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New York City's Government Buildings To Be 100 Percent Renewable

Grant Whittington headshotWords by Grant Whittington
Energy & Environment
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took the first strides toward his goal to power all city government buildings and facilities with renewable energy within 10 years, asking the energy industry to help identify new sources of clean energy appropriate for the city. The call is likely to be followed by an official request for proposals this fall and potentially a signed contract in 2016.

While powering the city government may not sound like a tall task, the city operates more than 4,000 buildings and facilities. The plan will also cover all of NYC’s traffic lights and street lights. The city government coughs up a large chunk of change to keep these facilities running — between $600 million and $650 million annually. The 4 to 5 terawatt-hours of electricity spent each year on the buildings contribute around 3.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, good for nearly 7.5 percent of the largest American city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

De Blasio’s plan could expand to include public housing projects too, which would affect more than 400,000 New Yorkers, Grist reports. This isn’t the first time de Blasio is taking a progressive stance for renewables. Back in September, he pledged to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. He also eyed cutting emissions from city government operations 35 percent by 2025, meaning the government buildings would have to rely more heavily on solar and wind power than the current coal power.

De Blasio, who assumed office on New Year’s of 2014, has largely followed the path that his predecessor Michael Bloomberg paved for him. Bloomberg has donated millions of dollars to sustain the rapid growth of clean energy. Along with being philanthropic to ensure purity of American energy, Bloomberg has also been a champion ambassador, representing and fighting for clean energy worldwide.

De Blasio’s resume for renewable energy may not be as shiny as Bloomberg’s, but the current mayor’s ambitious goal for renewable-powered government buildings could influence other major American cities to follow in the Big Apple’s footsteps.

New York City’s metropolitan area — including suburbs in four different states — is by far the most populous in the country with more than 23 million people. Amazingly, New York joins Idaho and Arkansas as the three states with the smallest ecological footprint. Improving renewable energy in the city that never sleeps could only illuminate the state’s success and make it the precedent for every state in the U.S.

Image credit: Flickr/Aurelien Guichard

Grant Whittington headshotGrant Whittington

Based in Washington, DC, Grant works as a program assistant at SEEP Network, an international development nonprofit. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, Grant spent four months post-grad living in Armenia where he worked for Habitat for Humanity and the World Food Programme. Grant is passionate about humanitarianism and finding sustainable approaches to international development. He enjoys playing trivia with friends but is still seeking his first victory - he ceaselessly blames his friends lack of preparation.

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