It’s that time of year again! We all celebrated Earth Day yesterday, so we’re going to discuss what efforts New York City is making to be greener.

Residential Greenery

PC: Divamoms

On the real estate front, many residential buildings are shifting towards greener designs and features that reduce their carbon emissions.

The world-class 57 WEST, a so-called “superblock,” is an impressive effort by The Durst Organization to be sustainable. Comprised of VIA, FRANK, and Helena, these three buildings are all designed to conserve water and reduce energy needs thanks to various innovations. Even the building materials are locally sourced, recycled, and renewable in order to reduce their environmental impact.

Helena, in particular, is the gold standard of green living. It was the first voluntary LEED (Leader in Energy and Environmental Design) residential tower in New York City. This certification, created by the U.S. Green Building Council, is a rating system that awards points based on a rubric that considers various design choices and rates their “greenness.”

One of the Helena’s greenest features includes, “a water recycling system that reclaims about 43,000 gallons of waste water each day.” Beyond that, it also features expansive glass walls that maximize natural light, low-E coated double-pane windows to reduce ultraviolet light and minimize the need for heating and cooling, solar panels, and Energy Star-rated appliances to reduce energy consumption.

Greener and Greater Buildings


PC: Terry Boynton on Unsplash

Looking beyond residential buildings, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability has been pushing forward some strong policies to achieve New York City’s aggressive sustainability goals (reducing its emissions by 80 percent by 2050).

The office shares, “the city’s square footage is highly concentrated in less than two percent of its properties… which account for almost half of New York City’s square footage and as much as 48 percent of New York City’s total energy use.”

As a response to this, the “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan” targets these large existing buildings and is beginning to hold them accountable. Namely, they enforce an annual benchmark for these buildings with regard to energy and water consumption. They are also demanding more accountability on all other fronts over the next 10 years.

Goodbye, Concrete Jungle

Green nycPC: Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

When it comes to green spaces, New York City’s Green Infrastructure Program is a multi-agency effort to introduce new sustainable green infrastructures practices to the city.

Some examples of green infrastructure are green roofs, rain gardens, planter boxes, green parking, and urban tree canopies. All of these are cost-effective approaches to improving water conservation, introducing greenery to urban environments, and improving air quality. They are designed to naturally move urban stormwater into engineered systems that feature soils, stones, and vegetation, while preventing stormwater runoff into the city’s sewers.

Spearheaded by the Department of Environmental Protection, this program is designed to work with New York City’s streets, sidewalks, schools, and public housing.