Building a Greener, Greater City for Future Generations

September 10, 2012 Editorial Staff
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This year, marks the 5th anniversary of PlaNYC – our blueprint for creating a greener, greater New York in the face of our growing population and the challenges of climate change.  When we kicked off this effort, we committed to very ambitious goals for our infrastructure and environment – and over the past 12 months we’ve continued to make big strides toward them.

Take our efforts to give New Yorkers more green space:  Last year, we reached an agreement with the federal government that will protect and enhance one of our greatest ecological and recreational treasures: Jamaica Bay.  We also passed the halfway point in our campaign to plant one million new trees in neighborhoods in all five boroughs, and we converted our 200th schoolyard into a public playground, which has brought us more than three-quarters of the way to our goal of having every New Yorker live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground.

To provide more of the transportation options that our growing City needs, we’ve continued making it easier and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to get around, and we’ve added new select bus service routes in which buses make fewer stops and employ time-saving technologies to speed up travel.  We’re working with the State to bring street-hail taxi service to all five boroughs for the first time, and we launched East River ferry service, which has been a huge success.

Public-private partnerships are central to so much of our great work – and that’s certainly true with PlaNYC.  For instance, in recent months, we’ve sought proposals to convert up to 450 tons a day of city waste into clean energy. We’ve also requested proposals for solar and wind power facilities on municipal buildings and other City properties – new, renewable sources of power that will help us reach our goal of reducing the greenhouse gases that New Yorkers produce by more than 30 percent by the year 2030.

The biggest source of greenhouse gases in our City is the energy used by our buildings.  And thanks to legislation that we worked with the City Council to pass, more than 8,000 large, privately owned buildings – as well as 3,000 City-owned buildings – have now benchmarked their energy usage. As a result, landlords are seeing for the first time how efficient their buildings are – and that’s giving property owners the type of information they need to make better decisions about energy use and save money.

Finally, we’re investing millions of dollars in green infrastructure, such as more tree pits on City streets and porous paving of streets and parking lots.  These features are designed to absorb and retain rainfall and prevent it from overwhelming our sewage system – and that will help keep our harbor the cleanest it’s been in more than a century.

Upon launching PlaNYC five years ago, we cited an old proverb that says: ‘The Earth was not given to us by our parents, but loaned to us by our children.’  And by continuing to protect and improve all aspects of our environment and quality of life, we really can create a New York that we will be proud to return to our children.

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