Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New York City Ranks in Top 10 in 7 out of 9 Categories for U.S. Green City Index

The U.S. and Canada Green City Index, a research project conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by Siemens, measures and rates the environmental performance of 27 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The cities selected were chosen to objectively represent a group of the most populous metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada.  The list began with the largest cities from the top 20 U.S. combined statistical areas, and top five Canadian census metropolitan areas. Upon the advice of an expert panel, Miami and Phoenix were also included based on their populations and growth rates. This panel of global experts in urban environmental sustainability also advised the EIU in developing the methodology for the project.

With 8.4 million residents, New York City is by far the largest city in the Index, ranking third overall. It is the top ranking city in land use, transport and environmental governance, and ranked third in the CO2 and air categories. In particular, New York has the highest population density and percentage of workers commuting by public transport, bicycle, or by foot, while also performing well on several air and water indicators.

While the city’s high rankings stem in part from its large population, which produce favorable per capita scores, New York also fares well in comparison to other large cities in the Index. Measured against these cities, New York ranks first in every category except for waste and energy. Additionally, New York has one of the highest percentages of green space.

Here is a snapshot of the results:

Land use
Environmental governance

Several green initiatives contributed to New York’s high ranking in the Index. In the category of CO2, New York’s Long-Term Plan to Reduce Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions mandates a 30% greenhouse gas reduction for municipal facilities and operations by 2017 from 2006 levels. Around 50% of the reductions will come from efficiencies in buildings, 32% from improved power generation and 18% from transportation.

In the category of land use, The Million Trees Program, created in 2007, aims to plant 1 million trees by 2017. Additionally, in 2010, New York created the Green Property Certification Program to do for brownfields what Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has done for green buildings.

In the category of buildings, in December 2009, New York approved the Greener, Greater Buildings laws, the most comprehensive set of efficiency regulations in the U.S., which aim to reduce energy costs by $700 million annually by 2030.

In the category of transport, Green Light for Midtown, a pilot project launched in May 2009 that has now been made permanent, created expanded pedestrian plazas in
Herald Square
and Times Square. Overall, the program produced a 63% reduction in injuries to motorists, a 35% reduction in pedestrian injuries and a 7% improvement in taxi speeds. New York has also doubled the number of bicycle lanes in the city in the last three years and met its goal of building 200 miles of bicycle lanes ahead of schedule in 2009.

In the category of water, as of 2010, the Department of Environmental Protection had installed over 278,000 automated meters and expects to install a total of 834,000 by January 2012. As a result of metering and water conservation promotion, New York’s water consumption rate is now at its lowest in 50 years.

In the category of air, New York has sought to mandate the use of cleaner taxis and offer tax breaks to fuel-efficient taxis. While courts have blocked the city from introducing these measures thus far, in anticipation of future requirements, almost 25% of the city’s 13,200 yellow cabs have converted to hybrid or clean diesel vehicles, giving New York the largest fleet of clean vehicle taxis in the country. Additionally, in 2010, New York unveiled a comprehensive agreement that will cut harmful pollution from the Port of New York and New Jersey by launching a $28 million truck replacement program.

In the category of environmental governance, New York tops the Index along with Washington and Denver. There is strong support from the top; the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is a driving force behind the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Furthermore, New York’s environmental strategy, international commitments and customized environmental awareness campaigns are all considered among the best in the Index.

You can learn more about New York’s results and the initiatives mentioned above by reading the full report on the Siemens website: http://www.siemens.com/entry/cc/en/greencityindex.htm.

This article was provided by MCC Silver Partner Siemens.

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