Sustainability and the environment were a major focus of Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City address last week. According to Bloomberg, the city has cut its carbon footprint by 16 percent in the last five years, and the goal is to reduce it by an additional 30 percent in the next 10 years.
One of the initiatives announced in the mayor’s speech was a big push for electric vehicles. In addition to a city pilot program for ultra-fast curbside charging stations, Bloomberg wants to add 50 electric cars to the city’s fleet and switch over a third of the taxi fleet to electric by 2020. He also plans to change the city’s building code to make up to 20 percent of new public parking spaces in private developments EV-compatible, which he said would add 10,000 parking spots for electric vehicles in the next seven years.
While electric cars are great, one also has to think about where that electricity comes from to charge that many vehicles. If it’s coming from fossil fuel power plants, as is likely, how much pollution are we really preventing? There was no mention of any new renewable energy initiatives in Bloomberg’s speech that might offset this new drain on the grid.
The only announcement about clean energy related to two commercial installations that will be going on line at a new recycling facility in Sunset Park this spring. The plant will reportedly have one of the largest PV systems in the city and the largest wind turbine.
Another noteworthy aspect of the new recycling facility is that it will expand the city’s ability to recycle plastics. Currently, NYC only allows residents to recycle plastic bottles, regardless of the number on the container. This obviously means a lot of plastic ends up in landfills unnecessarily. Hopefully the new plant will help to reduce that amount in a meaningful way.