City Council Pushes Green Roof Requirements

Councilmember Rafael Espinal introduces new legislation that would require green roofs for nearly all new construction in the city. Photo credit: BK Reader

Three City Council members have introduced a package of legislation to require nearly all newly constructed buildings to have energy-efficient roofing systems.

Members Rafael Espinal, Donovan Richards, and Steve Levin say the new laws would reduce the city’s carbon footprint and pollution levels by expanding the number of green roofs across the city.

New buildings would be required to cover all available rooftop spaces with a green roof, solar panels, small wind turbines, or a combination of all three, pushing New York City to join the global effort to cool down cities and reduce their carbon footprint.

Source: BK Reader

A Slippery Question: Can You Recycle Receipt Paper in NYC?

Receipt paper can be recycled with other paper goods — but should it be? Photo by Green Mom

This new, semi-regular Q&A column comes to NYER courtesy of the Park Slope Parents Green Group and was written by PSP member Ella Ryan. PSP is a community of 5,500+ families living across Brooklyn, New York. For more information and how to join, visit

Can you recycle those slippery paper receipts you now get from virtually every retailer? The short answer is YES! NYC accepts any paper for recycling – the rule of thumb is if you can rip it, recycle it in the green-labeled paper bin.

However, you may have heard sinister things about these seemingly innocent slips of paper. So here’s the longer answer.

Continue reading “A Slippery Question: Can You Recycle Receipt Paper in NYC?”

Waste Equity Bill Triumphs in New York City Council

The waste equity bill waste equity bill will cap the level of municipal garbage handled by certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Photo by Charley Lhasa/Creative Commons

On Wednesday, City Council voted 32-12 to reduce how much commercial waste can be handled by transfer stations in the South Bronx, southeastern Queens, and northern Brooklyn.

The bill, which has been in progress for several years, is sponsored primarily by Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Stephen Levin.

“The passage of Intro 157 is a momentous achievement in the fight for environmental justice and the reform of our City’s private waste management system,” said Reynoso. “Currently, low-income communities of color handle a staggeringly disproportionate amount of our City’s waste.  Residents are exposed to dangerous truck traffic, elevated air pollution, and hazardous environmental impacts— contributing to historical inequities in resource distribution along economic and racial lines.”

The bill now heads to de Blasio’s desk, and if signed, will go into effect by the fall of next year.

Source: Greenpoint Post

Drug Take Back Act Becomes Law, Will Reduce Water Contamination

The new law establishes a unified statewide drug take-back program that will reduce water pollution and medication misuse. Photo by e-Magine Art/Creative Commons

Yesterday Governor Cuomo signed into law the “Drug Take Back Act,” regulation that establishes a statewide program to provide safe, free, and easy disposal of unused medications. Chain pharmacies will be required to provide drug disposal options, while other authorized collectors (e.g. independent pharmacies, local law enforcement) could also participate.

Providing convenient drug disposal will help to reduce the practice of flushing unwanted medications down drains and toilets, and eliminate one source of waterway contamination.

Previous surveys of pharmaceuticals in the Hudson River Estuary, conducted by Riverkeeper, Cornell University, and the EPA, found more than 50 different compounds, with greater numbers found at or near municipal wastewater treatment plant outfalls.

Wastewater treatment and septic systems are not designed to remove these contaminants, resulting in pharmaceutical pollution in waters across the state.

Source: Riverkeeper

Hudson Communities Join Forces to Protect River, Drinking Water

Forming a council was among the top recommendations of a report commissioned by Riverkeeper and written by the Center for Watershed Protection. Photo by John Menard/Creative Commons

Seven communities representing 100,000 people who rely on the Hudson River as a source of drinking water have signed an agreement creating the Hudson River Drinking Water Intermunicipal Council.

Also known as the “Hudson 7,” the group will focus on the long-term protection of the Hudson River. The towns of Esopus, Lloyd, Hyde Park, the city and town of Poughkeepsie and the village and town of Rhinebeck signed a formal agreement last week.

This collaborative effort is expected to make the region more competitive for grants and other support associated with the state’s $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act.

Source: Mid-Hudson Valley Patch

Gowanus Rezoning Framework Released

The framework aims to foster a thriving, inclusive and more resilient Gowanus where existing and future residents and workers are able to participate in civic, cultural and economic activities. Photo by Dan DeLuca/Creative Commons

After 100+ hours of meetings and neighborhood events, the Department of City Planning has now released a framework for rezoning the Gowanus Canal neighborhood. While it is subject to change, the plan attempts to lay out the priorities of residents, the city administration, and elected officials representing Gowanus.

Some important parts of the framework include:

  • Buildings and infrastructure that will be prepared for rising sea levels and floods.
  • More open and green space along the Gowanus Canal.
  • Promoting walking and biking in the neighborhood; and promoting safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.
  • Preserving the existing NYCHA buildings in the neighborhood, and requiring that new residential development have an affordable housing component.

Source: Curbed


City Council Sucks on Straw Ban

At least 80 restaurants, hotels and other venues have signed on to the “Give a Sip” campaign by the city’s Wildlife Conservation Society, pledging to give up plastic straws. Photo via Creative Commons.

As reported a few weeks ago, the backlash against single-use plastic straws is gaining momentum, with New York City being the latest municipality to consider an outright ban.

A bill being introduced in the City Council today would outlaw plastic straws at bars, restaurants, and other service establishments — from small food carts to large stadiums and other businesses; plastic coffee stirrers would be also be forbidden.

Source: Daily News

New City Council Bill Would Mandate Lead Testing in Parks

A new City Council bill instructs the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to test lead levels in city-owned and operated parks, including water fountains and playground soil. Photo by Bri Schneiter

A new package of 23 bills introduced in City Council aims to protect children from lead poisoning in a variety of ways, from deeper investigation after high blood levels are identified to increased testing at city facilities. The package has been described as “the largest overhaul of city laws on childhood lead exposure in 14 years.” Continue reading “New City Council Bill Would Mandate Lead Testing in Parks”

Some NYC Garbage Trucks to be Powered by Renewable Diesel

Some New York City garbage trucks will soon be powered by renewable diesel. Photo via DSNY

New York City has invested in some 900,000 gallons of renewable diesel — made mostly from animal fat and vegetable oil instead of petroleum. The fuel will power 1,000 diesel vehicles for the next six months, including some garbage trucks. Continue reading “Some NYC Garbage Trucks to be Powered by Renewable Diesel”