Going Ecofriendly in New York

Welcome to New York City. A city of skyscrapers and a launching pad for various green movements. In the past few years in the Big Apple, we have seen many eco friendly initiatives being launched. Some of them initiated by NGOs, some by government while some of them by confident individuals who have shown the world that nothing is impossible when you have the will power to do it. A man has greened up the city’s subway system, an activist has built a green house in South Bronx, a political leader has launched Long Island’s first fueling station for hydrogen cars, a baker has stepped into running a green business and finally a mother of three, who has dedicated herself to the power of wind energy. All of them are individuals, who have made New York proud. However, when it comes to community planning, things fall on hard track. It is not easy to persuade people of diverse minds to rise up for the same cause. However, Brevoort tower in Greenwich Village has set an example of a sustainable approach adopted by a community in the New York City. In addition, today, because of its success, it stands as a model to those aspiring to attain the same green credentials.

The building has some amazing eco friendly projects to its credit. Diane Nardone started the campaign three years ago when she was the board president of the Brevoort tower. She was disheartened to see the rise of pollution in the city and decided to turn the building she managed, green. Her pace hastened up when she got to know that the city might very soon start working on the regulations of converting from no.6 gas oil (which is the cheapest and the dirtiest cooking oil available) to natural gas announced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomeberg. He wanted the conversion by 2015. She and her board realized that if they waited until the official execution of the regulations, everything would be a mess. They were apprehensive about the shortage of contractors and a spike in prices once the notice was issued.

However, this did not come cheap because since then, nearly $6 million has been spent on the building for light bulbs, new windows, a green roof (which converts heating oil to natural gas), and a $3.2 million cogeneration plant which can power the 20 story building in a citywide blackout.

Things were not like a piece of cake for Ms. Nardone and her board members, though. When Brevoort switched from no. 6 gas oil to natural gas, it cost the residents $225,000. This was inclusive of changing the burner on the boiler, installing equipment to draw gas from the available consolidated pipeline, and removing two 20,000-gallon oil tanks. Many residents stood up against it. One of them, Marietta Poerio, a former board member believed that since the technology was new, adopting it for their society would be like being a guinea pig. Another member Fred Keller was concerned about the debts that went from $3.5 million to $11 million. However, the board adopted a positive outlook and expected to save around $70,000 a year in fuel costs.

According to the city officials, the pollution that is created by (around 10,000) apartments and buildings bypasses that produced by all the trucks and the cars in the city. A representative from the mayor’s office was quoted saying that switching to natural gas could be expensive while changing from No. 6 to No. 4 could be cheaper with an estimated cost of $7,000. ConEd, a company dedicated to provide natural gas has been working in this direction. However, since laying pipelines for gas is not an easy task and needs ripping up of pavements, the pace of the process has dawdled. Getting permit and the conversion to natural gas takes almost six months but the time taken by ConEd to fix up the pipelines lies in uncertainty. For example, a 15-storey apartment at Park Avenue took less than six months to convert the boiler into gas or no.2 fuel accepting machine. However, they had to wait for six months for the supply of gas by ConEd.
David Kuperberg, chief executive of Cooper Square Reality, a firm that manages 450 buildings in NYC, describes the Brevoort as ‘the exception by a long shot’. His company urged the building owners to adopt a similar scheme but the residents were skeptical about it and did not really believe that savings will be there.

However, eventually, a day will come when others will look up to these living examples and realize the value of a sustainable development. Slowly and steadily, a sustainable path for our living is being carved out.

About the author: Alia Haley is a writer and an ardent follower of green living. She is big fan of green architecture and her house is a perfect example of it. She prefers to shop for only eco friendly items, especially organic clothes and beauty products.


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