NYC Sustainability Plan Puts 50MW of Solar on Old Landfills

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg released the first update to PlaNYC, NYC’s ambitious sustainablity program, which will "prepare the city for one million more residents, strengthen our economy, combat climate change, and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers."

The latest plan includes a proposal to create 50 MW of utility-scale solar on decommissioned NYC landfills – it would generate power for 50,000 homes. It also transitions to cleaner heating fuels, and creates a revolving fund to increase the energy efficiency of NYC’s buildings – the greatest source of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and soot.

The city will use $40 million granted from the Recovery Act (Stimulus bill) to create a nonprofit Energy Efficiency Corporation, which offer low-cost financing to building owners to make energy efficiency upgrades.

PlaNYC contains specific activities and targets for each of these areas: Land, Water, Air, Energy and Transportation.

The update has been under development since April 2010. The city held 48 public meetings with over 220 groups to get ideas and feedback. One of the requirements is that the plan must be updated every four years. The current plan contains 132 initiatives and 400 specific milestones to be implemented by December 31, 2013.

Since the original plan was launched four years ago, hundreds of acres of parkland have been added, the Greener Buildings law was passed, and greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced below 2005 levels. Two-thirds of its 2009 milestones have been achieved or mostly achieved.

PlaNYC Clean Heat Campaign: Just 1% of the city’s buildings produce 86% of the city’s soot by burning the dirtiest grades of heating fuel – residual oil, or #6 and #4 heating oil. These heating oils are being phased out by converting to natural gas [Editor’s note: which used to be considered clean] and low-sulfur #2 oil through a combination of incentives, streamlined permitting, education and by aggregating buildings to create economies of scale. 

A new "Change By Us" social networking platform will allow residents to eachother and to nonprofits and city agencies to make change happen at the local level. Residents will be able to start green projects and connect with like-minded people to get it done.

PlaNYC goals:

Energy: Reduce consumption and make our energy systems cleaner and more reliable

Air Quality: Achieve the cleanest air quality of any big U.S. city

Solid Waste: Divert 75% of our solid waste from landfills

Climate Change: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 30%; increase the resilience of our communities, natural systems, and infrastructure to climate risks

Transportation: Expand sustainable transportation choices and ensure the reliability and quality of our transportation network

Housing & Neighborhoods: Create homes for almost a million more New Yorkers while making housing and neighborhoods more affordable and sustainable

Parks & Public Spaces:  Ensure all New Yorkers live within a ten-minute walk of a park

Brownfield Remediation: Clean up all contaminated land in New York City

Waterways: Improve the quality of New York City’s waterways to increase opportunities for recreation and restore coastal ecosystems

Water Supply: Ensure the high quality and reliability of our water supply system

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