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New York City (NYC)


Energy consumption in NYC has been rising for years due to population growth, new developments, ever growing use of electronic devices and other equipment. This increased consumption put pressure on energy supplies, especially at peak times. At the same time, the costs of energy are on the rise. The city's approach to this problem is multifold - to reduce consumption by making the city more energy efficient, to address supply challenges by repowering existing plants for cleaner energy generation, expanding supplies of imported electricity and natural gas and promoting the development of distributed generation of renewables.

Buildings dominate NYC's skyline and its carbon footprint. Almost 75 percent of the city's carbon emissions emanate from energy used in buildings. Besides, today's buildings will account for 85 percent of real estate market in 2030. Therefore, reducing NYC buildings carbon footprint will continue to be the focal point of all the energy efficiency initiatives. It is estimated that by 2030 all citywide energy efficiency initiatives will decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 percent of 2005 baseline.

In December 2009, Mayor Bloomberg signed the "Greener, Greater Buildings Plan", which is a series of laws targeting energy conservation in buildings in the city. This series of laws will close loopholes in the current energy code and make it applicable to all construction projects, require annual energy and water efficiency benchmarking that will be disclosed to the public, and mandate cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades of the city's largest public and private buildings. The "Greener, Greater Buildings Plan" will focus on the city's largest 22,000 buildings, which are currently responsible for the total of 45 percent of the city's greenhouse gas emissions and reduce these emission by almost 5 percent.

Realizing that the most effective way to commit the private sector to such initiatives, the city leads by example. NYC committed to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 30 percent within its own portfolio over an accelerated period of ten years. To accomplish this, the city created the Division of Energy Management (DEM) in 2007. Since its creation, the DEM completed 84 retrofit energy efficiency projects and currently has 124 retrofit projects underway, along with 100 energy audits in the pipeline. The city works closely with large hospitals and universities to match its efforts. Over 40 institutions have already accepted the challenge and are currently developing plans to achieve a 30 percent reduction in 10 years.

NYC's existing roofs are mostly dark in color. This leads to increased sunlight retention and drives the roof temperatures as high as 150 degrees in the summer. This retained heat raises city's ambient air temperature by 6 to 8 degrees compared to surrounding non-urban areas - the phenomenon known as the "urban heat island effect". NYC has recently updated its building code and requires now cool roofs for all new construction and re-roofing. One inexpensive method to achieve the cooling effect on existing buildings is to cover their rooftops with reflective white coating. This could reduce ambient temperatures by up to 1 degree, while reducing cooling costs, energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

In September 2009, Mayor Bloomberg and former Vice President Al Gore launched a NYC °CoolRoofs pilot project. The initiative drew almost 250 volunteers who covered 100,000 square feet of roofs in Long Island City, Queens - an area prone to higher temperatures due to a high concentration of industrial rooftops. The City coated over 1 million square feet of rooftops in 2010. NYC °CoolRoofs coated the rooftops of city agency buildings, worked with non-profit organizations to coat their rooftops and provided resources to encourage homeowners to coat their own roofs.

New buildings must also become more efficient. NYC and its PlaNYC enlisted its world class community of building professionals to develop proposals for greening NYC's building code. The resulting 111 proposals are being reviewed for potential implementation.

NYC continues to expand its clean power supply. PlaNYC has outlined three major strategies to accomplish this goal: increase the importation of cleaner electricity sources and natural gas to replace the use of dirtier fuels, re-power outmoded in-city plants with state-of-the art facilities and promote clean and efficient distributed power generation. In 2009, two major transmission projects - from Yonkers, NY and Linden, NJ, increased ability to import from nearby regions.

Progress has been made on repowering existing plants. In 2010, the heavily polluting 875 MW Charles Poletti Power Plant in Astoria, Queens was closed. In its place, New York Power Authority is creating a new, state of the art facility that will produce 500MW of energy and reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent. This plant, scheduled to go operational by summer of 2011, follows on the footsteps of success of another Astoria 500MW Combined-Cycle facility that began operation in 2005.

NYC pursues two forms of clean distributed generation. One will capture and reuse the "waste heat" created during energy production. The other is renewable power.

The city is currently working on a feasibility study to construct a 700MW commercial scale wind power facility off shore, on the Rockaway Peninsula. The Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island is under consideration for a commercial scale wind project.

The city secured a $1million Department of Energy grant to construct a detailed solar map. This is going to be an online tool to help the city residents to evaluate a solar power production potential on the building in which they live and work and to better understand the city’s overall potential for solar power.

To modernize electricity delivery infrastructure, the city successfully advocates an increase of funding for grid repairs. Also Con Edison has been aggressively enhancing its system reliability. Overall, the city's electricity infrastructure is significantly closer to a state of good repair.


NYC °CoolRoofs