before Local Law 86 required all civic buildings to be built to sustainability standards, the department had been using such measures–light sensors, efficient heating and cooling systems, recycled materials, etc.–to build healthier instiutions that also save money Read More
Green Is the New...
You’d think it would be obvious. To save energy, to save fossil fuels, to save the planet — and not to mention to save money — turn the lights out. But it’s not that simple, as the city’s building codes — in their byzantine, decades-old ways — can actually make that a hard thing to Read More
While it will not be smooth or simple to build, I believe we are at the start of a sustainable or green economy. My reasoning here is not simply naive optimism, but recognition of necessity. The false wealth of the period ending has focused many of us on the need for a solid, understandable basis Read More