Study: NYC Can Mitigate Climate Change Through Buildings, Infrastructure

Feb. 14, 2013
New York City feasibly can reduce its carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2050, with buildings and infrastructure playing a key role.

New York City feasibly can reduce its carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2050, with the updating and streamlining of buildings and infrastructure playing a key role, a study released by Urban Green Council says.

In New York City, buildings are the largest contributor to carbon pollution, producing 75 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions.

The study, “90 by 50,” involved the creation of a virtual New York City. Currently available or reasonably foreseeable technologies were used to improve buildings. The result: a building sector essentially free of carbon pollution, without physical comfort being sacrificed. The cost of the changes is neutral when the economy and other factors are considered.

“The buildings we live in can play a crucial role in the sustainability of society and the planet,” Urban Green Council Executive Director Russell Unger said. “This study shows us that an energy-efficient and innovative New York is possible—and necessary. If New York—the complicated nerve center of the country—can do this without breaking the bank, any city in the world can.”

Urban Green Council is the New York chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. It advises New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city government on building resiliency and efficiency.

Climate scientists say carbon pollution must be reduced by 80 percent worldwide by 2050 to ensure a safe, sustainable environment.

About the Author

Scott Arnold | Executive Editor

Described by a colleague as "a cyborg ... requir(ing) virtually no sleep, no time off, and bland nourishment that can be consumed while at his desk" who was sent "back from the future not to terminate anyone, but with the prime directive 'to edit dry technical copy' in order to save the world at a later date," Scott Arnold joined the editorial staff of HPAC Engineering in 1999. Prior to that, he worked as an editor for daily newspapers and a specialty-publications company. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.