This month marked the fifth year anniversary of NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's ambitious PlaNYC sustainability plan, and we're very proud to say that in that short time, New York residents are already experiencing a significantly greener city. If you don't believe us, check out all of the ways the program has successfully improved our quality of life in the official report or if'd you prefer to take the easy route, read on as we showcase six of the projects that we thought made a really important diffference - from the cleanest New York Harbor in more than a century to the restoration of thousands of square miles of formerly contaminated brownfield sites. Hit the jump to learn more.
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Travel Time Reduced by 20% for Thousands of Bus Passengers
Among various new public transportation initiatives that have been launched to improve service, reduce travel time and get more people around the city car-free, one of the most successful has been the Select Bus Service lines that have reduced travel times by up to 20% for thousands of bus passengers. After the original Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway line in the Bronx and the First Avenue/Second Avenue in Manhattan proved so successful, PlaNYC worked with the MTA to expand the network to 34th Street. The East River Ferry pilot project launched last year has also been a boon for hundreds of thousands of residents who travel between Brooklyn and Queens and Manhattan and Governor’s Island.
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75% of Buildings Over 50,000 Square Feet have met the PlaNYC’s Benchmarking efficiency program
This may not be so clear at first so let us explain: a whopping 75% of energy use can be attributed to buildings, so NYC committed to drastically improving energy efficiency among the city’s biggest buildings. As part of the Greener Greater Buildings Plan, owners of all buildings over 50,000 square feet are required to report on their energy use so that in the long run, measures can be taken improve their performance. To date, 75% of the city’s largest buildings, accounting for 45% of our energy consumption, have complied with the program, which means that 1.6 billion square feet of real estate will eventually become lean and mean power consumers. This translates into serious GHG reductions for everybody!
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76% of New Yorkers Live Within 10 Minutes Walk of a Public Park
One of the most significant achievements made as a result of the PlaNYC program is the substantial increase of green spaces around the city. In the last year alone, easy access to a healthy, invigorating urban park has been granted to 240,815 more New Yorkers. In 2007, only 70% of the city’s residents could get to a park within 10 minutes of walking. That number has risen to 76% and will grow further still. We don’t know the numbers, but this has to make our beautiful city one of the greenest on the planet.
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3.7 Million Square Miles of Brownfield Sites Have been Remediated
Few other cities have taken the recovery of brownfield sites as seriously as NYC. Whether former gas stations, manufacturing plants or chemical processing facilities, millions of square miles of space have blighted the urban landscape, but as of March this year, 3.7 million square million miles of formerly contaminated land have already been transformed in healthy, habitable places. Of the 45 brownfield sites enrolled in the City’s Brownfield Cleanup program, half are under construction. That’s huge!
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300 Heavy Oil Conversions and Counting are Clearing NYC’s Skies
As part of the effort to improve the city’s air quality (the goal is to make it the best in the United States), the city launched NYC Clean Heat. This program entails phasing out the dirtiest heating oils, namely number 6 by 2015 and number 4 by 2030, by switching either to natural gas or number 2 oil. But doing so is not cheap, especially for low-income buildings, so funding assistance from the city is paramount to the success of this endeavor. To date, 300 such conversions have already been made, which spells much cleaner air for everybody, and by the end of 2013, it is hoped that 50% of the dirtiest oils will be phased out completely.
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New York Harbor is the Cleanest it has been in Over a Century
Thanks to a massive $9 billion investment in water quality, the New York Harbor is the cleanest it has been in more than one hundred years. That is an extraordinary achievement, but efforts to improve waterways doesn’t end there. In fact, it extends to all 520 miles of the city’s shoreline and within the boroughs themselves. Significant investments in infrastructure and vegetation designed to enhance management of rainwater runoff and improve sewage cleaning plants will result in an additional 40% reduction of combined sewage overflows (CSOs) by the program’s end.
This is just a small selection of the amazing goodness that has come of the PlaNYC plan, but we urge you to check out the entire 2012 PlaNYC progress report so you can get a fuller idea of everything that is happening to make our city one of the greenest in the world.
Lead image credit: Statue of Liberty, Shutterstock