Eco-friendly New Yorkers, take a moment and pat yourselves on the back. In a new survey on the sustainability practices and policies of American and Canadian cities, New York was named the third greenest city, just behind the historically top ranked cities of Vancouver and San Francisco. The survey, sponsored by Siemens Corp. and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, rated cities based on 31 other factors, including water consumption, percentage of waste recycled, and the number of LEED-certified buildings, which NYC has no shortage of.
No doubt thanks in large part to innovative policies like PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s administration earned a perfect score in “environmental governance.” NYC is also home to the most environmentally sound transportation system and land-use policies of all 27 cities surveyed.
In fact, public transportation played a huge role in the cities green ratings. Thirty-seven percent of New Yorkers commute with public transportation, earning NYC a top rank in per capita carbon dioxide emissions, “less than half the average carbon dioxide per person of other cities.” NYC also earned 8 percent more points than Montreal, the second best city in green transportation. The survey also praises Bloomberg’s leadership in the C40 Climate Leadership Group summit.
Despite the top ratings, NYC does fall behind in a few key aspects. For one, the Big Apple continues to score at the bottom in regards to high energy consumption, but policies are being implemented to reduce energy costs and increase the use of renewable energy. In fact, two thirds of city roofs are suitable for solar panels, and already there are calls to promote solar power more. NYC is also being criticized for lagging behind in recycling due to weak recycling policies. The survey recommends implementing financial incentives rather than relying on ineffective awareness campaigns.
Overall, the survey shows two things. One: New York’s current environmental policies are effective, and it’s about time that NYC is recognized as a leader in sustainability practices. Two: Our city is well aware of our green weak spots. The survey points to shortcomings, but there are policies already being implemented to find more effective solutions for things like recycling and energy consumption.
Still, placing third is not too shabby. That’s a bronze medal in the Olympics, but next year, let’s go for the gold!