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PR- 129-10
April 21, 2011


Earth Week Event at the Harlem Stage Unveils Update to City's Groundbreaking and Globally Recognized Sustainability Plan

132 Initiatives Including the Ambitious Clean Heat Air Quality campaign and Change By Us, a New Social Networking Platform To Enable Community Collaboration

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today presented an update to PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York that assessed the progress of PlaNYC since its launch four years ago and charted a new direction for the City’s future. The update was presented at the Harlem Stage, a performing arts venue inside Harlem’s Gatehouse, part of the Croton reservoir system built in 1890 and still in-service as part of New York’s water supply network today. The update to PlaNYC is the culmination of a year of work that began on Earth Day 2010 that included 48 public meetings with over 220 groups, yielding almost 1,000 ideas, suggestions and feedback. Working with the City Council, the Administration built into PlaNYC a requirement that it be updated every four years. Today’s update, the first, has 132 initiatives and more than 400 specific milestones to achieve by December 31, 2013.

“Through PlaNYC we learned that the challenges and solutions of managing our growth in a sustainable way interlock with one another,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “PlaNYC is our agenda for a greener, greater New York that will help guide our city to a better future. In four short years, we’ve come an incredibly long way toward our goals, and now, together, we’re finding new ways to accelerate our progress.”

 PlaNYC, launched four years ago this week, was an unprecedented effort undertaken by the Mayor to prepare the city for one million more residents, strengthen our economy, combat climate change, and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Since then, the Mayor’s office and over 25 City agencies have added hundreds of acres of new parkland while improving our existing parks. Through PlaNYC we have created or preserved more than 64,000 units of housing and improved access to mass transit. We’ve enacted the most ambitious laws of any city in the country to make existing buildings more energy-efficient.  And we’ve reduced our greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels. Over 97% of the 127 initiatives in PlaNYC were launched within one-year of its release and almost two-thirds of its 2009 milestones have been achieved or mostly achieved.

PlaNYC Clean Heat Campaign

Just one percent of all buildings in the city produce eighty six percent of the total soot pollution from buildings – more than all the cars and trucks in New York City combined. They do this by burning the dirtiest grades of heating fuel available, known as residual oil, or #6 and #4 heating oil.

Air pollution is one of the most significant environmental threats facing New York City, contributing to approximately 6% of deaths in the city each year. Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in New York City—one of the primary pollutants tracked by the US EPA—causes more than 3,000 deaths, 2,000 hospital admissions for lung and heart conditions, and approximately 6,000 emergency department visits for asthma in children and adults annually.

To stop the harmful effects of burning heavy heating oil in our boilers, the City is launching a Clean Heat campaign. The City has today adopted a rule that phases out the use of heavy heating oils and will accelerate conversion to cleaner fuels like natural gas and low-sulfur #2 oil through a combination of incentives, streamlined permitting, education and collective action.

Achieving a modest 10% reduction in PM 2.5 concentrations could prevent more than 300 premature deaths, 200 hospital admissions, and 600 emergency department visits each year and help us meet our PlaNYC goal of achieving the cleanest air of any big U.S. city. 

Because the rule that was adopted today takes effect over time – not reaching full phase-out until 2030 – it will be supplemented with a vigorous effort to encourage buildings to convert to cleaner fuels much more quickly. The City will work with Con Edison and National Grid to accelerate upgrades to the natural gas distribution system in neighborhoods that are underserved, and to aggregate buildings that are ready to convert to gas.  Large numbers of buildings converting to natural gas or low-sulfur #2 oil in tandem will create economies of scale that will reduce the costs of conversion. The City will also remove red tape to make obtaining permits for boiler conversions as easy as possible. Through the Clean Heat campaign the City will launch an NYC Service campaign in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund to educate building owners and tenants about the public health impacts associated with #4 and #6 heating oil, the potential costs and savings associated with conversion, and the steps buildings can take to convert to cleaner fuels.

“The new rules adopted today will phase out Number 6 heating oil by 2015 and Number 4 heating oil by 2030,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “But such regulations are only part of the answer. They tell building owners: ‘Thou shalt not.’ We’ve got another message to deliver, too: ‘We can help you do the right thing.’”

Change By Us Social Media Tool Launches Today for Community Based Organizations

PlaNYC and the Mayor’s Office today launched a new social media tool called “Change by Us.” The tool encourages and enables New Yorkers to improve their communities by connecting them with the tools, resources, and people needed to turn ideas into reality.

Starting today, and again frequently throughout the year, the City will pose a question that residents can respond to by text message or through the Change by Us web and mobile sites. The first question asks how we can we make our City greener through projects such as :

  • Storm water management
  • Brownfield cleanup
  • Parks stewardship
  • Creation of new open spaces
  • Energy efficiency
  • Local air quality
  • Community composting

The site launched today in preview mode for select community-based organizations. After the preview period the City will open the site to the general public. Change by Us will become a powerful tool for New Yorkers to tell the City how they can make the their communities better.

“The new Change By Us social networking platform lets New Yorkers connect to the City agencies and non-profits that can help them green their neighborhoods, and our entire City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This is a powerful way to connect people with similar goals that wouldn’t otherwise meet each other, so they can turn their own ideas into action.”

Residents will also be able to start a project and connect with like-minded people who have similar ideas about making improvements throughout the city.  They can then turn that idea into action by accessing resources available through community-based organizations and City agencies.

Change by Us is a new platform built and designed the design firm Local Projects in partnership with CEOs for Cities.

The Update PlaNYC – Available on 

PlaNYC has ten chapters and each one has an overarching goal:

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 more than 30%

Climate Change: 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

“Earth Day is time when we ought to remember the wisdom of this Kenyan proverb:The Earth was not given to you by your parents.It was loaned to you by your children,’” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We cited that proverb on Earth Day four years ago, when we unveiled PlaNYC and it’s in that same spirit that we update it today Through the plan we will make sure that the city we return to our children is a sustainable one”


Stu Loeser/Jason Post   (212) 788-2958


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