In New York City, buildings have a major impact on our environment because our transportation and industrial usages are proportionally small. Energy used in buildings account for almost 80% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, buildings account for most of our water use and our waste stream. They also impact our landscape because building lots comprise half of our land area, and our health because we spend most of our time indoors.
We could do better. In recent years, a series of strategies known as “green building” has emerged, which improves the environmental performance of buildings. Green buildings use energy and water more efficiently, contain fewer toxic materials, and contribute to an improved outdoor environment by increasing vegetation, combating urban overheating, and managing stormwater.
Until now, only the most advanced buildings were “green”, but many sustainable strategies are very cost-effective and could be widely adopted. Through our Green Codes Task Force, we are bringing the benefits of green design to all our buildings by requiring the most common sense strategies. And green building strategies will play key roles in helping us achieve most of our citywide goals, from cleaner air, to cleaner waterways, and adapting to climate change.