A few green observations from a recent visit to New York City:
- Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park was green. How green? When I visited the encampment they were generating electricity and heat from a stationary bicycle. The pedal power on display was part of a sustainability showcase that also featured the importance of plants to the ecosystem and a grey water recycling system.
- New York has an aggressive public recycling program as evidenced by the blue and green recycling bins strategically located across the city. The green bins are for newspapers and magazines and the blue bins are for bottles and cans.
- While riding the NYC subway I saw ads encouraging New York homeowners to “join the evolution” by switching to clean, renewable and homegrown bioheat. The Bioheat website states that right now they are capable of blending biodiesel with traditional heating oil at only 2-5% but that they are working on increasing the biodiesel blend. Here is a great video presentation on what bioheat is all about.
- The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation is greening their fleet and since 2006 has been operating trucks on a 20% biodiesel blend (B20) made from soybeans and 80% ultra low sulfur diesel. And the department has been conducting trials using a B50 blend. So B20 is only a stepping stone to using more clean, renewable biofuels in city vehicles.
- One noticeable change I’ve seen over the years in NYC is the increase in hybrid taxis and hybrid police cars. The NYPD features a fleet of Toyota Prius patrol cars, Nissan Altima Hybrids, Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans and Ford Escape Hybrid crossovers. And as of July 2011 there were 4,980 hybrid taxis in service representing 38% of the total fleet — the largest hybrid fleet in North America.
- NYC aims to plant a million trees throughout the five boroughs over the next decade as part of a public-private partnership. So far the city has planted 527,315 trees.
And if New Yorkers need to be reminded why there is such a sense of urgency among city leaders to make the Big Apple the greenest city in the world, all they have to do is take a trip to Midtown Manhattan near Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. At this busy intersection they will see a large billboard sponsored by Deutsche Bank with a rapidly rising number signifying the metric tons of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I went on the website and the carbon counter is currently at around 3.92 trillion GHGs