New York, New York: So Good It’s Going Green

Implementing environmentally friendly initiatives, going green and doing your bit to help save the planet are all readily accepted good causes in today’s society. From walking the kids to school to what dishwasher you buy, the car you drive and the coffee you drink, it seems that every little decision you make comes with its own slightly greener alternative, no matter how small it might seem. Now that saving energy has become quite cool and far more accessible, larger initiatives are being developed by entire cities, like New York. How on earth do you make the city that never sleeps green?

Start with the most eye-catchingly obvious landmarks first of course. The Empire State Building’s board of owners has recently launched a $ 20 million initiative to heavily reduce the building’s carbon footprint by more than 100,000 tonnes in the next 15 years. Apparently once the plan is up and running, it should also actually save the building’s tenants around $ 4.5 million a year in energy costs too. Simple but costly measures, like replacing all 6,500 windows, will have a huge impact on the building and, importantly, will spread the message that New York is going green. In fact, an organisation called GreenHomeNYC has been established solely to help retrofit New York buildings to make them far more environmentally friendly, as up to 900,000 of the cities buildings contribute to about 79% of New York’s total CO2 emissions.

This year, New York officials started 2010 as they meant to go on, by hosting the Go Green Expo. In January, the world’s largest green business and sustainable lifestyle show was held in New York, where innovative design and invention was exhibited next to interactive green products and initiatives that will largely become common-place in the future. This trade show, which was open to the public, was the perfect opportunity for New Yorkers to see for themselves the potential of how environmentally friendly their city could be, and also an insight into what they themselves could do to help the cause.

Another visual and city-wide shift in a greener direction was Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to ensure that New York’s whole fleet of yellow cabs are converted to gas-electric hybrids by the year 2012. Starting in 2007, this large-scale overhaul of the iconic cab’s engines has seen 20% of the vehicles upgraded each year until, by 2012, all of them will be far more carbon friendly.

In a metropolis as stylish as New York, of course there must be a way to increase the potential for recycling old clothes too. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that around 190,000 tonnes of clothes and textiles are thrown out in New York each year and, to turn this trend around, New York is installing bins solely for clothes collections across the city’s most densely populated quarters. These will then be distributed to select clothing charities in America and overseas. So, from mens fashion to catching a cab, New York is slowly but surely revamping itself as a green example to the world.