Climate Twins: By 2080, NYC Will Feel Like Arkansas

Sixty years from now, climate change could transform the East Coast into the Gulf Coast. It will move Minnesota to Kansas, turn Tulsa into Texas, and hoist Houston into Mexico. Even Oregonians might ooze out of their damp, chilly corner and find themselves carried to the central valley of California.

These changes won’t happen literally, of course—but that doesn’t make them any less real. A new paper tries to find the climate-change twin city for hundreds of places across the United States: the city whose modern-day weather gives the best clue to what conditions will feel like in 2080. It finds that global warming will be like relocating American cities more than 500 miles away from their current location, on average, mostly to the south and toward the country’s interior.

Source: CityLab

Council Bill Would Create New Agency To Manage Climate Change

Photo by Jonathan Gross / Creative Commons

New York City could become the first in the country to establish an agency to manage its efforts to deal with climate change if a new bill announced Wednesday passes.

The legislation, authored by City Councilman Costa Constantinides, would create a new commissioner-led department to carry out the city’s sustainability policies, including a historic bill to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Source: Huffington Post

City Alters Design for East River Park Plan

The city wants to lift up East River Park by several feet to prevent the FDR Drive and homes behind it from flooding.
The city wants to lift up East River Park by several feet to prevent the FDR Drive and homes behind it from flooding. Photo via New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

The city has announced major changes to the design for part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), a proposal that aims to protect against catastrophic flooding by building a “resilient park” along the East River from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side to East 25th Street.

The new design will reportedly reduce construction time, while also delivering flood protections nearly a year earlier than projected.

Construction is aiming to get started in March 2019 and the park is slated to be complete by 2023. The new design is projected to cost around $1.45 billion.

Source: Curbed

Two Pieces of Good News for the Climate

Photo via New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Facebook page.

With two separate blows, New York State has moved to block energy derived from burning fossil fuels.

After a 5-year battle fought by local environmental groups and eventually the State, plans have fallen through to upgrade a facility at the Port of Albany so it could process heavy crude oil from the Canadian tar sands. Massachusetts-based Global Companies has finally walked away from its legal fight to install boilers at the port, which would have been necessary to prepare the crude for rail transport.

Opponents of the upgrade maintained that the facility would threaten the Hudson River, and contribute to global climate change. Continue reading “Two Pieces of Good News for the Climate”

Your Luxury Condo is an Embarrassing Energy Hog

The 1,400-foot-tall luxury spire at 432 Park Ave. uses steam for heat and hot water, one of the least efficient sources. Photo via Forbes.com

Many of the New York City’s most luxurious residential buildings are also conspicuous consumers of energy. While sustainability features are ubiquitous in commercial office space, they are largely absent from the city’s luxury condo market, with developers failing to invest in even the most basic green systems. Continue reading “Your Luxury Condo is an Embarrassing Energy Hog”

Fragile Shelter Island Peninsula May Require $4 Million to Combat Erosion

The mouth of Coecles Harbor with Sungic Point in the foreground, and Reel Point across the channel. Photo via Shelter Island Reporter.

Reel Point, a thin peninsula on the east side of Shelter Island, is in desperate need of a multi-million dollar stabilization plan, according to town officials.  Continue reading “Fragile Shelter Island Peninsula May Require $4 Million to Combat Erosion”

Active Hurricane Season Predicted for 2018

Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico are still recovering from last year’s devastating hurricane season. Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Creative Commons

Forecasters at Colorado State University released their “extended range” pre-season hurricane forecast on Thursday, predicting a “slightly more active than normal” season for 2018. The combination of a week La Niña in the Pacific Ocean and warmer than average waters in the Atlantic Ocean mean there is a greater than average chance of major storms hitting the U.S. mainland.

Continue reading “Active Hurricane Season Predicted for 2018”

NYC Public Housing to Reduce Carbon Emissions by 30 Percent

The nation’s largest landlord—the New York City Housing Authority—has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its buildings by 30% over the next 10 years. This is the equivalent to approximately 330,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

If this sounds big and complicated, that’s because it is. NYCHA manages nearly 178,000 apartments across 2,547 buildings and throughout 328 developments. All together, the agency houses more than 400,000 New Yorkers.

“As the nation’s largest housing authority and residential landlord, we can have a major impact on curbing the effects of climate change, which affects us all,” NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye said in a statement.

The carbon cuts are part of New York City’s Carbon Challenge—a program started under Bloomberg and continued under de Blasio—which sets an ambitious goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. A number of universities, hospitals, hotels and other commercial tenants have signed on.

The Nuts and Bolts

Queensbridge Houses, located in Long Island City, is the largest public housing development in North America. Photo credit: Wikimedia.

Most of the carbon cuts will come in the form of retrofits and upgrades to increase energy efficiency. Work is already underway to improve heating, hot water, interior and exterior lighting, and ventilation systems in buildings across the city. NYCHA is also evaluating more substantial building retrofits such as replacing building systems, which could help reduce energy costs and carbon emissions even further.

The big focus will be on getting brighter lighting into homes and more comfortable and reliable heating, Bomee Jung, NYCHA vice president of Energy and Sustainability, told DNAinfo.

Despite the agency’s capital repair deficit of nearly $17 billion, officials remain optimistic about the large-scale upgrades. Most of the funding for the projects is provided by federally-funded Energy Performance Contracts that end up paying for themselves.

For example, a previous $18 million contract funded energy efficient lighting upgrades at 16 developments—the energy savings then subsidized heating plant upgrades at six developments, Jung said.

Could Federal Cuts Derail Progress?

All optimism aside, federal cuts to NYCHA funding could put all of these planned upgrades in peril. Earlier this week, the Trump Administration rolled out the first of several major budget cuts to the authority.

The Wall Street Journal reports that NYCHA will receive $35 million less in federal aid this year, the first of several anticipated cuts that could total $150 million.

Shola Olatoye, the Chair and CEO of NYCHA, says a reduction in funding of that magnitude would “evaporate” the progress made by the housing authority in the past three years.