NYC to cut building emissions

New York City has announced plans to cut energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of public buildings by almost a third over the next ten years.

City mayor Michael Bloomberg said the scheme will include investment to make city buildings more efficient, improving maintenance to reduce unnecessary energy loss and capturing energy at wastewater treatment plants.

The scheme, part of the mayor’s wider plaNYC initiative, will also cover widespread retrofitting of outdated heating and cooling systems, insufficient ventilation and windows and doors that leak heat in the winter and cooled air in the summer.

Mayor Bloomberg said he hoped the city’s commitment would be matched by similar efforts from the private sector.

He said: “Our long-term plan will cut City government’s annual output of greenhouse gases by nearly 1.7m metric tons, which also will greatly improve air quality, and take a 220MW bite out of peak demand for electricity.

“We can achieve these results by using cost-effective existing technologies.

“The City is doing its part. I hope the private sector follows our example and finds conservation savings of their own.”

The largest single opportunity for reductions – 57% of the total – is through upgrades to existing buildings, like fire stations, police stations, offices, and courthouses.

Energy-saving projects at wastewater treatment plants account for the second largest opportunity for greenhouse gas reductions, 17%.

The processes involved in decontaminating sewage and storm water runoff generates significant amounts of methane gas, one of the strongest greenhouse gas emissions sources.

Projects in this group include fixing methane gas leaks, using recaptured methane to power electric generation equipment and making efficiency improvements to other specialised equipment.

Further reductions will be achieved through accelerating the purchase of more energy efficient vehicles, adopting best practices to economise vehicle miles travelled and improving vehicular management programs.

Also energy-hungry streetlights will be replaced with equivalents which provide the same level of lighting but use a third of the power.

Renewable energy such as solar panels and combined heat and power systems will also be installed at key City-owned buildings.

David Gibbs

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